Monday 29 September 2014

Dungeon Poker for SAVAGES

So I titted around for ages trying to build a method by which the players could build a dungeon home for SAVAGES. But I couldn’t even remember how Microscope worked and so I fell back on the old ‘dungeon poker’ method.

Let’s see if I can fit the rules onto a sheet of A4.

Get paper, (A3 would be good so people can get sloppy) and something to draw with (coloured markers would be good, or pencils as you can rub them off). Gather all the SAVAGES players round in a circle with the map in the middle.

Tell them a dungeon needs two things, at least one way in or out, and a place hardest to reach. Everything else is up to them.

Deal out cards as if for poker (the five-cards each kind).

Everyone plays a hand of poker. The highest hand goes first. They get the map. The cards they play decide what they can draw.

Kings are magic. Magic areas, weapons, any kind of magic you want.
Queens are treasure. This can be any treasure you want.
Jacks are traps.
Aces are secret rooms and secret doors.
Jokers are whatever the holder wants them to be.
Each Number Card is either a room, a corridor linking that many rooms or that many HD of monsters.

HD from different suites of cards cannot be combined in the same monster or the same type of monster. Monsters from cards with different colours are always potentially-opposed factions.

The player with the best hand draws their stuff on. Then the second best, and so on.

Cards are set aside when a hand is played. When everyone has played a hand, deal again and play again. Do this until the pack runs out or the dungeon is done. If the pack runs out but everyone agrees the dungeon is not done, shuffle the pack and keep going.

You can add to peoples stuff, if someone leaves a room empty then you ca put something in it. If they have a door and you have a Jack, you can make it secret, but you can’t reverse or override anything anyone else has done.

Optional rules:

Play as characters.

Before you start the players can decide they are going to be ‘characters’. These are generally not literal embodied individuals, they are the forces which would shape a dungeon.

Here is a slightly crappy d12 list.

1. Will of the Dwarf Lords
2. Emissions of the Black Mire
3. Scrapings of the Dragon Grizule
4. Memories of the Awful Dead
5. Faith of the Deep Elves
6. Wrath of the Barrow Lords
7. Workings of the Goblin King
8. Tombs of the Cyclopean Things
9. Worship of the Outer Ones
10. Architects of the Sunken City
11. Fear of the Bandit Lord
12. Dreams of the Tectonic Elementals

So while they are drawing rooms and deciding what to put in, each player tries to think about what their particular ‘part’ would have done. What kind of treasures they would have accumulated, how they would have created corridors and rooms, what traps they would have built and what monsters would remain.

So the Will of the Dwarf Lords would have left behind straight, planned corridors and rooms. Simple refined gold and worked gems as treasure, the traps would be big stone blocks that fall and the monsters would be Dwarven ghosts and skeletons and golems.

That way the whole thing kind of makes sense, or at least the Same themes repeat.

Players can bet

This adds extra complexity, and I am not sure what they would bet on.  Plus the player with the biggest hand already kind-of wins. Probably you could fit in some kind of nega-win power-exchange story game stuff in here if you want to.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

A Bounty on the Dignity of Zorlac

Fiddln' Joe I says (for, as you no doubt know, it's always been my habit to name myself in my own mind in order to avoid any legal complications arising from surveilance of the telepathic kind), Fiddlin' Joe, you've been screwed over and worked over and dammn near killed and robbed and libeled. You've been hung up in a tree in the street. You've been sexaully alleged against, (and you without even mammal glands to work em with. Swear to Vorn, last thing I was attracted to turned out to be the husk of a fruit vibratin' in a strong wind, what the hell got into me?), and had yer name slandered. And for what? By who? Well its only the same guy.


Fellahs a librarian, try to sell the boy books and he sets a goaddmn city on you.

Well Fiddlin Joe (I says, once again, entirely to myself within myself), Joe, its about time you did somethin' about this fella. You can't let people just go on siezin an advantage over you, no matter how much of a good egg you may be.

So I fixed on killin this guy and burnin' down his house, but, you know, events took a hold of me (as they so often do) and here I am fixin' to burrow into the head of a sleepin' god for about the second time.

First time I tried this we had a bunch of people, but they seem to have.. eh.. escaped notice at about the crucial moments. Left the few if us left facin' a whole heap of badness downn there in the sleeping mind of Vorn.  We was lucky to get out at all.

Well I aint much tougher than before but, dang it, ah have become funct-on-ally immortal and what the hell are you supposed to do with that kind of thing except take risks? We got more people with us this time, sure hope they dont dissapear on the axis of cruciality, as has been know to happen.

Gotta get in there and kill about three unkillable witches. Personally I can't hit shit but ah bought about twenty sacks and they only got about a head each so that should be enough.

Anyway, I'm gonna be busy gettin hacked at and pierced in the service o Vorn so ah thinks to myself 'Joe, old Fillin' Joe' (you see I was once again refering to mahself internally so to speak, in order to avoid  confusement) 'Joe, aint you just about one of those one-per-cent you heard folks talkin' about. You are beleagured with coins. Joe, why not just settle this Tortuga-Style and wax fierce on Das Kapital, that is, play it like a Lawman Joe and upend a bucket of Bounty on that poor fool, she how he likes it ah says!'

Well here you go. This bounty is guaruntee'd by the Bank Of Fiddlin' Joe, and I say anyone can claim it at all, but if you aint known to be reliable you better bring evidence that you did the deed.

Let it be known throughout the multiverse that 'Fiddlin' Joe Cooper, the cockroach thief, hereby places a bounty on the dignity of Zorlac the Librarian.

10,000 GOLD to the first to publicly throw a pie into Zorlacs face.

(Pete Loudly the audiomancer will add a further 5000 gp if the filling stains permanently.)

20,000 GOLD to the first to STRIP HIM of his trousers in a public place, thereby inducting him onto the HALLS OF SHAME.

20,000 GOLD to the first To write the word 'TIT' on his forehead in indelible ink.

Each reward may be claimed only once, but they may be combined

Monday 22 September 2014

Velvet Horizons Contents So Far

Posting has been, and will be light. I have a job now and much of my spare time is taken up with the project I am doing with Scrap tentativly titled 'Velvet Horizons (subject to change).

Velvet Horizons is a statless book of monsters which, hopefully, will make you feel now the same way you felt when you opened the Fiend Folio at the age of twelve. There are meant to be 100 monsters in there, drawn by Scrap, written by me, edited by Scrap and all composed in a radical zinelike form carefully composed by Scrap to make it look like a bunch of lunatics made it secretly in a basement, which should make the whole thing feel like an icepick of underculture going right in your eye.

It's going to be an A4 book with at least 100 pages, so reasonably chunky, and it should feel rather strange to hold in your hands.

The aim here, I think, should be to make a book so strange and other that even Zak would feel nervous reading it on the bus.

Anyway, time not taken up with work is now spent thinking of MORE FUCKING MONSTERS and if not that then maybe wondering about SAVAGES and if not that then reading and trying not to think about anything.

As a kind of place holder, here is a (subject to change) list of the monsters on which the basic ideas have been generally worked out. There are 79 so far.


Thursday 18 September 2014

Wednesday 10 September 2014

My Country Has Nine Days To Live

This is a politcal post. I considered  setting up a politcal blog to put it on but to be honest, no-one would read it and I don't think about politics enough, or enjoy thinking about politics enough to make a habit of it.

Plus my policy here has generally been the opposite of internet best practice, I just dump what I like on the blog and let you filter it.

 So here it is, its under a break so you can just avoid it if you want.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Life is a Horror Movie, be the Monster

(This is just me thinking out-loud about what a full SAVAGES game would look like.)

You get XP for surviving. Every day you live, you get 100 xp.

If you have a thief in the party and they steal stuff, you all share the XP for that. But otherwise money has little real value. That’s why you leave it piled up in rooms. You take things that have use.

You start with no food and no water. The fatigue and food rules are the same as in 5e but moved to the front of the book as they are more important.

You begin in the middle of a map instead of on the edge. Maybe you need to explore the map or maybe you already know whats in it and played a part in creating it, still not sure about that one.

Around the edges of the map are single 'dark' hexes. These all hold different human communities. Each human group is based on a particular human archetype. Tang China, Conquistadors, Zulu Empire, Mongols, Crusaders etc. This gives each one different powers and abilities.

If you do nothing and no not attack each hex, they grow. Some grow fast, some grow more slowly and are more heavily fortified. Some, like the pseudo-Mongol one, move around quickly. 'Explorer' hexes can turn up randomly on river banks and shorelines.

You must attack them to stop them growing. Each culture works differently so you have to find out how to fight it. Some are highly centralised so if you take out the main guy then they fall apart and don't come back for a while. Others are faith-based so you have to destroy the religion. Whatever it is, you have to find a way to stop the culture growing.  (Just killing everyone should always work, but there are a lot of them.)

There is never enough time to stop them all.

In these situations, villages and fortifications take the place of Dungeons in a normal game. Like mission one is 'take down the village of Homlet'

Where would you attack first?

You get XP for retarding or removing human cultures, but they would have to be specific rewards for each culture so PCs were incentivised to think of cunning solutions for getting rid of them.

So your map ends up looking like the spokes of a wheel gradually infiltrating into 'your' territory.

To take out a human culture completely, or at least retard it for generations, you need to go for their capital city. That's like a level 20 mission. Orcs fighting a city is like humans fighting Cthulhu.

As well as fast-growing humans there are Elf hexes and Dwarf Hexes. These don't grow, they just stay in place and cause you trouble. They are hard to get rid of and provide a jumping-off point for Adventurers.

Burning Rivendell is a high-level mission.

If you have a Dungeon, its one the group creates themselves at start of play. Some kind of microscope-lite game, or a points-buy system. That way it bonds the players to the space, it becomes 'theirs' and they will want to defend it. Its somewhere you can go to be in *slightly less* danger but sometimes adventurers will try to come in and take your stuff and you need to trap and kill them.

A bunch of Orcs and Goblins trying to take down a high level adventuring party is a bit like humans trying to take down a Kaiju, you have to separate them, wear them down and take them out.

I am not sure what to do about the Dungeon 'Boss'. Having a scattering of individual high-level monsters around may make the forces of chaos too powerful, but it gives you someone to get missions and stuff from, and who will also threaten you and make you do stuff. Also, other peoples dungeons are not necessarily allied to you so you can still invade those and do what any normal D&D party would do.

Plus other tribes of non-humans are not necessarily friends so subverting, destroying, evading or commanding them could be a mission.

Also everything that is dangerous to adventurers, ie Trolls under bridges, spiders in the forest, is still dangerous to you, unless you know those particular Spiders or that particular Troll.

The whole thing should be kind-of inside-out from a normal D&D game. Instead of being free agents, you possibly have a boss. Or maybe at least one of you does. Instead of having some food and money and nowhere to stay, you maybe have a whole dungeon you can use that you know every inch of because your player helped to build it, but you have no money and no food at all so you are starving to death from day one.

Instead of starting from the edge of the map and going in towards the unknown centre, you start at the partly known centre and do stuff towards the edge. Instead of gradually getting a larger world and being able to explore more, you are gradually hemmed in as those black human hexes proliferate and work themselves deeper into the wilds.

You never stop having to get food and you never stop getting attacked but enemies are also food so that solves that problem.

Whole thing would be like a weird mix of Microscpe, Apoclaypse World, 5e and Blood Meridian.

Friday 5 September 2014

Experimental Character Generation Document for SAVAGES

I had a big whiney rant about what the D&D people should do with 5e. Reddit hated it, others pointed out that it was just World Of Darkness for D&D, which was kind of true.

Nevertheless, this is the (sort of) OSR! We are pledged to never give a fuck about what anybody says and to simply go straight ahead making  things without worrying too much about whether it would be any good or even if anyone cares.

So that is exactly what I have done.

Here are the experimental character generation rules for an alternate version of the free D&D 5e pdf where YOU PLAY THE MONSTERS*.

It is awkwardly hacked together and the Fighter and Thief class are pretty much just straigh rips from the free PDF. I ripped off guys who did the A5 condensed versions as well becasue I used them a lot.

(The Picture is by Scrap, click on it to get the PDF.)

*Except who are the monsters really hmmmm*?

*Still you. You fucking eat people.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

MAN background for SAVAGES


You know of Man. The ant people. Those who come in many shapes and shades, and always dying. Others think them weak, because they are weak, slender, quick to starve or bleed, but you have been captured by them and escaped, or watched them carefully from the edges of their towns, or taken some and kept them, seeing what they do. You know there is a hideous strength in man. A beserk rage for 'order', like the armies of the ants, but vaster and more powerful. Men are weak but Man is strong.

Skills: History, Insight
Languages: Other than the group language and/or your tribal tongue, you may choose two human languages. You can also read;

A book (non-magical) of whatever subject you wish,
A plan of a particular human settlement, on human skin,
The holy symbol of a human faith,
The Toy of a human child.
A bag of human 'money' a handful, you don't know how much by their count. (Unless you roll 'Money' below.)

d8 Expertise. You have learnt a thing they do, and can do it too.

1 Religion. You know the creed of a human faith, enough to persuade the gullible that you are an unlikely convert.
2 Money. Apparently valueless things have meaning to them. You can ask the DM for the price in gp of objects you find.
3 Politics. Man-Tribes are big, but many. Sometimes they hate each other more than they hate you.
4 Families. They value the small ones. Bond-pairs value each other, sometimes enough to deal if you have one.
5 Tactics. They fight like they build, lots of little pieces making one big thing.
6 Strategy. Big man-tribes are like big animals. Sometimes you don't need to win, just make them tired and confused.
7 Magic. They get it from books, it runs out each day, if they can't sleep, or have no book, they have less magic.
8 Technology. You understand how a mill works and could take apart a lock.

Feature: Man-Tongue. You can talk like they do and understand them easily (though this is not the ability to mimic the sound of a human speaking, that requires a persuasion or performance roll.) You have some idea what they want and the inner logic of their actions. With the DMs consent, when dealing with any human thing relating to your speciality, you may add your proficiency mod to any roll. (Other SAVAGES find you talking like a Man very suspicious.)

d8 Personality Trait
1 I try to work things out carefully and explicitly into related chains of action before I act.
2 I sometimes speak knowledge that comes from dead paper. Others find this creepy and impressive.
3 I keep 'explaining' things or asking others to 'explain' what they mean.
4 I try to find things out even though the things are not useful.
5 I worry about the consequences of things that I do. Not just tomorrow, but many tomorrows away.
6 I wear fragments of human clothes and uniforms and am always adding to or changing the things I wear.
7 I wear fragments of humans and am always adding to or changing the things I wear.
8 I keep talking about places I have never seen and times I have never been.

d6 Ideal
1 Avoidance. If we avoid contact they will attack each other and forget us. Or something will kill them.
2 Fun. So much to destroy! And eat! And destroy!
3 Escape. We have to find some place they cannot follow us.
4 Cultural Theft. Steal their power and make it our own.
5 Enslavement. They will make good slaves once they are broken.
6 Genocide. They all have to die. All of them.

d6 Bond
1 I must preserve my tribe whatever the cost.
2 I must rule my tribe whatever the cost.
3 The Men know something that could destroy them, I must steal that knowledge and use it.
4 I must stop the men expanding their hives of stone and wood into the free lands. Not one inch more, they must burn.
5 They killed my people, took everything, I will teach them pain.
6 I need to keep this group of freaks together and alive as I have nowhere else to go.

d6 Flaw
1 I secretly cradle the fear that Mankind is somehow superior.
2 I am far too confident in my ability to understand them.
3 I can never stop with just one, I have to eat another one, then another..
4 I am obsessed with observing them without their knowledge.
5 I have dreams where I *am* one and they trouble me.
6 I am secretly utterly mad with a deep hatred for them which explodes unpredictably at the wrong times.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

FIRE background for SAVAGES


You know fire. Maybe you were born in fire, burnt by fire, maybe it comes to you in dreams, or you just really really like fire. FIRE.

Skills: Investigation, Intimidation

Tools: Anything that makes fire;

Equipment: Six torches,
A big bag of kindling,
3 jars of stolen lamp oil,
Chunk of cauterised Troll Meat.
Either a simple weapon OR 3 flasks of Gunpowder.


1 A Druids grove, they tried to cut down the trees to save the rest. Failed.
2 An Elven tree village, they fell burning and lit the dry grass where they hit.
3 Forced herd of burning swine into a dwarven mine. It collapsed.
4 My own tribe while they slept. (Whoops, haahahaha.)
5 Crammed Halfling family into their own oven. Delicious.
6 A Temple full of Human Knights, barred the doors, baked them in their own armour.
7 Myself by mistake. Kind of messed-up looking now, still you live and learn!
8 The entirety of the plain to the south, got a little out of hand there. Dry season.
9 A wizards tower, piled up wood at the base and lit it like a match. The fireworks!
10 Boiled a pool full or water nymphs. Steam nymphs now!

Feature: You are really good at burning things! You can always add your proficiency bonus when trying to set things on fire. You are also resistant to natural non-magical fire. With the DM's agreement you can also add your proficiency bonus when dealing with things that are *on* fire. You like to set your weapons on fire and it doesn't always go that badly.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I judge people by how easily I think I could set them on fire.
2 If someone is in trouble, I’m always ready to lend help. So long as that help includes fire.
3 When I set my mind to burning something, I follow through no matter what gets in my way.
4 I like to cover myself in patterns made from the ash of things I have burnt.
5 Unusually, I prefer to cook my food, especially when it's still alive.
6 I'm spiritually worried, yet fascinated by, things that don't burn, like ice. Or teeth.
7 I like to wear burning tapers about my person to create an impression.
8 I get bored easily. But there's usually a solution to that nearby..

d6 Ideal
1 Combustion. It's getting as many things as possible *on fire* at the *same time*, gotta hit max burn.
2 Destruction. The maximum amount of material things destroyed, that’s what matters.
3 Ash. To reduce everything to that cold, grey plain. Silence, Peace and fragments of bone.
4 People. You only burn the house to get the people inside to run out. Then burn them. It's people that really matter.
5 Beauty. It's the impression the fire *makes* really, its an art form.
6 Justice. I should never have to face it. The most important thing is that I get away clean.

d6 Bond
1 I remember the burn for every scar I have, and am looking forward to more.
2 I'm really happy to find anyone willing to tolerate me and will try not to burn them alive.
3 I get flashbacks whenever I see fire, they're great.
4 I've always dreamed of seeing the greatest city on earth, and burning it down.
5 I really want to travel to the Plane of Fire.
6 It's change that matters in life. Everything has to change. Preferably into something smaller, and blacker, and deader.

d6 Flaw
1 I treat burning flames as NPC's, will listen to them when they 'speak' and will have relationships with them.
2 I really don't like travelling in the dark without fire, even thought I can see quite well.
3 I believe my soul is a fire inside me and am fucking terrified of water, especially large volumes.
4 If you leave me owning, or wearing, anything that *can* be turned into kindling, it *will* be turned into kindling.
5 I will totally do whatever I'm told by the first fire daemon, or fire elemental I see. I LOVE THEM!
6 I might be resistant to fire but I really believe I'm IMMUNE.