Friday, May 13, 2016

Clerics and the God Worm

Below are my thoughts for clerics serving the God Worm, based on Tony Dowler's Purple Worm Graveyard. In the adventure, it's implied that there's a tradition of human cultists worshipping a powerful Worm God, and that it usually goes badly for them.

I liked the implication that there might be good reasons for humans to worship a giant worm, and that it might still be a terribly bad idea for them to do so. Worms are the eaters of the dead, so the God Worm bestows all the usual clerical powers, albeit with some variations in their appearance. Servants of the God Worm are also invariably destroyed by their connection to such a powerful inhumane entity. I've added the option for clerics to choose to become tainted, instead of accepting the usual consequences of deity disapproval, and I've added a very tempting offer, for clerics to burn away their minds instead of their luck, for a larger one-time benefit, but at a cost that's irrecoverable.

CLERICS AND THE GOD WORM

Alignment: The God Worm is neutral in (or perhaps prior to and separate from) the great Cosmic Struggle between Order and Chaos, but its worshippers may be of any alignment.

Holy Symbol: The cleric's holy symbol might be a wood staff carved to look like a worm, an ourouboros (a symbol of a worm making a circle and biting its own tail) or an auryn (a symbol of two worms making a knot and biting each other's tails), or a live worm that she keeps as a mascot.

Lay on Hands: Whenever the cleric calls on the God Worm's power to heal the injured and sick, her healing touch manifests as a swarm of maggots, leeches, and other medicinal vermin. These fall from the cuffs of her sleeves, sweat from the pores of her hands, and burrow up through the skin of the patient. They eat any infected or necrotized flesh, leaving a clean sterile wound, and disperse at the end of the healing.

Turn Unholy: Whenever the cleric calls on the God Worm's power to turn away the unholy, the primary manifestation is of worms and maggots rising halfway up from the soil to repulse the enemies of her faith. If the turning attempt includes a holy smite, this manifests as a stream or cone of devouring worms flowing out of the cleric's hand and drilling into her foes.

Deity Disapproval: Whenever the cleric rolls within her current disapproval range, she may choose to receive patron taint from the God Worm instead of accepting the result of the disapproval roll. She may choose to receive patron taint after seeing the disapproval result, but after this choice is made, it cannot be reversed based on the patron taint roll.

Burning luck: Clerics who serve the God Worm may choose to permanently burn their Personality or Intelligence ability scores instead of burning Luck to modify the effects of laying on hands, turning unholy, or spellcasting. The God Worm rewards this alignment of the cleric's mind with the annelid consciousness by granting a +CL bonus to the modified roll in exchange for this sacrifice. Clerics who serve the God Worm can never increase their mental ability scores; any effect that would ordinarily increase a cleric's Personality or Intelligence scores increases her Luck score instead.

Blessing, Holy sanctuary, Protection from evil, Divine symbol, Spiritual weapon, Sanctify: Spells that confer a blessing or protection manifest as an anointing of worms crawling over the affected person, object, or place.

Detect evil, Detect magic, Second sight, True name: When the cleric casts spells that allow her to commune with the mind of the God Worm to gain knowledge, she must accept patron taint if she rolls in her disapproval range, as described above.

Food of the gods: The God Worm sends edible meal worms for the cleric to eat.

Cure paralysis, Neutralize poison or disease, Restore vitality, Remove curse: Healing magic is affected as the laying on of hands, described above.

Snake charm: The affected snakes shed their skins to reveal snake-sized earthworms beneath. This change persists even after the spell's duration ends.

Stinging stone, Bolt from the blue, Affliction of the gods, Vermin blight, Whirling doom: Spells that afflict the cleric's enemies manifest as an attack by worms instead of other creatures or objects.

Wood wyrding, Cause earthquake, Desecrate: The God Worm sends burrowing worms to drill though the affected object or piece of land, and their movement creates the effect of the spell.

Animate dead, Speak with the dead: The God Worm does not allow its clerics to animate or speak with the dead. If the cleric's random determination of spells would result in her learning either of these spells, she re-rolls to learn a different spell instead. Attempting to cast these or similar spells results in automatic failure, deity disapproval, and patron taint.

Other magic: Clerics who serve the God Worm manifest their spells differently than other clerics. The player and the judge are encouraged to devise additional alternate manifestations for these and other clerical spells.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

God Worm Spellburn

 Below is my spellburn patron for my God Worm patron. This table is heavily inspired by the "Worm Madness" table in Tony Dowler's Purple Worm Dungeon.

SPELLBURN

1 The God Worm places burrowing worms inside the spellcaster's body.  For each 1 point of spellburn, 1d3 worms burrow out of the caster's flesh and fall wriggling to the floor, dealing 1 damage each as they do so.  The first worm emerges 1d3 combat rounds after the spellburn, and each successive worm eats its way free 1d3 exploration turns after the previous one.

2 The spellcaster hallucinates being eaten alive by delusionary worms.  For each 1 point of physical ability sacrificed, the caster must also temporarily sacrifice 1 point of Intelligence or Personality.

3 The spellcaster falls to her hands and knees voraciously consumes the dirt of the floor for 1 round per point of spellburn, (or breaks her fingers and teeth attempting to eat a stone or tiled floor.)

4  The spellcaster must spend the next 1d3 rounds after casting the spell doing nothing but vomitting.  In return, the God Worm grants +1d3 to the spell check for each 1 point of ability score sacrificed.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

God Worm Patron Taint

Below are the patron taint results for invoking the God Worm. Several of the entries are derived from my idea that the maggot naga monsters in Tony Dowler's Purple Worm Graveyard might represent former cultists who have been transformed by their service to the Worm God.

PATRON TAINT

1 The caster's skin becomes an ashen gray color and takes on a rubbery appearance. If this result is rolled a second time, the caster's skin becomes tinted a deep purplish-gray and begins to protect the caster as though she were wearing leather armor (AC 11). If this result is rolled a third time, the caster's skin becomes vivid purple and protects as though she were wearing hide armor (AC 13).

2 The caster can no longer gain nourishment from fresh food and must instead only consume food that is spoiled or has become rotten. She no longer needs to eat normally, but must make a Will save against a DC of 5 + the number of meals skipped to avoid spending a turn eating any spoiled food, rot, vomit, or excrement she encounters. If this result is rolled a second time, the caster can no longer eat anything but dead flesh, and must make a Will save against a DC of 10 + number of meals skipped to avoid spending a turn gorging herself on any freshly killed character or monster she encounters. If this result is rolled a third time, the caster is no longer tempted by the recently dead, but must make a Will save against a DC of 15 + the number of meals skipped to avoid spending a turn consuming the flesh or gnawing the bones of any corpses, skeletons, or undead she encounters. (The caster generally skips one meal per day, plus any "meals" she avoids by making a successful Will save.)

3 The caster takes off and throws away her boots, insisting on going barefoot so she can feel the ground beneath her feet. If this result is rolled a second time, the caster's feet and legs become boneless tentacles. The caster's gait becomes unnatural and she receives a +5 bonus to climb walls or other sheer surfaces. If this result is rolled a third time, the entire lower half of the caster's body transforms to become a single worm-like tail. She can no longer wear pants or hide her deformity, but she receives a +10 bonus to climb walls or other sheer surfaces.

4 The caster's teeth begin to fall out of her mouth and are replaced by hundreds of tiny barbs and hooks. If this result is rolled a second time, the caster's tongue falls out, and her voice becomes a whispered rasp. If this result is rolled a third time, the caster's entire mouth reforms into the O shape of a lamprey.

5 The caster seethes with the God Worm's ferocity against the undead. When fighting the undead, the spellcaster uses the critical range of a Warrior with level equal to her CL (so a 1st level caster would have a critical range of 19-20 instead of 20.) If this result is rolled a second time, when fighting the undead, the caster enters a battle frenzy every time she crits, and she must burn at least 1 point of Personality or Intelligence (each ability point burned adds +1d12 damage to her hit.) If this result is rolled a third time, the caster uses the monster ciritical hit matrix and crits as a monster with HD equal to her CL (so a 1st level caster would roll M/d6 instead of I/d6.)

6 The caster cannot attack any vermin, except in self-defense after it has attacked her or her allies. If this result is rolled a second time, the caster cannot attack any vermin unless it has already damaged her. Additionally, she must make a DC 10 Will save to avoid making a single attack against the first person to kill a vermin each combat. If this result is rolled a third time, the caster cannot attack any vermin under any circumstances, and is considered helpless against attacking vermin. Additionally, she must make a DC 15 Will save to avoid attacking the first person who makes an attack a vermin each combat. If she fails this save, she may attempt it again at the beginning of each new round, but she will fight this person to the death unless she succeeds her Will save before making the killing blow.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

DCC Patron: The God Worm

Below is my write-up for the God Worm, an inhuman patron based on the Worm God from Tony Dowler's Purple Worm Graveyard.  The God Worm is a powerful patron, but this comes at a pretty steep price.  The Savage Cannibals of the Great Worm Cult living in Park Pobedy in Dmitry Glukhovsky's Metro: 2033, and the Eater cult on Vavatch Orbital in Iain Banks's Consider Phlebas are both possible literary models for what the worshippers of the God Worm might look like.

THE GOD WORM

The God Worm is a powerfully and deeply ancient supernatural being.  It has been worshipped in many guises, but its true nature is unknown.  It might simply be the largest worm in the world.  It might be the progenitor Mother of all worms, or the Platonic ideal of worm-kind, the last surviving Cambrian god, or the god-creator of all annelids.  It might be the Great Worm that dug the many tunnels of the underworld, or the Eater of the Dead.  It might even be the Hyperborean Worm, the White Worm that presages the glaciers, or the Conqueror Worm, death, or the world-serpent J√∂rmungandr, the Worm Ourouboros, who encircles the world.

The God Worm has been worshipped primarily by farmers hoping for better crops and villagers besieged by the unquiet dead, but its cults can also be found among cave dwellers seeking protection from the great tunnel digger, among islanders fearing earthquakes or volcanoes, and in cities ravaged by plague.  The God Worm is an un-human mind, and all who pray to it or attempt mental contact eventually succumb to madness.  The God Worm's dictates are only occasionally compatible with human desires, and it is an essentially unknowable alien entity.  Its wants are not our wants, its needs are not our needs, and trying to please or understand it is a suicidal act of self-destruction.  Worm cults inevitably self-obliterate, or are purged from the earth by their frightened neighbors, as their members turn to detrivory, corpophagy, auto-cannibalism, self-mutilation, cultivating worms under the skin of their own bodies, digging ever-deeper burrows and tunnels, and breeding ever-more, ever-larger monstrous worms.

INVOKE PATRON RESULTS


12-13 The God Worm turns in its sleep. The earth trembles with vibrations, and all sentient minds must succeed a Will save vs. the spell check result or lose their next action. (Worshippers and servants of the Worm God are miraculously unaffected, but other allies of the spellcaster need to save as well.)

14-17 The God Worm gazes briefly at the spellcaster, and visions of madness afflict the spellcaster's foes. Each sentient opponent must make a successful Will save vs. the spell check result or spend their next combat round clutching their heads in pain. Any opponent holding a weapon or shield has a 50% chance of dropping whatever they were holding.

18-19 The ground shakes with the movement of worms beneath the earth. Everyone present must make a successful Reflex save vs. the spell check result or fall prone and drop whatever they are holding. (Worshippers and servants of the Worm God are miraculously unaffected, but other allies of the spellcaster need to save as well.) Anyone who falls prone take 1d4 damage from the fall and must spend the next round regaining their feet.

20-23 The God Worm sends a Worm That Walks. This writhing human-shaped mass of worms rises from the ground next to the spellcaster and fights by her side until it is damaged, when it immediately discorporates.
  • Worm That Walks: Init +0, Atk 1 tentacle +6 melee (1d12) or engulf +6 melee (2d6), AC 13, HD 8d8, Act 1d20, MV 20, SP takes half damage from cutting and piercing weapons, first tentacle attack has 5% chance to deliver Chill Touch with 1d8 + 10 spellcheck result, engulfed creature takes 2d6 bite damage per turn (DC 14 Agility check to escape), death throes discorporates into mass of earthworms, SV Fort +6 Ref +2 Will +2, AL N, Crit M/d14
24-27 The God Worm momentarily turns its attention to the spellcaster, and sends horrifying visions of devouring insanity against the spellcaster's enemies. Each sentient opponent must succeed a Will save vs. the spell check result or spend their next combat round attacking themselves with their most damaging attacks. Each opponent should make an attack roll as normal against its own AC and roll as normal for damage for any attack that hits.

28-29 A sinkhole opens beneath the feet of the spellcaster's foes. A perfectly circular 10' diameter hole opens beneath the most dangerous enemy who falls in (no save). Other combatants engaged in melee must make a successful Reflex save vs. the spell check result or fall in as well. (Worshippers and servants of the Worm God are miraculously safe, but other allies of the spellcaster may need to save as well.) The sinkhole is at least 20' deep, but if a dungeon level exists below the spot the hole opens, it will tunnel all the way through, even hundreds of feet down. Falling creatures take 1d6 damage for each 10' they fall. A successful Climb Sheer Surfaces skill check or Agility check against DC equal to the spell check result is needed to climb up the smooth-sided walls of the sinkhole.

30-31 The God Worm sends a Purple Worm. This colossal beast erupts from the ground and interposes itself between the spellcaster and her enemies, fighting them for 1d3+1 rounds before burrowing away.
  • Purple Worm: Init +0, Atk 1 bite +11 melee (1d24 + swallow) and 1 sting (1d8 + poison), AC 16, HD 15d8, Act 2d20, MV 20, SP swallows opponent whole on any attack roll that exceeds the target's AC by 4 or more, or any natural 20, swallowed opponents take 2d6 crush damage per round while the worm lives, sting injects lethal poison (DC 18 Fort save to survive), SV Fort +9 Ref +5 Will +2, AL N, Crit M/d20
32+ As above, except the God Worm sends 1d3+1 Purple Worms. These burst from the earth in front of the spellcaster, defending her for 2d4+2 rounds each before departing.