Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DCC Spells I Want to Cast - Mouldering Touch

The spell Hepsoj’s Fecund Fungi (DCC 247) mentions the existence of a patron-level entity, Mycetes-Thrax (result 38+). Mycetes-Thrax is described as "the Great Sleeping Growth that lurks beneath the soil ... a single fungus that stretches for hundreds of leagues and has grown sentient and wise with the eons." Below is my write-up for the first of Mycetes-Thrax’s patron spells, Mouldering Touch. The effects of this spell mimic the effects of the most common oozes in the world's most famous role-playing game. A write-up of the second patron spell, Invoke Patron results, spellburn, and patron taint will follow.

Mycetes-Thrax’s third patron spell should obviously be Mycetes-Thrax’s Fecund Fungi, with results identical to Hepsoj’s version of the spell, except at 3rd level.


Level: 1 (Mycetes-Thrax)
Range: Touch
Duration: Varies
Casting time: 1 action
Save: Varies

General: The palm of the caster's hand is coated in protoplasmic slime mold, allowing her to deliver lingering toxic effects to her enemies by touching them. On a critical success, both the caster's palms are coated, allowing her to deliver two touches, and she can choose any effect at or below the level of her spell check, including different effects for each hand.

If spell is used against a player character (or anyone else with a known Stamina score,) result 28-29 causes 1d6 points of temporary Stamina loss (instead of Fortitude and hit point loss,) and result 30-31 causes 3d6 points of temporary Stamina loss.

Manifestation: See below.

Misfire: Roll 1d4: (1) the caster's entire body is coated with a thin layer of phosphorescent white dust, and for the next hour, all attack rolls against the caster are +1d to hit; (2) the caster takes 1d3 cold damage and any light sources she's carrying are extinguished; (3) the caster is temporarily paralyzed for the next 1d3 combat rounds; (4) a cloud of toxic yellow dust puffs up into the caster's face causing 1d3 temporary Stamina damage.

1 Failure! Lost, misfire, and patron taint.

2-11 Failure, lost.

12-13 Phosphorescent fungus. For the next hour, the caster's palm is coated with a ghostly white dust. The dust glows too weakly to serve as a light source, but for the next day, it will serve as a highly visible marker on the next creature or object the caster touches. A marked creature loses any benefits of invisibility or cover.

14-17 Ochre jelly. For the next turn, the caster's palm is covered in a orangish-brown gel. The next creature the caster touches takes 2d4 damage and must make a Fortitude save vs. the spellcheck result or lose its next action.

18-19 Brown mold. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a rich brown dust. The next creature the caster touches takes 2d6 cold damage, and any light sources that creature is carrying are extinguished.

20-23 Gelatinous cube. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a translucent gel. The next creature the caster touches is paralyzed for the next 3d6 combat rounds. That creature may attempt a Fortitude save vs. the spellcheck result to reduce the duration by half.

24-27 Gray ooze. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a wet gray scum. The next creature the caster touches takes 2d6 damage. One piece of armor worn by that creature is -1 AC and one weapon it wields deals -1d damage. Any armor reduced to +0 AC and any weapons reduced to 1d3 damage collapse and fall apart due to acidic corrosion. The defender may choose to make a Reflex save vs. the spellcheck result to take double damage in order to protect its armaments. Instead of attacking, the caster may use this touch to destroy one wooden door over the course of 1 turn.

28-29 Green slime. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a wet green scum. The next creature the caster touches loses -1d3 from its Fortitude save and -1d3 hit points from each Hit Dice. One piece of armor worn by that creature is -2 AC and one weapon it wields deals -2d damage. Any armor reduced to +0 AC and any weapons reduced to 1d3 damage collapse and fall apart due to acidic corrosion. The defender may choose to make a Reflex save vs. the spellcheck result to take double damage in order to protect its armaments. Instead of attacking, the caster may use this touch to destroy a wooden or metal door or a row of metal bars over the course of 1 turn.

30-31 Yellow mold. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a chalky yellow dust. The next creature the caster touches loses -3d3 from its Fortitude save and -3d3 hit points from each Hit Dice. That creature may attempt a Fortitude save vs. the spell check result to reduce the penalty by half.

32+ Black pudding. For the next turn, the caster's hand is covered in a thick black sludge. The next creature the caster touches takes 4d6 damage. One piece of armor worn by that creature is -4 AC and one weapon it wields deals -4d damage. Any armor reduced to +0 AC and any weapons reduced to 1d3 damage collapse and fall apart due to acidic corrosion. The defender may choose to make a Reflex save vs. the spell check result to take double damage in order to protect its armaments. Instead of attacking, the caster may use this touch to destroy a wooden or metal door, a row of metal bars, or a brick or stone wall over the course of 1 round.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

5e Characters I Want to Play - College of Rhythmic Gymnastics Bardic Archetype


Bards of the College of Rhythmic Gymnastics are acrobats and dancers whose graceful movements express ageless truths and wordless poetry. Rhythmic gymnasts focus their efforts on the perfection of their own minds and bodies, preferring to improve themselves more than instructing others. Their performances recreate the movements of stars and snowflakes, and preserve the patterns of civilizations long past. Their exercises allow them to move with a precision and control that few others can match. Whether audiences appear to appreciate their efforts is beside the point. Rhythmic gymnasts are at once the most physical and the most-inward looking of bards, their routines fueling a kind of auto-hypnotic trance that facilitates healing, self-inspiration, and spell-casting. Rhythmic gymnasts work with four types of apparatus - the ball, the clubs, the hoop, and the ribbon - and their mastery over these instruments is unparalleled.

Rhythmic gymnasts study in schools called Gymnasiums, where they practice dance and tumbling, play musical instruments, recite poetry, and read classical literature. Rhythmic gymnasts believe in liberal education and a unified curriculum of physical and mental improvement. They see themselves as living libraries, the custodians of practical and movement traditions that cannot be written down in books or scrolls. When rhythmic gymnasts gather, they share performances through turn-taking and in rituals that involve teams of five.

Joining the College of Rhythmic Gymnastics permanently alters a bard's Bardic Inspiration, Song of Rest, and Spellcasting abilities. Rather than using music or speech to inspire or heal others, the rhythmic gymnast uses a dance performance with apparatus. (Healing is usually facilitated by the hypnotic turning of the hoop. The correct apparatus to inspire others in any particular situation is left to the bard's and the judge's discretion.)

A dance performance with the correct apparatus also replaces the Verbal, Somatic, and Material components of the bard's spells. The correct apparatus for each spell is listed below. The bard and judge are encouraged to work together to decide the correct apparatus for spells not on the bard's spell list, such as spells learned using the Magical Secrets ability.

The ball bounces, glides, and rolls as the bard dances. The ball apparatus is needed to cast spells that relate to movement or that cause objects to appear into existence. The ball can symbolize anything passed from the bard to another target, and the ball facilitates interactions with animals.

Animal Friendship (1st)
Animal Messenger (2nd)
Animate Objects (5th)
Awaken (5th)
Dancing Lights (0th)
Dimension Door (4th)
Enhance Ability (2nd)
Etherealness (7th)
Feather Fall (1st)
Find the Path (6th)
Foresight (9th)
Freedom of Movement (4th)
Locate Animals or Plants (2nd)
Locate Creature (4th)
Longstrider (1st)
Mage Hand (0th)
Message (0th)
Planar Binding (5th)
Plant Growth (3rd)
Prestidigitation (0th)
Raise Dead (5th)
Sending (3rd)
Speak with Animals (1st)
Speak with Plants (3rd)
Teleport (7th)
Unseen Servant (1st)

The clubs can be thrown, juggled, and twirled during the dance. The clubs apparatus are needed to cast spells related to combat, or that deal damage to an opponent.

Bane (1st)
Bestow Curse (3rd)
Cloud of Daggers (2nd)
Dispel Magic (3rd)
Dissonant Whispers (1st)
Eyebite (6th)
Fear (3rd)
Feeblemind (8th)
Feign Death (3rd)
Geas (5th)
Glyph of Warding (3rd)
Heat Metal (2nd)
Heroism (1st)
Knock (2nd)
Mordenkainen's Sword (7th)
Otto's Irresistible Dance (6th)
Power Word Stun (8th)
Power Word Kill (9th)
Shatter (2nd)
Stinking Cloud (3rd)
Tasha's Hideous Laughter (1st)
Thunderwave (1st)
True Strike (0th)
Vicious Mockery (0th)

The hoop encircles the bard, spinning and rolling as she moves through her dance. The hoop apparatus is needed to cast spells of protection and spells that constrain the movements of others. The hoop represents circles and the creation of zones and spaces. The rhythmic movement of the hoop helps the bard concentrate to learn forgotten knowledge, and aids in soothing wounds and other injuries.

Blade Ward (0th)
Clairvoyance (3rd)
Comprehend Languages (1st)
Cure Wounds (1st)
Detect Magic (1st)
Detect Thoughts (2nd)
Forcecage (7th)
Greater Restoration (5th)
Guards and Wards (6th)
Healing Word (1st)
Hold Monster (5th)
Hold Person (2nd)
Identify (1st)
Legend Lore (5th)
Leomund's Tiny Hut (3rd)
Lesser Restoration (2nd)
Locate Object (2nd)
Mass Cure Wounds (5th)
Mending (0th)
Mindblank (8th)
Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion (7th)
Nondetection (3rd)
Power Word Heal (9th)
Regenerate (7th)
Resurrection (7th)
Scrying (5th)
See Invisibility (2nd)
Speak with Dead (3rd)
Silence (2nd)
Sleep (1st)
Teleportation Circle (5th)
Tongues (3rd)
True Seeing (6th)
Zone of Truth (2nd)

The ribbon flutters, swirls, and twists as the bard dances. The ribbon is needed to cast spells that confuse or entrance opponents, or that create the appearance of objects that do not truly exist.

Blindness/Deafness (2nd)
Calm Emotions (2nd)
Charm Person (1st)
Compulsion (4th)
Confusion (4th)
Crown of Madness (2nd)
Disguise Self (1st)
Dominate Person (5th)
Dominate Monster (8th)
Dream (5th)
Enthrall (2nd)
Fairie Fire (1st)
Friends (0th)
Glibness (8th)
Greater Invisibility (4th)
Hallucinatory Terrain (4th)
Hypnotic Pattern (3rd)
Illusionary Script (1st)
Invisibility (2nd)
Light (0th)
Magic Mouth (2nd)
Major Image (3rd)
Mass Suggestion (6th)
Minor Illusion (0th)
Mirage Arcana (7th)
Mislead (5th)
Modify Memory (5th)
Phantasmal Force (2nd)
Polymorph (4th)
Programmed Illusion (6th)
Project Image (7th)
Seeming (5th)
Silent Image (1st)
Suggestion (2nd)
Symbol (7th)
True Polymorph (9th)

Fig 1 - The Ball

When you join the College of Rhythmic Gymnastics at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with the following three tools: ball, hoop, and ribbon. The judge is encouraged to apply these proficiency bonuses (as well as your pre-existing proficiency with clubs) whenever you manipulate sphere-like, wheel-like, rope-like, or stick-like objects.

In addition, you can treat any club weapon you use in combat as though it had the finesse and thrown properties, and you score a critical hit on a successful attack roll of 19 or 20 when using a club.

Fig 2 - The Clubs

Also at 3rd level, you learn to use your proficiency with dance and apparatus to improve your own performance at physical tasks. By entering a brief meditative trance during a dance, you are able to inspire yourself instead of others. You can use your Bardic Inspiration die to improve your own attack roll (clubs), Charisma skill check (ribbon), Constitution saving throw (hoop), Dexterity saving throw (ribbon), Dexterity skill check (ball), initiative (ball), Strength saving throw (clubs), or Strength skill check (hoop).

Fig 3 - The Hoop

At 6th level, you learn to use your skill at tumbling to protect yourself in combat. While you are not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.

In addition, when you are subjected to an effect that allows a Dexterity saving throw to take half damage, you can use your reaction to reduce the final damage by a number of points equal to your proficiency bonus.

Fig 4 - The Ribbon

At 14th level, you learn to apply your ability to dance and tumble to remain fluid in a variety of difficult situations. You can stand up from prone without spending any of your movement. Your speed is not reduced when climbing or due to difficult terrain. You never receive disadvantage from squeezing into a small space. You never provoke an opportunity attack when you move around another creature in combat. Your high-jump and long-jump distances are doubled. You gain resistance to falling damage.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Secret Societies in Our World

The Zero Level Blog has started a series of posts about running DCC pulp adventures set in both the Lost World (a subterranean and/or jungle world hidden in the unexplored places) and Our World (a world of cities and nations resembling the real world in the 1920s and 30s.)

Diogo Nogueira suggests that Our World is filled with secret societies. Below are some of my ideas for possible secret societies in Our World.


Secret societies in Our World operate on a kind of chapter system. Every major city has one (or more) chapters of each of the societies described below, but each chapter operates largely independently. There is no overarching coordination between chapters, no central ruling body governing the behavior of every member of a faction. Different chapters in the same faction will share the same philosophy, the same goal or purpose, and the same general plan of action, but there is no single leader with power over all the different chapters in the faction. Two chapters of the same society in different cities (or even the same city) are as likely to oppose one another as they are to oppose other faction's societies.

Most secret society chapters serve as little more than talking clubs for like-minded individuals, who meet up to elaborate their specific version of their faction's philosophy and to make vague "someday" plans for action. A few chapters are very active, and they represent a real source of danger to the PCs.

Every major city the PCs enter is likely to have 1d4+1 active secret societies. (There may be more, but the rest will be involved only in plotting and debate, or in very minor and low-level activity.) Decisions made by the PCs may cause some active chapters to close up, or some quiet societies to become truly active.

Some political and artistic factions are described below. Psychic, sorcerous, and scientific factions will be described in a future post. Additional factions may exist at the judge's discretion. Although these factions may share names and ideas with real-world organizations and real philosophies, they are firmly the residents of Our World, and may depart from the behavior of their real-world namesakes whenever and however the judge sees fit.

(Although factions are intended to be unorganized conglomerates of like-minded but independent chapter-organizations, a judge interested in including a globe-spanning conspiracy in their game might elect instead to give one or more factions a central leadership, and to make the local directors of the city-level franchise-organization directly answerable to their international leadership. Uncovering this state of affairs, unraveling the faction's hierarchy of command, and unmasking the secret leader all represent likely goals for conspiracy play.)

Seen here: Artistic and political factions.
Source: Home Movies.


Anarchist Societies -
Anarchists espouse the dissolution of all government in favor of self-organization into small, egalitarian consensus-based affinity groups. They are above all anti-imperial, but they oppose government at all levels, in addition to bankers and the owners of large companies. Anarchists often espouse COMMUNISM or SOCIALISM but are almost always at odds with the mainstream supporters of those philosophies. Anarchists everywhere support the worker against the owner and subject against the state.

Across Our World, anarchists have waged a campaign of terror, assassinating political leaders like Austria's Empress Elisabeth and America's President McKinley, and bombing stock markets and financial centers. They are the mortal enemies of CAPITALISTS and ANTI-UNIONISTS. Anarchists have a love-hate relationship with IRREDENTISTS. Both groups share a desire to overthrow the current government, but anarchists reject irredentists' authoritarism and traditionalism. Anarchists also side with UNIONISTS against business owners, but dislike their rigid hierarchy and industrialism. Anarchists are usually the allies of DADAISTS, who they see as continuing their political ambitions within the world of art.

Anti-Unionist Societies -
Anti-Unionists are police officers, soldiers, private detectives, government agents, and organized criminals who have traded their political loyalties to serve the needs of capital beyond the reach of the law. Anti-unionists work to protect the wants powerful from the needs of the weak, the business of the rich from the lives of the poor. They believe that might makes right, and that like calls to like, and they revel in the chance to be paid to destroy that which is different and wrong.

Anti-Unionists are the mercenary arm of CAPITALISM (and sometimes FASCISM.) They break strikes, beat picketers, assassinate protest leaders, fire machine guns into peaceful demonstrations, and sell their services to the highest bidder. They are inimically opposed to ANARCHISTS and UNIONISTS.

Irredentist Societies -
Irredentists are micro-nationalists, who hope to abolish distant imperial and national governments and replace them with local and regional autonomous self-rule. They preach secession and strong borders against the outside. Irredentists believe in the importance of tradition and family. They want to form new small countries with strong-man leaders, with only one local language, with ethnic purity achieved by exile or by death. Irredentists' new micro-nations frequently contain lands held by two or more current states, making their attempts to seize land a flashpoint for conflict between countries who are quick to blame one another for the irredentists' deeds.

Irredentists assassinated Austria's Archduke Ferdinand and helped set off the Great War, and irredentists are beneficiaries of the War, establishing new small governments to carve up the collapsing empires. CAPITALISM, COMMUNISM, and SOCIALISM are conquering, universalizing ideas; irredentists reject them in favor of the local and the traditional. Irredentists sometimes support FASCISM, especially its authoritarian leadership and its willingness pursue ethnic cleansing. Irredentists may form temporary alliances with ANARCHISTS to eliminate political leaders, but they despise anarchists' lack of respect for the authority of a husband over his wife, of a father over his child, and they do not trust anarchists' toleration for religious and ethnic diversity.

Unionist Societies -
Unionists form workplace cooperatives to demand higher wages, shorter hours, better safety conditions, and a host of other improvements to their work process, sometimes culminating in the total ownership of all business by the workers. Unionists usually believe that everyone should have jobs and work as hard as they do, and they tend to believe that their own industry is the most important (and that their own work deserves be paid the most.) This can lead to conflict between unionists in different industries, or even different workplaces in the same industry. Unionists view non-union labor as an even greater threat to their cause than business owners, particularly when the non-union workers belong to another ethnic group.

Unionists stage strikes, slow-downs, and walk-outs, and form picket lines to keep out non-union replacements. Unionist demands have yielded a workday reduced from 16 hours down to 10, and a workweek reduced from 7 days down to 6. Most unionists support COMMUNISM or SOCIALISM, and a few endorse FASCISM, especially those most worried about immigrant laborers. Unionists are the arch-enemies of ANTI-UNIONISTS, who represent the will of CAPITALISM to keep hours long and wages low. Unionists may form temporary alliances with ANARCHISTS to oppose a company leader, although unionists consider them lazy for their critiques of labor and industry.


Cubist Societies -
Cubists are painters who attempt to represent objects and scenes, not as they appear in photographs, or in single moment of time to a static observer, but as they are seen over time, from many angles, as they move and progress. Their paintings have a blocky, disjointed look, and require practice to interpret correctly. Learning to interpret cubist images correctly carries its own risks. Unwary viewers later report seeing all motion as a series of superimposed still images, resembling a Thomas Eakins motion study photograph. Cubist authors explore the notion of narrators "unstuck in time," of life events as places that can be returned to again and again; of death not as a single moment, but as a permanent position, one that has always been there, waiting for the narrator to arrive. Incautious readers report losing their belief in free will, seeing the course of their lives as fixed, immutable as a physical structure.

Pablo Picasso and Le Corbusier are the most famous Cubists in Our World. Like the Impressionists before the Great War, the Cubists are obsessed with trying to achieve the greatest possible realism in their images, and like the DADAISTS, they consider most so-called "realism" to be nothing but kitsch. Their shared contempt for other artists is their only point of agreement with the Dadaists however, as the Cubists mostly consider them their enemies, little better than sign-painters, and scorn their abandonment of artistic purity in favor of political agitation. A shared interest in understanding the dimension of time makes the Cubists allies of the RELATIVISTS, who the Cubists see as scientifically "proving" the validity of their own artistic approach. Cubists also follow the work of the NON-EUCLIDEANS, who believe in a literal fourth dimension of space, rather than thinking of time as a fourth dimension.

Dadaist Societies -
Dadaists are artists who reject the idea that art should be beautiful, and insist instead that it should be politically agitating. Dadaists paint surreal and grotesque images, paint over advertisements and photos, cut up and collage existing images, and declare found objects as sculptures. Dadaists consider their public personas to be an extension of their art, often appear wearing outlandish suits and costumes, walking leashed lobsters and other unsuitable pets, and behaving in ways calculated to outrage polite society. Most governments consider Dadaist art to be obscenity, heresy, libel, sedition, propaganda, or all of the above, and to order it banned, burned, or hidden away.

Although Dadaists are fond of slogans like "Dada is terror," and "Dada destroys all," their worst provocations are more likely to take the form of graffiti, vandalism, and sabotage, rather than outright acts of violence. Truly successful dadaist exhibitions have been known to incite riots and mob violence, directed as often against the dadaists themselves as it is against their enemies. Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp are among the most famous Dadaists in Our World. Dadaists consider all other art to be instruments of CAPITALISM, and treat all other artists, including the CUBISTS, to be as much their enemies as the capitalists are. Dadaists admire the ANARCHISTS, and consider their bombings and assassinations as a kind of dadaist art in the medium of violence.

Cubist vision.
Source: Thomas Eakins.