Thursday, September 22, 2022

Through the Veil: Intro and Astromancers

Roll the intro cutscene.

Twelve constellations hang in a ring around the earth. Each turning as a spoke in a wheel. Far below lies the earth and all that is in it. This fades to the physical forms of mighty gods butchering one of their own. The god is shattered, falling and falling. He crashes through one of the four bridges linking heaven and earth, destroying it utterly. The world above and below is plunged into darkness. The wheel no longer turns. The gods have returned to their constellations, a red star now lingers among each one.

Twelve gods hang in the firmament.

Cold twinkling eyes watch the drama unfold again and again,

Around the Great Pillar they spin.

Each revolution of the Wheel crushing the age before.

Each revolution of the Wheel birthing an age anew.

Outside, the looming darkness hungers.


Eleven, they gathered in the firmament,

Red, dripping hands rend the First again and again,

The ancient age dies languidly

The infant age does not come, yet the birth pangs shudder.

Outside, the looming darkness enters.


The drama of the stars ends. You lie flat on your back. You see only darkness.


Feel the ache of bones lying upon cold basalt,

Hear the voices without words like those in a dream,

Breathe. A sickly sweet voice intones,


Do'st thou not learn in thy living?

Four are the directions of the wind,

her huntresses seeking prey, its demise to find.

Six is the form that magic takes,

in the eyes of the divine.

Ten armies make the strength of men,

Yet greater strength is found in their kings

Seek these missing number, 

to bring the end of all things.


Cutscene ends. A dark veil slowly pulls away. Who are you?


A Temple Astromancer

A Huntress

A Kingson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Temple Astromancer

Coveting a time now past. Longing for a distant lover. Bittersweet memories of adventure and joy culminate in a legendary tragedy. This is the lot of the astromancer.


Begin play with three earwax candles, a papyrus writing set with ink, a clay pot of dried fruit, and the accoutrement of your worship.


Lunar Astromancy

Accoutrement: 

  • A memory not yours, (1- of the warmth of the sun reflected on a happy world at peace., 2 - of an age of romance with the Tides, 3 - of a cold and lonely night, far from the Sun.)

  • White Acolyte’s Robes now fraying and dirty on the edges (+1 Faith), 

  • Moon Rock Scepter (talisman for lunar astromancies, Small weapon), 

  • trinket (1- a practical bronze astrolabe, depicts the orientation of the Wheel, 2- a kamal, a wooden card tied to a string. Hold string in teeth and gaze at the horizon to determine latitude, 3- a celatone, a helmet with telescoping eyepiece, provides 1 armor), 

  • An apocryphal version of The Lore of the Lesser Astral Bodies. A scroll (1 slot) enumerating the deeds of the diune moon and her lover, the sun.  This scroll emphasizes the orbit, phases, and miracles accomplished by Jemanin, the Full Moon. Several anecdotes describe her gentleness, revelatory wisdom, and healing abilities. Roll twice on Lore checks related to this knowledge.


Spells, roll 1d6 twice for starting spells. Reroll duplicates.


  1. Revealing Light, To eyes adjusted to darkness, it is the moon’s gentle light that shows the way…
    [dice] hidden objects in the immediate area are briefly revealed. Range and duration increase with MD and intent directs what is revealed.

  2. Tidal Pull, By this the Gentle Moon lowered the bridge and her companions tread across on pure light…
    Range of [dice]x10m. Pull a target Faith + [sum] meters toward you.

  3. Jemanin’s Pillar of Light, Through hill and valley they went, Viracocha hid under a basket to save fast their plot. It was Jemanin’s light that kept the darkness at bay…
    [sum] meter radius is illuminated with gentle blue light. All within are healed for [dice] hp per turn. 

  4. Knock, Nothing remains hidden forever…
    [dice] closed objects open.

  5. Shard of Jemanin, Struck, she fell! and Viracocha’s fury could not be contained. But alas, it would be the first of many scars on the face of the Moon.
    Moon rock falls from above and strikes a target for Faith + [sum] damage.

  6. Twin’s Link, Jemanin and Janemim struggled hand in hand, creatures of the outer darkness held braying, but at bay.
    [dice] objects are locked in their relative positions. Test Faith to maintain under duress.

  7. Light’s Passage, finally the chasm was far too wide and Viracocha’s legs were spent, but from her high vantage the Moon could see a way.
    You and [dice] others can step from one area of the moon’s illumination to another within sight.

  8. Moon’s Rest, Safe, but only for a brief respite. Her head rested lightly on the rising and falling chest of her lover.
    [dice] targets heal for Faith hp. Dice spent on this spell are expended.

  9. Jemanin’s Rapier, In the youthful days full of light, Viracocha laughed and spared with his most attractive pupil.
    Resplendent moonlight crystalizes in your hand. She is a Faith weapon but may strike first in the round, including the round she is summoned. Lasts for Faith rounds.

  10. Argue with Bids, Jemanin honed her wit and wisdom against the mightiest of adversaries.
    receive correction on [dice] confident assertions.

  11. Beacon Call, Stalwart companion to Jemanin and Janemim. Beacon has even edged out Viracocha in the number of times he saved his mistress.
    Summon Beacon, Beacon is a magnificent steed, and towers above all but the kingsons. He uses your Faith for all rolls in moonlight and Contempt for all others. Invest Stamina for a brief burst of flight.

  12. Moon Crash, Terror and Beauty! Behold the mighty Gem of the Night!
    Summon the Aspect of Jemanin to smite foes and heal allies for [sum]+Faith. Must use all MD for this spell.



Eclipse Astromancy

Accoutrement: 

  • A memory not yours, (1- of the spinning stars falling from their rightful place with murderous intent, 2- of a red world, terrfied of your power, 3- of petty men telling lies about you to control the masses.).

  • Black Acolyte’s Robes, golden trim now fraying and falling away (+1 Contempt), 

  • Flat Black Rock (talisman for eclipse astromancies, necklace), 

  • trinket (1- a gnomon. The part of a sundial which casts a shadow. (small weapon) 2- an equatorial ring. A bronze hoop mounted at an angle in a stand used to determine the equinoxes. 3- armillary sphere. A brass model of objects in the sky. Extremely delicate. 

  • An apocryphal version of The Lore of the Lesser Astral Bodies. A scroll (1 slot) enumerating the deeds of the diune moon and her lover, the sun. This scroll emphasizes the accursed deeds of the fallen gods and their starmad Watchers. Roll twice on Lore checks related to this knowledge.


Spells, roll 1d6 twice for starting spells. Reroll duplicates.


  1. Listen, All alone, the quiet was her closest heart companion. The silence is always full of friends.
    The silence of an airless desert prevails. The sound of mortals and material are quenched. In the true quiet the spirits speak. They will answer [Lore] questions. Never ask them more. With more dice come more spirits, or more arcane depending on the nature of the principality.

  2. Argue with Mirrors, Reflection and the moon are synonymous. The light of the sun brings her warmth and peace, but there are other lights she may reflect.

Your own shadowy reflection appears to provide council. Receive correction on [dice] confident assertions. 

  1. Shadow World, Janemim ran a long finger down to the tip of her Cinquedea. If the gods would not behave, she mused, then neither would she.

Descend into the moonlit realm. Shadows climb walls and long dead spirits are seen passing through the air. In darkness you are invisible and in light you are a black void. Replace all your rolls with Contempt rolls for [sum] rounds. 

  1. Dark Mirror, Disoriented, the Watcher cried out helplessly. Wattle in ribbons, his death-darting eye rolled lazily toward the feet of his assassin.

The target’s next [dice] stat tests are rolled using their opposite stat. Useable as a maneuver. Creates a person-sized oval mirror.

  1. Mirror Walk, Viracocha and Jemanin slept soundly in each other’s arms. Awaking, a wrought iron oval mirror stood by, squeaking in the wind.

For [sum] rounds, you may step intoand out of deep shadows or mirrors within line of sight. More may be possible.

  1. Diune, Four were the guardians of the gods, each bearing the names of their makers. They were given all the might of the gods, but not their omnicience.

Create a shadow of yourself for [sum] rounds. The shadow is a duplicate of yourself, but cannot cast spells and has 1hp.

  1. Darkness Cold Touch, Smell their heat, taste their lips… hear their scream. Why should Jemanin have all the fun?

Deal [sum] damage to a target you’re touching. + Contempt if you are whispering beautiful secrets into their ear.

  1. Eclipse Whip, In Viracocha’s fierce passion, he left his flame unattended. Janemim had plenty of time to put it to good use.

A thin bead of fire stretched in a circle around the moon. Pull it down and bring it to hand. This flaming whip is a Contempt weapon and lasts as many rounds. May use a maneuver to grab and ignite a target for [dice] damage ongoing.

  1. Omen, The spirits and the gods all had plenty to say, if you knew how to listen.

The moon shines a fel red light as you warn of dooms and dangers. Camel and horses bray. Hyena, crow, and cockroaches are attracted. Mooks with [dice] HD or less flee and monsters fall into despair.

  1. Curse, The Astromancers at Kiss hold that to lie under the reflective moon is to lie to yourself. In such a manner no soul has escaped their own judgement. Not in an age.

Define a course of action and a consequence in Contempt + [sum] words. Your target may chose which to abide by. This cannot kill the target if they have more HD than [dice].

  1. Light’s Broken Fractals, The holy power of deity bludgeoned back the brave Viracocha in their direest hour, his flame finding no purchase. It is under the threat of such loss that some rise and some shatter. Shatter she did.

Create Contempt shadows of yourself for [sum] rounds. The shadows are a duplicate of yourself and have 1hp. 

  1. Abyssal Feline, The darkness behind is quiet, but not empty.

Cats of the mirror realm slink in from reflective surfaces of your choice or from shadows of their own. Esoteric knowledge is theirs in full, but charity they have for no man. If cast with [dice]:

1- Liter of mundane sized cats with [sum] HP arrive. Each has a scroll or item in their tail.

2- Two dog sized tigers with [sum] hp split among them pounce on the weakest prey. If fed in blood they may grant a mortal a wish within their power.

3- Marshmoff, the Skinned now serves in this place. He once lost a game of riddles with the previous inhabitant. He was once knowledgeable about art of kastromancy and of beast husbandry.

4- One of the Sphinx who watches the arc of time has always been here. She knoweth your name. 


Through the Veil: Another go!




I am revisiting my soulslike game Through the Veil. There are a lot of fun ideas there that I think have legs, but I haven't yet put in the effort to set them on their feet. I won't say too much, but here's to another go!

First, some basic character stat and combat rules. These will grow and evolve a bit as the game is played and as I get to other aspects of the game.

HUMANITY represents the number of times you may die yet live again. Each humanity also represents 1 visceral memory from life. You’ll start with 5. These scraps of remaining humanity describe much of who you are. Treasure them. If you slay a mighty foe, you may graft a bit of their essence into you increasing your humanity and resource pools, but you will become like them. Something similar happens when you make a true friend, but the effect is much less deleterious. When you die, reduce your humanity by 1, erasing the connected memory. Speak the memory aloud as it escapes. It is gone now.

MEMORIES

  • Your home, now veiled, where the custom is to… [home before death and custom]

  • Your mother, beyond the veil. [describe her]

  • Your love, discovered in death. [what keeps you apart?]

  • Your heart friend, fighting alongside you but in another place. [where are they?]

  • [class memory]


HUMANITY FADES when you die, the trauma rends at your remaining humanity. Reduce your humanity by 1 and erase one of your memories determined at random. Speak your lost memory to the group as you do so. It's lost forever now.


As your human essence is tarnished and compressed into an increasingly violent husk, you grow more deadly. Increase your combat rolls or spell rolls by 1 for each point of humanity you have lost. You also gain a compulsion:


  • Pardon me, I was absorbed in thought… Recite one of your memories whenever you meet someone new, or whenever you are first addressed by another player during a session.

  • Hmm, I seem to have misplaced it... You forget you have an Estus flask unless another player reminds you to use it.

  • Not to worry. Great planning begets great fortune... Your first action in combat is always the same. Write it down and be specific. It's not "wait in the back", either.

  • I've just been sitting here, weighing my options… Whenever your stamina reaches 0 you take a knee and catch your breath. +2 damage against you until you stand up.

  • Can't even die right… Gives me conniptions. One of your current items disgusts you, discard it immediately. Surely, it caused your last death.

  • This is a land of monstrosities. And I am no exception… Always use at least 2 focus dice when casting spells, if possible.


RESOURCES are pools of dice. You start with 4 to spread between these categories:

HP (d8) - roll on level up to determine hp.

STAMINA (d10) - use for attack rolls. Skill checks also use d10. Roll under stat.

MAGIC (d6) - use to cast spells. They return to your pool on a 1-3.


STATS are paired and sum to 10. They start at 5, changing as you level, with certain gear, or with your class.

SMALL/BIG

CONTEMPT/FAITH

LORE/LUCK


COMBAT

-regain 1 stamina dice at turn start

-unengaged ranged attackers go first, then melee, then spells

-if melee is unopposed 

-melee attacker roll stamina resource in an opposed check against their adversary for basic attacks. If rolling multiple dice take the best and compare the final results to this list:


attacker/defender

pass/pass: Deal damage or perform a maneuver. Your adversary has the same choice.

pass/fail: Deal damage and maneuver.

fail/pass: Receive damage and maneuver

fail/fail: Each loses 1 hp as blades clash and faces grimace


If a defender cannot contest an attack if they are taken by surprise, are incapacitated, or other situation as determined by the DM. A defender who does not wish to contest does not expend stamina and takes a fail result. A defender may contest attacks as many times as they wish as long as they have stamina to spend to do so or an ability which allows them to respond otherwise.


Ranged attacks are resolved by the same procedure, but can only be opposed by enemies with a ranged attack. It is difficult to make a ranged attack while engaged in melee.


Spells are resolved last as glog spells are. These are powerful, but esoteric and costly abilities. The weakness of the magician is that their magic may quickly run out. Magic Dice return to your pool on a roll of 1-3.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Tengoku Isles: The Way of the Name


THE WAY OF THE NAME 

Upon the land lay three heavy burdens hard to bear. In the eyes of the demons, these burdens undo the “evils” of Good Xi.


The first act of Zaro was to cull the land of excess and plenty, leaving only WANT. Basic tools required for work were taken and melted into the thrones each lieutenant sits upon. For this reason, the land’s production is limited. To survive, physical feats and martial techniques were developed by MONKS and spread to bypass the need for basic equipment.


To replace peace with fear, the dead and certain fearful demons HAUNT the once serene isles. Mysteries, taboos, and superstitions abound and darkness is anathema. To travel at night is to risk much. The day is only a bit safer. The wisdom of SAGES is often called upon to resolve the strange goings on via ritual or talisman.


Lastly, the presence of the capricious demons themselves weighs heavy on the isles. Their MISRULE is directed seemingly at random. This may take the form of taxation, travel restrictions, forced labor, pogroms, or acts of humiliation. It is SWORDSMEN whose blades attempt to balance the tally of atrocities in kind. 


CLASS - MONK

To rely on externalities is weakness. Pursuing the NAMES OF GOD, relying on INNER POWER, and unlocking the HIDDEN STYLES is the highest path.


Knowing a NAME OF GOD traps it in your mind and grants you great power. To learn a name, it must be spoken to you by a master monk or extracted from a skull which contains it. Walking on this path awakens the power of the inner self and grants great physical feats.


The INNER POWER is your chi and is spent to power the abilities learned from the Names of God. 1d6 chi is placed in your inventory when you meditate instead of resting and chi is expended to power your style. To replace a chi with an item is painful and causes 1 damage.


The inner power is channeled into HIDDEN  STYLES. These styles are learned from training with a master. In your training, you have gained providence (Templates A and B) and a syllable (Template C) from one of the below styles. To learn the Name (Template D) you must defeat the master who holds it.


Wind on Plains Style

A) Spend a Chi to sprint as fast as a falcon in flight for a round.

B) Determine the next day's weather and always react quickly when necessary.

C) Signature Move: Diving Claws Gain Speed. When attacking while sprinting, you may add the rounds spent sprinting to your attack and damage rolls

D) Divine Sign: Summon a mighty gale at will. It lasts for several hours and continues in the same direction. Cannot summon a gale when one is present. 


Location of the School: The island of Phon, which is entirely made up of low, flat beaches and a great central plain. There, the palm trees wave and the waves splash on pearly-white beaches. The waves often wash far inland, threatening the nomads of the isle - the locals have had to learn from the wind, to move with speed and agility. The school itself drifts on the winds, held aloft by … by the East Wind and cables anchored beneath the plains.


Master of the Style: It is said the East Wind itself is the master of the Wind on Plains style, but this is not true. High above the plains in the great kite school, Master Kaze places his ear to the conch shell to hear whispers from each of the great winds in turn. It is from their plots and their cooperations with one another that Master Kaze and the master’s before him have learned the secret of this style.


Broad Oxen Style

A) Spend a Chi to ram through terrain, doors, a crowd, a person etc.

B) When performing manual labor, you count as [template] workers.

C) Signature Move: Cleaving Hoof - stomp the ground, opening a fissure the size of [1 chi - dog size, 2 chi - man size, 3 chi - cow size, 4 chi - hut size]

D) Place your feet and flex your glutes. Neither foot moves relative to your body or to the object it is placed on for as long as you stay put 


Location: By the strength of the ox, the isle of Tawa has been heaped upon itself to form a magnificent tower. Great bones of the earth are excavated and erected. Marble slabs stand vertically, drawing contemplation on the power of humanity Emperor Zaro, should we all work together obey unquestioningly. In the great Square Cuts the students of the Broad Oxen Style practice their craft.


Master: Ushi, master of the Broad Oxen style has not been seen in years. It is said that he has left Tawa as the monument built by his students cannot be improved upon, but this is not true. Only a handful know that he uses the sacred art to anchor the Sky Chain. 


Obscuring Wave Style

A) Spend a Chi to walk on water. You cannot drown, but will instead awaken floating in the water after falling unconscious.

B) You can always find a fish or other inhabitant of a body of water. 

C) Signature Move: Meld with a body of water and become formless. You can step out of a connected body of water later.

D) For 1 **chi** or 4, summon either a fishing barrel, or the galleon sized war vessel *Fortune of the Seas*.


Location: Deepsea fishermen speak tales of blue clad ninja appearing out the the mist, swimming from beyond the reach of sight to climb aboard unweary vessels. When victim vessels are found, usually no one is left alive. All have been killed with barrels, nets, oars or the like.


Master: Sailor and fishermen alike refuse to speak more of the ninja than to scare tea house regulars with tales of the dead.


Billowing Flame Style

A) Otherwise, you breathe fine in smoke and are adept at concealing within it.

B) Warming Hands - place your hands on something living and heal 1 damage per chi spent. 

C) for 1 chi you may start a fire with a snap. 1 additional chi increases its size from (hand -> campfire -> bonfire -> house fire)

D) You can speak the language of fire. The larger they are, the greedier. 


Location: Among the acid clouds and sizzling vents of Mt Chichioya walk singed monks, oblivious to the toxic gas and heat. Their presence is known by the demons, but even they are repelled by the maisma.


Master: An ancient skeleton rests where the heat threatens to kill, her dessicated form now immune. Master Yogan spends her days in communion with the great fire beneath the mountain.


River of Heaven Style

A) While gazing intently in someone's eyes and they into yours, you may spend a chi to charm them. 2 in 6 chance to be charmed in return.

B) Once per night you may read the stars for omens and portents. Ask a single question and read the stars for an answer.

C) Eyes of the Gods - when you win a staring contest, you gain plus [templates] to hit them and armor against them if you fight shortly afterwards.

D) Spend a chi to learn the immediate outcome of a course of action. 


Location: A hanging ziggurat in the sky is home to Emperor Zaro’s tengu secret agents. Birds black of their feather and dead in their eyes. The Name central to the style long since captured by Zaro and used to spy on his subjects.


Master: The giant crow, Karasu, traps the Name behind its beady eyes. Folk tale tells of this bird providing prophecies for those who offer a favor.


Turtle on Rock Style

A) Plant your feet and squat low. You have a 2 in 6 chance of taking no damage from the next non superlative source. Improved by [templates] and by adding chi.

B) You have a remarkable ability to arrive somewhere before anyone thinks you should have been able to get there. If the timing is high stakes, spend a chi.

C) Withdrawal - spend a chi to withdraw from your current situation. Awkward conversations and dangerous fights are equally subject to this ability, although it is hard to withdraw when a spear is flying toward your face. Reappear once the situation has changed.

D) You learn the language of things which speak too slowly to be typically understood: giant tortoise, trees, some stones may even grant you audience. It takes a week to have a conversation with such an entity.


Location: The Vast Shell, Sheru, has remained afloat for as long as anyone can remember. In fact some of the fishermen that make their home on her back have lived there for generations. Sheru swims the warm currents eating the detritus kicked up by the Earth Shaker Oonamazu.


Master: Practitioners of the Turtle on Rock Style seek out the largest predators on the islands, some daring to tempt the great Rocs which survey the open ocean. Being attacked by a fearsome predator and surviving is an honor and a blessing from the mighty beast. Some say Sheru is the master of the Turtle on Rock Style, and it is true.


Through the Veil: Intro and Astromancers

Roll the intro cutscene. Twelve constellations hang in a ring around the earth. Each turning as a spoke in a wheel. Far below lies the eart...