Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Alphabet of Outer Beings - C is for Corruption

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C is for Corruption

Magic of any kind is not to be trifled with. When interacting with Outer Beings one is putting themselves evermore at the mercy of magical beings with far more power than themselves. Clerics seldom have to worry about corruption, instead feeling the lashings of deific whimsy in the form of Disapproval (see D is for Disapproval), but Wizards and Elfs who tie themselves to a patron in order to grasp for yet greater power run the risk of their magics having truly strange effects that may warp and mutate the user. The following are optional Minor, Major, and Greater Corruption tables to be used in the instance of a spellcasting gone awry.

For systems not normally using Corruption use the following guidelines:
  • Spell levels 1 & 2 result in minor corruption
  • Spell levels 3 & 4 result in  major corruption
  • Spell levels +5 result in greater corruption
  • Judge's may rule that a higher or lower table be used as they see fit appropriate to the circumstances
  • Player's roll 1d10 and modify the result based on Luck, Fate, or similar mechanics as adjudicated by the judge. 

Table C1: Minor Corruption (roll 1d10)
  1. (or lower) Character's skin turns yellow as though they were jaundiced. 
  2. Gravity increases for the character. Character suffers a permanent -1 Strength, and all fall damage dice are upgraded by 1 die type.
  3. Character's face goes numb and slack. Lasts 1d4 weeks during which they are -2 to Personality. If the character needs to speak to cast spells they suffer an increase in spell failure chance of 5%, treat all rolled 2s as though they were 1s. 
  4. Character forgets a language at random. Takes 1d4 weeks of exposure to regain or replace.
  5. Character suffers synesthesia and begins to experience crossed sensory experience per Judge adjudication. 
  6. Character's clothing and equipment liquefy. Magic items have a 66% chance of being immune.
  7. Character's diet changes for the strange. Roll 1d4
    1. Character must drink at least 1d4 pints of blood a day instead of water.
    2. Character must eat 1d3 pounds of dirt a day in place of fruits and vegetables.
    3. Character must eat 4d4 ounces of wood a day in place of meat.
    4. Character can no longer eat and process normal food. They must consume magical energy for nourishment in the form of 1 spell level per character level per day. This magical energy may come from their own spell power, from a willing magic using subject or acolyte, or be forcibly drained from another caster. In all cases the consumed spell(s) are counted as lost for the day.
  8. Character develops a strange body odor. Roll 1d6
    1. Character smells like freshly baked fish. Tends to attract cats.
    2. Character smells like rotten eggs. -2 to Personality unless covered up by 1d4 gold worth of perfume.
    3. Character smells strongly of seawater. 
    4. Character smells like a wet dog at all times.
    5. Character smells like the local gong farmer. Ignore this result if the character's occupation is gong farmer, as they smell no different. 
    6. Character smells of magic. Oddly, everybody thinks so even when they cannot articulate or agree upon, just what this odor smells like. 
  9. Character's hands begin to "sweat" a strange greasy substance. Their fumble range for all weapon attacks and skill checks requiring hands (such as climbing) is increased to a natural 1 or 2.
  10. Fate re-written! The character rolls a new Lucky Sign and applies their current luck modifier as a new luck bonus/penalty that replaces the previous bonus/penalty. Judges for games that do not use luck may adjudicate accordingly. 
Table C2: Major Corruption (roll 1d10)
  1. (or lower) Fey touched. The character gains a vulnerability to iron as though they were an Elf. If already an elf (or this result is rolled again later), the damage & effects from contact step up 1 die type or otherwise increase as ruled by the judge. 
  2. Eye-stalks. Eyes bulge out and over 2d4 days pop out of sockets as the optic nerve becomes stalks, 2d3 inches long. Permanent -1 to Personality.
  3. Teeth fall out over 1d6 days before being replaced with rows of shark teeth after another 1d4 days. The character can bite for 1d4 damage, but suffers a permanent -1 to Personality. 
  4. Character drools excessively, 1d4 liters worth each day. They must drink the same amount of additional water every day or suffer -1 to Stamina from dehydration.
  5. Character's fingers each grow 1d3 additional inches in length causing a -1D penalty on tasks requiring fine control (such as picking locks). 
  6. Character's fingers and toes each grow 1d3 new joints over the course of 1d6 days.
  7. Character's nose begins to run with a speed of 40 feet per round. Character is -1 Personality until the nose is caught and reattached.
  8. Two left feet. The bones in the character's right foot shift painfully over the next 1d4 hours until they have two left feet. Character has trouble dancing and walking in a straight line.
  9. Tiny face. The character's facial features shrink to half their normal size resulting in a tiny face centered on their head.  
  10. Ass-backwards. The character's lower body (below the waist) is turned 180 degrees from their upper body permanently.  
Table C3: Greater Corruption (roll 1d10)
  1. (or lower) Sex change. The character's gender reverses over the next 1d4 weeks.
  2. Character's feet change. Roll 1d6
    1. Feet become starfish, must soak feet in saltwater for 1d3 hours daily.
    2. Feet become hooves, shoes must now be purchased from a blacksmith.
    3. Feet become invisible, no other change. 
    4. Feet become solid lead; character suffers -1D on all attempts to move silently. 
    5. Feet become a pair of angry cats. Good luck with that. 
    6. Feel become a large clumps of hair. Reduces speed by 10 feet. 
  3. Crystaleyez. Eyelids shrivel up and and fall off as the eyes crystallize. Character is able to see through the crystallized eyes, but is blind if they are removed. Roll 1d4: 
    1. Eyes become quartz crystals worth 1d4 silver each; character gains 2x telescopic vision
    2. Eyes become diamonds worth 1d6 gold each; character gains +1D on saving throws against Illusions
    3. Eyes become amethysts worth 2d6 silver each; character can see into Ultraviolet spectrum (30 feet)
    4. Eyes become rubies worth 1d4 gold each; character gains Infravision (30 feet)
  4. Mute. Character's vocal cords atrophy over 2d6 days after which they are incapable of making any speech or vocal noises. On the bright side they no longer have any verbal casting requirements either. 
  5. The Touch of the Mi-Das. The character gains the uncontrollable ability to transform whatever they touch. Roll 1d4:
    1. Touched objects are bleached of all color, becoming pure black and white.
    2. Touched objects are transformed into pasta. 50% chance the pasta is cooked, otherwise dried.
    3. Touched objects become stone unless the object was subject to Petrification which is reversed at their touch.
    4. Touched objects are coated in the thin layer of gold which flakes away when next touched. 
  6. All thumbs. The character's fingers spend 1d8 turns turning into thumbs. 
  7. In a dog's age. The character ages at a rate 7 times faster than normal from this point forward. 
  8. Phlogiston Disturbance. All flammable objects within 15 feet of the caster become non-flammable, and all non-flammables become rather flammable. Torches are likely to sputter out and lanterns are likely to catch fire.  
  9. Random Esoteric Knowledge. The character loses all current spells and randomly rolls to replace the lost spell knowledge with a new list of spells. Randomly re-roll any Mercurial Magic for spells that are retained. 
  10. Character suffers a total polarity change. Roll 1d4
    1. Alignment reverses from law to chaos or chaos to law. If the character was neutral roll 1d4, if even they are now lawful, if odd they are now chaotic.
    2. Character's colors are inverted, this includes their skin, teeth, blood, hair, eyes, scat, etc. 
    3. Character's attributes are inverted. Adjust character stats by subtracting the current attribute score from 21! (e.g. an attribute of 8 becomes 13, going from -1 to +1). 
    4. Character's class reverses. Wizards become Warriors and Elves become dwarfs. Clerics become Thieves if using corruption for high disapproval results. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review: MCC #2: A Fallen Star for All (Mutant Crawl Classics)

Find it at the Goodman Games store!

Moving onward from our opening "funnel" (I use quotes there because it kinda was a funnel and kinda wasn't) I sent my players out to investigate the impact site of a fallen star that burned in the jungle miles from their home...

The Setup

A star fell from the sky and set the jungle alight. That was days ago, and scouts have reported back the the fire is dying down and the fallen star has revealed a lost city of the ancient ones. Your tribe has sent you and your seeker team to investigate and return with all the artifacts you can, but be wary, there are other tribes who desire those same artifacts and they may be willing to fight for them.

The Good

It took us four sessions to complete this adventure. We play weeknights and usually get about 2-2.5 hours of game in per session so this is easily enough material for 8-10 hours of gaming. Probably a little less if you don't have to recap prior sessions as heavily. For a $10 module I look at this as a very good return on investment.

The initial advance up to the crater and into the complex are very good with a lot of chances for combat, exploration, and role play. There's also some interesting new creatures and artifacts before you even get inside.

Once inside the facility there's a lot to do and even if the group moves quick there's plenty of options as the Judge to run encounters.

The Bad

Unfortunately there;s also so much going on inside the complex that at times it's hard to keep everything straight. There's also so much packed in that some of it isn't as well developed as I would have liked to have seen. There's an AI who could have used a little more meat to aid in roleplay, and part of the final portion is explained to the Judge but not really easy to get across to the characters. Still these are fairly minor complaints overall, and may be less of concern to other Judges.

The Ugly

In my review of Assault on the Sky High Tower I lamented some Tech Levels that were high enough to maybe be impossible to interact with using the rules as written. I don't mind this for optional or non-critical portions of the module, but I take issue when they become impediments to progress. In this instance there was a TL 6 object that required at least an Intelligence of 18 (as written). I ruled it down some, because I didn't see the point, but again it seemed weird.

However I started to think that maybe there was a change in the Tech Level rules during the development process and during the time this module was written when I found that there were some Tech Level 8 items at the end of the adventure. According to the rule book the highest TL is 7 which needs an Int of 24 and represents alien tech (where this is meant to be ancient technology). I believe now it is likely that there was a change and this module wasn't updated accordingly.

Also ugly was the let down of finding out that the fallen star was just a McGuffin to expose the complex to the world and didn't factor into the adventure thereafter. If I run this again in the future I'll make a change in that respect.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed A Fallen Star for All and I think my group did too. There were some sticky bits but nothing is perfect (or some I'm told). The adventure provided a "dungeon" to delve that was full of interesting encounters and artifacts. The bang for the buck I got out of this module was impressive given that I got around 12 hours of play out of this module (4 sessions of around 3 hours each). I'm going to rate this 3.5 rads out of 4.

Monday, March 5, 2018

MCC Recap - Hot hot hot!

This week I ran the fourth and final session of A Fallen Star for All with a ragtag band of seekers trying to uncover the secrets of an ancient stronghold.
  • +Craig McCullough as Tarn the Rover
    • Thorn the zero level Plantient
  • +Alex Perucchini  as Flik-flak the Sentinel
    • Porky the zero level pig-manimal
  • +andrew lyon  as Sinclair the Mutant (Chitinous armor)
    • Morrey the zero level Plantient
  • +Paul Go  Agutter the Healer
    • Stryder the zero level mutant
  • NPC'd for the evening
Spoilers for the end of A Fallen Star for All ahead...

In some sort of entertainment room of this strange ancient cave the seekers took stock of their options: backtrack, continue farther, or open the door in the wall. Porky strode forward and after examining the door in the wall pressed a small round spot beside it, which lit up green. After a moment the doors parted revealing a shaft like the one they had found earlier and the very same lift platform. Opposite them another opening led away from the shaft to a stair leading downward.

The group debated this new path but ultimately chose the old. Downward they proceeded. A jaunt down a curving stair emptied out into a strange laboratory of some kind, but more relevantly they stumbled into a combat between mutant beast things and some kind of ooze creature that spewed corrosive orange goo.

Momentarily forgoing their enmity with the beast things the seekers attacked the ooze creature and the two groups quickly destroyed it, rendering the monster into so much sludge. Agutter wasn't ready to consider parlay with the beast things however and threw a poisoned dart at their champion. Though the damage was negligible, the paralytic poison instantly rendered the him immobile. The beast things took this as a sign of hostility and the combat was quickly rejoined. The seekers, both outnumbering and bearing better equipment, quickly dispatched the beast things in a pitch battle.

The lab had little of value to the seekers save a strange tube set into the wall. Large enough for a man to enter the group persuaded Porky to step inside and see what would happen. The tube closed behind the pig manimal and the tube began to fill with strange green-white gas. In a mere moment the gas crystallized entrapping Porky in stasis. the group tried to smash the tube to release him but when cracked the gas escaped the pod crystallizing on the spear and almost entrapping another of their number. For safety they decided to leave Porky to his fate.

Moving onward the group found a control chamber where Tarn interfaced with the A.I. of the complex and gained limited control for a short time. He was able to display a map of the complex, view the rooms yet explored, and determine that there was some object lowered into the liquid rock of the earth below. He also brought more ire from the MATRON AI who yelled that "children should not be playing in the control center."

Confident now that there were no enemies ahead the group descended into the deepest chamber where they found a scorching hot pool of liquid rock and something submerged within. While scavenging items from some nearby storage the mechanism in the room raised a large sphere from the pool. This sphere disgorged a pair of man-shaped things with skull heads who immediately attacked. Though they outnumbered the new enemies by 4 to 1 they found these creatures unusually tough. The fought hard but were met with merciless attacks. Flic-flak was nearly killed by a thrown glob of lava, and Stryder was pulled into the lava where he quickly burned to death.

Once the creatures were destroyed and Flic-flak restored to health by Agutter they began to explore the area once more. Flic-flak entered the sphere and found a strange spiked staff, and a vial of glowing golden liquid. He open the vial and the strange fluid began to evaporate. Reacting quickly Flic-flak drank down the liquid before it could disappear. The strange fluid burned a little but prove to be a powerful elixir benefiting the sentinel with more hit points, improved personality, and even a touch of Luck.

Meanwhile Sinclair and Morrey were poking at a strange piece of equipment. It resisted their attempts to understand, and, after taking some joking advice, they began to pummel it. The damage inflicted set the unstable power generator to a quick degrading cycle. MATRON attempted to stop the seekers but only spurred them on. After dispatching some of the remaining robots within the complex in her command to stop them the seekers made their escape. Most of them climbing up to the next level to flee.

Confused and left behind Sinclair and Morrey instead entered the sphere and closed it. As their fellows continued to make their escape by climbing up and out of the complex Sinclair and Morrey dove the sphere into the lava trying to find another route out. Unable to find an outlet within the range of the tether and unwilling to sever the tether and continue without it Sinclair piloted the sphere back where he and Morrey made a hasty retreat just beyond the gasp of the MATRON's robots.

At the shaft Sinclair was forced to burn they very last of his luck to avoid breaking the lifting machine, and Morrey was similarly forced to burn his luck down to get the lift working and take them to the surface. Once there they found the others gone with only three strange symbols scratched into the dirt. A bird. A shelter. And a strange symbol neither had seen before. At this point the ground was shaking and things were looking bad.

Unsure of the meaning they decided to run in the direction the bird's beak was pointing. As they fled the others swooped down from the sky in a flying machine of the ancients and picked them up. Together the party fled before the MATRON and her complex erupted like a volcano.

Most interesting behavioral change:
  • Luck got burned hardcore this session, like way more than I've seen in other games I've run or played in that weren't convention one-shots. Up to and including Andy burning not one, but TWO characters down to 1 Luck ... yes, 1 Luck
Thing that my players did that I didn't see coming:
  • 3/4 of the group were climbing their way out of the lava chamber when some robots controlled by MATRON arrived. For some reason Sinclair and M-- climbed into the bathysphere and ... were utterly abandoned by the rest of the party. I think it was justifiable but I sure didn't expect it. 
In Memoriam: 
  • Porky the pig manimal - in stasis for 415 years (assuming the stasis chamber survived the explosion/eruption)
  • Stryder the mutant - burned alive in a pool of lava