Sunday, 25 September 2016

Church Of Westra

Church Of Westra by +Kookko Jaskinen 

INTRODUCTION

One of my favorite parts about DMing is the world building. For me one of the most important elements in a fantasy word that feels real and immersive are the religions and beliefs. Whenever I sit down to create a new setting I seem to spend most of the time thinking about the world's pantheon and the Gods individually. This religion is something I came up when I wanted to create a single God religion mostly followed by humans. The setting that I created this into is a high magic setting so I wanted to make this sort of a "simple man's" religion. I think this religion works well outside of the original setting too, as we are using this in totally different campaign and setting with my buddy Thaumiel Nerub. So that being said go ahead and use this in your own worlds if it pleases you. The illustrations are quick and little bit shitty references (drawing isn't my strong suite) trying to help you envision my idea.

THE LORE

"The God of all good things..."

Westra is also known as the "Timeless Wanderer" as he wanders through the realm disguised as an old man dressed in rags. Wherever he went he healed the sick and injured, blessed the crops and granted light for the ones dwelling in the dark. Every time he performed such a miracle he told everyone to have faith in Westra and pray for Westra's blessing. Needless to say that most people thought that he was just another mad wizard. However, there were some people who were so impressed and happy because of this helpful stranger that they started to pray and build altars, shrines, and even churches for him. Many lords and kings felt that their position was threatened by this strange man as more and more people fanatically preached about his miracles. And so these people were labeled as heretics and they were banished from cities and towns. They quickly found each other and formed the original congregation of the Church of Westra, also known as "The Wandering Congregation".
They followed in the footsteps of this strange old man wandering across the realm and preaching about Westra waiting for signs of their God's actual existence. The first sign came in the form of powers and abilities that the most fanatic members of the congregation started to manifest. These members became the leaders of the congregation. Performing miracles of their own they started to call themselves "clerics" (or priests, whatever fits better into your setting). The second sign came when the congregation stumbled upon a cave where they decided to spend the night because of the terrible storm and they were not the only ones with the same plan. The same old man that once told them about Westra had already set up camp in the cave and that night the very first divine service was held. On this service the old man told the truth to his loyal worshippers that he was indeed Westra in disguise and passed his divine wisdom and teachings. The clerics recorded Westra's every word that night and so the "Book Of Wisdom" was created.
During the service Westra told about his vision of a cataclysmic (or apocalyptic even, if you prefer) event looming in the near future. Westra promised that all who follow his teachings would survive that event unharmed. The third sign came when the event that Westra spoke of actually happened, and the people who were part of the congregation survived just like Westra promised. After this event no one could deny the divine existence of Westra and the church quickly established a sturdy foothold in the realm.

CHURCH OF VESTRA TODAY

The church is alive and well and churches and even temples can be found in most of the major cities and towns. In villages and settlements there is usually an alter or a shrine. Clerics work in these holy sites or as wanderers honoring the origins of their lord. The clerics address their equals as Brothers/Sisters and their superiors as /Fathers/Mothers. Every church and temple has an elder cleric in charge and the entire congregation is led by the High Cleric. All the members address the High Cleric as High Father/High Mother. The overall theme of the congregation is very strict and disciplined and the hierarchy is respected at all times. The average members of the congregation (your simple Jill's and Joe's) are of course at the very bottom of the food chain kneeling before the clerics to stay in good terms with their God. Clerics bend the knee to elder clerics and disrespecting your superior is believed to be one of the most effective ways to be smited by the wrath of Westra himself.
Church of Westra is known the be the "simple man's religion", because of the fact that the congregation never questions their God or superiors. Whenever the phrase "behold the word of God" is spoken (or written) by a superior member of the congregation, all the inferior members must believe, obey, and accept or face the consequences. This means that kings and lords mean nothing to the congregation. This usually creates a lot of tension between the congregation and the rulers of the realm.
The strict code of onedience is not seen as cruel or wrong by the congregation because that's the way it always has been. But people outside the congregation often see this as twisted. The rules of hierarchy are of course more relevant to the clerics serving in the temples and churches than to the clerics wandering around the realm. This is the reason why wanderers are usually people with authority issues or people who prefer the solitude on the road. Wanderers rarely stop at temples or churches, but when they do, the same rules of hierarchy apply for them. Usually wanderers work alone, but some wanderers work in small groups. In a group like this the same hierarchy applies; one of the clerics is the elder cleric in charge, just like in a temple or a church.
Those who wish to become clerics must pass the Path of Enlightenment, a physical and spiritual training known to be extremely challenging. Before one can step on to the Path of Enlightenment, one must be a baptized member of the congregation.

THE HOLY SYMBOL
The holy symbol of Westra is fairly simple, but has a specific meaning to it. It is made from any material at hand. For example a blacksmith could make himself one from iron and another peasant could carve one from a piece of wood. The clerics of course put more money into their symbols and usually have them made from silver, or even gold. Jewels are rarely used in the holy symbols, but the center dot might be a ruby in the holy symbol of the High Cleric.
The black dot represents Westra himself looking down to the world. The dark gray part (the carved part in worn symbols) represents the congregation as Westra takes care of his followers and worshippers first and foremost. Finally the light gray part represents the rest of the world and it's inhabitants as Westra looks after all the mortals of the world.

THE OUTFITS OF THE CLERICS

Clerics working in the temples or churches are dressed in white robes with a bright red cloth belt. The holy symbol is always worn on top of the robes. They never wear hats. The outfit of an elder cleric is similar with the exception of a bright red shoulder cape. The robes of the High Cleric are the same as those of an elder cleric with the exception of a holy symbol stitched onto the chest part of the robe and the jewelry worn on top of the cloth belt.

DOMAINS

Last, but not least, I wanted to include my vision for domains of Westra, because the setting I created this religion into is being played with D&D 5th Edition* rules.

  • Life
  • Light
  • Nature
  • Knowledge
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*Church of Westra has also appeared in The Black Hack and Labyrinth Lord.


Friday, 23 September 2016

[Review] The Super Hack

This is the first superheroes hack (as far as I know) for the popular phenomenom called The Black Hack (my review). TBH is so popular, because the rules are super lite still being very old-school compatible with Dungeons & Dragons, and it is easy, you guessed right, to hack!

There has been several different hacks for TBH core game with variable quality. Some are awesome, some feel just that they're made for easy money to milk from a popular brand (core rules copy pasted only a thing or two of addition).

Before I go to the actual review, I must say that I have not played superhero roleplaying games. Ever! I did own True20 powered Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition, which had a great amount of powers which worked great for character creation and concepts, but point buy character creation was a turn off, especially when you had to use a pool of points to buy everything from stats to gear! I hate that kind of stuff. At the moment in my collection I have Champions 4th Edition, but it is very thick and looks so boring, I've never read it more than a couple of sentences at once! That's no thanks for me.

As a big fan of The Black Hack, which I have ran several times and have played a couple of times and had tons of fun with it always, I am very enthusiastic of this product. Easy and versatile system and the page count is not intimidating at all: the PDF clocks at 20 pages, with 16 pages of actual content (one of those being a character sheet and another a play example, so there's 14 pages of rules and material).

Visually The Super Hack imitates the original source. Instead of ink drips on pages, there are low-ish resolution cracks. The core mechanics of the game are explained clearly, as is character creation. Even better than in the original game! Because this is a superhero game, you choose superpowers determined by your class of choice with some freedom. You can also pick one superpower more than once to juice it up. Characters start with two pieces of (special) equipment, a costume and a secret identity. The equipment list is extremely short, only 12 items! There should be more of them, at least 20 to make at least a decent random table. Items have special rules, which are pretty good and usage die is well thought and adapted in many cases.

The rules are quite similar to The Black Hack, but there are minor differences. One is proficiency, which I don't understand at all. If character uses or wears and equipment that is not appropriate for her class or superpowers, they add their Protection Points to any rolls to attack or avoid damage with a disadvantage. But there are no guidelines what gear is inappropriate to what class or superpower. In addition the rule is stupid; more powerful you are to protect yourself, the crappier you are at using some stuff. Weird and not making any sense to me. If someone can explain this to me...

Majority of other rules are a carbon copy from The Black Hack. A great addition is a sub-table for Out Of Action, called This Is Serious. I really, really like this one! In format one weird thing is, that enemy HD are listed under Initiative section.

There are four different superhero classes, which are quite stupid. They should be more broad and cover different types of heroes. Crimefighter is silly, because aren't all superheroes crimefighters in a way or another. Other's are like a Warrior from the original game without extra attacks, and a Thief who is just good at shooting getting also Warrior's extra attacks. And then there is a guy with just very good saves. Character classes are not that good, they are unimaginative and don't represent different hero stereotypes as they should.

When characters level up, they can in addition to possible attribute increaswes also develop their superpowers further, which is nice. Superpowers have a better effect (actually this is the same table as The Black Hack's damage table). They also have an usage die, which is regained after a rest. There are 20 superpowers (two with variations, so actually 22) and the list is quite nice covering all kinds of powers to combine to create an unique superhero.

There is also a rule, that with advantages and disadvantages (roll 2d20, and pick better/worse), GM can also apply modifiers (this rule wording didn't meet editor's eyes, it's super wonky) which basically change the simple idea of advantages and disadvantages backwards to modifier calculation. Unnecessary addition to The Black Hack rules.

Instead of "Armor Points" characters have "Protection Points", which basically is the same thing; damage reduction that is refilled after rest. One fun thing in combat is that a group of thugs represents one hit die point per a good - so when you score 5 points of damage, you actually stun (superheroes don't kill people, do they?) 5 of the enemies! Very, very fun detail, where you can feel your character's power compared to ordinary thugs! There are only seven different example baddies included, which should be enough for an example, because in super games most of the bad guys and gals are unique anyways.

In my opinion The Super Hack is hastily put together, yet a fun and good little addition to "The Hack" family. There are minor flaws, but they are so puny that they don't make the game bad. Only major problem I have with this game are character classes. Only one of these (The Brick) is good as a heroic stereotype, rest are not at all. With better character classes this would have been super awesome! Now it is "only" super good. Revised edition with better classes would be the bomb! Before that happens (if ever), I need to hack this myself and print it out.

Oh, and in the end the example play scenario is fun and inspiring, even though there could have been a wider variety of game mechanics used in it.

Do I recommend it? Yes! The Black Hack is great fun little system easy to just play and have fun with, and The Super Hack is quite as good, only if you make the classes better yourself. If you like superhero games, this is a pocket version of the genre. If you don't own any superhero games, this is an inexpensive place to get one.

Get it from RPGNow, available in both PDF ($2.00) and print-on-demand ($6.00).
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EDIT 09/25/2016:

I've had discussed with the author, and here are his responses to two points that rubbed me the wrong way, the PP affecting inappropriate equipment use and the character classes. Simon Purley wrote:
"In terms of rules - it's TSH version of TBH having different character classes being limited to specific types of armour. I couldn't limit the character classes as rigidly as he did in TBH but I wanted it in somewhere."
"In terms of genre - It means to stop people buying Superpowers. The first ever SHRPG Superhero 2044 had a "Superhero shop" and, as soon as they made money, people went and bought weapons and armour and flight rings etc. The game just didn't resemble the comics. Basically why doesn't Captain America take out Iron Man, steal his armour and put it on? If he did, he wouldn't know how to use it."
"BTW: The character classes are Superhero tropes. The Brick is your classic brawler (The Hulk, The Thing, Luke Cage). The Blaster is your classic ranged attacker (The Human Torch, Cyclops). The Crimefighter is your classic human who can go toe to toe with the super types (Batman, Captain America, Daredevil). The unique is your weirdos (The Vision, The Sacrlet Witch, Jessica Jones)."
"A design choice I went for in TSH was to keep the rules stripped down without loads of explanation or examples - in keeping with the philosophy of TBH. When I moved from PDF to print it created a couple of extra pages which I could have used for more explanation or example scenarios ("Superheroes vs. dinosaurs" doesn't take much space to explain.) It was a definite choice not to do so" 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Wizard's Spellbook from Barrel Rider Games now available, for which I made print-on-demand cover layout



Barrel Rider Games needed help to make their new release's covers print-on-demand ready, and I decided to take the challenge. I've done few print-on-demands myself and thought, it would be quite easy for me. Well, as easy as it can, because OnebookShelf's POD preparations can be tricky! And they were, two times the file I sent was refused, because of a tiny mistake, where the front and back covers didn't meet. But third time I made it, and now it is available for everyone to buy and enjoy, both in PDF and glorious print-on-demand!

Here is a short video of the process where I check the template borders and bleed areas:


Arcane Incantations at Your Fingertips!
The Wizard's Spellbook compiles all the magic-user spells from Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion into a single digest-sized tome so you won't have to waste valuable game time searching for just the right incantation. Compact, complete, and with a minimalist design, The Wizard's Spellbook is a practical products that will help take the hassle out of playing a magic-user in Labyrinth Lord - or any other B/X fantasy game!
Inside you'll find:
  • A complete spell list organized by level, with each level of spells broken down alphabetically for easy reference. Included in the spell list are notes on whether a spell is reversible and check boxes so you can mark whether your character knows a given spell or has it memorized that day. In addition, the spell list notes whether the spell is Basic, making it equally useful for players who are not using the Advanced Edition Companion.
  • The complete spell description of every single spell found in the Labyrinth Lord Revised core rulebook and the Advanced Edition Companion.
  • Optional rules for introducing Cantrips into your Labyrinth Lord or B/X fantasy campaign!
  • Print on Demand product is in an easy to transport, easy to reference 6x9 softcover digest.

Buy it here, available in both PDF and Print-On-Demand!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Because the international community of roleplayers has been so awesome to me, I decided to lower the price of Crypt Of Doom - A Compilation Of Patreon Supported 2015 Material to pay-what-you-want, both PDF and print (print at cost + postage). Original prices are $6.50 for PDF and $13.10 for POD. So now is your change to get all this for free:
  • About Level Drain
  • Æg Artifacts
  • Auspices
  • Bazaar Of Extraordinary Items
  • Bearries & Bearletons
  • Bubghia: The Hunters In Forests
  • Child Of The Rainbow Dust
  • The Church Of Stab
  • Dungeon Beneath The City
  • Encounters In Snowy Locations
  • Epic Mëtal Awesome Weapons
  • Eyes Of The Hidden Moon
  • Lioness Of The North
  • Monster Skeleton Creator
  • The Museum Of Artifacts
  • Night Leeches
  • The Rheum In The Fields
  • Sea Wizard's Coral Tower
  • Simple Adventure Generator
  • Stones Of The Gods
  • Tasty, Groovy, Poisonous Shrooms
  • Throne Of The Stone Cyclops
  • Tower Of Tremors
  • Witch's Cauldron Mishap Table

Get it here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/175132/Crypt-Of-Doom--A-Compilation-of-Patreon-Supported-2015-Material

And if you like the material, you can support me to create more at: https://www.patreon.com/cryptofdoom

Monday, 15 August 2016

[LotFP] Witchfinders, Demonhunters and Inquisitors


In the world where weird monsters and horrors are reality lurking behind the veils of everyday life, some brave and determined men and women have dedicated their lives to seek out and destroy these things. They are marked with a sacred brand on their forehead to grand special powers against the infernal and cosmic forces of evil.

Any new character from any class from the beginning of the campaign can be branded to gain a special power, which you determine rolling 1d6 from the table. Also roll for a disadvantage of the devotion. A character might later on a campaign become one going through a sacred ritual of branding. They must devote their adventuring life for the cause they have chosen.

WITCHFINDER

They are professionals that seek out those who have powers beyond the man for selling their soul to the forces of evil. They know how to deal with witches and protect themselves against their malicious spells.

Advantages

1. Immune to any charm or mind affecting powers of witches.
2. Can make a special balsam against witches powers. The balsam costs 100 GP of protection per level of witch's HD. The balsam, when applied to the skin, protects against one direct spell of the witch except charm and mind affecting spells.
3. Can sense a presence of a witch within 100 feet per their level.
4. When making a finishing blow against a witch, they can absorb one random power of her if they will. They must success a save versus Magic or be corrupted of the witchtanic power and lose their special ability for 1d6 levels.
5. Specialist in long-distance murder and take advantage on technology. +2 using gunpowder weapons. Also all maintenance work for gunpowder weapons are halved.
6. Resistant to poisons, but must drink a dose of poison daily or die, if doesn't save versus poison.

Disadvantages

1. Every witch she kills reminds her of her own mother for a reason or another. She must save against paralyze or be depressed the next adventure suffering a -1 penalty to any roll.
2. She is hypersensitive for witch's body. Any time witch inflicts unarmed damage, she suffer extra 1d4 damage per witch's HD.
3. Her ancestor was a witch, and in her blood thin witchtanic trace. If she comes in touch with witch's blood, there is 1-in-6 chance that the witch within is invoked. Her alignment changes to chaotic and as she loses her advantage, she gains witchtanic powers.
4. All potions and alchemical fluids have double effect on her. Both helpful and harmful.
5. Has saved someone from witch's claws and now her responsibility is to protect him.
6. Is permanently ill, thanks to witch's curse. Needs medicine once every 2d4 days. Ingredients for one dose costs 10 GP per level and needs one special incredient to produce. With a successful Intelligence roll (under), can produce the medicine herself. Even though she doesn't success, the GP used for the ingredients is lost. If she buys the medicine prepared, one dose costs 25 GP per her level.

DEMONHUNTER

Infernal, demonic, monstrous and otherworldly beings are their enemies. Their mind is strong against the temptations and body resistant of their corruption. Their blade cuts precise and deep.

Advantages

1. Against demonic creatures they deal extra 1d6 damage.
2. Can roll two dices to save against demonic powers and corruption.
3. Can learn from the demons they destroy, giving them +1 to attack rolls, damage rolls and saves against same types.
4. Has 5% chance per their level to learn a spell cast against them. They can use it once, until learned again.
5. Has one special weapon you have used to kill your first monster. With this weapon you get +2 to damage, to-hit and armor class. Without that weapon you suffer severe effects of fright and self-esteem problems causing you to be extremely insecure and undetermined also suffering -1 to all actions you take.
6. Can brand others. In exchange of permanent bonus of 1 to saves versus demonic and monstrous powers they suffer 1d4 permanent damage to HP.

Disadvantages

1. The lure of demonic powers is strong against her. Every time she encounters a demon she must success in save against magic. If she fails six times in her life, her soul is lost and possessed by a demon (roll summon spell chart to see what abomination she will become).
2. There is a 1-in-6 chance a day that she will mistake something ordinary (a peon, a goat, a windmill) for a demon and she will try to destroy. It is possible to stop her and talk sense to her, but it is not an easy task.
3. She is like a magnet for the demons. Demons can sense her from a distance and from beyond the curtains of dimensions. Every week there is a 1-in-6 chance that a demon finds her and tries to destroy her.
4. All the evil she has seen and conquered has tainted her soul, and no clerical magic works on her.
5. Has had a taste of blood of her enemies and must drink demonic or monstrous blood at least once per week or die if doesn't save against poison.
6. Has hunted creatures of darkness so long, that suffers from sunlight. It burns her skin and she cannot see well. -2 to all eyesight related tasks and 1 HP damage per hour when exposed to direct sunlight.

INQUISITOR

Not necessarily the forces of evil are always witches or demons. Also ordinary people are capable of horrible things and crimes against humanity. You are the one who weeds the evil from the hoi polloi. Your actions might be horrible or brutal, but it is for the good of the humanity.

Advantages

1. Knows how to torture and get information or confessions out of anyone. It takes one hour and 1d4 damage per HD of the victim to squeeze out whatever the inquisitor wants to know. Unfortunately, there is a 50% chance that the victim just says what inquisitor wants to hear, so he can get a release from the pains and horrors of torture.
2. Knows how to hurt people. When your attack roll is 19 or 20, you can aim your opponent and cause him severe pain with extra 1d4 +1 per level damage.
3. Gets +2 bonus to your Charisma every time you intimidate someone.
4. No pain, no gain. They have caused so much suffering, they almost live out of it. As a bonus action inquisitor can wound himself to gain half of that damage to next attack as a to-hit bonus.
5. Harsh training has made her tougher. She needs half the amount of rations and can resist harsh weather effects with doubled efficiency.
6. Can prevent evil spells from harming her and her group if will sacrifice as many people as the spell level in 12 hours. If doesn't, all the spell effects will fire on her with double effect.

Disadvantages

1. Has seen so much blood and suffering you have inflicted, that you cannot feel empathy anymore. Every action you take is aggressive against normal people and you can only see the worst in them.
2. Is scarred from the burning firebrands and self-inflicted wounds and need to hide your monstrous skin under a hood not to scare people. You look like a monster yourself.
3. Is haunted by ghosts of innocent people she has killed in torture. In the beginning of game there are 1d4 souls to haunt her, and every time an innocent person is dead by her hands she must save against magic or suffer of another haunt. Naturally, there are psychological effects to this every day there is 2% chance per haunting soul that her conscience is making her question her cause and her advantage doesn't work that day.
4. Is twisted and bloodlusty and will always kill if there is a chance. No enemy or victim of her should remain alive.
5. Must daily repent her own sins or lose her advantage for a day. Repenting sins demands two hours of prayer and self whipping.
6. There is something holy in her, god knows what twisted god thinks so. She has stigmata that bleeds constantly. Lose 1d2 HP daily from bleeding palms. Also handling weapons is harder without gloves or straps as blood soaked hands are slick.

You can download the pdf, with slightly revised text, from my Patreon page!
https://www.patreon.com/posts/witchfinder-and-6535360