Wednesday 26 December 2018

On Vampirism

Well, it finally happened.

Carrion is rife with vampires. They're crawling out of the woodwork.

One of my players finally got turned.

Here are my rules for vampirism. Since energy drain in my game drains experience directly instead of reducing level, and if you're reduced below 0 xp, you die, it made sense for me to think of becoming a vampire as a sort of 'prestige class'. You retain the abilities you had up till you died and were turned, but you know have to go about growing your power as a vampire: normal modes of gaining experience and classes are no longer available to you.

Of course, you start out as a vampire thrall. When you're initially turned, a Wisdom Save (or equivalent) is allowed. If you pass, you have autonomy, though your master may not be aware of this. If you fail, you're in thrall to the vampire that killed you and you're going to have to find some way to break out of that.

When you do, you're free to feast and grow in power.

Archetype: The Vampire

Vlad Dracula Iconography in the Byzantine style painting.Unknown artist.
Just cause I love his brother Radu and obsessed with byzantine thing~

Attack Damage - As per mortal Archetype, except now do 1d6 unarmed/biting.








1. You are a vampire, and thus, you are undead. You retain the Archetype abilities you had at the time of your death. You are physically immortal and can not die through aging. You do not need to eat food, drink water, or sleep, though you must sate your hunger with blood every day or else lose the ability to use your Boons until you feed again. You can not be magically charmed, put to sleep, or held, and are immune to paralysis and poisons. Damage based on cold or electrocution only deals half damage to you. Any spell, magic item, or ability that affects undead also affects you. You can no longer heal through resting, or be resurrected as a mortal.

2. You are no longer bound by the realms of the mortal. You grow not in Renown (my version of levels) but in Power. For the purposes of recognition, add your Renown at the time of death and current Power. 

You can only gain experience through feeding upon a creature until it dies. Each creature is worth 100 experience per HD/Renown. People who are near and dear to you are worth more experience: 500 XP per HD/Renown for close friends, 1000 XP per HD/Renown for loved ones, and 2000 XP/HD for a soul mate. Creatures whose HD/Renown is less than your Power provide no experience. Feeding upon a creature also restores hit points to you equal to the damage dealt by your bite.

You start at 0 experience and your experience requirements are based upon the amount of experience you would have needed to increase your Renown when you died (e.g. if you died at Renown 1, you would need 2500 XP to grow to Power 2. If you died at Renown 2, you would need 5000 XP to grow to Power 2.)

3. You have Banes, vampiric weaknessess. At Power 1, you start with the Sunlight Bane. At Power 2, you gain the Staked Bane, and gain an additional Bane every Power thereafter until you have 10 Banes, after which you do not gain any more. If damage from contact with a Bane is needed, assume 2d10 as the default. Contact with a Bane disables the use of any Boons.


Sunlight - If you are exposed to direct sunlight for longer than an Initiative Rounds, you turn to ash and die.

Staked - If you are staked in the heart, you are paralysed and unable to use any Boons so long as the stake remains embedded in your chest. If you are decapitated after being staked, you disintegrate.

Running Water - If you are immersed in running water for longer than two Initiative Rounds, you disintegrate.

Wards - Traditionally apotropaic wards; garlic, hawthorn, aspen, mustard seed, holy water, religious symbols of good deities held aloft with conviction, a mirror or reflective surface, etc. will become very unpleasant to you. Any actions done in their presence are done with Disadvantage.

Metal & Fire - Silver, cold iron, and fire do double damage against you.

Arithmomania - You are compelled to pick up, tidy, and count small disorderly things, like grains of seed or millet. This Bane does not disable your Boons.

Invitation - You can not enter into any place you have not been invited to, nor any consecrated ground. Once you have been invited into a place, you may come and go freely. Businesses and other public places are considered to extend an invitation to all.

Random - Roll on the following table. The presence of the Bane causes all actions to be done with Disadvantage. Furthermore, contact with the Bane (or being within 5 feet of the source of a sound or smell) does 2d10 damage. (List taken/adapted from from blog of holding)

1-2: Copper
3-4: Gold
5-6: Horseshoes
7-8: Needles
9-10: Cutlery
11-12: Clocks
13-14: Stained glass
15-16: Dolls
17-18: Feathers
19-20: Combs
21-22: Pearls
23-24: Oak wood
25-26: Bread
27-28: Ginger
29-30: Salt
31-32: Pepper
33-34: Blankets and bedsheets
35-36: The scent of flowers
37-38: Tobacco smoke
39-40: Green flame
41-42: Cooked meat
43-44: Wine
45-46: Milk
47-48: Alcohol
49-50: Water
51-52: Fey creatures
53-54: Mummies and mummified things
55-56: Old people
57-58: Dirty people
59-60: White clothes
61-62: A children’s rhyme
63-64: Music from a specific musical instrument
65-66: Being mocked for a particular feature
67-68: An ancient language
69-70: Its own name, or the name of someone from its past
71-72: The face of its victims
73-74: Cats
75-76: Children
77-78: Bare feet
79-80: Songbirds
81-82: Roosters
83-84: Skulls
85-86: The queen of hearts, the red dragon, or another playing card
87-88: True love
89-90: Extracted teeth
91-100: Roll twice more on this table. If you roll the same result multiple times, the vampire is even more obsessed with this item, and contact damage increases by 2d10.

4. You have Boons, vampiric powers. At Power 1, you choose one Boon, and gain an additional Boon each time your Power increases.


Vampiric Power - Choose an Ability. While this Boon is active, it becomes equal to 14+Power, if it is not already higher. This Ability score will change as your power does (i.e. if you select this Boon when you are Power 1, that Ability will be 15. When you increase to Power 2, it becomes 16.) This Boon does not mitigate any Ability score loss (i.e. if your Ability is decreased by 1 from a source, the Ability can be thought of as 14+Power-1.) This Boon allows your Ability score to exceed 20. This Boon can be taken multiple times.

Thrall - Any humanoid creature slain by your bite and then buried will rise the next night as a vampire in thrall to you. If you take this Boon again, you gain the ability to turn someone into a vampiric companion, which will not be a thrall but an independent vampire with autonomy. You must visit the victim, feeding on them until they are at the point of death. At the last, when all hope seems lost, you draw away the last vestiges of the companion’s life and infuse them with your own energies. The process is both traumatic and passionate, for this mingling of essences is far more intimate than any purely physical act of love. When the bonding is complete, both the vampire and its victim are exhausted and all but helpless for upwards of an hour. At the end of that time, the victim has become a vampire.The companion shares a special metaphysical link with its you. Both can experience the other’s senses. Your companion also has the ability to command your other thralls, so long as no action is ordered that would place them in direct confrontation with you. You can have a number of thralls equal to your Power, and 1 companion.

Vampiric Regeneration - You regain 1 HP per Initiative Round if you have taken damage. This Boon can be taken multiple times, increasing the HP value regenerated by 1 each time.

Spider Climb - You can walk on walls and sheer surfaces.

Summon Animals - You can summon rats, bats, and wolves, or three equivalent animals of your choosing. Roll a number of d10 equal to your Power for the amount of rats or bats you summon, and a number of d4 equal to your Power for wolves.

Vampiric Gaze - You can cast the spell Bewitch at will upon anyone who meets your gaze.

Gaseous Form - Select a coffin or other resting place. If you are reduced to 0 HP you are forced assume a gaseous form. If you are able to make it back to your coffin or resting place within the hour, you will reassume material form over the course of 8 hours. 

Vampiric Magic - Select two spells of any school apart from Apotropaism or Spiritualism. You may cast each of those spells a number of times equal to your Power per day. This Boon can be selected multiple times to learn new spells. 

Omens of Doom - Your presence, should you wish it, can cause portents of dooms to plague a surrounding area of radius equal to your Power in miles. Such portents may include paranoia, hysteria, failure of crops, stillborn or mutated births, foul weather, etc.

Vampiric Immunity - Gain immunity to the effects of the Wards Bane. If you take this Boon again, refer to the following list: 2. gain immunity to the effects of the Arithmomania Bane; 3. gain immunity to the effects of the Metal & Fire Bane. 4. gain immunity to the effects of the Running Water Bane. 5. you can survive a number of Initiative Rounds equal to half your Power in Sunlight, though you can not use any Boons while you do so, and take 2d10 damage each Initiative Round. 6. Gain immunity to the Sunlight Bane. This Boon can not be taken more than 6 times. 

Dracula - Luke Parker a.k.a. future-parker

Saturday 8 December 2018

imaginary worlds, imaginary numbers

these are cerebral and inchoate thoughts mostly related to my thesis that are going here because they have theoretical implications about how and why we run games the way we do, and the implications thereof. It is unlikely to be of interest to any other than me and is only going here as a record of notes.


the trend towards new paperback editions of staples like lieber, moorcock, et al are to include maps even when the original editions had none. in the case of works like elric, where concepts of geography, spatiality, temporality are deliberately confused, this seems laughable at best. an  obsession with "naming, counting, listing" theory, but delany's appendix in return to neveryon, an over-running katafictional story throughout many of his works, is the "modular calculus". the osr returns to the megadungeon, or approaches fictive spaces that don't conform to the approach of reified post-enlightenment fantasy worlds (the megadungeon as psychological space, as we see in Courtney Campbell's work, or Logan Knight's Corpathium to name one example), but the underlying structure of the game is based on algebriac logic: sequential turns, 10' spaces, 6 mile hexes (A1, B2) depleting rations, dice rolls. Naming, counting, listing. Perhaps the approach of od&d: to provide stats, a numerical rationalist grounding in the world, and then devalue those in favour of the conversation exploring the fictive approach, is meant to provide the destabilising effect of coming into these altered, non-rational spaces.

How to mathematically represent a Tanelorn or Viriconium or Neveryon? Perhaps it's the roguelike or the procedural. No Man's Sky produces an infinity of spaces that all share the same essential characteristics.

But what would running a game based on the logic of calculus look like? If we were to represent imaginary worlds with imaginary numbers.

Monday 26 March 2018

Warriors V2.0 - Now with Feats!

Bloodborne arts                                                       …

I'm quite a fan of character builds, as are many of my players. The crunch and system bloat that comes with character builds in 3.X, 4e, or 5e, though, is something I, like many in the OSR disdain.

In my system, I feel like I've done a pretty good job keeping the sort of player-facing options that differentiates one person of the same level in a class to another, while not making options that make players more likely to "play their sheet" and not overtly bloat the system. Mystics have their relics and their deities, Sorcerers have their Maleficence, Arcane Tradition Focus, and a unique selection of spells, and the Specialist is a Build-A-Adventurer.

Except for Warriors. Poor Warriors. They get everything at first level and all they do after is check to see if their stats increase and dawdle around waiting to get extra attacks. Of which they have too many. As I currently have them, they get a number of attacks equal to half their level, maxing out at 5 basically, which I'm fine with, and attacks equal to their level against enemies with fewer HD, maxing out at 10, which is too god damn many. But I don't want to take away more options from them, nor their mook killing ability. What am I to do?


Yes, the word is anathema, but hear me out. I present:


Art by Kristafer Anka*  • Blog/Website | (  ★ || CHARACTER DESIGN REFERENCES™ ( & • Love Character Design? Join the #CDChallenge (link→ Share your unique vision of a theme, promote your art in a community of over 50.000 artists! || ★

Warriors can attack recklessly or defensively (attack with advantage, defend with disadvantage; attack with disadvantage, defend with advantage).
At every odd level (excepting 1st), a Warrior gets an extra attack
whenever they make an attack action.
Warriors can sunder shields (break their currently equipped shield instead of taking damage).
Warriors have a number of combat die, which are d8s, equal to their current level. They can use one combat die per turn to use a Feat. Combat die replenish after a Warrior takes a long rest.
Warriors start with these Feats;
  • SMITE - On a successful attack, you may roll a combat die and add it to the damage.
  • GRIT - As a reaction, when taking damage, you may roll a combat die and heal that many hit points.

At every even level, Warriors can learn a new feat from the list below (or devise a feat pending DM approval)

  1. IMPROVED MANOEUVRE - If you successfully hit when making a combat manoeuvre, you may roll a combat die: the manoeuvre automatically succeeds *and* the creature takes damage equal to the number rolled on the combat die (plus any damage bonuses from current weapons.
  2. CLEAVE - Expend a combat die: this turn, whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, or land a critical hit, you may make another attack.
  3. SURGE - Expend a combat die: you may take another action, though this action may not be used to attack.
  4. COMMAND - Roll a combat die: you can forego one of your attacks this turn and allow one of your allies to attack, with a bonus to the attack equal to the number rolled.
  5. POWER - Roll a combat die: this turn, all your attacks receive a penalty to hit equal to the number rolled, and receive a bonus to damage equal to twice the number rolled.
  6.  PRECISION - When making an attack, you may roll a combat die and ignore enemy AC equal to the number rolled.
  7. PROTECTION - As a reaction to an ally that you can being attacked, you may roll a combat die and give the ally a bonus to AC equal to the number rolled for that round.
  8. DESTROYER -Expend a combat die: this turn, all your damage dice explode on a roll of 7 or 8 (or 6, if improvising, and 4, if unarmed.
  9. SENTINEL - Expend a combat die: this round, whenever an enemy enters your combat range, or attacks an ally, you may make an attack of opportunity without using your reaction.
  10. BULWARK - Expend a combat die: this round, all enemy attacks (or any abilities that target one creature) must target you. If they do not, the enemy must Save or lose their attack.
  11. INDOMITABLE - As a reaction upon failing a save, you may roll a combat die and re-roll the save, with a bonus equal to the number rolled.
  12. EVASION - Roll a combat die: this round, while moving, you have a bonus to your AC equal to the number rolled.
  13. ASSESS - When you encounter a creature or the signs of a creature, as an action you may roll a combat die to make an INT or WIS test with a bonus equal to the number rolled on the combat die. You may then ask the DM a number of questions equal to your level about the creature.
  14. SLAYER - Roll a combat die: this turn, your crit range is increased by the number you rolled on the die (e.g. if your STR is 15 and you rolled a 5, you crit on a 10-15).
  15. EXERTION - Roll a combat die: This turn, you may make as many attack rolls as you wish, but each attack roll you make past your normal amount causes damage equal to the number rolled on the combat die (goes past AP directly to HP).
I'm happy with these feats. They seem tactical, but simple, and the limited use of them (1 a turn, up to level per day) should still keep combat brisk and not force a reliance on them, while still giving players who rolled Warriors meaningful choices in play.

Friday 9 March 2018

Downtime Activities

Thinking about +Joseph Manola's post on time and distance, I'm going to give my PCs 1-3 months downtime between every adventure. A few loose rules for downtime actions.

1. Level up, if you have enough experience
2. Collect rent or income. For income; declare a job, Referee determines relevant attribute, and roll a test under attribute. Difference between roll and attribute multiplied by level is income per month.
3. Pay lifestyle expenses: base 30 gp a month (assuming 1 gp a day as average spending), going up or down by factors of 2 (so for living richer, 60, 120, etc, and living poorer 15, 7, etc.)
4. Manage estate: Pay rent or upkeep costs, pay wages, etc.
5. Any other downtime actions (usually 1-3 per month, though things like crafting and ritual magic should have time determined manually), including
  • Commission a building or a stronghold/tower/castle etc; must own land
  • Invest in property or business
  • Hire retainers: CHA test if they accept the job, modified by wages, living quarters, etc. Morale is CHA/2
  • Carousing: CHA test, on a fail roll on Carousing Mishaps table. 
  • Get involved in local politics; must own significant share of land
  • Ritual Magic (based on this and this). Attempt powerful magic effects. Requires base spell(s) or miracles, and any of the following: material components (treasures, jewels, statues, ancient artefacts, blood pledges, etc.), sacrifices, additional casters, energy from non-casters, summoning or invoking a demon, patron, or deity etc.
  • Busking or performing: CHA test, on a fail roll with disadvantage on the table.
  • Craft items.
  • Enchant items.
  • Try to broker a deal; selling your own items, moving goods, making a special purchase (a rare painting, something one of a kind, etc)
  • Gathering rumours or information; paying for services; talking to bards
  • Going on dates, making friends, establishing contacts
  • Training: a skill, a profession, a language, a field of education, a technique
  • Anything else you can think of

Wednesday 28 February 2018


Carrion is the endless city. Time began in
Carrion, and in Carrion shall it end.
When the world was new, the Hornèd
Mother's child, the demiurge Cannibal God,
bit her in half. She fell into the hole he had
created, for her body itself was the world.
There she crawled across the bottom of a
still and silent sea, till she beheld foggy
lights ahead. Crawling onto the oil-soaked
shale shore, she beheld a great city. Alas,
this city was Carrion. The people of the
town emerged, pale and mute, illuminated
by torch and lamplight. They carried with
them scalpels and saws.
Bit by bit they cut her to pieces. Little by
little they tore her apart. As her wails
pierced the air, none of the people made a
sound. They each carried a small piece of
the Hornèd Mother home, and left her body

there on the beach to be picked clean by the
crows, and scoured by the surf and shale.
By the Still Sea, beneath the Iron Moon,
one can still hear her weep.

This blog is only posted to fitfully because I'm still dealing with working and going to school full time, and the neurotic soup of my brain sometimes makes it hard for me to keep up with OSR stuff, but I have a backlog of adventures I'm hoping to write up here, and am running a new campaign again.

The premise is that it's more or less a standard crapsack Gaslamp fantasy Victorian London knock-off like we've seen in Bloodborne or Sunless Sea, except it's literally endless. Apart from the sea, everything else is just urban sprawl. So wilderness is just derelict, condemned ghost towns, villages and towns are more like isolated suburbs, things that were mountains now become towers, and there's a whole lot of mansion-dungeons.

Here's a link to all my campaign material so far, which includes the handbooks for Mystics (modified from Logan Knight's rules), flowchart maps of the districts in the main, standard part of Carrion (which I generated with Logan Knight's Corpathium system, yeah at this point he basically co-wrote the campaign).