Polyhedral Pantheons and Future Projects

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Keith Davies has been working on a semi-random system of generating new gods and pantheons for a number of years. It began with using the faces and “corners” of a d20 to create entire pantheons.

Recently, he has been posting on G+ about using d12s and d10s. I have especially enjoyed the d10 method and I have been wanting to give it a try.

Somewhat related to this, I have been working on classifying Swords & Wizardry Cleric and Druid spells according to 2e spheres. (This also led to classifying the Wizard spells according to 2e schools.) The goal is to create a system for generating Priests of Different Mythoi that work with S&W.

Yes, it would be much easier to use 3e, 3.5e, and Pathfinder domains and schools to retrofit a bunch of spells, but the spheres and schools of 2e are just quirky enough to feel better to me. At the very least I want to make something as close to S&W Complete Rules as possible before I go after more modern stuff.

So while Keith is working with Pathfinder domains, I am working with something closer to OSR feel. Nothing against Pathfinder, one of my neighbors runs a weekly game. I even wrote a small bit of Pathfinder stuff many years ago at NevermetPress (with a lot of help with number crunching). In fact, the next few posts are going to use domains in the 3.5/Pathfinder SRD.

You’re not against new games. You play in a Dungeon World group. You’ve done some post-Gygax D&D. You still hold a torch for S&W. We get it. You can stop being an apologist for what you play? Where is all this going?

Keith posted today about using other dice as models for generating pantheons. So I thought about how the d4 and d6 could be used with this model. I also thought about to adapt his system to create really interesting Priests of Different Mythoi in S&W. The system not only generates interesting deities and pantheons, it also generates interesting Clerics with different abilities.

I’m going to use SRD/Pathfinder domains to create pantheons from his system as examples. He asked me to post the d4 creation I am working on. I also plan to post about larger examples. After I finish my works with S&W spells and the 2e spheres, I plan to generate more examples with those.

Keith’s Polyhedral Pantheon system is not necessarily game specific. It works in Pathfinder or any OSR game. You just need some categories of spells. I imagine it will work well in 5e (and I’ll certainly try to make it work.) Heck, you can collect a list of 20 to 30 trappings and make an interesting set of spells for Savage Worlds.

Anyway, future posts will be:

  • a d4 example of Keith’s Polyhedral Pantheon system.
  • a d6 example of the same system.
  • a complete S&W spell database (with descriptions) grouped by 2e sphere (Cleric/Druid spells) and school (Wizard spells).
  • some examples of Priests of Different Mythoi using Keith’s system
  • other examples of a modified system

That’s a lot, but it will be fun.

For those that may wonder, I haven’t forgotten about publishing the mecha rules for S&W in January. I’m also happy to say that the Sum Bach o Hud project is back in development. No set date for this huge project, but I am sufficiently inspired to get it done.

The Living Curse

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Erik Tenkar mentioned something in passing that really struck me. It may not be new to you, but the idea that a creature that appears undead is merely cursed is brilliant.

One example I can find in the various Swords & Wizardry books is the Omgoth. They eat like ghouls, look like ghouls, and hang around other ghouls. Yet, they are not undead. It even says in the creature description that Omgoths cannot be turned.

I’ve used a similar idea for years for lesser undead. Skeletons and zombies are not undead, but merely animated corpses. The abilities and immunities of an animated object are remarkably similar to undead. It may not be effective at higher levels, but to a low-level party, it is really freaky when the Cleric’s Big Magic Trick has no effect.

What do you mean I don’t roll to turn them, they’re skeletons!

I already do not consider shadows and ghosts as undead, so anyone that has played in a game I run will know that. However, the thing that never occurred to me was to have a cursed creature that looks and acts like a vampire, but is not a vampire. They can even take damage from daylight as part of the curse. How about a cursed lich? A powerful magic-user cursed to endlessly research the same spell in the vain hope of reversing the curse. Then there’s new creatures like the phasma from the Pathfinder SRD. In many ways, it is a cursed Cleric. Considering that the Cleric’s god did not save him/her from the curse, I almost think that releasing the curse is worse.

There used to be a blog at Monstrous Television that mentioned abdead as creature similar to undead, but not affected by Cleric in the same way. I wish that archive.org could bring back this post. Essentially, abdead skeletons are intelligent and not able to be turned. I can’t remember the rest of the idea except to say that it was great.

Still, there’s more to reskinning undead that removing the Cleric’s Big Magic Trick. I moved traditional incoporeal undead into a new category of creature. In my games, these ghosts (including specters and shadows) can be battled by psionic characters. Whereas the Cleric takes out the undead and horrible amalgams of bone, sinew, and rot, the Psionicist battles the vengeful spirits of mortals that cannot leave this plane with unfinished business.

That’s my two cents on reskinning undead. Have you ever reskinned undead creatures?

 

More Fun, In Space

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My son and I went to Nuke-Con this past Saturday. I am hoping that next year we will get more time to game. He could only attend from about 3pm – 8pm due to an overnight camping trip Friday and a library event on Sunday. Still, he comes up with a few gems no matter where we are.

Tonight I reminded him about the Howerter post. I mentioned it because I shared that I was proud of him for being imaginative. Before I could say much more, he looks at me and says,

What if the dolphins could make their own bubbles and float into the sky? Why not into outer space?

See, I’ve been sitting around trying to figure out the ecology of some kind of huge creature that floats in the atmosphere due to a huge air bladder filled with hydrogen. I figured that it goes into low-orbit to escape predators, thus humans take advantage of these creatures to fly into outer space.

While I am pondering the questions of how and why, my son asks the most important question in any game: Why not?

I posted about a race of dolphins that adventured on land because I like ideas that are so far removed from anything I could invent. The more I thought about it, though, I wondering why they would go through all the trouble to create the equipment necessary to adventure on land. On land, they can use swords, but they can’t take them home. Even if they did, they serve no purpose. Potions don’t work underwater either. Many spells do not function or cannot be controlled underwater. Again, why would they bother?

To see what’s there.

I had to admit to myself that OSR games that I play are similar. Why does a group of sentient folks adventure in the Elemental Plane of Fire Seriously, the plane of Fire. In my 1e days, we went to the Plane of Magma. Why did TSR actually make a book about adventuring in Hell?

Why not? My high school group went to Tiamat’s lair just to knock on the door. They went off the map in Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth just to see what was North and West. Spell research turned out to be mostly useless in game play, but it was great to have spells like Itchy Teeth, Boomerang Sword, and Explosive Diarrhea. I think one of the guys actually tried to make evil Ioun Stones and launch them in a sling against various monsters. (Critical fail and the stone circled his head draining hit points until the Cleric stopped laughing and cast Remove Curse.)

So, I look forward to sailing the spaces between the stars in a small crystalline sphere. With a dolphin. Maybe the bubble can somehow interface with another’s ship navigation system. The dolphin are mildly psionic, so why not?

For what it is worth, Explosive Diarrhea did get one use in play. The mage cast it on Iuz the Evil and he failed the save. Mind you, it didn’t save the party, but at least one researched spell actually worked.