Friday, April 27, 2018

Fighter for My "Separate Race and Class" System in LotFP

As I've mentioned before, I think the Fighter's level advancement can potentially be a little boring beyond level 9 in Lamentations of the Flame Princess. This is my attempt to "solve" that "problem" in my Separate Race and Class system. SPOILER ALERT: I basically just grafted on some features of the Amazon class from Zak Smith's Frostbitten & Mutilated.

The Fighter

Hit Dice and Minimum First-Level HP: As chosen race.

Saving Throw Table if Human: As original Fighter class
Saving Throw Table if Not Human: As corresponding original LotFP race-as-class

Experience Table if Human: As original Fighter class
Experience Table if Not Human: As corresponding original LotFP race-as-class

Class Abilities

Base Attack Bonus: The Fighter starts with a base attack bonus of +2 at first level, and this increases by +1 per level up to a maximum of +10 at ninth level.

Combat Options: The Fighter can Press, Fight Defensively, or use the better version of the Parry ability.

Firearms: The Fighter can make more effective use of firearms in certain ways, as per Rules & Magic p. 159 and 161.

Level-Up Table: At tenth level and every time the Fighter levels up thereafter, roll a d20 twice on the following table and reference the corresponding result on the original d100 Amazon Warrior Traits table from Frostbitten and Mutilated p. 104-105.
  1. Result 46 on the original table
  2. Result 47-48 on the original table
  3. Result 49-50 on the original table
  4. Result 55-56 on the original table
  5. Result 57 on the original table
  6. Result 59-60 on the original table
  7. Result 61 on the original table
  8. Result 64-65 on the original table
  9. Result 66 on the original table
  10. Result 70-71 on the original table
  11. Result 74-75 on the original table
  12. Result 76-79 on the original table
  13. Result 80-82 on the original table
  14. Result 83-84 on the original table
  15. Result 85-86 on the original table
  16. Result 88-89 on the original table
  17. Result 90 on the original table
  18. Result 91-92 on the original table
  19. Result 93-94 on the original table
  20. Result 96 on the original table
Optional Race and Alignment Restrictions
Even if class options are restricted by race or alignment, characters of any race (and any alignment allowed by their race) can be Fighters.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Notes, NPCs, and Plot Hooks for My Current Campaign.

I haven't been as diligent about taking notes in my current LotFP campaign as I was in the previous one. I figure I should write some of the most important details down before I forget anything too important. This is mostly for my own reference, but if you get bored enough to read it I hope you find something fun or interesting here.



Elzevir - Since no one in the party knew how to cast Identify, one of the elf magic-users sought out the local sage, Elzevir. He said he would be willing to cast it free of charge, in exchange for a small service. He wanted a blond hair of at least three inches in length, fresh from a woman's head. The magic-user searched the town and found Rosemary, a young woman with the requisite hair who worked as the salesperson and co-owner of the only haberdashery in the area. The magic-user turned on the charm and surreptitiously obtained the hair sample for Elzevir, who cast the spell as asked and then immediately skipped town.

Soon, Rosemary fell into a catatonic trance, and her father Irmok (the other co-owner of the hat shop) became desperate for a way to revive her. Since the elves felt they needed some backup for a rescue mission to save the rest of the party from Xiximanter (see below), they convinced Irmok and a posse of seven other villagers that Xiximanter was responsible for Rosemary's plight. They led the eight villagers to the entrance of the dungeon, presumably intending to do battle with the sorcerer, but the rest of the party emerged just as they were about to enter, having already escaped on their own. The elves abruptly called off the mission, giving Irmok and company some fast talk about how a confrontation with the sorcerer wouldn't help Rosemary after all, and Irmok would be better off seeking professional help for his daughter's illness in the city of Fillmore. Suspicious and dissatisfied, the posse broke up, and Irmok set out for the city with the unresponsive Rosemary the next day.

Now that more time has passed, the villagers have thought this whole Rosemary issue over a bit more. Gossip and speculation have spread, especially concerning the PCs. Especially concerning the elves. They might not find themselves quite so welcome in this town anymore.

Xiximanter - This is probably the party's most dangerous enemy at the moment, courtesy of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. He's not really a serpent man, although he is a very old undead wizard and alchemist. Before transforming himself into a living mummy, he replaced his lower body with that of a giant snake, grafted some fangs and scales onto himself, and imprinted his own mind with false memories of being an ancient serpent man. He's basically a crazy full-time cosplayer, but he has real eldritch power under his command, albeit slightly diluted by his crackpot magical and pseudoscientific theories.

When the party tried to force Xiximanter to confront the fact that the serpent men are long extinct and eons have passed since the height of their empire, his psychological defense mechanisms kicked in. He cast Sleep on the party (affecting everyone but the two elves and one of the two human fighters, the latter not being present), kidnapped them for his experiments, and promptly blocked out all memory of the evidence shown to him that could disprove his delusions. When the party awoke, they found themselves in oubliettes carved into the floor of the serpentine sorcerer's lair and covered with heavy stone lids. The sorcerer explained that he wanted to "uplift" the poor mammals to snake man-level intelligence so that they would no longer "senselessly attack" him, using a combination of potions and brain surgery.

The halfling specialist managed to sweet talk Xiximanter into appointing her as a lab assistant and letting her out of the pit. With the help of the previously absent fighter, she managed to free the rest of the party and trap Xiximanter in one of his own oubliettes. They fled the tomb and haven't been back since.

Xiximanter has almost certainly freed himself since then, and will not be happy to see the party should he encounter them again. In addition to his stats listed in the adventure, Xiximanter has exceptional strength.

Zoom Tubes - While trying to flee from Xiximanter, the dwarf fool found a secret button on the floor. Upon pressing it, a hidden door opened in the ceiling, revealing a tunnel glowing with purple light. She was sucked up into it like a dust bunny into a vacuum cleaner and deposited in Xiximanter's lair, right next to the battle between her companions and the sorcerer, through another such hidden ceiling hatch. "YOU USED MY ZOOM TUBE!" cried the sorcerer, enraged at her trespass. Luckily, someone finally pushed him into the pit after the dwarf and two others failed. The party managed to close the lid over the pit before the sorcerer could climb out, but not before he cast continual darkness, making it impractical to do much looting. The party quickly gathered what they could and fled.

But what is a zoom tube, and are there more of them?

The Basilisk - The two human fighters (one much more so than the other) have fed the basilisk enough food, and generally been nice enough to it (scratching its neck, dislodging the irritating key from its collar, etc.) that they could theoretically begin to tame it.

The party has retrieved the key mentioned above, but not put it to use. The visor on the basilisk's helmet has been lowered over its eyes. It is still chained up.

Goblins in General - One thing I forgot to mention before is that the goblins in this campaign, being positively ancient compared to the PCs, and having taken many strange forms, tend to reference things that are completely unfamiliar to people in the current age. Things like "ice cream" and "workers' comp." The goblins live a simple and isolated life, but they might know a great deal more than they let on.

Smogo, the Goblin That Crawls - Now that he has taken the form of the God That Crawls (a saint revered by certain small Gnostic sects and transformed into a monster by druids), Smogo wishes to subjugate the other goblins who once bullied him and crown himself the Goblin King. He was last seen by the party entering the Tomb of the Serpent Kings with Elroy Bacon in tow.

If he succeeds in his coup, Smogo's first decree will probably be that the title of Goblin King is no longer a temporary position ending in the sacrifice of one's current host body. His second decree will probably involve making somebody kiss the basilisk.

The "Reverend" Elroy Bacon and the Gnostics - The particular Gnostic sect to which Bacon belongs believes that "the God That Crawls" is actually a historical figure known as St. August. Details on this person are scarce, but since he was apparently a well-respected theologian and philosopher (according to some musty old tomes, which the Gnostics of this particular sect love to fawn over despite admittedly lacking the proper historical context to fully understand them), and some kind of saint at that, they figure it's better to take care of him than to let him rot alone in the ground. Besides, they might glean some useful information from the experience regarding the natural of the false reality in which they believe they are imprisoned.

Bacon and a few friends faked credentials as members of a more mainstream religion in order to avoid rousing local suspicion while restoring the church. Working from "Catholic" records (whatever that means), they pieced together a worship service which they believed would soothe the creature, but they never got a chance to try it, since Smogo took over the saint's body.

Now Bacon has offered to be Smogo's "scribe," following him around and taking notes on his misadventures in the hopes of learning something useful or profound that he can share with his fellow religious scholars.

As for the stuff the PCs stole from the church, Bacon doesn't really care about it at this point. He said they could have it as long as they spared his life, which they agreed to. He figures the other Gnostics will understand.

The Catacombs - Now that the "big bad" has left the dungeon under the church, and so have the PCs, new monsters should start showing up to live there within a month or two. Veins of the Earth would be an ideal source for restocking the dungeon.

The Rapture - Since the incident with Panic Attack Jack in the aforementioned catacombs, the human fighter who was previously attacked by the Rapture should probably continue to be visited periodically while underground, at least until that character either does something about it, fights it off enough times to send it a message, or dies.

I Know a Guy in Bloodpool - Thanks to this house rule, one of the elf magic-users has an uncle who lives in the distant city of Bloodpool. He can supposedly tell the party a bit about the history of the war that resulted in the sealing of the passages between worlds about two hundred years ago. For some odd reason, historical records from before or during the war are extremely scarce, and almost everyone who lived through the war either has difficulty remembering it or just seems reluctant to talk about it. Not this uncle, though; he'd gladly tell what he knows if his niece comes to visit.

Dungeon Connections - The easternmost path in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings (next to the giant pit) connects at the north end to the third floor of the catacombs of the God That Crawls (after about an hour's walk at exploration speed) via the large crevice splitting the level. One can carefully edge along the walls of this crevice a short distance in order to reach the easternmost hallway of the third floor.

At the south end, the path is blocked by "dungeon barnacles," a dangerous form of fungus which only lets the goblins pass freely. Beyond this point is presumably the main home of the goblins (with their territory in the Tomb being an outpost of sorts), where their primary "body maker" is located.

According to the goblins, the pit leads to "the Veins of the Earth."

The Hills Have an Eye - There are rumors of a cyclops wandering the hills outside of town.

Quick-Aging Corpses at the Tomb's Entrance - During their first foray into the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, the party found a trapped door near the entrance to the tomb proper. They figured out a way to pass back and forth through the door without setting off the trap, but they purposefully left it rigged so that if any other group of treasure seekers tried to lay claim to "their" territory, they would hopefully be killed.

The plan worked. The next time the adventurers came to the tomb, they found the corpses of a band of rival dungeon delvers (borrowed from a room description in Better Than Any Man). But there was an oddity. The corpses and their clothing and gear were almost completely rotted away, the bodies practically reduced to skeletons, as if they had been lying there for months or years and not merely for a day or two. The party found no signs of magic on the trap itself, so how did this chronological phenomenon occur?

Goblin - A Monster and Magic Item

A goblin is a magical, radioactive, living stone. It looks like a chunk of gravel, about half the size of the average human's closed fist or heart, with a greenish glow that usually varies between almost imperceptibly faint and as bright as a candle. The goblin's light can become much brighter if the goblin becomes highly emotional.

A goblin possesses no sense organs of their own, no limbs or mouth, no differentiated body parts at all. In their naked form, absent a host, they do not perceive the outside world, or eat or breathe, or die of sickness or old age. They barely think or dream or perceive the passage of time. But they do not like this state of affairs, isolated in the yawning void of their own mind.

If the goblin is inserted into the chest cavity of a humanoid creature, or the center of mass of some other "compatible" creature, they will take over control of that body. If the creature somehow survives this process, they will live in the back of their own mind, much like the goblin does in their naked state, except dimly aware in some slight way of what their body is doing as the goblin wears it, truly lives in it. They would regain control if the goblin were removed (again, without somehow killing them).

If the creature dies in the process of having the goblin inserted into their body, or if the goblin is inserted into a fresh and more-or-less intact corpse that has not yet begun to rot in earnest, the creature's original "mind" or "soul" or "consciousness" will be completely gone. However, the body will resurrect and heal into a state sufficient for the goblin to wear it as a host. This does not necessarily mean that all damaged or missing body parts will be recreated or become functional, but merely that the body will at least regenerate enough tissue to reactivate the necessary physiological processes for life. This host body is not undead, but simply newly alive.

Goblins instinctively know the basics of what their host bodies can do and what they need to survive, although they might not automatically know the fine details. A goblin wearing a turkey vulture will  know that they can fly and that they hunger for carrion as surely as they know anything, but they won't automatically know what their host's average resting heart rate is or how many cells are in their body.

A goblin cannot usually stay in the same host for more than a short period of time, years or decades in the best cases, as the host body tends to develop cancer or other severe health problems due to the small but constant radiation exposure. A goblin suffers no direct danger from the death of their host body, so if they have assistance, they can wait until the host is completely used up before transitioning to the next one. However, since a long-term host generally becomes too painful or inconvenient to wear near the end of its lifespan, the goblin may wish to be transferred before then.

Goblins tend to live in communities of their own kind, if for no other reason than to make sure that someone sympathetic will be present to put them into new bodies when the time arises.

While goblins need to feed and otherwise maintain their hosts for the sake of convenience, since a body that dies with a goblin already wearing it will just become a useless corpse with a helpless, catatonic goblin lodged in its flesh, goblins do not need to do anything to keep their stony forms alive other than avoid damage. A goblin is functionally immortal, except that they can be killed by being cracked wide open or pulverized or melted or disintegrated or blasted into smithereens or what have you.

If you merely attack a hosted goblin in the generic sense, the DM should probably assume that you are attacking the host body. Killing the host body renders the goblin inert, but not dead. If you declare an attack against the goblin itself, lodged in the host's chest, then the goblin is treated as having 4 HD and an AC that is 6 points better than that of the host. In LotFP, this would mean that a goblin living in an unarmored human would have AC 18. A naked goblin is incapable of defending itself, so no roll to hit is necessary when attacking it with a melee weapon, and it has an AC that is 2 points worse than an unarmored human for purposes of ranged attacks (AC 10 in LotFP), since it's still a small target. For purposes of XP, a goblin and their host body are counted as two separate enemies, and XP is only gained from the goblin itself if it is actually killed.

Damaged goblins heal at a rate of 1 HP a year, and that's only if they are kept in a host or preserved in very safe conditions. A naked goblin lodged between two rocks in a running stream for a century would be subject to erosion, for example, and would not only fail to heal but probably take damage over time, albeit slowly. So "functionally immortal" might be overstating it a bit, but compared to a human they basically fit the bill.

So why are they called goblins?
In my current campaign, the most common host bodies for goblins are short, thin, gnarled-looking humanoids with green skin. They are part mammal and part fungus, and are remarkably resistant to radiation, although not entirely immune to it. They also tend to be born brain-dead, making them convenient for the goblins to subdue. The goblins came upon a renewable and easy-to-access source of these bodies long ago, and have generally stuck to living near this source for ages. Being rarely seen above ground nowadays, most people on the surface don't know the truth about goblin physiology, and assume that the green humanoids are the goblins. The name "goblin" is taken from a creature in halfling folklore that purportedly had a similar appearance.

If you don't like that explanation, maybe in your game the humanoid hosts of goblins are just humans and elves and such, and they tend to become green and stunted and withered-looking and traditionally goblin-esque over time due to mutations and health problems caused by the magical radiation of the goblins inside of them.

You could also ditch the whole "goblin" aspect altogether and call this creature something else, but this idea originally came about because I was planning to run a dungeon with goblins in it and I wanted to make them different from the usual D&D goblins. So I'm calling them goblins.

"Magic Item?"
You could carry a naked goblin around in your inventory like any other inert object, and then implant them into a host to hopefully gain a loyal follower who is very thankful you freed them from their sorry natural state. Or you can use a particularly radiant goblin as a green candle that virtually never burns out. I bet you can think of some other item-like uses for a naked goblin, too.

Give your players a goblin and they'll take a god.
The players in my campaign made friends with the goblins in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. Well, "friends" is a strong word, but they avoided any hostilities and engaged in some amicable enough conversation with them, at any rate. They also picked up a glowing rock early in the adventure, and later noticed that the goblins had light-up chests, like sickly Stone Protectors.

At one point, the party met a lonely goblin named Smogo who was guarding an armory. The other goblins bullied and isolated him, perhaps on account of his voice. Over several sessions, he seemed to become everyone's favorite NPC in the campaign.

After about half of the party got kidnapped by a sorcerer elsewhere in the dungeon, the remaining human fighter felt he needed a henchman to help with a rescue attempt. Meanwhile, the other goblins wanted to get rid of Smogo, so they paid the fighter to "take him off of their hands," and the fighter "befriended" him and enlisted his "help."

On the way to the sorcerer's lair, Smogo got eaten by a basilisk. His last words (or so the fighter thought) were "I TRUSTED YOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!"

On the way back from the rescue, the party saw the basilisk cough up a familiar-looking glowing green rock. If they hadn't put two and two together before, they definitely did now. Since they were on the basilisk's good side after feeding it five whole pigs and a goblin, they had no trouble retrieving the naked Smogo.

Later, the party was in the process of robbing (my slightly altered version of) the church from The God That Crawls, when they ended up ringing a gong in a back room dominated by a strange pit. Having already bound and gagged the priest (and not having any angry villagers to worry about due to a quirk of my campaign setting), they were free to observe the titular god as it sloshed into view below. They tried blowing it up with gunpowder, burning it with barrels of oil, and dropping heavy crates of books on it, all to no avail.

One of the players got the idea to use a sling and shoot one of the goblins into the god. They couldn't tell the two goblins apart, so I rolled randomly to see which one they selected. To everyone's delight, they picked Smogo.

A successful to-hit roll later, and the goblin slammed into the god's gelatinous mass at breakneck speed. It sank into the creature, which then tried to absorb it, bringing it the rest of the way into its center of mass. The entire god lit up with a brilliant emerald light, beams of green energy shooting this way and that. After a moment, the light faded to a dim spark in the middle of the monster.

A giant but familiar-looking "goblin" face formed from the creature's mass and cried to the heavens:


*Consider this an epilepsy warning for that link.

Smogo was first overjoyed by his new form, then mad at the fighter for getting him eaten, then grateful to him when he smoothly claimed that he only did it to give Smogo this cool new body.

So now these low-level yahoos are basically friends with the God That Crawls. Thus, they've eliminated the primary threat in the dungeon, allowing for mostly carefree looting. In this adventure in particular, I think that's a huge deal.

Look, I won't say there was absolutely no wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part. But they earned their easy victory by playing intelligently. This is the kind of thing that makes tabletop RPGs special. I'm proud of them. Besides, we all found it hilarious. That said, if you strive to be a truly neutral and fair referee, you ought to emotionally prepare yourself for these kinds of things - not just crushing total party kills, but complete over-the-top victories that "ruin" all of your carefully constructed encounters, as well. Because...fucking players, man.

Thanks are in order.
Jessica actually came up with this idea right off the top of her head when I asked her how I should make goblins weirder. I just fleshed out the details. I really don't know what I'd do without her.