Monthly Archives: August 2016

New Curse: Endless Ailments

Ripped from my personal headlines…

Endless Ailments

You have been cursed to constantly suffer sickness with no explanation. This curse scales in danger based on the CR of the encounter that afflicted you. Any effort to identify this as a curse must first overcome a caster level check equal to the curse’s save DC.

Type curse; Save Fortitude (DC 10 + CR)

Onset 2d10 days; Frequency 1/day when not already ill.

Effect Any day when you are not ill (or undergoing the onset time of a disease), you must make a successful DC 10 Fortitude save against a random disease. There is a 50% chance this is a disease you have already suffered as a result of this illness, otherwise the disease is entirely random (but among those diseases you could have theoretically been exposed to). The disease always has the longest onset time and does minimum damage for a disease of its type. The disease otherwise operates normally.

#ShortPfRules

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Fuck. This. Article.

Fuck this article.
You want to ask for money? ASK. You are under no obligation to meet some self-appointed gatekeeper’s measure of importance.
Don’t get me wrong, you have an obligation to be honest. And no one is under any obligation to help you. And you may be mocked, and even have your reputation permanently damaged.
But if, after weighing all those factors you decide that going to Burning Man is important enough to you to ask anyone if they’ll help?
You ASK.
This writer bitches about being acting entitled. You know what is fucking entitled? It’s claiming to be the person who gets to decide how other people spend their money.
IF we want to live in a society of personal responsibility? Then anyone who wants to is allowed to ask for help for anything they want, and anyone who feels like helping may, and anyone who doesn’t can ignore the whole thing.
This article mocks training for careers, albums, and novels as things to get funded. You know what you call someone who funds someone else’s art of growth? A patron. And there’s a long and honored tradition of patrons helping make amazing art throughout the centuries.
YOU think a project is dumb? Fine. DON’T HELP.
But the group acting unreasonably ENTITLED is the one saying “what YOU think is important, and OTHER people think is important enough to give you money for, isn’t REALLY important, because I said so in a snarky article.”
Fuck. That.

Genre Feats

For lots of really good reasons, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is designed to emulate a specific flavor of fantasy. It then branches out from that flavor sometimes with specific options, but they (for good reason) feel like bolt-ons.

But it’s not hard to turn Pathfinder into nearly any flavor of fantasy game. Sometimes you need more extensive rules (ranging from Anachronistic Adventures to comprehensive rules for Spell Points). But sometimes you just need a few tweaks to bring in a new flavor without having to rewrite the whole game.

Enter Genre feats.

Genre feats are specifically designed to reskin the flavor of a game. Characters get 2 free genre feats at 1st level, one additional bonus genre feat at 5th and every 5 levels thereafter, and may use normal (but not class bonus) feat slots to take more.

Genre feats have low prerequisites, often allow a build to work well that doesn’t in standard Pathfinder, and make genre-specific tropes easy. It’s common for a few genre feats to be popular with many players, and that’s fine. It reinforces the genre!

Here are example Swashbuckling Genre Feats. Obviously many more could be created.

A Flirt in Every Port

Benefit: In every settlement you come across, you have at least one local (at neither the bottom nor top of the social ladder) who is helpful towards you, and acts in a romantic fashion. Even if you spurn these allies and reduce their attitude towards you, it goes back up one step (to a maximum of helpful) every time you gain a level.

Brio

Benefit: You never take penalties for using improvised weapons. If you are using an improvised weapon in combat, you gain a +4 bonus to Perform and Diplomacy checks.

Chandeliers and Rigging

Benefit: As long as there are hanging ropes, lights, sails, or similar dangling flexible objects, you have a fly speed of 30. If you end any turn not within 20 feet of a dangling flexible object, you must land or you fall.

Elan

Benefit: Rather than suffer frightened or panicked conditions, you simple double or triple the penalties for being shaken if you would normally have those other conditions. Even when confused or mind controlled, you never attack yourself or an ally unless you wish to.

Flamboyance

Benefit: You may use your Charisma modifier (rather than Strength or Dexterity) when making attack rolls with weapons, and add your Charisma modifier (in addition to any other ability score that applies) to damage rolls with weapons

Unarmored Hero.
Benefit: When unarmored (or wearing light armor, if you are proficient with heavy armor), you gain a dodge bonus to AC equal to 4 + your base attack bonus. At 10th level this increases to 6 + base attack bonus. You lose this if you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC.

Strangefinder Modern: 1428 Oceanic Ave

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

1428 Oceanic Ave.

This detached single-family American Craftsman residence dates back to the 1930s, when it was the Maine residence of an active Strangefinder, John Virtue, Esq. Virtue was a legend in his own time, but eventually was defeated by Strangeness in the Sedgefield Sanatorium, in Jefferson Country, Kentucky.

The next resident of the house, Professor Amanda Pentracroft, was NOT a Strangefinder… until she moved into 1428 Oceanic. Then she kept mysteriously finding notes of Virtue’s, and things that lead her to the Marlowe House, and eventually resulted in her taking on the Strangeness at the Sedgefield Sanatorium.

When she returned to her address, she discovered there was no record of 1428 Oceanic Ave existing, though she did have a huge real estate escrow account. She went on to have a distinguished Strangefinder career.

1428 Oceanic DID turn up again, however, during the late 1930s in Selma, Alabama. Here is was bought by Doctor and Mr. Jane and James Fletcher. Through a series of discoveries within the house, the James couple discovered that some Strange horror in the abandoned city of Cahaba was taking and torturing children. The Jameses fought a series of Strange manifestations for a decade, and their house both consistently had random useful discovers (old boxes of files, weapons under floorboards, geometrically impossible concealed safe rooms, and again links to the Marlowe House).

When they finally cleansed Cahaba of Strangeness once and for all… their house disappeared with no sign or record it had even existed (to be replaced by a massive real estate escrow account).

Over more than 75 years, 1428 Oceanic has shown up again and again — Wickenburg, Arizona (near Vulture City), Atlanta Georgia (not far from the Ellis Hotel), Lewiston, Idaho (near the Lewiston Civic Theater), and most recently New Orleans (within sight of the Six Flags park). In these and a dozen other cases a new buyer moves in, “randomly” discovers hints and clues abut Strangeness and a local location that poses a threat, finds significant aid in the house, and when the threat is dealt with, the house disappears. There is never any sign, record, or memory of anyone who hasn’t been inside that it ever existed. Sometimes the entire Oceanic Ave is gone. But the owners always find they now have a massive escrow account, and since 1953 all owners have found their possessions in storage (though sometimes hundreds of miles away).

It’s unknown of 1428 Oceanic Ave is a Strangeness, or something Weird, but it’s a well-known nexus for Strangefinder creation. Most Strangesages categorize the house itself as a Strangefinder. Given that a Strangefinder is primarily someone who recognizes Strangeness, analyzes it, and takes steps to ensure it’s not a danger to society, it’s had to argue the house does not qualify.

Only one medium has ever attempted to communicate with the house. He nodded, painted over a stain on one wall of the house, left, and has refused to ever discuss the matter or return to the house.

Strangefinder Modern: Weirdnesses

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Weirdnesses

It’s common for Strangefinders, who are experts in finding, analyzing, and overcoming Alterniversal frequency manifestations, to assume everything unexplained by the normal laws of their home Alterniverse is a result of Strange manifestations. In short, they assume the phenomenon of  Alterniversal overlap is the source of everything unusual and odd.

But it’s not.

Some things are inexplicable, even to experts in the rules of Strange events.

These thing are often referred to as “weird.”

Weirdnesses don’t follow any of the rules for Strange events, and experienced Strangefinders can identify the differences. Only those who refuse to see the signs (or lack thereof) that a weirdness has nothing to do with Alterniversal overlap try to push Strange solutions onto Weird problems.

It’s important to remember that it’s a more-than-Strange -world. Yes, 80-90% of the things a Strangefinder encounters will follow the (very loose) rules of Alterniversal manifestations. But… the rest is unexplainable, and doesn’t even seem to be connected to each other.

Common Weirdnesses Include:

People who, when they sleep, cause everyone asleep around them to dream of elephants.

Forests in which young filmmakers inevitably disappear, but their footage is found.

Cars which get into a lot of wrecks which kill the driver, but leave the car good enough to repair and resell…

Swedish Fish that, when consumed, causes the eater to gain physical health but also work to spread the sale and acceptance of Swedish Fish.

Mists which cause mass hallucinations of vengeful dead, horrific monsters, and phantom musicians.

People who extend their lifespan and health though organ cannibalism.

Children with imaginary friends that can actually affect the material world.

 

Strangefinder Modern: The Legends of Peng-Kun

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Legends of Peng-Kun

Many Alterniverses with frequencies close to our own reality have had creatures and travelers cross over so often, they become an influence on the myths and legends of our reality. These are often twisted or misunderstood, but useful tidbits (lycanthropes vulnerability to silver, vampires picking up matches, grizzlysnakes seeking warm basements in early winter) can be gleened from them.

Then, there is Peng-Kun.

No record anywhere, from the Marlowe House to the 11th Hour Society to the Zheng He Society, exists of a manifestation from Peng-Kun. Strangesages generally identify it as Alterniverse PK and have a broad theoretical (though generally agreed upon) list of signs that would suggest a manifestation originated from there, and none have ever considered a case to have any evidence of Peng-Kun origin.

But the Legends of Peng-Kun are everywhere.

It is described in stories as a land with an indigo sun and crimson moon. In addition of many city states ruled by monarchs with descriptive titles (Queen of Graves, Twin Barons of Sorrow, the Silent Emperor, the NeverTime Prince, Duchess of 1,000 Foes), it often mentioned the dreadful and necromantic Wasps of Peng-Kun, sly and deceptive moon cats, and horrific bipedal monsters known as Ktak who once ruled a Multi-Alterniversal Empire, before being brought down in a war with serpentfolk.

Most legends are short, focus on a single region or city-state, and involve a moral or twist. They are generally not in particular extraordinary. However, when a Strangefinder encounters a new Legend of Peng-Kun, one never before read or mentioned, it almost always presages finding a Sanatorium Script. Some Strangefinders even survive the experience.

Strangefinder Modern: The Andromeda Strange

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

The Andromeda Strange.

Sometimes, the manifestation of aligned Alterniversal frequencies is a disease. This kind of incursion varies from barely noticeable (if it only spreads to a single person and makes them allergic to cheese) to world-threatening epidemic (if it’s airborne and turns people into were-koalas).

The trickiest part of disease manifestations is that the Alterniversal bacteria or virus may remain present long after all symptomatic victims are accounted for. This can make it very difficult to end the manifestation. Additionally, many such diseases are immune to all normal treatment, though for some reason they all respond to SOMETHING as a curative.

Known Alterniversal diseases include:

Rolling Dementia: Airborne. Victims become convinced shadows are living creatures eating their souls. Can be treated with chocolate.

N-Spice: Transmission through bodily fluids. Victims gain intelligence, lose all hair, crave hot sauce, and all share a common goal to destroy existing civilization and replace it with something better. Can be treated with rogaine.

Rage Lice: Technically a parasite, passed by even casual contact. Victims become irritable, then violent, then rage monsters. Can be treated with loud music *except* You Might Think (by the Cars), which instead strengthens infestations.

Static Flu: Transmitted by being too close to an infected while microwaves or cell phone waves pass through both. Causes those infected to cause minor interference with electronics, including bad reception and going through batteries at a massively accelerated pace. If more than 10% of a population becomes infected, it also summons radio-wraiths that work to spread the infection farther. Can be treated by isolation for a week or more in an area free of microwaves, cell phones, and any form of broadcast.

Pocket Mania: Transmitted by seeing an object a infected creature saw. Infection rate for any single glance is very low, but constant exposure does spread the disease fairly quickly. Causes those infected to seek out a useless commercial product, acquire as much of it as possible, and constantly promote it to others as cheerfully as possible. Can be treated by slapping in the face with a whole dead fish. Cod and haddock are the least effective, while tuna works well (but sometimes leads to bruising).

Deafumbness: Transmitted by listening to an infected person talk about something stupid. Causes those infected to believe the first 5 stupid things they hear, and then promote and support those beliefs, ignoring or mentally discrediting all evidence that counters their stupid beliefs. No treatment is yet known, though further research may be available at the Marlowe House.

Side Effects May Include: Possession, undeath, tingling…

So, I am fihgitng an infection (the Spiteful Infection), and my doctor has me on 3,000 mg of antibiotics twice a day.

The actual possible side effects of the Rx I just took are: Hives; rash; itching; red swollen blistered or peeling skin; fever; wheezing; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; swelling of the mouth face lips tongue or throat; loose or bloody stool; a heartbeat that does not feel normal; change in thinking clearly and with logic; weakness; dizziness; numbness or tingling; unable to pass urine; muscle or joint pain; purple patches on the skin; dark urine; feeling tire; lack of appetite; nausea; severe dizziness; yellow skin or eyes; slow or shallow breathing; feeling confused; hearing loss; mood changes; sore throat; change in eyesight; severe headaches.

Note that there is a SEPARATE list for rare or severe side-effects.

“Okay, so you took the pilled, you turned yellow with purple spots, and went hoarse.”
::Hoarsely:: “Yes, doctor.”
“Was it an UNUSUAL hoarseness?”

 …
 “Either I am getting better, with a few side effects, or it is the End Times. Which is more likely to involve tingling?”

Strangefinder Modern: Attuned Manifestations

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Attuned Manifestations

Sometimes the manifestation of Alterniversal overlap only exist for a subset of creatures or situations. In essence, the Alterniversal frequency is only close enough to the new Alterniverse to manifest partially, and impact those places, times, or creatures that match some specific attune parameter.

Temporal attunement is the most common. A manifestation may only appear at night, or only one day of the year, or only from 11:11pm to 1:01am. At all other times, it simply does not exist and cannot impact the world around it, or be affected by any outside force. Most temporally attuned Alterniversal manifestations do not experience the passage of time when unattained (hopping from the end of one period of existence to the beginning of their next period of existence with at most a second of blur), but in rare cases such creatures exist in a “limbo” when unattained, able to heal and pass time and think, but unable to see of be seen by the world they manifest upon.

Spacial attunement is the second most common. These manifestations can only appear in a geographic area with some tie to their Alterniversal frequency. For example, a manifestation might only appear within a specific cave system, or only in one building, or only in the legal borders of a specific town or state. Some have geographic limiters, like the inability to cross water or a total lack of existence on holy ground. These creatures dissipate if forced into an area unattained to them, but reform (generally within 24 hours) at the point within their attuned area that is furtherest from the point of discorporation.

Situational attunement is essentially a combination of temporal and geographic attunements. Some manifestations only exist when a specific thing is true, such as only while bells toll in the church tower (and only as far away as they can be heard), or only during a solar eclipse (and only where the eclipse is visible).

Creature attunements are the most dangerous form of Alterniversal overlap manifestation, and among the hardest to identify. For these incursions, the manifestation only exists for a specific subset of creatures (almost always including people, though at least one goat-only manifestation is known to have occurred). Most often, this is a manifestation that only impacts people in a broad category, such as only members of a specific faith, or only people descended from a specific group, or only people who are drunk, or high, or who haven’t had sex, or have had sex with a person who has already been impacted by the manifestation, or who can recite the lyrics from Bohemia Rhapsody. The more specific the parameter, the rarer that form of manifestation.

A particularly common creature attuned manifestation is one of age. While it’s rare for middle-age folks to be the only ones who are impacted by a manifestation, it is common for some Alterniversal overlap to only impact pre-pubescents, or those going through puberty, or those well past middle age. Of course these groups are often not bee lived by the mainstream population when they explain things are living under their beds, or their pills turn into buys that steal their possessions, or that a think is stalking them after school. And even if they were believed, since these manifestations DO NOT EXIST for any other group, it’s up to the affected population to deal with the issue themselves.

Strangefinders who first experience Alterniversal manifestations at a young age sometimes make efforts to seek groups suffering from a creature attuned manifestation as part of their normal work. The Sisters Sternn are particularly famed for their ability to identify a manifestation attuned to only a specific group (most often adolescents), and to aid and train those affected in ways to fight back and, in time, overcome their hardship.

The Sisters Sternn can usually be reached through the Marlowe House.

Strangefinder: Marlowe House

Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.

Marlowe House

Strangefinders have existed for centuries, possibly since the advent of thought (as though leads to sub-quantum harmonics which can lead to Alterniversal incursions). Or they may predate thought, taking forms that don’t require sentience or sapience. Really, how would we know?

What we DO know is that many old legends are echoes of both Strangefinder activities, and faded memories of Alterniversal incursions which may have brought along their own legends and myths. Perhaps King Arthur WAS real, but was a great kind from another Alterniverse (we can call it Avalon), and thus his passing lead to all hard evidence of his existence fading.

However, some Strangefinder activities DO leave evidence behind, at least for those who know how to look for it. One such tangible element is Marlowe House, a gathering place for Strangefinders, and sometimes a training ground, library, armory, bazaar, and refuge.

Marlowe House dates back to the 1580s, when the noted Freemason, cabalist, writer, and Strangefinder Christopher Marlowe discovered great and terrible Alterniversal incursions overlapping vast sections of England. More a poet than a warrior, Marlowe had the keen intellect and broad imagination needed to recognize and an analyze manifestations of incursions. He then had others defeat any active threat, and worked to design plays and poems to act as counter-harmonic rituals. When such matters were insufficient, he designed strong measures (such as having the calendar changed).

While Marlowe and his agents were not great warriors, Marlowe DID have an amazing knack for discovering the weakness of incursion manifestations, and designing counter-harmonics to ensure they remained contained. In time other Strangefinders, such as Ivan Fyodorov, Oyamada Nobushige (after his supposed death at the hands of his Oda clan allies), Thomas Heriot, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and even occasionally Sir Francis Drake and John Dee, began to turn to Marlowe for his expertise in researching and analyzing incursions. Where helpful, Marlowe often put such groups in touch with one another.

Sadly, the rash of manifestations he fought off was a plot under the control of a powerful Strangemaster, who eventually managed to have Marlowe killed.

It turned out, this was an event Marlowe had foreseen.

The main work of producing dramaturgical works to hold Strange incursions at bay was adopted by new playwrights, beginning immediately after Marlowe’s death. The work of bringing Strangefinders together also continued, in the form of Marlowe House.

Marlowe House is a place, but not a single place. It is a theoretical place, a Strange incursion in its own right that Marlowe tamed rather than defeated. It is one part vast library, one part dark alleys, and one part cozy kitchen. In the earliest days, Marlowe House could most easily be reached through the back corners of playhouses. Those who had great need, and knew of the Strange or carried something touched by it, could duck beneath a backdrop, squeeze between two props, or dash into a black corner, and find themselves in the Marlowe House’s sitting-room/armory.

There, one of more Keepers (often a family) would see to immediate needs (Strangefinders entering the House for the first time and by accident were often bleeding, poisoned, or slowly turning into mushrooms), and inquire about longer-term plans. Marlowe House is not a charity–the Keepers will grant each entrant one unpaid boon. After that they are happy to hear about what a Strangefinder is working on, and put them in touch with other Strangefinders who might help. More substantial aid, such as using the Restricted Library, or buying some magic, psychic, or weirdtech item, must be met with ideas or objects of similar value.

Many Strangefinders drop off largely harmless materials from incursions at the Marlowe house, to be kept safe and possibly studied. This includes plays, books, and even movies from other Alterniverses. The 1200s catalog of the Great Library of Alexandria. The original Kubla Khan. Mag’s Diversion. Collections of Edgar Allen Poe’s work from his 50s and 60s.

Those visitors who come to be trusted friends to Marlowe House can also beg sanctuary for 24 hours once each lunar month. Of course, trusted friends often drop by just to meet with colleagues, update the keepers on ongoing investigations, and possibly enjoy the David Lynch version of The Empire Strikes Back.

While sections of Marlowe house are still styled after the 1500s, it’s changed and updated over the centuries. It has been accessed through public houses, speakeasies, head shops, abandoned libraries, and video rental stores. Anytime a new generation of Strangefinders change where they seek Strange lore, and society alters where is expects to find weirdos, Marlowe House becomes accessible through new means. And each time, it’s interior takes on some small part of the character of those entrances.

Currently the Marlowe House has a strong focus on video rental stores, tabletop roleplaying games, and knitting. It’s Keepers are kind and friendly folk, but fierce in the defense of their friends and allies. They delight in having known visitors drop by, and bemoan they don’t get to see enough of their friends as often as they’d like.

Marlowe House is a nexus for Strangefinders, and a GM can use it to advance a stuck plot whenever she wishes.