Tricks and Treats is a simple little hack I made of John Harper’s Lasers and Feelings. You play Halloween-ish creatures that are horrifying but also somehow cute and/or loveable. The one night a year you can interact with others without problem is on Halloween night. But something is threatening to ruin your one pleasing day a year! You’ll have to do something to put a stop to that.
Archive for Other People’s Games
I wanted to GM a short campaign of Over the Edge, the classic rpg of surreal conspiracies. The biggest problem with the game, I figured, was that there was no clear core activity for the PCs to pursue as a group. So I decided to frame the game with the PCs as journalists, working for Al Amarja Today! (the island’s leading newspaper). this gives them a good reason to work together, and a good reason to go poking into every weird conspiracy and event on the island.
Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I rewrote the actual rules from scratch. Again. This new version bears basically zero resemblance to the last time I rewrote Over the Edge. I borrowed significantly from tinyFate, Archipelago III, Itras By, Gumshoe and Small World to make a totally new system:
So far, playtests indicate that seven is too many players for me to handle with this game, but not much else. I’m really unsure on the number of traits people get, the number of available answers, the ratio of Yes and No cards, etc. These all could be off wildly, but only further playtesting will let us know.
These were more things I created for my _13th Age_ campaign but never got a chance to use them. Maybe someone else will find some use for them.
1st level kenku necromancer
AC 12 PD 11 MD 14.
Hollow Bones: Critical threat range for attacks against Contarius is expanded by 2.
Black dagger Melee basic. +3 vs. AC; 1d4+2 negative energy damage and Contarius gains temp HP equal to the escalation die.
Ghostly Swarm: Ranged spell, at-will. +5 vs MD; 1d4+4 ongoing negative energy damage. The subject has to take a standard action to swat away the spirits, allowing them to roll a normal save (11+). Miss: 1 damage.
Summon Undead: Daily, creates 1d3+1 crumbling skeletons
Deathknell: Enemies nearby Contarius die if they have 5 hp or fewer, and Contarius or a nearby ally heals 1d6 HP.
Flock Together: Allies attacking an enemy engaged with Contarius add 1 to their critical threat range.
Sorta Dead: Contarius chooses whether to count as undead or not for spells and effects. Contarius gets one ‘get out of death free’ card per PC level.
Missing Leg: Is stuck unless the escalation die is even.
Cantrips: Contarius can cast most basic wizard cantrips, but not mending or light.
Death Priest: Contarius can spend his Icon relationship dice to speak with the dead. He has two points in the Lich King (ie, any dead person) and one in The Emperor (anyone associated with the Empire)
Find shiny things +7
Reluctant necromancer +7
Trickery and mimicry +6
Dunstan, badly wounded commander
1st level leader
Initiative +1 (but allies gain a +2 to initiative when following his advice)
Longspear +5 vs. AC; 1d8+4. Miss: 1 damage. Even hit or miss: One ally adds the escalation die to their next attack (an additional time if they already gain it.)
Shortbow (ranged) +4 vs. AC; 1d6+2 damage. Even hit or miss: One nearby ally gains temporary HP equal to 4+escalation die.
Try Again! Interrupt action when an ally misses with an attack while the escalation die is even. Reroll the attack die.
Never Say Die: Once per battle when an enemy scores a critical hit against an ally, increase the escalation die by 1.
Missing Leg Dunstan is considered stuck unless the escalation die is even.
AC 15 PD 13 MD 13
Seen too many wars +7
The Emperor’s Investigator +7
Demon bred hydra body
Level 3 Wrecker
AC 19 PD 17 MD 13
The body of the hydra stays in its pool of brackish, disgusting water. Enemies in the demon tainted water take 5 necrotic damage if they end their turn in the water. And probably have to roll a background check (DC 15) to stay swimming and still fight. If they fail, they they spend their standard action simply staying afloat. Most of the time, you’ll have to get in the water to engage the hydra body, but you might swing on ropes or float on wooden rafts or come up with some other clever plan.
Crushing Claw +8 vs AC. Hit: 10 necrotic damage. Any even hit: The target is knocked into the brackish, disgusting water. Miss: 2 damage
Hold Under Water: If a target is in the water at the start of the hydra’s turn, it will hold the target under water as its standard action. The target takes 6 damage per turn and has to make last gasp saves to keep from drowning. (Ie, the target only gets one action per round, and the have to roll a hard save to keep from getting worse. On a success, you shake off the condition. On a failure, you are unconscious and have to start making death saves (16+). 16+ means spend a recovery and regain consciousness, 20 means you do that and can take your turn as normal. After four failures, you die.)
All One Being: When the Hydra Body is hit by a status effect, it can transfer that effect to one surviving Hydra Head.
Regrow Heads: Each round, roll a d4. If the result is equal to or lower than the escalation die, the hydra grows a new Hydra Head. After the hydra has grown a new head through this ability, use a d6 from there on, then a d8 and so forth.
Resist energy 12+. Attacks with an energy type that roll a 11 or lower do only half damage to the hydra body. (The heads are normally vulnerable.) For necrotic and poison damage, resistance is 16+.
Level 2 mooks (blockers)
AC 18 PD 15 MD 13
HP: 9 each
Clamping Bite +8 vs AC. Hit: 3+escalation die damage and the jaw clamps down on you. Until you disengage (at a -4 penalty), you cannot move away from the hydra head, you cannot make opportunity attacks and a -4 to hit any enemy that is not a Hydra Head biting you. Hydra Heads biting you get a +2 to hit you.
Tear Apart: If two Hydra Heads are biting you, they can both work together to try to tear you apart. This is the attack for both Heads. +8 vs. PD (+10 with the bonus from Clamping Bite); 6 damage and 5 ongoing damage (normal save ends).
Mass of Whipping Heads: Once per round when an attack targets the hydra body and the attack roll is odd, a hydra head gets in the way and takes the attack instead.
Mooks. As mooks, they share a pool of HPs. Kill a head for every 9 damage the heads take.
The Hydra’s Secret Weapon: When you kill a hydra head and the attack die result is odd, the hydra heads regrows two new heads.
Death Frenzy If the Hydra Body dies, then all remaining Hydra Heads get a +2 to hit for the rest of the battle.
Here are a few monsters I made for my 13th Age campaign, which may or may not be of use to other people out there. The PCs had recruited a group of dwarven sailors to fight a necromancer dragon, so I needed some monsters for that fight.
Probably I made all of these overly complicated. You could probably use one or two and a few simpler creatures and have a good encounter, though.
2nd level Spoiler
C: Music of the Damned With its first standard action, the Zombie Accordionist begins to play its musical instrument. Any creatures that can hear it have to reroll any die that rolls it maximum result (just the first roll is rerolled. If it comes up maximum again you can keep it.) In addition, any enemy with 12 HP or less are affected by its Fear aura (-4 to attack, no escalation die.) These effects all last as long as the zombie accordionist continues to play its instrument.
C: Maddening Chord (all enemies that can hear it play) +9 vs. MD. Hit: 5 psychic damage.
Empty Husk The Zombie Accordionist does not move, take Opportunity Attacks or basic attacks.
3rd level archers
Rusty Scimitar +10 vs. AC. Hit: 10 damage. Miss: The Skeleton Archer takes 1d6 damage.
Wicked Longbow +11 vs. AC. Hit: 9+escalation die damage and attacks against the target add the escalation die to their crit range (normal save ends).
Resist weapons 16+
2nd level dwarven mercenary
Heavy Axe +6 vs. AC. Hit: 4 damage. Natural Even Hit: +1d6 damage per point of escalation die.
Escalator: Thoradin adds the escalation die to his attacks.
Dwarven Defenses: Thoradin adds the escalation die to his AC and PD.
1st level gnome lookout
Dagger +5 vs AC. Hit: 3 damage and one ally gets a +2 to attack the target on their next attack before Flugel’s next turn.
Crossbow +7 vs. AC. Hit: 5 damage and Vulnerable (easy save ends).
Warning Cry Once per battle, Flugel can interrupt an enemy attack. Make a Crossbow or Dagger attack. If it hits, the target is also Dazed until the end of its next turn.
Delayed Healing Something is odd about Flugel. Any healing he receives does not take effect until the round after it normally would.
Small Flugel has +2 to defenses against Opportunity Attacks.
1st level Dwarven hedge wizard
Shocking Grasp +6 vs. PD. Hit: 5 lightning damage and the target pops free from Helja. Miss: Helja takes 3 damage.
Gain Mystic Focus Helja takes a standard action to gain her mystic focus. If Helja still has mystic focus on the start of he turn, she deals 5 damage to a random enemy. Helja loses her focus if she moves or takes any damage.
Illusory Image While the escalation die is odd, Helja can lose focus to redirect an enemy attack on a nearby ally onto a different target that the attack could have hit. Make the attack roll against the new target instead of the original.
Dwarven Defenses Helja adds the escalation die to her MD, but not to her attacks.
1st level Dwarven mooks
Improvised Axes +6 vs. AC. Hit: 5 damage.
Each dwarf also has a special ability:
Zahig is Strong Add the escalation die to his damage.
Orsik is Distracting Enemies engaged with Orsik are Hampered.
Snurri is Tricky Enemies engaged with Snurri subtract the escalation die from their disengage results.
Adrik is Helpful Attacks on an enemy Adrik has engaged add +1 to their critical range. (so most attack will crit on 19 or 20.)
Dwarven Defenses All dwarf sailors add the escalation die to their PD but not to attacks.
Mooks For each 7 damage the dwarven sailors take, one mook is taken out of the fight.
HP 7 each (28 total)
I wanted to play Over the Edge, but I can’t stop tinkering with the mechanics of the game. So I combined Over the Edge and World of Dungeons to make my quick and dirty Over the Edge/World of Dungeons hack. It works like this:
PCs have the same traits as normal a normal Over the Edge character, with one central trait and two side traits and a flaw and such. But instead of multiple d6s, traits give you larger sized dice to roll. A superior trait gives you a d10, any regular trait gives you a d8. Narrow traits bump those dice up, giving you a d12 if superior or a d10 if not.
When you roll, you’re rolling against the standard AW derived 2d6 bell curve: 1-6 fail, 7-9 partial success, 10-11 full success and 12+ Critical success system as in WoDu. If one or more traits are applicable, you can replace one or both your 2d6 with the die listed on the trait. So if you have ‘Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’ at 1d8 and someone attacks you, you roll 1d6+1d8 and check them against the results table. If you’re also fighting a demon in human form, you could use ‘Parapsychology Student’ and ‘Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’ both to roll 1d8+1d8. Your flaw turns a full success into partial success: you can succeed, but it will never be clean or pretty.
Any failure gets you an experience token. Experience tokens can be traded in to add +1 to your roll after seeing the results. A critical success also gives an experience token.
When you’re hurt, you cross off your top (critical) result first. So thereafter, all critical die results are treated as a normal success. Later injuries continue to remove your highest available level of success (regular successes become partial successes, eventually partial successes are failures… or maybe just partial failures?) Particularly deadly harm might cause multiple injuries at once, though I’d let a PC roll some trait like ‘Sturdy as a House’ to reduce that damage. Medical care care restore some or all of that with a decent first aid roll and/or bed care, depending on the injury.
See some pregen characters as well. I’me most pleased with the house that took human form and the voodoo economist.
Epidiah Ravachol is selling a microgame via self-addressed stamped envelope. To buy it, you mail him a dollar and a picture that you drew. These are the pictures that I drew. Sometime in the next few days I’ll mail them to him.
In celebration of finishing my year-long effort to draw a cartoon of every single monster in the 2nd Edition AD&D Monstrous Manual, I made a PDF containing a one page World of Dungeons hack along with every one of my cartoons.
Tao Zi is my current D&D 4e PC, a Githzerai Avenger who has been exiled to the mortal world for mysterious reasons.
We played Ghost Lines Dark last night. There were, of course, a few kinks to get worked out about how Cthulhu Dark relates to Ghost Lines. But it was a lot of fun and seemed to work over all.
I stole Judd’s idea of having the PCs be a crew of new recruits mentored by Orlence, a legendary master bull who was too drunk to operate. This nicely gave a reason for a bunch of new recruits to all be working a train line without much supervision.
I also used the Ghost Lines map that john posted on his blog. They didn’t get very far, so it didn’t come up much. But I liked having a bunch of places names and an idea how things were arranged. (I think that the “add a fact to the map” mechanics I threw into Ghost Lines Dark would come up more in a multi-session campaign rather than a single session playtest.)
We had three PCs:
Adric Dunvil who acted as their Spider (an Iruvian, he was also skilled as a Rook I think) old friends with Caul, afraid of rats after a terrible experience with a swarm of ghost rats in Bright Harbor.
Caul Hellyers, Iruvian Owl and Rook. He hadn’t actually passed the final exam for the bull training, but a kindly master bull named Pholonia gave him a passing mark anyway. (My GM failure: Pholonia should have been the drunk master bull that they were operating under. Gotta reuse NPCs as much as possible.)
Aran Laudius, their Sevoran Anchor, addicted to fermented beetle wings that the brew out in Cullfield.
I decided that much of the electro-rails industry was located in Southpointe. Near the Imperial City, Southpointe was a crossroads city, so it would be a good place to put all the trainyards and such. The PCs had been through some basic bull training but never fought an actual ghost before setting off west, toward the Imperial City.
As the train pulled out of Southpointe, Orlence pulled Caul aside. “Listen, kid. There are some secrets that you don’t want to know about. You know that refrigerated car at the back of the train? Stay away from it.” Then Orlence stomped off to the bar (and was never seen sober again.)
So naturally, the first thing the PCs did was to go back the the refrigerator car to investigate. It was covered in signs saying “Keep Out – authorized Personnel Only.” The car was locked shut, but a few rolls got the door open. Well, not “open”. They couldn’t undue the lock on the door, but they used their electro-hooks to pry the bottom half of the door apart from the jamb enough that they could fit through with their encounter suits. Two bulls went inside while one stayed out to be lookout and keep the train’s porters from asking too many questions.
Inside were several dozen chest freezers, about the size of a coffin. Knocking the padlock off of the nearest one, the bulls found a human body (male, adult, naked) frozen in ice. The Owl’s spirit goggles didn’t show any soul inside the body, so it was either dead or a Hollow. Checking the corpse over determined that the body was still apparently alive.
Somebody was secretly transporting dozens of Hollow bodies into the Imperial City. (In retrospect: Perhaps I should have made more clear that this was likely illegal, The bulls were curious about this but didn’t worry about how the Hollow got there or where they were going.)
By this time, Caul was on lookout duty and saw an approaching ghost with his spirit goggles. The boys climbed up onto the top of the train and headed up the front of the train to confront it. Aran quickly tried to arrange the body so it looked like the Hollow tried to escape on its own. This was about as convincing as it might be in the ten seconds he took to do so.
Caul’s player asked “So what does this ghost look like?” and I natural responded “That’s a great question. What does this ghost look like?” The ghost, it turned out, looked like an elderly man with a long, animated beard and no long. He was stretched out and twisted in odd ways, so that he was over nine feet tall and had impossibly long arms. Asking a second player for a detail, the spirit inspired pain and nausea in the stomachs of anyone that looked at him. I asked the third player “What is still surprisingly human about this ghost?” The only part of the ghost that wasn’t horribly twisted were his eyes. Old ghost man had kindly old grandfather eyes, that just wanted to be close to the PCs, even as his hideous gnarled claw hands ripped at their encounter suits.
Aran, their anchor, was the last to leave the refrigerator car, but he tried to get the ghost’s attention. A roll (risking mental trauma, naturally) got the ghosts attention. I wasn’t clear from the original game exactly how Anchors gets the ghost to focus on them (just that their job was to withstand the ghost’s attentions). Aran decided to get the ghost’s attention by pretending to recognize it as a long lost relative. “Uncle Bob! I’ve missed you!” (Side note: “Bob” is not on the name list. This was a deliberate decision on Aran’s player’s part. Bulls, you see, never nickname ghosts with names that have been cleared. Sharing a name with a ghost is bad luck; it connects the spirit to you. So if you have to name a ghost, you give it a weird or archaic name that no one uses any more. Like “Bob”.)
Aran’s excellent roll and some trauma taken meant that the ghost was laser focused on him. It flew right through Caul (Harm roll, didn’t result in any Harm though) on the way back down the train to where the Anchor was. Caul slashed it with a lightning hook as it went by, and the ghost’s sad old man eyes turned to look at him in confusion. “Why are you hurting me when I just want to be close to my loving family?” the eyes seemed to ask. “Uncle Bob” hugged onto Aran and caused him some more trouble while Adric stood back. He was playing it safe, letting the other two risk themselves against the ghost (and it showed: in the end, Adric had suffered the least out of the three). Adric threw a spirit bottle underneath, yelled for everyone to get back and launched a lightning-web. An excellent roll caught the ghost perfectly. The clear glass bottle was now full of swirling green-grey fog. As you watched, occasionally those sad, confused eyes would drift past and look at you pleading to be freed.
The bulls were, naturally, jubilant after bagging their first real ghost. They decided to hunt down Orlence and show off their good work. They stormed off through some public bits of the train, showing off their full spirit bottle. (If Ghost Lines is steampunk Ghostbusters, then this would be the “We came! We saw! We kicked its ass!” moment in the hotel lobby. A brief moment of self-congratulation at how destructive and successful their first real job went.) Orlence was getting drunk in the train car with the bar. As the PCs walk in, Orlence is arguing with the bartender, demanding more alcohol. As Orlence slumps onto the table, Adric plops the spirit bottle in his hand. Orlence only realizes that it isn’t alcohol only when those sad, dead eyes stare up at him.
Congratulatory drinks all around, celebrating their first bagged ghost. I realized then that I had no idea what the bulls do with a ghost they caught in the spirit bottle. Taking a ghost into the city wasn’t allowed, obviously, but just throwing it back into the poison fog seemed strange and wasteful. Orlence drunkenly explained that some bulls smuggle ghosts into town and burn them to make electroplasm. Make some money on the side. Totally illegal but it pays better than their real job.
Somewhere in this conversation, we got talking about the ghosts in the wilderness. Someone said that they were glad that they’d never end up like Uncle Bob. Orlence told them about another bull that he saw when he was an apprentice. Guy fell from the train outside Duskwall. Next time Orlence worked the Duskwall line, they had to clear the bull’s own ghost from the line. That, he explained, was the end fate waiting for all of the bulls.
The bulls don’t ask about the Hollow bodies on ice, but Caul gets an idea. He gets wondering what happens when you put a ghost into a Hollow body. He hopes to be able to resurrect Uncle Bob once more. Caul heads back to the refrigerator car. He hasn’t explained his plan, but Adric and Aran are curious about the Hollow, so they follow.
Civilians don’t like to go out into the poison fog, so nobody’s been in the refrigerator car. The Hollow is still where they left it. Without saying a word, Caul upends the bottle into the Hollow’s mouth. Suddenly, the Hollow’s eyes flip open, with the same confused, tragic look as the ghost had. The body starts trying to claw its way out, but it is still stiff from being frozen and can barely move.
Now that they have made a zombie, no one is sure what to make of it. Adric is a bit shocked. Aran is the most horrified. This is when he explains how death is the ultimate trauma you can go through. When your spirit is ripped from your body, it permanently damages your psyche. “Aran, why do you know this?” Adric asks. Aran explains that he was technically dead for five minutes during a training accident and his spirit had separated from his body, making him technically a ghost possessing his own Hollow body. This trauma was why Aran was now an addict and an Anchor: his near death experience gave him a natural affinity for ghosts. And relevant to their current situation, a spirit that was dead for a few minutes is messed up. A ghost that was dead for years or centuries would never be a functioning human being again. Now the bulls have a real problem on their hands. If they take a possessed Hollow into the Imperial City, then they’ll all be in trouble.
Uncle Bob is waking up and trying to claw at Aran’s heavy encounter suit, but the suit is too tough for the still half frozen Hollow body to do anything. Caul runs off to get Orlence for guidance while Aran holds Uncle Bob down.
Orlence is drunker than before. He’s starts cursing Caul out when Caul says they went into the refrigerator car, and is even more shocked when he’s told about the ghost in the body. He drunkenly stumbles up from his stool and eventually manages to get his encounter suit helmet on. Unfortunately, Orlence has no idea what to do with the guy once they get there. From the front of the train, the bulls all hear the whistle that means they’re getting close to Imperial City.
Adric has an idea, though. He’s going to set up a lightning cage inside the car with Uncle bob inside, then drag the hollow body out. This wouldn’t be enough to separate a living person from their body, it could separate a ghost from a Hollow. Uncle Bob’s eyes still plead for help from the bulls as they loop a cable around his feet and plant him in the middle of the electric field generators. Adric risks physical harm and winds up being pulled through the lightning fields when Uncle Bob starts kicking. But Bob is pulled through anyway. The Hollow’s head breaks open and starts bleeding on the floor, while Bob’s ghost was torn t shreds in the electric field.
Orlence is passed out in the corner by now. The bulls decide to leave him there with Uncle Bob. Either he’ll look like he was poking around where he shouldn’t or he’ll look like he singlehandedly saved the train from a ghost-possessed Hollow. Orlence is drunk enough that he won’t recall what happened. The bulls clear out before the train pulls into the station, doing one last very public patrol of the train. (The bulls never found out what happened to Orlence, but he didn’t work the Bayside line again.)
We wrapped up with playing the downtime a bit. I need to adjust the Ghost Lines dark rules a bit, as they earned a lot more money by sidejobs instead of their job as bulls. Everyone worked a side job. Aran, a Sevoran, also went drinking in the pub and bought his Trauma down by taking a mental scar “What about Uncle Bob?” which symbolized his sympathy for the ghosts they were destroying. Aran also worked as a bouncer at the same bar, got some Harm for his trouble but paid off a favor that he owed Ty Cronel the Fixer (a nasty criminal NPC that didn’t figure in very much). Caul chose the most sedate job possible: basketweaving, while Adric went leviathan hunting. The game ended with Adric bursting in on Caul’s gentle basket weaving, excited about leviathan hunting and about the awesome lead that he earned on the side job. (shit, I forget now what the lead was. Something lucrative in northern Akoros.) If this had been the first session of a campaign instead of a one-shot, that lead would have been where we picked up next session.
I liked the game a lot! The setting really worked nicely. The Cthulhu Dark adaptation mostly did its job, with most PCs taking varying amount of Harm and Trauma. Think that two or three ghosts and you’d be close to dead and ready to buy some scars in your downtime. (I think a few of the feedback loops only kick in over a few jobs instead of one single job, though.)
Very cool. Would play again.
Might play again next week, actually. We had too many players show up, so we separated into two groups and the latter played Pandemic and Elder Sign. So now I have to run Ghost Lines for those people at some point.