Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Threat Levels in Horror Gaming

 Horror gaming in older systems such as Call of Cthulhu often does not work as intended because players don't follow the tenets of the genre. Whereas the first stop on many a PC's journey is the gun shop, arming up is usually a last resort for characters from cosmic horror, and is arguably futile.

In game terms, this mismatch often translates to a jarring gaming experience, such as a cakewalk against supposedly unstoppable odds, or a TPK from misuse of lethal weapons. I have had an entire campaign derailed by an attempt to rob dynamite from a construction site, and a PC commit suicide after being stopped for wielding firearms in broad daylight.

To keep the horror in horror while letting the PCs be heroes, I'll be using the following 4 levels of  threat escalation to determine what resources player characters should have access to.

Note that the key to using threat levels is to communicate them clearly to players and gain their agreement that the current level for individuals or the entire party matches their roleplaying motivation, backstory, or experience.


1 Babes in the Woods

The investigators don't know the horror is real yet, and are unprepared for it.Weapons are limited to improvised or any provided by occupation (ie a Policeman or woman would have a Luck roll to see if they are carrying their service revolver, nothing more). Opponents are usually human or near-human, such as cultists or disguised serpent men. Conversely, downed PCs may be captured or wake in hospital, and should rarely be killed.


2 Fighting Back

The investigators have caught a glimpse of the true nature of the universe, and the horrors within. PCs are limited to any legal armament that they have the time and finances to secure, but still have to conceal or secure these while in public or risk investigation by the authorities. They will still be unarmed in social or official venues. Opponents are bestial or monstrous, such as Byakhee or Mi Go. One PC may be killed, but fleeing should allow others to avoid a TPK.


3 The Hunted Become The Hunters

Investigators are now seasoned and somewhat paranoid, being the object of frequent attack, and never have less than one concealed weapon on them at all times. PCs have gained access to illegal armament, and are often in emergency situations where they can be wielded openly. Opponents can be aliens or servitors of the gods themselves, such as the Wendigo, or Cthuloids. If players aren't cautious, they should be warned that deaths of one or all party members are in the cards.


4 The Nuclear Option

Investigators can have any weapon, and may even call on airstrikes or torpedoes. However, considering that they are up against the Old Ones or Outer Gods themselves, this should be effectively useless, a time-biding measure to stave off armageddon. PCs are putting themselves in mortal peril, and the possibility of deaths or even TPKs should be acknowledged by all at the table.


Note that the Keeper can adjust the level of threat to match the campaign. Call of Cthulhu games typically can start as level 1 Babe In The Woods horror one shots, or else could be level 2 investigators. However, Esoterrorists characters are created with their first supernatural meeting behind them, so usually start out at level 2 or 3.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Thoughts on D&D and WotC-Hasbro

So, as you can tell, I am pretty much over D&D. When I started this blog in 2013, the OSR was well established and had gone from a reaction to the 3E glut and shocking 4E paradigm shift to a creative force in its own right. I was delighted to have access to retroclones like Swords & Wizardry, as well as all the crazy free blog materials and quality indie published materials (ASE, Death Frost Doom, and Barrowmaze come to mind). Bloggers were generally open minded and friendly. Roleplaying seemed to be entering a new golden age.

That said, I quickly moved away from ye olde game, hosted the first non-D&D blog challenge in 2014, and found my interest much higher for BRP / Chaosium games, especially the old Stormbringer game. In the early OSR days, blogs for Traveller, 007, and Villains and Vigilantes among others, were easily found, and just as accepted.

But gradually D&D overtook the blogosphere, and the OSR became a D&D echo chamber. Then WotC hired OSR names to recreate 5E along old D&D lines and co-opt the very movement that had opposed their corporate product development.

Along with this came incidents of sexism and homophobia that tarnished the open nature of the OSR. At the same time, the corporate marketing push to brand D&D as 'The Most Popular Roleplaying Game in the World' became insufferable and inescapable, and I joined a Facebook page called I'm Begging You To Play Another RPG, where I was both able to indulge my anti-corporate gaming snark with likeminded folk, while finding out about killer indie games like Lasers & Feelings, Bluebeard's Wife, and Thirsty Sword Lesbians. Add to that the success of scandinavian-produced games like Mork Borg and Aliens, and it seems like another golden age.

But D&D Inc. seems to be in a dark age. Although I feel no pity for the corporate overlords, I do feel lots for the old gamers who see 'their game' being warped beyond recognition, as well as the new players who have (literally) bought into the newest edition's focus on builds and character concepts linked to race + item + joke or pun, and are being asked to pony up for lower quality materials or a whole new edition. 

This year seems to be a crisis for WotC D&D considering its recent missteps. I have recently become active on Twitter, and based on some interactions I have had there, here are my thoughts on the D&D dark ages and the way ahead.


1. The Failure of Spelljammer

As I tweeted on the failure of 5E Spelljammer and WotC's apology, "How the hell can you fuck up Spelljammer?" Spelljammer and Planescape were the pinnacle of 2E gonzo settings, and both worked well, unlike Maztica or Al-Qadim, which arguably misfired. This is a huge corporate misstep and shows two things:

1) WotC does not understand D&D
2) Hasbro does not care about the legacy of D&D

Once again, these old games are available in PDF form and easily run with a retroclone. Failing to produce a quality product for the current edition is a serious shot to the corporate foot. 


2. The D&D One Announcement

On the heels of the Spelljammer debacle came the announcement of D&D One, a supposed new edition that would be backward compatible with ALL previous editions.

Once again, this is pure corporate horseshit, and people aren't buying it. I tweeted my thoughts on the matter, and got a massive response:



Hasbro needs to realize that their job isn't to develop D&D - they lack the love, the creative freedom, and the incentive to do that. instead, all they have to do is make D&D available in print, POD, or PDF, let 3rd person parties develop materials, and shut up. They do need to implement some form of quality control or repeat the 3E glut's excesses, but otherwise, shut up, steward materials, and let the money roll in.


3. The Race Problem

Now comes the WotC announcement that they won't refer to 'race' anymore, but use 'species' instead, which is stirring up some gamers. This again is corporate strategy - there is no such thing as bad press, as Barnum once said. 

Not using the term race is pure pinkwashing - corporate wokeness for profit. Branding WotC as 'sparkle trolls' misunderstands the corporate scamjob they are trying to foist on gamers - they care as little about this as most OSR gamers. 

However, living in a world as racist as this one (I'm native and now foreigner in Japan, so I know that of which I speak), I don't think saving the word race is a hill worth dying on. As I suggested on Twitter, why not use 'folk' instead? 'Species' is such a modern, scientific word, and totally takes away from the suspension of disbelief needed for fantasy roleplaying.


4. How to save D&D?

So, if you love D&D of whatever edition, you must be asking yourself this question. Here is my suggestion:


D&D is not roleplaying. You like getting a party together and dungeon crawling? There are TONS of other games that give just as good experiences, and are better suited to individual tastes. Google 'alternatives to D&D' and you get 

THIS

AND THIS

AND THIS


(I'd play Dungeon World or Heart / Spire myself. I played a game of Ironsworn a few years back and it literally mopped the floor with most D&D games I had played before).

As for Hasnro-WotC D&D next, I think Feist says it better than I ever could:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F2k1zwDymw


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Alternate Types of Initiative for Old School Games

So, initiative.

In the older games, initiative is linked to Dexterity or some cognate. The faster you are, the sooner you react in physical combat. Nobody has any problems with this, and players patiently wait their turn when a fight starts.

But roleplaying is more than just combat. There are bargains to be made, information to be gleaned, drinking contests to be won, puzzles to be solved, and bars to be bent. For these, there exists no system for initiative, and players often pile on or cut in on other player's actions, often to frustrating results. In my experience, this is worse among young or newer players, who all want to be the grandstanding hero, and haven't yet developed the sense of roleplaying as a group activity, where each hero must shine at his own task for the entire party to succeed.

What if we used other attributes for alternate instances of initiative, especially those outside of mortal combat? Then we can delineate rules for the advantage this offers, as well as how to resolve these non-combat interactions in a way that favors party members playing their role.

Let's see where this idea takes us.


CHARISMA

Want to speak first, get a bargain at the shops, or parlay with the Queen? The highest CHA score has first choice to perform social interactions, and cannot be cut off by PCs of lower CHA.


CONSTITUTION

Intend to drink a monster under the table, or else taste poison for the King? The highest CON is first batter up.


STRENGTH

Do some iron bars need bending, or get challenged to arm wrestle some barbarians? The other characters will step back to let the highest STR do their thing.


WISDOM

Care for a game of chess, assemble the clues of a mystery, or choose the best road for the party? The highest WIS is the one all others naturally go to in any of these situations.


INTELLIGENCE

Need to speak with the sages, or else find a dusty tome in an abandoned library? With the highest INT, you are the only one that can be trusted with these tasks.


POWER

Is there some magic around, or some mind bending illusion? Only the highest POW could possibly understand what is going on.


RULES OF ALTERNATE INITIATIVES

1 The PC with the highest attribute can opt to go first, or may let others, but it is their choice alone.

2 Whatever result they get stands, and any other player attempting to overrule their result instead reduces the effectiveness by a level of the GM's deciding.

3 The GM alone decides if players can cooperate if circumstances permit, but not the players, unless their proposal makes excellent sense.

4 Players cannot spam a contest and kept rolling or retrying until they get a favorable result. Contests should thus only be held if there is both risk and reward, with the result resting on one die roll.

5 In the case of tied attributes, the most appropriate character background or interesting contest should be allowed, or else some player contest should decide who goes first if both want to.


ROLLING CONTESTS vs ROLE PLAYING INTERACTIONS

The final piece of the puzzle is how to resolve these situations. Basically, I identify two types of situations:

1 CONTESTS - If there is some risk and reward, then dice should be rolled if the player is willing to go for the glory.

2 INTERACTIONS - If there is no risk, just need to make an NPC connection, then role playing is suggested. If players insist on rolling to get an extra reward or result, warn them that they may also incur a drawback or risk losing their relationship.

Hereafter are sample Contests and Interactions for each attribute in older RPGs.


CHARISMA

Contest - Fasttalk or con the guards, at the risk of a sword to the guts or a night in the hoosegow.

Interaction - Prove to travelers that you mean them no harm, or show that you have the courtly manners required to attend the ball.


CONSTITUTION

Contest - Drinking contests, where failure means a day lost sick to your guts or pressganged onto the sweeps of a navy ship, but success can let you win renown, hear some vital information, or steal that key off their unconscious body.

Interaction - Stay up drinking with your host, or else shrug off the cold or heat to show that you are one of them and not some weak outlander.


STRENGTH

Contest - Bend those bars, or else they are too strong for anything but magic to move.

Interaction - Trying to impress the clan leader with your muscles so you will be chosen for a mission. 


WISDOM

Contest - A game of chess or trapped puzzles, with treasure at the end but death or damage also likely.

Interaction - Impress the druid with your knowledge of forest survival, or the king with your judgment in strategic matters.


INTELLIGENCE

Contest - Rushing to find the correct tome in a huge library, or recite the words of an ancient poem. Failure could mean a setback in the quest, or getting kicked out of the bookshelves.

Interaction - Discourse with the learned as an equal, be they wizard, sage, or noble.


POWER

Contest - Resisting a possessing spirit, or intuiting what kind of magic (demonic, sorcerous, alien, etc) is at play here.

Interaction - Conversing with the spirits or a medium as one who knows secrets and can be trusted.


NB: DEXTERITY can still be used for non-combat Contests (tightrope walking, etc) as well as Interactions (ie dancing well with a partner), the details of which I leave up to the reader.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Blogger Image problem

 Looks like Blogger is having problems processing images.

Specifically, images I have copied and pasted here become stretched out when seen on cellphone.

It has also happened to images uploaded to the platform.

Please tell me if you see anything like this.

I'll report and try to get this fixed, but dunno how much they support the old dog anymore...

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Stormbringer Redux # 16 - Why Stormbringer 1E and the Stormbringer Redux Endgame

Hello all,


Looks like I'm 3/4th of the way through the Stormbringer redux project. Time to reflect on what has come before, and what has yet to be done.




(Damn that is a sweet pic...)


Q1: One of my players has asked why I am set on using Stormbringer 1E, why not use a newer edition of the game, or even something like Barbarians of Lemuria?


A: He has a point. I suppose a large part is due to nostalgia, as it was my first RPG purchase, and the first official Moorcock game. However, there are some deeper reasons:

1 Stormbringer 1E does lots of things right, like the attempt to link attributes and skills; the variable armor; elementals & Lords of Higher Worlds. It is a good base to build on.

2 It is rules light, and has a nice blend of mechanics with story effects. Another good thing to try and emulate or expand on.

3 It is atmospheric as heck, both in terms of art and writing.

4 It is manageable, being of a much smaller page count than later games.

5 All the above mean that it is easily hackable


Q2: What is left to be done?

A: I want to redo the Encumbrance and Wealth + Social Class rules from a clunky mechanistic system I previously proposed to ones that lean into the story effects. Maybe find a way to reduce stat blocks for monsters to help GMs GM faster and more efficiently. Also possibly roll up and post PCs and demons to test my rules when I'm bored or exhausted. Post up play reports if I can resuscitate the game in the new year. Offer an alternate system for rolling nationality that is more fun, and finally update my Houserules document with what has been tested and approved.


Q: Anything else?

A: Hawkmoon Redux?!??!?!?!



To put it politely, the old Hawkmoon RPG was underwhelming, especially coming on the heels of Stormbringer. But it made me wonder one thing:

What if there was a system for Moorcockean steampunk pseudoscience to match that of Magic?

What makes ornithropters and flame lances work? Do Granbretan animal armors have special powers? What runs the sky ships of the Vadhagh?


I have the inkling of an idea for an alchemical system using the following elements:

Silver

Gold

Gems

Radiating Material

Maybe throw in the Virtues rules and the need for economic exploitation of the environment. The mind boggles.


Other than that, maybe reread All Flesh Must Be Eaten and review if it really was a good game or not. Then turn to some newer games on my shelves (Swords of the Serpentine) and write a review or materials.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Stormbringer Redux # 15 (part three, final) Lesser & Greater Demons

Summoning lesser demons in Stormbringer is what my Brit friends might call a 'sticky wicket.' There are basically three things to consider:


1) The charming but incomplete early rules (1-3E)

2) The detailed but bloated point buy of later rules (4E)

4) The original fiction


Each of these has their peculiarities. I want to keep the 1E demon types (Warrior, Guardian, Transport, Knowledge, Passion), as these have a certain charm and could be inferred based on the demons Moorcock describes. As for the 4E demon point-buy system, although I appreciate the legwork done by the designers, I find it a clunky consumer catalogue that slows down the game. Moreover, I dislike the 4E assertion that the summoner has complete control over the entity summoned, especially this farcical fast food analogy from the designer:

Imagine this as if you were going out to eat at a restaurant. If you pull up to the Drive-Thru window at a fast food joint your food will only take minutes to arrive, but it is cooked the same as everyone else’s, you can never be sure you got what you ordered until you look into the bag, and once you have checked your order you are 15 miles away, and it is too late to complain. However if you go to a fancy gourmet restaurant, you can have your meal cooked as you like it, waiters are constantly pestering you to make sure the food is alright, and if something is wrong with the meal you can have it fixed as you go. [5.3.1.1]

This is pretty crude reasoning, first and foremost because it conflicts with Moorcock's fiction, where mortals beg for arcane help, but have no say in its shape or form. Elric doesn't 'order' an Arioch set with a side of Beast Lord to go, he cries out in need and takes what he can get. In Corum's world, the Nadragh sorcerer Ertil also has to beg to be heard, and the demon Yrkoon is irritated at being summoned so often by him:


Yrkoon: "You summoned me again, Ertil."

Ertil: "Yrkonn, we need more help from your master, Mabelrode."

Yrkoon: "More help? More?"

Ertil: "We work for him! Without us, you would have no means of reaching this realm at all."


Second, point-buy detracts from good roleplaying, because it is open to abusive power gaming. In fact, giving players complete control over demons seems to contradict the designer's own advice:

The point of designing the demon is not always to design the most powerful demon possible by bending the rules. [5.6.1]

To defuse this situation and return to emulating Moorcock's writing, I suggest that for lesser demons the GM should either 1) have a concept in mind and build it from the options below and his own imagination or 2) roll randomly and adjust as needed.



4b) Type 2 Demons - Lesser Demons


Lesser demons are the demons proper of Stormbringer summoning. The majority of lesser demons are completely alien in origin, although some rare instances of humans raised to the position by a Chaos Lord can be found (see Yrkoon from the Corum Chronicles). Arioch did promise to make Elric a god at one point, so I assume that this principle also works for the Young Kingdoms. Lesser demons can also be avatars of Chaos Lords, as when a puppet form of Arioch devoured the guards in Cymoril's chambers to let Elric escape at the start of The Dreaming City.



1) How to Summon - These are summoned as per the rules using the Sorcery Skill above, plus the Sacrifice, Binding, and Object rules given below.



1.1 Grimoires

La Magie naturelle: Grimoires | Priaulx Library

Although in Moorcock's Elric books he often mentions Elric or Yrkoon's grimoires, these are largely overlooked in the RPG. The only mention of a grimoire in the rules is [5.3.2], where studying one for 40-INT months (why?) and making a POW x 3% roll (why not INT?) gives an increase to the sorcerer's rank.


Ho hum.


First of all, Elric summons elementals without need of a tome. I'd like to keep non-demonic magic simple in this way.


Here is my simple mechanic to emulate the importance of grimoires.


1) Sorcerers need a grimoire for every demon type they want to summon. When the sorcerer is created, if he or she is Second rank or above, he starts with a grimoire for the first type of demon (Warrior, Protection, Knowledge, Travel, or Desire) he summons. To summon any other type, the sorcerer needs to procure a grimoire by adventuring.


2) Sorcerers need a grimoire for each Lord of Chaos, Beast Lord, or Elemental Ruler they want to summon.


3) Sorcerers need a grimoire to increase their rank if their attributes allow it, as per the original rules. However, switch the POW x 3% roll to a Sorcery skill roll.



1.2 Sacrifices When Summoning Demons


For non-noble sorcerers, summoning a demon requires the summoner to sacrifice another being, or a more personal sacrifice. This is seen more in the Corum books than in Elric:


Glandyth-A-Krae: "I want power, demon! Power to destroy Corum and Law's rule on this plane, demon! Give me that power, demon!"

Yrkoon: "I cannot give you power, I can only tell you how to get it. If you like more of Chaos' gifts, you will assume the attributes of all those who accept such gifts. Are you prepared to become what you loathe?"

Glandyth-A-Krae: "What is that?"

Yrkoon: "A shefanhow! A demon. I was human once."

Glandyth-A-Krae: "I'll make any bargain to have my revenge on Corum and his kind!"



1.3 Types of Sacrifices for Summoning & Binding Objects


Non-Noble sorcerers must make the following sacrifices when summoning lesser demons:


Warrior - The life of a warrior, be it friend or foe. The demon's physical attributes (STR, CON, and DEX) are also limited to no more than those of the sacrifice, so the healthier the sacrifice the better. For binding, a weapon or armor of at least 1000 SS value is also required.


Protection - The life of a faithful pet they have raised. Most common are dogs, cats, or crocodiles. The demon's physical attributes (STR, CON, and DEX) are limited to those of the sacrifice, so the healthier the sacrifice the better. For binding, a statue of the sacrifice of at least 1000 SS value is also required.


Knowledge - A trained intelligent animal or slave. The demon's mental attributes (INT and CHA) are limited to those of the sacrifice, so the healthier the sacrifice the better. For binding, a reflective object (mirror, orb, crystal, etc) of at least 1000 SS value is also required.


Travel - A coin of great value, such as a Melnibonean wheel or high karat stone, which is consumed in the summoning. Should require great travails or quests to obtain. For binding, a vehicle of at least 1000 SS value is also required.


Passion - A charismatic person. The demon's relevant physical attributes (CON and CHA) and gender are limited to those of the victim sacrificed, so the kidnapping of beautiful youths for summoning succubi or incubi has become a scourge of chaotic nations. For binding, a piece of jewellery (ring, necklace, torc, bracelet, etc) of at least 1000 SS value is also required.


(Note: Binding object prices are in Small Silver (SS) and not Large Bronze (LB) because Merchants are the lowest class capable of becoming sorcerers. Since in a previous post I linked social class to wealth, the merchant coinage of SS seems reasonable for pricing weapons or armor strong enough to hold demons).



1.4 Sacrifice & Social Class


As mentioned above, if the sorcerer is of imperial or royal blood from a Chaotic nation, they are exempt from making a sacrifice. Elric often merely offers as many souls as they can take to demons, and neither sacrifices others or himself for his summonings of Arioch. I find this principle of noble exception in keeping with the source material, and gives a good reason why Mabden sorcerers like Thelab Karna envy Melniboneans.


In keeping with this, Noble sorcerers from Chaotic lands do not need to make any overt sacrifice, but will be played by Chaos in return for any aid they receive. Unlike Glandyth and his Nadragh sorcerer, Elric didn't make any immediate sacrifices to obtain demonic aid, but ended up paying in other ways. 



2) Demon Attributes & Skills


The more powerful the sorcerer, the more powerful demon he or she can summon. Therefore, I am linking demon attributes to the sorcerer's POW to reduce calculations or dice rolling.



2.1 All demons have three types of attributes


1) POW, which is 3D8 unless an increase to POW is randomly rolled.

2) Major attributes, determined by their demon type below, which are equal to the sorcerer's POW.

3) Minor attributes, determined by their demon type below, are equal to half  the sorcerer's POW.


2.1.1 Major and Minor Attributes

Warrior - Major are STR, CON, SIZ, and DEX, all else Minor.

Guardian - Major are STR, CON, DEX and INT, all else Minor.

Knowledge - Major are INT and CHA, all else Minor.

Transport - Major are STR, SIZ, and CON, all else Minor.

Passion - Major are CHA, INT, and DEX, all else Minor. 

(Reminder: If the summoner is not a Chaotic noble, demons he or she summons will have attributes restricted to the values of their sacrifices as outlined above.)


All other attributes are equal to how much POW the summoner spends on the summoning, with a maximum limited by the attribute of the sacrifice given as outlined above.


Example

If a Sorcerer of POW 18 summons a Warrior Demon, the POW is determined by rolling 3D8. The demon has STR, CON, DEX, and SIZ of 18, but INT and CHA of 9. Its POW must be rolled on 3D8. If the sorcerer is not a noble, these attributes are also limited by the sacrifice as outlined above.



2.2 Demon Skills


If you don't want to spend time calculating skill percentages, all demon skills should be at 60% unless you need them to be higher or lower. Otherwise, calculate as below:


Warrior - Attack and Dodge at DEX x 3%, Parry at STR x 3%

Guardian - Attack and Dodge at DEX x 3%, Parry at STR x 3%. All Perception skills at INT x 3%.

Knowledge - All Knowledge skills at INT x 3%, all Persuasion skills at CHA x 3%

Transport - Navigate and Make Map at INT x 3%, Dodge at DEX x 3%, any other appropriate movement based skills at relevant attribute x 3%.

Passion - All Communication skills (Persuade, Credit, Orate, Sing) at CHA x 3%, 



3) Demon Abilities


I have taken the liberty (and it has used up my days of liberty) to re-organize and clean up the list of Demonic Powers [5.7.1] from Stormbringer 4E into ten categories: Defense, Melee Offence, Missile Offence, Area Offence, Random, Land Transport, Air Transport, Sea Transport, Psionics, and Sense. Each Lesser Demon has 4 powers, chosen or rolled from the categories below.


Warrior - One Melee Offense, one Missile Offense, one Defence, and one Random power.

Guardian - One Melee Offense, one Area Offense, one Defence, and one Random.

Knowledge - One Psionics, one Defence, one Senses, and one Random.

Transport - One Travel (appropriate to environment), one Defence, one Random, and one Senses.

Passion - Two Psionics, one Random, one Melee Offence.


Area effect attacks do not affect their compatriots.


NB: Ranged powers have an area equal to demon POW, basically affecting anyone engaging in melee.


DEFENCE

1 Acid Blood - Acid sprays if wounded, attackers in melee must make a POW x 3% save or take 1/2 demon POW (round up) max die damage (ie 20 POW is 1D10).

2 Armor - Stops damage of 1/2 demon POW (round up), 50% chance of breaking normal weapons that hit it or wounding barefist attacks against it.

3 Dust Cloud - In a radius of 1/2 demon POW paces, does 1D6 damage and blinds ( -75% to all appropriate skills). CON x 3% to see and avoid damage.

4 Insect Wall - Makes a 1/2 demon POW high and wide wall with 2D6 HP that does 1D6 damage to anyone touching it. Can only be damaged by fire, all other weapons do minimum damage.

5 Lens - Immune to Dazzle, Dust Cloud, or any other blinding attacks.

6 Mist - Makes a 1/2 demon POW high and wide roiling mist, all inside have -50% to visual skills.

7 Regenerate - Regains a die of HP equal to 1/2 demon POW (round down) every round, (ie 20 POW is 1D10).

8 Shadow Void - In a radius of 1/2 demon POW paces, blinds ( -75% to all appropriate skills). 

9 Wall of Flesh - Makes a 1/2 demon POW high and wide wall with 2D6 HP.

10 Wardpact - Immune to one weapon, attack type, or gender (see rulebook for ideas). It is suggested that the GM leave the wardpact undecided until the PCs attack, and thereafter consider it a wardpact against their most powerful weapon.

 

MELEE OFFENCE

1 Claws - Do 1D6 damage.

2 Hands - Human hands, can carry weapons

3 Mouth - Does 1D10 plus damage bonus, Bite skill at DEX x 3%.

4 Stinger - Does 1/2 demon POW (round down) die of piercing damage (ie 20 POW is 1D10) to overcome armor, if sting is successful make a demon POW vs CON save. Failure means PC takes damage equal to demon POW, success means 1.2 damage and immune thereafter.

5 Tentacles - Does 1D8 plus damage bonus, DEX x 3% to hit, or can grapple.

6 Vampire - Does 1D6 damage to a random attribute (1 STR 2 CON 3 SIZ 4 DEX 5 INT 6-7 POW 8 CHA) if attack hits. PC dies if reduced to 0.

7 Weapon - Does 1/2 demon POW (round down) die of damage (ie 20 POW is 1D10) in addition to weapon damage and damage bonus when wielding this (1 axe 2 pike 3 longsword 4 spear 5 bow 6 mace)

8 Shock (from Demon Magic) - Does 1D8 damage when it hits, halved by non-metal armor. Also does damage when parried by a metal weapon.

9 Paralysis  (from Demon Magic) - Paralyzes foe on a hit plus successful POW vs POW roll, CON x 3% to resist.

10 Claws - Do 1D6 damage.


MISSILE OFFENCE

(NB: All ranges are equal to demon POW)

1 Baffle Attack (Spit Venom) - Demon spits narcotic venom at DEX x 3%, must be dodged. Anyone hit is whacked out for POW in rounds, all skills reduced by demon POW x 2%.

2 Darts - Demon launches a mass of darts at DEX x 3% doing 1D3 damage to anyone in a  group, must be dodged.

3 Flame Spout - Demon throws a gout of flames at DEX x 3% doing 1D6 damage to anyone in a  group, must be dodged. Affected area burns for demon STR in rounds.

4 Spitting - Demon launches a glob of disgusting matter at DEX x 3% doing 1D6 damage to an individual, must be dodged.

5 Loathsome Stain Attack (spray) - Demon sprays disgusting matter at DEX x 3%, must be dodged. The spray blinds the target unless saved at POW x 3%, also reduces CHA by 1D10. NB blindness is not permanent.

6 Vomit (acid) - Demon sprays acid at DEX x 3%, must be dodged. The acid destroys and shields or armor it hits, or does 1D6 damage to victims.


AREA OFFENCE

1 Burn Attack (Heatwave) - Demon emits heatwaves doing 1D6 to any in area and have a chance equal to damage rolled of setting flammable objects alight.

2 Dazzle Attack - Demon dazzles anyone in eyesight, causing them to lose 75% from visual skills for POW rounds. Can be avoided by a lucky POW roll, but needs to be rerolled if the target stays in range.

3 Freezing Attack (Cold Field) - Demon emits waves of intense cold doing 1D6 to any in area and have a chance equal to damage rolled of shattering non-magical objects.

4 Plague Attack - Demon emits plague miasma, victims must roll CON vs demon's POW or sicken losing 5 HP and 25% to all skills. While sick, roll CON x 5% every day, lose another 5HP and 25% to skills until they succeed or die. Can be treated with magical or lawful medicines but will require a quest to acquire.

5 Sleep Attack (gas) - Demon emits sleep cloud, victims must roll CON vs demon's POW or fall asleep, are drowsy with DEX - 5 if they succeed.

6 Vapour Attack (poison gas) - Demon emits harmful vapour cloud, victims must roll CON vs demon's POW or take 1D6 damage, or half damage if they succeed.

7 Wasps - Demon emits a cloud of stinging wasps, they ignore armor and do 1D6 damage to anyone within rage.

8 Zap - Demon emits a bolt of electricity, which is attracted to metal armor and does 1D6 damage to one character wearing it within rage, ignoring the armor rating. If no one has metal armor, it also arcs to metal weapons.

 

RANDOM

1 Attributes - Add 1D6 to a random attribute of the demon (1 STR 2 CON 3 SIZ 4 DEX 5 INT 6-7 POW 8 CHA)

2 Healing - Demon heals 1D6 HP from damage to one of its allies.

3 Horde - Demon always comes in groups of 1D100/2. Summoners may choose to summon one if they want to bind it.

4 Knowledge - Demon has Knowledge at INT x 5% about one thing the player characters need to know to progress the adventure. However, details may be vague or cryptic. PCs may ask up to 3 questions.

5 Membrane Shape - Demon can project a wall or bubble of flesh around an ally, giving 1D6 HP protection.

6 Phantom - Demon can become immaterial, only being harmed by magical weapons. Can also make one ally immaterial, but needs to rest a day after doing so.

7 Shape Change - The demon can take on any shape, but does not gain its special powers. It will also need to succeed at Persuade to pass as a human or specific being.

8 Silence - Demon cancels out sound around it. No spells or summonings, or verbal communication may be done.

9 Skills - Choose one skill, and roll 1D100. This is the demon's skill level, and may be added to the current percentage if the demon already had the skill.

10 Transmute - Demon can transmute 1D6 any substance it touches to another. Living targets must make a POW vs POW save to avoid the effect, take 1D6 damage if failed.

11 Webbing - Demon can generate webs of 1D6 HP, which ensnare targets. Multiple webs add HP together. They can be destroyed by cutting weapons. Demons can spin webs at victims at DEX x 3%.

12 Dimension Shift (other planes) - Demon can shift between two planes it has memorized, but not any more. It can carry one passenger of no more than its POW in SIZ, but needs to rest a day after doing so.

 

LAND TRANSPORT

1 Burrowing - Moves through dirt at DEX meters per round, leaves a SIZ shaped tunnel.

2 Caterpillar Feet - Can walk vertically on surfaces, but not upside down. Moves at walking speed.

3 Hopping - Can hop DEX meters on massive legs. If bound, this distance is halved.

4 Legs - As humans.

5 Slug Foot - Moves slower than humans, but can walk vertically on surfaces and upside down.

6 Spider Legs -  Moves faster than humans, and can walk vertically on surfaces and upside down.

 

AIR TRANSPORT

1-2 Bat Wings - Can flap for liftoff or speed, glide and change directions instantly, but cannot fly in rough weather or hover. Can carry rider of up to 1/2 STR in SIZ.

3-4 Bird Wings - Can flap for liftoff or speed, glide silently, but cannot change directions instantly or hover. Can fly in rough weather, and can carry rider of up to 1/2 STR in SIZ.

5-6 Bug Wings - Can flap for liftoff or speed, hover, and change directions instantly. Cannot glide or move silently . Cannot fly in rough weather, but can carry rider of up to 1/2 STR in SIZ. Can buzz opponents, deafening them unless CON x 3% is made.

NB: All flying can do a dive attack that does double damage if it hits, and can juke Dodge equal to Fly skill but using no action. 


TRANSPORT (Sea)

1-2 Boat - Can carry up to 1/2 STR of SIZ passengers riding in it.

3 Whale (new!) - Can carry up to 1/2 STR of SIZ passengers riding inside of it. Any attacks damage the demon first, and it may submerge.

4 Sea Serpent (new!) - Can carry up to 1/2 STR of SIZ passengers riding in the back of it. Makes for a wet ride, no good in storms.


PSIONICS 

(NB: All Psionics require concentration, and the demon can do nothing else while using them)

1 Clairvoyance - One of its sensory organs can move to a place and discern what happens there.

2 Emotional Control - Demon controls the emotions of other creatures. Can be resisted with POW vs Pow. Emotions include: Rage, Depression, Fear, Lust, Hunger, Hate.

3 Empathy - Demon can read emotions, can be resisted by POW vs POW.

4 Move Stuff (Telekinesis) - 

5 Paralyze Attack - Demon can paralyze a foe it concentrates on unless a CON x 3% save is made.

6 Retrocognition - Demon can see the past of a place or object at INT x 3%. However, details may be vague or cryptic. PCs may ask up to 3 questions.

7 Teleport (Interdimensional) - Demon can teleport between dimensions once a day, carrying up to 1/2 its STR in objects or passengers. However, the destinations are random and at the whim of Chaos.

8 Teleport (Young Kingdoms) - Demon can teleport anywhere in the Young Kingdoms once a day, carrying up to 1/2 its STR in objects or passengers.

9 Telekinesis (from Demon Magic) - Can lift POW in SIZ of objects and throw for 1D3 damage, plus falling damage if from above.

10 Scrying (from Demon Magic) - Sees described place or person and POW in m radius. More details gives more accuracy.

11 Bloat Attack  - Demon has POW x 3% chance to cause his target to gain 1D6 size. Targets busts out of armor taking damage equal to its armor rating. If hit multiple times, loses 25% from movement skills if double SIZ, 50% if triple size, and is crushed at quadruple original SIZ.

12 Explosive Decomposition - Demon has POW x 3% chance to cause his target to take POW in damage. Victim can save at POW x 3% for no damage.


SENSES

1 Big Ears - Can hear any sound at POW x 5%, but is deafened by loud sounds for 1D10 rounds unless CON x 3% save is made.

2 Bug Eyes - Demon can see 180 degrees, cannot be surprised.

3 Eyeballs (darksight) - As humans, but can see in the dark.

4 Eye Stalks - Demon's eyes are like periscopes, can look 180 degrees, a foot up, but no depth perception.

5 Snout - Can Track any smell at POW x 5%, but is sickened by disgusting smells for 1D10 rounds unless CON x 3% save is made.

6 Sonar - Demon can see in the dark through echolocation, its squeak can also deafen anyone in earshot who fails CON x 3% for 1D10 rounds, giving - 25% to appropriate skills.

7 Taste - Demon can know what any substance is from taste at INT x 5%, sickened by disgusting smells for 1D10 rounds unless CON x 3% save is made.

8 See Truth (new) - Demon can know where any object or person has been from a glance at INT x 5%. This is a somewhat to Sherlock Holmes' deductive method.



4) Other Notes


Demon Power Level


Demons generated in this way can be considered to be over-powered in modern gaming parlance. Good. This is exactly how they are in Moorcock's fiction. Elric only survives lesser demons because he has a greater demon, Stormbringer, by his side. Player characters should be willing to turn tail when facing a demon.



Turning Against the Summoner


Lesser Demons can’t use their abilities against the summoner unless the negotiation fails, they are let out of the octagon without an agreement, or they are ordered to do so by a Chaos Lord. Remember, use the Demon Reaction table from the previous post on summoning to determine how cooperative the demon summoned is.



Perils of Using Demons


If a sorcerer uses demons, he faces several perils. First, the demon may be unhappy, and want to take vengeance at some point. Second, the aims of Chaos are inscrutable, and a sorcerer going against them will face consequences (NB: Greater Demons are autonomous and largely do as they want). Finally, anyone using demons will come under the scrutiny of Priests or even Agents of Law, and thus should expect periodic attacks from them.



Designed vs Random Demons


On the one hand, if possible GMs should design demons from the above lists to fit the adventure and locale. Creating a giant bat-thing guardian with Bat Wings, Sonar, and a Plague Attack would fit well with a cave adventure. However, this means GMs will have to be creative and do lots of legwork. On the other hand, random demons force both the players to be creative to find a way to overcome them. Since this challenge is an essential part of Moorcockean roleplaying, I suggest going this route.



Example Demons


1) Created Demon


Let's make the Bat-Thing Guardian from the example touched on above. It needs 4 demon abilities, so I choose Mouth, Plague Attack, Sonar, and Bat Wings. Since guardians are supposed to have one Melee Offense, one Area Offense, one Defence, and one Random, this bends the rules a bit, switching Defence and Random abilities for Flaying Transport and Senses. This is no problem since it fits the concept.


As for attributes, they will be as follows:

STR, CON, DEX and INT are equal to the sorcerer's POW, all other attributes are at 1/2 POW. If the demon's summoner is unknown, sorcerer POW should be considered a minimum of 18, or higher if a summoner of greater power.


With regards to skills, they are as follows:

Attack and Dodge at DEX x 3%, Parry at STR x 3%. All Perception skills at INT x 3%.


The Bat-Thing Guardian will thus have Bite and Dodge of 54%, with the former doing 1D10 damage. It will also have 18 HP, but no armor. It may seem weak, but the Plague Attack and deafness from Sonar, as well as its ability to fly out of reach, should make it a worthy challenge.


2) Random Demon


OK, let's roll the bones and see what we get. Once again, let's make a Guardian to see how it compares to the created demon above.


As for the demons attributes, they will be as follows:

POW I roll as 19, so pretty tough for an average sorcerer to bind, and will do decent damage with POW based damage attacks. STR 18, CON 18, DEX 18 and INT 18 (equal to the sorcerer's POW), all other attributes are at 1/2 POW (ie SIZ 9, CHA 9).


As above, skills are as follows:

Attack and Dodge at DEX x 3%, Parry at STR x 3%, or 54%. All Perception skills at INT x 3%, so 54%. Not bad, it has a fighting chance.


Now for its powers. Guardians are supposed to have:

One Melee Offense - I roll 9, so just Claws doing 1D6

One Area Offense - I roll 5, so Sleep Attack. Very good for a guardian.

One Defence - I roll 3, so a Dust Cloud. I can see a sort of dreaming, sandman guardian here.

One Random - I roll 11, so it shoots Webbing. Better and better!


So, I see a tough but small guardian demon that can put Pcs to sleep, blind them with dust clouds, or bind them with webbing. Good stuff! Now I only need to decide what it looks like - a thin, whitish dream god with black hair and eyes, or a masked figure in suit and hat, or a spider.



Optional Table - Demon Appearance


If you have trouble coming up with the lesser demon appearance based on what you've rolled, you can always roll on this table for inspiration and tweak the results.


1 Human - Like us, but... different. A mockery of man.

2 Undead - Walking corpse, redolent of rot and decay.

3 Worm - Writhing and white, instantly revulsive.

4 Devil - Horned and barb-tailed, with neon red or blue skin.

5 Angelic - Beautiful and innocent looking, but with evil eyes.

6 Non-euclidean - Shape seems to change constantly, best not looked at directly.

7 Slime - Translucent and quivering, makes your primal brain cringe.

8 Flesh - Muscle, bone, and blood on display, unnerving.

9 Scaled horror - Some antediluvian thing crawled from the muck of ancient swamps.

10 Alien - Life not as we know it, btu evolved on some far planet under different stars.



4c) Greater Demons


Greater Demons, such as Stormbringer, can only be obtained by questing and are only obtainable if a Chaos Lord allows it. They ALWAYS have an ulterior motive, and so should only be offered in time of desperate need to force the players to choose.


1) How to Summon - These can only be summoned or bound by The Lords of Chaos, who may lend them to adventurers for their own purposes.


2) Attributes & Skills - As the GM deems fit.


3) Abilities - As the GM deems fit. Examples include draining 1D100 POW on a hit, Wardpact against certain weapons, etcetera.


4) Other Notes - A GM must never forget that such a demon, especially when converted, can only be beaten by great roleplaying.