Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Everything is A Dungeon If You Try Hard Enough

I was thinking the other day of a failed Shadowrun mini campaign I ran eleven years ago. This in turn got me to thinking of Shadowrun, and how the game (and any cyberpunk game) works. It’s all basically a heist, and that is effectively what a dungeon crawl is. Especially a Megadungeon, where it’s repeated heists in the same place. I could easily see a Shadowrun Megadungeon where, instead of the traditional Fantasy “further down is scarier” it’s a cyberpunk “further up is scarier” megabuilding.

I’m sure someone smarter has had this idea before, but I think that like, you can turn anything into a dungeon. 

And yes, I know some of you may think Shadowrun isn’t the best example of cyberpunk, but invariably I end up putting sci-fi stuff into my fantasy worlds, I think it’s fair to do the same in your science fiction. That’s basically how you get 40k. Or ET. Or Star Wars.  Pick your poison. 

And each of those worlds has a Megadungeon. 40k has Space Hulks, ET has a crawling medical tent, and Star Wars has the Death Star. 

I think my problem, and part of the reason why my Shadowrun game failed was because I wanted my office buildings to make sense. Which is the dumbest idea I had about any RPG at that point in time. 

Have you ever been in an office? They suck. I’ve worked in one. Uncomfortable chairs. Nothing of real monetary value. Most aren’t decorated. Not much different than a factory, occasionally it’s even just humans reduced to soulless automata, and maybe some interesting team building and gossip at the best. Administrative. Bureaucratic. Boring.  

Not making sense is ok, being Gonzo and weird is ok. Why are there fire breathing ghost dogs on level 12 of this skyscraper? Because they’re fucking fun and a good challenge, that’s why. The same reason there are goblin steampunk robots in level 6 of a dungeon someplace, because Doctor Goblenstein and his Creation, Amaze-O the Metal Man are a good idea. That’s something my players haven’t seen before and will have an interesting time with.  Any office could drastically be improved with the addition of kobolds designed to keep intruders from the snack room without the right password, or vengeful assassins looking to strangle you with a clip-on tie. 

The best part is, that to the workers of this office, that’s just Eric and Jeff, from Security and Accounting. The kobold and assassin are normal, or close enough, for them. 

I think that being more Gonzo is good for RPGs as a game. While yes, we want to make believable worlds, we still have to ask “is this room/scene important to the world/game?” Nobody is upset that Mario doesn’t take a break from stomping goombas to take a dump, and no one wants to watch Simon Belmont pay his water bill and make a grocery list. That isn’t what those games are about, and similarly I don’t think we should get wrapped up in the details as to like, why dungeons don’t all have toilets. That isn’t what D&D is about. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

The Cult of The No-Eyed God

The No-Eyed God is the god of Insomnia, Undeath, Cannibalism, Torture, and Willful Ignorance. He was a sorcerer-king, and has ruled for eons. So much so that the chiefliest of his servants are buried in their own tombs, and his own corporeal body given way to lichdom. 

He is the wellspring from which the undead flow, and was creator of each in their own perverse design. 

From willing corporeal followers he found new ways to give them strength and let them cheat the reaper’s scythe by convincing them blood was wine and the flesh of their brothers food to sustain themselves. He had to tell no lies to do so, they were able to trick themselves into the consumptive cycle. The thirst and the hunger is all they know now.

And from victims he found new ways to torture them beyond the grave, snatching bits of their soul-stuff and letting them be consumed by their own extremes. He replayed their pains to them over and over before they could cross to the other side. They chose to stay back themselves, untethered from the physical world. The pain and hate is all they know now.

The dead won’t rest if he has his way.

For Undeath is Insomnia, and Insomnia is Undeath. They are the same. You sample the living dead when you do not sleep well, and the reason is the dead envy your ability to dream. They kill you not because you need to die, but because they’re so jealous they must kill. 

His cults subversively spread his teachings by masquerading sinisterly as other faiths. “The Church of the Feast”, “The Blind Faith”, “The Child Looking Away”, “The Order of Eternal Vitality”. All lies, and at their deepest circle of trust they carve the meat from the still screaming victims and lap the blood from the table, thankful for the splinters in their tongues and the pain and rot it will produce. They prey on the needful, the hurting, and the ignorant. Their pilgrimage leads to open graves, and horrifying falsehoods they embrace like lovers. 

His lesser priests willingly undergo ritual torture, so much so they become akin to medical waste cenobites- idiot sadists with scabs and clots of someone they once cared about between their teeth. Some remove their eyelids to prevent sleep. Greater priests have no need of senses, craving to be closer to their god, needles are driven into their eyes, their mouths sewn shut, and hot lead poured into their ears. Still they preach his unholy truths: there is another, Darker world just on the other side. You only have to look the right way.

They wear his holy symbol openly: a skull without eye sockets, fangs instead of teeth, often made of razors or broken glass to cut the user.

Some volunteer for living sainthood, undergoing repeated sleep-fasts, until they are placed in a coma, or repeatedly lobotomized, sometimes by their own hand. Often afterwards they are slowly, slowly eaten by their friends and fellows.

Many times these deeper worship practices create ghouls, the lowliest of undead troops, carrying their disease as a “blessing” to the world. Sometimes though, a much more foul undead mentor will spread its taint in a growing subversive cult, a vampire, a wight, or some fouler thing not yet seen. Like locusts they consume, and like infection they spread. 

Behind all this, is a deeper obsession: to carry out not just his will of a stygian world of undying monsters, but to speed the coming of the will of The Dark to the world, to see this world and all others subsumed into the cold infinite, and bring it insidiously closer to the No-Thing.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Demons of Infernal Geometry

Chief amongst the servants of the unknowable Outer Dark are the Demons of Infernal Geometry. Sometimes summoned in their lesser form by those who seek to plumb the knowledge the forbidden coldness of beyond the known. Always they take the form of shapes: beautiful, perfect, shapes. Shapes so perfect they are at odds with reality. The imperfection of their very temporary flesh limbs marks it all the worse.

Their flat surfaces are gaping holes to other realities, slabs of cosmos and gateway portals to hells best left unimagined by men, and sweetly dreamed of by the dying gods of cruelties left unspoken. Their curved surfaces the sine wave perfection of vector graphics made for maddening torture by death cult poets. Their greatest incarnations are topographical maps of infernal Bosch paintings spun into psychedelic mandalas of abandoned, sunless worlds- biblical angels inversed.

They see without eyes, and speak your name like a parent. It does not feel good. 

If their eyes do open, they open in fractal time loops, seeing across realities the same way that the eye-tyrants do. Maybe they learned it from them. Maybe they taught each other. Maybe they stole it. They are stealing from you now, now that their gaze is upon you. Their Eye is the  one that Sings the polyrhythmic hymn of the universe’s horrific birth and the blissful pride of its unifying heat death. 

The song is an attack, a disintegration ray on a temporal level. Your parts are being erased from time on a molecular level. There is no physical pain, but the spiritual pain is agony unreal by the world’s standards until you felt it. Your body is a tape deck having its ribbon pulled out between two high-powered magnets, and it knows this. If data is beautiful, then these creatures are the alphanumerical song of your death, your ancestor’s death, and joy of your world’s unmaking. They sing together in a choir. You came from nothing, and the numbers are cleanest if unto nothing you return. It is a soldier of the blackest truth, the calculator of darkest equation. Because in the beginning there was The No-Thing.

And that’s how it liked it.

Lesser Demon of Infernal Geometry

HP: 30, AC as chain, saves on a 13+

Temporal Disintegration: +3 to hit, does 3x the number of party members damage. 

Choir: if 3 or more lesser demons of infernal geometry sing the temporal disintegration together, triple that damage, and apply 10x that number as damage to their XP

Middling Demon of Infernal Geometry

HP: 60, AC as plate, Saves on a 11+

Temporal Disintegration: +6 to hit, does 6x the number of party members in damage. 

Choir: if 6 or more middling demons of infernal geometry sing the temporal disintegration together, deal d6 damage to a random ability score of each party member, and apply 10x that total number as damage to their XP.

Greater Demon Of Infernal Geometry

HP: 80, AC as enchanted plate and shield, saves on a 8+

Choir Master: Greater Demons of Infernal Geometry make Middling and Lesser Demons count as Choirs, and can summon one extra demon of infernal geometry as their action for a turn

Temporal Rearrangement: every time a player goes in combat, roll a d8, on an 8, a Greater Demon of Infernal Geometry may use one of that player’s abilities against another player or monster.

Temporal Disintegration: +8 to hit, does 8x the party’s total level in damage to their XP, in addition roll a d8, on a 1-4 erase notes from your campaign world, on a 5-8 eliminate a magic item in the party at random.