Steal [Our] Idea – The Red Sky Hydra: The Living Ship for GMs Who Like a Role-Playing Challenge

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[Image from the free and nice Pixabay.com]

Thanks to fellow Gollicking members u/Paddywagon for writing Flannibal the Cannibal, and u/DwizKhalifa for writing Dirty Jones.In the city of Valtarin, a curse caused the residents to become animate objects. While everyone else was trapped within the city limits, the guards and prisoners in the dungeon near the edge of the ocean experienced a different fate. Rather than becoming separate objects, they all became different parts of the same ship. They alone have the ability to escape the bounds of the curse, allowing them to sail the high seas… when they can coordinate long enough to do so.The Red Sky Hydra is a two-mast merchant ship equipped with a dozen cannons. It’s figurehead is an eleven-headed hydra, and it’s serpentine body stretches down the length of the ship on both sides.

Name: Tryous Thomburn (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Figurehead

Who are they?: When the guards did nothing about the thieves’ guild expanding their turf, one man stood up to them. Donning a mask and blue armor, he used his keen eyes and his taste for justice to patrol the streets of his city. Unfortunately, strength, determination, and the willingness to do good didn’t stop him from being arrested for assault.

Terminally optimistic, Tryous always sees the potential good in every situation. He also believes everyone can be a good person, though a swift kick to the head is a go-to method for him.

As the figurehead of the ship, he can control each of the eleven heads of the hydra independently. His full control of the eleven heads allows him to audibly assault the crew with his cheers of excitement and– usually– underdeveloped advice. And when he’s not doing that, he often talks to himself. The eleven heads also give him eleven sets of eyes, making him the ship’s primary lookout. However, he always includes his optimistic predictions and suggestions whenever he reports what he sees.

Person on the ship they like: Tryous sees Sieglinde as a woman who was and is trying to do her best, even if she did keep him in prison for bad reasons.

Person on the ship they distrust: Always seeing the good– or potential good– in people, Tryous doesn’t distrust anyone. However, he is incapable of keeping a secret, making the crew hesitant to trust him with anything that isn’t public knowledge.

 

Name: Gabriel Hornsfey (guard)

Part of the ship: Mast and sail

Who are they?: Go to mage school they said. It’ll guarantee you’ll always have good-paying work, they said.

Gabriel learned why in a world where people can teleport across a continent and conjure fire from thought not everyone has those skills. It’s the same reason not everyone is a world-class sculptor or expert swordsman or world-trekking bard. No matter how much you learn, the best possess a talent that not even practice can replicate. And after racking up a lifetime’s worth debt and knowing little more than cantrips and a few spells after four years, he dropped out, taking the best paying job an inexperienced young adult can get: a prison guard.

As a guard, Gabriel saw more of himself in the prisoners than he cared to admit. When debt collectors devolved to harassing him in the streets, he considered robbing or stealing to get enough funds to keep them at bay and buy a meal that tasted like real food. The weight of his failed attempt to become a mage pressed on him, and depression fueled his apathetic view on his soul-crushing life.

In a lot of ways, no longer being human was a release from the problem-filled life he had. While he doesn’t love being part of a ship, he knows it’s given him a second chance he never could have experienced otherwise.

Person on the ship they like: Much like himself, Gabriel views Flannibal is an outcast and a failure. While he tends to hide how much he talks to Flannibal from the rest of the crew, and he downplays to Flannibal how much he appreciates his friendship.

Person on the ship they distrust: Tryous. He doesn’t believe someone can truly be that optimistic.

 

Name: Cecilia Shawrunk (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Wheel

Who are they?: After Cecilia poisoned her husband’s scotch and watched him drink it, she thought she’d gotten away with it. But when he keeled over, she heard a gasp came from the closet.

Cecilia threw open the doors, finding a naked woman cowering before her. The bastard had brought one of his mistresses into their own house. Staring down at the frightened woman, Cecilia knew she wasn’t going to kill the woman, and which means she knew that woman would squeal. Cecilia accepted her fate. Three days later, guards came to arrest her on suspicion of murder.

Cecilia is overprotective when it comes to matters than could lead to the crew dying. As the ship’s steering apparatus, she is inclined to move them away from danger. She’ll always argue for the safer route. She knows how easy it was to kill her husband, how quickly death can come, and now she fears death for the crew. And if someone convinces her to do otherwise, she still mumble under her breath as she complies.

Cecilia always assumes the worst and will take any chance to say “I told you so” or “I knew that would happen” whenever something goes wrong. Cecilia is far less fearful about actions that don’t seem physically harmful. She is adventurous and wants to explore. But she will still tell them “I tried to warn you” anytime something goes wrong. Even if she didn’t warn them. Cecilia was in prison for less than a month before the turn, so she has a very different view on prison than the other prisoners.

Person on the ship they like: Being thickheaded and fifty-six years old when she transformed, she isn’t about to take crap from anyone. Tryous is the only person who gets that “No one understands how unpredictable life can be, or how easy killing someone is.”

Person on the ship they distrust: The cannons. Machines or people built for fighting will always try to fight.

 

Name: Flannibal the Cannibal (prisoner)

Part of the Ship: Galley

Who are they?: Flannibal is a cannibal of the greatest order. After his 5 star restaurant was shut down it was discovered he was experimenting with humans for his new dishes.

Flannibal is a fairly insane member of the ship. His insanity has only grown worse as the years have gone by without the chance of serving anyone his dishes. The poor fools that have found themselves in his grasp are treated to a bizarre and macabre musical eating experience.

Flannibal enjoys flattery and hates it when people don’t know who he is. His ego is his greatest flaw. Those who have survived an encounter with him used a large amount of flattery to boost his ego.

Person on the Ship they Like: GM decides.

Person on the Ship they Dislike: GM decides.

 

Name: The Loose Cannons (prisoners)

Part of the ship: Cannons

Who are they?: When Tryous Decided to take on the thieves guild, he did succeed in having 12 of them arrested alongside him. While each of the 12 guild members in the prison turned into a different cannon on the ship, something different happened to them. They became a hivemind. Now all twelve of them can share thoughts and speak as one. The other parts of the ship refer to them as the Loose Cannons, a name the cannons collectively adopted.

Person on the ship they like: Dirty Jones. Make friends with the person everyone else likes the least, and you have an ally for life.

Person on the ship they distrust: Sieglinde. She’s always listening, and she’s always hated them.

 

Name: Dirty Jones (prisoner)

Part of the ship: Poop Deck

Who are they?: Dirty Jones was a mystery of the urban maze before finally, after years of eluding capture, he was taken in by authorities and thrown in the dungeon. No one has seen him sleep, no one has ever made out exactly what it is he whispers, and everyone knows he doesn’t bathe. Maybe he should have been left to skulk around the gutters of the slums, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Now he serves as an obstacle to any who would approach the ship’s helm. First they must brave the sound and the smell of the awful, creaking, rotting floorboards on the aft deck.

Person on the ship they like: His buddy Cecilia, obviously. The feeling isn’t returned.

Person on the ship they distrust: Sieglinde. She never liked him.

 

Name: Sieglinde Rovrgust (guard)

Part of the ship: The hull

Who are they?: Born at sea, Sieglinde knew the anatomy of a boat before she knew how to walk. After 16 years at sea, she was the youngest person in the to obtain the role of captain. 7 years later, a kraken took her ship, crew, left eye, and her legs.

Forced into retirement, Sieglinde used the skills she’d mastered ordering her crew around and became the guard captain of a seaside prison. Bound to the land, she still loved the smell of the salty air. And now a part of the sea forever, she accepts her new life, though giving up the control she had is a difficult and constant process.

As the hull of the ship, Sieglinde literally holds everyone together. However, she has not control of anything. Once the guard captain of the prison, everyone– prisoner and guard alike– had to listen to her orders. But with power often comes resentment, and now that she has no power to control the ship in any way, most of the crew ignores her when she gives orders. She’s learned to offer “suggestions” rather than give orders, though her time as an experienced sailor and a successful prison guard captain means she knows better than anyone else how to coordinate people and what each situation calls for. Getting her impulsive and inexperienced shipmates to agree with her suggestions is the most difficult part.

As the hull, Sieglinde cannot do anything herself. But as a part of everyone else, she can assist them. She can steady the mast, nudge the rudder, even pivot the ship to help it turn. But every action she can take involves the direct assistance of whoever is in control of that part of the ship.

Person on the ship they like: Whoever is crewing the ship that isn’t “a part” of the ship. If they understand she knows what she’s talking about, it will make it easier to convince the rest of the ship.

Person on the ship they distrust: Cecilia. Her hesitation and constant questioning whenever a dangerous situation arrives is going to get someone killed.

 

Twitter & Instagram: @RexiconJesse

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Steal My Idea: Tabletop Day D&D 5e 10 Page Adventure FOR YOU

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International Tabletop Day is this Saturday! Celebrate by running a game of Dungeons and Dragons 5e for friends and/or strangers. Don’t have a one shot adventure at the ready? STEAL THIS ONE.

This adventure is built for around 4 characters at level 4. I designed it so you can easily tweak the difficulty if you have more players. If you have 3 players, you could bump the player’s levels up to 5 to keep it from being too much of a challenge. Or tweak it on the fly if you dare.

This is totally free for you! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it impresses someone at a game company so they’re hire me. I’m currently looking for a job designing board games and/or RPGs, so if you got any connections, I love you forever if you share.

ENJOY!!!!!!!!!! And happy Tabletop Day!

 

It you want a PDF of this adventure, get it here: Distant Screams – A DnD 5e Adventure by Jesse Galena

 

–This D&D 5e adventure was written and designed by Jesse Galena, and it is free for anyone to use. I am seeking employment as a developer for board games and RPGs. If you have any connections and you don’t think my work is trash, please pass it along or contact me. You can contact me on Twitter: @RexiconJesse, Reddit: u/RexiconJesse, or email: jessegalena[at]gmail.com.

For loads more RPG material, check out Steal My Idea on my website: https://rexiconjesse.wordpress.com/

Thank you, enjoy, and happy International Tabletop Day–

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Steal My Cult: Hum Alshirih, on behalf of the God of Wizards

 

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[Image from Pixabay.com]

For more on the Gollicking’s cult series, check out The Order of the White Rose and The Harvesters by u/Mimir-ion

Deity – Azuth, God of Wizards (LN, Knowledge)

Cult NameHum Alshirih (hum ah-l-sh-ah-re)

SymbolA swirling length of hair with flames behind it

“Teach the wielding of magic and dispense learning throughout Faerûn so the use and knowledge of magic may spread.” – Azuth.

Azuth, the Lord of Spellcraft. The First Magister. Hand of Sorcery. His many names all contain the most common words for magic, truly making him inseparable from the craft itself. And that union of magic and the self is what Hum Alshirih strive to replicate. Most mages see magic as a tool. They can learn spells that aid them in some fashion. For Hum Alshirih, they wish to become magic.

Many people view Azuth’s religion as tradition-bound. So does the Hum Alshirih. Magic is about expanding, changing, evolving, and growing. No spell, no idea, no person cannot be made better with additional work. Hum Alshirih will forsake the old ideas when new ones allow them to delve deeper into making themselves into a truly magical being.

Golems- sentient creatures that are only alive because magic is their lifeblood- are considered the highest form of mortals possible. Azuth’s Favored are considered the highest among them. Many Hum Alshirih still search for a way to escape their mortal shell and live in the form of pure magic, as a golem or otherwise.

But those seeking to become magical cannot start with such a lofty goal. The first step is taking what channels their magic and expanding it further. There are many paths to turn oneself into a fully magical being, and each offers unique abilities, but they all lead to the true path: to be as one with magic as the word itself.

Like the power of magic itself, the number of paths available to the Hum Alsihr are infinite. Though there are a few common paths among them.

Paths of the Hum Alshirih

Hair:

Hair has a long history with magic. Many spellcasters use hair for hexes and spell completion items, but witches started a more involved method of utilizing hair. They not only drew on the power of their own hair, they learned how to enhance it while it was still a part of them.

Hum Alshirih who draw magic from their hair grow it long, utilizing every centimeter to house more potential magic and never daring to cut a single one. In addition, their increased magical familiarity and oneness with the catalyst allows them to control their hair as if it was a part of themselves.

Special Ability:

Their hair counts as an extra limb that has reach of 10 ft. Even if they are not holding a weapon, the cultists is always considered armed. Their hair has a strength score equal to the owner’s spellcasting stat (intelligence, wisdom, or charisma). When making strength-based checks, such as climbing or swimming, the cultist can use their hair, allowing them to use their spellcasting modifier instead of their strength modifier.

 

Blood:

What holds more potential magic than lifeblood? Unlike hair, it is a part of the body that does not require time to expand. Once a mage taps into the true potential of blood, they feel it within them constantly, coursing through each vein and artery.

Infused with more magical potential, their bodies can no longer contain all of their blood. The cultists must ritually cut themselves: one wound for the blood to leave their bodies, and one wound for the blood to reenter it. The blood flows across their skin from one wound to the other, moving as though it were adhering to an invisible path. The ever-moving blood keeps the wounds fresh, never closing or scabbing. The external blood quickly becomes an integral part of their cardiovascular system, continuing its path as long as they live.

As the cultist gains more potential from their blood, they must open more wounds on their body. Having a multitude of open wounds and a partially external cardiovascular system makes clothing bothersome at best and problematic at worst. Most Hum Alshirih who delve deep into these blood arts wear little- or sometimes no- clothing.

Special Abilities:

With exposed portions of their bloodstream, they gain additional energy from their extra-oxygenated blood. They do not suffer any of the penalties from exhaustion. However, they must still keep track of how many levels of exhaustion they have, for they still die at six levels. In addition, their extra blood gives them additional temporary hit points equal to their constitution modifier times their level. Once they lose this temp HP, they cannot regain it until they take a long rest. Healing spells will only heal them to their normal max HP.

 

Fire:

Some say life itself started in the first flame. Whether that is true or not, pyromancy has been a part of magic before magic had a name. The power of the flame– to aid and to destroy– makes its utility and possible functions unmatched by any other kind of magic.

For Hum Alshirih, that still wasn’t enough.

Using the flame makes it a tool. Being the flame makes each spell a part of you.

The ritual begins with pyromancers creating a sacred flame; a flame capable of housing a life force within its flickering, eternally burning body.

Once the flame is ready, the cultist must prepare themselves. Usually, this means being strapped to a cross or strung between two trees.

Once the cultist is prepared to receive the flame, the other cultists need to act quickly. They must open the receiving cultist’s chest and stomach, split their ribcage, and remove all of their organs. Once the vessel is empty, they must house the sacred flame into the cultist’s chest, close their ribs, and stitch their flesh back together.

Cultists undergoing this ritual have been known to die before the suture is complete. Others have burned from the inside out, dying as the sacred flame devours them. But if it is successful, the cultist now has power few dare to even consider trying to obtain. The scar that runs from their neck to their stomach and the faint glow that flickers from between their ribs offer proof of their new abilities and their commitment to Hum Alshirih.

Special Abilites:

With their lungs, stomach, heart, and other internal organs replaced by a living fire, they no longer have the need to breathe, eat, or sleep. They are also immune to spells with sleep effects as well as poison. They are still alive, though magic is what keeps them so. Without circulation, their remaining blood dries up inside of them. The dried blood toughens from the heat of the flame, granting them +1 AC natural armor. The flame also keeps them warm, granting them immunity to the effects of natural cold, though cold damage affects them normally.

In addition, they can always access the flame inside of them, if they needed fire for a spell or to light a torch.

Where they can be found – Given their violent rituals and often unsightly appearance, Hum Alshirih never live in cities and populated towns. They are nomadic, normally traveling slowly through rough terrain rather than utilizing roads. In addition, their rituals sometimes end in death. Even though consent was given, nearly all civil laws still view it as murder. Thus, they stick to the wilderness, avoiding contact with non-Hum Alshirih except when they choose to venture into civilized places. Their involvement with nature has influenced them to believe in the inherent magic in the natural world. Now, they tend to try and remain surrounded by it.

What they are – They often appear bizarre, eccentric, or horrific, thus always drawing attention when among non-Hum Alshirih. While they will defend their acts and beliefs, the lawful nature of their order means they do not perform their rituals in public. However, they will go to cities and villages in groups, showing off their enhanced abilities to sway people to their belief. Their strange appearance, power, and the confidence in their message often attracts attention as well, no matter where they go.

How to implement – Plot Hooks

  • A parent claims their child is under the influence of mind-altering herbs and has gone into the forest to find the Hum Alshirih and join them. They demand you find and return their child, no matter what it takes.
  • Crime was on the rise until a small group of Hum Alshirih came to town. Now, criminals are being beaten, strung up, recruited, or killed. The problem is that the punishment does not always match the crime, and the Hum Alshirih are more concerned with enforcing the law than getting it exactly right. In addition, they have no ties to the local law enforcement.
  • Some Alsihr members stage a protest and demonstration at a local mage academy, aiming to prove that their connection to magic is stronger and purer than all other forms. Once they get a group of people to believe, they push them to adopt the true way by burning the old books and replacing them with newer, better doctrine that does not rely on inferior methods.
  • Some Alsihr members begin breaking, sacking, and then burning churches associated with chaotic good and chaotic neutral gods, claiming their unlawful ways are truly evil. They’re using the goods stolen from the church to fund themselves, a worthy cause to support.

Twitter & Instagram: @RexiconJesse

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Steal [Our] Idea: Cats are too cute to be mundane

 

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[Image by pixabay.com]

Fellow Gollicking pal and Reddit user /u/DeathMcGunz edited more “mundane” creature entries for the new type of monster manual. The Gollicking did birds last time, and this time, we did cats! Everything from tabby’s to Cheetahs.

You can see all of the cat posts over on r/dndbehindthescreen. If you want the mechanical/extended versions of the ones I created, here they are:

Exotic Shorthair

Flat-faced and fluffy, exotic shorthairs have a unique cuteness that draws admiration, especially from those who love animals. Exotic shorthairs are like a constant charm spell. They manipulate people with their sly voices and patient movements. Their typical modus operandi is to make kids do things they shouldn’t, but they’ve been known to control their “owners”, even those in high ranking positions.

Full: Exotic shorthairs can cast Charm Person as a first level spell at will, attempting to force anyone within 30 ft to notice and adore them. The DC is 10 but is increased by 5 if the affected person is proficient with the handle animal skill. Anyone with an expressed love for cats rolls with disadvantage.

 

Cheshire Cat

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Steal [Our] Idea: Birds – A New Type of Monster Manual

 

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[Image provided by pixabay.com]

The Gollicking swoops in again! We’re doing an ongoing project where we take mundane animals and give them minor qualities that make them special. Not quite monster manual entries, but something that gives them a fun edge.

We started with birds, and you can find all of them here.

While you should check them all out, I specifically wrote the entries for crows, hummingbirds, geese, and seagulls. Editing was done by the poster and awesome user u/DeathMcGunz.

 

Twitter & Instagram: @RexiconJesse

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Full entries available if you click to continue reading!

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Steal (Our) Idea: Arcane Weather

When magic is a part of the world, nature can get strange…

The Gollicking bashed our heads together and came up with a list of 50 random weather effects that have an arcane twist. If you want something unpredictable for your players to experience, give it a roll and have an effect occur.

Check out the whole post, but specifically, I did these:

Storm of Time: Storm rolls in, and in a flash, recreates the conditions the area was in six months before (snow covered, drenched in rain, drought, etc)

The Dracolich’s Wake – Rain possessing a sickly green glow falls from swift moving clouds. The necrotic rain will cause corpses struck by the rain to become animate zombies for 1d4 hours.

Hail of Lost Memories – Hail that takes 1 second of memories every time it strikes a person’s head. The hail ball retains the memories. If the person eats the hail, they will regain the memory. If the hail melts into the soil,it will cause a flower to grow there. Roses with larger thorns grow from bad memories, dandelions grow from neutral memories, lotus orchids grow from pleasant memories. Creatures with a 2 or less intelligence are unaffected.

Hurricane Wall – Hurricane that pulls water up from the ocean, making a circular, moving dome of high-speed churning water. Dissipates after being moving inland for 1d4 miles.

Mist of Misplacement – Arcane spellcasters have all of their spells randomly switched. All divine spellcasters lose special spells related to their god and gain the special spells related to their god’s natural opposite. Spells return to normal when they can arrange their spells again.

Uplifitng Sand – A sand storm so thick people can walk on it. Everyone moves as if they have cast levitate on themselves. Low visibility in the storm. CON save or be blind until treated. Goggles ignore the Con save.

Butler’s Day Off – Magical cloud gives everyone touched by rain an Unseen Servant for 1 hour

 

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Steal (Our) Idea: Nightmares and Other Uncommon Steeds (and How to Tame Them)

As I mentioned before, I joined a Discord server with some other people who create RPG content. We’ve been doing projects together, and this is one of them!

While we all worked on it together, here are the specifics of what I did:

I wrote Platinumare and how to tame Nox, Night Hag, and Xuxh’itra. I also cataloged them and made edits and clarifications. Give them a look!

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