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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.

 

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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: 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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A good buildup to a plot-related- yet groan-inducing- pun

 

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[Image from Pixabay.com]

Deep in an unmapped portion of the forest, you see a shallow river. Surging purple and blue psychic energy runs through it. In the brilliant light, glimpses of events from the past constantly emerge and vanish in an instant. Images of mighty warriors in their greatest moments. Emperors seizing a foreign throne. Two life-long lovers locking eyes for the first time. All of history itself twists and surges through the shimmering, magical energy.

When you reach down and touch it, the energy parts around your fingers. It is cool to the touch. The images become clearer and last longer. They are no longer fragments of a moment, but rather an event played in the theater of your mind’s eye.

From the energy, a voice within the magic speaks directly into your mind. “Welcome to the History Channel.”

^_^

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Steal My Idea: Dealing with Character Knowledge VS Player Knowledge

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[Image from Pixabay.com]

Game Master (GM): The flames of the torch dims. The oppressive darkness of the dungeon pushes in. The walls feel closer. The air is thick, making each breath a notable struggle. Holding your hand out before you, the only thing you see past your wrist is the light reflecting off your fingernails.

Darkness. Dungeon. Oppression. Got it. Now that everyone can basically only see the five-foot square they are in, what do you explain to the one party member who has the ability to see clearly in the dark? Continue reading

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#DnDecember 6: A moment of despair

I’m a size tiny sprite witch.
Our party is in the fifth straight hour of battling cultists in a dungeon.
I’m low on spells.
Enemy mage casts a spell.
I roll spellcraft and recognize what the spell is. It will make ice spikes rise from the ground and impale all creatures in its radius.
Myself and our damage tank (Ji-Gon) are within the spell’s radius. We’re both dangerously low on hit points.
I knew the spell required a reflex save. Take no damage on save. Full damage on failure.
I spend a hero point to act out of turn, interrupting the mage’s action for one action of my own.
I need to get us both out of the spell’s radius. I’m a 12-inch tall sprite. Ji-Gon is a size large giant in full armor. I can’t dive tackle him and get us both out.
My reflex save is better than his.
I spend my action and cast a telekinesis spell, pushing him out of the spell’s area of effect.
The spell goes off.
I grit my teeth and roll my reflex save.
I have decent saves but bonuses for my size and high dex.
I roll a 3.
That’s not good enough.
A pillar of spike impales me, pinning me to the ceiling of the cave.
Massive damage, around 20 points into the negatives.
RIP.
Ji-Gon lived, slaying that mage a few turns later.
The other mage used spell slots each day to preserve my body so they could bury me at home after they completed the quest.
It was a beautiful death. It was a sad death. It was an epic moment in the story.

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#DnDecember 5: A moment of triumph

The BBEV (big bad evil villain) stands before me, one other player, and an NPC ally. All of the other players had a way to escape/hide/avoid this confrontation.

My PC friend and I decided to try and negotiate with the BBEV instead.

As one might expect, the negotiations don’t go well. He is out sass’d, but we are out classed.

The BBEV ends negotiations by one shotting our NPC friend who is well-established as being far more powerful than any of us.

PC pal decides he should attack. I disagree, saying I never liked that NPC anyway, and we could still solve this diplomatically if we don’t antagonize the antagonist.

PC pal attacks the BBEV.

BBEV turns and attacks/one shots my PC pal.

RIP PC pal.

During the attack, I roll stealth, saying I slip out the door, get in our car, and floor it.

GM “He is very powerful. His notice skill is extremely high. Are you sure you don’t want to try something else?”

Me “I love that car. Me and her are getting out of here and driving into the sunrise together.”

GM shrugs.

We both roll.

BBEV botches roll. Adding bonuses, it’s still a high number.

I roll high. With my marginal bonuses, I just cross the threshold.

I drive my Studebaker to safety, living to eventually fight the BBEV another day.

My character in that game ran on luck, distractions, and motivating other people. He was a blast and a half to play, and every “this should kill me” situation he survived just made him more fun. And he did survive the whole campaign. He was one of only two characters who started the campaign and survived it.

 

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