Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stealth Part 2: The Rules

The Rules

In this ruleset, stealth is simplifies to the Stealth roll. Generally, the players only have to make one roll for their characters that will last until they are spotted, or until they enter a new area in the lair they are sneaking into. Players can move normally when sneaking, but going slower than their base speed and making themselves harder to find (crouching, crawling, camouflage) can give them up to a +4 bonus to the roll. Doing anything that would jeopardize the stealth (running full speed, stomping, etc.) gives you up to a -4 to Stealth. Anyone in any armor (or no armor) can sneak without penalty if they go slow.

There are ascending modes of espionage. These help to denote what kinds of actions the enemy would take. The GM can control and guide their behavior accordingly. Different actions can lead to different modes of stealth. When it mentions passive Perception, that's a 10 + Perception Skill and other modifiers, while the active Perception is an actual 1d20 roll + Perception Skill and other modifiers.
  • Infiltration: This is where a lot of stealth begins. The enemy is unaware of your presence and your Stealth roll is rolled once against the enemies' Passive Perception. The stealth roll is successful until they run into a guard with a higher Perception Skill or they attempt to do some action that could alert them to their presence. You can perform stealth kills without an attack roll, but it does require another Stealth roll. If you are caught and your presence has been relayed to the rest of enemy hideout, you can no longer enter this mode until you leave for an extended amount of time (days at minimum).
  • Suspicion: When an enemy has noticed your presence, but is unaware of your position. Suspicion Mode activates whenever you fail a Stealth roll by 4 or less. Perhaps they heard you kick a brick, or they smelled your stench as you passed by. Or maybe you threw a rock to distract them. You can hide, sneak by them, or kill them. You can still perform a stealth kill, but it requires both an attack roll and a Stealth roll so others nearby don't hear you. 
  • Discovered: You've been spotted! This happens if you fail your Stealth roll by 5 or more, or otherwise do something to get spotted. The game enters combat time at this point, so roll initiative. The players can engage in fighting, or flee and drop to Pursuit Mode. If word of your presence doesn't make it out during combat and you kill/disable all witnesses, you can drop back down to Infiltration Mode. Otherwise, go straight to the Pursuit.
  • Pursuit: You've been discovered and are being chased by the enemy. You and your allies must lose your would-be captors and find a better way to hide or disguise yourself. You must break line of sight for a minute or two before dropping to Search Mode. And using Stealth goes against everyone's active Perception roll. Your pursuers will scour the area quickly, closing off exists, tracking you, setting a perimeter, and otherwise try and stop you from escaping.
  • Search: The enemy has lost sight of you, but is actively searching for you. The enemy will be very active and search all of the rooms in many hiding places (under the bed, in a locker, behind curtains). So be careful when hiding against their active Perception roll. The enemy will be searching for you for a while, at least an hour or two. After some time of not finding you, it'll drop to Caution Mode.
  • Caution: The enemy and their allies know of your presence and your existence, but have lost your position for a while and are now back on their patrols. Guards are alert and smarter, travelling in pairs to patrol the area tighter. Whenever a player sneaks by a patrol, they must use Stealth against the patrol's active Perception roll. This becomes the new default after you are discovered by the enemies in the hideout. You can stealth kill as if you were in Infiltration Mode.

Stealth Kills

Stealth kills are brutal strikes that may immediately kill a creature. You can only do this in Infiltration, Suspicion, and Caution Mode. When you make one, you do double the damage to the enemy. You can also apply your sneak attack after you multiply the damage. If you are using a called shot system, then use those multipliers instead.

Whenever you make a stealth kill in Infiltration or Caution mode, you must make a Stealth check to make sure you don't get discovered. If you fail by 4 or less, you damage your target but surrounding enemies are now suspicious and will investigate the noise. If you fail by 5 or more, then the stealth kill fails and your target has now discovered you. Prepare for a fight!

In Suspicion Mode, if you miss your attack but pass your Stealth roll, you remain unseen. If you hit the attack and fail the Stealth roll, then you do the damage but surrounding enemies are now suspicious and will investigate the noise. If you fail both rolls, then you miss and are now discovered by your target.

If your stealth kill doesn't do enough damage to kill your target, then you are discovered and combat begins. You may choose to instead incapacitate the target, taking whatever penalties you would depending on your system of choice.

Killing people leaves bodies, which have a chance to be discovered by the enemy's allies. The GM rolls a d100 every fifteen minutes to see if someone finds the body. If you simply leave the body out in the open, then there is a cumulative 15% chance that someone discovers it. If you hide it in a good, out of the way spot, then the chance is dropped to 10% or even 5% for a really good spot. Every additional kill adds another 15, 10 or 5% to the roll. Disposing a body in a way where it can never be found is still a 5% chance, since eventually someone will notice that the guard is missing. So be careful on how many people you decide to kill.

Example: Randy the Rogue is sneaking into Rogar the Orc's war camp. He has just killed an orc and has stashed the body in a covered cart. Since this is a good spot that not many will look at, the GM just rolls for a 10% on the d100. After fifteen minutes, it becomes 20% chance of finding the body. At this point, Randy kills another orc and hides the body really well under some crates and supplies that won't be used for awhile. This adds 5% to the percentile roll. After fifteen minutes, the GM rolls 35%, 30% for the first body and 5% for the second one. If Randy continues sneaking for another fifteen minutes, this will increase to 50%, 40% for the first body and 10% for the second. Randy had better be careful!

Stealth and Combat

Stealth in combat is tricky, as everyone is alert to your presence and actively guarding. Hiding behind something while the target watches then attacking from there won't work. You have to move silently from there to a new angle of attack with a Stealth roll. If you hide from an enemy for a turn and then attack from a completely different position, or while they are distracted, you can get advantage against the victim and sneak attack damage, An enemy being attacked by two or more creatures is distracted enough for you to make a Stealth roll against their Perception roll.

Example: Randy the Rogue is in combat with a terrible orc. Randy hides behind a crate as the orc watches. If Randy just stays there and tries to attack, he won't get any sneaking advantage (sneak attack). Randy needs to distract the orc or otherwise make it difficult for the orc to sense him. This could be removing the light in the area, poking the orc's eyes, a smoke bomb, or any good idea that your player can come up with. After that, Randy can roll Stealth against the orc's Perception to move to another hiding place and hide, ready to strike.

Final Thoughts

These are the basic rules I use for stealth in my games. While the modes may seem overly complicated, I find they act as good references for actions that NPCs will take against the PCs when caught. Most of the modes have the same rules, just different NPC behavior. You'll find that they naturally lead into each other. And things don't have to end with these above behaviors. You can and should have the enemy speed up whatever they were doing, or even begin moving to a different lair if it's possible. These rules leave the NPC actions firmly in your control. And from my experience, this escalation/deescalation helps to give the players a bit more actions to take when things go belly up to remain quiet. So far, things have been pretty fun with using this. I even use these for things like Disguise, or tailing someone.

So let me know what you all think about it. Give it a try and see if it works in your game. And if all attempts at stealth fail, just remember...

Monday, September 19, 2016


Stealth is weird. Sneaking around has always been an odd point of contention at the tables I've played at. Perhaps it's my experience, but many of the GMs I've played with seem to not enjoy the idea of players sneaking through their entire enemy base and stealth killing the prepared final boss. Now, I do love me the epic final boss fight as much as the next guy. But, it is pretty lame when you and your fellow players go through all the planning, actually execute the stealth procedure, and as you get to the final boss, the GM simply squashes the stealth in a metagamey way. It removes the idea of choice and consequences if all of options have the same outcome.

Once thing about stealth that I don't like is the binary nature of success and failure people seem to have with it. If you (or chances are, your heavy armored fighter) fail your stealth, then that's it. Suddenly, everyone in the area is alerted to your presence and it's time to draw swords. When failure is that binary, there is a tendency to simply skip it and just go in swords blazing. Especially when the players probably have the damage and spells to just bust in and slaughter everyone.

Finally, even if players properly execute the stealth mission, if it's not run the right way, stealth can be super boring with an unsatisfying end to it. Stealth kills are great and all, but admittedly, it can be a bit anticlimactic to slit the level 10 Warlord's throat in one go without the fanfare and hooplah of a final fight. And stealth kills are also a bit hard to wrap one's head around, especially with the game concept of hit points. Should a level 1 fighter be able to one hit kill a level 10 fighter if the latter is completely unaware? Is that a problem, or is that fine?

How I Approach This

So, before I get into the rules, I want to get into the mindset of stealth and espionage. I feel that with sneaking, the journey is more important than the destination. So if you have a precious boss fight you want to throw at your players, just get rid of any attachment to it, because they will die. Really, it's a good idea not to be so attached to your NPCs in the first place, stealth or not. So let them slit the wizard's throat if they succeed and never get caught. And if they fuck up hard, then you have a great climactic battle ahead of you. 

Instead, focus a bit more on the stealth aspect. Have a lot of close calls and snags that the players run into. That makes the sneaking action much more interesting than just dodging guards effortlessly. Have them balance over some bandits eating their meal, or their disguise being put to the test by a crowd of soldiers. The tension and near misses are the most interesting parts. You wouldn't have a dungeon with nothing in the rooms. That'd be boring. Get creative.

Also, we should take a page out of different movies and video games and not have stealth be so binary. If a person fails their sneaking roll by a slim margin, I say have the guard hear something suspicious and walk towards the source of the nose. It opens up some more options that the player can try and attempt to use to diffuse the situation. Does the player kill the guard, or move to a different spot, or stand perfectly still? Makes things a bit more interesting and it helps to extend out the stealth sequence and make it a worthwhile method to the players. I also find that in more lethal and visceral games like LotFP and ACKS, players are more incentived to go quiet for fear of dying.

Speaking of lethal, how do we handle stealth kills in a game with ever increasing HP? For me, I think I'm okay with the players being able to do take downs, but there are things to consider when killing a guard. First is the sound a dead person makes, whether it's the scream or the body hitting the floor. Someone may hear that if the killer doesn't act quietly while he murders someone. Second is what to do with the dead body? If you don't dispose of it, then you run the risk of someone discovering the dead body and alerting their friends. So as a player, you have to decide if killing the guard is worth the trouble.

Of course, if the players get discovered, then the stealth plan may go out the window. Realistically, it doesn't have to. Consider the Metal Gear Solid games. It starts with Infiltration Mode, where you are sneaking around and not getting caught. When you are caught by a guard, you get into Alert Mode. As long as they can see you, they will attack you. Once you stay out of line of sight for a time, they get into Evasive Mode. They still know you are around and are actively search for you in the more obvious spots. After some time, the game will go into Caution Mode. They have lost sight of you and everything is like Infiltration Mode, except now they are much more active and aware. They will act smarter, keep a keen eye out, and travel in pairs or groups. So, when I was making these rules, I decided to use that for my game. I believe that it can be used to great effect to give stealth different layers of failure and success, and it helps the players find an alternate way of sneaking to continue or escape.

I do have a set of rules I've used a couple of times to good effect for sneaking around. It seemed to make things better while still remaining simple. Once I'm able to post them up, I'll get them in. I can probably do it tomorrow, or even tonight. How have you all run stealth situations and what has helped you in running them?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lunar Cycles and Tides

The moon and the tides have helped to shape human civilization for millenia. From maritime activities to the simple wonder of the bright celestial body in the night sky, we owe a lot to these natural phenomena. So, I want to write up some simple ideas for using them in a campaign. Let's begin with the moon. Mind you, this only really works if you have one moon, but I imagine you can use the concepts presented here for multiple moons (or ditch them entirely).

Moon Cycles

The moon of Earth is a tidally locked satellite that orbits our planet every 27.8 days. We'll simplify this to just 28 days because I hate decimals. Because it is tidally locked, we always see the same face of the moon most nights. For game terms, we'll have only the important four lunar cycles; new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter. Every seven days you'll have a different section of the lunar cycle in the night sky and they will loop back into each other endlessly every 28 days. You'll also notice the in-between sections for crescent and gibbous moons. An easy way to remember gibbous is that it's inverted, like a black crescent moon. When the moon is becoming full, then it is waxing, and when it is becoming new, it is waning.

Source: Wikipedia


As we now know, the tides are controlled by the moon. Depending on the location of the moon will decide whether we have high or low tide. In game terms, the tides come in and out twice a day. So you'll have two high tides and two low tides. We can have these happen at 6 hour intervals of your choosing. For a bit more realistic tides, you can have the next day's tide times happen about 40 minutes later than the previous day's, but it's not necessary. 

When the tide is coming in, we call that the flow tide. When it reaches it's maximum, that is high tide. You'll see a lot of flooded beaches during this. When the water begins to recede, that is the ebbing tide. When this reaches its lowest point, that is low tide. You will see a lot more of the sand and ocean floor revealed to you. When the tides cease to move, usually at the peak of high and low tide, or when the flow and ebb has stopped, that is slack tide. The different between low and high tide can be one of a couple of feet in depth and several feet in distance from the coast to the ocean.

Tides in the UK on the same day
But that's not all. The phase of the moon can make tides weaker or stronger than normal. The stronger tide is called the spring tide and the weaker tide is called the neap tide. The diagram below shows when this happens. Like the lunar phases, it happens every seven days and alternates between spring tide and neap tide. Generally, it'll lag a little behind the phase of the moon by one or two days. For this exercise, we'll say one day. 

Now What?

So now that we know all this, how do we use this? The tides and their link to the lunar phases have been known as far back as ancient Greece. And they have had a great impact on coastal civilizations for centuries. So some ideas for applying it to game terms.

  • Great for nautical games that highly depend on the wind and tides to leave and enter bays.
  • Low tide can uncover a secret burial area by the coast.
  • High tide hides a secret cavern that leads to treasure. When it's low tide, you can enter it, but traversing it is difficult. High tide, you can easily swim to the different chambers, but it'll be hard to bring stuff out. Not to mention what creatures the tide brings in.
  • Low tide reveals a land bridge that leads to a set of ruins, or even an island city that is accessible by bridges.
  • High tide can empower water and healing magic, while low tide might stymie it, or instead it empowers earth magic.
  • Divination using the tides and what they reveal can be used by scryers and seers.
  • Different lunar phases can illuminate the night sky, if only up to dim.
  • The different phases can empower different types of magic. Full moon could empower healing and holy magic while the new moon powers summoning and divination magic.
  • Lycanthropy is the obvious pointer. You can even say that a ritual during the new moon can help to cure it. Or a ritual under the full moon can make the shift controllable.
  • Different deities and protectors of the tides and phases can exist and praying to them at that time can elicit boons.
  • Different phases of the moon shining on a dungeon can open different portals that lead to other areas.
  • Connections between our world and the spirit world are strongest under a full moon, while the new moon brings in demons and monsters into our world.
  • Full moons seem to bring out the worst in people as well as animals. Monsters and creatures become more wild and some people can suffer from lunacy.
  • A blue moon (the rare fourth moon in a season) can be the perfect time for a terrible ritual to summon demonic creatures or gather great power. You could even get a wish granted.
  • Or the moon could hide a terrible moon presence (spoilers for Bloodborne).
Grand Be during low tide at St. Malo, France
These are what I could come up with. I'd love to see what other ideas people have for using the tides and the lunar phases in their games. Truthfully, before I became a chef, I was into meteorology and I've always had a love of the cycles of nature. So admittedly this is a bit of a self indulgence of that for me, but hopefully this will be useful for those that run great nature campaigns. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Slice of Life

Something I was musing on was different tones of adventures. Whenever we as GMs write up adventures, generally they are adversarial. Something bad happens and the players react to it. In many circles, we like to increase the badness with more adult oriented and realistic issues (genocide, murder, rape, etc.). There are varying degrees on this based on player comfort and such, but generally, increasing the impact of the antagonists and their crimes and plots are common to us GMs. A lot of it is because we want to make memorable villains and plots

I wonder though, has anyone tried doing a scenario without an antagonist? I suppose I mean that the players run through an experience rather than a plot?

Once example of this I did was back a couple of years ago. The players held a festival honoring their fallen comrade who was a great patron to the kingdom they owned. The festival lasted the entire game session and it was made up of events, roleplaying, carnival games, and ended with the cremation of the character. There were no antagonists or bad guys, save for some friendly competition in the archery contest. But ultimately the players had a great deal of fun with a calmer, more slice of life adventure. Plus, it really cemented their place in the game world since the festival was in the dead PC's honor.

I'd like to do more adventures like this, especially after doing a heavy, dark adventure. What are some examples of these slice of life games that you found were great? How did they work out, and what are some good ideas on running more?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sandboxes and Quagmires

I generally don't like doing advice blogs since there's a million opinions, but I can't quite get this topic outta my head. So here we go.

Since 2010, when I cracked open Paizo's Adventure Path Kingmaker, I have been enamored with the sandbox game (and hexcrawls in general). The idea of running a more player-driven game where the PCs choose where to go and what to do is really appealing. There is something nice about seeing your players getting invested in the game and in many ways, doing the GM work for you. And as a player, having that total freedom is pretty awesome. It's something you can't get from video games, even open world ones like The Witcher 3 or Skyrim.

Sandbox gaming is very common in the OSR community and for good reason. That freedom is awesome, but also it's great for the open table style of gaming, which is great for us adults that simply may not have the schedule to do a consistent campaign. Among the community, sandbox gaming is seen as the way best way to game and believe me, there are many grognards that would certainly defend that.

Unfortunately, sandboxes have their pitfalls, especially to those new to them. And in the last six years, I've experienced them all.

Pitfalls of Sandbox Gaming

In a sandbox, especially the more West Marches style, there is very little in the way of structure or concrete goals for players coming in. Aside from generally "rob the tomb, fight monsters, get rich". Nothing wrong with that, but for players not used to this style of gaming, the freedom of choice can get overwhelming and cause option paralysis. The game suddenly becomes one of "what do we do today guys?" and can grind to a halt. I have run sandboxes with new players that have bogged down because players really didn't know what to do.

There are more ways that a sandbox can slow down. A common factor I see with both new and experienced sandboxers is that with player choice, you have players that want to do their own thing. Generally, my experience is that you'll have two players that want to do different things, with other players neutral on what adventure they want to do. This happens because while there is the freedom of choosing your adventures in a sandbox, the team still has to agree on what they want to do. A gaming group follows general social dynamics, so you'll have one dominant player that will try and steer the group in a direction while another dominant player will want to do a different direction. And the other players generally don't care as long as they have fun, so no one really takes sides and it becomes an argument over what we should do that night. When running a sandbox, it is important for the players to have some sort of way to decide where they go next so that everyone gets a turn. Voting, choosing, picking straws... whatever works. But even with this, you will still have a person that is left choosing last, and depending on the adventure, they could have to wait weeks or even months. As a GM, you'll really have to step in and adjudicate things when this happens, or else game night could be ruined.

A common fix to both of these problems of inaction and arguing is to "have a guy with a gun kick down the door and attack". That is, throw some interjecting problem at them that they have to deal with right now. That does have its issues in a sandbox game.

With sandbox gaming, the style really emphasizes player agency and is seen as the opposite to adventure paths and railroading. However, most players confuse what player agency really means. Player agency is the player's ability to have a meaningful choice in what to do. If a player wants to do something, they have the freedom to attempt to do it. However, many players misunderstand this term and believe it means they have control over the fate and narrative direction of their character. In addition, players get rather attached to their characters the longer they play them. So, when they have to deal with a negative consequence to an action their PC did, or an interjecting problem out of nowhere, things once again grind to a halt as the player(s) get upset about it. This gets more exacerbated with games like Dungeon World, where narrative control is shared by the DM and the players. You'll have people breaking out the accusations of railroading and things bog down.

I think the most common issues I've seen is that with player option, you will have players that will do things that the team doesn't like. Maybe the character antagonizes an NPC that the other PCs are interested in bartering with, or does something that genuinely offends a player in the room. Eventually, a player or more will get disruptive and start becoming an obstacle to the team as a whole. Sometimes, all of the players get in the way of each other. This is because players are coming in and wanting to portray, experience, roleplay, and do things for their characters in a vacuum and eventually, this will conflict with the other players doing the same thing. And again that "player agency" term will rear its ugly head and players will get mad that the other is trying to stymie their game. And boy will things muck up

The Quagmire

Muck up is a good description for what I'm describing. If a railroad campaign is the eventual extreme of the adventure path style of gaming, then I would say that the extreme to a sandbox is the quagmire. A quicksand like pit that bogs everyone and everything down until you cannot escape.

I may have an unhealthy obsession with Pokemon
The issue I see is that the sandbox is player driven, but people take that to the extreme. In the case of the players, they see it as them taking some form of metagame control over the fate and story of their characters. Being given too much freedom can be detrimental to the game, especially when that choice isn't tempered by the feelings and thoughts of your fellow players. It's very easy to do things that sabotage other players and claim it was in the name of roleplaying and staying in character. That freedom will also bite you in the ass when everyone wants to do something different. Basically, everyone is out to make their own awesome sand castle, but there isn't enough sand for everyone's castle. So now people are kicking over sand castles to make theirs bigger and bigger.
For the GM, I notice that sometimes, you get lax in adjudicating and instead remain a neutral force. I find that this happens because of the player driven part of sandboxes. Mentally, I feel that because the players drive the action, the GM sits back and lets them deal with the big issues while you just throw NPCs and monsters at them. It's really for this to happen since being a GM can be a lot of work, so having players doing the heavy lifting for you is really nice. I know I have done this on many an occasion. Also, especially for new GMs in the sandbox, you sometimes don't want to come down with the GM hammer for fear of being a railroading judge. 

After dealing with these, sometimes you just want to give up and run simpler modules. I'll admit, after seeing some hexcrawls implode, I kind of crave the simplicity of running an adventure path or module. But we don't have to give up and throw out the baby with the bathwater. So what can we do for this?

These are my non-negotiables for running a sandbox. This goes for players and GMs.

1. Gaming isn't a story, or a game, or a competition. Gaming and game nights are social activities done between friends and peers to have fun. Ultimately, we as players and GMs need to remember that. This is a social group and the things we do as player characters are not done in a vacuum. So we have to remember to keep our peer's feelings in our minds when we make decisions, because that is more important than emulating a genre trope or simulating reality. We can't just do whatever we want, get mad when someone gets offended, and hold our breath until we get our way. And at the same time, we can't get offended with everything and deal with everyone issue with some kind of righteous indignation. When an issue arises in game, we have to chill out and talk it over. Cooler heads prevail and it's easy for things to get heated and leave bad feelings. If you can't talk things out reasonably and compromise like a fucking adult, then you don't have any business gaming. Period.

2. Talk with the players before the campaign even starts and let them know that this is a player driven game where you can make whatever choice you want. But, and this is important, impress the idea that this is a living, breathing world and that with this freedom of choice comes the burden of responsibility for them. All actions and inactions have consequences, positive or negative. And sometimes, things bigger than them will happen and they will have to react accordingly. Impress this to them over and over again if you have to. 

3. Sandboxes need to have some sort of structure and goal. By doing this, it helps to keep your players focused on something while they go after their own goals on the side. It also gives something for players to fall back on when they don't really know what to do. 

4. Having bonds between PCs is great. Many times in sandbox games, I see the same ragtag group of scoundrels and rogues out for number 1. While OSR games do focus on what the players do rather what they have done, there is something to be said about having preexisting backgrounds with each other. I find that more often than not, it helps the group mesh better and many of the issues of sandcastle kicking I mentioned above don't happen as much. Also, with backgrounds, you have some delicious hooks you can use.

5. GMs, don't get lazy. I think sandboxes need more GM adjudication more than any other style of gaming. It's really easy to sit back and let the players and the dice do your job. But, you have to be active in squashing anything that can bog down the game or more dangerously, break up the gaming group. You are the leader and probably have the most important job in the social group. Be active, assertive, and fair.

Doing these can help to prevent your game from becoming a quagmire and help make your sandboxes memorable and fun. It has certainly worked for me.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Another Stat Rolling Idea

So full disclosure, I'm not really a fan of rolling dice for character creation. Never was, even playing through 2nd and 3.x as a kid. I prefer point buy. With my recent foray into OSR gaming, I really gave it a try with ACKS and other systems, but ultimately, it's not my cop of tea. That's a post for another day. So I was brainstorming a way to combine point array and dice rolling. Kind of a compromise. This was actually done for a project I'm working on.

For the three stats, you have six numbers you can plug in. 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, and 6. Put those in any of the stats you have. Once all six numbers are in each of the six stats, you can then roll 3d6, drop the lowest and add the number. That's your stat now. So, if I have a 4 in STR, and I roll a 4, 2, and 5, then I'd replace the 2 with a 4 and have a STR 13.

For the rolling, you could do it a number of ways. You can have them roll it first, then assign it later. That tends to make more powerful characters. You could have them choose the stat, roll it, and keep it. You could also do something in between and let them switch two values. It's up to you. Doing practice rolls this seems to work pretty well. I tend to notice average characters with one or two really good stats, mostly average stats, and one bad stat.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


In misty bogs and hazy swamps lie a cousin to the will o wisp, the mothlight. The mothlight is a glowing diaphanous orb of smokey light with gossamer tendrils that trail behind it as it dances in the moonlight. To many, they look like the colored blobs that appear when you close your eyes. Mothlights sway and flash hues of orange and blue to fascinate and entrance mortals that happen upon them. Despite their alien beauty, mothlights are existential predators. When a mortal gets too close to it, the mothlight drapes its tendrils around the creature and feeds on its thoughts and psychic energy. Mothlights will gorge on a creature's mental energy until it becomes braindead. The mothlight will then bloom and release smaller glowing polyps that will eventually move on and grow into full mothlights of their own.

Despite popular belief, the mothlight is not a creature, but mere a shadow of a creature from a higher dimension. Because our minds are three dimensional, we simply cannot fathom its true form, so we can only see the glowing shadow when it bleeds into our world. While in its dimension it is considered a mere animal, in our world the mothlight creature has a keen intellect that rivals most mortals. The creature will come into our realm through thin films between our world and the higher world, swimming through angles and hovering about through nature. It can't move much in our dimension, or perhaps it simply prefers to wait in ambush away from cities. Its shadow, the mothlight, attracts mortals through means unknown, where it can devour our thoughts. After you've seen the shadow, it's generally too late to run away. Even closing your eyes fail, as your own phosphenes betray you and guide you closer to the mothlight.

By Alexander Semenov
The only known way to escape the fascination effect is through over stimulation of your other senses. When going into an area infested with mothlights, it is best to bring smelling salts, gunpowder, or anything that can make loud noises or strong smells. Flash paper is also a good idea but rare and blinds you, which may not be preferable. After using any of those, run away. Only those with an intimate knowledge of higher order mathematics and physics can hope to kill the creature. Even third dimensional magic can't work. Only by mapping out the location with advances equations, or opening your mind to the higher dimensions through meditation, hallucinogens, and astral projection can give you a chance at attacking the creature. But that's a post for another time.


Phototaxi: Make a Magic saving throw. On a failure, you must do a full movement towards the mothlight. You can do a single action if you succeed on another Magic saving throw. When you reach the tendrils, each turn you lose 1d6 intelligence. When you reach 0 INT, you become brain dead.

I like jellyfish. This also makes the third monster I've made inspired by the way a Pokemon looks.

The first two being Nincada and Mimikkyu