Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Summary of Updates to Volume I

 Apart from converting healing side-effects to magical side-effects (detailed here), I've made a number of other improvements to the Divinities & Cults: Volume I versions.

1. Fixed a bunch of typos and grammatical issues, including dreaded comma usage (or non-usage).

2. Shortened and clarified a number of sections while maintaining the best parts.

3. For rules where casting rolls are mentioned, made it more clear that they are optional (for the Labyrinth Lord version; DCC RPG always has spell checks) by referring to modifiers as ‘spell rolls’ rather than casting rolls. This way, those who don’t wish to use casting rolls can simply add the value to another roll for the spell.

4. Included extra art and improved formatting for the DCC RPG version (Labyrinth Lord already got most of these in previous revisions).

5. Divine Tests that take away spells now (in most cases) don’t let them automatically return the next day. In playtesting earlier this year, this change was found to be more fun since it compels cleric characters to engage in certain activities deemed appropriate by their divinity, rather than just wait until the next day.

6. Revised a few spell lists, especially to bring the Labyrinth Lord and DCC RPG ones closer together (though they’re still different).

7. Making both versions available in print-on-demand. Until now, the Swords & Wizardry version was the only way to get Volume I in print. Now it should be available soon for both Labyrinth Lord & DCC RPG once they have been converted...

In any case, those who’ve already purchased their pdf’s of Volume I should get the updated versions for free on Drivethru RPG and the like when they're available, which should be sometime in the next week or so.

Next week: we return to cleric encounters, with Horus!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cleric Encounters: Bast

9th in the gods and goddesses series for Divinities and Cults: Volume III, we have Bast, Egyptian goddess of cats, protection, and luxury.

Bast Encounters
1. A sleek, leather-clad woman approaches. It may be later revealed that she is a (roll 1d6): [1] cleric of Bast, [2] priestess of Bast, [3] thief, [4] multiclass cleric-thief of Bast, 
[5] simply a faithful follower of Bast, or 
[6] a Bast Avatar. In any case, she may give a lucky party member a tongue bath.

2. A luxury is found. It is (roll 1d8): 
[1] a sistrum (shaker-rattle), [2] jewels, 
[3] a fine garment, [4] an alabaster jar, 
[5] perfume, [6] a luxurious piece of furniture, [7] ointment, or [8] a fine ornament. To the right buyer, it is worth 1d6 x 100 gold pieces, though the one who finds it must save vs. death to part with it.

3. When the party is next home (or at an Inn or other home away from home), an intruder is found! It will have an HD equal to the highest level in the party, though that can be halved if any faithful of Bast are present.

4. With a mighty roar, a huge lion with a remarkable head comes into view. Roll 1d4: [1] male head w/ headdress, [2] female head w/ headdress, [3] hawk’s head, or [4] ram’s head. It is an Egyptian Sphinx and it doesn’t care for riddles or showing off its bosom!

5. Even if not at an Inn, a random lucky party member has an ‘Inncounter’ (per Volume III). Whether it be a fine guest or a catty drink, it is sure to be memorable and sacred to Bast.

6. Bast has many children and one affects the party now (roll 1d4): [1] Mau: a slain cat is found- should it be avenged? [2] Mafdet: fight a serpent with an HD equal to the lowest party member’s level, 
[3] Nefertem: something sweet can be smelled, or [4] Maahes: the next being the party encounters turns into a catfight at least.

7.  Suddenly, a random party member begins to shudder and choke. It turns out that they are trying to cough up a hairball! He or she must make a Constitution check each round to spit it out or take 1d4 damage. Having someone faithful to Bast around grants a +4 bonus to the check though, since they are used to such things.

8. A great threat to home and comfort is revealed (roll 1d4): [1] stinging vermin, [2] many serpents, 
[3] noisy cultists with fanatic beliefs, or [4] greedy merchants. Whatever the case, Bast will smile upon (and even offer her aid if necessary) to those who put a stop to it.

9. Leaping from a hidden spot, a cat-woman is revealed! Though her claws and bestial features may cause those not familiar with Bast’s faith to see her as a monster, her very nature is very alluring regardless.  Still, she has a base 75% chance of acting only in her own interests each round, so she might be hard to fathom in any case.

10. The party becomes subject to a game of cat-and-mouse. Something seems to be stalking them, only to become elusive when attempts are made to stalk it in return. The prowler turns out to be a cleric of Sekhmet, very similar to Bast, though emphasizing lion qualities and much less domesticity.

11. A festival occurs! Like at Bubastis, men and women enjoy music, river-lounging, much drinking, and even occasional flashing. They converge on a temple of Bast (see Volume III for more on Egyptian Temples). As for the participants, it’s unclear where they come from, but they certainly do come.

12. Bast’s bust! Whether a statuette, the real thing, or an illustration, all male members of the party must save vs. paralysis or have to remain transfixed, staring. Females and those who follow Bast (even if the bust isn’t of hers) are immune, thanks to being used to such things.

Sample 9th Level Priestess of Bast
Align: N
MV: 40’
AC: 5
HD: 9 (hit die and attack as a magic-user^)
Atk: 2
Dmg: 1d3+1 (claw) & 1d4+3 (whip)
SP: Bast turn ability, mysteries, priest rules^, cat eyes, cat body, way of Sekhmet I (divine tests), 50% chance of acting in an impulsive and selfish way each encounter
Spells prepared:
1st level: Cure Light Wounds (x2)^, Detect Magic, Protection from Evil, Sanctuary, Allure*, Charm Person*, Pass without TraceD, Hold Portal*
2nd level: Augury, Bless, Delay Poison, Speak with Animals (felines), Charm Person or MammalD, Knock*
3rd level: Cure Blindness, Locate Object, Remove Curse, Suggestion*
4th Level: Cure Serious Wounds, Neutralize Poison
5th level: Secret Chest*
SV: C9
Mor: 9
Possessions: +2 Leather armor, holy symbol, +2 whip, 199 gold pieces. fine garments, sistrum

Next week: we take a look at some more of the Volume I revisions (for Labyrinth Lord and DCC RPG), which should be available in PDF and print-on-demand soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cleric Encounters: Anubis

8th in the gods and goddesses series for Divinities and Cults: Volume III, we have Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead.

Anubis Encounters
1. A dread and menacing aura can be felt. Is the god of death angry or merely watchful? In fact, there is an equal chance of either being the case.

2. Stories of strange, leaping dog men, rumored to be followers of Anubis, are heard. Investigation will show that they are actually Uridimmu, though the real followers of Anubis will be very interested in quieting such noisy dogs.

3. The party comes across a ceremony amidst a gravesite. It is a cleric of Anubis and his entourage administering final rites. If the party is respectful, then the cleric may lend them some assistance afterwards (a base 50% chance). If not, then the party might need some final rites administered of their own!

4. Suddenly, a black dog or jackal is spotted. If followed, it will either lead the party to (roll 1d4): [1] a grave, [2] a tomb, 
[3] a pyramid, [4] undead (to be slain). In any case, when it comes to serving Anubis, the beast can’t get its fill.

5. A tomb is uncovered! It is guarded by either a (roll 1d4): [1] cleric of Anubis, [2] priest of Anubis, 
[3] monk of Anubis, [4] Avatar of Anubis. He will attempt to stop all non-faithful from entering. Otherwise, Tomb Encounters in Volume III would be a great way to generate the rest of the place.

6. As fate would have it, a random NPC turns out to be partially mummified (but still alive). He or she is a secret servant of Anubis and has been affected by one of his divine tests. Any accusations that the NPC is undead will be met with fierce denials though, and likely biting.

7.  Running across a strange, stuffed animal skin, the party may learn that it is in fact an Imiut Fetish. Sacred to Anubis, the skin also has a base 25% chance of being magical, allowing its user to cast a random 2nd level spell from Anubis’s list, as long as it’s not used to help grave robbers or the undead.

8. The local villagers are terrified of some rampaging crocodile-headed, lion-hippo monster that regurgitates those it swallows as animate dead. Despite any assumptions that it is the delusion of some peasant’s drunken stupor, the beast is actually real- an ammit, in fact- and any faithful of Anubis would like to find out just how it escaped the underworld.

9. A ghost is apparently haunting the area. Those brave enough to face it will find it to actually only be some old, mortal man engaged in a hoax. The local priesthood of Anubis would be very pleased in punishing such an evil-doer, especially one who would make such a mockery of the dead, and also pleased with anyone who unmasks him.

10. The party awakes to darkness. Somehow finding light, it is shown that they have been entombed! They only have 4d4 turns to escape before they run out of air, unless of course, the partially-mummified monk of Anubis ordered to keep them there stops them first.

11. A great terror is lurking the land. The party may find it and see it to be a mummy, but it is no ordinary one, for it is an Egyptian mummy! It likely is only upset (and therefore lurking) over having its tomb defiled, though its real motivations depend on which deity it serves (roll 1d4): [1] Anubis, 
[2] Osiris, [3] Ra, [4] Set.

12. The next character who dies must have his or her heart weighed by Anubis.  If it is light enough (per Referee), then they enter a happy Afterlife. If not, then it is consumed by Ammit! See also Afterlife Encounters and Near Death Experiences in Volume III for additional details.

Sample 8th Level Cleric of Anubis
Align: L
MV: 40’
AC: 6
HD: 8
Atk: 2
Dmg: 1d3 (bite) & 1d8+2 (flail) or 1d6+1 (crook)
SP: Anubis turn ability, mysteries, jackal's head and jackal’s feet (divine tests)
Spells prepared:
1st level: 4+2 Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Remove Fear (reverse), Locate CreatureD, Pass without TraceDHold Portal*
2nd level: 4+2 Find Traps, Resist Fire, Reveal Charm, Silence 15’ Radius, Speak with Animal (canids), Scare*
3rd level: 3+1 Cure Disease, Dispel Magic, Hieroglyph of Warding, Speak with Dead
4th Level: 2 Cure Serious Wounds, Exorcise
SV: C8
Mor: 11
Possessions: +2 Hide armor, holy symbol, +2 flail, 125 gold pieces

Next week: cleric encounters, Bast!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Converting Healing Side-Effects to Magical Side-Effects

Along with a number of other updates and fixes being made to Volume I (both the Labyrinth Lord and DCC RPG versions), divinity magic is being adjusted so as to now affect all cleric spells. This change not only allows the magic of followers of say, Apollo and Thor to be somewhat different when they heal, but also when they cast divinatory, transportive, or other spells too. What is more, some magical side-effects may or may not apply depending on whether the spell is intended to help or harm the target.

As in Volume III, there’s a pattern to magical side-effects, though for the Volume I revision, they will follow a different arrangement, reflecting how Greek and Norse magic varies from Egyptian and Mesopotamian magic. Still, there will be a great deal of variety even amongst gods and goddesses of the same culture. In addition, some of these results won’t be the same if the divinity is dark or otherwise unusual.

1. The magic will either require a certain purpose be fulfilled (if Greek) or cause hit point damage (if Norse). This result reflects the personal interest Greek divinities can take with mortals, as well as the somewhat harsh and grim nature of Norse myths. In any case, both can be remedied with an appropriate sacrifice.

2-5. Something unfortunate may befall the cleric or the spell’s target, depending on whether the spell would be beneficial or not. In some cases, the side-effect can be circumvented depending on the god or goddess being invoked and how merciful they are.

6-8. No side-effect.  Occurring less often than in Egyptian and Mesopotamian magic, this reflects how Greek and Norse magic has more variation thanks to the greater variety of locations where it’s practiced and it occurring later in history.

9. The spell gains a 50% bonus to one of its aspects, but also comes along with a requirement. Fate is very important to both the Greeks and the Norse, though the Greek requirement will likely be more philosophical, while the Norse one will be more practical.

10. The spell gains a 50% bonus to one of its aspects if used along with an optional requirement. This typically involves behaving in a way smiled upon by the god or goddess. The Greeks and Norse often have a personal connection to their divinities which is reflected in this result.

11. One of the spell’s aspects is doubled if a requirement is met- usually the presence of an item or force sacred to the divinity.

12. One of the spell’s aspects is automatically doubled and can either be cast again that day (if using Labyrinth Lord rules) or gain a +2 bonus to its spell check (if using DCC RPG rules). In addition, it grants an extra bonus if the spell is meant to be beneficial to the target. Dark or harsh divinities will likely not allow this though.

That should give you a general idea of the main updates being made to Volume I. Remember that those who’ve already purchased their copies will of course get the updated versions for free on Drivethru RPG when they’re available, sometime near the end of May. They should also be available in print-on-demand too.

Stay tuned to for the latest updates.

Next week, we continue our series on cleric encounters with Anubis!