Victorian Ideas about Pathogenic Winds

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John Singer Sargent – A Gust of Wind (1887)

I feel like of all the four core elements, Air gets the shortest shrift. I use Fire, Water, and Earth far more often than Air. To help me with some air/wind related ideas, I made some game reference notes after reading “A Medical Perspective on Winds and the Victorians” by Vladimir Jankovic.

Generally, fresh air was widely considered to be a core requirement of a healthy space or healthy home. However, the reliance on fresh air left one vulnerable to ill winds or to problems associated with the absence of wind. Winds were described as forces able to purify, pollute, transmit, herald (ill wind as ill omen), or ventilate. 

Winds are often described as carrying the worst elements of foreign soils, so winds that blew from Asia or Africa were described with prejudicial terms linked to those locales. They were also described by the geographies relative to England. Winds from the African desert, the moist sea, or the cold mountains were described with terms appropriate to those regions and were believed to carry contagions linked to those respective places.

d6 Pathogenic Winds

  1. Samiel – victims seem asleep with limbs separated from bodies
  2. Khamsin – corpses remain warm, swollen, and blue as if struck by lightning
  3. Harmattan – a dry wind that kills plants and parches skin but cures fevers and the bleeding fatigue
  4. Senegal – scorches as by a blast from a furnace
  5. Falkland – causes cramping and the inability to perspire
  6. Sirocco – stops digestion and kills over-eaters

South wind

  • Causes disease, specifically cholera
  • Warm & humid
  • Gluts of rain
  • Stinking fogs

North-east Wind – “Black North-Easter”
“When the wind is in the east / It’s neither good for man nor beast”

  • Cold, piercing, snowy
  • Causes discomfort and illness but not disease – croup, sore throat, swollen glands, pulmonary ailments, paralytic attacks
  • Saps strength & rids the mind of thoughts and ideas
  • Causes heaviness, swelling and tightness in the head.
  • People exposed to it feel faint, short of breath, without strength or appetite
  • Described with verbs like: howled, roved, moaned, crept, cut, froze

Calm (lack of wind) aka “The Calms” or “Dead Calms”

  • Stillness
  • Moistness
  • Gloomy, cloudy, grey – this mist is called “scumbling” after the artist technique
  • Disease mist – the idea of a contagion that lingers in mist is called “miasma”

Gruff Boreas, Deadly Calms: A Medical Perspective on Winds and the Victorians
Author(s): Vladimir Jankovic
Source: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 13, Wind, Life, Health: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives (2007), pp. S147-S164
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4623126

Yoon-Suin Links & Resources

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It’s been a minute since I ran or played any Yoon-Suin, but I saw a d66 magic tea blog post this morning and it made me want to reorganize my own Yoon-Suin content to make it more accessible since my old blog died and my one-page game stuff isn’t particularly searchable. (Slugman and Antmen by Lu Quade)

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My One Page Content:

My Hex Kit Maps: (You should buy Hex Kit from Cecil Howe)

Other Stuff:

One Page: Space Scrappers of Aom

Derelict ship crawl concept – Intended for play with Strange Stars by Hydra Co-op

shoalmont_23_space_scrapper

In the Instrumentality of Aom your worth is defined by your potential, and each of you has been found lacking. Your prefecture raised you in one of the machine-wombs of Aom, in your growth-coma state your muscles and mind developed, but your genetics were uninspired. Your digitized self has lived a million test recursions and the only role that suits you is that of a space scrapper.

Your cryo-pods clank in their bays. The crystalline fluid empties out slowly. Your eyes open for their first time to reveal a world much bleaker than the one you experienced through your hardlink. A message plays behind your eyes, you know that it is your purpose to assess and salvage. The convoy spits you out like the genetic leftovers that you are and burns off with bays full of other scrappers destined to earn their place in the Instrumentality of Aom or to die trying.

Running a pointcrawl:

At each node, players must be presented with an engaging encounter. After the completion of which, they must make an informed choice about which path to take. The choices they make should be difficult and have lasting consequences.


Room 1 – The Airlock

Prep Questions:

Are the systems running? Is there evidence of life? Are the lights on? Is there artificial gravity? Can you access the ship’s computer? Was this a human ship? Does the ship use a language that you know?

Encounter Ideas:

Gain access to the ship map. Open the sealed door. Identify the source of the airborne contagion. Identify the reason the ship has lost power.

Paths Forward:

One path might be obviously dangerous, there might be a blood trail or claw marks. Perhaps there is a missing section of ship. This should be the “direct” path. The other path should be the indirect path, it should be clear that this is more circuitous. It might also be unclear if this path actually leads to the desired destination.


Rooms 2 & 3 – The First Challenge (2-Direct or 3-Indirect)

Prep Questions:

How will the characters learn more about the ship. What happened here? What is the threat to them now? What resources remain on the ship?

Encounter Ideas:

Confront a lifeform. Overcome a defensive mechanism. Overcome a dangerous obstacle that resulted from the ship’s demise. Lose/use a key resource.

Paths Forward:

One path might involve direct confrontation, while the other might be a stopgap.


Rooms 4 & 5 – Can you commit to your course? (4-Confrontation or 5-Compromise)

Prep Questions:

How will the characters take command of the ship? How will the obstacles be overcome? Are the players hunters or hunted? What is the best case scenario? Can a hard choice come back to haunt the players?

Encounter Ideas:

Betray or be betrayed by a lifeform. Use a defensive mechanism to your advantage, at a great cost. Sacrifice one section of the ship to save another. Can a mistake be fixed?

Paths Forward:

One path is absolute victory at a great cost. The opposite path is submission of self or mission to a power that was greater than you. The middle path is compromise, neither side gets what they wanted fully.


Rooms 6, 7, & 8 – What is the end state? (6-Absolute Victory, 7-Compromise, or 8-Submission)

Resolution Questions:

Will the sacrifices made to overcome this threat doom the crew in the future? What has the crew sacrificed for victory? When will the resources run out? What did the lifeform need from you, can you afford the cost? Which of your beliefs has been changed? Who or what did you betray to save yourself?

Resolution Scenes:

What does the ship look like? What are their final words? How does the world look now that you’ve been altered. What resource is the ship critically low on? What just appeared on the scanner? Was that an alert?

Download as PDF

Digging through my Drive

Thanks Dan for posting “Games in my Folders”, of your eight I only knew about The Lorian Gendarme Guidebook and the One Hundred Wilderness Hexes. I also tend to find great content only to immediately forget about it, so I took your post as inspiration to peruse my Google Drive for great stuff buried in the sands of time. Here are my 5:

Tricks, Empty Rooms, & Basic Trap Design By Courtney C. Campbell

Maybe it is cheating to pick something by Courtney Campbell, but I found this pdf online a while back and then didn’t look at it for a year or so only to recently rediscover it by accident. It is one of my main resources now when I am planning dungeons or other adventure sites. (link)

MONSTER MENU-ALL 2 by Skerples

I haven’t actually brought this to my table yet, but I really love it and haven’t heard anyone talk about it in a while. A list of all the monsters in Veins of the Earth and their various edible parts and potential effects that might come from eating those parts. It is even laid out by David Shugars and has it’s own art. (link)

Various Blank Resource Sheets by Richard LeBlanc

I really like all of Richard’s NewBigDragon stuff. His d30 companions are always by my side when I run games. I also find his Creature Compendium to be full of great monsters that are actually table-ready and yet different enough from the monster manual to make them fun. I forgot he had all these free resources for a while and was using crappy versions that I had cobbled together. Then I rediscovered a bunch of them in my drive and they make my life a bit easier. (link)

Chromatic Soup 1 & 2

These collaborations game out of some peak moments of G+ OSR brainstorming and crowd-sourcing. I leaned pretty heavily on Chromatic Soup 1 for one of my campaigns but had mostly forgotten about them until recently when I tried to figure out why I had all these references to “Bobcatmen” in one of my onepage adventures. Since Evlyn M has pulled down her Lulu account I will link my PDFs here. If anyone knows of an official source I will edit this to reflect: Chromatic Soup Chromatic Soup 02

Various art, specifically the d6 Crabmen by Steven De Waele

These images haven’t come to my table per se, but I smile each time I scroll past them in my Drive. They are so filled with character and inspiration, and they make me want to run Yoon-Suin again. Steven’s stuff is great. Follow him on Twitter Instagram or on Tumblr

D6_crabmen

 

 

 

Witchburner AP: Session 3

Session 3 held on 12/26 with the cast:

The Cleric Janik, Priest of Prios

The Rogue Marklech, Forced Convert

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Nicholas Roerich – Mist Before Dawn (1924)

October 3rd, 1st Watch – Slept in Kingshall (continued from session 2)

At breakfast, the housekeeper Esmeralda Takewood leaned over and whispered “you know that Jonah Prizepeace is as odd as they come, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that he is a witch.”

The party pressed Esmerelda for details. She found it suspicious that Jonah often went away to the city for days at a time since he practices no profession. She also claimed that he would come to Kingshall early in the morning to have breakfast with Ivan Sugarman (Husband of Edna the Mayor), looking tired and disheveled with blackened hands that would stain the table linens. She claimed that most nights a candle burned in his window until the early morning. She reasoned that he stayed up all night because he was working on his witchcrafts and foul magicks.

Janik asked Esmerelda about her religious beliefs, and forced her to talk about her religious instruction. She was very uncomfortable about being made to do this, but revealed a number of things that seemed slightly divergent from orthodoxy. She mentioned divergent elements in a number of religious stories. In one story she mentioned “three sages” and in another “three crones.” Janik suspected that these figures aligned with the “three avatars.”

After breakfast, Marklech asked Roman (Edna’s Butler) to send word to the Blacksmith that he was in need of a small mirror. Roman scoffed, “Am I your errand boy? I must see to the workings of this household! See him yourself.” Janik intervened, offering to mend a broken item in exchange for his help in this matter. Roman proffered a broken candlestick, Janik used the spell Mending to fix the item. Roman crossed himself and refused to touch the candlestick, seeming frightened by the use of magic. Janik pressed Roman “Do you fear the power of Prios, do you not trust that all things are possible in his name?” Roman cringed that he was not accustomed to seeing magic, he assented to assist Marklech to send a message to the Blacksmith.

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Jacopo Pontormo – Study of Two Carthusian Monks (1525)

October 3rd, 2nd Watch – Janik Talks to The Priest

The rogue and the cleric left Kingshall together, the cleric was much bothered by his companion’s description of their last encounter with David Slingstrider (priest) whose practices seemed so unorthodox. On the way to the church, an echo of Blaise’s laughter (The Town Uncle) cut through the light fog. Marklech decided to go see if he could find Blaise and left Janik to confront the Priest on his own.

Janik did not pause to knock at the closed door, but strode determinedly into the temple. Upon his entrance, he saw a group of eleven robed acolytes engaged in group worship. One of them approached him directly to ask that he come back later during public worship. Janik berated the acolyte and revealed himself to be an inquisitor, he demanded to be taken straight to the priest. The acolyte cowed to Janik, and hastily apologized while guiding him to the priest’s sanctum. The man asked Janik to sit in a private waiting room while he fetched the priest from his quarters.

The waiting room was filled with fine bookshelves including rare texts, fine artwork, and other exquisite wares. Janik took some time to look at the books for anything heretical. He did not see anything unorthodox, but did notice that most of the shelves were covered in a thin layer dust and the books looked as if they were not often handled.

David Slingstrider (Priest) arrived and Janik used his Witchsight ability to see if the priest had been corrupted by foul Symbaric magicks. The priest’s shadow was not pure, but was corrupted in a way that seemed in keeping with one of his position. Often priests are called upon to secure unholy artifacts or exorcise blighted spirits and their exposure to the darkness can taint their souls. Many a witchburner carries around corruption far worse than this man.

Nevertheless, Janik opened the conversation by accusing the priest of blasphemy and demanding that he explain why his preaching was so unorthodox. Janik accused the priest of incorporating the “three old gods” and thus corrupting the true faith of Prios.

The priest was furious and questioned Janik’s right to call his faith into question. He reminded Janik that he was the outsider in this town, and claimed that the townspeople were of his flock. The Priest went on to say that his ancestors had been forced to convert and that they had given up “the old ways” as best as they knew how. He questioned Janik’s abilities, “how would you have people forget everything their parents and grandparents knew to be true! So what if I blend the old stories with the new, it helps the people connect their own legends with the light of Prios. Conversion of this nature is a process, not a decision! It does not happen overnight!”

Janik accused David of fostering a witch in his flock, and the priest remained steadfast saying that he didn’t believe that there was a witch in the town. He again said that whatever foul magick might be occurring is the work of some other force, something outside of town, something that was moving against them.

Finally, David asked Janik to notify him first if he was going to accuse any churchgoer of witchcraft so that he could help the witchburners to apprehend the suspect. The priest explained that his flock trusted him, and with his help the witchburners might take the suspect peacefully. Janik thought this was suspicious, but thanked the priest for his offer of help and hesitantly agreed that he would keep the priest informed.

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Marc Chagall – Chichikov shaves (1923)

October 3rd, 2nd Watch – Marklech Talks to the Town Uncle

Marklech followed the sounds of laughter to a small house with fireplace ablaze and front door ajar. He approached and saw Blaise sitting before a small crude bronze mirror. Blaise appeared to be preparing to shave, but Marklech could see no hair on Blaise’s face that needed shaving.

Marklech stepped into the house and asked Blaise what he was doing. Blaise responded “Shaving off yesterday so that I can begin to live today.” Marklech seemed curious, so stepped in to watch him. While shaving his clean face, Blaise mused “You know the days go faster and faster now.” Marklech reasoned that days seem to go faster when one has more concerns to attend to, but Blaise insisted that the days were themselves passing faster and faster, “Old father time is trying to move us along, get it all over with, perhaps we have made one of the old gods angry and we are being marched double quick to the end times.” After shaving, he put the straight razor away into a drawer that held five knives.

Marklech asked about what god Blaise worshiped, and Blaise scoffed at the idea of worship. He claimed that he was cursed and had nothing to thank the gods for. He said that he had been cursed to bear the truth alone.

Marklech asked if Blaise knew if any townsperson was a witch, Blaise said “Which Witch do you seek! Everyone a witch, nobody a witch! Depends on what you think a witch is!”

Marklech asked who was responsible for the foul deeds, Blaise responded “Who is responsible for the rain or the sun, the snow or the harvest? How can we point fingers in this world? Are you responsible for your every breath or thought? Perhaps it is the gods who are untended in the mountains who are responsible… wrecking their havoc on our world. Perhaps we are all playing out a grand facade of their making.”

Maklech asked if Blaise was capable of guiding them to the “Mountains of the Dead Gods,” Blaise confirmed that he was able to guide them through the woods to the mountains. He said that it was about a week-long journey and that he would be paid in silver. But he said he would need to think about an appropriate price as the trip was hard and “a long hard winter is surely coming, and coming soon.”

Marklech gave Blaise 10 silver to thank him for his time, Blaise said “for a gift, I give a gift. Some of what you hear today will be untrue, but some will been true. Your fate will be determined by what truths you act upon.”

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Santiago Rusinol – Before the Morphine (1890)

October 3rd, 3rd Watch – The Notary is Stricken with Boils

Marklech and Janik met back up and heard a commotion near the town square. Some agitated voices and the sound of heavy feet running across the cobblestones. They decided to investigate and saw Ivana (Doctor) running towards Petra’s (Notary) house. There was a small crowd of townsfolk gathered outside gossiping about having seen Petra suddenly struck ill with boils. They were muttering about “foul deeds” and some others were muttering “serves her right for her harshness collecting the taxes.”

Clarence Ironbutler (Petra’s Chef) stood firmly at the door, clearing a path through the crowd so that the doctor could enter. Janik and Marklech jogged across the square and arrived just behind the doctor. Clarence noticed them running, as did the crowd. The crowd quieted down and made room for them to pass, but Clarence held the door closed, saying that he had been told to allow entry for only the doctor. Janik told the man that the doctor would be of no use if the affliction was from witchery, and that he should allow the witchburners to pass so they may investigate the occurrence themselves. Clarence capitulated, allowing the burners into the sitting chamber. They saw Ivana kneeling next to a low bed, tending to Petra whose face was covered in pustulant boils. Ivana was attempting to investigate the boils, but Petra was screaming in annoyance and pain.

Janik questioned Clarence about Petra’s morning, asking who she had spoken to and what she had eaten. Clarence told Janik that she had met with Olga (Beekeeper) that morning because she was behind on her taxes, but otherwise had only eaten the standard fare from his own kitchen. When Ivana heard the conversation behind her and finally noticed the arrival of the witchburners, she flared in annoyance and ordered the burners to leave the room so that she might calm her patient.

Janik berated Ivana in turn, and insinuated that she was unprepared to cure the affliction that seemed clearly to be the work of witchcraft. Janik then forced Ivana to administer an opiate to kill the pain so that he might question Petra. Ivana took some convincing, but eventually brought out a small pipe and applied some black tar to the bowl. She lit the pipe with an ember from the fireplace and had Petra inhale deeply. Soon the sounds of pain ceased and Petra took on a stupor. Ivana begged leave to fetch books that might shed light on this strange affliction.

Janik interrogated the drug-addled Notary. Petra affirmed that the only appointment she had attended that morning was a meeting with Olga the Beekeeper. She then complained about “those who keep to the woods” who believe that “working the land has any place in the world of today.” She scoffed that Olga would try to pay her taxes with honey or royal jelly. She further rambled on about her views that the future “is for those of us who can seize it” and who are not stuck in the traditions of the past. Janik asked who “kept to the woods” and she muttered “oh the butcher, the baker, the milkmaid, the beekeeper, and the rest of that lot.”

Janik asked how she felt about the priest, she accused him of profiting on the ignorance of his followers and leaving the rest of the town to pay more that their share by claiming that the church was exempt from paying taxes. She lamented the need to attend his sermons at all, and claimed to go only when absolutely required.

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Francisco Goya – Witches Sabbath (1821)

October 3rd, 4th Watch – The Butcher Hosts a Gathering

The party regrouped and decided to meet with some of “those who keep to the woods.” Since Marklech had overheard Ursula (Butcher) console Olga by saying “the Earthbreaker will provide” he suggested that they visit the butcher. Janik and Marklech walked to the edge of the woods where both Olga and Ursula had their homes, noticing that Olga’s curtains were drawn but edged in light and that smoke came from her chimney. There was some great commotion from the Butcher’s house, and through the windows it seemed clear that a small feast was taking place. The witchburners modified their plan slightly, that Janik would go in to tell the gathering that the witch had been identified and Marklech would listen with his familiar to see if any of them revealed themselves afterwards. Janik proceeded alone to knock on the door while Marklech hid in the shadows outside the house, letting his spider familiar crawl under the floorboards.

Gregor Inksblood (Husband of the Butcher) opened the door for Janik with a smile that quickly faded when he registered that there was a witchburner before him. Gregor stuttered and informed Janik that they were hosting a small celebratory gathering after a new birth. Janik explained that he needed only a brief audience with Ursula and that he would not interrupt the festivities.

Ursula and Gregor hosted Janik in a small sitting room, offering him some brandy. Janik attempted a ruse, claiming that he would be capturing the witch that very night. Further, he told Ursula that he had come by to make arrangements for a celebratory feast. Ursula congratulated him and said that the town would surely be happier to have the witch captured and hung. She offered to show Janik her prize livestock so that he might select the finest for the celebration. He demurred, saying that he trusted they could work out the details at a later time. Ursula and Gregor asked Janik to join the festivities celebrating the daughter just born of Lea Takewood (the Milkmaid) by overseeing “the ritual.”

Janik agreed to participate, and Ursula led him to a large room with a dozen people and a young goat tied to a wooden column. She handed him a ceremonial dagger and asked that he say a few words and then slaughter the goat. Janik addressed the crowd, telling all present to be at ease, that the witchburners had found the witch and would soon be making an arrest. He then cut the neck the young goat, but made a clumsy job of it. Ursula and Gregor assisted to catch the blood, and finished the ritual slaughter by hanging the goat by its legs above a bucket to bleed out. Ursula addressed the crowd, explaining that a life must be taken when one is born to maintain the great balance.

Janik noticed a young red-headed woman watching him through the crowd. She kept herself aloof, and didn’t seem surprised or begin to gossip as the others did after they heard Janik claim to have found the witch. After Janik departed, the spider familiar lingered and through it Marklech heard a young woman with a resolute voice caution the crowd about the witchburners. “They would see our traditions and call us witches. Tread with caution when those men are about. They do not have our wellbeing in mind with their crude works.”

After departing, Marklech had his spider peer into Olga’s house. They saw that she was asleep in bed with a companion. Janik decided to lean a small rock against her front door to see whether she was truly sneaking off the the woods to work foul magic during the night, intending to arrive back at her door before dawn to see if the rock had been disturbed.

October 4th, 1st Watch – Sleep

At a quick breakfast in Kingshall, Roman and Esmerelda identified that the red-head was likely Stella Slingstrider (priest’s daughter). Esmerelda shared the gossip that Stella had taken up with a prospector from Ravenia a few months back. Roman chimed in that he saw the young prospector arrive back in Bridge just a few days ago, and told the group that the man was named Arpid Summerborn (Prospector).

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Claude Monet – Path in the Fog (1887)

October 4th, 2nd Watch – Investigate the Beekeeper

The two witchburners arrived at Olga’s house at dawn. The rock had been disturbed, but they immediately heard the voices of Olga and a companion carry through the thick fog. A torch faded into the darkness as Olga walked with her companion towards the hills. The burners quickly conferred, Marklech decided to follow Olga into the woods while Janik would remain to investigate the house.

Marklech followed Olga and her companion through the thick fog, overhearing some flirtation and some discussion of business. Olga and her companion slowed as they approach a steep ascent of narrow switchbacks. Marklech hung back a bit, and then followed them up the hike through the thinning fog. He arrived in time to see Olga kneel down to burn an offering against the trunk of a large tree. Her companion said “You really ought to stop with that superstition, especially with those burners in town. They are likely to believe you a witch!” Olga scoffed and told the man to mind his own business and get to work.

Marklech hid in a small cairn of rocks for a few hours, observing through his familiar while Olga and her companion collected honey from a number of bee hives. After they left, Marklech investigated the tree where she performed her ritual. He saw an arcane symbol of one of the avatars drawn in the dirt and covered in white flaky ashes. He suspected that she had burned some offering to honor the earthbreaker.

Meanwhile, Janik attempted to enter Olga’s house but found the door and windows locked. He noticed some of the wall planks were loose and decided to pry them off to attempt an entry. Prying off the planks was loud, and after he pried off a single board he heard someone call out from inside the house. “Olga is that you?” Janik heard approaching footsteps and decided to simply walk away from the house. Given the thick fog, he was easily able to get away without being observed.

After a few minutes, he decided to return to Olga’s house. He approached the front door which was left ajar. As soon as he entered the house, the man saw him through the hole left by the removed wall plank. The man called out defensively and accused Janik of foul play, but Janik was able to dissuade him and convince him that he had only just arrived and was looking for Olga. The man ended up sharing some information about Olga’s loan to Harald Oldson from Ravenia, and when he was pressed agreed to show Janik into the mead cellar. The cellar tunnel descended into the hill about 100’ and ended in a large cavern ringed with mead barrels, honey pots, and royal jelly jars in the dim torchlight.

New Named NPC’s

  • Stella Slingstrider (Priest’s Daughter)
  • Gregor inskblood (husband of the butcher)
  • Clarence Ironbutler (chef of the notary)
  • Ivan Sugarman (husband of the mayor)
  • Harald Oldson from Ravenia (Olga’s Moneylender)

After the Session

The players lamented that the whole party wasn’t present so that more people could suggest courses of action, they worried that they were missing some key fact and having more people would be helpful for the diversity of thought it could provide. Holiday sessions are tough, but I think the small group allows us to really see what each character is doing. I talked with Janik’s player who voiced his concern that he would hog the spotlight since his character was the one most tailored to the roll of inquisitor. I think we are doing a good job sharing the spotlight, but with the focus on social encounters we need to be extra vigilant.

I mentioned that in future sessions I planned to drop more rumors about things going on around the town, perhaps giving opportunity for small adventures or excursions to break up the social encounters.

The players lamented that each suspect ultimately seemed to not really be a witch, but then they pivoted to talking about how Stella might be a prime suspect. The players were conflicted about Olga, they talked about how she seemed good-intentioned but stuck in the “old ways” and don’t suspect that she is responsible for the foul magick that is afflicting the town.

Marklech’s player said that he thought that Janik slaughtering the goat might’ve been a ruse for some sort of dark ritual and that he expected that his spider would overhear the townsfolk gloat about it after the departure of Janik.

GM Thoughts (players read at your own peril)

Tracking NPCs – I prepared some note sheets that were focused on tracking accusations, but then there were no new accusations this session. I think it might be more generally useful to have sheets for players to track each NPC, rumors about them, scenes with them, etc.

Alcohol – I had intended to continue with the alcohol but it kinda slipped away from me with a number of the scenes. Janik is accepting alcohol when offered but claiming that he is only sipping, refusing to actually drink. I think I will allow this to not further his alcohol clock, but in the future I will be rolling to determine whether the hosts notice. I will probably inform the players when this happens with something like “The host sees your cup is still full as he fills his own for a second time. He furrows his brow and straightens his shoulders, squaring off against you.”

The Old Gods – I am wondering about this religious syncretism path that I am finding myself on. I think it makes for some fun conversations in the session, but I am wondering how anachronistic it is to presume that the priest would be aware of religious conversion as a historical process. I wonder if I should’ve make him less reasonable and either more evasive or oppositional. I think I could’ve played it more like a traditional cult, but I am enjoying really leaning into the moral ambiguity of this whole module. I guess we will see what happens.

NPC Direction – With so many NPC’s it is difficult for me to give each one a clear focus/goal in the world. I feel like good npc’s have clear desires in the world and are striving to change or enforce the status quo. I think I default to make my NPCs reasonable and likable. I want Bridge to be a tinderbox that is about to go off, but I feel like I need to take it up a few notches before it will actually feel like that. I am also thinking about the “kill your darlings” advice. The players have grown attached to some of the NPC’s as sources of information. They like Blaise but aren’t sure whether he is crazy or useful. The breakfast scenes with Roman and Esmerelda have become a useful GM tool, but perhaps I should lean into those NPC’s harder as biased narrators.

Witchburner is an adventure module by Luka Rejec

 

Witchburner AP: Arrival in Bridge

Session on 12/13 with the cast:

  • The Rogue Marklech, Forced Convert
  • The Fighter Stanislav, Monster Hunter
  • The Fighter Frederich, Treasure Hunter

October 1, 1st Watch – Revisit the Mass Grave

The players woke up and revisited the mass grave. They looked about the ruined camp and dug up the bodies. Under a torn tarp, they found a necklace and trophy bag (containing ears and fingers) that belonged to the missing witchburner. In the mass grave, they found 16 bodies carrying a total of 200sp. In one the other graves, they found a man who had a golden tooth. He was not the witch hunter. They took the tooth by force. Rather than spend the afternoon digging up the other graves to look for the witchburner, they departed for Bridge so that they could arrive before nightfall.

October 1, 2nd & 3rd Watch – Uneventful Journey to Bridge

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Camille Corot – The Bridge at Mantes (1868)

October 1, 4th Watch – Arrive at Bridge

The players approached bridge with the sun setting behind them. Two hunters carried a buck tied to a pole. A shepherd led his sheep towards town. The villagers avoided the eyes of the adventurers, politely refusing to meet their gaze.

On the bridge they were stopped by Blaise Knockwood (Town Uncle), who spoke to them for a while. Some of the highlights:

  • “All the tears of the gods run through this river. The mountains are named after the forgotten, dead gods. Perhaps you will have a mountain named after you one day.”
  • “The town folk are hot and cold, cold with me but perhaps hot for you.”
  • “You’ve just arrived and already seek my help? I thought you came to offer us salvation! How quickly the tables have turned.”
  • “Find me if you seek a guide through the forests of the soul!”

The party went directly to the mayor’s house and were met by Roman (Butler) and talked to Edna (Mayor) briefly. Edna told them they were welcome to stay at Kingshall while they sought the witch. The adventurers asked if she had any suspects, the mayor said that the watch captain had been accused last week, but there was no evidence to support the accusation. Edna told them to be polite in town, and to come to the council with evidence before taking any action against a suspect.

The group asked Edna about the inn they had noticed in the town square. Edna told them that Ursula Cinderdaughter (innkeeper) had not supported the council when they chose to send for Witchburners. Edna warned the party not to look for a friend in Ursula.

The group decided to visit the tavern. Before leaving Kingshall, they removed their Witchburner insignias. The fighters entered the inn ahead of the rogue, as soon as they approached the bar the other patrons seemed to know who they were. Anya Baronsget was working the bar, she greeted the fighters with a raised voice, saying “So you’re the Witchburners ey? You’re a day late!”

Marklech the rogue kept to the shadows, entering the inn while the fighters had drawn the attention of the crowd. When Anya said “Witchburners” the eyes of most of the room turned to the fighters. Marklech noticed two tables of patrons who looked particularly uncomfortable and kept his eyes on them for the evening, looking for anything suspicious.

After some time, Anya raised her voice again saying, “If ye like the mead, send your thanks to Olga there!” and gestured at one of the patrons who Marklech had been keeping his eyes on at the corner booth. Olga (Beekeeper) nodded and grinned at the adventurers, but did not approach. She left with her two companions soon thereafter. Marklech followed them, keeping to the shadows.

After the fighters asked Anya about the witchcraft rumors, she leaned in close and quietly accused Kristina (the Watch Captain.) “She was the sole survivor after her squad was ambushed by barbarians. She turned up in town a week later covered in blood. What foul deal do you reckon she made to survive when no others did?”

The fighters asked Anya if they could talk to the innkeeper, Ursula Cinderdaughter. Anya fetched Ursula, who gestured the fighters towards the backroom of the Inn. Also sitting at a small table were Irving Staffsend (blacksmith) & Kristina Changemaker (watch captain.) The fighters spoke with the three for some time, during the conversation Ursula offered them a reward if they could hang the witch by the end of the week (October 7th) and let business get back to normal as soon as possible. When they asked what kind of reward, Irving promised Stanislav a sword and Ursula promised silver.

Simultaneously, Marklech followed Olga (beekeeper) and Ursula Bearbreaker (butcher) back to Olga’s house after they departed from the inn. Marklech hid in the shadows and spied on them by using his spider familiar to sneak into the house. While spying, he overheard Olga speak of her debt to a powerful merchant. In response, Ursula told Olga to have faith that the Earthbeater would provide, and that with hard work she would be free of her debt. Afterwards, Olga descended into a cellar of some sort cut into the hill, she emerged with a jug of mead and they drank together in silence for some time.

October 2, 1st Watch – Slept in Kingshall

October 2, 2nd Watch – Town Tour

Petra Inksblood (Notary) took them on tour of the town after serving them brandy for breakfast – alcohol level: 1

Petra showed them the main neighborhoods, the smaller wooden homes built on the North hill and in the woods, and the larger stone homes built near the Southeast cliff wall. She also talked a bit about the main town square and the watchtowers.

When asked what Petra thought of the Watch Captain, who had been accused of witchcraft. Petra defended Kristina, saying that she kept the watch under budget and performing like an oiled machine. She thought the accusation was ridiculous.

Markel Breakwater approached the group on their tour and gave them a smoked goose. He then accused Olga (beekeeper) by telling a story of how she had spurned men in her youth but now fraternized with the young men in town, taking them into the woods.

October 2, 3rd Watch – Doctor’s house

Drank brandy – alcohol level: 2

Investigated the Maleficae:

  • Burned fish – found floating in the river by the fisherman
  • Gutted cat – nailed upon the schoolhouse door
  • Rotten crops – stinking of decay
  • Crimson slug – still alive and reeking of brimstone

The players asked about the cursed child (the merchants told the party about the three-eyed baby on the road in session 1). The doctor’s eyes widened that they knew, and he said the child was buried as it should be. Then he told the story of how he had delivered the three-eyed baby after the midwife had forced the mother to suffer for hours of unproductive labor. The cursed child spoke the foul words “Amimam!” as soon as it entered the world, so he slew it as was the custom. After telling the story, he accused Nina (the midwife) of foul magicks and wickedness.

Commotion in the town square, hundreds of hairy caterpillars were eating the roses around Kingshall while some townsfolk wailed and others rushed to help. The adventures avoided the scene lest they be associated with the occurrence.

portrait-of-gabriel-aivazian-the-artist-s-brother-1883
Ivan Aivazovsky – Portrait of Gabriel Aivazian the Artist’s Brother (1883)

October 2, 4th Watch – Priest’s Rectory

Rumor from The Chorus: They claimed that Ivan Redbasket (The Baker) is always defending evil creatures and freaks like the Wild Child, they further speculated that he might defend them because he has, himself, been touched by darkness.

David Slingstrider (priest) invited them to drink some wine with him in his rectory – alcohol level: 3

The priest raised the suspicions of the party by performing his functions differently than was standard in religious ritual, liturgy, and exegesis. He kept referring to Prios as the Firebringer, where it is standard to call him the Lightbringer or Lawgiver. He also used a non-standard blessing in response to Marklech’s genuflection.

After Marklech probed about the “Earthbeater”, David spoke about the “Three Avatars” but said that it was the faith of his fathers and grandfathers, now they were all devoted to Prios the lightbringer. The party asked if the three domes of the temple were for the “Three Avatars” and the priest said that it was merely a cultural preference from their history to build this way, but that they were surely devoted to Prios. David added that the party should be forgiving of folk in this town, “We are far from Templewell and I’m certain we do things a bit different out here.” The two smaller domes of the temple were sealed with heavy cloth, robed acolytes busied themselves with tasks but did not wander far from the sealed sections.

When asked about whether Olga (Beekeeper) and Nina (Midwife) were members of his congregation, the priest said that they were both devout believers of Prios who attended every sermon. When the party told him that they had been accused of witchcraft, the priest defended each of them.

He reasoned that their accusers had something to gain by their accusations:

  • “Aye, and you don’t think the Doctor has something to gain if the Midwife goes out of business then?”
  • “Those men are just jealous that Olga has found someone to warm her bed and that it isn’t one of them.”

When the players asked the priest who he suspected of being the witch, he claimed that it must be one who lives outside of town, “like those woodsmen or herdsmen.”

As they drunkenly stumbled home after dark, they heard the ringing of hammer on anvil from the edge of town. They did not investigate.

October 3, 1st Watch – Slept in Kingshall

Recovered 2 steps of drunkenness, woke up with alcohol level: 1.

At breakfast, the housekeeper Esmeralda Takewood leaned over and whispered “you know that Jonah Prizepeace is as odd as they come, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that he is a witch.”

fin-


Named NPC’s met so far:

  • Blaise Knockwood – the Town Uncle
  • Roman Takewood – Edna Kingsname’s Butler
  • Edna Kingsname – the Mayor
  • Anya Baronsget – Barmaid at Cinderhouse Inn
  • Kristina Changemaker – the Watch Captain
  • Irving Staffsend – the Blacksmith
  • Olga Princebrewer – the Beekeeper
  • Ursula Bearbreaker – the Butcher
  • Petra Insblood – the Notary
  • Markel Breakwater – a Bird Trapper
  • David Slingstrider – the Preist
  • Esmeralda Takewood – Edna Kingsname’s Housekeeper

NPC’s who party has heard about but not met:

  • Ivan Redbasket – the Baker
  • Nina Dukesget – the Midwife
  • No Name GiventheWild Child”
  • No Name Given – the “Woodsman”
  • No Name Given – the “Herdsman”
  • Jonah Prizepeace – the Doctor’s Husband

Accusations

  • October 1, 4th Watch – Informal Accusation: Anya Baronsget (Barmaid) accused Kristina Changemaker (Watch Captain).
  • October 2, 2nd Watch – Informal Accusation: Markel Breakwater (Bird Trapper) accused Olga Princebrewer (Beekeeper).
  • October 2, 3rd Watch – Informal Accusation: Ivana Cleanlined (Doctor) accused Nina Dukesget (Midwife)
  • October 3, 1st Watch – Informal accusation: Esmeralda Takewood (Housekeeper at Kingshall) accused Jonah Prizepeace (Doctor’s Husband)

Some thoughts after this session (if you are my player don’t read past here):

One player shared that it was fun to play a “genuine who-dunnit” rather than just rolling persuade a couple times and killing someone. I would agree! We didn’t have combat all session, but I am using some D&D 5th edition rule variations that encourage the players to avoid combat. Specifically, I am using the Gritty Realism rules from the DMG but modified for Witchburner. Short rest is resting for 1 watch (6 hours), where a long rest occurs when you engage in restful activity for 5 days.

I have been making the accusations and spreading rumors by rolling on some d30 tables. Wow, it is difficult to keep track of all these NPC’s! I am going to try out some custom tracking sheets to track accusations and investigations next session. I feel like once one npc spreads a rumor about another, I should track that to remember their relationship status. There were multiple rumors spread per scene, many of the rumors became accusations once the party asked people about them. I think tracking accusations is essential, but I am not so sure about tracking rumors.

The players took some time for table-talk after the session. They were agreed that Olga was probably not the witch, despite the fact that she had the most rumors and fingers pointed at her. They were speculating that there was likely some sort of cabal of individuals, rather than there being only one witch. They thought perhaps the city council was somehow behind it.

They picked up on the strange religious practices quite quickly, putting together the scars on the Notary’s face with the symbols in the church and the overheard mention of the “Earthbeater.” I am looking forward to seeing where that goes. The group has some pretty dogmatic characters in it.

I am not sure if I am getting the desperation/fear tone right. Most of the townfolk have felt more like gossips than like people who are genuinely afraid. Perhaps I should think of this as simply a starting point, and that as the malefica get more dire, I will be able to amp up the fear and paranoia.

 

5e Mechanics & Manipulations

a-boy-blowing-on-an-ember-to-light-a-candle

I was thinking about 5e mechanics today, and how you might introduce spells or effects that would manipulate those mechanics. I think most of the existing 5e spells fit into one or more of these categories. Let me know if you think of another category or method by which to engage with the game at a mechanic level. Also, Sacks/Stones/Soap and Heat are both from Luka Rejec’s Long Winter.

Fictional Positioning

  • Create/remove a physical/mental/magical barrier to a task (silent image, wall of fire, invisibility)
  • Encourage/discourage a certain sort of actions (suggestion, command)
  • Create something that wasn’t there (summon elemental)
  • Destroy/remove something that was there (banish)

Core Mechanic – d20 vs target number

  • Change the d20 to a different sized dice (step up/down)
  • Change the number of dice being rolled, choose highest/lowest (dis/advantage)
  • Change the number of dice being rolled, sum/difference of the dice (bonus/penalty dice)
  • Add value to the sum of dice rolled (bonus value)
  • Skip the mechanic – guarantee success/failure

General Attack/Spell Attack Mechanic – d20 vs AC

  • All that apply to core mechanic
  • Change the AC (sunder armor or Mage Armor)

Alternate Spell Mechanic – Player Action Forces GM to make d20 Save vs Spell DC

 

  • All that apply to core mechanic
  • Change the DC (empowered spell)

 

Skill & Save Mechanic – d20 vs Task/Save DC

 

  • All that apply to core mechanic
  • Change the DC (glamour makes persuasion rolls easier)

 

Damage Mechanic –  Number of Size dice rolled

  • Roll more dice (critical hit)
  • Roll bigger dice (versatile)
  • Re-roll low numbers (Great Weapon Master)
  • Add value to the sum of dice rolled (damage bonus)
  • Skip the mechanic – deal predetermined damage per hit
  • Double/halve the damage (resistance/vulnerability)

Condition Mechanics – true/false & duration & severity

  • Apply a condition
  • Remove a condition
  • Lengthen a condition
  • Shorten a condition
  • Worsen a condition
  • Improve a condition
  • Temporarily remove the effect of condition without removing the condition

Health Mechanics – Hit Points & Death Saves

  • Recover/Drain Hit Points
  • Gain Temporary Hit Points
  • Succeed/Fail at Death Saving Throws
  • Stop requiring death saving throws (stabilize)

Inventory Mechanics – Sacks/Stone/Soaps – Encumbrance

  • Destroy Gear
  • Create Gear
  • Alter Gear
  • Make more from less
  • Make less from more
  • Make something heavier/larger
  • Make something lighter/smaller
  • Increase encumbrance threshold
  • All that apply to Condition for Encumbrance

Heat Mechanics – Heat Points & Exhaustion

 

  • All that apply to Condition for Exhaustion
  • Increase/Decrease Heat Points

 

Social Mechanics – Disposition (Love / Neutral / Fear)

 

  • All Skill & Save Mechanics
  • Change the Disposition of NPC (Charm Person)

 

Rest Mechanic – Short/Long Rest

 

  • Condition Mechanics can apply
  • Health Mechanics can apply
  • Roll Hit Dice with advantage/disadvantage
  • Expend/recover Hit Dice
  • Roll Hit Dice for free, or at 2:1 ratio

 

 

 

5e AP: Journey to Bridge

 

plains-near-beauvais
Camille Corot – Plains near Beauvais (1860)

Session held on 11/29 with the cast:

  • The Cleric Jannik, Priest of Prios
  • The Rogue Marklech, Spider Cultist
  • The Fighter Stanislav, Monster Hunter
  • The Fighter Frederich, Treasure Hunter

Scene 1 – You have all been tasked to travel from Kastor to the town of Bridge to hunt a witch. Your patron, the Lady Osis, dispatched a seasoned Witch Hunter a week ago. The town sent word that he never arrived so she has sent you all as well, with the additional instruction to be careful along the road. The trip takes four days walking east. The road you have chosen is the well-worn road of the boundary wardens. You are deputized agents of the lady, and on top of your current charge it is your sworn duty to ensure only those who are licensed & permitted enter the Davokar forest to salvage the ruins.

As you crest a small rise, you see some dust coming from the road ahead. A two-mule team pulling a cart heavily laden with barrels rounds the corner. The two men slow their progress when they see you, but then wave and continue plodding towards you. What do you do?

The characters did not pause in their trek, continuing towards the mule team. Jannik said that he wanted to focus his attentions on the team and see if there was anything unusual about them. He succeeded on a perception roll and noticed that the travelers were well provisioned and wearing finely made travel clothes. These men seemed more like seasoned merchants and not any sort of rabble leaving Bridge fearing for their lives. He communicated that to the rest of the group, and as the mule cart neared they greeted the merchants.

The merchants responded with hearty greetings, pausing alongside the party and offering them a sample of the fine brandy in their barrels. The party readily assented, with the exception of the cleric who held back. After the cleric saw that the merchants were sampling their own wares, he accepted a swill. After a brief exchange, the merchants shared some rumors from Bridge, claiming: “fish are dead with blackened hand prints on them”, “a babe born with three eyes”, “the harvest rotted in the field” and other ill omens. The party took this news heavily, and then asked about the road ahead. The merchants said that they passed a dead horse the previous day, but had not investigated for there were some jackals about preying on the corpse.

Finally, the merchants told the group that if they liked the brandy they should stop by the still of Pepi Oldson and tell him that Red & Bran send their best regards.

Allen William Seaby Vulture
Allen William Seaby – Vulture (1910)

Scene 2 – Another day has passed on the road. You see vultures circling ahead, above the low rolling hills. As you arrive, you see a few large birds picking at scraps on the scavenged corpse of a horse. You have each consumed one ration over the last day, please reflect that on your inventory. What to you do?

The characters spread out around the scene, pausing their journey to investigate if this might the horse of the missing Witch Hunter. After a successful investigation roll, Jannik noticed a bloody trail that  led to a small copse of brush trees. At the same time, a successful perception roll alerted Marklech to a dust trail coming towards them from the direction of the Davokar forest. In the copse, they found a bloodied and tattered tabard of a witch hunter. They also found a saddle bag that had been cleared of its contents.

They took a defensive position atop a small hill, some kneeling in the high grass and others standing visible and alert, to await the arrival of whatever was raising the dust trail.

Scene 3 – Two haggard men stumble into view about 150 yards distant. One carries a large bundle beneath his arm, and the other carries a spear shaft that has been snapped off near the end. They seem exhausted and injured, continually glancing behind them as if fearful of pursuit. What do you do?

The party decided to alert the men of their presence, the ragged men seemed thankful to have found the party. They ran towards the members, falling down exhausted on the ground before them. They begged for help keeping them safe from the Davokar Elves who followed them. The party saw that the bundle was filled with poor quality salvage from ruins within the forest and that the men did not have any license for their salvage. Stanislav and Jannik accosted the men, rebuking them for trespassing upon the forest without permit.

arrows-of-sky-spears-of-land-1915
Nicholas Roerich – Arrows of sky – spears of land

Scene 4 – Nineteen lithe figures crest the hill in the distance, pausing briefly and taking a battle formation before advancing towards your position. These figures are tall and elegant, wearing bands of iron on their left biceps and matching armor. Many hold longbows, while some others carry long spears or longswords. They march in well-practiced formation, the archers take a position on a hill opposite yours. The leader holds no weapon and walks a few steps ahead of his honor guard, he looks to you for sign of your intention. What do you do?

Frederick the archer stepped forward and proffered his empty hands as he performed a slight forward bow. He had seen this gesture depicted on salvaged frescoes and fervently hoped that it was the proper greeting. The other party members followed suit, and the elf leader returned the gesture. His honor guard sheathed weapons and did likewise. The elf leader addressed the group in Elven. “We are Summer Elves of the Iron Pact. These brigands have broken the terms of the pact by raiding our realm and disturbing that which should not be disturbed. We demand that they and their ill-gotten bounty be handed over to us, as is our ancient right.” Jannik had studied Elven back at the academy, but he was more comfortable reading it than speaking it. Nevertheless, he stepped forwards to offer a greeting to the elf. In stuttering Elven, the cleric promised to accommodate the elves request by turning over the men and their salvage.

The leader seemed surprised, but nodded his thanks and indicated that the brigands should be brought to his guards. Jannik told the party in common what he and the elf had agreed to, and while some of them might have had qualms with handing humans over to the elves they did not voice them in light of the overwhelming numbers of the elvish host. The haggard men screamed in disbelief, and when Jannik went to grab one of them he got a dagger in the gullet for his efforts. Luckily, his chainmail deflected the blow. He responded by smiting the man with Sacred Flame, killing the weakened criminal.

the-selling-of-the-shadow
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – The Selling of the Shadow

Scene 5 – The brigand’s death rattle echoes through a suddenly tense and momentarily silent field. A scream of anguish suddenly splits the sky as the last remaining scavenger’s spirit breaks. His cry transforms into something unearthly as his eyes blacken and his body lifts from the ground as if a puppet on strings. The air darkens around him, and the blackness seemed to coalesce into the form of a large shadow humanoid. The man’s face hangs silent and expressionless and his veins are blackened from corruption. Please roll arcana to see if you know what is happening.

Stanislav was the only one who passed his arcana check to identify this for what it was, something people called “shadow corruption” or a “blight beast.” They say that if you spend too much time delving in the forest you can fall host to the darkness. Stanislav shouted “Blight Beast!” and the party took action. A few solid blows landed on the body of the brigand, with each blow the shadows seemed to dissipate slightly. The beast scratched Stanislav in response to his attack, leaving a sickly bruise. A volley of well-placed elven arrows dispatched the beast.

In the flurry of combat, the rogue Marklech succeeded in pocketing a couple Symbaric coins from the bag of salvage before returning the bag to the elves.

The elven leader commended the cleric for his rare willingness to abide the terms of the ancient treaty. In thanks, he offered a small scroll bearing the words “This human assisted Talrond of the Summer Guard to enforce the iron pact.” He also handed over a small vial of opaque glass, and said that it should be consumed with tea by one who has been exposed to the darkness of the Davokar blight.

The elves departed after mentioning that these brigands had a base camp at the edge of the woods. The group decided to investigate the camp to see if they might learn more about the fate of the missing witch hunter, despite knowing that this detour would add an additional day to their trip, and they would arrive in Bridge later than anticipated.

fireflies-at-a-country-house
Toyohara Chikanobu – Fireflies at a Country House

Scene 6 – You catch sight of the wrecked camp before you as the sun is setting. On the edge of the camp in a thick grass you notice a strange pulsing luminescence. What do you do?

The rogue Marklech had taken Magic Initiate, and introduced his spider familiar to the group at this time. The spider crawled his way through the grass to investigate the mysterious lights, and found that a number of bioluminescent beetles were crawling around some hastily buried human corpses. The party approached, hoping to scare the bugs away. The archer shot one of them as it flew around for a different position, and in response the whole host of beetles swarmed the party. The bugs spit a bioluminescent acid at the party members, but were slain without much hassle.

Frederich investigated the burial ground finding a leather satchel buried beside one of the men. He twisted his ankle in the process, but also noticed that there were other graves in the area that seemed more soundly dug. At this time the day was quickly descending into darkness. The men retreated to a nearby grove that Stanislav had identified as a secure site and prepared to camp for the night.

The cleric privately shared the truth about the elven vial with Marklech the rogue, asking him whether he thought it should be given to Stanislav who was complaining about his bruise from the blight beast or if he should keep the vial to study. They agreed that it would be better to study the vial and keep it a secret from the other men.

The party consumed another ration and camped through the night, each taking a turn at watch.

in-the-forest-1865
Gustave Courbet – In the Forest (1865)

Session Inspired by Symbaroum & Luka Rejec’s Witchburner

Sack Packs

i157

After posting about Luka’s Inventory system, I had a discussion with someone on Luka’s Discord channel about how 1 stone per pack seems too light, since in the UVG Luka defines a sack thusly:

A sack is:
• all of a hero’s adventuring or professional gear. Magic
skulls of memory for wizards, a year’s supply of
swordmaceaxes for fighters, golf clubs for the thief,
whatever.
• A sack of supplies. Enough food, water, camping gear,
and toilet paper to survive for a week.
• one rider or unconscious human.
• a unit of trade goods.
• 2500 5E coins of any type.

Now, my initial reaction about all of this is that the intent here of inventory abstraction is not to get lost in the details. If you want details of inventory management, then make your players write down each item they have. But, I had what I think to be a good idea:

A Sack of any of the following Packs1 sack / ∆20 and costs 50+4d6 gp. You can take Packs out of the Sack. Each pack you take out of the Sack is 1 Stone and takes you one step up the dice chain. When a ∆ reduces, one stone of supplies is also removed from your inventory.

So let’s have an example: You have a sack of medical supplies on your mule. When you are with the mule, you can use them as you see fit. When you tie the mule up at the dungeon entrance you take 1 stone of supplies off the mule. The player rolls a ∆20, it comes up as a 14 so the Sack does not step down. The player writes Medical Pack ∆4 on the inventory sheet. The character then takes a second stone of the medical pack, so the player rolls a ∆20 and it results in a value of 10. The sack does not step down, the player writes Medical Pack ∆6 on his inventory. This medical pack now takes up 2 stones. The character takes a third stone out of the sack, because his party tend to be reckless. The player rolls the ∆20 and it comes up as a 2. Now the Medical Sack on the mule steps down to a ∆12 (decreasing from ∆20). The character now has 3 stones of Medical Pack, with a ∆8.

Packs – Each 1 stone  is one step on the ∆chain – Initially, a pack costs 10+2d6 gp. Packs can be increased or refilled for 2d6 gp per ∆ step. If a ∆4 pack reduces, it cannot be refilled.

  • Camper’s Pack – For Making Camp & Camp Life (Ex. Stove, Tent, Bedroll, Pots & Pans, Salt, Fishing Tackle)
  • Excavator’s Pack – For Digging, Unearthing, Reinforcing Tunnels (Ex. Pick, Shovel, Hammer, Block & Tackle)
  • Climber’s Pack – For Climbing, Descending, & Rappelling (Ex. Rope, Pitons, Climber Pick, Chalk, Grapple)
  • Bureaucrat’s Pack – For Notarizing, Certifying, Authenticating, Contracting, Auditing (Ex. Ink, Paper, Wax Seal, Signet Ring)
  • Priest’s Pack – For Rituals, Sermons, Judgment & Penance (Ex. Psalm Book, Incense, Holy Symbol)
  • Healer’s Pack – For Staunching, Cauterizing, Amputating, Bandaging, & Sterilizing Wounds (Ex. Bandages, Bone Saw, Alcohol)
  • Specified Crafter’s Pack – For Crafting with Specified Skill (Ex. Blacksmith hammer, alchemist scale, Forgery tools, Disguise makeup)
  • Outdoorsman Pack – For Hunting, Fishing, & Trapping (Ex. Traps, Whistles, Specialized Knives, Lures, Salt)
  • Thieves Pack – For Picking Locks, Disarming Traps, Greasing Hinges (Ex. Lockpick, File, Grease)
  • Winter Survival Pack – For Navigating Ice, Walking on Snow, & Not Freezing (Ex. Crampons, Ski Poles, Ski Shoes, Blanket)

This all also possibly needlessly complicates a tool that is meant to be a simple way to abstract inventory. I’m not sure if I will actually use this or not, but I feel like it might work.

Luka’s Sack Rule of Inventory

Some initial thoughts on an inventory system based on Luka Rejec’s Skeleton – pulling from UVG and Longwinter but with some extra crunch because I am that guy and I have those players. None of this is playtested.

Luka’s Sack Rule of Inventory – “A Human can carry one sack unencumbered and two sacks encumbered.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just leave it at that! 

One Sack is Ten Stones, and one Stone is Ten Soaps. A Stone is equivalent to a normal sized item (~15 lbs), and a Soap is a small item (~1.5 lbs).

1 sack = 10 stones = 100 soaps = 2500 cash

stones soaps

I am hacking Usage Dice onto Luka’s Inventory system, denoted as ∆ and then a number. Usage Dice will step down one dice value each time they are rolled and result in a 1-2. The dice step chain is: ∆20,∆12,∆10,∆8,∆6,∆4.

Strength Modifiers – If you have a Strength modifier, that will simply make a sack larger/smaller by your modifier amount. So Strength 16 (+3) would make a sack hold 13 stones instead of 10.

Encumbrance – If you carry more than 1 sack, you are encumbered. You can’t carry more than 2 sacks.

Coins – 250 coins is 1 stone = 25 coins is 1 soap.

Armor – Light armor is 1 stone, Medium armor is 2 stone, heavy armor is 3 stone. A Shield is 1 stone.

Clothing – Your worn clothing does not take up any inventory space. Ceremonial clothing or anything elaborate would be 1 stone. In Luka’s Longwinter, each layer of Warm Weather clothing takes 1 stone.

Weapons – Most weapons are 1 stone, Heavy Weapons are 2 stones. Ammunition is 1 stone / ∆10.

Lighting – Candles – 1 stone / ∆8. Torches – 1 stone / ∆6. Lantern – 1 stone. Lantern Fuel – 1 stone / ∆6.

Candles provide dim light for 1 person, Torches provide bright light for 4 people, Lantern provides bright light for 6 people.


My fear is that Adventure Pack is too broadly useful, and there are still too many little trinkets in the 5e equipment list to want them all to be Soaps on their own merit. So I hacked down the list of items in the 5e equipment book and made this list of packs:

Packs – Each pack is 1 stone / ∆10 – Each pack costs 20+4d6 gp. Packs can be “refilled” for 2d6 gp per ∆ step. 

  • Camper’s Pack – For Making Camp & Camp Life (Ex. Stove, Tent, Bedroll, Pots & Pans, Salt, Fishing Tackle)
  • Excavator’s Pack – For Digging, Unearthing, Reinforcing Tunnels (Ex. Pick, Shovel, Hammer, Block & Tackle)
  • Climber’s Pack – For Climbing, Descending, & Rappelling (Ex. Rope, Pitons, Climber Pick, Chalk, Grapple)
  • Bureaucrat’s Pack – For Notarizing, Certifying, Authenticating, Contracting, Auditing (Ex. Ink, Paper, Wax Seal, Signet Ring)
  • Priest’s Pack – For Rituals, Sermons, Judgment & Penance (Ex. Psalm Book, Incense, Holy Symbol)
  • Healer’s Pack – For Staunching, Cauterizing, Amputating, Bandaging, & Sterilizing Wounds (Ex. Bandages, Bone Saw, Alcohol)
  • Specified Crafter’s Pack – For Crafting with Specified Skill (Ex. Blacksmith hammer, alchemist scale, Forgery tools, Disguise makeup)
  • Outdoorsman Pack – For Hunting, Fishing, & Trapping (Ex. Traps, Whistles, Specialized Knives, Lures, Salt)
  • Thieves Pack – For Picking Locks, Disarming Traps, Greasing Hinges (Ex. Lockpick, File, Grease)
  • Winter Survival Pack – For Navigating Ice, Walking on Snow, & Not Freezing (Ex. Crampons, Ski Poles, Ski Shoes, Blanket)

Some items seem broadly useful or specific enough that players would want to write them down specifically.

Other Common Soaps: 

Bell, Chalk, Crowbar, Glass Bottle, Hammer, Hourglass, Iron Spikes, Lock, Magnifying glass, Manacles, Soap, Spyglass, Steel Mirror, Tinderbox, Whistle

Cumbersome Items (2 Stones Each):

10 ft. Pole, Ladder, Battering Ram

Consumable Soaps:

Ball Bearings (∆4), Caltrops (∆4), Holy water (∆4), Poison Vial (∆4), Potion of healing (∆4)

Spellcasting Soaps:

Component pouch, Arcane/Divine Focus, Spellbook, Specific Materials