All posts by LS

Dice, Take the Wheel!

This mid-week bonus post is here by the good grace of my generous Patrons. Thank you!

On a Red World Alone has a way of bringing out the weird in people. To some extent that’s true of all D&D, but ORWA strikes a chord with people. It makes them want to go out of their way to be weird, just for the sake of fitting in with all the weirdness around them. It’s one of the things I love about the setting.

Recently, one of my players had the opportunity to make a wish. He said “I wish that anytime I successfully flip over someone’s head, something happens.”

That’s it. Just…”something happens.” He went on to explain that he didn’t care how I determined what happened, and could use whatever method I deemed appropriate. He did suggest that I could write a table if I wanted (this is something my players have come to expect from me), but added that he would be just as happy to have me make up the results on the spot. In fact, he insisted that if I did make a table, he wanted at least one of the entries to be “referee improvises something.”

For a few weeks after the player made this wish, my game prep time was pretty lacking, so that’s basically what I did. I just improvised something that felt appropriate each time he flipped. Like the time I caused flowers to grow out of the ground all around where he landed, or the time I had a nearby door slide open. I’ve wanted to make a table, and now that I’ve got a little more time that’s what this post was originally going to be. But the player uses this ability several times each session, so I worry that even a d100 table would get stale more quickly than it would be worth. And anyways, I like making these unpredictable effects relate specifically to the situation the players are in, which a table cannot easily accommodate.

So, rather than create a table with explicit entries, I’ve decided to use a reaction roll to determine how good or bad the result of a flip should be, then fiat from there. So, whenever this player flips over someone’s head, 2d6 are rolled.

On a 2, something terrible happens. Like…a nearby vase explodes, filling the room with flying shards of glass shrapnel.

On a 3-5, something somewhat unfortunate happens. Like…the flipper’s personal gravity is reversed, causing him to fall up to the ceiling.

On a 6-8, something weird and neutral, but potentially exploitable, happens. Like…smoke starts pouring out the flipper’s ears until it fills the room.

On a 9-11, something pretty good happens. Like…an encounter that was going poorly resets, so the party can make a new first impression.

On a 12, something great happens. Like…the flipper gains a temporary invulnerability.

There’s still a lot of fiat involved, which is what we wanted here. That will allow the flips to have context-based results, and prevent the ability from starting to feel stale. But, I’m not in complete control. The dice are still a deciding factor, which was important to me.

That begs the question, why? Why don’t I want to be in control? OSR referees have a reputation, in some corners of the greater RPG community, for being control freaks. We want the power to make ANYTHING happen in our games, without regard for the player’s desires. We want to create the whole game world ourselves, rather than let players have any input on what the world is like, etc. etc. etc.

And it’s true, I do want that power when I run games. Honestly, I require that power. If the group wants to play a game where the referee’s role has been neutered, I may be willing to participate, but I wouldn’t be willing to run. Without the power to bend the world in whatever direction I deem correct, being the referee seems kinda pointless to me.

But that power is always supposed to be used in the service of the world. The idea is not that the referee gets to go on a power trip. That’s just juvenile, and not a game anybody would stick around in for very long. The idea is that we’re all playing in a shared imaginary space, and because we’re all different people, we’re going to perceive that space in different ways, and thus need an arbiter to resolve disagreement.

If a room is described as having a pillar in it, one player might imagine a classic roman pillar with vertical grooves and decorative marble filigree at each end. Another player might imagine a crude length of wood. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter, because the pillar is just set dressing. But, part of the fun of RPGs is that anything can become important at any time.

To continue with the same thought experiment, one player says they use their daggers to climb the pillar. Because that player is imagining a column of wood, this seems totally reasonable to them. Another player, though, was imagining stone columns, and is mystified as to how this dumbass thinks they’re going to stick their daggers into it. Who is correct?

The referee is correct. That’s their job. The way they imagine the space is the ‘right’ one, and when some as-yet unspoken detail of the world becomes relevant, the referee can describe what they were imagining.

Of course, sometimes the referee wasn’t imagining anything. Sometimes a player does a flip, and “something happens,” and the referee is responsible for describing something they weren’t planning.

Here’s the thing. As a referee, I do my best to impartially communicate the world to my players. But, I also like my players. They are my friends, and I like it when they have a fun time. I want to be nice to them. So if it’s up to me to just…pick something, I’m going to err on the side of making them happy. It’s not something I aim to do, it’s just something that happens.

But players shouldn’t always be happy. Sometimes, bad things happen to them. Bad things cause conflict, and conflict is the core element of interesting events. Even when good things happen, it may not be the good thing the players wanted, or expected, and that can be interesting too.

It’s a less important consideration, but the dice also help avoid choice paralysis. “Something Happens” is a pretty big mandate. “Something bad happens” or “Something great happens” is much more manageable. Creativity thrives on limitations.

And that’s why anyone who has ever criticized the OSR for anything, ever, is a big dummy



Two Years of Magic Words in ORWA

My games use a system called “Magic Words,” which replaces how Magic Users get their spells. Basically, instead of learning fully formed spells, MUs learn individual words. During downtime, they can put some of their words together in whatever arrangement sounds best to them. Whatever they end up with is the name of a spell their character has created. Then, in between sessions, I come up withe some suitable effects for a spell of that name. I’ve been using the system since I came up with it back in 2015, and I love it.

Last year, I posted a list of all the spells my ORWA players had come up with so far. And, in the year since then, they’ve come up with a whole bunch of new spells, so I figured it was time to turn them into another post.

This year, my players used the words they found to create several spells that are well established staples of the game. Stuff like Mage Armor and Feather Fall. Obviously I can’t really take credit for writing these spells, but I’ve included them here anyway since my versions are slightly altered to scale with the player’s level, and to include spell failure results.

The words my players had to work with this year were: Hold, Missile, Portal, Fairy, Ball, Spider, Fire, Feather, Fall, Cling, Balance, Gas, Cloak, Dog, Form, Sleep, Magic, Person, Rock, Web, Mage, Glare, Animate, Armor, Corpse, Imbue, Teapot, Hate, Blood, Ape, Pain, Fist, Cone, Cold, Star, Spectral, Snake, Pierce, Execute, Moose, and Time.

Spider Ball

Causes a tiny rift to form between this world and the spiderverse. The rift appears at an empty spot within the caster’s line of sight. Spiders from the other side pour into the rift, and become trapped there. This pocket of spiders becomes denser and denser, until it explodes outwards in a 20′ radius. Spiders will completely cover every surface without that space, and any living creatures therein must save versus Poison from the thousands of spider bites they receive. On a failed save, anyone with 4 fewer hit dice than the caster will die. Others within the sphere who fail their save will take 1d4 hit points of damage per level of the caster. Anyone who succeeds on their save takes half damage.

After the explosion, the rift will close. The spiders who burst through will remain, and slowly find their way out of the immediate area over 1d6 turns. Until then, anyone who enters the 20′ radius area where the spell was cast will need to make a save versus poison as if they had been within the blast’s range. (Though they get a +4 on their save.)

Aside from the deathly deathiness, this spell is also very scary and will scare people.

1. The spell functions normally, but bad luck, none of the spiders are poisonous. Still creepy as fuck though.
2. The spell functions normally, but is centered on the caster.
3. The spell functions normally, but is pathetically small. Only those within a 5′ radius are affected.
4. The spell functions normally, but you’ve accidentally connected to the slugverse, rather than the spiderverse. Slugs fly everywhere. Their mucen is slightly acidic, and deals 1 damage to everyone within the area.

Mage Armor
Causes spectral armaments to appear around the caster for 1 minute per caster level. This armor is completely non-encumbering. At first level, the spectral armor improves the caster’s armor rating by 1. This amount increases at every odd numbered level (2 at level 3, 3 at level 5, 4 at level 7, etc).

If the caster wishes, they may instead cast this spell on an ally. However, it’s much more difficult to maintain, and will require the caster’s attention in order for the armor to persist. While doing this, the caster may move, but can take no further actions, and must always remain within 1000′ of the spell’s target.

1. Functions normally, but only provides +1 to armor class.
2. Functions normally, but only lasts for 1d4 rounds.
3. Functions normally, but creates an unintended warp in the mystic fields around the caster. While the spell is active, they cannot cast any other spells.
4. Functions normally, but the target is a randomly determined creature within 30′ of the caster.

Feather Fall

One human sized creature or object per level of the caster may be induced to fall through the air as slowly as a feather (about 5′ per round). This spell includes anything the target can carry. If the caster wishes to effect heavier creatures or objects, they count as multiple spell targets. So if a level 2 caster wants to cast Feather Fall on a horse, they may do so, but it would count as 2 objects, and they would not then be able to cast it on themselves. (They could, however, ride the horse, since the horse can easily carry them).

This spell can be cast with an instant utterance, quickly enough to save the falling target if the fall is unexpected. However, if initiative is in effect, it must be observed.

The spell ends immediately when the subject stops falling.

1. Falling speed is only partially reduced, falling damage is rolled with d4s – 1, rather than d6s.
2. Spell can only be cast on a single target (though, heavy targets are allowed).
3. The rate of the fall is actually increased, and falling damage should be rolled with d8s instead of d6s.
4. Spell functions normally, but lasts for 10 full minutes, without stopping when the target touches ground. This makes them susceptible to being blown away by a light breeze.

Imbue Magic
Imbue magic is used to create temporary magic weapons, which last for 1 minute per level of the caster.

For each caster level, the magic user may imbue an existing weapon with a +1 to hit. These bonuses may be combined in a single weapon, or divided among multiple weapons. So a level 5 magic user can imbue a single sword with +5 to hit, or may imbue 5 swords with +1 to hit each, or any combination in between.

1. Imbues the chosen weapons with penalties, rather than bonuses.
2. Spell functions normally, but the bonus can only be used against a single target, which must be designated by the caster.
3. The caster is filled with rage, and may not perform any action other than making unarmed attacks for the next minute.
4. The caster’s fists gain all of the bonus. Unarmed attacks can be made as 1d6, as a magic weapon.

Animate Dead
This spell energizes the faint memories of life that cling to the corpses and skeletons of people, allowing them to move and act in a gross mockery of their former existence. Because the entities inhabiting these bodies are chosen by the caster, these undead are under his total control. However, the faint memories of life retained by the corpse or skeleton constantly struggles with the invader introduced by the caster, a conflict that drives the host corpse or skeleton to destructive urges. The animated dead will always interpret any instructions in the most violent and destructive manner possible. They will also prefer to attack those that they knew in life, no matter their former relationship with the person in question. The bodies remain animated until they are destroyed.

When the spell is cast, the caster may divide a number of hit dice equal to their own among the corpses they wish to animate. At least one hit die must be spent on each corpse that is animated, making it a simple 1 hd creature with basic motor skills, that can obey commands from the necromancer. Additional hit dice may be spent to increase a creature’s hd at a rate of 1-to-1. Hit dice may also be spent to grant the undead creatures special abilities, at a rate negotiated between the caster and the referee.

For example, upgrading a zombie so that it can speak, wield a weapon, or move as fast as it did when it was alive might cost 1 hit die. More devious abilities, like energy drain, cost two. Adding special abilities does not increase the actual hit dice of the undead.

Intelligent undead can be created with this spell, by spending hit dice to give them that ability. However, intelligent undead cannot be commanded by their creator the way unintelligent undead can.

The bodies being reanimated must be touched for this spell to function.

1. Spell functions normally, but every corpse animated by this casting immediately attacks the caster.
2. A paladin, or similar character is nearby, and detects the evil casting. They charge in to stop it.
3. The death energies backlash, and the caster’s hit points are immediately reduced to 0.
4. The undead are created normally, but their only interest is in forming a band, and playing music.

Snake Form
Over the course of 1 minute, the caster transforms into a snake that is 5′ long, + 5′ per level.

As a snake, they re-roll their hit points using d12 hit dice instead of d4s. If they are not currently at max hp, then roll a group of d4s as well. Take away a number of d4s whose showing faces can fully contain their current damage. Then, remove a similar number of d12s, to determine the character’s current HP.

While in Snake Form, the caster cannot cast spells, carry items (including clothing), or speak. They receive a bonus to their attack roll equal to 1/2 their hit dice, and their bite deals 1d8 damage. (upgraded to 1d10 at level 7, and 1d12 at level 14)

The real point of this form is to grapple, as the snake’s d12 hit dice make it a superb grappler. If a character is grappled, the snake can automatically deal 2d8 damage to it each round (2d10 after level 7, 2d12 after level 14)

Transforming back into human form also takes 1 minute of time.

1. The caster becomes trapped in the body of a normal, boring garden snake for 1 hour.
2. The spell functions normally, but the character doesn’t receive any boost to their hit points.
3. Conan the Barbarian appears to kill the caster.
4. Instead of transforming into a snake, the caster just sheds a thick layer of dead skin, which they become tangled in for 10 minutes.

Animate Armor
When cast on a foe, they are entitled to a saving throw versus Magic. On failure, their armor will begin to resist their actions. For each piece of armor they are wearing, they will suffer a -1 to any rolls they make which require them to move their bodies.

When cast on an ally, the animated armor will levitate every so slightly off of their bodies, removing its weight from their shoulders. Characters in this condition do not suffer any encumbrance from their armor.

Animate Armor can be cast on a number of targets equal to the caster’s level. It lasts for 1 hour per caster level.

1. The effects for friend and foe are reversed.
2. Instead of becoming animated, the armor is simply empowered, offering twice the normal amount of protection.
3. Instead of becoming animated, the armor simply disintegrates.
4. The caster’s own clothing becomes animated, pulls itself off of their body, and runs away, never to return.

Flame Cloak
If cast on a friend’s clothes, the clothing ignites in a cool fire that will not burn them. It will absorb an amount of fire damage equal to the caster’s maximum hit points, after which the clothing will fall off the wearer’s body, leaving nothing but ash.

If cast on a foe, they are entitled to a saving throw versus Magic to resist. On failure, their clothes burst into flames, dealing an amount of damage equal to the caster’s current hit points.

In either case, the spell requires that the caster touch the target’s clothing.

1. The friend and foe results are reversed.
2. The caster’s own clothes ignite, destroying anything they’re carrying, and reducing them to 0 hit points.
3. Sparks fly out of the caster’s fingers, but nothing else happens.
4. The caster’s pockets are suddenly filled with Red Hots candies.

Mage Portal
Requires the assistance of at least one other person in order to cast successfully. The assistant does not need to be a caster themselves, but they must be a willing participant.
The caster must be within line of sight of their assistant. When casting is complete, both caster and assistant will open their arms wide, creating a portal which leads from one to the other. Objects can pass through these portals instantaneously. If either party moves, or is injured, the portals fail.

At level 4, the caster (but not the assistant) can move half speed while holding open the portal. They may move outside line of sight with their assistant, and the portals will not be effected.

At level 7, the caster (but not the assistant) has a 2-in-6 chance to maintain the portal if they are damaged.

At level 10, the caster (but not the assistant) can make normal move actions while holding the portal open.

At level 12, the caster (but not the assistant) has a 3-in-6 chance to maintain the portal if they take damage.

At every 2 levels after 2, the chance to maintain the portal after taking damage increases by 1-in-6.

1. The caster and their assistant instantaneously switch places. There is no other effect.
2. Objects passing through the portals have a 20% chance to come out the other side mangled and broken.
3. The spell functions normally, but the assistant must make a saving throw versus paralyzation or be turned to stone.
4. The caster’s side of the portal has a vacuum effect, pulling any small objects nearby through it.

Mage Form
An illusion spell which causes the target to look like a wizard. While in this wizardly guise, the target will be able to perform the most minor of magical feats: creating illusory lights, picking cards out of decks, etc. Target gets no saving throw.
1. The caster grows a beard, 1′ long per level.
2. Mage form is cast on everyone.
3. The target looks like a fierce, muscle-bound barbarian.
4. The target physically switches places with a real wizard somewhere in the world.

Magic Web

Allows the caster to create a web, up to 10’x10′. The potential size of the web doubles at every level that is a multiple of 5. So 20’x20′ at level 5, 40’x40′ at level 10, etc.

If anyone casts a spell while the Magic Web is between them and their target, the spell will become ‘caught’ in the web. A cocoon of strands will wrap around it, and the spell will not go off as intended. Later, the magic user who placed the Magic Web may collect these cocoons, and return the trapped spells to their lab. There, the spells can either add a value of 50 money per level of their caster; OR, the spells can be dissected and destroyed, allowing one of its magic words to be learned.

Spells cast by a caster who is higher level than the one who placed the magic web only have an X in 6 chance of being caught. Where X is equal to 6, minus the difference in the two caster’s levels.

A Magic Web lasts 12 hours for every 5 caster levels.

1. The caster is just wrapped up in a cocoon of webbing, which lasts for 12 hours for every 5 of their caster levels. They will need help to escape.
2. The caster becomes very confused by the wording of the spell’s effect. This magical confusion has the same effect as being totally blackout drunk.
3. The caster has an emotional breakdown, and sobs in a corner until someone comes to console them.
4. The spell functions normally, but the web is woven so poorly that only spells cast by characters of level 3 or lower can be caught in it.

Magic Teapot
Causes any smallish liquid container to grow legs or wings. It will deliver its contents directly anywhere it needs to be delivered–whether into someone’s mouth, their wounds, or to the top floor of a 300 story building, or into the middle of the desert.
Range of the spell is 25′ per level of the caster. Once the container is animate, it can go anywhere, and will persist until its contents have been delivered or destroyed.

1. The container explodes, scattering its contents.
2. The spell functions normally, but it also turns the liquid into a deadly poison.
3. The spell functions normally, but it also turns the liquid into boiling water.
4. The spell functions normally, but it dramatically reduces the effectiveness of whatever the liquid is, to the lowest imaginable effect. Determined by the referee.

Form Person
Allows the caster to create something kind of like a human. Casting the spell requires 1 month, 25,000cc, and access to a laboratory with creation vats. The resulting creature is shaped like a human, looks like a human, more or less thinks like a human, but has a completely flat personality, and is completely loyal to the caster, to an unnatural degree.
No matter how well-prepared the conditions for casting the spell are, the spell always has a failure chance.
1. Creates a psychopath who hates its creator.

2. Creates a heap of pus and meat that is totally useless.
3. Creates a creature with 1 hp, and a 2d6 at best in all its stats.
4. Creates a complete body, but it’s entirely lifeless. A vegetable.

Missile Magic
(Distinct from Magic Missile)
Can be cast to duplicate a spell the caster already has prepared, and attach that spell to a missile of some kind. (An arrow, a bullet, or even a stone if it is thrown). This does not deplete the other spell. Only missile magic itself is depleted.
Wherever the missile lands, the duplicated spell will activate as if it had been successfully cast there.

1. A random spell from the caster’s spell list is assigned to the missile, instead of the one the caster selected.
2. The referee picks the least advantageous entry from the spell list to be assigned to the missile.
3. The duplicated spell IS used up.
4. The arrow immediately leaps up to attack the caster, dealing whatever arrow damage would normally be.

Causes a magical slumber to come upon creatures with hit dice equal to or fewer than the caster’s.
If the caster wishes, they may cast it at a specific creature, and so long as that creature does not have hit dice greater than the caster’s, they will be effected. If the caster attempts to target a group, then the creatures with the lowest hit dice will be affected first. The caster cannot prioritize who in a group will be affected.

Sleep lasts d4 adventuring turns, and has a range of 30′. It does not affect undead, constructs, or other creatures which do not naturally sleep. Hitting a sleeping creature awakens it, but noise will not.

There is no saving throw against sleep.

1. Make the targets hyperactive instead, giving them a sort of Haste effect.
2. The spell reverses back upon the caster, putting them to sleep instead.
3. Restores 3 hit points to each person who would have been affected. They feel like they just had a good night’s sleep!
4. The caster’s hands fall asleep. It takes 1d4 rounds to get the pins and needle feeling out of them, and until that feeling is gone, no spells may be cast.

Imbue Time

This spell is cast on a jar of water, and requires one adventuring turn to complete. During the casting of the spell, the caster is technically in a sort of temporal stasis, where they are physically, but not mentally, present. When the spell completes, it will seem to them as though only a moment has passed.

At a later time, when the water is consumed, the imbiber (whomever that may be) will jump back in time to whenever the caster cast the spell, and will remain there for the duration of the casting. So if the water was imbued at 5am, and the water is consumed at 8am, then the consumer will jump back in time to 5am for 10 minutes.

Note that consuming water imbued with time does not transport a person spatially, only temporally.

Water imbued with time lasts for 1 hour per caster level, after which it loses its potency.

1. Spell takes 1 hour to cast. Time travel only lasts 1 minute.
2. The water vibrates until the material of the container it’s in shatters, exploding out and dealing damage to the caster.
3-4. A Time Guardian has noticed your tampering with the fabric of reality, and is displeased.

Cone of Time

Everything in a 60′ cone must make a saving throw versus Magic, or become trapped in that moment of time for 1 round per 4 levels of the caster.

1. The caster is stopped instead.
2. The whole cone goes backwards, getting the caster, and everybody behind her.
3-4. A Time Guardian has noticed your tampering with the fabric of reality, and is displeased.


David’s Painful Sleep

Causes a magical slumber, accompanied by deadly nightmares, to come upon creatures with hit dice equal to, or fewer than, the caster’s.

If the caster wishes, they may cast it at a specific creature, or on a group of creatures. If the target is a group, then the creature with the lowest hit dice are affected first. The caster cannot prioritize who in the group will be affected.

Subjects are entitled to a Saving Throw versus Magic to resist Painful Sleep. Any who fail will be accosted in their slumber by a terrifying dream beast, who will torment them with their own fears, causing them real injury. Each round they will take d6 damage from this creature, and may make another saving throw to attempt to wake up. If they fail, they remain asleep for another round, take another d6 damage, and may attempt another save to awaken.

Painful Sleep has a range of 30′. It does not affect undead, constructs, or other creatures which do not naturally sleep. Hitting a sleeping creature awakens it, but noise will not.

1. Make the targets hyperactive instead, giving them a sort of haste effect.
2. the spell reverses back upon the caster, putting them to sleep instead.
3. Restores 3 hit points to each person who would have been effected. They feel like they just had a good night’s sleep!
4. The caster’s hands fall asleep. It takes 1d4 rounds to get the pins and needle feeling out of them, and until that feeling is gone, no spells may be cast.

David’s Spectral Form

The caster becomes completely incorporeal for 2 rounds per caster level. While in this form they have the ability to hover just slightly off the ground. Their visual appearance does not change in any way.

1. The caster is stuck in spectral form until they’re able to memorize and cast the spell again.
2. The caster can’t touch things and can move through walls, but is still vulnerable to damage.
3. The caster is affected by double-gravity for the duration of the spell.
4. The caster stops existing for the duration of the spell.

d100 Unusual Shops in Town

Sure, every town has a tavern, and, like…a general store. But when your players enter a new town, and you tell them what they see, there should be something in there to pique their interest. Something that will make them look up from their phones and dice towers and say “Lets check that out!”

Some of these will have negligible in game consequences. Others are potentially campaign destroyers. Price things accordingly for your game world.

This post was suggested to me by Ms. Umquat, one of my Patrons.

  1. A pixie blacksmith. Excels in making small objects, and doing fine detail work, but has difficulty making anything larger than a few inches in size. Refuses to collaborate on work with a human (or other “normal” sized) smith. She believes it demeans her craft.
  2. A flubbertorium, where a madwoman won’t stop creating jar after jar of a strange elastic gelatin. The stuff is unnaturally bouncy. Once it gets going, it will absorb heat-energy from surfaces it collides with to actually increase the force of its next bounce. The nameless madwoman refuses to sell or use any of the jars, despite everything clearly being arranged as if this were a shop. She swears that her purple goo is a sentient creature, and that selling it would be slavery. There is no evidence this is true.
  3. A luxury commode, where customers pay at the door in order to experience the most pleasurable excretions of their lives. There are fountains, attendants, hot towels, cushioned seats, and anything else that will make your pooping, peeing, menstruating, or other excretive activity a true joy.
  4. You do not have to walk first down the dark corridors of a forgotten castle! You are entitled to refuse any request that you be the first to touch a mysterious artifact discovered in the temple of a dark god! Nobody can make you carry an undue amount of weight relative to your companions, nor can they retaliate against you in any way for dropping heavy bags or items while fleeing for your life. If these principals sound like pipe dreams to you, they are not! Collectively, adventurer hirelings are powerful! Collectively, we can negotiate for better working conditions from our employers! Join Local Hirelings 116!
  5. An armor customization shop. They specialize in making plate armor look wicked awesome, but they also provide services for wearers of chain or leather armors. Basic colors and decals are the cheapest, but they can do chrome or silver plating, fancy engravings, or anything else a badass adventurer might be lookin’ for.
  6. Chit Chit’s Taxidermy. The owner of the shop, a teenaged boy named Chit Chit, used to be a squirrel. A drunk wizard turned him into a human, and for whatever reason, he immediately opened a taxidermy shop. He’s very open about his origins, and not particularly intelligent. He doesn’t find it strange at all that his shop is filled with several dozen taxidermied squirrels. After all, he is human now, why should the lives of squirrels mean anything special to him?
  7. Weathercrafter. For a substantial fee, people can pay to make sure the weather on a given day will be appropriate to their needs. Obviously, by the time the players arrive, many days will already be taken by other customers. The further in advance you want to schedule your weather, the more likely you’ll be the first to request that particular day. The weathercrafters themselves are happy to let you know which days are available, but, if you want to know what specific weather they have scheduled, you’ll need to purchase the most recent updates to their almanac. 
  8. A skeleton leatherworker. She’ll take any skins you bring her, and turn them into good quality leather. She can even produce a wide variety of leather goods: saddles, armors, purses, you name it. She just really misses having skin, and appreciates the opportunity to handle skin again, even if it’s not her own.
  9. The local franchise of Bad Cemetery. For a fee, bodies may be buried here, and during the next gibbous moon, they will rise from the grave as an undead creature. The resulting zombie will retain only a small fraction of its intelligence, but enough to communicate verbally in very basic terms. Its body will be decomposed to the point that it isn’t useful for anything but the most clumsy labor, and it will obviously be rotted beyond the point of fooling anyone into thinking it’s a living creature. Any zombies not picked up within 3 days of resurrection will be donated to the cleric school, to serve for turning practice.
  10. The Hapless Players are a band of actors, musicians, and playwrights, who have a stage space here in town. They specialize in custom performances. For a reasonable fee, they will listen to a story you tell them, then write a play based on it, practice said play, and be ready to put on a public performance within 1 week. Of course, they keep any money from ticket sales, but you get the satisfaction of having your story disseminated to the masses by professionals. Very popular with self-aggrandizing politicians, and the dilletantic rich.
  11. A recruitment center for an ecological terrorist organization named TSUNAMI. TSUNAMI believes that domesticated animals, like cows and horses, are polluting the world with their endless farting. It wasn’t a problem back in the day, but since humans domesticated them and put them all into the same areas, the effect has become more concentrated, and it’s killing the planet we all live on.
  12. Beauty Crafters is a little shop run by a very large wizard. They specialize in crafting illusions that make their customers appear to be significantly more attractive. Creating disguises is strictly against their code of ethics here, all they do is take what you look like, and give you a much better version of that. The illusions themselves begin to degrade after about a day, with features becoming fuzzy or droopy, and finally failing completely after about a week. Prices are very reasonable, and they rely on repeat business.
  13. The Otherworld Nursery is owned and operated by a strange woman named Luznk. She appears to be human, but her eyes are spaced just a little further apart than is natural. Her hair is an airy blue color, and she only has four digits on each hand. Luznk is from an alternate version of our own world, where everything evolved a little differently. She keeps it on the downlow, but at this point it’s basically an open secret around town. All of the plants she sells are from her reality. They’re similar to our own plants, but all are just a little bit unusual. It’s unclear how she got here, or how she gets new stock.
  14. Arthur Bursley provides a humiliating final option for centaurs desperate to make some cash: provide centaur rides to humans. There’s a small track for children to ride on, while adults are able to rent a centaur to ride wherever they want, so long as they return within a set amount of time. Centaur society at large finds the existence of this practice despicable, and constantly endeavors to shut it down, without any success.
  15. A monster trophy shop, where the taxidermied heads of horrible creatures can be purchased by cowards who want to brag about thrilling adventures, without actually going on any. Actual adventurers can make a little extra scratch here by selling the the heads of terrible monsters they’ve killed.
  16. A brightly lit marble building, reminiscent of a museum, where experts perform impressive sexual feats. Onlookers may wander from room to room freely, and around the different performers to study their bodies and techniques. After each performance, the sexual experts will answer questions about how or why they did things the way they did, and how others could achieve a similar style.
  17. A mysterious shop, where customers must pay good money to enter a little white room with two doors, two chairs, and a table. They are instructed, in no uncertain terms, not to open the other door. Within an hour of being in the room, the opposite door will open, and the customer will see themselves enter through it. Not quite themselves, though. It is a version of them from an alternate reality. The two can sit and talk for as long as they like. Once either leaves the room, the session is over, and the customer would need to pay again. Under no circumstances may either version visit the other’s reality. The meeting room is specially situated so as to avoid reality paradox. Because there are infinite realities, it is unlikely that you will ever meet the same version of yourself twice.
  18. Adventuring Workshop. Ever wonder what the best way to mod a 10′ pole is? How long should you listen at a door before opening it? Which side of the sword is the one that kills people? Adventurers of any experience level can learn all this, and more! A good way for referees to impart advice about effective play to their group, without being overbearing about it.
  19. Count Galzag may be a vampire, but the town has banded together to insist he stop feeding on the unwilling. In response, he has designed a blood extracting apparatus, and pays cash for each jar of blood a person will allow him to extract. The exact payment is based on blood type, and the overall health of the donor.
  20. Being an adventurer is dangerous work, and you don’t want to leave your loved ones with a burden if you die. Necromatic Life Insurance has you covered. Here’s how it works: we implant a shard of The Hellstone just beneath your skin. (Which may cause a small burning sensation in a church, but nothing to be concerned about). In the unfortunate event of your untimely demise, the stone will temporarily animate your corpse, which will return here to us for use in necromantic rituals too horrible to be legally included in our advertising. In exchange, your family (or a beneficiary of your choosing) will receive a full cash payout to assist them in building a monument to your greatness, getting revenge on your murderers, or simply assuaging their grief with decadent luxuries! (Note: in the event of incineration, disintegration, or other deaths which may destroy the body, Necromatic Life Insurance would instead gain legal claim to your soul.)
  21. When some asshole lays a wicked burn down on you, the shock of it may prevent you from coming up with any really good comebacks until it’s too late. Fortunately, the mistress of insults herself has got your back. For a modest fee, Umquat will extract one of the worms she gestates inside her brain, and allow it to crawl inside your own ear. Anytime you’re faced with a situation where a really good comeback is needed, the worm will be there to provide a constant stream of clever, unique insults. It’s almost as good as having Umquat herself right there with you!
  22. Do you need to get from point A to B in a more timely fashion than you do now? Do you have problems with people from outside where you live, trying to get into the place where you live? Do your feet hurt from walking so far to get water each day? Then it sounds like you need a road, wall, or aqueduct. For this, and many other needs, visit Umquat’s Discount Infrastructure today! We will get the job done on any budget, within any time frame.
  23. The Minotaur ballet.
  24. Everybody has bad days, but not everybody has to live with it. If you’ve got the gold, we’ve got the power to send you back to the start of today, so you can fix what went wrong, or just enjoy everything that went right all over again. Just make sure to pay us as soon as you get back to the past. We’ll know if you’ve used our services and failed to pay for them.
  25. You live a busy professional life! Ancient tombs and forgotten dimensions don’t plunder themselves after all. But what are you supposed to do with your adorable little crotch goblin while you’re out killing the normal kind of goblin? Three of your compatriots have got themselves incinerated, eaten, and un-made in the last month alone. That’s not what I’d call a child-friendly environment! Never you fear, though, Auntey Annabelle’s Daycare caters specifically to the adventurer lifestyle. We understand you may be gone for days at a time, or may not return at all, and can make accommodations for any such eventuality. And if you die, we certainly will not sell your child into slavery. Why would we do that? The pile of gold the underthings would give us for fresh human babies isn’t THAT big!
  26. In the center of town is a large bulletin board, with tons of little subsections taped out on it for specific interests. People post all manner of things up on the board, from little details about their daily lives, to jokes, to angry political rants. Many folks in town pay a fee to be informed of any changes made by someone on their list of friends, so they can keep up with their pals. It’s all very complicated.
  27. If you’re feelin’ lonely / because you are homely / or you drove your friends away / Just come and see Ashley / and as quick as a flash-ly / she’ll make you a new friend TODAY! (Ashley’s Intellification Services will turn any boring old item you’ve got into an Intelligent item. It won’t have any special powers, but it’ll be nice to have someone to talk to!) So come right down / to our part of town / this is not the time to delay! / Bring your pet rock / Or just a fuckin’ sock / we’ll give it life right AWAY!
  28. You need corpses for purposes, nefarious or otherwise? Well I gots corpses and I don’t ask no questions. Just swing by the graveyard sometime between 1 and 4 am. Bring money, don’t bring no cops.
  29. People like Toby the Town Crier. In uncertain times, he delivers news people can trust. And don’t you want a piece of that trust? For a modest fee, Toby is willing to produce what he likes to call “sponsored cries.” You give Toby a subject you’d like people to know about, and Toby uses his skills as a crier to make sure that happens.
  30. Laria Mae is a reverse mermaid. She has the lower torso of a woman, and the upper torso of a fish. She wears a helmet filled with water so she can breathe on land. She has an office in town, where she works as a private investigator. She’s very good, but few people will hire her, because they think she’s weird.
  31. Lets talk about magic items. I’m talkin’ about your flaming swords, your boots of swiftness, your rings of invisibility! Why wait until you’re rich, or until you get lucky and pull one out of a chest in some dungeon somewhere? The better way is R.T.O.: Rent To Own! And if you can’t keep up with the weekly payments, well…just make sure you don’t have that problem. It usually ends poorly. 
  32. Is you tiny human with no big humans that love them? Are you big human, who know a tiny human like this? All such tiny humans should live in Gobbo House! Gobbo House is a place for tiny humans, or human like creatures, to be taken care of by goblins who will love them! Goblins like teach tiny humans about goblin life, and goblin activities! So come, tiny, lonely humans, come to live in Gobbo House, where everyone is green on the inside!
  33. Hey, listen, you need a kid for somethin? I don’t care what it is, you can put em’ to work in a mine, beat em’, eat em’, or hell, even love and raise them like your own. I run an orphanage, see? The cute ones get picked up eventually, but the uggos…well…lets just say I need to be creative about how I move them into ‘new families,’ and once they’re out of my care, what happens to them ain’t none of my business.
  34. Tours of a haunted house. Like…a real haunted house. For really reals.
  35. I’ll cut through the bullshit: adventuring is risky work, the rewards are high, but it’s a dangerous game. It can be a lot less dangerous if you go in with the proper gear and support, but who has the money for that kinda thing? The answer is that I do. I have the money. And in exchange for a little (a lot) of the wealth you bring back, and a little (a lot) say how you guys run your operation, I’ll put up the funds to get your whole group outfitted right off the bat. I call it Adventure Capitalism, and I think yous and I can make a lot of moolah together.
  36. We’ve all done bad things. Things we regret. Things we wish we could take back, but can’t. Or can we? At the Official Office of New Identities, your past can be legally expunged from having any association with you. The person you were is marked “missing,” and the new person you’ve become gets to start life with a clean slate. So what are you waiting for? The fees are small, but the lines can get pretty long, so come in right away, before you get in trouble for whatever it is you did.
  37. A play-dungeon gambling house. People pay 100sp to get in, and hope they can loot more than 100sp and make it out without being tagged by any of the (non lethal) traps or monsters they’ll encounter within.
  38. Secrets of the Deep Forest is your one-stop-shop for all the hottest trends coming out of the Elven Lands. Owned and operated by actual half elves who will be happy to converse with you in whatever broken form of almost-Elvish you want to speak. Just in stock is Covenant: Archmagic Rising, the card game that the Elves just can’t get enough of. With cards newly translated into the human languages, now you can play too!
  39. The Seamen’s Delight is ready to fulfill your wildest fantasies with our bevvy of lusty mermaids, eager to experience the love that only a man of the land can give them. (No refunds to those who realize too late the harsh realities of trying to have sex with a woman who has the lower torso of a fish).
  40. Humans–have you ever been jealous of dwarf’s beard? Have you ever looked at the perfect braids and curls, the silky smoothness of the face hair, or the clever functions dwarf beards are often good for? Well put your jealousy aside and visit Crazy Curlog’s Dwarven Beardgroomery! Curlog himself is a master groomsmith, breaking the most sacred traditions of his people by servicing non-dwarves with his craft! It’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so come on down! (Any dwarven PCs should be informed that they are literally incapable of visiting this place, as it is so offensive to their sensibilities).
  41. The Played Players have their own little theatre in town here. Their schtick is that they arrange a number of sets on ropes, so the environment can be changed with a quick close of the curtains. Each performance starts with a brief introduction to establish the setting and stakes of the story, after which the play’s protagonist will act according to the will of the audience. Whatever command seems to be agreed upon by most will be performed, and the other actors will react according to whatever character they inhabit. Sometimes the protagonist wins, sometimes they die, but it’s always entertaining.
  42. Listen, the king? The king doesn’t care about your interests. The king doesn’t care about anybody but himself and his friends. And why should he? He’s never once had to go through an election. It’s undemocratic is what it is! Come on into our recruiting house, and join the democratic democrats, so we can finally vote this nonsensical monarchist out of power.
  43. Every prophecy is 1 part foresight, three parts open-ended wiggle room. It’s all about the phrasing. So if you’re looking to predestine some particular event, just swing on by Carla’s Prophecies Plus. We’ll work with you to tailor a prophecy that fits your future needs, and disseminate said prophecy to the various oracles and fortune tellers of the land to make sure everybody knows that whatever business you got is inevitable.
  44. Mr. Sanchez is writing a bestiary, to aide travelers in avoiding and defeating any dangerous creatures they come across. He’s set up a shop in town, and will pay good money for verifiable information about monsters. He’s no slouch in his research, though. If you bring him wild tales without any proof, he’s not gonna pay you anything.
  45. Hello, my name is Janet, and as you can see, I am a bird woman. I have the wings and beak of a bird, but the arms and legs of a human. But, enough about me, let us talk about you, a human is is not half anything else. Particularly, you are not half anything that can fly, and this makes me sad for you. Flying is the best thing, and it is sad that humans cannot do it. To help you feel better about what must be very pathetic lives, I have dedicated myself to making kites, which you may fly in the wind, and try to imagine what it must be like to be a freer, more highly developed form of life. Perhaps, in this small way, I can help alleviate the constant depression you all no doubt suffer under.
  46. Matilda the Magician has a little shop, with sign spinners in animal costumes outside. If you can provide her with a sample of an animal, she will transform you into that animal (killing the sample in the process). The more you pay, the longer the form will last. If you return to her shop in animal form, she will undo the transformation for you, but you will incur an early termination fee.
  47. For a premium fee, people can visit this shop to receive advice from a fortune teller about some specific item they should make sure to carry on their person. The item is never anything too unusual or expensive, it’ll be something like a hammer, or a fishing line. Whatever it is, the player character knows, but the player themselves does not. Instead, the PC has a sort of “quantum item” in their inventory. Whenever the player wants, they can actualize the quantum item by announcing what they pull out of their bag. In the reality of the game world, the character has suddenly realized that THIS must be the situation the fortune teller predicted when they told them to carry…whatever it is that they’ve been carrying.
  48. Every business is a volume business, and wine is no different. You make more, you sell more, you get more money. Sasquatch Pigeage understands that. You don’t need tiny-footed lollygaggers stomping your grapes at a snail’s pace, when you could have literal bigfoots getting your harvest flowing into those bottles, and out to your customers pronto. But speed isn’t the only benefit of using our services. We Sasquatches have carefully cultivated a unique foot fungus, which pairs excellently with wine, and will enhance the flavor of any bottle you cork with us. 
  49. Klex’kilistew is a the giant spider you need to get your construction or hunting project moving in the right direction. With my rapid and highly accurate web spinning abilities, I can get a basic lattice structure up in mere hours. Once in place, stacking your petty human construction materials becomes a breeze, and once the job is done, my webbing will dissolve naturally. No tricky cleanup! I’m also available to hunters. It may seem a little excessive, but if you can drive even one herd of animals into the web I spin for you, you’ll have meat enough to fill your tiny stomachs for a year!
  50. Are you a creepy-ass religious guy who cares a weird amount about whether or not somebody is a virgin? Hey there, I’m Younai the Unicorn, and I’m willing to share my innate virgin detecting senses with you! One look at a woman, and I’ll know if she’s a virgin or not. I don’t know why you care, and I seriously don’t want to know. Please, do not try and tell me why it’s important to you, all it does is make me more sad that this is the only way I could find to pay the bills. So come on down, or, be a decent person, whichever one.
  51. Are you feeling a little more chaotic than you used to? Does Evil no longer offer that same thrill it once did? We think of alignment as a strict 9-point grid, but it’s a tricky thing, constantly evolving over time as we grow and change throughout our lives. If these or similar concerns sound like something you’ve experienced, schedule an appointment with an Alignment Therapist today. We’re not here to fix you, just to help you understand where you want to fit.
  52. A hair salon, owned and operated by a medusa. She has a great passion for the craft, and is deeply jealous of people with actual hair. She keeps her own bundle of snake hair wrapped up in a colorful cloth bundle. She’s not trying to hide what she is (that would be impossible. The bundle on her head is constantly moving). She merely doesn’t like the way her snake hair is constantly getting in her way and biting at things.
  53. The office of D. Minstrel & Son, where folks can describe their feats of derring do to a talented, expert bard. Once an appropriate fee has been remitted (and the process does their due diligence verifying the rough outline of your claims), a tavern song will be composed extolling you for whatever it is that you’ve done.  The song will then be given to one of the office’s traveling agents, who will make sure to sing it at least once at every tavern they visit. A typical contract lasts about six months, though longer contracts are available. (Though, be aware, if you overdo it, there may be a backlash).
  54. A. Mueller-Finch Image Consulting is a firm that specializes in public relations for adventurers. Particularly those with some particular scandal plaguing their reputations. They help wizards who were a little too liberal with their fireballs, fighters who have had one too many squires die while plumbing a dungeon’s depths, and others who have fallen victim to the common folk’s lack of patience for the broken eggs that tend to occur when you’re making an omelette.
  55. The town rec center, which offers all sorts of classes, activities, and sports to join! They’ve got everything from Negotiating with Dragons 101, to traditional halfling toe wars, to competitive labyrinth traversing (taught by a real minotaur), and basketball. And the best part is that it’s subsidized by the local parks budget, so the costs are very affordable.
  56. The gallery of Vau, renowned elven papercraft artist. The delicate folding of paper is a much more developed artform among the elves than it is among humans. They’re obsessed with delicate, ephemeral art. It’s a sharp contrast with more traditional Elven art, and has been in vogue for several hundreds of years now. Vau will happily part with any of her pieces to anyone who can afford her hefty sum.
  57. Sutherland’s Costume Shop is filled wall-to-wall with masks for every creature in the monster manual. For an additional fee, Sutherland himself will enchant the mask, so that wearing it creates the illusion that the wearer actually is associated creature. Rentals are for 3 days. Masks kept beyond this point grow bodies and demand a late fee from the renter, before walking themselves back to the shop. If necessary, they will extract their fee with violence.
  58. Mordenkainen’s Marvelous Marvels is the melodramatic name of a fairly standard Fireworks shop. Mordenkainen himself doesn’t even have anything to do with the place. The owner just hopes that his little shop will go unnoticed by the great wizard. The name really does get a lot of business in the door.
  59. Dinkie Rizzle’s Dinky Gifts is a store that sells novelty adventuring gear. The sort of stuff that sounds like a good idea, and might even be a good idea if someone put the effort in, but is slapped together so hastily, with so little thought, that it’s little more than junk. There’s stuff like wrist bands to prevent your sword from flying out of your hand, a wheel and crank for re-spooling rope, and a hip-holster that holds up to 8 iron spikes! Of course, here they only sell in bulk. If you want to purchase, you’ll need to find one of their many Dinky Entrepenuers, who sell this stuff at Rizzle parties. And, of course, if you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur yourself, they’d be happy to set you up with a license, and a stock discount. But you know, the real money isn’t in selling this stuff yourself. All you gotta do is sign up 5 friends, and then they sign up five friends, and…
  60. Roland Muke, Adventurer DDS, got very bored with his standard dental practice. Just making people’s teeth work the way “god intended” was fucking boring. That’s not why he got into the dentistry game! He got into it to BE a god! If you’ll let him work on your teeth, he’ll do something truly spectacular with them! Like give you razor teeth that grant a bite attack, or teeth with secret compartments in them, or teeth that can inject poison, or some other kinda crazy teeth that he hasn’t even thought up yet.
  61. You have thing inside another thing? You want get thing out, but lock is hold it close? Maybe you don’t know what inside? Me Gurlak Skulleater, mighty troll. Me very good with little metal sticks, make open locks! You bring me gold, me open your locks! You need no question ask? No problem! Me no care about puny human shit. You come see me. Me open locks, make you happy, for gold.
  62. Eternal Elegance is a party planning service, run by elves. They require their services to be scheduled no less than 18 months in advance, so they have an appropriate amount of time to understand the subtle nuances of your party before they even begin to plan it. Say what you will, they’re actually pretty good at what they do. You might expect an elven party planned for a year and a half to be a stiff, dry affair, but they really do take the time to understand what sort of party you want, and they deliver the best danged parties you’ve ever attended. 
  63. Do you like games? Is fun your idea of a good time? Do you love to be surrounded by blinking lights and loud noises? Whether you said ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ you should come on down to Don Harper’s Play Place! We got every type of fun you could ever want, with a fully stocked arcade and carnival games section! Win prizes! Eat pizza! Get indoctrinated into our evil sex cult! Throw a skeeball! Get a drink at our water fountain! What’s that? No, I didn’t say anything about a cult. What are you talking about? Don Harper’s Playplace is a all about good times and fun, and definitely not a secret front for recruiting vulnerable young people into an evil cult. That would be crazy!
  64. A crudely made food stand, where a group of orcs are peddling their native foods. Almost all of it is meat based, though there are some intensely pungent fruits on offer as well.
  65. A shop for fine ogre toe cheeses, harvested from fair trade, free range ogres, and aged to succulent perfection.
  66. C. Baker & Co. is a candle shop. The owner, a man named Butch, claims to be the distant descendant of a Prometheus, the firebringer, though more likely he’s just a magic user with a peculiar talent. All of his candles emanate some minor magical effect while they’re lit. One reduces the chances a foe will be encountered, another increases it. Some of the more expensive candles provide a gentle healing effect to everyone within the range of its illumination, or create an atmosphere of sexual arousal, while some of the cheaper ones provide some nebulous benefit like “luck.”
  67. Adventuring can wreak havoc on your love life! Sure it’s nice going from town to town, saving everyone’s lives, and drowning in gratitude sex for a few days afterwords, but after awhile that kind of brief encounter loses its luster. You want to look for someone you can come home to whenever your party passes through town. Someone you can start a family with. Someone who won’t mind that you’re away most of the year, and work in a profession that is both lucrative, and highly dangerous. Just fill out a profile, meet with one of our qualified professionals, and we can get you a date tonight with someone well suited to your wants and needs.
  68. Tanner is the chillest dude there is. People are constantly coming into his shop with hides for him to tan, because his sign says “Tanner’s” out front. But hey, it’s no big deal, and he doesn’t want to shame anybody for making a simple mistake. So, whenever it happens, he just takes the hides down the street to the local tannery, pays to have them tanned, and brings them back to his shop so the person can pick them up. Tanner’s is actually a vegan restaurant.
  69. Listen: the life of an adventurer isn’t easy. Who has time to clean all that blood and guts off your weapons and clothings when you’re too busy carrying armfuls of gold!? Worse yet, what happens when you encounter an adventuring opportunity in civilized lands, and wind up getting blood all over your neighbor’s carpet, or breaking the bishop’s favorite stained class window? That’s what Carl’s Cleaning is here for! We’ll lighten your gold burden just a bit, and take the grisly aftermath of your wanton violence, and make everything sparkle like new!
  70. Whenever you tell your kid to hold a torch for you, the dang brat is always gettin’ distracted. They move their arm around, lean up against the wagon, complain that their arms are getting tired, and in general provide a terrible source of light. Who has time for that noise? That’s why you should visit Ted’s Terrific Torchbearers. Our highly qualified staff are the best there is at holding a light source to provide maximum illumination on whatever it is you need to be lookin’ at. We also offer special insurance for anyone who wishes to take our torchbearers into dangerous situations, so there will be no hidden fees if all you can return to us is a jar filled with goo that used to be an employee. So come on down!
  71. An exotic butcher who sells human meat. Nobody knows how he gets away with it, but nobody ever hassles him about it. People don’t even grumble to one another in taverns about how they’d like to get rid of that shop. You might suspect that folks were afraid of becoming his next cutlet of meat, but nobody ever really goes missing under mysterious circumstances. So wherever he gets his meat, it isn’t here. The butcher also buys weird monster meat from adventurers, as it’s always nice to have some exotics to sell.
  72. A baker who specializes in cakes for people to pop out of at parties. As you might suspect, this is a pretty limited niche to base a business on, and she’s burning through her savings in a reckless bid to keep the business afloat. Her most recent idea is to try and market her cakes to adventurers, as a method of carrying out a sneak attack. “Nobody will suspect a cake!” is her slogan.
  73. A wagon wheel customizer. Has all sorts of affectations he can install on wheels: lights, decals, spinners, spikes, the list goes on! A big sign on his counter reads “NO discount for chariots.” It is unclear why that is the case, but he insists that they’re “just as much work.”
  74. Dave McDanger (totally his real name) sells badass weapons. And when I say “badass,” I mean the sort of shit they sell in middle-American malls, to kids will use them to pose for awkward photographs in their parent’s back yard. You know the type: knives with random curves and spikes and points, invariably engraved with some lame dragon or spider. The one thing that makes Dave McDanger’s weapons different, though, is that Dave pays good money to have each of the weapons in his stock enchanted, so that they’re just as functional as a normal weapon of their type would be.
  75. A shop which sells bait of specific monsters. Want to wrangle a wight? Hunt some harpies? Capture a cockatrice? Kill a Kobold, or even Trap the Tarrasque? Whatever it is, they’ve got the bait you’re looking for.
  76. An information booth, for tourists, funded by the local lord. Employees are just on the creepy side of friendly, but are surprisingly knowledgeable about the area. They’re super forthcoming about stuff like the dark origins of local legends, the history of forbidden places, and generally any information you’d normally get from a reticent old man.
  77. A young alchemist who has developed a fantastically effective hair gel, and has built a business around it. Her salon focuses on producing the most dramatic hair styles imaginable. Styles with huge 3′ spikes, or gravity defying curls, or even complex, sculpture-like shapes. And because of the robustness of her gel, the hair will actually keep its shape for weeks before needing to be restyled, even for someone who spends their time swimming, fighting, and sleeping on the ground.
  78. Grusor is a former adventurer who got lucky early in his career, and was able to retire as a fabulously wealthy 24 year old. Now in his fifties, he’s got a lot of insecurities about his own meager accomplishments in life, and projects that onto younger adventurers. He hates them for being lazy, and for acting as though they are entitled to succeed in every adventure. He’s set up a little shop in town where he offers young adventurers a gift. If you accept a handicap of his choosing, and return from an adventure successfully, he’ll use some of his wealth to spread word of your deeds around, and you’ll double your bragging rights (experience points). He’s got a small team of professional handicappers on site, ready to make whatever device is needed to properly gimp anyone who takes Grusor up on his offer. Once applied, these devices are difficult or impossible to remove, though Grusor will happily do it in exchange for a “reasonable” fee.
  79. The Living Mail service. Here’s the deal: they’ve got fully enclosed metal cases on wheels. Like slightly more spacious coffins. If you want to get somewhere, and you don’t want to deal with any fuss on the way, they’ll get the job done and you won’t have to deal with anything that happens along the way. Each character transported must be paid for separately, and the cost is multiplied by the number of encounter checks skipped.
  80. “Steel House” is a prestigious social club, and you might be surprised just how many people are members. Even though this is the only location, folks who visit town from hundreds of miles away are often members in good standing. Getting into the club would instantly open doors for a person, no matter what business they’re in. Even adventurers will find the social connections they could make there invaluable. And, interestingly, application is open to anyone who can afford the rather paltry 25 gold fee. Too much for the average field hand, but hardly as prohibitive as might be expected. Once a person’s application has been submitted, though, they will be approached about their initiation. They will be instructed to carry out a series of unforgivable acts of depravity. Failure to perform will result in rejection of their application. Furthermore, to prevent them from revealing the club’s secrets, agents will be dispatched to ruin the failed applicant’s reputation beyond repair.
  81. During quiet moments when god isn’t watching, who among us does not enjoy a good rub of the ol’ genitalia. But erotic literature requires so much imagination, and erotic paintings tend to fall flat. That’s why you should subscribe to the Erotic Statuary, the only place in town where you can browse a packed gallery of high quality, three dimensional artwork, specifically designed to inflame your ardor. Members will also receive a discount at our store, where you can purchase miniature versions of our life sized originals. Visit our preview gallery with 5 statues in it for free anytime, and if you need more, membership is very affordable!
  82. A comedy club. 90% of the humor is about how the various races of the world are different from one another. In a world with literal different races in it, that’s a well that never really runs dry.
  83. Is there anything bad going on in your life? Literally anything? It’s probably because of toxins. Our modern lifestyle is toxic, and those toxins are very damaging to your lower chakras. Fortunately, I can help. Hi there, my name is Pastor Doctor Flourchyld, and I’m an experienced colonomancer. What we do is very complicated, magical, and scientific, but the basics of it are like this: I take this here hose, and I put it into your butthole. Then I pump a bunch of water into your butt, until you’re all filled up with water, then I pump that water back out, and all your brown sticky toxins come out along with it. Of course, as I said, this is just a layman’s overview. You don’t get a title like “colonomancer” for doing something simple after all! Haha! So anyway, come on down, get tetoxified, and start living a better life…today!
  84. Ms. Hope’s Schoolhouse is unique in this part of the world: free education, on offer to anyone, from any social class. Of course, the upper classes still hire private tutors for their children, but for children in the lower classes, this is a unique opportunity to make a better life for themselves…or so they think. It’s a well known fact that Ms. Hope is, herself, a wealthy aristocrat. Most people think she’s doing this out of the goodness of her heart, when in fact it’s just a prank. Everything she teaches the children is a useless lie, that will never help them to succeed in society. She and her society friends spend their evenings coming up with ever more ridiculous things she should teach the kids. And, as a side benefit, this will help keep the uppity poors in their proper place.
  85. Have you ever been frustrated that no matter how many times you explain something to your cat, dog, or other pet/animal, it never seems to listen? That’s because animals don’t understand language, you dumbo. But, if you bring em’ on down to Theo’s Speech Therapy for Pets and Beasts, your troubles will be no more! Not only can our crack team teach your animal to understand what you say, we can teach them how to talk back to you, so you never have to wonder why they’re making all that racket again!
  86. Do you have a person in your life who thinks about things in a bad, no-good way? Have you tried everything to fix it? The Brain Scrubbers have got you covered! If you can get the person down to our shop, we can wash their brain clean and make em’ think whatever you want them to think. (Many limitations apply).
  87. A wizard carnival, with magically powered rides and games. Pimply faced teenage apprentices waggle their wands to operate zippers and tilt-o-whirls. Guided, high-speed flight spells are conjured by more experienced practitioners to create a roller-coaster like experience. Win prizes by knocking over a stack of bottles enchanted to be unusually heavy, or punching an illusory dragon hard enough in the snout to make his eyes pop out and ring like bells. For a few coins, peasants can even spend a few hours with an instructor wizard, who will try to teach them a simple cantrip.
  88. A gardening shop that only sells one type of fern. Western Sword Ferns, to be exact. There’s nothing particularly special, or magical about this plant. The owner insists it’s just a really good fern, and he’s passionate about selling them. No, there isn’t anything else in the back room. In fact, there’s nothing to see in the back room! Stay away from there, it won’t interest you. No, I’m not acting suspicious, I just don’t like people talking about my back room. Hey, get away from that door!
  89. Fladnag’s Travel Agency is the best way to get from where to you are, to where you’re going. With us, you’ll arrive quickly, safely, and most important, cheaply! For a single lump payment, we can arrange your transport with any wagon trains, ships, or other conveyance that will be required to reach your destination, as well as provide information about interesting locations you may want to visit on the way. And, this week only, anyone who books a trip with us will get a dozen free packets of our Gitgoin’ Instant Coffee! Just mix it into hot water, and one sip will have you awake, and running on your way to adventure. (Literally!)
  90. If you’ve got a lot of ice in some kinda dumb shape, like a square or something, Ichabod’s Ice Sculpting can help you get it into a better shape. Like a swan. But, unlike some of our competitors, we can turn ice into shapes that are not swan shapes. Like a horse shape, or a triangle, or a flower maybe. Who knows? You do. You tell us what shape you like, and we’ll make your ice into that shape.
  91. An adventuring thrift store. When players return to town and sell useless stuff like a jar of eyeballs that they took out of a goblin’s chest, this is where it ends up. The shelves are filled with cursed weapons, magic items with intensely stupid abilities, dungeon-specific items that have no use outside the place they were taken from, etc. Occasionally you’ll find some amazing bit of treasure that was overlooked, but most of it is very situationally useful at best. At least it’s all cheap.
  92. A store for designer adventuring clothes. The auteur who owns the place is a sweetheart, but is absolutely relentless when it comes to advocating for her pet fashion theories. That the way we present ourselves is the most profound statement a person can make, that it’s the foundation of civilization, that the whole world could be improved if people knew how to communicate better through the clothes that they wear. She has a very 1980s aesthetic.
  93. A few years back, Lord Salazar’s father struck his head while riding, and developed a severe case of amnesia. The thought of living without one’s own memories was so heartbreaking to Salazar, that he set out to do what he could to alleviate that suffering for others. He founded a spa, called “Home Again,” where visitors can describe some experience that a loved one who has suffered memory loss once had, and the staff will do their best to recreate that event for them, using stage props and actors. The fee for this service is surprisingly low, since the owner really just wants to make it as widely available to those afflicted with amnesia as possible. Of course, what most people do is get a friend to take them in, and describe that one time they had sex with a celebrity.
  94. Are you a victim of injustice? Have you been accused of: criminal beard negligence? Mining too deep and/or too greedily? Public sobriety? For these, an many other problems, you don’t just need any laywer, you need a team with a proven track record, and an intimate knowledge of dwarven law. For that, there’s only one place to go: Gus, Gus, & LaRue is a firm that will get you the justice you deserve.
  95. Are you fat, disabled, or otherwise being held back by your body? Do you want to experience the freedom of being nothing but spirit soaring through the cosmos, while resting secure in the knowledge that your corporeal shell is being safely guarded by a firm with over 12 guards, and a 6-year record without any body theft? Then come to Al’s Astral Projection just behind the tavern. We’ll get your spirit out of your body for a modest fee, and even put it back in again for FREE! (Terms and conditions apply. Free body return only applicable if customer returns withing specified time frame).
  96. If the government isn’t working for you, it’s probably because you aren’t paying the right people the proper amounts. At the Office of Corruption, we specialize in connecting wealthy customers with needs, to government officials with empty pockets and flexible morals. Visit today to take advantage of our ongoing sale on getting out of tax evasion, building inspection, and murder!
  97. Don’t throw your money away at the office of corruption. Why pay someone else to run the government the way you want, when you can just run it yourself? Revolution Inc. has the tools, the manpower, and the know-how to destabilize any government you need. Once the time is ripe, you can swoop in and claim power for yourself with minimal problems. Payment required up-front.
  98. A druid selling random detritus from nature, like pine cones, and sticks, and jars full of pine needles. She always wished there was a store like this, and is completely baffled as to why business is so bad. Must be the economy.
  99. A roadside stand, with a very attractive person sitting at it, beneath a sign that says “One for $5. Three for $12.” If the requisite amount is given, the very attractive person will unleash a torrent of customized, artisanal insults, perfectly catered to their best estimate of what your insecurities are.
  100. Buy a page of the referee’s notes. 50,000,000 money.

Two Questions for Better Battlefields

Of all the ideas that were never meant to be, my “Spicing up the Battlemat” series is among those I most regret not following through with. If you’re not familiar with those posts, don’t feel bad, because they’re fuckin’ old. Not just “Back when I used to write about Pathfinder” old. They’re, like, “literally the first post on this blog” old. There are children who were born after I abandoned that series, who are now old enough to attend school.

The premise of the series is solid: combat in D&D is more interesting when the players have environmental factors to play with. Like chasms to push their foes into, chandeliers to swing on, etc. To better facilitate the inclusion of such factors, each post focused on a given biome, and what interesting environmental features might exist there. I even included all those maddening Pathfinder mechanics in an effort to make it quick to run at the table.

Anyway, earlier this year while I was working on Bubblegum Berzerk, my coauthor and I had a minor disagreement about the way rooms should be described. The details of that argument are boring and irrelevant, but by the end of it I had reached two conclusions:

  1. He was totally right, and I was totally wrong.
  2. The problem I set out to solve with “Spicing Up the Battlemat” is still a problem in my games, and in many other OSR games I’ve played in.

Don’t get me wrong, the OSR engine is much better at handling interesting environments than Pathfinder is. The “rulings, not rules” philosophy is basically meant to cover this exact sort of thing. OSR games don’t need somebody to help them determine exactly what the composition of local trees is. BUT, allowing players the agency to tinker with their environment is only a job half done. The referee also needs to give the players something to tinker with.

If the referee says “Goblins pop out from behind the trees and move to attack,” it creates a mental space for the players that looks like this:



We know we’re in a forest, but that’s just set dressing for a straightforward combat on a flat plane.

Initiative roll,

attack roll,

attack roll,

attack roll,

damage roll,


With barely any extra mental effort, however, the referee can say “Goblins pop out from behind the trees and move to attack. The trees here are thick, with low hanging branches. There’s a shallow creek a dozen feet to the East.”

Suddenly the players are in a much more diverse environment. Just those two details give them something to think about. And that, in turn, will get them asking questions.

“Are there birds in the trees?”

“Is the creek bank a gentle slope, or is there a drop?”

“Are there roots sticking out of the ground anywhere?”

However you answer these questions–yes, no, or maybe–will impact how the players choose to fight. All you’ve gotta do is get those two details in there at the start.

To aide myself in doing this better, I could write a table. That’s certainly in my wheelhouse, but it wouldn’t actually be very helpful. I’m not going to keep a bunch of tables on hand, and roll them at the start of every random encounter. Instead, I’ve distilled the problem down to two questions: “What is the dominant feature of the environment like?” and “What else is here?”

What is the dominant feature of the environment like?

The dominant feature of most environments should be obvious. If you’re in a forest, the dominant feature is trees. In a desert, it’s probably sand, or maybe rocks. In swamps, you’ve got fetid water. Whatever the dominant feature is, you should be able to come up with some unusual detail.

Trees are an easy example. They can be sparse, or dense. They can be covered in vines, or moss, have rough bark, or be dripping with sap. They can have low hanging branches, or none at all. They can be rotten, or growing at a strange angle. They can have large leaves, or animal nests, or any number of other features.

Likewise, sand can be loose, or packed tightly, or it can rise and fall in dunes of large or small size. Sand  can be still, or blowing into your face, or blowing at your back.

What else is here?

Forests are not just a bunch of trees. The dominant feature of an environment is never going to be all there is, there’s always going to be something else there to play with. Rocks show up pretty much in every environment, for example, and they can be any size, from pebbles that create unsure footing, to stones ready to be used as improvised bludgeons, to boulders ready to be climbed on.




In a forest, there might be bushes or water features. In a plain, there might be tumbleweeds or mima mounds or sinkholes, in a desert there could be a copse of cacti, or some vultures circling overhead. Elevation works in pretty much any environment: the land rising and falling in gentle slopes or steep cliffs.

You don’t need me to write an exhaustive list here. You’ve been outside. When you picture a forest, of course there are trees, but…what else?

D&D Christmas Carols: Silent Thief, Greedy Thief

For those who don’t know, every Christmas I make a fool of myself by writing and performing a D&D Christmas Carol. It all started back in 2012 with “Dark Lord Wenceslaus,” which I followed up in 2015 with “Damage Dice the Ref Rolled High.” That’s when I decided to make a tradition of it, so in 2016 there was “Searching for Silver and Gold,” (ironically, not to the tune of “Silver and Gold.”) and now, this year, there is “Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.”

Now, if you’ve listened to any of these, you know full well that I am not a singer. (Nor am I much of a songwriter, but that’s neither here nor there). This year, though, I developed a terribly persistent, phlegmy cough on November 30th, and as I type this on December 19th, I’m still coughing. That’s why there haven’t been many episodes of Blogs on Tape lately, and its’ also why I’m struggling to get through this song.

But this exercise has never been about producing high quality music. It’s just a fun little thing I do to get myself into the Christmas spirit, and exercise some creative muscles that I don’t  normally get to play with.

So enjoy the song, and from all of me to all of you: I wish you well. Whether Christmas is your jam or not, I hope you find some joy today.


Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.
All is yours, in your sight.
Cleric’s potions, Fighter’s coin,
Wizard’s wands your fav’rite toy.
Picking pockets is easy,
when your friends are sleeping.

Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.
Dungeon halls in torchlight.
Check for traps; one. Nothing’s here.
From the ceiling poison darts appear.
Make your saving throw.
Pray you don’t roll low.

Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.
You can climb any wall.
Stupid players think others can’t,
just because the rules say you can.
Handholds are for weaklings,
that is all this rule means.

Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.
Afterthought of a class.
Genre staple for many years,
not ’til Greyhawk did you appear.
Since then always in vogue.
These days they call you a rogue.

Silent Thief, Greedy Thief.
Skirting fights is your right.
Foes are there for fighters to face.
Help from you would be a disgrace.
Just get in one backstab,
to justify your loot bag.

New Class: The Machine Man

Ours is an age of ignorance.  The heights of human knowledge and civilization are far behind us. Whether or not we will ever rise again is a question too lofty for anyone to concern themselves with. If it is going to happen, the process will take so long that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be dead and forgotten. For most, it is best simply to let the past remain the past.

For others, created in that distant age, the past cannot so easily be dismissed. Scholars of the time knew the secret of making men from metal and lightning, and giving them life. Most of these machine men have long since ceased to function. Some of those are propped up in palaces or town squares like statues. There are a few, however, which still walk the earth. Though, in the absence of qualified technicians, all of these are in a poor state of repair.

Nods to Bryan Mullins, who once had something like this in a game he ran, though I can’t recall any of the details.

The Machine Man

Machine Men have a d10 hit die, advance as fighters, and make their saving throws as Magic Users. Because of the unusual composition of their bodies, they do not eat or sleep, and they cannot be healed by magic, or by human medicine. Once per day, a successful Tinker check can be used to restore 1d4 hit points. The Mending spell, if available, will also work.

Machine Men have an auto-repair function, which restores hit points during rest at roughly the same rate as human healing. If a Machine Man ceases to function (“dies,”) their auto-repair will shut down. They may, theoretically, be revived by an engineer of superlative knowledge and skill, but only if that engineer were familiar with sciences that have long since been lost to humanity.

Starting at first level, and again at each subsequent level, the Machine Man’s autorepair function manages to restore some lost ability. Something the machine man was originally designed to have, and which they contain all the requisite mechanisms and coding for, but which their long decay has caused them to forget. The table below determines what abilities the machine man gets.

The player may opt either to roll a d10 to determine their new ability randomly, or to choose themselves which ability they want from the list. Note, however, that while the results of a random roll are less predictable, the abilities gained are significantly more potent than if the same ability had been chosen.

1. Strength

If Rolled: Long dormant servos in the arms and legs whir to life. When tracking encumbrance, it now takes one additional item slot to make up a single encumbrance point. (Using LotFP RAW encumbrance). Furthermore, it is now trivial for the Machine Man to lift or push objects weighing up to 200lb.
If Chosen:
Only the leg servos whir to life. The Machine Man gains the increased encumbrance ability as described above, but not the lifting/pushing ability.
If Repeated: Cannot be chosen a second time. Each time it is rolled, add 100lb to the amount that can be lifted/pushed trivially.

2. Onboard Equipment

If Rolled: Randomly determine one of the following pieces of equipment. It has always been there in your body, but only now do you have the drivers required for operating it.

  1. Telescoping tentacle, 20′ long.
  2. High-powered, 60′ flashlight, with flash-bulb.
  3. 200′ Grapple Gun
  4. Hidden storage compartment, equivalent to a backpack. Nothing stored in it is added to your encumbrance.
  5. X-Ray vision through up to 10′ of solid, non-lead material.
  6. Propellers and flotation devices, allowing you to move through water at double your normal walking movement speed.

If Chosen: Pick one of the following pieces of equipment.

  1. Telescoping tentacle, 10′ long.
  2. Dim, 30′ flashlight, with flash-bulb.
  3. 100′ Grapple Gun
  4. Hidden storage compartment, equivalent to about half of a backpack. Nothing stored in it is added to your encumbrance.
  5. X-Ray vision through up to 5′ of solid, non-lead material.
  6. Propellers and flotation devices, allowing you to move through water at your normal walking movement speed.

If Repeated: Can repeat until all six pieces of equipment are active. Once all are, reroll this result.

3. Attack

If Rolled: Targeting software comes online. The Machine Man’s attack and damage rolls both gain a +1.
If Chosen: Gain the +1 attack roll bonus, but not the +1 damage bonus.
If Repeated: This one stacks fairly predictably.

4. Defense

If Rolled: Projectors for a personal energy shield have been repaired. The machine man’s armor rating increases by 2.
If Chosen: Armor rating is only improved by 1.
If Repeated: Stacks predictably up to a maximum of 18, after which, this result must be rerolled if landed on again.

5. Skill

If Rolled: Randomly determine one skill from the skill list being used. If that skill is at a 1-in-6, it immediately gains 5 skill points, rising to 6-in-6. If that skill had some skill points in it already, it is still raised to 6-in-6, but any excess skill points are allocated to another randomly determined skill.
If Chosen: Gain 3 skill points, which may be assigned to skills at the players discretion.
If Repeated: Stacks predictably.

6. Mining

If Rolled: Tools and programming suited to a mining-bot become active. The machine man can now excavate a 5′ x 5′ x 10′ volume of materials in 10 minutes time. This includes hard materials, like stone walls. While tunneling through most materials, the Machine Man instinctively knows how dig so as to prevent any cave-ins.
If Chosen: Same as above, except the time required for a similar volume of excavation is 20 minutes, rather than 10.
If Repeated: Each time this is chosen, increase the excavated volume by 5′, up to a maximum of 5′ x 5′ x 30′.

7. Docbot

If Rolled: Tools and programming suited to a medical robot become active. Each day, the Machine Man has a pool equal to one half of its total hit points. By spending 10 minutes tending to a patient, the machine man may spend as many points from this pool as they like, restoring an equivalent number of hit points to their patient.
If Chosen: Same as above, but the pool is equal to one quarter of the machine man’s total hit points.
If Repeated: The machine man’s healing pool doubles in size. (So, if it was rolled, it is now equal to the MM’s current hit points. If chosen, it is now equal to half). In addition to this, the machine man is also now capable of advanced surgeries. Given 6 hours with their patient, they can replace limbs and organs which have been lost, or damaged beyond healing. Of course, a suitable replacement must be available for this to work. If Docbot is rolled a third time, reroll.

8. Scout

If Rolled: The Machine Man’s base speed increases from 40’/120′, to 50’/150′. Additionally, a whole suite of sensory equipment becomes available, granting the Machine Man: thermal vision, telescopic vision, directional hearing, and tremor sense.
If Chosen: Same as above, but only part of the sensor suite comes online. The player must choose one of the four types of new sensory information to gain, while the rest remain dormant.
If Repeated: Each time, the movement speed increases by an additional 10’/30′. Characters who chose this may also pick an additional sensor package to come online.

9. Construction

If Rolled: Utilizing available materials, a machine man with construction-bot programming active will be able to build any 10′ x 10′ x 10′ structure within the space of an hour. This includes floor, walls and ceiling. In a similar space of time, the machine man could build 60′ of wall, or perhaps some siege equipment.
If Chosen: As above, but construction time is doubled.
If Repeated: Cut the time required for construction in half. If rolled again, re-roll.

10. Weapons

If Rolled: A weapon pops out of the machine man’s body, The player should decide what sort of weapon it is, pending the approval of the referee. It might be a laser, a gun, a flame thrower, a sword, a buzzsaw, or any other myriad options. Each one will have its own logic as to how it can be used. Regardless of the type of weapon it is, though, it deals 1d8 damage.
If Chosen: Same as above, but the weapon is in somewhat less pristine condition, and deals only 1d6 damage.
If Repeated: Each time this is rolled or chosen, the machine man gains a new weapon. Each new weapon may be used every round. So, a machine man with two weapons may make two attacks each round, a machine man with three weapons may make three attacks, etc.

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