Monday, December 19, 2011

stay in school kids!

"Dear Secret Santicore...

List (at least five) of drugs (magical or not) of dnd-esque fantasy city (more Vornheim less historically accurate for actual medieval Europe).


This request caught me off guard for a few minutes - I've seen or heard of violence, religion, politics, slavery, race relations, torture, bestiality, human sacrifice, genocide, misogyny, class struggle and (thanks to Carcosa and its attendant clusterfuck, which I won't get into today) pedophilia dealt with in roleplaying games. But drugs? Not in my experience. It took me a while to formulate an approach, but finally I decided to deal with all the reasons that humans take drugs in our world, the veracity of which we either can't prove or have disproved: religious ritual, long-lasting health and youth, good looks, a big penis, etc. A fantasy game in which not only magic but Gods have objective reality is perfect for all these.

NOTE: most of these don't get a save because they're self-administered - the character is literally "drinking the kool-aid". Exceptions are discussed individually. Numbers, where necessary, are given for LL and Pathfinder.

- 'OID -

(This one's inspired by "krokodil", which I hear is all the rage in Russia these days)

cost: 1d10 copper per use
duration: half an hour of twitchy insectoid aggression

Made from the vital organs and fluids of various sentient creatures, 'Oid gradually transforms you into another humanoid creature. It's easy to manufacture by any alchemist who knows the recipe. The range of ingredients is quite versatile, and lower-quality product can be made by substituting human organs or slightly less than fresh ingredients. For every week of recreational use (at least one dosage per day), roll a transformation:

Body Part Table (1d8)

1 - face
2 - eyes
3 - skin
4 - arms
5 - legs
6 - torso
7 - tail (if applicable, otherwise torso)
8 - genitalia

What kind of creature does the user start changing into? Roll on your region's random encounter table, or a random page of the monstrous manual - read down the entries until you find one for a humanoid (or not, depending on your game's level of cruelty and weirdness).

This can lead to slums full of sub-human Broken One-looking addicts, a mishmash of orc arms, merfolk gills, elf legs, gnoll heads, etc - or more pitiful and terrifying freaks (ochre jelly "legs", owlbear face, shark flippers for arms). The effects are not reversible except with polymorph or equivalent magic - this is the creature's new and permanent body.


cost: 2d20 copper per use
duration: 1 hour of testosterone rage and hormonal lust

"Buncha slack-jawed faggots around here! This stuff'll make you a goddamn sexual ty-rannosaurus! Just like me."
-Jessie Ventura, Predator

This vile-tasting magical brew grants a man extreme potency for an hour - during this time nothing short of extreme HP loss or poisoning will hamper his bedroom performance, regardless of advanced age or other factors. It also increases his aggression and sexual desire, and he'll do his level best to nail anyone suitable, regardless of the consequences later (the high priestess of the local temple, the princess you rescued, etc).

The side effects of Dominator last for 24 hours after use, leaving the member so swollen and sensitive that wearing armour or tight clothing around the groin is extremely painful, causing -4 on initiative and attack rolls, and any skill checks that include an armor check penalty.


"What are you, an idiot? God was fucking with you!"
-Bill Hicks

cost: 2 silver per use
duration: four to eight hours of mumblings about "spaces... that are... not spaces"

Many drug users are convinced that, while high, they experience the divine; this substance leaves little room for doubt. The beings contacted are not always friendly or helpful. I probably don't have to say it, but this is a great way to usher in an alignment change, start on the path to infernal wizardry, or convert to a new (much scarier) religion.

I use simplified rules for Contact Other Plane. The user is limited to ONE question. Some users might not know they even get a question (first timers, chumps, recreational users, etc). If this is the case, the answer should pertain to something the user has considered recently. It could be "How do we pass that trap on level 4?" as easily as "what's for dinner?".

Whenever someone uses the Water, roll on both tables:

ANSWER: Roll 1d6
1 - Entity contacted knows the answer and replies truthfully, but in images and metaphors.
2 - Knows the answer and lies.
3+ - Doesn't know the answer, may make something up or just not respond.

INSANITY: Roll 1d6
1-2 - No adverse effects.
3-5 - Insanity for 1d6 weeks, as in Contact Other Plane.
6 - Possession! Save vs. spells (or Will DC 20+) or in thrall of otherworldly entities. Remove Curse or more powerful spell to cure, if your friends find out before it's too late...


"Your denial is beneath you, and thanks to the use of hallucinogenic drugs, I see through you."
-Bill Hicks

cost: 1d6 silver per use
duration: 30 minutes. Side effects 1d6 hours of sweaty, tight-jawed fear

For thirty minutes, users can see into the astral plane with the help of this drug. Any non-spellcaster or normal will be stunned at the visions, and can only sit and stare incoherently. When this effect wears off, the side effects are even scarier. The user believes that they can see other beings' alignments, as the Know Alignment spell. What actually happens is they see everyone's alignment as the opposite of what it really is, on at least one axis. This causes intense paranoia as every shopkeeper, peasant and passerby is likely chaotic, maybe evil and out to get them.

When the drug wears off, the user might intellectually know that the side effects cause paranoia and fear, but their assessments of their neighbours' character will only disappear over long periods of time, and are reinforced with subsequent uses of the drug.


cost: 5 gold per use
duration: 1d6 hours of green kaleidoscope hallucinations and tree-huggerism

Distilled by the Academy of Fruit from various rare herbs that grow only in their valley of endless summertime, this clear, foul-smelling tincture grants its user visions of ancient times, when only plants covered the world and animals hadn't yet crawled out of the sea. This grants the user a limited form of Speak With Plants. The user cannot speak with perfect fluency, and only basic ideas or questions can be communicated - like traveling to another country and skimming the phrasebook on the plane. Also, users have trouble interacting with other animals for this time, reducing fluency in their own languages to the same level.


cost: 1d6x10 gold per use
duration: 1d6 days of zombie servitude
save: poison (or Fortitude DC 20). PCs can make a new save each day if you're feeling generous. Hirelings, peasants and other 0-level redshirt types should only get one, or none.

This is a concoction made from grave dirt, the blood of a human sacrifice, herbs harvested from a crossroads at midnight and other such ingredients. Used by malicious priests and overlords to keep their servants docile and working beyond the limits of human endurance, and to create ready helpers for the blasphemous activities they indulge in.

Makes the user into a mindless automaton, easily dictated to by the first person met after dosing. He follows orders in any language he knows, to the best of his ability. He continues his tasks until they are completed, not stopping to eat or rest until collapsing. If ordered to do something obviously suicidal, another saving throw is possible. It's clear to any observer that an Erasure user is under some sort of control - the slackened face and awkward jerking movements will betray this immediately.

Creatures fighting under the influence of Erasure are less coordinated, but they don't feel pain and will fight on without fear regardless of bodily damage.

Labyrinth Lord:
2 extra HD
+2 to damage rolls, -2 to attack rolls
Morale 12

+4 STR & CON
-4 DEX
does not become disabled below 0 HP, but still stuffers bleeding damage every round until death at negative CON

When the effects wear off, the user will have vague and confused memories of what happened - perhaps writing off the experience as a bad dream or a night of heavy drinking. Long-term consumption of Erasure has powerful side effects however. For every subsequent time the drug is taken, the saving throw incurs a -1 penalty (I would bump this to -2 in Pathfinder). When this would make it impossible to successfully save, the subject's personality has been so degraded that it's basically gone - leaving him a hopeless thrall of whoever administered the powder.

- KEY 17 -

cost: 1d6+6x10 gold per use
duration: 1d4 hours
save: poison (or Fortitude DC 25)

This one is originally from my favorite comic book. Also called "the word-drug", this magical poison (which some believe is an invasion of the material plane by an outsider composed of pure language) causes those who take it to see, instead of words, the objects they describe. For example: An interrogator injects his prisoner with Key 17 and then shows him a sign which reads "your loved ones, held hostage," informing him they'll be killed if he doesn't cooperate.

The possibilites are endless, but it could quite easily swing your game into hallucinogenic visionquests or terrible powergaming, so use it wisely.

Brought to you by headhunter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking ahead?

Well, well, well. Here we are, another month later with no posts! I admit that I often get into a cycle like this, installing 5 new computer games or maybe playing Ogre Battle for the 3rd try without getting anything else done. Recently, one of my roommates bought Skyrim and I play that a little, or mostly watch him play it. It's one of the few games I can think of that are just as much fun to watch as they are to play. So much so, that if I watch much more of it I don't think there will be much for my own character to do! Maybe I'm getting old, but once I've spectated on a quest, I don't feel like getting into it with my own character. It's fun, but I think I preferred Daggerfall.

I notice over at Dreams In The Lich House that Beedo has posted up a look at his blog's first year, and the status of the goals he set himself at the beginning. This could be a good idea, and I'm sure I could work up some modest aspirations for "Terrible Sorcery: year one."

What's going to come up in the near future though? Well, I can promise three things. Some updates to my home game, as a new player begins to tug things in a different direction; some musings I have about classic movies and D&D; and my contribution to the xmas-y goodness of Secret Santicore!

this post brought to you by the black light district.