Monday, April 30, 2007

Nothing Doing

I was away at my cousin's wedding Thursday through Saturday. Between visiting family and acting as familial labor (read: free and obligated semi-slavery), I had no time to create anything.

And today I had nothing come to me. I did, however, finish reading Heroes of Horror. The monsters were not inspiring to me. I did like the bane wraith but I disliked its ability to automatically know the names, appearances, and presumed locations of your loved ones without a saving throw. I thought I might use the dusk giant for the IH Asgard idea but they neither fit nor did they inspire me with interesting abilities.

I did have a bit of an idea for a corruption eater that lived symbiotically or parasitically with a humanoid. Corruption eaters have the ability to eat taint from creatures. If they eat enough (defined as gaining enough temporary hit points to put them above their normal maximum), they can spew a cloud of corruption that taints other creatures. Of course, in an easily manufactured situation, the corruption eater can subsist solely on one introduced point of taint in a willing human. Eating the one point of taint gives it enough reserve to spew a cloud that, if a save is failed, gives the human the one point of taint back. This can go on indefinitely. I suppose that counts as a kernel of an idea that can later be expanded.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dream People part 2 - Birth Blisters

I had no time to sit and think at work today but I did think of something last night while lying in bed.

I was meditating on the dream people because I was trying to fall asleep and it seemed appropriate. I wondered how their reproduction progressed after the female was impregnated in the dream. For creatures that exist within two realms, I figured there would be two sorts of progression.

In the physical world, the child conceived through the dreamscape is present as a single cell possessing its unique DNA. How this comes about exactly was not detailed though I might come up with something later. The cell migrates from an ovary-like organ in the female's midsection towards her front abdomen. There, she possesses two distinct layers of skin (though each is made up of multiple layers of dermis) and the growing child passes through the interior layer to reside within the cavity between them. Various vessels and ducts within the inner layer of skin attach to the rapidly multiplying cells as the child migrates; these provide nutrients and remove waste just as the umbilical cord and blood vessels do in the placenta. As the child grows, the mother begins to "show" just as a human woman does. However, due to the nature of the outer skin layer, the pregnancy "hump" appears as a gigantic blister on her midsection. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the skin will stretch to the point that it becomes nearly transparent and the child can be seen. Birth then consists of the blister breaking open and the child being removed. This is not an unexpected occurrence as with human pregnancy (the water breaking) but a deliberate act on the part of the parents. The excess skin of the blister is removed and the underlying skin then heals to form the new outer layer, with a new inner layer forming internally after some amount of time. A dream person who has given birth is easily identified by the pattern encircling her abdomen, though how many births cannot be so gleaned.

The child exists in the dream world from the first moment of his conception. He appears as a tiny child who will grow beside his physical body and remain within the dream world until birth. Each night, his parents join him in the dream world to teach and nuture and love their child, just as they will for most of his young life. While within the dream world, a dream person has capabilities beyond those he possesses in the physical world and so the learning curve is much more gradual for their offspring. Because of this existence and teaching, dream children born into the physical world already know as much as a human pre-schooler and it takes them very little time to control their physical bodies as well as a much older human child, allowing them even the power of speech after only a few days (it also helps that a dream person's anatomy matures much more quickly than a human's; even if a situation were contrived to give a human infant the requisite knowledge and 'experience', the fact that the body has not matured to a point where certain activities are even physically possible retards progress).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Once again, moving a comment up:
I have not yet written anything today due to a few crossword and word puzzles I scrounged up earlier. So, I will quickly detail the actual "projects" on which I am "working."

In a minute, apparently, as I have just been called back out of the breakroom.

Well, I ended up being out of the breakroom until it was time to leave, so here I am at home. The best part about the following post, in my mind, is the amount of parenthetical comments. Commas and parentheses are two of my favorite and most often used punctuation marks.

These are the two projects, listed in order of current attention:

1. An Iron Heroes one-shot adventure or, more likely, short campaign set in Asgard and inspired by Frostburn, Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations, and the video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. The PCs are fallen viking warriors who have earned their places in Valhalla (each player will detail the final battle and heroic deeds that earned his character such an honor). An unknown evil sets in motion a plan to bring about Ragnarok. For some convoluted reason I have not yet divined, Odin sends the PCs to investigate and stop the plan. Besides awesome high-level Iron Heroes action (the minimum PC level I am entertaining is 10th, with 15th being a possibility) against such foes as frost giants, white dragons, ice ropers, [plural for remorhaz], and other foes (I plan for the final part to take place in Nifflheim; if it is a short campaign, I want to start elsewhere against non-ice enemies first), the setting itself will stand as an obstacle in their way (I both created my own frostfell terrain and am utilizing some of the hazards presented in Frostburn; I even created hazards that already existed in Frostburn with respect to flavor but with vastly different mechanics (since I was thinking of Iron Heroes and they were thinking of D&D heroes)).

While I do not have the villain's plan all figured out yet (I started with a cool idea and am trying to find a way to get the game there), I am thinking about including a fight with Thor as one of the final challenges. As I detail the plot, I have to restructure the vision (for example, I originally wanted the villain to try and kill Thor but then I decided he was trying to jumpstart Ragnarok and that requires Thor to be alive to play his part in the final battle; the villain's plan relies on Ragnarok progressing exactly as detailed in the prophecies).

2. This project has much less detail than the first because all my attention has been focused on the first. It started much the same way, with a cool idea. I wanted to create an adventure that featured a yuan-ti temple. Not a temple filled with yuan-ti but a temple built and used by yuan-ti. That would mean it was constructed to accommodate their serpentine physiques, with features such as ramps and poles and small circular doors meant for crawling/slithering. This all occurred to me prior to reading the yuan-ti entry in the Monster Manual that mentions just such achitectural features. As with the hazards in Frostburn, I find that I have a lot of ideas in common with others but developed independently (just because the snake features are logical extensions of the yuan-ti physical description does not rob me of the accomplishment of matching the brains of actual game designers).

The big villains of the yuan-ti temple would be the high priest (a half-dragon (black) yuan-ti abomination cleric I created as a villain when the 3.0 MM first came out; he wields a large greatsword and wears a headdress made from the skulls and spines of sacrificial victims) and, perhaps, a toned-down version of the anathema from the Fiend Folio (the anathema is like a giant yuan-ti abomination crossed with a hydra and given super psionic powers).

Again, this is just a cool idea that requires me to craft a story to get the adventure there. Obviously the yuan-ti are going to be doing something evil and rouse the ire and suspicion of the PCs. They investigate the temple deep in the jungle, they kill the high priest, and they put an end to the kidnappings and sacrifices.

I suppose a common thread amongst my adventure ideas is that I do not really put a common thread into my adventures. I do not design adventures around a continous story that weaves throughout the campaign. Instead, I get a cool idea and contrive a story to get the PCs there. I structure my ideas as one-shots so there is no need to put anything before or after the cool idea. The point of the adventure is to trudge through the strange and dangerous locales of Nifflheim or to battle into the heart of a yuan-ti temple to slay the half-dragon high priest before he completes his dark ritual rather than advancing some overarching campaign plot. I guess I read too many stand-alone modules.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dream People

I am moving this from the comments section below to its own post. It explains why.
I cannot access my blog's administrative functions from work due to the web filter. Ergo, I cannot add new posts. However, the stupid web filter does not block me from reading or commenting on my own blog so I can add content through comments and change them over to actual posts later.The following idea came about while reading the section on Dreams and Nightmares in Heroes of Horror.

Idea - A race of humanoids that are very closely connected to their dreams and the dream world. Through physical contact, they can enter another's dreamscape. If both are sleeping while in contact, they jointly create a dreamscape wherein neither is dominant to the other (entering another's dreamscape puts you somewhat under his control as it is his dream). This linking in the dreamscape is of utmost importance to their marital relation. Husband and wife spend, essentially, every waking and dreaming moment with each other. An intense bond of empathy and love develops from and is sustained by this daytime and dreamtime contact. Permission to sleep in physical proximity to one of these creatures is extended only to the most intimate of relations (best friends, family, and lovers) due to the nature of the emotional bonds created.

So powerful is this bond that, combined with the semi-reality of the dreamscape, the race procreates through dreams. In the physical world, they possess no external genitalia. Within the shared dreamscape of a husband and wife, however, the pair is able to reshape their bodies and mate. This act results in the female becoming impregnated in the physical world.These creatures, because they retain consciousness even while unconscious and in the dreamscape, would have radically different outlooks on life. They are highly learned and experienced as they get nearly if not truly a 24 hour day every day.

Victorian Horror Beast - Werewolves of London

I love to read and I always have a book that I am currently reading. Most of the time, that book is a "work book" - that is, it is a book I read at work when I have free time. What makes a work book different from any other book is that I tend to avoid reading my work book when I am not at work. This is for no particular reason other than it makes the book last longer because my available reading time is much shorter at work than at home.

My current work book is Heroes of Horror, a D&D supplement about utilizing horror in your game. I love horror and the grotesque, after the style of Dante, and I am thoroughly enjoying the book. Some of the examples are ripe for the picking (such as the jealous bard who is slitting the throats of other singers) and some inspire wildly different details (such as the one I will detail). The more technical explanations, such as the various types of horror villains and their typical motivations, are also of great use to me.

On to today's topic:

While reading through a selection of example plot lines, I had an idea that had little or nothing to do with the particular example I was reading (so much so that I have completely forgotten the example).

The scene: A Victorian town with subtle airs of steampunk. A young woman and bemoustached gentleman are chatting in a doorway at dusk. The clocktower bell sounds and a mixture of fear and alarm washes over their faces. The woman hurries inside the home while the man, gripping his cane in one hand and holding down his tophat with the other, makes all due haste down the street towards his own home as the clock continues to sound. Once inside, he takes the stairs two and three at a time, throwing his hat and cane aside as he ascends. The clock continues to sound. He lunges for his bedroom door just before the clocktower falls silent. The door automatically slams shut behind him and emits the unmistakable whirring of gears. He is now locked inside his room until the clocktower sounds the sunrise.

Why? Because a curse holds this town hostage. Each night, one member of the community transforms into a horrid beast that seeks nothing less than the final rest of all its fellows. Anyone failing to sequester himself within his locked and armored room is at the mercy of the bloodthirsty creature. Come the morning, the locks will disengage and life will return to normal for all but the poor soul who transformed. He will have to remove his damaged furniture and replace it.

Scenes such as the above are typical of my creations. There are many unanswered questions and, in fact, many variations of the same idea. I have thought of the same scenario taking place in space and in a mental hospital. I have thought of the poor people being locked away not only to protect themselves from the wandering beast, but also to prevent the beast from wandering in the first place (in the case that the beast possesses enough intelligence and dexterity to endanger its prey without physically touching them, such as setting fire to their homes or disengaging the airlock/damaging the life support systems of the ship).

And with that, my obligation for today's post is met.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Five Ws

Who? - A roleplaying gamer and completely amateur rpg material designer. I am also an administrator of and irregular contributor to the Ptolus fansite Delver's Square.

What? - A blog wherein I can make a greater effort to transfer my poorly scrawled notes from scraps of paper to a more permanent, organized, easily edited, and shared format.

When? - From now into possible perpetuity.

Where? - Here.

Why? - I have literal stacks of papers, from folded packets of full sheets to torn scraps, bearing creative thoughts spilled from my head during work, school, or other activities outside my home. These notes only rarely find themselves collected, collated, edited, and typed into my computer. As such, they rarely find themselves elaborated upon and shared with others. I want to change that.

A note and pledge for myself - I only care to type one thing I have written each day. If I do not have the time or inspiration to create something during any particular day, I may not add anything to this blog or I may take an old note and post it. I do not have to elaborate upon my writing. If I were to promise that, it would be the deathblow for this blog because elaboration on my part is a tedious and often frustrating endeavour when I am not with my muse. However, as the existence of this blog is meant to format my ideas for easier elaboration, and as I am prone to even excessive amounts of elaboration when my muse strikes, I am not forbidden from inconsistently elaborating upon my writings.

A note for any readers - Know that I write here for myself, not for you. That being said, I love comments. I especially love questions.