Sunday, May 22, 2022

Spirit-Infused Coffee for the d20 System

An ad for "spirit-infused coffee" appeared in Steve Miller's Facebook feed. Although he KNEW what was meant by it--coffee augmented with the flavor of bourbon, tequila, or some other form of hard liquor--an idea for an adventure scenario popped into his head. Although the game mechanics included are for the d20 System, we believe that this idea is easily adaptable to any RPG.

(And if the roastery that inspired this post comes along, recognizes the modified image of their product that we appropriated for this post--please don't us!)

An Adventure Idea by Steve Miller

A sudden rash of violent murders against either random people, coworkers, or family members, is plaguing the city and slowly spreading across the nation. If the murderer is taken alive, he or she claims to have no memory of what happened. The only common thread is that Spirit-Infused Coffee (a medium-roast made from Arabica beans) has been found in the home or workplace of the killers. Standard analysis of the coffee shows no toxins or unexpected ingrediencies. Even if it is banned from stores, there's no way to stop the firm from offering it via mail order, and their legal team crush anyone who tries to interfer with the selling of the coffee. In fact, the claims that it might be driving people to murder becomes the motivating factor for TikTok Challenges.

The coffee is literally infused with spirits. Demons are summoned during the roasting process, and they are literally cooked into the beans, and those who drink the coffee are extremely likely to fall victim to demonic possession.

Roll 3d6 against the following table to determine what happens to those who drink the Spirit-Infused Coffee:
   3. Nothing but a pleasant caffeine jolt.
   4-5. Characters become overly horny and will be on a constant hunt for sexual partners. When advances are rebuffed, they must make successful Will saves (DC13) or attack the target of lust.
   6-7. Characters constantly desire food and drink, and it has to be high quality. When denied, or served bad food, the characters must make successful Will saves (DC13) or attempt to kill anyone who is perceived as standing in the way of a desired meal.
   8-9. Character must roll a Will save (DC13) whenever they are around cash or in shops. If the saving throw fails, they attempt to steal the money or some valuable item from the store. Anyone who tries to stop them is violently attacked.
   10-11. Characters stop going to work and instead just lounge about their homes all day, sleeping whenever possible. If the coffee is consumed at work, they must make successful Will saves (DC13) or immediately stop work and just be lazy. Anyone who tries to get them to stop sitting around is violently attacked.
   12-13. Once per hour characters must roll WIll saves (DC13) or be filled with homicidal rage against the nearest, most obvious target. (If it's someone or something in some sort of media, the characters must seek that person or place out). The rage lasts until the target is eliminated, and will grow to encompass anyone perceived as being between the characters and their ultmate target.
   14-15. Characters who see someone displaying obvious wealth, someone who is physically attractive, or who may simply just be enjoying a good time with friends, must roll Will saves (DC13) or violently attack that person. They will also attempt to steal whatever valuables the target is carrying. (This could be mugging, or a mass-killing, depending on the situation.)
   16-17. Characters become extremely self-satisfied and filled with pride over everthing they they do. They will constantly brag about themselves and demand recognition and praise. They must roll successful Will saves (DC13) if anyone denies their greatness, or violently attack the offender.
   18. Nothing but a pleasant caffeine jolt.

The evil spirit that has been infused into the coffee drinker remains in his or her body for six days, or until a Will save is failed. During that time, the coffee drinker cannot be possessed by other demons, no matter how much of the spirit-infused coffee they might drink. The coffee drinker will only the haziest of recollections of the time he or she was possessed, and will remember nothing once he or she turns violent.

It will be up to the PCs to discover the true nature of Spirit-Infused Coffee and stop the spread of evil! They will have to get into the roastery and destroy the ritual site, and kill the demonologist behind the scheme. If their IDs are discovered during this process, they will find themselves hounded by the law firm (who are literally devils' advocates), even if they avoid any consequences from the authorities.

All text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with its terms. Copyright Steve Miller 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

Coming Soon: 'The Original Peacemaker'!

We're finalizing a new release that's been on-again, off-again since 2017 or so. (While this can be said of most of our planned releases lately, this one has been more-so than some of others.)

Given that there's a TV series currently headling the Peacemaker, we figure the time is now or never to  time to bring out THE ORIGINAL PEACEMAKER! It will collect half-a-dozen early Peacemaker tales by the character's creators, Joe Gill, Pat Boyette, and Dick Giordano and feature new d20 System content. We hope this first release will be the first of two volumes.

By way of a preview, here's draft material of some of the d20 System content that will be in the book first book. The art with this post is an unfinished draft of the cover for the projected second volume in the series, as well as panels from the comics, taken from raw scans. (As per usual, they'll be cleaned up a bit and in black-and-white in the actual book.)

Here are d20 System rules for some of the more unique items in the Peacemaker's armory, . All are the product of Christopher Smith's singular genius, and he will only share them with his most trusted allies.

During his brief association with NASA, Christopher Smith had the opportunity to study some alien technology that had been recovered on the Moon. The device, which looked like a chair, allowed a person sitting in cause it to rise into the air and slowly float in whatever direction the user wished. the person in the chair could also cause small items to float in the air and even bring them to him or her, or cause them to float toward targets. 
   Smith managed to reverse engineer and miniaturize the portion of the alien device augmented human brainwaves to grant limited telekinetic and telepathic powers. He encased his invention in the helmet he wears as the Peacemaker. 
   Although the helmet appears solid, it can be collapsed into an almost flat state (just three inches in depth) and can easily be concealed in a briefcase, for example.
    Using the Brainwave Augmentation Helmet: When wearing the Brainwave Augmentation Helmet, the user can make a Willpower saving throw to either use telepathy to project thoughts to a single target within line-of-sight, use telekinesis to manipulate small objects, or fire the laser built into the front of the helmet.
   When a would-be user puts on the helmet for the first time, he or she feels like someone just crushed his or her head with a rock. The character must roll a Fortitude saving throw (DC12) or become unconscious. If the character wears the helmet for three full rounds (with a successful DC12 Fortitude save required each round), the pain stops as immediately as it began, and he or she is now attuned to the helmet and may wear it without difficulty going forward. If he or she became unconscious or removed the helmet, the process must be repeated. 
   Projecting Thoughts: The character wearing the Brainwave Augmentation Helmet must specify the target to whom thoughts are to be sent. As a full round action, upon making a successful Willpower saving throw, the character may then transmit a statement, question, or command to the target. The target hears the character's voice in his or her head, in the target's native language. The difficulty of the Willpower saving throw is DC4, with +2 added for each word sent, and +2 added for every 20 feet of distance between the sender and the target. The player must specify the message before the roll is made, and if the saving throw fails, the target does not hear the thoughts. 
    The user of the helmet can try to send messages to a target as many times as he or she wishes, with a new Willpower save required for each attempt. The target does not typically receive a saving throw to resist, but if he or she is aware of what's happening and does not want to give the user access to their head, the target's Wisdom bonus is added to the user's Willpower DC.
   Manipulating Small Objects: As standard action, the user of the helmet can flip switches, pull triggers, turn handles, or do any other manipulation of small objects within his or her line of sight. He or she can also lift small objects and cause them to float slowly in the air in whatever direction he or she wills, so long as he or she concentrates on the object.
   To use the telekinetic powers granted by the Brainwave Augmentation Helmet, the wearer must specify an object and an action. Then, he or she must roll a Willpower saving throw (base DC2, with +2 added for every 5 feet of distance between the user and the object, as well as an additional +2 for every 5 pounds of weight).
   Firing the Helmet Laser: As a free action, the user must aim the laser by looking at the target and then fire it by making a successful Willpower saving throw (base DC0). The user must then take a standard attack action and roll a ranged attack to see if he or she successfully hits the intended target. 
   The wearer can choose to just fire individual shots or cause sustained damage. The laser has a range increment of 10 feet, and it deals 3d6 points of damage (energy/piercing/heat) per shot, or 3d6+6 damage (energy/piercing/heat) per round if the damage is sustained. It also causes metal s The user can take no other actions while inflicting sustained damage with the helmet laser, and if he or she suffers damage or otherwise is subjected to a condition that can cause distraction, he or she must make a successful Concentration skill check (DC12+damage suffered) or the laser stops working. The character can attempt to reinitialize it the following round.
   To use the helmet laser to maximum efficiency, a character must possess the Exotic Weapon (Helmet Laser) feat. Otherwise, he or she suffers a -4 penalty to the ranged attack roll.

Peacemaker's jetpack is a marvel of miniaturization, and, is once again one of Christopher's unique inventions. It consists of a small backpack and fuel cells capable of producing powered flight for up to 6 hours. A character equipped with a jetpack can hover in place and fly at a maximum speed of 80 feet per round (good maneuverability). The speed is reduced to 40 feet if the user is Encumbered (such as if carrying another person or some heavy object).
   With the flick of a switch, the jetpack can be reset to propel the Peacemaker under water at speeds up on 40 feet per round.

The Peacemaker's helmet and uniform are made from an ultralight, absorbent material invented by Christopher Smith. It feels like cotton when worn, but provides protection from normal bullets fired by handheld firearms, as well as limited protection from explosives and other damage from kinetic energy sources.
   The Pliable Body Armor does not increase a character's Defense Rating, but instead reduces damage from projectiles, explosions, and falls by 3 and converts additional damage (up 20 points) to non-lethal damage. 
   The Pliable Body Armor may be worn under regular clothing or even other types of armor. It is not breathable, however, so characters who wear it for extended periods in extreme temperature conditions will have to make Constitution attribute checks (DC11, with the difficulty increasing by +1 for each check). The character becomes Fatigued after the first failed check, and Exhausted after the second. The character becomes Unconscious after the third failed check.

Identical in shape and size to regular bullets, and compatible with firearms of the appropriate caliber, these turn lethal weapons into non-lethal ones. This special ammunition is the creation of Christopher Smith, and he typically carries at least one firearm or magazine loaded with this type of round so he may disable rather than kill his opponents.
   When a living target is struck by a stun pellet, he or she suffers 1 point of damage, plus an amount of non-lethal damage equal to whatever the standard lethal damage would be (subject to Damage Reduction, if any). If the damage reduced the character to 0 hit points or less, he or she becomes Unconscious. Otherwise, the struck character can take no actions for the rest of the round, other than to fall prone to the ground.

The following feats can be added to the Charismatic Hero and Smart Hero bonus feats lists if they are included in a campaign.

You have mastered the thought-controlled laser in the Peacemaker helmet.
   Prerequisite: Base Attack Bonus +1
   Benefit: You make ranged attack rolls with the helmet laser normally.
   Normal: Attacks with the helmet laser are made with a -4 penalty.
You don't start fights, but you sure will try to finish them.
    Prerequisites: Charisma 14, Negotiator feat, Diplomacy 4 ranks
    Benefit: When you declare you wish to use this feat, you automatically give up initiative for the encounter, except for the following actions: 
    You must reveal yourself to potential foes, confronting them openly and free of any cover. While facing them head on like this, you must offer your foes a chance to resolve the conflict peacefully. If they choose to not take you up on the offer, you  gain a +4 bonus to hit and damage rolls, and a +2 bonus to DR/AC for the duration of the encounter.. 
    The GM may call for a Bluff or Diplomacy skill check to see if your effort to convince the enemy to resolve matters peacefully  is successful or not. If any of your allies attack the enemy while you are trying to take to them, you automatically fail, and still lose initiative.
    This feat can only be used against creatures with Intelligence of 4 or better.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Truth?! Can you handle The Truth?!

Here's a feat for the characters who know the truth is out there, and who can find it in the most unusual places by connecting dots and finding patterns that no one else can connect or see! (The material is released under Open Game License and may be reproduced accordingly... if They will allow it. Copyright 2021 Steve Miller.)

Just because they're not out to get you, doesn't mean they want to keep you from revealing the Truth!
   Benefit: Gain +2 bonus to all Bluff skill checks and Gather Information skill checks. The bonus increases to +6 on Bluff checks made when explaining why your conspiracy theories are true... because you Want To Believe.
   Special: Suffer a -2 penalty to all Sense Motive skill checks. The penalty increases to -6 when you're dealing with another character that also possesses the Conspiracy Theory feat.

Also, while we're providing links, here's an evil for the conspiracy-busting PCs to investigate and stop: THE VEGAN DEATH CONSPIRACY!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Who's at the door this Halloween?

Bring Halloween to your adventures set in modern times with these random tables!

If the player characters are at home on Halloween, either chilling or having a party, roll on DO TRICK-OR-TREATERS SHOW UP? twice per game hour between 5pm and Midnight.

1-2. Yes. Roll on the table below to see who.
3-4. Yes. Roll twice on the table below, as there are two groups, one behind the other.
5-6. Yes. Roll on the table below to see who. Roll again in 5 minutes.
7-8. Yes. Roll on the table below to see who.
9-12. No. But that means more candy for you tomorrow!

1. 1d12+1 little kids in costumes wanting candy!
2. 1-12+1 kobolds in costumes wanting candy!
3. 1d12+1 zombies sent by an enemy of the PCs, with signs around their necks reading "Happy Halloween"!
4. A vampire wanting blood!
5. A werewolf wanting flesh!
6. A demon wanting souls!
7. Death, here to collect one of the PCs (but will be happy with a couple full-sized Snickers bars)!
8. 1d12+2 robot assassins sent from the future!
9. 1d12+2 risen corpses of enemies (or grunts of enemies) the party have killed who have come seeking revenge.
10. 1d12+2 teenagers (not in costume) wanting candy!
11. 1d12+1 teenagers (in costume) wanting candy!
12. 1d12+12 little kids on costumes wanting candy!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Hushpuppies: Magical Shoes of Death for the d20 System!

The Hushpuppies are a pair of magical shoes of unknown origin. They seem harmless enough, but they are actually deadly weapons that are known to have been used to assassinate three heads-of-state, nine crime bosses, and five accordion players since their first known use in 1959.

The Hushpuppies
These magical, light brown and black soled Hush Puppy shoes radiate faint Transmutation magic. They resize themselves to the feet of any adult humanoid who wishes to wear them. 

After being worn for 48 hours straight and then removed, the Hushpuppies transforms into a pair of hellhounds that breathe poisonous gas. (For each additional 12 hours they are worn before removal, the gas becomes more deadly.)

The hellhounds have standard statistics, aside their gaseous breath weapons. Each hound can breath once per round, expelling a highly noxious cone of gas with a range of 10 feet that deals 2d6+2 points of damage; 1d6 is added to the damage roll for each additional 12 hours the soes are worn. Characters exposed to gas may roll Fortitude saving throws (DC13) to suffer only half damage. The hellhounds will attack and attempt to kill anyone who is within a 30-ft radius of where they appeared, when they appeared. Unless commanded to pursue a possible victim, they will ignore anyone who moves beyond the 30-foot radius before they attack him or her.

The person who wore the shoes is immune to the poisonous gas, but must roll a Will save (DC15) on the round he kicks off the shoes and they transform. If the save is successful, the wearer may command the hellhounds for ten minutes. If the saving thrown is unsuccessful, the wearer will eventually come under attack. If the hellhounds are still alive at the end of that time, they vanish in puffs of odoriferous smoke. A Hush Puppy shoe remains where a hellhound once stood.

(The text in this post is released under the Open Game License and may be reproduced in accordance with it. Click here for details. Copyright 2021 Steve Miller)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Boxes of Doom

"The Boxes of Doom" is a series of random tables intended to spark the imagination of GMs to create an adventure of mystery, magic, and horror. The GM should roll 1d6 against the tables below to generate key elements of an adventure, and then use their imaginations to flesh out the resulting storyline. The tables contain references to certain characters and concepts that have been featured in NUELOW Games products or on this blog, such as the Sorceress of Zoom, the Amazons, and the Witchkind.

The idea for this was suggested by a horror short film by Alex Magana, "Do Not Open", which you can watch here. I think you'll find it to be time very well-spent.

What RPG rules mentioned in the post are nominally d20 System, but the post is mostly rules-free and full of ideas.

People are vanishing all across the city, and the authorities are stumped. The only common denominator between the disappearances is that the vanished individuals shared certain superficial traits and that scraps of cardboard boxes were found where they were last seen. This is being written off as a coincidence by most in law enforcement, but conspiracy theorists and online armchair detectives are seizing on that.

The truth is that the cardboard scraps are indeed the clue--the boxes are means by which a sinister attacker is causing victims to disappear.

These mysterious cardboard boxes are being left on doorsteps. If one of the boxes isn't opened within five minutes of its being found, the person who first discovered it or brought it into a home or office must roll a Will save (DC15) or feel a compulsion to open the box; anyone else who enters the room with the box must roll a Will save (DC12) or feel a similar compulsion. When the box is opened, everyone within the room (or 30 feet, if the box is still outside) are drawn into another existence. 

Samantha Cruz in "Do Not Open"

Can the victims be saved? Who is behind this evil scheme? Roll on the following tables to determine the details around which you can build an RPG adventure!

1. Young Women
2. Epidemiologists
3. Astrologers and Mystics
4. Politicians and Their Families
5. Journalists and Their Families
6. The Player Characters and Their Friends and Loved Ones

1. Revenge for past slights, real or imagined.
2. Their skills (or just their bodies) are demanded by the Sorceress of Zoom
3. Their bodies are needed to serve as vessels for demonic spirits.
4. They are prophesized to save the Enchanted Realm.
5. As #4, but only 1d6 of the victims are the actual prophesized ones. No one knows for sure. 
6. As #4, but they are prophesized to destroy the Enchanted Realm as servants of the Sorceress of Zoom.

1. A barren hellscape where they die from exposure 1d2 days after they vanish.
2. Prison cells in the Flying City of Zoom.
3. Into cages in an abandoned factory.
4. Into cells in a dank torture dungeon.
5. Into a richly appointed series of chambers in a castle in the Enchanted Realm.
6. An extra-dimension city inhabited by the Witchkind and Amazons--and they are as surprised to see the victims as the victims are to be there.

1. A would-be lover of the Sorceress of Zoom who is trying to impress her.
2. Someone they wronged--or who believes they wronged him or her.
3. A cultist hoping to curry favor with the demonic entity he or she worships.
4. A delivery driver who is hoping to unlock secret demonic powers.
5. An extra-dimensional sexual pervert looking for new and unusual victims.
6. The Master of the Enchanted Realm.

1. Secret enchantments known only to a reclusive demonlord.
2. The boxes include matter from a cursed tree. 13 of them exist.
3. Each box houses a demonic spirit that is released into the world when the victim is transported.
4. Tiny dimensional imps native to the City of Zoom that have been enslaved; they are released when the box is activated and the victims are teleported.
5. A spell that is cast on each box that the creator obtained either through theft or as a gift from the Sorceress of Zoom. Each time the creator enchants a box, he or she becomes closer to ending up wherre the victims are being transported to. The creator can use the spell a maximum of 2d6+6 times. He or she is not aware of this limit.
6. Innate magical abilities of the person creating the box, brought out by intense hatred toward the victims. Unknown to anyone but the Master of the Enchanted Realm, the creator of the boxes is part dragon.

1. The Player Characters must be transported by the boxes. They will then have to free the victims and find their way to a gate back to their world (assuming the victims are even transported to another realm).
2. The Sorceress of Zoom knows how to recover the victims. She will do so, and restore them all to life and into the Player Characters' care, so long as they catch and deliver the creator of the boxes to her.
3. The Player Characters must journey to the Enchanted Realm and secure the help of its Sorcerer Supreme.
4. The Player Characters must find the creator of the boxes and force him or her to reverse the magic.
5. As #4, except the creator of the boxes doesn't know how to reverse the magic. The Player Characters must either reverse engineer the spells themselves, or seek the help of another expert in magic. Roll on WHO IS TARGETING THEM? to see who the characters need to seek out.
6. There is no way to save the victims; the Player Characters can only avenge them and prevent others from becoming victims.


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Doppelganger Eggs

This material was inspired by Dylan Clark's horror short film "Hatched" (2021). You can watch it at the Terror Titans blog by clicking here. (Ideally, you came here from that post, as even the title of this one may be a little bit of a spoiler.)
   The game mechanics attached are for the OGL Modern variation of the d20 System, but it should be easily adaptable to most other RPGs that are out there.

Doppelganger Eggs
are one-shot magic items that were developed in ancient times by Atlantean Biomancers, and the art of creating them is now only known to the secretive Witchkind and a tribe of equally secretive doppelgangers (creatures capable of assuming the form of any humanoid creature they kill, as well as absorbing their most ingrained personality traits and skills) who work with them. By performing a complex ritual, a doppelganger is put into the egg. When the egg is cracked or hatches when the magic wears off, the doppelganger swiftly returns to his original size. It can then infiltrate the household into which the egg was smuggled (usually among other food items).
   The Atlanteans would use the eggs to unleash assassins and infiltrators on unsuspecting enemies, and that is how they are used in modern-times as well. 

Creating Doppelganger Eggs
Doppelganger Eggs are created using any eggs laid by a non-magical bird or reptile and a willing doppelganger. Two beings with knowledge of how to create Doppelganger Eggs and the ability to cast 5th-level spells and knowledge of the Transmutation and Necromantic magic schools must work together to create the Doppelganger Egg. Usually, the two spellcasters and the Doppelganger are long-time associates, if not actually friends, so all those involved trust each other to do the best possible job and to take care of each other if a client/customer tries to betray them or welch on a deal.
   The ritual must be performed in a specially constructed location with a permanent enchantment area used exclusively for the creation of Doppelganger Eggs and a small number of related magic items. Over the course of three hours of intensive spellcraft, a doppelganger and an egg are merge. By the end of the process, the egg is undetectable from similar eggs, except that it radiates a faint aura of necromantic magic if such is detected for. Up to four Doppelganger Eggs can be created at one time, and the ritual is prolonged by one hour for each Egg in addition to the first one. The makers of the Eggs can perform their ritual once per day, as it drains them to the point where they must have a full night rest before they can cast magic or perform rituals again.
   Doppelgangers that work with the Witchkind conform to the standard statistics in the rule book.

Acquiring Doppelganger Eggs
To acquire one or or more Doppelganger Egg, a character must first gain the trust of the Witchkind, and then they must be able to locate a very secretive group of artificers in their society since what they do is not exactly looked upon kindly by any authorities.
   Each Doppelganger is made to order. Upon making contact, those interested in gaining one or more Egg must provide a general description of what they want to achieve with the Egg, so the Doppelganger knows who to kill and/or replace and what to do once that has been done. A mission can be a straight-forward assassination or it can be a long-term infiltration. For a relatively simple mission, the cost to acquire an Egg requires a DC18 Wealth check (with the check increasing in difficulty by +4 for each additional Egg being ordered) with the base Wealth check being perhaps as high as DC28 for a complicated, long-term intelligence gathering mission). The price can be raised or lowered if the purchaser wants to impose specific restrictions or demands upon the Doppelgangers that aren't directly related to the mission at had (such as demanding that the location and/or assumed identity must be vacated as soon as the mission is complete). The price also increases if the purchaser wants the Witchkind and the Dopplegangers to handle the placement of the Eggs.

Using Doppelganger Eggs
Doppelganger Eggs are usually placed among innocent groceries that are brought into a household or other place where a target lives. As soon as the Egg is cracked or 48 hours pass (the duration of the magic), the Doppelganger bursts forth and swiftly returns to its full size. Any characters who witness this even must roll successful Wisdom checks (DC14) or be so startled that they will not be able to take action that round the Doppelganger appears, and the Doppelganger automatically gains initiative the following round. 
   The Doppelganger suffers a -2 penalty to all skill checks, saving throws, and attack rolls for the first six rounds after emerging from the Egg, due to the physical and mental shock of recovery. As such, it will initially try to retreat if it isn't catching potential victims completely unaware.