Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GAMING STRANGE TALES FROM A CHINESE STUDIO: GROWING PEARS AND THE DAOIST PRIEST OF MOUNT LAO

I have been creating NPCs, monsters, scenarios and more for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate by taking inspiration from Pu Songling's Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. I am working my way through each story in the Penguin edition, occasionally skipping those that are difficult to turn into quick content for a game (with the aim of hopefully getting back to those ones for scenario inspiration). You can see my last entry HERE

Today I am doing two thematically linked stories. The first is Growing Pears, which is about a charlatan who uses sleight of hand to make it look like he can grow a pear tree instantly. The second story is similar. It is called The Daoist Priest of Mount Lao. In this one, a priest dazzles a townsman named Wang with miraculous powers that are implied to be mere parlor tricks. 

These were more challenging than the others, because I couldn't just make a monster. Instead I had to make a new mechanic for the game to emulate the tricks. There were a bunch of ways I could have gone about this. Honestly it might best be handled by the Deception skill (which covers many forms of deception). However I thought it would be fun to create a new kind of Ritual. We have Rites and Magic. For this entry I made a new category: Magic Tricks. These function the same as Rituals but are mere sleight of hand.

MAGIC TRICKS (NEW RITUALS)
Magic Tricks function like other Rituals. The only major difference is you do not run the risk of going mad from failure and they don't actually produce supernatural effects. Instead they use things like sleight of hand, smoke powders and misdirection to get the audience to believe you are performing something miraculous. Like other Rituals these are open skills, meaning you can take ranks in each Magic Trick separately. Unless otherwise stated, all Magic Tricks are rolled against the Wits of the intended audience. 

CHOPSTICKS OF XING
You throw your chopsticks into the sky, toward the moon, and as they land they take the form of Xing, goddess of Lunar Realm. She then performs a dance and song before returning becoming little more than a pile of clothes containing two slender chop sticks. This Ritual requires an assistant, to play the role of Xing (use his or her Talent: Dance skill for the dance and Talent: Singing Skill for the singing). To perform this Magic Trick make the Ritual Skill roll against the Wits of onlookers. If you succeed then the chopsticks appear to turn into Xing. If you fail, the onlooker sees through your misdirection and observes your assistant leap from a nearby platform to replace the chopsticks. 

Obviously there are endless variations of this trick. You could also use it to summon Xang of Solar realm by throwing chopsticks at the sun, for example. 

FRUIT TREE SURPRISE
You eat a piece of fruit down to the seeds, which you then plant in the ground. You then draw a large cape of fabric over them. Speaking strange magic words and coaxing the seeds with encouragement you cause them to grow into a mighty fruit tree in a few moments. In truth you rapidly construct the tree using wood and attach pre-ripened fruit to its "branches". You conceal your deception with a large square piece of fabric. To perform this magic trick, first you must construct the tree (Trade: Wood TN 7). You will also need fruit (this can be obtained in the moment if it is handy). Then you must make a Ritual Roll against the Wits of the intended audience. If you succeed then to their eyes it seems you grew a tree from seeds. If you fail, they see you placing the tree in the ground.  

HEAVENLY LIFTING
This ritual uses props such as poles and sticks to make it appear as though you are ascending high into the sky. Make a Ritual Roll against the Wits of the audience. On a Success you seem to rise as high as 20 feet into the air. On a Failure the intended target (s) sees the pole and/or sticks. 

NEW NPC
PORCELAIN IMMORTAL 
Porcelain Immortal is an eccentric woman who claims to have attained immortality through a lengthy cultivation process. She is a charlatan who demonstrates miracles to prove her immortality and then charges to teach people useless breathing exercises that she claims are the building blocks of her cultivation. Porcelain Immortal is a mere human, and has no real experience in cultivation. However she is a highly practiced trickster, performer and thief who knows how to convince a crowd. She thinks fast on her feet and is a skilled liar. 
Defenses: Hardiness 3, Evade 3, Parry 3, Stealth 9, Wits 9, Resolve 6
Key Skills: Light Melee: 0d10, Medium Melee: 0d10, Heavy Melee: 0d10, Speed: 3d10, Muscle: 1d10, Endurance: 1d10, Meditation: 1d10, Divination: 1d10, Trade (Alchemy): 2d10, Trade (Wood): 3d10, Talent (Acting): 3d10, Talent (Poetry): 1d10, Persuade: 3d10, Deception: 3d10, Detect: 2d10, Read Scripts (Feishu): 3d10, Languages (Daoyun): 3d10, Classics (Sayings of Kong Zhi): 3d10, Religion (Yen-Li): 1d10, Institutions (Imperial Bureaucracy): 1d10, Institutions (Religious Organizations): 1d10, Institutions (Sects): 1d10, Ritual (Fruit Tree Surprise): 3d10, Ritual (Chopsticks of Xing): 3d10, Ritual (Heavenly Lifting): 3d10

Max Wounds: 1
Expertise: Persuade-Charm, Persuade-Convince, Deception-Tall Tale



Monday, August 21, 2017

GAMING TALES FROM A CHINESE STUDIO: THE MONSTER IN THE BUCKWHEAT, THE HAUNTED HOUSE AND STEALING A PEACH

I have been making monsters and scenarios inspired by Pu Songling's Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. You can see the previous entry HERE. The first entry where I explain the concept is HERE. I am covering three more stories in this blog post: The Monster in the Buckwheat, The Haunted House, and Stealing a Peach. All require liberal innovation on my part to make them work as gaming material. The Monster in the Buckwheat is the 10th entry in the Penguin edition and is literally about a monster hiding in fields of buckwheat. The Haunted House is the 11th entry and is about a haunted house with weird flesh-like furniture and tiny ghosts. Stealing a Peach is my favorite of the three but a little harder to game. It is about a mysterious man who claims to possess miraculous powers. He creates a sky rope to Heaven and sends his son up into the clouds to retrieve a peach from the garden of the Queen Mother of the West*. I decided to take elements of it and turn them into things in the setting. 

THE BUCKWHEAT BEAST
The Buckwheat Beast feasts on farmers, creeping into their fields at night and surprising them when they come to harvest. They have thick red hair and bristly beards that blend well with buckwheat when it is ripe. They are also very tall, reaching as high as 10 feet. However they are cowardly, often fleeing when cut or harmed. Still they are persistent and usually return to attack again after a few hours. 
Defenses: Hardiness 9, Evade 7, Parry 7, Stealth 8 or 10 (ripe Buckwheat field), Wits 4, Resolve 4
Key Skills: Bite: 3d10 (4d10 Open Damage), Grapple: 3d10, Arm Strike: 2d10,  Speed: 3d10, Muscle: 4d10, Detect: 3d10
Max Wounds: 13

Powers
Chomp: The Buckwheat Beast can easily chomp through bone. This imposes a -3 penalty to Hardiness against Targets for purposes of rolling Damage on any Bite attack. Its bite does 4d10 Open Damage. 

Blend: Despite their enormous size, Buckwheat Beasts are very good at remaining still and hiding in fields to surprise farmers. They are especially good at hiding in fields of ripe Buckwheat, which resemble their rust-colored hair tone. In a field of ripe buckwheat their Stealth increases to 10. 

Cowardly: Doing damage to a Buckwheat Beast can cause them to flee. Any time a Buckwheat Beast is struck and damage is delivered, the person doing the damage should make a Command Skill roll against the monster's Resolve to see how intimidating they appear to the creature. On a Success the Beast flees and returns in 1d10 minutes. On a Total Success the Beast flees and returns in 1d10 hours. 

Beast Strength x2

GHOSTS OF THE HAUNTED VILLA
These diminutive ghosts appear as they did in live, except they are wholly malicious and in constant mourning for themselves. They detest the living and will try to kill them through trickery and deception. They can make traps, trip people and lead them to their deaths. Otherwise they are fairly harmless as they have no real way of harming a fully grown human . 
Defenses: Hardiness 2, Evade 10, Parry 2, Stealth 8, Wits 10, Resolve 3
Key Skills: Trip: 2d10, Speed: 5d10, Muscle: 0d10, Detect: 2d10, Trade (Mechanical): 3d10
Max Wounds: 1

Powers

Destroying Ghosts of Haunted Villa: The ghosts are only harmed by magic and Qi energy. Magic Weapons harm them and Qi based energy Attacks can harm them. Normal Mundane attacks and even non-energy Kung Fu attacks will do little against them. Ghosts reduced to zero health by magic weapons or energy Attacks are not destroyed permanently. They come back in a matter of days. Only Ritual magic, Immortal Powers or the hand of a deity can truly destroy a Ghost. They can also be suppressed or contained by magical means. 
Trip: Because of their small size, Ghosts of Haunted Villa are good at tripping opponents. They can make a Trip roll against Evade. On a Success, the target falls for 1d10 damage. If they are in a precarious position or dangerous location when tripping (such as into a ravine) they could take more falling damage. 
Trap Making: Ghosts of Haunted Villa can make deadly traps to kill the living. They can use this to make any trap from the WHOG rulebook or devise new ones (see page 425, WHOG).
Create Ghosts: Anyone killed by a Ghost of the Haunted Villa returns as a diminutive ghost as well. 

FLESHLY FURNISHINGS OF THE HAUNTED VILLA 
Unnerving to behold, the Fleshly Furnishings of the Haunted Villa seem pink from a distance, but otherwise resemble normal furniture of their type. However on close inspection the surface looks and feels like flesh. They can disappear through walls but their most terrifying ability is their crushing form. They can wrap around a target and crush the person until he or she is absorbed into them. Every victim makes them bigger and stronger. They begin as small objects and can increase in size until they are as large as a room or house. 


Defenses: Hardiness 6, Evade 3, Parry 7, Stealth 10, Wits 6, Resolve 9
Key Skills: Grapple: 3d10, Speed: 0d10, Muscle: 1d10-10d10, Detect: 2d10
Max Wounds: 3 plus 2 per victim

Powers
Crushing Form: Make a Grapple Roll against the Parry of a target. On a Success they do Open Damage equal to their Muscle. On a Total Success they do Open Damage equal to their muscle and the victim is unable to breath that round (see SUFFOCATION, WHOG Rulebook page 83). 

Absorb: Fleshing Furnishings absorb people, gaining 2 Max Wounds for every victim, and 1 rank in Muscle. This also increases their overall mass by 50% and increases their Beast Strength. 

Beast Strength x2: This increases by 1 for every victim they absorb. 

Pass Wall: Fleshly Furnishings can pass through solid surfaces. 

WARDENS OF HEAVEN
These celestial guards keep watch over the Peaches of Immortality. They are commanded by the Divine Concubine, a former martial hero of great renown who achieved immortality then godhood and now serves in the court of the Enlightened Goddess. 
Defenses: Hardiness 10, Evade 8, Parry 8, Stealth 6, Wits 6, Resolve 9
Key Skills: Grapple: 5d10, Arm Strike: 6d10, Leg Strike: 4d10, Light Melee: 4d10, Medium Melee: 7d10, Speed: 4d10, Fly: 4d10, Muscle: 5d10, Endurance: 4d10, Meditation: 3d10 Command: 4d10, Detect: 3d10, Read Scripts (All): 3d10, Languages (All): 3d10, Religion (All): 2d10, Institutions (Bureaucracy of Heaven): 3d10
Qi: 30
Max Wounds: 61
Weapons: Swords (7d10 Damage)
Key Kung Fu Techniques (Waijia 4): The Wardens know all Waijia Techniques
Powers
Beast Strength (x35)
Immunity: Wardens of Heaven can only be harmed by Kung Fu Techniques, Profound Kung Fu Techniques, and Immortal Powers. If they are killed, Wardens of Heaven regrow in the Divine Concubine's garden from one of the fruit trees. 
Regeneration: Heavenly Wardens regenerate 1 Wound every round. 

Limb Taking Strikes: When attacking with their swords, Wardens of heaven cut off a limb of their choice (including the head) on a Total Success. 

Divine Counter: This counter works on anyone of lower Qi rank than the warden. When someone attacks, they can send the attack back at the person with their sword strike. Make a Medium Melee skill roll against the attack roll. On a Success the person takes what damage they would have delivered plus 10 Extra Wounds. On a Total Success the person takes damage plus 20 Extra Wounds. 

PEACHES OF IMMORTALITY
The Peaches of Immortality are found in the east Garden of the Divine Concubine of The Enlightened Goddess. Eating one of these peaches bestows 3,000 years of life. However, they are protected by the Wardens of Heaven and the punishment for eating the peaches without permission is death and lowly rebirth. 

NEW RITUAL: BASKET LADDER TO THE SKY
This Ritual requires you take something woven like a basket or fabric and unwind it to create an exceptionally long strand into the Sky. Make a Ritual Roll TN 9. On a Success you make a long strand that rises into the sky and can take you into the clouds. On a Total Success the strand penetrates the Heavenly Realms and you reach a random place in Heaven. On a Failure Supreme Judge Yu detects your attempt and comes to seize you. 


*These are the infamous immortality peaches that Monkey ate in Journey to the West