Tag Archive | mysthead

Game Stuff

Never too early to figure out your next Halloween costume.

I updated my itch.io page with all the game materials I’ve made to date. They are all pay what you want. Most materials use Necrotic Gnome’s Old School Essentials as their ruleset, but they could be tweaked for any tabletop fantasy game.

Mysthead 1: Mysthead is a grab bag ‘zine of stuff used at my table and not. 12 pages, includes details of the Mysthead region with adventure seeds, the Beachcomber class for Old School Essentials, and a D20 table of strange things washed up on the beach. 

Mysthead 2: 12 pages, details Mysthead’s goblins and elves with adventure seeds, plus tables for mnemonic relics, whispering skulls, fae/goblin political structures, and underdark rumors. Also includes the Rumormonger Spider, a playable class for Old School Essentials.

Wolves of the Gnarlwood: a 3 page system-less wilderness adventure  

(You can also find the classes as separate PDFs along with one for the Unright Goat.)

Check them all out here.

Scrypt: A Lexical Fungus

It’s been a bit. I’ve been lazy. I’ve also been working on another issue of Mysthead. I might also have started to post some game stuff to itch.io. Mostly bespoke classes for Old School Essentials and an adventure.

One thing I want to add to my game table are condition cards that impact roleplay as opposed to mechanics. One inspiration was the card game The Grizzled, but I’m sure it’s been used elsewhere. So I took that idea and mushed it with the notion of what if languages could be infected with astral lichens and, lo, scrypt was born!

Scrypt is a living language despite being millennia old.

A remnant of the wars between the proto-gods, scrypt thrives like a linguistic lichen within the fertile soil of other languages. When one reads scrypt the words remain inside the mind. This can allow an untrained person to cast spells. However, it may also allow suggestions, enchantments, and worse to take root in the minds of the unwary. More importantly, scrypt attracts aetheric parasites when not maintained properly. Using scrypt is not to be done lightly.

Beware of scrypt-skull!

After every use of a scrypt-carrying scroll, the user must make a WILL save. If they fail, consult the table below. Effects last D4 hours.

(Give a reward, XP, fortune point, whatever, to players who make a valiant effort.)

  1. Jobberknowl: All nouns must be reversed when spoken, ie “knife” becomes “efink”.
  2. Dretched: Replace the first syllable of polysyllabic word with the prefix “dretch-”
  3. Coranto: Speaker must knock twice at the start and end of every sentence.
  4. Imbrangle: The speaker must start every sentence with “Imbrangletanglemangle…”
  5. Zelant: The speaker must include at least one blasphemous phrase in every sentence.
  6. Nullfidious: The speaker can only answer questions in the negative, although they believe they are answering accurately.
  7. Grudgins: All nouns are replaced with names of prepared foods like “pickled herrings” or “sliced ham”.
  8. Javeljaum: Classic spoonerisms, swap the prominent sounds of close words.
  9. Igniferent: The speaker must discuss the flammability of every noun they mention when speaking.
  10. Stelltwire: Speaker must replace spoken nouns with words that rhyme with the intended words.
  11. Colsleck: Speaker inverts the syllables of words when speaking.
  12. Chrysopo: Speaker appends the syllable -opo to every syllable they speak.
  13. Cinqpace: All numbers are increased by one, ie “Anyone for tennis?” becomes “Anytwo five elevenis?”
  14. Xeriff: The speaker gains a fluent knowledge to a centuries outdated legal code and references it constantly.
  15. Saltimbanco: The speaker turns every conversation into a sales pitch for Saltimbanco, an invigorating health elixir.
  16. Katexoken: The speaker will only speak if addressed as royalty.
  17. Dogbolt: Speaker must add -og- before each vowel in a syllable.
  18. Nist: The speaker can not remember the exact name for any item or person.
  19. Haqueton: Speaker drops the first letter of every word.
  20. Yblent: Speaker must shift vowels one place to the right (“a” becomes “e”) while speaking.

And that’s that. My goal is to get the rest of the zine done before December, which I am on track to do. That’ll be over on my Patreon when it goes live. There’s a poll there now to determine next year’s old weird book to read.

Mysthead 2 // Who or What Is the Boss?

Hey all,

I’ve put together another issue of “Mysthead” my RPG fanzine. You can get it and the first issue by supporting me on patreon. CLICK THIS TO GO THERE. In this issue you’ll find lore about Mysthead’s elf and goblin populations, a playable gossiping spider race-class (“The Rumormonger Spider”) for Old School Essentials, and tables to generate whispering skulls, hot spider gossip, and elf-goblin political structures. So as not to make this post a complete advertisement, I’ve included the elf-goblin political structure generator below.

Take care for now!

***

Elves and goblins often have peculiar ways of governing themselves. While all manner of geases may determine what actions may or may not be taken when within either ones domain, there is usually some higher authority consulted in times of great peril or confusion. Often these have a clear criteria they follow: the most cunning, the eldest, those who achieve some renown. Other times the criteria is more obscure.

Below you will find an assortment of odd sovereigns to rule over your goblins and elves. Roll, choose, and/or mix and match:

  1. A class of astronomers who seek advice from the stars. Their wisdom is renowned.
  2. An ancient tree at the center of the Arkenwyld and served by an order of life-bound guardians.
  3. A sacred book that rewrites itself every day.
  4. A great elder abstracted with age and lingering on the brink of stupor.
  5. A young sovereign wrestling with their first bout of nostalgia.
  6. Your mom. My mom. Every body’s mom. The literal All-Mother
  7. An ancient ethernaut stranded in this world by the vortex shoals.
  8. A squabbling court of siblings intriguing against each other and eager to find allies.
  9. A council of ancients, so old they resemble cicadas. Time has no meaning to them.
  10. A singing harp, whoever can master its song rules for a decade.
  11. A council of white-coated priests who read the movements of rats in a maze.
  12. A set of bone dice kept locked in a vault. They bear no numbers or glyphs and can only be read by a trained seer.
  13. A human child, obnoxious and utterly spoiled. The child’s about eleven.
  14. Three gnomes in a trench coat. It started as a gag but now they’re in too deep.
  15. A spider of epic proportions that feeds on secrets and makes its lair in a darkness beyond reason.
  16. The movements of some infernal or divine beast like a hen or a pig. It is attended by priests and kept within a heavily guarded enclosure.
  17. The winner of an extreme athletic event done without assistance and far from sober. Not all who attempt it return.
  18. An odd stone that weeps a slurry that induces visions. It’s not from this world, nor even this reality. The hangovers are abysmal, but it works.
  19. An elf sovereign exiled from another land. They are keen to get their revenge and regain their kingdom.
  20. An intelligent monster like an ogre magi, dragon, or sphinx kept as a prisoner. They are treated with reverence but know they live in a gilded cage and long for their freedom.

What Made the Goat Go Wrong?

“The only domestic animal known to return to feral life as swiftly as the cat is the goat.”

There in the barn, biding its time, watching the villagers go about their daily business, the goat waits. Something strange has happened to the goat, and it is no longer right. Yesterday, it was as normal as any other goat in the field. Now an uncanny intelligence burns behind its horizontal pupils.

What happened to the goat? Roll below to find out:

  1. A skyrock landed in the back fields. The chromaspectral beings within changed the goat before they died.
  2. A bored fae taught the goat to read and write for a laugh.
  3. Long ago a mindlord’s ethership crashed near here. Its engines have slowly released mutagens into the soil. Fortunately, the goat ate most of it.
  4. It’s not always demons, but often it is. This is one of those times.
  5. The goat stayed out overnight, and the full moon’s light made it weird.
  6. A passing saint blessed the goat. Now the goat seeks to free other goats from demonic domination.
  7. The goat was found unconscious beside the alchemist’s garbage heap. No one knows what it ate, not even the alchemist, but the goat hasn’t been right since.
  8. A terrifying night with nature cultists scared wits into the goat.
  9. Those little red mushrooms that sprout in the cow pasture after the rain.
  10. The goat saw a goat on a passing aristocrat’s coat of arms. The goat thinks it’s royalty now.
  11. Drunk scholars kept the goat as a pet. The goat had the best manners of them all.
  12. Unknown to all, the goat’s descended from the Thunder God’s pets. A single thunderclap was all it took.
  13. The goat is the chosen one. It was supposed to be the orphan swineherd, but destiny’s arm slipped. Now only the goat can save the world.
  14. One too many head-buts with a rival goat.
  15. A passing fiddler played in the fields and the music was enough to make the goat dance.
  16. The goat is the last great project of Vinssloss Nerkutt, the legendary animal trainer.
  17. One of the goat’s parent’s was a dragon in disguise. The goat may occasionally breathe fire.
  18. A voice on the wind gave the goat a true name before disappearing.
  19. A recently deceased soul has been reborn inside the goat. The goat must finish a task the soul failed to do.
  20. It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Heartbreak made the goat strange.

If you would like to see the full playable goat class for your tabletop games, it’s available for free on my patreon: THE UNCANNY GOAT.

Enjoy!

THE LOCAL CAMPAIGN // MYSTHEAD

The local region map made on Inkarnate

Recently my game group wound down our D&D campaign for a bit of a breather. I’m the GM and we’re using Beyond the Wall as our rules. I’ve run Beyond the Wall before (here’s the first post about that game), but this time I leaned into its implied YA fantasy setting. The game had a teen delinquents and their up-tight friend solve/commit crimes and fight monsters feel to it.

Some notes and revelations:

  • Magic. BtW keeps it scary and unpredictable, so much so a few times the party had beneficial items that they were too frightened to use. Also every mage the players encountered was awful or at the very least damaged in some way. A downside to this is that the spells veer towards the looser end and require negotiation between player and GM.
  • Small setting. The furthest the players traveled from the village was four days away. Most of the time they were interacting with known people and places around town. Known dungeon sites got a bit of that Zone spice, never quite cleared out, but always there spooky and weird just beyond the edge of town. It also opens the calendar and locations.
  • The Calendar. Some places are more powerful at certain times than others. Some locations only appear on nights of the full moon. The cult is having their meeting a week from now. If you hurry maybe you can get there. I wasn’t that strict with it, but I certainly made it a bigger part of the game than I’ve ever done in the past. One danger is it can become grindy as players try to divide turns down into rounds like they’re riding Zeno’s Arrow.
  • Locations. Make places magic items. Light a fire in the old temple and no fire can harm you while you remain there. Stop by the local saint’s shrine before setting out and get a bonus. This is one way to keep magic limited and add a strategy element. This location has this effect. This other location has a different effect.
  • Pesky Kids. I dug the teen detectives uncover secrets and solve crimes angle and played up the fact that except with few exceptions no adult was going to take the teens’ accusations seriously. I did this until one player asked me to stop because they found it triggering. By then they hated the home village (with its stupid adults) so much they had to be coaxed into protecting it.
  • Reputation. Small town reputations provide a lot of pressure points for characters. At one point the delinquents got kicked out of their house by their guardians (the twins did burn a building down). They ended up having to pay rent at the inn. And they hated it! But I loved saying, “Master Barrelhelm wants his gold piece for the week.”
  • Who Gave the Kid a Knife? Despite the characters being 18-year olds, the players weren’t and for some reason those with kids of their own were reluctant for their characters to give an NPC teen friend a bunch of weapons. Go figure.
  • No Hirelings. It’s hard to hire a bunch of torch-bearers and Men-At-Arms to use as meat shields when you’ll have to see their widows and orphaned kids around town. Despite this the players had a couple of NPCs they could occasionally lean on.

If you want to read more about the game, here’s a link about its inspirations.

MYSTHEAD APPENDIX N / BEYOND THE WALL

Ivan Bilibin vibes

This is for those random persons who enjoy reading about other people’s TTRPG games. Here’s a look at all the material that went into the recent game my group and I finished*. Expect a lot of links to wikipedia pages.

THE RULES USED

Beyond the Wall

We use all the Beyond the Wall material to date. Its roots are as a retroclone of D&D, but it welds on bits from AD&D (race and class) while keeping the rules loose enough. I’d love to see it overlap more with more narrative games like Dungeon World and Five Torches Deep. Also since BtW leans into YA Fantasy for its inspiration I could easily see another table mixing it up with Monster Hearts. For what it’s worth, BtW’s version of the Banshee has one of the best save or die mechanics.

The one bad thing about the rule set is that it’s scattered across multiple books. Personally, I’d love to see an omnibus “Rules Cyclopedia” edition published some day. Through Sunken Lands (the latest iteration of the rules) does this somewhat, but TSL has a different vibe. TSL is bronze age sword & sorcery, and not the high medieval YA fantasy we wanted.

OTHER GAMES & SUPPLEMENTS

  • Dolmenwood: For the vibe more than the particulars, although I did lift the Haunted Abbey from here and tweak it.
  • Harn: I’m a fan but have little time for its level of detail. Doesn’t stop me from pillaging it for names and lore, especially its pantheon.
  • B10 Night’s Dark Terror: One of the greatest D&D modules. A good story and mix of wilderness and dungeon adventures.
  • The Gazetteer Series of D&D products. Again, it’s less the details and more the names and site tags.
  • Carse and Midkemmia Press’s Cities supplement

MOVIES

Some provided plots, others only atmosphere.

  • Night of the Demon: The cursed parchment, the hypnotism scene, the congenial devil worshiper, and the arrival of some inescapable doom at a certain time.
  • The Old Dark House: Nobody scares like Brother Saul!
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Every fantasy game needs a backwoods clan of cannibals. My players rightfully called me out when I gave them southern accents.
  • Phantasm: It, like my game, is stitched together from whatever seemed weird/cool at the moment.
  • Harold & Maude: Maude’s the model for the elderly shield maiden having a fling with the party’s wizard.
  • The Mummy // Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Do you need links to these? Both do a great job blending fantasy and naturalism. Okay, The Mummy doesn’t but the action’s fun and the props are bulky. It leans gracefully into the yakety sax.
  • Rankin & Bass’s Tolkien and The Last Unicorn movies for their cute but grotty weirdness and because they’re deeply imprinted in my brain.
  • Those Passolini Trilogy of Life movies set during the Middle Ages/Renaissance did similar imprinting from a different direction.
  • Spaghetti Western // Hammer Horror // Shaw Brothers movies all mashed together and left to ferment and link mycelia. In my opinion these three genres meld very well together.

BOOKS // AUTHORS

  • The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books by way of spoof covers.
  • Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories
  • The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter Beagle
  • The Book of Goblins by Alan Garner (Yallery Brown!)
  • One Thousand and One Nights (Especially that story where Sinbad gives a piggy-back ride to an awful man.)
  • The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
  • Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
  • The Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Chaucer’s Knight by Terry Jones
  • Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli in His World by Erica Benner

OTHER STUFF

  • Early American Serial Killers and Mississippi River bandits like the Harpe Brothers.
  • Every European folklore page on Wikipedia. I would try Stargazey pie.
  • Cherry picked bits of Medieval/Early Renaissance History.
  • Cape Ann.

*It’s not done, but we reached a good pause point and I wanted to take a break and other people wanted to run games. The goal’s to come back to it before the end of the year.