Thursday 7 December 2023

Freebie: The Troublesome Trio (Adversaries)

There are antagonists that truly test the mettle of any adventuring party, whose raw might can match them, whose cunning keeps them one step ahead, whose stalwart convictions ensure that no matter what happens, they won't stray from the dark path they have chosen. Adversaries like these can rattle the nerves of even the most stalwart of heroes.

This blog entry is not about them.

Instead, it focuses on the also-rans, the would-be's, the mid-bosses - the quirky sort of rivals who never quite manage to be more dangerous than annoying, but demand the heroes attention anyway. Since these sorts tend to come in sets of three, we'll officially dub them...

The Troublesome Trio 

Rather than one set of values or stats, the Troublesome Trio is an archetype that you may add to a team of three adversaries of your choice. These can be brand new GMC's created with either the character creation rules or adversary generation rules, or a team selected from existing adversaries - in the case of the latter, I suggest making sure they are of similar rank, perhaps modifying the selected adversaries to make sure this is the case.

As a brief aside, these rules are just the tiniest bit more meta than I usual (for adversaries at least) - while this means they won't fit in every BREAK!! game, I did think it was pretty fun for an experiment. 

With that said, Troublesome Trio's have certain sorts of members and a dynamic to keep in mind:

The Leader: While this may or may not be the trio's official leader, they are the ones that generally order the other two around. They have a tendency to be showy and boisterous, often taunting their self proclaimed rivals and giving away their schemes before they happen. They also have a tendency towards loud fashion, favoring Appealing or Authoritative Outfits. 
  • Battle/Murder Princesses or Blaster Mages are good candidates to use for different sorts of leaders, though anyone who can be flashy and try and steal the show could work.

The Brawn: Usually the largest member of the group (though some are comedically smaller than their partners in crime) the brawn is usually the one running around doing the legwork. While this means many are fighting sorts, some are simply strong or sturdy enough to carry around whatever the leader demands they do. They have a tendency to be clueless or a bit dense.
  • Champions or Proudhound Sellswords are both good examples of Brawns. That said, anyone who can lift heavy things or hold their own in a fight do too.

The Brain: While "smart" is a relative term when it comes to Troublesome Trios (in fact, many of them are honestly rather foolish) this member of the team is the one who provides and attends to the magic or tools that allow for all the leader's ill-considered plans. They near universally love sarcastic quips.
  • Factotums and Sages work well as the Brain, but anyone who can create or call upon means for mayhem could perform the role just as well.

Members of a Troublesome Trio have the following special Abilities:

Persistent Pests
For some reason, the party just can't seem to shake these morons.
  • Whenever the GM rolls on a random encounter table in a Saga where a Troublesome Trio is present, any roll of 3 results in an encounter with them, regardless of where the party happens to be.
  • The GM may decide how and why the trio happens to be there or roll on the mood table below for inspiration:
    • 1-7: The Trio has simply been following the party and waiting for the exact moment to strike and get in the way of some important objective. The GM should have the party member with the highest Insight roll to see if they notice them. If the party member fails, the Trio will pop up at the worst or funniest possible moment for an ambush.
    • 8-14: Believe it or not, they were already here. They are likely stranded or lost when the party stumbles on them. They'll probably play this off as intentional but they are obviously lying.
    • 15-20: Unsurprisingly, the trio has already gotten into trouble - another random encounter on the chart is currently scolding or chasing them when they bump into the party. They are not above begging for help.
  • This Ability can be ignored when it is absolutely impossible for the Trio to be where the party is or whenever the Game Master forgets about it.

Refuge in Slapstick
While the trio no doubt wants to defeat and humble the party, they would never go so far as to try and really hurt them. Their inherently comedic nature partially shields them from serious harm thanks to a quirk of Fate.
  • If a party member is ever forced to make a roll on the Injury Table due to the attack or actions of a member of a Troublesome Trio, the roll always counts as a Light Injury. Individuals who do not use the Injury/Damage table (such as friendly GMC's) are simply knocked out cold.
  • Members of a Troublesome Trio don't ever die when reduced to 0 Hearts, instead being incapacitated in a funny way and usually sent flying elsewhere if the means to launch them is present.
    • This aspect of this Ability can ignored if someone really evil is attacking the trio, or if the Players (not the characters) are more annoyed than amused by their antics.

Using A Troublesome Trio

The Troublesome Trio are best used multiple times throughout a Saga, which is reinforced by Refuge in Slapstick which assures they'll stick around for the length of any given campaign.

Probably the most straightforward way to utilize these rules is to have the trio show up for early adventures as a serious challenge, and then have them slowly become more of a joke as the party outpaces them in rank and ability.

Planning scenarios around the trio could be a great way to provide a breather between more serious sessions if you're running a more plot or danger heavy saga. For some ideas: 
  • Big machines! (you could represent these by re-skinning some larger adversaries to have some drone or bio-mechanoid abilities), 
  • Heists! (maybe they are stealing from a patron or ally of the party) 
  • Terrible disguises that somehow work really well! (for some on brand fun, you could let the players in on these even if they fool their characters).
They can add a fun bit of chaos too, as the Persistent Pests ability can be used to make it so that even you can't be sure when they might show up. This of course can be ignored if you don't want to do as much improvising, but I think a big part of the fun would is having these dweebs show up unprompted.

Finally, if the party is ever totally stuck or in grave danger and you want a way to help them, the trio can actually be helpful here and again. This might be because they aren't so bad after all, they want to put the party in their debt, or just because they think the real villain of the saga is a huge jerk.

Example Troublesome Trio: The Shadowed Hearts

Drak Dastard (The Leader)
  • Rank 2 Tenebrate Murder Princess
  • +1 Grit, Aura, -1 Insight (Determined, Dramatic, Dense)
  • Wrath's Blade: Arc Weapon (Sorrow Scythe)
  • Elective Ability: Bulwark of Disdain
Drak is an intense sort who dresses in elaborate attire with an excessive amount of belts (Authoritative Outfit) that claims he will one day ascend to the rank of Overlord. While he does have a lot of ambition and dramatic flair, he's also the sort of person who can't read a room and misses a lot of minor and important details. While he will often talk of his dark past, his patrician parents are actually pretty supportive and send him encouraging missives with money tucked inside them here and again.

Mett Allic (The Brawn)
  • Rank 2 Promethean Champion
  • +2 Might, -1 Deftness (Too strong for her own good)
  • Favored Weapon: Mighty (She likes hammers)
  • Elective Ability:  Brute
In spite of her bubbly nature, Mett loves a good scrap. She's fond of Drak and goes along with his plans as it give her an opportunity to start fights and occasionally even smash things which is her favorite pastime. She did not get the memo about the team name and generally dresses in bright armor and pastels.

Tomato Disaster (The Brain)
  • Rank 2 Rai-Neko Sage
  • +1 Insight (Sharp Wit)
  • Elective Ability: Arcane Artificing 
With their dark cloak and wide brimmed hat, Tomato seems like the mysterious sort until you get them talking about their newest creation, prompting them to go on at length about it in an excitable manner. It's clear they joined the Shadowed Hearts so they could have an outlet for all the strange artifacts they make, though they are also fairly good friends with Drak and Mett as well.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Setting: Chivalric Orders of Outer World

The Chivalric Order is a concept that has been present throughout much of Outer World's history. The very first of these was technically the Cataphracts of the Gossamer Cloak, a group of elven warriors that was formed shortly after the 1st Cataclysm with the aim of slaying First Hero for his supposed treachery. The result of their disastrous crusade is evident in the fact that the order was very much defunct within a year of its founding, but their tale (which has been retold numerous times in works both dramatic and comedic) placed the idea of high minded bands bringing sword and staff to bear in the name of some cause within the hearts and minds of the folk - for better or worse.

Many such orders have come and gone since then. They have only become more prominent in the 4th Aeon, thanks to its fractured state both allowing for greater ambitions and necessitating heroics. In this entry, we'll explore a handful of these and their current standing in Outer World.

The Knights of the Sacred Chain is the militant branch of the religion of the same name. Centered in Shard, they represent an almost ubiquitous military force in the country. These warrior monks are accepted by the populace but greatly feared - depending on who you ask, they are respectable keepers of order or the right hand of pious tyranny. Many among them obscure their face with closed helmets or scarves when on duty to help keep up their order's image of a unified, almost mystical army rather than one of individuals who happen to share a similar creed. 

Bearers of light in a place enshrouded by darkness, the Knights of the Lantern have dedicated themselves to protecting those living in the Shadowed Lands. While this does involve traditionally heroic acts like driving away monsters or fighting raiders and the like, the knights are also well known for their efforts in infrastructure; such as assisting in the establishment and maintenance of "Lantern Towns" in the heart of the region. While many of its members might be considered a bit rough and shabby by more noble warriors, their hearts are in the right place.

The Black Glove Cavaliers answer directly to Night Haven's Duke of Red Roses, acting as his eyes and ears. While rumors and speculation of what their true purpose is run rampant, it's actually more straightforward than what many assume: the cavaliers investigate conspiracies and schemes and are expected to do their utmost to make sure no harm befalls the citizens of their home isle. The broad nature of this task leads to a great deal of variance in temperament and restraint among their members.

Of those on this list, the Forgotten Swords can be the most loosely defined as an order. Founded by a mixed group of samurai and shinobi whose livelihoods were cut away by the military and social upheaval of the Seven Holy Isles, they function as a highly organized network of myrmidons and sell-swords. Since their inception their area of influence and diversity of membership has broadened considerably. Sometimes referred to as an army without a nation, the transparency of their dealings has made them highly trusted mercenaries, if not well liked ones.

Born of a concentrated effort to make safe pathways in the famously inhospitable region of No-Folk's Land, the Knights of the Open Road have filled their ranks with hard workers and stalwart warriors prepared to ensure safe passage for travelers however they can. They can often get a bit carried away, with some of the paths they end up creating stretching far further than planned. While this has gotten them in trouble with some local powers, they tend to be appreciated by common folk for obvious reasons. Of all the orders listed here, these Knights are the most likely to take up errantry and end up in other lands - who doesn't need better roads, truly?

Further Notes
  • While many of these orders have purposes specific to these regions, it doesn't mean members of their ranks can't become adventurers without leaving their order. They may have simply taken up errantry or questing and plan on returning to them someday.
  • This is probably obvious, but these are far from the only orders of this sort in Outer World, just a handful to show the sorts of spaces they might take up in a game. You can and should make up your own if you feel so inclined!
  • If you wish to use these orders in the game you are running you can save yourself a bit of time designing members by re-skinning available adversaries in the book: Custrels can be used for squires or low ranking knights, Blaster Mages for spell casters among their number, Proudhound Sellswords and Killservants as exceptional knights, and even an Oppressor as the antagonistic leader of an order if you need. 


Tuesday 7 November 2023

Freebie: PURRfectly Playable (Character Option)

Outer World adventurers come in many shapes and sizes. All manner of folk wander about in search of meaning, riches, or purpose. Beasts of all stripes accompany these travelers as well, from the loyal growl to the lumbering and lovable bumpo.

Of course, sometimes these lines cross. Occasionally a pet won't be just a companion to an adventurer - they happen to be one themselves as well. This blog entry provides an option for one such circumstance, presenting rules on how to play a Purr in BREAK!!

With the intro out of the way, I did want to set some expectations: I tried to make the playable Purr is as close to a normal cat as possible with just a bit of potential magic thrown in. This is why it's relatively streamlined and mostly draws from the Sneak Calling. As a result this option is not quite as robust as a normal BREAK!! character, but I figured people would forgive me since this is a blog entry AND they get to play a cat!

These rules will suit players who don't mind more passive or subtle roles in a tabletop rpg, or ones who like to scheme and tinker in the background. If they are delighted by cats, that will also help. It's also a good option for players who can't make every session, or for ones whose normal character is out of commission for a bit.

GM Tip!: This also gives a pretty loose but workable system of coming up with other playable pets too. Take a pet, an appropriate Calling, cut out the stuff that doesn't work for any particular reason and you've got your base. The Growl and Raider are a good match, for example.

Purr Player Characters
Purr Characters use the Sneak's progression table for Attack, Hearts, Aptitudes, XP required to level up, and so forth. 

They are able to do all the things an ordinary purr can do: bat at things with their paws, move around with ease, big stretches, etc. Per the pet rules, they cannot attack directly without taking a certain elective Ability, but they can perform Combat Tricks. While they can't carry or manipulate things, they can carry small things (usually sized at 1 slot or less) in their mouths.

They are also able to Negotiate, though it's limited to things like winning over someone's affection or trying to get an extra snack. They do this via meowing, rubbing against the targets leg, etc. The GM may decide the Purr gets a bonus if the target of the negotiation is fond of animals.

They are able to "talk" with other bestial mammals (like growls, snarls, other purrs, etc) and Negotiate with them normally.

Purr Player characters begin a Defense of 12, rather than a Purr's normal Defense of 11 (due to their small size) - they are just a bit faster and more nimble than other, non adventurous purrs.

Purr Characters begin Play with the following Abilities:
  • Light Footed (Starting Sneak Ability)
  • Furtive (Starting Sneak Ability)
  • Don't Mind Me (Starting Factotum Ability)
    • In the middle of a dangerous situation, most people are going to ignore a kitty moving around.
  • Slinky (Purr Ability)
    • While light footed covers a lot of things this grants Edges to, it's still good to take note of this for falling and other situations you might still need to roll for.
Purr Characters can also take the following Sneak Elective Abilities as they progress in Rank. These are all Sneak Abilities:

  • Meticulous Dungeoneer
  • Twitchy
  • Sudden Strike 
    • This allows the Purr character to attack normally.
  • Legerdemain
    • While you really can't do things like card tricks and so forth, this still provides you an Edge on Deftness rolls involving taking things or cat related mischief.
  • Inner Dramatics
  • Hide in Plain Sight
  • Cat's Eyes 
    • Seems like a no brainer admittedly. 
  • Desperate Scurry

Normal character histories don't quite work for Purrs either, so here are a handful of custom ones along with purviews for each.

(1-7) Stray
You were all alone in the world, but you made do. 
  • Quickly getting out of sight
  • Seizing an opportunity
  • Keeping track of the good ones 
(8-14) Farm Purr
You lived mostly outdoors, but had someone to take care of you and a place to go when it was cold.
  • Feline Acrobatics
  • Keeping an eye out for pests
  • Acting like you are much bigger than you are

(15-20) Beloved Companion
You had a good, comfortable life with a dear friend.
  • Getting attention
  • Finding all the nooks and crannies
  • Spirited Play

Player Tip!: If the idea of your purr being separated from their owner is a bit too sad for you, that owner could be another player in the game or reoccurring Game Master Character.

While Traits are generated normally, Purrs don't have access to every Quirk, instead rolling or choosing from this list during character creation rather than the standard one:
  • 1-2: Curious (Spirit Quirk)
  • 3-4: Soul Link (Spirit Quirk)
  • 5-6: Adorable (Physiology Quirk)
  • 7-8: Big Eater (Physiology Quirk)
  • 9-10: Mage Breaker (Fate Quirk)
  • 11-12: Past Injury (Fate Quirk)
  • 13-14: Beast Tongue (Fate Quirk)
    • You can already speak to other animalistic mammals, but you can use this to acquire another bestial language.
  • 15-16: Guardian (Fate Quirk)
  • 17-18: Dreamer (Eldritch Quirk)
  • 19-20: Sneezles (Eldritch Quirk)

Finishing touches on your Purr character are also a little different form ordinary ones. You don't have any starting money, nor do you begin play with a functional outfit or standard weapon - though you may have a collar, if you like. Instead, concern yourself with the quality and color of your fur, whether you are chonky or not, and so forth.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Setting: Seeing the Forest for the Trees (Murk)

Murk is an unearthly land dominated mostly by forests located on the greater Akenian continent of the Wistful Dark. It is oft-discussed by both curious academics and cautious lay folk of the rest of Outer World. It is understood as the last vestige of The Dreaming, a place where the laws of material reality wane and old, indistinct things dwell. 

Folk live there, and some even wander away from it, but their stories of the place are disparate. Many believe a mortal can only ever know a small part of those great woods, given its strange condition of being of Outer World but being also distinct from it. People rarely die in Murk - it is more likely they will vanish among the trees or become something else entirely.

The Formless Council holds court there, but the ranks of the Unshaped have dwindled to a truly pitiable number. The Glassen Tsar of Crystalia and The Queen of Weeping Shadows rarely attend. Lesser unshaped (such as Belzuub) grow brazen, mocking their ostensible superiors for languishing in idle fantasy. Schemes are often proposed, but are generally never agreed upon.

Murk does often change to reflect the council's moods and whims, but these ripples are petulant rather than methodical. Breezes from all corners of Outer World blow through its foliage, bring chill or warmth in equal measure. Places wither and regrow without warning. Roads, when present, rarely ever lead to the same place for longer than a few days.

Every woodland path eventually leads back to Murk. If one has the permission from a particular Forest's ruler, they may pass from it into that strange land. Some speak of great adventurers who have made numerous alliances so they may quickly traverse from one end of Outer World to another.

Great power gathers here, but it is brittle and fleeting: the oldest being in Outer World rests in a meadow. One great tree rises above all others, a spire filled with treasure from places that do not exist. In a shining lake somewhere, a duchess in white is trying to grow a moon. If one does manage to find the heart of Murk, they may also discover the last remaining fragment of the world that once was.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Freebie: wonder and Whimsy (Gear + Adventure Site Features)

I'm unreasonably excited for Super Mario Wonder, so I thought it might be fun to theme this freebie around it. 

I've loved the Mario games since I was a kid, and while it might not be quite as influential on my stuff as a certain other Nintendo franchise I do think some of its DNA did make its way into BREAK!!

Besides, BREAK!! really wears its influences on its sleeve, so it just feels right to occasionally write things like this and show off how people might translate their own favorite things into it for their own sagas.

Anyway, enough blathering, onto the freebies!

(On the off chance you don't know what game I'm talking about, here's the trailer)

Wonder Fruits
These unique consumables grant an array of effects upon use, usually a bonus ability coupled with an appropriate physical or cosmetic alteration. They are quite rare, often manifesting a few at a time every century or so in very specific places. They have proven to be impossible to cultivate or reproduce and are unsuitable for use in even magical crafting - given this, and the fact they seem to have been around in some capacity for as long as history has been recorded, scholars have defaulted to blaming the Unshaped for this one.

Wonder Fruits:
  • Take up a single inventory slot if stored
  • Can be consumed with an action.
  • Unless otherwise noted, their effects last until the user would lose a heart or incur an injury somehow. The user is spared the damage, but the power up's effects end immediately.
Due to their nature as rare, single use items found in specific places, it's hard to put a value on Wonder Fruits as normal merchants simply don't have much reason to try and sell them. Undead Merchants however occasionally hunker down and peddle them for a (negotiable) 50 Coins a pop.

Bumpo Berry (Consumable, Power-Up)
This odd, fist size berry looks a bit like a Wooly Bumpo's head, growing in magic saturated places that are in some way affiliated with those majestic beasts.
  • Consuming one of these fruits will not only nourish you for a day, but also transform you into a mighty hybrid of yourself and the berry's namesake! In this form:
    • You grow to Large size, if you aren't that big (or bigger) already.
    • Grants you Supernatural Might and the Champion's Brute Elective Ability.
Other Wonder Fruits can be created by pairing different abilities with physical changes or colorful effects. Given their temporary nature, you might even allow players to gain access to powerful abilities that are usually only available to adversaries, or create a sort of  power-up that is essential to getting around a particular Adventure site.

Whimsy Stones
Whimsy Stones are an extremely concentrated version of the magical energy that Sages draw on for a number of their spells. There are a few reasons why enough mana collects to form one of these: magical duels involving repeated spells, rituals that go a little too well, or the death of a particularly powerful sage are perhaps the most well known.

Whimsy Stones are rooted in the ground of certain Adventure Sites and are activated by touch. This creates a Whimsy Effect (see below) that affects the site for 24 Hours. This drains the stone of its magic, though it will resume soaking in mana and become charged again in a span of time dependent on the nature of the site itself. These effects extend to the player's party unless otherwise noted.

It is said that the these stones, ripped from their place of origin and with their mischief shucked away, are an integral component of a Pedagogue's apparatus.

Whimsy Effect (Roll or Choose)
  • 1-2: Everything and everyone currently in the Adventure Site is granted a very unbecoming hat they are compelled to wear for the duration of the effect.
  • 3-4: Every location in the Adventure Site now has 3 Chompas (from the adversary section of the BREAK!! rulebook) wandering around them in addition to whatever was in there before. Roll on the Chompa's Mood Table to see how each trio is handling the situation.
  • 5-6: Every applicable target within the Adventure Site becomes afflicted with a thematically appropriate Status Ailment as chosen by the GM.
  • 7-8: The scenery within the site has come to life and is now moving or wobbling about! Roll a die for each Battlefield Area that comes up to see what condition they gain from all this wiggling:
    • 1-4: Nothing new, thankfully
    • 5-8: Isolated
    • 9-12: Sheltered
    • 13-16: Cramped 
    • 17-20: Precarious
  • 9-10: The entire Adventure site is now flooded with water. It's thankfully breathable even for folks bereft of gills, but it does mean everyone inside is going to be stuck wading or swimming everywhere.
  • 11-12: The doors and portals of this adventure site are tired of being slammed, having their locks picked, or being bashed open at a whim and are on strike. Anyone wanting to move through one normally will have to negotiate with them (their Aptitudes for any negotiation rolls are equal to their Object Defense Rating, -2)
  • 13-14: Physical violence is impossible within the Adventure Site for the duration of the effect. Conflicts are instead resolved via things like card games, rock paper scissors, tongue twisters - whatever the GM has on hand, really. Anyone who loses one of these contests or attempts to attack someone else (including the use of hostile abilities) vanishes until the effect is over, re-appearing at the spot they last got a decent rest at.
  • 15-16: The lighting of the adventure site inverts. Well lit places are now pitch dark, shadowy spots are now bright and so forth. It's very disorienting and has likely got the site's normal inhabitants in a tizzy.
  • 17-18: The smallest inhabitant of the Adventure Site (not including members of the player's party) is now Massive size (per the Adversary section of the BREAK!! Rulebook). This often comes with an proportionate increase in aggression.
  • 19-20: The Adventure site is immediately flipped upside down. This one is probably a (comedic) disaster.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Setting: Prominent Belief Systems of Outer World

Many belief systems have come and gone throughout Outer World's history. Each aeon brought in new ways of thinking, and with it, a cataclysm that overthrew some existing power or eroded away a status quo once taken for granted. The current world is characterized by the swirling mixture of remains of divine law, scattered eldritch powers, tattered fate, and the ubiquity of the arcane. It is an overwhelming, but nonetheless wonderous place that calls to be understood. Scholars, leaders, and overthinkers have tried their hands at making sense of it all, and some of those thoughts have actually stuck.

It should be noted that while all of the following belief systems have dedicated adherents, the average individual mixes and matches aspects of these teachings in the way that suit them best. Many find Outer World to be too strange and chaotic a place for a single cosmic truth.

The Mana Inequity Principle and Arcane Altruism

A stark reality of Outer World is that certain individuals can do things that others cannot. Seasoned casters will spend their whole life studying to master a few spells, while some cocky hedge wizard will have just as many under their belt with a fraction of the practice. Veterans of multiple wars will watch in awe as a youthful waif leaps along rooftops and displays master level swordplay to topple a flying beast they couldn't touch, and so forth.

Both light and dark mana flow through all things, but it lingers longer and empowers certain individuals more than others. This leads to heightened physical ability, rapid personal growth and supernatural talent with magic and other skills. This obvious difference was noted by a group of 2nd Aeon researchers, who also named it the Mana Inequity Principle.

While these facts are easy to see, a question remains: why does this imbalance exist?

Early assumptions attributed it to spiritual enlightenment or being chosen by fate, but ancient studies and modern observation have proven that mana attunement is not connected to these factors at all. In fact, there seems to be little or no consistency between those gifted few. Magic is as alive as any of us, after all, and is just as subject to whim and capriciousness as the folk are.

There remains a debate as to exactly what a mana attuned individual should be doing with their gifts. The most popular contemporary answer is “Whatever they like”. In a close second is the primary edict of Arcane Altruism, a philosophy created by prominent Akenian sage Dizah Gren.

It proclaims that all magic, including that which is under the power of an individual, should be used for the betterment of all folk. Dizah's initial intent was clear: she was a firm believer in using her power and knowledge to improve the lives of those without and felt others should aspire to do so as well. A rival wizard named Gar Baxin liked the sound of her teachings, but argued that to truly do the most good casters must first accumulate a great deal of arcane might, leading to the well intentioned doctrine becoming an excuse for some to attempt dangerous rituals and hoard powerful relics.

While it fell out of vogue after the 3rd Cataclysm and the fall of Akenia, Arcane Altruism has seen a recent resurgence, predominantly in Shard's college of Magia. The Gren and Baxin schools of thought came along with it, and that debate has also resumed.

Dawn Orthodoxy

The primary tenet of this philosophy is that the light of the Sun Machine is a shepherding force, essential for living a full and proper life. The Invincible Bright is anthropomorphized as a benevolent force, blessing the Sun Machine and all those who wield Bright Magic with the strength and wisdom to keep the folk on the path of truth.

Obfuscation and ambiguity are regarded poorly, as a lack of clarity is seen as the primary obstacle on the path of enlightenment. Some of its observers are loyal to Emperor Regulus, seeing him as an embodiment of the Orthodoxy's principles in Outer World. While he had little to do with the founding or spreading of their beliefs, he's yet to deny this beneficial assumption.

The Speakers of Sol represent the main driving force of the Dawn Orthodoxy. Centered in the Sol Alliance, their spirited words ring especially true in light of the Sun Machine they so proudly revere. They lack a particularly strict hierarchy, giving each speaker equal authority on the subject of their religion and leading to a great deal of factions under the Orthodoxy's umbrella.

Followers living in regions not graced with the light of the Sun Machine are known as the “Splintered”. Many will never see the brilliance they so admire, contenting themselves with Star Shards and other sources of illumination while hoping their essence can join the Invincible Bright upon death. Their practices tend to be a bit less bombastic and softer than the Speakers of Sol, but they are no less dedicated.

Dark Adventism

Often dismissed by detractors as the whisperings of those lost to ambition and egoism, Dark Adventism is actually a rather complex and flexible set of beliefs. The Profound Darkness and the embrace of one's innermost self is at the center of its ideology. Expression is a most holy act, with both great works of art and blasphemous displays owing their existence to this philosophy.

Denial of one's emotions and desires or those of others is against the ethos of Dark Adventism, but like the Profound Darkness itself this edict is mutable and interpretable. Those truly devoted to the philosophy fully embrace the contradictions that come when one's wishes intertwine and conflict with another, seeing them as quandary worth pondering and a test of conviction.

Most dedicated practitioners concentrate on personal agency rather than grand sermons. Known as the Tenebrous Pact, its adherents seek their greatest selves by whatever means they can manage. This private path is popular with all walks of life, attracting everything from ambitious merchants and artists to skilled warriors and phantom thieves.

A more controversial form of Dark Adventism is Nephelism, named after the celebrated Shadow Queen of old Calian, Nephel. Based predominantly on her actions and teachings, it eschews the abstract aspects of the philosophy and puts a greater emphasis on dark magic as an effective means of attaining one’s desires. Nephel herself had a well documented fondness for summoning entities from beyond the sky to do her bidding.

The Twilight Manifest

Moderation and balance are the core virtues of the Twilight Manifest. Both the Invincible Bright and the Profound Darkness represent various forms of excess; problematic but necessary. It is good and proper for one to maintain parity in their various whims, usually with the help of self-discipline or a spiritual leader.

Excess is seen as the primary sin of the folk, one that even the most pious will occasionally falter in. Many teachings of the Manifest suggest seeking balance via calm contemplation on how best to harmonize their immodest tendencies. Some will even suggest to attempt equal but opposite actions to achieve true equilibrium.

The Twilight Manifest is gently practiced in many places of the Outer World, seen as a guideline rather than a strict code of ethics. It is often adopted by those reaching the later years of their life, as the moderation it espouses is seen as a good way to keep healthy and safe.

More structured versions exist, however. The Church of the Sacred Chain is the most prominent faith in Shard and encourages strict enforcement of its doctrine, going so far as to accept donations to their institution as a means of "balancing" one’s immoderations. This has worked out well for the church, allowing them to grow into a powerful organization and even fund their own knightly order.

A final note...

This is not an exhaustive list of the philosophies and religions present in Outer World. For example, the religions for the various small gods, immortals, and un-shaped that have bothered to gather a following are missing, as are the teachings of those loyal to the deposed Divine Rulers and the remnants of their Celestial Order. There are also further sects and branches in the philosophies listed here. Attempting to list all of them would be an arduous task indeed.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Freebie: FUNGUY and MUSHDOOM (Adversaries)

Today's BREAK!! freebie are a pair of adversaries that are sure to grow on you:


Mushroom Menace


  • Funguy are an eccentric species of walking, talking toadstools. Thanks to a habit of keeping to themselves and a tendency towards ruthlessly expunging outsiders, very little is known about them.

Menace Level

  • Mook


  • 0 (Unranked)


  • Dark: 1 (No Allegiance)

Home Region/Habitat

  • Funguys have a preference for cold, wet places. Their favored region is the Wistful Dark (particularly the Murk) but they can also be found in thick forests or dank caves throughout the Outer World.

Aptitudes (Alert, Meticulous, Excitable [+2 Insight, -1 Aura])

Primary Aptitudes: Might, Grit, Insight

Secondary Aptitudes: Deftness, Aura

  • Might [5]

  • Deftness [7]

  • Grit [6]

  • Insight [8]

  • Aura [5]

Combat Values

  • Hearts [1]

  • Attack [+0]

  • Speed [Normal]

  • Defense Rating [12] (Size, Fist of the Fungus) 


Tiny Toadstool (Species, Standard)

Funguy aren’t particularly tall, barely waist level to the average human (and this is even with their mushroom caps).

  • Funguys are Small

  • This is already calculated into this entry’s stats.

  • Funguys breathe and eat, though not in the same way that other humanoids do. They just sort of absorb liquids and organic matter into their body along with air. 

  • Consumables (such as potions or magical food) still affect them like they would another applicable creature, it just looks really odd.

  • Funguys are also able to consume spoiled or unprepared organic material as Rations.

Telepathy Spores (Magic, Dark, Species, Standard)

Funguys do not speak in any conventional way. They instead communicate by passing thoughts to and from their spores. This allows seamless communication with their allies, but is often disorienting and confusing for the uninitiated.

  • A Funguy may take a Turn to release their Telepathic Spores in the Area they currently occupy. This allows all the Funguy within this Area to mentally communicate for the remainder of the conflict.

  • Any non-Funguy within this Area must make a Grit Check. Failure means that the sudden influx of foreign thoughts is a bit much for the target to handle and they are afflicted with the Disoriented Status Ailment for the remainder of the conflict. 

  • Success means they are able to understand the funguy’s thoughts (as well as any other non-funguy in the area that succeeded on their Check) and even communicate with them telepathically. They also receive an Edge on any further Grit Checks called on by this Ability.

  • Certain things might blow or wash away the spores at the Game Master’s discretion. This ends the Ability’s effect immediately.

  • Further use of this Ability on the same Targets within the same conflict have no effect, unless the spores were blown or washed away. 

  • Synthetic Creatures (such as Bio-Mechanoids) are entirely immune to this Ability.

  • If this Ability is used outside of combat, one can assume that its effects last for a few minutes or so.

Fist of the Fungus (Standard)

Most Funguy are well versed in a strange martial art that takes advantage of their small size and flexibility.

  • The Funguy makes Unarmed Attacks as if wielding a Quick Weapon.

Communication Methods

  • Funguys are usually only capable of communicating with their Telepathy Spores, which can be a real hindrance. They utilize the signed component of low speech use when dealing with other species in a pinch.


  • Funguy generally weaponise their Spores against shaky or easily confused foes. Combined efforts and assault assists are favored when fighting against stronger adversaries.


Funguy don’t tend to carry much around, but they do occasionally take interests in small oddities here and again.


  • Indicators - A disconcerting amount of mushrooms, the sounds of very organized shuffling, a strange odor.

  • Roleplaying Notes - Funguys find the strange physical excesses and constant babbling of other humanoids to be nearly intolerable. They are generally pretty grumpy dealing with them as a result.

  • While there is the occasional Funguy who is curious about non-mushroom forms of sentient life, they are considered oddballs by their fellows.

  • Customization  - Some Funguys learn Dark Aligned Sage Abilities. They have distinctly purple mushroom caps.

Random Encounter Reaction

  • Friendly/Benign (1-5) - The unnerved group of Funguys encountered have stumbled across a lost child and are trying to find someone friendly to turn them over to. They are trying to do the right thing, but the kid still freaks them out a little bit so their judgment of who would make a good caretaker is probably a bit off.

  • Indifferent/Wary (6-13) - The Funguys encountered are patrolling - they will watch the party intently, but let them pass as long as they don’t go near their home.

  • Hostile/Bloodthirsty (14-20) - The Funguys encountered have been riled up by a Mushdoom who believes that the non-fungal can’t be trusted and need to be driven away or eliminated completely. The party just happens to be the first group they’ve come across at the height of their fury.

Variants and Related Entries

  • With a little work and adjustment on their fiction, Funguys could be used to represent a recently stranded species of psychic alien creatures.


Titanic Toadstool


  • Occasionally a Funguy will get a little too angry or self-important and build up enough bluster to cause them to grow in size and strength. The resulting mass of belligerence and saprophytic muscle is known as a Mushdoom, and they have a dangerous tendency to rile up and lead their more docile brethren. 

Menace Level

  • Boss


  • 5


  • Dark: 1 (No Allegiance)

Home Region/Habitat

  • Mushdooms most often live among large groups of Funguys, though they are a little more likely than their smaller brethren to encroach on land inhabited by other sentient creatures.

Aptitudes (Trait:Overbearing, Stubborn, Oafish (+2 Might, +2 Grit, -2 Deftness)

Primary Aptitudes: Might, Grit, Aura

Secondary Aptitudes: Deftness, Insight

  • Might [13]

  • Deftness [7]

  • Grit [12]

  • Insight [9]

  • Aura [10]

Combat Values

  • Hearts [4]

  • Attack [+4]

  • Speed [Normal]

  • Defense Rating [13] (Size, Not so Tiny Toadstool Ability)


Not so Tiny Toadstool (Species, Advanced)

This Ability is identical to the Funguy’s Tiny Toadstool Ability, with the following exceptions:

  • The Mushdoom is Large and has Supernatural Might

  • The Mushdoom’s body is oddly tough, and they are considered to be wearing Medium Armor.

  • This is already calculated into this entry’s stats.

Telepathic Spores (Magic, Dark, Advanced)

This Ability is Identical to the Funguy Ability of the same name, with the following exception:

  • The range of the Mushdoom’s Spores is the Area the Mushdoom is currently in as well as any other Areas adjacent to them, excluding any that represent things where the spores would be unlikely to travel. Examples of this include Areas for places much higher than the rest of the battlefield or that are in or under water.

Fist of the Fungus MkII (Advanced)

Mushdoom’s eschew the swift fighting style of their smaller brethren in favor of raw brutality.

  • The Mushdoom makes unarmed attacks as if wielding a Mighty Weapon.

  • In addition, anyone of normal size or smaller that is struck by the Mushdoom must succeed on a Grit Check or become Toppled.

Communication Methods

  • Mushdooms are limited in their communication in the same ways that Funguys are. They will order subordinates to relay any messages they have to members of other species in their stead.


  • Mushdooms like to bully and overwhelm opponents. A favored trick is to knock over an enemy with their punch and then have Funguy minions swarm them for a pin or a finish.


Mushdooms don’t generally carry around much, but they occasionally take interest in worn accessories that make them look important.


  • Indicators - Air thick with inert telepathic spores, enormous circular footprints in the ground, emboldened and aggressive groups of funguys in the area.

  • Roleplaying Notes - Mushdooms are nasty bullies at their core. Even if not communicating directly with someone, they loom with aggressive body language and open hostility. Naturally, if something noticeably bigger or stronger confronts them they quickly revert to meeker habits.

  • Customization  - Mushdooms take well to certain Champion Abilities, having the appropriate amount of strength if lacking in true courage.

Random Encounter Reaction

  • Friendly/Benign (1-5) -  The Mushdoom encountered has lost of their Funguy followers due to a poorly planned scheme. Seeking someone new to push around, they will attempt to offer the party an opportunity to be their new underlings.

  • Indifferent/Wary (6-13) - The Mushdoom encountered is giving a galvanizing speech to numerous funguys present. Due to the nature of their telepathic communication, this will look like they are standing silently while the Mushdoom is gesturing madly into the air. They won’t bother with the party normally but will react hostilely if interrupted

  • Hostile/Bloodthirsty (14-20) - The Mushdoom encountered is accompanied by a rowdy group of Funguys. They blamed a recent crisis caused by their own actions on the nearest group of non-funguys - an explanation that was unanimously accepted by their followers. Now the party is unfortunately on the opposite end of the result.

Variants and Related Entries

  • Like Funguys, the Mushdoom can be reworked to be a strange, telepathic alien - just a larger, much punchier one.