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Category Archives: Discworld

[Discworld] …And A Thousand Elephants!

Well, more or less at least.
Remember all the posts I had, oh, years ago, regarding modding some variant of D&D for a Discworld game? Huh, looking over them there were A LOT. I even statted out Death.

The reason being, I have had GURPS Discworld since the 90s and never felt any inclination to play a game with it. Somehow it always felt like, you know, the writers of that book had kind of missed the point. Not that I knew the point better. My idea for a Discworld RPG was one which emulated the sword and sorcery high fantasy parody of the early books, maybe with some stuff from the later ones. For some reason the world that was described in Mort, and Guards Guards seemed to be so big and interesting as a fantasy setting. Much more interesting than the Forgotten Realms for sure. And so I was on and off working on a D&D variant set on the Discworld.

Well, I just finished that one yesterday. Or at least I finished a very first draft. It’s about 60 pages long, and should technically work. No, I haven’t tried it out yet. But at one point, maybe even this coming weekend, my players might experience the joy of eating Dibbler’s products, well, second hand.In fact, now that I am finally finished with the draft I will have to think about some scenario to throw at them. Hmm.But anyway, here a short description:I used my Harnic game system as the base, the one I was talking about lately. Which means it is Labyrinth Lord at it’s core, with an extended LotFP skill system. I replaced the old Saving Throws with the D20 categories (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will). I changed negative AC into positive.I used spells taken from Gorgonmilk’s Vancian Magic Supplement (because at least in early books magic seems to be very Vancian on the Discworld), supplemented with a few spells from the books, the GURPS Discworld book, and the Discworld MUD. Not all of the latter ones really work, but some of the names are great.I created a troll and a zombie class (which I might publish here soon), the latter mostly because my players asked for it and really, there are a lot of zombie protagonists in the books. I use the LotFP Specialist, but remade him into a Guildsman. I nerfed the cleric but decided to give some additional powers to get over the lack of flavor this class normally has.I am using a Death and Dismemberment table. Mostly as a Wound table actually, where some of the wounds are instantly fatal (except for zombies). I already noticed that my players will have to get used to it, especially because there won’t be much healing magic (the cleric being nerfed somewhat). Oh, and there are ideas like the Shields Shall Be Splintered! rule that actually will help a bit there.Ok, lets see how this will actually play.

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Terry Pratchett is dead

Terry Pratchett is dead.
I don’t think there is a single other author who had such an influence on me and my view of the world.
Scribner once said “Reading is a means of thinking with another person’s mind; it forces you to stretch your own.” and so I think that he will live on, in a way, in all of us who spent part of their life in his books. And his books remain.

I hope that he will continue to change the people of this world for the better.

[Discworld] Other Deaths

Just some further details regarding Death:

Other Deaths

Sometimes different people can take on the role of Death when he is unavailable or otherwise busy. Technically this would not be needed, as he can be anywhere at any time, but it seems to bother him to have his mind in multiple places at the same time (e.g. there is a plague in a city, and he has to take care of an important death somewhere else). In these cases he sometimes uses proxies. He experimented with demons and humans so far, with varying grades of success. It might be that when he gives them part of his power, he also trades in some parts of their personality.

(Which coincidentally is the best explanation I ever heard why the Death of the early novels is so different from the later ones: he tried investing Scrofula with the Duty and became spiteful and meanspirited in exchange; later he tried to do the same with humans, but the whole thing went to the dogs during Mort; it also might explain why he seems more human lately: Susan has a small amount of his powers due to Discworld genetics, he might have taken on some of her virtues)

[Discworld] Rite of Askh-Ente

The Rite of Ashk-Ente

Wizard 8*
Duration: 48 turns
Range: 10’

This spell summons Death (or whoever fills his role at this time) into a circle and allows the caster to ask any question he wants and receive answers. Death is omniscient, but he is not bound to answer in the clearest way possible. He also isn’t bound to stay in the circle, but he generally doesn’t tell summoners that to avoid awkward situations. He generally is more or less helpful, mostly because he really doesn’t like the spell. According to him it always takes him away from something important, and considering we are talking about Death this is most likely very true. As the spell involves summoning Death, the mostly elderly wizards attempting a spell of such a level generally do no like to use this spell too often.

The spell will not keep people from dying just because he is summoned. His duties do not need him to attend to every death personally.

*The level of the spell is point of some contention. Traditionally only performed as a group ritual of the eight level with a lot of chanting and impressively dripping candles involved, some enterprising young wizards have abstracted this spell a bit further down. There are 12 versions of the spell available on various levels, including on 5th level (a few candles and chanting), 2nd level (three wooden sticks and a bit of rodent blood), and even 1st level (two sticks and an egg, but it has to be a fresh one!)

[Discworld] Death

Death

Death (Discworld)

Death (Discworld) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Armor Class: 19
Hit Dice: unlimited
No. of Attacks: Blade or Scythe/Will
Damage: 1d30/Death
Movement: 30’
Alignment: Neutral
Save As: Magic-User 20
Morale: n/a
Treasure Type: none
XP: 40.000

It goes without saying that any real fight against Death is futile and could be sumarized with “You lose.” Death is an anthropomorphic representation of, well, death. He (or she?) is even feared by the Gods, because the Gods know that even they can die. They sometimes try to push him around, but in the end he will survive them.

He generally appears as a human skeleton clothed in a black robe, wearing a scythe and a sword. His eyes look dark with the lights that look like blue exploding supernovas. He generally communicates with a voice that is DESCRIBED LIKE THIS and goes directly into the listeners mind, without any diversion over the eardrums. This is not the only way he could look, and all over the Discworld different cultures have different ideas about his looks, but he generally found it a bother to find out what people expect of him and the dark skeleton look seems to be accepted everywhere.

He technically is the last judge, completely emotionless and without pity and mercy, but sometimes he seems to make it clear that he is on our side. Whatever our side might be with a being like him. Technically he does not have any emotions at all (he is lacking the glands for emotions), but he seems fond of cats and curry, and a few other human endeavours.

There are some rules that apply to him (one can assume that someone set these rules sometimes, but considering that he is the only being that was present at the beginning and the end of the universe one has to wonder who that was…): he will allow people to challenge him in a game for their lives (but would prefer not to play chess), he will always respond to the rite of Ashk-Ente and will respond to questions truthfully, he will use his sword for royalty (royalty has special rights), and he will always show up personally for Witches and Wizards.nta

Death always is able to use the following items (even though he might affect an inability to do so): his Scythe and his Sword (both sharp enough to separate souls from bodies), any life timer for any living person (a timer showing how much time the person has left), any biography of any living or dead person (a book writing itself as the person goes along his/her life). He also rides a flying white stallion (called Binky).

The Death of Rats

A small aspect of Death which was created during an identity crisis caused by the Auditors of Reality. In this case Death split into a multitude of Deaths, one for each kind of being. This problem was resolved soon thereafter, but the Death of Rats (and other rodents) had already taken on it’s own personality and refused to become part of Death again. Technically he still is an aspect of Death, but one with it’s own personality and agenda. He generally seems friendly, if a bit mischievous and will take care about rats, mice, hamsters, and a few select humans, the same way Death cares about the rest. He speaks the same way as Death, but most people will only hear him SQUEEK. For translation purposes he has his companion and steed Quoth the Raven.

Regarding the powers of Death

Death is the ultimate NPC. He will show up sometimes, when death to something is imminent or might be uncertain, and might interact with characters at those times. His powers are neither magical, nor divine. Instead one could say that he is the only thing that is really real. Most people cannot see him because they have an inbuilt reality filter that provides them with a buffer from reality. People who can see him at all times include the mystically inclined (Wizards, Witches, cats, etc.), young children (because they do not have the filter yet, seasoned watchmen (who saw enough reality in their career to last them a lifetime), and presumably people who drank a cup or more of Klatchian coffee.

The use of Death in the game

It would not be Discworld if Death was not making at least sporadic appearances, but he should not be overused as a character or as a plot element. Despite the stats above, and despite the long description he should be used sparingly, only for cameos mostly, or maybe a small role in the background. Ideally I only would use him to lampshade some developments in the plot of the session and of course when someone is dying, or close to it.

d20 Encounters in the Library of Unseen University

English: One of the aisles inside Chetham's Li...

One of the more accessible areas of the library

d20 Unseen University Library Encounters
1. Bookworm! Out of nowhere a magical bookworm starts to burrow through the side of a bookshelf and into the next. Everyone in the vicinity has a 1/20 chance of being hit for 1d6 damage
2. Solitary Rogue Thesaurus hunting for smaller dictionaries and manuals.
3. Tribe of lost research students hunting. 1d6 1st level magic users
4. lost research wizard, scarred and bruised, a hat made out of the pages of an ancient grimoire (1d3 spells), begs characters to take him with them
5. free spells. these spells have broken free and now are inhabiting a small part of the library. roll randomly to determine type. Roll 1d6:1-4: nothing happens, 5: spells trying to act out their nature on the characters, 6: they are friendly and trying to find a new home
6. gap to L-Space, from here the bookshelves seem to stretch even longer into the distance, far much further than they should logically be able to
7. trap to L-space, just as 6, but this one is not easily recognizable as a gap. Maybe it is on the floor. can be found as normal traps
7a. grimoire of ancient power and vile evilness, this is a really terrible grimoire that holds secrets unknown to men. Unfortunately it is written in a language nobody has understood for 7.000 years, and it is so aggressive it had to be chained to a large stone table. Characters might try opening and reading it, but the thing likes to bite
9. a herd of 1d8 small grimoires. These books are shy and skittish, but they contain 1d4 spells of 1st and 1 spell of second level each. They like to bite though. Characters should be aware of how dangerous these can be.
10. Death from Above! 1d4 spellbooks try to kill and eat the characters by the old drop bear tactic: drop on them from high and kill them, then feast on their remains. Although technically they were going for other books they might make an exception for the characters
11. There is a spot in the shelf that seems oddly free of dust and cobwebs. A short search finds a book of erotic poetry among works on the theory of thaumic resonance in gardening
12. There is a loud holler and a dark shadowy figure formed a bit like a sack of potatoes is moving very fast along the bookshelves, swinging from one enourmously high shelf to the next.
13. magical lightning crackles among one shelf of strange, forbidding books. touching it with bare hands or metal will result in 1d4 damage as a result
14. Aerial Rats are trying to build themselves a small community here
15. A skeleton can be found, reading a book on a table. Investigating will show the skeleton to be a totally inanimate skeleton, and the book a Howtoe off Selff-Hypnoticks
16. The heroes see themselves in the distance, going in the other direction
17. A stash of bananas can be found about 6 foor over the floor. They look fresh.
18. Whispering in the aisles as if someone is having a hushed but intense discussion, when the heroes look there will be no-one around.
19. Whoops? Where did that aisle go you just came from? Now there is a dead end where there was an aisle before. You swear the bookshelves just moved.
20. Students! You meet a group of students actually trying to study. Weird!

[Labyrinth Lord] Rogue Thesaurus

Check out the Thesaurus' sibling, Dictionary.

Rogue Thesaurus

No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement:
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 7
Damage: 1d4 (biting, thumping, natching, chomping, slicing, chawing, zipping)
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None

These magically animated books mostly appear in magical libraries with certain issues concerning the containment of magical energies. The magical energies that give a spepcial edge to magic books sometimes also infuse rather good thesauri. After all, some

words used in magical spells can also be found in well researched reference works. And the problem with them is that all this information they contain actually give the thesauruses… IDEAS.
Anyway, any researcher meeting one of these in the depths of a library needs lots of chutzpe, kudos, prowess…

[Dungeons & Dragons] Discworld Creatures 1: Swamp Dragon

Swamp Dragon
No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2 to 4
Attacks: 1 (bite or breath)
Damage: 1d6 or see below
Save: F2 to F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX

“Draco vulgaris” or “common dragon”, in contrast to “draco nobilis” which has been extinct for a few centuries now. The collective noun for swamp dragons is “a slump” or “an embarrassment”. These dragons are called swamp dragons because they live in swamps, where there is little usable fuel, a problem for dragons that create flames for egg incubation, and for warding off enemies, predators, and other dragons (competitors for food or territory), or sometimes just to dispel boredom. Swamp dragons compensate for this by evolving a huge appetite for anything that can be used for combustion. Swamp dragons can rearrange their “internal plumbing”, guts, stomach, other miscellaneous tubes, to make the best use of what they have eaten, and to create the hottest flame they can. When having indigestion or just when over-excited they tend to explode, which is the most common cause of death for the species. This might be why despite the lack of food they are mostly surviving in those boring swamps. Swamp dragons are almost permanently ill. Their diet and biology is not a healthy one.
Swamp dragons can grow up to about two feet long. All have wings although for some the wings are only ornamental. Swamp dragons can fly, and have to answer to real physics when they do. The generally mate in air as well.
Swamp Dragons will bite 80% of the time for 1d6 hit points damage, or breath fire 20% of the time. The fire breath attack deals 1d6 hit points of damage per hit die the attacking hell hound possesses. A successful saving throw versus breath attack reduces the damage by half. With every use of the breath weapon there is a 5% (1 on d20) chance that the dragon will explode, doing 1d20 damage to all in the vicinity. Swamp Dragons will save as Fighters equal in level to their hit die.

Well, I guess that one was definitely missing. Not that it is much of a challenge. There aren’t that many really unique monsters in Discworld, or rather, there are not that many monsters that are not humanoid at least. One particular missing monster will be the real dragon, which of course does only exist in very particular circumstances. This one here… is a variation of the dragon that can live even in areas without magic background radiation. In other words: it’s a dragon how it needs to be to survive in real life. And even then it tends to explode randomly.

I guess the next monsters will be something along the line of Discworld trolls and gnolls, but I currently am still working on trolls as a character race. The Discworld specifics make the whole thing a bit challenging (variable Intelligence).

[Dungeons & Dragons] Discworld Races 1 – Elves

Meadow Elves

That's what people imagine elves to be

Oh… Elves. They show up in not even three novels if I remember well, and are mentioned in a maybe two more. Of course everyone says they know the real Elves from that, but that reality of Elvishness is a bit harsh. Most of the population of the Discworld does know about Elves. They do not know the truth though, maybe some rumours, but certainly not all of it.
For the normal peasant Elves are… strange and magical. Those pointy-eared buggers that giggle a lot. Artists that can enchant with their looks, beautiful and glamorous.
For Trolls and Dwarfs and for some humans in the know this is not so.
Elves, or what people generally call Elves are the descendants of true Elves, a lifeform from another place that is sterile in itself but can procreate with humans. An entry for True Elves would be something for the monster section. Still, there obviously are remaining Elves around, some tribes and villages that can trace back their lineage to the old elves, if only by looking at their own ears.
A lot of the typical D&D tropes for Elves fit to the dot on this background: pointy-eared, rare besides some half-hidden locations, mourning a passed age, skilled in the arts, etc. It doesn’t matter that the reason for all these things is that their ancestors were vicious parasites that pretty much enslaved humans with glamour magic. In the end it comes down to Elves as the pointy-eared fellow who doesn’t get along too well with the dwarf in the party.
Elves as a race: as in rulebooks. True Elves: will be a monster entry.

[Dungeons & Dragons] Discworld Classes 4 – Spiritual

Clerics/Priests
with religious researchers discovering more and more gods nearly every week somebody needs to take care of worshipping them. Priests are generally a bit underpowered in comparison to other classes, but they do great things in local communities, be it bringing together the youth and the old people of Sto Lat, celebrating the most wonderful sacrifices possible, or putting a stake through the local vampire’s heart.
In other words: the traditional cleric. As in D&D/AD&D rules, maybe some care should be taken to allow only appropriate spells, but I guess that could be the players job.

The Monks of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really cool and laid-back valley in the lower Ramtops, have a passing-out test for a novice. He is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, my son, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear? And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select.

-Terry Pratchett; Lords and Ladies

 

Monk
standard monk, there seems to be a veritable amount of monasteries worshipping various principles in some distant locations, e.g. the Monks of History, the Listening Monks, and the Temple of Cool. One should try to adapt the character’s abilities to fit his order, but otherwise simply a D&D Mystic/AD&D Monk.

Druid
more interested in building newer and better stone circles than in nature, but still there, especially in Llamedos and on the Vortex Plains, but also in various other locales. Use AD&D druids or own variants.

Do I see a theme here? So far most of the classes do not even need any further twisting. I should create some spell lists with appropriate spell names for Magic Users and Clerics (I should call them priests though), but otherwise so far most things can be done by typical D&D classes. I am a bit unsure about the Paladin because it feels rather unDiscworld, and I think the Ranger might be missing. On the other hand there is no mention in the books of any sort of ranger class.