Snakeskin Chain Skin

What color it is, I cannot say, yet hiss, and kiss your tears away…

DESCRIPTION

Deep in the caverns of a lost cave system of underground circular tunnels carved out impossibly smooth, the very rock worn down through some unknown process or method, if you’re lucky enough to survive the encounters by the lizard-like folk who dwell there, you may find a metal bracelet sculpted on the outer side in scales of a snake, shimmering with alternating green, blue, and purple iridescent hues.

If you were to put on the bracelet, you would find that the scales seem to expand to cover the entire wrist, and on the underside of the band, scales would grip the arm, not piercing the skin, but creating a flexible seal over the skin.

If you were to continue to wear the bracelet for an extended period of time, you would notice, eventually, the scales slowly expanding. You might be alarmed by this, but you will likely feel conflicted as the metal scales provide quite the protective armor against harm from anything that slashes and cuts (but not form those things that pierce and bash).

If you were to ignore the early signs of the skin growing, you might find yourself changing in other ways as the scales continue to cover the surface of your body. Your eyes could change – the pupils narrowing to long vertical slits. Your ears and nose could recede (or perhaps be enveloped by your swelling head – flesh taking on the same strange hues of the scales of metal).

If you were not attuned to the magics and creatures of the Bridge of Stone before, you are now, and interacting with items and peoples attuned to the other Bridges can cause great harm and distress.

If you allow the bracelet to take yourself, you might find that you and the lizard-like folk share more in common than not. You may question why they were so fiercely defending and keeping others away from their treasure horde. You may find yourself being drawn back to that same system of tunnels from which you first found the bracelet…

RULES

If one were to put on the Snakeskin Chain Skin bracelet, the GM begins tracking how long it will take for it to cover your body. The effect starts at a Ud10 that is rolled at the end of each long rest. As long as the usage die is a d8 or d10, it is possible to take off the bracelet. Once the usage die is at a d6, the arm must be removed to separate the bracelet from the body. At a d4 it is covering so much of the body that it is impossible to remove and just a matter of time before the character is taken over entirely.

Whenever the bracelet is removed, the effect resets at Ud10 when it is put on once more.

The bracelet has the following effects based on the current usage die of the effect:

UD10Merely a large bracelet: It confers the capacity to speak with snakes, lizards, and other creatures and folk associated with the Bridge of Stones. Of course these types of animals are still simple and low INT, however they can now converse with intelligent folk from this bridge in their own language.

UD8 Covers the hand up to the elbow: As above and provides a free use of armor against one source of cutting, slashing, or hacking damage each day.

UD6 Covers the entire arm up to the shoulder socket: As above and provides one use of Conjure Snake once per day:

CONJURE SNAKE: Arcane Spell – Summons a metallic snake familiar with 2d4 HD.

UD4 Covers most of the body below the neck: As above and replaces the characters background with the following: I once was one of the folk of lizardkind from the tunnels beneath the earth and will do anything to return to serve my duty and protect the nest.

DESIGN NOTES

This is a long one, but I think pretty fun! I like the idea of this kind of progressive item, it’s almost like a parasite that slowly takes over and replaces the wearer over time, but until it does, it confers some pretty fun abilities. Who wouldn’t want a metal lizard familiar to command?

I also love the idea of the GM concealing the progression of the spread of the scales. I once read a house rule for Call of Cthulhu that recommended the GM track every player’s sanity score in secret and describing how their characters react when a sanity-altering encounter is presented. I love it because it gives the GM some crunch to guide the presentation of fluff. That’s what we’re here to do anyway, right?

Once again I’ve found a new utilization for the usage die, that thing is just beyond versatile! I’ll be surprised if I run out of new ways to manipulate it in the future, in fact I feel like it’s kind of an ever-expanding presence in my own ways I want to run and design games. It creeps, must like scales from a bracelet slowly taking over my mind…

The Oscura Part 2 – Lots of Build Progress!

I have to apologize that this isn’t strictly RPG or OSR related, but this is definitely another aspect of tabletop gaming that I just love, and it’s been taking most of my creative time and energy this week, so here we go again into my Chaos Marines rhino/landspeeder abomination!

I tried taking lots of pictures as I went with the build as it’s gone so far. I’m pretty much as far as I can hope to get right now since I’m waiting on delivery of magnets, milliput, and a Chaos Rhino kit that I’ll be taking lots of bibblies and bobblies from for this project. Still, I’m so excited with how far I’ve gotten on this Chaos Impulsor project.

I’ve started to think of my Night Lords warband on a whole as “The Oscura” – it was initially meant to be the name of this battle barge alone, but now it’s the name of the group. I’m going to be embracing these guys as real pirates/renegade space marines who don’t worship Chaos but aren’t afraid to embrace it for power. These guys (and gals!) hate everyone equally.

Enough fluff, get ready for the image dump!

First as a reminder, this is what Games Workshop thinks a Primaris Impulsor should look like:

I’m never not going to love that little marine head poking out of the top of it. God Emperor speed gunner, God Emperor speed.
After building the initial hull, I had to carve off a pesky Imperial Aquila right on the front of the thing. Some sanding actually helped I think as I intend to do a complex dry brushing/stippling paint job, and all that sweet rough texture should make for some interesting effects…. hopefully.
I thought I had made such good progress! 😀 This is my first vehicle larger than a heavy warjack from Warmachine, which is really not much bigger than a Gravis armor marine.
An initial test for fit and look. As ridiculous as it looks, that flatbed was made for a huge rocket!
As much as I love the big rocket, that might be… a little much.
Starting to test out the tea candles that I’m going to hide beneath this thing in plumes of black smoggy poly-fil. It’s a bit too tall here, so I began experimenting with tearing the candles apart. The smaller engine nozzles should work very well around the outer edge. My goal is to give the illusion of there being more of those things directly beneath it burning hard to keep the heavy vehicle afloat.
First I figured out how to cut off the plastic “flame” sculpted on, but it was a bit too tall still.
Success! With just my sprue cutter and elbow grease I was able to get the plastic casing to pop off, keeping the LED, battery, and switch all perfectly intact. Now we’re cooking.
I thought a picture with a Primaris Marine for scale might help…
I decided to move forward with getting it mostly constructed and ready to go. I know the weapons aren’t going to match an actual Chaos rhino or land raider, but I don’t particularly care as I won’t ever being playing in a format or with people who care either. On a sidenote, just look at all those little nubs! Maybe I need to make a spider/centipede inspired Impulsor for my next project with little legs carrying the whole thing…
One of my more Chaos-y bashes to begin with. I flipped the “bumper” upside down and added some marine arms to it, finally wrapping some chain around the arms as if they were chained to the front of the thing. Night Lords love chained body parts. My thought is that Space Marine armor is so good, why wouldn’t they use some of it to keep the bumper in good shape? 😀 I added those two “X” bits from a sprue and plan to sculpt some flesh to “stretch” over it – Night Lords also love their flayed flesh!
More testing with the lights. I’m going to leave the top of it with the missile launcher as removable and then magnetize the tealight/rocket nozzle to the inside, so ultimately I’ll be able to pop that portion of the roof off, pull out the tea light, and turn it on and off. I don’t think it’ll be too hard to pull off!
I absolute adore how the light from the candles is reflected on that arm and the underbelly of this thing – even in bare gray plastic! I also will be magnetizing it so I can pop it off and turn those candles on and off.
One finally view of the engine nozzle test on the bed of the barge. I’m confident this thing will look great painted up. It’s ridiculous, but I love it. It’s what 40k is all about to me.

One final note, I’m planning on putting a cultist in that hole on top, sticking out like a maniac. I bought a box of Cultists of the Abyss and am hoping one of them will serve me well in this regard. The rest will just fill in as general Chaos cultists. I have a bunch of Age of Sigmar chaos dudes that I may have to make work as Chaos 40k cultists down the road…

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and my commentary! I would love to get advice/feedback on both kitbashing and writing about kitbashing! This has been a very fun, addictive project. Definitely makes me want to keep working these creativity muscles out with more projects.

Raised by Wolves, Bears, Whatever – Economy of Storytelling.

I finally caught the first two episodes of the HBO Max exclusive series Raised by Wolves. You can watch the first episode legit for free on Youtube here. I recommend you do, because it hooked me very hard. If you’re a fan of Warhammer 40,000 or crazy Sci-Fi with robots and uncomfortable religious cults, I think you’re going to like it.

Anyway, without going into spoilers/plot specific details, a scene in the second episode caught me off guard with how good it was at introducing five new characters in just a handful of lines and nonverbal acting.

Five characters are brought into an unfamiliar setting, and in we get their names, which I’m awful at remembering, but we also get little reactions from each of them about how they’re going to survive this new, incredibly perilous situation they find themselves in.

It caught me off guard because I know now these characters by their beliefs rather than their names, and all it took was a single line or reaction to a line from another character. For example one character immediately gives up her symbol of religious faith recognizing that their captor/liberator frowns upon it. Another character, the youngest, cries helplessly, and one of her fellow captives moves immediately to pacify and calm her. Yet another character scoffs at the situation, and finally a fifth character tells them all to stop arguing, stressing that arguments will get them killed.

These five characters are all children by the way, instantly raising the stakes by this nature alone.

What does this have to do with OSR and RPGs in general? Well not only does the group of children mirror the size of your average party of D&D adventurers, but we don’t have much time for character development, and the writer/director/editor all know we need to grow some attachment or at least meaning to these characters or we’re not going to care about what happens to them – we have to know what’s at risk of being lost so we care more about the threat.

DO THIS IN YOUR GAME. We all lament the lameness/boring aspect of “You all meet in a tavern” and often with good reason, but there’s no reason you can’t emulate the type of scene from Raised by Wolves in your own game, in a tavern, in session 1.

For example, take the “meet in a tavern” thing and inject some fear/danger into it immediately. There’s a couple of easy ways to do this. My first idea that comes to mind is to have the person calling them together – normally someone who needs a job done, right? – have this quest giver poison their food and have a partner of the poisoner somewhere else be the only person with the antidote.

Let each character react in turn to this news. You’ll probably only pull this off once as they will likely suspect someone in the future of trying the same trick, but it’s worth a shot as a way to inject some time and pressure on the players immediately. Character is what happens when obstacles are put in front of someone, and this is a great way for your players to show off their characters and questions them immediately on how their character reacts to personal threats.

There’s lots of other ways to do this – you could have a necromancer curse them at the start of the first session. You could run one-on-one sessions for each character getting poisoned individually and then told to go to the tavern and meet the rest of the team. Although this does take away some of the fun of seeing your player characters interact with each other, it does present an opportunity for your players to get a feel for their characters as they exist “in the wild” or when they have the spotlight on them.

I know in practicality this isn’t new advice – start your campaign with a bang! Right? But focus in on those character reactions. It doesn’t really matter what the threat is as long as it hits them where they live.

The Oscura Part 1 – a new project for the tabletop.

As part of my personal goals to push myself creatively and artistically, I wanted to stretch my kitbashing and modeling skills as well with this blog. This project I’m going to be discussing today isn’t strictly RPG related, but I do think the overall aesthetic I’ll be going for is OSR, if not the fantasy brand then something appropriate for Mothership and especially Rogue Trader-era Warhammer.

I’ve had for a while now a notion to start working on an army for Horus Heresy a.k.a. Warhammer 30,000. This is the era that puts grimness into the grimdark of Warhammer. It’s a time of civil war within the empire of humanity. It’s in ways both more brutal and more noble than the times of Warhammer 40,000.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to let myself dive in until I got through a lot of my painting backlog. In true hobbyist fashion, instead of getting through it by painting them, I’ve sold a lot of minis off!

I ultimately decided on the Night Lords Chaos/Traitors legion for Horus Heresy/Warhammer. I like the aesthetics, and just look at this chapter-specific model range from Forge World. What could be more fun? Look at these DUDES.

So contemplative…

They’re vampires who don’t believe in either Chaos or the Imperium. Sounds good to me!

So now I have a general theme, an army chosen, and have freed myself up to launch an actually planned army!

I’ve had a Primaris Impulsor vehicle kit on hand for a while when I thought I’d really want to take on a big Primaris army. I know, I know, literal heresy when we’re talking 30k to put one of the shiniest new vehicle types of 40k in play, but I have a plan! (And I don’t care!)

My goal is to take that Impulsor and tear it down to look something more akin to the function of the mighty Chaos Land Raider. That thing is a monster. A beautiful monster.

My plan now is to add actual rocket engine nozzles to the bottom of the Impulsor, throw a bunch of chains on it, maybe some dead bodies, and of course spikes. I also bought a little box of five Chaos cultists that might be hanging off the sides of the thing like little Mad Max style crazy marauders.

I went to Michael’s Hobby Store yesterday and browsed around a bit for suitable shapes and found these cake piping attachments, and they were absolutely perfect! And cheap!

I found some cheap little LED tea candles that flicker at the store for cheap as well, and now I’ve got some momentum.

I need to pick up some polyfill and Hodge Podge spray so I can create a smoke cloud coming from the engines and filling up the space below the vehicle on its base.

r/Kitbash - Follow up post to my question about rocket engine nozzles with solution and pictures!

I hope to magnetize these nozzles as well so I can detach them and turn them on! Who knows if it’ll all work, but it’s going to be fun to try!

Hopefully this wasn’t too much of a distraction from the main theme of the blog, but I intend to give updates for the project with plenty of pictures!

The Terror of a Modern Dungeon.

I recently went down a Reddit rabbit hole and ended up rereading a legendary terrifying post on /r/letsnotmeet – The Bridge. I’d suggest reading it if you’re both not squeamish and can handle some pretty graphic material, including pictures.

Now, I don’t know if this post is 100% real, and honestly I don’t care. I don’t read scary stories for a history report, I read them for entertainment, and The Bridge provides entertainment and then some.

I’m a big fan of the horror genre – a bunch of games I love are horror, and it’s generally my favorite type of movie if I’m looking for something fun to watch. I’ve read (and written, honestly) a fair amount about efforts made to run horror RPGs and the difficulties – and rewards – that come along with it.

Dungeons should be terrifying. I agree with the common belief that fantasy and horror are a hard mix. Horror often comes from some sense of powerlessness, and fantasy usually provides the opposite – power we don’t have access to in real life.

But the dark is still scary, even in a suit of armor, kite shield, and greatsword in hand. No one is impervious, invulnerable, and the darkness represents potential. It can hold that thing each person is especially weak to, or that thing we all want and are afraid to actually get. Anything can be in the darkness, and this is what the dungeon represents.

This goes hand in hand with cartography. When players map out the dungeon, they are conquering it, in a way, even without defeating any enemies. Those potentials are made certainties (or close to), and the unknown becomes known. That fear of the dark dissipates as they outline of the dungeon becomes apparent.

But that’s great! That’s a huge part of play that I think gets taken for granted. Having run a medium-sized dungeon with The Black Hack and paying attention to lanterns and sources of light has been a revelation for me as a GM. Just the act of asking “who has a light source?” when a player character opens a new door can be just as exciting as telling players to roll initiative.

If we put ourselves into the shoes of the author of The Bridge story from above, suddenly the sharpness of the fear of the dark should become clear. But why is that story so scary? Two reason jump out to me – 1. As mentioned above, there could be anything in those tunnels, but even a mundane answer is quite terrifying – perhaps even more unsettling than a supposed supernatural explanation, and 2. We (or most of us) have absolutely no training to fight someone or something, and even if we did, the tunnels are so small at points that the other option – running – isn’t readily available.

You’re going down there simply for the sake of curiosity and hoping you don’t find anything worthy of that curiosity! That’s pretty interesting to me, and I want to do some more thinking on that question as well down the road – motivations for PCs to enter such an awful, dangerous place as a dungeon in the first place.