Archive for May, 2013

DMs only: some magical interference from the Tartarverse

May 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Several of Tartary’s magic items are ridiculously powerful* and apt to cause trouble in anyone’s campaign. Sorry about that.

Of course, you can always just disable these items in your setting. Or you can use the following house rule…

If a magic item from Tartary is brought to your world, roll d10 each time it is used:
On a 0 the item may work once but is then drained of all power.
On a 9 it turns permanently into some other magic item native to your setting.
On a 6, it works but using it summons 1d6 creatures from Column B, below.
On a 1, instead of working normally, one of the following things happens…

roll Effect Column B
1 User transformed into a… (Column B) Hemogoblin** (mechanically like low-HD undead)
2 User possessed by a… (Column B) Mi-go***
3 User convinced they are a… Priest of Ming
4 User temporarily gains powers of a… Sky Man pirate
5 User and target life-linked: one dies, both die Industrial Druid
6 User and target mind-swapped Space psychic (high level MU, telepathic/mind-controlling)
7 User and target will not harm each other Sentient machine (possibly but not necessarily a gith machine)
8 Target gains powers of a… Giant fighting hindu temple
9 Target transformed into a… The target OR user, whichever is more inconvenient
0 Item spews out monsters uncontrollably Random third party

*These include the yellow, silver and black belts of Choison or Koh-i-san or whatever, saltifier wands, shrines of Ming, twister projectors etc. Then there are the things that merely do silly amounts of damage to people, vehicles and fortifications.


My advice is either to disable these or severely limit their application – most of them have limited ammo and/or long reload times anyway. The Skyman-sacrificing bazooka needs a ready supply of live skymen, so chances are that will only be good for 1 shot if it shows up. And it has side-effects, so if somebody uses it you should probably let me know…

** stolen from Tim Powers’ Dinner At Deviant’s Palace: it starts out as a small cellophane-like, jellyfish-like bag. It grabs onto any open wound and starts sucking, producing a blood homunculus of the person so vampirized that has some of their skills and its own malign will. If it has multiple victims it can grow really quite big and dangerous. And it knows a portion of what its victims know.

*** are there really no free, LL-compatible mi-go out there? I rather like Carcosa’s Mi-go for being a bit crappy – I have them bootstrap their way to superior intelligence but only for the leaders. Mechanically I’d say take your pick from goblin, hobgoblin or ogre, as it suits you. My Mi-go come in many sizes. Here, have an illo of the philosopher subclass, courtesy of le chaudron chromatique...


Also, some pleasing thoughts about Yuggoth.

The Grand Entrance

May 22, 2013 2 comments

“To astonish is to overcome.”* In Tartary this can be literally true: the mysterious, ubiquitous, invisible TV cameras are drawn to the astonishing – to great spectacles and moments of improbable triumph and abjection. And getting on TV means power, followers, reputation and enemies. It is therefore only prudent (under Tartary’s game mechanics) to do a massive show-stopping floor number when entering a competition. Or, as +Jason K puts it: There is something to be said about the big bad guy walking into the fight w/ a bunch of mooks and then doing a choreographed dance number to say fuck yeah I am here assholes and I intend to kill you all. Way better then lame ass Bond type talking about their plans to rule the world drek.

Here, then, are some clips from Tartary TV that +Jason K,  +Scott Martin and +B. Portly have made me aware of.

Genki Sudo no longer fights in the mecharenas – he has gone “upon the sea:” his fate as unknowable as his origins. Still his entrances remain (on late-night reruns) as an example to all would-be jockeys and world-conquering tyrants.
He channeled the powers of the Gods and Machine-gods alike. Perhaps he challenges them now as an equal.

More recently, The people of Amritsar have been shocked by the recent changes in the elder of their two Princes, Ouatu. Not only has he shaved off his majestic beard (sign of his faith and status, and one of his biggest selling merchandise items), he has adopted the persona of Cesar, singing falsetto and letting other men dance for him.

Rumours abound that he’s been nobbled or Kopernicked ahead of the imminent Khiva Basho. Top suspects for this piece of skulduggery are the Pit Boss of Komtor and the Great Qan of Ulaanbatur. His supporters say he is merely throwing off the competition…

And then there are those who are forced to dance, for the diabolical pleasures of viewers unknown. Their characteristic violent head-shaking is the surest sign that their wills are not their own.


* attributed to Mikhail Skobelev, proponent of “shock and awe” tactics against the Turcomans at Geok Tepe.


Khiva classifieds

May 16, 2013 7 comments


Short Announcements from the Khiva Evening Pipe:

  • Mechanics wanted – hydraulics and electrical a must! No Tharks, Dolms, Purples or mercury cases. Mosque/mausoleum of Abu Zaid, market quarter, before noon call. The hawk that dives late must go begging.
  • You can’t fight in the big leagues unless you train with the best! I will show you! Lessons for pilots, gunners, dancers, cockroaches. Bring your own mech or use our Practice Simulator. One month course payable in advance. Three Moons passage, Light of the Farishta court, Tanners’ Waqf, Extramuros South.
  • Mech pilots – all specialities – will work for share in prizes. They don’t perform, you don’t pay! All negotiations via Turkan the Kashgari, aka Kurgan one-eye, fondaco of the moneylenders, outer court, Palace.
  • Missing Children! Find them before the circus leaves town. The sisterhood of Om Bayuda can help. Waqf banu Uda, opposite the Slave Market.
  • Reward of 30 silver dirhams offered for information leading to the apprehension of the villains who damaged Dashoghuz Mining Colony and stole its Caterpillar Transport. Payable on successful capture. Bring information to Dashoghuz Ambassade, Outer Ward East, Palace.


  • The Company of Bilad Teleta is hiring: guards, foot, cavalry, artillery, scouts. Prior soldiering experience preferred, good health and loyalty absolutely required. Payment up to 48 dirhams/week commensurate with experience, guaranteed by the Khan himself. Ribat al-Theletha (Old Camel Market). Sadly we do not have facilities for Barsoomians or Constructs.
  • Dancers, singers and musicians, all colours, even exotics from Rum, Zanj, Hind and the Mashriq. By appointment to the Khan of Kokand and the Illustrious Vizierate of Ulm. Dancing girls, dancing boys to suit all tastes and pockets. Don’t miss our celebrated Line-up of Bones! Imran the Sharqi, Royal Square, Court of the Bailiffs.


  • Sufyen Machines and Scrap reports incoming shipment from the Dry Sea Fleet, Salt Flats of Koniye before tomorrow sundown – just in time for the qualifying trials and grand melee! Arrive early for the best opportunities. Buyers and sellers assemble at the registan of the northern Caravanserai when the black kites go up. Touch and test by all means but if you move it off the pallet, you bought it. Abu Sufyen.
  • The Worshipful Brotherhood of Fine Carvers will solve your problem. All hand work: no machines, no troublesome messes. No carving job too difficult, distance will affect price and time to completion. Minimum contract 30 leagues from Khiva. Contract terms are final, payment in cash or materiel (conditional on our evaluation) only. Contact through reputable intermediaries only.
  • Ahmed’s Reliable Intermediaries. Discretion guaranteed. Mosque of ibn Jubayr every morning except Friday. Courier services available.
  • Black Turban Mobile Murderers now taking orders for murders in Bokhara, Varashta, Samarkand and territories. No local, Ashgabad or Urgench targets accepted. Murders guaranteed: no complaints from the living or dead. Find us after evening prayer, Fountain of Bitter Waters, Southwall.
  • Pest removal – gremlins, nemeses, dogs, bugs. Murad Esenov, Street of One Hand, pawnbrokers’ cellar. Shout for Murad and have patience!




50 feet of curses (a Gygaxian Democracy post)

May 3, 2013 4 comments

Some less commonly cursed items, courtesy of Reynaldo, Joey, R S Tilson, Ed Hackett, Trent B, Jeremy Duncan, Jason K, Joe Vilas, John Williams, Roger Giner-Sorolla, James Young, Scrap Princess, and Gus L.

Roll 1d53:

  1. 50′ of rope: entangles itself, everything else in your possession so it takes multiple rounds to prepare anything. Cuts your hands, snags on everything, abominably heavy when wet, unties itself only at the worst moment, creaks when used, slippery, sings silently to your reptile brain so you can’t throw it away. Only 47′ long.
  2. Iron spikes: invariably trip; bend when hammered for any purpose except spiking a door. Attract wandering monsters who then track the party’s scent. Fiercely magnetic. Punch holes in bags, sacks etc. Tetanus.
  3. Bastard sword: impregnates women. Nobody knows how.
  4. Torch: Will stay lit eternally, and extinguish when you get into a fight.
  5. Lamp oil that takes a minute or two to really catch fire. Also, when it does burn, it smells like an abbatoir.
  6. Iron Rations that give you diarrhea.
  7. Ornate hard-bronze knife. Anything it cuts repairs itself d6 rounds later. (Potentially useful as a torture device or for cutting holes in sacks etc and then putting them over things knowing they’ll seal up later. Like monsters’ heads)
  8. Polish crossbow. Shoots in the opposite direction intended.
  9. Polished crossbow (I made it in shop class!) – for some reason, the stain never dried completely, making the weapon alternately sticky and slick to the touch.  Critical range to drop the weapon is 1-3.  Anyone handling the weapon for more than a round gets russet-colored wood finish stains all over their hands and clothing.
  10. Ring of normalcy: does nothing, but won’t come off your finger. Maybe glows in the dark when you don’t want it to, but that wouldn’t be very normal.
  11. Anti-chastity belt: comes off at the first opportunity.
  12. Sword of dulling: Found dull. Won’t sharpen. Ruins sharpening stones. Won’t be re-smithed into anything sharp.  Dulls other items in owner’s possession.
  13. Assholehol- A small of liquor that smells and if sipped tastes like whiskey. If the bottle is fully drank the PC will become hostile and pick a fight w/ the player directly to their left. This hostility will only end after they have successfully defeated this person or they have been subdued and 8 hours have past. The cursed PC has no memories of this happening.
  14. Cowardly Cuirass:  as normal plate armor, but is deathly afraid of a particular type of weapon– swords, axes, arrows, etc., and will subtly twist and shift around the wearer’s body to expose gaps and joints, giving the wearer an adjusted AC of 11 (assuming ascending AC) whenever that weapon is wielded against them.
  15. Patel’s Scintillating Robe- User gains +3 CHA while wearing it. AC same as Leather Armor. Every time the attempts to speak must save vs spell or break into dance number. Everyone w/in hearing range of a cursed individual must save vs paralysis or join in. Lasts 1d4+user level rounds. Wearer cannot hide in shadows.
  16. Vial of infinite interest – This standard potion vial contains a thick reddish silvery liquid that when shaken produces strange rhythmic contortions. Anyone who studies it for more than 2 rounds will find it hopelessly alluring and sit staring, avoiding any useful or productive activity for 1d12 hours. If the vial is taken from the afflicted, they will rant and rave for 1d8 hours about “the man (the king)”, “the system (probably feudalism)” or how one day the peasants are going to revolt. The effect is amplified by the use of intoxicants or by listening to whatever your worlds equivalent of the Grateful Dead is.
  17. bag of molding
  18. hag of scolding
  19. dog of gelding
  20. gold of sagging (ruins the line of your suit)
  21. Mustache of understanding- fake mustache that gives the player 25% more gold earned per session than is truly earned. -2INT and -2WIS. The PC is compelled to talk about inn owners,or taxi drivers (or game similar concepts). Their opinions will always mirror the PC but he always expresses his opinion through them. Will always foment for war and act as if he is helping the non-lazy lower classes. The extra gold is gotten from the PCs wife but this is never mentioned.
  22. assholehole: anything dropped in is lost (though not destroyed – it shows up somewhere else in the setting). Infects other containers, causing them to lose 1 item/day.
  23. Tantalus’ Tome of Turpitude: a spellbook that contains the most intriguing charms, ingredients and quest seeds, which can’t be found if you subsequently look them up to show someone else or to copy them.
  24. Dog- It follows you around and you like it. You have to feed it regularly and sometimes it pees on your armor when you are not wearing it for no reason. Also, it will bark at the worst times.
  25. Key of missing
  26. bag of wetting
  27. tinder of spontaneous combustion
  28. KNITTED BAG OF CALTROPS – renders contents poisonous but requires a critical save vs dex to deploy in one round (…have you noticed how nobody ever has trouble deploying caltrops? It’s like caltrop bags are lined with teflon).
  29. Peacock fan- renders the user’s AC 17/3 which is worse. Anyone who views the PC using the item gets a save versus paralysis at -1. Failures equals paralysis so long as the PC continues to dance. The Max dance is is 1/4 CON (rounded up) + Level rounds. The PC must be in their knickers while doing so. It will take Dex-levels to put their armor back on. PC can never hide in shadows w/ this item.
  30. Tarquin’s Ravishing Strides: trousers of confidence, +2 cha, but excite envy and suspicion; -4 on reaction rolls, 5% chance per day the wearer will be accused of sexual misconduct.
  31. Cursed bag of flour. Creates invisible monsters when thrown in the air.
  32. socks of skipping – only effective when wearer’s attention is focused elsewhere. Save or have your stealth rolls ruined. Crit fail leads to riverdancing.
  33. Crown of mentoring- Gain an underling from a powerful group in your setting, roll 2d6-1 for stats. This is your new henchperson. Must keep them alive upon pain of death from a more powerful clan. They are at your side until an agreed upon level by the clan but for sake of argument it is 2d3
  34. Hard lard: takes so long to apply to steps that you’re bound to attract a wandering monster before you’ve made them slippery.
  35. Petard: always goes off before you can get to a safe distance, but if you have enough hit points you can use it to hoist you 50′ straight up instantly.
  36. anti-poison dart- gives whoever it hits 2d8+PC level HP.
  37. Cheap shit amulet of stealth – Grants +10 sneakiness, loudly chimes and flashes once your past the guards.
  38. Innocuous Stone of Infuriation, it’s a small rock that gets stuck in your shoe, but is never there when you look for it. After marching for 8 hours your charisma (or equivalent stat/skill) drops to minimum, anyone getting in an argument with you risks triggering Rage
  39. Innocuous Stone of Restlessness, another small cursed rock, this one attaches to your bedroll, preventing full night’s rest.
  40. Ring of Death, You put it on, save versus death. 10% of these rings are Rings of Undeath, turning the wearer into a mindless undead which immediately attacks the party.
  41. Ever-oozing Rainbow Flask of Oozes: This appears to be a simple magic flask filled with a shimmering potion… “It could be a healing potion!” It actually only dispenses different coloured oozes. Oozes dispensed will always attempt to attack the holder of the flask.
  42. Tattoo of Deception – If someone has changed their actions due to a complete lie you have told them (or other deception you created) in the past 24 hours, your AC is improved by 1. If not, it is penalized by 2.
  43. The Hand of Doom – whoever you touch while wearing this glove will die in front of you within a month.
  44. Target shield: unfailingly redirects all missile attacks aimed at you toward the nearest other friendly person. Note: the curse works on the current state of their friendship, so if they notice this is happening, then the targeting may change. If the owner of the target shield is alone then they get 1 AC worse from having the shield, not 1 better.
  45. Reenactor’s Sash – You cannot die from combat, but after 1 hit, you must lay on the ground and be still until the fight is over. If you talk, all present (friend and foe) will stop fighting and mock you for 1 round. You also sweat a lot.
  46. Lipstick of Confusion – anyone kissed while wearing will be alternately taken aback and obsessed with you. A guard may let you pass, but (s)he’s going to track you down sooner or later and want to talk, but then not really have much to say and ask you to coffee but not specify a time or place.
  47. Goggles of Ulfravision – Two halves of separate goggles glued together with sovereign glue. On lens grants Infravision, the other Ultravision, however looking through both gives a splitting headache (-2 to all actions for an hour.) Looking through one means you have no depth perception, (-4 to attacks and skills involved in distance, like jumping a chasm). The sovereign glue is still tacky, so it sticks pretty badly; removing them causes “longsword equivalent” damage based upon system.
  48. Short Sword of Camaro – It appears to be a Bastard- or Two-Handed Sword, but those who have been struck by it once see it for what it is – a rusty short sword.
  49. Wine of suspicion – a powerful intoxicant, unless used to curry favor or inebriate as a form of treachery. When used for unfriendly purposes the drinker instantly becomes sober and will realize the wine giver’s intent. Appears as a high quality bottle of a common intoxicant.
  50. The Great Zonko’s Ring of Spell Deflection: deflects a spell onto nearest ally. If the ally saves vs spell, the spell deflects back at the original caster. If the ally fails, the spell deflects back to the original target with -2 to the save roll.
  51. Additionally, beneficial spells will bounce to the nearest target (friend OR foe).
  52. The Great Zonko was a clown wizard who performed feats of deflection magic as a popular/comical part of his act.
  53. Forger’s Folly, ornate quill that makes perfect forgeries, which last for 24 hours, after which all the ink from the document forms into an image of the forger.

Patel never stood a chance