Magic Monday – How ’bout the power to kill a yak from 200 yards away… with MIND BULLETS!

Blade of Hate

The caster’s wish to harm an enemy is manifested as an invisible cutting force that projects wherever they direct their gaze. Any target must be fully visible to the caster; intervening obstacles will take damage instead of the intended target until they have been cleared away, possibly by the Blade’s work.

The casting has a base difficulty of d4 and costs three strain; maintaining the spell requires constant concentration, and costs two more strain each round it is manifested. (Casting and manifestation costs can each be reduced by one by increasing the difficulty by three steps.) Each round, the caster may manifest the Blade to slash a target for 1d6 damage. This does not take an action, but the needs to concentrate and to look intently at the target will usually limit what actions the caster may take.

The Blade’s effects can manifest as far away as ten times the caster’s skill with the spell in meters. This range can be doubled by increasing the difficulty one step.

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It turns out my greatest foe is coffee tables

弁慶の泣き所
(Benkei no nakidokoro; “The place that makes Benkei weep”)

Definition:

The shins; someone’s weak point, an Achilles’ Heel. The term 泣き所 by itself can mean a shin or a weak point; this phrase intensifies the image by picturing a vital point so vital that even a hardened warrior will cry if struck there. A strong person’s only weakness.

Breakdown:

弁慶 is a proper noun, the title of our old friend, the warrior-monk Benkei. It is connected by the associative particle (no) to the noun phrase 泣き所 (nakidokoro), which comprises the noun (tokoro), “place,” and the conjunctive form of the verb 泣く (naku), “to cry,” “to weep.”

Notes:

This appears to be a surprisingly recent addition to the Japanese language, attested (at least in its meaning of “one’s weakest point”) only since the early 1900s.

Example sentence:

「先輩はフェンシング部で一番強いでしょう。膝の故障だけがいわゆる弁慶の泣き所だと思います」

(“Sempai wa fenshingu bu de ichiban tsuyoi deshou. Hiza no koshou dake ga iwayuru Benkei no nakidokoro da to omoimasu.”)

[(Addressing a senior student:) “You’re the best in the fencing club, right? Your only Achilles’ Heel, so to speak, is your weak knee.”]

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Blackout!

This one is dedicated to our upstairs neighbor and her loud 3 am parties. [wry]

前後不覚
zen.go.fu.kaku

Literally: in front – behind – un- / not – sense / remember

Alternately: Unconsciousness. Blacking out. Often used to describe being so drunk that you can’t remember, afterwards, what happened or what you did.

Elephant balancing

Man, you’ll wish you could remember this in the morning. This image was the second result on image search. Source.

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Small Warmth

(As long as we’re on a mouse theme – )

Small Warmth

Oh, to be a mouse—
a pet, that is, not a wild hated
burrower-in-walls, gnawer, food-stealer,
but gray, with loved and patted fur:
a house-mouse, as it were,
with some small unassuming name to fit one’s size
—to die, be buried and briefly mourned
and then forgotten and replaced.

This is the life,
in a clean-licked nutshell.

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Magic Monday – A utilitarian charm for certain professions

Charm of the Quiet Brother

Commonly used by those who wish to avoid notice, this charm is nothing more than a small sack of mouse-hide filled with powdered mouse-bones. If worn or carried, it helps make the one it protects “as quiet as a mouse.” It should not be relied upon to hide from magicians, though: chanting Sight from Darkness will reveal the charm’s magic, automatically exposing the one who uses it.

The creation of this charm takes a night’s work, a Ritual check of base difficulty d8, and costs six strain. It keeps its potency until the next equinox, or until broken. Carrying it gives a +2 bonus to stealth-related rolls. This bonus can be increased (at the time of the charm’s creation) by taking another point of strain, and raising the difficulty by one step, for each additional +1 of bonus.

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Seafood combo for massive profit!

As long as we’re on the topic, here’s another tai saying for you.

海老で鯛を釣る
(Ebi de tai wo tsuru; “Fish for sea bream with shrimp”)

Definition:

To make a great profit from just a little investment of time, money, or effort. To get something highly valued (such as sea bream) by using a cheap and common resource (such as a shrimp).

Breakdown:

The noun 海老 (ebi), written with the characters “ocean” and “old,” actually means “shrimp.” (Well, actually it refers to any long, thin decapod including lobster, crayfish, shrimp, and prawn. But “shrimp” is a correct translation on a relatively frequent basis.)

Anyway. This noun is marked with the particle (de), in this case indicating “the means by which an action is performed.” (Other examples of this usage include バスで行く, “go by bus,” or 鉛筆で書く, “write with a pencil.”) The verb which the shrimp is the means of comes at the end of the phrase, as they do in Japanese: 釣る (tsuru), “to fish” – i.e. to attempt to capture underwater prey with line, hook, and bait.

What do you fish out? The verb marks its direct object with the particle (wo), and the noun it marks is (tai), the same fish as last week.

Notes:

Ebi can also be written with the single character . The phrase can be contracted to 海老で鯛 (ebi de tai) or even えびたい (ebi-tai), although I’d say that the latter lacks a certain punch.

Example sentence:

「多くの人はきっと宝くじでちょっとした投資だけでかなりもうけると思い込み、海老で鯛を釣る夢に囚われているのだろう」

(“Ooku no hito wa kitto takarakuji de chotto shita toushi dake de kanari moukeru to omoikomi, ebi de tai wo tsuru yume ni torawareteiru no darou.”)

[“Many people doubtless come to believe that in the lottery, they can make a large amount of money with minimal investment, and are caught up in a dream of using a minnow to catch a whale.”]

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“Children of an Elder God” campaign core

I was just reading one of Necropraxis’ posts, and there I encountered the phrase “flexible, classless character progression system.” It caught my attention, and after mulling over the concept for a while I was suddenly struck by a (tangential) idea for a sort of combined campaign setting and advancement system for a tabletop pen-and-paper RPG. (Why is it always called “pen and paper”? Don’t we mostly use pencils?)

The inspiration is Children of an Elder God (illustrated version; complete version), an epic horror fanfiction mash-up of the classic Evangelion TV series and the post-Derleth Cthulhu Mythos. It’s set in an alternate science-fantasy future (now present, actually: 2015!), but I’m jettisoning most of the Lovecraftian anime sci-fi trappings and keeping a single aspect as a game mechanic.

See, part of the horror of the story is that these kids are piloting giant “mecha” that are actually biological in nature. When they defeat their foes (beings such as Atlach-Nacha, pulled from a mythos Who’s Who), their rides tear apart and devour the enemies… and as a result, both the pilot and the “mecha” gain some aspect of their victim: unearthly knowledge, the ability to command spiders, the ability to sprout wings and fly, etc.

And that’s the hook: the PCs are normal-ish people in a fantastical world of some kind. Their basic abilities don’t significantly change. They might go through a certain amount of growth in terms of skills and equipment, but the real payoff is in hunting down special beings and stealing their power. Here’s how to set it up:

0. Choose a mechanical system that you enjoy, and strip out any level-based stuff. The simplest way is to make starting characters like normal and then just ignore most or all of the experience / power-increase mechanics. Borrow E(1), for example.

1. Make, buy, or borrow any sort of world you want: bog-standard medieval fantasy, sci-fi future, modern-day, historical; gritty, heroic, gonzo; it all works as long as the details of the steps below are tailored to fit what you’re trying to do with the mood and setting.

2. Seed the world with legendary entities: angels, beasts, colossi, demons, elementals, faeries, godlings, whatever. Each of these has an aspect or set of aspects or powers that can be stolen if they are defeated (and consumed in some form, although it may be symbolic or toned down depending on the tone and themes of your campaign).

3. Place each of these entities at the center of a series of challenges for the players to tackle. It could be a dungeon full of traps and/or monsters, a hostile wilderness or waste, a Byzantine social or political organization, or a simple mystery overcome by investigation and problem solving.

4. Most gameplay should be pretty normal: solving problems, defeating foes, exploring, interacting with other characters in the world (including intra-party role-playing). PCs should be spending resources, running into trouble, gaining rewards, leveraging them to solve further problems.

5. But what they don’t do is level up or gain special powers. It should be known, or at least very strongly hinted, that that sort of benefit comes solely from defeating and consuming the entities.

6. Give the party a map and ways to learn about and locate their targets.

And there you have it: a setting foundation, and a sandbox-style campaign setup that ensures that the players always have something to do, whether it be researching possible targets, gathering resources to tackle those targets, or the actual act of taking on the challenge. These should be large-scale undertakings, with equally large-scale rewards. Remember, the boost gained is a quantum leap in power, equivalent to leveling up in a level-based system. Thoughts? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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