Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Scars


The basis of this system was stolen borrowed from P Stu over at False Machine. I adapted it for my own system, His Majesty the Worm, and my players just got their first scar. They're all excited about it, so I thought I would post the list here.

Scars

“Though he had been healed in Rivendell of the knife-stroke, that grim wound had not been without effect. His senses were sharper and more aware of things that could not be seen. One sign of change that he soon had noticed was that he could see more in the dark than any of his companions, save perhaps Gandalf.” - Fellowship of the Ring

My family has a legend about my great grandmother. It was said that she was so fed up with getting seasonal poison ivy and suffering those itchy welts that she finally ate a poison ivy leaf sandwich. It sent her to the hospital.

But she survived. And she never got poison ivy again.

Believe my family legend or not, it’s the basis of this subsystem. So strap in:
·         You were dead. Now you’re not. You bear a mark from your death.
·         Describe your scar. Every time you see it, it reminds you of the time you died.
·         Based on the enemy that marked you in this way, you gain a new talent. This talent may be Exhausted like any other.
·         You may only gain a scar once per Crawl.

The list of scar talents below is not exhaustive. Work out the specifics of your scar with your GM.

Animate Statue Scar
A hand-shaped scar. In the brief moment of your death, the statue’s machinations made sense to you. Spend a lore bid and ask the GM where the animated statue’s empowering rune is.

Bloodybones Scar
The bloodybone skeletons stripped all the flesh off of one of your hands, trying to free their “lost brother” under your skin. Luckily, your skeletal hand still functions more or less as normal. One of your skeletal fingers is a “skeleton key.” It functions as a lockpick that you always have on you.


Bog Zombie Scar
An ugly wound, swollen and pus-filled. It never quite heals. As long as this talent is not wounded, undead will ignore you. You are invisible to them. They smell themselves on you.


Brain Spider Scar
The thing left scars you couldn’t see, deep in your head. As long as you are in physical contact with someone, you can communicate with them telepathically. This freaks most people out, but allows you to overcome a language barrier.

Cockatrice Scar
One of your eyes remains stone, smooth and polished like marble. You can pop it out and still see through it. Also, it is made out of stone, so it’s really hard to hurt.

Devil Scar
A red blotch that looks vaguely like writing. You become extremely good at legalese. You can spend a lore bid to ask the GM if there are any hidden clauses in a contract that you should know about. The GM will lay everything out clearly.
Your scar prickles whenever you enter a mythraeum (aka temple).

Ettin Scar
The scar barfs forth a teratoma. You grow a proto head. Everybody thinks it’s gross and people generally default to the distaste disposition when they see you. However, as long as it’s uncovered, your scar will bark out a warning if you are ever ambushed. You are never surprised.

Face Rat Scar
The rat stole your fucking face. Now there’s just a big blank fleshy space between your hairline and your chin. You can still eat with that little slit and see basically okay, but you have no face. If you ever find another face rat, you can cut their face off and wear it like a mask. It fuses onto your blankness and is a perfect disguise. The more face rats you catch, the more disguises you gain.

Fungoid Scar
Your scar sprouts ugly little brown mushrooms. If you ever actually die, these will sprout into a fungoid doppleganger. Nobody will be able to tell the difference (at least at first).

Griffin Scar
The humans of House Gryphes host griffin hunts in honor of their king. Scars from griffins earn you mad respect with that group. Any member of the ruling house of the City will listen to tales of how you got your scar with rapturous attention.

Harpy Scar
A smear of white scar tissue reminiscent of pigeon shit on your car. You become great at insulting someone. During a Challenge, you may treat Banter as either a Cups or Wands action.

Imp Scar
An ugly scar that looks like a grinning mouth. You can spend 2 Resolve to retry a test of fate that became a great failure.

Jinn Scar
You were burned by the jinn. When the burned healed, it was in a hauntingly beautiful pattern of rainbow hues. Undeniably a burn, but somehow beautiful. This scar notably benefits sorcerers. While this talent is unWounded, you may use your magic whenever someone else holds an appropriate component and wishes you to.
·         If someone in your vicinity is holding a component, you may cast the spell “for” them.
o   During a Challenge, the person making the wish must use the Speak Incantations action.
·         You must know the appropriate Talent to cast that particular component’s spell.
·         Either you or the person making the wish may spend the Resolve.
o   If neither of you are willing, nothing happens.
·         You must still be able to see or touch your target, per normal.
·         You can only concentrate on one spell at a time, per normal.

Kelpie Scar
You can cast the spell Defy Depths (see Appendix X, page XX) on yourself for a Resolve without a component. This spell requires concentration as normal.

Lion Scar
The outline of the lion’s bite shines with raw, pink flesh. Anyone marked by a lion carries the power of the king of beasts. You gain favor in tests of fate to tame or calm wild animals.

Mimic Scar
Once bitten, twice shy. You may spend a lore bid to ask a GM if any one item is actually a mimic. They’ll answer honestly.

Nymph Scar
Any scar suffered from a nymph’s meddling always turns out super dramatic. You look like a badass. You can spend a Resolve to ignore a nymph’s charm power and all other Inspire Trust or Inspire Joy effects.

Ooze Scar
The ooze devoured one of your limbs (talk with the GM about which one makes the most sense). However, it left a little bit of itself behind. You grow a new limb out of ooze. It behaves more or less like a normal limb, except it’s obviously a slime and is super hard to actually hurt. It can be hit by a nine-pound hammer, slammed inside an iron maiden, or stretched on the rack and suffer no lasting harm. Fire still hurts it, though.

Questing Beast Scar
A bite mark. You can spend a Resolve to ask the GM in which direction lies your personal quest (but not a guild-fellow's quest). They will answer you honestly.
When this talent is wounded, the scar begins to whine and yip like a pack of dogs and stealth becomes impossible.

Titan Scar
Scarification of your lungs leaves you with a permanent rasp and the ability to belch out a cloud of elemental spume. For 2 Resolve, you can exhale a cloud of elemental energy appropriate to the titan who scarred you. This cloud affects everybody in the zone except for you.
During combat, using this ability is a Wands action that targets the initiative of everybody in the zone.
·         A breath of fire lights all untended flammable objects aflame. Everybody affected in the zone catches fire. They take a Wound at the beginning of their focus action unless they use a Recover action to put themselves out.
·         A breath of ice freezes all potions, oils, or bombs (making them unusable until warmed up). Everybody affected is crystalized and Rooted and Exhausted until they make a Recover action to free themselves.

Ungoat Scar
A honeycomb of flesh that elicits a severe trypophobia response. You’re not sure it’s ever going to heal. If you would ever prompt maleficence as a sorcerer, you can draw twice and choose the result using the tables in Appendix III, page XX.

Vampire Scar
A vampiric scar—often intense scarification of the neck—carries a connection to the undead. By spending a lore bid, you can detect the presence of a vampire. If one is present on the same level of the Underworld, the GM will tell you which path is closest to it. If one is present in the same room (hidden, in one of a thousand coffins, etc.), the GM will tell you exactly where it is.
Unfortunately, this connection goes both ways. All vampires can sense you in the same way. You are a beacon in the night to their eyes.

Winter Wolf Scar
The wound festers into a cluster of crystals, icy cold to the touch. Anything you touch it to becomes frozen after five or ten minutes of close contact.

Wraith Scar
Your scar is always cold to the touch. You now live half in the wraith world and half in the world of the living. You can interact with and attack wraiths, shadows, specters, and other spiritual enemies, even with your bare hands or mundane weapons.

Yellow King Scar
A horrible creeping yellow blotch. You swear it gets bigger every time you look at it, as if it’s consuming you. By spending a Resolve, you can resist a spell cast on you. The caster’s Resolve is still spent.

10 comments:

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  2. Your brain is very cool and your scar ideas are evidence of this! I really like mechanisms like this for maximum backstory-encouragement and PC-customization that originate from the DM. It's nice to be able to scratch certain players' itches for this without letting them run roughshod over your adventure and immersion. There was another blog (I'm sorry I forget which!) that invented a mechanism by which PCs touched by level-draining undead but not killed by that particular monster had to eventually venture back into the dungeon, find and kill that exact same monster which inflicted the level drain. Otherwise, no advancement, no recovery of lost levels. A life of feeling empty, "not all there" on other adventures.

    The way you've got it here, players will be somewhat motivated to get their PCs covered in scars, which is very story-fecund, especially for older PCs. This is cool, but I'm wondering if some of the never-healing scars with strong enough negative effects could be finally healed and erased by killing the type of monster or particular individual monster which caused the scar in the first place. Would that violate the Rule of Cool among your players?

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  3. p.s. It's cool your great-grandma only got positive effects after living through the sandwich!

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