Friday, February 11, 2022

Walking Holiday, a supplement for Under Hill, By Water, now live

I have just released Walking Holiday

Walking Holiday is an Under Hill, By Water supplement that contains procedures for traveling from one place to another, as well as some advice on how to make these procedures actually fun. 

The GM will take an afternoon to do some prep. First, the GM will randomly generate and draw a map to represent what lies outside of your home village. Second, they’ll write down interesting things to find there (but no adventures, certainly!)

Afterwards, players can go on walking holidays to see a bit of the lay of the land between halfling villages. This journey is the game.

Click to get the game!

In Search of Better Travel Rules

Journeys and travels are a fantasy staple. As such, RPG players have long tried to include this essential element in their games only to find the experiences fall flat. Often, travel is either reduced to a skill check or handwaved entirely. I raved about this in my post In Search of Better Travel Rules

First, complain. Identify the problem. Then, do something about it.

Walking Holiday is a game supplement that makes traveling fun by infusing interesting choices into the journey. The game includes:
  • Procedures for pointcrawling 
  • Map making by dropping dice and drawing landmarks
  • Collaborative rumor generation about the map's contents
  • Dozens of example encounters and strange landmarks 
  • An optimized PDF with links and bookmarks, as well as layers that can be turned off for printing purposes

Here’s an example of what I mean:
You can generate a map for your players by picking up one of every type of platonic dice - a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and a d20. Toss ‘em on some paper. 
Normal stuff is lower numbers so they're more likely to occur.

Then, you reference what landmarks you’ve rolled and draw them in. 

(Drawing can be fun even if you’re not good at it - like me!)

Have a nice trip!

Because Walking Holiday is designed for use with Under Hill, By Water, the example encounters and NPCs are intended to provide a cozy, slice-of-life experience.

Even so, the procedures, advice, and game theory included are universally applicable. Use Walking Holiday to improve your journeys for any game where travel is featured.

Walking Holiday Yuletide Jam

I have been so thrilled and so touched by the community’s involvement in my little game’s little jam. I wanted to highlight the entries because I believe they enrich the experiences for everyone who plays Under Hill, By Water by adding new NPCs, systems, creatures, etc. 

A Collection of Things That Most Certainly Are Not
By Wayspell
A bestiary written in-character by the adventurous (feh) halfling Unreliable Wanderfoot. It is a hand-drawn supplement that provides pictures and stats for a variety of creatures beyond the Hedge.

Auntie Everline
By Evlyn Moreau

A spider NPC that serves as a wonderfully monstrous neighbor to the PCs. Living just over the Hedge, she provides  the PCs aid in a cool way: you help her out with tasks so the GM can noodle on answers to the questions you’ve asked her. 

Of Mushrooms Meet and & Marvelous
By Kris Goldsmith

This scenario (not adventure, certainly) provides the PCs the opportunity to enter the yearly Harvest Faire. To win the top prize, the players have to find a way to get the best mushrooms in the Vale out of the fields of mean ol’ Farmer Worm. 

If you’re looking for a great introduction to the game to run for a night where you don’t have your normal game night, this is a great choice.

How Hard Can It Be?
By Seedling Games
This supplement introduces a crafting mechanic to the game that is infinitely expandable. The basic mechanic cleverly balances misfortune against progress. If you’re running Under Hill, By Water a lot and want to measure the PCs’ long-term progress for their tasks around their village, this is a smart way to do it.

Heart and Hillside Home
By Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Additional randomizers to infuse your village with color and texture. This includes lists of fancy food (you prefer 11 meals a day, if you can get them), rumors of things outside the Hedge, and more! 

These supplements are so cool and well worth your time and $$$. I hope you’ll check them out! 

The road goes ever on and on…

Wednesday, February 9, 2022


The following rules were drafted and playtested for the forthcoming game HIS MAJESTY THE WORM, currently Itchfunding. I ultimately cut them from the main text. Both I and my players enjoyed them but they did not feel like they were explicitly furthering the goals of the game. Sometimes you have to drown your darlings.

Anyway, here they are in case they’re interesting to you for your games. 


“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, J.R.R. Tolkien

 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 Wounded 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).

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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

Ogre 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. 

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. 

Slime Scar

The slime 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 slime. It behaves more or less like a normal limb, except it’s obviously an oozeand 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.

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 Stunned 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.