Friday, March 9, 2012

Stuck in Weirdness

This is going to be an OSR/open edition gaming blog, but I'll also include details about living and working in China as a laowei (which means round-eyes, I think).

I've been living in Changchun, China for more than two months now. Changchun is the capitol of the Jilin province, which is kind of close to more interesting places like Beijing, Harbin and Dalian. I've been teaching the language that I love and enriching young lives. More importantly, I'm far, far away from the Midwest.

Pictures? Well, my camera broke during the 8,000 mile journey to this cold, ass-backward corner of China. But here's a rundown: Identical six-story, tile-covered apartment buildings from the 80's spread for miles. Vehicles of every type and quality, all driven by psychopaths, barrel down the avenues. Nobody speaks English. From October to March, it might get above freezing once or twice a month. Everything is built on a scale that makes you feel insignificant. They give their shopping centers names like "World Mall" and "Eurasian Mall" because they're the only things comparable to the size of these fucking buildings. Shopping is the national pastime. They put Americans to shame. A single mall might have acres of necklaces, tennis equipment and jackets and still have room for some "5-D" cinema that shows last year's American blockbusters for $20 a seat and a bullshit amusement park that nobody uses. People spit everywhere all the time. No bathrooms have toilet paper.

DM Exercise: Create a dungeon room based off this picture.
Content? OK, I've been inspired to create a setting dominated by the Princes of Elemental Evil and their followers. I read Jeff's folian mythos and Zak's Fiend Folio re-skin project and realized they could be a bad ass turnaround from the more humanistic gods I've been using for twelve years.

Elemental Princes live in the physical world and form the center of major religions. They are terrible and arbitrary, but can be powerful benefactors to those who cater to their whims and appetites. "Good guy" deities still exit, but they dwell on higher planes, and each has 99 problems of their own. They won't exactly stick their necks out for every peasant's prayer, but they might be bothered to grant boons to a few devoted clerics.

First up: Olhydra, Princess of the Drowning Waters.

Drawing by Zak S. You already know that.
Olhydra drifts and feeds endlessly in the oceans' darkest corners. Her home is the Drowning Basin. Its depth is so great that the sheer force of its gravity has been known to drag vessels beneath the surf. The Ecshal Isles, her cult's stronghold, form a ring around this basin. The islands are famous for their cenotes. Her faithful dutifully drown any infidel who challenges their goddess, but they harbor special loathing for the followers of Cyronax, the prince of freezing blood and shattering ice because of a prophecy that he will freeze the Drowning Basin solid.

Cenotes are always connected to vast underwater caverns that lead to the sea, which rules. 
Olhydra's clerics are the sea's best navigators. Before an ocean voyage, her clerics can spend a day summoning an angler fish, her hideous spawn, and ritually dining on it. For 50 gp + 5 gp for every expected day at sea in seasonings, side dishes and table settings, the clerics are granted unnatural knowledge of the currents, weather and creatures of the deep. This grants a substantial navigation bonus. Side effects include mind-fucking sea-related nightmares and awful seafood farts, which combined incur a penalty to Charisma checks for the duration of the effects.

This thing exists in every ocean and it's called "the wonderfish".

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