Friday 21 July 2023

Bad Weather after Judgment Day

The world has ended and the weather is fucking terrible.
Oh it's not as bad as a decade ago, when the poison storm of a Gas Front would sweep through and turn your body into even more poison, but you still don't want to be caught out in this new weather. It sucks.

These are 6D weather tables a la WWCD.
Roll a d6 and move the weather in that direction. If it would go back, go forward.
If you reach the edge, stop if you hit an X. Otherwise reverse course.

Weather can have Outfield effects (ie. what happens during each 4 hour Watch of travel) and/or Encounter effects that kick in during smaller timescale activities like chats or fights.

And so -

There's very little white Clear weather in the Spring, so you're usually looking at green Haze or purple Rain with a chance of intermittent brown Sporestorms.


Clear: Rare but occasionally occurs after the rains. Clear skies and clear sinuses. A mercy.
Outfield: Travel +1 Hex and remove any Exhaustion.

Hayfever Haze: Sneezing and coughing and trying not to rub your tired red eyes because the pollen is everywhere. Nevertheless this is generally the best you've got for travelling weather.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion

Metamorphic Rain: Like a nice warm shower which is lovely until you see what it's doing to your skin and your clothes. Absolutely do not get it in your eyes. Whorls in your flesh where the droplets pulled your skin with them, your axe-haft is growing leaves, your axe-head is looking at you.
Outfield: Exposed equipment gains a Notch.

Spore Storm: Fat chunks of fungal matter bloom across the landscape, soon bursting to release a choking fog thick with spores. You can barely see through the smog, but that's ok because the hallucinogenic visions are really starting to kick in.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion and Save vs Doom to avoid taking 1 Wisdom damage.
Encounter: Slowed, and crit/fumble range increased by +4.

Thorn Warning: The air fizzes with static and the sky is covered with a low ceiling of unbroken cloud. The Growth is coming. Animals flee only to be snatched into the sky by the thing (things?) that live up there.
Encounter: Within a few minutes of killing something it's lifted into the clouds by sticky threads. If you stop to loot or butcher a corpse, 1d10 Cloudfinger tendrils soon follow.

The Growth: Feel the soil, feel the loam, let yourself go to heal the world with the blood that is turning to sap inside your veins. Kneel down and kiss the Earth and take it into you. Heal the world with your soft embrace.
Outfield: Take 1 Constitution damage per Watch as your body converts to plant life.
Goblins are not immune, but they become big mushrooms instead and retain their consciousness within the fungal mycelia.

Real life example! The weather was Clear then went through the Warning and a brief Summer Storm. Luckily for them, they were in a dungeon when The Hive occurred.
Summer has plenty of white Clear hexes, which leads to cloudless summer skies which can last for days at a time..


Clear: Warm and bright, silver clouds covering the worst of the sun. In the summer these warm days can stretch for weeks.
Outfield: Travel +1 Hex and remove any Exhaustion

Insect Heat: Hot days buzzing with lazy insects and bumbling bees. Comfortable long days of sunshine and joy and strolling by the hedgerows and falling asleep only to find that you've got a whole day left. Too hot for heavy armour though, I'll tell you that much.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion if wearing Heavy gear.
Encounter: Clouds of biting flies are attracted to any bloodshed. Dead creatures attract a cloud of flies that Slows anybody nearby. Take Bleed damage even if you Stay Down.

Summer Storm: After the sticky days, a smell of petrichor followed by the lashing rain. Cool and fresh and so very beloved by plants, you could swear that the grass is growing high and lush before your very eyes.
Outfield: Half Overland speed.
Encounter: Ranged attacks at -4

Heatwave: Absolutely stinking hot. Too hot to think, practically too hot to breathe. A real bastard of a day, but the bugs don't seem to mind.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion, 2 if wearing Heavy gear.
Encounter: Anyone in Medium or Heavy gear is Slowed.

Swarm Warning: Wispy cirrus clouds high overhead and a subtle crackle as metal zaps against metal. Flying insects fizz and pop, flash-fried by the electricity that makes your hair stand on end, only to be devoured by the smarter kind of beetle who knows to stay in contact with the ground.
Encounter: Hitting metal with metal causes a spasm of static, making the victim(s) Dazed for a round and making them drop held objects.

The Hive: They're inside you you can see them under the skin crawling inside you where did they come from why are your pores getting larger and larger and the glimmer inside is shiny and they're all so shiny and crawling and scuttling and they are nice they are friends they are part of you this is how it should be
Outfield: Take 1 Strength damage per Watch as your flesh becomes home to thousands of insects.
Goblins become hollowed out with seeds, and beloved by pollinating birds.

Autumn is very changeable and very rarely Clear, but at least the red doom weather is always preceded by a Warning, and so often swings away.


Special: In Autumn the weather brings abundant Forage, trivially gathered. Every traveller gets one ration of the appropriate Forage per Watch if they want it, and falls deeper into the dreary malaise of Autumn if they eat it.

Clear: Damp moist air and clear bright skies. Rare but beloved. A welcome but short-lived respite.
Outfield: Travel +1 Hex and remove any Exhaustion

Melancholy Mists: You sigh and you yearn for purpose. There are better things beyond the mists. Lives lived with meaning. Unlike yours. Your goals and dreams are a bit silly really, not the sort of things that other people would care about. Still, travelling weather if you care to try.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion.
Forage: Fat berries grow on the thorny bushes, eating them sustains you but makes you lose yourself in painful memories. Eating them deals 1 Cha damage.

Forgetful Rain:  A sustained drizzle that falls with a white noise susurration that makes your mind wander. At least the rain-fruits are out, withered but tasty, and they make you think about other things.
Outfield: Double chance of getting lost and/or crashing your vehicle.
Encounter: Ranged attacks at -4. Those in the rain are Slowed.
Forage: Trees bear withered fruits, which fill your belly and fill your mind with fog. Eating them deals 1 Int damage.

Unmaking Rain: Proper rain, this. Sheeting down with a wild wind that tears at clothes and hair and rips the seams and unties the bindings and shivers the nails out of the shingles. Get caught out in this and you'll get home naked, your clothes in rags.
Outfield: Half overland speed. Exposed equipment gains 1 Notch.

Tired Warning: The sort of sustained drizzle that doesn't get you wet but somehow soaks through your clothes. The grey sky overhead flickers with cloud lightning, the low rumbling warning of what's to come.
Encounter: All creatures are Slowed.
Forage: Tubers and ground fruit swell from the soil, which fill you up yet leave you hollow. Eating them deals 1 Wis damage.

The Soft: The clouds are soft and inviting. Childhood home. A parent's arms. Skin like crepe paper. Older better times. Crinkling fingers. Times before. No worries at all. You wobble. Bones like cartilage. A soft fall. So much to be done. What were you doing? Oh yes, that.
Outfield: Take 1 Dexterity damage per Watch as your body becomes unmoored from your mind. Eventually your body moves on its own, your skin feels soft and crinkles like paper, your joints bend strangely around your rubbery bones. You will spend the Autumn tending the plants in calm harmony, until your body softly shuffs to the floor, a bag of loam. Goblins instead merge onto the side of a tree, and tend the area with tentacle-vines with goblin minds.

Winter has snowfall broken up by Mushroom Slush or Clear days.
It's very possible to get caught in an interminable Blizzard at the bottom of the table though.


Special: Snow builds up over time, so several types of weather only affect you if the previous weather was marked as Snow.
You also need Cold Weather Gear, which counts as an Oversized item and can be broken like a splintered shield to cancel damage from one attack. If you don't have it, take the Frostbite effect.

Clear: Bright and cold, the air cool in your lungs without stealing your breath. Clean and fresh and sparkling, you can see for miles.
Outfield: Travel +1 Hex and remove any Exhaustion

Snowfall: Long nights leading to little days of calm white snowdrifts. By the time you leave your house it's starting to get dark, snowflakes following behind to fill your footsteps.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion if the last weather was Snow.
Frostbite: Take 1 Dex damage.

Mushroom Slush: Sleet that melts the snow to black ice and cakes you with a thin layer of slush, not soaking in so much as piling on, making you feel shivery and clammy at once. Worse, the fungus. A hardy strain of swift-growing mycelium lives under the warm snowy blanket. Exposed by the sleet, it will try to evade the slush by climbing the closest tall warm thing and making a home there, filling pockets and bags with uninvited slime.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion if the last weather was Snow. Gain an Oversized item called "Slush Fungus" - getting rid of it requires a wash in warm water or chucking affected gear out into Snow to kill the slime.
Frostbite: Take 1 Dex damage.

Blizzard: Complete whiteout. A death sentence to travel through.
Outfield: Gain 2 Exhaustion if you're not resting in Comfortable conditions. Food cannot heal you or remove Exhaustion during the Blizzard.
Encounter: Slowed. Ranged attacks at -8.
Frostbite: Take 1 Dex damage and Save vs Doom or freeze to death.

Thundersnow: Hail and snow, flickering with flashbulb lightning. The dense white blanket surrounds you and gently softens the faint sounds of thunder.
Outfield: Gain 1 Exhaustion if the last weather was Snow.
Encounter: Hitting metal on metal causes a lightning strike! Victim(s) must Save vs Blast or be blasted back and take 1d6 lightning damage.
Frostbite: Take 1 Dex damage.

Mirror-Vine Sunshine: The winter snow tamps down the growth waves and the warnings, allowing the most tenacious mutant plants to shoot up over the winter. Foremost of these are the Mirror Vines which emerge from the snow covered in their searingly bright silver-leaved new growth, reflecting extra light onto their leaves while they've got the chance.
Outfield: Double chance of getting lost/crashing in daylight.
Encounter: Increase fumble range by +2.
Frostbite: Take 1 Dex damage.


How to use:
At noon and midnight, roll 1d6 and move the weather in that direction. If it would go backwards, go forwards instead.
If you're at the edge, stop if you hit an X. Otherwise reverse course.

Simple right?

If you've got a Ranger equivalent, let them roll weather in advance so they can be all "hmm the rain will turn to fog by midday". In my game this can be a group Bushcraft roll.

The main penalty for walking around in the nasty weather is Exhaustion.
Each point of Exhaustion gives you -1 AC and +1 Encumbrance, but you can get rid of it all by having a break with food. An army marches on its stomach after all!

Sometimes the weather rots your gear, giving a Notch.
A Notch decreases a weapon's damage die, or reduces AC by 1. This generally only affects armour when hiking around because I assume weapons are sheathed.
Notching other gear is on a case by case basis but I assume that most stuff is in a bag if you're not using it.

Weather effects are on this spreadsheet too -
Post-Apoc Weather


One last thing - daylight is based on season, which is another reason why winter travel is grueling.

A day is 6 Watches long, with each Watch being 4 hours.
In Spring and Autumn there are 3 Watches of Day, 3 of Night.
In Summer there are 4 Watches of Day, 2 of Night.
In Winter there are only 2 Watches of Day, 4 of Night.

I absolutely cannot be bothered to make it more granular.

At night you'll want torches or something because you can't see very far and could get lost or crash your wagon.
For more, see -
Hexcrawl Rules

And a minor aside to that one last thing -
Initiative is side-by-side: At the start of each round, both sides roll initiative, highest goes first. Reroll each round.
If the PCs have enough light they win ties.
If they have not enough light they lose ties.
If they have no light they always lose.

So they'll always win ties in the day, but at night it's down to torchlight.

Weather-Based Encounters

And of course a last important thing - Encounters!
Each weather type has its own kind of monster that only shows up when it rains or whatever, hopefully setting up some foreshadowing from a wizened old crone saying "watch out when the summer storms sheet down, my boy, or the clicking eels will getcha..."

Roll 2d6 down and 1d6 across for a result.
You'll notice that it's the classic (?) array of Encounter - Lair - Spoor - etc.

Number 8 is a Weather Special which gives an Encounter with the relevant beastie, or more often some unique weather-based effect.
Number 5 is Weather Effect which is generic, but has a chance to change the weather! Woe betide the party who thought they could travel through the Warning and finds themselves caught in thorn weather.

What mysteries lie in the Drudge Wastes??


The only change I've made to the gimmick since its inception is to make it player-facing and make the "forward" direction a bit more likely, to add a little more consistency and predictability for players looking at the weather sheet.

Mechanically I want weather to be a consideration but not onerous. Atmospheric in both senses of the word. Interesting but not a gotcha. But still, if you get caught out in it unprepared you'll have a bad time.
Same with predicting the weather - have it out on the table and let people plan for what's coming (although they will have to work out the colours, of course).
Originally I was all "he he he, they will have to learn that Doom Weather is guarded by a Warning" but honestly it's better to be player-facing when possible, especially since they can see the red next to the blue and go "hmm.. In wonder if red is bad".

Materially it also has to consider the fact that I'm always going to have PCs cycling in and out of the game each session, so it isn't going to be satisfying if you only missed a session and now you're taking 1d4 Drip damage per round because you missed your chance to buy an Umbrella from the Brollymen or whatever.
Plus I cycle to work every day and always have my wet weather gear on me just in case, so I imagine that someone whose only job is adventuring would at least have some sort of medieval festival poncho on them at all times.

Generally per season - 
Green is the Standard Weather, travelling weather but probably sucks shit.
Purple is Rain of various horrible sorts. Can you tell I'm a Brit?
Brown is the seasons's Storm, awful to be in but you can push through if you desperately need to.
Blue is an electrical Warning, heralding the arrival of the worst kind of weather. Tends to be good travel weather if you're willing to risk it.
Red is Thorn Weather. In the past this killed you instantly, today it merely takes your mind.
White is Clear. The only Good weather with a capital G. Straight up clear skies and far horizons.

One Last Thing

Don't forget to vote for Barkeep on the Borderlands!

Saturday 25 March 2023

Bracklings - A Seasonal PC Class

The true Brackling is a huge horse-chestnut the size of your chest, but most people look at their face when they talk to them. A hard wooden face like a theatre mask or a Green Man, but moving as though in a stop-motion movie. Fluid, expressive, and animated on twos.
Their arms and legs are a thick mass of thorny vines winding around whippy wooden stems, a living hedgerow or shrubbery. Indeed many birds, bugs, and crawling beasts might live amongst a Brackling, and there are at least a few species which have adapted to life in a Brackling over any other home.

They have a short and seasonal life.

In the Spring a Brackling's thorny limbs are skinny and covered with countless flowers, hopefully meeting with other Bracklings in a cloud of pollen. This is the Brackling mating period, and the genderless (or more likely twice-sexed) Bracklings seek to share their pollens far and wide.
The flowers themselves are most often rose-shaped in a variety of colours and patterns, but they also tend to really like bulbs like daffodils, tulips, and crocuses. Bracklings can even take cuttings of particularly lovely flowers and incorporate them into their forms, which is used to show that they have taste, refinement, and a good potential for hybrid vigour. Having a flower arrangement of foreign flowers in your foliage is pretty sexy.

The pollen can also be weaponised. This is great fun for most Bracklings, who feel that it's amusingly uncouth to force another creature to breathe in their gametophytes and choke on them. It's a useful trick! The thick cloud of allergenic pollen slows their foes and makes it hard to see the Brackling in the billowing mist.

In Summer the Bracklings grow thicker and bushier. Their stem-bones are strong and covered with crinkled bark, their vines turning a rich ochre.  Woody branches grow from their core and out from their shoulders, and without careful pruning they can begin to lose their person-shape!
This is a time for prideful Bracklings to groom themselves into fanciful topiaries, and to tend to the birds and beetles who are attracted to the sweet fruits that grow from their branches.
More slovenly Bracklings will just let it all grow out, becoming a sort of tall walking shrub, home to the less savoury type of insect and the more rambunctious kinds of bird.

In any case, this is the age when a Brackling learns to control its plant-body better, growing into interesting shapes, self-pruning, and consciously directing their vital energies.
Their fruits come in many shapes and sizes. Most people assume that their fruits look like apples, but this is actually fairly rare. Bracklings tend to prefer blackberries, pears, or pomegranates.
The ripest fruits are plucked easily from the stem, and as the Brackling walks over fertile ground they unconsciously pluck these soft squishy fruits and stamp them into the ground with their step.

Amongst the sweet fruits of a Summer Brackling are a few of a more rare lustre - fruits containing the latent life-essence of a Brackling. These wriggle and writhe with barely contained vital energies, a proto-Brackling formed before it should be formed.
If planted these fruits will immediately grow into a frenetic Brackling-Ling, all flailing limbs and unfettered life, brambles clawing as it desperately clings to existence.
If eaten by another the fruits contain incredible vitality, healing wounds and restoring the spirit - at the morally ambiguous cost of eating the pre-unborn.

If unplanted and uneaten they get stamped into the earth anyway, so why not use them for some useful end...?

Come on bruv at least get the shears out

In the Autumn the Bracklings begin to lose their leaves and are soon bare, shameless of their nudity. Their twigs have the tough and yielding whip-like tension of green wood.
The rushing sap-mind that once embedded in their fruit seeds is slowing, but has nowhere to go but within. Their mind, and the minds remembered by the minds before, slowly well into their consciousness. Old knowledge to be reexamined. Ancient memories recontextualised for a new age.
Their control of their own body is far more impressive. They can mould themselves into other forms with some small but focused effort. The bone-deep casual confidence of ancient sires making it easy to slip into this or that social group.
This makes it far easier for them to blend in with other creatures' societies, but they may reject this and take on various beastly forms. This is the twilight of the lifecycle, and given their imminent mortality there are many Bracklings who find it easier to just root down and watch the world go by.

Their thorns, which have grown jagged and tough, serve as vicious weapons. Stories tell of criminals who, having cornered a seemingly unarmed person in an alleyway, discover that their wood-masked quarry is more than they bargained for.

In Winter the Brackling must finally die.
The natural fate of the Brackling is to find a safe place, root into the ground, and pass on their legacy.
The great conker-core nestles to the ground surrounded by the dry thornbush of the Brackling's body, and splits open to reveal a smaller fist-sized seed nestled in the fluffy innards.
The seed stirs, gathers the cottony fluff around itself, and awakens into the winter world.
This newgrown Brackling knows all of the old one's memories like stories told over and over by a grandparent. A new person with old knowledge.
It's maybe as tall as a shinbone, light as a feather, and knows that it if it survives the winter it can tell those stories to its siblings whose seeds still slumber beneath the cold earth.
Small and light as it is, the Cotton Brackling is not defenceless. It's light enough to float on a breeze, its body beneath the fluff is thin enough to fit through the smallest crack, and under the winter coat it hides impressively sharp fluff-fletched spears which it can shoot a surprising distance.
Plus, importantly, it can pilot the corpse of its dead sire like a horrible corpse-mecha. Cotton Bracklings must make their own decision. Some prefer to fly free on the breeze, unburdened by the thorny shrubbery that was once their parent. Others take their parents' empty shell with them for practical reasons - you can't carry much when you're the size of a toddler and nearly lighter than air. It's a bit morbid but very convenient.

But hatching from your parent's heart is not the fate of all Bracklings. There are those who decide to hold onto their own self, their own existence, rather than pass on their body and soul to the next generation.
These hulking beings are known as Crone Golems. They grow huge and twisted, barrel-chested and sharp. Lumbering tree-beings with a grip that can crush stone.
The stillborn Brackling in their core feeds poison through their mighty bodies, emerging in blood-red sap that drips from their sharp and evil thorns.
They will die in the Spring, of course, but for now they are a fearsome monolith of bark and bramble, a terrifying force of nature.

As for the seeds that were planted in the Summer, they slowly grow underground and sprout in late Winter with only the vaguest memory of their parent.
For those whose parent stayed in place throughout the Autumn, they will grow up into a little grove of new-sprouted siblings and be regaled by tales of the past by the Brackling which hatched from their parent's core. 
If their parent wandered, the newgrown Bracklings emerge alone with far-flung siblings and, if they're lucky, a particularly driven elder sibling who will backtrack along the sense-memories of their sire. A travelling seed-bard who finds their buried brethren and tells them tales of the previous years.
The most unlucky, and the most shamed, are those who were born of a Crone Golem. The memories of their forebears lost, the chain of generations broken. Forever marked by the will of a being who had barely been born before they had to choose how to die.


The intention is that in gameplay, these folks cycle through the classic dnd class archetypes before ending up as a weird new class. AC tank fighter in Spring, then a sort of healer/summoner in Summer, then thief in Autumn, and finally in Winter they're a whole new class that's a thorn-flinging flying horror or a massive unkillable Grootish motherfucker.


And so... to rules.


HP: 1d6, minimum 4 at 1st level.
Saves and Exp Track: As Specialist
As a fairly delicate class, you have a base AC of 8.

In Spring you are surrounded with pollen and good vibes. This gives you +level to your Charisma score, or cancel it to activate your 10' radius Pollen Cloud. Creatures in the cloud choose on their turn: Slowed or take -1 to hit per Brackling level.

In Summer you have fruit hanging from your branches. You have many, but you have one golden juicy fruit per level per day. Your fruits may be gifted or thrown. Gifted fruits heal 1d6 if eaten straight from the branch (this takes an action, either yours or theirs). Thrown fruits create a Fruitling who lasts for a 10 minute Turn when thrown onto good soil, or a round per level otherwise. It attacks at random in a 10' range with great whomping branches for 1d6 damage and a bonus to hit equal to your level.
Your bushy body grants +2 AC.

In Autumn a Brackling can send down their roots, take an hour, and assign themselves +1 per level to their Skills. They can also grow themselves into new forms during this time, with brack-wolves, brack-ponies and even brack-monkeys known. Their long jagged thorns grant a spear-ranged 1d6 damage unarmed attack, no matter what form they choose.
If you crit with this attack it activates Blossom Fall - a sweet-smelling rain of petals which extends the crit range of all in 10' by +1 per your level. During Blossom Fall you always act before initiative is rolled.
Your whip-thin and wiry body gives you +4 AC.

In Winter they must choose whether to become a Cotton Brackling who can pilot their dead sire, or a Crone Golem who is strong but must inevitably die.
- The Cotton Brackling can fly but can't carry much when they do. The only real weapon they've got is a ranged thorn attack which does d4 damage, or they can pilot their parent who has no special abilities but can at least carry a weapon.
When piloting your parent's corpse you have +4 AC, or otherwise +0 AC.
- The Crone Golem is huge and lumbering. Your Hit Die becomes a d10, rerolling your max HP as soon as you transform. You deal 1d10 damage with your crushing fists, and the red sap deals a point of Bleed per successful hit - affected enemies take 1 damage per round of Bleed Damage unless they skip their turn.
Your twisted and bark-coated body gives you +6 AC.

In Spring the Crone Golem dies permanently, but a Cotton Brackling grows into its Spring form and continues the cycle.