All Hail the Victorious Dead: Waking Playing Characters

Inspired by this post:

(PC funerals are an underutilized thing, I believe.)

I agree! Some ideas on adding some mechanical punch and oomph to waking an adventurer in a few games.


When a character is waked, every character who shared a memory can take an inspiration if they change either their Ideal or Bond to reflect how knowing their dead comrade changed them.

Dungeon World

When you wake a dead player character and have recovered the body, all of the characters talk about a memory they have of the character. If they have the body and can put it to rest as per appropriate custom, the dead character will show up in the future. The player allows one character to have access to one of the dead character’s moves, showing how the ghost returns for one shining moment to defend an old friend.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

When reavers, cut-purses, heathen-slayers and warlocks lose one of their band to death and chaos, it is often an orgy of alcohol, drugs and other vices that blur their pain, allowing them to put it out of their minds that next time it could be them. Every character should give a remembrance, be it somber and respectful or loud and heretical. If the body is recovered and can be put to rest via the character’s religion (as understood by the other characters) any extra XP the character had is spread among the party in any way the player pleases. If the body was not recovered, the wake goes on just the same but in the end, the extra XP is lost to chaos. 1 Luck for every character level the deceased character had at the time of death is distributed among the party, as decided by the dead character’s player.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

When you wake a dead character in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the uncaring universe offers the silence of the void that will eventually swallow you all. Was anyone covered in their gore when they died? If so, they can see the restless, silent dead who quietly watch the party, waiting for another to fall and join them in the quietlands whenever they reach 3 hit points or less. Now is a good time to hire an accountant, invest wisely and stop adventuring.

Apocalypse World

When you wake a dead character in Apocalypse World, the body with all the gear is sitting between you all.

Roll + Hot (+1 if you provided any grub or hooch for the wake or ever had sex with the deceased back when they were alive) when you want to lay claim to a piece of gear off of the body.

On a 10+ you take that piece of gear. There might be some grumbling but for now, it is yours and no one is saying shit about it.

On a 7-9 you take that piece of gear but someone has a problem with it. You’re going to have to offer them something or force them to back the fuck down.

On a miss, the wake erupts into screaming and bullshit and violence. Maybe this will be a two-for-one wake.

Crowdsourced Creative Effort: Magic Sword Auction

In which I ask folks on G+ to creatively contribute. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

A group of adventurers are starting to feel like bad-asses after having hauled a powerful magic sword out of a faraway ruin. Now they want to sell it.

There’s no such thing as magic shops – magic just doesn’t work that way. They decide to auction the magic item off to the highest bidder. Word spreads as they hunker down in a big, comfortable city, hosted by a metropolitan inn whose ambitious innkeeper thinks the business from the auction could pull her place out of debt.

Who shows up to bid?

  1. A black-silk clad manservant, with carefully braided hair, and lacquered nails, bearing ancient coins for payment.
  2. A brattish high-class child, no more than seven, entourage in tow, who exclaims that they must have that.
  3. A bitter, down on their luck mercenary who claims to be the heir to the original wielder of the sword.
  4. The original owner of the sword, dead for centuries, awakened when the blade was removed.
  5. An inconspicuous halfling dressed in the plain clothes of a city laborer, perhaps a fetch.
  6. A dour dwarf, who claims to be the son of the smith who originally forged the sword, and further that the original owner never paid and therefore the sword should be returned to his family.
  7. A lanky, out-of-shape young man, with the pale skin and soft hands of the wealthy, dressed in very practical, sturdy, and visibly brand-new adventuring clothes. He’s trying to gear up for his first delve!
  8. A gray-haired woman of 50 or more, unbent despite her age. Careful observation reveals she wears well-made leather and chain beneath her woolen garments. She carries no coin.
  9. The agent of a powerful, but mysterious and wealthy, collector, who offers 40% of the item’s value and secretly plans to take the item by force if it cannot be bought…
  10. A representative from the city’s public enchantment bureau, which uses magical objects to power the city’s wards and estimates that this weapon will satisfy their needs for upwards of a year. In uniform, meaning they are wearing a tight-fitting outfit that magically conceals their gender and identity, and a featureless obsidian mask that forms a mouth temporarily only when it’s needed to shape words.
  11. A furniture-maker, a sturdily built woman in her middle age, with callused hands and heavy shoes. It’s well known that the Iron Emperor has required certain upgrades for his terrible Throne of Blades.
  12. A man in battered armor and worn clothing. He is in his middle years pushing towards fifty perhaps. The symbol of his company is torn and filthy so it is impossible to tell who he once served. He has the bearing of a soldier and already bears a sword that in contrast to his armor and clothing is clean and well maintained. He looks upon the auction with sadness in his face. If you ask him why he is here he will say “It was her sword. She may be lost forever, but I’d pay anything to have this one thing that she held almost as dear as me.”
  13. A boringly dressed, middle aged man. Unremarkable and he does nothing to bring attention to himself. He only stands out because of all of the outlandish people already here and it isn’t long before a new arrival has attracted your attention and you’ve already forgotten about him.
  14. A group of pacifist priests of the Sun, in yellow robes and carrying chests and chests of tithe-coin. Their sect practices a transformative magic that makes weapons of war into beautiful mechanical creatures that tirelessly tend their hopyards and barley fields.
  15. A regular human noble who appears to have more than enough money to pay for it several times over. He hopes to purchase the sword as though purchasing legitimacy as a warrior. Secretly he is wearing a nearly impenetrable glamer, and is, in fact, not from this world,. Instead, it is simply taking on the shape of a human, a form that bears little resemblance to its true self. The sword is actually a key for dimensional travel.
  16. A glassy collection of bubbles and threads, something like a floating Portuguese man-o-war. A magical ring tangled in its fore-tentacles allows it to speak.
  17. A cult who want to trick the party into completing a ritual to free the demon they believe is within.
  18. A well-dressed young woman: the second, disinherited daughter of the local lord. Her feud with her elder sibling is the stuff of recent gossip, as is her new entourage of mercenaries.
    (a spy follows her)
  19. A priestess and priest in the red robes of the goddess of War.
  20. A group of slavers in silk and powdered wigs with plenty of silver, gold and gems made off of the blood and misery of others.
  21. A bald man with tattoos etched into his deeply tanned skin. They shimmer silver in the sunlight and are recognizable as runes of binding to those with the right knowledge.  He wears a white robe that is stained with the constant trickle of blood from his eyes. His voice is not his own.
  22. A man, maybe in his late twenties, driving a farmer’s wagon. He’s got a military cap, so he is probably a recent war veteran. He does not look wealthy, but he’s willing to give all he’s got.
  23. A person who was once a magical sword. That is a long story. It wants to buy the sword and turn it into a companion.
  24. A regular drinker at the inn, sitting at his usual table in the back corner. This is his inn, dammit. Has been for years. A whole lot of fuss about a magic sword isn’t going to force him out of his drinking spot. (But with enough liquid courage he might join in on the bidding, show these interloping newcomers up at their own game. Not that his purse could back his increasingly loud mouth…)
  25. A suit of fine plate armor, empty of resident, but ready to bid with hand gestures.
  26. The Ambassador. A long, thin man, wearing an exquisite, exceedingly purple and gold toga. His eyes are below his cheekbones and his mouth on his forehead. Extremely refined, his breath smells just a little like sulfur. He’ll gladly pay in years of life.
  27. Wizard’s Guild delegates, willing to pay a smaller fee to study the sword but also there as serious bidders.
  28. A youngish woman, in beat-up leather and chain armour. She looks a bit like death warmed over, but there’s a quiet fury in her eyes. She claims to have been part of the original adventuring party, and to have been the one who actually found and freed the sword, only to be left for dead by her fellow party members after a partial tunnel collapse. Turns out she wasn’t dead, after all. At least, not entirely. It’s unclear whether she’s come for the sword, or vengeance. Maybe both.
  29. A veteran paladin devoted to fighting demons and their ilk. A holy vision revealed to him that this sword would be a powerful weapon against his eternal foes. He has the monetary backing of his cult, but would prefer to persuade the current owners into donating it to his worthy cause.
  30. One of seven competing embodiments of Death.

A Friday after a solid week: Reading, Planning, Writing

Reading: I’m reading Grace of Kings and it is fine at what it is doing but I think my heart just isn’t in an epic fantasy series. I might move on to something non-fiction, cleanse my palate.

Just as I arrived at work today the audiobook of The Scar finished. I love that book. Iron Council is definitely next.

Planning: Lots of games are popping up this weekend.

Writing: I couldn’t pull the trigger on the blog posts I wanted to get out this week but they are moving right along. Other stuff I don’t want to jinx (and one thing-I-can’t-mention that got tossed out, maybe to be brought back later).

And you?

Inspired by a Dyson Logos map: The Siege of Alderbridge

Another Beautiful Dyson Logos map

Another Beautiful Dyson Logos map

The Duke of Alderbridge turned his back on the River Gods his family has worshipped for generations and was purified by the priests of a new faith, a god of humans, the prime primate, the First Man. He demanded the elf prince’s delegation leave the city walls. He demanded the dwarven guildsfolk take their goods and begone. His priests blamed halflings for several problems and their shire was raided (without the Duke’s permission, of course) by local knights and squires seeking vengeance.  A halfling visiting the city with a wizard was found floating in the river. The duke kept hostages – an elf prince, a dwarven shield-maiden and the wizard said to be a friend and drug dealer of the halflings.

When the Duke sent missives saying that all impure (non-human) goods would be further taxed in order to mitigate the damage done to human souls for trafficking in xenosin, the armies gathered. The elven queen and 7 dwarven kings declared the duke a misbegotten son of a youngling species whose head would be put on display on an adamant pike and marched between their thrones as a warning. The villages between the elves, dwarves and Alderbridge were put to the torch, their people driven behind the duke’s walls in hopes of speeding up the siege’s starvation.

The elven archers and cavalry have set up camp beyond a catapult’s throw from the northern wall. The best nigh-immortal archers watch the castle walls, taking shots whenever they see movement. The duke’s nephew was shot in the throat and will likely die.

The dwarven host took the south. The long, straight, southern wall appealed to the stone-lords. They are building their siege engines even now, singing songs about turning the younglings’ architecture into rubble. Kuroth’s Crossing will be left untouched.

It seemed like the orchards to the northeast were open. The duke’s first riders were sent during the first moonless night. Halfling sling-stones pelted horse and rider alike. None were said to survive.

Mercenary wizards have summoned Water Elementals that prowl the river, destroying boat traffic.

The harvests had not yet been brought in. They say the fields are afire even now. Rumors have it that anyone caught is either killed on sight or sent south to be put into the dungeon-prison of the Archmage, whose disdain for the First Man’s religion is well known.

And here you are: indentured servants, wainrights, criminals, turnip farmers, costermongers, alchemists, barbers and squires, all driven behind the walls. Alderbridge folk are already hiding food and grumbling about the newcomers in from the villages.

What will chaos, blood, sorcery, hubris and steel cause you to become?

Hay Fever Friday – Read, Plan, Write

Reading: I’m listening to The Scar on the commute. Every re-read I like it more; it might be my favorite book.

I’m reading Clark Ashton Smith’s The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies while also perusing The Last Days of Angelkite and Night Witches.

CAS has me writing down lots of words to look up later.

Angelkite has me wanting to stab the Cray Def Un in the face.

Night Witches has me wanting to round up some elderly ladies from the local community and game.

Planning: Movie, work, game

Writing: Notes for lots of blog posts will become actual blog posts next week. Magic sword rules and gaining new skills rules for DCCRPG and Make Your Own New Crobuzon Redux.

And you?

Dungeon Crawl Classics: The Tavern Between Dreams, a pocket dimensional demi-plane

The act of leaving everything you know behind in order to face chaos, death and blood carves a space out of the world, A seed that sprouts slowly and subtly but grows more concrete as adventures are scarred and beaten in the ruins, tombs and towers where they gain their gold and experience. This magic starts as something subtle, barely remembered dreams, shapes of adventures to come. Time and survival carve out a piece of dream-space where future delves can be planned and past adventures can be memorialized in a room-sized pocket dimensional demi-plane: the Tavern Between Dreams.

Judge Notes

During those first levels, they have vague dreams of symbols that represent the modules that could come next, perhaps if there is more than one to choose from, you allow them to choose a vague symbol representing an adventure to come. The dreams become more clear, more lucid over time. There is a table for the group to sit around, a tome to write down their intentions when they wish to break the laws of creation (DCCRPG, 306).

Eventually, someone is there, a castellan, a servant, sometimes referred to as a tavern-keeper. The Tavern-Keeper serves drinks and offers an understanding ear. Whether the Tavern-Keeper is a soulless construct, a ghost or some kind of gestalt soul of all of the adventurers who died on the way is unknown.


1st: Experiences in the space are vague and misty, INT check DC 10 to see if you remember anything but a single symbol or image upon waking.

2nd: It is all a faraway dream but growing more tangible while you are there, INT check DC 5 to see if you remember anything more than a single image or symbol upon waking.

3rd: A vivid and clear waking dream, the table and the tome with its quill are solid, you remember everything upon waking.

4th: The tavern-keeper is present, acting as if it was always there.

5th: Grottos for trophies and memorial statues representing those who have died are present. All trophies are dream-objects representing great deeds. Scrolls recording the band’s adventures are present. Real world items that were being held while falling asleep can be stored here.

6th: Party members can invite an ally to join them here for a lucid dream. Oaths made here are unusually binding.

7th: Friends and loved ones can offer a token while in the Tavern Between Dreams, this token can be used to contact them through dreams.

8th: Messengers arrive who can send and receive missives to mortals through dreams.

9th: The messengers within the tavern-space can petition greater powers (demons, devils, elemental lords, beast lords, archmages, liches, etc.).

10th: The Tavern Between Dreams anchors itself into the waking world, becoming a pocket plane with a door that can open whenever 3 or more members of the band are within sight of one another.

Essentially, this whole thing is a corny reason to deposit the group from one DCC module to another with a thin in-game magical excuse, giving the group an arcane place that grows with their characters in which they can celebrate their victories and raise their cups to the victorious dead.

Nice moments at the table lately.

Circle of Hands

Bret set up a really solid Venture with no easy solutions.

We killed the wizard who thought he was defending the town but we didn’t know he wouldn’t die, that he’d just turn into a silver dragon and come back. He did. My character really didn’t want it to turn to blood in the first place. We couldn’t beat the silver dragon. We’re bad-ass Circle Knights but we’re also pragmatists. We walked away, with the asshole silver dragon flying over us, to make sure we aren’t up to any bullshit.

We walked away, knowing full well we’d go back some day and get that emmer effer.

Burning Wheel

Our G+ game using the Kingmaker Adventure Path as its starting inspiration point has been having so many fine moments that it is hard to narrow it down. It is interesting watching this game set on the frontier turn into a muddy mess as refugees pile in front nearby wars. I’m eager to see where this game is headed.

Dogs in the Vineyard

I missed this game and I’m looking forward to making a new town for the next game.

The initiation conflicts: Will Janaki’s Watchdog find faith in the words of the Book of Life? No.

Will Laura’s Watchdog forgive her Steward for what he did to her? Yes.

Next game will be her hometown. She wants to confront her Steward.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

When the game starts with a dozen nobodies piling into a haunted glacier, every little detail becomes a foundation of world-building.

Locals who trade the PC’s throw in a holy symbol of the Whale God.

Eric has both a slave and an elven glass-blower among his starting 0-level quartet. He decides the elf owns the slave. Now elves own slaves. It is a thing, just in case you needed another reason not to like elves (effing elves).

There is something about the danger, chaos and death that makes details stand out.

Advanced Wizards & Wizards

Seeing Matt’s d20 game design is really cool. He’s put together a really nifty system that makes 3E magic and parties filled with wizards really work. I came in at the end and will be ending in the next few weeks.

These aren’t all weekly games. Circle of Hands and BW are regular. DitV is a fill-in game. DCCRPG is catch-as-catch-can; our next game is scheduled (Yay!).

What is happening at your table?