BRP: Jafwe Va, Cottonmouth Sorceress

In reading through BRP Magic World I wanted to put the SerpentFolk into context within The Southern Reaches, the setting begun in that venerable tome. I would think that the SerpentFolk would not be Fae-tainted in this setting. Their most likely origins hide among the jungles and swamps of another continent, somewhere not too far to the south west of the published map.
I leave as an exercise for the GM to place the SerpentFolk city of Mhod Va in their worlds as they wish.
Mhod Va, the largest and most organized SerpentFolk civilization of antiquity, was founded by a group of Boai warbands long before their first encounters with humanity. Carved by the hands of orc slaves into cliffs near a tremendously high set of waterfalls, the settlement was home to a thriving market. As it grew into a city, Mhod Va became a center of worship for the Scaled Ones.
Their unblinking gazes turned to wrest the secrets of sorcery and wizardry out of the realm's metaphysics. Generations honed their mystic craft upon the backs of the slaves captured in raids into the surrounding jungles. With magical help Mhod Va grew as its Boai founders did; slowly and unceasingly. The various schools of wizardry that Mhod Va supported competed viciously.
Cottonmouth SerpentFolk Sorceress
Jafwe Va
STR 09 | CON 16 | SIZ 08 | INT 16 | POW 17 | DEX 15 | APP 14
Move: 9 (12 swimming)
HP: 12
Damage Bonus: None
Armor: 1 (light scales)
Attacks: Bite 67% 2d4 (impaling) + poison (POT = CON)
Dagger 37% 1d4 (impaling)
Skills: Dodge 33%, Fine Manipulation 30%, Knowledge (Politics of Mhod Va) 45%, Language (Reptilian) 80%, Listen 48%, Literacy (Reptilian) 65%, Status (Mhod Va) 72%, Stealth 51%, Swim 78%, Track 25%
Memorized Sorcery: Agony (2), Captive Slumber (3), Contribute to Truth (1), Fatigue (1), Heal (2), Muddle (1), Scry (4), Slow (1-3), Sorcerer's Armor (1-4), Sorcerer's Razor (1-4), Sorcerer's Speed (1-3), Sorcerer's Weakness (1-3), Spirit Screen (1-3), Unbreakable Bonds (3), Undo Sorcery (1-4), Witch Sight (3)

Notes on Jafwe
As a Cottonmouth, Jafwe displays far more sociability than her ethnicity would suggest. She interacts with the hulking Boai rulers of Mhod Va deftly, providing all sorts of magical services to the retinue of Orm Dran Va.

Jafwe's Amatl Tonehua
Roughly translated as "Codex of Creating Pain", this pair of hammered-copper plates opens on 26 sheets (52 pages) of logograms in the Reptilian syllabary. Interspersed with magical diagrams, jotted notes, and an occasional fragment of a hand-drawn map, the Amatl Tonehua is the undisguised book of an apprentice wizard.

Reading the codex from beginning to end reveals the formulae for her spells juxtaposed with notes on her coven's politics, details on how to elicit the most pain from orcs with minimal effort, and a collection of poem fragments describing an area of the local swamps that exploratory teams rarely return from. These last verses actually contain a route hidden within them which guides the person deciphering the full poem to the lair of a "Talking Beast" (INT 19) Stoorworm sorcerer (see page 202 of BRP Magic World for details on a stoorworm, and page 154 of the same volume for Talking Beasts).

Spells contained in the Amatl Tonehua:
Agony (2), Captive Slumber (3), Contribute to Truth (1), Fatigue (1), Heal (2), Muddle (1), Scry (4), Slow (1-3), Sorcerer's Armor (1-4), Sorcerer's Razor (1-4), Sorcerer's Speed (1-3), Sorcerer's Weakness (1-3), Unbreakable Bonds (3), Undo Sorcery (1-4)

Jafwe's Amatl Amini
The Amatl Amini ("Hunter's Tome") is another accordion-style book. The front and back darkwood plates, which shine as though regularly polished, contain 20 sheets of paper (40 pages) in the Reptilian syllabary. It would be obvious to anyone who had access to both of these Amatl that the Hunter's Tome was not begun by Jafwe; the drawings at the beginning of the book reveal a different hand than that which wrote the Codex of Creating Pain. However, on page 14 of the Hunter's Tome, Jafwe's handwriting begins with the details on the Summon Madness Spirit spell.

Spells contained in the Amatl Amini:
Sorcerer's Void (1-3), Spirit Screen (1-3), Summon Healing Spirit (1), Summon Intellect Spirit (1), Summon Madness Spirit (1), Summon Pain Spirit (1), Summon Power Spirit (1), Witch Sight (3)

Adventure Seed:
The Amatl Amini has shown up in the hands of a local scribe, who knows nothing about how to read Reptilian. Can the PCs help discern how to read this tome before Jafwe and her entourage show up to claim it? Do they want to give it back, even if they do?

Where in the world did the book come from? Maybe it's time to go find out...


Constrictor SerpentFolk in BRP

Here's another entry for my BRP Bestiary. The largest type of SerpentFolk, the Boai, keep this week's post in their uncompromising embrace... Along with this, I need to provide the Hit Location chart for all of these slithering monstrosities so that they better fit into the optional rules presented in the Basic Roleplaying rule book. I do so love the modular nature of the Big Gold Book!

As a point of note, these SerpentFolk entries could easily find a home in your fantasy campaign, or as a further differentiated version of Call of Cthulhu's Serpent Men. They were originally envisioned to be part of a CoC campaign set in my hometown in Texas, US. Anthropomorphic snake-aliens genetically modified from Terran stock? Yes, please!

Hit Locations
D20 roll result (HP formula)
1-2 Hindtail (1/4 total HP)*
3-8 Foretail (1/3 total HP)*
9-11 Abdomen (1/3 total HP)
12 Chest (2/5 total HP)
13-15 Right Arm (1/4 total HP)
16-18 Left Arm (1/4 total HP)
19-20 Head (1/3 total HP)
*due to the nature of their anatomy, SerpentFolk use slightly different rules when their tails are injured. Injuries to Hindtail do not affect their movement rates, nor cause them to fall.
Injures dropping their Foretail location to 0 or lower force them to crawl along using their arms.

Constrictor SerpentFolk
The Boai SerpentFolk require a unique combination of climate and environment. Their size demands a hot, humid region to keep their powerful metabolisms running. Boai, being large predators, also settle only in lush areas with a variety of potential prey. From birth, their diamond-patterned bodies continue to grow as long as they have a ready supply of food. They tend to spend their early years growing to intimidating size either on their own or protected by their parents. Once they out-grow others, they create around themselves a retinue that provide their giant overlord with what they want so they can pursue their own interests. These groups quickly organize themselves into a hierarchy. The thugs and brutes which best provide for their Boai master rise to the top. Those who don't help them practice their grappling techniques.

The most social type of SerpentFolk, mature Boai will first attempt to dominate anyone who they come in contact with. Juveniles work at attracting as little notice as possible until they gain sufficient size and strength to control others. Descended from constrictors, the Boai grapple their foes and work their strong coils around them to suffocate them.

Characteristic Roll (Average)
STR 3d6+6** (16-17)
CON 3d6+3 (13-14)
SIZ 3d6+6** (16-17)
INT 3d6 (10-11)
POW 3d6 (10-11)
DEX 3d6 (10-11)
APP 3d6 (10-11)
Move 11
Hit Points 15
Damage Bonus +1d6
Armor 3 (heavy scales)
- Heavy Mace 45%, 1d8+2+db (crushing)
- Grapple 75%, varies
- Brawl 55%, varies
- Command 15%, Dodge DEXx3%, Insight 40%, Language (Reptilian) INTx5%, Language (Other) INTx2%, Persuade (Intimidation) 30%
- Boai Growth. When individual Boai have sufficient food, they grow. While slow, this rate of growth will continue until the brute meets with a violent end or old age overtakes them. After introducing a Boai character into a campaign, track their growth. As long as they do not fall into subsistence living, you should add 1d6+3 to their STR and SIZ characteristics every two (2) years. See the table below for the average STR and SIZ for the early years of Boai development. As a note, the Boai do not sexually mature until they are 12-13 years old.
** These stats represent a young Boai, just preparing to gather their gang around them.

Age in years STR and SIZ roll (Average)
birth-1 1d6 (3-4)
3-7 2d6+3 (10)
8-14 3d6+6 (16-17)
15-16 4d6+9 (23)
17-18 5d6+12 (29-30)


Cottonmouth SerpentFolk in BRP

To blow the dust off this blog and vent the crazed torrent of gaming pent up in my noggin, I present my version of SerpentFolk for use in generic BRP.

As players of Call of Cthulhu may know, SerpentMen (or the Children of Yig) can cause SAN loss, target you with sorcery, and envenom your character with a carefully-aimed bite pretty much simultaneously. This assumes, of course, that they didn't already have their Lightning Guns or domination potions un-holstered.

On the other end of the spectrum, my RuneQuest game had several Chaos-mutants whose base creatures were snakes. I took the concept of the SerpentMen from Call of Cthulhu, introduced a subtle change in anatomy, and caused my players all kinds of trouble with a "band" of Thed-worshiping anthropomorphized snakes.

"Anatomical change?" you ask.

Yes, I got rid of their legs. Instead of four-limbed SerpentMen, I give to you two-armed SerpentFolk. The name was deliberately chosen to differentiate them from their Mythos-inhabiting cousins and because not all of these creatures are male. Well, consistently anyway. SerpentFolk can, like their broo cousins, do naughty things to captives to reproduce. They may also change gender over the course of a year and lay neonate-clones of themselves if they have the energy for it.

To make things even more interesting, several distinct breeds of SerpentFolk stalk the realms of my BRP games... Closest to their SerpentMen relatives are the venomous Cottonmouth.

Cottonmouth SerpentFolk
These reptiles skulk and swim through the swamplands of temperate areas. As adults, their dark-banded bodies provide excellent camouflage in the brackish mud of their native swamps. Cottonmouth's broad triangular shaped heads house their venom glands, and their eyes have elliptical pupils. These SerpentFolk take their name from their primary social custom with non-serpents; they will hold open a wide, cotton-white mouth to display their retractable fangs to potential aggressors. The contrast between the color of their mouths and their surroundings is a startling sight in the swamps.

Cottonmouths rarely interact with others, even among their own kind. When they do it is to mate and raise young to the point they can take care of themselves. These creatures tend to use simple melee weapons when cornered. However they much prefer to draw intruders into their domain into carefully prepared traps, snares, and tripwires.

Characteristic Roll (Average)
STR 3d6 (10-11)
CON 3d6+3 (13-14)
SIZ 2d6+4 (11)
INT 3d6 (10-11)
POW 3d6 (10-11)
DEX 3d6+3 (13-14)
APP 3d6 (10-11)
Move 9 (12 swimming)
Hit Points 12
Damage Bonus none
Armor 1 (light scales)
- Short Spear 40%, 1d6+1+db (impaling)
- Short Spear (thrown) 40%, 1d6+1+1/2db (impaling)
- Bite 55%, 2d4+db (impaling) + poison (see below)
- Dodge DEXx2%, Fine Manipulation 30%, Language (Reptilian) INTx5%, Stealth 30%, Swim 65%, Track 25%
- Cottonmouth Venom. When a bite attack penetrates armor and delivers at least 1 point of damage to the target, that character is subject to a dose of Poison with POT equal to the Cottonmouth's CON. This is handled according to page 229 of the Basic RolePlaying rulebook. Details of their venom are listed below.

Cottonmouth Venom Details
[Speed of Effect] Symptom (Effect)
[1 - 2 combat rounds] location bitten swells dramatically (-15% to all skills using that limb/location)
[5 - 10 minutes] increased heart rate, chills, uncontrollable trembling (penalty increases to -25% to skills using the bitten limb/location, -10% to all other skills)
[15 - 30 minutes] paralysis of the limb/location bitten (-15% to all skills, limb affected is unusable - if the location is Head, Chest, or Abdomen the victim falls unconscious)


How to Organize Game Writing

I've got an idea for some gaming content, and now I'm trying to sort out how to put it together into a supplement that people might want to read. There is never a lack of ideas, just a lack of finishing.

The path forward is mapped, and the habits are building. I'll keep things up to date here.


After the move, gaming

The tricky part about finding a new gaming group out here is the hunting.
There's a local gaming store with a bulletin board. Potential games include a blue Mage game, and a Call of Cthulhu campaign. I am really excited about the prospects!
Mage: the Awakening sounds amazing! I've been a fan since the revision of the WoD system, and would love to try out the orphans of Atlantis setting for it. Or, even just a mortals game.
As for Call of Cthulhu, to quote, "Don't throw me in that there briar patch!"
We shall see.


My Roasted Pepper Hummus Recipe

This is the average of about four different recipes I found online, and I enjoyed making it quite a lot. Simple to prepare, the hardest part was washing out the blender after using it!

Flash 64-bit on Squeeze

As root, give these commands a go:

# apt-get install flashplayer-nonfree
# aptitude purge gnash browser-plugin-gnash
# update-flashplugin-nonfree --install

close all browser windows

# ldconfig -v

fire up your browser and give flash a shot...

Squeeze to Sid- Avoiding Dependency Issues

Having committed to the Google ecosystem for many computing needs, I am free to put whatever OS I want on my personal laptop. I'm a serious Debian fan from way back, so I thought I'd give the unstable branch of that distribution a try. However, the testing version of the Debian GNU/Linux system is currently in the midst of some big changes... GCC and libc6 are both under the knife for wheezy and sid.

If you do the normal procedure for installing then moving to unstable, you'll have a mess of dependencies waiting to thwart your triumphant booting of GNOME 3. Here's the short version of how I got beyond the issues and got a Debian sid install working.