Monday, January 11, 2021

d18 x d6 Nested Table of Unholy Attributes

Leo Hartas, from The Elven Crystals (DW3).
Bunch of howling Unholy ghost monks unable to approach that Holy relic full of Holy water on that Holy altar.

Unholy isn't Evil, but that's not what the Universal Church of the True Faith teaches. 

Demons and devils, undead and spirits, pagan priests and sorcerers, elves and goblins, excommunicates and apostates - these are the kind of things that might exhibit Unholy Attributes. Most are vulnerabilities or can be used by others to detect/diagnose, but some just about qualify as special abilities.

Unholy Attributes doesn't mean you're the baddies, but it does set you apart and make you stand out in conventional society. I was never comfortable with Lawful standing in for 'good', nor with Lawful Good being the 'best' (even before I learned Gygax's thoughts on what was acceptable LG behaviour).

System agnostic - some mechanical suggestions, some are purely narrative. The table is not weighted for probabilities - I'm under a d6 geas so you get 108 using d666.

These are meant to have a (Anglo/Euro, because that's what I'm most familiar with) folkloric flavour. Sorcerous corruptions and double-edged Dark Gifts from other settings serve as ideal substitutes if you don't like those below. Change whatever you need to.

  1. (11, 12) Roll d6: Sunlight
    1. Destroys you. That's it - one little glimmer and you're dust. No save.
    2. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    3. Renders you invisible, senseless, silent and incorporeal. You are unable to perceive or interact with the material world until darkness falls. 
    4. Enfeebles you. Pick an appropriate spell or monster attack for mechanics.
    5. Terrifies you, causing you to flee to the nearest dark place, without consideration of any other factors than immediately escaping the sun's rays.
    6. Starts the process of decay as if you were newly dead - you cannot reverse it, but keeping out of the sun delays your ultimate dissolution. If you're not already undead, you might end up so.
  2. (13, 14) Roll d6: Mirror. This can mean any looking glass, only silver-backed mirrors or any reflective surface, as appropriate, and can also be extended to visual recording media, if they are found in your setting.
    1. You have no reflection. Odds/evens, you are visible only as a slight haze or ripple.
    2. Your reflection is grotesque, hideous. If you are already monstrous, it is even worse and enough to upset you.
    3. While a mirror will reflect you, the moment you glance into it, it will shatter, blacken or otherwise fail/spoil.
    4. Catching sight of your reflection causes you to immediately save vs. fear. Three successes in a row means you have controlled your fear for this encounter (which is a very elastic unit of duration).
    5. Once cast, your reflection remains visible in the glass/surface. Under certain conditions, it may step into the material world, either to harm you or to go about its weird and private business.
    6. Exercise extreme caution, for if you were to touch your reflection, you would be instantly transferred to the mirror world and lost forever. It might be that your reflection has a hypnotic effect, should you meet your own gaze.
  3. (15, 16) Roll d6: Electricity/ Radio/ Wi-fi. These attributes will go unnoticed in settings where such forces are unknown/ yet to be discovered.
    1. Confuses you when and while you are exposed. Your behaviour is erratic, irrational and unfathomable - your personality is not completely submerged, but you're not yourself.
    2. You are a focus of interference, disrupting the signals - dampening, enhancing, subverting, converting.
    3. You are the centre of dead zone, cancelling all signals within (say) d6x10' radius. Your touch may render useless (though reparable) reception and transmission devices.
    4. You transmit signals that register as anomalous, but would need effort or an expert to decipher and to confirm you as the source.
    5. Enfeebles (as Sunlight)
    6. Decay (as Sunlight)
  4.  (21, 22) Roll d6: Consecrated Ground. You'll need to define terms for your setting, but expect this to cover shrines, temples, burial grounds etc. 
    1. While on consecrated ground, you are Enfeebled. You might be unable to use your supernatural special abilities, too.
    2. You are unable to enter a zone of consecration (lively discussion at the table as to whether you can be pushed, thrown, catapulted or dragged by horses).
    3. It burns! Take minor damage for every step you take; stand still too long and you'll go up like a bonfire. Odds/evens, the damage is permanent.
    4. You are incorporeal and unable to use your supernatural special abilities while on consecrated ground. You are visible and can be heard, but cannot physically interact with anything.
    5. St. Elmo's fire/ faerie fire springs up at every step you take, eventually enveloping your entire form. Your touch transmits the ethereal flame to objects.
    6. Wherever you tread, wherever your blood falls, you leave a corrupt mark (smouldering, withered, rotting, ash, dust, fungus etc.). On those particular spots, the consecration no longer applies.
  5. (23, 24) Roll d6: Shadow.
    1. You cast no shadow. This is the kind of thing people will eventually notice and comment on.
    2. Your shadow can detach and go abroad on its own. You may or may not be in control of this. It can be an ally or antagonist.
    3. If your shadow falls on a mortal, they suffer as if attacked by an appropriate monster (Shadow, Vampire, Nabassu etc) or affected by an appropriate spell (anything from cause light wounds to disintegrate).
    4. Your shadow can be attacked and you will suffer. These must be deliberate, directed attacks. You and your shadow do not necessarily share the same vulnerabilities and immunities.
    5. Your shadow is grotesque, hideous - disturbing even to you. It is even more so when cast by moonlight.
    6. You are vulnerable to the shadow of something (usually a relic, symbol or priest, but maybe an animal or monster that is used as a religious allegory). The exact effect can be that of another Unholy Attribute.
  6. (25, 26) Roll d6: Silver/Iron
    1. Burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment.
    2. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    3. Being presented with the metal forces a Morale Check, fear save or similar.
    4. You cannot cross a threshold that is guarded by this metal (horseshoe over a doorway, silver dagger on a window sill etc). This might mean only the specific crossing point, or may extend to the whole site.
    5. Warms in your presence (tolerable to the bearer), melts at your touch.
    6. Tarnishes in your presence, rusts/corrodes at your touch.
  7. (31, 32) Roll d6: Running Water
    1. You cannot cross running water, by bridge, boat, mount, ford, jumping or taking a long stride. You may be able to cross using an aerial vehicle, but it would likely need to be non-magical.
    2. It's like concentrated acid. A splash will burn; immersion will strip the flesh from your bones, which will then turn to silt and be washed away.
    3. It will not accept you. You cannot use this to walk on water, nor to resist the force of the water. It will keep off the rain, though.
    4. When you enter running water, it becomes sluggish and stagnant. If you stay long enough, you may permanently silt-up or pollute a body of water.
    5. Your very touch pollutes the water. While you are submerged (and possibly for some time afterwards), the water is unsafe - either poisonous or diseased.
    6. The sound of running water fills you with fear and loathing - save to approach, and each round or withdraw/flee.
  8. (33, 34) Roll d6: Lamplight. This includes all common and typically non-magical adventure game light sources, and could be extended to cover electric lighting. Bioluminescence is unaffected. 
    1. Gutters/flickers in your presence.
    2. If you place your hand on a light source, it will go out immediately and completely. It will be difficult to relight it while you remain close by.
    3. Your presence dims the light level, including daylight.
    4. You are permanently surrounded by an aura of darkness, in which vision is only possible through supernatural means (you are unaffected).
    5. All light sources explosively flare and burn out in your presence.
    6. In your presence, the light sources attract a growing profusion of moths and flies - eventually enough to extinguish them, and smother unfortunate mortals.
  9. (35, 36) Roll d6: Animals.
    1. Are scared of you, and will always cower. It does not stop them attacking you.
    2. You are scared of them, and must make a Morale Check/ fear save.
    3. Can always tell when you're near - they will not necessarily give you away.
    4. You immediately square off against each other, hissing and spitting and baring teeth etc. This is a contest of wills.
    5. All animals are tense and vigilant in your presence - their Reaction is always Unfriendly to Hostile.
    6. Animals follow and fawn on you. They are submissive rather than servile. Reaction is Neutral and you cannot command them - they may, however, turn on enemies of your Unholiness (eg. witch-finders and paladins, rather than bandits and adventurers).
  10. (41, 42) Roll d6: Holy Water. 
    1. Your touch spoils holy water. This has a powerful psychological effect on believers, even in settings where holy water has no intrinsic special power.
    2. Being splashed or threatened with holy water forces a Morale Check/ fear save.
    3. Burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment.
    4. Whenever you are in the presence of holy water, you are compelled to drink it. Something like a Wisdom save to resist doing so.
    5. You cannot cross a barrier of holy water. 
    6. Boils in your presence. Even if you're not otherwise especially vulnerable to it, being splashed with it could scald you.
  11. (43, 44) Roll d6: Prayer. This could also be extended to holy names, the invocation of a saint etc.
    1. Dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there.
    2. You cannot hear anything other than the prayer while it is being spoken. This may have a secondary effect on your ability to communicate.
    3. While a prayer is spoken, you are Enfeebled.
    4. In your presence, the words of the prayer falter on the tongue of the speaker and fade from their mind like mist in the sun.
    5. All prayers spoken in your presence come out as the vilest/lewdest blasphemy. The speakers will always remember the words they spoke, possibly tempting them to future beastliness.
    6. Prevents you using your supernatural powers. It is likely you will physically attack or choose to withdraw.
  12. (45, 46) Roll d6: True Innocent/Saintly. True Innocence/ Saintly cannot be achieved deliberately - you are or you aren't - though a person can strive for it. I guess deities could bestow it.
    1. You cannot harm the truly innocent or the saintly.
    2. You are compelled to harm them, though you do not have to do so directly or obviously. This can lead to you devising convoluted plans that take up time you could use more usefully.
    3. You weep in their presence - you kind of love them.
    4. You bleed in their presence - you hate yourself. Neither condition has a mechanical effect.
    5. They bleed in your presence. This is upsetting for them, but has no mechanical effect.
  13. (51, 52) Roll d6: The Dead. By this I mean otherwise lifeless, inanimate corpses - not undead monsters.
    1. Cry out in your presence. If you're particularly powerful or notorious, they might begin to wail even as you set out from a great distance.
    2. Attempt to attack you - they make one attack when you are in range, as whatever undead monster seems appropriate, then lie still again.
    3. If buried, they attempt to burrow deeper to get away from your presence. If exposed, they will crawl or even get up and walk.
    4. In your presence, tears roll from their eyes, blood runs from their wounds.
    5. They rise up and follow you (treat as zombies or skeletons) - they will not fight unless you have special abilities or magic items to command them.
    6. Raise their glutinous/scratchy voices in praise of your fabulous unholiness, your appetising darkness, your promises of howling eternity.
  14. (53, 54) Roll d6: Salt. Or any other holy granules appropriate to your setting. 
    1. You cannot cross a line or circle of salt. At a threshold, it may prevent your entrance to a site or dwelling.
    2. The merest taste is poison to you (sickness, weakness, death etc).
    3. Blackens, clumps, dissolves in your presence.
    4. If you see it, you are compelled to count it - every individual granule. Something like a Wisdom save to resist doing so.
    5. Compulsive gourmand - Wisdom save or similar to resist eating it in great greedy handfuls.
    6. The merest taste awakens you to your ultimate fate/ horrible truth of your existence. Roll or choose another effect to see how this manifests. You will also be miserable thereafter, eternally.
  15. (55, 56) Roll d6: Holy Symbol.
    1. You can be Turned as an appropriately powerful undead.
    2. Blackens/ tarnishes (odds/evens) in your presence/ at your touch.
    3. The touch burns your flesh: 2-7 hits or could be damage that will only heal over time, not through treatment. Odds/evens, leaves a permanent brand mark.
    4. Your touch causes the symbol to corrode/melt/rot/rust within 2-7 rounds.
    5. Become red hot/ice cold in your presence (as chill/heat metal). Can be used to injure you if you are not otherwise resistant to fire and/or frost.
    6. Just the sight forces a Morale Check, fear save or similar.
  16. (61, 62) Roll d6: Church Bells/Cockcrow. Also covers the cultural equivalent for your setting.
    1. The sound dismisses you. If you have a lair or come from another dimension, you are immediately returned there. The sound must be audible to you, so covering your ears and running might help.
    2. You flee in terror.
    3. Enfeebles until you have had a chance to rest (the equivalent of a night's sleep, whether you actually need to sleep or not).
    4. Confuses you while it can be heard and for a short time afterwards. Your behaviour is erratic, irrational and unfathomable - your personality is not completely submerged, but you're not yourself.
    5. Those in your presence cannot hear the bells or cockcrow, and anyone still asleep will not be able to wake up until you are gone.
    6. The sound forces you to make an immediate death save. Make an equivalent save for the bells/cockerel. Instant death/destruction if failed - sometimes there are no winners.
  17. (63, 64) Roll d6: Holy Names. You could also use the effects of randomised holy/power word spells instead. Holy names can be commonplace ("Jesus Christ!"), or arcane secrets - as appropriate for your game.
    1. You are unable to attack the one who has pronounced that name. Only the first person to use the name is protected, and you are otherwise 'immune' to it until midnight/dawn (odds/evens).
    2. You must obey a brief command given by they who spoke the name. No save and you hate this.
    3. You must immediately and expeditiously retreat. You will not be able to return for one hour.
    4. Cause pain and cringing - save vs. stun, and forces a Morale Check.
    5. Make a save or be paralysed. Strength save to break free.
    6. Immediately struck dead. A save may apply depending on the stature of the name pronounced.
  18. (65, 66) Roll d6: Fire.
    1. The cleansing flames set you free! No save, but you can attempt to extinguish the flames before they get too established. You leave only powdery ashes.
    2. Will not consume you. If you are not otherwise fire-resistant, it still hurts.
    3. You leave scorch marks on everything you touch. You cannot start a fire this way, nor cause more than narrative harm to a living thing - you might be able to kill small animals if this is acceptable fiction at your table.
    4. In your presence, it seems like there is a fire somewhere nearby - distant crack and pop sounds, smudges in the air, a scent of smoke and/or brimstone, a stray spark or flake of ash. The evidence of the fire is not an illusion, but nor is it real.
    5. You will not approach a flame/fire of greater than a few candles. Light and heat sources not using a flame have no effect - this includes electric light and maybe also gas jets.
    6. The close presence of fire forces a Morale Check. To be attacked with fire forces a fear save, and again if you are injured by it.

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