10+ More Questions about Neo-Tokyo

+Random Wizard posted a list of his own DMing questions recently and I can not resist answering a questionnaire about gaming. It's a great opportunity to evaluate yourself and look at how you are gaming (or in my case, planning to game). 
For Neo-Tokyo (Shin-Edo), my upcoming Flailsnails compatible Kaiju/Mech/Samurai/Goblin Steampunk-inspired shenanigans I have decided to answer yet another 10+ questions. This one is mercifully shorter than the last.

10+ from Random Wizard
(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?
As natives to the setting: dwarf only. Elves have been replaced by Tengu and Halflings are replaced by Bakemono (which are oni-tainted goblins).
I am planning to use Oriental Adventures and Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, but race as class is still an option for those who prefer LL Core. However, if players are interested in any of the home brewed stuff in the OSR universe - they should go for it.
(2). Do demi-humans have souls?
Geez... Um, yes? This is a question about resurrection though, isn't it? Then I doubt it matters.
Resurrection is not terribly common in Neo-Tokyo.
(3). Ascending or descending armor class?
Descending. But I will try to make accommodations for ascenders... Flailsnails, sheesh.
(4). Demi-human level limits?
Level limits: Yes. Class limitations: No. I like the idea of a goblin samurai or hengeyokai thief/mech pilot. I have never liked the idea of human only classes.
(5). Should thief be a class?
Sure. I am still not sure why this question pops up. Just because I don't know how to think like a thief, it doesn't mean others can't. Fidgety stuff like mechanics are just in the way of fun.
(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?
Um. I'm iffy on the subject, but I'm thinking to treat it as a bonus like D&D next, a static +3 on the roll or something. It seems that most folks don't really use skills in the OSR or Flailsnails. I can appreciate that.
(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?
Sure. Some mechs can only be piloted by casters and any caster that has reached a substantial level will doubtlessly be able to take out numerous fighters. However, the most revered fighting men and women in the lands are also truly deadly and fearsome.
(8). Do you use alignment languages?
Didn't use to like them, but I've seen them put to use and I am now intrigued by the premise. I just am not completely convinced I can pull it off.
(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc...)?
XP for everything!
(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E ADD, Next ?
Truth be told, I'm most comfortable running 4e (as it's the system I have run most consistently). It's clearly got it's problems, but whichever edition I am currently playing is best. I don't have a lot of hang-ups about edition. My games tend to become messy Frankensteins of all the editions. There are exciting elements in all the editions.
Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?
4e has that unified xp table and it makes sense because the game is meant to be balanced in terms of power. However, I don't care for it that much. I like the idea of the fast advancing thief and the slower elf (with a thousand years to improve, what's the hurry?)


Mollusca Percussa

In the past week, I've seen this little premise pop up twice in my G+ feed: Grenade Snail.

Originally, +Michael Curtis shared a great image of a simple grenade and identified it as a snail. The funny thing was that I had seen the same thing at first glance. Googling for images is wonderful: I found my grenade snail image in seconds! It's always reassuring to see that others see these odd manifestations, too. 
+Brendan Strejcek had some wonderful ideas to offer in the original post, too. And now today, I saw +David Brawley had added a Grenade Snail to his wonderful blog, Tower of the Archmage. I realized that I had taken my write-up and just left it to rot on GoogleDocs. Oops!

So, here is my initial write-up, with some additional notes and links to the works of the aforementioned Snail Sages. Great stuff.

Grenade Snail (Mollusca Percussa)
No. Enc.: 2d6 (5d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 40’ per hour
Armour Class: 2 (9)
Hit Dice: 1 hp, 1d3hp, 1 HD
Attacks: explode (upon death)
Damage: special (1d4/1, 2d6/1d6, 3d8/2d8; deals concussive damage: point of impact/nearby up to 5’)
Save: F1
Morale: 9
Size: Diminutive, Tiny (“Greater G.S.”), Small (“Giant G.S.”)
XP: 5

Grenade snails have a strange biological response to having their shells crushed or broken: they explode in tiny bursts of shells. They are a terrible menace in underground passages and can cause severe damage despite their small size. The “Giant” Grenade Snail is exceptionally rare and horrifically devastating.
Notes: The snails shell has an AC of 2 (for their small size), but if stepped upon or if the soft tissues under the shells are pierced the AC is 9.

What the Snail Sages say:
  • Grenade Snails become quite dangerous during their reproductive phase. If stepped on (or flung against a target), they explode. 2d6 damage at point of origin, 1d6 for all nearby (shell shrapnel), save for half damage. A corpse with shell bits will gestate 2d6 baby grenade snails in 1 week. - Brendan Strejcek, Master Snail Sage
  • Grenade Snails can be controlled by Snail-o-mancers! - David Brawley, Tower of the Archmage.

Inspiration: Micheal Curtis
Additional credit: Brendan Strejcek, David Brawley
Image: benasayer on Deviant Art


20 Questions about Neo-Tokyo

A while back I came across 20 Questions by Jeff Rients and thought that it would be a good way to get some of the bits and bobs of Neo-Tokyo/Shin-Edo out of my head and into the Flailsnailsverse. I really recommend this if you are planning to put together a campaign setting - it's helped me immensely.
This is quite long, thanks in advance if you make it to the end! If you make it and you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments or on the G+.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
The 10,000 Kami have awakened and they are given their due respect, but gods and worship is a little  different here than in other settings. The Kami are powerful and revered, but they provide no direct divine power to their followers. Most Kami will simply fulfil their roles as gods. Men that worship them will study and draw power from their teachings, not a divine source.
So... Clerics? What clerics? Do you mean the shukenja and sohei?
Shukenja are wandering priests with dedication to a particular monastery, temple or shrine. Sohei are religious militants that protect those places. Most religions co-exist with little conflict between them.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Natives of Neo-Tokyo generally know the best places to buy in any district. However, Roppongi is where most adventurers from the Flailsnails universe find gear to kit themselves out. This is the area of Tokyo that may also be known as “the Snail Quarter” to campaign jumpers. Gold or other valuable currencies can be traded at a fair exchange for the local currency (En 円 - gold, Ban - silver, Mon - copper), in most cases. A great deal of bartering is done throughout the city since most folks are just dirt poor.

3. Where can we go to get plate-mail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Custom armour for monsters may be a bit difficult to acquire. Monstrosities tend to be killed (at least attacked) on sight within most of the city wards. There is a severe infestation of Kaiju about, after all. However, if you must have monstrous custom armour, the gear-heads of Akiba (a yokai-friendly ward) can cobble together some makeshift armour in no time. It is also likely of questionable origin and way over-priced. If you are looking for high-tech custom-fitted gear (and have the En), look no further than the discrete services of the New Otomo Syndicate.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Warlord Tseng, a sorcerer of significant power, has at his command a vast army outfitted with alien tech. He also commands the largest fleet of giant robo, though his constructs are not machines.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
There are numerous warriors of great reputation across the city and each ward has a champion duellist. Sasaki Kenjiro, a samurai lord, wears the Niban Hachimaki marking him as the second most skilled swordsman in the city. However, since the Ichiban Hachimaki went missing ages ago and Sasaki has stopped searching - he is effectively the number one guy.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?
The wealthiest person in the lands is the Emperor. He controls and protects the greatest area of arable land. His samurai are outfitted with powerful New Otomo tech and he has a sizeable force of Giant Robo to protect his domain from Daikaiju and the other warlords.
The New Otomo Syndicate is the richest and most powerful corporation in the city. They have a lock on the most advanced technologies and sell at near extortionate prices.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
For magical healing, look to the holy men of Jinguji. Led by the goddess, Amaterasu, the monks and priests here have awakened the Ancient of the gardens and the huge tree has granted them powerful healing and holy magic to help defend her. The cost is quite high, however, and terms of servitude can extend from as few as a few days to decades.
Curatives can be purchased in Roppongi at black market stalls (very expensive).
As a tech-savvy alternative, limb replacements and cybernetic enhancements are becoming increasingly popular (and affordable) across the city. They can be acquired through New Otomo or the disreputable cyber-docs of Akiba.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Your best bet is likely with the healers of Jinguji. But if you happen to acquire one of these unfortunate conditions, you are probably fucked.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
A guild of mages? Not really.
Old Tokyo University has a burgeoning school of magic, though it is still in its infancy and the students have a very candy-coated cavalier approach to their studies.
The wu-jen of Neo-Tokyo tend to live on the outskirts of the city or in the dead zones. They avoid each other and carry on rivalries better than the cheerleaders of the Monster Sumo League. Individuals can be approached to teach magics, but they are all kooks and nutjobs. It’s a long and painfully costly process to woo a wu-jen. Some want precious items and others want luxurious foodstuffs, some just want to take your dignity; whatever they want, you’ll likely regret paying it. A wu-jen rarely shares his magic at a fair price.
There are a couple magic-using eccentrics holed-up in Roppongi that can teach outsider magic for a slightly fairer price.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Black marketeers in Roppongi and Akiba have been getting their hands on magical curatives, despite the lack of local know-how. It appears that they are being imported from some unknown source.
Experts in most any field can usually be found in Akiba. The more esoteric the knowledge sought, the more likely an expert can be found.
Old Tokyo University is also home to academics, scientists and a fine school of magic.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Mercs? Look to the outskirts of Neo-Tokyo for disenfranchised warriors. Many ronin and bushi make their pay as bandits or swords-for-hire in these wildlands.
Extra hands? Any district or ward has enough hard-on-their-luck types that would jump at the chance to earn some En.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Each ward is under the law of the prevailing leadership, meaning that things are completely different wherever you go. I wouldn’t recommend carrying a sword unless you happen to be a samurai in Imperial-controlled wards. Wielding magic in Tseng’s domain is a sure-fire way to meet his equivalent of Johnny Law... Majosatsu, perhaps?

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
Look no further than the “Aoi Usagi” in Roppongi and Toshima, a branch of the famed Blue Rabbit taverns. Also, a great place to lock down rumours regarding adventure and treasure.
Looking for the authentic Tokyo experience? Try one of hundreds of izakayas in any of the wards.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
If there isn’t a Kaiju terrorising the city, then it’s a slow day. The Oni are also a constant threat. There are some rogue magics and terrible machines loose in various places around the city.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
The Warlords of Neo-Tokyo are not currently at war and the Oni population seems content to claim the outer reaches for their own for now. However, tensions are always mounting and the truces and treaties could be broken. Also, the warlords are constantly undermining one another through subterfuge and espionage.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
The Monster Sumo League is a major source of illegal entertainment for the people of the city. The Yokai Yakuza of Akiba run the show and take down all the profits. Contestants are richly rewarded and treated with profound respect by the population in any ward.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Depends which side you happen to fall on, I suppose. But if folks knew about them, they wouldn’t be terribly secret. (Yes, there are ninjas. NO. You can’t find them).

18. What is there to eat around here?
Neo Tokyo has a lavish and vast inter-campaign cuisine on offer. Ex-pats from all across the multiverse have come to serve the food-crazy Neo-Tokyoites.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The Ichiban Hachimaki, as mentioned, has been missing for some time. The Heart of the Giant is missing; it is rumoured to drive the Giant Robo currently rusting away in sunken Daiba. The ancient weapons of the Celestial Generals are great artifacts of incredible power... surprise surprise, also missing.
The Ichiban Hachimaki
20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
The Dragons of the city tend to hold to higher ideals than the amassing of fortunes; most of the dragons serve Amaterasu and the Ancient or perhaps Warlord Tseng. While there are certainly numerous colossal beasts to be destroyed, it is unfortunate that most do not seem to keep lairs or baubles. The Oni lords would likely have hoards of treasure, but they are heavily guarded in their Mist-bound fortresses.
Cards on the table, you are not going to find a lot of “treasure” of the conventional kind.


A Tokyo for All Time

At some point in the multiverse, there exists a fractured, crumbling mega-city formerly known as Edo and some time after that as Tokyo, but currently called Shin-Edo by inhabitants and Neo-Tokyo by outsiders. Shin-Edo is home to samurai and giant robots, wu-jen and yokai, monks and Kami.
A partly functional station 
The mega-city has suffered(at some point in its distant past) a bizarre cataclysm and portions of the city have been transplanted out of time. Leylines and nexus points criss-cross the night skies of the Shin-Edo; the random rift activity that brings newcomers is a common (near daily) occurrence. The city is largely flooded and overgrown in the dead zones, battlefields dot the area between walled parts of the city: the safe zones. The edges of the city are ringed with wilderness and Mt. Kanda and Mt. Takao stand sentinel over the city. Beyond the edges of the kami and oni-filled wilderness, lies the Mistwall: a passable grey curtain that stretches to the heavens. No one that has passed beyond has ever returned.
Whatever notoriety modern day Tokyo may have as a seismic hotspot does not exist for the people of Neo-Tokyo; natural earthquakes have entirely ceased to be a problem. However, the Edoans are not safe from devastation and destruction; kaiju and daikaiju are ever-present threats. The wards of Shin-Edo are protected by warlords or defenders, equipped with various types of giant robots, mechs or automatons that fight back these colossal destroyers.
Getting around Neo-Tokyo is easy if you have the currency. The rails that have been recovered and create a loose network for travel between safe zones. The rails truly are the safest means of travel. Some of the roads and highways have been recovered, also. However, the roads of Shin-Edo are not nearly so safe as the rails. Gangs of bikers, traps, crumbling roadways and roving beasts all cause havoc on these ancient passes. A great many fisherman and boatmen roam the abundant waterways providing travellers with passage between ports and there is a whole other world of danger lurking under the surface.
Old Juku and Jingu Shrine: This area is under the control of a powerful Kami and her religious followers. It is home to an ancient tree which is guarded at the grounds of Jingu Shrine. Old Juku is a crumbling reflection of the beautiful Jingu gardens. Hollowed out buildings serve as homes for thousands of Edoans. There is a growing farming community in the cleared out central area of Old Juku.
The Jingu Tree
Roppongi: This shining district is ruled by a terrifying and powerful sorcerer and outsider named Tseng. It has more modern conveniences than nearly any other district; heating, lighting and electricity through manipulation of ley line energy. This district also has more outsiders than any other part of the city; Katatsumuri-cho (The Snail Quarter) is home to many outside conveniences like the Aoi Usagi, a franchise of the Blue Rabbit taverns.
Imperial Palace: The Emperor makes his home in the main central island, Edojima. The palace grounds fall under the shadow of Mt. Kanda and the extended areas beyond the palace are farmlands. The samurai that patrol and protect these use a mix of ancient and modern weaponry.
Akiba: The Forgeworks and the Playground are the major draws to this district. The goblins of Shin-Edo know how to build damn near anything and they have constructed a clockwork force to defend the iron-welded walls of the island. The Playground is a naughty little district for the exotic and strange.
The Mainlands: The mainlands are dotted with small communities, shrines and temples. Most of the area is untamed wilderness: the reclaimed lands of the Kami (and the Oni).

Art Credit: Tokyo Genso



Having long had a fascination with humanoid animals (Thank you TMNT), I was overjoyed to see these fishy fellas pop up in my G+ feed care of +Scrap Princess a while back. I was immediately inspired to write up a Labyrinth Lord (OSR) compatible racial class. The class has changed a wee bit in the interim, but not much.
Namazu (Rumblefish) Racial Class
Kashima puts the smack down on
the Great Namazu
Namazu are carp-faced humanoids with an unusual influence over the earth. Namazu are able to cause tremors and earthquakes.
The Namazu are first and foremost peace-loving builders and peasants. They pay worship to Kashima to help them restrain their emotions and focus their efforts on building.
They rarely intend to incite tremors. Unfortunately when agitated or inebriated, they can unfortunately invoke their power to terrible effect. Most namazu also have an aversion to underground areas, mostly for fear that they might cause a quake.
A greater Namazu is allegedly responsible for the great Edo earthquake of 1855.
Namazu are darkly coloured and scaled all over. They require a submersion in water once a day, but otherwise have no trouble on land. Namazu that fail to bathe will lose one point of Constitution per day until they can get enough water, regaining lost points at one per day.
Prerequisite: Con 9
Prime Requisite: Str; Str 13, +5%xp; Str 16, +10%xp.
Weapons: Any.
Armour: Any.
Spells: None.
Saves: as Dwarf.
Attack: as Fighter.
Hit Die: d8.
Namazu guilt for their progenitor
makes them great builders
Namazu are master builders. Any construction project with a few Namazu labourers will be more efficient, seeing a 20% reduction in construction time.
Namazu, by their caste, are usually dirt poor. A wealthy Namazu is a rarity. 1st level Namazu start with 25% of the usual start-up funds for PCs.
Once per day, a Namazu can rumble the earth when agitated or injured. The rumble affects a target up to 50 feet away. By throwing itself on the ground and thrashing in anger, the Namazu unleashes a seismic wave to knock down enemies or even buildings. After the effect is resolved, the Namazu is prone.
Younger inexperienced Namazu produce tiny ruptures and sometimes have little to no effect, but as a Namazu matures there is a measure of control to the rumble effect. At 4th level, the Namazu can roll for effect and opt for any lesser effect. A 10 point success could be reduced to a 9 point success and any one effect from the chart can be chosen.
It is important to point out that Namazu culture is centred around maintaining composure and the rumble fit is a sign of poor control. After all, it is considered a terrible faux pas to pitch a fit and destroy the neighbourhood. Generally, youth or extraordinary circumstance will lead to the rumble effect (and it is a rare and unusual thing to see it used in a premeditated manner).
Rumble Mechanic: make a Constitution check (low roll success) with a modifier to the roll based on the chart below. A successful check has caused some damage, the margin of success determines the potential destruction wrought.
*DM can adjudicate lower or higher bonuses for RP situations; **From 9th level, an additional +1 per level is applied to the roll.
1 to 9 point success: minor damage 1d6, roll d4 for additional effect.
  1. rocked off balance, lose dex bonus to AC (one round).
  2. knockback, pushed away 5'.
  3. stumble-fished! pushed 5' and lose Dex bonus to AC (one round).
  4. knockdown, target is prone.
10 to 19 point success: major damage 2d6, roll d for additional effect.
  1. knockdown.
  2. crumbled underfoot, target is immobilized for 1d4 rounds.
  3. disarmed! target drops held weapon or shield.
  4. disoriented! target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.
20+ point success: catastrophic damage 2d10 crushing or falling, roll on major damage effect table and following table, d4.
  1. Cone shaped fissure, 10' wide. Starts as a crack, that quickly widens.
  2. A perfect circle, 20' diameter. A round sinkhole opens under the target.
  3. Churn baby, churn. The earth rolls over and the target is rolled with it.
  4. Mired! The ground swells with water and mud quickly forms under the target. Target is slowed, but only takes 1d10 damage.
At the DMs discretion, multiple Namazu may have a more profound effect if they should all succumb to the urge to rumble simultaneously.
Labyrinth Lord Advanced Race Option:
Namazu: +1 CON, -1 INT
Favoured Classes: Bushi (Fighter), Yakuza (Thief).
Racial benefits: as above; low caste, expert builders, rumble.