Under Hill, By Water

YOU! Adventurer! 

Do you tire of constantly risking your life for ancient trinkets that are most likely cursed? Do you long for a pastoral life where you have a moment to just sit? Where your biggest concern of the day is finding where Old Man Ruther's bastard goose went, rather than if you've gotten the right phylactery for the lich currently threatening the world?

Of course you do! Those other things are a H A S S L E. Also DANGEROUS. 

Well, you're in luck! I've got just the replacement life for you!

Under Hill, By Water

Click It

Under Hill, By Water (by Josh McCrowell) contains everything you need to live out fantasies of being a halfling with little to no responsibilities - it's a full game unto itself, from character generation to tips for running the game to a poem by T.S Elliot. With generators for just about everything, no two iterations of the game are likely to be the same. 

But, most importantly, it's got those darlings of the woods, without which no OSR-esque game is complete: Gorcrows. That's right! You too can experience the thrill of waving your arms helplessly at a dog-sized crow, who's bent on stealing your shiny objects. Feel complete in knowing that your things will soon be theirs. What do they even do with them? They're birds.

With art by BOTH Isaac Podyma and Evlyn Moreau, it's easy on the eyes. 

So, get out there! Win a blue ribbon at the Harvest Festival. Visit every tavern in the Commonwealth. Wrestle a goat. Steal a pie recipe. Look at an elf. Learn how to spell "Aloisius." These are things you could be doing. 

Click above to go to where you can get it. 



The original intent for the setting description was to work west around the world, just to keep it orderly. Ennui and has decided I'll jump ahead a few time zones. 

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
For stretch of time, things were looking rough for the USSR, having grown stagnant in Stalin's state capitalism. However, in the early 1990's the failed August Coup reignited the flame of communism in the hearts and minds of the populous. Under the leadership of Gorbachev, and later Putin, the country took additional leaps towards communism. 

While the Cold War ended after the Collapse, the war of Capitalism vs Communism continues between the USSR and the Major Corporations, as a proxy war rages in South America through the corporation backed Contras. 

With the Space Race won by default (though, admitted surpassed by Japan after the race was over), the Republics were the first to have a permanent space station in Earth's orbit (Cosmograd), on the moon (Lunagrad) and just recently on Mars (Perungrad). 

The Sights
Constructivist architecture remains popular, along with Socialist Classicism

Socialist realism statues and monuments can be found in most public spaces, glorifying the triumph of the proletariat. 

Monolithic housing blocks ensure no comrade is left homeless. 

House of the Soviets, once the world's tallest building (now second to Tokyo Skytree superstrate), beams nightly fan fair into the Russian night sky.

KGB cameras are not seen, despite what Western propaganda will have you believe. They are better hidden than that. 

The Sounds
Sovietwave and Russian Surf echo from the discotheques.  

Vladimir Vysotsky and Tsvety can still be heard on radio stations. 

The steady hum of industry and prosperity fill the work days. 

The Internationale can be heard sung in factories at the start of shifts. 

The Smells
Papirosy, strong cardboard tipped cigarettes, are smoked everywhere. 

Grease and burning smells hang in the air around factory towns. 

Alcohol is on everyone's breath. 

Camomile and Carnation aromas fill the air in town centers, as the two flowers have grown popularity. 

The Tastes
Alcoholic drinks are common in day to day life. Anything under 6% is classified as a "soft drink"

Gregorian and Estonian cuisines have gained in popularity as of late. 

The KGB has noted Soviet citizens have a significantly healthier diet than those of the former USA. 

The Touches
Cold, cruel, and crushing winters. 

Warm and mild summers. 

Stiff and itchy canvas is used to make the mass produced popular work shirt.  

In the News: 
They've recently annexed Afghanistan, to which Iran takes a paranoid view of, and are currently in a land dispute with Maoist China over Mongolia. 

There's also some trouble from nationalists in eastern Europe. The Iron Curtain has become a hotbed of terrorist activities, to the point of bullets becoming a secondary currency. 

Not in the News: 
Multiple ZATOs (closed administrative-territorial formations; "closed cities") are active, mostly dealing with nuclear or alternate energy research, naval/air force administration, and cosmodromes. There are some less boring ZATOs in operation, however:  
  • Majak (City 40) - Focuses on research into and using "strange matter"
  • Uglegorsk - Serves as the cosmodrome managing terrestrial side operations for the Hinderland station. 
  • Gorky - Mass production of the nuclear capable KM ekranoplan
  • Mailbox #4276 - Secure facility in Mezhgorye performing research in theoretical quantum realms and entanglement. 
  • Krasnoyarsk 26 - Researches ancient viruses discovered in the ever thawing tundra. 
It's also been rumored the USSR has provided nuclear missiles to the Republic of Cuba. Detection and confirmation by outside observers has been made difficult due to background radiation from wide spread contamination after some jackass thought it was a good idea to nuke a hurricane. 

New Class

People's Champion

For each template gain +1 Save against Fear. 

A. Inspiration, Turn Bourgeoisie 
B. Internationale
C. Neither Gods Nor Caesars
D. Nothing to Lose But Your Chains

The Champion doesn't get this ability, so much as the team gets the ability. This is a pool of points equal to 1 per People's Champion template in the team, and usable on various things (listed below) by anyone on the team. To activate, the player using the point must inspire the target in someway. I'm primarily picturing a short uplifting speech, but if you can figure another way, I ain't gonna stop you. Ways to refill the pool are also listed below. 

  • Restore 1d6 HP to the target
  • Give a +4 to a single test or save. (Traditional assisting only provides +2) 
  • Champion successfully assists someone
  • Champion takes time to repair gear rather than simply purchase new item
  • Champion shows solidarity with the common man at a detriment to themselves. 

Turn Bourgeoisie

When confronted by the Bourgeoisie or one of their dogs (CEOs, cops), you may speak words of revolution (and spend a Conviction point), then roll 2d6, consulting the chart above. If you roll under the number (meet is beat) the target is turned. A "T" means the target is automatically turned, "D" means the target is destroyed, and "-" means automatic failure. In cases of dual numbers (ex 11/5), the first number is for turned, the second is for destroyed. Turned targets flee the area for 1d6 rounds. Destroyed targets leave the area for good and rethink the choices they made that lead them to this point. 

When meeting members of the Proletariat, reaction rolls are made at a +4. 

Neither Gods Nor Caesers
Adjacent allies may use your Save vs Fear in replace of their own. 

Nothing to Lose But Your Chains
Once per session, by given a grandstanding, uplifting speech, you can give a free Command (as per the traditional spell) to the audience with no Save. 

Variant: Posadist
A. Inspiration, Talk to Dolphin
B. Internationale
C. Neither Gods Nor Caesars
D. Nuclear Football

Talk to Dolphin
You're able to communicate with dolphins, without any additional tools. They are comrades, after all. 

Nuclear Football
You have a miniature nuke in a suitcase. It takes up 2 slots and possibly has a faulty timer. What you do with it is up to you. I certainly ain't gonna hassle the person with a nuclear device. 


On Halflings, Goblins, and Raccoons

 In the last post, I offered an encountered posed as a question:

24. What if Hydras, but with Hobbits?

And that got me wondering: What IF hydras, but with hobbits? Well, the answer seems pretty clear: Goblins. 

"What? That makes no sense, you drunkard." I hear you say; to which I retort: 1) Ouch. Rude. Jesus. and 2) I can show my work. I just gotta do a little information dump to get you on the same page. It'll seem unrelated at first, and it largely is, but the concept it presents will be what's important. 

Many of the names I'm about to use have accent marks in their proper spelling, but in 20 years of knowing how to type, I've never figured out how to make them, so they won't have them. 

The Story of Fafnir

Fafnir, a dwarf with a strong right arm and a fearless soul, was the son of king Hreidmar, and brother to Regin and Otr. Known for his aggression, he served in his father's hall as a guard, keeping a close eye on the massive amount of wealth the king of the dwarfs obviously would have. He had a nice life, full of dwarf things, until - as these stories go - the gods arrived. 

You see, Odin, Loki, and Hœnir were traveling when they encountered Otr. Now Otr had the ability to change into any form, and his favorite was that of the otter. And a damn fine otter he was. So much so, Loki (of course it's Loki, it's always Loki in these stories) desired his pelt, which involved killing and skinning Otr. A task the gods made short work of. 

That night they came unto Hreidmar's hall and, pleased with their catch and unknowning it was actually a dwarf or Hreidmar's son, they proudly showed off the pelt they had harvested. Obviously, Hreidmar was displeased by this and at first demanded a life for a life to pay for the murder, however the gods made the argument that the murder was but an accident, as Otr was an otter at the time, and they had no way of knowing. Accepting that it was an accident, Hreidmar instead settled for weregild ("man price", compensation payed to a family over the lose or injury of a member). Otr was the son of a king, so his price was high: in order the gods to leave as free men they had to fill Otr's pelt with yellow gold and then cover it entirely with red gold. Agreeing to this, Odin and Hœnir remained as captives, while Loki went out in search of the gold. 

Instead of returning to the large treasure hordes of Asgard to end this unfortunately situation quickly, Loki hunts down Andvari. Andvari, another dwarf with the ability to shape shift (this time into a pike) who lived under a waterfall, was incredibly wealthy, thanks to his ring Andvaranaut, which helped in hunting gold. Using a net from Ran (sea goddess with an indestructible net; a whole other side quest), Loki was able to capture Andvari in fish form, and force him to give up both his gold and magic ring. Having no other choice, Andvari gives them up, but curses them to bring ruin to anyone who possess them in the process. 

Full of himself, Loki returned to Hreidmar and laid the gold treasure upon the pelt of Otr. The gold nearly covered all of it, save for a single whisker, which Loki begrudgingly used Andvaranaut to cover. With the wereguild paid in full, the gods were released, and go on about their way, exiting out of this story. 

Now, the type of otter Otr was was most likely the euroasian otter, because that's the only Scandinavia has, so we're looking at a pelt up to 37.5 inches (96cm) long, not including the 18 inch (45cm) tail. That's a heap of gold. A HEAP

Fueled by both jealousy and the curse, but probably mostly the curse, Fafnir drew his sword and murdered Hreidmar, taking all the gold for himself. Escaping in the wilderness, left alone with ill gained fortune, Fafnir grew twisted and cruel, his greed changing him into a serpent/dragon which breathed poison into the very land around him. 


AND we see here how Fafnir was corrupted by his greed into a dragon. This wasn't a "Oh, I want this minor material possession to make my miserable life slightly brighter for a moment" nominal amount of greed that we experience everyday, this was "I am fully inclined to murder the man whose enormous amount of gold and gems I've guarded with my life for (probably) decades without so much a thought of snatching one, and also he's my father" amount of greed - the kind you see from landlords and Wall Street. His vice/sin changed him to his very core. 

Besides Dwarf, which other usually playable race is known for a vice, such as gluttony? 

That's right: Halflings. And where as Halfings aren't Dwarfs, they're not going to turn into dragons or serpents. Their gluttony and sloth and all the other vices and sins that were carried out in the depraved bourgeois halls of Bag End would change and transform them into something else. That something else is a Goblin. 

Halflings live in a hole in the ground. To quote: "Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell...it was a hobbit halfing-hole, and that means comfort." (and decadence). 

Goblins, on the other hand, live in a hole in the ground. A nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell. A destroyed halfling hole. 

That's...asinine, but what does this have to do with Hydra?

Hydras are well known for their ability to regrow their severed heads. A goblin's ability to regrow parts is also well documented. I had a link to this documentation, however now that I needed it, it is missing. The long and short of it was that goblin basically breed through violence, quickly regrowing missing parts or even whole bodies. I'll put in the link if I can ever find it again. 

Alright...I guess. And the raccoons?

Look at the following videos. Raccoons are basically Goblins. 

Look at 'em. 

That's clear evidence that the Elves evolved the Halflings from raccoons, much in the same way they made Man from apes, and Orcs from boar. It's just basic science. 

Post Publish Edit (8/11/20): Well kiss my grits. Seems Arnold K already covered this five years ago.  While this only further suggests that I am correct, I will not forget this insult. 


1d30 for Izzy

Good grief, the new blogger interface is trifling and powerfully ugly. Looks like publication scheduling ain't working well either? 

Anyway, a stretch of writer's block hit and to get through it I gave a general call for random tables. Turns out my buddy Izzy needed some random encounters. I think he's using Pathfinder, but I ain't certain, nor did I take any measures to find out. 

1d30 Random Encounters for Izzy

1. A bear, porcupine, and a raccoon sit around a campfire. A barrel of booze is near by. They are not magical, can not talk nor have the means to make a fire. They will defend the booze.
2. A mostly naked wizard is in full swing of a mushroom trip. It may not be going well. Whenever they speak mutated spells ooze out of their head applying themselves upon the world. If killed in this state, a spellscar will be left on reality here.
3. The PCs come across a looter stripping corpses of their gear. If examined, the corpses are of the PCs, though the looter will not acknowledge this. 
4. A bricked pit full of blood, encircled by mark-less corpses. Neither wind nor animals stir in this location. Should the PCs leave and come back, the pit will be gone. Possible to be encountered elsewhere.
5. An ordinary chest full of gems. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Certainly not a pregnant mimic full of eggs. Nope. 
6. A water elemental is stuck in an almost dry stream bed. It's sad, lonely, and can't find it's way back to the ocean. 
7. A forest witch has passed out in her stream hovel, deep in her drunken sleep. A mysterious potion bubbles in a cauldron and several bottles chill in the stream. Her skeleton fox familiar guards them from inside the stream. 
8. A beautiful figure bathes in a stream waterfall. They wave the PCs over to join them. Should the PCs decide to get close, they'll soon learn what lingual luring is as the colossal alligator snapping turtle currently hiding behind the waterfall tries to eat them. 
9. Orc bootleggers speed down the trail on strange Gerry rigged iron wagons belching black smoke, fueled by the very shine they sell. They'll sell ya some (meth too) if you prove y'aint constables. If they smell law on ya though, they'll start slinging bombs.
10. A meteor has crashed to earth. From out of the smoking crater, biomechanicals have emerged and begun to harvest the surrounding area,  and spreading their biomechanical infection to the wildlife. 
11. 8 floating psionic octopi carrying alien instruments of brutality. A vanguard for a larger army! The war for the surface has begun!
12. Worker fairies from a nearby hive are unionizing. They'll need a third-partyto deliver their demands to the Queen.
13. A large golem (goes by Hank) waits patiently in the woods, adorned in a multitude of runes of explosion. He insists on calling the PCs his "owners" (finders keepers) and further insists that the PCs order him to explode. Turns out Hank is a mine golem from some long and forgotten magic war, and his only purpose for existing is to explode. He wants to do it soooooo bad. Won't you help him? (Destroys entire hex if exploded. No saves.)
14. A young lady is weeping over a pig. Her brother/sister has been transformed into swine, and only a stranger's kiss can revert them back. Unfortunately, the young lady is just a liar and a pervert.
15. A young lady is weeping over a pig. Her brother/sister has been transformed into swine, and only a stranger's kiss can revert them back. Unfortunately, it's a transitive curse, and will change the kisser into a pig while freeing the original victim.
16. Bear beer wizard. Will trade mead for wizard teeth.
17. Necro-jellies have got in the go'dang Potter's field again! Stop 'em be-fer they get to gran'pappy's still!
18. What if Gorcrows, but with Hobbits?
19. You meet an average enough looking fella. He doesn't blink and is too wet. He's accompanied by a boiling kettle, but no heat source. He'll offer the PCs a longer life and better healing, in exchange for something. Should the PCs accept, well then, welcome your new body mate! You now have a fun, new parasite taking care of your body to feast on your spirit. It's possibly an aboleth. +1 healing per round. Roll new mental states and take the averageof the two sets as your conscience melds. 
20. Did you know there's an elemental plane of spiders? You do now, thanks to a drunk summoner ripping a hole in reality. Enjoy.
21. Symbiote Jellies are overwhelming and bounding to a Forest Giant. 
22. "Lycanthropy" is a template you can apply. Apply it to a centaur tribe and enjoy the half-man, half-horse, half-wolf experience. Wait...it'd be full man, wouldn't it?
23. A will o' wisp and a leucrocuta begin vying for the PCs attention, leading them in different directions. Turns out the creatures have a little bet going, and both will lead the PCs to certain danger. 
24. What if Hydras, but with Hobbits?
25. A Lantern Archon has fallen in love with a normal lantern. It wants the PCs to set it up on a date, and insists they help it go off without a hitch. I ain't never seen a lovelorn Archon, but I'm guessing it ain't pretty. 
26. A small camp of Orcs are fermenting and distilling Gray Ooze. It smells horrible, but get's ya drunk!
27. What if a Rat King, but with Hobbits?
28. A ghost inside of a skeleton inside of a zombie inside of a iron golem (looks like plate armor) 
29. A group of Cyclopes are playing a version of lawn darts. There have been and will be casualties. 
30. Cosmic radioactive moon apes. 

The Wrecktangle

I've recently learned of a thing: Beautiful in it's simplicity, a masterwork in it's craftsmanship. Simple geometric form imbued with time and talent to create a work of art. 

Ugh. I should have sent a poet. 

Look at it for yourself:

The Wrecktangle, by michaelcthulhu
Chaos starts at 1:23:00

I just...god damn. I need this in my games. Cyberpunk, fantasy, other genres - it'll work. I'll make it work. 

The Wrecktangle (Y1000) 
Heavy Melee Weapon (1d12) 
* Heavy Weight
* High Quality
* Rend
Provides AC bonus as a Shield (+1) 
Takes up 3 inventory spaces

That's it, no real substance here. I just had to share this glory. 


Doing It For The Fame


Stuck in your head yet? Excellent, let's proceed.

Every software company I've worked for has had to release a patch almost immediately after a product went live. Usually for something that seemed to work and wasn't given a second glance despite our gesturing at the bug tickets.

I seem to have kept this awful habit.

In this case, I'm talking about the XP system. I slapped down the original XP-for-gold numbers, added a few zeros to account for inflation, and moved on with the task at hand. This vague eye to detail generated a few issues. First, by second level you'd have 2 million dollars. That's enough to retire and be done. Secondly, it's also enough to buy everything in the book multiple times over, as spotted here:

Seems very excessive.

Now, I could adjust numbers and double check everything to make sure it all makes logical, numerical sense...or a could burn everything down, throw out XP-for-gold reasoning, and start over.

That seemed easier, so I went with that one.


The long and short of it is you get XP based on the type of job you perform. They come in four types: Minor, News Worthy, Headliner, and Media Frenzy.

Minor Jobs
This includes chasing off local drug dealers, retrieving stolen property, shaking down small businesses; you know, minor things. These are worth 100 XP.

News Worthy
This includes bringing down local gangs, disrupting a Yakuza job, break and entering zaibatsu remote sites. These are worth 250 XP.

These involve snatch and grabs from megacorp research labs and disrupting operations region wide. These are worth 500 XP.

Media Frenzy
Disrupting zaibatsu operations continent wide and the like fall in this category. They're worth a hefty 1000 XP.

Essentially, the more security you face, the higher the value.

XP in this instance is a measure of the Fame you're generating by your actions. Get an old woman's antique Yamaha 20XX YZF-R1M back from a local Chad Boy chapter? The local community notices. Get hired by the Yakuza to burn down a Zen Security armory? The National News is gonna report on it. Also, Zen Security are gonna be very interested. Which brings me to the next point.

The higher your Fame, the more people will be after you. You know the points in Fallout 3 and New Vegas where mercenary groups start randomly attacking you based on your karma? That. It's that.

Running the Numbers

I made a chart
As you can see, the higher your level gets, the less the minor jobs are going to affect your Fame. This seems good to me; it drives you to bigger and better things. Or, more violent things. The betterness is up to you.

The Pros and Cons

  • It sets apart the XP system from money. You'll still level up, but you won't need 2 Million dollars. 
  • Still allows the Face ability "Street Cred" to work as written. 
  • Want a faster play? Double the XP and shoot right through the levels. 
  • Allows for bonus XP on out of the ordinary jobs. Run into cyberEnforcer at the bodega your shaking down buying a 40? +10 XP to the job. 
  • I might have to reformat the XP section. 

I'm willing to make that sacrifice. For the game.


The Things I Spend My Time On

I should be studying and doing school work. I've made this instead.

Notable changes from previously published material

  • So many spelling errors.
  • Attribute bonuses are gone. No more to-hit and damage bonus from Strength. No more to-hit and Defense bonus from Dexterity.
  • Augmented is now a full class. A real boy at last.
  • Stun damage now only matters for Death and Dismemberment. “Losing a turn” is boring as shit.
  • Some templates were missing starting skills. Apparently I just stopped typing in places. This should mostly be fixed.
  • Grizzled Cop D got revamped.
  • Hacker got a face lift.
  • Inventory got adjusted to reflect lose of the Attribute bonuses.
  • Weapon damage got raised by a dice value across the board.
  • Implanted Harddrive is now HeadDrive. It's catchier and more marketable.
  • Forget drones existed. Added some additional features.
  • Programs got a renaming. The old names were flavorful, but perhaps esoteric. Sure I know what Charm12 is, but unless you’re a Norse nerd, you probably don’t know what it is off hand. I like what Luther at Archon’s Court did with his Tech programs. Tells you what it does up front.
  • Dreaming Real and Loa AI classes not included in this go around, as they work slightly different, and need a larger overhaul. There are 2 new abilities affected by this absence, but what’s on this blog should still suffice in a pinch.
  • Actually explained the differences between Contacts, Groupies, and Mercenaries.
And now to continue putting off studying.