View Full Version : Wickerworld: a Roleplaying Game of Horrific Fantasy (Work in Progress)

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-19, 07:31 PM
I've been working on Wickerworld (it probably needs a better name) for a couple of weeks now. It is a d20 hack inspired by some of my favorite media, most notably American McGee's Alice, and its sequel. The locations, including the overall setting still need a name, and the game is far from complete. I have more than what you see in my head, but not much more.


“Wer’e all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
- The Cheshire Cat

Slrin grunted with triumph as the last goblin fell to his wicked silver blades. He relaxed his tense muscles, wiped off his weapons, and lifted his pale elven face to survey the carnage.

He was in a wide corridor littered with the ruined corpses of goblins, corrupted cyborg faeries with a taste for sentient flesh. The walls were towering, ever-changing bookshelves, ravaged by untold millennia, but still darkly impressive to behold. The place was lit by a floating ball of light conjured by his companion Amnos, a ruthless gnome trained in the mysterious and ancient art of wizardry.

Now that the filthy little cannibals were dead, the duo had time to properly search the area. There was the door through which they had entered, and almost a dozen torn, slime-encrusted cocoons from which the goblins had emerged hanging from the ceiling. The most interesting thing in the room was the crooked doorway in one of the walls, not upright like one would expect from a door, but on its side.

They were on the alien plane of Babel, once a mighty library of the corrupt deities, but now a forsaken labyrinth of nightmares stalked by bloodthirsty monsters. A dark wonderland filled with countless bizarre treasures and just as many mind-wrenching horrors.

Slrin padded up to the door, shrugged, hefted his larger blade, and took a swing. Instead of opening a crack in the portal, the blow caused it to ripple like water. Slrin swung at it again, but only managed to produce the same effect.

“Enchanted,” he muttered.

Amnos stepped over to his side, pointed his wooden staff at the door, and muttered a complex incantation. A bolt of crackling silver energy struck the magic portal, and it wavered before dissipating into thousands of specs of dancing light.

Keeping both his wickedly sharp swords at the ready, Slrin marched into the room beyond, with Amnos following close behind.

What they found was an ornate chamber filled with more books, and held up by diamond encrusted pillars. At the far end of the room was a 10-foot statue of the deformed goddess Shub-Niggurath. The statue overlooked a steaming hot pool of dark red liqued, too thick to be blood.

Before examining the pool and statue, Slrin used his smaller sword to pry off one off the diamonds on the closest pillar. After all, they had come to the ruined library in search or riches.

Amnos looked into the bubbling pool and discovered a faint glow eminating from the bottom. Curious and foolish, he reached in.

Suddenly, pulsing tubes made out of some kind of rancid flesh spread across the walls of the chamber like blight ruining a crop. Tears of black slime poured from the statue's many orifices, and the air pulsed with evil magic.

Still frozen with horror, the pair of adventurers watched a a nightmarish creature materialize out of the air in a sickening wave of black smoke. The thing was demonic and foul, covered in weeping sores and wrapped in barbed chains. It had the crooked, unsmilingly long teeth and stained black claws.

Knowing that he had to fight or die, Slrin attacked the creature with reckless abandon, his fine elves blades flashing as he slashed at it again and again. To his desperate terror, his weapons seemed to have minimal effect, only managing to deliver a few superficial gashes.

The awful beast exacted its vengeance with demonic wrath, knocking Slrin to the floor in a bleeding mess in only a few quick strikes.

Before it could finish the job, it was blasted from behind by a twisting bolt of lightning. It let out an ungodly shriek and lashed out wildly, tearing open Slrin’s hip and slamming hard into a pillar. It whipped around violently, to see Amnos grinning and brandishing his staff. It would have none of that.

Amnos recoiled and swore as rotting black tendrils of sinew erupted from the ground and bound his legs. He struggled and thrashed, but they began to suck out his very life force.

Slrin painfully clambered to his feet and pounced on the demon.

“Die, fiend!” he shouted as he drove his enchanted twin blades into its vile flesh, tearing out chunks of rubbery tissue splattering the floor with dark red fluid.

It turned around to face him once again, showing no signs of pain or injury. He rasped a quick prayer to his goddess Heckate in preparation for the coming fight.

What is This?
Wickerworld is a tabletop roleplaying game based loosely on the d20 system, the most popular set of rules for roleplaying games. The players take on the roles of brave heroes, cold mercenaries, dastardly villains, or insane adventurers in a twisted fantasy world warped by wicked magic.

On their many adventures, they face horrific monsters, explore surreal locations, solve ancient mysteries, become entangled in dark intrigue, and confront their own inner demons.

What is a Roleplaying Game?
A roleplaying game (RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles by declaring the actions of their characters in said fantasy world. Actions taken within the game succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Think of it as half way between a board game and drama club, or like an interactive novel written on the fly. Really nothing more than an advanced version of “cops and robbers”, or “cowboys and Indians”.

Wickerworld is a tabletop RPG, meaning that it is played with pencils, paper, dice and books. The players sit around a table, each with a sheet of paper recording their character’s attributes, and take turns having their characters interact with the world. One player (known as the Game Master, or GM) controls the environment the players interact with instead of playing a character. They control the adversaries the players face, the events taking place in the world they live in, and the allies that help them along they way. They also act as the narrator and referee, enforcing the rules and keeping the plot moving.

Why Should I Play This?
For one thing, the game has a unique and elegant set of rules based loosely on the d20 system (found at d20srd.org), but has its own interesting and innovative mechanics that focus on speeding up play, reducing the required amount of preparation, and helping to portray surreal horror.

For another, it as attached to a unique and richly dark setting that borrows heavily from the works of Lewis Carrol, H. P. Lovecraft, American McGee, Robert E. Howard, Tim Burton, and H. R. Giger. Kind of like a mix between Conan the Barbarian, Alice in Wonderland, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but horrifying imagery that looks like something out of the disturbed imaginations of today’s best horror artists.

What do I Need to Play?
If you are going to be a player, all you need is a piece of notebook paper, a pencil (not a pen), this book, and some dice (see below).

If you are going to be a Game Master, you need all of the above, as well as what is called an adventure (explained later in the book). It is also best if you have at least moderate experience with the game, though this is not required.

The Dice
One of the strangest things about this game is the dice. It has not one, but six kinds; including one with four sides, one with six, one with eight, one with 10, one with 12, and one with 20! If you don’t happen to posses such dice, you can roll them using an online application found at PenPaperPixel.org, or buy them at a local hobby store.

Throughout this book, when we refer to funny-shaped dice, we will simply write the number of sides the die has and put the letter “d” before it. For example, a six--sided die would be referred to as a “d6”, and a 20-sided die would be referred to as a “d20”.

When we refer to multiple funny-shaped dice, we put the number before the short form. For example, three eight-sided dice would be referred to as “3d8”. Sometimes we add modifiers to dice rolls. “3d12+5” would mean you roll three 12-sided dice and add five to the total result.

Chapter I: Creating Your Character

“Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”
- The Duchess
Della wasn't pretty, but she was beautiful. Her oval-shaped, wickedly scarred elven face had seen the sickening horror of a magic-warped world, her slender but powerful body had pulled through many grueling battles, and her darkly cunning mind was plagued by paranoia.

At her side she kept a large serrated blade she called “Sever”. The weapon was stained with the blood of monsters and men alike, and was covered in the many nicks and scratches always found on a well-used sword. She had armor of blackened leather, and a glowing necklace, the magic of which helped her to resist the blood-thirsty madness she has received fro her heritage.

Every player needs a character to be their “avatar” or “pawn” in the twisted fantasy world they will be trying to survive. Those characters - as well as having game statistics - have their own personalities, backgrounds, likes, dislikes, and motivations. It is the player’s job to portray their characters, acting according to their character’s personalities, not their own. It is by all means okay for players to build their characters after themselves; but that would be no fun, would it?

The first thing you need to do is consult your game master. Always consult your game master. They might have specific requirements, or might have changed the character creation rules.

Afterwards you need think of a character concept to work with. Do you want to be a magic-wielding scholar, a sneaky trickster, a deadly master of weapons, or a devoted follower of some higher power? Do you want to be smart? Strong? Agile? Will you be a greedy gnome? An elegantly deadly elf? A cunning dryad? The choice is yours. You can be any fantasy character you imagine.

Each of your Ability Scores start at 6. You must then roll 1d6 for each one, and add the total result. For example, if you rolled a 4 for your Strength, you would have a total strength of 10.

Write down the ability score bonus (or penalty) for each Ability Score beside the Score itself, as shown on the Character Abilities table.

Choose a race and class for your character. Remember that you must meet the Prime Requisite minimum for a class, as described in the Character Classes section, in order to be a member of that class. Also note that the race you choose might have an effect on the ability scores you just rolled.

Now you need to choose an equipment package. There are at least two for each class, and each represents a specialized version of the class. For example, the Rogue class has an equipment package that focuses on archery, and one that focuses on dagger throwing.

Finally, you must determine your Attack Bonus (equal to your level), your Hit Points (equal to your Constitution score + your level), your Weapon Defence (equal to 10 + your level), and your Magic Defence (also equal to 10 + your level). You start at level 1.

Character Abilities
Each character will have a score ranging from 7 to 12 in each of the following abilities, although that number is likely to change lather on. A bonus or penalty is associated with each score, as shown on the table below. Each class has a Prime Requisite ability score, which must be at least 9 in order for the character to become a member of that class.
Ability Score Bonus/Penalty

1-2 -4
3-4 -3
5-6 -2
7-8 -1
9-10 +0
11-12 +1
13-14 +2
15-16 +3
17-18 +4
19-20 +5

Strength: As the name implies, this ability measures the character's raw physical power. Strength is the Prime Requisite for both the Weapon Master class and the Knight class. Strength is very useful in melee (hand to hand) combat, as it applies to how often you land a blow, and how much it hurts when you do.

Intelligence: This is the ability to learn and apply knowledge. Intelligence is the Prime Requisite for the Magician class. This ability is very useful in many situations, as it determines how much you know about the world, and therefor how prepared you are.

Wisdom: A combination of intuition, willpower and common sense. Wisdom is the Prime Requisite for both the Templar class and the Druid class. A high Wisdom score is useful for surviving the many strains of your often horrific adventures, as it helps you preserve your sanity and overcome trauma.

Dexterity: This ability measures the character's quickness and balance as well as aptitude with tools. Dexterity is the Prime Requisite for the Rogue class. It is very useful in ranged combat, as it defines to how good a shot you are.

Constitution: A combination of general health and toughness. This is the most important ability score for survival, as it helps determine how much physical harm you can endure before you are swallowed by peaceful the blackness of death.

Charisma: This ability measures your appearance, force of personality, and general likability. Charisma is the prime Prime Requisite for the Bard class.

Character Races
Races are different sentient species that are look similar to humans and posses human-like intelegence. These are not all the races in the world of [name], but are the only ones similar enough to humans that they can make reasonable Player Characters.

Elves are the most ancient, rare, and mysterious race in the world. They live in small civilizations tucked into tiny pocket-universes, where they endlessly play twisted games with each other. Deceiving, manipulating, and exploiting their kin for power, wealth, and sport.

They sometimes send agents out into the world to gather supplies, knowledge, and slaves. All too often, happy couples discover to their horror that their baby has been replaced by a deformed changeling, their actual child doomed to live a life of servitude at the hands of the fair folk.

Occasionally, an elf will detest against their kin’s traitorous ways. Most are tied to thorny trees and left to die for their heresy, but an unlucky few are cast out into the mortal world to survive on their own. They are stripped of their immortality, and tortured to within an inch of their lives. They must then fend for themselves, scorned by all those they meet. Most die, but some endure the many strains of exile and become heroes, villains, or anything in between.

Abilities: As an elf, you can ad two points to both your Charisma and Dexterity. You must also subtract two points from your Constitution. Elves are graceful and beautiful to behold, but are also slender and weak of frame.
Magic Resistance: You gain a +2 bonus to Magic Defence. Elves have an innate ability to negate the effects of harmful magic.
Elven Precision: You gain a +1 bonus to your choice of Melee Attack, Ranged Attack, or Magic Attack. Elves have centuries of life to study the art of combat.
Bitter: You gain a +2 bonus to resistance rolls against being corrupted. You have witnessed many awful things in your life amongst other elves, and you have become callous and jaded.
Weak Frame: Whenever you suffer a critical hit, you must roll a d20. If you roll higher than your constitution score, you are reduced to zero hit points.

Gnomes are a curious folk; short, heavily built, sturdy, and unkempt. Greed defines their existence. They live only to acquire wealth, and will often ruthlessly exploit other creatures to add to their shiny hoards. When denied of wealth, they sometimes fly into a self-destructive rage, ignoring all but the sorest of wounds, and attacking those who stand between them and gold with reckless abandon.

Gnome society his unstable and corrupt. The small folk - as they are called - have no friends and only create temporary alliences. As soon as their allies no longer serve them, they ditch them, perhaps even killing them and taking their gold.

They live in secluded underground labarynths where they endlessy toil for gold beneath the earth. The leader of a gnome clan is determined by which gnome is the richest, and aspiring leaders always make sure the current leader does not keep their title for long. After all, you can’t be a ruler if you’re dead.

Abilities: As a gnome, you can ad two points to both your Constitution and Wisdom. You must also subtract two points from your Charisma. Gnomes are stout, sturdy, and aware, but gruff and sometimes grim.
Stone Healing: When surrounded by large amounts of earth or stone (as determined by GM), you heal at double the normal rate. Meaning you regain 10 hit points per day instead of five.
Thick Skin: You gain an extra hit point per level.
Low-Light Vision: You can treat dim lighting as bright lighting.
Greedy: [needs some kind of disadvantage reflecting greed]

Tree Folk
Tree folk are a pragmatic, blunt, and militaristic race that resembles a disturbing cross between human and tree. They are tall and broad, with wickedly curved thorns, small branches, brutish features, and a twisted body made of wood and flesh in equal parts.

Female tree folk are called dryads, and have the ability to make themselves appear as attractive members of other races. Most commonly humans and elves. They often fall into corruption and play sadistic games with lost travellers; seducing them, luring them into rotting patches of blackened thorns (also under the guise of illusion), dissecting them, and amalgamating their flesh into themselves. Effectively creating eternal youth by constantly replacing flesh.

Male tree folk are over sized brutes that that act as bodyguards to the smaller, sleeker females. They have the ability to shape plants around them into tools, clothing, and even architecture though inherent magical ability.
Abilities: Female tree folk can add two points to both their Charisma and Constitution, but must remove two points from their Wisdom. Male treefolk can add two points to both their Strength and Constitution, but must remove two points from their Charisma.
Shape Shifting: If your character is female, she can make herself appear to be an attractive human, gnome, or elf for up to two hours every day. She can revert beck to her natural forms any time she wishes.
Wood Shaping: If your character is male, he can make a piece of wood harder and twist into the shape of any non-magical weapon, non-magical suit of armor, piece of non-magical equipment, or simple piece of mundane architecture once per day. The wood used must be at least equal to - but no more than twice - the weight and mass of the object created, and can weight no more than 100 times the level of the tree folk shaping it.
Thick Bark: You gain a +2 bonus to Weapon Defence.
Flammable: Fire damage has double effect on you.

2011-07-20, 10:37 AM
most notably American McGee's Alice, and its squeal.
I believe you mean "sequel".

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-20, 11:21 AM
I believe you mean "sequel".

To be fair, I did type that on my ereader, which hs a trrible keyboard, and no spellhecker.

2011-07-21, 05:46 PM
I believe you mean "sequel".
To be fair, 'squeal' adequately describes the noise of delight I made when I learnt they were making a sequel.

2011-07-21, 05:52 PM
I enjoy the fluff of this very much, and what little mechanics I'm seeing appear to be solid so far.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-22, 12:00 AM
I made some major updates and aditions which I will post tommorow. Cant now I'm on my ereader.

2011-07-22, 12:13 AM
A male tree folk is probably known as a hamadryad. You also have some fragmented sentences and other grammar mistakes which are bugging me to no end. Of note would be the descriptor of the dryad's eternal youth. A better way to phrase it might be 'Effectively, they grant themselves eternal youth through the constant replacement of their flesh' or something like that.

However, I do like the setting a lot. Elves being fae rejects is interesting, and the gnomes are great.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-22, 11:59 AM
I just made major changes to the opening story, re-wrote the gnome race to be completely different, got ride of humans, changed the character creation rules, and made minor adjustments everywhere.

What do you think?

2011-07-22, 02:09 PM
The new gnomes need something other than a Wisdom bonus-Intelligence, perhaps? They don't seem like the most insightful beings, instead being rather focused on their greed. It also is bugging me how one-dimensional these new gnomes seem to be. Why are they all universally so greedy? Were they cursed? Or is greed merely one of their facets?

A changeling race might be useful and interesting, and though you have removed humans, I still see a need for a surface-dwelling race of some sort or another.

2011-07-22, 02:33 PM
Shouldn't you think of a character concept after you roll the stats?

You may have to revise your idea of a cunning mage after you roll a one and end up with seven intelligence. :smallconfused:

Kuma Da
2011-07-22, 02:44 PM
This looks promising. The big trick is to keep it from blazing the same trail as Grimm (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/9/9927.phtml) or Lamentations of the Flame Princess (http://www.lotfp.com/RPG/products/lotfp-weird-fantasy-role-playing). What you have up so far feels--quite appropriately--like a d20 port of a nice, cozy subgenre. It does feel like it has the trappings of heroic fantasy clinging to it heavily, but that is what the d20 system is designed to promote.

If you're looking for more inspiration, try watching Pan's Labyrinth. I think it's channeling the same feel.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-22, 02:56 PM
Soon I'll do more gnome revisions. I also have a changeling race on the way.

I'm working on classes and a combat system, but I won't post either until I have something coherent.

2011-07-22, 10:15 PM
I'm begging you to name the plane "Babel," after the infinite library of every possible book depicted in the Jorge Luis Borges short story, "The Library of Babel" (okay well technically I think it was more like "La Biblioteka del Babel," or something, because it was originally written in Spanish).

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-07-29, 01:16 PM
I have made a little article previewing a piece of the setting, and the stat-block format. None of the crunch is carved in stone, and the very structure is likely to change.

It can be found HERE (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B3MEe0ezRIy8ODY2NGY5MGItZWJkMS00YjFkLTg5ODc tOGFhZDJmMmY0OGIw&hl=en_US). Please alert me if the link does not work.

I, Josha Petronis-Akins, wrote most of the descriptions and stats, but my friend Cody came up with the concept and is working on art to accompany it.