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Cactus Wine - a piece from September 2016

100 Misfortunes on the Road #UVG (post 56)

This is an excerpt and remix of rules from the Ultraviolet Grasslands. My patreon-supported psychedelic metal space rock steppe crawl rpg thing. I know, I know. I slightly change the description every time. Bear with me, it’s too long to remember! Confusingly, I first posted it on the other WizardThiefFighter blog.

You can get a free 78-page introduction to the UVG here.

A key design goal of the Ultraviolet Grasslands is to make a rule-and-content kit for running a really long-distance RPG adventure. I’m talking transcontinental distances. A large part of that involves adjusting time (weeks) and supplies (simplified) to make long distances feasible. Another part is borrowing from games like Oregon Trail (or more recently, Death Road to Canada), to make the dangers of long journeys in horrible conditions more tangible for the heroes.

Thus: Misfortune.

I use Charisma as a proxy for luck (and divine providence) and use weekly Charisma checks or saves against relatively easy target numbers (DCs) to see who gets in what trouble. I also warn players in advance that this kind of shit will happen in the adventure. If they take precautions, buy extra supplies, and generally take wilderness travel seriously, I let them use their survival skills to help their roll.

Suggestion: Let each character save individually, then roll for a single misfortune for the whole group. Imagine the joy of half the party clumsily wandering into a cactus patch to relieve themselves during the night. Thanks to Frotz Self and David Shugars for the suggestion.

Here is a compilation of 100 misfortunes from the Ultraviolet grasslands.
  1. The hero caught sight of the Face of Death. Their body is translated into a salty burn shadow and a flickering soul-echo of their existence remains suspended in the air. Nothing short of a Wishful Dream or Wish can restore them, for their human essence has been ripped into the shreds of the Ignored Tower’s distortion. Singed possessions and belongings remain, tossed as by a grim tide.
  2. Got the runny blues, a depressive digestive disorder (-1d6 Dex and Con).
  3. Picked up tendril tapeworms.
  4. Got an infected sore on the muddy road.
  5. Pick-pocket attack, lost something precious.
  6. Fell in love with a swamp wisp.
  7. Nice shoes ruined in a deceptive bog.
  8. Luckless character sprains an ankle (+1 day).
  9. Lose 1 slot of supplies to a sharp-toothed rodent pack.
  10. Catch a rattling cough. Noisy, but harmless. A patent medicine (5 cash) should cure it.
  11. Bitten by a scorpion spider trying to make a home in a smelly boot (poison, Con save DC 3d6, disadvantage on physical checks for Δ6 days).
  12. Unfortunate hero sprains shoulder (+1 day).
  13. Lose a beast to a pack of wild dogs.
  14. Get a bladder infection (-1d4 Str).
  15. Infested with ash-lice (-1d4 Wis).
  16. Metal armor has rusted (-1 AC bonus).
  17. Red eye from the irritating dust (-1d4 Dex).
  18. Preventable with proper eyewear.
  19. Horrible blisters (limping).
  20. Beast found with seventeen two-inch cubes cut out of its flesh, it is severely weakened (+2 days or leave it behind).
  21. Nasty nettle burns (-1d4 Dex).
  22. Sat in an ant nest (-1d4 Cha).
  23. Ripped pants on some cinder slag.
  24. Infected cut on hand from sharp shard (-1d4 hp).
  25. Δ4 supplies pilfered by monkey-handed canids.
  26. Sat on a cactus (-1d4 Con).
  27. Hat blown away by sudden gust.
  28. Those pretty flowers in that garland? Totally poisonous (Con save DC 2d6), left a rash, too (-1 Cha).
  29. Ecstatically beautiful flower patch, could lose track of time here (+1 days, +50 XP, -2 Con from exposure).
  30. Biomech razorfly swarm forces everyone to hunker down. Lose 1d4 days or 2d6 hp.
  31. Mount steps into a puddle of Source and suddenly undergoes violent source code corruption.
  32. Lost in the high grass. Lose 1d4 days, roll on Misfortune and Encounter again. Also, lost a shoe to a thirsty tangle shrub.
  33. Hit in the eye by a speck of windblown biomech garbage. Ouch. -1d4 hp and -1d4 Dex. Blinded in one eye until treated by a proper medic.
  34. Infected thornstone wound. Lose 1 Con per day until healed (Cure Disease or equivalent).
  35. Lightning strike, DC 14 Dex save, 2d10 damage or lose a henchman or beast of burden.
  36. Dreadful winds slow progress, lose 1 day and DC 12 Con save or catch the dusting cough.
  37. Baking heat exhausts travelers, lose 1d4 Con.
  38. Baking heat and sweat means a bad saddle rash, lose 1d4 Dex.
  39. Slept in the soil of a radiation ghost, lose 1d6 Str.
  40. Bitten by a rabid steppe wolf, Con DC 10 save or diseased. Wis DC 15 save and three rations could get you a steppe wolf pet. Fears magic carpets.
  41. A princely toll is levied for semi-legal goods. 20% or 50 cash, whichever is more. Or fight a porcelain patrol.
  42. Sharp porcelain splinter leaves festering foot wound, slowed, lose 1d4 days.
  43. Lightning strike throws up biomantic spores, Con DC 2d6+2 or diseased. Mutations possible.
  44. Massive static field raises glowing dusts, that bring bad coughs and sleep deprivation, lose 1d6 Con.
  45. Bad cinder storm sends sharp debris flying, lose 1 day or 1d6 hp.
  46. Tiny poison golem in boot, can be trained. Poison DC 3d6, requires refill after each attack. Quite stupid.
  47. 1d4 supplies worth of water lost to a freak desiccating gust incident.
  48. Shard of the Dark Mirror lodged in one eye, letting the hero always see the worst in people. Sort of like a permanent Detect nastiness ability that won’t turn off. Curse removal recommended.
  49. Booming rust storm flenses caravan and leaves ringing in the ears. Lose 1d4 days.
  50. 1d6 pieces of metal equipment rust beyond use. Even magical items rust in this area.
  51. Stumble and cut self on the weathered grave of a machine folk hero, taking 1d8 damage from an ancient weapon. The grave contains porcelain eyes worth 1d6 x 100 cash and a magic, un-rusting weapon. It has no other power. It just never rusts.
  52. Nasty concussion from walking head-down into an unexpected arch of salt (Lose 1d6 hp and 1d6 Intelligence).
  53. Broken leg from stumbling over a scree pile. Still, better than looking on the Face of Death (Lose 1d8 and 1d6 Str and Dex).
  54. Pack animal caught in the gaze of the Face of Death. It’s gone now, all the goods it carried singed, but still about half-salvageable.
  55. Thick haze-storm obscures the Face of Death, making travel easier, though the smog plays havoc on the lungs (Gain 1d4 days, but lose 1d4 hp).
  56. Strap, belt, thong, shoe-lace or other tie snaps at the worst moment, and in the fall a fragile object breaks. If the hero has no fragile objects, then they packed well and get through intact.
  57. Horrible, bloody blisters (limping and -1d4 hp). Could get infected.
  58. Picked up lenticular worms. Great.
  59. Lit a campfire on top of an enormous deposit of methane-rich ‘deposits’ left by some gargantuan herbivore (Dex DC 2d10 or lose 1d10 hp),
  60. Found a wonderful little oasis, full of delicious fish and black light lotus (+1d4 Cha for a week, get a week’s worth of rest, lose 1d6 days).
  61. A spell or memory disappears into the dead land (lose one known spell or skill permanently, or until a Restoration is used).
  62. Dry, flaky rash strikes hard (-1d4 Charisma).
  63. 1d4 slots of supplies lost to the dust.
  64. Chitin-cap spores infected a steed, laming it.
  65. Lost in the dull, repetitive land. Have you walked past that abandoned village before? Maybe? (-1d4 days).
  66. Rested in a peaceful farming village, but it turned out to be a ghostly echo of the Times of the Liberated Serf Dictatorship (lose 1 day and 1d4 supplies).
  67. Water runs out in the empty land (-2 supplies).
  68. Sudden snow storm (-1d4+1 days).
  69. Swarming blood-sucking flies (-1 Con).
  70. Abandoned rodent warren snaps a steed’s leg. Oops.
  71. Restful grove with beautiful spring. Oh, wait, the spring water was contaminated with the effluvia of Ultra ghosts (lose 1 day and 1 supplies in a hallucinated fug).
  72. A random weapon or armor fell off the danged pack animal. Back over there. Somewhere. It’s gone now in the sea of grass.
  73. Fell through an eroded shell midden into a subterranean cavern (-1d4 supplies or lose 1d6 Dex and Con).
  74. Unexpected hailstorm (-1 days or -1d4 hp).
  75. Soporific pine trees put party to sleep (-1d3 days).
  76. A beast of burden wanders off (lose beast or -1 day to retrieve it).
  77. Caught a nasty cold (sniffling and sneezing for 1d6 days).
  78. Cash pilfered by a tribe of uplifted, greedy prairie dogs (-1d100 cash).
  79. Attacked by blood-draining vampire grass in the night (-1d8 hp).
  80. Harsh, stiff winds make progress slow (-1d4 days).
  81. Mechanical or magical device breaks down from the odd electromagical fields.
  82. Carnivorous grasses entangle a beast in the night (lose beast or 1d4 supplies).
  83. Got a nasty infection from a sharp sedge cut (-1d4 Con).
  84. Camped on a nasty ant mound (lose 1d4 hp).
  85. Swept away by a flash flood, throw away up to six posessions and roll d6. If you roll equal to or below the number of discarded possessions you wash up 1d4 days away, unhurt. If you roll over, you drown.
  86. Struck by lightning, lose half hit points and one metal item is destroyed.
  87. Pack animal sickens in the light of the Near Moon and begins to show lycanthropic tendencies. Lose 1d4 days treating animal, or lose the animal.
  88. Catch a nasty cold from the icy waters (lose 1d4 Con).
  89. Supplies get wet (lose 1d4 supplies).
  90. One of your rings was actually magical and it slips away from your finger as you are crossing, to be found years later by a fisher-dwarf named Smehol. But that is another story.
  91. Nauseated by the odd tides (lose 1d6 Con and Wis).
  92. Lost your cloak and hat to a freak wind.
  93. Fell into a bog and caught a cold (sneezing), also ruined a fine silk kerchief, if you have one.
  94. Acquired a fantastic belief that you are a lycanthrope and require raw, bloody meat to feed your inner beast. This passes once you are out of sight of the moon.
  95. Torn waterskins (lose 1 supply) and horribly bitten by bugs in the night (lose 1d4 Dex).
  96. Flash flood washes away 1d4 beasts (or people if the beasts run out). Saving a beast requires a Str DC 15 check (or related skill). Fail the check badly enough and the hero might be pulled in too. Same DC.
  97. Muddy bog and ravines wash out trail, forcing a detour that wastes 1d4 days.
  98. Bad sunburn from the violet rays (lose 1d6 hp).
  99. Wind blows away one book, map, scroll, or other inconvenient parchment.
  100. Supplies soaked while crossing an unexpectedly rough ford (lose 1d4 supplies).

If you like this kind of content, or if you like my art, or if you feel like just dropping a dollar or two my way for some odd post-euclidean reason, I will greatly appreciate it. On my patreon I release a block of UVG content almost monthly, and Patreons will also get a free, polished and properly laid out .pdf copy of it once it is completed. Hopefully in about 4–6 more releases.

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