5e – Warlock Pact – The Grey Lady (and Associated Eldritch Invocations)

The Grey Lady

You have made your pact with one of the Grey Ladies, the Keepers of Magic. These beings are wise and mysterious, known for a lack of concern for mortal ethics and morals. They hew fiercely to women, rarely accepting men into Their service, and concern themselves with all things arcane and magical. The Grey Lady could be anyone from Lady Night, the Mother of the Heptarchy, to Lilith, the First Woman, to Hecate, the Goddess of the Crossroads, or any number of other powerful beings with similar interests.


Expanded Spell List

The Grey Lady allows you to choose from an expanded spell list when you learn Warlock spells. The following spells are added to the Warlock spell list for you.

  • 1st Level: Magic Missile, Shield
  • 2nd Level: Arcane Lock, Knock
  • 3rd Level: Glyph of Warding, Protection from Energy
  • 4th Level: Confusion, Polymorph
  • 5th Level: Teleportation Circle, Wall of Force

Arcane Sight

At 1st Level the Warlock is granted the ability to see the patterns of arcane force and magic in the world. The effect is that they may use Detect Magic as a Reaction and Identify spell as an Action (which also requires Concentration).

Aura of Power

Upon reaching 6th Level the Warlock can evoke an Aura of Power with a radius of 20 feet as a Standard Action. Glowing runes appear wherever the Aura interesects objects and the Aura acts in all ways as the Magic Circle spell. The feature may not be used again until after a Long Rest.

Arcane Spirit

At 10th Level the Warlock is Immune to Force damage, and is actually healed for half the hit points of damage it would caused.


Upon reaching 14th Level the Warlock may, without Concentration, paralyze a number of humanoids if they fail a Wisdom Saving Throw in a manner otherwise identical to the Hold Person spell. The ability may not be used again until after a Short Rest.


Associated Eldritch Invocations


(Prerequisite: 5th Level, The Grey Lady Patron)

The Warlock may, as an Action, Reaction, or Bonus Action cast Counterspell. This ability may not be used again until after a Short or Long Rest.


(Prerequisite: 9th Level, The Grey Lady Patron)

The Warlock may, as a Standard Action, with Concentration, cast a spell not currently known to them, but of a level that they may normally cast. If the spell is not is not a Warlock spell it also damages them for 1d4 Hit Points per level of the spell and causes one level of Exhaustion. This ability may not be used again until after a Long Rest and any levels of Exhaustion have been removed.


(Prerequisite: 15th Level, The Grey Lady Patron)

The Warlock has Advantage on spell attacks that target them directly (not Area of Effect spells). In addition, if a 20+ is rolled for the save and the spell is 7th level or lower, the spell has no effect on the character and instead targets the caster, using the slot level, spell save DC, attack bonus, and spellcasting ability of the caster.

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5e – Prestige Class – Luminous Order

There was about fifteen years where I wasn’t running D&D for my fantasy campaign world, instead I was running my own home-brew rules. Now, much of what came out in that time-frame was dreck and did nothing to convince me that I was missing anything, but there were a number of modules that were interesting and had a lot of potential. When I came back to 1E AD&D before I started running 5E D&D, I ran a handful of modules and one that I was setting up was The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde. It had something that I had no way to model exactly in AD&D (so I did it as more of an “extra” – that is pretty easy in AD&D), but with 5E they actually released rules for a Prestige Class, so I’ve decided to write-up my version of the “Solar Channeler” because I always thought it was kind of a neat idea and it fits my game world pretty nicely.

The Luminous Order

An ancient and mystical fraternity with roots that are said to predate even the Society of Light, and may be the original form of the current Lightbearers of the Church of the Lords of Light. The Luminous Order consists of individuals who have been chosen by the Angelic Host, to acts as channels for the Light and even to act as a kind of vessel for a member of the Host when needed.

The Luminous Order

  • 1st Level – Channel Divinity (+1/Rest), Healing Touch, Divine Spellcasting
  • 2nd Level – Summon Sword of Light, Greatsword Mastery
  • 3rd Level – Channel the Host
  • 4th Level – Channel Divinity (+2/Rest), Wisdom Score Improvement
  • 5th Level – Greater Channel the Host


  • Be a member of the Society of Light
  • Of Good Alignment
  • Be at least 5th Level in a Divine Spellcasting Class
  • Have both a Wisdom and a Constitution of 16+

Class Features:

  • Hit Dice are 1d8 per level
  • Proficiency in Greatsword

Channel Divinity

The character gains an additional use of their Channel Divinity ability between rests, at the 4th Level of the Luminous Order this become two additional uses.

Healing Touch

The character may use their Channel Divinity ability to touch any living creature and cure them of 4d8+2 Hit Points of damage, as well as freeing them from any curse, disease, poison, blindness, or deafness.

Divine Spellcasting

The character continues to gain spellcasting levels, as a full spellcaster, for the purposes of multi-classing, as long as they are a Divine Spellcaster. Clerics essentially continue their spellcasting levels as normal while Paladins potentially gain a small boost in available spell levels. Mages, Warlocks, Bards and Sorcerers (with the exception of those with the Celestial Patron) cannot gain this benefit, nor could Eldritch Knights or Arcane Tricksters. Only the rare Druids and somewhat more common Rangers that belong to the Society of Light would gain this benefit.

Summon Sword of Light

The character may, with the use of a Channel Divinity ability, summon a magical greatsword that they may wield with Advantage. It does 2d6 Slashing Damage plus 3d8 Radiant damage with each successful strike and counts as a magical weapon, and has the Finesse quality. The greatsword radiates Bright Light in a 30′ radius, and Dim Light for another 30′ beyond that. The greatsword lasts for one round per level of the character or until it is voluntarily released from the characters grasp.

Greatsword Mastery

When using a Greatsword, the character may re-roll any 1’s or 2’s rolled on damage dice, may immediately make another Attack as a Bonus Action upon making either a Critical Strike or reducing a target to zero Hit Points, and may choose to take a -5 to the roll in exchange for a +10 to the damage roll if it hits.

Channel the Host

Perhaps the signature feature of the Luminous Order, the character may use their Channel Divinity ability to act as a temporary vessel for a member of the Angelic Host. This is a choice fraught with some peril because the character loses access to their equipment and normal class features while doing so, buts access to a potent set of abilities otherwise. They gain the following abilities:

  • Aura of Life and Vitality: All non-hostile creatures within 30 feet of the character (including the character) have Resistance to Necrotic energy, and their Hit Point maximum cannot be reduced. Any non-hostile, living creature regains 1 Hit Point when it starts it’s round within the aura, and the character may use their Bonus Action to heal one creature within the aura for 2d6 Hit Points of damage.
  • Luminous Resistance: The character has Advantage on all Saving Throws, as well as Resistance to Radiant damage and damage from all non-magical weapons (Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning). The character is Immune to Charm, Exhaustion, Fright, Disease, and Poison.
  • Greatsword Mastery as the Luminous Order class feature
  • Summon Sword of Light – While similar to the regular class feature for the Luminous Order, when Channeling the Host it has greater potency, and the character may Multiattack for 2 Attacks each round with it. It becomes Versatile, doing the same damage no matter if used one or two-handed.
    • At 3rd Level the Sword is +6 to Strike and Damage, does 2d8 Slashing damage and 4d8 Radiant damage, and does a Critical Strike on a 19-20.
    • At 4th Level the Sword is +8 to Strike and Damage, does 3d8 Slashing damage, 5d8 Radiant damage, and does a Critical Strike on a 18-20
    • At 5th Level the Sword is +10 to Strike and Damage, does 4d8 Slashing damage, and 6d8 Radiant damage, and does a Critical Strike on a 17-20
  • Angelic Form – While channeling, the character takes on a angelic aspect, growing in stature, with the wings, robes, and halo of one of the Host – though still discernable (with effort) as themselves through the Light that suffuses them. They are considered Large for the purposes of Grappling.
    • This lasts for 1 Round per point of Wisdom Modifier
    • At 3rd Level the character has an Armor Class of 17, +4 Temporary Hit Points per Hit Die, a Speed of 30, and may Fly 90′ per round.
    • At 4th Level the character has an Armor Class of 19, +6 Temporary Hit Points per Hit Die, a Speed of 40,  and may Fly 120′ per round.
    • At 5th Level the character has an Armor Class of 21, +8 Temporary Hit Points per Hit Die, a Speed of 50,  and may Fly 150′ per round.
  • This feature may not be used again until after a Long Rest.

Wisdom Score Improvement

This increases the characters Wisdom Score by +2, up to a maximum of 22.

Greater Channel the Host

The duration of the Channeling increases to 1 minute per point of Wisdom modifier.

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A Letter to Frater Nikolai


I trust this letter finds you well and that you have found what you needed during your time spent in contemplation. I wish that I could say that that I am sorry to be writing you, and in one way I am for I would not bother you unless there was the direst need for both your dedication and your skills. At the same time, I must admit that I happy that you will be actively bringing the Light to the world once again.

A situation in the Kingdom of Llyr has come up that requires your special insights as I am sure the following letter will explain.

You may have heard, even in your isolation of the young Lord Devin Tresendar? Well, the rumors are true, he is Touched by the Lord Sc. Michael and has been blessed with a series of miracles as he brings Light in Darkness. He and his companions have even travelled to the Shadowlands in the pursuit of a series of threads regarding a prophecy of an upcoming Age of Worms – I have arranged to have more details gathered and awaiting for you upon your arrival and this is perhaps the greatest reason for choosing you to attend to this matter.

Fighting against the Vanguard of Sertrous which seeks to bring about this coming Age, Tresendar confronted them and thwarted their plan to summon forth their long-dead commander. If this was not miracle enough he recovered the great sword Merthuvial, the Kingmaker, and confirmed as its rightful wielder.

Returning home, it became become apparent that there is old rot within the lands of his family and Tresendar discovered a cult deeply entrenched in fabric of Diamond Lake, a prominent mining town of the kingdom, and one that was part of his family lands for generations – though mismanagement and misfortune had passed control to the Consortium in his grandfather’s time. Investigating and striking quickly, Tresendar and his companions discovered a long buried fane – one older than anything that you can imagine or even guess.

Our aid was requested by Tresendar to deal with the guardianship of the fane, so I have arranged for a company of troops to be at your disposal, under your good Watch and Judgement. I also think that Lord Tresendar would benefit from some advice and counsel, as well as he has done so far he is surrounded by a curious set of companions – please see the attached letter for details.

But, the Community of the town has not only lost its leader, it has seemingly lost its way as well. The former Lightbringer of the town, one Jierian Wierus, was a fanatic and by all reports unhinged. Perhaps it was the dire influence of the cult or the close proximity of the fane, or perhaps he was simply weak, but in any case he has left the community there in dire straits with his death in the fane. While many in the town are of the Faith, the recent events have shaken them and it is important that they know that the Church has not forgotten them.

Also, given the chaos involved in the discovery of the cult, the entire leadership of the town itself is uncertain. I have dispatched this letter before word has come from the King as to how he is handling the disposal of the town.

I will commit no more to paper on this subject my friend. You must witness it for yourself. Grace in Light, Strength in Darkness.


Sancta Loren

The Most Reverend Gregorius Sc. Thiede, by the Lords of Light and Proclamation of the Sarim under the Lord Sc. Metatron, Lord High Archon and Primate of the Rite of the Congregation of Loren.

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Green Box – Storage Unit 13D

Sparked by the recent discussion – and an example of all sorts of things that can get a group into trouble, as well as an example of a “Green Box Gone Bad” – Originally Posted on Dec 14th, 2005 on the DGML. Personally, I tend to like to fill Green Boxes with all sorts of things that the players would love to use – but that will cause all sorts of trouble if they actually do.

Have Fun!


Typical in many ways, and highly untypical in another, this Green Box (Unit 13D) is found at Eagle Storage, in Aurora IL (Just off Rt. 88). It’s a 10×30 unit located on the ground level of a three-story, open-air structure. Padlocked, the key is kept in military surplus soapbox cached in the nearby Herrick Lake forest preserve in Naperville (also just off Rt. 88). Standard practice calls for the agents to be given the GPS coordinates of the key cache along with the name and location of the Storage Unit when requested. When done with the Green Box the key is to be cached in a new location (though often in a nearby location) and GPS coordinates to be communicated to A-Cell immediately.

To someone passing by the open door, the contents of the unit are innocuous. A number of boxes, some 55-Gallon drums in the back, a number of bags of various building materials. It looks rather like a building contractors storage unit (with some “personal stuff”). Everything is stacked somewhat neatly on itself, and there are number of empty wooden packing crates waiting to be filled by the investigators.

Contained in the Green Box in open sight are:

  • 3-1/2 50lb bags of Fast-set Quikrete
  • 6-1/4 80lb Bags of Salt (With a surprising amount of salt scattered around the floor of the unit.)
  • A gasoline powered, 16″ Chainsaw (stabiled and ready to start) in its case. There’s no other gas in the unit however. There are blood and bone traces in the teeth of the saw.
  • 8′ Fiberglass Ladder
  • 20′ Aluminum Extension Ladder
  • 2 Sledgehammers
  • 2 Shovels
  • 1 Pickaxe
  • 1 Woodsman Axe (with blood traces)
  • 1 Hatchet (with blood traces)
  • Folding Pruning Saw
  • 1 22″ Pruning Sheer (with blood traces)
  • 4-1/2 20lb bags of Charcoal Briquettes
  • Weber “Smoky Joe” charcoal grill (evidence of burned papers inside)
  • 4 cases of lighter fluid
  • 1 Full Bottle of Jack Daniel’s Black Label with a scrawled note attached – “Buy a new one before you leave.” There are 11 empty bottles scattered about the unit, including one that has been used as an ashtray.
  • A spare tire for a late model Ford Mercury
  • 3 Road flares
  • A Bundle of 30 stakes – examination reveals that they are made of White Ash
  • An unopened carton of Gauloises
  • 1 Prybar
  • A single man Battering Ram – well used.
  • 3 20′ lengths of Grade 80 Chain
  • Half-a-dozen padlocks with keys
  • 1.5 Ton Auto Jack
  • 3 30-lb Propane tanks (filled)
  • 2 5-lb bags of soda lye
  • 1 5-gallon Tub of Roofing tar

In the storage crates (Generally under the empty crates);

  • 2 Model 37 Ithaca Stakeout Shotguns (12-Gauge) – unloaded
  • .50 Desert Eagle Pistol with two clips – unloaded
  • .455 Webley Revolver (Not in great shape but still useable, obvious antique)
  • 4 Daewoo USAS-12 Selective Fire Shotguns – each with 2 clips and 1 drum – unloaded
  • 2 Ingram Mac-10’s, each with an extra clip. (These need to be cleaned before use or there is x4 the normal chance for an accident)
  • Reloading equipment for 12-Gauge Shotgun shells. Unfortunately there’s no powder or primers left. Otherwise enough gear to do about 20 shells or so.
  • 17 12-Gauge Shells – Loaded with Sea Salt, Silver, and Cold Iron.
  • 20 Boxes 12-Gauge Shotgun (lead shot) (25 rounds each box)
  • 10 Boxes of 9mm Ammunition (50 rounds each box)
  • 10 Boxes of .50 Caliber Ammunition (20 rounds each box)
  • 5 Cases of .45 Caliber Ammunition (500 rounds each case)
  • 2 empty clips for a Colt 1911A1 .45
  • 5 lb. bag of Sea Salt
  • A 1-lb Block of Semtex – but no other detonating hardware.
  • An old Latin Bible with a blessed Silver and Ivory Rosary marking the start of Revelations – as an antique worth over $200 – It’s also a Magic Point Storage device with 3 points (out of a possible 10) only usable by a baptized Catholic who is in good standing (e.g. Regular confession, penance, etc). The bible itself has numerous notes in the margins throughout with various sections underlined, crossed out, etc. The various annotations provides the reader with a (3 weeks, +0/+1 Unnatural, +1 Occult, 1d3 San cost – Mythos Rating: 3 – Must Read Latin, French, and German – No spells)
  • An old set of Tibetan Buddhist religious objects. A phurba (ritual knife, three bladed knife), mala (prayer beads) of miniature bone skulls (108 “carved” skulls, close examination suggests that these are actually skulls that have been shrunken somehow; 0/1 San), a kangling (bone trumpet made from a human thigh bone which has been tightly fitted with leather, and the metal encasing has been enhanced by a turquoise), and kapala (A cup made from the top of human skull and lined with silver, and fitted with a ruby in the base of the cup). Antique and worth thousands, these are piled in a bottom crate. No obvious special abilities, save perhaps in the hands of a Tibetan priest or servant of one of the Dharmapalas. As long as they remain unclaimed and remain here in storage they are safe and relatively innocuous, but if a player character takes them without the proper magical “credentials” then they will be plagued by bad dreams and worse luck until they are returned to the proper Tibetan caretakers.
  • A small canvas bank-bag filled with some number of soft and flat things that appear to be scraps of fabric. In the crate next to it is skinning knife/gut hook that has traces of blood on it. Scrawled in marker on the bag is “Don’t Fucking Look!!” (Inside are 39 scraps of human skin, each tattooed with the Yellow Sign – there is evidence that attempts have been made to burn them with no success. They are indestructible, and this fact will net an additional 1/1-2 San loss in addition to seeing any of the various Yellow Signs)
  • 2 6×6 “Bomb Blankets” – Level III-A in Black
  • 3 Class II Tactical Armor Vests (2 Medium, 1 Large) in Black – shot to hell, the large is scored by huge claw marks and blood stains.
  • 1 Class II Concealable Vest with Level IV Rifle Plates (Woman’s Medium) – shot to hell
  • 4 400 Ft. lengths of 2000lb test Nylon climbing rope.
  • 4 sets of rappelling gear, each with harness
  • 1 Roll of 60′ of Nylon Webbing, plus nylon thread and needle
  • 7 MREs, and a case of C-Rations (12) – the canned fruit has been removed from all the C-Rats.
  • 3 Garbage bags, each filled with a mostly shattered human skeleton
  • Collection of 37 dried human ears (all left) on a string necklace
  • Human skull with elongated canines – Red marker on the side says “Van Helsing was here” with a smiley face next to it.
  • 3 sets of cast iron manacles (ankle, wrist, and neck) – these are quite old and somewhat rusty. There are layers upon layers of blood and old skin on the inside of all of them.
  • 40 or so different adult magazines – all from September 2001. These have all been annotated in an unknown code (actually it’s Hyperborean Tsath-Yo) – the notes are all detailing out the suitability of the various models (male and female) as breeding and host material (0/1 San if understood)

Finally there are the 7 55-gallon drums up on pallets in the back. This when things go seriously wrong with a Green Box, perhaps not as bad as possible, but bad enough. The two front drums are empty, and easy to move around. The other five have been crudely sealed with duct tape and roofing tar, and a sheet of plywood laid across their top. Spray-painted across the sheet is “Human Waste Disposal – Don’t Open!!”

No it’s not that kind of waste – it’s the kind that you’ve chopped up (or chainsawed, pruned, etc) and then dumped in a drum with some lye. Is it perfect? No. Is it even a good idea? Probably not.

But somebody did it, actually a couple of different Cells have done it.

The big problem is that one of the bodies wasn’t really dead yet. The first one as a matter of fact – one that wasn’t actually chopped up, just stuck in a drum and forgotten about. Sure the heart had stopped beating, the brain activity was gone, but the spirit hadn’t quite left yet (those damn Mythos sorcerers – life and death aren’t quite the same for them). As each subsequent body has been “interred” here it’s gained strength (1 point of Power per body in case the Agents add a couple themselves – though that takes about 6 months – 5 points in CoC 7E) Since the last mission, the Spirit has been waiting for someone to open one of the drums in which its various remains have been stored. Then it will come roaring out of all five drums in all its gory glory, a mass of dissolved and rotting arms, heads and teeth stinking of lye and bile…


Delta Green RPG Statistics:

Unquiet Spirit:

STR:12, CON:12, SIZ:30, INT:10, POW:9, DEX:15

HP:21 WP: 9

Damage Bonus: +2d6, Move:4

Gets 5 Attacks each round:

Strike (50%)- Does 2d6 + 1d6 Acidic damage.

Grapple (80%)- Can attack 1-2 Opponents per round, though it only does 1d6 Acidic Damage.

Envelope (100%)- Only after a successful grapple, it draws the Agent into itself doing 2d6 (Damage Bonus) + 2d6 (Lye and Biting/Grinding).

Spit (70%)- Does 1d6 Caustic Lye damage.

Immune to physical weapons, fire, electricity, and most chemical compounds.

Takes 1d6 damage per pound of salt. Shotgun loads of salt will do 1HP of damage.

In all cases there is a 1% cumulative chance per point of Acidic/Lye damage that the creature struck will lose a point of APP.

Sanity Loss: 1d2/1d10

At 10 Pow the Spirit will be able to start contacting nearby creatures and infecting their dreams, slowly corrupting them into the worship of the Mythos. At a Pow of 20 it will be able to possess creatures.


Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Statistics:

Unquiet Spirit:

STR:60, CON:60, SIZ:150, INT:50, POW:45, DEX:75

Hit Points:21

Damage Bonus: +2d6, Move:4

Gets 5 Attacks each round:

Strike (50%)- Does 2d6 + 1d6 Acidic damage.

Grapple (80%)- Can attack 1-2 Opponents per round, though it only does 1d6 Acidic Damage.

Envelope (100%)- Only after a successful grapple, it draws the Agent into itself doing 2d6 (Damage Bonus) + 2d6 (Lye and Biting/Grinding).

Spit (70%)- Does 1d6 Caustic Lye damage.

Immune to physical weapons, fire, electricity, and most chemical compounds.

Takes 1d6 damage per pound of salt. Shotgun loads of salt will do 1HP of damage.

In all cases there is a 1% cumulative chance per point of Acidic/Lye damage that the creature struck will lose a 1d10 points of APP.

Sanity Loss: 1d2/1d10

At 50 Pow the Spirit will be able to start contacting nearby creatures and infecting their dreams, slowly corrupting them into the worship of the Mythos. At a Pow of 20 it will be able to possess creatures.


Have fun!

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Insanity = New Backstory

So, in the new, 7E, rules for Call of Cthulhu, when an Investigator goes insane the Keeper is allowed to add or tweak existing Backstory entries save for their Key/Favored Connection which is “safe.” This is supposed to represent the world slowly spinning out of control for the Investigators and them having to increasingly question the reality that they knew once but have now had shaken considerably.

So last game session we had three characters go insane, two temporarily and one indefinitely (which is not nearly as bad as it used to be but is still pretty crippling). Let’s look at what I did with these three characters.

All of the characters went insane as a result of aftermath of a fight with what Ophelia later determined to be an “Opener of the Ways” after reading Walter Corbitt’s diaries. None were particularly bothered by the Opener itself, but seeing (or experiencing) what happened to Helen was evidently quite traumatic. I wanted to tie this to some off-screen character background/development that I have in mind for all of them if possible, and I think it went pretty well.

For Luigi, as an honorable man, I merely noted that Henry was now an Important Person because he saved Luigi’s life. There is a debt there now of a sort, and it gives Luigi a reason to keep working with the group when the initial mystery is resolved. Watching Helen almost die was a clear reminder of how dangerous things are, and how things could have gone if Henry hadn’t been there – as well as how effective Henry had been while he had been able to do little.

In Henry’s case, there is something much more mysterious. Looking at what happened to Helen (or almost happened), he is now unable to ignore the large Y-shaped scar that dominates and view of his uncovered chest. He is really unable to remember where it comes from, that’s how much he doesn’t like to think about it, but he guesses that it happened in France during the Great War.

For Helen, she would have likely died if she hadn’t spent all of her Luck in order to prevent this (ala the Pulp Cthulhu rules). With horrific wounds in her torso, the viscera and ichor of the Opener of the Ways covered her and mingled with her own blood and viscera. In her Encounters with Strange Entities the following entry was added – “The Opener of the Way, it killed me, but I passed through it, and it through me, and I did not die.”

Waking shortly after surviving she went indefinitely insane to the feeling of fraying from the inside out, and the party was forced to hold her down before she ripped open her out abdomen in order to reach inside her own body to hold herself together.

All in all, three quite well thought through effects on the various character’s backstory. None are crippling, and all lead to further questions or investigations.



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Pushing Rolls in 7E

So I was listening to the Chaosium Call of Cthulhu panel from GenCon and they had a really interesting insight into the “pushing rolls” mechanic from 7E.

Mechanically, for non-combat rolls only, players have the option to “push a roll” when they fail the initial attempt. The player has to justify how they either continue the first attempt or get a second try, but the penalty is that if the pushed attempt fails then something bad happens.

The panel pointed out that the “something bad” was a method to “increase the horror” not merely inflict a failure or a fumble.

I really like this as it actually makes it even easier to understand the mechanic, and gives me (the Keeper) an easier tool to make this specific to individual Investigators.


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Delta Green the RPG

So, I took some time over the last couple of days to look over the new Delta Green RPG (as opposed to the old Delta Green setting for Call of Cthulhu). It is important to note that the rules are backwards compatible with the BRP engine of Call of Cthulhu 6E and previous and probably adaptable to 7E with a minimum of fuss.

(In other news, it looks like at least one of the old Pagan Pubishing campaigns, Coming Full Circle, is going to finally be coming to PDF and POD, good for them! I have my own dead tree copy, but it is a fantastic campaign and well worth picking up. It’s good that they finally convinced Crowe to relax about electronic media, and maybe wel” see some more back catalog content in the future.)

I’ve had the PDF for awhile now, but I have found that reading and digesting rules for me really requires a physical book for me to hold in my hands. I just find it easy to navigate and flip back and forth.

I like the lethality rating for powerful weapons, it seems like an elegant solution. I also like Breakpoints and Sanity rather than old BRP method of having to figure out 20% on a semi-regular basis. I like the idea of Bonds, and suspect that it will work well, but that is something I’ll have to see in practice during play. Similar to CoC 7E I really like the more abstracted method for handling money and equipment.

I really like the rules for experience. Fail a roll, make a check, then at the noted time increase the skill by one. Much, much less fiddly than the classic BRP method. I wonder if it doesn’t lead to inflated skill levels but I expect that it doesn’t – or that characters aren’t meant to survive long enough for it to matter. That particular attitude is one that I wince at, but I understand that the Paganistas have a definitive vision of how DG is supposed to be played.

Honestly, probably my biggest complaint is that the release schedule is such that I really have no idea when I can expect to see the Case Officer’s Handbook – the matching GM’s book to the current Agent’s (aka Investigator) Handbook. Yes, it’s kind of a whiny complaint, but currently I have no idea of how magic has changed, what sort of stats a creature should have (other than some extrapolation forward from 6E and some of that seems iffy), and well, I hate running games without the GM’s guide.

I really hope that this doesn’t hurt sales, but given that most people buying this are probably already DG fans, they can probably make it work. Since I’m running 7E right now it’s less of an issue, but I look forward to running it at some point in the future.


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And, in a more modern vein…


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Sanity Loss in a Pulp Game

One of the biggest threats, existential or otherwise, when playing Call of Cthulhu is the ever-present and slow draining away of Sanity. The lower it gets, the faster it goes. While the 7e rules have introduced some methods for alleviating this (Getting Used to the Awfulness and Mythos Hardening) I had always had a couple of tweaked methods for dropping Sanity loss a bit further but keeping “big things bad” while allowing those players who wanted to become sorcerers some additional buffer against the inevitable.

Keeping with the simplified skills listing of 7e, I’ve actually simplified this a great deal and I like it even more. It is based on three skills, one of which I use in conjunction with the Mystical Talents. So as follows:

  • Cthulhu Mythos or Unnatural: Divide the skill level by ten, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Cthulhu Mythos skill level of 34 becomes 3.4, rounded to 3, the character has a -3 to all Sanity losses.
  • Occult: Divide the skill level by twenty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Occult skill level of 82 becomes 4.1, rounded to 4, the character has a -4 to all Sanity losses.
  • Meditation: Divide the skill level by thirty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Meditation skill level of 69 becomes 2.3, rounded to 2, the character has a -2 to all Sanity losses.

A character with all of those skills would have a -9 to all Sanity losses, meaning that they could interact with most minor Mythos creatures and toss off a great many of the spells with no effect. That said, they still have the potential lose Sanity from the greater threats, and in an interesting statistical twist are (when they do lose Sanity from those threats) are actually a little bit more likely to go temporarily insane as a result.

The Meditation skill is basically combination of “mental fortitude” skill as well as what I tend to use as a “psychic powers” skill use skill. In the Old Delta Green supplement Countdown the psychic powers were all individual skills for the most part, I actually like the Pulp Cthulhu version of them as abilities instead. It is less mess in the skill section of the character sheet and allows me as the Keeper to play more fast and lose with how much any use will cost or how it works.

Clearly this sort of rule doesn’t for everyone or for all sorts of campaigns, but I’ve found that it really isn’t that unbalancing and does a good job of allowing people to play the sorts of characters that they are trying to.



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Revised Pulp Cthulhu Talents and Traits

So, I had mentioned that I was not entirely sure about how Pulp Cthulhu handled Talents and Traits. While some of them were ok, some of them weren’t – most often because they seemed very dedicated to limiting the power of the PC’s (which, honestly, seems pointless in Call of Cthuhu for obvious reasons). In any case I took the list, reorganized it some, and reworked it, adding a selection of things from my previous Pulp homebrew. I also ncluded the effects of both Wartime Service and Medical Career (Detached), Criminal History (Callous), and Mythos Hardened (Hardened) as Mental Traits.

I’m sure I’ll think of others over time and add them, but here’s the start, and it’s what I’ve used with the current characters in the game.

Physical Talents and Traits:

  • Herculean – The character has a Bonus die for Strength tests.
  • Agile – The character has a Bonus die for Dex tests.
  • Eagle-Eyed – The character has a Bonus die for Spot Hidden tests.
  • Quick Healer – The characters Natural Healing in increased to +3 Hit Points per day.
  • Sneaky – Character gains a Bonus die for Stealth tests. They are also able to make two attacks when Hidden rather than one.
  • Night Vision – The character has reduces the difficulty level of Spot Hidden rolls in darkness and ignore penalty die for shooting in the dark.
  • Huge – The Character’s build is considered 1 greater for purposes of combat.
  • Hollow Leg – It takes triple the normal amount of alcohol or drugs to affect the character. They also gain a Bonus die to resist any effects.
  • Ambidextrous – Character has no penalties for two weapons.
  • Resilient – The character has a Bonus die for all Constitution tests
  • Survivor – The character Stabilizes on their own with no need for First Aid or Medicine.
  • Nimble – The character does not lose next action when “diving for cover” versus firearms and ignores differences in Build during Hand-to-Hand and Melee combat. They are never suffer from penalties when Outnumbered.
  • Greased Lightning – The character has a +50 Initiative and +1 Move bonus
  • Resilient – The character has a Bonus die for all Constitution tests

Mental Talents and Traits:

  • Genius – Character has a Bonus die for Science tests.
  • Linguist – The character has is always able to determine what human language is being spoken (or what is written); gains a Bonus die to Language tests.
  • Alert – The character has a bonus die on all Surprise tests.
  • Detached – No San loss from dead bodies or gross injury.
  • Callous – No San loss from killing or combat.
  • Hardened – Half San loss from exposure to the Unnatural
  • Photographic Memory – can remember many details; gains a bonus die when making Know rolls.
  • Speed Reader – Halve the time needed for both Initial and Full Reading of Mythos tomes and other books.
  • Handy – The character has a Bonus die for Mechanical Repair, Electrical Repair, and Operate Heavy Machinery tests

Combat Talents and Traits:

  • Dead-eye – Character has a Bonus die for Firearms & Throwing combat.
  • Gladiator – Character has a Bonus die for Fighting (Other) combat.
  • Brawler – Character has a Bonus die for Fighting (Brawl) combat.
  • Berserker – The character gains the Berserker skill which is checked simultaneously with other Combat skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Martial Arts – The character gains the Martial Arts skill which is checked simultaneously with other Combat skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Gunfighter – Does not need to have Firearm readied to gain the +50 DEX to Initiative, ignores penalty die for loading and firing in the same turn, and ignores penalty die for multiple shots per turn.
  • Sharpshooter – Does not suffer penalty die when for Small Targets or Cover/Concealment and may fire into combat without a penalty die.

Social Talents and Traits:

  • Caesar – Character has a Bonus die for tests involving leadership, morale, and similar situations.
  • Grifter – The character has a Bonus die with Charm, Fast-Talk, & Persuade rolls
  • Intimidating – The character has a Bonus die for Intimidation tests.
  • Empathic – The character has a Bonus die for Psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Anthropology tests.
  • Thespian – The character has a Bonus die for Acting and Disguise tests.

Mystical Talents and Traits:

  • Old Soul – The character has a Bonus die for all Pow tests, as well as History and Archeology tests.
  • Immortal – The character does not die as normal, will suffer an Injury/Scar and possibly other characteristic or skill loss depending upon circumstances.
  • Promethean – The character takes minimum damage from physical attacks, and is either immune or highly resistant to most poisons and diseases.
  • Iron-Willed – Character gains a Bonus die on all tests related to Insanity.
  • Resourceful – The character has always seems to have what they need at hand. They may spend 10 Luck points for any item within their daily spending limit.
  • Lucky – The character regains an additional +1D10 Luck points when Luck Recovery rolls are made.
  • True Faith – The character gains the True Faith skill which can be checked to allow immunity or resistance to Sanity loss, as well as be used o perform miracles in the same way that the Cthuhu Mythos skill can be used to perform magical acts.
  • Gnosis – The character gains the Gnosis skill which is checked simultaneously with other mental and social (non-magical) skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Prana – The character gains the Prana skill which is checked simultaneously with other physical (non-combat) skills. If successful, the character has double the normal effect as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • True Will – The character gains the True Will skill which can be checked to allow minor manipulations of reality – bending bullets, landing in haystacks, etc. at a cost in Magic Points as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Medium – The character may spend Magic Points to see, summon, and otherwise interact with the spirits of the dead as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Telekinetic – The character may spend Magic Points to move objects through space by sheer force of will alone as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Telepathic – The character may spend Magic Points to communicate by thought or emotion alone, as well as read the thoughts or emotions of others as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Oracle – The character may spend Magic Points to predict the future, see into the past, or otherwise understand the connection between events as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Seer – The character may spend Magic Points to extend their physical senses beyond their body as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Second Sight – The character may spend Magic Points to see spirits, magical auras, and the like as adjudicated by the Keeper.
  • Dreamer – The Character has the Dreaming skill, and access to the Dreamlands.
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