Back in this post I mentioned testing out new Mystic rules, and the new religion we made up based around a Florian Bertmer illustration entitled “Order of the Seven Serpents”.
Well I’m pretty sure I’ve smoothed them out to a point where they’re both easy and flexible enough for public consumption, so here you go.
The actual cards are below (I print them on A4 card, punch out the holes and bind them to make a little book), but this is the general idea:
- Mystics no longer have set spell lists.
- Instead, they can attempt to make anything happen that they think their god would be in to (though there are general guidelines called Liturgies that make some things harder to make happen than others).
- After announcing what they want, they make a 4d6 roll on the Invocation table, which can be altered by using Favour points that they’ve earned by doing appropriately religious things.
- I got over LotFP’s dreary nihilistic “there are no gods just delusion”, it’s much more fun if the things Mystics are worshipping are actually real.
There are still going to be mishaps, but instead of being the Mystic’s delusion wavering or their god suddenly getting pissed off for no good reason, it’ll be because their god doesn’t really understand what is appropriate. So if Roy’s snake worshipper Tipanius fudges a roll in the middle of combat and gets Inopportune Favour and falls to his knees vomiting an unending torrent of slick adult snakes, the Seven Serpents will be like, “Oh haha what, you didn’t want to give birth to a thousand snakes from your mouth right now? Haha whoops sorry love you xoxo.”
- There will be specific spells that Mystics can find, where they just have to use a number of Favour points rather than rolling, but those will be things to go out and find from different cults and libraries and stuff.
Click to make readable.
And Malpractice is still a thing so here’s the table for the Seven Serpents:
|d20||Malpractice - Order of the Seven Serpents|
|1||A black serpent slithers its shimmering body from the target, inflicting a further d4 damage as it emerges.|
|2||The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin becomes progressively tighter, causing an increasing -1 penalty to physical rolls every Turn, after 3 Turns their movement halves, after 6 Turns they will need to shed their skin.|
|3||Snake eggs form in the wound or wherever else seems suitably awkward, and the target can't be mystically healed or cured until they hatch in 2d8 hours or are accidentally destroyed.
If they hatch, the target is immediately healed of all ailments and can make a one-time appeal to the Seven Serpents.
If they are intentionally destroyed, a venom-dripping sludge snake forms from the yolk and attacks whoever is responsible.
|4||The ritual succeeds, but an incredibly long snake tongue permanently glides in and out of the site of the wound (or other part of the body if there was no wound). It is perfectly linked to the target's sensory system, tasting the air for them, making it harder to be surprised, and easier to find things by scent.|
|5||For the next day the target cannot bear to keep their eyes open in bright light, but with their eyes closed can feel vibrations and sense nearby heat.|
|6||The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin grows dry and cracked, flaking away to reveal beautiful iridescent scales. They find themselves able to squeeze and compress themselves through anything big enough to fit their head.|
|7||Part of the target's skin peels back as if it were trying to renew what lies beneath, but all that lies beneath is bleeding muscle. Take d6 damage.|
|8||The ritual succeeds, but a churning grows in the target's stomach, inflating it, until a month later they spontaneously give birth to a stream of juvenile snakes from whichever orifice seems most convenient. This will happen every month.|
|9||The ritual succeeds, but tissue-eating venom bubbles up from the target's body and consumes d6hp of the Mystic's flesh before diluting.|
|10||The ritual succeeds, but part of the target's body withers and falls away to enhance their sleek silhouette, roll a d6:
1: An entire arm.
2: An entire hand.
3-4: d6 fingers, target's pick.
5: An entire foot.
6: An entire leg.
|11||The target's saliva becomes envenomed for d4 Turns, and they'll need to let it drool out to avoid poisoning themselves by swallowing.|
|12||The ritual succeeds, but the target finds that a rather phallic stubby snake grows from their body. They accidentally discover that rubbing the snake and causing it to cough up coagulated venom causes it to diminish somewhat, though it seems the process would need to be repeated at least d20 times before the snake phallus clears up.|
|13||Gnarled curling horns twist out of the back of the target's skull and a furry, huffing goat's face emerges from their neck, opening its mouth to vomit slick red baby snakes down the target's back. Target must save vs. Poison to stop it continuing to birth and permanently stealing half of their hit points.
If they stop it birthing it will remain as it is and bleat and vomit in surprise any time someone sneaks up on them.
|14||The target's torso elongates, their legs shrivel and twist about one another, fusing, scales push out like growing fingernails, leaving the target with the lashing lower body of a giant serpent.|
|15||The target's blood turns cold, they'll need to find ways to keep warm in cold environments away from the sun to avoid losing all physical bonuses and moving at half speed.|
|16||The target notices small glistening tongues flicker intermittently from slits in the tips of the fingers of one arm. Over the next few days their fingers fatten, muscle in the arm turns fatty and their bones seem to break down, their fingernails fall away and scored lines open over the top of their fingers and up to their shoulder.
Five serpents dwell within the arm and move it in sinuous curls, emerging up through the slits to let the arm casing slip off and hang limp to allow them to strike.
Charisma check to call them out, granting 5 bite attacks, roll on Poison table for each successful bite. They'll stay active as long as you make a Charisma check every Round, but will spend a Turn getting back into your arm after the first failure.
12AC/DB, on a successful melee hit an extra snake is affected for every 2 points above target. If any of them are killed you don't need to make Charisma checks while attacking the thing responsible.
|17||Anything within 30' that has eyes must save vs. Magic, otherwise small golden snakes push out from their eyes and break them like eggs, falling to the ground in a pool of yolk and occular fluid.
More eggs will grow in the sockets in d12 hours, and can be turned back into eyes if the Mystic successfully heals them.
If the Mystic fails, birth more snakes. Repeat.
|18||The ritual succeeds, but musty hair grows in patches over their body, and two bony nubs can be felt on their skull.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row they complete their transformation into an ordinary goat with a lit candle on its forehead that never burns out.
Any healing from a Servant of the Seven Serpents during this time will actually progress the condition.
|19||The Mystic can feel something digging at their mind and must save vs. Poison. If they fail their body is torn apart from within by emerging singing bluebirds that swirl into the sky and fall upon all those around them.|
|20||The ritual succeeds, but the next time they sleep the target must save vs. Poison. If they fail, their body slowly transmutes and slithers away throughout the night until there is nothing left of them but a dry outer skin.|
The thing I like most about these rules is that I can have Mystics of different religions running around that actual feel and play like they have different religions, without having to do, like, any work. It pretty much just happens.
If you’d like to make your own you can download the InDesign file for the cards from Penny Pamphlets or click here, and spend 5 minutes altering the Liturgies and Inherent Abilities to whatever religion you like.
And if you can’t be bothered actually writing a Malpractice table beforehand you can just use this template and make up the specifics as you need them:
|1||Target takes damage.|
|2||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
|3||Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration, no mystical healing or cures until it ends.
(roll on Duration table)
|4||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|5||Target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
|6||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|7||Target takes damage.|
|8||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|9||The ritual succeeds, but the Mystic takes damage.|
|10||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|11||Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration.
(roll on Duration table)
|12||Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration until they perform a task to remove it.|
|13||Major mishap involving detrimental alteration, loss of hp or stats, etc.|
|14||Target is subject to a major permanent effect or alteration.|
|15||Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|16||Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.|
|17||Area affect that everyone within 30' must make a save to avoid.|
|18||The ritual succeeds, but the target is subject to a progressing condition.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row the condition results in their spectacular death.
Any healing from a Mystic of the same religion during this time will actually progress the condition.
|19||Mystic must save vs. Poison or die.|
|20||The ritual succeeds, but the target must save vs. Poison the next night or die.|
Fantastic! This is an incredible handout.
Have you read Obscene Serpent Religion? Did it give you any inspiration or is there anything in it that you think is particularly ripe for adaptation?
Yeah I actually read Obscene Serpent Religion just after I’d finished putting together the first iteration of these rules and the snake cult in general.
It’s good stuff, though a little too specific and involved for me. It kind of reads like an esoteric induction to an actual cult.
I think if you wanted your own snake cult for a new Mystic but were having trouble with giving it individual characteristics, a quick roll-through of Obscene Serpent Religion would give you a nice little framework to play within.
Cool! I’m excited about using the Mystic in my next campaign, so I am glad for streamlined rules. 🙂 I came to a similar conclusion about gods in LotFP, I think it’s cooler when they have the agency to scheme.
DEFINITELY, I’m still going to treat them as Lovecraft-ish beings of a different level of existence rather than all-powerful superghosts, but it is so much more fun if they’re things that can actually be interacted with.
Nihilism is so passé.
Beyond awesome. This is taking Lotfp weirdness to a new permanently higher plateau. Begone boring clerics! Welcome mystics of slithery bent…
I will definitely use this in a New World campaign next year. A couple of my players love off the wall cleric types. Hope to see lots more of your material next year, it is inspiring stuff.
Thanks Mark, much appreciated.
This is simply amazing! As always, you guys make the most unique and interesting mishap tables I’ve seen, and I’ve seen ’em all!
Aw thanks Richard that’s really nice to hear, I sometimes wonder if people who aren’t me look at these things and think “oh great more faerie tale body horror”.
Body horror is what got me into roleplaying in the first place. Any chance you’re also going to make one of these for the followers of Yoon Quiun?
Shit actually Roy’s snake worshipper has a mission to destroy the Yoon Quiun temple when they finally reach Corpathium so I probably should!
I am going to adapt this for our Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea game for the priest class. First god up is Xathoqqua. Should be pretty fun!
First off, this is excellent stuff, and I already got some great use of it during a session a few months ago. But as the game advances, some of my players want to take these rules and expand them to other gods for them to toy with (or vice versa).
With that said, any advice on adapting this Snake Worshiper to a Something Else Worshiper?
Good to hear!
Adapting it shouldn’t take too much work, you really just need to make up a couple of inherent abilities that suit a worshiper of that god, think about what kinds of power/miracles they might be granted for the Liturgies (remembering that they’re just guidelines, the player really just needs something to compare to for power level when they’re making shit up), and think about what the god would like done for them and how much they’d like it for the Favour points.
Robin Zink has a whole bunch of adaptation examples here which might help:
Just remember nothing’s a hard-and-fast all-exhaustive rule and you should be fine, it’s all just guidelines.
Hello! I binged your archives recently after using your town generator.
I’m dropping a Mystic of Bahkri into my Pathfinder campaign for some cheaper-but-riskier healing. The ability to spend more Favour to perform more powerful Liturgies means they don’t need to be a world-shaking badass on par with adult dragons just to regrow a lost eye or what-have-you.
The mechanics for regaining Favour also give several hooks for the PCs if they do need major healing. For simple things (HP loss, disease), the Mystic will waive payment if the target joins the cult. For less simple things like regrowing an arm, the PCs will need to help them get the massive Favour expenditure back somehow – an escort into the wilderness to join with Bahkri, or perhaps sending a local aristocrat’s party in an unexpected direction that will please the Black Goat.