Thursday, 25 September 2008

Chaos Patrons! (Blatant Plagiarism Alert)

[Disclaimer: First of all, I should say that I'm stealing this more or less entirely from the old roguelike computer game Zangband. Please view this as a D&D-isation of an aspect of an old favourite, not something I've come up with myself. (The relevant document, if you want to see the source material, is this text file.)]

Chaos Patrons

The layers of the Abyss are infinite, and so are its Powers. Endless multitudes of dark gods throng its depths, scheming of ways to attract more mortal followers and thus gather power. Every so often one of them finds a way to dominate some foolish individual on the prime material plane, usually through striking some kind of Faustian bargain. These chaos patrons are capricious and flighty, however, and they are just as likely to curse or bless their unfortunate worshipers.

A player can choose for his character to follow a chaos patron at character creation, or he might decide to follow one during the course of the game should the opportunity arise. (The DM should come up with a suitably painful and tortuous ritual for a PC who wishes to take up the worship of a chaos god.) The only requirement for a PC who wishes to worship a chaos god is that he be willing, and that he be Chaotic Evil or Chaotic Neutral in alignment (or willing to shift his existing alignment to either of those positions).

There are infinite chaos gods, and the DM and player are encouraged to be as creative as they like when coming up with their patron. Alternatively, they can roll 1d20 and consult the following table of example gods:

1. Slortar the Old
2. Mabelode the Faceless
3. Chardros the Reaper
4. Hionhurn the Executioner
5. Xiombarg the Sword Queen
6. Pyaray the Tentacled Whisperer of Impossible Secrets
7. Balaan the Grim
8. Arioch, Duke of Hell
9. Eequor, Blue Lady of Dismay
10. Narjhan, Lord of Beggars
11. Balo the Jester
12. Khorne the Blood God
13. Slaanesh, God of Pleasure
14. Nurgle, the Rotting God
15. Tzeentch, the Lord of Change
16. Djobidjoba, the King of Grubs
17. Azathoth, the Devil's Bannerman
18. Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies
19. Dusty Miller, the Mad Baker
20. Bindapaparabba, Mistress of Waterlilies

Effects of worshiping a chaos patron:

A character with a chaos patron who advances in level is given a boon or a curse at random. This either takes effect at the moment of advancement, or at the first combat after advancement, or at another time defined in the text. When the character levels up, roll 1d30 and consult the following table:
Boons and Curses

1. "Thou needst a new form, mortal!" - The character is Polymorphed into a randomly determined race without chance of saving throw (1-2: Human, 3-4: Gnome, 5-6: Dwarf, 7-8: Elf, 9-10: Halfling; roll again if the character is already of that race).
2. "Well done, mortal! Lead on!" - The character is awarded a 10% experience point bonus.
3. "Thou didst not deserve that, slave!" - The character loses 10% of his experience and is relegated to the previous level.
4. "Use my gift wisely!" - A randomly determined magical item is created on the floor beside the character.
5. "Thy deed hath earned thee a worthy blade!" - A randomly determined magical weapon is created on the floor beside the character.
6. "Thy deed hath earned thee a worthy reward!" - 1d3 randomly determined magical items are created on the floor beside the character.
7. "Behold, mortal, how generously I reward thy loyalty!" - The character is granted a limited wish.
8. "Thou art grown arrogant, mortal!" - The character loses 33% of his experience.
9. "My pets, destroy the arrogant mortal!" - 2-6 randomly determined tanar'ri (with HD equal to the character's level) are created next to the character at the beginning of his next combat.
10. "Thou needst worthier opponents!" - 1d100 dretches appear next to the character at the beginning of his next combat.
11. "Death and destruction, this pleases me!" - An earthquake occurs, centered on the character the next time he kills an opponent.
12. "Stay, mortal, and let me mold thee!" - +1 to prime requisite.
13. "I grow tired of thee, mortal!" - -1 to prime requisite.
14. "Thou needst a lesson in humility, mortal!" -1 to all stats.
15. "Receive this modest gift from me!" - +1 to all stats.
16. "Rise, my servant!" - The next time the character is reduced to 10% of his hit point total, all his hit points are immediately restored.
17. "Suffer, pathetic fool!" - A ball of chaos, 12' in radius, blast the character and anyone within its range for the character's level x4 in damage at the beginning of his next combat.
18. "Thou reliest too much on thy weapon!" - Has the same effect of a scroll of curse weapon.
19. "Thou reliest too much on thy equipment!" - Has the same effect of a scroll of curse armour.
20. "Now thou shalt pay for annoying me!" - All the effects of items 17, 14 and 10.
21. "Die, mortal!" - The character immediately takes level x4 in damage.
22. "Let me relieve thee of thine oppressors!" - Immediate Power Word: Kill on the character's opponents as soon as the next combat begins.
23. "Let me relieve thee of thine oppressors!" - Immediate banishment of the next group of undead or daemonic monsters which confront the character.
24. "Thou shalt not die yet, mortal!" - All monsters threatening the character are immediately hit for the character's level x4 in damage as soon as the next combat begins.
25. The patron ignores the character.
26. "Let me reward thee with an undead servant!" The character gains a randomly determined undead servant, of any kind with HD equal to or less than his level.
27. "Let me reward thee with a demonic servant!" The character gains a randomly determined tanar'ri servant, of any kind with HD equal to or less than his level.
28. "Let me reward thee with a servant!" The character gains a randomly determined monstrous servant, of any kind with HD equal to or less than his level.
29. "Let me reward thee with a henchman!" The character gains a henchman of his own level (1-2 Fighter, 3-4 Mage, 5-6 Cleric; all henchmen are Chaotic Evil in alignment).
30. "Mortal, bore me no longer!" The chaos patron abandons the character.


  1. Kelvin: Less interesting. Also, less likely to curse their own followers.

    Jeff: I can't really take credit for it - it's basically stolen wholesale from Zangband.

  2. Hey, nice!

    Changes I would make: Organizing the table from severe penalties to best bonuses. While this would cut down on the chaos nature of the table, it would also make it more able to replicate the origins of the trope, with Elric and Arioch. If Elric served Arioch well, he got rewarded (generally) - so a bonus on the table for advancing Arioch's ends might not be unwarranted, y'know?

  3. Allandaros: I did think about that, but this is the order in which the boons and curses appear in the source text (the Zangband helpfile) and seeing as this is a tribute of sorts...

    But yeah, your way would work better in an actual game. I'm thinking of reworking the entire thing into a d100 table (!), and I'll probably incorporate bonuses for 'good service' as you suggest.

  4. I would be tempted to leave out the Good/Evil bit and just use this for Chaotic patrons. If a Chaotic Evil patron can give bonuses to their followers, I see no reason why a Chaotic Good deity can't randomly apply a curse to their follower. They're chaotic, after all.

  5. I suppose so, but the Chaos is tempered by Good, so it's hard to imagine such a god deliberately harming a worshiper out of caprice. Accidentally harming them, sure.

  6. That's why I'd be tempted to drop the Good/Neutral/Evil qualifier, I think. Didn't Basic D&D just have Good/Evil/Neutral/Chaos/Law?

  7. It actually just had Chaos, Neutrality and Law. So yes, it would work fine for Basic D&D.

  8. In Basic, Red Box D&D? I could have sworn that it had Good and Evil too, just on a different axis to Law and Chaos, so you could be Good or Lawful, but not both. But it's been a long time since I read or played it, so I'm probably misremembering.

  9. 31: "I bestow upon thee this appendage." A short tentacle sprouts from the PC's back. It has little effect beyond the need to conceal it in civilized regions (lest one is burned as a heretic). However, it an hold small items if necessary.

    32: "Know my will, mortal" A brief flicker of the Chaos God himself flashes before his worshiper's eyes, forcibly expanding the pitiful mortal's limited understanding and straining his sanity. A successful Will check means the PC gains 1 Intelligence. Otherwise, lose 1 Wisdom.

    Chaos Patrons made me instantly think of Chaos Gifts from Warhammer.

  10. Capt_Poco: I like it. The whole Chaos thing was always my favourite aspect of the Warhammer setting.