Tuesday, 27 November 2018

A Review of Black Pudding: Heavy Helping Vol I

The first four issues of J V West's OSR zine, Black Pudding, are collected in the Heavy Helping - classes, adventures, monsters and all kinds of other content for dungeon-crawling fantasy games. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable resource compendium and reference book, set apart by its playful art, engaging style and consistent sense of fun.

The world of Black Pudding is one of classic sword and sorcery gaming, caricatured to almost parody levels. Barbarians are everywhere, all of them muscle-bound and/or voluptuous. Monsters are strange and otherworldly, with too many eyes and unpronounceable names full of Zs and Xs.

If this sounds like too much cliche for you, fear not. Black Pudding makes it work.

The book is split into several sections, so I'll do the same with my review, giving my thoughts on each in turn - but as we go I'll also be using each section to talk about the book as a whole.

Sheets

We begin with a collection of OSR character sheets, some for Labyrinth Lord that would work in pretty much any B/X-esque ruleset, and a few smaller ones for DCC characters.

Like almost all the art in this book, these are are hand-drawn black-and-white cartoons drawn by the author. The sheets manage to present unique and creative designs - one has you taking notes on an idol based on the cover of the AD&D player's handbook - but they still fulfill their practical purpose.

Classes

These for me are a highlight of the book. I could roll a d20 to select one of them - there's a table for doing just that later on - and I'd be excited no matter the result.

The tone for this section, and indeed the rest of the book, is set with the first entry. The Barbaribunny is an anthropomorphic rabbit with all the battle instincts and bloodlust of Conan himself. We also get a giant mole, a luchador and a goth wizard.

There are some slightly less left-field options, such as the Shield Maiden, but each one has an attention to detail that make them concise, flavourful, and intriguing. And not only are they all illustrated, but on many pages the text itself is also hand-written, giving a wonderful DIY feel and, here's that word again, sense of fun.

Now might be a good time to bring up the bawdy sexuality that runs through this book. It's only a subtle theme, never overt or even close to pornographic - I wouldn't bring it up at all if it weren't an anomaly among most generic RPG content, which is either blandly chaste or hypersexualised edgelord nonsense.

If the many cartoonish illustrations of busty amazon warriors didn't clue you in, the text itself will - this book fucks. The Chainmail Chick, for instance, gets an AC bonus when wearing that infamous fantasy trope, the chainmail bikini, and has various class abilities dedicated to using her wiles and beating up enemies who lech over her. See also: the Witch's magic just flat out works better when she's naked.

These things are obviously a matter of personal preference, but I'm thoroughly impressed with how sexuality is handled in this book. There's a healthy mix of pantomime innuendo and straight-up sex appeal, but none of it ever feels exploitative or unjustified. It's all deliberately over the top and in good taste, like a dungeon-crawling burlesque show.

Items

A few pages of magic swords and spell books with their own short lists of brand-new thematic spells.

These are fairly mechanically focused, with +1s or Nat 20s or 1-in-6 chances of this, that and the other. I personally prefer a more "fluff"-based (and therefore system-neutral) approach with magic items and spells, but these are solid options and will definitely make your players feel powerful.

The Glittering Tome of the Silver Sage is a nice idea, with spells based on various aspects of silver: reflection, killing lycanthropes, even a "silver tongue". I'm just not sure that, for example, the silver tongue spell needs to interact with any mechanics - it changes the caster's CHA to 19 and causes a save v Spell, minus the caster's CHA mod. The first sentence, which says that "the caster's words sound true even if they are false", is enough for an OSR spell.

This is perhaps my only pressing criticism of Black Pudding's content. It's a book of hacks, of mechanics and statblocks, and it manages to make them engaging almost effortlessly, but with its resolutely old-school stylings none of the fiction is anything we haven't seen before.

Thankfully though, I don't think Black Pudding needs to be groundbreaking at all - because it does what it wants, and it does it well.

Monsters

The Black Bestiary is full of wacky creatures, very much in the vein of classic monster manuals. The Binoculon and Orgthool fit right in with the old-school feel of beholders and otyughs, perfect for dungeon crawlers who think they've seen everything.

If those kinds of monsters are your bag, this book is worth the price on its beasties alone - there is an embarrassment of riches here. Oh, and this entire section is hand-drawn and hand-written. It's delightful.

My personal favourite critter is probably the Angel Mama, a fiend from goblin folklore who turns slain gobs into shadow-men and commands them as a little army of attendants. I can't wait to spring her on a batch of players who thought they'd seen the last of those pesky goblins.

Who am I kidding, I'll end up using most of these. There will certainly be a Yomgarf in my next adventure.

Meatshields

Or "hirelings", if you want to be fancy.

Not only do they come with a mercifully concise statblock and inventory, all the info you'd need to run them, but each has their own pay rate, and a different likelihood on whether or not that pay can be haggled down. 

There are... over 50? of these guys, and each gets their own illustration (plenty of curves on display, of course, plus a few bulging loincloths). The personalities come across in the cartoons, but also in the single-sentence quips of backstory and a fun little feature that lists each hireling's turn-ons and turn-offs. These manage to be both cute little asides and practical information for the GM who wants to play them.

It's the only hireling resource I've ever read that's made me want to use them, and the only one I think I'm likely to ever need.

Adventures

Not enough content for you yet? Black Pudding doesn't skimp on the adventures. There are 7 fully illustrated and mapped adventure sites - a few dungeon crawls, a couple less traditional locales and a mile-wide hex.

Each seem easy enough to read and run, with information clearly presented around the map like a keyed diagram. It's very One Page Adventure Contest, and indeed most of these are a single page, though there's enough content packed into them that you could easily get a whole session from each. Great for one-shots.

As of writing this, I've run the first one-page dungeon, the Buried Temple of K'Lixtra, and it's been well received. This is a deadly module in an unapologetically old-school style, but it isn't trying to be anything else, and it works well.

I don't think any of these adventures are particularly groundbreaking in design, but I don't really care. They're well written and I'll be glad to have them on hand to throw at my players the next time a good old dungeon is needed.

House Rules

As it sounds, a compendium of house rules for OSR systems. Individually they represent hacks and add-ons for your system of choice, but the section is so exhaustive that you can, as I have, use this as a rulebook and run a game from it wholesale.

The content here is dense, but clearly displayed and simple as pie to use. Character creation as written is a ton of fun, with optional tables to flesh out a character in minutes with a background, appearance and other gameable minutiae.

Also included are takes on the OSR classic classes, from Fighter, Thief and Wizard to Clerics, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings, each one managing to feel fun and engaging despite the fact that you've probably seen most of this a hundred times before.

Whether or not you like this section will depend on whether or not you like your house rules as they are, but there's just so much here that there's no way you won't be able to find something you'll want to use.

tl;dr

This book is at once a collection of various disparate but intriguing homebrew elements, and a self-contained OSR starter set all on its own. The Heavy Helping is just that, jam-packed with content that's both unapologetically classic and utterly charming in tone.

The book reminds me a bit of bands like funk duo Chromeo - bear with me here. Those guys aren't trying to be groundbreaking, they're 70s through and through, almost to the level of parody; light-hearted, affectionate riffs on the classics. They know what they want to be, and that's old school, but presented with so much of their own style and swagger that they earn their place among fresher, more contemporary sounds.

What I'm saying is: you owe it to yourself to get your hands all sticky with Black Pudding.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Weapon Levelling for OSR Games

For every 1000 XP earned, or gold spent (and therefore xp gained) at the magic blacksmith's, a character earns 1 Weapon Point (WP).

WP may be saved and spent on the following upgrades, listed by cost, whenever the character is not in a dungeon.


X WP - Change damage die to the next highest die type only by spending X WP where X=dX of the old die type (eg: 4 WP to upgrade d4 to d6).
1 WP - Weapon can transform at wielder's will, see transformations below.
1 WP - Weapon deals +1 damage to an enemy type (beast, material, etc), this upgrade can be bought again but doubles in WP cost for each additional purchase.
1 WP - Weapon acts as a compass needle after 10 min ritual, points towards the nearest thing 1: lost, 2: deliberately hidden, 3: valuable eg treasure, 4: extraplanar in origin.
1 WP - Weapon is silvered, can affect spirits/lycanthropes/astral entities.
1 WP - Weapon becomes intelligent, can communicate with wielder telepathically at any range on the same plane, see personalities below.
1 WP - Weapon casts light, can be turned on/off or made dim/blinding at the wielder's whim.
1 WP - Wielder can choose one person or creature at a time, that target refuses to believe despite any evidence that the weapon exists.
1 WP - Weapon lives within the wielder's hand, can be summoned at will or put back inside whenever it is within the wielder's grasp.
2 WP - A command word causes the weapon to be immovably fixed in space (speak again to switch this off).
2 WP - A command word causes the weapon to teleport to the wielder's grasp, no matter its current location.
2 WP - Weapon is blessed, +2 to hit and damage against anything blasphemous to the deity.
2 WP - Fighter-type only: Weapon grants +1 AC
2 WP - Thief-type only: Weapon can shrink down and become a magically enhanced lockpick.
2 WP - Wizard-type only: Weapon contains a random spell.
3 WP - +1 to hit and damage, upgrade stacks up to +3 total if bought again.

During the upgrade process, a weapon may randomly gain a quirk (1 in 6 chance or similar):
1: Intelligent, see personalities below
2: Holder gains a different appearance while wielding the weapon
3: Secretes goo
4: Invisible
5: Too self-aware, save vs number of monsters killed each day or the weapon gives up violence
6: Is now a dog (loyal, roll your attacks and deal damage as with the normal weapon)

Transformations:
1: Tool (eg spade, hammer, quill)
2: Clothing (eg hat, cloak, garter)
3: Animal, intelligent (eg rat, toad, porcupine)
4: Other weapon type

Personalities:
1: Curmudgeonly
2: Excitable
3: Daydreamer
4: Lascivious
5: Cowardly
6: Violent
7: Curious
8: Obliging
Variant: Blood Alchemy

It is the war god's magic that turns a weapon into a Weapon, a true instrument of battle.

Each of the above upgrades corresponds to an item, a magical attachment which confers the upgrade's ability to a weapon instantly once affixed. One such attachment may be affixed to a weapon at one time: some rune, charm or totem, perhaps.

Once the weapon has dealt total damage equal to X times 100, times the WP cost of the upgrade, where X is the dX of the weapon's damage die, in righteous combat*, an alchemical ritual seals the power of the attached item into the weapon's form permanently, and a new item may be attached.

(*the scriptures differ on what counts as righteous combat, some priests even believe assassination counts, but something like finding a farm and stabbing some pigs definitely doesn't)

The player tracks total damage; if they forget, they forget. New items can be found through questing, or given as rewards.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Running NPCs in TRPGs like JRPGs? OMG!

Oh dear, is this a GM advice article?

Sort of. I've seen a good few "how to run NPCs well" advice posts and columns, and as I'm sure you can imagine the advice, when it's good, boils down to obvious things like "improv, be a good actor, give them personality quirks".

I think there might be some value in looking at the question from a more design-based viewpoint, rather than giving acting advice. Acting certainly adds something to a game, but you're a GM, not an actor - maybe you can act, maybe you can't. One thing you are for certain, though, is a game designer.

So, if you'll indulge me, let's look at running NPCs through the lens of game design by looking at a genre that has always done them well - the Japanese video game RPG. Specifically, let's look at NPCs for what they are in game design terms, at least in those kinds of games - background and setting elements that serve as delivery systems for information.

I love me some JRPG goodness. I've made no attempt at hiding this. But while mechanically dense combat, two-dimensional NPCs and pre-structured plots might be all well and good for your Pokemons and your Final Fantasies, they're not the things I come to tabletop RPGs for - if anything, those are all things to be actively avoided in pen and paper games.

When RPGs were transformed from pen and paper to 1s and 0s, they had to sacrifice certain aspects of what made them work in the first place - namely, the human element - and learn to provide enjoyable play experiences on their own terms.

Since those early days of Zork, video game RPGs have evolved into their own beast, and the Japanese industry in particular has been churning out hallmark examples of what computer chips can do with the genre like nobody's business.

But is there anything they can teach us about how to play their tabletop forefathers - especially in the OSR/DIY scene, which leans into that human element of play more than most other genres?

Let's humour me and say yes.

"NPC Dialogue"


In your standard JRPG, you can walk up to any NPC, press "A" or your console's equivalent, and be rewarded with one or two lines of dialogue in a little text box. You might see a name pop up for the character, or a little portrait, but probably not. In a constantly evolving medium, JRPGs have stuck with this same method since the first Dragon Quest. Press "A", read, done.

By the way, I won't be talking about big, important NPCs here, who normally have much more to say through cutscenes and the like - I'm talking about when you first arrive in The Next Town and there are a bunch of folks with only a few sprites or character models between them, standing aimlessly around, waiting for you to poke them (or whatever the "A" button does; the player character rarely or never speaks for themselves in these games, so how they get these strangers to spontaneously start spouting conversation is one of the genre's many handwaved mysteries).

These supporting characters don't have much to work with, but the best games in the genre can use those few scant lines of text to great effect.

Let's look at some of the things game developers do to make these otherwise unimportant NPC extras a worthwhile part of the game, and try to apply those same principles to running generic NPCs as a GM.

Concise And Useful/Interesting/Charming


The reason, I think, the player in a JRPG wants to talk to all these random idiots who only say two short lines of text over and over, is because each one of those short lines reveals something new about the game. I'm curious to see what the game has for me. And the more I find that text to be gameable info, noteworthy advice or just generally charming banter, the more likely I am to try again with the next character.

It can be crucial quest info, sure, but even generic chat can give new insight into your setting. How does this person feel about the king? Are they excited about an upcoming festival?

You don't know who your players will want to talk to, of course. Have a list of useful or interesting information a random commoner might say, and put it in the mouths of whatever NPC your characters gravitate to.

Seeking Out Conversation



You have to go up to the character and hit the talk button if you want to hear what they have to say, so it's completely possible to play the whole game without ever talking to one of these NPCs. Don't let that happen at your table!

As a GM, your players can't see the world unless you describe it - so make sure you make it clear that there are all these people around, just waiting to be talked to. Make them intriguing, even if they're just another villager. And when the players bite, have something interesting ready to say, as per the last point: that's their reward for using their talking skills, just like loot is their reward for using their dungeoneering skills.

Make your players aware of and interested in potential conversations, and reward them for engaging in dialogue.

... And The Reverse



Don't just count on your players to seek out dialogue, though. Dialogue should be all around them anyway, at least wherever there are people.

The world exists and goes on without the players, and so conversations should just naturally occur around them. Have them overhear snippets as they pass, and let them either jump in to the conversation or listen a while. Reward note-taking.

And, foist conversations on them! NPCs can come up to your PCs and engage them: try to sell to them, hit on them, go on a racist tirade about half-orcs. It doesn't even have to be gameable - just a random NPC asking a player's character for the time can be enough to draw a player in.

Players shouldn't have to actively chase conversation with NPCs; it should occur around them, come and find them.

Idle Banter


There's enough life and death in the game already. Not every conversation has to have a dramatic impact on your setting's future or the player characters' destinies. Let your players put their feet in their mouths without it having nation-wide consequences.

People talk about dumb, normal stuff all the time. It's most of talking. Having low-stakes conversations will make players more relaxed about talking to NPCs in future, as well.

A good way to do this is through a child NPC. They might want to know a PC's favourite colour, or ask them if they want this rock they just found.

Yes/No



Getting the players to respond when an NPC talks to them is another matter entirely, especially getting them to respond in character, if that's what you're aiming for.

In JRPGs, you normally just listen to a given NPC rather than engage in actual back-and-forth dialogue, but a genre staple is to allow the player conversational input via one avenue only: the YES/NO box.

These are often false choices, or just lead to one of two text options, the other of which can be read by talking to the same character again. But at least the player did something, and saw the situation progress because of their actions! That's the whole game in a nutshell.

In your tabletop game, a simple yes or no question is a great way to get a player to engage. Don't raise the stakes too high - this isn't an interrogation, remember, just idle small talk. Have they been here before? Did they see the play last night? Then, leave it there.

Precise Game Info


One thing I admire about the JRPG genre is how unabashed they are that they're games. While a western RPG will try to hide gameable information in natural-sounding dialogue, Japanese games just blurt out the useful info at you through a chatty NPC.

They'll even do this on a meta-level too; every Pokemon game has a person standing around the first or second town who reminds you to "save your game". You wouldn't catch Peasant #3 in The Witcher talking about save files or reminding you how to access the audio options.

I digress. The point is, it's fine to just rub the actual, gameable information you're trying to get across in your players faces. You don't need to wait until what feels like a natural moment to bring it up, and you don't need to obscure it by trying to make it sound more in character.

If you think the players need to know something, have an NPC just straight up tell them.

Hints and Rumours


The other way, of course, to impart information through NPCs. Characters not knowing the whole story or partaking in gossip can add to verisimilitude and let the players figure things out themselves from context clues, which is always nice.

Don't try to give out critical information this way, but anything else is fair game. Rumours are a great way to add intrigue to adventures - are the ghost stories just stories, or should the party stock up on holy water before they delve into the woods?

Rumours and tales differing between each place or person is also a great idea. Or not necessarily differing, but focusing on or adding new parts to the same story. Which leads me to...

Storytelling


A word with baggage in some RPG circles, but I'm talking about actual characters in the game telling stories.

Video games people use the term "environmental" storytelling for stuff like when you find "RUN" written on the wall in a zombie game. The place itself telling you about what kind of a place it is, and imparting relevant, gameable information to the player.

This kind of storytelling isn't exactly environmental, but it does use an important part of your game's background; those NPCs.

To give an example from Dragon Quest 11, which I've been playing recently and which inspired this whole post: An NPC in one town mentions a relative who moved away. When you eventually reach another part of the world, an NPC will mention moving away from their family. It's a small moment that you'll miss unless you talk to those two specific people, and it doesn't add anything to the overarching story, but it's there to find.

You might think that this makes the world seem smaller, but in fact it can give your setting new size and depth. Little touches and connections that show you've considered and thought about these random commoners (even if you haven't really!) bring your players into the fiction.

Another great example from DQXI: a city was recently destroyed by monsters. It's the talk of the town, the last major world-scale event, and NPCs frequently bring it up. Then, suddenly, a few hours into the game, one NPC will casually add some information to the story you hadn't heard before, information about the involvement of a certain person... Is it true? Because if so, this changes things... Or is it just a case of the story being warped in its retelling?

Sometimes, the reward for your players engaging in the fiction doesn't have to be directly gameable information - it can just be more story. And all fiction is gameable in one way or another, since this is a game of fiction!

When players show an interest in an NPC's life, that's a story. And stories can be told and retold in new ways - that's worldbuilding.


Screenshots from: Dark Cloud, Pokemon (R/B, G/S/C, FR/LG, R/S/E), Persona 5, Monster Hunter World, Dragon Quest XI, Kid Icarus: Uprising

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Magicienne (OSR Class)

So-called stage magic is harmless light entertainment, with all the spectacle of a real illusionist but none of the creeping dread that one of these spells may misfire and summon a demon.

Court jesters, then, are rarely true wizards. On the contrary! The fun of the show comes from the acceptance that what one is seeing can’t be, and yet is, happening; magic, however eldritch, is very much real, and therefore not particularly awe-inspiring. Anyone knows a wizard can breathe flame – but how did that dancer manage it?!


Recently, performances have evolved from simple imitations of mages and turned misdirection and distraction into their own art form, playing as part of vaudeville and burlesque shows or in gambling halls and circus tents, entertaining the paying public rather than nobles at court. The modern practice is inseparable from casino culture, with many performers incorporating tests of chance and skill to wring money from any punters trying their luck. 

Traditional wizards scoff at these mundanities with all the self-important superiority of an elf discussing human wine. But newer, younger mages, unbound by the self-imposed shackles of academia and seeking new frontiers to breach, have found something of value in the philosophy and artistry of the harlequin’s patter and performance. 

A new movement in wizardry has begun in earnest, bringing with it a fresh attitude and all-important sense of style. Among the youth, performance “magic” has begun influencing the real thing.
Magicienne 

aka Prestidigitator, Casino Witch, Lady (or Gentleman etc) of Luck 

Level/HD/To Hit/Save/Spell List, etc, as a Wizard 

You gain the following upon taking this class: special Garbskills of Distraction, either a Familiar or some good Luck, a Trick, and an Extended 1st Level Spell List. 

Garb 

Magiciennes dress as if for the stage, whether in actor’s finery or something more elaborate; the skin-tight suit of a tumbling harlequin perhaps, or a smart tux and tails, the slacks often swapped for fishnets (an element of the tease is hardly out of place). The aim of the game is distraction, darling. 

Masks are not uncommon, ditto capes. Full drag isn't unheard of either. Some punks have even taken the heretical step of swapping the classic pointed wizard’s travelling hat for a sleek black top. And don’t get me started on what kids think passes for a wand these days… 

Roll for a motif or emblem, if you feel you need one. 

1: Playing cards and their symbols (perhaps one in particular – draw a card). 
2: Gambling accoutrements: dice, roulette or the slots. 
3: A game such as chess or dominoes, or a particular piece.
4: A rabbit.
5: A rose.
6: A bird, likely a dove or magpie.


Distraction

(This is a mundane skill, not magical – you are persuasive, entertaining, alluring, or likely some combination of the above.) 

If your system uses Reaction rolls and/or Talents or Proficiencies:

You gain +1 to Reaction rolls against anyone who might find your magic, appearance or mere presence diverting. This doesn’t include other mages, who find you a bit much. 

You are Proficient with sleight of hand and performance.

Your familiar, if you have one, has these same skills. 

Otherwise: 

When meeting a person or intelligent creature who might find you or your craft diverting, you have a 1 in 6 chance to command their attention. Your familiar has this same ability. 

You can reroll this skill once on an audience if you cast a spell they have not seen before.

Familiars 

Those who keep the tradition of spirit-servantry put their own spin on it; the old-fashioned cats, rats and toads simply won’t do. 

1: Your hat is itself your familiar. A post-modern approach. 
2: Your reflection, though the scope of its ability to aid you is limited to the World on the Other Side of All Mirrors.
3: A white dove.
4: A white rabbit.
5: A white jackalope.6: The Glamorous Assistant. As a magical hireling, but is unskilled with all tasks other than helping you with spells and other wizardly pursuits (y’know, familiar stuff), or generally making you look good. 

Or… Luck 

Some of the new school eschew familiars altogether; instead the spirit they focusing on channelling is that mysterious and seductive force known as Luck. With faith and good favour, they are capable of turning their personal fortunes around. (Miscasting spells because the fates demand it? That’s for the birds.) 

Instead of a familiar: Once per day, roll d100 under your level to gain a Luck point. Spend this point to reroll any one die and keep the better result. You may have one Luck point at a time. 

Tricks

Little twists of cheap magic that absolutely do not follow classical spell procedure. In fact, they are closer in nature to the dirty, bastard magic of common thieves – the magic is all in a flourish of the hands and a flick of the wrist. 

Consume no mana or spell slots while casting thesejust do them whenever. 

1: You can create lights like tiny fireworks and hold them in your hand, snuffing and relighting them at will. You can also hold light from other sources, snatching it out of lamps and the like.
2: You can pass weapons through matter without causing any damage, if you wish. To switch between damage and no damage, the weapon must be completely removed and then re-inserted.
3: You can keep one small thing at a time in your hat, making it disappear from reality until you need it again. Living creatures other than your familiar do not survive this process.
4: Coins and similar small treasures you hold can be disappeared safely, up to an amount you could carry. To get them back, “find” them (behind an ear, in your mouth, from your cleavage, etc).
5: You can levitate yourself or someone nearby several feet off the ground, straight up and down only (once they’re up there you could always pull them around like a balloon or something).
6: You can instantly undo any non-magical ropes, handcuffs, or other restraints that bind you. 

All magiciennes can also use these flourishes of their hands for very light telekinesis: straightening their bow tie, brushing dust from their lapels, that kind of thing.


Extended 1st Level Spell List 

Magiciennes have access to these spells as well as the standard wizard spell list. The first time a character levels as a magicienne (including creating a character at level 1), all new spells must be taken from this list.

All Eyes On Me: Everyone nearby who is aware of your presence, or becomes aware of you during the duration of this spell, is unable to focus on anything else but you. Their opinion on you doesn’t necessarily change – an enraptured audience is still just as invested, an angry mob still just as bloodthirsty – but they fail to notice other details about their surroundings, including anyone else who might be nearby. This spell lasts a number of minutes equal to your level.

Check Your Pockets: A single small item currently in the possession of a nearby target – something they are holding, carrying or wearing – disappears and reappears on your person.

Eyes on the Prize: Any single small item which you possess or which you have concealed somewhere is now in any other location of your choosing. You may continue to move it around for 1 minute. 

Is This Your Card?: Target one nearby item and one nearby person – you learn the significance, if any, of each to the other (in broad strokes, nobody wants their life story). 

Now You Don’t: If you are unobserved, you may teleport to any nearby location in which you would also remain unobserved (this spell might fail because you were being observed but didn’t know it, in which case you magically discover who’s watching you).

Puff-Puff: Has an X-in-6 (X = your CHA modifier) chance of distracting an enemy to the point of total inaction until you leave their sight. On a failed roll, they are distracted by you for one round, but not to the extent that they can’t act. 

Quick-Change: Instantaneously create full outfits matching any you have seen for a number of people up to your levelThis spell is a conjuration, not an illusion – so any clothing you create actually exists for the spell’s duration. The spell ends in moonlight or by your will. You may conjure clothing directly onto the person of yourself or any willing targets, but any clothes they are already wearing are consumed by the spell. 

Sawing the Lady in Half: You split a target at the waist, their legs and abdomen now separate from the rest of them. They remain alive and healthy, and may still control both halves. They are restored if the halves touch. Unwilling targets must save vs spells.

Squib: Upon being slain in battle, you in fact only appear to die for a moment – regain 1 HP. It’s not a lasting illusion, just a moment of magical misdirection: from the start of your next round, anyone who cares to check can tell you’re still alive. 

Switcheroo: You and a willing person or creature on the same plane of existence swap locations.

Think of a Number: You command a target to think of something, anything – their true name, the password, the place they hid the body. Whatever it is, they think of the truth, and you read that single thought telepathically.