Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Appendix N fail - Thomas Covenant.

I recently found the Thomas Covenant trilogy at Goodwill, and since I had never read the books, picked them up.

The trilogy is regarded as influential in the fantasy genre, particularly for its archetypal anti-hero, or unlikable, unwilling hero in the form of Thomas Covenant. He is a depressive, divorced author suffering from leprosy, who is periodically torn from the modern world and tossed into the fantasy world of "The Land." Disoriented, full of doubt, and self-loathing (hence his nickname, 'The Unbeliever'), he is mistaken as a reincarnated hero from a past conflict.

And I can't get through these books.

Slogged through Lord Foul's Bane, and am currently about halfway through The Illearth War. Hile Troy and his small force are approaching Doom's Retreat for what is, at best, a delaying action. And Covenant is tagging after High Lord Elena in search of the Seventh Ward, a power that the Lords are not prepared to wield.

Gawd, these books are interminable reads.

I understand that Covenant is meant to be an unlikable character, and was prepared for that (I've read/enjoyed plenty of other anti-hero centered novels). But I find the writing turgid and melodramatic, and none of the 'good guys' to be engaging or sympathetic. I suspect that I need more context on Donaldson's influence or subtext, but so far this experience has moved far into the territory of books I "should" read, rather than I "want" to read.

Apropos, io9 just posted this article on the Rule of 50 for when to abandon a read.

So I'm setting Tom aside for a more attractive and relevant read. Perhaps I'll return to the trilogy, to skim through the rest of Illearth, and take on The Power That Preserves another time.

(Similarly, I've often joked that Harvard Lampoon's 'Bored of the Rings,' which pares down the LOTR trilogy into a single volume, while somehow not apparently losing any significant content, is the length that the original trilogy 'should' have been.)

Any similar observations, experiences or context?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lubella, Expanded Petty Gods

Opened my damn fool mouth and Richard LeBlanc told me he had a gap in his Expanded Petty Gods project. Per Richard:
"HOWEVER! ... I have space in the "L" section for 1 more god. If you want to write the matching god too, that would be great. One catch, you have to start the god's name with the letters "Lu.""

OK.

Name: Lubella the Transformative
Symbol: Winged Cocoon
Alignment: Neutral
Mv: 120/30
AC: 3
hp/HD: 47/8
Atk: 1 (knout) + special
Dmg: 1d4+1 (+1hp/turn bleeding damage)
Save: Cl9 (+ hit only by magic weapons)
Morale: 5
Hoard: XIV
XP: 1060

Lubella resides as the God/dess of transformation. Worshipers petition her to assist in the commencement of new endeavors, or to smooth the way during significant or difficult transitions. Because of this, many adolescents find need to seek her out, causing her to be derisively referred to as the god/dess of the awkward teen years.

Androgynous, she either appears as a human of indistinct gender, or alternates between a stubbly boy and an awkward girl, depending on the moment or the angle of the viewer.

She is a sympathetic god/dess, sensitive to those in transformation or growth. However, she also recognizes that she will have few lifetime adherents, and often feels abandoned when a worshiper's change is complete. Since this worship is typically short-lived and specific to a period or event, she may feel slighted at not receiving due thanks.

When bored, Lubella may also appear spontaneously at a cross-roads or along a tortuous path as an adolescent beggar. Tossing a coin or two and saying a few kind words may be sufficient for her to point out the preferred route before disappearing. Insulting or ignoring her will cause her to give incorrect directions if asked. More egregious insults will result in her casting confusion upon the disrespectful individual(s) (see below).

Lubella will typically flee from aggression or combat. If pressed, she will let loose a blood-curdling scream to cover her retreat. Creatures within a 30' cone before her will be stunned for 2d4 rounds (-4 to hit, movement –50%). If she does have to engage in combat, she will strike out with a barbed knout that she keeps tied around her waist.
Reactions(2d6: subject to mendicant's CHA bonus):
2: Incensed. Confusion/transition impeded or prolonged, perhaps even cursed...
3-5: Insulted, leaves in huff. Insulting individual made awkward, prone to inappropriate outbursts for 1 day.
6-9: Neutral. Bored, rolls eyes. Did you just ask her to come all this way to help with that? Decides to hang out a bit to see what happens.
10-11: Shrugs, generally agreeable. Points out best course or action or direction.
12: Totally psyched. Blesses endeavor.

Friday, December 26, 2014

12 Found Deeds

Property deeds, that is. Perhaps found on a body, lifted from a pocket, or willed by a distant and forgotten relative...

source

1. ...to an old stronghold at the edge of a once-fertile land, now dead, desecrated and referred to simply as The Blight. Anyone taking claim on the property will need to spend great time and effort to restore and re-sanctify the land back to productivity.

2. ...to an ancestral estate and farmland, renowned for its bumper rye crops. Still productive, but suffering from a bit of a bulette infestation.

3. ...to a manorhouse lovingly maintained by an aged, deaf groundskeeper and custodian. Uninhabitable due to the constantly screaming ghosts.

4. ...to a seaside tower, formerly a wizard's redoubt, and now a popular spot for viewing the annual kraken migration.

5. ...to a shabby hut huddled in a dank grove. Which, upon recitation of incantations on a second scroll (to be found/obtained separately), reveals a gateway to a pocket universe, and a resplendent mansion situated on a transparent platform overlooking an alien, starry expanse.

6. ...to a played-out mine. Un-maintained, it is crumbling, with bowed shoring and collapsed tunnels. Further exploration and mining has a chance to break through to a crystal-veined cave, filled with gems highly sought-after for their ability to store arcane energies.

7. ...to a giant, alien god-skull, set high upon an arid cliff. The brain cavity has been divided into rooms, and the eye sockets paneled with stained glass depicting legendary crimes.

8. ...to a lovely little hamlet and the surrounding lands up the coast a ways. All the tenant-farmers are friendly, productive, and thoroughly undead.

9. ...to ancestral lands and their ancient dolmen-rings. Which, unfortunately, has been co-opted by bugbear shamen, claiming that it, too, is their traditional holy site. They may be willing to negotiate shared access, but have a long list of requirements (some contradictory) for avoiding desecration of the site for their beliefs.

10. ...to a fungal regime in the understory of a deep rainforest. The allegiance of the giant leaf-cutter ant colony is not guaranteed.

11. ...to a mega-dungeon complex left by a distant and forgotten lich-uncle. Stipulations for acquiring the property include; converting alignment to chaotic, maintenance of dark rituals to assure alliance of minion-troops, and preservation of the structure in accordance to Hegemonic Register of Historic Places guidelines.

12. ...to a giant treehouse complex suspended within a Methuselah tree in a primordial forest. The place is rustic, yet resplendent.  And terribly infested by pixies.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Random Magic Item: Sacred Pears of Leir

Mentioned briefly here:

The Sacred Pear of Leir is a rare druidic item enchanted to bring healthy and bountiful crops to those who still follow the old ways. As such, a Pear is a valuable commodity, and the fortunes of many an agricultural region have hinged on the acquisition or loss of one of these rare, beneficial artifacts.

source
Benefit is gained through a ritual involving anointing the Pear with a mixture of honey and blood at a critical juncture in the maturation of the local crop.  This may take place during sprouting, flowering, first fruits, or another event, dependent upon the crop. Although the power of the Pear does not guarantee a bumper crop, it will minimize conditions that may lead to crop damage or failure - insects, hail storms, drought, rusts.  It does not have power over anthropogenic hazards, so the raiding orcs or barbarians may yet put the fields to the torch.

Honey used for the ritual must be harvested from an active, undamaged hive in such a way that the unprotected (often naked) collector is not stung once. Only the gentlest and most empathetic 'bee whisperers' can complete this feat. Typically the blood is provided by a sacrificed goat or calf; however, King Rishom of Athyr made a more considerable investment, sacrificing his daughter Oma to the Pear, in hopes of staving off famine and saving his kingdom. Indeed, he kept his people from starving, but still lost the kingdom anyway, as the people deemed his sacrifice too great, breaking down the castle gates and casting him from a tower. In the lawlessness and looting that followed, the Pear disappeared into the shadows.

As a rare and in-demand storied item, there are plenty of counterfeits available, often for sale or trade from the backs of caravans. These mountebanks assure the potential purchaser that this is a genuine Pear, acquired through obscure, and perhaps odious, means. None of the counterfeits have any powers, and are of varying quality, from cheap plated wood or base metal to solid gold (5 GP to 150 GP value). But belief is a strong sales-person, and although the Church frowns on such trinkets and rituals, many a farming village will have a quiet shrine, tucked away in some garden or copse, with a Pear (real or false) in residence.

Many false Pears have had some cheap enchantment cast upon them so they exude magic if tested by a simple detect magic spell or similar. A genuine Pear may be identified through use of read magic. When cast, the phrase "fecunditatis abundat" appears on the surface of the Pear. This fact is not widely known, and such information would be extremely valuable to an individual or group seeking a true Pear.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Petty Gods "Minions Speed Rounds," continued...

Richard offered up a few more beings for backstories, abilities and deities served:
Art via Jason Sholtis
Milduitic

No. Encountered: (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120'/50'
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: 1
Damage: Glaive (1d10+1) or Falchion (1d8+1)
Save: F5
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: nil, however, typically guarding temple or similar
XP: 90

The Milduitic are found impassively guarding remote desert tombs and temples in honor of various insectoid gods and godlets.  Created for, and tasked with, this role, they are above bribery and will resolutely defend their responsibility with force of arms. Additionally, their mysterious creators took certain precautions in making reliable guards, and the Milduitic are immune to charm spells, and save vs. sleep at +2.

Milduitic appear as burly humanoids, with yellowish skin the color of aged bruises and lustrous black carapace-skulls. They speak in a high-pitched chittering, clicking language of their own. The language is partially beyond human hearing range, and they may appear silent, in spite of communicating with one another, or attempting to communicate with trespassers.

Taartkin
No. Encountered: (1d2)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120'/50'
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1-1
Attacks: 1
Damage: Thrown pie (1d2)
Save: Th1
Morale: 5
Hoard Class: II
XP: 13

Taartkin are skittering, mincing servitors to those dark forces that halflings fear most - those of the fallen cakes and filched pies.  Prowling in the bushes near the burrow-holds, the Taartkin use foul powers granted by these dark forces to make bread rise unevenly, to cause cakes to fall at critical moments, and to ruin the crusts of pies. Halfling hearth-priests keep a sharp eye out for the glowing eyes of these nocturnal, four-armed lurkers, who swipe baked offerings for submission to their own gods, as they do not bake any goods of their own.
(This minion was an inadvertent duplicate entry, but will possibly show up revised and with a different illustration)

Vedelris Valkayne

No. Encountered: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120'/50' (walk); 180'/60' (fly)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: Bow (1d6+1d4 fire damage), Scimitar (1d8), fire damage (1d6/round for creatures within 10 feet)
Save: MU6
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: nil
XP: 135

Dark-eyed winged enforcer of the fire plane and associated Deities, Vedelris is dispatched to exact retribution, collect debts, and confirm that rites and sacrifices are being properly followed. Appearing as a slight, winged man of serious demeanor, Vedelris will burst forth, ringed in flame. His initial appearance will have equivalent fear effect for those who do not save vs. spells.  Often, his appearance alone will have sufficient effect on the malleable minds of worshippers. If he finds the situation not meeting his criteria, or he is met with resistance, he may lay forth with his bow, firing flame-wreathed arrows. Any creatures closing within 10 feet will receive 1d6 fire damage per round.  As a fire-based creature, Vedelris is immune to fire-based attacks and non-magical weapons. "Killing" him will dispel him back to his native plane.
(this fellow is for a lightning round allowing multiple entries for a single illustration)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Random Magic Item: Corfang's Staff

In 2014, Danish archaeologists working at a 1st Century AD dig in East Jutland came upon a grisly trophy - four pelvic bones strung on a stick.  The bones were co-located with a previously-known dig where at least 200 slain warriors had been ritually desecrated and thrown into a lake.  The Iron Age battle likely took place between Germanic tribes infighting for territory under the pressure of northern Roman expansion during the previous half-century.

A hip discovery.
(I'll show myself out....)
Onward...

The ogre mage Corfang Kontusk was one for collecting trophies from his vanquished foes, and where possible, retaining elements of their skills or abilities.  Particularly, he favored collecting pelvises from his slain opponents, for, he believed, that there was found the true 'essence' of a being.

The bones were disarticulated and flensed, then stained black in a enchantment-fixing brine for several moons until the powers of their dead owners were permanently attributed to the bones. The pelvic bones were fastened to a similarly-treated ironwood staff.

Corfang selected four heroic opponents, each bone providing a bonus or spell powers Any two powers may be used once per day, and beneficial effects may be used on the caster, or upon an ally.

The four lost foes, and their "contributions" to Corfang's Staff are (or were...):

1. Dwarven Berserker - Thalven Ironwood - Crushing Blow: benefits a +4 to hit, and 2x rolled damage.  If a natural 20 is rolled, the strike makes an automatic hit upon a 2nd hit adjacent foe, regardless of damage to the 1st foe. (1d4 combat rounds)

2. Human Sorcerer - Veselm of Thune - Chain Lightning: a branching bolt of lightning strikes up to 60' from the caster, and affects multiple (up to four) opponents - the first opponent is dealt 4d6 damage, with 1 die decreased damage per foe (3d6, 2d6, 1d6) as the bolt dissipates.

3. Human Necromancer - Kelyn Tanler - Necrotic Regeneration: A severed limb may be reattached, but it reanimates as undead. The limb itself has 1HD (besides the owner's HD) and will detach itself upon death, striking or strangling (1d4) the owner's killer until dead or turned. The limb is taut, discolored, and fetid, yielding a permanent -1 to CHA and reaction rolls.

4. Elven Illusionist - Haeron Rivalton - Displacement: -2 upon opponents to hit, (2d4 combat rounds)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Petty Gods "Minions Speed Rounds"

Richard LeBlanc has taken up the mantle for the update of the Original Petty Gods project (now titled the Expanded Petty Gods).  The god list has been fleshed out - but Richard has been accepting submissions for minions to the gods, inspired by public-domain and donated art.  Missed the first few 'speed rounds' of minion-fare, but caught an unclaimed candidate yesterday morning.

Can't believe that no one else picked this lovely little fellow:

Art by Joel Priddy
Polisus of the Larder:

No. Encountered: (1d2)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60'/30'
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: 2
Damage: Bite (1d4+1) and hook (1d4)
Save: F4
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: IV, 1d8 gp equiv.
XP: 65

Minion to those gods of the butcher or hearth, and to those who prepare for lean times. The polisus serves as a guardian for those who have prepared well, and made the correct offerings. The polisus is typically encountered as a dis-articulated hog carcass (more rarely beef or goat). An animate nightmare of butcher's cuts, its limbs and body randomly re-joined, it arises, biting and swinging a stevedore's hook to fend off those who would steal or despoil a well-stocked larder or cellar laid up for the winter.

***

Then ganked a second from the evening round:

art by Joel Priddy
Aretia (The Shy Ones)

No. Encountered: (1d4+1)
Alignment:Neutral (occasionally Chaotic)
Movement: 90'/30'
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1-1
Attacks: 2 (fist or special)
Damage: fist (1d2+variable), or see below
Save: F2
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: IV, 1d8 gp equiv.
XP: 45

The Aretia appear as barefoot adolescent girls in service to Lubella (Deity of the Awkward Teen Years), as well as deities associated with whispered gossip. Appearing supplicant and timid, and lacking a proper veil, they braid their long locks before their faces as they scurry through the streets, whispering and murmuring to one another as they go about their secretive business. They are often gangly, with stubbed toes, barked shins, and bruised palms. However, anyone molesting an Aretia will be set upon en masse and pummeled. Although they appear frail individually, they gain strength in numbers, and gain +1 damage per Aretia present. Additionally, at least one of their number will let out a blood-curdling scream (save or be stunned/deafened for 1d4+1 turns).

Monday, December 8, 2014

Random Magic Item: Lyre of Vervor

Perfect for your chaotic evil bard....

source
Lyre of Vervor

This grisly instrument was created from the skull of the Jester/Bard Vervor after an unfortunately-timed joke put him on Prince Fervald's headsman's block (That being the Prince's second-favorite entertainment, after wandering entertainers).

The Prince's necromancer, Jeral Iamori, retrieved the unfortunate bard's head and placed it on a stake in the Singing Dunes of Arar.  Once dried, the top of the skull was cut off, and the scalp cleaned and stretched over the gap. The necromancer commissioned a hunter of some renown to hunt the Oryx of Krake, bringing back the beast's horns for the instrument's arms.  The finest silver wires formed the strings, and dark rituals re-awoke the bard's spirit, in a sense.

Effects:
The skull sings along with the tunes played on the lyre, and amplifies the effects of any bard spells or effects by 10% (or saves against roll at -2).
User may cast Fear as 7th level MU once per day
User may cast Charm monster as 7th level MU once per day
Unsleeping, the lyre may be posted as a guard, screaming and yelling at any signs of intrusion within a 100-foot radius (outdoors) or 50 foot radius (indoors).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Monster: Scaled Rat

The unfortunate side effect of a sorcerer's attempt to make a more challenging plaything for his pet smilodon, the scaled rats have become a scourge to the farms along the hinterlands, as well as to delvers in the local underground labyrinths, where they aggressively scavenge and harass.

The scaled rats were bred with interlocking keratinous plates, giving them a somewhat armadillo-like appearance.  Larger than the familiar 'giant' or 'dire' rats, explorers are often taken aback by their armored visage and aggressive nature.

The scaled rats have also developed a rudimentary intelligence, most likely due to some arcane leakage during their breeding. As such, they tend to operate in semi-organized packs, developing harassing strategies and wearing down compromised explorers or creatures.  A pack of scaled rats will be led by a larger and more intelligent pack leader that directs his/her group through animated squeaks and whistles. Not retiring as normal rats, a pack of scaled rats will retreat and return to attack stragglers, often keeping up a minor battle of attrition until they succeed in taking down a casualty, or unless dissuaded by sufficient force or taking sufficient loss, indicating that their foes, and the contents of their packs are not worth the effort.

Critter sketch by Wife
Scaled Rat:
1+1 HD*
6/13 AC
Attack: Bite 1d4+1, 5% chance of disease
Move: 12
Save: 17
AL: N
CL/XP: 1/15 (*2/30)
Occurrence: 4-12
*Special: Any group of 6 or more rats will include a "Leader" rat of 2+1 HD that 'directs' the group.  The presence of a pack leader improves morale, and the rats will take on a 'cut and run' attack strategy, harassing their opponents until they have killed one opponent to prey on, half their strength has been diminished, or the leader has been killed.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Kurgani, or Curse-Knights

I like things in barrows...

The party enters the tomb complex.

Harald the Crusader lies here, struck down as he dealt a death-blow to the Ur-lich.  It was truly a Pyrrhic victory, as although he had put the bane down, Harald's reputation had been forever tarnished by his burning of the heretical Temple of the Bent Willow. His allies had paled when they realized that the families of the acolytes had taken shelter within and, in his fervor, Harald paid no heed to the cries...

In the gloom of the ossuary, five dead knights arise, armor riddled and rent, eyes glowing with the baleful light of undeath.

source
Behind them, Harald rises, still wearing his campaign armor, holy sigils burning.  Harald lets out a haunted, paralyzing moan...  The band spreads out, attempting to surround the party.  Strike the leader down, or fritter their dwindling resources on destroying the guard knights - with the hope that there will be strength enough to put Harald into his grave permanently?

source

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ninja-Bears

In  honor of the release of Chris Kutalik's Slumbering Ursine Dunes project, and inspired by his War Bears - meet their sneakier, stabbier colleagues...

More than one usurper noble, crooked merchantman, or criminal lord has been caught unawares upon finding a Ninja-Bear padding within their quarters, their guards nowhere to be found. The image of the boisterous, and occasionally bumbling, War-Bear does not correlate to such stealthy actions.

As such, many a final thought/word has been, "Where did that bear come fr...."
although he'd prefer fresh ground
To add insult to injury, they have a tendency to infiltrate and/or escape through palace or manor kitchens, walking off with delicacies and any whole-bean coffee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Random Magic Item: Bone Bracelet of Undead Invisibility

Joseph Browing has one, too, but of the opposite effect.

A quick-and-dirty magic item that came to mind when I saw 'undead invisibility.'

This divinely-enchanted bone bracelet renders the wearer invisible to lower-level undead (up to 4 HD). It was crafted for infiltration into tombs, dark temples, or undead strongholds where low-level undead may haunt or be employed as guards.  While more powerful undead can discern the wearer, the bracelet still imparts a displacer effect, and attacks by these undead are at a -2 to-hit penalty.

Restrictions: Wearable only by characters of lawful alignment. If a cleric wants to turn undead, they will need to remove the bracelet and become visible.


A perfect fashion accessory for one's Bone Armor of Sozqshy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A New Race - November 2014 RPG Blog Carnival


Johnn Four took the helm of this month's RPG Blog Carnival with the topic of races.  How are they played? What flavor makes PCs or NPCs of a particular race special, and not just a batch of modifiers?

I think that many of us have doodled with races, either making our own, or modding up canon races.

Even in my brief ruminations, I have a bunch of elves who are nowhere near trees. My lizard-folk are an ancient and perhaps degraded race, seeking renaissance. And I cobbled together a quick mechanism for making any critter an intelligent 'uplifted' class.

*****

So, something new... among the classic creatures of myth (and gaming) are the centaurs.

Might they have a smaller, more canine, cousin?

Centdogs, dogtaurs?

How about Canivirum?

close, but not sure why the artist didn't commit to canine hind legs.

With the upper body of a humanoid and the legs and body of a dog, this liminal creature runs in loose packs in deciduous forest and plains climates. Much smaller than the familiar centaurs, the canivirum have been likened to a halfling-dog melding (much to their disdain). Semi-nomadic, their tribes/packs live by hunting and herding.  They have few industries of their own, but maintain a trade in wool and hides.  They live for the hunt, and love nothing more than a good challenge. To this end, individuals or parties requiring more exotic hides or meats have been known to offer a group of canivirum but a modest bounty to bring back the required beast (or its component parts).

Racial prerequisites: Con 12/Dex 9
Maximum Level: 8th; Level progression and saving throws as per Ranger, with subclasses, as described below
HP/Hit Dice: 1d8
AC: 8/12: any armor allowed, but costs 2X normal for customization. Shields as normal.
Weapons: no polearms or longbows; racial proficiency is with a short, thrusting spear (similar to Zulu assegai) and sling (+1 to hit/damage for both)
Movement: 15
AL: neutral or lawful
Languages: Racial + 1
Special: Pack Attack - when two or more canivirum attack a foe in concert, each receives +1 to hit as they circle and dodge their way through a target's defenses.  Likewise, the foe takes a -1 penalty to hit from the coordinated actions of the canivirum.  See also sub-types, below:

The canivirum generally tend to one of three sub-types.

Herder - Herders hold a natural influence over herd animals. They may tend semi-feral sheep and goats or work in concert with hunters, below, to corner or drive large prey herbivores.  Herders with Wis scores of 13+ may, at 3rd level, access cleric spells in the following progression:
Spell Level/
PC Level
I
II
III
IV
3
1



4
2



5
2
1


6
2
2


7
2
2
1

8
2
2
2
1
Hunters - The seekers and providers of the pack, hunters have increased tracking ability by sight and smell, as ranger, but beginning at 95% proficiency. They also receive an addition +1 to-hit for missile weapons (additive for slings, above).

Guards - Larger stalwarts watching over the pack, with +1 damage in melee or unarmed combat, gaining an additional +1 per two levels. Their natural wariness makes them unlikely to be surprised (1 in 6 chance).

---

As "wandering monsters" or an NPC group, canivirum may be encountered in herding/hunting packs of 2d4+2, with one 'Alpha' leader of one to three levels higher than the remaining pack members. Pack-groups may be exclusive (2/3 chance), or a combination of sub-types (1/3 chance):

Alternatively, nomadic parties will be encountered in family-tribal packs of 12-20 individuals, with males and females sharing hauling duties of travois containing belongings and portable shelters.

(I must attribute this creative exercise to my wife, who came up with 'dogtaurs' during a stream-of-consciousness moment - as I have mentioned before - I do not understand the workings of her mind....)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hex 18.16, Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Mapping Project, Revised

Well, I revised my crowdsource map and text based on a few comments - filled in the map and added numbered features, and fleshed out the hex a bit with substantial additional description and content

Download link


Text below, and comments welcome:

The Head of the Ghavor

Overview:

The River Ghavor is sourced among a ring of volcanoes occupying the southern portion of the area. It flows from a lake fed by geothermal springs and mountain snowmelt. A colony of lizardfolk has settled there, and have driven off other humanoids for miles around. No one is certain why they have arrived here, or even how they arrived upon the island, many leagues from their favored marshy territories. However, they have mined obsidian from the volcano's slope, forming and erecting stele throughout the forest for mysterious rituals. North of the volcanoes lies a lush evergreen forest, mostly uninhabited, but rife with tempting game,and a few odd predators. As long as one's incursions are brief, and does not raise the lizardfolk's notice, a fat hart or boar may be taken without raising their ire. More intrusive exploration must be undertaken with great caution...

Forest Primeval:

The northern portion of the hex is forested with primeval evergreens, typically monkey-puzzle trees and similar. Since the lizardfolk have pushed out former inhabitants, and patrol the area, game is relatively abundant. A few odd, almost alien, organisms are found here, as well as installations put in place by the lizardfolk.

Points of Interest:

1. Methuselah Tree:
Centuries older than the remainder of the forest, it towers over the area, allowing surveying of the northern half of the hex for anyone brave enough to climb its gnarled, spiny trunk (and deal with the giant wasps (1d3) that live there). However, sap from the tree is a potent curative (cure 1d8+1 dmg and cure disease, up to 4 doses available/day).

2. Obsidian Stele:
Explorers in the area will be greeted by loose rows of obsidian sculpted into mysterious, helmeted figures and odd, twisted stele with indecipherable cuneiform. The figures have not been carved, but expertly shaped (Stone Shape equivalent) by the lizard shaman (below) as tribute to their ancestry and for a secondary purpose. Each weighs 400 to 500 pounds. Astute observers will find the figures to be arranged in a 'Y' shape with the east and west arms of the Y pointing at the position of the star Akbal during spring and autumn equinox. Upon the equinoxes, the shaman goes into a trance at the junction of the Y. The stele act as an amplifying antenna, which the shaman uses for far-seeing to communicate with fellow lizard shamen scattered across the globe for sharing information and to make their ineffable plans. During the communication, the stele shimmer and pulse, and anyone foolish or curious enough to touch one will receive 2d6 shock damage + save or 1d4 CON loss (permanent) due to the etheric energies pulsing through the 'network'. Even one sculpture would exceptionally valued by collectors or sages, but if any were to be moved or disturbed, it would immediately be detected by the lizardfolk, instigating a fierce and terminal pursuit.

Creatures of note:

Tree Octopus: The lizardfolk have brought with them an invasive species, the Tree Octopus, which is considered a delicacy by the tribe(1HD, AC 8/12, 1d2, timid and retiring, camouflage hides on 5 in 6). Although the climate is much less humid than the lizardfolk's native marshlands, the octopus have adapted to the somewhat humid microclimate afforded by the lake and surrounding geothermal activity. Lurking in the canopy, the arboreal cephalopods subsist on small rodents and reptiles, and by raiding bird nests for eggs and chicks.

3. Filamentous Feeders: Several of these immobile creatures are scattered throughout the forest. They appear as giant fern-like evergreens, however; they are actually arboreal 'filter feeders,' snaring birds, small mammals, tree octopus, and occasional larger prey. The branches are coated with a sticky enzyme that both captures prey, and begins to digest it as it is passed to one of several mouth orifices on the 'trunk' of the creature. Multiple glowing blue eyes on 'branches' and attached to low-hanging tendrils watch for potential prey and act as lures. (HD6, AC7/13, Move 0, Dmg: entangles on successful to-hit,1d4/round enzyme +1d8 bite if pulled to mouth, minimum strength 9 to break entanglement – roll-under Str at +2 penalty, surprise on 5 in 6)

Shadows: In the forest surrounding the stele haunt 1-4 shadows. The shadows have been ripped from their native plane by use of the stele during the lizardfolk's biannual communications. These incorporeal beings are not undead, but instead consist of alien energies. They loiter near the stele, awaiting its next use. Each use of the stele allows 1d4 to return to their home plane; however, an additional 1d4 are drawn forth.

4. Lizardfolk Colony (U'essril):
A colony of lizardfolk (90 individuals: 50 males, 26 females, 14 juveniles) has settled near the outlet of the lake. The colony's name, U'essril, means 'Searching' in their language. Well outside of their normal environs, the 'Stonetalkers' keep to themselves, taking advantage of the warm lake waters and the bounty of the forests to the north. They show disdain, if not outright hostility, to the 'chattering monkeys' who have colonized the remainder of the island, and with the exception of intermittent trade with other humanoids, keep to themselves. While they may tolerate hunting parties into the area, any more intrusive incursions will be resisted.

The colony is comprised of mud and wattle huts and burrows. Closer inspection will find the apparent 'wattle' huts to be mere facades, with the structures lined with closely hewn or formed, interlocking stone of precise workmanship. The village is seasonally inundated as flood waters from snowmelt cascading into the lake push the lake and river past their banks. The lizardfolk call this the 'cleansing time' and relish the muddy inundation. The warriors will be typically armed with obsidian-bladed spears and macuahuitl (as morningstar, 1d8). Although the blades appear to be mere knapped stone, they have been magically hardened to steel-like resilience, while still maintaining the exquisitely keen edge of glass (+1 damage).

Authority:
The colony is led by the shaman Shy'ald'aes (8th level cleric/druid equivalent), who brought his kin here several years ago from unknown lands. Based on certain augeries, he is convinced that evidence of ancestral lizardfolk may be found in or around the island's volcanoes, prior to the race's more recent descent into the swamps. He lost face among his peers due to this theory, and regaining a relic would allow him to return triumphantly, perhaps even staging a coup among the leadership. Likewise, his village is split between ardent followers (70%), and those who have begun to doubt his leadership and vision (30%). The shaman is armed with a trident (+2/lightning 3/day (5d6 damage)).

People/beings of note:

Three lieutenants share leadership duties with Shy'ald'aes and lead patrols and explorations in the area. These are Scale-walkers, who speak one or more humanoid languages and will (begrudgingly) interact with outsiders. They are not welcoming in the least, and brusquely turn explorers or hunters away. If their particular flavor of negotiating fails, they are willing to defend their territorial claims.

It'as'es: 6th level fighter (cloak of protection +2, macuahuitl +1 /+3 vs humanoids) is Shy'ald'aes' oldest friend and closest confidante. She is tasked with exploring the region for evidence of the ancestors and as such, will often be out on the volcano slopes, entering caves or directing her underlings in scratchings and diggings.

T'queash and T'quaem: 5th level cleric/druid (Spear+2 / snake charm, sticks to snakes 1/day) and fighter (shield +1, Sling +2), respectively, are siblings, and lieutenants to the two higher-ranking individuals. T'queash has begun to question Shy'ald'aes' mission and wisdom. She is homesick for the native marshlands, and hopes to gain support for abandoning this foolish quest and settlement in this inhospitable land. T'quaem is an unimaginative leader, happy to be hunting in the forests, and chasing off interlopers. He and T'queash strongly disagree on their leader's vision, and he is conflicted on his loyalty to his leader and his egg-sister. He quietly hopes that he will not be forced to choose.

Additionally there are six acolytes (3rd level fighter (60%) or cleric/druid equivalent (40%)) in the tribe.

Mt Ghavor and Head of the Ghavor:

Points of Interest:

5. Mt. Ghavor is believed to be a dormant volcano. Although it has not erupted in historical memory, its slopes are almost always snow-free, except in deepest winter.

6:.The River Ghavor springs to life dramatically from the slopes of the eponymous volcano. A huge geyser (7) gushes forth with superheated water. The geyser, among other springs, feeds into a lake, and is surrounded by smaller geysers, steam vents and mudpots. In colder weather, or during inversions, the lake basin is filled with fog and mist. The north side of the lake is bounded by a wall of obsidian (8). The river flows westward from the lake.

The area is surrounded by overgrown lava flows and extinct cinder cones (9).

Creatures of Note:

The warm lake is home to several species of amphibian, most benign, a few malicious or hazardous:

Rage Salamander (1-2): An extremely territorial flame-red salamander that charges forward, jaws drooling hallucinatory poisons (1+1 HD, AC 7/13, Bite 1d4 damage + save vs poison or suffer acute hallucinations for 1d4 turns (1-4 - Attack nearest PC or NPC, 5 - Abject terrors, 6 – Catatonic).

Thunder-Frog (1-4): These large frogs (1 HD, AC 7/13) puff up to three times their normal size to issue forth a bellowing croak. To another Thunder-Frog this says, "I am sexy," but to other creatures, these vocalizations can deafen and stun for 1d4+1 rounds any caught within a 15' cone in front of the frog. Multiple frogs croaking in concert will multiply the stun effect for 1.5 x the rolled duration per frog, plus cause 1-2 HP damage per frog within the 15' cone. If a frog is injured while puffing, there is a 50% chance it will explode for 1d6 damage in a 5' radius.

Paralyzing Periwinkle: Besides the amphibians, a poisonous freshwater periwinkle snail lives in and near the lake outlet. This nondescript lemon-sized snail has a heavy shell and clusters among the rocks near the lake outlet, requiring significant caution when crossing the river, in the event that one steps on a snail and its stinger pierces a foot. (AC 3/16, 1 HP, Atk 1 pt + save or complete paralysis in 1d6 turns, death in 1d6 hours; Move 1) The lizardfolk use them for their rituals (They have a racial immunity to the effects of the poison, and use the venom as hallucinogen).

Southern Peaks:

Points of Interest:
10: Hrada Peak and a second, unnamed peak, south of the lake, dominate the topography of the southern portion of the area. Hrada is an extinct volcano, riddled with lava tubes, some dead-ended, some interconnected within the heart of the volcano (A framework and maps for the volcano interior are in the works – V.A.). Many of the lava tubes have been explored by the lizardfolk in search of evidence of lost cities and artifacts that may provide the information and means to bring uplift and renaissance to their race. Explorers to the tubes will have a chance of encountering one or more lizardfolk exploration parties (5th-6th lvl leader with 4-6 companions). Hidden deep within one of the tunnels, among other artifacts of inexplicable purposes, is The S'thter: A tome of pictographs and cuneiform etched on wire-bound sheets of mica dating to before the Age of Man. It contains a history of the lizardfolk's 'lost' city, allegedly located in the Desert of Glass. The book documents the history and advances of the race prior to the coming of the humanoids and the race's subsequent downfall. The book may include information on advanced 'magics' known to the ancestral lizardfolk. Although they have not yet found this relic, if it is located by explorers, the lizardfolk will attempt to recover it be any means necessary.

Creatures of Note:

11. Caves near the summit are home to a family nest of Blue-laced Wyverns, recognized by their lustrous iron-black scales with iridescent blue edging (valued for both their resilience and decorative qualities by certain armor-makers). The family is territorial, and one or more adults are typically patrolling or hunting in the vicinity. Adult (4): HD 6; AC 3/16; Atk 1 bite (2d8) or 1 sting (1d6+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24). Juvenile (2): HD 2; AC 4/15: Atk 1 bite (1d8) or 1 sting (1d4+poison); Move 6 (Fly 24) (6 total, 3 will always be present).

****************

Whispers you may have heard about the area:

1) Cutting down the largest tree in the forest will release a grateful imprisoned god (F, and kind of a dick move – V.A.)
2) Stone statues in the forest walk during the full moon (F)
3) The lizardfolk seek ancient secrets and magics (T)
4) Wyvern eggs, when eaten, are proof against all poisons (F)
5) Caves riddle Hrada Peak, and have been barely explored (T)
6) A wall of black glass borders the Ghavor headwaters (T)
7) The river flows from a steaming valley (T)
8) The lizardfolk practice rituals during the equinoxes to speak with their god (partial T)
9) Use caution wading in the Ghavor, the water will turn you to stone! (partial T)
10) Excretions from the red salamanders will give a pleasant buzz (F)
11) The lizardfolk climb Hrada Peak to worship the wyvern (F)
12) The caves of Hrada Peak were formed by huge worms, a few of which still burrow through the mountain (F)
13) Beware the forest, the trees will eat you! (T)
14) Ghosts walk the forest (partial T)

Wandering critters, forest:

1. Giant wasp
2-4. Boars/wild hogs (3-6)
5-9: Deer/elk (2-12)
10. Tree Octopus (1-4)
11-12. Black bear
13. Mountain lion
14. Giant snake (Constrictor – 3HD, AC 6/13, 1d4 + constrict (1d4/round))
15. Fierce feral chickens (4-8) (Ruins surprise chances next turn, but you might find eggs...)
16. Lizardfolk hunting party (4-8, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
17. A very confused, sun-burnt yeti.
18. Shadow
19-20. Odd noises, probably just the wind...

Wandering critters, in and around the lake:
1-4. Lizardfolk hunting party or patrol, or perhaps just swimming and cavorting in the warm water (3-6, 50% chance of 3rd-5th lvl leader)
5. Rage Salamander (1-2)
6. Thunder-Frog (1-4)
7-8. Very large carp or other fish surfaces/jumps in the lake
9. Giant axolotl (2HD, AC 8/12, Bite 1d4, attacks only in defense)
10-11. Patch of poison periwinkles (2-12) in shallow water
12-13. Nesting pair of large Steamer Ducks (1HD, AC 8/12, Bludgeon(x2) 1d4, Move 3 (Fly 12), very territorial)
14. Black bear
15. Fishing eagle
16-20. Nearby geyser or steam vent erupts. PCs in range receive 1d6 scalding damage.

Wandering critters, mountain:

1. Giant eagle
2. Mountain goats (Will tend to flee, although rams will be territorial (¼ chance))
3-4. Snow snake (2HD, AC 6/13, 1d4+cryo-poison (save or 1d8 cold damage), white fur camouflage, surprise 5 in 6 if in snow)
5. Yeti
6. Grizzly bear
7-8. Wolf, single or pack (4-8)
9. Ravens (2-6) (If party camped, 20% chance of stealing food or random shiny thing)
10. Snow leopard
11-12. Wyvern (75% adult, 25% juvenile)
13-14. Marmot (1-4) (Chatters at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 3rd-5th lvl leader)
16. AVALANCHE!!! (dodge or 4d8 damage to anyone caught in path)
17-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?

Wandering critters, lava tubes:
1. Spider, giant spitting
2. Albino cave squirrels (4-12) (½ HD, AC 7/13, atk bite 1d2, tend to flee, Chatter at party, ruins surprise chances next turn)
3. Bat swarm
4. Mouse Swordsmen (4-6) pursuing a giant weasel
5. Cave Fisher (one only)
6. Small earth elemental (2-4HD)
7-8. Cave Cricket
9-10. Fire beetles (1d6)
11-12. Rockfall (1d6 dmg)
13-14. Pocket of asphyxiating gas (save or 1d6 dmg)
15. Lizardfolk exploration party (4-8 with 5th-6th lvl leader)
16. Cave Fairies (2-5, HD1+1, AC7/13, Fly 6, atk tiny dagger 1d3, 2nd lvl thief abilities, 1 random 1st lvl illusionist spell 1/day, flit about teasing explorers, annoying, try to steal stuff)
17. Giant weasel fleeing Mouse Swordsmen, carrying one of their deceased number in its mouth.
18-20. Nothing, but did the mountain just rumble?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Inspiration from the next barstool over.

...having a quick beer-thirty IPA at the bar next to my office, and jotting ideas in my notebook, trying to come up with a few more items/ideas to populate my shared hex for its next draft...

The guy next to me (whose beer-thirty arrived had a substantial head-start on mine) looks over and says, "Hey look, we're both doodling!" (he is sketching on a notecard while half-listening to his lady-friend). "Whatcha drawing?"

I tell him I'm making notes for a wilderness adventure story, but that my forest is boring.

"Oh, you need to make it underwater."

"I have a lake with some interesting stuff already."

"No, dude, like filter feeders.  Saw them on TV.  Put 'em in trees. Guy's in the forest, it's all dark and creepy. 'Hey, what's that?' Sees something floating in the air. 'Rawr!' "

And that is how I came to contemplate arboreal filter-feeders....

... another thing perfect for eating halflings.

Heh.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Mamalen Entek (magic beast)

The Mamalen Entek, or 'Wandering Root' makes its appearance in Chapter 1 of the excellent webcomic "Unsounded" by Ashley Cope.  Unsounded has been on hiatus while Ashley built up buffer but came back on line today, as promised. In recognition of the creative worldbuilding in the comic, have a statted-up magic beast...

Referred to as a 'Senet Beast' in the local parlance, the Mamalen Entek was created through ancient magic, or perhaps even by the gods, and wanders the deepest primordial forests. Believed to be centuries old, it appears as a massive, crude sauropod comprised of boulders and gnarled tree trunks, often with one or more aged trees growing from its back.  Green-glowing 'eyes' bracket the head.


Absolutely silent when still, and comprised of vegetation and country rock, the Mamalen Entek will surprise on 5 in 6.  Some say that the beast's idea of curiosity and problem-solving is, "Will it fit in my mouth?" But other observers believe that the beast's intended purpose is to re-balance a place, and as such, it seeks to neutralize discord, occasionally by gastronomic means...

As a creature of deep magic, the Mamalen Entek has an empathetic response to any intelligent creatures it encounters.  In fact, it is believed to 'feed' off these responses, whether peaceful or violent. Neutral or positive encounters will typically be ignored, or observed in the Mamalen Entek's ineffable way. Minor aggression, especially by relatively low-powered foes, will either be ignored, or efficiently, but relatively harmlessly, dispatched.

In the event of continued annoyance, a powerful physical attack, or sufficient feelings of aggression, the Mamalen Entek takes on a dark visage, with a reddening glow of visual rage.  Its body spouts plant-like thorns, hardening its hide and increasing damage dealt.


The beast will defend itself via smashing or trampling, entangling, and swallowing foes.  Any swallowed foe will take additional damage as the beast's fibrous 'entrails' engulf them and root into their body, absorbing energy and essence. Undead (such as Unsounded's reanimated mage) are not affected.

Blunt trauma is shaken off by the beast. Normal and magic weapons do regular damage, but the beast takes double damage from magical fire attacks.


Psychic energy spilled by the dying Mamalen Entek will cause any intelligent creature within one mile to feel despondent and sluggish for one day.

Mamalen Entek ('Wandering Root")
Huge Magical creature
Extremely rare to unique
HD: 16, AC 3/16, Atk: Smash 2d10x2/Engulf 2d8+4-8/round swallowed, Move 9, Save 3, AL N, CL/XP 19/3,800; Special: Surprise on 5/6, Empathetic, morale/response will mirror 'foe,' Blunt weapons cause no damage. Rage attack increases damage to 3d10, AC improves by -/+1. Death causes all intelligent creatures within 1 mile -2 all actions/saves for one day.

(Welcome, Unsounded readers - I'm pleasantly surprised that Ashley added this to the fanfic contest list!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Tri-Colored Crater Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia

This popped up on my G+ feed...


The Tri-Colored Crater Lakes of Kelimutu, Indonesia occupy the summit craters of the Kelimutu Volcano on Flores Island, Indonesia.  Although the three lakes are adjacent to one another, each is differently colored, and the colors periodically change, also independently from one another.  The color changes are suspected to be attributed to chemical changes in the lake waters from interactions between dissolved minerals and volcanic gas eruptions.


The three lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Spirits, or Enchanted Lake).


Hook possibilities:
Of course, as volcanic lakes, I'd make them reeking, corrosive, poisonous, bubbling up with asphyxiating (or perhaps explosive) gasses, and a lovely place to visit during the summer.

For the less mundane, the color-changing lends to differing characteristics of the water.  Hook or plot drivers may entail collecting water at certain times, in order to gain certain abilities or characteristics - for more complexity, multiple trips may be required, or only when two or more of the lakes are in a certain color combination. Of course, lake characteristics change randomly. Water qualities include curative, poisonous, component for potion or construct, toxin or other reactant specific to the big-bad or a barrier, etc.  Have at it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Halflings of Bogaert

The Enclave of Bogaert

To feed off of Timrod's and Zenopus' halfling posts - a little community out in the boonies where few travel...

Most halfling communities are somewhat reclusive and insular, and the Enclave of Bogaert is certainly no exception. They are willfully independent and generally suspicious of outsiders.  The halflings settled in contested territory within the foothills of the Rhodamine Peaks 10 generations ago, and have been generally keeping to themselves since then.
source
The Enclave is generally forested, with cleared, terraced fields growing rye, barley, and wheat.  Livestock includes sheep and semi-feral hogs that roam among the forest brush.

The residents live in hamlet to village-sized settlements, with the 'Capital' of Myrkan having a population of 3,800, quite populous for any halfling settlement. However, visitors speculate that it is not so much a town as a haphazard group of villages that have grown together, disheveled and unorganized. Although outsiders are soon disoriented and confused by the torturous streets and pathways, a native finds her way effortlessly, reading subtle signs and ciphers known only to the residents.

Individual residences are the typical hobbit burrow-holds, although many well-to-do and/or eccentric residents will build one-to two-story buildings over the burrows.  Close inspection will find them to be empty shells.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dungeon Geology 5

A long-tardy addendum to some musings, starting here.

As part of my hex contribution to the Tenkar's Landing crowdsource project, I elected to throw a couple of volcanoes into my hex - one dormant (but still geothermally active) and one extinct. The area around the extinct volcano is riddled with lava tubes, which are in the process of being explored by a local band of lizardmen seeking artifacts of their species.

Simply, a lava tube is formed by lava flowing under a hardened 'roof' or under a crust of cooled lava:

They are not uncommon in volcanic areas - both stratovolcanoes and shield volcanoes.  My semi-local example is along the slopes of Mt. St. Helens.  Tubes may be quite cavernous, or may pinch down to crawl-spaces or nothing, as repeated flows fill in the cavity.

Access may be through a 'typical' cave entrance, or via a roof collapse.


The challenge with a lava tube system is that the passages tend to be linear, with very few branchings or chambers.  Characters could end up exploring multiple dead-ends and in-and-outs before encountering anything of note other than whatever cave fauna has moved into the chambers.  However, as a natural tunnel (many may be over a mile long) it can interconnect two areas.  An interesting possibility, especially if the lava tube is an unknown quantity, or perhaps acts as a bolt-hole from some residence or redoubt.



So although the tube or tube system doesn't have the tortuosity of a dissolution cave (ex. limestone), it still has the potential for some interesting features, geometries and interconnections.
Small tube
The "Meatball" inside Ape Cave, Mt. St. Helens
Lava stalactites 
Lava "gutter" and tube-within-a-tube
Branching lava tube or side-tunnel
Page with more features and definitions

For the crowdsource exercise, one or more tubes will access ancient lava chambers (this may be more artistic licence then scientifically accurate), where there is the potential to find interconnection over multiple levels, ancient workings and macguffins. An event, such as an earthquake or landslide, may expose a heretofore unknown tube or passageway, or clear a formerly blocked conduit. Now to create a few levels for some populating...
Looks like something out of Giger


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parasite zombies (October 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

I realized that I overlooked making my "Things that go bump in the night' entry for this month's Blog Carnival.  I had my wife sketch up a critter and everything!  Oh well, here's another extrapolated real-world nasty for your gaming environment...




There are several varieties of parasites that, as part of their life cycle, 'zombify' or mind-control their hosts in order to procreate.  The typical strategy is to cause the host to lose inhibitions or self-preservation, and therefore expose itself to predation or other harm in order to distribute larva or advance its life cycle. The Cordyceps fungus takes over ants and spiders, the Horsehair worms take over crickets, the broodsac flatworm controls snails.  All lovely lifeforms that are cause for plenty of skin-crawling.

Although known since the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Rhizocephala parasitic barnacle popped up on several nature blogs last year, probably due to a lull in people finding things to cringe at on the Internet.

Illustration by the incomparable Ernst Haekel
Briefly, the Rhizocepahla is a parasitic barnacle that has shed its shell, appendages, and most organs in order to become, essentially, a swimming set of gonads and a nervous system.  Which it attaches to, and infiltrates, a crab host, co-opting its digestive and nervous system.  Oh yeah, and reproductive system, making the host a brainless walking reproductive organ...

And so, I'll make it a game critter...


Friday, October 24, 2014

The Joy of Used Books.

Ordered a used copy from Amazon, $4.50, shipped.


Opened it to see if it had any stories (besides those on the pages).


It's autographed.

RIP, Iain. Hope you're enjoying that perfect dram somewhere.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hex 18.16, Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Mapping Project

My modest contribution to the island sandbox...

Welcome to Hex 18.16, The Head of the Ghavor:

download
(Done with inimitable colored pencil technology.)

The northern portion of the hex is forested with primeval evergreens, typically monkey-puzzle trees and similar. A Methuselah tree grows in 0502. Centuries older than the remainder of the forest, it towers over the area, allowing surveying of the northern half of the hex for anyone brave enough to climb its gnarled, spiny trunk (and deal with the giant wasp that lives there).

0303/0304/0404/0405/0503/0504: Explorers in the area will be greeted by loose rows of obsidian sculpted into mysterious, helmeted figures and odd, twisted stele with indecipherable cuneiform. The figures have not been carved, but expertly shaped (Stone Shape equivalent )by the lizardmen shamen (below) as tribute to their ancestry and for a secondary purpose. Each weighs 400 to 500#. Astute observers will find the figures to be arranged in a 'Y' shape with the east and west arms of the Y pointing at the position of the star Akbal during spring and autumn equinox. Upon the equinoxes, the shaman goes into a trance at the junction of the Y. The stele act as an amplifier or antenna, which the shaman uses for far-seeing to communicate with fellow lizard shamen scattered across the globe to share information and make their ineffable plans. Even one sculpture would exceptionally valued by collectors or sages, but if any were to be moved or disturbed, it would immediately be detected by the lizardmen, instigating a fierce and terminal pursuit.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bearguana

Because we watched Godzilla last night and noted how bear-like the big guy was, and because, honestly, owlbears are kind of silly.

Of course it is
The bearguana, a chimera of bear and reptile, was developed by the vivimancer Duil En'quae two generations back. He had hoped to sell the beasts as exotic cavalry mounts, but the creatures' intransigence showed this project to be folly. His breeding stock eventually escaped, and has been a terror of the local forests since then.

The bearguana have the head and body of a bear, with the iguana's claws and tail. Bearguana hide consists of a toughened combination of fur and scales, along with the reptile's signature spines. As such, it is in demand by exotic armor-makers as an alternative to simple leathers.  Adults weigh approximately 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, and stand up to 8 feet tall when rearing on their hind legs. Omnivorous opportunists, they will dig up both live prey and plants found via their acute sense of smell, or will chase other predators and scavengers from their claims. Their reptilian aspect will find them sunning themselves on rocks or in clearings.  Bearguana are very protective of their wide-ranging territories, attacking perceived interlopers aggressively. They are typically solitary, although mated pairs will comingle periodically, and sows with cubs are common.

The reptilian metabolism contributes to the bearguana being somewhat sensitive to cold, and the creatures tend to hibernate longer than their pure ursine cousins. Any hunter who happens upon a slumbering bearguana during the cold months must quickly take advantage of this, for although the bearguana may be initially sluggish, it will quickly recover and defend itself mightily (-2 attack for 1st two rounds, +2 rage attacks on subsequent 2d4 rounds). On an attack roll of 18+ (natural roll), the bearguana grabs its opponent and hugs it for an additional 1d8 points of damage.

Bearguana: HD 5+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; AL N; CL/XP 5/240; Special: hug for additional 1d8 if to-hit roll is 18+, bearguana awoken from hibernation attack at -2 for 1st two rounds, +2 rage attacks on subsequent 2d4 rounds.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tenkar's Landing Crowdsource Contributions - my mad skills.

The question went out on the group page for the mapping project, "When asked about how to approach the actual doing of things, a comment was made that design and development each to his or her ability. With that in mind, I wanted to ask what are folks strengths?"

I replied with:
"My writing skills rival those of a room full of monkeys with keyboards, and my artistic skills are equivalent to those same monkeys with buckets of multi-colored poo."

I'll probably not get many requests for editing. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Territory Claimed

Erik Tenkar found a map from a set-aside project and decided to share it with the unwashed masses for a crowd-source sandboxing project.

Hex-claiming went live this AM on G+.  We claimed a nice-looking little hex in the center of the island with a mixed terrain of forest, mountains, and the head of a river.  Very promising.

Welcome to Leicestervania:

And of course we brought our flag.


Rollin' d30

Heard a holy racket in the kitchen.

Max found my d30, and among its other applications, it makes a VERY satisfying noise when being batted across a wood floor. 


Richard LeBlanc would be so proud.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crnobog's Well, a pointcrawl entry for the Slumbering Ursine Dunes

Chris Kutalik has a Kickstarter going for his Slumbering Ursine Dunes sandboxing region, a Slavik-flavored madhouse of a desert, complete with polearm-bearing bear-soldiers, alien artifacts, and lazy godlings.

He and his colleagues are past their 3rd stretch goal and several hundred dollars short of stretch #4.  Go ahead, throw him some coins.

C'mon, people - War Bears!

Anyway, last week he offered up some prizes for readers to add a few encounter areas to the sandbox (or as he calls it - a pointcrawl).

Sure - what the heck...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quigh Caverns

Quigh Caverns

Up the coast a ways, where the cliffs begin to rise up, and the beach narrows to a sliver (often less at high tide), one may find the three entrances of the Quigh Caverns.

Marked by three stones jutting from the water, the caverns are accessed via a narrow beach.  The cavern network is tortuous and partially inundated.

Download

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cooking with Monsters...

Well, cooking monsters, not so much with them (they tend to use waaayy too much tarragon.)

Greg Gorgonmilk is accepting submissions for Edible Monster Parts for a crowd-sourced table for his next issue of Underworld Lore:

Submission Guidelines for the Edible Monster Parts table are as follows:
  1. Name and identify a specific monster-derived food or beverage. Tell us where it comes from, how it's harvested and prepared.
  2. Explain any special precautions or necessary conditions that must be considered before obtaining the Monster Part(s).
  3. Identify and explain any special effects resulting from consumption of the Part(s). Provide mechanics if necessary.
  4. Identify and explain any neutral or negative side-effects. Provide the % chances that these effects may occur.
  5. If necessary, explain how long the part takes to digest and how it might affect a creature's urine, fecal matter or spoor. Will monsters be able to detect its presence via any of these markers?
Might as well make up a tasty dish...