Saturday, February 28, 2015

February, 2015 RPG Blog Carnival Wrap-up

Taking a break from alphabetical dungeon dressings to wrap up this month's Blog Carnival, "How and Where I Write"

I received entries from eight individual bloggers, and Lowell Francis and Terl Ober both contributed multiple entries. Thanks to all for sharing - I really appreciate the responses.

First of all, a common theme seemed to run through most of the entries was not so much 'how' people write, but 'when.'  It's most illustrative of many of our middle-aged lives, full of work, family, other pursuits, and annoying cats.  I've read in other writing essays and guides of the importance of finding time "In-between."  In-between job tasks, picking up the kids, while waiting for the bus, etc. The difference in attitude of, "I only have 15 minutes..." and "I have 15 minutes!"

Terl Ober, I think, wins the dubious prize for this, with work, graduate classes, and seven kids... His goal? 15 minutes a day. But his second entry demonstrates his drive and creative use of time in finding that precious time, even writing while at the treadmill. Hats off to you, man, and thanks for the 30 minutes...

James Introcaso also writes during his available time wedged in between work, podcasting, freelancing, relationship, exercise, etc.  His writing gets pounded out during commutes, lunch breaks, etc. He calls it writing on a schedule, but perhaps more accurately - writing within a schedule. He also gets points for an affinity for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Phill Nicols also writes among the responsibilities of fatherhood and how his writing schedule, too, is shaped by the schedules of school and holidays.  He also makes a personal schedule for his writing days, to stay on task, and to track progress on projects.

Mark at Creative Mountain Games is more succinct on his process in finding that time and space to write. WRITE EVERYWHERE! The tools are there, be it a notebook, a smartphone, or a computer.  We are no longer ever more than a arm's-length away from a way to record that idea.

Speaking of which, General Tangent talked about the evolution of the tools throughout his writing life - notepads, typewriters, old word processors, mini-cassette recorders.  Because there is nothing worse than getting an idea, and not having a method to get it recorded some way, lest it wanders off among all the other thoughts of the day.

Samuel Van Der Wall also shared a bit of his personal writing and blogging history. Within his story he made a note of his projects status: "Completed, In Progress, and Shelved." Shelved - ideas are saved, not quite in progress, or gelled, even, but not discarded, for they may be of later use.

Both Terl (above) and Phill Nichols emphasized the importance of outlining for their writing projects. Phill goes on to break down his outline and revision process for different writing needs - blogging, short fiction, and gaming prep.

Book Scorpion talked of game prepping - mostly with the mindset of having names and places in mind to allow freedom and consistency while improv-ing through a game.  And, most importantly, having a second set of eye/ears to bounce ideas off as she thinks of plots, transitions and hooks.

And the research prize goes to Lowell Francis, for putting together two surveys to get a better understanding on the time and  priorities of game prep among his readers.  The first focused on session prep, and the second expanded into campaign prep. He received about 400 responses between the two surveys, and they are illustrative of the effort people put into their preparations.

Thanks also to Johnn Four at Roleplayingtips.com for taking over the carnival a few months back.

And step on over to visit Mark at Creative Mountain Games to talk about the March theme, "Best GM Ever!"

And if anyone is curious, here's how I wrote this post:
Max says, 'Hi."

Friday, February 27, 2015

For the gamer who has everything...

Depleted uranium dice.

Bringing a whole new meaning to critical rolls.


Myconid colony

M: Myconids shamble among the luminous fungus of their lair.

Myconid colony (ganked the OG Dungeons of the Slave Lords mushroom-men) inhabits a hive-like series of caverns deep in the dungeon complex.  Reclusive and contemplative, they distrust outsiders, avoiding them and considering them to be disruptive, if not downright destructive. There will be 25 individuals present - 5 'circles' with one each of 1 to 5 HD, plus a 'Sovereign' (6HD). If the leader is killed or dies, the strongest of the 5HD fungus-men will replace it.

In addition to their native spore-generating powers, these myconids recruit mycelium to communicate and amplify their powers. 2-5 fungoids will touch and meld via the mycelium fibers over a period of 10 rounds (1 minute).  The group's composite HD will allow them to release higher-level spores (up to 5HD equivalent), and penalize saves by 1 point for each fungoid in the collective.
slimy

The entrance is 'guarded' by pet slime-molds - the slimes are attuned to the myconids,and will not attack them.  Intruders will be attacked be slimes dropping upon them (2 brown slimes, HD 2+1, AC 9, Move 0 (drops), attack clings to victim and turns to slime in 1d4 rounds, immunities: acid/electricity, 1/2 damage from fire).  There will also be 2d4 fungal zombies of 1/2 to 2 HD in the colony at any time.

The walls of the colony are luminescent with fungus, and the colony has several chambers.  The 'circles' inhabit the outer chambers, and the central chambers are used for their fungus garden. Many varieties are grown here, most benign, some beneficial, some hazardous:

a) Purple gnome-cap – Highly poisonous (Save or die if ingested). Dried and powdered gnome-cap is used by discerning poisoners;
b) Red Antler – strong hallucinogen lasting 1d4 turns, Save or: 1-2 - catatonic, 3-6 - helpless giggling, 7-9 - violent rage, 10-11 - blinded (1 day), 12 – prescient vision (1-3 days in future);
c) Yellow-ribbed morel – Delicious, nutty flavor, and high in calories. Nicknamed 'cave-pemmican';
d) Stinky pixie-seat – Odorous shelf fungus. Save or nausea 1d4 turns;
e) Blackcap – black, withered mushroom. Cures 1d6 HP upon ingestion;
f) Orc-dong – purplish-green, quite phallic. Fresh and dried specimens bring high prices among epicures.
g) Braveheart toadstool - +2 morale, dying blow – 1 final attack roll upon reaching 0 HP, regardless of turn.
(borrowed these from my myconid colony: Variation 1, here)

The Sovereign lives alone in the smallest chamber.  There will be 1d4+1 potions available at any time (pick 1st-3rd level magic-user potions and/or 1st-2nd level divine potions).

The mushroom-men are not interested in trade, but may parlay a few mushrooms or potions to an appropriately amiable individual or group. They are more likely to retreat and rely on their slimes and zombies to keep intruders at bay.

(I get more use out of Richard LeBlanc's Blob Generator.  If you have a chance, purchase his D30 Sandbox Companion and/or D30 DM Companion - HERE. You will not be disappointed.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lost Tomes 3

L is for Lost Tomes (previously here, and here)

5 more books quickly ginned up to keep the Alphabet Dungeon stocked:
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Lebelia's Bestiary.
Written in High Elf, this book describe various small to medium monsters and animals, with intricately-drawn figures of the creatures in question. Most pages are missing, apparent torn free.
Each remaining page, if torn out, burned and spoken over with correct incanation, will release the depicted monster (or monsters) up to 3 HD as per summon monster, except the spell duration is twice as long.  There will be 2d10 pages remaining, with random creatures pictured.

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Chionld's Codex of Rejuvenated Lands:
Crafted by a druid committed to rehabilitating dead lands, this book, bound in dark brown bark, smells of earth and cut grass.  The book contains powerful ritual magics for the restoration of blighted or cursed lands to fruitfulness. Only readable by high-level druids conversant in the Old Tongue.

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Lotus-Warrior Scroll:
Written in a foreign calligraphy, the scroll depicts a running creature trailing leaf-like feathers.  The scroll is 'planted' in the ground, anointed with 4 hp of blood, and the chant written on the scroll is repeated three times.  The ritual will call a Lotus-warrior from its plane of training and contemplation. The plant-based humanoid resembles a weasel coated in a close 'fur' of leaves. This magical creature bounds and tumbles from its home plane, and joyously announces its intent to serve its summoner in the pursuit of good and beauty. When faced with an enemy, the Lotus-warrior gambols and tumbles, striking and tripping with its whip-like head-leaf and stabbing with its lance-like wooden sword.  At the end of a day, the warrior will take a deep bow, and disappear in a flash of green.  An art object or valuable gem in possession of the party will disappear with it.
Lotus-warrior - 3HD, AC 4/16 (dodging and tumbling), Atk: (2) 1d6 (Head-leaf ) and 1d8 (lance). Special: 15' reach with head-leaf, target makes DEX save on successful hit or tripped. Warrior may strike creatures immune to normal weapons. May cast Protection from Evil once per day.


The Summoner's Gag:
This scroll appears to contain one to three offensive or attack spells (e.g. magic missile, web, lightning, etc.) However, if the caster reads from it, hidden glyphs become visible, animating the scroll, and gagging and suffocating the user, rendering them helpless (typically at the worst possible moment in melee). The scroll will deal 1d4 points choking and pummeling damage per round for 1d4+1 rounds. During this time, the spellcaster will be unable to speak or defend themselves against attack. The scroll may be burned to free the caster, but they will take half damage from the fire.

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The Inquisitor's Scrollcase:
This relic, created by the Grand Inquisitor Tamrad three generations ago, amplifies mental control spells on scrolls stored within (e.g. charm).  Saves against spells stored in the scroll case are made at -2.  Additionally, the scroll case, if touched to an 'interviewee' will compel them to answer three questions to the best of their ability.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Necropolis

N is for Necropolis:

The necropolis stretches off into the dark. The repository of the dead consists of five rectangular chambers supported by massive stone columns.  Torches and glow-stones cast with continual light illuminate the expanse.  The area is musty with the dead.

Long ago established as hallowed, neutral ground by various groups and factions in dungeon, it holds the dead of conflicts and the hard life of the underground.

halls of the dead
The dead are arrayed according to the respective species and/or beliefs. Bodies here may be buried, mummified, stored in coffins or sarcophagi, stacked in ossuaries, stored in reliquaries or urns, etc. Guard-priests of various races take turns protecting the area from scavengers, both humanoid and animal.  At any time, there will be 6-12 humanoid guards patrolling the area in reverent pairs, silently keeping watch over the fallen.  If raiders appear, the majority will respond, with 2-4 scattering to raise alarm and reinforcements from nearby humanoid populations.  Anyone attacking or scavenging in the area will encourage an retribution attack of temporarily-allied races.

Karst caverns

K is for karst, where dissolution and erosion takes place, and caverns are formed.

Because I proselytize about geology, and I have discovered isometric graph paper...

The flagstoned walls and floors of the Alphabet Dungeon merge with a limestone cavern, formed over eons.

Moist walls glisten in the lamplight, and our party steps into the musty dark.  What denizens occupy these maze-like caverns, filled with interconnecting passages and dead ends? Myconids, undead, troglodytes...
caaavvveesss
The tunnels vary in width from 3 to 10 feet, and similarly, in height.  Stalactites, stalagmites, and other karst features make for challenging passage.  Deep within the caverns, an underground stream connects three caverns, and inundates a fourth. Characters lost in one stream may emerge in another cavern, but if they are unconscious or weakened, they may disappear into the abyssal depths, never to be seen again.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jacek's Temple

Jacek's Temple was formerly a small subterranean temple/monastery for a failed apocalypse cult (the Great Blerch never showed, the leaders were strung up, and their followers drifted off, disillusioned.)
crappy scan

The temple is now home to a small orc tribe that patrols this area of the dungeon level.  Their leader, Bas, is a war-weary campaigner (Orc champion: HD 3+1, AC 4/16, Atk 1d10+1 (great maul)). Scarred and wise, he controls his little tribe with a balance of fear and stratagem.  He is accompanied by his mate, Unis, an orc shamaness (HD 2+1, AC 6/13, Atk: 1d6+1 (mace); protection from good, bless).

He is tired of being a pawn of others, and has carved out this little niche for himself and his group.  That said, he isn't above coveting a bit of expansion and elbow room. He will tend to attempt negotiation with parties and raiders, directing them away from his corner of the dungeon, in an attempt to destabilize groups of goblins and bugbear that inhabit nearby areas.

Bas and his guards (1d4+1 orcs, HD 1, AC 6/13, Atk: 1d8 (axe), or 1d6+1 (heavy crossbow)) will be found in the old temple space.  Bas has commandeered the old alter and installed a throne made of skins and broken ox-cart wheels.  The temple has been thoroughly desecrated, with graffiti on the walls, a few broken and scattered pews, and orcish trophies scattered about.

Beyond is a passage to the old monastery, with its monks' cells now converted to orc family-nests and storage - the area is filled with bedding, kegs, looted goods and scattered bones of hunt-prey. The orcs keep a fire going in an old oven for roasting meat.  (20 orcs: 10 male, 6 female, 4 juvenile).

Off the side of the passageway is a secret tomb of one of the apocalypse-cult priests. The orcs are aware of its presence and have looted it, but retreated upon disturbing the sarcophagus because it 'smelled of curse.'  Disturbing the priest's bones will cause a rotting disease to the extremities (save or  lose 1d3 points CON and DEX, cure disease recovers).  The priest was interred with his iron-bound staff (1d6+1 damage). Any lawful/good-aligned cleric taking up the staff will incur their deity's wrath and lose their powers until they can atone (1 level xp/wealth tithed to deity).

A cavern behind the dwelling area contains a desecrated and broken idol, as well as detritus from the tribe. The cavern may also be reached by a secret door behind the temple alter.  A pool of fresh water fills one corner.  There is nothing exceptional about the water, but it is the only source of fresh water in this area of the dungeon, and Bas protects the resource accordingly.

(+JimMagnusson inspired me to this, after I swore I wouldn't do one of those A-to-Z things. Oh well, I'll push this project through ,and leave April for One Page Dungeon designing....)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Ilanuran Ibis

I is for the Ilanuran Ibis:

"Kayl's dead, damn that wight. By Tau's bad breath!
Pifkin, bring me that jade ibis!"
"What? I'm fencing this thing as soon as we get out of this mausoleum and back to Enthnim!"
"Not likely, you heretical halfling! That 'trinket' to you is a holy relic, and will keep our friend from rotting until we get to a resurrectionist!" The cleric wrapped the sculpture up in a makeshift shroud around the warrior's body.
"We gonna try to get him raised?"
"Of course, he's our stalwart. Besides, he still owes me 200 crowns from our last game. C'mon, Baldrick, help me hoist this body."

source
A jade ibis statue, approximately 20 pounds in weight, and strangely warm to the touch. The market value for such a statue is approximately 1000 GP.

However, a closer assessment of the ibis will reveal that it exudes a faint divine power.  Clerics associated with deities of death or resurrection will recognize the ibis as a powerful relic of resurrection, increasing focus and communication with the deceased's soul.  If a party member dies, and their body is wrapped up with the sculpture, the relic arrests all decomposition. Severed limbs will reattach, and disfiguring damage (acid, burns, etc.) will fade from the corpse. If the sculpture is presented to a cleric of an appropriate deity as part of a resurrection fee, the presence of the ibis will increase the likelihood of resurrection by 10%.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hegemonic Ooze

Channeling my love of mind-controlling parasites.

H: Hegemonic ooze.

Lamplight illuminates a pinkish mass covering the floor, a number of humanoid copses scattered about. Someone cautiously pokes one of the bodies with a staff or spear. The 'corpse' opens its eyes and arises, lumbering toward the party. A number of others crawl to their feet, as well. Slimy tendrils stretch from their bodies back to the mass, and the bodies move in a strangely concerted manner.

A semi-intelligent ooze, perhaps originally meant as pest control, it was the product of an alchemist's lab or vivimancer's vat. Not a true ooze, it is a mass of neurons, sensing and questing for prey. It escaped and evolved, and rather than simply consuming, now co-opts some prey as weapons and sensory organs.

The pink leathery ooze extrudes tendrils, controlling 2d4 victim-puppets. Massive, the ooze may extend up to two tendrils with puppets up to 50 feet away from its central blob to reconnoiter away from its body, or to act as lures to draw prey towards itself and its victim-puppet appendages. If in need of new puppets, it will pummel or grapple intelligent prey to unconsciousness, and take over its nervous system and senses via neural connection through a tendril. The connection and hijacking of the prey's nervous system takes 6 turns (one hour). A victim may be rescued within 3 turns, but will lose 1d3 INT and CON.

HD: 9 (Ooze), 1 or 2 (puppets)
AC: 8/12 (Ooze), natural or worn AC (puppets)
Atk: Slam 1d10+1 (Ooze), 1d6 (puppets)
Move: 1 (Ooze), 3 (puppets)
Defenses: Ooze takes 1/2 damage from normal weapons, acid, and electricity. Puppets have similar resistances to mind-controlling spells (sleep, charm, etc.) as undead due to their networked nature.  If a victim-puppet is severed from the slime, it will collapse, dead from the shock of separation.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Graymalkin

At the edge of torchlight, a glimpse of dark fur, the gleam of a single, golden eye. Then it is gone. The eye is glimpsed again.  It appears to be following.  A flash of reflected yellow, then it blinks out...

Today we find a Graymalkin in the Alphabet Dungeon.

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Lost and abandoned, this familiar of a doomed wizard slinks in the dungeon dark. She is tattered and scarred, one eye lost to an unnamed hazard months ago. Resilient to magics and predation, she lurks alone and unbonded.

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Cunning and habituated to the dark, the Graymalkin subsists on rats, small spiders, and the leavings of other dungeon inhabitants. Scraps of arcane magics and the fallout of cast spells allow her to keep a tenuous hold on intelligence and sanity.  A lost creature, perhaps, but she patrols her corner of the dungeon. She is wary of those who would make a quick meal of her, but senses when another possible bond-companion approaches. She remains cautious, following the party, assessing their worth, retreating if she is spotted, fading as another shadow in lamplight.

source
If they make it past this trap, or that lair, perhaps they are worthy to join. Cautious, she approaches, finding the one who will be her new bond-companion. Once the graymalkin bonds, she will guide the party through her corner of the dungeon, passing traps, pointing out bolt-holes, fading through a door into an unoccupied room.

Graymalkin (unbonded familiar)
HD: 2
AC: 6/13
Atk: 2 claws (1d3)
Special: Bonds to a PC in the party, preferably magic user, or barring that, the PC with the highest DEX. As a familiar, she adds her HP to that of the PC. +2 all saves against magic. Confers darkvision on PC. Ability to perform a limited passwall once per day (limited to bonded character only. Can only pass through a door or similar barricade).

source

Friday, February 20, 2015

Forge of the Forgotten Dwarves

F is for (Day) Five.

Still soldiering on into +Jim Magnusson 's Alphabet Dungeon...

A distant sound of hammers on metal echoes down the corridor.  No light emanates from the ajar door at the end of the hall.  Light cast into the room reveals forges and anvils, manned by accursed, zombie dwarven smiths.  The forges are cold, the slack tubs long dry, the bellows cracked and wheezing.  Yet the undead smiths still labor, pounding rusty bars with shivered hammers, going through the motions practiced in life.

Hammering in the darkness

Perhaps they attempted to forge a tool or weapon from a cursed metal, perhaps some greed has consumed them, pushing them to labor past death, or perhaps this is all their souls have ever known.

Mindless, eyeless, they push past an intruder to carry the iron in rusty tongs back to the dead coals.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Exit...Egress...Escape...

I think +matt jackson provided a bit of forest with a ruin to get us into the Alphabet Dungeon, but what if our erstwhile adventurers can't find their way back to the entrance, or become blocked in, and must keep moving forward?

E is for Exits:

Get me out of here!
1. A gaping sinkhole, moss- and slime-draped.  The first daylight seen for days filters down and fresh air fills the lungs.  Looking across the dripping expanse is a caved-in tunnel, and rocks kicked into the sinkhole echo as they fall, and fall, and fall... Looks like out is up.

2. After crawling among stalactites and whacking their heads one too many times, a subterranean river beckons.  Can they make the dive, ferrying gear through the drowned dark, perhaps finding a breathing hole along the way?  Will a grasping tentacle drag a hapless adventurer down, so close to the egress?

3. Running, fleeing from a foe, the party comes up short, backpedaling to avoid falling down the cliff face and onto the pointed rocks below.  Sea spray pelts their faces as they look upon the crashing waves. A few gnarled trees cling to the crumbling chalk face, defiant of the elements. Perhaps they will hold a grapple...

4. Dappled sunlight through ancient trees greets our party as the blink in the light.  A sigh of relief as they help a limping ally out of the dark cavern behind them. Unfortunately, they are not the first besieged party to stumble out of this cave, and Rahm Omas and his band of forest bravos await to relieve the depleted party of their hard-fought gains.

5. Stairs rise from the corridor, ending in a trap door.  The door, hidden from above, opens behind the idol of a death-angel in an abandoned temple.  Ancient runes ring the idol's pedestal. Unbidden, one of the characters begins to chant the forgotten language of the runes.  The idol opens her eyes and shakes dusty, iron-feathered wings. Who are these infidels desecrating her holy space?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Death Whistle

Thanks to the inspiration from +Jim Magnusson, a bit of flavor for his 'Alphabetical Dungeon'

Day 4 - D is for Death Whistle.

A magical relic or device based on the Aztec dual-chambered 'death whistle.'  The whistle was used from both ritual purposes - as to signal a sacrifice (often of a prisoner-slave) or to call the wind god, Ehecatl.

Additionally, Aztec warriors would blow this device while running into battle - the unnerving scream of the whistle meant to disorient and sow fear into enemy ranks.  A single whistle is demonstrated below, with a synthesized mass of whistles at the end of the video:

Skairy.
Death Whistle:


Made of ceramic or carved stone, death whistles may be found among lost barrows and sacrificial sites.

Enchanted with the aura of death absorbed from the pain and suffering of sacrificial victims, these whistles have distilled fear within them...

A blast from this whistle may cause fear 1d4 times per day. When used en masse, each additional whistle will penalize saving throws vs fear by -1.

Because of the whistle's occasional association with wind gods, 1 in 4 whistles will also be able to cause a wind gust once per day, knocking down small creatures, blowing out light sources, blinding and disrupting foes, and negating missile attacks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Copper Dragon Mask

Next in line for something found in +Jim Magnusson's 'Alphabetical Dungeon' project.

What's that, glistening under that rotten pile of owlbear hides?

Day 3 - C is for Copper Dragon Mask.
source
Harkening to the powers of the copper dragon, a wearer of the mask may either project a line of acid (4d4 damage) or a cloud of slowing gas (save or slow as per spell for 6 combat rounds) once per day.
Wearing the mask comes with a cost, and the bearer becomes cursed with greed.  Each month of owning the mask increases the lure of gold, making the bearer more likely to take foolhardy action in pursuit of wealth, or come into conflict with their colleagues. The mask requires a monthly save or one of the following effects takes place:

1. Character gains a gambling addiction
2. Character attempts to mislead peers in dividing treasure or reward
3. Character attempts to steal an item from another character or npc.
4. Character attempts to cheat another character or npc for an item (misrepresent value, short payment, etc.)
5. Character becomes susceptible to bribes
6. Character attempts to shirk a debt.
7. Character is distracted from a task or quest by the promise or rumor of quick wealth
8. A devout or divine-powered character strays away from their diety or required tithes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Boudoir of the Ogre

Thanks to the inspiration from +Jim Magnusson, a bit of flavor for his 'Alphabetical Dungeon'

Day 2 - B is for Boudoir.

Quick-and-dirty sketch, followed by quick office scan
At the end of a narrow and curving passageway, and behind an iron-banded door, lies the apartment of the Ogre Swabllach and his 'lovely' wife Yusl. The pair have made their hole a home, with a collection of skins and tattered tapestries, consisting of trophies slain or filched from their raids.  On the wall hang artfully displayed skulls, including that of the minotaur who was the former resident of this room.

A pile of loot (kegs of ale, boxes and bags of goods) is arrayed along one wall, and a rough-hewn table and heavy chairs and stools are scattered in an alcove, trenchers and flagons scattered and spilled on its scarred and stained surface.

Behind some heavy curtains raided from a nearby manorhouse is Swabllach's Love Nest - a huge bed built of empty kegs and timbers, covered with furs and blankets.   Particularly unfortunate explorers may burst in on the ogre pair during an intimate moment, leading to a traumatizing combat with a naked, tumescent, very enraged ogre (And the missus will be extremely unhappy, as well...).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lithopedions, or "Stone Babies"



A lithopedion, or "stone baby" is a rare condition when a fetus dies during an ectopic pregnancy and is too large to be reabsorbed into the mother's body. The body, instead, calcifies the fetus, protecting the mother form infection. In many cases, the lithopedion remains in the mother's body, and she may go on to have healthy pregnancies.



"The skilled surgeons, Claude le Noir and Iehan Couttas, cut into Madame Charti's body and saw a large growth in her stomach. They broke their razors trying to penetrate the tumor, so they attacked it with mauls and drills. Finally they cracked open the stone and saw inside the head and shoulder of a child.

Excited by their discovery, the surgeons called in other physicians and continued to tear away at the calcified remains with iron tongs. In his book The Two-Headed Boy, Jan Bondeson describes the tumor as hard, "wrinkled and formed like a turkey's crest." The child within it looked like this: "The right arm extended down toward the navel; its hand had been broken off through carelessness when the stone-child was extracted. The bones of the head were transparent and the fontanelles were not closed. In several places the skin of the head was covered with hair. The stone-child had one sole tooth, situated in the lower jaw"."

Lithopedians may occur due to a number of tragic or fateful events. Perhaps a pregnant woman made a narrow escape from a petrifying creature such as a basilisk or cockatrice, but her unborn child was not so fortunate.  Likewise, a curse by a witch or other nasty individual could render the fetus as stone.

Natural birth of the now-petrified child is highly unlikely, and the fetus requires removal by magical means, rough cesarean surgery, or physical removal after the tragic death of the mother.

The stone baby may provide powerful, yet tragic, enchantment.

Its primary use is as a material component for enchanted items and devices. While other, more easily obtained components may be more in favor, the lithopedian, by nature of its petrification within the living body of its mother, eliminates the need for any other components, and amplifies the intended effect.
  • For devices providing protection against petrification, such as potions or rings, a sliver or bit of powdered lithopedian grants an additional +2 to saves
  • wand of petrification (flesh to stone)  - -2 save penalty
  • Stone golem - Speeds Golem to move = 9 (S&W), +2 magic weapons required to hit.
  • Stone guardian golem - if the control ring incorporates a bit of lithopedian, the ring may link up to four guardians.
Laying on of a lithopedian, along with application of cure disase will reverse the petrification of an unfortunate fetus, thus preventing the tragedy from reoccurring...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grimjack

When wandering through the local Half Price books a few months back (ostensibly to just buy Divergent for the daughter), I stumbled on compilation copies of a part of the Grimjack comic series (Legend of Grimjack, Volumes 1-3). I'd first read the series in the late 80's when sharing a house with a comic-hound (I was also exposed to Moore and Miller, Chadwick's Concrete, early Grendel, X-Men, etc. during that time). The series was written by John Ostrander and inked by Tim Truman, and was one of the original series produced by the now-defunct First Comics. Grimjack started out as a backup feature in First's 'Starslayer' comic, but rapidly gained traction and was granted his own standalone series. The series ran for 81 issues between 1984 and 1991.

Grimjack, in his usual cover pose - cigarette, cutlass, and poor trigger discipline.
The series opened up my mind for its setting - the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure, where realities met, popped in and out of existence, and generally mucked things up. Humans rubbed elbows with fantastic creatures, aliens and gods. Magic worked in one block, technology the next. A wise brawler carries a blade and a gun, in case one or the other failed in some pocket universe hidden in a alleyway. The next closest setting to this that I had read were the Terri Windling 'Borderlands' books, but Grimjack took the setting to 11. The comic storylines are a mix of pulp noir, detective, sci-fi, fantasy, and general gonzo.

Grimjack (née John Gaunt) is a sword-for-hire within the City. He's a weathered and scarred veteran of the city's gladiatorial pits, police department, and secret police. When we meet him, he is typically at his table at the back of Munden's Bar, nursing a glass of whiskey, accompanied by Bob the Watchlizard.


And as any good noir lead, he has a passion for 'his' city, a certain sense of honor, and the ability to unleash violence in defense of either.

The writing, of course, has a certain cheesy pulp air to it: