Saturday, December 15, 2018

Creeping in Old Cruik Hollow

Knocking out mini-adventure #2, this time a Dyson Logos creation.   Dyson often adds a bit of description or plot seed to each of his maps.  I usually go my own way, but this description was evocative enough for me to run with it...
The limestone caves of Old Cruik Hollow are at the head of a box canyon and show the signs of decades of use by various groups over the ages. Stairs have been cut into the floor of the cave on the left leading into the upper caves. Sections of the caves have been closed off with wooden walls and doorways – and a small tomb was cut into the looping cave and then more recently converted into a storage space. 
These days the upper caves are home to a small group of bandits, exiles and outlaws from the nearby town. Their leader, Ola Zeldade, escaped town when they began growing scales as they are actually at least one quarter naga, and are in the midst of the slow transformation into a more naga-like form.
So I built out this cavern with its leadership "in transition". So to speak. Her merry band was generated, in part, via a few clicks on the Meatshields generator, your one-stop-shop for mooks.
Welcome to the Hollow, we got fun n games - Download
 Happy holidays, ya heathens!

Barrow 007 - Licence to Kill (PCs)

Hi all, knocking out a couple more inspired maps before going mostly off-line for the next week or so. 

First up is a Matt Jackson barrow from his ongoing series.  This one was a tough write - it became a bit more complex with each iteration, in some ways. I had a bit of a challenge filling the south portion of the map, but came up with a second, hidden boon, in addition to the titular baths.  Have look, I hope you enjoy.
Download linky HERE


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Trespassing in Dyson's World - Wyvernseeker Rock

Hi all, another writing exercise of multiple interpretations of a single map.  I scribbled together two scenarios back to back a few weeks ago, and figured I'd better push out two more to make an even four, and keep with my occasional creative theme. 

Here's the original map in all its glory:


And four attempts at making it a somewhat interesting place to visit:

Yup, another root out the goblins and their ilk scenario.

Brain-melting alien.  Always welcome at the table.

What's poisoned the river this time?

Just another happy hermit shrine....

Statted generically for your generic elf-gaming needs.  Share and enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monster: The Tumorous Spider

Writing up a selection of '4 Scenarios' for a certain mapper's lair, and I needed to throw in a Tumorous Spider to haunt a cavern.

Wait, what.

I never statted up the damn thing (well, a few showed up briefly in a OPD draft). And after I had my wife sketch one up and send it to me so I could immediately lose it in my email.

So a quick stat and description of this lovely critter, so I can add it to the lair...
Isn't she pretty?
Twisted by local corruptions, whether they be magical, biological, radiological, or illogical, these giant (4-5' diameter) spiders crawl about on twisted limbs, warts and tumors seeping pus and fluids.  Tortured and deformed by the powers that bent and diseased their bodies, the spiders remain formidable predators, even in their foul, degraded state. Some hunt from disordered webs, as deformed as their weavers, while others remain ambush predators, lurching from cover to pounce or bowl over prey.

The deformities slow these beasts, and many will have one or more twisted, ineffective legs.  Too many intruders have thought these pathetic creatures an easy foe, only to find themselves cornered and disabled.  For the spider's venom slows an unlucky victim, thus leveling the playing field... 

Likewise, striking the creature has a chance of rupturing one of the tumors, spraying corruption on a melee attacker.  Woe to those exposed to the fluids, as they may soon fall under the same ailment as the spider...

Tumorous Spider: HD: 3 or 4, AC: 6/13, Attacks at -2 due to deformed limbs, Dmg:1d6 + poison (save or slowed, as per spell, 1d6 turns), Movement: 1/2 rate of healthy spider, Special: When struck by a melee weapon, there is a 20% chance for the attacker to be sprayed by tumor fluids. Save or undergo twisted limbs/painful tumors within one week.  1/2 movement and -2 to attacks and poison/disease saves (cure disease to counteract).

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cleonald's Barrow - Mucking up another Matt Map

Trying to get back in a writing mode - scratching and clawing my way into some creativity.  Not sure what it is, but this year's seasonal change to the dark Northwest winter's has done a number on my mood, more so than usual.  Got to cleave off some bad habits and modes, and hopefully get to feeling a bit healthier.

In the meantime... pried this little scenario from one of Matt Jackson's recent Patreon offerings.  An unloved tomb housing an unloved occupant.

Click to download adventure

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mini-Review: Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness

Time for a brief look at a time and place in history that passes under the radar in too many history classes (Really, does anyone learn anything in a history class, particularly high school?).  That is - parts of the world that are not Western Europe at some time between the end of the Roman Empire and perhaps the Renaissance.  

Anyway, I believe that this particular book came onto my radar via +Matt Jackson in some post or discussion regarding Viking history and influences.  

Link

Good read - it is primarily excerpts/fragments from Ibn Fadlan's travels, as well as many other Muslim authors in the 900's thru 1100's.  The authors/documentarians are traders and missionaries, intent on building relationships through both commerce and conversion. And gaining intelligence on these mysterious, intimidating folks from the north lands that spend half the year swathed in dark and cold.  The authors who traveled north during the cold months write of their hardships in great detail - voluminous furs and clothing, frozen rivers, difficult transportation, short days.

While the book is best(?) known for Ibn Fadlan's very detailed description of an authentic Viking ship-burial, the passages also document early conversion of Turkic tribal leaders to Islam, Jewish trade networks extending to China and the Asian subcontinent, even an early description of the Polish city of Krakow. Speak of interactions and vibrant trade between cultures and religious groups: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, 'pagan' faiths. It's a good document regarding interaction with the Rus (Swedish Vikings who settled Russia, became traders, and gave the country its name), as well as a glimpse into the travel and trade of west Asia, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe pre-Crusades.

Like many similar texts, the collection is a mix of observation and myth/hearsay.  The writers provide detail of the peoples who they interact with, and speak of both commercial enterprises and the commodities of areas, as well as describing mythical locales and people as Alexander's Wall and the tribes of Gog and Magog.

Briefly - this is a snapshot into a lost(?) period of history - documenting a significant north-south interaction between Asia Minor, the Mideast and Eastern Europe/Western Asia through both trade and conquest.

Anyway, a great glimpse into a generally little-known slice of history. And its a Penguin Classics, so is heavily footnoted and referenced.  Also have Travels of Ibn Battutah on the to-read pile.


Side note: Although the 'Viking age' lasted from around 700-1100, there is an under-appreciation of the influence of the Vikings, particularity as traders. While the western (Danish/Norse) Vikings may be more familiar as the stereotypical raiders - assaulting coastal and river cities from the British isles to Spain, the eastern (Swedish) Vikings found their portion of northern Europe and western Eurasia to be less ripe for the picking, and became traders and settlers, assimilating into the Slavic tribes they encountered in modern-day Russia (and lending their name - the Rus - to the region). These Rus interacted and traded to the west, east, and south. particularly through the lucrative fur trade of the time.  Remnants of this trade are documented by the presence of silver dirham coins, minted in Islamic lands and found in silver coin caches throughout Europe, with some coins found as far as the British Isles and Iceland.  Not all interactions were peaceful as the Rus fought with local Khazar Turk populations over control of the Volga and Dniepr Rivers, particularly for access to the Caspian and Black Seas, and Rus forces traveled as far as Constantinople, attacking the city and forcing a treaty in the 900's. (this is a disjointed and very cursory overview of the time, I'm no historian...)

Update:  A great BBC interview/synopsis of the 'Volga Vikings' recommended by +Jon Salway
(FYI: The mentioned Byzantine trade treaty with the Rus stated that no more than 50 Rus could enter that great city at a time, and that they had to check their weapons at the door...)

Game material: As always, names of groups can be high-graded/bastardized for that barbarian horde at your campaign's borders or trading community.  The descriptions of communities, traditions, trade, and environment provide color and seeds for adventure, a picture of how groups may interact alternatively belligerently and peacefully.  Plus the book provides many descriptions of rituals and myth for color, and of course, that description of a final surviving Viking warrior who climbed a tree and stabbed himself to death rather than being captured.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire - My $0.02


OK, my take on the OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire.  Since all the cool kids are doing it.  Trying to come up with some personal favorites, a few points not already mentioned, and some general relevant irreverence...


1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

All Hail Max.  Re-reading it still warms this stony heart.  We all need to be more child-like.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

Don't make me choose!

Although Courtney Campbell's Hack&Slash Compendiums are dense with game theory, content, and advice. Let's go with that.

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

Midderlands is green and dark and beautiful.
Slumbering Ursine Dunes.  Because Warbears.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

Random Headgear.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

I suppose the simplest explanation is from my inaugural blog entry in 2014:
"About a year ago, I wandered back into a game store, after a brief (30-year) hiatus from RPGs.  I came out with a Pathfinder Beginner Box, tore it apart, and said, "Hmm, this is what gaming is now..."  

About that time, a friend mentioned that they still played 1st-gen D&D, and I found the thing that is the OSR.  So I've been reading the blogs of the community, studying, and filling a couple of notebooks with a few of my own crackpot ideas.
"

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

Not exclusively OSR, but https://donjon.bin.sh/
Random inns, pickpocket loot, treasure, and demographics, among other goodies.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

G+, for the time being.  I'll probably eventually walk my luddite ass over to MeWe...

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

Just this blog, I suppose.  I'm not much of one for forums or chat apps.

Or just mentioning gaming in passing to a coworker, friend, climbing partner, random person at bar.  And being surprised at the number of folks who say, "Yeah, I played..."

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

Ok, here goes.  The newer editions focus on 'heroic' play.  PCs are upgunned from the start.

OSR PCs are average Joes/Janes, occasionally a bit above average.  But even a high level PC can still be nearly one-shotted in the right situation.  You aren't 'heroes.'  So you play cautious, creative, sneaky, figure out how to get around in a scary world.  What's the phrase - 'You are not your character sheet'?

One of the great tenets of fiction is taking an ordinary character, putting them into an extraordinary situation, and seeing what happens.

Do that.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

Crap, I dunno - haven't gamed much outside of our silly elf-game.  Twilight 2000?  "You're on your own..."

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

The low entry fee - ha.  There is so much free or reasonably priced content out there, particularly rulesets.  One doesn't need to drop $50-100 in rulebooks, just to find out that they don't like the system...  Everyone can take a look, mix and match, homebrew.  This has led to a vigorous DIY ethic, with increased production volume and quality in the few years that I've been aware of the movement.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

Matt Finch's Jordoba campaign.  Two groups, one OD&D, one 5e, exploring and affecting the same world (I include the 5e group because chargen was 3d6, in order.  And because the 5e group has had more character deaths than the OD&D group... [See #9]). And pack-centipedes.

The indomitable Jeff Rients' Miscellaneum of Cinder.  Especially since it includes his carousing house-rules, and 'What are the Goblins Up To?'.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

http://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com/ Not sure now Chris can consistently come up with his gonzo d100 lists, but I want some of it, whatever it is...

And I wish Jim Garrison was still posting his Bujilli campaign, but he's gone dark ...

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

Getting to take part in various crowdsource projects - Expanded Petty Gods, Tenkar's Island, From the Vats, a few random hexcrawls and other prompts on G+, etc.

In-blog, I suppose my '4 scenarios' writing exercises, with four separate adventures built off a single map. Although people seemed to quite like my Technoviking.

15. I'm currently running/playing:

Taking part in a monthly B/X game, but need to roll more!  Had an inordinate amount of fun in a couple of con drop-in 5e games, so open to going down that dark path, as well...

And I need to get past social anxiety and just say, "Hey, I'm running a game. Wanna play?"

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

I'm bi-AC-ual.  I write most of my game content stuff for S&W, and Delta's Target 20 math works.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Just do an image search for Henry Justice Ford:

Inktober dump - 10/9 thru 10/13

I'm not doing well with keeping up this year...  Another barrage of poorly-executed sketches....






Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Inktober catch-up 10/4-10/7

Some quick make-up sketches to get back on track.  More misadventures of the anonymous man-at-arms....

Spell

 Chicken

 Drool

Exhausted

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Oneiromancer Class

I really need to keep up on my writing projects.  This one languished way too long as a random list of scribbled notes, then various drafts on the drive. 

Anyway, here's an arcanist who works and plays in the world of sleep, along with a short selection of spells particular to the subclass...

"An arcane student of sleep- and dream-manipulation, the Oneiromancer dwells in the unreality of the unconscious, effecting dream manipulation, recuperative spells, augury and the potential manipulation of outcomes..."

Posted up for free/PWYW on RPGNow for your review.  Enjoy!

Back to Inktober scribbles...

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Inktober 1 and 2

Ok, saw the Inktober prompts, so will give it a go again this year.


Catching up with a couple quick sketches featuring the nameless man-at-arms who starred in several of last year's pieces.


Bad phone pics







Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lihiy Div (Marsh-men) for your old-school gaming joy

One of our favorite neighborhood haunts is a Russian-themed bar owned, in part, by an emigre, and where we often find ourselves eating potatoes and dumplings, drinking Baltika, and watching Russian movies. The ironic thing is that the subtitles are also in Russian, so most plot interpretation is via inference. One of the rotating films on the playlist is the Tale of Tsar Saltan based on a poem/fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin.

Anyway, a plot hook to remove the Tsar from his capital involves going to war against this bunch of clownish marsh-dwelling folk.


For all the set-up and pomp, they are fairly easily defeated by putting the marsh grasses to the torch and some rather comical cannon-fire. In the end, hostages are freed and several of the marsh-men who didn't beat a hasty retreat are ended up captured...


(Pardon me if I don't have a correct name for these miscreants – They aren't named in the film, and my usual Google-fu prowess came up with limited info – so they are named for wild men of the marshes in Ukrainian lore....)

Lihiy Div (Marsh-man)
HD: 1+1
AC: 7 [12]
Atk: 1 weapon (1d6+1)
Move: 12
Save: 17
AL: C

Periodically erupting from the marshes at the edge of civilization, the Lihiy Div bands are stunted, primitive humanoids.  Their appearance is almost a parody, appearing to be swathed in marsh grasses and furs, and almost headless, with bulging eyes, although this may be a mask worn to frighten foes and increase their own morale. Low-technological, they will tend to be armed primarily with bone and wood weapons. While Lihiy Div primarily raid farms and similarly poorly-defended areas for foodstuffs and livestock, they will occasionally kidnap people for unknown rites or sacrifice. 


Lihiy Div may be typically encountered in groups of 12-24 raiders with a 3rd to 5th level leader (60% fighter/40% shaman).  However, on rare occasions, larger congregations of the marsh-folk will form for raiding and kidnapping, although the impetus for these eruptions from the marshes is not clear.

 ***
Ok, so what if you want to run a PC as one of these illiterate, hide-and-grass wearing yahoos?

Lihiy Div 
Requisites: None
Prime: WIS
HD: D6
Move: 12

Advance/save as cleric.

You speak your own, guttural language, and may speak a max of two others at a competency of pidgin to simple conversational, with no written knowledge/literacy.  And math is hard!  You can count to ten.

You are proficient in the simple weapons of the hunter-gatherer: dagger (stone), club (wood or bone), spear (stone), staff, hand axe (stone), and sling. As a “primitive,” you eschew steel.  However, you can craft exceptionally keen blades of stone/glass that cause +1 damage to unarmored/lightly armored opponents.  You may create 1d6 of these per day, depending on available resources.  The 'blade' may be a dagger, spear point, or axe blade. 

Allowed armor includes hide (leather) armor, and perhaps a wood/rattan shield.

You maintain a healthy suspicion and fear of magical forces: +2 vs magic
You've eaten some weird shit and drank nasty water: +2 vs poison/disease

Lihiy Div with Wis >15 may be attuned with Nature and may cast druid spells at -1 level if desired.  You may use a magic item usable by a druids.  You may use potions, but must save vs. poison for them to be effective.

Option: Perhaps you don't want to be a simple mud-footed marsh-dweller.  You can pick/roll a Favored Terrain to be a simple dweller from elsewhere... In your “home” terrain, you have only a 15% chance of becoming lost. You have a 3 in 6 chance to provide sustenance for yourself per day, and a 2 in 6 chance to provide sufficient victuals for a party. This increases by one per five levels. Pick/roll one, PCs with a WIS>15 may choose a second:
1. Plains
2. Forest
3. Mountains
4. Tundra
5. Jungle
6. Desert

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A silly character class - The TechnoViking

Sure.  Why not take an 18 year-old meme and class it up in the style of +James West?

The Man, the Myth, the Machine

I mean, how many stat-worthy talents and abilities do we witness within this span of 4 minutes of viral glory?  Stepping up and making some bro back off of a blue haired girl, random dude handing him a water bottle, intimidating some jackoffs, and, of course, bumping and dancing his way through the streets with abandon... All while shirtless, ripped, blond, and wearing a Thor's Hammer pendant.



From a writing perspective, it probably took me as long to make up the level titles as the class itself. And I have a few random Nordic words added to the vocabulary...

And speaking of James- if you haven't checked out his 'Black Pudding' zine, you are missing out on some great art, creativity, and general old-school insanity.  He has collected Volumes #1-4 into a Heavy Helping of fun, and Black Pudding #5 recently hit the virtual shelves...

Happy Labor Day weekend to my fellow Americans.  Get out and play!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Another Dyson map, another story...


... and here we go again with a bit more small dungeon-stocking, this time using Dyson Logos' "Savage Caves" post...



This time I did a bit of picking and choosing with Dyson's narrative.  A group referred to the Saurguard was evocative enough, but I discarded the evil temple bits for hopefully a bit more intrigue.  Are the PC's merely curious, are they searching the ruins with a preconceived agenda, or are they seeking the truth?


Written using S&W stats, with a race/NPC ganked from more recent versions of the game.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Desecrating another of Matt's Maps

So a couple weeks back on G+, Matt Jackson commented that, "...I'm not so creative where words are concerned compared to maps. I could knock out 10 maps in the time it takes me to write one page of text that doesn't suck."

My response: "writing text that doesn't suck has never stopped me..."

So, here ya go - using one of Matt's Patreon rewards maps, a small setting (that may or may not suck) involving taking care of unfinished business in a ruined house and associated cavern. Pray for your cleric...

Map that doesn't suck

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - The Multicerebral Ogre

Apparently, the watch-lions are too busy ogling the bathing beauties to help our hero out with his little conundrum.  "Oh, don't worry about me, I'll just be over here, slaying the ogre in the dark...."

Multicerebral Ogre
Armour class: As Chain
Hit dice: 1 HD per head (2d4)
Move: walk/run, medium
Attacks: claw x2 (1d8 ea), or by weapon, plus head effects
No. Appearing: 1-2
Morale: 10
Treasure: 50-100 GP/head, 5% chance 10-100 GP gems/head
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Individual head effects

A multi-headed ogre-kin, perhaps some odd crossbreed between an ogre mage and an ettin, with a healthy dash of infernal influences mixed in... Each ogre will have a random number of heads (2d4), with each head having a particular characteristic or ability (see below).  The variable heads and abilities make them a formidable and unpredictable foe, with each ogre encountered having a nearly unique collection of abilities.

As a being of multiple heads, the ogre is only surprised on a 1 in 6 chance, even when slumbering, as one head always tends to be awake. Fortunately, the heads can be fractious, arguing and occasionally delaying the creature from taking an action or making an attack (-1 initiative).  Negotiating is nearly impossible, unless you can somehow get the heads to agree on a vote. Even then, one head will probably accuse the others of cheating.

Head effects* (d20 per head, reroll duplicate #s):
1-8: None, just yells a lot
9: Bite (1d6 damage)
10: Bite, venomous (1d4 damage, +4 save or die)
11: Tongue-lash (1d3 damage, successful hit may entangle or disarm opponent)
12: Cast Darkness (15' radius)
13: Cast Spook
14: Cast Protection from Good
15: Cast Hypnotism
16: Glare (save or be petrified, 1d4 rounds)
17: Spit acid (1d6 damage, 15' range)
18: Breathe smoke (obscures 10'x20' area)
19: Hock a loogie (gross wad of mucous, half speed for 1d4 rounds)
20: Halitosis (Effect as troglodyte)

* Physical attacks (9-11) at-will; Spell effects (12-16) 1/day; breath attacks (17-20) 3/day

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Multicerebral Ogre') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Monday, July 30, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - The Yellow Dwarf

Last(?) contribution to the project.  I think....  A feline-riding fiend that will raid your mage's kit....
"The Yellow Dwarf […] set spurs to his cat, which yelled horribly."
Yellow Dwarf
Armour class: As plate
Hit dice: 3
Move: walk/run, medium to fast
Attacks: "sword," as dagger (1d4)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 8
Treasure: 70-100 gp, gems worth 20-200 gp, 50% chance of magical components or minor item
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Silver or magic weapons to hit, Spells

Not specifically a 'dwarf' by the common understanding, this yellow-skinned fey is more closely related to more malevolent kin as pixies and redcaps.  Wearing a metallic cap and fey-crafted armor, they are immune to mundane weapons, requiring magical or silver weapons to do them harm.

The minuscule miscreants are drawn to arcane magic, and will raid unsecured magical workshops or wizards' studies, stealing rare magical components and small magical items (up to wand-sized).  If caught, they will disappear into a smoky cloud or via some other illusionist subterfuge.

The dwarf may cast three spell per day from the following list: Invisibility, Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force, Protection from Good, Pyrotechnics, and a weak version of Prismatic Spray (30' range;1d6 damage effects, no save; paralysis and blindness last 1d6 rounds if failed save).

The dwarf will press a black cat into service as a mount, luring the cat out of hiding with promises of stinky, oily fish, then capturing it with a cat-sized magic bridle and bit. The cat will typically be ridden to exhaustion on whatever mischievous mission that the dwarf has undertaken. The dusty and disheveled cat may eventually return home, smelling of smoke and dust. The poor creatures are often driven from their homes, under the belief that they have been tainted by the fey.

"The princess sees the yellow dwarf for the first time."
Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Yellow Dwarf') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project - Nyamatsanes

What's up with these little fellows, stumbling along arm in arm as a band of revelers closing down a bar?

Nyamatsanes
Armour class: As Leather & Shield
Hit dice: 1 per individual, cumulative
Move: walk/run, medium to fast
Attacks: claw (1d6) or bite (1d4)
No. Appearing: 2d4
Morale: 6
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Damage resistance, cumulative hit die

Little black-skinned demon-goblins swarm out of desert, raiding oasis settlements on moonless nights.  Their anarchic goal is not loot or blood, but dairy...  For the little creatures become intoxicated on milk, accosting dairy animals, raiding milk-barns or looting larders for butter and cheese.  Settlements may withstand their nocturnal predations, only to see the raiding groups return to the deep desert as dawn breaks, stumbling drunkenly and sated until the next moonless night.

Due to their infernal heritage, Nyamatsanes take half damage from normal weapons; however, holy water burns them equivalent to fire. Unfortunately, harming or killing these pilferers is exceptionally difficult. By some mechanism of their conception, the little buggers' vitality is linked, as a hive-being.  Rather than harming an individual, damage is distributed through the bodies of the raiding group...  When half of the group's cumulative hit points are expended, they will flee as a noisome mass, supporting one another and limping into the night.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Nyamatsanes') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - The Columba-Siren

Can't stop ...  Ford's works are evocative and ripe for the picking.  This time, a small bird-creature confronting a skeptical sailor...


The Columba-Siren

Armour class: As Chain
Hit dice: 1/2
Move: fly, fast
Attacks: claw or wing-buffet (1d2)
No. Appearing: 2d4
Morale: 10
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral
Special: Charm

Appearing as a small flock of doves, Columba-Sirens may raise alarm among boatmen in the fjords and rocky archipelagos where they tend to congregate (In fact, a group of these creatures is referred to as a congregation...).

The doves flock to boats as the fishermen cut bait and chum the waters for their day's catch.  Unwise fishermen will attempt to chase the creatures from their bulwarks.  Those who repel or molest the creatures may incur their wrath, as the sirens transform, revealing human heads on their bird bodies.  The creatures will sing, effecting a charm on malicious boatmen, much like their mythical sisters.  However, due to the diminutive size, their powers are likewise diminished.  Saves vs a single columba-siren are made at +4, with a penalty of -1 per 2 additional sirens (i.e. 5 birds would save at +2).  The sirens will attempt to charm the boatmen into shoals or onto rocks, where their boats will be grounded or sunk, and they may become prey to other malicious creatures of the shallows...

However, if mariners shows kindness to the bird-creatures, such as sharing the catch, the sirens will guide them through hazardous passages, or may even act as spotters for productive schools of fish.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Columba-Siren') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Guimond's Tower and the Lair of the Druid Lich - Another Dyson Desecration

Another of Dyson's creations filled and fleshed out.  I'll often disregard Dyson's brief descriptive narrative that he includes with his maps, but this one called for a direct translation and populating.  I mean, liches are bad enough, but add a wildshaped druid to the mix? 

And what hangs out in his proximity to harry and wear down the party as they search out the lich's lair for whatever end-game that they pursue?



Built out using Sword's & Wizardry, but easily bent to your favorite rule-set...

This is the first time I've crafted up a high level/final boss-style big-bad, so I'd be happy to get feedback/suggestions on rounding him out. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Fire Naga

One more for the Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual project (taking contributions through 7/31).



Fire Naga

Armor class: As chain
Hit dice: 7
Move: crawl, medium
Attack: Breath weapon 1d8+3 (25’ range, 3x/day) or constrict 2d6/round
Appearing No.: 1
Moral: 10
Treasure : 1000 gp, random wand or magic item (in lair)
Alignment: Chaos
Special: Spells, fire teleportation

Phasing in from the Plane of Fire, the Fire Naga may take an unfortunate unawares as she emerges from a hearth or forge, which she uses as her gateway between the Planes, or perhaps where she has simply been taking a respite.  Fire Nagas are often summoned as spies or servants by elementalists.  However, as a mercurial denizen of fire, they may also be dangerous and unpredictable, with a 10% chance/day to either turn on their summoner, or to choose to follow their own agenda. In combat, she may spit a gout of flame as an attack or defense, or constrict a foe. She will also have access to the following spells: Charm person, heat metal, pyrotechnics (each up to 2/day), and fireball (1/day). If pressed and in need of retreat, a Fire Naga may escape by teleporting through fire, either back to the elemental plane, or to another mundane fire within one mile of her current location.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Fire Naga') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Black Pig

Another minor contribution to Eric Nieudan's collaborative project.

Who doesn't like a pig in an apron?

Black Pig

Armor class: As leather and shield
Hit dice: 2
Move: walk, run as human
Attack: Bite 1d6+1
Appearing No. : 1
Moral: 6
Treasure : none
Alignment: Neutral

Black Pigs are creatures enchanted by certain wood-witches to care for their hovels and cook for them.  Many adventurers, upon stumbling into a wood-witch residence, are confounded to discover a pig in an apron, scurrying about, cooking and cleaning…  The pigs are intelligent, but unable to communicate.  However, they are obliged to be good hosts, efficiently providing refreshment and/or preparing a meal.

Many visitors are taken aback by this sorcery, but woe be to any who may kill a treasured Black Pig…  All in the party will likely be cursed, and whoever dealt the killing blow will discover themselves in a porcine body, wearing an apron…

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Black Pig') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Friday, July 20, 2018

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - Serpent-King

Another one....

Sundosiaya, the Serpent-King:

Armour class: as plate
Hit dice: 12
Move: normal, crawl
Attacks: bite (2d8+poison)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 10
Treasure: 4000 gp, 1d4+1 random potions, 1d2 wands
Alignment: Neutral
Special: 4 spells/day, 1st to 3rd level Cleric

King Sundosiaya reclines coiled in his chambers, huge and ageless.  The massive serpent is experienced, wise, and quite lonely.  A failed bargain with a demon prince long ago trapped the once-impetuous prince in this reptilian body.  He sighs, flicks a discarded crown with his tail, and contemplates old magics and philosophies.


This age does come with some benefits.  His council is greatly sought after, and human leaders jockey for his favor and advice, believing Sundosiaya to have divine (or demonic) wisdom and powers to grant good fortune.

And as a tribute, the human King Eldias has provided Maeve, his own second daughter, as companion and consort to the Serpent-King.  She stood, quaking at the door of his chambers as the king’s guards beat a hasty retreat.  Tales of this wise and terrible beast who causes royalty to prostrate itself before him give them reason to not tarry.  After all, he is said to be a demon prince, and Maeve’s likely fate is to be consumed by his base, reptilian instinct…

Expensive tapestries and other trappings drape around his sturdy bed.  Chests of treasure peek out from corners and nooks, past bribes and tributes to the reptile.  Sundosiaya languidly raises his head.  “Come here, child. It has been centuries since a young lady such as yourself has graced my chambers.”  He lets out a hissing chuckle.  “I was, after all, quite the gadabout in my youth….”  His ancient, ophidian eyes go distant, and Maeve sees hint of a surprising sad warmth in them.

Trust is earned slowly, and in fit and starts, as in all these tales.  Each day Maeve comes and sits with the King.  Initially her chair is in the farthest corner of his chambers, and she perches on it, as a squirrel ready to dart from a hound.  He talks, telling tales of his age, of visitors, both wise and foolish.  He does not care if she listens.  Eventually, the chair gets moved closer, and she asks questions.  Clarifications of stories.  Explanations of old mysteries.  Opinions on holy tracts.

And she finally asks about his form.  Sundosiaya sighs, pauses, and tells her how he, as a foolish, haughty young prince, believed that he could outwit one of the demons in exchange for wisdom and power.  But the demon was vastly older, and had heard similar requests before.  And he twisted the prince’s request to be ‘clever as a snake’ into something much more terrible….

Now she sees the prince’s eyes under the heavy scaled brows for the first time.  She sits on the edge of his bed, takes his massive, fanged head in her arms, and tenderly strokes the cool scales.

“So,” Sundosiaya whispers, “old King Eldias as pawned his second daughter off on me.”  It is Maeve’s turn to sigh. “Yes, I know the ways of the world – the firstborn gets the land, the dowry, the advantageous marriage.  And you, the second, find yourself with some rude dowry or a commission to the convent…  Or left to be eaten by the dragon…”  They both laugh now.

“So, because he was a fool to doubt your value, but because he did give me the gift of a worthy companion, let me teach you a few things…”

And thus, when Eldias passed on, Maeve the Forgotten, consort to the Serpent-King, returned to the capital, deftly deposed her elder sibling, and ruled, wise and fair.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project. This monster ('Serpent-King') is released under this license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

edited for format

Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual - 'Old Eric'

This popped up on my feed: +EricNieudan has suggested a Monster Manual based on the illustrations of Henry Justice Ford. Looks like a number of bloggers have posted up.

It's a slow Friday at work, so here's an eponymous hazard in local waters for Eric's project.

Old Eric:



Armour class: as chain & shield
Hit dice: 4
Move: normal, swim, walk
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8 ea)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 6
Treasure: none
Alignment: Chaotic
Special: Call Wave (1/day)

A horned fish-man, referred to as ‘Old Eric’, or the Devil of the Tidelands, lurks among the rocky inlets, waiting to prey on unwary fishermen. His dull grey-blue scales blend into the shallows as he lurks about, stalking and peering at the world through luminous, opaline eyes. Vestigial, spiny wings sprout from his shoulders, perhaps remnant of some demonic ancestry.

While ‘Eric’ consumes fish, his favored prey is man, and a solo fisherman in a small boat is a tempting morsel. Once a day, he may call up a single large wave, capable of swamping a rowboat or similar low craft. A favorite technique is to swamp a boat, then grapple the fisherman to his doom as they are distracted and bailing the water.

While multiple bounties have been placed on Old Eric, he has, to date, evaded capture or harm from the awkward air-breathers who trespass the waters of his lurk.

Written for Eric Nieudan’s The Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual Project
This monster ('Old Eric') is released under this license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

edited for format

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Who/what has followed the party?

As the party travels, they may pick up a hanger-on or two - perhaps they have gained some notoriety, or some opportunistic individual(s) hope to join for fortune or easy pickings, or just something following you for reasons of its own...  Some may be almost helpful.  Regardless, they're at least one more mouth to feed...
Hans Sebald Beham, Baggage train and camp followers. 1530
It started at d20, then d30 - we'll see where it ends up...
  1. Farm boy/girl with adventuresome aspirations.  50% chance to be carrying a random weapon in disrepair, 20% chance to be wearing poorly fitted and mis-matched armor.
  2. Dog(s) 1d4.  25% of some useful training (herding, guard, hunting), 2% chance blink dog, 5% chance Really Good Dog, otherwise just begging cur.
  3. Cat.  Of no use whatsoever.  Gloms onto the party member most likely to dislike cats and/or be allergic.
  4. Half-wit:  Strong, at least.  Can lift/carry heavy things.  Doesn't complain.  Obsessively happy.  No matter what you tell them your name is, they call you Seymour.
  5. A goblin.  Cloyingly sycophantic. 25% chance to have useful info on next subterranean dungeon entered.  33% chance that they'll betray you.
  6. Tinker: May repair tools, footwear, tack/harness.
  7. Asshole pixie/fairy.  Mostly just insults you and causes additional wandering monster checks. Tries to steal your shit.
  8. Ascetic/pilgrim convinced that you are chosen ones seeking a greater good/calling.  20% chance of healing knowledge (40% divine:60% herbal/practical).
  9. A scavenging critter. 1) Vulture; 2) raccoon; 3) coyote/jackal; 4) gelatinous cube.
  10. Some damn sneak-thief masquerading as a porter.
  11. A baby monster that has imprinted on you: 1) ankheg; 2) bulette; 3) wyvern; 4) giant spider; 5) axe beak; 6) giant lizard; 7) ogre; 8) owlbear; 9) mimic; 10) rust monster.
  12. A ghost or spirit: 20% chance that it will attempt to possess a member of the party.
  13. Weird witch.  Constantly prophesying.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  14. 1d4 crows or 1d2 ravens.  50% chance to mimic sounds/voices.
  15. A bored or hidden royal looking to hit the road on the down-low.
  16. A flock of songbirds.  Feels like a Disney cartoon.
  17. A prostitute looking for a john/jane.  Roll on Gary's 'Random Harlot' table.
  18. Invisible stalker.  Not looking to kill anyone or complete a task. Just stalking.
  19. A narrator.  Breaks 4th wall.
  20. A goddamned bard.  Constantly makes up limericks about the party.  
  21. A monkey wearing a fez and a vest. Throws poo.
  22. Industrial Revolution-vintage chimney sweep/bootblack/newsy.  Calls you 'guvner.'
  23. Someone else's summoned demon.  Looks around confused, shrugs, says "What the hell," and joins you.
  24. Odin.
  25. An automaton/robot.  60% magical/40% technological.  Follows simple commands.  May have mission of its own or observing.  
  26. Cook with collection of pots and pans.  Makes quite a racket.  10% awful; 20% substandard fare, palatable; 40% chance that they are actually competent; 20% above average; 10% chance that they are phenomenal.
  27. Dyslexic surveyor/mapper. 30% chance to mix up north.
  28. A Warbear.
  29. Naturalist and collector of specimens.  Has a bindle of notebooks and jars with preserved plants and animals.  Bores party members describing the differences between the greater and lesser lace-winged stirge.
  30. Backup singers/dancers. Fabulous. Wearing feather an/or real boas....

Rowlandson, Thomas, "Soldiers on a march.:
'To pack up her tatters and follow the drum' " (1811)
And because everyone is doing it - here's the Chartopia version...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mucous dragon

This is Ella (the other cat in the house who isn't Max).  Yes, she looks all sweet and innocent.  Yes, she's being cute here.  Yes, she's baby-seal soft and cuddly (on her terms, she is a cat, after all).


Don't let that fool you.

Because, as far as we can tell, this cat's skull cavity consists of a mucous gland.  We've seen vets, given her different medications, experimented with diet and supplements.  Nope - this is Snotcat. It's chronic as far as we can tell.  I suspect she has a cat allergy.  However, we have found citrus-based cleaners to be most effective at removing cat snot from various surfaces.

Unfortunately, she also has the tendency to sleep on my head.  Which means I occasionally get sneezed on in the middle of the night, necessitating a clean pillowcase.

"Worst breath weapon ever," said the wife.  Yup...

The Mucous Dragon:

Living in the dark, humid subterranean places, the mucous dragon may appear to be a stunted, malformed relative to its more graceful and intimidating brethren. Pudgy, with blunt, webbed toes, it looks like it should be lazing in a pool somewhere. The dragon is sheathed in a opalescent, almost translucent hide, typical for its lightless, subterranean environs.  Bulbous eyes regard interlopers into its lair, and over-sized nostrils dominate its snout.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Orryn's Fork town map

Haven't drawn up a town/village map for a while, and I finally have my own office/creative space in the house, so christening it with a piddly little village map with a bit of dressing on the side.

Downloady the whole thing
Built at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Orryn River, the eponymous riverside thorpe grew up around what was originally a small blockhouse used to oversee the river trade and project force against river pirates and raiders. The blockhouse was reconstructed as a stout stone tower as the Duchy expanded its territory, finding itself in need of a more resilient frontier watch. The Ring Road marking the Duchy’s current extent also crosses through town, with a small stone blockhouse guarding the road, and collecting small tolls from commercial loads using the road and bridge.

The village is a waypoint and dock for the shallow draft barges that are poled upstream. A jetty built into the bank of the South Fork creates a small impoundment and docking area for the barges.  The North Fork of the Orryn is generally too small for significant navigation.
Most of the buildings in the community are wood-framed, with several roofed with local red and gray slate. 

Asat Ildusker (Ftr5, 22HP, plate/shield, +1 longsword, light crossbow, 391 GP, potion of Fire Resistance) considers the post an honor, protecting the flanks of the Duchy and keeping watch on ‘his’ river.  Accordingly, he keeps his troops well-drilled and disciplined, and is a stern, but not unsympathetic arbiter of local legal matters.

His lieutenants are old campaign companions. Tosh Ordyn (Ftr3, 14HP, chain, +2 spear, light crossbow [46 GP, 33 SP, silver feather pendant (40 GP)]) enjoys the relative remoteness of the post, a safe distance from past clan disputes and indiscretions. “Chud” Whachaen (Ftr3, 15HP, plate, flail, shortbow) chafes at the isolated position but doesn’t wish to alienate his commander. He has been skimming road tolls, though (77 GP, 331 SP, rose quartz necklace (50 GP)). Militia are billeted in the tower and blockhouse: Infantry (9) - Chain/shield, spear, dagger; Archers (12) - Leather, shortbow, dagger.

A domed temple to the local river gods squats along the road. In front of the temple is a shrine to the gods, polished by generations of travelers’ hands touching it as they leave the river’s environs, praying for luck on their journeys along the Ring Road. For every person touching the stone, there is a 1 in 6 chance that it imparts a small (one day) boon to the individual: 1) +1 to all saves; 2) protection from evil; 3) luck (re-roll one failed roll); or 4) 1d4 temporary hit points. The temple is administered by Sister Gwynn (Cl3, 11HP, plate, +1 staff (holds one additional 1st level divine spell/day), 103 GP, tourmaline holy symbol (120 GP), two potions of Cure Light Wounds).

The warehouse and trading post along the river has a good stock (85% chance) of standard adventuring items and supplies at 1.5 book price.  Per Kelasos and his wife, Trina, have owned the establishment for 20 years, inheriting it from her father (41 GP, 76 SP).

“The Pilgrim and Flask” inn is owned by a heavyset halfling, Dannay Burrfoot, who employs members of her extended family from a nearby commune. The inn, like other structures in the settlement, is built of heavy timbers with a red slate roof. Lodging is a simple common room with cots. The inn has an attached stable. Burrfoot will have 1d4 horses and/or mules available for sale – animals either left by travelers or impounded/pawned by the halfling from destitute souls (31 GP, opal medallion (40 GP), 111 GP buried under stable floor).

Adventure prompts and/or rumors:
1) The gnomes have been spotted with a barge that needs no poles or rowing – the Bargers Guild is greatly interested in a specimen for study.
2) A caravan hauling spice from the Woggan foothills has gone missing along the Ring Road north of town.
3) Odd coloration of the North Fork portents displeasure from the old river god.  Desecration of the sacred headwaters is suspected.
4) Ildusker approaches the party in need of discreet scouts to investigate rumors of a druidic cult raising forces along the frontier.
5) Ordyn has heard rumor that a former dalliance is of royal blood, and needs more information. Any bastard child could be a political complication.  His pendant is a gift from the former lover. 
6) Hunters and outriders have spotted undead near an old battlefield past the border, and mysterious cairns have been thrown up around the grave barrows.
7) Copses of trees have been suddenly dying.  Sister Gwynn senses that it is more than a simple disease or infestation…
8) Bulettes are migrating into the area, causing much alarm for the halfling community just over the border.
9) Scouts of Chaos forces have been reported in the area.  Waylaying or dispatching these squads, as well as better understanding the threat, would be quite valuable to the realm.
10) Smugglers may have absconded with a relic from the capital’s chief temple.  They may be following local trails to transport it out of the territory.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Random Monster: The Dragon Chicken

Back in October, while looking up images of 'chicken foot' on the Google as a model for my most fabulous Inktober the 10th sketch, this image popped up in the results....

source
What in the complete hell?

Apparently, there is a Vietnamese breed known as the Dragon Chicken, valued for its thigh meat and able to fetch extraordinary prices on the market...

I mean, look at these beasts...


Serious thigh meat.

But not quite the 'Dragon Chicken' one might expect in an RPG world...

...

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Original Edition Role Playing Appreciation Day Contribution - The Fairy Gladiator


Another self-imposed creative deadline based off yesterday's 'notebook' post and cobbled together to support the Original Edition Role Playing Appreciation Day coordinated by +RJThompson.

So here you go, a small silly character class, done somewhat in the style of +JamesVWest, although without the whimsical art.

"Heralding from the mysterious arboreal fighting arenas of the fey, as a fairy gladiator, you are a raw yet skilled fighter with your own racial talents… Unlike your flighty kin, you are a tough little bugger, able to dish out a beat-down with style and aplomb! May Mars guide you!"

Download this flying freak

Friday, May 4, 2018

One Notebook Page

Happy One Page Dungeon Deadline!  162 entries this year, a strong showing, and from what's been posted up so far - a high level of competition.

Pushed out my entry earlier this month.  I can't speak to its quality - that's the judges' domain.  My writing discipline has gone downhill over the last while, so I made a self-imposed deadline to get the entry out the door well before May 1.

The entry began with a beer and and empty notebook page...  which descended into a freewriting/brainstorming session:

Cuneiform made easy

For those of you who don't want to read my writing (and even I can't figure out a few words), the list is, more or less:
  • Sustainable dwarves
  • Sent by dragon
  • Intelligent ants 
  • Blind foe/-> sensory deprivation?
  • Alien intelligence
  • Puzzle -> Rube Goldberg dungeon -> collect bits to negotiate maze?
  • Nepotism ??? (Not sure, maybe 'halflings')
  • Despotic gnomes
  • Industrial druids
  • Naked and afraid, escape!
  • Gladiatorial fairies
  • Tortoise jousting
  • Intelligent hunter ooze
  • Dungeon Olympics <- decathlon
  • 200' rappel
  • Fun!
  • Golem lab
  • Good lists!
  • Enjoy dying!
  • Funnel? -> roll attributes as needed
In the end, elements of bullets 2 and 20 (and hopefully 16, 18 and 19...) made it into the entry.  There are a few more notebook pages of brainstorming and distilling...

And now I want to design a "Sustainable Dwarves vs Industrial Druids" adventure.  It will somehow involve weaponized windmills.

Bullet 10 always hearkens back to the classic A4 slaver module.

And my wife wants to play a fairy gladiator PC.  Look for stats on that momentarily...