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

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