Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Reynard's Cave" (Aug 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

Well, it's the evening of the 31st, and I told myself that I'd post up an entry for this month's RPGBA Blog Carnival theme, 'Devious Dungeons.' So I worked up, and revised, a mini-dungeon I had been noodling around with...

Grymvald Gazetteer always has a good find regarding history and archaeology.  His recent blog entry on a discovery of a small cache of Roman and Iron Age coins in a cave in north-central England is good imagination fuel.  Although the cache is 'only' 26 coins, it has potential for being a good lead-in or adventure seed.

I'm all about the instant 'found' dungeon.  But closer observation of the 'Cave' yields it to be merely a stone arch.

No worries, the arch may contain a hidden side cavern.  Dyson probably has something I can re-skin...

Dorian's Cave

Ahem, "Reynard's Cave"...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Magic Item: Staff-sling of Peplyn

Somewhat inspired by Timrod's musings on our favorite hairy-footed demi-humans -

From my previous post on 'Lost Tomes,' the "Song of Samhans" introduced us to the Staff-Sling of Peplyn.

Halfling slingers often discard the traditional sling in favor of the staff-sling, which allows for extra leverage, resulting in greater damage and range for their sling bullets.

Generic staff-sling (S&W specs, adjustable for other systems):
Damage: 1d4+1 (or +20% damage vs. sling).  The staff-sling may also be wielded as a light club in a pinch (1d4).  Users of staff-slings use DEX bonuses for to-hit and STR bonuses for damage due to the leverage provided by the weapon.
Rate of fire: 1/ round
Range: 50' (indoor)/150' outdoor (or +20% range vs. sling)
Weight: 3 lbs
Cost: 2gp

Staff-Sling of Peplyn: 

Constructed of an oaken staff with brass workings and rare opal insets, its sling is composed of tanned basilisk hide.

+1 to hit/dam (+3 when wielded by halflings). If the slingstone embeds within an enemy's body (rolls of 16-20), the target must save vs. petrification or be slowed (as per spell) until the slingstone is removed, due to enchantment of the slingstone by the basilisk hide, which causes partial petrification.  Removal of the slingstone will cause an additional 1d2 damage.

Additionally, Peplyn was a natty dresser.  Source

Bonus stats - Halfling Staff-Slinger Troops:
Staff-slingers work as auxiliary missile troops in support of other skirmishers and heavier infantry. Their light arms allow them to attack and retreat in the face of foes, keeping up a missile barrage and harassing retreating or disorganized foes. They can also act as light skirmishers if an enemy can close with them, although they much prefer to do their damage at range.

HD 1, AC 6/13
Armed with staff sling (1d4+1 missile/1d4 as club), short sword (1d6)
Occurrence: troops of 5d4 with one sergeant (+1 HD, AC 5/14)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Twelve Lost Tomes be injected into a library, treasure, or quest.  These may be very valuable to someone - either to be shared... or suppressed.

1.  Genealogy of Geramda Barthammer:  Parchment bound within intricate hammered-iron leaves. A history of the dwarves of Rodamine Peaks, whose holding have since usurped by another dwarven clan.  The genealogy traces the succession of leadership back 20 generations, and is necessary for a descendant of Barthammer to reclaim the stronghold and his inheritance.

2. The S'thter:  Pictographs and cuniform etched on wire-bound sheets of mica.  History of the lizardfolk's 'lost' city, allegedly located in the Desert of Glass. It documents the history and advances of the race prior to the coming of the humanoids and the race's subsequent downfall.  The book may include information on advanced 'magics' known to the ancestral lizardfolk.

3. The Inkarthel - Journal of a high-level necromancer, describes the creation of various 'skin-golems' and provides instructions for tattooed runes to imbue them with certain abilities and resistances.  Includes component lists for inks for the runic tattoos.  the runes are intended for use with golems and constructs only.  If these runes are tattooed into living flesh the recipient will perish unless a successful save vs death roll is made.  In which case, success will transfer the tattoo's ability to the living character.  There will likely be another cost associated with this tattooing, even if the transferal is successful

4. Tome of Curagol - An Ogre-mage's grimoire written on human skin (Shifting runes tattooed on the cover requires the bearer save vs. Spells or insanity).  Successful save will increase influence over non-human humanoids (+2 reaction rolls, doubles any charm effects/duration on non-human humanoids), gives power of augury once per day.

5. Ganein Codex - Illuminated parchment scroll listing of 1001 names of God.  The names glow in a holy light, and fade from visibility once read.  Anyone reading all names aloud will receive one 'boon' (roll 1d10):
  1. Good Luck (+1 on all saving throws)
  2. Knowledge of an ancient secret or lost relic of great power
  3. Wisdom increased 1d4
  4. Insanity and incapacitated, left a drooling husk of former self
  5. Intelligence decreased 1d4
  6. PC donates all worldly goods and walks the earth as a prophet
  7. Chosen One of God, immediately attracts 3d4 fanatical followers
  8. Smiter of God (+1 vs all of opposite alignment (AC/to hit/Dam/saves))
  9. Struck mute
  10. Struck down as a blasphemer (lightning, meteor strike, pack of wolves...)
5. The Song of Samhans - An epic poem carved into a millstone, lost and half-buried in the ruins of an abandoned halfling burrow-hold.  It recounts a legendary halfling battle against an incursion of evil into their lands. Wihtin the text are mentions of an artifact-weapon - the Staff-Sling of Peplyn - wielded by a renowned halfling sheriff and folk-hero who led a successful counter-attack and repulsion of the dark troops. The hero, and his favored weapon, disappeared some time later while he was pursuing a band of lycanthropes near the borderlands with Saydraver.  Some say it is held as a trophy by a werewolf lord.

6.  Leaves of Sil'las - Ancient elven script on pages of beaten mithril - An elven history documenting genealogies and  place-names of elven cities lost during the advance of the Neferu Desert and the desertification of the ancestral homeland.  This record is actively sought by the Anfauglir (Plains Elves) as a relic text and resource for locating several lost cities and revered sites.

7. The Ecath'schoth - A scroll of serpent-hide housed within a case of blackened ironwood.  This scroll of forbidden rites is suspected to have lead to the downfall of a past empire - Any bearer will be branded as a heretic by most churches.  Any lawful cleric who comes in possession of the scroll will either switch alignment and become a follower of one of the Dark Gods (1/3) or immediately fall out of favor with their deity and lose all cleric abilities (2/3).


9. The Ineydyn  - An accursed journal of a lost Vampire Lord - This blood-spattered book is sealed with a magic lock.  Attempts to open it without its single key will be unsuccessful due to the potent magics securing it.  The pages appear to be blank, but upon 'feeding' the book 1d4 HP of human blood, the text will illuminate.  The text bears clues to the location of the Denech, an accursed artifact utilized by numerous vampire lords to observe and influence several ruling families and their dynasties. Parties will make great efforts to either secure or destroy this document.  Hidden text within the book will curse any bearer to seek and use the artifact.

10. Sihan'tldath - A book of the history of an attempted human genocide by a racist/conservative Elven faction a score of generations past.  The action was repelled and countered with the assistance of the dwarves.  Elves are still treated with distrust in spite of the faction's purge.  The book indicates the potential for surviving enclaves of the rebels and their machinations to regain power and influence within the general population.

11. The Tularmund - The documentation of the Mage overlords and their tyranny in the past ages. Retells the epics of the mage-killer knights and their divine allies who broke the wizard sects and eradicated them or drove them underground.  It describes the early pogroms and legislation against magic-users.  Hints and sigils sketched within the margins of the book may indicate the secret signs of crypto-wizard groups and surviving hidden schools.  These may be used to locate/train as a mage, or begin additional purges.  Rare factions may also seek reconciliation.

12. Quanunrion Codex - A green-covered book closed with a fine iron chain.  Within are sigils imprisoning the faerie godlet, Ksashiru, held in thrall by a sorcerer's machinations.  Smudging a sigil will summon Ksashiru for a period of one day.
She can:
Speak any language of the fey races.
Cast spells as a 5th level Illusionist.
Summon one monster up to 5HD
Any arcane spell cast in her presence will have the effect of being cast by a +2 levels higher magic user.
Improve the party's save vs. spells by +2.

There will be 3d4 sigils remaining within the book.  When the last sigil is used, Ksashiru will be released.  There is a 75% that she will take revenge on the last bearer of the book unless they atone and make sacrifices at a fey holy site within one week of the book's last use.  The individual will either be disfigured (-6 Cha), or be cursed with bad luck (-4 on all saves).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Fighting Followers with Disembodied Brains"

Once Again:

"Fighting Followers with Disembodied Brains"

"We don't have enough men," thought Quan. "Or at least, enough good men." 

The fanatics of Dra'ver arrayed themselves before the ragtag army of King's Chevaliers, Duke Alden's housecarls, and the hastily assembled peasant militia.  Spread along the crest of the rise, their line was long, but thin.

Quan looked over the shaky arbalesters and nervous spearmen under her charge. They were to hold the left end of the line, their flank buttressed by trees and brambles.

She did not expect much from these part-time soldiers.  They would likely collapse on first contact. She'd seen plenty of lines lose heart, their flanks rolled up, as the mass became individuals, no longer cohesive.

But, as a Chevalier, it was her duty to lead, to inspire.  Straightening her back, she rode in front of her line, letting her freshly scrubbed field plate and battle-standard (a raven fighting a viper on a filed of green) draw the fidgeting militia's attention.

"Steady boys.  The man to your right protects you.  Cover the man to your left, and we hold.  These heathens will break. Trust me."

The nervous eyes looking back to her said different.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Worms, real and imagined.

Working on some freewriting, but had to ponder on this little gem...

Monsters.  We make creations out of myth and nature, mix and match, try to come up with something just a bit odder, a little more not-quite-right.  Something that hasn't been seen before.

So I came up with the Barrow Worm.  Nothing too out there.  Just an extrapolation of a scavenger, based a bit on reality, a bit on make-believe, and make it big.

My wife - a microbiologist with training as a marine biologist - lent a hand with a quick illustration to make my creepy crawly come to life, including elements from some marine worms.

So I came upon a post a few days back.  With this leading bit of nightmare fuel:
Meet the Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois) a jawed marine worn that lurks in its burrow, awaiting any unsuspecting prey.

Video of the little nasty (complete with somewhat melodramatic narration).  Check out the uncompromising jaws vs. the conceptual mouth-parts of the invented critter, above :)

Seems the worms can reach lengths of 3 meters (Although they are only one to two inches in diameter).

Whatever we create - nature will have already come up with a version - occasionally even more extreme than our minds imagine...

And it sounds like I need to make my barrow worm bigger...

Update: IFLScience reposted the critter, as well.  And you never know why your fish may be disappearing from your aquarium...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Oldey-timey town generators

Oh crap, the PCs have wandered off the map and into a town - perhaps a wide spot in the road, perhaps a city.  Or you'd just like to quickly cobble together a hamlet and its resident occupations.

Two pages for quickly ginning up a list of professions and services available in a town follow:

S. John Ross' Medieval Demographics Made Easy

Rob Conley's Fantasy Demographics

These are partially based on the 1292 Tax Roll of Paris, which is an interesting historical resource for vocations of the time.  Apparently Paris supported one billiadier, or maker of balls for ground-bowling...

I took the liberty of putting them into a .xls sheet:
Town demographics generators

Enter your proposed town population and the two sheets will randomly select professions and craftspeople available within the town - use either generator, or mix and match, depending on your whims and needs.

Note that neither generator  guarantees a tavern or inn in a small hamlet - leaving the characters the opportunity to negotiate goods, board, and lodging from the (Reaction Roll) locals...


Friday, August 8, 2014

Geoglyphs - Nazca lines..

Recent sandstorms have uncovered heretofore unknown figures in the vicinity of the famous Nazca lines in Peru.

Ancient, mysterious symbols are part and parcel of pseudo-historians, as well as game environments.  In this case, the majority of them can only be seen in their entirety from surrounding high points or from the air (levitating mages, perhaps?).

So their purpose is mysterious, but, having visited the Nazca Plains, I can suggest that boredom may have been involved.

Or, instead, that they are indications of the Etch-a-Sketch of the Gods.  After all - most of the 'animal' figures consist of one line only...

Monday, August 4, 2014

What was formed from the vat?

Entries for Gavin Norman's From the Vat contest...

A foul guardian, animated by certain vivimancers from unholy water, cremation-ash, bones and teeth, this formless creation roils and seethes within its cauldron at its assigned post. Ravenous, the mass will boil from its container to engulf an interloper, abrading and smothering.

HD: 3
AC: 3/16
Attack: 1d8 abrasion damage + Save vs spells or 1d4 suffocation damage.
Move: 6
Special: DR - slashing and stabbing weapons cause 1/2 damage. Electrical attacks cause double damage.
By my lovely wife - let her know if you need your critter sketched.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Hiding Nuisances After Gods"

Freewriting topic of the week

"Hiding Nuisances After Gods"

The God-boon wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.

After all, the Great One had walked among the mortals and devout of the town. We had been promised boons.  Crops had been tithed, fatted calves sacrificed (and dark rumors of more... familial... sacrifices, as well).

What we were left with was awkward pregnancies, malformed livestock,and strange crops gibbering in the fields under the moonlight.

We paled when we learned that pilgrims were on their way to walk the countryside trod by the Great One, to see the blessings wrought upon us. A dull panic swept the town at the thought of the humiliation once we were exposed as the fools we were, thinking that we could receive a blessing from an ineffable power for the mere trinkets that we had to offer.