Thursday, December 31, 2015

Map contest and the beaver-folk....

As part of Erik Tenkar's OSR Christmas+matt jackson teamed up with Erik to offer a collection of his original hand-drawn maps. The entry stipulated that a comment describing how the following map would be used was required for entering the drawing:

It was apparent to me: "Swimming pool and rec center for beaver-men complete with dams, diving boards, sunning platforms and +1 pool floaties."

So, on a quiet New Year's Eve, have a quick and dirty statting and description of the 'pool' and its inhabitants:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December RPG Blog Carnival: The Children's Crusade RPG

James at World Builder Blog is hosting this month's Blog Carnival, with the theme of Homebrew Holiday Gifts.  After all, who doesn't like a homemade gift?

So, I have this long-languishing project, that started out as an attempt to make a one-page ruleset, then a rules-lite ruleset, then what the hell, I'd better write an adventure too...

So, have the Children's Crusade rules and mini-adventure!

"As many stories and movies tell us, the solving of mysteries, foiling of evil plots, or rescuing of the abducted is much too serious of a matter to be left up to adults. And they wouldn't believe you anyway, so it’s up to you and your chums to go out and make things right.

All player characters (and perhaps the players, as well), whether they realize it or not, are 9-12 years old."

Download it, play it, let me know if/how it works.  Have fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Thorpe of Onver

Since I one of my entries finally won an Inkwell Ideas geomorph contest, I suppose that it will be fun to stat up the little settlement.  

From my contest blurb: An outpost-village at a rural crossroads.  The crossroads is overlooked by a small motte-and-bailey, and is surrounded by a number of homes roofed in thatch or slate.  Several ancient dolmen flank the north road, and are thought to protect the village from evil incursions.  They glow bright blue under the Harvest Moon, but their true purpose has not yet revealed itself.

The thorpe of Onver has grown up around a rural crossroads. The crossroads are overlooked by a small motte-and-bailey fort. The fort is monitors the road, as well as provides local defense in the event of depredations by a pair of hill giants known to raid the area. The bailey is built with a stout palisade surrounding a longhouse, storehouse, and blockhouse.

The master of the fort is Oren Staible (4th Level fighter, 15HP, AC3/16 (Plate), 2-handed flail (1d8+1), +1 dagger, 198 GP, potion of cure poison). As the local thane, he collects taxes and harvest-shares to finance the collective defense of the community. He employs six men at-arms (4-6HP, AC6/16 (Ring), heavy crossbow (1d6+1), hand axe(1d6)).

The fort's blockhouse is equipped with a scorpion catapult. The scorpion is smaller than a ballista and may be more easily moved and aimed. Reloading action is per heavy crossbow (once per two rounds), damage 2d6, range 100 ft. The scorpions fire specially-made heavy darts or arrows. Because of the length of the darts and power of the prods, on a critical hit, the dart will penetrate a primary human-sized target and strike a second target standing behind for the same damage. The scorpion requires a minimum crew of two, however, three is preferable.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One More Iron Spike. And Stuff

This is what happens when I don't write down my ideas and forget a list item:


17. Trepanning Spike: When driven into the skull of a victim of demonic or extra-planar possession, the possessing spirit will be expunged.  If the spike is left in place, it acts as insurance against future extra-planar attacks or possessions, as well as incorporeal attacks.  However, there are potential side-effects:

  1. Periodic debilitating migraines (5% chance per day), -2 all actions
  2. Short-term memory loss
  3. Personality change - Lawful/chaotic shift
  4. Loss of eye-hand coordination/dizziness (permanent -2 DEX) 
  5. Partial vision loss, or tunnel vision
  6. Speech impediments or loss of language skills
  7. Intelligence loss (permanent -2 INT)
  8. Erratic behavior - may include loss of empathy, mood swings, inappropriate outbursts, etc.
  9. Ringing in ears (inability to make listening checks, may not be able to hear whispered speech, or in loud environments)
  10. Fatigue/difficulty sleeping (25% chance of not regaining rest-based HP)

In other news, I won the last installment of Inkwell Ideas' Geomorph Map Contest, and got a swell set of Dungeonmorph dice, and copies of a couple collections of Matt Jackson's Moleskin Maps.  Thanks, guys!

And now back to cobbling something together for my Secret Santicore 'gift' request....

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bag of Iron Spikes:

A Bag of Iron Spikes:

Scattered among the adventuring world's piles of mundane, utilitarian spikes, are a few that have been enchanted with exceptional abilities.

So, a dozen spikes, plus a few more:

1. Undead Control – Will allow command of an undead when driven into the body.  Doesn’t work on skeletons, for the practical reason that there is nowhere to embed it:
  • 1-6 - up to 2HP
  • 7-9 – up to 4 HD
  • 10-11 – Up to 6 HD
  • 12 – Up to 8 HD

Legends exist of spikes capable of powers over vampires or liches, but these would likely be nearly unique items.

2. Teleport – Allows the bearer to teleport themselves once per day, unfortunately the spike has to be embedded into the body of the user to be effective

3. Tree-spike – When driven into a forest's aged methuselah-tree, it will kill the forest within a ½ mile radius.  The bane of druids and forest elves.

4. Armored Door - When used to spike a door, it acts acts as wizard lock.  Alternatively, it could increase any door's damage resistance to be equivalent to a 2’ thick stone wall.

5. Lost Trail – When driven in a path during pursuit, the spike will act similar to confusion, diverting or misdirecting pursuit.

6. Mountain-climber – The spike, when driven into a sheer surface, will multiply to a line of pitons, up to 60 feet.  The line of spikes disappears by removal of final piton/spike.

7. Builder – When driven into a sufficient pile of wood or lumber, the spike will self-construct a cabin up to 10'x10'.

8. Ringer – When driven into stone, the spike creates a resonance that will allow a miner to detect veins of valuable stones or metals within 100'.

9. Bind Incorporeal – Holds an incorporeal being (up to 5HD).  Allows damage with non-magical weapons.

10. Water from Stone – When driven into rock, this will yield 1 gallon per use per day.

11. Mental Block – Secures a 50' radius area with ‘forgetfulness’ Useful for hiding large objects, up to small to moderate-sized buildings.

12. Long Pole – Converts to 10-foot pole, because why not?

13. Three Questions – When driven into a corpse, the bearer is allowed to ask three questions. However, the longer the corpse has been deceased, the user will be limited to simpler questions, and/or will receive more ambiguous answers.

14. Black Spike – When driven into the heart of a sacrificial victim, it will call one of the Unspeakable Gods for a period of one hour. The spike must not be disturbed during this time lest the Unspeakable inhabits the caller and terrorizes this plane of existence.

15. Stonewalker – When driven into a statue, it will rise and act as caryatid column.

16.  Fence - Creates a 20' long by 8' tall section of wrought-iron fencing.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Geomorph Contest - Buildings

Four entries this week for Joe's Geomorph contest, the theme this time to incorporate buildings:

A city market square - dominated by a huge enclosed market building, where vendors can drive their wagons and goods for sale within its shelter.  The building is surrounded by livestock pens, and a fountain dominates its front facade.  The square is surrounded by guild halls and the residences of the city burghers (inspired by Krakow's Cloth Hall).

A city's temple square, dedicated to the Cobalt Warrior, the city's legendary protector.  A blue ziggurat stands, flanked by massive statues of the Warrior and his leonine mount, the Siban.  Priests to the warrior's legacy-cult make sacrifices in his memory, and run races and other contests of skill in the arena facing the temple. Flagstone-paved boulevards surround the temple, and fruiting trees and flower gardens line promenades along the streets.

An outpost-village at a rural crossroads.  The crossroads is overlooked by a small motte-and-bailey, and is surrounded by a number of homes roofed in thatch or slate.  Several ancient dolmen flank the north road, and are thought to protect the village from evil incursions.  They glow bright blue under the Harvest Moon, but their true purpose has not yet revealed itself.

An arboreal village among the trees inhabited by a clan of affable wood elves.  Their treehouse village is connected by rope-bridge walkways over several forest paths.  The elves patrol the area against forest despoilers, and guide the lost back to their intended routes.

Update:  I won!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thorn-maze of the Minotaur-druids

So I made up an entry for Joe's most recent geomorph contest, a set of mini-mazes set in a thorny hedge. I didn't win, but the contest seeded the idea of making a larger piece based on the thorn-maze concept, creating an alternate 'dungeon' construction with the corridors as negative space within the framework of the environs.

What a silly little project to take on...

Penciled in the maze and three structures hidden within.  Then spent a couple of days, in stages, filling in the negative space with thorns.  I didn't take pics of the initial steps, but later bits are below:

Partially filled, with structures, unfilled area, maze corridors.  Thorns partially penciled, and a few areas inked for proof-of-concept.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Inkwell Ideas Geomorph Contest - October

Joe over at Inkwell Ideas took a bit of a break from his geomorph contests in order to hit the cons and push a few projects out the door.  He revived the contest with a 'mini-map' theme, for contestants to draw up four to six related maps.

Well, I saw the post, forgot about the post, started a draft, threw away the draft, forgot the contest, remembered the contest, did a draft I liked but messed up on the scaling, did this draft.


A set of geomorphs of massive thorn-hedges, intertwined and maze-like, grown and tended by a sect of minotaur-druids.... The plants are iron-hard, with dagger-like thorns that cause numbness and infection if one becomes entangled.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mini Review: Staff of the Last Hill Chief

I intended to do a few reviews of various (typically free) resources I have scrounged up in the last couple of years, so I suppose I had better get to work...

So, to begin...

Download it here!
Staff of the Last Hill Chief was released by Glynn of Monkeyblood Design back in 2014.  The one-shot adventure is designed for low-level parties, with the conceit of eradicating an old tomb of orcs who are raiding in the area. Upon hopeful defeat of the orcs and their allies, further exploration will yield more mysteries and challenge.

Things I like about this module:

It is very generic in its design.  Instead of statting out particular monsters, treasure, or challenges, Glynn set up everything on a 1 to 5 scale, with all values being relative.  I particularly like this approach. While it may make for a bit more prep than pick-up-and-play, it provides an intuitive leveling.  Stronger party?  Buff up the '3 sword' critters to be an even match.  Likewise, curve the treasure or challenges to their equivalent values.  I'd like to see this, or a similar system, more in adventures classed as system-neutral.  Of course, this also assumes that fairly bog-standard monsters are used, although with a little creativity a custom monster or challenge could be built up.

General measurements and descriptors are listed by icons at the beginning of each area description - physical area, amount of light, smells, noises.

The dreaded 'box text' is avoided by 'first glance' and 'second glance' area descriptions, with notes for both a cursory and more in-depth investigation. I believe I've seen a similar approach in some other modules, and it works for me.

The meh:

By necessity of the adventure, it is a bit linear, with no real detours or alternate routes, hopefully setting up the players with a final encounter and challenge.  Pretty much once the PCs find their way, it's A to B to C and back to B.

All in all, this is a great generic one-shot that I'd carry along for an impromptu or pick-up game, especially due to its stat and challenge flexibility.

Update:  Thanks, Glynn, for reposting my review on G+.  The latest version of the adventure is up at DTRPG

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Study report - RPG books available in libraries

A recent study by a professor at Ithaca College found that very few libraries include RPG books and resources with in their collections.

Based on review of the Online Computer Library Center, a database of 72,000 libraries, very few libraries have even a single copy of an RPG book in circulation, in spite of the genre's 40+ year run.

Interestingly, there may be some data gaps, as the search was by ISBN numbers, which weren't assigned to early additions of TSR manuals, or their contemporary Runequest books.

The authors posit that inclusion of the manuals in the reference stacks have value for library -sponsored community gaming events (40% of liraries reportedly host gmae events of some type), as references for academic or similar study, such as their influence on the video gaming industry and game theory.

Anyway, an interesting read.

Link to download report

Sunday, September 20, 2015

RPG Blog Carnival, September 2015 - Curses!!!

Johnn over at Roleplayingtips is hosting this month's Blog Carnival - Cursed Items and Calamities!

So, back in July, the Carnival topic was 'Legendary Weapons' - where a weapon became embued with its qualities, not necessarily from direct enchantment, but through energies gained from accumulated adventures and events.

So - conversely - why can't an object become cursed - simply because it's put together wrong, constructed with bad intent, or is involved in numerous unfortunate campaigns or events?

Case in point, my wife's car.

She owns a 2001 Subaru Forester- a 'gift' from her mother (warning #1). The car, purchased new, had come from the factory with a bad engine block (warning #2).  My brother-in-law, a Subaru mechanic, told my mother-in-law to have the dealer replace the car, which she was within her rights to request, based on recalls, etc.  She chose not to, but had the engine replaced (warning #3).  Several months later, she was t-boned at an intersection (warning #4).  And, again, went cheap on the repairs, counter to my brother-in-law's advice (warning #5).

At this point, she gets a new car, and gives the Subaru to my wife....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Random Magic Item: Hildegard's Jar of Leeches


Appearing to be a common ceramic leech jar, this enchanted urn is found in the most discriminating apothecaries', barbers', and chirurgeons' establishments, lending enhanced or expanded recuperative abilities to the proprietor's skill sets.

The jar will contain 1d4 leeches. Application of one or more leeches will have the following effects, equivalent to the respective cleric spells:

One Leech:
Cure light wounds
Cure paralysis (2 required if paralysis is non-temporary)

Two Leeches:
Cure disease

Three Leeches
Cure serious wounds
Neutralize poison

Other beneficial effects include:
Three leeches cure mummy rot
Four leeches will restore permanently lost STR or CON due to magical or physical attack
Five leeches will restore one drained level

As long as at least one leech is left in the jar, an additional 1d4 leeches will spontaneously generate per day, up to a maximum of eight leeches.  If all the leeches are expended, the jar will lose any rejuvenative qualities and become a mundane leech-jar. Likewise, if the jar is broken, or upended, losing its water, all qualities will be lost, including those for any remaining leeches.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monster: Eurypterid, Feersum

The recent discovery of a new species of 'sea scorpion,' or eurypterid, pushes evolution of the the Paleozoic predator back approximately 10 million years.  The new genus was named Pentecopterus, after the penteconter, an early Greek galley. Although these particular fossil individuals were approximately six feet in length, specimens of over eight feet long have been found.

The eurypterid was not a scorpion, but an arthropod more closely related to modern spiders, lobsters, and ticks.  The 'sea scorpion' nomenclature come from the spiked tail in some genus', however they have not been found to be venomous, and likely preyed on trilobites and other creatures using modified forelegs and claws.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Village of Croftsfford

The Village of Croftsfford sits on the east bank of the Tisov River. The town founders built on two low mounds above the floodplain, reinforcing their settlement with a pair of levees north and east of the settlement. Buildings not on the mounds tend to be built up on four to eight foot tall stilts. The village straddles the West Trade Road, and provides a brisk ferry service at a narrow spot in the river above a small rapid.

Travelers will spot the multi-colored roofs of the village's residences and shops at some distance. How a wilderness town came to be so gaily painted is open to some speculation, but the truth is that an over-weighted peddler's wagon toppled off the ferry several years back. The unfortunate peddler perished in the river, and the residents scavenged what they could, including many tins of pigment, which were mixed with tallow and re-purposed as paint.

The north levee and adjacent floodplain is lined with a rough palisade, with a watchtower overlooking the river.  The defenses are primarily a deterrent to raids from troglodyte tribes upstream. The troglodyte raids are an attempt to dislodge the humans from the mounds, which are actually ancestral troglodyte burial tumuli raised above the surrounding floodplain.
download map

Citizens of note:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lost Tomes 4 - Five colorful books

The Orange - Greatly feared and suppressed, huge bounties for its recovery (and preferably, destruction) have been posted by kings and conquerors. It contains spells for the hegemonic connection of great forces, such as controlling an army, and causing it to move and act as a single mind. Current rumor implies that the death cult of Burver the Ever-bleeding intends to find it, and put it to use, plotting to cause the population of the city-state of Kinitan to march into the sea to its death.

The Red - Chants from the book are said to protect plane-walkers and other inter-dimensional travelers from the incorporeal guardians and watchdogs who seek to rend the sanity and souls of those with the temerity to intrude into planes or realities where they do not belong. Later chapters describe hopeful methods of regaining souls lost to inter-planer predators and demons.


The Green - Anyone reading this book will have to fight a distracting buzzing of the teeth or lose concentration while trying to decipher its runes.  However, researchers overcoming such distractions will gain knowledge of sundry obscure acids, and insight into the creation of a Universal Solvent.

The Blue - Lost in a deep well and guarded by a mostly-invisible cat - only its ears and massive clawed paws are visible. The guardian feline may only be driven off only with weapons of legendary quality. Crackling with energy, a reader's hair will stand on end. While the book is open and being read aloud, the user is immune to electrical attack. Held within the pages of the book is the spirit of an ancient blue dragon, Craeworeuth, trapped by a sorcerer who manipulated the dragon's hubris. The spirit, once freed, will act as a guide through the great Eastern Desert, its old territory, which no man has crossed.With enough cajoling and flattery, the spirit may tell great stories of its consort with the thunder gods.

The Black - Compiled by the Alchemist/Magister Deloc the Fourth, wrapped in an iron cover, smelling slightly of sulfur and cardamom.  Research of the texts allows users to access methodologies to create golems, particularly earth and metal-based, for one-half of the exotic materials cost.

The White - Wrapped in superficial sheepskin, the pages appear blank, other than a few faint water-stains.  The text appear only once every few years under certain alignments of stars and planets, revealing prayers and rituals to speak to angels. Angels are happy to converse, as the afterlife is dull and flat. However, this boredom does lead to some mischievousness, and any individual making contact with an angel will likely find themselves under a geas to pursue some absurd quest or acquisition.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

For the gamer that has everything II

In case they already have their set of depleted uranium dice...

Mammoth Ivory D20s, made from the tusk of real-life extinct pachyderms.

Apparently the first run of 24 is sold out, but more ivory is said to be procured for another batch.

You, too, can roll criticals with the teeth of a beast that failed its save vs. extinction.

(From Artisan Dice - makers of insane art-dice)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dude, my armor has fantastic abs.

A recent article on Vox discusses the hows and whys of the sculpted Greek bronze cuirass.

After all, it was about looking good...

Possible armor decoration and embellishments:
1. Fantastic abs
2. Fleur de lis everywhere
3. Misc. animal heads
     A. Dogs/wolves
     B. Eagles
     C. Weasels
     D. Elephants
     E. Catoblepas
     F. Fish
     G. Dragons
     H. Insects
     I. Horses
     J. Boars
     K. Lions
4. Sphinx
5. Patchwork or motley (birdcage on helmet extra-cost option)
6. Astronomical signs: stars. Moons comets, etc
7. Tiger stripes, rawr!
8. Dazzle camo
9. Leaves and flowers
10. Insane, tacky rococo
11. Flames!
12. Indecipherable script (translation/significance TBD...)
13. Battle scenes
14. Cherubs n' shit
15. Beast-men
16. Roses

1 in 20 chance that the embellishments impart a special quality upon the armor (80% positive, 20% liability)

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Settlement of Pilor-Salath

Another day, another odd little town out among the fringes:


Thanks to David Lewis Johnson for putting this one out there.

Out on the periphery of the Blightlands stands the hamlet of Pilor-Salath, an odd assortment of stacked homes. The hamlet, situated on a barren alkali flat, is partially stilted, as to withstand flooding. But everyone knows that the land has not been inundated since the Blight rained down on the land generations ago...

Some say the flats amplify the mental acuity of those who seek certain truths, whether due to strange geometries of the land, or from magical residue within the biting dust blown across the playa.

Samsul Quin, a desitiute cleric/seer lives in a suspended ball-hovel referred to as the Hive with his three wives.  Each morning he ejects the "three harridans" and meditates, awaiting the Word of Truth from a Rosartia, a goddess of things long forgotten.

His son, Ager Quin lives in two stacked balls on the ground level, below.  He, in turn, meditates in search of revelations from Attrecoppea, a goddess of very small spiders, who reveals small truths through the little black eyes seen gleaming in the shadows, or from beneath the cabinet.

Vyswar Veloje lives in an observatory perched atop the central apartment tower.  He watches for the return of a foretold comet, at which time he will lead his followers in a group ritual of self-immolation to ride the comet to the fabled Greensward Lands.

The Kroger Family lives in the Balanced House, suspended atop the stacked longhouses. They spend most of their time carefully rearranging furniture and knick-knacks to keep the house in place as they sing lilting hymns to Diit’Wentii, a god of minutiae. Dinner parties are a nightmare.

Near the center of the village is the 'tower hut,' the first structure of the community. It shows the architecture of a wet land, thatched and built on stilts. Its thatching is periodically refreshed by pilgrims visiting from humid, tropical lands.  An old woman named Semina crouches here, silently communing with Tlacotani, a god of sudden inundation. She hasn't spoken in years, but is ready to reveal one of the Ultimate Truths. Either that or request a long-desired delicacy.

Apartments fill the tottering tower at the right end of the settlement. They are filled with travelers seeking the wisdom of the resident ascetics, and individuals seeking revelation or insights from their own gods and prayers.

Anchoring the left end of the village is  Ume Polck in his cramped store. Each morning he opens his awning to let in the morning breeze as he sends his nephew Abelo with the oxcart hauling old brewery tuns to bring the village's water from a spring at the edge of the playa.

Rou Banwright, a blacksmith, stumbled upon the settlement during a blinding dust storm.  She remained to craft intricate fittings to suspend the walkways between the dwellings. They are light but sturdy in the desert winds. Rou is an avowed atheist, but her dreams are disturbed by songs in a thousand voices.

The community's halfling barber, Azid Tull, holds forth in a cubby within the balanced houses.  He believes that hair may be a conduit to evil spirits, and attempts to shave everyone's head, or at least leave them well-tonsured. Oddly, he has waist-long dreadlocks.

All deities supplied by Expanded Petty Gods

Download here

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Article repost:Total Party Kill: The Architects of Dungeons & Dragons

Found this morning on an article with brief profiles (and game philosophies) of three game writers: Bill Webb, Vince Howard and Wolfgang Baur

Total Party Kill The Architects of Dungeons & Dragons

Nuggets of wisdom include why all dice rolls ( including the DM) should be made in the open, the joy of creating back stories, and why it's OK to kill off your 8 year old's PC at a con.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Do Something Scary...

Ok, so we all need to get out of our comfort zone, out of our box occasionally...

Like a lot of us - I'm an introvert - painfully so, sometimes.  And it does get in the way of my personal and professional communication.

I needed to try something to break some patterns, to pick up a few tools.  To scare myself a bit.

So, a voiceover class...

There are about 20 of us in a room - sometimes with pre-prepared scripts, sometimes cold-reading. We read to the group - a disparate mix of students, actors, salespeople, a construction worker, a couple of engineers, a couple of homemakers, under the tutelage of our instructor.  We are about halfway through the seasons - essentially a survey of the various applications of voiceover - ads, dramatic, cartoon, narrative, gaming, etc.

So how does the concept of standing in a recording booth, reading a script off a stand, apply to the real world?  Well - I (we) get coached to slow down, relax, convert nervousness to energy. Make any script our own by interposing our personality and interpretation. All applicable to face-to-face communication, as well, I suppose...

I'm not sure if anything will come out of it, but I definitely feel a spike in energy throughout the class and afterward.

And for your entertainment, some behind-the-scenes of Antonio Banderas voicing Shrek's Puss In Boots....

So, anyway - remember to step out of the comfort zone occasionally.

That said, I realize this is my 200th post - throwing my little ideas out into the aether... Hopefully a few of those ideas have found homes on other's tables...  Enjoy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Legendary weapons - July 2015 RPG Blog Carnival

Scott at Of Dice and Dragons is hosting this month's RPG Blog Carnival, with the subject of 'Legendary Weapons.'

Initially, I reblogged an old post on "Catholic +1 swords" - several historic or semihistoric weapons of kings and warriors that are hallowed relics for their association with alleged deeds. However, I also wanted to contribute something original, so will now commence to wandering about in another thought experiment....

Serendipitously, Talysman recently also discussed the creation of legendary weapons. These are not weapons enchanted by arcane or divine magics, but by powers gained through great, or perhaps infamous, deeds. He outlined a few criteria for the weapons, both mundane and esoteric, to make the weapon grow in power and capability as it was wielded.

Thought experiment time - three fates of the same weapon as it absorbs powers en route to becoming legendary...

Our weapon - a simple, but well-crafted, longsword, its grip wrapped in pebbly ostrich hide, a massive gold nugget capping the pommel, adding value, the dense metal giving the sword a well-balanced heft.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Found on Youtube

A pair of dragons fend off knights bent on rescuing the princess...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Geomorph Map Contest, Traps!

Skipped a few weeks of Joe Wetzel's weekly Geomorph Contest, so, as per usual, a couple of dodgy, last-minute entries...

Trap 1: Kobold's Paradise:  A series or corridors built out by a troupe of kobolds with a penchant for the classics.  All in one area... Explorers will trip a portcullis (P), blocking retreat.  A stone ball (S) will tumble down a narrow corridor, squashing any who fail to dodge into a side-tunnel.  A pair of well-hewn corridors lead to a lovely tapestry, marred by several holes.  Those, of course made by a pair of crossbow traps (C).  On the other side, a stone block (B) will fall, both blocking retreat and perhaps crushing a straggler... Those exploring farther may be trapped under a weighted net covered in bells (N), notifying allied gnolls that fresh slaves have been delivered.  And finally, a trapdoor will open to engulf the first 1-2 in the marching order, its hatch snapping shut, the fate of the trapped unknown....

Trap 2: Explorers entering a large hall from any of the four doors will find a smooth stone floor. Hung from the arched roof is a naked girl in a cage, calling, "Please sirs, before the ogre returns and eats me!"
The 'girl' is actually an aged naga, her true form hidden in illusion.  Upon stepping below her cage, a pair of massive springs release, hurling a stone block against the far war.  Perhaps a sharp-eyed explorer, less-distracted by the apparent damsel in distress will have noticed the stained wall and floor.
After the sprung trap is re-set, the naga descends from her cage to consume pulped adventurers (her teeth long gone) and pick through the detritus for a few valuables...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RPG Blog Carnival, June 2015 - "Summerland"

Happy summer solstice (slightly tardy, I know).

Phil at Tales of a GM has been kind enough to host this month's RPG Blog Carnival, and offered up 'Summerland' as a theme, whether imagining a Plane of Summer, activities of the season, festivals, or the solstice.

I didn't really plan to do an entry, but as the sun goes down at 9:15 PM here in the Northwest, strangely enough, I ponder that the days are cycling shorter once again, to those eventual dark days of winter....

And perhaps brief meditation on a population who may not welcome the long days....

Vampires and other denizens of the night gather to celebrate the shortest night of the year - the so-called Night of Hunger, where few emerge to feed, especially in the Northlands, where the nights are a mere pause between the crushing long days...

As the sun finally falls on the solstice, the night-walkers emerge, furtively, to gather at certain places of dark power. Carrying valuable vials of clerics' blood and other desecrated holy relics, they gather around black flames, feeding their offerings to the night, so that it may, once again, grow stronger, giving them the time and strength to prey on those weaklings who need the light...


The ceremony is brief, by necessity, for the burning light will return soon.  Best not tarry long...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

'From the Vats' Published!

+Gavin Norman just released his latest project 'From the Vats' - The project is partially populated with entries from a monster-design contest he ran about a year back.  I entered four critters/items into the contest, and my wife was accommodating enough to sketch up a quick illustration for the Smoak:

Gavin began compiling the entries and sent out an APB for some additional art. I asked my wife to contact him to help with an additional piece, which became an illustration for Ben Lawrence's 'Luminous Jelly' (ah, the benefits of having a marine biologist and illustrator in the house...)

So anyway, we had not heard any progress reports for the project for a bit, when lo and behold, it appeared on RPGNow for Free RPG Day...

So, go download 54 pages of weird goodness, including a full adventure, two one-page dungeons and a fistful (or vat-full) of monsters, magic items, and spells!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Pereine Bridge

The long stone-arch bridge was constructed several generations ago - a crowning achievement of cooperation between two kingdoms.  But as such things go, the administrations, character, and relations between the two countries changed.  Current relations are quite sour.

On the west bank, the theocracy of Aughum took hold, and a round tower and gated wall rose up, with fierce battle-nuns stationed therein. Battle-nuns (24): 1HD, AC6/13 (leather habits covered in iron holy symbols), battle axe and shortbow; Lieutenants (3), 3HD, AC3/16 (as plate), two-handed sword.

The kleptocracy of Arenn (although they will insist they are a lost royal lineage, simply making right) built a massive keep on the west bank, manned by mercenary troops from the hill-country. Mercenary troops (36): 1 HD AC 5/14 (chain mail), light crossbow or polearm and falchion; Sergeants (3), 2HD, AC5/14, longsword; Captain, 4HD, AC3/16, mace, short sword (+1 Smiter, double damage on 18-20).

Either side could choose to take the bridge, but this would be considered an outright declaration of war, as the bridge is one of the few remaining crossings, other than a few ferries or clandestine methods, connecting the two regimes.

As the two new regimes rose up, and sealed off the respective ends of the bridge, a small community of ne'er-do-wells, refugees, and heretics took up residency on the bridge, initially building lean-to's and shanties, and as time passed, more substantial structures were constructed along the bridge deck. Structures are typically wood, with some stone or masonry. Due to the space restrictions on the bridge, many buildings have been built to extend over the water, with elaborate bracing of various construction and reliability...

Approximately 100 people huddle on the bridge.

Community Citizens of Note:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

dragon parasites

Returning to the realm of 'real' biology for a moment, let's talk parasites... Parasitism is ubiquitous, with some sort of parasite evolved to exploit a host species.  Parasites range from fungus, plants, single-celled organisms, worms, arthropods, and even a few vertebrates.

Most parasitic relationships are commensal, where the host is not significantly harmed or aided. Some are antagonistic, with the host harmed, and some are symbiotic, with the host and parasite both gaining value.

So, it stands that dragons must have parasites. And like dragons, they will be odd and perhaps unpredictable.

Dragon Louses
For this exercise, I'm using eight dragon age categories - ranging from Very Young to Ancient.

For a dragon of any particular age range, there is a 5% chance that they have become exposed to parasites, either via another dragon, or through another vector. For our S&W dragons, this translates to a 5-40% chance that an individual dragon is parasitized (in reality, the chance of parasitism of an organism is greater, but dragons are magical, resistant beasties...).

Conversely, older specimens are less susceptible to side effects from parasites, and the likelihood of a parasite directly affecting an infected dragon will be 100%-(5% per age category); e.g. an ancient dragon will have a 100%-40% = 60% chance of a direct parasite effect.  Effects will be determined by the table, below. Effects from the parasitic infection may be positive, negative, or (since this is S&W), odd...

Parasite Effect Table
Roll d8 & d4 - first is column, second is row


No Effect
No Effect
No Effect
No Effect
Increased breath damage (increase die by one*)
One additional attack/ round or increase damage by one die
Faster movement (+5% per age category)
Additional breath weapon use (+1/day)
Decreased breath damage (decrease die by one)
 One less attack/ round or decrease damage by one die
Slowed movement
(-5% per age category)
Decreased breath weapon use
Breath weapon of another dragon, random

* - i.e. d6 to d8, reverse for decreased die 

Depending on the parasite biology, parasites may be passed by exposure during mating, melee or post-mortem butchering/trophy-taking.

Dormant eggs or cysts may be carried by a host creature, with a bite or consuming by a dragon required to hatch the organism.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Jacks RPG Encounter Contest, and the Undead Goblin Necro-Sorcerer

The crew over at Happy Jack's RPG podcast hosted an Encounter Contest - fleshing out an encounter area and denizens in one to two pages.  Of course, I started on an entry, then promptly forgot about it until a couple of days ago... Filled in details and pushed it out tonight.  Pretty pedestrian, but hopefully a few details are interesting enough to be winnowed out for use.  Props to Gavin Norman for his Necromancer magic user class.

Accursed compound of the wood-goblins:

The wood-goblin village crouches in the forest near a muddy creek.  Surrounded by sharpened stakes and a rough palisade, the community has been generally harmless, other than periodic autumn raids on larders and grain stores. However, rumor has it that the goblins have taken to raiding and despoiling nearby overgrown temples and shrines.

The village seems run-down, even by goblin standards. No guards man the gate, and the rough cheval de frise that usually block the entrance are in disarray.

The compound interior is typical goblin fare: huts of thatch and repurposed materials, a small storehouse of stone and wattle, an enclosure with a few sad animals (most likely stolen and awaiting slaughter), and a squat longhouse.

Entering the palisade, the party encounters a number of goblins (1d6+4), many bearing odd dendritic scarring. They cringe and mince in the compound and only offer the most apathetic of challenges. The compound smells of death.

Stomping and screeching out of the longhouse emerges the village chief. Or what used to be the chief. Bound by a soul-tithe to a goblin war-god, the now-undead goblin necro-sorcerer remains in his ab-dead state until an ancient relic coveted by the war-god is once again in the unwashed, clawed hands of the goblins. The necro-sorcerer holds the local tribe in fear and thrall, cowed by his undead powers, and goaded to seek this object of his desires.  He is thoroughly insane...

Babbling and screeching, he commands his tribe and other minions to attack.


HD 5 (d6)/ HP 19, AC 6/13, Atk; Ray of Pain (3/day), Dagger +1; undead resistances, damaged only by magic or silver weapons. The Ray of Pain is the source of the scarring, and any target that does not make their save vs. the spell will be scarred.

Spell list (utilizing the Necromancer spell list):
1st Level
  • Command Dead
  • Darkness
  • Locate Remains
  • Read Magic
2nd Level
  • Detect Magic
  • Resist Turning
3rd Level
  • Fear
He is accompanied by low-level undead under his control.  The undead will consist of either slain goblins, or degraded undead of other humanoid species.
  • 2d4 Skeletons (HD 1-2, AC7/12, atk 1d4 (club)
  • 1d6 Zombies (HD 2-2, AC8/11, atk 1d6 (short sword); special: at 0 HP, zombie bursts into flame, causing 1d6 dmg to any creature within 5' radius).
The goblins did not ask to be commanded by this undead husk who made accursed bargains with ineffable powers in exchange for some half-life. But they are fearful and incapable of resisting. They reluctantly make raids on his behest, desecrating the places of the dead, often accompanied by a few of the sorcerer's undead companions.

If the party closes with the chief and his undead, the normal goblins may choose to take advantage of the situation.

  1. If the party appears weak in the face of the necro-sorcerer and his minions, the normal goblins will halfheartedly attack, hiding or fleeing after one round.
  2. If the party appears matched to the necro-sorcerer and his minions, the goblins will withdraw and watch the battle develop, hedging their bets.
  3. If the party appears strong or gains initiative in the opening stages of the battle, the goblins will aid the party, attacking the sorcerer's undead minions.
The goblins are armed with clubs or long knives (as daggers). 1 in 4 will have an oil bomb (thrown, 1d6 fire damage x2 rounds, 5' radius).

If the party perseveres, the goblins will offer a portion of the chief's hoard and random loot (holding back plenty, of course): 73 gp, 437 sp, 419 cp, Red spinel (90 gp), Coral necklace (80 gp), Lapis lazuli (10 gp), Courtier's outfit (30 gp), Large carpet, moth-eaten (25 gp), Small cage with dead parrot (10 gp), Bag of rare spices (10 gp), Good bottle of wine (5 gp), Carved wooden scroll case (1 gp), Box of wigs (1 gp).

If the party returns to the area more than two days later, they will find the village put to the torch and the goblins gone. A sign carved in rough goblin cuneiform on a barrel stave says, "dead is dead." Nothing of value will remain.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Expanded Petty Gods released!

Richard LeBlanc has finally released Expanded Petty Gods out into the wild. He took over the project some time ago, vowing to just pull the pieces together.  As these things happen, the pieces got out of hand, and the final work clocks in at nearly 400 pages!

The project has been a great group effort of written and artistic content. I was happy to contribute a small god and a few minions to the mix.

I initially wrote up a couple of minions that Richard had posted art prompts for, then added a last-minute god, Lubella.  I was psyched to see Joel Priddy's interpretation of her:

So go take a look at EPG on RPGNow.  The PDF is at the ridiculous price of FREEEEE!!!!!

And, if you are like me and hate reading on a screen, dead tree versions are available at-cost on Lulu - Hardback and Softcover.

Grab a copy of whichever version(s) you like, and drop a line to Richard thanking him for completing this Herculean task.

And now Richard can get back to his d30 Tables.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Geomorph: Shrines

This week's installment of Inkwell Ideas' Geomorph contest centered around 'shrines'.

Two entries:

First, a shrine to a twisted god - its adherents following tortuous paths to a font of black flame.

And a shrine to some nameless (or at least difficult-to-pronounce) spider god, its alter ringed by four massive, glowing cabochons.