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.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

UW Astronomer's logbook, May 18, 1980

On the 35th anniversary of the day an earthquake rocked Mt. St. Helens, triggering the eruption that released nearly a cubic mile of rock and ash into the atmosphere, may I present to you the daily log of the University of Washington's Manastash Ridge Observatory.


It's the end of the world, and the radio stations are still playing 'cha-cha' music...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Quarnal Banks

Comprised of a conglomeration of derelict galleys, longboats, barges, rafts, and junks, the 'village' of Quarnal Banks lies anchored a few leagues off-shore in shallow waters off the coast of the Batur Duchy. The 'Banks' are protected by reefs and barrier islands on the seaward side, buffering the community from the worst of the seasonal storms and off-shore currents.

Its citizens are made up of fisher-folk, pirates (both retired and active), heretics, and those who need a bit of breathing room between themselves and the authorities. The group is mostly left alone by the powers-that-be, who have greater challenges than policing a few 'floating miscreants,' but any significant raid originating from the community, or rumor of intelligence or treasure coming to light among the rafts may renew the attention of the authorities. Its residents live on or below-decks of their craft. Most are accepted into the community, as long as they bring something to contribute.

Download map
Scattered among the flotsam and jetsam of the community are the following:

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Joe Wetzel's second geomorph contest theme was lava.

Well, I completely lost track of time until I looked at the contest page and realized that I had about three hours to draw up my entries. At 10 PM local time.  So they are really low quality. Yes.  Even lower-quality than my usual pieces..

So, two entries, in under the wire.  Lava.  And because basalt often forms hexagonal columns as it cools, the floors of the two geomorphs are hexes.

Others can obsessively cross-hatch, I'll do little hexes.

One hex is occupied by a lava stream, with a resident salamander.

The second is a lava pool with basalt column islands to negotiate across safely.

Again, sorry for the crap quality - I'll craft a bit more carefully next time, I hope.

Next up, shrines!

Monday, May 4, 2015

200-Word Gaming Challenge

I'm not sure where I found this link, but David Schirduan posted up a 200-Word RPG challenge, a posting on G+ that apparently got out of hand and turned into a contest.  Build a game, setting, or hack within 200 words...

Ok, I had some time in the evenings during an out-of-town project, and a prompt like this is always tempting. Oh, and each contestant was allowed up to three entries...

Please note that each of these was constructed in approximately 30 minutes each.  Criticize accordingly.

1) Hack/PC class: because bad 80's fantasy movies need love too.

 2) This is actually a distilled version of a larger piece I'm working on. Unfortunately, OpenOffice took a crap and turned my original draft into gibberish, so I'm in the process of recovering the draft and re-transcribing notes to rebuild the larger project - please stay tuned.
 3) Mutant Wrasslin': Pretty self-explanatory.
Side note:  The critter picture ganked for the mutant game is from a real taxidermist, who melds animals into weird chimera.  Unfortunately, he was arrested for illegal importation of endangered animal remains.  That said, a few of those things beg for stats.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Well, the RPG Blog Alliance closed up shop.  Looks like I have the dubious distinction of having one of the final posts in their feed...

Will try to sign up with RPG Bloggers, but they have been non-responsive in the past. The flood of miscreants to their gates will likely take some time to sort through...