Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter XVII

One more from Mu-Pan ...

1409. The city-state of Zi'asssazus is home to the sparkling court of pious Prince Zilewei, a sagacious enchanter who commands two companies of warriors (one of archers, the other of light infantry). The town is defended by four tall watchtowers.

The city-state has aging walls covered in many coats of whitewash. A visitor can tell that Zi'asssazus is constructed on the disintegrating corpse of an older city. In fact, it was once the site of an ophidian city-state. The shamshir do not have the architectural ability of their forebears, so their wattle and daub patches and additions to the ancient buildings are noticeably more crude.

Zilewei's palace is a modest castle of somber hues and noble, stuffy guards swathed in silks and carrying two nagamaki and a brace of five shuriken. The palace contains a shrine dedicated to Nassi'a, the Moth Goddess. The walls of the shrine are hung with dozens of bronze moths with lacquered wings. It is staffed at all times by a sacred drummer who maintains a steady rhythm.

The palace is constructed at the top of a wooded hill. Two ancient stone reservoirs are located beneath the palace, and the rest of the city-state below them. Gravity brings water from the reservoirs through clay pipes to intricately carved and ancient fountains. The fountains' spouts are bronze cobras. The city-state is known for its moneychangers (scrupulously honest, with very safe vaults), its guides (many of them former soldiers) and its unique taverns. The shamshir combine their taverns with their baths. The shamshir of both sexes luxuriate on heated slabs in the steam, sipping tea or quaffing heady liqueurs from silver flutes. The people enjoy cockfighting, which they do in the alleys off the main streets, with betting a must.

The land around Zi'asssazus is a lightly wooded grassland surrounded by a thicker woodland inhabited by giant mantises. The farmers of the city-state raise ducks in ponds, grow hemp and rye and keep goats and cattle.

| Zilewei, Shamshir Shugenja Lvl 5: HP 14 [16]; AC 9 [10]; Save 11 (9 vs magic); CL/XP 4/120; Special: Spells (3rd). Heavy robes decorated with slips of golden hair in clasps of silver, spellbook.

Tome of Horrors Converted + Establishing My LARPer Street Cred

Just finished writing my bit for Tome of Horrors Complete. I honestly have no idea how many monsters it was - 400 maybe - but they're all converted and each one has a lair or encounter to go with it. It was a big project to tackle in two months, but I'm pleased as punch to have been involved with it. Now that ToH-C is done (I'm going to do a bit of tinkering with it tomorrow), I'll have more time to devote to Mystery Men! and NOD 8.

To celebrate, I present a photo of my sister and I in our Halloween costumes a few decades ago.

I'm the knight, in case you couldn't figure it out. The armor was made by my father (thanks dad!) from poster board spray painted silver. The helmet was purchased from Toys 'R' Us - it was part of the official Dungeons and Dragons toy line - Strongheart the Paladin's helm. All of my original first edition and Moldvay-Cook gear came from Toys 'R' Us - I remember how excited I was when they finally opened one on our side of town (and it's still there - I wonder for how long). Good times!

Well, back to work. Just finished a Charlie Chan movie, now watching Robotech while tapping away at some more Mu-Pan encounters. Have fun and stay safe!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Bevy of Bujin

As regular readers know, my Mu-Pan hexcrawl is based on Mike Davison's excellent Ruins and Ronin ruleset (and by reading this sentence, you are now contractually obligated to go buy it - sorry, the law's the law).

R-n-R is, in turn, based on Swords and Wizardry White Box, so it keeps things simple. There are four classes - Bujin (fighting-man), Sohei (cleric), Shugenja (magic-user) and Half-Ogre. In addition, Mike has released the Ninja, Kensai, Headhunter and Henyeyokai classes on his blog. The bujin is, essentially, a samurai that can make use of the heaviest armor in the game and any weapon.

Unfortunately, Mu-Pan is based as much on China as Japan, and that leaves a few gaps where fighting-men are concerned, primarily in the form of the shaolin monk. Of course, there's a perfectly good monk in NOD 1 and S-n-W Complete, but I decided I wanted to minimize reliance on other rulebooks when writing Mu-Pan. Besides which, there are some important differences in terms of Hit Dice between White Box, Core and Complete. To that end, I came up with this little system for modifying the existing bujin to model different kinds of Asian warriors, from wandering swordsmen to fighting monks to members of dart bureaus.

Keep in mind, this is a rough draft. I'd love to hear comments on the concept.

The bujin as written is designed to be a heavily armored warrior, serving on the front lines of an adventuring band, his o-yoroi armor deflecting deadly blows while his flashing katanas cut down foe after foe. This is a fine archetype of Asian fighting prowess, but it stands at almost the opposite end of the spectrum from Asia's other great fighting archetype - the unarmed martial artist. To model your bujin as something other than a samurai, this houserule permits you to reduce your allowable armor in return for a special ability. The less armor you are permitted (and thus the more damage you're likely to take in combat), the more special abilities you can have.

Maximum Armor Bonus | Special Abilities
+0 | 4
+2 | 3
+4 | 2
+6 | 1

Special Abilities

Combat Sense - You are normally surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8 and can make a saving throw to avoid back stabs from ninjas and thieves.

Deflect Missiles – Once per round, you can make a saving throw to avoid an otherwise successful missile attack.

Estimate Foe - For each round you do not attack your opponent, you gain a +1 bonus to hit, Armor Class and damage for the remainder of the combat against that opponent.

Headlong Charge – You run at an opponent or ride at an opponent and attempt a single attack at a +2 bonus to hit along the way. You must run at least 20 feet to use this ability, and you suffer a -2 penalty to your AC during any round in which you make a headlong charge.

Fists of Iron – Your unarmed attacks do 1d6-1 (1d4) points of damage.

Flurry of Blows – You can make one attack against a secondary opponent every other round.

Iron Hold - With a successful attack you wrap your opponent up using your arms and even legs; equivalent of a hold person spell until your opponent makes a successful saving throw (penalty equal to difference between your strength and their strength). If your attack fails, you suffer a 1 point penalty to Armor Class until your next turn.

Ki Shout – You harness all your power and put it into a single melee attack, gaining a +2 bonus to damage if you hit. You can unleash a ki shout only once per day.

Mighty Leap – You can make a 6 foot horizontal and 3 foot vertical leap if heavy encumbered, 8 foot / 4 foot leaps if lightly encumbered and 10 foot / 5 foot leaps if unencumbered.

Mounted Archery - You suffer no penalties to firing a bow from an unsteady platform, like a boat, horse, flying carpet, etc.

Parry Blows – You can trade an attack during a round for a +1 bonus to your AC or the AC of a creature or object no more than 3 feet away from you.

Parry Death Blow – Once per combat you can make a saving throw to retain 1 hp when a successful blow would otherwise have killed you.

Swift Motion - You roll a separate initiative from your group, and may take whichever initiative roll is better. Your movement rate is also increased by three.


Image by Wayne Reynolds via Paizo. I'm a WAR junkie, so when I saw this image pop up today on their blog, I had to appropriate it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter XVI

Had some homework to do with my daughter tonight (designing a Harry Potter game for school), so no Megacrawl today - hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy another Mu-Pan encounter ...

1425. A pagoda has been constructed here from round, pearly stones that don't appear to be held together by any sort of mortar. The pagoda's roofs are made of a bronze-colored wood that shimmers in the daytime. Inside the pagoda there is a pit that burns with purple-black fire. The flames rise to about 10 feet, but flare when living creatures approach. At night, the pagoda gives off a glassy, purple glow to a distance of about 100 feet (double that when living creatures are nearby). At night, encounters with undead monstrosities occur on the roll of 1 on 1d6 made every hour. Use the following table to determine what dark pilgrim visits the pagoda.

Roll | Monster
1-2  | Zombies (1d6+6)
3-4  | Jikininki (1d3+3)
5-6  | Ghouls (1d3+1)
7     | Gashadokoru (1d3; see monsters)
8     | Kyonshi - Hopping Vampire (1d2)
9     | Shikki-Gaki (1)
10   | Jiki-Ketsu-Gaki (1)


Image by Edmond Dulac

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter XV

A wizard's tower high in the mountains ...

1244. The top of a mountain has been carved, or possibly molded, into a slim tower that overlooks its surroundings for 18 miles (3 hexes). The master of this house is Zabrasha, an elementalist and sworn enemy of the men of Tsanjan. Her presence here has long been a thorn in their side, but as yet they have mounted no serious attack on her citadel.

The citadel looks like a needle of gray stone piercing the heavens. In fact, the "needle" is about 200 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. Nestled in this massive citadel are 99 chambers, each decorated in a different color (some repeat) and each holding a small shrine to an elemental spirit. Zabrasha's servants, about 20 kobolds with gleaming scales and five apprentices, keep incense burning at the shrines and make daily chants before them. The entrance to the tower is gained by climbing a long, winding stair about 500 feet up the side of the windy mountain. The stairs end in a 20-ft long tunnel that opens into an enclosed courtyard with three bronze doors. The side doors lead spartan quarters that the Gray Lady makes available to petitioner and travelers. These rooms contain bronze braziers for warmth, sleeping mats and pegs for hanging belongings, but nothing else. The other door is guarded by two ishidzukui-shishi (HD 5+2; 19, 16 hp).

The base of the tower's mountain is covered in a thick woodland of stunted poplars, birches, walnuts and wild cherry trees. The area is rich in game animals (deer, mountain pigs, shaggy hares) that the kobolds trap and the apprentices prepare. Both apprentices and kobolds wear conical hats made of rabbit hide. A neglected town hides in those woodlands. It is inhabited by two dozen hunters and their families and holds only one building of note, a crumbling tower that holds an ancient altar dedicated to the Panda Emperor.

Zabrasha is an elderly woman with gray hair, gray eyes and tawny skin. She has a delicate build and a deeply creased, though still attractive face. While kindly at heart, she is always on guard for her enemies and she is a harsh mistress with her apprentices, believing that tough love will save them in the future as they attempt to deal with elementals and other extra-planar creatures of great power. An old romantic, she falls in love easily, especially with older bujin that remind her of her first husband and partner in adventuring.

Zabrasha's treasure consists of 950 sp, 770 gp and a diamond worth 800 gp.

| Apprentice, Elementalist Lvl 1: HP 1d6; AC 9 [10]; Save 15; CL/XP B/10; Special: Command spirits (4/day), turn elementals. Equipment, grimoire, tools.

| Zabrasha, the Gray Lady, Elementalist Lvl 10: HP 27 [31]; AC 9 [10]; Save 8; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Command spirits (8/day), turn elementals. Equipment, grimoire, tools.

Note: If you do not wish to use the elementalist class from NOD 3, substitute with the shugenja.


Image from Wizards of the Coast website.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter XIV

Do you like crane maidens?

Well, probably not these crane maidens ...

1226. Warm springs flow from the mountains here, a cluster of largely dormant volcanoes. The gorges that lead into the wooded valley are crusted with mineral salts, but the go uncollected, for the gorges are sacred to the demon god Chiyou and visitors are not permitted in the valley.

At the heights, there is a large pool of warm water surrounded by junipers and dusty purple thistles. The pool is inhabited by 1d6+4 vapor cranes. In the center of the pool there is an ancient marble cistern filled with warmer water and five crane maidens, sisters and daughters of Chiyou. The crane maidens are not physically very powerful, but they have two unique powers. When their eyes grow scarlet, they cause the water to boil (1d6 damage per round). When they glow purple, the water becomes as solid as concrete for 3 rounds.

| Vapor Crane: HD 5; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 bite (1d4+5); Move 6 (F12); Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Scalding to touch, steam cloud (1d6+5) in cone or 15-ft radius.

| Crane Maiden: HD 2; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 strike (1d4); Move 15 (F30); Save 16; CL/XP 4/240; Special: Magic powers, change into crane (heals all damage, 2/day), magic resistance (30%).


Image by Hsu Roh Ling

Introducing Grumm of Redbluff

I'm lucky enough to be playing in Solomoriah's play-by-post Redbluff campaign right now using the Basic Fantasy RPG rules - one of my favorites, and the first retro-clone I ever owned. We're using some of the alternate rules and currently have a party consisting of a half-orc fighter, halfling thief, dwarf cleric and elf magic-user/thief. Just for fun, you can view my character, Grumm, below. He's currently locked in battle with some wench-stealing kobolds, and though he has taken some serious wounds he's pressing his attack!

And if you haven't yet discovered BFRPG, for crying out loud go check it out!

DM: Solomoriah
Player: John Stater

Character: Grumm
Race: Half-Orc
Class: Fighter
Age: 14
Height: 5'8”
Weight: 190 lb
Eyes: Yellow and beady
Hair: Black bristles

Level: 2
Experience: 3000

Strength: 17 | +2
Intelligence: 15 | +1
Wisdom: 8 | -1
Dexterity: 14 | +1
Constitution: 13 | +1
Charisma: 15 | +1

Alignment: Neutral
Languages Known: Common, Orc

Hit Points: 16
Armor Class: 16 (Chainmail, +1 Dex)
Attack Bonus: +2 (+4 melee, +3 ranged)

Death Ray or Poison: 10 (+1 vs death ray and poison)
Magic Wands: 12
Paralysis or Petrify: 14
Dragon Breath: 15
Spells: 16

Darkvision 60 ft
+1 reaction with medium humanoids

Chainmail (60 gp)
Shortbow (25 gp)
Quiver (1 gp)
… 10 arrows (1 gp)
… 1 silver arrow (2 gp)
Dagger (2 gp)
Pole Arm – Glaive (9 gp)
2 small sacks (1 gp)
Rations (dry, one week) (10 gp)
Whetstone (1 gp)
Waterskin (1 gp)
Rope (hemp, 50') (1 gp)
12 iron spikes (1 gp)
Clothing (4 gp)

Money: 1 gp
Encumbrance: 82 lb
Movement: 20' LL, 10' HL
Initiative: +1

Shortbow: Range 50/100/150; 1d6 damage
Pole Arm: 1d10 damage
Dagger: 1d4 damage

Mu-Pan - Encounter XII / XIII

Short encounters tonight, so I'll post two ...

1025. A flock of seven cheonma have made an aerie for themselves on the high peaks here and are under attack by a pack of five griffons. The cheonma are hard pressed and they have already lost two foals to the depredations of the griffons.

| Cheonma: HD 4; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 hooves (1d8); Move 24 (F48); Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Flight. Cheonma are Mu-Panese pegasi. They are eight-legged horses with wings on their feet.

| Griffon: HD 7; AC 3 [16]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 12 (F27); Save 9; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Flight.

1027. A gang of 20 gyres is occupying a cave here, using it as a base of operations as they raid down the river into Yun territory. The leader of the gyres has a single white eye and particularly long canine teeth. He wears a golden ring on one of those teeth (worth 15 gp) and can cast 1d6 levels of sohei spells per day. The gyres wear coats of leather scales and wield masakaris and kamas. If encountered in their lair, there is a 2 in 6 chance they are drunk on plum wine. Their treasure consists of 340 sp and 1,130 gp in leather sacks. The stripped bones of two unlucky farmers are piled in the back of the cave.

| Gyre: HD 2; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 bite (1d3) and 2 claws (1d4) or weapon (1d6); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Frenzy (2 attacks per round for 3 rounds, then fall unconscious).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter XI

Man I love writing this stuff - just letting my mind wander, maybe feeding it with a few random seeds. Here's another one from the mountains around Tsanjan ...

0937. A small village of fishermen live in this hex in a gorge with steep, 90-foot tall sides. A river moves slowly through the hex on its way to the Tsanjani Plateau. The fishermen dwell in something that resembles a Chinese lantern composed of rattan and attached to the walls of the gorge with iron spikes. Each lantern-house measures about 6 to 9 feet in diameter and houses three or four villagers. The fishermen can be seen at odd intervals dangling their feet out their front doors casting long lines into the river below. Hatches in the tops of the lantern-houses lead to ladders composed of iron spikes, allowing the villagers to climb to other lantern-houses or to the top of the gorge.

Below the lantern-houses an idol of Yarni-Zai has been carved into the gorge wall. The grave creator of beasts and men broods over the slow river, which the villagers believe was originally a beautiful maiden that won the heart of the deity but refused him. A hermit priest sits in the lap of the graven image, meditating, answering the questions of the villagers and curing their ills as best he can. The hermit has no name, and asks nothing but an offering of rice or fish in his begging bowl.

The villagers are armed with yami and haikyu, though their lack of money keeps the bandits away and their somber attitude and resignation to the indignities of the world make them unlikely targets even for chaotic adventurers.

| Hermit, Druid Lvl 6: HP 12 [23]; AC 9 [10]; Save 9; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Spells (3rd), speak to animals, plants and monsters, shapechange. Begging bowl, prayer beads.


Image from HERE.

Second Look at Shore City for Mystery Men!

I've done a bit more work on the map - sized it the way I want, added locations. One step closer to publication!

And to round it out - a shot of the Golden Gladiators in color - the heroes that will appear in Mystery Men! as drawn by Joel Carroll.

I'm hoping to publish in mid-April, around the same time NOD 8 will be released.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter X

0824. A stone tower made of golden bricks leans over dangerously from the side of a low mountain covered in a tangle of brambles. The tower is the lair of a wang liang and his foot soldiers, 40 oni-yama. The wang liang owns an enviable library of bamboo scrolls on every imaginable subject, though every single one of them is filled with nothing but lies and half-truths. One of the scrolls contains a number of spells that appear to be one thing but are in fact another: Charm person (actually light), invisibility (actually levitate) and alter time (actually lightning bolt).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter IX

Another one from Mu-Pan. You'll notice I haven't done the treasure yet. I use an excel document to randomize treasure. The tables are based on those from Swords and Wizardry, and yesterday I was too lazy to open it up and generate the goods, mostly because Open Office doesn't handle it as well as excel does and I usually work on my laptop. I know - who cares. Anyhow ...

0718. A cliffside monastery in this hex was abandoned about 30 years ago when the monks were masacred in an attack by oni-aka goblins. Twenty of the goblins still dwell in the place, though they avoid the shrine. The goblins are led by Iki-Urha, an ogre with rust-colored, heavily creased skin and a bulbous nose.

The monastery shrine was dedicated to the concept of Law. The rear wall of the shrine, which measures 15 feet by 15 feet, is covered with bronze clockworks that approximate the movements of the cosmos - at least those of Nod and the planets Luna, Mercurii, Veneris, Martis and the Solar Sphere. The shrine is protected by four giant, clockwork owls perched on bronze bars that run the length of the shrine.
The goblins and ogre have desecrated the remainder of the monastery. The ogre has a single prisoner, a musician named Zeaho. Zeaho is the last survivor of a party of adventurers that sought out the monastery under the direction of their lawful sohei. Zeaho is a hengeyokai that can assume the form of a hare.

The ogres and oni-aka have a treasure of XXX in a large, locked chest.

| Oni-Aka (20): HD 1; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 9; Save 17; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Resistance to fire (50%).

| Clockwork Owls (4): HD 4+1 (19, 15, 14, 9 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 talons (1d6), bite (1d6+1); Move 6 (F30); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Immune to sleep and charm, resistance to cold and fire (50%).

| Zeaho, Hengeyokai Bujin Lvl 4: HP 14 [22]; AC 9 [10]; Save 13 (12 vs death & poison); CL/XP 4/120; Special: Follow through. Pipe (a lute).

| Iki-Urha, Ogre: HD 4+1 (17 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 tetsubo (1d6+3); Move 9; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120. Tetsubo, nine-ring broadsword (belonged to Zeaho).


Image of bakeneko and tanuki by GENZOMAN at DeviantArt. Much to see in his gallery.

Wonder Woman vs. Devil Dinosaur?

Well, no. But you can go to Grantbridge Street & other misadventures to see what is going on.

And that reminds me - I really need to Mystery Men! Devil Dinosaur.

First Look at Shore City for Mystery Men!

Just finished my first draft of Shore City, the sample setting I'm writing for Mystery Men!

I still have some labels to apply (the river, for example, is the Salamander), and then I need to add some of the highlights. Essentially, I'm going to write up a description of the city sections (Downtown, Old Town, etc) with random crime tables for each for patrols. Then, I'll add specific buildings and sites of interest, many of which will have adventure hooks of their own.

Of course, the street names are (almost) all comic book references, and a No-Prize will be awarded to anyone who can tell me which great American city the map is based on and why.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter VIII

One more before I post the update to Megacrawl 3000 ...

0443. Three one-eyed boys (hitotsumi-kozo) dwell in this hex in a cave studded with sapphires (worth 100 gp each, a total of 23 are present). The cave is set in the side of a long hill, the base of which is cluttered with goji berry bushes. The one-eyed boys gather the goji berries and mash them into juice that they ferment in clay pots buried in the floor of their cave.

Although removal of the sapphires is very tempting, it is a dangerous thing to do. If a sapphire is plucked from the wall of the cave, a blue ray erupts from the wall and strikes the person holding the sapphire (no roll needed). The ray always strikes the person in the forehead and sets up a communication between the thief and something from beyond the void (per the contact other plane spell). The experience leaves most people a bit jumbled (1d8 points of ability damage spread between intelligene, wisdom and charisma as the player prefers). This damage can be healed with magic (restoration), but will not heal naturally.

If all of the sapphires are stolen from the cave, the rays create a portal through which 1d6+4 star warriors emerge. The star warriors are hairless humanoids with translucent, sapphire skin and eyes and wearing long, metallic coats of miniature scales (the material is aluminum - light weight and quite strong) and carrying two war hammers each. The star warriors track down the sapphire thieves and return them (the sapphires) to the cave. The thieves are either killed or they are taken back to the cave and taken through the portal.

| Hitotsumi-Kozo: HD 3; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Bad luck, frightful appearance, ray of enfeeblement, silence, true seeing.

| Star Warrior: HD 5; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 hammers (1d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Track sapphires unerringly, immunity to cold, ESP at will.


Also - to avoid confusion when talking about the Cloud Dragon, Gold Dragon etc kingdoms and the monsters of the same names, I've given the kingdoms alternate names:

Jin - Gold Dragon Kingdom
Meng - Mist Dragon Kingdom
Ying - Shadow Dragon Kingdom
Yun - Cloud Dragon Kingdom

Of the kingdoms, Meng no longer exists (at least, not in a normal way), its citizens now serving as the empire's merchant class based in the coastal cities.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mu-Pan - Encounter VII

0421. An army of 270 oni-aka (red goblins) raiders has encamped in this hex. The army is preparing to sack the city-state of Pantung [0322]. The raiders are working on behalf of a cabal of villains (an ogre magi, sorcerer ox and evil naga, themselves the puppets of an oni. The raiders are under the command of the hobgoblin marshal Valtrahar. Valtrahar rides atop a palanquin carried by four ogres. He wears a black bronze jingasa with a porcelain mask that bears starched whiskers. He is accompanied by a hired shugenja called Imyneda, a melancholy woman with fulvous skin, gray-green eyes and dark brown hair in braids. Imyneda has a large woman with a round, bland face who complains incessantly as she rides along on her yak. The army has three trebuchet pulled by teams of yaks.

| Valtrahar: HD 6 (34 hp); AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6+1); Move 9; Save 11; CL/XP 6/400. O-yoroi, no-dachi, tanto.

| Imyneda, Shugenja Lvl 5: HP 13 [20]; AC 9 [10]; Save 11 (9 vs magic); CL/XP 4/120; Special: Spells (3rd). Bo staff, tanto, spellbook.


Picture found HERE.

Mu-Pan - Encounter VI

The fun of randomizing hex contents is, of course, that I don't know what's going to pop up and I have to try to make it fit (or delete it and pretend it didn't come up). In this case - surprise, there's a city in the high mountains!

0322. Pantung is an outpost city-state of 12,375 souls constructed between three dormant volcanoes. The clever engineers of Pantung have dug into the volcanoes, constructing large vents from which pour air and water warmed within the volcanoes. This has made the valley of Pantung warm all year around, despite being located at such a high elevation. The borders of the kingdom are protected by walls of ice that slowly melt and are re-built through the year.

The city-state itself is constructed on a radial pattern. The buildings are made of thick, cream-colored stone, much of it excavated from the aforementioned vents. Doors in the city-state are barred at night, for the citizenry fear the hobgoblins and yeti of the mountains. The city’s wall is 30 feet tall and has four large tower keeps protecting it. Each 1,000 foot section of the wall (there are 16 such sections) and the battlements of each tower are patrolled by 1d6+6 handgunners accompanied by a sergeant-at-arms and possibly (10% chance) a low level shugenja. Each tower has a number of war engines that launch flights of iron war rockets. Three paved roads lead from the city state, one into Tsanjan, the other two into Mu-Pan. These roads are lined by asters ranging in color from white to golden yellow to bright purple.

The primary business of Pantung is copper mining (the city-state has small mines up to 3 hexes away) and banditry. During the winter months, dozens of bandit gangs retreat into the mountains to stay in Pantung, bringing rich tributes of coins and slaves to the nu-gong. The bandit chiefs are treated as visiting royalty. The bandits never prey on the citizenry, who appreciate their bawdy tales and ample coin. The fields around Pantung support cherry and plum orchards and grazing for a breed of rugged mountain pony. The primary coin of Pantung is made of bronze (i.e. copper piece), and the average earnings of a commoner is about 2 cp per day.

Pantung is ruled by Nu-Gong Oonichay, a respected shugenja with ties to the black magicians of Tsanjan. She is assisted by a cabal of 4 noble houses, each headed by a master alchemist. Oonichay is a calculating and domineering. She has pale skin, hazel eyes and dark, brown hair that is bobbed short. Oonichay is an accomplished dancer (she was brought into Pantung as a dancing girl for the former gong). She has a small-featured, delicate face that never betrays her thoughts. She wears a cloak of gray and black vulture feathers (from the bearded vulture of the Tsanjan Plateau). Her palace is in the city-state’s center, surrounded by the legendary fruit market. The palace dungeon is a thing of legend.

The city-state’s alchemists are respected (and, to some extent, despised) throughout Mu-Pan. They put most of their efforts into discovering the elixir of life, but also produce copious amounts of black powder (mostly to fuel the iron war rockets and handguns that protect the city from invasion)

Pantung’s patron deity is Roon, the god of going. Roon’s grand temple is overseen by 10 female nsiain (Mu-Panese druids) and 300 lay brothers and sisters, most of them piao-ke (guides, former bandits). The worship of other deities is frowned upon in Pantung, and proselytizing is illegal. The nsiain of Pantung take vows of poverty (though their temple is quite wealthy) and celibacy. The temple’s wealth is used to maintain the roads (and the flowers, the aster is sacred to Roon). Priestesses wear robes of green sackcloth marked by dozens of white hand prints and carry tetsubos. They bleach their palms white. Holy days are observed by the people and priests with pilgrimages to visit shrines (actually noble crypts) in the mountains. The highest virtues preached by Roon’s church are kindness and charity, the most terrible sins blasphemy and envy.

Pantung has a shady tavern located just inside the east gate. The Golden Staff is run by Isekonall, a friendly, optimistic man who hails from the northern steppe and speaks with a thick accent. Most of the crowd in the Golden Staff is shady – bandits and slavers, for the most part. The place is usually crowded and noisy. The plum wine and short beer that Isekonall serves are a bit overpriced for their quality, but the four rooms (actually a loft partitioned with paper screens) are cheap (and mostly occupied, 1 in 6 chance of a room being vacant).

Some of the more interesting folk of Pantung include Newarada, the strinkingly beautiful high priestess of Roon that is really a disguised man (a ninja of the Black Dragon Kingdom who has played the role for over a decade, he is involved in many assassinations), Snomonchond, a flamboyant master alchemist and open heretic (he worships Sol Invictus, whom the Motherlanders call Apollo Helios), Hagravet, the well-connected captain of the guard who keeps company with Snomonchond, Zajinnes, an arrogant master alchemist and rival of Snomonchond who has a family closet full of skeletons and an unhealthy fixation on Hagravet, and Aschansary, a young official implicated in a bribery scandal – she’s had bad luck with former allies and finds it difficult to place her trust in others.

Ruler: Oonichay, Nu-Gong (Duchess), Shugenja Lvl 8
High Priestess: Newarada, Druid Lvl 8
Population: 12,375
Domain: 10 hexes
Size: 1 mile diameter
Arms: Three black dots on a field of white

Friday, March 18, 2011

Deviant Friday - Felipe Massafera Edition

Felipe Massafera brings a heightened reality to comic book characters, and I think he handles it well. I think the trick to know when to stop - to not wring too much fantasy out of the characters. Enjoy ...

The main reason I resisted changing Stoneskin to Enhance Armor II for so long.

For the record, my second favorite Green Lantern after Hal Jordan. Yeah, that's right, I'm willing to go on the record with that.

And though we have no Red Sonja or Dejah Thoris today, we do have these plane hopping adventurers ...

Yeah, I still get a kick out of those old cartoons. Good times.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

League of Groovy Gentlemen (and Ladies)

Sorry I've been away the last couple days. Still working on Tome of Horrors, Mu-Pan and Mystery Men! In the mean time, I have this odd little thought experiment (that took waaaay to much time to produce) ...

So I'm working in the yard the other day, and an idea pops into my head – essentially doing something like the League of Extraordinary Gentleman using only '70s television as my guide (with a few nods to older and later television). What would a super hero/sci-fi/fantasy world built with '70s television look like? Well, I think it might look a little something like this …

Note: I'm building most of these heroes with 30,000 XP (except some of the big boys and girls, who get 60,000 XP) to keep them even and maintain the reduced power level usually found on the small screen.

Early 1970's
Prior to the coming of the disco decade a few heroes had already made their mark on the world. During the WWII, Wonder Woman arrived from Paradise Island to aid the allies against the Nazi threat, but by the end of the war she left Col. Trevor to return home. Whether she ever worked with government agent Steve Rogers is unknown. Since the 1950's, the incredible Superman had been protecting not only Metropolis, CT but the entire world. The dynamic duo of Batman and Robin had been active in Gotham City, NJ for a decade. The main focus of the nation during this period was, of course, the Cold War with the Soviets, and a whole host of heroes had answered their country's call, from legendary agents 86 and 99 of Control to the men from UNCLE to the U.K.'s Avengers initiative, which unfortunately closed down by the end of the 1960's (though whether Steed, Peel and the others ended up in the Village is, of course, a state secret).

As the 1970's dawns, Dr. Michael Rhodes travels the country with assistant Nancy Murphy solving supernatural crimes and mysteries. Whether the due ever investigated rumors of a genie in Cocoa Beach, FL, witches in Westport, CT, hauntings in Schooner Bay, ME or a flying nun in Puerto Rico is unknown. Magician Anthony Blake, on the other hand, uses prestidigitation and his skill as an escape artist to solve crime.

In 1970 the world still mourns the loss of the fist sub-orbital passenger carrier Spindrift to a cosmic storm. The fate of the crew remains unknown.

A number of organizations, private and public, are in operation in the early 1970's to protect the world from evil, including Division Seven's Impossible Mission Force, Hawaii's Five-O squad on the public side and the World Security Corp of San Francisco and high-tech detective agency Intertect in Los Angeles. World Security Corp's key agents include Probe One (Hugh Lockwood), Omega Probe (Nick Bianco) and Backup Probe (C.R. Grover), while Intertect soon loses their top operative, soldier-of-fortune Joe Mannix. Agents 86 and 99 are still active with Control in Washington D.C. and still thwarting the plans of Chaos, now with the help of android Hymie. Glenn Garth Gregory of the Delphi Bureau uses his photographic memory to conduct counter-espionage operations.

Meanwhile, a loner known to government agents as “The Immortal” makes his way across the country, pursued by Fletcher.

Mid 1970's
By the middle of the decade Dr. Michael Rhodes gets some competition in the arena of supernatural investigations, in the form of reporter Carl Kolchak of the Independent News Service's Chicago Bureau. One wonders if a conversation with fellow journalist Richard Cunningham ever sent Kolchak north to Milwaukee, WI to investigate reports of middle-aged auto shop teacher Arthur Fonzarelli and his amazing control over electronics and women. If he did, he might be told the strange tale of a visit from a man from another world (but more on him later).

Even more incredible is the rise of several new super powered heroes. Astronaut Col. Steve Austin (a colleague of Maj. Anthony Nelson and Capt. William “Buck” Rogers) is revived after a terrible accident and turned into a cyborg operative of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (total cost estimated at $6,000,000). A year later a similar operation is performed on tennis pro Jaimie Sommers of Ojai, CA, making her the world's first bionic woman.

Two invisible heroes are created during the middle part of the decade, including scientist Daniel Westin who is turned invisible while sabotaging his own equipment at the Klae Corporation and secret agent Sam Casey, code named “The Gemini Man”, of Intersect.

In New York City, a young college student named Peter Parker develops the abilities of a spider after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid. Meanwhile, in California, teenaged Billy Batson begins traveling the state with his mentor in an R.V. and helping folks out of problems as Captain Marvel. He is sometimes assisted by high school teacher-turned superhero Andrea Thomas, who possesses the power of the goddess Isis.

In the U.K., the Ministry revives the Avengers program with two new agents, Purdy and Gambit, under the tutelage of veteran John Steed. Apparently, Steed and former colleague Emma Peel were not sent to the Village.

In Los Angeles, there are persistent rumors of a band of ex-special forces operating in the L.A. underground as soldiers-of-fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them …

Late 1970's
After 35 years away, Diana Prince, Wonder Woman, returns to America to join the Inter-Agency Defense Command with Steve Trevor, Jr. A few years earlier the United States had attempted to create its own Wonder Woman, but the program was ultimately not continued. Meanwhile, former marine Steve Rogers, Jr. - the son of 1940’s government agent Steve Rogers – is given an injection of FLAG (Full Latent Ability Gain, not to be confused with the Foundation for Law and Government) after a terrible accident and becomes the costumed hero Captain America. Cap roams the country in a heavily modified van fighting crime.

Joining the Immortal as a wandering fugitive is Dr. David Bruce Banner, physician and scientist, who becomes a creature nick-named “The Hulk” after suffering a powerful dose of gamma radiation in an experiment meant to unlock the hidden strength inside human beings. Perhaps his travels take him through the County of Hazzard, GA, where a couple of good old boys has recently been put on probation for running moonshine.

Some non-humans are among the heroes that emerge in the late 1970's. In California, a possible survivor of the destruction of Atlantis is found with amnesia and goes to work for the Foundation for Oceanic Research, a government agency. Perhaps his travels take him to Bay City, CA, home of detectives Starsky and Hutch. In Boulder, CO, the aforementioned man from space, one Mork from Ork, touches down on Earth on a mission to understand human beings.

Sorcery still abounds in the late 1970's. Perhaps its most powerful practitioner is a mysterious man called Mr. Roarke, who dwells on a fantastic island in the Caribbean making people's wishes come true. He is assisted, they say, by a strange homunculus called Tattoo. Just as disturbing is the presence of the infamous Count Dracula, posing as a professor at a college in San Francisco.

Scientific wonders of the late 1970's include the deep space probe ships Ranger I and Ranger II (Capt. “Buck” Rogers is training during this period for his mission on Ranger III, the last of NASA's deep space probes) to the incredible nuclear Supertrain, which is the size of a cruise ship and travels between New York and Los Angeles.

As the decade closes, mankind faces the destruction of their planet in 1987 by nuclear war – a nuclear war that does not catch Buck Rogers, who is frozen in space at the time. The ultimate cause of that destruction might be the robotic servants of the alien cylons, who followed mankind's last battlestar, Galactica, to Earth. Perhaps that nuclear holocaust can be avoided by the assemblage of a league of heroes under the tutelage of a mastermind like Mr. Roarke or the mysterious time traveler known only as “the Doctor”.

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