Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Vote for Agrippa is a Vote for Trebuchets

THIS GUY wants to build a working siege engine. Apparently, Mr. Hill is working on getting a scholarship grant to build a trebuchet, and I'd love to think the RPG community could push him over the top of the voting at THIS SITE. We all know it would be a better world with more ancient stone throwers in it - let's get out there and truly rock the vote.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Just wanted to pop in today and say thank you, from myself and my family, to all the men and women who have served and are serving in the U.S. military and its many allies over the years.

Think about giving a donation to the USO, or one of the many fine charities that support our fighting men and women, such as Wounded Warrior or TAPS.


Image by Bill Mauldin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

1d8 Cockatrices

Image from Blood & Treasure by Jon Kaufman

Maybe it's the pain killers I've been taking since I had a wisdom tooth was pulled, but here are a collection of goofy variations on the venerable cockatrice. When one of the killer chickens shows up as a random monster, roll 1d8 and replace him with one of his cousins.

1. Cock'a'leeky - wounds from its bite do not heal, save with the application of a cure light wounds spell and holy water. Each successful bite attacks deals 1 point of damage per hour until healed.

2. Cock Robbin' - a cockatrice that can back stab for double damage, move silently and hide in shadows as a 5th level thief. Has a black mask marking on its face.

3. Cockatrice Rex - a cockatrice the size of a tyrannosaurus rex (essentially a t-rex with a petrifying bite).

4. Cockatwice - two headed cockatrice with two bite attacks.

5. Cock'n'Bull - like a chimera, except with the head of a gorgon and a cockatrice (use gorgon stats with an extra bite from the cockatrice head).

6. Peacockatrice - its colorful feathers hypnotize (save or stunned for 1d4 rounds).

7. Poppycock - has a bright red plume, its bite causes a deathless sleep (save or permanent sleep, can be defeated with a remove curse spell).

8. Weathercockatrice - belches a killer fog (cloudkill) in place of the petrifying bite.

Of course, wise adventurers will remember to bring their cockatrice spaniel, a hunting dog immune to the creature's petrifying bite.

Saturday Grab Bag II: The Quickening

Killer DM's Are Everywhere Dept.

Electrified acid ladies and gentlemen. And since it's real, the player's can't claim you're just making this stuff up to kill them.

Update Your Monster Manual Dept.

Reindeers have ultravision, folks - assuming you're playing a version of the Grand Old Game that includes ultravision.

Revised RPG Dept.

And the revised Mystery Men! E-Book is now on the air! Download to your heart's content, and if you see any additional errors, let me know. I'll probably do a final revision next week.

An Egg-Cellent Birthday!

Vincent Price was born on this day 100 years ago. A century! If you're from my generation, you grew up with Price being known for his spooky movies - I don't know that they would be considered horror movies anymore, but they were at least spooky and weird. And speaking of weird, he also played one of Batman's freakish foes - Egghead!

Enjoy the madness!

And with Egghead statted up, can Egg Fu be far behind? Robert Kanigher was like the Fiend Folio of comic book heroes and villains.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mystery Men! Now Available As Free PDF

Just click the Mystery Men! cover to your right and you can download the game from Lulu.com for free. I'll have the book available soon - looks like it will be in the $8 to $9 range. I want to order one myself first and get a look at it to make sure the color images look okay in black and white. If not, I'll have to make a second PDF with the black and white images in place of the color images and re-upload it ... and nobody cares about this but me.

So, this final version includes all the rules you need to create heroes and villains and run scenarios. It also includes the Shore City sample setting and a sample scenario you can run.

Enjoy the free e-book for now, and the book will be coming very soon. If you find anything amiss with the e-book, please let me know so I can fix it before the book goes live. Also - if you download it, please take a few minutes, make a character, and share it with us here.


Edit: Already found an error! Apparently, an older draft of chapter 2 found its way into the game. Honestly, I have no idea how I managed to do it. Essentially, the only changes involved spelling, grammer and layout, so if you've downloaded it you could still play with chapter two as written, but I'm going to get that fixed as soon as possible - probably tomorrow morning sometime.

Have fun saving the world!

Wildfire, copyright 2011 Joel Carroll

Deviant Friday - Nicholas Kole Edition

Nicholas Kole - AKA Homarusrex - works in a quirky style I enjoy. I especially like his use of color. Enjoy.

PoP: Guardian's Path

Caddying for William Wallace

The House at Happy Rock

Generous Bubblewhale

-AnD - Sindy


Raving Stiltybird

Kojo Promo

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mystery Men! Public Domain Theatre Presents ...

The Phantom Creeps (1939)

I caught a bit of this on MST3K a few nights ago (God has blessed me with a daughter who loves MST3K and bad movies in general) and knew I had to do something with it. When I found out it was in the public domain, I was doubly determined.

This is the story of Dr. Zorka, a mad genius who discovered a radioactive meteorite in Africa and has used it to power all sorts of inventions. Foreign governments are after the meteorite and the inventions, so Zorka's assistant Dr. Mallory brings in the U.S. Government. Zorka isn't happy about that and so he plants one of his mechanical, exploding spiders on Capt. Bob West's plane. Unfortunately, Zorka is unaware that West is taking Zorka's wife back to HQ for questioning, and though West escapes from the explosion with a parachute, Zorka's wife is killed. Zorka naturally swears vengeance upon all mankind and decides to conquer the world.

Zorka is a great representation of the mad scientist archetype, and has been statted out accordingly.

Among his inventions are:

The Devisualizer Belt - Invested with Invisibility - costs 15,000 XP of his science pool.

Guardian Robot - As seen in the monster section of the MM! rules.

Mechanical Spider - A robot spider that is attracted to a magnetic disc (Locate - magnetic disc only) and then explodes with a poison gas (Sleep) - costs 6,000 XP of his science pool.


On the subject of Mystery Men! - I've finished my edits and I'm now preparing the file for upload to Lulu. Shouldn't be long now!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Babylonian Museum

This article was too cool not to post - hell, for the picture alone. Something like this will be making an appearance in NOD someday - probably in a manner dangerous to pesky adventurers.

H/T James Lileks

Best D-n-D Movie Ever?

Watched a D-n-D movie this weekend. Three fighters (or a fighter, barbarian and monk, if you’re more Advanced), a thief and a magic-user head out into the wilderness, tackle a wizard’s keep, delve into a forgotten temple and wind up the session by killing a demon. The chaotic thief steals a jewel and backstabs a guy on a horse, the magic-user casts find person, knock and maybe eyebite, the fighting-men kill lots of cultists, men-at-arms and the aforementioned wizard and demon – pretty good game, all in all.

So here’s my question – did D-n-D influence Conan the Destroyer? Was Roy Thomas playing the game back in the day? Or is it just two things influenced by the same material?

Using a 1-12 range for levels, one of the old 3E arrays for ability scores and the boon from HERE, I'm thinking stats would be something like this ...


Side note - how cruel is it that blogging is one of the great tools ever to come about for role-playing games, and yet the one character in blogging that screws up your posts time after time is the freaking ampersand, the queen mother of RPG characters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

If You're Looking for Inspiration ...

... you could do worse than peruse Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. Apparently, it helped Alan Moore hatch a good many of his great ideas. Written in 1898, it is packed with great tidbits of folklore and mythology, all seen through the lens of Victorian* scholarship (i.e., lots of it is not quite correct). More importantly, it is a great aid when trying to give a setting an oldey-timey feeling - i.e. walking into a tavern and being offereda "cool tankard" or "cobbler" rather than a boring old ale.

A few examples from the "C"s ...

Cobbler A drink made of wine (sherry), sugar, lemon, and ice. It is sipped up through a straw. (See Cobbler's Punch )

“This wonderful invention, sir, ... is called cobbler,- Sherry cobbler, when you name it long; cobbler when you name it short.”- Dickens: Marten Chuzzlewit, xvii.

Cock Mahomet found in the first heaven a cock of such enormous size that its crest touched the second heaven. The crowing of this celestial bird arouses every living creature from sleep except man. The Moslem doctors say that Allah lends a willing ear to him who reads the Koran, to him who prays for pardon, and to the cock whose chant is divine melody. When this cock ceases to crow, the day of judgment will be at hand.
     Cock. Dedicated to Apollo, the sun-god, because it gives notice of the rising of the sun. It was dedicated to Mercury, because it summons men to business by its crowing. And to Æsculapius, because “early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy.”
     A cock on church spires is to remind men not to deny their Lord as Peter did, but when the cock crew he “went out and wept bitterly.” Peter Le Neve affirms that a cock was the warlike ensign of the Goths, and therefore used in Gothic churches for ornament.
     Every cock crows on its own dunghill, or Ilka cock crows on his own midden. It is easy to brag of your deeds in your own castle when safe from danger and not likely to be put to the proof.
     Latin: Gallus in suo sterquilinio plurimum potest.
     French: Chien sur son fumier est hardi.
     Spanish: Cada Galla canta en su muladar.
     Nourish a cock, but offer it not in sacrifice. This is the eighteenth Symbolic Saying in the Protreptics of Iamblichus. The cock was sacred to Minerva, and also to the Sun and Moon, and it would be impious to offer a sacrilegious offering to the gods. What is already consecrated to God cannot be employed in sacrifice.
     That cock won't fight. That dodge wouldn't answer; that tale won't wash. Of course, the allusion is to fighting cocks. A bet is made on a favourite cock, but when pitted he refuses to fight.
     To cry cock. To claim the victory; to assert oneself to be the superior. As a cock of the walk is the chief or ruler of the whole walk, so to cry cock is to claim this cockship.

Cock and Bottle A public-house sign, meaning draught and bottled ale may be had on the premises. The “cock” here means the tap. It does not mean “The Cork and Bottle.”

Cool Tankard (A) or Cool Cup. A drink made of wine and water, with lemon, sugar, and borage; sometimes also slices of cucumber.

Coon (A) means a racoon, a small American animal valued for its fur. It is about the size of a fox, and lodges in hollow trees.
     A gone coon. A person in a terrible fix; one on the verge of ruin. The coon being hunted for its fur is a “gone coon” when it has no escape from its pursuers. It is said that Colonel Crockett was one day out racoon-shooting in North America, when he levelled his gun at a tree where an “old coon” was concealed. Knowing the colonel's prowess, it cried out, in the voice of a man, “Hallo, there! air you Colonel Crockett? for if you air, I'll jist come down, or I know I am a gone 'coon.”
     Martin Scott, lieutenant-general of the United States, is said to have had a prior claim to this saying.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Grab Bag

Not much today -

What The? Department

Found HERE - What the heck is going on here, and who wants to work up some Mystery Men! stats for, well, any of it? You know what I do like about that cover, though - it was not done ironically. Now we have many people trying to manufacture weird, consciously, where as once upon a time that was not so common. In other words - what's more interesting - the person (and culture) who drew that cover or a hack like Lady Gaga who goes to great pains to be "shocking" and "weird" in the most lucrative manner possible? Or was that cover artist just pissed that he was making a living drawing a comic book cover instead of living his dream as an artiste', so he decided to go all "subversive"? Discuss.

Bonus knowledge - jeeps got their name because they were designed as General Purpose vehicles for the military - GP - Jeep.

Reskinning the Past Department

So, we're probably all aware of people who make their living by taking the skeleton of a long extinct animal and drawing in the musculature and skin to give us an idea of what it looked like when it was alive. Which is interesting, if you think about it - most folks these days think we know what a t-rex looks like, but in truth nobody really does - not even scientists - and we never will. Anyways - has anybody ever thought of taking a modern animal skeleton as a base, and then designing an imaginary creature around it. The above skeleton is probably a bad example, since I think it's an extinct species of elephant. Either way - could be a fun artistic exercise or blog contest.


Sick of the Rapture Department

Here's a picture of a woman being carried away in a bubble. No relation.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Krime, Italian Style

I was perusing Super Punch this morning when I came across of a skull-faced gentleman called Kriminal. Having never heard of him, I checked him out on Wikipedia and one thing led to another. Here, for your edification and enjoyment are three Italian anti-hero/villains from the mid 1960s.

Created by Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962

Diabolik is a master thief who mostly steals from criminals. He is not averse to killing, but rarely kills innocents or the police. Well versed in chemistry, mechanics and computers, he has a collection of life-like masks that allow him to adopt any identity. Diabolik was raised on a secret island by a criminal combine, the head of which he killed when he reached maturity. He is assisted by his partner and lover Eva Kant. The two live in the tiny kingdom of Clerville, the capitol of which is also Clerville. His arch enemy is Inspector Ginko.

Created 1964 by Magnus and Max Bunker

Anthony Logan is an Englishman, a master thief who wears a costume of black and yellow and a skull mask. Early in his career he is a brutal killer seeking vengeance against the criminals that pushed his father into committing suicide. He was raised in a reformatory, having lost his mother and sister when he was quite young, and eventually escaped from the place to pursue his revenge. Logan is assisted by Lola Hudson, ex-wife of his greatest rival, Inspector Patrick Milton of Scotland Yard.

Created by Max Bunker and Magnus, 1964

Satanik is a skilled chemist named Marny Bannister whose face is marred by an angioma. Following the theories of a mad alchemist, she develops a formula that transforms her into a charming beauty that has the side effect of making her a murderous criminal mastermind. She is hunted by Lt. Trent, whose companion she had killed. She eventually becomes engaged to marry black private detective Kriss Hunter.

Mystic Minerals

If there was a number other than million that started with "m" I would have been clever and used it here, but here are nine magic mineral things. Use them - I command it!

1. A copper-colored crystal, about 4 inches long, that vibrates in the presence of earth elemental creatures. The vibrations begin when you are within 100' x the Hit Dice of the creature and intensify as you get closer. When you are within 1' x the Hit Dice of the creature the crystal explodes, sending shards in a 10' radius and inflicting 1d4 points of damage per person minus their armor bonus.

2. A small, bluish gemstone - maybe 1 inch in diameter. When affixed to the skin of a person's head, it exudes a soft glow in a 10 foot radius and increases the subject's intelligence by 1 point (no maximum). Unfortunately, it also permanently robs them of 1d3 points of constitution. One might stud their head with these strange gems, gaining even godlike intelligence at the cost of their health and possibly life. Once affixed, it cannot be removed without boring into the person's skull. Keep in mind - raising your character's intelligence to godlike levels is probably useless if there's no reward for having a godlike intelligence score - see Gods, Demigods & Heroes or Legends and Lore for more.

3. This leather bag of gravel looks, at first blush, to be completely useless. However, it releases a slow stream of gravel as the bearer walks - essentially leaving a trail to allow them to find their way out of whatever nonsense they have walked into. Of course, it also leaves a trail for others to follow. The gravel never runs out completely.

4. This tiny jewel is bright green in color and seems to give off an electric charge when touched. If stuck in one's nose, it gives them the olfactory senses of a wolf. If placed in the ear, it gives one of the auditory abilities of an elf. If placed in the eye, it hurts. If swallowed, it takes about one week to move through the digestive system. The jewel is actually an alien artifact that was miniaturized when it passed into our dimension. If the jewel is ever in the presence of an enlargement spell, it returns to its full, normal size as a geodesic domed vessel 40 feet in diameter carrying a crew of 30 misshapen avian quadrupeds that look vaguely like a cross between buzzards and orangutans. The creatures, called bangisps, are captained by a suave gentleman called Ufixya who fights as a 7th level fighter.

| Bangisp: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 slam (1d4+1) or 1 weapon; Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Sixth sense - allows them to re-roll all saving throws and improves their armor class by +2 (already included). Soldiers wear plasteel suits (treat as chainmail, but heavy as leather) and carry electro-rods that can deliver 2 dice shocks in melee combat or 1 dice shocks in ranged combat with a max range of 20 feet.

5. This piece of masonry looks like a dull red brick. When tapped forcefully against the floor, it quickly multiplies into a brick wall up to 30 feet long and high. The wall lasts for 1 hour (no more, no less) and is in all respects a normal brick wall (consider it about half as strong as a wall of stone).

6. This large medallion appears to be made of a silvery metal as strong as steel. It is stamped with a symbol consisting of four interlocking circles. When worn as a pectoral, it gives one the fighting abilities of six men (i.e. level 6 fighting-man), but only while rescuing a maiden.

7. This small hammer is highly prized by the dwarves. Lost for several millennia, it has the ability to create a vein of metal (user's choice) when tapped against stone. The vein runs for 1 mile and must be refined to be of any use. The vein creates as triple strength earthquake on either end when created.

8. This gray cloak, when thrown over the head of a crouching person, not only makes them look like a boulder, but is also as strong as stone.

9. This pebble looks like a tiny river stone. When tossed into a room, it creates a bubble of force that shoves people and objects in the room violently against the walls (1d6 points of damage) - probably only enough to destroy fragile materials and objects. If a person holding the pebble is knocked around a bit, or falls to the ground, there is a 3 in 6 chance the pebble "goes off" inadvertantly.

Deviant Friday - Hito76 Edition

No post yesterday - I was tracking a big property auction here in Nevada - so I'm making up for it today with a few posts. We start with Deviant Friday, this one highlighting Hito76. When I was in junior high (Go Cannon Cardinals!), it came down that we were going to have to read Cyrano de Bergerac (and watch the movie) in English class. At the time, I was very into AD&D - heck, a friend who sat in front of me in class would prop open his briefcase (yes, every geek stereotype in the book) and work on dungeons) - but I was not into the whole feathered hats and thin swords thing. Not at all. And then, thankfully, I delved into the play, watched the movie, and discovered an immense love for feathered hats, thin swords, poetry and swagger deep inside me. Had I seen the art of Hito, I wouldn't have waited so long. Enjoy - and a couple are probably NSFW, so beware!

The Thief


Karelle Wallpaper


Alexandre de Salviniac

Elise de Beauharnais

Frederic Lasserre

Gabriel Doligny


Jaia Berserker

Monday, May 16, 2011

Swampbilly for Mystery Men!

I'm going to hold off on posting a Megacrawl update until tomorrow or Wednesday - I want to make sure all the tactical geniuses who want to post a comment have had a chance. A first level party tangling with wererats could be a big deal - I want the Megacrawlers to have the best possible chance for survival.

In the meantime ... Swampbilly

Five generations of Vances had hunted and trapped in the Louisiana bayou. minding their own business and doing no harm (well, except to the wildlife) when the federal government slated the area for mysterious highway project - mysterious because the locals couldn't figure out just what the highway was supposed to connect. A few swamp families raised a fuss, but the g-men cleared them out in quick order - all except the Vances. The women and children found their way into government housing in New Orleans, but the men refused to leave and instead led the g-men on a merry chase through the wilderness.

Young Dovis Vance was among the more ornery of his family. Tall and good looking, he had a way with people and animals, and he more than the others was prone to wandering, harmonica in pocket, gun in hand. So it came that he found himself slipping past a hastily erected security fence and into the "highway zone", where the federal government was working not on a highway in the traditional sense, but something much more impressive - a portal between worlds.

The project was in the experimental phase, and was intended initially to create a doorway between Earth and Mars using equipment seized many years before from Nazi scientists in the Arctic. As Dovis wondered at the tall, rectangular object standing in the midst of the swamp, it began to hum with activity and he found it impossible to move his feet. Arcs of electricity run up and down the black metal of the "door" until it began to vanish and he looked into a hazy vista of Mars. The experiment was over almost as soon as it had begun. The metal object returned to normal, Dovis found he could move again, and he high-tailed it back into the swamp.

Though he still looked normal on the outside, Dovis' brush with the cosmic energies harnessed by the portal had left him a metahuman. Back with his father and brothers, he discovered much to his shock and delight, that with a thought he could change people with but a look and a thought. One night, when his brother Remi made a reach for his salt pork, an angry look changed the man into an oppossum. The others fled, of course (as did Remi), and Dovis soon found himself on his own. His travels took him first to little towns around New Orleans, and a crime spree that found him changing bank guards and tellers into 'gators and him walking away with many thousands of dollars. In good time, government operatives made Louisiana too hot for him, and he followed the river north, where he finally found a home in the wetlands south of Shore City and a new community to torment.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Looking for Castle Floor Plans?

The feast your eyes gentle reader on Grobius Shortling's Ducal Republic of Estalia. In particular, the Imaginary Castles contest.

More imaginary maps than you can shake a stick at.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deviant Friday - Julie Collins Edition

Julie Collins, AKA HeadFullofIvy, is another one of those quirky artists I'd like to see illustrate a RPG book - you know, hand them a copy of Swords and Wizardry and just say - intrepret this thing for me in 10 illustrations. Anyhow - enjoy the artwork ...

A Much Needed Rest

Cricket Issue October 2009

Les Fettre Soeurs

Self Portrait with Monster 2

Affectations Can Be Dangerous


Fox Lady in Mourning

Mr. Baboon

The Frog Knight

Judge Elephantidae

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