Wednesday, August 31, 2011

News of the World [Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance]

The players in my Google + Mystery Men! game continue to hunt down clues from Seattle to Washington DC. But as they do so, world tensions are rising ...

News of the World

March 17, 1962


New York City – Tension continues to rise on news of a break-in attempt at the Old Senate Office Building and angry exchanges at the United Nations. After a day of attacks on military targets in the United States by American super villains, Soviet Ambassador Zorin issued an angry reprieve to those who have blamed communist agents for these attacks, declaring such accusations are based purely on “falsified information” from the FBI. In fact, Zorin went on to say, he believed these attacks were mere ruses to cover up American involvement in similar attacks on infrastructure within the Soviet Union, including the destruction of a dam and the sabotage of the Voskhod spacecraft in development in the USSR. American ambassadors countered that the United States government has made no such accusations of Soviet involvement and that accusations of American sabotage in the USSR are completely baseless. Nonetheless, each nation remains at a high state of alert.

Washington DC – After a successful robbery of the home of Senator Henry Haskel (D-Ala.) that netted the thief top secret papers, an unsuccessful attempt, possibly by the same burglar, was made last night on the senator’s office at the Old Senate Office Building. At approximately 3:00 unknown assailant, apparently “cloaked in darkness” according to eyewitnesses, wrenched open the locked window of Sen. Haskel’s office with “super-human” strength. The presence of the Bronze Statesman on guard in the office and heavy security by military personnel chased away the villain. This comes as tensions between the United States and Soviet Union are at an all-time high.

Chicago – After fighting the “Great Train Robbers” in the morning, popular heroes Firefly and Green Mask joined forces again to foil an attempted armored car robbery near 13th St and Wabash by known criminal Doctor Magno. Magno stood little chance against the combined efforts of Firefly and the Green Mask, and is now in police custody awaiting trial and transportation to Iron Island in Shore City, OH. Two associates of Doctor Magno escaped the scene in a 1958 Packard sedan after showering the two heroes with machine gun fire.

New York City – Negotiations between the Port Authority and the New York City Council continue over the site of the planned World Trade Center.Current plans would require the demolition of the Hudson Terminal building of the H&M Railroad and the demolition of famed Radio Row.

Washington DC – The U.S. Space Administration announced today that space agent Scott C will replace Deke S of the famed Rocketeers on their planned Mars expedition. Deke S had to withdraw from the program due to a heart condition discovered during a routine medical exam. Team leader Rocky X was unavailable for comment.

Mexidor – In the run-up to the long awaited elections in the Central American nation of Mexidor between the ruling, pro-American Democracy Party and the pro-Soviet Workers’ Dignity Party, there have been many stories of campaign shenanigans, dirty tricks and even violence. But now people in the hill country are spinning yarns about purple zombies seen wandering the hills and attacking livestock. Mexidor’s authorities have found no evidence that these spooks are real, and blame the sightings on a campaign of fear by the WDP. Dr. Albert Hale of New York University was unavailable for comment.

New York City – A 200 year tradition for New York City continues today with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Residents are warned that streets around the parade route, which extends from 5th Avenue and 44th Street to 86th Street, will be blocked and traffic congestion should be significant.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ruminations on the Netherworld

Rebellion seemed like a good idea at the time ...
So – a hex crawl through Hell. What to expect.

The basic architecture of the Netherworld here will be from Dante’s Inferno, with some touches drawn from Milton’s Paradise Lost. The rest will be pulled out of my imagination, which is fueled by any of a thousand images I’ve seen or read over the years. One thing it will not do is sync well with the old Gygaxian cosmology of the alignment-planes. Hell here is about Chaos, and the idea that demons, devils, daemons and demodands are all something fundamentally different will be ignored.

Dante can only be used up to a point though. While some aspects of his cosmology are appropriate for NOD, given the fact that it uses a Medieval Christian architecture for the basis of its cosmology. Some aspects are not as appropriate. A “Limbo of virtuous pagans”, for example, doesn’t make much since in a world with a profusion of deific identities, even if they may not actually be “gods” in the sense that ancient peoples imagined them to be. So, the first circle has to be changed. I’m taking inspiration from Hades’ Fields of Asphodel and making it a ring of grasslands – long, gray-green blades of grass and a profusion of asphodels and deadly trees. Under an eternal twilight the grasses are grazed by stench kows, hellephants and other demonic beasts who are in turn hunted by various terrible things. Essentially, it’s Hell’s savannah, with caravans of shades on their way to the Palace of Minos to be judged and sentenced. Many lesser demonic lords have their fiefs in Asphodel, marshalling their hellish hosts in service to more powerful lords below.

A goodly portion of Dante’s Inferno is also designed to portray his political enemies in the bowels of Hell getting their just rewards – since 14th century Italian politics plays no major role in NOD, that stuff doesn’t quite work either.

From Dante we get the architecture, but the meat of NOD’s Hell will be owed more to Burroughs. Essentially, I’m taking a Sword & Planet tack with depicting Hell since, in my opinion, everything in a fantasy role-playing game should be geared towards running adventures for players. In other words – there will be “people” living in hell – tribes and nations among the demon lords – like the drow, duergar, sahitim and other “evil humanoid” communities from fantasy gaming. There will be dungeons to delve and treasures to find in this weird little pocket dimension locked in the center of NOD.

Light in Hell
One of the hallmarks of Hell in the Christian cosmology, and similarly in other beliefs about the Underworld, is the absence of light. In Christian cosmology, light represents more than just physical illumination – it is also about spiritual enlightenment and reason.

The uppermost layer of Hell is given illumination in Dante, since it isn’t so much a place of punishment as it is a place of no reward. As mentioned above, I’m giving it an eternal twilight. Lower rings of Hell, however, are without light. The regions of upper Hell are simply dark. Fire provides no illumination – it is as black as night – so adventurers must rely on magic (spells, magic swords) and their own inner light. This manifests as a dim, gray glow for chaotic characters, a warm twilight for neutrals and a brilliant daylight for lawful characters to a range determined by their wisdom score. This radius grows smaller as people go deeper.

The deeper portions of Hell are swathed in spiritual as well as physical darkness. Here, one’s faith and reason (i.e. intelligence and wisdom) are ever assaulted and chipped away at, and even magical light ceases to function without supreme effort (i.e. magic resistance toward light, divination and healing spells).

A Brief Tour

Limbo: Before one enters Hell, they enter Limbo, a sort of ante-Hell. These caverns lead to the rocky vault through which flows the Acheron, plied by Charon and his assistants. They can give one access to the gates of Hell, which are not easily penetrated. Hell is surrounded by a massive wall guarded by demons and the gates are guarded by Sin and Death. Shades can simply pass through the gates, but living petitioners have a harder time. The shore of Acheron is beset by stinging vapor wasps that torment the souls waiting for passage across the river. The walls of Hell can be seen beyond – massive, basalt walls with insets holding tormented angels that remained neutral in the War of Heaven, forced to hold up the battlements of Hell eternally.

Asphodel: Mentioned above, this is a hellish savannah plied by caravans of the damned. Easily the most dangerous safari you’ll ever go on. Perhaps this is Persephone’s garden – a gesture of growth and beauty twisted by the entropic energies of the Underworld. Designed for 10th level parties.

Eerebus: A bleak, stony plain constantly ravaged by hurricane-force winds and freezing rains. There are gullies and canyons and flash floods and mist-shrouded moors and worn, stone castles. Eerebus is a place of shadows and dreams. Its constant rain is the source of the lower rivers of Hell – they form streams that flow into the bog that is the third circle of Hell. I imagine it populated by frogs, water weirds, tempting undead (vampires, baobhan sith) and, of course, succubi and incubi. The transition between Erebus and Abbadon is the easiest to make, for one circle simply flows into the other. Designed for 11th level parties.

Abbadon: Abbadon is just miles and miles of bog (and I mean that in both the sense of a swamp and the slang term for a toilet). A drizzle of human waste falls from the sky, landing on the souls of gluttons too fat to move, and the circle of Abbadon is absolutely crawling with otyughs. Mushrooms of every shape and size (and some ambulatory) grow in the bog. Few demon lords dwell in Abbadon, Jubilex being one of the few. Cerberus guards the entrance to Gehenna.

Gehenna: Gehenna is a desert of gray sands and swirling winds. Gangs of tethered slaves drag massive blocks of stone about the desert, but never finish dragging them – there is no destination – nothing here is every completed. The remnants of great cathedrals and pyramids rise from the sands, staffed by corrupt clerics that have been turned into huecuvas.

Stygia: Beyond Gehenna there is a muddy swamp that is, in fact, the flood plain of the River Styx. This swamp is filled with the souls of the wrathful, biting and rending one another and anything else they can get their hands upon. Islands in the swamp hold the citadels of demon lords, their followers fishing for souls and other critters in the swamp. Phlegyas ferries souls across the river to the quays of Dis.

At this point, NOD 11 should contain the first half of these upper circles of Hell – the northern half, so to speak. NOD 12 will finish it with the second half. NOD 14 will cover the lower hells.

Dis: Dis is the great metropolis of Hell. It covers an entire circle of hell, and does for the souls imprisoned within what modern cities do to their inhabitants – the torture of a thousand daily frustrations. The city is a maze of dark alleys, burning plazas, tombs, sepulchers, catacombs, brazen towers and the great parliament of Hell, the Pandaemonium. I’m picturing Dis with a Persian/Byzantine feel. Many demon lords have “townhouses” within Dis.

Dis will probably occupy NOD 13 – an appropriate issue for it, I suppose.

Avernus: Avernus is the first of the lower Hells, and here Dante started regretting the whole nine circles of Hell thing, because he starts packing different geographies into each circle. The seventh circle has three geographies, which Dante presents as rings (and I do this on my initial map), but I’m now thinking of doing as bands instead. The first is a badland of jagged, maze-like canyons inhabited by minotaurs. The burning river of Phlegethon flows through these canyons. This boiling river is home to tyrants and warlords. As they attempt to escape the river, they are set upon by the centaurs that patrol the banks.

The Phlegethon then flows into a woodland of black, gnarled trees that are actually the souls of wastrels. The woods are haunted by hell hounds and harpies. Beyond the woodland is a desert of burning, black sands, where charred blasphemers are staked out on the sands to writhe and burn. Mulciber’s forge is located here, and sparks from this hammer fall from the sky like a rain of fire. The center of the ring is a great ravine of dark water – the River Eridanos – which flows over the side as a roaring waterfall. Here dwells Geryon, the only creature capable of carrying folk to Malebolge beyond.

Malebolge: Malebolge is a land of tall mountains and deep valleys, each valley being given over the a different punishment. The valleys are inhabited by the Malebranche devils, who do not permit folk to pass through unchallenged. Looking over the edge of Malebolge one sees the imprisoned titans chained to the miles high cliffs that lead down to the deepest hell, Cocytus.

Cocytus: Cocytus is a frozen land of icy mountains surrounding a great lake covered in ice of varying thickness. Great, gray afancs swim beneath the ice, sometimes breaking through to feast on intruders. At the center of Cocytus lies Lucifer, ruling his dark realm from chains.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Action League ... NOW! [Mystery Men!]

A few years back, my daughter and I "thrilled" to the adventures of the Action League on Nickelodeon. Now you can include these terrible, terrible toys in your own twisted games of Mystery Men! Enjoy!

And for a sampling of the show that inspired it all ...

Going to #&!!

Here's a first glimpse at my Hell hex crawl. Came out a little lopsided, but hey - nobody is perfect. The uppermost layer is Ante-Hell - essentially a 9th level dungeon level writ large. It is divided from Asphodel - a twilight land of rolling meadows grazed on by stench kows and populated by shades - by the river Acheron. The hexes on this one are 12-mile rather than 6-mile. It is designed to force adventurers to circumnavigate each layer to go from "entrance" to "exit". So, roll up some paladins and clerics and you can send them on the ultimate hex crawl, beginning in a couple months!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Handy Dandy Mystery Men Subterranean World Generator!

Check every 50 yards (i.e. Speed 1). Roll 1d6. On a 1-2 roll on the chart below.

What Does the Cavern/Tunnel Feature?

What Creature Is Encountered?

How many? Divide the total XP value of the heroes (100 XP per level + 10% XP value of powers) by the XP value of the monster. This number is the max roll on a dice. In other words, if the value is 5, then there are 1d5 monsters (or 1d10 divided by 2). For a really challenging encounter, double the number of monsters rolled on the dice.

And for an example ...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Deviant Friday - JHarren Edition

JHarren has a frantic, oozy style that I appreciate - and plenty of Kirbytech, the geometries of which make a nice contrast to his fluid inks. I can imagine all sorts of game books that would benefit from some JHarren pieces. Enjoy, an be sure to visit JHarren's Deviant art gallery for much more.


The Rocketeer


Zombie Samurai


villain 2

Shwann 2011


Orion vs. Beta Ray Bill


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nodian Oddities

When I'm writing a hex crawl for NOD, I like to let my mind wander once and while and create a new species or two on the fly. I'm going to collect a few of these Nodian oddities here, with some guidelines for using them as a playable race. To start with, I have three from Mu-Pan ...

The Didi are small (halfling-sized) creatures. They look like nothing but skin and bones, with large, round heads and pointed ears. Didi's are covered with velvety, platinum-blond fur and have ugly, wan, drawn faces. Despite their appearance, they are uncommonly kind and renowned for their knowledge of the healing arts. The didi dwell underground. Seemingly immune to the chill environment of their subterranean home, they do not wear clothing, though they often don leather armor or aprons when they prove useful to their work.

Didi have a knack for medicine and herbcraft. Those under their care heal +1 hit point per night of rest and receive a +1 bonus to saving throws against the effects of diseases. Because of their frail physiques, they suffer a -3 penalty to their constitution roll at character creation, though this penalty cannot reduce their constitution score below 3. Didi have magic resistance equal to their wisdom score (i.e. a 13 wisdom grants 13% magic reistance). Didi can see in the dark as well as dwarves.

Didi are permitted to advance as cleric/magic-users (up to 5th level max.), cleric/thieves (5th/7th level max.) or as pure thieves (9th level max.). Didi clerics worship nature spirits and deities of darkness, healing and generosity.

KETEKete are tall humanoids with stark white skin, black eyes and toothless mouths. They have no hair and wear kilts and tunics of interlocking steel rings (i.e. chainmail, though sometimes so light as to be no more protective than padded armor). Kete are surrounded by an aura of heat, and they require no teeth because food simply burns away in their mouths. This heat aura gives them an unarmed attack damage of 1d4 (or +1 to damage for monks) and the blurry aura gives them a -1 [+1] adjustment to Armor Class. Kete suffer only half damage from fire attacks and enjoy a +1 bonus to saving throws against dragon fire and fire spells. Once per day they can sheath themselves in roaring flames, causing 1d4 points of fire damage to all within 10 feet of them and possibly setting flammable objects aflame.

Kete cannot wear or use objects constructed of wood, leather or cloth (hence their chainmail clothing). They can advance as fighters up to 6th level (7th level with a strength of 14+), thieves of 8th level (9th level with dexterity of 15+) or fighter/thieves up to 5th/7th level.

There are few creatures in Mu-Pan as strange as the zoushou. They look like large, grotesque human heads balanced atop four human legs, forcing them to walk like a crab or to hop about. Zoushou have deep, purple skin. Their long toes allow them to grasp items with fine manual dexterity. While they cannot wield weapons or use shields, they can wear armor that is specially made.

Zoushou can leap five feet vertically and up to 1d6+5 feet horizontally. They can kick in combat for 1d4+1 points of damage. Because of their rugged bodies, zoushou characters begin the game with 2 hit dice (though they are still limited in the total number of hit dice they can have based on their class). Three times per day, they can use x-ray vision per the ring of x-ray vision. In place of this, they can focus this vision one time per day on a single subject within 20 feet, inflicting 1d6 points of damage.

Zoushou advance as fighters up to 5th level (6th level with strength of 13+) or thieves up to 7th level (8th level with dexterity of 15+).


Note: For players of Ruins & Ronin, didi can advance as shugenja up to 6th level, kete can advance as bujin up to 7th level and zoushou can advance as bujin up to 6th level.

At some point I'm going to have to commission art for these oddballs. Should be fun!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shades of Red

Yeah, yeah - the mighty red dragon, paragon of scaled evil and terror in the game. But where's the subtlety, the range? Leave your players guessing with the following six sub-species of the venerable red dragon. The remainder of this post is declared Open Game Content.

Carnelian Dragon: The carnelian dragon is medium-sized for a red dragon (i.e. 10 HD) and always intelligent, though never capable of speech. Carnelian dragons always possess the following spells: Detect evil (3/day), ESP (3/day), Legend Lore (1/day), Suggestion (1/day). They communicate telepathically in a screeching voice that raises the hairs on the nape of the neck. A carnelian dragon replaces the red dragon's cone of fire breath with a psychic pulse that disrupts the synapses of the brain. All within 30 feet must pass a saving throw or be affected. For the next 6 rounds, the person must pass a saving throw whenever they want to perform an action other than running away or dodging blows (but without the benefit of a shield, which requires active thinking). Any other act - attacking, spell casting, talking, tap dancing, playing checkers - requires a successful save.

| Carnelian Dragon: HD 10; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 5; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Spells, psychic pulse.

Crimson Dragon: The crimson dragon is a large, ponderous beast with a shortened snout and heavy eyes. Crimson dragon's never speak and are relatively un-intelligent. They relish the infliction of distress and pain, and are as often on the move as in their lairs. In place of fire breath, a crimson dragon can breath a blast of wind - hot as a desert wind - that destroys water (reduces all water stores by half), withers plant life (normal dragon breath weapon damage to plant creatures) and sucks the moisture from other living creatures (half normal dragon breath weapon damage to non-plant creatures of flesh and blood).

| Crimson Dragon: HD 11; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 6 (F15); Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Drought breath.

Florid Dragon: The florid dragon is an ill-tempered brute of medium size (i.e. 10 HD). They have shinier scales than most red dragons, and smaller, saw-like teeth in their mouths. A florid dragon has the normal chances for speech and magic use. In place of fire breath, it simply radiates a wave of punishing heat from its body. The heat causes 1d6 points of damage per round to creatures within 10-ft of the dragon, 1d4 points to creatures from 10 to 20 feet away from the dragon and 1 point of damage per round to creatures within 20 to 40 feet of the dragon. Wearing metal armor increases this damage to 1d8/1d6/1d4 respectively. The florid dragon can maintain this heat for 10 minutes per day.

| Florid Dragon: HD 10; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 5; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Radiate heat.

Ginger Dragon: The ginger dragon is a smaller, less wicked cousin of the red dragon. Lonely and somewhat sensitive, its evil nature usually manifests in flashes of murderous rage when rejected or criticized. When not murderously angry, though, it is a welcoming companion, even generous to adventurers. Where the florid dragon radiates intense heat, the ginger dragon absorbs heat, making the area around him very cool, and thus his warm presence (think of him as a radiator with a 5-ft radius range) all the more pleasant. Within 100 feet of the dragon, the air is absolutely frigid, and people unprotected from the cold suffer 1d6 points of damage per turn from the frost. Within 1 mile of the dragon, things are notably cold, though not damaging. Ginger dragons are always capable of speech and have the normal chance for magic use. Their claws are overly long and razor sharp.

| Ginger Dragon: HD 9; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8+1), 1 bite (3d10); Move 12 (F24); Save 6; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Absorb heat, immune to fire.

Sanguine Dragon: These infernal brutes are ever in league with the dark powers of Hell, acting as their messengers and assassins in the world of mortals. They are small for red dragons and possessed of black, branching antlers that are lovely to behold if they aren't gouging out your eye or spleen. Sanguine dragons can always speak and cast spells, and choose their spells from the anti-cleric's spell list. They replace the red dragon's cone of fire with a cone of spiritual hellfire, which numbs the soul and robs one of their common decency. Those hit must pass a save or be drained of one level. Those drained of a level must pass a second saving throw or have their alignment move from Lawful to Neutral or Neutral to Chaotic for the span of one month.

| Sanguine Dragon: HD 9; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10), 1 gore (1d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Hellfire, anti-cleric spells.

Vermilion Dragon: The noble vermilion dragon replaces the fury of the red dragon with a sense of superiority and mild disdain for lesser creatures. Nevertheless, they are as close as a red dragon can get to benevolence, and officially have a Neutral alignment (with benevolent tendencies). Vermilion dragons, like actors, love nothing more than to talk about themselves and hear others talk about them, especially in glowing terms. They are large, with refined features and have a lust for gold (especially in the form of crowns and other regalia) that borders on the obsessive. A vermilion dragon's cone of fire causes full damage on neutral creatures, 150% normal damage on chaotic creatures, and only half damage on Lawful creatures. Lawful creatures struck by the breath also have all curses and diseases removed from their person and any drained level has a 50% chance of being restored if drained in the last year. Vermilion dragons can always speak, and have the normal chance for magic use.

| Vermilion Dragon: HD 11; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Cleansing fire.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Prelude to War! [Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance]

The Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance campaign I'm running on Google+ is a week old and going well. The game is currently taking place in four localities, which I've turned into circles on Google+. There is also a Dark Renaissance circle for communications with all the players. Today I posted the first "News of the World" - a way for players to get inklings of what is happening in the campaign world, especially in the other cities. I'm going to post those news updates here as well so people can get an idea of what's happening in the camapaign.

News of the World
Evening Edition
March 16, 1962


Washington DC – J. Edgar Hoover has given top priority to solving a series of super villain attacks at United States military installations which his spokesmen said could be a “prelude to war.” The military remains on high alert, in the aftermath of attacks at the naval yards in San Diego and Seattle, air bases in Las Vegas, NV, San Bernardino, CA,Lincoln, NB and central Oklaholma, and Fort Bliss in Texas. Only one of the criminals, known by the moniker "Super Size", was apprehended by naval personnel in an attackon the USS Courser at Seattle’s Bremerton Naval Base.

Tensions were further raised when it was reported that Sen. Henry Haskel (D-Alabama), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was assaulted in his own home by a masked, super-powered assailant whose identity is being kept confidential by the FBI. Together with the attacks on military bases, this assault has put the United States on high alert. President Kennedy is expected to speak to the nation tonight about these events and the way forward for the United States.

L to R: Pinball King, Sunburst and Shatter
Chicago – Union Station in Chicago has experienced a “Great Train Robbery”, in which three super powered criminals, identified by authorities as “Sunburst”, “Shatter” and “Pinball King”, did their predecessors one better by actually stealing the train. Shatter was apprehended at the scene with the help of the heroes known as "Firefly" and "Green Mask". Firefly sustained injuries in the brawl but was released by police doctors after regaining consciousness and showing no signs of permanent injury.

New York – Mass panic at the Emigrant Savings Bank located on Broadway, as rats swarmed the bank, sending patrons fleeing into the streets. Injuries among patrons and employees were minor. Police say the rats were a diversion, as crooks entered the bank’s subterranean vaults and made off with an as yet unknown amount of loot. The FBI does not believe this attack on the bank is connected with the attacks on several military targets in the United States by super-powered criminals.

Geneva – Talks between France and Algeria continued in Geneva today, with spokesmen saying the two sides were “very close” to a substantial agreement to end the Algerian War. Nationalist elements in France claim they will recognize no such agreement and that the “war will continue until their cause is won.”

Manila – U.S. Military Intelligence is investigating the disappearance of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 over the Western Pacific, enroute from Saigon to Manila. The Lockheed Super Constellation went down with 11crew and 96 military passengers. Sabotage is suspected.


As always, heroes illustrated with the help of Fabrica Herois.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grab Bag IV

From the Half-Ogre Viability Dept.

Saw this picture of Mr. O'Neil and his latest paramour and immediately thought about the viability of half-ogres in a fantasy world, at least in terms of the size of the two procreators (and no, I'm not calling Shaq an ogre). It also brings up the concept of human/halfling romance, given the comparative sizes of the two in that picture. Unless O'Neil has taken a vow of celibacy and this is just a platonic romance, of course.

From the Gimli's Favorite Recipe Dept.

While researching medieval cookery, I came across this little gem. If you like to cook, and you have a thing for dwarves, I daresay THIS BOOK is for you.

From the Quality Quartet Dept.

One of the better FF line-ups, as rendered by Bobby Rubio. I wonder how much he charges for commissions.

From the Killers of Giants Dept.

Saw the fellas from RiffTrax mock Jack the Giant Killer last Thursday (I think it was Thursday). Good stuff, and actually a movie with some great ideas, especially as concerned seizing bones. Oh, and Princess Elaine was hot.

From the Pneumatic Awesome Dept.

This is good stuff - must be a Victorian Sci-Fi game in here somewhere, along with that Flying Dreadnaught from last week. Not steampunk, though, just Victorian Sci-Fi. Jules Verne-y stuff.

From the Violence in Wonderland Dept.

And speaking of games - I think I must create a tabletop wargame based on this image and using the Little Wars rules for inspiration.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fantasy Cuisine - Get It While It's Haute

When the emperor sits down at his table, surrounded by the assembled kings, nobles and merchant princes of his domain, his servants do not serve dishes assembled for their succulence, but rather for their expense. In the world of emperors and kings, one entertains to show his guests just where they stand in relation to the throne - i.e. beneath it. Of course, the table setting is part of the overall effect - plates and utensils of porcelain, silver and gold - but the dishes, composed of rare and wondrous ingredients is just as important if not more so. Thus - the patented Nodian Random Haute Cuisine Generator. With a mere handful of dice, you can cover the tables of nobles, kings and emperor's alike with meals fit for a gourmet (or gourmand).

The true origin of these tables was in a document I use while stocking my random hex crawls. I call it "The Thesaurus", and it began as just that - a thesaurus of color words so I didn't have describe everything red as "red". It soon expanded to land forms, people and then food and clothing. There are just too many excellent words out there not to attempt to use them all, you know. Having this little storehouse of knowledge, I came up with this as a way to present at least the edible part of it. You can use these tables to concoct strange fantasy recipes (either to serve players as guests, or to send players after on kingly quests) or just use them when trying to stock your own world's and dungeons.

The process is simple. First, choose a style of dish or roll it randomly on that first table. The style of dish show you how many rolls you must make on the different ingredient tables to discover just what is needed to bring the inventive gourmand's imagined recipe to fruition.

Once you have determined the style of dish and the ingredients, it is up to you, as Referee, to describe the dish. A few samples are included at the bottom of the page. So grab some dice and get cooking!

Oh - and before I forget, two websites were invaluable in teaching me a bit about medieval cooking: Medieval Cookery and Gode Cookery.

* Indicates that cheese is called for in the recipe, rather than milk











Sample Dishes

The Emperor Norton is hosting a garden party for the luminaries of Brobdinag and Laputa, and his cook has worked up the following dishes to show off. The first is a thick soup of cuttlefish, komatsuna and horse gram spiced with long peppers. This will be preceded by an aspic made with duck eggs with pyrolisk and ackee suspended in it and a chickpea frytour made with cottonseed oil and spiced with Szechuan peppers. Yummy!

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