Friday, September 30, 2011

Deviant Friday - Eric Canete Edition

KAH-reload seems to mostly work in comic book images these days, though I remember some really nice fantasy stuff once upon a time. His style is maze-like - it draws in the eye and then gives it a roller coaster ride. They contain so much energy they make me feel like the paper is straining to hold them.







I recently had another reason to look at some New Mutants material. It was really a fine piece of work back in the day.





Thursday, September 29, 2011

Titans: What Are They Good For?

Orcus and Demogorgon, solars and planetars, but whence the titans? These big guys and gals seem to be on a pretty even footing with the demon lords and archangels (depending on which version of the game you adhere to), but they don't get much love or use. I think this is a shame. To my way of thinking, titans represent a third way when it comes to the solars and the demon princes and dukes of Hell - neutral powers that can stand with the powers of Law and Chaos.

Perhaps the titans are the children of minor gods and goddesses. I'm talking Alala and Eleos, here, not Zeus and Aphrodite. Their parentage is divine and immortal, but they're not. Well, maybe they are immortal in terms of aging, but they are creatures of the Material Plane and thus mortal in terms of "can be killed". Where demon lords and solars hang out in the outer planes, titans live in the Material Plane, lording it over lesser beings as kings and queens by dent of their divine birth and tremendous power. How much more interesting to discover that the city-state you just wandered into is ruled by King Criomenos, the son of Moros, demi-god of impending doom and Eunomia, demi-goddess of law and legislation. You walk into this court to announce yourselves as great heroes, and find not a little man with a long, white beard, but a titan, head wreathed in gold, hand resting atop a golden sceptre as tall as your paladin and eyes that have seen centuries.

With that in mind, I decided that any titan that shows up in Nod is going to have a name, a heritage and powers commensurate with that heritage. According to S-n-W, the primary power of titans is spells - two spells of first to seventh level from both the magic-user and cleric lists, for a total of 28 spells. I decided to alter that a bit. Drawing on the old d20 SRD, I decided to instead give them all the spells (level 1 to 9) from the two cleric domains that most befit their parents. Since that gives them only 18 spells (still probably plenty), I decided to make up for it with a special defense (see below) and with the ability to commune with mommy and daddy once per day.

To determine the titan's parentage, I decided to just make a random table of the cleric domains, rolling once for mom and once for dad. I listed some potential parents from Greek mythology behind each domain.

Roll D30 - Parent

1. Air - Aello (F), Aeolus (M), Aura (F)
2. Animal - Britomartis (F), Ichnaea (F), Krotos (M), Priapus (M)
3. Artifice - Acmon (M), Aristaeus (M), Hecaterus (M), Philomelus (M), Rhapso (F)
4. Chaos/Evil - Adikia (F), Eris (F), Dysnomia (F), Kakia (F), Kydoimos (M)
5. Charm - Eros (M), Hedone (F), Iynx (F), Peitho (F)
6. Community - Eunomia (F), Harmonia (F), Hymenaios (M), Nomos (M), Praxidike (F)
7. Creation - Euporie (F), Othorsie (F), Porus (M)
8. Darkness - Charon (M), Erebos (M), Nyx (F), Tartarus (M)
9. Death - Macaria (F), Melinoe (F), Thanatos (M)
10. Destruction - Alecto (F), Enyo (F), Moros (M), Nemesis (F)
11. Earth - Chrysus (M), Plutus (M)
12. Fire - Phlegethon (M)
13. Glory - Agon (M) , Eucleia (F), Kalokagathia (F), Nike (F), Pheme (F)
14. Good/Law - Arete (F), Astraea (F), Dike (F), Eunomia (F), Nomos (M), Peitharch (F)
15. Healing - Aceso (F), Eirene (F), Eleos (M), Eupraxia (F), Panacea (F), Philophrosyne (F)
16. Knowledge - Polymatheia (F)
17. Liberation - Momus (M)
18. Luck - Tyeche (F)
19. Madness - Deimos (M), Lyssa (F), Epiales (M)
20. Magic - Astraios (M), Circe (F), Despoina (F), Telete (F), Zagreus (M)
21. Nobility - Kalokagathia (F)
22. Plant - Amphictyonis (F), Carmanor (M), Chloris (F), Karpo (F), Silenus (M), Thallo (F)
23. Protection - Soter (M)
24. Strength - Bia (F), Kratos (M), Ponos (M)
25. Sun - Alectrona (F), Eos (F), Helios (M), Hemera (F)
26. Travel - Angelia (F), Arke (M), Ioke (F), Iris (F)
27. Trickery - Apate (F), Ate (F), Dolos (M)
28. War - Alala (F), Enyalius (M), Homandos (M), Polemos (M)
29. Water - Amphitrite (F), Galene (F), Glaucus (M), Proteus (M), Thetis (F), Thalassa (F)
30. Weather - Briareus (M), Chione (F), Tethys (F), Typhon (M)

A few of the categories are pretty sparse when it comes to divine representation, but what can you do.

You can find the various domains HERE and HERE. The spells that don't show up in your favorite version of the game are easy enough to convert. If you don't like conversions, use another spell that fits. Personally, I like the idea of a titan throwing down a spell the party clerics and magic-users have never heard of - maybe if they make a good impression and grovel a bit, the titan will teach them the secret!

Special Defenses
Special defenses should relate to the parentage, and the Ref might want to give them more than one special defense. Defenses for the titan might include:

+5 to save vs. poison or disease
Cannot be attacked by different kinds of creatures like reptiles, birds or plant creatures
Cannot be surprised
Immune to energy drain or falling damage
Immune to a class of spells - i.e. illusions, death spells or mind control
Magic resistance (maybe 15% for the least titans, with a 5% bump per additional hit dice)
Only harmed by +1 weapons
Resistance (half damage) from iron weapons or missile weapons, etc.
Resistance (half damage) to cold, fire, electricity, acid, etc.

You can probably think of others.

Using the example above, King Criomenos might have the following stats:

KING CRIOMENOS, Titan: HD 20 (109 hp); AC –1 [20]; Atk 1 sceptre (2d8) or javelin (2d6); Move 21; Save 3; CL/XP 22/5100; Special: Immune to death spells, spells (bless, cause disease, cause critical wounds, cause light wounds, disintegrate, earthquake, greater status, harm, heroes' feast, implosion, mass cause light wounds, mass heal, prayer, refuge, shatter, status, sympathy, telepathic bond), commune with Eunomia and Moros.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hell Preview 5 - Landsharks!

Still working diligently on Hell. Almost finished with the north half of the first ring, and then I need to sprint in October to finish the north half of the next few rings. Should fill quite a few pages. I'm also working on a Demonologist class based on the Elementalist I published a few months back and a class that will present a few underground creatures as playable races, for those who want to run a campaign set entirely in the underworld. I've commissioned some art from Jon Kaufman, who did the race images for PARS FORTUNA and requested an old-style bugbear (a'la DCS), orc (pig-nosed of course), goblin (a'la DAT), kobold (scaled dog dude), hobgoblin (samurai armor wearing), svirfneblin (a'la Russ), drow (a'la Willingham), duergar (a'la Holloway) and a new critter. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

I should also mention - if these encounters sound tough, they're meant to be. Most Land of Nod hex crawls are designed with characters in the fourth to eighth level in mind. These are meant to challenge characters who have gone past 12th level and want to invade Hell instead of settling down and playing the end game (stronghold, armies, etc). For example, Cocytus, the lowest plane of Hell, will be geared towards challenging a party of 30th level characters.

66.4. Fishing Trolls: A tribe of trolls (50 males, 50 females and 60 young) dwell here on the banks of the Acheron. The trolls are whalers. They sail a boat made from the ribs and hardened skin of abyssal whales. They head out into the Acheron each day seeking abyssal whales to harpoon and pull out of the water. The whales are then processed, producing black ambergris that is highly valued (1,000 gp per pound; the trolls usually have 2d10 pounds on hand).

The trolls dwell in a white mount that abuts the river, in caves chewed out of the chalky stone. These caves wind through the white stone like a maze, but the trolls always know their way, especially the secret doors and passages.

The trolls are led by a jarl called Svalmad and his five brothers, who serve as his huscarls. The tribe also includes a shaman called Bearlang, who prays to Hel and Angrboda and has been given a nidhund by those demons for his loyal worship. The trolls of White Mountain have oddly elongated arms, giving them a +1 bonus to hit in melee combat. They wear bits and pieces of leather and metal armor (equivalent of ring mail) and carry axes and harpoons. Svalmad is growing old for a troll, and his brothers know it. They plot against him with Bearlang.

Besides the aforementioned ambergris and a fair amount of scrimshaw art (maybe 1d4 x 100 gp worth), the trolls have a treasure of 3,500 ep, 45,400 gp, 520 pp, a silver idol of Hel (800 gp), an emerald (4,000 gp), an aventurine (1,250 gp) and eight casks of fine wine (12 gal./100 lb. each, worth 600 gp/gal.)

TROLLS: HD 6+3; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Regenerate 3hp/round, +1 to hit.

NIDHUND: HD 4; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d6) and 2 claws (1d6); Move 21; Save 13; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Immune to cold and poison, rake with claws, magic resistance (10%).

HUSCARLS: HD 7+3; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Regenerate 3 hp/round, +1 to hit.

BEARLANG: HD 6+3 (38 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Regenerate 3hp/round, cast spells as a 3rd level anti-cleric, +1 to hit due to elongated arms.

SVALMAD: HD 9+3 (33 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Regenerate 1 hp/round, +1 to hit due to elongated arms.

90.11. Igho-Kih: Igho-Kih is a dready city of 12,500 grimlocks and their thelidu masters. The city is hewn from the very stone of the underworld in a lopsided radial pattern – meaning circles off-set from one another in such a way that they intersect at weird angles. The city-state is surrounded by a tall karst wall that looks like a picket of giant stalactites. These walls have been carved into battlements and towers at places, and form a massive fortress. Each buttressed balcony is patrolled by 1d4 grimlocks who carry spears and wear chainmail. Within the city-state there are tall towers that rise above the canyon-like streets. These black, 3-story towers contain acid that can be released into the streets like a flood at the direction of the city’s masters, a council of thirteen thelidu, squid-headed humanoids with tremendous powers.

These thelidu dwell in a domed palace in the center of the city-state. The palace and city are ensorcelled to be completely dark. Even magical light can only penetrate about 5 feet into the darkness, and even then only with the brightness of twilight. Within the domed palace there is a series of pits and tower platforms. There is no way to move between them other than magic or difficult climbing. At the center of the dome there is a deep pit lined with mirrors that scry into the worlds beyond Nod (i.e. Mercurius, Veneris, Martis, etc).

The thelidu plot the downfall of all creation, though they are so plodding and intellectual they’ll probably never get around to actually doing anything grandiose and meaningful. In the meantime, the grimlocks raise worms and fungus. They live in warrior bands under violent chiefs and enslave their (and other races') women to use as domestic servants and for mating. The council watches all and knows all, and rewards or punishes the chiefs as they see fit.

109.7. Rats & Sharks: There is an old stone fortress here, probably built by the drow ages ago. The fortress has a courtyard and three towers. The two smaller towers have tumble at some time in the past and now exist as a ruin. The larger tower, though shabby, is still strong and is inhabited by a gang of 20 ratling reavers. Ratlings are, of course, little threat to the denizens of Nifol, but these ratlings are smart and they control five landwalking sharks, which they use in the manner of war elephants. The sharks are kept chained in the courtyard. The ratlings must use extreme caution when mounting them, jumping on the large leather and wood harnesses affixed to their backs from above and then guiding them with gibbets of meat tied with sinew to long sticks or bones. Patrols of three of these war sharks are constantly active in these tunnels, and may be encountered randomly (see above).

The tower of the ratlings contains a shrine to their goddess, the Mouse Lord. Here, they keep a silver idol with ruby eyes and the living manifestation of their goddess (or so they think), a wererat named Tefnuin who wandered into Nifol as an adventurer and managed to hook up with the ratlings after her partners were killed. Tefnuin dwells in luxury, her every need catered to. She wears silk veils that accentuate her semi-humanoid curves, enticing perfume (well, enticing to a ratling) and carries a poisoned dagger. Her soldiers are armed with crossbows with poisoned bolts, short swords and, when on their landwalking sharks, harpoons that are used to reel in prey.

The ratlings have a treasure of 9,790 gp, 860 pp and a lapis lazuli charm worth 200 gp.

LANDWALKING SHARK: HD 13; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d10+8); Move 9 (S18); Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Amphibious, feeding frenzy.

RATLING: HD 1; AC 9 [10]; Atk 1 bite (1d6+poison) or weapon; Save 17; Move 12; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Diseased bite.

TEFNUIN, WERERAT: HD 9; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 bite (1d3), 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 7; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Lycanthropy, control rats, surprise (4 in 6).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shades of Black

The last color dragon to be given the shade treatment, though not the last article in this series. Shades of black really turned into shades of dark gray, but hopefully you'll find these reptilian horrors useful.

ARSENIC DRAGON: The arsenic dragon is small and serpentine, with small, clawed legs that allow it to scamper and climb. Frills run along its sides that allow it to glide at a speed of 18 for a distance equal to 3 x the height at which is begins its flight. Arsenic dragons can always speak, and are quite talkative. They never cast spells because they are immune to magic. They dwell in small places, being able to curl up into a surprising small ball (3-ft in diameter) and stash their treasure all over their territory in tiny parcels usually wrapped in animal skins. An arsenic dragon's bite is poisonous, forcing folk to pass a save or suffer one of the following effects: Fail by 1 to 3 points - fall asleep for 1d3 turns; fail by 4-6 points - paralyzed for 1d3 rounds; fail by 7+ points - suffer damage equal to normal breath weapon damage.

ARSENIC DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6 + poison); Move 9 (F18); Save 11; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Poisonous bite, immune to magic.

BISTRE DRAGON: These large dragons dwell in large rivers and occupy a niche similar to whales. They are quite graceful when swimming, but become lumbering brutes on land. One often finds them floating on their backs in the midst of a river, seemingly immune to the current and snoozing or daydreaming. Bistre dragons are sagacious and have acerbic personalities - they are not as thoroughly evil as black dragons, but have a general disdain for others only overcome by their need to dominate them intellectually. Bistre dragons have a 90% chance to speak, and those who can speak have a 25% chance to cast 1d4 first level magic-user spells and 1d3 second level magic-user spells. A bistre dragon's acidic spit does not affect flesh, but corrodes, tarnishes and rusts all forms of metal as the touch of a rust monster destroys iron. Creatures that are spat at must pass a saving throw or lose one random piece of metal equipment.

BISTRE DRAGON: HD 8; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 6 (S24); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Corrosive breath.

CHARCOAL DRAGON: These medium-sized dragons despise life. They dwell alone, rarely interacting with other dragons and often turning chance meetings into fights to the death. They are surrounded by a miasma of fumes that burn the eyes and throat and can vomit an acidic tar that sticks to flesh, clothes, etc and deals 1d6 points of damage until it can be scraped or peeled away (one can do nothing else, and must pass an open doors check to rid themselves of the tar). Charcoal dragons have the normal chance to speak and cast spells. They dwell in burrows.

CHARCOAL DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 9 (B6, F24); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Acidic tar.

LIVER DRAGON: Liver dragons are tall beasts with a body shaped reminiscent of a reptilian, winged giraffe. They are quick runners, with over-large heads, downward curving horns and saucer-like eyes that never seem to close. Liver dragons despise pretense and have a puritanical love of severity and honesty. They can see through all illusions and have the normal chance for a black dragon to speak and use magic. Their breath weapon is a cone of black energy that strips people of their lies and pretenses. Those struck are incapable of lying and deceiving in any way for 24 hours; they must also pass a saving throw or have their appearance altered to represent their inner selves (up to the player and Referee how this works out). This change in appearance is permanent unless one can be polymorphed or otherwise magically altered.

LIVER DRAGON: HD 8; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 12 (F18); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Immune to illusions, strip away pretense.

TAUPE DRAGON: Taupe dragons are small, quick and persistent dragons. They ooze acid from their teeth, claws and scales and are thus a blight on any landscape. Taupe dragons are territorial, marking their territory by rubbing their acidic bodies against trees and eating away the bark. Pools they visit frequently are often mildly acidic. Taupe dragons are more obsessed with treasure than most black dragons, using the precious metals as bedding, for precious metals are immune to their acidic bodies. Victims of the dragon's claw and bite attacks may make a saving throw to avoid the extra acid damage. Touching a taupe dragon's body causes 1d4 points of acid damage, and normal weapons used against a taupe dragon might be eaten away. Each time a hit is scored on a taupe dragon, a saving throw must be made. If failed, the weapon's damage dice is reduced by one dice size (i.e. 1d6 to 1d4 or 1d4 to 1d3). A weapon reduced to 0 damage is useless. Weapons can be repaired, but will only regain one dice size at a maximum. Magical weapons need not make this saving throw. Each time a victim suffers acid damage from a taupe dragon, their armor's armor bonus is reduced by one (no save). Again, magical armor is unaffected. Taupe dragons have a 25% chance of speech and the normal chance for black dragons for casting spells.

TAUPE DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4 + 1d4 acid), bite (3d6 + 1d6 acid); Move 12 (F24); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Acidic body and bite.

ONYX DRAGON: Onyx dragons have glistening black scales, short, thick necks, faces reminiscent of pit bulls with a double pair of horns, one curving upward, the other downward. They are stocky, with long, powerful tails that they make use of in combat to knock their opponents off balance. Each round in melee combat, those who fail to hit the dragon must pass a saving throw or be knocked off balance, suffering a 1d4 point penalty to AC for that round. Onyx dragons are lazy, physically and mentally, but no less arrogant for it. They consider themselves the most intelligent of creatures, when in fact their ignorance is monumental. When forced into discourse, they prattle on about this and that, vomiting streams of jargon and referencing obscure texts but never really proving anything. The acidic breath of an onyx dragon seeps into one's bloodstream and affects the mind. Those hit by the breath must pass a saving throw or suffer one of the following hallucinogenic effects: Fail save by 1-3 = confusion for 1d6 turns; fail save by 4-6 = waking nightmare (per the spell); fail save by 7-9 = phantasmal killer effect (as the spell). Onyx dragons have a 65% chance of speaking, and those with speech can use telepathy out to 120 feet. They have a 15% chance of using 1d6 first level magic-user spells as psychic powers (i.e. they need not speak or move to engage them).

ONYX DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 9 (F24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Hallucinogenic breath, tail slap.


Illustration from Karen's Whimsey

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hell Preview 4 - Iron, Salt and Fire!

A few more glimpses into Nifol - the Darkness - the Ante-Hell.

12.30 Iron Maze: This hex holds a maze of iron. The maze has walls 50 feet tall and many twists and turns. To navigate the maze, you can use the following process:

The Referee rolls 6d6. Each dice represents one turn (10 minutes) of travel time. If players guess the number on the dice, they advance through the maze to the next dice. If they fail to guess the number, they must deal with an random event determined by the number on that dice:

Random Event
1. After an hour of wandering, you return back to where you started. Roll for a random encounter from the main Nifol Wandering Monster chart for this hour.

2. After 1d3 turns of wandering you come to a dead end. The walls here are cast in a bas-relief of Amazons slaying men, women and children. The Amazons are iron dergenue, who animate and attack unless a handsome man sings them a song (roll 3d6 under Charisma score to succeed).

3. After 1d3 turns of wandering you come to a Ploutonic shrine. The shrine has been bored into one of the iron walls, and contains an idol of a random Demon Lord holding a large gemstone. Touching the gemstone causes it to shatter, the pieces sprouting into xxx. A small pool of unholy water is left in the cupped hands of the idol.

4. Walls of iron spring up around you, trapping you unless you can climb over them. The tops of the maze’s walls come to a razor-sharp point, making escape tricky.

5. After 1d3 turns of wandering, you are discovered by the fiendish minotaur of the maze, a creature called Baalgor.

6. After 1d3 turns of wandering you discover a large, black hole in an iron wall. This hole transports you to a hex in Nifol of the Referee’s choice.

BAALGOR: HD 8+4; AC 6 [13]; Atk Head butt (2d4), bite (1d3) and flail (1d8); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Never gets lost in mazes.

IRON DERGENUE: HD 4; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 strike (1d6); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Drag into iron, immunities.

16.19. Salt Mummies: A cavern that branches away from the main Salt Tunnel has been carved into a mausoleum. Sixteen goblin bodies wrapped in spider silk in the fashion of mummies are interred here. The touch of these mummies does not spread mummy rot, but rather drains the moisture from people (saving throw or lose 1d3 points of constitution; one point of constitution can be regained by drinking one gallon of water). Sewn into each mummy is a gold statuette worth 600 gp.

GOBLIN SALT MUMMY: HD 6+4; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 fist (1d12); Move 6; Save 11; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Desiccate, hit only by magic weapons.

25.17. Tomb of Fire: The tomb of Sinmara, a queen among fire giants, has been placed here about seven miles from the Acheron. The tomb is a pyramidal tower of basalt with a locked bronze door. The door is trapped so that a layer of bronze melts over the thief’s hand (4d6 damage) and then hardens, trapping them there until a denizen of the under-world can finish the job. Once the thief’s hand is trapped the lock cannot be opened without removing the hardened bronze. The tower is surmounted by a everburning fire.

Within the tomb there is but a single chamber clad in red marble and lit with twenty everburning torches, each sized for a fire giant and set about 7 feet above the floor. In the center of the room there is a bronze idol of Sinmara that holds the queen’s bones. The idol can only be opened by the application of a cone of cold. If so opened, the bones suddenly light with hellfire and attack.

A secret chamber beneath the idol holds a burial treasure of 500 over-sized gold coins (five times normal size) stamped with Sinmara’s image in life.

SINMARA: HD 11+3; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claws (1d6 + 1d6 fire), bite (1d8 + 1d6 fire); Move 12; Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Hurl boulders, immune to cold and fire, half damage from edged weapons, flaming aura (1d6 damage to all within 10 feet).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alien Critter Generator

Any viewer of mainstream sci-fi has heard a few alien animal names that consist, usually of three elements. First, is their place of origin. Perhaps a planet orbiting the star Deneb. Then a descriptor – maybe this creature is slimy or dwells in slime. Finally, a noun – perhaps this irascible creature can best be described, like the well-known critter from Tasmania, as a devil. Hence Denebian slime devil. Okay, so how about a random table to do the same and stat the critter out.

1. Venusian
2. Martian
3. Jovian
4. Saturnian
5. Mercurian
6. Plutonian
7. Neptunian
8. Denebian
9. Altairan
10. Cygnian
11. Betelgeusian
12. Polarian
13. Andromedan
14. Cetian
15. Algolian
16. Pleiadeian
17. Rigelian
18. Aldebaran
19. Antarean
20. Arcturan

* Note, if you prefer your beasties to be from distant stars rather than planets, just re-roll if Martian or Venusian, etc comes up. Or make your own table you lazy bugger – what do you want for free? You might also want to alter the critter's stats based on the conditions of the planet (i.e. high gravity, etc.)

1. OOZE/SLIME: Creature may be covered in slime, granting it DEFENSE +3 vs. grabbing or wrestling attempts. Otherwise, just lives in a slimy environment.
2. ROCK/STONE: Creature may have DEFENSE +2. Otherwise, simply lives in a rocky environment.
3. DEATH: Creature either has a deadly poison bite or +2 hit dice.
4. SHADOW: Creature surprises opponents on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6 in darkness.
5. DUST/DESERT: Creature dwells in the desert, enjoys STRENGTH +1.
6. TREE/FOREST: Creature dwells in woodlands, enjoys DEXTERITY +1.
7. GIANT/GREAT: Creature has double hit dice.
8. CRYSTALLINE: Creature has DEFENSE +2 against all attacks except those from bludgeoning weapons and DEFENSE +5 against ray guns.
9. ICE: Creature suffers half damage from cold attacks.
10. LAUGHING/HISSING: Creature makes a laughing or hissing noise when threatened.
12. SPECKLED/SPOTTED: Creature has speckled or spotted hide. Heck, you could do stripes as well.
13. ACID: Creature has an acidic bite that inflicts +2 damage.
14. FIRE/STAR: Creature suffers half damage from fire and ray attacks or has ray attacks from eyes (weapon rating +5).
15. FANGED/HORNED: Creature has +1 weapon rating to bite or horn attack and +1 to bite or horn damage.
16. VAPOR/MIST: Creature either surrounded by a weird fog (opponents -1 to hit with SHOOT attacks) or creature dwells in misty area.
17. STINK/MUSK: Opponents must pass a Strength test or suffer -2 penalty to hit this creature in combat.
18. SEA/RIVER: Creature dwells in the sea or rivers and is equipped to swim at its normal speed.
19. CLOUD/SKY: Creature has a flying speed one category faster than its land movement.
20. LEAPING/HOPPING: Creature’s land movement is one category faster.

* Other special abilities could include spitting (poisonous spit, like cobra), long-necked, long-legged (faster movement), dwarf (half normal hit dice - probably meaningless for animals with only one hit dice to begin with), burrowing (gains slow burrow speed) and hypno- (can paralyze with eyes)

Stats are for Space Princess – you can no doubt find stats for Swords and Wizardry or Dungeons and Dragons if you just snoop around a bit.

1. DEVIL/BADGER: HD 1; DEFENSE 9; FIGHT 5 (claws and bite +0); SHOOT 8; MOVE N; Burrow S; STR 10; DEX 17; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 2; Special: Flies into rage when damaged (+1 to hit and damage).
2. CRAWLER/CREEPER: HD 1; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 5 (bite +1); SHOOT 7; MOVE F / Climb F; STR 10; DEX 15; MEN 2; KNO N/A; DL 2; Special: Poisonous bite (1d6 damage).
3. BAT: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 1 (bite +0); SHOOT 7; MOVE S / Fly F; STR 3; DEX 15; MEN 4; KNO 2; DL 1; Special: See in dark with echolocation.
4. DOG: HD 2; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 7 (bite +1); SHOOT 8; MOVE F; STR 14; DEX 15; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 2; Special: None.
5. CAT: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 3 (claws and bite +0); SHOOT 7; MOVE N; STR 6; DEX 15; MEN 7; KNO 2; DL 1; Special: None.
6. BIRD: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 3 (talons and bite +0); SHOOT 7; MOVE S / Fly F; STR 6; DEX 15; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 1; Special: None.
7. HOG/PIG: HD 3; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 9 (tusks +1); SHOOT 7; MOVE F; STR 16; DEX 10; MEN 4; KNO 2; DL 3; Special: +2 to strength tests to ignore pain.
8. BEETLE: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 5 (bite +2); SHOOT 5; MOVE N; STR 10; DEX 11; MEN 7; KNO N/A; DL 1; Special: None.
9. LION/TIGER: HD 6; DEFENSE 13; FIGHT 16 (claws and bite +2); SHOOT 12; MOVE F; STR 20; DEX 15; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 7; Special: Pounce (two attacks when it wins initiative).
10. BEAST/ELEPHANT: HD 11; DEFENSE 17; FIGHT 26 (tusks +7 or stomp +5); SHOOT 15; MOVE N; STR 25; DEX 10; MEN 5; KNO 2; DL 12; Special: Trample (all in melee combat must make a dexterity test or suffer 1d6 damage).
11. BEAR: HD 6; DEFENSE 12; FIGHT 19 (claws and bite +3); SHOOT 11; MOVE F; STR 23; DEX 13; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 7; Special: Creatures hit must make a strength test or be hugged for automatic damage each round until a successful strength test is made.
12. PINCHER/CRAB: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 5 (bite +2); SHOOT 5; MOVE N; STR 10; DEX 11; MEN 7; KNO N/A; DL 1; Special: None.
13. MOLE/RAT: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 2 (bite +0); SHOOT 7; MOVE S / Climb S; STR 4; DEX 15; MEN 2; KNO 2; DL 1; Special: Bite may cause disease.
14. APE: HD 4; DEFENSE 10; FIGHT 12 (claws and bite +2); SHOOT 10; MOVE N; STR 18; DEX 15; MEN 7; KNO 2; DL 4; Special: None.
15. LIZARD/SNAKE: HD 3; DEFENSE 10; FIGHT 10 (bite +1); SHOOT 9; MOVE M; STR 17; DEX 15; MEN 2; KNO 1; DL 3; Special: May be poisonous.
16. ANTELOPE/DEER: HD 2; DEFENSE 10; FIGHT 6 (antlers or horns +1); SHOOT 9; MOVE F; STR 12; DEX 17; MEN 4; KNO 2; DL 2; Special: None.
17. SPIDER: HD 1; DEFENSE 9; FIGHT 4 (bite +0); SHOOT 8; MOVE N / Climb N; STR 8; DEX 17; MEN 2; KNO N/A; DL 2; Special: Poison (2d6 damage).
18. BRUTE/RHINOCEROS: HD 8; DEFENSE 14; FIGHT 22 (horn +5); SHOOT 12; MOVE N; STR 24; DEX 10; MEN 2; KNO 2; DL 9; Special: Charge for double damage.
19. SNAIL/SLUG: HD 2; DEFENSE 4; FIGHT 4 (bite +0); SHOOT 4; MOVE S; STR 6; DEX 6; MEN 2; KNO N/A; DL 2; Special: None.
20. FISH/SHARK: HD 3; DEFENSE 10; FIGHT 8 (bite +1); SHOOT 9; MOVE F; STR 13; DEX 15; MEN 2; KNO 1; DL 4; Special: Blood frenzy (+1 to hit and damage when blood is in the water).

* You might want to swap out toad/frog for fish/shark, maybe throw turtles in somewhere.

Some Examples ...

ANTAREAN ICE CREEPER: HD 1; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 5 (bite +1); SHOOT 7; MOVE F / Climb F; STR 10; DEX 15; MEN 2; KNO N/A; DL 2; Special: Poisonous bite (1d6 damage), half damage from cold attacks. I'm picturing a stark white centipede of great size that hides beneath the snow. It has pockets on it in which it stores bodily fluids sucked from victims. It draws sustenance and heat from the decay of these fluids.

POLARIAN SEA BIRD: HD 1; DEFENSE 7; FIGHT 3 (talons and bite +0); SHOOT 7; MOVE S / Fly F / Swim S; STR 6; DEX 15; MEN 6; KNO 2; DL 1; Special: None. Polarian sea birds resemble Earth penguins except they are as large as dolphins and have coloration and habits reminiscent of killer whales. They have horn-like crests on their heads that allow them to make a low-frequency rumbling that can be heard by other sea birds miles away.

CETIAN HORNED SLUG: HD 2; DEFENSE 4; FIGHT 4 (bite +0, horn +1); SHOOT 4; MOVE S; STR 6; DEX 6; MEN 2; KNO N/A; DL 2; Special: None, horn does +1 damage. These slugs are the size of lions and are covered by a shiny, pink segmented shell. The forward-most shell piece has curved horns that the beast can use to attack.


Image from HERE.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hell Preview 3 - Tempests, Bakeries and Sad Ogres

6.40. Tempest: This hex is situated between an icy and steamy tunnel. These air currents create swirling, damp winds that smell of salts. The tempest prevents flying and increases the chance of surprise to 1-3 on 1d6. Near the center of the cavern there is a virtual forest of copper poles, some up to 1 foot in diameter and 50 feet in height, that crackle with static electricity.

Dwelling among these poles and feeding on whatever game enters the tempest – but mostly on slimy fungus that gathers on the posts – are hook beasts. These weird creatures look something like bipedal, hulking, wingless turkeys with large hooks – something like the claws of a sloth – in place of hands. Encounters with them occur on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6 in this hex. Inside their gizzards one might find thunderstones – small rocks that, when slammed against a hard surface erupt in a thunderous noise that causes deafness (save to avoid) and stuns people within 30 feet for 1 round.

HOOK BEAST: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 2 hooks (1d6); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 6/400; Special: None.

8.32. Bakery: A family of ten ubues dwells here in a deep cave. The smell of burning coal is in evidence as people approach, the smell coming from a large fire pit kept ever ablaze before the entrance to their cave. The ubue run their lair as a road-house. They provide a pallet of furs, a pungent blood wine and thick pasties made out of what-ever meat happens to turn up – usually dire corbies and bats. Any group that passes by is informed that the ubue claim the right to cull one of their animals or members for their pantry. The ubue have a treasure of 250 sp, 340 ep, 190 gp and a coral oil lamp (100 gp). A night’s stay in their cave costs 5 gp per person.

UBUE: HD 3; AC 2 [17]; Atk 3 clubs (1d8) or 3 strikes (1d6); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Multiple personalities.

11.26. Sorrowful Ogres: A band of thirty ogres has made camp here. Mercenaries, they were recently defeated by a large force of duergar and are now nursing their wounds. Their commander, a bull-necked lout called Dagum, has be driven round the bend by this defeat. He has become even more violent and erratic than normal for an ogre, and the others seek a cure – for they know he cannot easily be defeated by them.

DAGUM, DEMON OGRE: HD 10 (48 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d10); Move 15; Save 6 (3 vs. mind effects); CL/XP xxx; Special: Resistance to acid, cold, fire and electricity (50%).

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Wages of Sin

About a copper a soul, actually.

In putting together a hex crawl of Hell, I decided to work off of a swords & planet model - rings of hell with weird-but-recognizable landscapes inhabited by strongholds, cities, dungeons, monster lairs, etc. Generally, I prefer to let D-n-D (or S-n-W) be what it is - a game about exploration with treasure as one of its primary objectives. Given that notion and the high power level one must find in Hell to make it a challenge for high level parties, it was a given that there was going to be a LOT of treasure in the Underworld.

In some ways, this makes sense. Gold, silver, gems, etc. are dug out of the ground, and the ancients sometimes combined their deities of the underworld and wealth for this reason. But on the other hand, it seems a bit silly. Why does Orcus need gold pieces? Or, more to the point, why does Orcus value gold pieces? Okay, maybe because money is power, but in the case of demon lords, hit dice and spell-like abilities are also power.

So, I wanted to set up an alternate economy for Hell based on souls and the value therein ... but I also wanted a Hell that could be navigated and enjoyed by treasure-hungry PCs. What to do? Well, I decided to combine the concepts.

The demon lords want souls, and since Nod's version of Hell is at least vaguely based on medieval notions of the architecture of Creation, I would assume that they would value different souls the way mortals value different autographs. In other words, the soul of Julius Caesar is worth more in Hell than the soul of Jack the Plowboy.

Inspired by the concept of souls paying a copper to Charon for passage into Hell, I decided that souls that pass into Nod's Hell also bring a coin of commensurate value to their position in society at death. This coin eventually finds its way into the hands of the various demon lords and their minions and serves as a means of trade within Hell. To some degree, if you own the coin, you own the soul, and collecting golds and coppers would be a major pursuit of demon lords.

Each coin in Hell is impressed with the image its linked soul possessed in life - thus, if a PC comes across a coin in Hell with his mother's portrait on it, he knows that her soul passed through this dark realm after death. In general, the coinage of Hell is linked to souls as follows:

Copper = Common souls like normal folk and men-at-arms
Silver = The most skilled, handsome or manipulative of common folk, including most chaotic PC's who fall short of "the end game" of fiefs and strongholds
Electrum = Commoners raised into the lesser nobility or minor clergy
Gold = Nobles and high functionaries of the clergy
Platinum = Royals, Emperors, Patriarchs and High Priests

At one point I had thought about renaming the coins, but finally decided against it just in terms of the annoyance of record keeping. A gold piece is a gold piece, after all, to a merchant in Nomo. On the other hand, these coins did need be a little different from normal coinage to be interesting. Thus ...

1. Hellcoins cannot be melted down by anything less than the breath of an ancient red dragon or the churning fires of a volcano. Once melted down, they are fit for forging into magic weapons, but always implant a secret curse in these items.

2. Hellcoins are unlucky to those who hold them. Quantity doesn't matter - any Hellcoin in one's pocket gives them a -1 penalty to saving throws and enhances by a small amount "wandering misfortunes" like having a commode emptied on them or having the target of one's insults and jests turn out to be standing behind them, etc.

3. The holder of a Hellcoin can use it as a focus for speaking with its linked soul per the speak with dead spell.

4. Finally, a Hellcoin can be placed in the body of its' soul's previous owner and animate that body as a loyal, though sentient, zombie.


Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monsters of Space Princess

Here are a few sample monsters - "aliens", in fact, from the Space Princess game. The game is coming along pretty well - just a bit more writing to do and then some artwork and she's ready for testing!

Devil Girl
Devil girls come from a female dominated society with a declining male population. Devil girls are undeniably attractive, but merciless in their treatment of others. They wear uniforms of a black, vinyl-like substance that is a surprisingly good armor. Devil girls suffer only half damage from cold, electricity and fire and they can blanket a 60-ft radius area around themselves in complete darkness once per day for 10 minutes. Devil girls are capable of seeing in this weird darkness, but other creatures are not, giving the devil girls a +5 bonus and the others a -5 penalty to attack.

DEVIL GIRL: HD 4; DEFENSE 12; FIGHT 9 (strike +1); SHOOT 9 (ray gun +5); MOVE N; STR 13; DEX 13; MEN 9; KNO 12; DL 5; Special: Darkness, resistance to damage.

Space Amazon
Space amazons are women of tremendous strength and dexterity who are sometimes hired as elite guards in a space fortress, or perhaps were captured and subsequently escaped, living as outlaws in the fortress’s myriad tunnels and chambers. Space amazons stand about 8 feet tall and have green skin, white hair, and long antennae. Large groups of space amazons are commanded by a myrmidia. Each myrmidia has a 5% chance of secretly falling in love with a male star warrior and betraying her sisters on his behalf. If spurned by him, her berserk fury is doubled against him.

SPACE AMAZON: HD 4; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 10 (axe +2); SHOOT 8 (ray gun +5); MOVE N; STR 15; DEX 12; MEN 12; KNO 10; DL 5; Special: Berserk Fury (+2 FIGHT and +2 damage vs. males).

MYRMIDIA: HD 6; DEFENSE 10; FIGHT 13 (axe +2); SHOOT 10 (ray gun +5); MOVE N; STR 16; DEX 13; MEN 13; KNO 11; DL 5; Special: Berserk Fury (+2 FIGHT and +2 damage vs. males), chance to fall in love, double fury when spurned.

Trilodites are protoplasmic aliens consisting of a ooze-like interior and a pink, rubbery exterior. Trilodites “stand” about three feet tall, usually on three pseudopods. They often have three additional pseudopods emerging from higher on their bodies that they use as arms. Trilodites can use these pseudopods to manipulate small objects as a human uses hands, and can retract or grow additional pseudopods as they like, though eight seems to be their useful limit. Trilodites have a high sensory awareness, and are thus rarely surprised. Because of their alien structures and minds, they enjoy a +2 bonus on tests to resist psychic powers that attempt to control or influence them. Their elastic forms give them a +2 bonus to DEFENSE to resist attempts to grab or hold them.

TRILODITE: HD 2; DEFENSE 8; FIGHT 7 (weapon +2); SHOOT 5 (ray gun +5); MOVE S; STR 14; DEX 8; MEN 10; KNO 10; DL 2; Special: Resist psychic powers, hard to hold.

Voltans are a humanoid species with slightly pointed ears and bald heads covered with peaked ridges. They are quite strong and very intelligent. Some voltans have red skin, while others have blue skin. The red voltans tend towards contemplation and a love of logic, while the blue voltans are emotional, over-bearing and militant. Blue voltans arm themselves with jagged blades and ray guns and wear steel mesh tunics. Red voltans do not wear armor or carry hand weapons, but do use ray guns.

BLUE VOLTAN: HD 3; DEFENSE 9; FIGHT 9 (weapon +2); SHOOT 7 (ray gun +5); MOVE N; STR 16; DEX 10; MEN 14; KNO 14; DL 3; Special: Immune to fear.

RED VOLTAN: HD 1; DEFENSE 5; FIGHT 7 (open hand +1); SHOOT 5 (ray gun +5); MOVE N; STR 16; DEX 10; MEN 14; KNO 14; DL 3; Special: ESP, stunning grasp, immune to fear.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hell Preview 2 - The City of Goblins

Here are a couple more encounters from Nifol - the Ante-Hell.

3.56. Celdrien’s Tomb: The wizard Celdrien was laid to rest here in a fire pit (20 feet deep), his ashes mingling with the ashes of his favorite courtesans and most hated enemy. Secret catches here hidden in the walls of the black bricks that line the pit, each one containing one of his treasures:

- A large tome covered in duergar skin holding three spells: teleport, dimension door and passwall as well as demonic chants that, if repeated, summon 2d6 vrock to attack the reader. Until these vrocks are fought and defeated, the book drives its owner (and anyone who has learned a spell from it) to kill honest men and women they meet.

- An oil lamp of yellow glass. It is non-magical, but was made with pitchblende, causing the owner of such a lamp to pass a saving throw each month or lose one point of constitution from radiation exposure.

- A round +1 shield lacquered bright orange and emblazoned with a black demon head. The shield is -2 against the attacks of demons until the bearer has slain three different breeds of demon and nailed their hands into the wooden frame of the shield. After that, the shield is +3 against the attacks of demons.

- Silk hose of yellow with ribbons of pale lavender and brilliant white. They act as a ring of feather fall, but until they are dyed in the ichor of a demon they make their wearer completely passive (i.e. must save each round to fight, though they can defend themselves).

- A copper locket set with tiny sapphires. The locket provides a +2 bonus to save vs. magic, but also prevents natural healing until hairs from a bearded devil are placed inside the locket.

The pit is guarded by the spirit of Celedrien, who manifests as a raging fire elemental with a vaguely humanoid shape.

FIRE ELEMENTAL: HD 16 (81 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 strike (3d6); Move 12; Save 3; CL/XP 17/3400; Special: Ignite materials.

5.45. Dal-Berith, City of Goblins: Dal-Berith is a terrible city of goblins located near xxx. The city is constructed of large, crude stone blocks, with narrow, dark lanes in between them. Throughout the city there winds a covered lane with no apparent entrance – one can only enter it via secret doors hidden in buildings. This covered lane houses the true masters of the city-state, the Sages Who Dwell in Shadow. The sages are a cabal of black sorcerers who died and should have gone to Hell but for powerful magics enacted before they died. This gave them the power to resist the pull of Hell, but still left them trapped as shadows. They now lurk in this corridor, lit by ghostly candles, seeking new magic to free them from their curse.

Dal-Berith has a population of 5,000 goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears and orcs living in tense, angry clans always at one another’s throats. One might compare the city-state to Hell’s Kitchen. The presence of a powerful artifact in the hidden corridors of the shadow sages spreads contrariness and dissension, and each night a thousand petty arguments spreads into the streets as all-out war. The artifact looks like a simple necklace of chicken bones.

The walls of Dal-Berith are slimy and irregular. There are no gates – one can only enter through one of a dozen hidden silver mines in the hex. The walls are topped by about 100 gargoyles who guard the city. It is surrounded by foul-smelling streams and fields of mushrooms.

SHADOW SAGE: HD 6+6; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 touch (1d4 + strength drain); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Drain 1 point Str with hit, hit only by magic weapons, spells as 8th level magic-user.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Deviant Friday - Jonboy Meyers Edition

How about ending the week with some cake, of the cheese and beef variety. (Wow - that sounded better in my head - oh well). Jonboy Meyers works in comic books primarily, but he has a great dynamic style that does not shy away from depictions of feminine pulchritude. Enjoy!


Sweeping Strikes

Another MOTU Back Cover

I persist in my belief that Masters of the Universe could be a great gonzo setting.

He-Junk continues

The Beetle


Skeletor Redux


Ultraman GX

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shades of White

And so we come to the trickier dragons - black and white. That means, to some extent, shades of light gray and shades of dark gray. Still - let's see what we come up with for the white dragon's kin.

Achromatic Dragon: The small, feral cousins of the white dragon are covered in spiked hide reminiscent of a rhinoceros', with swept back antlers on its head and cruel, gnashing teeth in its long snout. Achromatic dragons hunt in the manner of crocodiles, lurking beneath the snow and then lunging out at victims. Achromatic dragons never speak or use spells, but they are capable of breathing a swirling vortex of snow that acts as an 8 HD air elemental's whirlwind ability and inflicts 1d6 points of cold damage each round for ten rounds.

ACHROMATIC DRAGON: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 12; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Breathes blizzards.

Cinereous Dragon: Also called the ashen dragon, the cinereous is a small white dragon with an especially vicious streak. More intelligent than most white dragons, they have a 65% chance of speaking, and those who speak have a 15% chance of casting spells. Cinereous dragons cast spells as an anti-cleric and have three 1st level spells, two 2nd level spells and one 3rd level spell. A  cinereous dragon has an ash gray hide, black eyes, a purple tongue and mouth and hundreds of jagged teeth in its long snout. Atop its head are two long, black horns - like those of a Texas longhorn - and a cluster of black, horn-like spikes tips its thick tail. Cinereous dragons have no breath weapon. Rather, their presence seems to steal all the warmth and kindness from the area. All creatures within 20 feet of the beast must save each round or suffer 1d6 points of cold damage. All creatures within 50 feet of the beast must pass a saving throw any time they wish to do something unselfish or kind - i.e. a cleric using a cure spell on someone other than themselves.

CINEREOUS DRAGON: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (2d8), gore (1d6), tail spikes (1d4); Move 9 (F24); Save 12; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Steal warmth and kindness, anti-cleric spells.

Ghastly Dragon: The ghastly dragon dwells on abandoned battlefields of the frozen north, where man has spilled the blood of man. It feeds on corpses, like a raven and can whip up the echoes of the spiritual agony of men who have died in battle. These echoes appear as swirling maelstroms of screaming spirits that cover an area 60-ft in diameter around the dragon and force people within the maelstrom to save (once) or lose 1d6 points of wisdom. Ghastly dragons have scales the color of dead, human flesh, with blotches reminiscent of decay. They have stubby spikes that run from their heads to their tails and bloated bodies that waddle about on four stubby legs. Ghastly dragons have a 15% chance of speech, and those who speak have a 15% chance of casting the following spells: Phantasmal force, cause fear and animate dead.

GHASTLY DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 6 (F18); Save 11; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Maelstrom of agonized spirits, spells.

Isabelline Dragon: Isabelline dragons are large and regal, with dull, delicate scales and long, swan-like neck. Isabelline dragons have petite heads, large, sapphire eyes and swirling horns reminiscent of unicorns. Isabelline dragons dwell in vaults beneath snowy mountains. They are capable, while holding their breaths, of passing through earth as easily as air, giving them an effective burrowing speed equal to their flying speed for up to 5 rounds. Their palaces are wondrous and luxurious, with all of the dragon's riches being spent on creature comforts and art - isabelline dragons have one-tenth the normal coins in their horde and triple the art objects/jewelry. Isabelline dragons always speak and have a 45% chance of casting 1d4 first level and 1d3 2nd level magic-user spells. In place of a breath weapon (how crude and vulgar!) they can sap the color from themselves and their surroundings (but not living creatures) in a diameter of 300 feet. Everything becomes stark white, granting the dragon the equivalent of improved invisibility and forcing those who linger in this area for more than 3 rounds to pass a saving throw or suffer from the equivalent of snow blindness (lasts for 1d3 hours).

ISABELLINE DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Drain color, spells.

Ivory Dragon: Ivory dragons dwell in cold woodlands in icy caves obscured by the boughs of pine trees. It is said they even smell like pine, making detecting them difficult even for creatures with a powerful sense of smell. They have ivory colored scales of varying sizes, with two ridges of bony, fan-shaped protrusions running down their backs (in the style of a stegosaurus), long necks, small, quick heads (they enjoy a +1 bonus to initiative rolls) and whip-like tails. Two long, ivory tusks jut out of their mouths, giving them a powerful bite attack. Ivory dragons are collectors, eschewing treasure for collections of books, armor, weapons, jewels, hour glasses or some other such nonsense. Their ill-tempers often drive them to scatter treasures of coins atop mountains just to keep them from the hands of folk who do value such objects. An ivory dragon's breath weapon is a cone, like that of a typical white dragon, but instead of cold damage, it has a hold monster effect (save negates) that lasts for 1 hour, as the spell. While held, a creature's skin takes on an ivory sheen, making them look like a statue. Ivory dragons have a 20% chance of speech, but never cast spells.

IVORY DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (3d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Breath weapon (hold monster).

Pearl Dragon: Pearl dragons dwell in arctic oceans, swimming with the monsters of the deep and surfacing only to torment humanoids and demand tribute from them. Pearl dragons have bodies like elasmosauruses, with sleek heads. Their hemispherical scales gleam like pearls and their eyes shine with malevolence. Pearl dragons never speak, but can communicate telepathically up to 1 mile. They can use this telepathy to summon a pod of 1d6 orcas with a 50% chance of success once per day. Pearl dragons can cast spells as psychic powers, having 1d6 first level, 1d4 second level and 1d2 third level magic-user spells at their disposal. In place of a breath weapon, they can implant a phobia inside a person's mind. People fighting a pearl dragon must pass a saving throw or suffer from one of the following fears:

1. Fear of boats or ships
2. Fear of pain
3. Fear of open spaces
4. Fear of wind
5. Fear of water
6. Fear of magic

The fear lasts for 1 hour, with a 1% chance of it becoming permanent. When presented with the phobia, a character must pass a saving throw or go into a panic attack, losing their turn, breathing heavily and attempting to flee from the source of the phobia. If they cannot flee from the source of the phobia, they become catatonic until the phobia disappears from their mind.

PEARL DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (3d6); Move 6 (S30); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Summon orcas, spells, zone of fear.


Image from CLKER

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Explore the Catacombs of Ophir

Self-Promotion Alert!!! 

I have an adventure in the new issue of Knockspell. It presents a chunk of the catacombs underneath the city-state of Ophir presented in NOD 2. More substantial posting will resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spaceship Combat in Space Princess

Alternate title - if you're expecting Rient's Fleet Captain, boy are you going to be disappointed!

I'm writing the spaceship combat rules now for Space Princess and thought I'd bounce a few things off of my readers (wow - it feels both cool and pretentious as Hell to say "my readers").

The Basics: Space Princess' spaceship combat rules are designed to do one thing - simulate the rescuers of the "space princess" escaping into light speed from the Dark Lord's minions. That's it. If the game is successful, maybe an expansion could add more to the rules, but for the game, I want to simulate one thing and one thing only to keep it simple.

The Procedure: As it stands, the spaceship combat procedure works as follows:

1 - Maneuver: The player of the character piloting the escape ship make a pilot test to attempt to stay away from the pursuing ships. If he fails, they come closer (and closer means it's easier to hit with weapons), if he succeeds they either stay at the same range or fall behind. There are penalties attached to his roll based on how many pursuers he's trying to dodge, whether there are obstacles to maneuvering (the ground, canyon walls, asteroids) and damage his ship might have taken.

2 - Fire Weapons: Good guys and bad guys fire their weapons. Each hit means a damage roll for the affected ship. These damage rolls are not in terms of "hit points" or "hull points", but rather an actual effect on the ship. The smaller the ship, the more dire a hit is likely to be. The worst forms of damage are hull breach (can suck players out into space, where they die) or complete destruction of the ship. Complete destruction is rare - the pursuers are usually trying to disable your ship and capture you.

3 - After all weapon fire is resolved, the player whose character is in charge of navigation (scientists are the best at this) makes a roll to see if she's calculated the proper formula for light speed. The chances of doing this on the first round are very remote, but the difficulty of the roll is lessened with each failure. This means you don't know how long it will take to jump into light speed (and safety) - should make each such roll dramatic.

That's the basic procedure. For ship types, I'm keeping it pretty generic. In order of size, they are: Starfighter, Shuttle, Freighter, Blockade Runner, Corvette, Cruiser and Dreadnaught. Smaller ships are more maneuverable, larger ships have better armor (which actually doesn't make sense in Zero-G, but I'm working off pulp sci-fi and movie tropes, not reality).

So here's where I want to access your brains. I'm thinking about possible damage results on ships. Ships are rated based on Speed (includes maneuverability), Armor, Number of Engines and Different Weapon Systems (laser banks, torpedoes and tractor beams for the dreadnaughts). Here's my list of damage effects so far:

1 - Engine Damage - penalty to speed/maneuvering; once a ship has lost all engines it is dead in space

2 - Computer Damage - maybe hits different systems - damaged Nav-Computer means you cannot jump into light speed until fixed. Weapon Systems Computer might turn off all weaponry until fixed. Maybe the engines can be knocked off line as well. Possible damage to characters from the boards sparking and going up in flame, a'la Star Trek.

3 - Artificial Gravity Lost - this would potentially damage characters on the ship from things floating about (or from them floating about).

4 - Weapon Destroyed - One of the ship's weapon systems is destroyed.

5 - Hull Damage - lowers the ship's Armor rating by one. Probably the best result you can get from damage. Somebody will probably mention force shields here - I'd rather just consider them part of the "armor package" - to keep things simple, if two things essentially serve the same function, I'd rather merge them together.

6 - Hull Breach - chance of sucking people into space

7 - Ship Destroyed - this would be a "roll again, if comes up again, spaceship destroyed and all aboard killed" - it's old school, so yeah, instant death is a possibility.

All of the results except ship destroyed would be repairable - again, a scientist would be best at this (or maybe somebody invents an engineer class to lend a hand).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Visit the Bazaar / Preview of Hell

Are you in need of late '80s or very early '90s comic books in readable condition? Maybe some 3rd edition books from WOTC or some spell decks from 2nd edition AD-n-D? Then by golly, you are in luck. I just opened a Bazaar to get rid of this crap these wonderful artifacts from another time.

CLICK HERE and name your price or trade, folks. If I can't shift it here, I'll probably just give them away to a charity shop here in town.


And now that my crass advertising is finished, enjoy a preview of Hell's doorstep (i.e. Ante-Hell), which I'm tentatively calling Nifol ("Darkness") ...

1.91. Temple of Amfelyn: A trail of phosphorescent flagstones leads to a plaza of similar construction in the middle of this tunnel. The plaza measures about 100 feet on each side and has a crypt in its center and four round towers at each corner. These towers and the crypt are carved from polished obsidian. The crypt is square and about eight feet tall, with no obvious entrance. The towers have circular bases and measure about four feet in diameter. They are also eight feet tall. Each tower is really just a stairwell for a narrow, spiral staircase that leads about twenty feet below the tunnel floor to a large cavern littered with the dead bodies of drow. Each drow has had its heart removed with surgical precision, the organ being replaced by an iron sphere.

The crypt has channels carved into the top in an “X” shape with a slight depression at the intersection. These channels extend down the sides and onto the plaza floor. Should a male touch the crypt, the sides become transparent, revealing a female drow interred inside. The woman has the dull, charcoal gray skin of a dead drow, though her form remains lovely. Her eyes are a brilliant violet and their look can dominate any male humanoid (saving throw to negate). When the walls of her crypt become clear, she stirs and attempts to use her gaze, commanding any person so dominated to deliver her the heart of a comrade. The heart must be placed atop the crypt, allowing blood to flow into the tiny channels and down the sides. When filled with blood, these side channels form the sides of a portal, which opens to allow access to the crypt. The female drow, Amfelyn, is a vampire of sorts. She will emerge from crypt and attempt to slay the dominated man, feasting on his heart. If the man is a priest, as the ones below the crypt were, the iron heart grows in their wound and animates them as a huecuva. Otherwise, their body is simply cast into the darkness to feed the oozes. Amfelyn can remain out of her crypt for one year and one day when she feasts on a heart, and then must return to her supernatural slumber.

As mentioned above, the eight bodies below the crypt are all huecuvas. They animate when the crypt is touched, but only interfere if it looks as though the dominated man will fail to slay a victim and open the crypt. The crypt, which measures about 12 feet on either side, contains Amfelyn’s treasure of 1,500 gp, a horn fashioned of white gold (1,000 gp), a Morningstar, a container of salve that grants a +1 bonus to save vs. poisons, a large bottle of green liquid (potion of heroism), a bone wand (10 charges, lightning bolt) and a single agate worth 250 gp.

HUECUVA: HD 2; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 claws (1d4+1 + disease); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Change self, disease, silver or +1 weapon to hit.

AMFELYN, VAMPIRE: HD 9 (49 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d10 + level drain); Move 12 (F18); Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: +1 weapon to hit, gaseous form, regenerate 3 hp/rd, change into giant bat, summon bat swarm, charm gaze (-2 to save), drain levels (bite, 2 levels).

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I think it's worthwhile to halt the gaming and comic book stuff for a day and remember the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I first heard about the attacks when I started driving to work that morning. I hadn't turned on the TV that morning while I ate breakfast, but I had my radio tuned into NPR. As I began pulling out of the driveway, I heard the broadcaster say something about a "hole in the side of the Pentagon". It sounded like it was going to be a story about a contractor making some mistake and putting a hole in the wall. Only a few seconds later, still on my street, I had the full news and couldn't quite process it. When I arrived at work, I saw the north tower fall and then my boss sent everyone home. The office complex I work in contains one of the taller buildings in Las Vegas (no comparison to the WTC, which by itself held about half the total office space that Las Vegas could boast at the time) and we were near the airport, so the landlords wanted everyone out.

When I got home, my wife had already flipped on the TV and discovered what was happening. My daughter was 3 at the time, and I knew the U.S. (really, the entire Free World) had just experienced a "Pearl Harbor" moment. Having some knowledge of terrorism and anti-terrorism from following Strategy Page and reading Dunnigan's work, I figured that we were in for something that would last longer than the Second World War, something that would make the world my daughter grew up in a different place than my wife and I had grown up in. Not necessarily worse - we grew up during the Cold War, after all, but different.

So, here's to remembering the event and the many whose lives were affected by it and its aftermath - the dead, the wounded, the heroes and the mourners. It's a time to think of the core values that folks in the Free World share - at heart, the notion that people do have fundamental rights to their lives and their ideas, and that nobody has the right to take those things away. It's also a good time to remember that, of the billions of people who live together on this planet, it is a fairly tiny number who don't hew to this notion. Most of us, regardless of nationality, philosophy or religion, live in peace - sometimes we argue and we might harbor any number of ill thoughts about one another over the course of the day, but at the end of the day any of us could sit down and share a meal or a drink with other folks and talk about the kids, the game and life in general and part with a handshake. It's a good world we live in - don't forget it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Warlock Brews Up Awesome Mystery Men! Character Sheets

And they are better than anything I've ever come up with. Check them out and roll up a character why dontcha?!

Side note - Bliss mentioned the game I'm running on Google +. I've had a few other people ask to join after the sign-ups closed and wasn't able to accommodate them. While I plan on doing another game in the future, maybe after a PARS FORTUNA or LAND OF NOD adventure, and since I would like to encourage interest in Mystery Men!, I'm thinking about setting up a Mystery Men! Fight Club.

People submit characters, I pair them off and they fight it out in some sort of battle space on Google +. If we got enough submissions, we could even form brackets and crown a champion. Whaddya think? Any interest?

I'd also like to draw attention to some other places in the Blog-o-verse  talking about Mystery Men!, just to prove I'm not the only one.

From the Weirdlands of Xhuul comes the Gun Spectre, a very cool pulpy hero.

And an old one from Strange Stones - and using the Beta rules for MM! - some Mexican super heroes: El Aguila Solar, El Misterio Verde and Profesora Manana.

Finally, from the Chronicles of Ganth, the "Trial of the Mystery Men!" - mashing up super heroes and McCarthyism. Introduction HERE and Episode One HERE.

To everyone who has read the book, enjoyed it, and seen fit to blog about it - I thank you!

Deviant Friday - Joel Carroll Edition

Readers of the Land of Nod should not be strangers to Joel Carroll, the artist who worked on Mystery Men! and oft posted on this blog. While you folks might know him primarily for his superhero artwork, he dabbles in many eras and I actually first discovered him on a site showing some of his D-n-D monster sketches. Check it out, gentle readers ...


Rocket Raccoon



This lady would look good in Space Princess. In fact, how about some stats for that game ...

Hooked Horror

Displacer Beast

Devil Dinosaur


And I might as well give him some Space Princess stats as well ...

Bristolwhip Kaiju Tokusatsu

The Marquis

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shades of Green

Ah - Green! The color of plants and She-Hulk, Spring and infections. Also the color of nasty reptilian beasts who belch chlorine gas. Enjoy some variations on the green dragon ...

Moss Dragon: The moss dragon is a small green dragon with a serious inferiority complex. A bully, it lurks near rivers and streams, its grey scales mottled with green looking like a moss-covered boulder, and then jumps out at travelers demanding their lunch money. They dwell in burrows dug into river banks. The entrance to the burrow is always submerged, while the main dwelling cave is above the water table (well, most of the time). Moss dragons breath a pale green vapor that condenses on the skin (or armor) as green slime. The cloud is 30-ft in diameter. All within must pass a saving throw or be struck by a green slime (with all the fun that entails). Moss dragons only have a 25% chance of speaking, but the normal chance of magic-user if they do speak.

MOSS DRAGON: HD 7 (28 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Camouflage (surprise on 3 in 6), slime breath.

Chartreuse Dragon: Chartreuse dragons are large brutes, with a tortoise-shaped body (no shell) and a wicked sense of humor. Chartreuse dragons enjoy luxury and decadence – the heady scent of exotic perfumes, rare delicacies, soft silk cushions, etc. Their eyes, large and golden, can hypnotize and command humanoids (save at -2 vs. charm monster), and people enslaved are used to construct wooden palaces in hard-to-find places. A chartreuse dragon has an 85% chance of speech, but only a 5% chance for magic-use, as their lazy minds are rarely up to the mental contortions and acrobatics needed to bend reality. Their breath is an acidic fog that covers a 60-ft diameter area and deals 1d6 points of damage per round to everyone and everything in the vicinity. Assume that armor can suffer 2 points of damage per armor bonus before it is useless, and weapons damage equal to their own maximum damage output. Magical items are unaffected by this acid. A chartreuse dragon’s acid breath has reduced more than a few adventurers to Frazetta-esque nudity!

CHARTREUSE DRAGON: HD 9 (36 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 6; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Breathes poison gas.

Celadon Dragon: These medium-sized beasts dwell in the tree tops. They have sinuous bodies, like constrictors, with stubby legs that are tipped with long claws for climbing trees. They have two rows of spines on their backs that are connected with a thin membrane. When held close to their bodies, they nearly disappear, but when unfurled they look like sails, and allow the beast to glide and fly. Celadon dragons are ill-tempered brutes that kill as much for the fun of it as for practical reasons. Celadon dragons always speak, but they never cast spells. Their poisonous cloud breath (50-ft diameter) causes half normal breath damage and robs people of 1d4+1 points of strength, dexterity and constitution as it sears their lungs. While the hit point damage from a celadon dragon’s breath cannot be reduced with a saving throw, the ability score damage can be so negated. Lost ability score points are regained at the rate of 1 point per night of complete rest. Points not regained after one week are lost permanently.

CELADON DRAGON: HD 8 (32 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (Fly 18); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Poison gas.

Beryl Dragon: Beryl dragons are large, overbearing know-it-alls. More neutral than chaotic, they are always capable of speech, though rarely capable of interesting speech. Beryl dragons are sages (per the rules for sages) with a pedantic, superior attitude. They stock their lairs with scrolls and books and sometimes resort to chaining humanoid sages to the walls as a sort of living reference source. Beryl dragons are severely near-sighted, making escaping their attention at long distance somewhat easy. They are always magic-users, with the normal complement of green dragon spells plus the following: Detect magic (at will), ESP (at will), legend lore (1/day) and sleep (1/day). They can communicate telepathically up to a range of 100 feet. The gas exhaled by a beryl dragon is a vivid green and covers a diameter of 30 feet. Creatures within the gas must pass a saving throw or lose their memories for 24 hours. During this time, their effective class level and hit points are reduced to one half (i.e. they retain some of their skill, but not all of it).

BERYL DRAGON: HD 9 (36 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Forgetting gas, spells.

Viridian Dragon: These medium-sized green dragons live among rocky places in small caves, curing their snake-like bodies into a coil. They are extremely greedy and paranoid, though not entirely evil – some even become boon companions of similarly greedy people provided the dragon always gets the first choice and largest share of discovered treasure. Viridian dragons bury their treasure in multiple locations around their lair and cannot be forced to divulge its location by anything less than a wish (and a saving throw applies here to force the truth out of them). A viridian dragon’s breath is like a powerful drug. It makes people who fail a saving throw immune to fear and besets them with powerful, frightening hallucinations (per the nightmare spell, only while awake). These effects last for 2d6 hours and are then followed by withdrawal symptoms for 1d6 days minus a victim’s constitution bonus. Withdrawals include chills, nausea and an aching neck and shoulders. Viridian dragons have the normal green dragon chance for speaking and magic-use.

VIRIDIAN DRAGON: HD 8 (32 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d8); Move 9 (Fly 18); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Hallucinogenic gas.

Harlequin Dragon: Harlequin dragons are small, feral looking beasts that dwell in mountain caves overlooking tracts of woodland. Harlequin dragons always look like their grinning, but this is just a trick of their anatomy, for they are morose and moody things that despise life. Harlequin dragons have the normal chance to speak for green dragons, but no chance to cast spells in the normal sense. All harlequin dragons, however, are capable of summoning the local wildlife (say, 1d3+3 wolves or 1d3 brown bears) once per day and they can command and speak with plants. Their poisonous breath covers the same diameter as a green dragon’s (50 feet) but causes uncontrollable laughter (as the spell) rather than damage.

HARLEQUIN DRAGON: HD 7 (28 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d8); Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Command plants and animals, laughing gas breath.


Illustration from CLKER
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