Monday, September 30, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Piasa Bird for Basic era games

Well.  It is 85 degrees and humid here in Chicago today.  But I don't care. The calendar says October-eve and it's fall.  Time to get to some of my favorite monsters.

Top of that list is Illinois' favorite, The Piasa Bird. My dad introduced this monster to me.


The Piasa Bird
AKA: The Piasa, "The Bird That Devours Men", "The Destroyer"

According to the diary of Louis Joliet, the Piasa Bird "was as large as a calf with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face like a man, the body covered with green, red and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs."

Piasa Birds in the game are larger and resemble a manticore or a dragon.
They do not keep treasure. They are only interested in killing for meat and sport.

Story of the Piasa Bird 
The following story appeared in the Alton Telegraph (1836) by John Russel. It is claimed that this is story told to Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet by the native tribes of the valley.

When Marquette and Joliet came down the Mississippi river in 1673 they encountered a bluff on the east side of the river with the painting of a giant monster. When they asked the natives what this monster was, they retold for them the story that had been handed down to them for generations. Marquette named the monster "Piasa," pronounced Pie-a-saw, which means "the Destroyer."

The Legend of the Piasa bird that was related to Marquette and Joliet went something like this. Many years ago a great bird roamed the land. Every morning the people would wake in fear to the shrill screams of the great Bird. The bird awoke hungry and would carry off dozens of boys and girls to its cave to be eaten. Chief Ouatoga [OO-wa-toe-ga] was getting old. He wanted to destroy this terrible monster before he died. He called his braves to a meeting and told them he was going to ask the Great Spirit what to do.

He went up on the highest bluff. He spoke with the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit told the Chief, "Dip your arrows deep into the poison of a copperhead snake and shoot them into the body of the Bird. It  will cause its death." He returned to the camp and told his people what the Great Spirit had told him. He gathered up a small army of the strongest braves and set out to hunt the Bird. Chief Ouatoga told his braves that the plan was for someone to stand on the cliff to lure the Bird down. When the great monster swoops down they were to shoot it with their poison arrows.

The braves all begged their chief to be the one to sacrifice themselves. But the chief told them no, he would be the one since he was older. While the braves practiced with their bows, Chief Ouatoga spoke with the Great Spirit. "Think not of my life," he said, "but the lives of the children."

The next morning the chief stood tall waiting for the great bird to come. Its screams could be heard as flew down the river looking for victims. The bird saw the old chief and swooped down on him with a terrible scream.

Just as the monster was ready to attack the braves shot their arrows and all 100 met their mark. The monster fell into the Mississippi River and died. The braves carried the broken and bruised body of their chief back to the tribe. The medicine man healed him and he awoke the next day surrounded by his grateful people. In remembrance of the act, the returned to the site and painted a life-size picture of the monster. Every time a member of the tribe went down the river after that, he fired an arrow at the bluff.
In alternate versions of the story, the youngest brave stands on the cliff instead of the Chief. When he is healed the next day he becomes the new Chief.

Piasa Bird
(Labyrinth Lord, Pumpkin Spice Editon)
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 90’ (30’)
    Fly:  240' (80')
Armor Class: -2 (scales and hide)
Hit Dice: 11d8+6 (55 hp)
Attacks: 4 (claw/claw/bite/tail swipe) + fear
Damage: 1d6+2/1d6+2/2d8/1d6
Save: F11
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None (The Piasa eats all meat and discards everything else.)
XP: 2,800

The Piasa can cause fear as per the spell once per day.

Piasa Bird
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: -2
HD: 11d8
Move: 90
   Fly: 240
Attacks: 4 (claw/claw/bite/tail swipe) + fear  (1d6+2 x2 2d6+2/1d6)
Alignment: CE
Treasure: None
XP: 2,214

Piasa Bird
(Old-School Essentials)
A large creature with the body of a fish, the wings and claws of a dragon, the antlers of a stag and the face of an evil man.
AC -2 [22], HD 11* (55hp), Att 4 claw  (1d6+2) /claw  (1d6+2) /bite (2d8) /tail swipe (1d6), THAC0 10 [+10], MV 90’ (30’) flying 240' (90'), D6 W7 P8 B8 S10 (11), ML 9, AL Chaotic Evil, XP 2,214, NA 1 (1), TT None
 Attacks with claws, bite and tail sipe
 The Piasa can cause fear as per the spell once per day.

STR: 22 INT: 8 WIS: 8 DEX: 14 CON: 15  CHA: 4

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Zatannurday: Harley and Zee's Halloween Road Trip

I love new Zatanna related releases!
On October 2nd we get DC's "Secrets of Sinister House" special featuring Harley Quinn, John Constantine, Detective Chimp, the Atom, and, Zatanna!

Here is some art that writer Paul Dini shared on his Facebook page.


This was featured on the DC Comics Blog a while back, but this is the first art I have seen.

Here is the bit that has me excited, "Paul Dini writing a 10-page Harley Quinn & Zatanna short with art by Cian Tormey."

A Zatanna and Harley Quinn road trip?  Sign me up!

I'll have to pick this one up on Tuesday.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Night Shift

Ok a little self-promotion here, but I am pretty excited about this one.

Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/294629699/night-shift-veterans-of-the-supernatural-wars-rpg?ref=theotherside

First the Kickstarter sales blurb from my co-author Jason Vey:

So folks, to coincide with Halloween, I will be Kickstarting the newest core RPG from Elf Lair Games this October! I'm still working out the exact details (getting quotes for printing costs in particular) so I know what to set my goal, but it's planned as a hardcover B&W release. Please spread the word and keep your eyes out! Here's some more about the game:

NIGHT SHIFT: VETERANS OF THE SUPERNATURAL WARS Debuting the new Elf Lair Games house system, O.G.R.E.S., Night Shift is an urban fantasy, horror, and dark modern supernatural game that uses a brand new system of old-school mechanics inspired by and derived from the original, basic, expert, and advanced versions of the World's Most Famous Role Playing Game. It allows you to mimic all the tropes of just about any film, TV series, or novels you like.

All of the following are possible with Night Shift:
  • Cheerleaders that are chosen to slay vampires
  • Sisters imbued with the power of chosen witches
  • Worlds where Fae of all manner battle in the politics of light and dark
  • The great-grandniece of a famous gunslinger inherits the legacy of the demon hunter.
  • A world where two brothers armed with knowledge and weapons hunt the supernatural in their father's name
  • And more!
Excited? I sure am!!

This game came about through long collaboration with Jason and I.  We met while working at Eden Studios together.  Jason was doing a lot of work on All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the zombie horror game.  I worked on WitchCraft and Armageddon.  We both worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  Over the years we collaborated on other games.  He was a playtester and contributor to Ghosts of Albion.  I contributed to his AFMBE and later Amazing Adventures books.

We both hit the OSR scene at the same time in 2007 and he wrote Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I wrote my first Witch book and Eldritch Witchery for his Elf Lair Games label.

Night Shift combines a lot of different ideas we have had over the years. 

First, we are developing an advanced version of the in-house O.R.C.S. game system (O.G.R.E.S.) that captures the old-school rules we both love with some (minor) modern advances.  Though you can still play Night Shift with any OSR product with no issues.

Secondly, we are also bringing several different "Night Worlds" to your game play.  I don't want to give out any spoilers, but these "worlds" represent several decades worth of play.  I will spoil one or two.  One of my Night Worlds is "Ordinary World" which I have talked about here before and the other is "Generation HEX."   If you dig through my archives here you will also see mention of "Daughters of Death" that might come later.

Finally, I wanted to create something that in the eloquent words of my friend Robert Black called "filling a Buffy-shaped hole in my life".  I have worked on a LOT of really great games and properties over the last 25 years.  Some of that material I can use, most I can't.  But that is fine, I have had years to learn what I like and what I want in a Modern Supernatural Horror game. 

Over the years we have also shared our love for the Modern Supernatural genre in TV shows and books.  Obviously, we were both Buffy and X-Files fans. Jason turned me on to Lost Girl and the books of Kelley Armstrong.  I recommended the books of  Kim Harrison and the TV shows HƎX and Charmed.  Between the two of us, we have worked on several score horror games and played many more. We have a lot of opinions.

Night Shift is the result of all of that.

So expect some more posting on this all month.

Up next?  My sons are going to play two bothers (naturally!) who drive across the country stopping supernatural monsters with nothing but their wits and a trunk full of guns and rock salt.  If they choose the names "Sam" and "Dean"...well that is just a coincidence. ;)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition POD is Live!

This one took WAY longer than it should have, but now I finally worked out all the issues and can announce that the Print on Demand version of  The Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition book for Basic Era Games is now live!


Designed for the BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules this new book explores:

  • The witch class and four new combination classes
  • Guidelines for playing any species of witch
  • Six witch covens of the Classical Tradition
  • 120 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
  • 24 Monsters to challenge or be allies
  • 29 magic items and six artifacts
  •  Three Non-player character witches from pages of mythology


It is a companion to my Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games.  Designed to be used with the BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules.


I don't have a Print on Demand version of The Cult of Diana yet.  Similar issues.  If you want one those, let me know!

All of these books are part of my "Back to Basic" series I have been doing all year.


Each one is designed to cover a particular Witchcraft Tradition and to also take advantage of the rules presented in each of the respective Basic Era retro-clone.

Here are the books so far.



and coming soon



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Book List updated

I have been putting this off since GOO.GL died, but today I updated my "Books I have contributed to" applet to your right.

I also added 10 more books I have worked on or wrote.  So if you see something you like, click on it and will take you right to DriveThruRPG.

Also testing below. You should see a different book cover every time you reload.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019

I have not done a Blogfest/Challenge like this in a while.  Sure there was RPGaDAY back in August, but this is a purely Blogging challenge.

Anna over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup is hosting her annual Blog Ahead October Challenge.

The idea is to stack up some pre-written posts and get them ready to go for October.  The goal, of course, is to give me more time to put into future posts.  So am I not worrying about what to post on each day.  The posts will feel less like a driveby and hopefully be more engaging.

At least that is my goal.  I am going to be doing the October Horror Movie Challenge as well and those I like to write as soon as I can while the movie is still fresh in my mind.

Right now I have about 20 posts queued up, ready to go.  I am supposed to add 31 to that (for daily blogging) and end up with 51 posts for October.  Ok.  Let's see if I can make that!

You can see who else is participating and join your self if you like.
SIGN UP-- Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019







I am looking forward to it and hope I see some new readers.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Corn Goblins for Basic era games

It's that time of year again.  The nights are getting longer and the days are shorter.  The corn and pumpkins are getting ready to harvest in the midwest.

I was walking through my in-law's cornfields back when I was working on Ghosts of Albion and I was thinking there are not really enough local Fae in Illinois.  Ok, there are none really.   But I thought this one would be fun.

Corn Goblins

Corn Goblins are not really goblins at all. They are in fact faeries, but they are so ugly that they are mistaken for goblins.  They have some similar features to the Bendith Ý Mamau of the Welsh but have not (so far) displayed any type of magic. Nor are they unpleasant like their Welsh cousins.

Corn Goblins appear as small ugly faeries with dark yellowish-brown skin, yellow hair and bright blue eyes. They are fond of wearing pale green clothes. 

Corn Goblins though are named for their preferred habitat, the endless fields of corn and other grains. They rarely, if ever interact with humans but have been known to befriend crows and even use them as transports.

Very little is known about them but to date, they have shown to be benign. The earliest recorded mention of a corn goblin-like creature is from the records of a witch trial. One girl described consulting with a “foule imp” that matched the corn goblin description given by occultists.


Corn Goblins
(Labyrinth Lord, Pumpkin Spice Editon)
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (dagger)
Damage: 1d4
Save: E1
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: None
XP: 13

Corn Goblins
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 4
HD: 1d8
Move: 30
Attacks: 1 dagger (1d6)
Alignment: N
Treasure: None
XP: 13

Corn Goblins
(Old-School Essentials)
A small ugly faerie with dark yellowish-brown skin, yellow hair and bright blue eyes. Often encountered with a large crow.
AC 4 [15], HD 1* (4hp), Att 1 × dagger (1d4), THAC0 19 [0], MV 90’ (30’) flying, SV D12 W13 P13 B15 S15 (E1), ML 6, AL Neutral, XP 13, NA 1d6 (3d6), TT None
 Attacks with small daggers.
 Often works with large crows as mounts.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Deserts of Desolation & Death & More

It's a blah rainy day here in Chicagoland.  Great day to do some prep on my Desert portions of my Second Campaign.

I am currently re-reading all the desert adventures I own and working out a coherent narrative.

Right the idea is the PCs head out to the desert in search of the reptile cult that has been plaguing the land.

The adventures are:

The Desert of Desolation series:
and the Desert Nomads/Temple of Death series:
and then the two stand-alone adventures:
The adventures span several designers, worlds and even games, but all link back to the idea of ancient Egypt.  Known as Eyrpt on Oerth, Ayrpt on Mystara, and Aegypt in Gary Gygax's original Dangerous Journey Necropolis and then later Khemit in the 3rd edition version.  I combine them all into one place I call "Ærypt". The series is called "The Deserts of Desolations and Death".

But I am missing some bits.  Originally I thought that I could gloss over some of the missing ideas (at least in terms of my campaign plans) with B4 The Lost City, but there are some issues there.  One the module is too low of level to fit with what I want exactly, also I ran the kids through it years ago so likely they will remember it even with some changes.  But most of all the Elder Evil Zargon is a bad or more exactly problematic fit for the current game.  Besides if I do bring back B4 it will be as part of a game using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea as Eric Fabiaschi often talks about.

No, I am going to need something else.  Thankfully something almost exactly like what I need dropped into my lap.

Cha'alt
Venger Satanis sent me a copy of his latest publication in exchange for a fair review, but it was on on my radar anyway.  There are a few reviews ok for it now, so I am going to gloss over some of the "reviewy" bits in favor of how I am planning on using it.

Cha'alt is 218 pages, full color, desert-themed adventure in Venger's normal gonzo style.  The rules are his O5R system which is a mix of OSR and 5e, so it works with just about any game. 
There is a "Campaign Map" of sorts with twelve areas, but only a few of them are heavily detailed.   The campaign map and the sandbox nature of this adventure gave me a few ideas for use in my own desert-themed games,  so that made the review worth it to be honest, but there is a lot more here than just that.

Like all of Venger's books there is a high-quality production value here.  He is not afraid to spend the money to get high-quality artists and layout.  Also, true to his style, there are plenty, ok LOTS, of tongue in cheek pop-culture references throughout the book. Ranging from 80s nostalgia to yesterday's internet humor. 

The adventure is gonzo as I mentioned, so there is a fair bit of science-fantasy thrown in for good measure.  Enough that is t makes me think it too is also a good fir for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The levels are more in line with AS&SH than my current campaign, but that is fine. Though in either case, I'll need to figure out what to do about the giant sandworms, spider droids, and hunter-killer robots.

In true old-school fashion, there are plenty of random tables and charts. Advice for surviving in the desert and plenty of new monsters.

The Black Pyramid
The biggest feature of this book is the Black Pyramid. 
The obvious inspiration for this portion is the venerable Lost City, but again through a darker, slightly warped lens.  As with the rest of the book, this section is full self-referential humor and nods. So of it works, some of it doesn't. Adventure-wise the pyramid is full of eldritch weirdness.  At 111 rooms not all of them are great, but there is enough here to keep the players all busy and adventurers entertained.

There is a lot of fun to had with Cha'alt.  I have quite a lot of ideas of things to do with it, none of which are as it was designed.   Still, there is a lot of material here and plenty of ideas. For me, I am likely to remove many of the sci-fi elements if I run this as part of a campaign, or at least tone them down if I run it using AS&SH.

If you are familiar with Venger's work then you will find more of this here though this might be his best looking work to date.
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