Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Monday, July 8, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Calibans

Sorry for falling off the face of the web last week!  Took a little break from everything and it was nice.  But it's Monday and that means back to work and back to Monstrous Mondays!

Today I have a little beastie that has been in the back of my head ever since I reread The Tempest a few years back.  I am doing this one for the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules since allows any monster species to also be played as a character species choice.

CALIBAN
AC: 7
HD: 2d8
Move: 30
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d4 (claw) x2/ 1d6 (bite) or 1d6 (weapon)
XP: 25
Alignment: CE
Treasure: None
Abilities: +1 Wisdom, -2 Charisma
Climb Surfaces +5%, Hear Noise +10%, Hide in Shadows +10%, Move Silently +5%, Read Languages -10%, Read Scrolls -15%, Use Wand -10%

Calibans are creatures twisted by dark witchcraft.  No two calibans appear the same, though a full 20% can pass as an ugly human or orc.  They are humanoid, indeed many are born to human mothers or were human before their curse. They are usually covered in dark hair, scales or something that makes them monstrous. They have a resistance to magic, gaining a +1 on all saves vs any type of magical effect (spells, wands, staves) but they themselves have difficulty with magic.
A caliban share much in common with the Cambion, a creature that is the offspring of a human female and a demon. The caliban, while often demonic looking, is not the offspring of demons, but the victims/result of dark magic.
A caliban can take any class, but suffer a -5% XP penalty if they choose to be a witch and a -10% if they choose to become a magic-user/wizard.  Calibans can become clerics with no penalty since they tend to be devout servants of the gods.  Because of their low aptitude for magic wizards have taken to hiring on a caliban as cheap labor. They get a loyal (through fear) servant and one not likely to steal magic from them.

Behind the Monster
Calibans are obviously taken from Shakespeare's The Tempest.  Caliban is the monstrous son of the witch Sycorax. He is various described, but almost always as being half-human, half-monster.

An additional source for Calibans is the movie Clash of the Titans which features the character of Calibos.  He was a human that was cursed to be a monster.  Interesting to me is that his mother, Thetis, was played by Dame Maggie Smith (one of my all-time favorite actresses) who also played the most badass witch Minerva McGonagall. 

The 3rd Edition of Ravenloft from Sword and Sorcery Studios/Arthaus, now Onyx Path, featured a race called Calibans.  These calibans were no more than reskinned Half-Orcs in truth. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Halflings are Half What?

I mentioned on Friday I am re-reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  I am also likely to re-read the Silmarillion and even pick up some of Prof. Tolkien's other books.

In my reread I was struck by a line in the Hobbit that is later repeated in the Appendencies in Return of the King.
It is rumored that one of the Took ancestors had taken a fairy wife in the past and that blood left the clan not entirely hobbit-like.
Of course, Tolkien means "Elf" in place of "Fairy" here.  This is the source of the Fallohide (Tallfellows in AD&D) sub-race/sub-type of Hobbit/Halfling.  But what an interesting idea here!

Halfling-half pixies or half-leprechauns or ... anything!

How Little are the "Little People"?
Tolkien refers to Hobbits as "little people" in the Hobbit. This is to contrast it with big, lumbering "big people" aka humans.  But there is also a long history in British and Irish folklore of "little people" also called faeries or fairy.
The basic thought I had here is that the smaller the faerie the less like a hobbit/halfling they are inclined to be.  Since I am still somewhat of an old school focus here (though I play a lot of D&D 5) here are some "faerie" creatures (not counting elves) from some AD&D 1st Ed books.
(Monster Manual if not indicated, FF = Fiend Folio, MM2 = Monster Manual 2)

Creature Size
Atomie (MM2) 1’
Brownie 1½’ 
Boggart (MM2) 2’
Booka (FF) 1½’ 
Buckwan (MM2) 2’
Gnome 3’
Goblin 4’
Grig (MM2) 1’-1½‘
Halfling 3’+ 
Leprechaun 2’
Pech (MM2) 4’
Pixie 2½’ 
Quickling (MM2) 2’
Sprite 2’

The Brownie Family
In the AD&D Monster Manual, there is a line that states "Brownies are distant relatives of halflings, (perhaps half-halfling, half-pixie) but they are smaller and far less common."  I am willing to go with this.

Since Stoors/Stouts are believed to be Hobbits/Halflings with dwarf blood in them, then the Buckwan would be a Brownie/Dwarf hybrid.  It is also likely (to me anyway) that the Buckland and the Brandybucks of Buckland get their name from the Buckwans or the Bwca as their are know in Gaelic.  The Booka then is more a Brownie/Pixie or Brownie/Sprite cross.

Boggarts are listed as the immature form of a Wil-o-wisp, but newer versions of the game have reclassified the Wisp as an undead.  More akin to Ban Si than anything Hobbit or Brownie like.   Boggarts then are Brownies having a bad day, or maybe evil brownies.  Two of the more prominent literary uses of boggart in recent times are the fear causing Boggarts of Harry Potter and the invisible monsters of the Last Apprentice series.

Boggarts (Brownie)
No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: ½ d8 (3 hp)**
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d3 or weapon
Save: H2
Morale: 7
Treasure: None
XP: 15
Boggarts are relatives of the brownie.  They are often confused for one another, as they appear to be exactly the same. However, boggarts are chaotic and tend to undo all the things that brownies do. They are known to knock over milk pails, pinch sleeping babies and basically be a nuisance. Their antics are rarely harmful, but there are a few who are actually evil-natured and do intend harm.
They can only be removed from a house by a Remove Curse or similar greater magics.
They have a dagger they can attack with, but prefer to use their spell-like abilities.
A boggart can cast Audible Glammer, Cause Fear, Darkness, Faerie Fire, and  Ghostly Sounds at will.  They may also cast Phantasmal Image once per day.

The Leprechaun Family
I once read in Dragon magazine that one could play a leprechaun character in D&D Basic and just use the Halfling advancement.  I never did this, but I always wanted to do it.
Years later I would make my own Leprechaun race as class and race for Basic Era games and for James Spahn's The Hero's Journey.  Though my leprechauns tend to be more like Irish Hobbits than the magical creatures of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People".

The Cluracan (or Cluricaune) is a cousin of the Leprechaun that is inordinately fond of wine, spirits, beer, and ale. They look like leprechauns or small old men that are constantly intoxicated.
They are solitary creatures, although they tend to happily latch themselves onto unsuspecting folk. Once attached to a dwelling, they stay in the wine cellar (or equivalent), where they poach the supply. One benefit is that servants and the like who attempt to take a drink without the owner’s permission will likely be scared off by the little fellow, but it is doubtful that the cost is worth it. Families have been known to move their entire household in the hopes that the Cluracan plaguing them will not follow, but these mischievous little fellows will often stow away in the packed goods and follow the family.
Clurancan usually get along fine with Leprechauns and Fir Darrigs, their closest relatives. Like them, Clurancan are tricksters and their favorite victims are humans.

The Fir Darrig (also Fir Dhearga or Fear Dearg) are diminutive, Halfling/Leprechaun crossbreeds.
They are a bit taller than their leprechaun cousins (2 to  2½ ft on average) and much uglier. They typically wear ared cap and coat, and thus their name, Red Cap or the Red Man. The Fir Darrig are inordinately fond of cruel practical jokes, and they tend to be rude. They often travel alone, although there are occasional incidents where an unlucky victim has run across multiple Fir Darrigs having a little fun. Many Fir Darrigs have taken up the habit of traveling and seeking to warm themselves by others’ fires, and the Fir Darrig so refused is likely to play harmful pranks on anyone that refuses them. The correct response to such a request (and one which will leave the Fir Darrig kindly disposed towards the individual and unlikely to harm him) would be “Na dean fochmoid fainn” (“Do not mock us”). The Fir Darrigs are rumored to be shape-shifters, and they often use this ability to strike fear into those that they wish to annoy.
Fir Darrigs are on reasonably good terms with other fairy races. Their love of home, hearth, and good tobacco puts them at ease with Leprechauns, Cluracan and halflings, although halflings tend to think of them as rude and inconsiderate guests. Fir Darrigs are disliked by dwarves, but not hated. Fir Darrigs think dwarves take themselves too seriously. Fir Darrigs enjoy most of the same things that leprechauns do, gold, a good drink and smoking long pipes.

Goblins
Goblins will breed with anything.   For my money the best work on goblins for Old School games is still Beasties II from Night Owl Workshop.  Here Thomas Denmark covers all sorts of goblin-crossbreeds in this book.  Of interest to us here is the Hoblin, the sterile goblin/halfling crossbreed.

This reminded me of the old White Dwarf monster, the unfortunately named, Blacklings, which are underdark halflings.    A better name for them would really be the Trow.  This is where we get the name Drow, but these creatures are described as small and ugly.

Trow (Halfling)
No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1 - 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or weapon
Save: H1
Morale: 7
Treasure:
XP: 10
These evil depraved halflings are found in the same locales as the drow elves.  They are rare and prefer to avoid combat unless their numbers are in their favor and they can quickly overwhelm their foes.  They have 120’ infravision, and if abruptly exposed to light are blinded for 2 rounds, half with a save vs. paralyzation. In addition, when in bright light including sunlight they suffer -2 to hit and -2 to DEX. Trow have keen hearing and are surprised only on 1 on 1d8; they always move silently with 95% efficiency.   It is believed they can turn invisible at will but in truth they are so adept at hiding they have an effective 99% hide in shadows in their homelands.
Trow, like Halflings, can attack with short sword and slings.  They organize in small roaming gangs.  Trow typically do not have a single home and roam about the underground.  During moonless nights they will come to the surface to raid small villages.
While other subterranean races worship demons or other foul entities the trow deny the existence of all gods. They believe there are powerful entities, but they are unworthy of veneration or worship.


--

It's a little late but this is my entry for the June RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Pitfalls and Pixies.
https://brynvalk.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/the-2019-rpg-blog-carnival-the-third-fey-march/


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Odysseys & Overlords

Odysseys & Overlords is a new Old-School setting and rules system from Travis Legge and Aegis Studios.  Travis has an impressive bibliography with over 400 publications on DriveThruRPG.  So when I saw these were out I jumped on them as soon as I saw they were published.  I also admit I was drawn in with the Dean Spencer art.

Odysseys & Overlords uses Basic Fantasy as it's ruleset and I think that is a good idea. Of all the clones out there BF is one of the more flexible and easily approachable to new gamers.  If you are using a Basic-era ruleset of your own then it will work with that.  For example, while reading up for this review I compared and contrasted these rules to rules in Labyrinth Lord and Blueholme.  I found no issues.

Odysseys & Overlords Player's Guide
PDF. 56 pages, color cover, b&w interior.
The Player's guide has what you should expect a Player's Guide to have.  Here you get a bit of background on the campaign world of the O&O game.  It's fine, as far as these things go, but I have no emotional investment in it.  It does help situate some of the game-design choices and that is nice.  Still, I see a campaign guide or gazetteer sometime in the future.  Since this is a Basic-era OSR game based on Basic Fantasy races and classes are separate. With this, we get some new races, called genus in this book (a more apt name really).   We get Abyss-kissed, which are like other games' Tieflings though more in-line with this game's mythos. Spellscorched, which cover the same niche as elves only here children of the gods.  Wild folk, humanoids with animal traits and blood. And garden variety humans.  No elves, dwarves or halflings here and that is great by me! (Note: they also do not appear in the Monsters section of the Game Master's book)
Classes include the favorites of Clerics, Fighters, Magic-users and Thieves and also adds another take on the Bard class.  Might need to give that one a try sometime.  Bards do not have spells but do have songs they can learn for different in-game effects.
Additionally, there is a section on equipment. I'll be honest, I don't pay much attention to equipment lists anymore. I have so many games with so much equipment that if I need to find something I am sure I have it OR I can just make it up on the spot.
Spells follow next.   Spells for both clerics and magic-users only go to 6th level.  Personally, I still like my magic-users to have more spellcasting power than clerics and would have liked to see magic-user spells go to at least 7th level.  All the expected suspects are here. 
We get some adventuring rules and finally some combat rules.
The layout and art is really good and has a solid old-school feel. The book just looks nice and fills you with all sorts of old-school nostalgia.  I do wish the book though offered some more new unique classes to go along with the new unique races.   A little more on the world background as it applies to the characters would also have been nice.
There is a character sheet at the end of the book. You can also get the character sheet here for free.

Odysseys & Overlords Game Master's Guide
PDF. 63 pages, color cover, b&w interior.
This book covers a bit of material not found in the Player's guide. 
Again we get some great Dean Spenser cover art and again we get the same overview of the campaign world.
We get into a section on various encounter areas, including my favorite, Urban Encounters.   Tips on dealing with players, hopeless characters, and weapon and armor restrictions.
There is also a good section on XP advancement and narrative advancement, which has come to be called "milestone" advancement in D&D 4 and 5.  It provides some nice balance. I am using both types in different games and it has the effect of taking the focus away from combat and more onto role-playing for Narrative/Milestone advancement. 
Magical research into new spells and new magic items are also discussed.
There is a monster section following the discussion on dungeons and wilderness exploring.  The problem I have with the monsters here is that you are directed to use Basic Fantasy there are not any new monsters.  Nearly all, save for two, can be found in what I would call the "common canon" of the OSR.  There was a real chance here to set this book apart from others with some new and unique monsters, or at least some rare ones.  It is too bad this chance was not taken.
Magic items follow next. A good variety here, but again I would have liked something unique to this world to stand out.
We end with the Kingdoms.  Ah! now here is the new and unique material I was hoping for.  There is a good amount here to work with without being overly detailed.   The descriptions are good, but a map, even a rough one, would have been great.  Tip: Can't afford a good cartographer?  Scribble one out and call it "an adventures map found in a dragon horde". 
Interestingly enough, there are maps in the books from Dyson Logos, but that causes an awkward mix of the OGL and Creative Commons Licences that I have been told to avoid doing.  Hope this works for them!
I think there is something here to the world put forth, I just would have liked to have seen more of it.

I have not picked up many of the adventures yet, but here is one.

Temple of the Harpies
PDF. 14 pages, color cover, b&w interior, two maps
This adventure is a pretty straightforward affair that can be run in a long afternoon. Designed for four to six characters of 2nd to 3rd level, the character must retrieve a missing child, defeat harpies, kobolds, and an ancient curse and not awaken an army of undead. Suitable for any OSR game or really any d20 based fantasy game with tweaks.  This one also includes some new monsters, which I always like.


I think there is a lot of potential with this line and would like to see more.



Monday, June 10, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Keres, Daughters of the Night

Thought I was done with Classical Mythology but I was rereading my notes and found this.  Shifting gears so I can post these horrors closer to their cousins.

Keres
No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 4 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+16 (52 hp)
Attacks: 3
Damage: 2 claw (1d6+4) + 1 bite (1d6)
Special: Flight, +1 or better weapons to hit, immune to death magic
Save: F8
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: Nil
XP: 2,340

Keres are the daughters of Nox, the personification of Night and are the Sisters of Death.  They are spirits that inhabit battlefields to carry off the newly dead to Tartarus.  They can be attacked, but only with magic items.  Any magic that affects demons also affects Keres.
Keres will attack mortals if they attempt to stop their business of carrying off souls. They are very fond of human blood.

A description of the Keres can be found in the Shield of Heracles (248-57):
The black Dooms gnashing their white teeth, grim-eyed, fierce, bloody, terrifying fought over the men who were dying for they were all longing to drink dark blood. As soon as they caught a man who had fallen or one newly wounded, one of them clasped her great claws around him and his soul went down to Hades, to chilly Tartarus. And when they had satisfied their hearts with human blood, they would throw that one behind them and rush back again into the battle and the tumult.
There is a possible relationship between these demons, the demoness Vanth, and the Erinyes. All appear to be similar creatures; female demon-like monsters with dark feathered wings.  Some scholars even point to their relationship among the Greek/Roman Gods for their similarity.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Holy Grail Item: Vampyre Mini Game from TSR

So to recap a long and sad story, I lost a lot of my old school D&D books in one of my moves between college and grad-school.  The only thing I had from my "early days" were my core 2nd Ed AD&D books and a few modules.    Fast forward a few years and the sweet combination of a great job and an understanding wife I have been able to replace all that I had lost and then some.

But there are still a few items that have remained ever elusive.
Today I can cross one more item off that list.

Thanks to an estate sale on eBay I was able to pick up a copy of the Vampyre: Game of the Hunt for Dracula for much less than it normally goes for.



The game is, as far as I can tell, complete if already punched.  The maps are in great shape, the book less so.






The book has highlighter all over it, which sucks, but hey I can't expect a perfect copy and I am sure mine had highlighter all over it too.

As big fan of the novel Dracula, I loved this game.  I remember enjoying the wilderness portion more than the castle. 

Very nostalgic seeing the same Souvenir/Soutane font and Erol Otus art as the B/X sets. I tried many times to run a Castle Dracula like game with Basic/Expert.  Maybe now is that time!

Anyway happy to have this.  Only a couple more items on my list.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Orthrus, Dioskilos and the Death Dogs

Rain interrupted our gardening for Saturday.  So I decided to come back inside and relax to the original 1981 Clash of the Titans.  This was such a touchstone movie for a young mythology fan getting heavily into D&D.  Plus it fits in nicely with my whole Back to Basics theme this year and my current One Man's God theme.

Orthrus
According to Apollodorus, Orthrus was a two-headed dog that guarded Geryon's cattle.  He, like Cerberus, was the offspring of Echidna and Typhon.   He was the first of the semi-divine "death dogs" and was killed by Heracles.  This creature appeared as a mastiff with two heads.

Dioskilos
Was a two-headed dog that appeared more like a wolf.  While smaller, he is also believed to be the offspring of  Echidna and Typhon.  This creature, according to mythographer Harryhausen, guarded the temple of Medusa.

Death Dogs
Death Dogs are any of numerous offspring of Orthus, Dioskilos, Cerberus and various other creatures, typically Hell Hounds. Others, usually more powerful ones are the offspring of Typhon and Echidna.
Due to their semi-divine and underworld natures, they are affected by any spell that also damages demons, devils or other evil outsiders.

Death Dog
No. Enc.: 1d6 (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil, Neutral Evil)
Movement: 150’ (50’)
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 2d8+4 (13 hp)
Attacks: 2 and special
Damage: 1d8 / 1d8 (bite) and Rotting Death (see below).
Save: Fighter 2
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: Nil
XP:  100
Death dogs are two-headed, mastiff-like hounds; nocturnal killing machines that hunt their prey without hesitation across the desert sands and wastelands. Death dog packs have been known to share territory with little friction, although they do engage in dominance battles in leaner times when hunting is difficult. Victims of the death dog’s bite must pass a saving throw or come down with the rotting death, losing 1d6 points of constitution each day until they succeed at a poison saving throw at a -5 penalty.
Victims who lose all their points of constitution die. Constitution points can be restored with powerful healing magic or complete bed rest, with one point of constitution returning with each week of rest.


Section 15: Death Dog from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games;
Author Scott Greene, based on original material by Underworld Oracle.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review & PWWO: Maximum Mayhem Adventures

Mark Taormino of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons is in the final week of his latest creation, Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master.

I thought today might be a great time to discuss his previous adventures.


#1 Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen
This adventure, written by Mark Taormino might be an homage to the first Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure, but it is more likely an homage to those meat-grinder, total-party kill, fun-house dungeons of the late 70s early 80s. There is a basic plot here, enough to get you in the door and moving along, but really this adventure is about killing things and avoiding getting killed. Example, in one of the first encounters you have to run a gauntlet and get past a bunch of fire giants and their hell hound pets. This is "room 1". It is downhill from there. It has demons and other vampires in the wander monster table. Liches, demons, succubi, greater devils, nearly 50 vampires in total, tons of other monsters and of course the Queen herself, Lady Neeblack.

This is not an adventure to challenge the resolve of hardy role-players. This is an adventure to survive and leave a trail of bodies behind you. It is old-school, but old-school through the eyes of 40-somethings looking back on their times as teens.
The adventure itself has a great lead-in to get you interested, but that is just the carrot on a stick, most people buying and playing this module are going to want to jump right in. Another example (this is not a spoiler), you are captured by Lady Neeblack and told you have to run through her crypts for her amusement. The conceit is the characters will feel coerced into doing this, so they slide down a passage to the previously mentioned Fire Giants. In truth, my players wanted to jump in like they were doing a dive at the pool.

Though to claim people will play this for nostalgia reasons is completely unfair. Mark did a great job of this. The rooms are detailed and what detail! There are interesting encounters and Lady Neeblack herself should really move up the ranks as one of the more memorable NPCs ever. In fact I am hoping that she comes back for a sequel sometime soon. Just like a good Hammer villain she should find ways to come back from the dead. Mark Taormino, this needs to happen.
The text of the book is big, easy to read and despite the "old school" claims still has boxed text to read (screw you Grognards! I still like boxed text even when I don't use it.) Each room is unique and feels like it belongs. Plus the "Hanging Coffins" themselves are the coolest idea in vampire graves since the Lost Boys.
The proof of any adventure is not in the reading but in the playing. So I played it. It rocked.

Now the game is designed for OSRIC but can played with 1st or 2nd Ed AD&D. I played it with 5th Edition D&D. I just replaced the monsters and made a character sheet for Lady Neeblack. I ran the same group of people that I had taken through the original Palace of the Vampire Queen and we all treated it as an unofficial sequel. I worked out well enough. We all had fun, but if this module reads as a deathtrap on paper it's a killer in the playing. So make of that what you like.
Personally I would love to run it again using AD&D1

#2 Secret Machines of the Star Spawn
Let's play a game of what if. What if the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks had been written in the 80s instead of the 70s? What if there were influences of Star Wars, Buck Rogers, 50s sci-fi movies and just a little dash of 70s Blaxploitation?
You might get something like The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn, but it would not be as good as the module Mark Taormino wrote. The module follows a similar flow of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons; something weird is happening, there are rumors, a long history of strangeness and a thin excuse to go adventuring. What they PCs will uncover is...well I don't want to spoil it. It's no shock that this adventure will feature a downed starship and some lasers. But it doesn't end there. In truth there is a lot to really, really like about this adventure. In a different setting, the monsters would be scary ass deadly and really, really awesome. Also there is so many references to pop culture, espeically sci-fi and 80s pop culture, that it would be pointless to address them all. The rock band KILL was one of my favorites. Designed for OSRIC, I played bits and pieces of this using D&D5. Though it would work just as well with AD&D1, Castles & Crusades or any other OGL based clone game. The one issue I have with it (and very minor) is that players that didn't grow up in the 70s and 80s would not get all the jokes. I ran Hanging Coffins for my kids and they loved it, but some of the jokes fell flat on them here. No surprise they have no context for them. I thought they were hilarious to be honest. Loved the Pinball Wizard! If I were to run this again I would either merge it with a little bit of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and run a huge Star Spawn mega-adventure. Or I'd run it as is with some disposable characters and guys that grew up in the 80s too.

#3 Villains of the Undercity
What if the Keep on the Borderlands was destroyed and then humans came in and built a new keep on top of the ruins. Let's also say the caves of Chaos have been cleared, but not all the monsters were killed. Where did they go? What did they do? Now invite the Slave Lords from the A series over. You would get Villains of the Undercity! This adventure is an ode and homage to the great dungeon crawls of the day. While this adventure fits the gonzo style of the other Maximum Mayhem Dungeons this one can also be played straight. Well...sorta. There is a crazy Halfling Illusionist Assassin, but that is for the players to figure out.
With this adventure, anyone that has ever been inside a classic dungeon will find something to love. There are lots of deadly traps, monsters and puzzles to figure out. Of course plenty of treasure too. This adventure is also the one that I can see fitting into a larger campaign, even with adventures from other publishers. I was mentally placing it in Greyhawk or even Dolmvay. Just really a lot of fun.
Like the B and A series it takes so much nostalgia from, this is an introductory module.  But just because it says character levels 1-3 it is still expecting some experienced players or very experienced players with somewhat fuzzy memories!  Like the MM modules, this one is action and combat. Yes, there are some puzzles to solve and everything is deadly.

#4 Vault of the Dwarven King
Another what if scenario for you.  What if the dwarves of Moria were completely crazy for Indiana Jones?  Well, you might get something like Vault of the Dwarven King.  There is the aforementioned vault, part of a vast underground dwarven city.  There is a giant monster that's on fire.  There are also mine-cars, goblin moonshiners, blue trolls and dwarf tossing.
There is a thin coating of silliness over a really fun and REALLY deadly adventure here. All to reclaim the lost dwarven artifact, the Fireheart.  But does it belong to the dwarves or the goblins?  Will you even live long enough to find out?
Like the adventures that came before it, it is an unapologetic romp down memory lane.  This adventure though, maybe more so than any of the others might be more accessible to anyone that didn't grow up in the 80s.  The biggest nostalgia pull is, of course, the Lord of the Rings movies, in particular, Fellowship of the Ring, but that is only one (though very loud) note.  There is enough going on here to keep every player on their toes and their characters running.   This one is also the most classically "fantasy" than the others which also draw on sci-fi, horror and crazy humor.

#5 Palace of the Dragon's Princess
Palace of the Dragon's Princess might be my second favorite adventure in this whole series right after Hanging Coffins.  The premise is very similar to the classic Palace of the Silver Princess.   In this case, the Princess is trapped by a green dragon and you must go rescue her.  Sound easy?  You obviously have not paid any attention to the other four adventures in this series.
This one has a lot of background information, more so than the others.  We know a lot more about Princess Francessca than we do about Lady Neeblack the Vampire Queen (Could Lady Neeblack be Princess Francessa's dead mother??!!?).  There is a knight, a dragon and Torgo. Yup, a nice riff on MST3k with Torgo and the Master.  But is the princess REALLY in danger?  That will be up to the Gamemaster to decide.  There is a lot going on here and because of the backstory a lot more that a crafty DM can add.  I am a touch disappointed there were no three-headed creatures like the Ubues, but that is fine. They were silly enough then.
Like the Vault of the Dwarven King this one is more classically fantasy and it is also one best ones in the series to "run straight".  Meaning you could strip out some of the silliness and have a pretty deadly, serious adventure if you wanted.
In any case, this is one is a lot of fun and a worthy addition to the line of Maximum Mayhem Dungeons.

So check out Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master.  It looks like "Willy Wonka in Hell" so you know it will be fun.

Plays Well With Others
The Maximum Mayhem Adventures are designed with 1st Edition/OSRIC in mind.  But If you organize them in level like this.


I can't help but notice a solid campaign of levels 1 to 14.
Just like B/X D&D.


With some tweaks, mostly to the monsters and alignment, you could have a solid set of adventures for the B/X line of D&D.  Sure they are a bit tough and have some out-there elements, but nothing that B/X couldn't deal with with the right DM.

I have not tried this yet.  I have played these adventures using D&D 5th edition, but I can't see why it would not work.


Plus the boxes look nice together.
Isn't this how we all played back then anyway?  Mixing our AD&D and BD&D all the time.  I think I first went through the A-Series using the Expert set anyway.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review: B/X Essentials

To celebrate 40 years of playing D&D I am doing a year-long celebration I am calling Back to Basic.  While I got my start on Holmes Basic, it is the Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert that really lit my fires.

It should be no surprise then that I am a big fan of Gavin Norman's B/X Essentials (soon to become Old School Essentials) line. 


Gavin has been producing some great content for a while now via his Necrotic Gnome label. His Theorems & Thaumaturgy and Complete Vivimancer are among my favorite Old-School books.

His Kickstarter for Old School Essentials is funded and going into its last days now.  While this is going on you can still get copies of B/X Essentials.

For these reviews, I am using both the PDF and Print versions of these books.

B/X Essentials is a redesign of the classic "Basic/Expert" rules using OGC sources.  The books are all digest-sized, 6" x 9" format.  All of the books feature fantastic full-color covers from artist Andrew Walter and color accented interiors; limited to mostly pale green.
A moment about these covers.  They remind me of a surreal 70s version of Lord of the Rings meets Elric; easily some of my most favorite covers of in all of the Old-School movement.
All the books are extremely modular. This was a design goal by Norman and it pays off.  Everything is easy to find.  Sections usually take up a page or multiple full pages. If you were so inclined you could cut up your books (!) or print out the PDFs and reorganize them as you see fit. Really at this point, the only thing that could make these books easier to use is having all the content in a spiral-bound volume so it can lay flat at your table.

B/X Essentials: Core Rules
The Core Rules weighs in at 34 pages and gets to the very heart of the B/X Essentials line.  The essential Essentials as it were. It covers Ability scores in general, sequences of play and all the basic rules needed.  Combat is covered separately. Magic also gets a bit of coverage here in general terms and including how spells can be researched and magic items made. 
The rules have been "cleaned up" from their obvious predecessors.   Focus is on readability and playability here.  In fact all the entries under the basic rules are alphabetical, so finding something say like Movement, is easy.  In the original rules it took a bit of digging to actually figure out how much a character moves.  This was vastly improved in later editions of the game, but here it is very succinctly spelled out. Other rules are equally made clear.
Since the "Basic" and "Expert" rules are combined here there is an economy of word usage here.  As much as I love my Basic and Expert games, sometimes you need to consult both books when a situation comes up.

B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment
The Classes and Equipment book comes in at 44 pages.  It begins naturally enough with character creation.  Some details, such as Ability scores, are detailed here, but also give a call back to the Core Rules book.  Still, though everything is here to make a character.  For practice, I made a 7th level Cleric just using this book. It went extremely fast and very little need to flip pages back and forth.  I just needed to use the Spells book to pick out spells.
The modular design of the B/XE system extends to this book as well. Each class begins on an even-numbered page and extends to the next odd-numbered page.  You can then hold the book flat, put it up two-pages at a time on your screen,  and read everything you need in a glance.   I really appreciate this level of attention paid.  Many books do not do this and in fact, look like they were just run off on Word's PDF converter.  There is more attention put into the layout here than in most products and to me, that is what sets this above the others.
The classes represented here are the 7 classics; Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief and the three demi-humans, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling.  True to B/X these are "race as class" classes.
Equipment, money and of course weapons are covered in the next half of the book.

B/X Essentials: Cleric and Magic-User Spells
Cleric and Magic-User Spells would have been my favorite book if B/XE had come out in the 80s.  Right now it also has my favorite cover from the entire series. Seriously, I love it.
The book itself has 34 pages and covers all the Cleric and Magic-User/Elf spells in the game.
All the usual suspects are here.  Again when making my recent Cleric I used this book. 
The modularity again is a huge boon for this book and game.  Adding a new class, like the proposed Druid and Illusionists? Add a new book easy! 

B/X Essentials: Adventures and Treasures
At 48 pages this is one of the two larger books in the series. This book deals with adventuring and what sort of things you can find on those adventures. So there are traps, monster tables, and all the treasure types and magical treasure.
Again we see where combining the Basic and Expert rules gives you a much better idea of what is going on in these "dungeons".
This is also my second favorite cover of the line. 

B/X Essentials: Monsters
Ah, now this is a book I would have loved back in 81.  Also coming in at 48 pages this book is about monsters and nothing else.
Stat blocks are concise and there is none of the bloat in the descriptions that appear in later editions (ok to be fair that bloat was demanded by players).   The book is fantastic with my only reservation in I wish it had been illustrated more.  But even that is fine.
I can easily see a "Monsters 2" and "Monsters 3" sometime in the future for this line.

In truth, I can't say enough good about this.   Is it 100% brand new material?  No, but that was also never the design goal.  The books do exactly what they say they are going to do.  If I were starting with a new group using B/X-flavor D&D I would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason NOT to use these books.

B/X Essentials: Demihumans of Dolmenwood
This free product is only 8 pages long and is only in PDF. It is the only genre and world-specific book in the line covering the Dolmenwood, the shared setting used by Necrotic Gnome.   This book includes two new races, the Fairy Elf and the Woodgrue, both fairy races of the Dolmenwood.  There is also a listing of some Fae lords and ladies.



A Bit about OSE
Old School Essentials expands on these rules and reorganizes them some more.  There is a Basic Rules that takes place of the Core book and then a Genre book that covers classes and other "D&D" like topics.  I imagine that different genre books will have other rules and classes.

Old-School Essentials: Basic Rules
This free 56-page book covers all the basics of the OSE line.  Picking it up you can see the stylistic changes from B/XE to OSE.  Also this book covers just about everything you need to play right now.  It includes the four human classes, some rules, some spells, some monsters, and treasure.  Enough to give you a taste of what OSE will be like.
It has the same modular design as B/XE so finding things is simple, leaving more time for play.
There is no interior art in this free version, but that hardly detracts from it.

I am really looking forward to seeing OSE out.  But until then I am going to enjoy playing with B/XE!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Melisandre. Priestess or Witch?

"The Night is dark and full of terrors."
- Melisandre

Melisandre of Asshai - by John Picacio
Game of Thrones is in its final season and so far it has not disappointed me.  Well...there was that "whole new world" scene with Dany, Jon, and the dragons.
This past week we got to see the Red Woman, Melisandre again during the battle at Winterfell against the Night King and his army of the dead.  It was so fantastic, to be honest.   Loved the battle, loved how the episode ended.  Everything.

But I am not here today to talk about the battle.

I want to talk about Melisandre.
In particular is she a Priestess, read Cleric, or is she as many will claim, a Witch?

I thought a firey red priestess/witch would be good for Beltane today.

Let's look at what we know.  I am going to focus nearly exclusively on the TV show on HBO.  I'll grab from the books when needed to smooth out some details or get answers to questions.

In many ways, I am going to follow the spirit of my other series, One Man's God and Class Struggles.

What is Known
Or Me nem nesa as the Dothraki say.

We know that Melisandre calls herself a priestess of the god R'hllor, known as the Red God, The Lord of Light or the One True God.  In Westeros this sets her apart from most people as they tend to worship the Seven, or the New Gods. The ones that don't worship the "Old Gods".
Melisandre claims that all the other gods are false gods.  Most people have no issues with the Old or New Gods, so this also sets her apart.

She has seen to have powers of divination, cursing, breeding shadow spawn, summoning fire and the greatest, bringing people back from the dead.  She able to cast glamours and her red-gold choker seems to keep her young or at least appear young.
We know she is very, very old. She was a slave named "Melony" who was sold to the Red Temple in Asshai.

Looking at her through the lens of classes in D&D, and in particular B/X version, has many limitations.  It is still a fruitful exercise though.  For starters, it shows the flexibility of the B/X flavor of classes. It also helps me see how well my own witch classes can emulate various media representations of witches.  My philosophy in game and class design has always been "if a player wants to do to something my rules should tell them how they CAN do it, not how they CAN'T." (I hear grognards, OSR purists and other screaming in rage now. That's fine, let them scream.)

So let's pull out my D&D Expert book and give Melisandre a go.

Melisandre is a Priestess
This is the easiest of course. She refers to herself as a priestess as do others.  Her religion is widely accepted in Essos and treated as such.  The biggest clue, of course, is her ability to raise the dead, a power she claims is not hers, but that of the Lord of Light.  Her spells and powers seem closest to a cleric.
If we take "Raise Dead" as the peak of her powers then that puts her level at a minimum of 7th level for B/X D&D. I would not say she is much past 9th level, but I am willing to accept 9th.

Melisandre, Priestess of R'hllor


7th level female Cleric

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 33

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Spells
First: Cure Light Wounds, Light, Remove Fear
Second: Hold Person, Resist Fire, Silence 15' radius
Third: Continual Light, Remove Curse, Striking
Fourth: Cure Serious Wounds, Protection/Evil 10' radius
Fifth: Commune, Raise Dead

Close...but missing some of her abilities she is really known for, starting fires and giving birth to shadow monsters.  Plus by the rules Melisandre the Cleric can Turn Undead.  That skill would have been helpful in the Battle of Winterfell.

Taking a peek at my 5th Edition D&D books it looks like a Cleric and not a Warlock or Druid would be the best choice.

Let's see how she works as a witch.

Melisandre is a Witch
Of course, for that, I would also need to decide on a tradition for her.  Something like Lord of Light Tradition.  Witches, in general, do not get the spell Raise Dead.  So I am thinking that should be an occult power.  Something they gain at 7th level.
Also, there is her lesser explored power of alchemy/herbalism.  Something all witches get.

Melisandre, Witch of R'hllor


9th level female Witch, Lord of Light Tradition

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 26

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Occult Powers
Familiar: Spirit of fire
Herb Use
Raise Dead

Spells
First: Bewitch I, Burning Hands, Glamour
Second: Augury, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize
Third: Bestow Curse, Brave the Flames
Fourth: Divination, Intangible Cloak of Shadows
Fifth: Summon Shadow

So I had to raise her level to 9th to get the Summon Shadow spell.  In general, I like her spell choices as a witch better.  BUT that could be my biases since I have written so many (900+ so far!) and I have many to fit an exact situation.

She doesn't really have a familiar, so I am saying her "familiar" is her ability to look into flames.
I also did not give her any "bonus" spells since I wanted a pure B/X experience here.

I should point out that Green Ronin produces a very fine game based, not on the TV show, but the books in A Song of Ice and Fire.


It's Beltane! A time for witches to celebrate.  Start your own celebrations with my new witch book: Daughters of Darkness, The Mara Witch Tradition

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monstrous Monday: The Elusive Nauga Beast!

I had something else planned for today, but better for next week.  This post was inspired by a post by Bruce Heard and frankly, it is silly enough to run with!

Nauga Beast
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice (HD): 7d8 (31 hp)
No. of Attacks: ram
Damage: 2d8
Special Attacks & Defenses: Fear
Move: 210’ (70’)
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Fighter 8
Morale: 5
Treasure Type:  See Below
Alignment: Neutral
The extremely rare and extremely valued Nauga Beast is not one encountered often by adventurers but very sought after.  The nauga beast looks like an abdominal cross between a boar, dog, crow, and a large  cow.  Some sages believe that the same horrible experiments that gave us the owlbear spawned the nauga.   To call the nauga beast "ugly" is generous.  It is horrific.  Creatures below 2 HD have to make a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or run away in fear.  Creatures with greater HD are still repulsed by this creature. 
Their only attack is their ability to run very fast and ram into creatures.  Typically though it will run away. 
There are very few nauga to be found in Known World.  They suffer from the dual problems of being "too ugly and too stupid to breed" according to celebrated Glantri naturalist sage Phygora.
So ugly in fact that the nauga is frightened of each other. Even it's own reflection will cause it to run away as per the cause fear spell.
The nauga has no natural predators or enemies. Indeed the meat of the nauga has been described by goblins, the only creatures known to have tried to eat one, as "rat floating in an open sewer for a week."  The beast would be happily ignored if not for its hide.  While unsuitable for armor, the hide is often used in other clothing or in covering.  It is flexible, waterproof and unlike leather seems to last forever.
The hide of a nauga beast will be worth anywhere from 300 to 800 gp in value (1d6+2), but requires an expert in dealing with the hide.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Witch Tradition

This year marks my 40th year of playing D&D.  I started with Holmes Basic and quickly moved to Moldvay Basic when it was released.  It is also the 20th anniversary of my "Netbook of Witches & Warlocks".  So fairly auspicious anniversaries.

Since this year has been about "Back to Basics" for me I have some books ready to celebrate.

I am pleased to announce the first of three new Witch books for Basic Era Gameplay.

Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Witch Tradition



Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told
(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Lady Lilith” 1873

"The world has forgotten their dark mother.  
WE will remind them why they should fear the dark."
- Traditional Mara oath.

Presented here are:

The Mara Witchcraft Tradition, an evil tradition for Basic Witches.


To be released next week on Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve, or April 30th.  Print version to follow.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Killer Rabbits & Blink Bunnies

It's Easter Monday.  Not that this means much to me, but it is an excuse to talk about rabbits and bunnies!  There is the Ostara connections too, but I'll delve into those at some point.

In the meantime, here are some rabbits to add to your Basic Era D&D games.

Killer Rabbits
Armor Class:  8
Hit Dice (HD): 2d8 (9 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite or by weapon type
Damage: 1d4 or 1d6
Special Attacks & Defenses: Surprise
Move: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Save As: Fighter 2
Morale: 6
Treasure Type:  Nil
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
Killer rabbits are huge, 7' tall when standing upright, rabbits.  They are intelligent creatures and have none of the timidness associated with the much smaller normal rabbits.  These creatures often wait by roads in out of the way areas where they will surprise a lone traveler.  They will beat the traveler with clubs or maces or sometimes bite.  Despite their name, they do not often kill their victims.  Instead, they will beat them and then rob them.  They don't seem to have use for the gold they steal and often unload it a little more down the road, but they are fond of wine, spirits, and pipeweed.  They enjoy attacking traveling clerics since friars, brothers and other holy men often travel with wine.
Killer rabbits will only attack if they feel the odds are in their favor.



Blink Bunnies
Armor Class:  9
Hit Dice (HD): 1d8 (4 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite
Damage: 1d2
Special Attacks & Defenses: Teleport ability, speech.
Move: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Save As: Normal Human
Morale: 4
Treasure Type:  Nil
Alignment: Neutral
Blink Bunnies are small rabbits, most often white, that are used as messengers between Magic-Users.  They are often confused with the magic-user' familiar,  but they are more akin to the messenger birds used by some kingdoms.
The bunny can remember a message of up to 12 words.  If more information is needed then most bunnies should be sent.  They can teleport to any location they have been before with no error.
Otherwise, their ability is exactly like the Magic-user spell teleport.
Blink Bunnies expect to be fed once they arrive to deliver their message.



New Spell

Summon Blink Bunny
Level: Magic-User1, Witch 1
Range: Special
Duration: Special
This spell summons a Blink Bunny, a type of faerie creature that looks like a small white rabbit.  The rabbit can be given a small message, no more than 12 words, and then sent to someone the caster knows.  If the location is well known to the caster then the teleportation is done without error.   If the location is unknown then the caster uses the same table for the magic-user spell teleport.
If the cast has an object belonging to the place to blink bunny is to visit or something from the person the bunny needs to communicate the message too then the teleport is improved by one step.
Material Components: A bit of carrot and some lettuce.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magic School: Idle Thoughts

Been busy this week.  I am part of a team that is building a new Masters of Social Work program.  It is great because this time I am NOT in charge of it, one of my really qualified co-workers is heading it up and I am really looking forward to working with him in his "Senior" role.  We are the same level so this is a nice switch and will give me some freedom to work creatively at a more "on the ground" level.  Last time our roles were reversed and he got to do the cool fun stuff while I had to mind all the details!
Remember, the reward for hard work is more hard work.

I was in my home office yesterday and two minutes before our video conference meeting started I noticed that my notebook was still out in my car.  So I grabbed the closest thing, my son's D&D notebook.  While sitting through the meeting I keep a set of parallel notes on D&D-ish social work program.  If is SOOO half baked right now and may never, ever see the light of day. But I was amused.

But it got me thinking on larger Magic School ideas and how they tie into my desire of "Back to Basics" this year.

Bruce Heard is over at his blog and online quietly building all sorts of great stuff for his Calidar world. Recently his big project is one I am REALLY dying for; Calidar On the Wings of Darkness. This product will include his magic school for his country of wizards.  Bruce gave us much of what we know about the Great School of Magic located in Glantri City.  If that work is any clue, add 32 more years of game development and writing and that gives me a hint of what we might see in On the Wings of Darkness.

His latest post also helps me figure out which flavor of Basic I am planning to use.  While my great love is B/X Molday/Cook/Marsh D&D, a strong  case has been made for BECMI flavor of Basic.  Plus I have my snazzy new Rules Cyclopedia thanks to POD so this is a good thing for me.
I just like the idea of crazy Magic School hijinks using the Basic rules.

Speaking of the Great School of Magic.  A new-to-me blog, the Breath of Mystara, pointed out a great resource to me, a 555 page PDF on the Great School of Magic.

Seriously that is a lot of material.

Another interesting bit that came up for me yesterday was this fun little character creator for making your own Hogwarts student.
https://www.deviantart.com/hapuriainen/art/Hogwarts-student-maker-302435099

For fun, I did one of me and my iconic witch Larina.  This would have been back when she had brown eyes and her hair was a bit darker.



For my magic school, I have not thought of "houses" really. but think about how important they are to the Harry Potter world and fandom.  EVERYONE has a house they think they belong to.   In my mind, I was more focused on the "Colleges" which is what we did in actual college/university and grad school.

I have also been following Dave Chapman's discussions on a Harry Potter RPG (hypothetical RPG that is) and taking a lot of his advice to heart.

Now I need to work more on my idea of "High Witchcraft", but more on that later.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Ghūl and Ghūla

This was inspired by some recent readings and thought it would be fun to try out.  More Basic D&D fun!

Ghoul, Demonic (Ghūl)
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice (HD): 5d8+7 (29hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite, + Paralysis and Ghoul Fever
Damage: 1d4, 1d4, 1d6
Special Attacks & Defenses: Ghoul fever, paralysis (2d6 turns), shapeshift, undead
Move: 90’ (30’)
No. Appearing: 1d2 (1d3)
Save As: Fighter 5
Morale: 10
Treasure Type:  B, C
The demonic ghoul also called a ghūl or ghūla, is a much more dangerous version of the ghoul and ghast. This creature appears to be more monstrous than the common ghoul, though there still plenty of similarities to attest to their relationship. Demonic ghouls are believed to be corpses with a demonic spirit inhabiting their body. Similar in a way to vampires.
The demonic ghoul has the hindquarters of a donkey, sans tail, and sometimes the horns of a goat.  They have the same ability to paralyze others, including elves, and are given away by their stench.
Where ghouls and ghasts feed on corpses, the demonic ghoul is not above providing their own corpses by hunting and killing humanoids.  They are also known to eat living children.
The demonic ghoul can also shapeshift into hyenas and can assume the form of the last person they devoured.
The female demonic ghoul, the ghūla, can also pass as a living human woman. It is said they will lure prey back to her lair to seduce and then feed on them.  Children born to these women are still-born but will grow up to become ghouls on their own. 
Demonic Ghouls are undead and turn as Mummies.
Ghoul Fever is a disease caused by the bite of demonic ghouls.  The victim must make a save vs. Poison or become infected. One full day after this failed save the victim loosed 1d3 Constitution and 1d3 Dexterity points.  At this point, they must make two consecutive saves vs. Death to survive.  A fail on one save adds one more day to the disease and another loss of points. Two fails results in death.
A humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast.
Ghoul fever is also present in 10% of all ghouls and 25% of all ghasts.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Old-School Essentials

Gavin Norman of Necrotic Gnome has been producing some great products for Old School gaming with his own unique style for years. His B/X Essentials is one of my favorite products.
Well now he is producing an updated version and it looks fantastic!

Old-School Essentials


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/necroticgnome/old-school-essentials?ref=theotherside

A faithful reproduction of the B/X-era rules in a digest-sized boxed set or "Rules Cyclopedia" style book.  I am pleased the what I have been calling "Black Box Basic" for years is now coming in an actual black box!

Really there is so much awesome about this and I will spend some time next week talking about it.

I have seen what is very, very close to the final PDFs and they look fantastic.

I do want to talk about those covers. 

Not sure if this will be the final cover, but it's awesome!

I mean look at that!  A castle on the back of a giant turtle? I want to GO THERE NOW!
Kudos to Andrew Walter for these great covers that feel so 70s inspired.  They look like the cover to a Yes or Uriah Heep album.  That's an adventure right there.

So yeah. I am in.  You should be too.


Monday, April 1, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Wood Trolls

First Monday after spring break and I have a cold. Yeah, it sucks.  But thankfully I worked a bit on this one.  And it's a fun one.
We spent some time last week at the Morton Arboretum and went on a troll hunt.

Here they are for two similar systems; B/X Essentials and Blueholme Journeymanne Rules.

Wood Trolls
Wood Trolls are intelligent and remarkably passive creatures for the most part.  They stand anywhere from 9' to 16' tall (with some rare cases of 30' tall varieties).  Their skin and hair appear to be made up of wood. Their skin is hard inflexible and their hair looks like twigs and sticks.
Wood Trolls, as their name implies, live in deep woods.  They try to avoid other creatures when possible. Wood Trolls are often thought to be the more malevolent Earth Troll.  These trolls tend to be less evil than other trolls. 50% of these trolls are Chaotic Neutral in alignment, 30% are of the chaotic good variety and the remaining 20% are chaotic evil.
These trolls prefer to eat wild pigs with only the evil ones resorting to eating children.
Like all trolls they can regenerate, likewise they are also vulnerable to fire. Moreso than other trolls; taking double damage from fire.

B/X Essentials
AC 2, HD 8+4* (40hp), Att 2 × talon (1d6), 1 × bite (1d10), THAC0 11, MV 120’ (40’), SV D8 W9 P10 B11 S12 (F8), ML 10 (8 fear of fire), AL Chaotic*, XP 1,750, NA 1d4 (1d6), TT D
  • Regeneration: 3 rounds after being damaged, start regaining 3hp per round. Severed limbs reattach.
  • Return from death: If killed (0hp), will regenerate and fight again in 2d6 rounds.
  • Fire: Cannot regenerate damage from fire. The only way to permanently kill a troll.
  • Fear of fire: Morale 8 when attacked with fire.

AC: 2                                        XP: 1,725
HD: 8d8+4                               Alignment: CN (50%), CG (30%), CE (20%)
Move: 30                                  Treasure: 13 (0)
Attacks: 1 bite + 2 claws / 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6 each / 1d8
Abilities: Strength +1, Dexterity -1


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