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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Announcement: The Pagan Witch Tradition

And now the project I was working on all summer.  For Old-School Essentials.

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition



From the Foreword:
It was 40 years ago.  1979.

The 70s were ending and I was excited for the coming of the new decade of the 80s.  It promised to be a great decade of home computers, new music and for me, looking forward to Junior High and High School.

It was also a watershed year for my involvement in D&D and witches.

1979 was the year I was introduced to D&D. I have told the story before; I learned from a poorly Xeroxed copy of Holmes Basic and an AD&D Monster Manual.  That formed what became my D&D incubator. I would later move on to the Moldvay Basic rules.   What *IS* D&D to me was formulated at this time.

1979 was also the year that two books that would become central to what people considered witches to be were released.  Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.  Both books were released on October 31, 1979, and became best sellers.  Both authors were very influenced by the works of Margaret Murray (The Witch-Cult in Western Europe) and Gerald Gardner (Witchcraft Today).  While the archeological and historical scholarship of Murray and Gardner has been rightfully dismissed, the mythology of all these works is captivating.

The witches I started playing back then, Luna, Cara, Marissa and soon Larina, were based on these and other sources. I gathered notes, began my own classes; The Witch became the front runner and my favorite.

October 31, 1999. 20 years after my start and the publication of Adler’s and Starhawk’s books I released the Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks. My very first book on witches for the D&D (then AD&D 2nd ed) game. In the grand occult publishing tradition, I went under the pseudonym “Web Warlock”.  I clicked “OK” on the upload while sitting in the hospital three days after my first son was born.

October 31, 2019. Twenty years later again I present you this book.  It is something of a milestone for me.  It is the penultimate release of my “Back to Basics” series of Old-School Witch books. It is also the one that cleaves the closest to how I was playing in those long lost days.  And as a special treat; my son who was only three days old when I released my first book is now 20 and contributed some spells to this book.

I am looking forward to seeing where I go in the next 20 years.
I am really happy this is the book that will celebrate the anniversary of my Complete Netbook of Witches & Warlocks.

Out on October 31st 2019, Halloween.

Here are the Back to Basics series books so far.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

File Under: You should have seen this one coming...

This started as a joke, but I am actually beginning to love this project.   It is Fall after all.


The next, and totally unplanned, book in my Back to Basics series of witches.

The Pumpkin Spice Tradition gives us the Basic White Witch.

Join Becky and Karen and learn such spells as:

  • Blessed
  • Create Wine
  • Live, Laugh, Love
  • Does This Bring Joy?
  • Oh my God, Becky!
  • You Can’t Sit With Us
  • Summon Higher Power

Gain Occult Powers such as:

  • Resting Witch Face
  • I Want to See your Boss

No idea how many pages this one will be, but all I can say is I am having a great time writing it!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Schreckengeist

I was doing some research yesterday morning for a couple of different projects I can't wait to share with you all and I came across a couple of really fun things.  First, and I'll talk about her later, might be the first witch NPC I EVER created. The second is today's monster.

I was going through my copy of B1 In Search of the Unknown and found a monster I had forgotten.  The  Schreckengeist, or "fear ghost" is a low-level ghost I used to fill a couple of needs.  I wanted a ghost-like creature to send against low-level aka Basic parties and I wanted an undead creature that "turned" the living.

Here is the Schreckengeist for my two current favorite Basic clones.


Schreckengeist
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 3
HD: 3d8
Move: 30
Attacks: 1 special, scream of fear.
Alignment: CE
Treasure: None
XP: 175

Schreckengeist
(Old-School Essentials)
The ghost of a former adventurer. Its face is distorted in fear and rage.
AC 3 [17], HD 3 (13hp), Att 1, scream of fear, THAC0 20 [0], MV 60’ (20’), SV D13 W13 P14 B15 S17, ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 175, NA 1 (1d4), TT none
 Scream causes fear as per the spell.
Infravision: 60’.
Undead: Not effected by sleep, charm or hold spells.  Silvered weapons to hit. Turned as a Ghoul.

The Schreckengeist is the ghost of an adventurer who died mid-adventure and was never raised or their body returned home.   The rumor is that a schreckengeist can only happen to adventurers who die on their first adventure, but they can happen to any adventurer who dies before they reach 4th level.  Not all adventurers who die though become schreckengeists.  The circumstances have to be just right.  The victim needs to have died in fear and/or great pain and their body never recovered. 

Now they are cursed to roam the dungeons they sought to explore.

The schreckengeist is incorporeal and can not be struck by normal weapons, only silvered ones.  Likewise, it can not attack with physical attacks, although in it's rage it will try too.  It's only attack is a scream of fear.  Characters of 3rd level or below must Save vs. Petrification or flee in terror as per the Fear spell.  Normal Humans and creatures below 1 level/HD get no save, characters above 4th level/HD are immune.

Schreckengeist are turned as ghouls.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Favorite Basic Clone? You Tell Me!

I ran this poll over on Facebook, but I wanted to collect some more responses.  Since this is my year of "Back to Basic" I wanted to hear about what you are all playing and enjoying.


So please, answer the survey below and let me know.  This is 100% anonymous and I am not tracking anything but the choices you make.


I believe I have the top choices here, but there is also an "Other".
Note: I am considering Swords & Wizardry its own thing for the purposes of this survey.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games

The next book in my Back to Basics series is now out!

The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games



Old Gods Rise! 
“Who knows not Circe, The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape, And downward fell into a groveling swine?”  - John Milton

Sumer. Egypt. Greece. Rome.
These are the foundations of civilization. Where mythology, religion, and magic collide in a fertile land.

It is a time of Gods and Witches!

This book introduces the Classical Witch Tradition. Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.
  • 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
Fully compatible with BLUEHOLMETM and other Basic-Era games.

Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

Print on Demand copy available soon! 
Just waiting on my proofs.

Also, check out my other Back to Basics witch books, The Daughters of Darkness for Basic Era Games and The Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games.




Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games

The first of TWO related releases for Lughnasadh and Mabon and continuing my Back to Basics series.

Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch for Basic Era Games


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/286580/Cult-of-Diana-The-Amazon-Witch-for-Basic-Era-Games?affiliate_id=10748

Diana, Queen of the Hunt!
“Let us be Diana's foresters, minions of the moon”  - William Shakespeare

Artemis and Diana, Forever Young. Forever Wild.
Time out of mind the symbol of Diana meant freedom. And in freedom there is Power.

This book introduces the Amazon Witch Tradition. Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.

 - The witch class and two new witch covens

 - 40 Spells and 8 Rituals for witch characters

Fully compatible with BLUEHOLMETM and other Basic-Era games.

Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

All for the low, low price of FREE.

Overtly this is designed to go with the Blueholme Prentice Rules. This gets you going using my Holmes inspired witch class for the price of a couple of clicks.

Also, check out the first of my Back to Basics witch books, The Daughters of Darkness for Basic Era Games.



AND Coming soon...

Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch Tradition also for BLUEHOLME!


Monday, August 26, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Spider, Unlight

"It was a creature from the Outer Darkness.  Clothed in the shape of a gargantuan spider, but far more fell.  It's exact shape was difficult to make out, save from where darkness gave way to a deeper unlight.  All we could see were it's monstrous eyes. Each one glowed and betrayed great and evil greed or thirst for light and life."
- From the Journals of Larina Nix


The foul and fell creatures known as the Unlight Spiders are not true spiders, but take that form from the deepest fears of mortal kind.  They are in truth shapeless spirits of the voids beyond the blackness of the darkest realms.  Such is their hunger they feed not just on life, but on the light itself.
They crave light as much as they loathe it.

Here they are for Old School Essentials.

Spider, Unlight
10' long spiders of complete pitch-black color.  Hide in dark webs in the deepest, darkest pits they can find. 
AC 4, HD 7** (32hp), Att 1 × bite (3d6 + poison), THAC0 17, MV 90’ (30’) / 180’ (60’) in webs, SV D8 W9 P10 B11 S12 (F8), ML 10, AL Chaos, XP 1210, NA 1 (1d3), TT Ux2
• Growth: Every time the Unlight Spider drains life levels equal to twice their own HD they grow one size category larger. 


HDhpXP
7321,210
14636,600
2812626,600
• Energy drain: A successfully hit target permanently loses one experience levels (or Hit Dice). This incurs a loss of one Hit Dice of hit points, as well as all other benefits due to the drained levels (e.g. spells, saving throws, etc.). A character’s XP is reduced to the lowest amount for the new level. A person drained of all levels dies and cannot be raised.
• Infravision: 180’
• Loathe the Light: -1 to-hit in lighted conditions (Light spell) and -2 full daylight (Continual Light spell) conditions.
• Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
• Poison: Causes death in 1 turn (save vs poison).
• Webs: Creatures caught in webs become entangled and unable to move. Breaking free depends on Strength.
<10: Impossible to break free
10-13: 6 rounds
14-17: 5 rounds
18-19: 4 rounds
19-22: 3 rounds
23+ : 2 rounds
The webs can be destroyed by fire in three rounds. All creatures in a flaming web suffer 1d6 points of damage.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In a time of Ancient Gods...

There were the ones that beseeched these gods for power and it was granted!

These are the witches of the Classical Traditions and their closely allied sisters the Amazon Tradition.



Coming soon for the BLUEHOLME Journeymanne and Prentice Rules.


Sumer. Egypt. Greece. Rome.
These are the foundations of civilization. Where mythology, religion and magic collide in a fertile land.
It is a time of Gods and Witches!

This book introduces the Classical Witch Tradition. Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends.
  •         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

Also fully compatible with Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Tradition.



Monday, August 19, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Goblin Men

“We must not look at goblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits: 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
- Christina Rossetti, 1862

There are two artistic movements that have fueled my imagination for my games more than anything else I can think of; Tolkien and the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
They converge at Goblin Men.

In Rossetti's poem, the Goblin Men are found in the Goblin Market. Honestly, if this poem doesn't fill you with ideas for your games I don't know what will.  In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Goblin Men are essentially half-orcs. Both types are depicted as evil, or at the very least, desiring mischief to humankind.

The fact we don't have Goblin Men in D&D is a crime.

Since my theme this year is "Back to Basic", here are Goblin Men for my two current favorite Basic-era Games, Blueholme and Old-School Essentials.

In my worlds, goblins are closer to fey-creatures than they are to orcs.  Mostly evil, or at least mischievous creatures.  I might adopt some of what Pathfinder 2 is doing with them as well to make them more of playable race.    Goblin Men are born to human women that wander too close to lands where goblins dwell.  Not through sexual congress, but an intermixing of essences of the magics that surround goblins.  Often the goblin child is taken in the night by goblins and a stillborn changeling is left behind; opposite of what other faeries will do, taking a human child to leave behind a living changeling.

Goblin Men
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 7 (leather armor)
HD: 1d8
Move: 25
Attacks: 1 weapon Damage: 1d6+2
Alignment: 3N : 1CE
Treasure: 12 (1)
XP: 10

Goblin Men
(Old-School Essentials)
Ugly humanoids with elongated lower tusks and glowing, orange, but intelligent eyes. Dwell in dark forsaken places.
AC 7 [12], HD 1 (5hp), Att 1 × weapon (1d6+2 or by weapon), THAC0 19 [0], MV 60’ (20’), SV D14 W14 P15 B16 S17 (NH), ML 8, AL Chaotic, XP 10, NA 1d4 (2d10), TT R (C)
Infravision: 60’.
Hoard: Only have treasure type C when encountered in the wilderness or in their lair.


Goblin-men appear as larger, fiercer versions of a goblin with an uncanny glint of human intelligence in their eyes,   Some Goblin-men are so akin to humans as to pass for an ugly human (15%).  Most are neutral in temperament with only a few being truly evil.  All though are mischievous creatures not above taking advantage of others when the opportunity presents itself.

Unlike goblins, goblin-men can withstand daylight and take no penalty for fighting in conditions of bright light.

Goblin-Men make a good substitute for the half-orc and provide an air of mystery to the creature.  Who was its mother? Did she stray too close to the Goblin Markets? Eat their fruits?



Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Guide

Today's topic is Guide.

This is a topic that is likely to come up many times today.

Games work best with guides, not just books, but people and things to help show you the way.

I think my first real guide to D&D actually predates my D&D exposure.
I have mentioned in the past that my true introduction to what would become my D&D was d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths this was nearly immediately followed by Tolkien's The Hobbit.


In between my reading of these two books was when I discovered D&D.  The line is pretty direct for me from Greek Myths to D&D and the Hobbit. These two sources were my guide to what D&D could be if not what it should be.  In fact it is not too much of a stretch to say my D&D then was very much Greek Myths + The Hobbit.

The next guide I picked up were D&D proper.


While Holmes Basic might have been my first set of D&D rules, it was the AD&D Monster Manual that was my first exposure to D&D.   But I have detailed these two books and their impact on me many times here.

From here my guides were less about books and more about people.  When I was learning to how to play and moving through my first few years of D&D I got to play in a lot of different groups and knew of several more.  Here other's experiences and their readings came to influence me.

While I had read many of the books on the infamous Appendix N, they were only a tertiary impact on me and my games.  Usually, either through someone else have read them and applying them to their games and what was in the RPG books. 

Over the years I have had the chance to play with others who have helped guide me (and vice versa) through many RPGs.  Each time I take away something to aid me or push me on.

There were my high school games where I got the chance to play with a lot of different groups. The summer from college that I played in an OD&D campaign.  Games at college and striking out all on my own in 2nd Ed to recreate my own worlds.  Campaigns with other games like ShadowRun, Vampire, and eventually WitchCraft. Meeting people online and talking games with them discovering that even though we all did things in a different way there are common stories and share experiences.  To the message boards, blogs, and social media of today.

Even reading these posts today will help guide me in other directions. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Brass Golems

I am gearing up for a new release.  I am about two weeks behind schedule but hope to make it up here soon.  In the meantime here is one of the monsters that will appear in my new book,  Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch Tradition.

Here is a creature I think many of us know for the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules.

GOLEM, BRASS

Small Medium Large
AC: 7 5
HD: 2d8 6d8 10d8
Move: 40 30 20
Attacks: 1 bite 1 fist 1 bash
Damage: 2d4 2d6 2d8
XP: 80 460 1,800
Alignment:
Neutral
Treasure:
0 (0)


Golems are magically created automatons of great power. Constructing one involves the employment of mighty magic. As such, they are created by exceptionally powerful witches and magic-users. All golems are unaffected by ordinary weapons. In addition, golems have no true intelligence and are thus unaffected by hold, charm, or sleep spells. Since they are not truly alive, they are unaffected by poison or gases.


Brass Golem: Taught to her witches by Athena herself these intricately detailed golems are made of brass. They can come in a variety of sizes and shapes since brass is an easier metal to work with. 


Small Brass Golems tend to be animals or fantastic creatures.  They act like the animal they are fashioned after.  They are often given as gifts by Athena or other gods.


Medium Brass Golems are fashioned to appear as examples of human physical perfection.  Often modeled after Apollo, Aphrodite, or even Zeus their perfection gives them a sort of spontaneous life. 


Large Brass Golems can appear as large humans, animals or even monsters.


The secrets of making these golems have been lost but it is believed that artisans and artificers such as Pygmalion and Daedalus have recovered and recorded these secrets.  Others were created by the gods themselves.






Thursday, August 1, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: First

Today's topic is First.

I imagine that a lot of people will talk about their first RPG.  Well given that I have been celebrating all year my first RPG, I think I will follow along!

Seriously though, my first RPG has never been more on my mind of late. I say my first was D&D Basic, but that is only somewhat accurate.

The first RPG I ever played was Holmes D&D Basic.
The first RPG I ever owned was the Moldvay Basic Set.


These are the books I go back to time and time again.
Oh don't get me wrong, I love new games. I have enjoyed the hell out of D&D 5 and I have played a little bit of everything.  But these are the ones that fill me with unbridled geek joy.

These are the ones that I think about when coming up with new campaigns. These are my D&D.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Review: Blueholme Journeymanne and Prentice Rules

It's been a year of Basic-era games for me and I want to talk about one of my newest favorites today.

Earlier this week I talked about the new D&D 5 Essentials Kit, I wanted to have another look at my own roots, the D&D Holmes Basic Set.  The Holmes set is one of the few versions of the D&D games you can't get from DriveThruRPG.  You can, however, get the Blueholme game from Michael Thomas and Dreamscape Design.


Blueholme comes in two different versions, the introductory Prentice Rules, and the full Journeymanne Rules. I will cover both here.  In this case, I am reviewing both the print books from Lulu and the PDF versions from DriveThruRPG.

Blueholme Journeymanne Rules
118 pages, full-color covers, b/w interiors. $9.99.

Blueholme is a retro-clone / what-if of the first Basic Set edited by John Eric Holmes.  Sometimes called "Blue Box Basic" or "Blue Book Basic".   At 118 pages it is a complete game.  If that sounds light, then you are right!  Blueholme is a "rules" light old-school game much in the same way that Holmes was.  Don't let it's light-weight dissuade you.  This is a feature, not a bug.
On the surface, the Blueholme Journeymanne Rules (BJR) looks like any other retro-clone in the OSR.  Once you dig into it you will see the differences are from the source materials.

Foreward.  We start with a foreward (not forward) from Chris Holmes, the son of John Eric Holmes and the reason why there was a Holmes Basic set to begin with.  It gives these rules a bit of gravitas if you ask me.

Part 1: Introduction covers what you should expect to see in this book and the general tone of the book. Like everything else it is short, sweet and to the point.

Part 2: Characters deals with character creation.  All game developers should have a look at these first two pages to see how the economy of words pays off.  In the first two pages, we cover all the steps in creation.  Rolling stats (3d6 in order), choosing a species (I prefer this over "race"), class, and everything else.  The six ability scores are covered and what they do.  SURPRISE they do much less here than in other OSR games.  Essentially these are the means to get a bonus when leveling.  Eg. Strength provides no bonuses in combat. Constitution does aid in hp it points, Intelligence still helps in learning languages. But that is about it really.  Only Dexterity helps to hit and then only + or - 1. Dexterity is central to combat, but more on that later.
For species, there is nothing specific listed outside of humans.  For anything else have a look in the Monster section and pick something! Want an elf, dwarf or orc? Go ahead! Goblin? Yes! Dragon? sure, work it out with your GM. Black Pudding? Sure...work it out with your GM.
It is very much the way the original D&D and Holmes D&D games worked.
Classes are the basic four; Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief.  Fighters do not get more attacks as they level up, but can cause more damage.  There are rules on Combination Classes or what we also call Multiclassing.  If your base creature type has more HD then there is a table of adjustments.
Alignment is broken down to just five, Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, True Neutral, Chaotic Evil and Lawful Evil.
Coin and Equipment is next. Note that all weapons do 1d6 points of damage per hit as per the OD&D and Holmes BD&D rules.

Part 3: Spells covers all the spells that can be cast by Clerics (1 to 7 spell level) and Magic-Users (1 to 9 spell levels). These are not huge lists and some spells are different than other books representations of them.  Make sure you read before you assume a spell does what you think it does.

Part 4: Adventures covers just that, what the characters do and where they do it. This section is very reminiscent of the similar sections in both Holmes and Moldvay Basic.  The breadth of the information is wide, but the depth is low since it depends on the Game Master to make calls on what is happening in certain situations.

Part 5: Encounters would be called Combat in other books, but the name change fits.  We start with lots of tables of monster encounters at various levels and various locales. Combat, damage, and healing are also covered.  The initiative is determined by Dexterity score. If there is a tie then a 1d6 is rolled with highest going first. AC is descending with an AC of 9 meaning unarmored.
We get tables of attack matrices and saving throws too.

Part 6: Creatures deals with all the creatures you can encounter as friend or foes.  There are plenty here and brevity is the key.  For example, Demon gets a single entry and some tables to determine what it looks like. You can also choose your character specifies from these entries.  All the usual suspects are here. I in particular like the "pumpkin-headed" bugbear; a nod to the OD&D rules. There are a lot of Lovecraftian monsters here as well. They are the ones credited for creating the vast "Underground" where the adventurers find their fortunes. There are also plenty of "Appendix N" style creatures like intelligent apes and monsters out of Pellucidar and of course dragons and dinosaurs and undead.

Part 7: Treasure has both individual and hoard types with plenty of magic, and cursed items.

Part 8: Campaigns is a guide for Game Masters.
We end with a character sheet and a solid index.
The PDF is bookmarked, but the Table of Contents and Index are not hyperlinked (minor thing really).

The book is well laid out and easy to read. The art is all new and works fantastic with the book. Solid old-school feel to it., if slightly better than what we actually had back then.  It reminded me more of Moldvay era art than Holmes, but that is fine really.



Blueholme Prentice Rules
63 pages, mono-color covers, b/w interiors. Pay What You Want.

The Blueholme Prentice Rules came out first as a preview of the Journeymanne rules.
These rules cover the basic rules as the Journeymanne rules, save only to level 3.  In this respect it is actually closer to the Holmes set than the maine (manne?) rules.

In character creation, the choices of Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling are given. The same basic four classes of Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief are here.

From here the Prentice rules parallel the Journeymanne rules, there is just less of them.  This is a truly Basic set of rules with everything to get you started for the price of dice.

The Prentice Rules has the same cover art, albeit in a monochrome format (not unlike Holmes) and features Public Domain art inside from Henry J. Ford. Now personally I LOVE the art. These old images from old fairy tales really sets the mood for me and gives this game a different feel.

Bluehlome Prentice Rules are a perfect solution for someone wanting to get into an Old School game and does not know where to start or what to do, and maybe not spend a lot of money upfront.  For a PWYW PDF and print copies under $6, it has replaced Basic Fantasy as my OSR game of choice to hand out to people I want to introduce to old-school play.

Additionally, there are some full-color character sheets and an introductory adventure.

Blueholme is a great addition to the vast and growing library of OSR games.  It might be one of my favorites, to be honest.

You can find Dreamscape Design on the web at:

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.
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