Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demon. Show all posts

Monday, May 21, 2018

OMG: Level Setting and American Indian Mythos

To start this first post on One Man's God I wanted to set some levels on what I want to look for, in particular, what constitutes the top end of what is a demon vs. what is an evil god.

Now a couple "rules" regardless of what edition I plan to post the stats in I am starting in the lingua franca of 1st Edition AD&D.  That's what the Deities and Demigods is written for and the Monster Manual I am using today.

Level Setting
How powerful are these demons?  Well, let's have a look at our high-end examples.
The first edition Monster Manual gives us four of the biggest big bads we STILL talk about today. Orcus, Demogorgon, Asmodeus, and Tiamat.  Each one of these can be viewed as a god in their own way; two of which Orcus and Tiamat were gods in their respective mythologies. What the MM does not give us are the HD for these creatures.  Orcus has 120 hp, Demogorgon has 200 hp, and Asmodeus has 199. Tiamat has 128 but is also listed as a 16 HD monster.  This is nice since this gives us a nice example of a monster with maximum (8 per HD) hp.  So dividing the others by 8 we get:
Orcus 15 HD, 120 hp
Demogorgon 25 HD, 200 hp
Asmodeus 25 HD, 199 hp
Looking at other editions you can see them climb over the years.  Till we get to today.


Still very powerful in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

What this means to me is I am looking for monsters in that 15 to 25 HD range if I want to call them Demon Princes or Archdukes of Hell.  Likely none will come up to that level, most will fall short of Prince or Archduke power.

American Indian Mythos
If there is one thing I know it's I am in no way qualified to talk about American Indian mythic traditions.  I mean I did grow up in the mid-west and I spent time going to both the Dickson Mounds and the Illinois State Museums.  So I feel my background is better than most, but still very much lacking.   The American Indian section in the Deities & Demigods in no way represents all the myths and stories of these extremely diverse peoples.  Sure there are some commonalities, but there are just as many differences. Maybe more.   Since I am limiting myself to the entries in the D&DG this one will be really fast.

There really are not many "demons" in the classical sense in American Indian myths.  I mean there are some, but not many and none of them appear in this book.   Even the monsters that do appear here are more monsters than demons and the evil gods (both of them) are more destructive forves of nature than anything else.   So not really my idea of demons to be honest.
Hastsezini is the fire "god"* of the Navajo.  I put god in quotes based on the work of Professor Grant L. Voth, Ph.D.  He claims that Amerindian did not worship gods per se but larger spirits that they honored.   This god/spirit doesn't really give me a demonic vibe.

Next time I will cover the rich and fertile ground of the Babylonian myths.  Might need to spend more than one post there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

OMG: One Man's God

I came to D&D back in the 70s via my interest in myths about the Gods and Heroes.   I was reading D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths when a friend lent me his copy of the Monster Manual.   The rest, as they say, is history.

One of my favorite books in the entire AD&D line was/is Deities & Demigods.  I have been mentally going back to that treasured volume since I picked up The Great Courses: Great Mythologies of the World.



The scholarship in D&DG is not University or scholarly level, but I give Rob Kuntz and James Ward many kudos, and really it was not supposed to be.  It was supposed to be a game book and in that it succeeds wildly.

But it all got me thinking about that old adage; "One man's God is another man's Devil."
What would it take to grab some of the evil monsters and revisit them as AD&D/OSR style demons, complete with their placement in the Gygax-ian Great Wheel?   One of my bigger misgivings about D&DG, despite how good it was, it did not try to integrate into the larger D&D view of the multiverse and planes.  Today I think that is perfectly fine, but then it bugged me more.

I guess in a way this is my gift to me of 1981 or so.

My plan is to go through the D&DG and take an extended look at the pantheons and the myths behind them and find some good bits (there are lots) and comment on some others and hopefully find some cool demons to fit the larger D&D world.

Ok, so I have a Ph.D., I can do academic rigor. That is not what this is about. This will not be a treatise of comparative religions or a dissertation.  This is blog post, with game material.  My audience is the same as Kuntz and Ward's, the D&D gamer.

The only thing I have not figure out yet is whether to do these as an OSR-friendly S&W/Basic-era format or as D&D 5.  Maybe both or one or the other as it strikes me.

I am not likely to include the non-human deities since they are already more integrated into the larger D&D mythos,  but I may focus on one or two that I want to expand on; Blibdoolpoolp and Vaprak the Destroyer come to mind for different reasons. Possibly Laogzed too.
I am also not going to go in order.  I have this notion of starting in the Fertile Crescent and working my way out, both physically and temporarily.   This is for my own education so I can mentally place various cultures in their proper times in relation to each other.
I also have not figured out what to do with beings that began as gods and later were transformed to devils, for example, Astártē to Astaroth.  I am planning on splitting up Greek and Roman, if for no other reasons to deal with some unique Roman ideas and dabble a little in some Etruscan myths and legends. Or maybe do an extended Greco-Roman-Etruscan post.

Love to hear suggestions and ideas.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Areelu Vorlesh, Witch Queen of the Worldwound

I picked up some Pathfinder minis a while back and this succubus in the mix that I did not recognize.  She also had a proper name, Areelu Vorlesh.  Imagine my joy when I discovered she was not only a succubus (well half succubus) but also a witch!

A trio of wicked witches, Iggwilv, Areelu, and Skylla
Turns out she is also a major NPC baddie in Pathfinder, the primary architect of the Worldwound in Golarion.  I am not sure what happens to her there, but she would really be a perfect addition to my War of the Witch Queens.  Plus I already have her mini!  Now I just need a Wayne Reynolds print on my wall.

Her Pathfinder stats are crazy. She is a 10th level witch, 10th level demoniac and an 8th level archmage.  Plus she has a lot of her half-succubus powers.  She has some truly outrageous stats too.

Areelu Vorlesh
The human that would become the witch Areelu Vorlesh has been lost to time. It was known that she was a witch in Deskari’s cult.  She was researching the nature of the separation of the worlds and planes (Plot hook!).  It was her success at opening the Worldwound that caused her Patron to transform her into a half-fiend.

Areelu Vorlesh (28th level witch)
The Witch

Strength: 14 Death Ray, Poison 3
Dexterity: 18 Magic Wands 4
Constitution: 18 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 3
Intelligence: 18 Dragon Breath 6
Wisdom: 18 Rods, Staffs, Spells 5
Charisma: 19

Hit Points: 73
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: -2 (Bracers of Defense, +3 Amulet of Protection)

Occult Powers (Malefic Tradition)
Familiar: "Gimcrak" (Quasit, Enhanced)
7th level: Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue
19th level: Curse
25th level: Polymorph Other

Succubus Powers
Fly (at normal movement rate).
Drain Constitution (1 point).
Immune to fire damage and poison.
Half damage from cold and electricity.
Takes double damage from "holy" items.

Spells
Cantrips (7): Arcane Mark, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Mend Minor Wounds, Message, Spark, Summon Vermin

First (8+3): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Command, Increase Sex Appeal, Mend Light Wounds, Protect Familiar, Quicken Healing, Shattering the Hourglass, Silver Tongue, Spirit Dart

Second (8+2): Ecstasy, Enhanced Familiar, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Rite of Remote Seeing, Scare, Twisting the Heartstrings II

Third (7+2): Bestow Curse, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Enlarge Familiar, Feral Spirit, Fly, Ghost Ward, Tongues, Witch Wail

Fourth (7+2): Abomination, Charm Monster, Confusion, Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Withering Touch

Fifth (6): Baleful Polymorph, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue

Sixth (6): Bewitch VI, Break the Spirit, Geas, Mass Suggestion, Repulsion, True Seeing

Seventh (5): Draw Forth the Soul, Eternal Charm Monster, Maze, Binding Ritual (Ritual), Gate (Ritual)

Eighth (5): Bewitch VIII, Damming Stare, Destroy Life, Wail of the Banshee, Imprisonment (Ritual)

So this version of Areelu Vorlesh is pretty powerful, though still not as powerful as the Pathfinder version (551 hp!) but still a very formidable foe and a worthy Witch Queen.



Monday, March 19, 2018

Weekend Gaming: On the Doorstep of the Forbidden City & Monster Monday

Worked in a couple of gaming sessions over the weekend.  Only about two hours each day, but the Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign managed to sneak into the Forbidden City.  Here they had their first encounter with the evil Yuan-Ti.

Now for those of you that still belabor under the assumption that 5e is "easier" let me just say that Yuan-Ti under 5e are much deadlier and one Yuan-Ti Abomination and one Pure Blood nearly took out the entire party of seven. They are now hiding out and have no more potions of healing.



I have not even tricked out the Yuan-Ti at all.  These are by-the-book deadly.

This adventure will introduce a bunch of new monsters to my players.  If Order of Platinum Dragon/Come Endless Darkness game is about revisiting all the classics, this one is about the near classics.  So a lot Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II monsters.

I also considering having there be a lot more involvement by Demogorgon. To that end, I am going to re-import some of my ideas from the time I used Demogorgon for the WitchCraft RPG.

This will include the Blood Apes.

Blood Apes

One of the largest cults of Demogorgon is a cult of intelligent apes. They are often referred to as Blood Apes due to their habit of bathing in the blood of fallen enemies and comrades. These cultists actively worship Demogorgon as their god and attribute to him all spoils. The doctrines of the cult emphasize destruction and violence.  All blood apes are voracious carnivores and keep human or (where appropriate) chimpanzee slaves. It is even whispered among the human populations that some humans are kept in an attempt by Demogorgon's Hierophants to breed true a race that features the most terrible qualities of both ape and man. Others claim they have already succeeded.

Every tribe of blood apres will have a CR 5-6 tribal leader and a CR 6 blood ape, fiendish-pact warlock.
Stat block from Statblock5e.

Once they get out of the city then things will get REALLY dangerous.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

All Hail the Prince of Demons!

Wide on the wasteful Deep; with him Enthron'd
Sat Sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The Consort of his Reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon
— John Milton, Paradise Lost II. 961-965

Ever since I first picked up the Monster Manual way back in 79 (or 78, I started playing in 79) there were some names that jumped out at me as an invitation to use them in some way;  Orcus, Tiamat, Asmodeus, and Demogorgon.

Back when 4e was the new hotness I picked up the Orcus mini. No surprise, he is the bad guy of not one, but two campaign capstone adventures.  He is also the "mascot" of both Necromancer Games and Goblinoid Games. So yeah, he is pretty popular.

Before that, I picked up the Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for the full Tiamat.  Works well.

For Asmodeus, I figure just about any devil will do really. He doesn't even really need to be big.

I have my Tharizdûn and my Lolth.
What I didn't have was a good Demogorgon.

Until now.

Last year I picked up a Demogorgon last year at AdeptiCon. Earlier this year I grabbed the Classic Creatures Collection from WotC which had two Demogorgon figures; a full size and an aspect.

I was ok, though I wished all of them were bigger.  THEN I discovered the Loot Crate DX Demogorgon.   Well, I wished I hadn't because I became obsessed with finding one.

Finally, this weekend my quest ended.


He is huge!



As you see he compares nicely to 4e Gargantuan Orcus.



He compares even better to his smaller "aspects".  That is my demon-hunter paladin there.  I hope he is ready!

None are exactly the same and that is a good thing.  Demons, especially this demon, should have shifting forms.

Right now I have him hidden.  My kids know all about the older Demogorgons (and Orcus and Tiamat), but this one will be a surprise.

My wife saw it too and I told her what I was doing and she is very excited.  I can't wait to pull this bad boy out!

Now I all I need is a good Graz'zt mini.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Gog and Magog!

A while back I presented stats for two Balor that I use in my games, Gog and Magog.

I always wanted to get minis for them, I always thought it would be fun to have them both and have them encountered by a party at the same time.

Well since it had been a cold, rainy weekend here in Chicago my wife decided to do some painting.

Here is the original Balor that I got with some mini set years ago.


Here is the repainted Balor, Errtu from the Legend of Drizzt board game.




I love the new lightning whip and fire sword!  The brass talons on his wings are a great touch.
LOVE the black touches on the wings.



I think it looks fantastic!  So glad my wife loves doing this.

Can't wait to use them in a game!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Demons!

I am a huge Castles & Crusades fan.  Any chance I get to play is a good one.  So when they have a Kickstarter I pay attention.

Castles & Crusades Tome of the Unclean


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/tome-of-the-unclean

I am a sucker for Monser books.  If they have demons or undead in them so much the better. If they are dedicated to demons or undead then I am sold.  I have the PDF versions of this, but to get it as a physical book with add-ons would be great! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Adventures at End of the World Collection

Well according to the latest Doomsday theory tomorrow is the end of the World. Again.

But hey don't let that stop you! There are some great Kickstarters to be had.

Up first is another one from mad wizard +Mark Taormino.

Dark Wizard Games: Double Mayhem Adventures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/dark-wizard-games-double-mayhem-adventures
This one updates Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen and Secret Machines of the the Star Spawn. With new art and editing.  There is also the chance to get updates of other modules.


Burial Plots for the Cryptworld Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1895361773/burial-plots
This book has five new adventures for the Cryptworld game.  +Dan P does some really great things with Cryptworld.  I wish I had the time to play it more to be honest.

Baker Street: Strange Cases and Hood: Beyond the Forest



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fearlightgames/baker-street-strange-cases-and-hood-beyond-the-for/
A new casebook for Baker Street and adventures for  Hood: Swashbuckling Adventures in Sherwood. Adventures Beyond the Forest.   +Bryce Whitacre has done a great job and Baker Street is a lot of fun. I have not played Hood, but if it is half as fun as it sounds then we are in good shape.

And what is the end of the world without demons?

Hell Awaits... Wave 1


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/552604905/hell-awaits-wave-1
Some more demons based on old woodcuts.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

So go out and spend your money! We could all be dead tomorrow! ;)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monstrous Monday: Imp of the Perverse

"We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. ... It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. ... The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies—disappears—we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!"
- Edgar Allen Poe, The Imp of the Perverse

The Imp of the Perverse is a small invisible imp that can be summoned much as any other demon to cause someone harm.    The imp is small, no larger than a rodent really, and invisible to all but those with the ability to See*.
(*Eldritch sight, detect magic, detect curse, detect invisible, or other such magical sights.)

Imp of the Perverse
Basic-era stats
No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaos (Chaotic Evil)
Movement:  120'(40')
    Fly: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d4
Special: Invisible, Suggestion of Harm, only hit my magic weapons
Save: W1
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 50

The Imp of the Perverse is a small demonic creature that can be summoned and attached to another victim. Once done so the Imp will sit on the victim's shoulder while holding onto their ear. The imp will then whisper in the victim's ear convincing it to harm themself.

The victim must first make a saving throw (vs. Spells, see below). If this save is made the imp does not latch on and is free to roam about to find another victim (those victims will then need to save) until it tries and fails three (3) victims or the magic-user that summoned it returns it.

If the victim fails to save the imp is latched on and becomes completely invisible.  No amount of detection on the part of the victim will reveal it attached. Others might.  The imp can only be removed with a Remove Curse, Exorcism or a properly worded Holy Word or Banishment spell.

Until then the victim makes a saving throw every day to see it they do something to harm themself. A failed save means that something occurs that seems natural that will cause them harm.

On the first failed save they will take 1d6 total damage. On each failed save after that they will take an additional 1d6 hp of damage; so 2d6, 3d6 and so on until the victim is dead or the imp removed.
Once an imp has been removed or it's victim is dead will it become visible once again and can be attacked.

Summon and Bind Imp of the Perverse
Level: Cleric 3**, Wizard 3, Witch /Warlock 3  (**evil/chaotic clerics only)
Duration: 24 hours
Range: Special
By means of this spell, the caster can summon an Imp of the Perverse from the Demon Realms to latch onto a victim.  The victim must be known to the casters and some item of the victim must be present when the summoning and binding are complete. The familiarity of the victim is helpful to the caster to prevent the victim from saving against the attack.

Familiarity Save Bonus/Penalty
Unknown +3 bonus to saves
Known by name +2 bonus
Know each other (can identify each other) +1 bonus
Know well -1 penalty
Know intimately -2 penalty
Same blood or kin -3 penalty

Material Components: The caster needs a personal item from the victim: clothes, a bit of hair, fingernail, drop of blood, and the like.  A bit of copper wire and loadstone.  The items are tied to the loadstone with the copper wire.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Medieval Demon Miniatures

Spend anytime here or reading my books you know I LOVE old woodcuts of witches and demons from the Middle Ages.   They were the Monster Manuals of the day.

Well much to my happiness Antediluvian Miniatures is coming out with a line of 28mm miniatures of these old wood cut demons, and yes some flying witches!

Medieval Demon Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

They look awesome to tell you the truth.

All the figures will be in metal too, not plastic.


It's like Pokemon, I want to collect them all!
Besides you can never have too many demons.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Weekend Gaming in the Second Campaign

It was my youngest son's birthday last week so we spent the weekend having kids over and gaming.
I decided to run another session of my so-called "Second Campaign".
We had a variety of kids playing including some that have played before and some who never had played.  I stuck with Under Illefarn since there other adventures in the book that would work.

Also, I had 7 kids between the ages of 13-14 so I needed something to keep them all busy.
So I ran the "Rescue Mission" mini-adventure.  The conceit of having all the characters be part of the city guard is great and it worked out well for this group of mixed new and old characters. Plus we had three paladins, so that worked out well.


It took us three hours to play that adventure.

Overly caffeinated and sugar-dosed kids (birthday cake, ice cream) makes for some difficult times in focusing.  Plus I was tired, having worked on my son's computer all week and weekend to get it running (I failed, but that is a different tale for a different day).

I will give the kids credit, they caught up with the Baron that had kidnapped the Duke's sister and instead of fighting him made a VERY convincing plea to the Baron that why kidnapping is not a good way to profess your undying love to someone.  They managed to do such a good job that the Baron agreed to go back with them to the Duke and plead his case for the hand of Bronwyn (the Sister) to the Duke himself.  By the end of the adventure, they Baron and Duke were already discussing wedding plans in front of an aghast Bronwyn.  I know, not very forward thinking of me, but it was a time when people were married off for political alliances all the time.

Of course on the way they managed to fight some ghouls and rescue a band of pixies.  One of the pixies is now part of the city guard.   We had about an hour left so my oldest joined us and I had them take out a nest of ghouls.  The nest of ghouls was added by me, it was something that I have used in the past to great effect.

I have decided that I am going to spend more time on the personalities populating the Realms than my usual games.  I am still fairly sure that many of the "Big Names" won't be making an appearance, but it would be a shame if I didn't at least name-drop them.

One thing I am thinking of doing is have Demogorgon make an appearance or be a "thing" in this game.  Orcus has what, 30,000 adventures out there, Lolth has at least as many. But no one ever does anything with the Prince of Demons.

It will be this campaign that I introduce the multi-verse to the players and characters.

One character, in fact, is coming over from our Come Endless Darkness game.  Cynder is the daughter of one of the wizards of my 3rd Edition game. She made a brief appearance in the Come Endless Darkness game during one of the flashback adventures. The other characters had forgotten about her but when the flashback was done they remembered and began to wonder what happened to her.

She is going to wake up in the Realms and it will soon be discovered that she can wield Spellfire.  Why not. It is an homage to first ever Realms novel I ever read and I love that cover art from Clyde Caldwell.  How she got there is not as important as to why she got there.  Spellfire could have changed the tide of the war brewing in Come Endless Darkness.



This is going to be a great time.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Krampus for your OSR/5e Games

It's Christmas eve so you know what you need?  More demons!

Here are a couple PWYW products for your Christmas games.










Have a great Christmas, Holiday, Yule and New Year.

Friday, October 7, 2016

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Church (1989)

Another Dario Argento flick.  The first 5-10 minutes was like Monty Python and Holy Grail that someone decided to play straight.  Seriously. Many points I was going "we are the Knights that say Ni!", "Burn her she's witch" and "Bring out your dead!".   Someone even looked like Patsy there was even a duck.

The rest of the movie is in modern times. And there it slows down to a crawl.  A church is built on the site where the Teutonic Knights killed a bunch of witches and in the modern day the church, now in disrepair is the home of a legion of demons.  The demons look kinda cool though.  Especially the last one.

There are some neat hallucination/possession scenes.

It does feature a very young Asia Argento as the last girl.

Not a great movie, but it have some really neat looking effects.


2016 Movie tally
Watched: 7
New: 6




Monday, August 22, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Wendigo Matron

A while back I featured a Wendigo as part of my A to Z.  Well, my son has been running some games on his own with a group of his friends and he has been using Wendigoes as well.  This monster is one of his original creations.

Section 15: "Wendigo Matron" Copyright 2016 Liam W. Brannan.

Wendigo by TheRutheLa
Wendigo Matron
Armor Class:  2 [17]
Hit Dice: 10d8+5* (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws / 1 bite / breath weapon / spell use
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d6+3 / 1d8+5 (cold)
Special: breath weapon, fear, low-light vision (240’), scent, immunity to cold
Movement: 90’/180' (fly)
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Witch 10
Morale: 9
Treasure: None
Alignment: Evil (Chaos)
XP: 3,000

A windigo matron is if anything, more evil than the common wendigo.  This creature is te defacto leader of a any band of wendigo and she has powers above and beyond the already formidable powers of these foul creatures.
In addition to the physical attacks, breath weapons, and fear of a normal wendigo, the wendigo matron can also use the following spell-like powers 3 times per day:

Wind Walk
Fly
Invisibility 
Shape change

A common tactic of a wendigo matron is to shape change into a normal human woman and lead victims to the lairs of the wendigo. She will often pose as a rescued victim, or as a someone seeking vengeance against the wendigo that killed her "family".   There may be truth in both guises as the wendigo may in fact, have been her family.
The wendigo matron is also different in her origin.  While humans can become wendigo when confronted with the prospect of starvation and freezing to death, a wendigo matron chooses to become what she now is.
It is believed that there is a dark ritual where prospective wendigo matron cuts out her own heart with a flint dagger.  What is known that a wendigo matron can not be truly destroyed till she is reduced to 0 hp and her heart is burned.  Otherwise, she will rise again when the next snowfall occurs.
Like the lich and his phylactery, the wendigo matron keeps her heart in a safe place.


Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

What else could it be?  Well...funny you should say that. There is also a few Vampire Queen adventures out there and there is the adventure path I am playing around with, War of the Witch Queens.  But I guess really there is only one queen and only one Q module.

Queen of the Demonweb Pits is the ultimate finale that began with the characters looking into some giant raids. Behind it all was the Drow and Lolth!...er wait. Wasn't supposed to be the Elder Elemental Eye? Tharizdun? I mean that is what is going on in T1 Village of Hommlet.

Well as it turns out Q1 was supposed to be different. It wasn't the vision that Gary wanted. Now the official story is that Gary was too busy to work on Q1 because he was working on T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil.  We can see bits of his thinking in T1, S4 and WG5.  So David Sutherland came in to finish it off.  At least that is story we have been told.  According to Shannon Appelcline this was the start of Gary's eventual ouster at TSR.

Regardless of how, what and why, Q1 is fondly remembered to this day 36 years later.  As part of the GDQ series it is considered to be one of the greatest adventures of all time.

I remember playing this back in the day and that confusing as hell map.  I remember talking to friends in the days WAY before the Internet and how we would speculate on Q2 and Q3.

Like T1 and the mythical stand-alone T2, a DIY Q2 would be great.

SO TO MY REGULAR READERS:  What would be in YOUR Q2?

Would you have the characters look into the Elder Elemental Eye connection?  Maybe there would be a civil war among the drow; those that support the EEE and those that support Lolth.

I suppose I could take a few pages from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits for 3.5 edition of D&D to.  I do know I need to work out this Lolth-Tharizdûn issue before my players get there!

3 Different Editions, 1 Basic idea


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! E is for Epic Level Adventures (4th Ed)

E is for Epic Level Adventures (4th Ed)

Fourth Edition gets a bad rap from a lot of gamers, especially old-school gamers.  Which is really a pity to be honest.  There is a fun game there. There is even a fun D&D game there.  But alas it is also a game I am not likely to ever play again despite my investment of time and money in on it.

What I did like the most about 4e though were the HPE modules.  These were a series of three adventures for each "tier" of play; H for Heroic (1st to 10th level), P for Paragon (11th to 20th level) and finally E for Epic or 21st to 30th level of play.  Now while most D&D games stick to 20 levels, 4th edition went to 30. Well...1st had an assumed cut off at 20 and D&D BECMI went to 36th and beyond.  But I'll get to that.

The Epic level adventures were truly epics.  The adventure plot was discovering that Orcus, the Demon Prince of the Undead (and the cover boy on Prince of Death), desires to be a god and he sets out to kill the new Goddess of Death, the Raven Queen.  The E series had you confront Orcus in a reality-spanning quest to stop a mad demon with the powers of an ancient evil artifact.  It was a plot that appealed to me.  The series featured three modules.
Now back in the 1st ed days we battled Orcus back in the Bloodstone Series (H1-4), which I'll also cover on "H" day.  So this was not really all that original.  Indeed even today in the 5e world we have the Rage of Demons adventure series which includes Orcus.   Orcus is a very easy target. He hates everythng, wants everything destroyed and is a rampaging beast.  Which is also the biggest issue I have with these modules.  Orcus is portrayed as a schemer. He isn't. He is a beast. In my own games he is classified as a Rage Demon.  So I thought someone else pulling the strings behind him would make more sense.  Someone clever, someone evil, and someone that will use Orcus getting godhood just as a mask to his own plans.  So now I think you can see how my "Come Endless Darkness" was born.

Over the last couple of years I have come up with some fairly rough algorithms for 4e conversion.  So here are my current thoughts.

Plan 1.  Use bits of this plus bits of H4 Throne of Bloodstone to fold into my Come Endless Darkness campaign.  This is the most likely really.

Though I would still LOVE to use ALL these adventures someday.  Play all nine, ten or eleven if you count the ones that came with the 4th ed basic set and Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens.   I doubt I will ever run it under 4e, but stranger things have happened.
But I could convert it.

Plan 2. Convert for use for another game. There is some good stuff here really and I would still love to play all of them out.  Conversion could solve my issues, but how do I convert it?

Well if I am playing 2nd, 3rd or 5th ed then levels are about to 2 to 3.  So if the adventure says it is for 6th level then I take 4th level characters through and replace the monsters appropriately.

If I am playing B/X/C or BEMCI (aka "Basic") version of D&D or AD&D 1 then I add 5 levels to the characters.  B/X/C and BEMCI assumes that the characters, well, human characters, will advance to 36th level.  And your average 1st level 4e character is still more powerful than your average 4th-5th level character.

I am more likely to try it under Basic; going from 1st to 36th level.  I am not really sure how well it would work to be honest.  But I will also admit this is my conversion of choice.  It allows me to use all the cool OSR toys I have and use a system am very familiar with.  I would adopt some of the 4e trappings like conditions, especially "bloodied" and ideas like minions.
I have already converted 1st and Basic-era luminaries as Emirikol the ChaoticAleena and Morgan Ironwolf to 4e, so going backwards is not that difficult.

There are a couple of conversion guides out there too. WotC has one as does Sly Flourish.  But none that I have found so far back-converting.

If you are new to this and want to learn how to play 4th Edition D&D and see the first part of the HPE saga you can get H1 Keep on the Shadowfell & Quick-Start Rules for 4e for free.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Skylla: Compleat Spell Caster

The Compleat Spellcaster



Recently +Eric Fabiaschi over at Swords & Stitchery did a retro-review of the old Bard Games "The Compleat Spellcaster".   A book I have enjoyed for a number of years. A book that I will freely admit got me interested in doing my own witch class back in the day.  I played a witch using these rules rather briefly, but soon switched over to my own version.   Eric points out that the book is rich in ideas and magic.  What I personally liked were the spells and the variety of demons.  I still use Astorath, Shax and empusa demons.  

Eric did a fine review, so no need for me to go over the same ground.  Instead I want to see what sort of witch I can make with it.

In this book witches are a sub-class of the druid. Likewise necromancers and mystics are subclasses of the cleric.  I rather like this to be honest, I like that wisdom is the primary stat for the witch.




Skylla, 7th Level Witch
Chaotic Evil

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 13

Breath Weapon: 13
Poison & Death: 7
Petrify: 10
Wands: 11
Spells: 12

Hit Points:  25
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection AC 4)
Familiar: Imp (looks like a small dragon)

Spells
1st level: Detect Magic, Disguise, Eldritch Fire, Hex, Object Reading, Summon Familiar
2nd level: Circle of Darkness, Frost, Levitate, Youth
3rd level: Dispell Magic, E.S.P., Locate Object
4th level: Invisibility, Thunderbolt


There are a lot of great spells for the witch.  There some powers that the witch gains including some alchemy and gathering followers.  I think this is good version of Skylla, though the lack of 8th and 9th level spells reduces the overall power of the class.

In the end I will repeat what Eric said, "...the Complete Spell Caster has a lot to offer if a DM thinks outside the usual boxes."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Guest VJ Jason Vey

Tonight we have a special guest VJ Jason Vey!

He is here to share songs that influenced him or motivated him while working on Brimstone & The Borderhounds RPG.

Jason and I have known each other for years. We worked on Buffy together, playtested each other games and respected each other enough to say when a bit of game design was total shit.

I was a playtester on this in the early days but I really can't say anything about it other than I am REALLY excited it is coming out.  So without further rambling on from me, here is Jason.


--

Greetings, night stalkers, vampires and Weepers! I’m definitely NOT Kasey Kasem. I’m Jason Vey(sem) and I’ll be your guest veejay for this week’s edition of Friday Night Videos on the Other Side.

Tonight I’m going to talk about the music of Brimstone and the Borderhounds – my RPG that’s currently in Kickstarter through Troll Lord Games. I’d like to share a few little ditties that are inspirational or otherwise appropriate to this particular game which falls solidly in the urban fantasy genre. But before we do that, here’s a quick primer from the Kickstarter itself:

Forget everything you know about the afterlife. Good guys don’t always go to Heaven and bad guys don’t always end up in Hell. The multiverse is one giant amalgam of giant corporations that humans know as afterlives. Heaven. Hell. Valhalla. The Happy Hunting Grounds. Some might look prettier than others, but in the end they’re all at war for the greatest commodity in the multiverse…Human souls.

It doesn’t matter much where you end up when you die; your lot in life is one of slave labor in one of these afterlives, doing whatever you might have done best (or didn’t know you were best at) in life. That could be constructing buildings or architecture. It could also be mopping up in a strip club. In Hell these human souls are called Weepers. Some win their freedom and earn a meager living in the dregs of society. Others try to escape, either to join terrorist groups known as Kittens, or to get out to another afterlife or even back to Earth. When that happens, crack teams of bounty hunters called Borderhounds are sent out to the Wastelands to bring them back in. The best of these teams is known as XiBalba and is led by Brimstone, the half-demon son of Hell’s Grand Architect.

Using the acclaimed and easy-to-learn SIEGE engine mechanic, the Brimstone and the Borderhounds RPG lets you play as Brimstone and his allies, as a new team of Borderhounds hunting down escaped Weepers and battling corporate espionage from other afterlives (or engaging in a little of your own), or play as a psychic, mystic, occult investigator or Earth-bound hero, battling supernatural incursions from the other worlds as our planet becomes a battleground in the greatest corporate war the multiverse has ever seen. Wield Helltech weapons, call upon Forza Infernis (the powers of Hell) or draw forth alien magic and psychic energies. The sky (or the Pit, as it may be) is the limit when you play in the world of Brimstone and the Borderhounds!

So there you have it, kids. Brimstone and the Borderhounds is an urban fantasy game using the same rules that power Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures. If Buffy-meets-Cyberpunk-in-Hell sounds cool, then B&B is just for you!

Now let’s take a look these happy little numbers that were inspirational or are otherwise appropriate for this game.

1. The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden
A classic of heavy metal by one of the most important bands in the genre, this nightmarish story about a guy hunted through the woods by the devil himself is uniquely suited to a game about, well, souls escaping from Hell!





2. The Road to Hell - Bruce Dickinson
This may be cheating, since it’s by the lead singer of Iron Maiden and sounds a bit Maiden-ish, but it’s a relentless, driving tune that’s perfect background music for chasing down those Weepers or battling incursions from the other Afterlife Realms!



3. Seasons in the Abyss - Slayer
Sensing a theme, here? What did you expect? It’s a game set in or revolving around the theme of HELL! This is a classic of dark thrash metal from 1990. Its minor key and chilling, dark vocals are a great mood setter for a campaign revolving around those first discovering how the multiverse works.



4. All Nightmare Long - Metallica
Kind of a new record, and sure, Metallica has probably had better tunes, but this one is a worthy entry into their oeuvre. The video is as chilling as the lyrics and like Road to Hell, it’s relentless and driving and would be great for that climactic battle against whatever enemy your GM cooks up.



5. Faster - Within Temptation
Led by singer Sharon den Adel, Dutch metal masters Within Temptation are one of the more underrated symphonic rock bands out there today. This song is actually a single from their album The Unforgiving, which would completely unto itself act as a great soundtrack for a B&B campaign. It’s also tied to a comic book limited series, which you should totally check out as it dovetails neatly with the themes in Borderhounds.



6. Welcome to my Nightmare - Alice Cooper
Seriously, need you ask? What game about hell and monsters is complete without a song about the gradual degradation of sanity and the horrors of the madhouse? Nobody has ever captured the mood of horror and nightmares in music like Alice Cooper, and likely no one ever will. Here’s a creepy live clip of that one.



7. Holy Wars - The Punishment Due – Megadeth
The connections here are several. Thematically, this is about terrorism in the Middle East…and the Marvel Comics’ character The Punisher. Strange pairing, but there it is. The idea of “holy wars,” however, is a great fit for a game about corporate espionage between Heaven and Hell, and the driving, never-quit force of it is another excellent soundtrack for action and adventure, while the comic connections are obvious.


There you have it: seven songs to get you in the mood for Brimstone and the Borderhounds, Kickstarting now! Check it out—back if you like, and spread the word!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/brimstone-and-the-borderhounds-rpg

Kickstart Your Weekend: Brimstone & The Borderhounds RPG

I don't know much about the Brimstone & The Borderhounds comic, except it looks like "Dog the Bounty Hunter" meets "Hellraiser".  I could be wrong.  But even if I am it sounds like a cool game.

Troll Lords also thinks so with their new Brimstone & The Borderhounds RPG.



It is being written by Jason Vey (of Amazing Adventures, Band of Zombies, Broken Gods, and contributing author to the Defending Earth the Unit Sourcebook for the Doctor Who RPG, and contributor to Buffy) and uses the SEIGE Engine found in Amazing Adventures and Castles & Crusades.

Already I see a lot of use for this game.

I have a little side game going on (well on hold for a moment) called "The Daughters of Death" that was using D&D4.  With this it looks like I could easily move it over to Castles & Crusades.

Since I already have some Castles & Crusades plans in the mix for my game after my D&D 5 one.

In anycase this looks like a lot of fun.

Troll Lords has a great track record with Kickstarter so backing this one should be a no brainer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Demon Hunter Class for AA (and C&C)

Just in time for Halloween (but I just found it now) Jason Vey has put out a new Demon Hunter class for his SIEGE Engine Amazing Adventures RPG.

http://bit.ly/aafreeclass

While designed for the Pulp-era adventures of Amazing Adventures this class also would work fantastic with Castles and Crusades.

The class is much more "Buffy" than it is "Solomon Kane" but you could do either with it.  Mostly though it reminds me of John Gregory, the Spook, from the "Last Apprentice" book series.

It compares well to the Paladin really, except it doesn't have healing, spells or a special mount. It does have supernatural senses and a special weapon.

Just another reminder that I need to play more Castles & Crusades.
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