Showing posts with label undead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label undead. Show all posts

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #138

October 1988.  I was a sophomore in college, but not just any college. I was at Southern Illinois University and Halloween was a HUGE deal. I debuted my first version of my "Astaroth" devil costume.  A couple of my friends got wasted, damaged part of the football field and got arrested.  I also "invented" the "Bush Whacker"; a double shot of vodka washed down with a Bush beer.  Never been able to drink vodka after that night.  My college roommate had a new girlfriend so I ended up with a dorm room all to myself.  It was pretty sweet really.  I had finished my first draft of the Witch class nearly two years prior and was now into deep playtesting and revising.   It's October 1988 and this is issue #138 of This Old Dragon!

As far as Dragons go I consider this one in my top five.  I remember walking to the bookstore down "The Strip" (Illinois Ave) to pick this up.  The cover could not be more Halloween-themed if it tried.   The material inside completely lives up to this cover.

Roger E. Moore is now the Editor, replacing the departing Kim Mohan.  I am not sure when exactly this took place, but I do know that this was the first issue I really noticed it.   This is post-Gygax TSR and if we didn't know that know we soon will.  Not that I am trying to draw parallels between Moore and the people that took over TSR.  Far from it.  But there was a new direction in art and in in content in Dragon and other TSR works that really began to show about this time.  It is easy to lump it all into 2nd Edition era, but it started before that.

Letters cover the lack of Dragon magazine indexes.

Nice big full ad for Space 1889. I picked up this game used not soon after, but sold it in one my "purging" moods.  I finally got another one at Half-Price books a while back.

The Forum covers a variety of topics, heavy on contributions from IL I notice.  At the time I really had no idea how good I had it.  I have heard of an Original D&D corridor that ran from Chicago and Lake Geneva all the way down to Carbondale, IL (where I was) and hitting nearly every major university along the way down south.  Even in my hometown, there were several independent D&D groups running at same time.   The Egyptian Campaign (in Carbondale, aka "Little Egypt") had been running since it's involvement with fellow Saluki (SIU alum) Tim Kask.   All I knew was I had access to books, games, and people and I thought everyone had this.  Later I learned this was not the case and one of the reasons these other games and supplements began popping up, to fill a gap.

We get some advice on painting undead in Through the Looking Glass.

Ad for Dragonfire computer-aided DM's software.  I know people that swore by this.


I have heard that this software had been released as share-ware, but I could be mistaken.

The unofficial start to our Halloween issue is Sage Advice. Here Skip Williams covers various questions about the undead that I found very useful.  I notice that a lot of what was written here later informed the undead monsters of 2nd Edition.

Page 15 we hit the meat of this issue, all about horror!

Up first a little something for the Call of Cthulhu game. The Black Book and the Hunters by Craig Schaefer introduces The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath and the Hunters of Shub-Niggurath (Greater Servitor Race).  While I am not sure if I ever used these in CoC, I certainly used a lot of ideas from this article in dealing with demons.  In fact, I penciled in "Lesser" and "Greater Servitor Race" on many demon entries.

Double page ad for the SF&F book club.  Some great books here!

Up next is something from none other than Tom Moldvay.  No wonder I love this article so much.
The Ungrateful Dead expands the ranks of the undead with some monsters I STILL use to this very day.  These horrors include The Bloody Bones, Skleros,  Dry Bones ("Dem Bones"), Gem Eyes, Shock Bones (something I had come with independently based on a nightmare I had as a kid), Galley Beggers, the Walking Dead, the Lesser and Greater Colossus, the hungery Dead, Le Grand Zombi, Ghula, Baka, Gelloudes, Spirit Ghouls, a Wendigo (!), Black Annis and her cat, and the vampire like Callicantzaros.  Whew. A ton of undead from myth, legend and popular culture. So many I have used over the others and others I had forgotten!

Up next is an article I have a bit of contention with.  Not this article per se, but ones like it.
Ed Friedlander gives us madness in fantasy RPGS in Methods to Your Madness.
The article itself is not bad and really focuses on the fantasy aspects of the game and the potential effects.  In general, I find many bits on madness, "insanity" and psychological impairment to be hamfisted at best and dangerously wrong at worst.  My background is in Psychology. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in it. I spent years working as a Qualified Mental Health Professional in a group home setting with schizophrenics. I don't like "sanity" rules in most games.  I like the ones in Call of Cthulhu because they work within the confines of the system and the mythos.
The rules in this article work because they do not try to cleave to close to modern psychology.  Instead of a diagnosis of a disease, we get descriptions of behaviors.

Eileen Lucas is up with an article I didn't read much then but have since come back too many, many times. The End of the World: Of plagues, player characters, and campaign worlds.  I think I am not the only one.  Remember the old Knight Rider TV show?  Every season it seemed like they had to crash and nearly destroy KITT (and sometime Micheal) to only rebuild it and make it stronger, better.  I see this sometimes in Campagin Worlds.  We saw it in Greyhawk and I am not sure how many times in Krynn and the Forgotten Realms.  The article though is very, very good and has a lot of great ideas on how to end the world and start again.  At this time in my own gaming the "Dragon Wars" had just happened and my world had been largely destroyed.  When I wanted to bring my world back for 3e I went back to this article to read up on the plague and the after effects of wars.

We break from disease and death to talk about lasers.
Martin Landauer is next with Putting Fire into Firepower or lasers for the original Top Secret game.  I always thought of this as the bridge between Top Secret and Star Frontiers.  Maybe they were in the same universe.

The fiction piece is next, Between Lightning & Thunder by Nancy Varian Berberick.

Cool full page ad for DC Heroes with my first introduction to Amanda Waller.


The Role of Computers covers the then cutting edge of computer games. Many with new CGA graphics!  Many games are listed at around the $40-$45 area.  Interesting how the price of games has not changed all that much.

A couple of pages of small ads.

Role-playing Reviews covers a few horror-themed game titles.  Cthulhu Now is a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu changing the setting to modern times.  Future versions of CoC will fold this information into the core book to some degree.  GURPS Horror was at this time considered to be the MUST HAVE horror supplement for any game.  I remember looking for it for years in my local stores; so much for easy access!  Beyond the Supernatural was also considered one of the hot horror games of the late 80s.  It is notable not just for it's content but for also starting the writing career of many horror RPG authors like C.J. Carella who would later go on to write WitchCraft.

A page of TSR Previews. This features (and there is an ad later) the LAST AD&D hardcover to be produced, Greyhawk Adventures. This book was notable for being 1st Edition, but also having 2nd Edition AD&D stat blocks for monsters.


I can't help but notice that the blue background on this is almost the same blue background that will be later used for the AD&D 2nd Edition preview book.

Convention Calendar is next.

DragonMirth has some comics including newbie Yamara.
SnarfQuest hits episode #62.
There is no Wormy.  Little did I (or anyone else) know Tramp had moved and was living about 2 miles from where I was.

Lots of full color, full page ads.

Wow. What a packed issue.  AD&D 1st Ed was in it's twilight years and we all knew it.  What we didn't know was that soon AD&D players would engage in "The Edition Wars".  Yes there had always been the AD&D vs. D&D ones, but that was minor when it came to the 1st vs. 2nd ed or the TSR vs. WotC ones over the next, well, forever.

But until then we have this brief moment of stillness and this really great issue.

What are your memories of October 1988?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monstrous Monday: The Umbral

Regardless of alignment or patron followed there is one philosophical belief that unites all witches. All witches believe in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Witches, all witches, are born, live, die and are reborn anew.  The most horrible thing to a witch then is to come back as an undead creature. Forever removed from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth an undead witch is a pitiable creature like no other.

A witch returning as an undead creature is known as an Umbral.

Umbral**
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Move: 90' (30')
  Flying: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4d8+2 (20hp)
Attack: Wail of Lament
Damage: CHA drain
Save: Witch 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: nil
Alignment: Chaotic (some Neutral)
XP: 300 (450 xp if fully destroyed)

An Umbral is a witch that has died and come back to unlife. Typically this is due to some great sadness or sorrow that prevents her from moving on.  The umbral is incorporeal and can only be hit by +1 or better weapons. A weapon of cold iron blessed by a cleric can also be used.
The umbral is locked to the area of their death or some other significant area.  Sages once tell of a Umbral that haunted the grounds her coven stood even though she had been killed many miles away.
The only attack of the umbral is a wail of lament.  All within 120' (240') that hear it must make a save vs. Death or loose 1 point of Cha.  The trauma of such an attack leaves a noticeable mark on the on the physical and emotional well being of the victim.   The Charisma damage can be restored by any magic that restores lost levels.
An umbral that is "killed" returns on the next new moon.  To fully destroy an umbral her mortal remains must be burned. This is why, sages say, so many witches are burned. To prevent their umbrals from haunting them.

Scholars also mention a greater umbral creature, a Shade.
In the same tomes that describe these creatures also describe a ritual to return an undead to life.

The umbral is turned as a spectre.  A turned umbral returns in three days. Destroying an umbral, even by dispelling/disruption still requires the burning of it's mortal remains.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Zugarramurdi Brujas

This creature has been haunting my dreams for a very long time.
I wanted a creature that combined aspects of the witch, vampire, hag and lich into one creature.  A "first draft" of this creature was known as an Occult Lich, but that did not really capture what I wanted.  Here is another attempt. This time for Labyrinth Lord.

Undead Witch by doghateburger
Zugarramurdi Brujas
No. Enc.: 1 (3)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 10+5*** (50 hp)
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d4/1d4/1d6
Special: Wisdom & Charisma drain
Save: W 10
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVII
XP: 2,600

The Zugarramurdi Brujas are undead witches that are believed to have come from the village of Zugarramurdi, Spain.  Zugarramurdi was the scene of a huge witch trail in the 17th century.  It was believed that these witch sold their souls to a devil named Akerbeltz, he gave them magical powers, silver and a toad familiar.  When alive they had power of animals and members of the opposite sex.  It was believed that these witches could also spit poison.  To maintain their power they had to sacrifice children on the night of the Summer Solstice.
Some of the accused died before they saw trail, but many of the witches were tried and executed.  Their remains, which could not be buried in hallowed ground, were tossed into a cave where the witches used to meet; Cuevas de las Brujas ("Cave of the Witches").
It is said they returned from the dead on the next Summer Solstice.

The term now is used to refer to any witch that comes back from the dead due to improper burial.  As an undead creature they are more powerful than they were in life, though most of their spell casting ability is diminished.
They attack with a claw/claw/bite routine as their primary form of attack.  On a successful critical hit (natural 20) on any attack they also drain 1 point of Wisdom and 1 point of Charisma from their victims.  Any victim reduced to 0 in either ability will become a zombie under control of the Zugarramurdi Bruja who killed it.
They also are surprised only on a 1 in 6.
They also cast the following spells as a 10th level witch: Bewitch III, Charm, ESP, Eyebite, Greater Command, Shriek, Withering Touch, and Undead Enslavement.

Zugarramurdi Brujas are vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items.  Holy water does 1d8 hp of damage to them. They can be turned by good cleric as if they were vampires.  A lawful witch can also turn these creature as if she were a cleric of the same level, such is their abomination of all things the lawful witch holds sacred.   Like a vampire these creature cannot enter into a personal dwelling unless they are granted permisson nor can they ever enter hallowed ground, such as a place of lawful worship or a graveyard.  Doing so causes 1d8 hp damage per round.


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


Monday, May 30, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Memento Mori

It's Memorial Monstrous Monday so I thought this might be a good choice for today.

Memento Mori
No. Enc.: 1-2
Alignment: NA
Movement: NA
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1d4 (1 hit point)
Attacks: 1 (fear)
Damage: as per fear spell
Save: F0
Morale: NA
Hoard Class: nil
XP: 10

Memento Mori are the spectral remains of a violent death. When someone dies a particularly violent death they can leave behind a fragment of their psychic energy as a memento mori.  They appear as thin, ghostly shapes acting out the moment of their death over and over again.  Rarely will they interact with the living.

Upon seeing a memento mori creatures and characters at or below 3 hit die/levels act as if a fear spell was cast on them. Observers above 4 HD and at or below 6 are allowed a saving throw vs.Petrify to avoid the effects.  Creatures about 7 HD are not affected.

A cleric who can dispel undead of 1 HD can put a memento mori to rest.  Also, a memento mori can be put to rest via an atonement, banishment, exorcise or wish spell.

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


Friday, August 29, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

That would have to be the very first time I encountered a Lich back in the AD&D1 days. I am thinking it was the summer of 82 or so.

The DM read the monster description and she decided that because it was a former high-level magic-user that it had all these new spells. She played the monster as would have today, but back then that was kind of a new thing.

Needless to say it kicked our 6th to 7th level asses.

While I was annoyed, I later looked back on it and thought about how well she had done it all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A to Z of Witches. J

J is for Ju-ju

Juju has some similar origins as does Voodoo.  Both are west African in origin and both have similar linguistic roots, but the two are not related.

In modern language Juju has also come to mean Magic or magical like properties. Similar to the way Hex has been used.  Though today one can talk about "Bad" and "Good" Juju.

In the Monster Manual II we were introduced to a new zombie type, the Ju-ju zombie.
It was stronger, faster and more powerful than the standard walking dead.  Ir was the result of a character being killed by a "Drain Energy" spell.

I like the idea of Juju Zombies actually being a creation of witchcraft.  Maybe it is because I have been rereading the Anita Blake books, but I like the idea of a more powerful zombie being raised by a witch or a necromancer. Above and beyond what a wizard could do.

A juju Zombie is created by the 5th Level Witch Spell Animate Dead.  Even though it has no true intelligence  it can "remember" what it once was and act accordingly.  The Juju Zombie has more HD than a regular zombie. On average I like to say 3 or 4.  Makes them tough for low level characters.

Zombie, Ju-ju
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8+9** (23 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws, 1bite
Damage: 1d6+3, 1d6+3 / 1d4+2
Special: undead
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1-3
Saves As: Fighter 5
Morale: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 500

The Ju-ju zombie is a stronger, faster version of the zombie.  While zombies are mindless, slow moving corpses, the ju-ju is strong, fast and retains a bit of the intelligence of it's original life.
The ju-ju can be created by a witch or necromancer using the Animate Dead spell and the body of a fighter of at least 3rd level.  Normal, non-necromancer, wizards can only raise a regular zombie.
Like a normal zombie this type can be given instructions, but they can be longer and bit more complicated.  On the average they would have an intelligence of about 3-4 (regular zombies would be at 1).
The ju-ju zombie is turned as if it were a wight.





Supernatural AtoZ
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