Tuesday, June 7, 2016

League of Extraordinary Ladies: The Huntress

Have not done one of these in a while.  So to celebrate the Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror: Shapeshifters & Vampires, here is a hunter...or rather a Huntress!
Plus I was reading through some of my Ubiquity books this morning and thought it would be nice to do this again.

The Huntress
Health: 8
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 4
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 5
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 9
Initiative: 10
Defense: 9
Stun: 4

Skills (levels only)
Archery 6
Athletics 7
Drive 2
Firearms 6 (hand-held crossbow)
Investigation 6
Larceny 6
Linguistics 4 (English, Italian, French, Spanish)
Medicine 3
Melee 6
Performance 1
Ride 2
Stealth 7
Streetwise 7

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (the Bat-Man)
Contacts (the Justice League) 3
Contacts (Criminal) 5
Wealth 5

Flaws
Obsession (prevent crime, hunt criminals)

This is Helena Bertinelli, not Wayne.  I have nothing against that version of the character, this is just Miss Bertinelli.  I set her Larceny, Streetwise, Contacts and Wealth accordingly.

Again with these I am not sweating the points. I want them to feel like their comic book counterparts.

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!


Friday, June 3, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Ninjas and Badges

It's almost the weekend folks!  Here are a couple of kickstarters I think are worthy of your support.

Up first is Ninja High School a new game based on the comic of the same name.


It comes to us from +Jonathan Thompson and Battlefield Press, whom I have worked with in the past.
It's a D6 system, so it should be a lot of fun. I have been wanting to do something with D6 for a while now.

And we are nearing the last 10 or so hours of Gamer Badges by JBM Press.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1705440407/gamer-badges

I have to admit I love the idea of these.  Not just in terms getting the badges (which is fun) but also this is exactly the sort of thing Kickstarter is about; helping a small company get the capital they need to get a unique project off the ground.  Plus JBM Press are good people.

Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Witch Queens Gather...

They are getting along now, but is War in their future?

Larina, Feyia & Iggwilv

This fantastic art was created by +Jacob Blackmon who has done tons of great RPG art including a lot of the art in the upcoming Strange Brew, which features Larina quite a bit.

If you like his work then pop over to his DeviantArt page, his Patreon page, Facebook or Tsū pages.

I am thinking of making this the "unofficial" cover of my War of the Witch Queens campaign. Which is fine given it is something I am just planning on doing in my home game and not publish.

I just need to do something cool enough to live up to the awesome in that picture.

Edition Changes as a Role-Playing Device

It is no secret that I am a fan of most editions of D&D (and many games in general).  Since I began back in 1979 I have played every edition of *D&D there is and have found something to enjoy in all of them.

Since I have been playing for so long, I have also had campaigns that have lasted years.  Sometimes these campaigns span multiple editions.  For example, my kids started with characters in 3rd edition, then those characters have kids that were started in 1st Edition and then we all moved to 5th edition.  With the occasional side step into Basic or OSR games for fun.   I have used different editions of the game for flashbacks, dream-sequences and general out-of-body experiences.



But looking at the larger picture of a longer narrative have you considered the actual rule changes to part and parcel of what is going on in the world?  Obviously, if you only play one edition this will not mean much to you or if your games have no continuity between editions.   But I have characters that started in Holmes Basic and they have descendants in my current 5e game.   Usually, it is one generation per edition, but how can I explain it when a cleric only has a mace a weapon and no spells till 2nd level when his grandson, who is also a cleric of the same god can wield a sword in some cases and his son can cast minor spells at will?

Some things I did work into a large narrative.
When I went from Basic to First Ed I explained the Class/Race Split by saying that elves in my original lands preferred to become fighter/magic-users due to tradition, but elves elsewhere in the world would choose other classes.

Going from First to Second had the biggest hurdle regarding demons.  First ed had them, second ed originally did not.  So since I had just done a huge war to finish off my "high school" games before college I just said that the war had blocked all demons from coming back into the world.

Second to third was a longer time span of inactivity for me, but the big issue was the birth of Sorcerers; people with spontaneous magic in their blood. Is this a remnant of the re-opening of the demon gates?  Maybe.   Hmm....I think I see and adventure idea!

Fourth has a slew of problems.  Mostly though the change in the nature of magic.  I have regarded this as an odd conjunction of the planes; something that altered the Cosmology.  Again, sounds like a cool thing to play out one day.

Fifth then is the return to the way things were before...with some things changed permanently.

I know there are some "in-story" and "in-universe" explanations for these changes in a lot of the Forgotten Realms material.  I will have to check these out someday and see if they track with my own ideas.

What have you done?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Class Struggles: The Cleric

Coming back to my Class Struggles series I wanted to look into the class that really got me thinking about this series to start with.  The Cleric.

There has been a lot of talk of clerics and their value in a D&D game.  This ranges from the old school of whether or not the Cleric is an appropriate trope for a fantasy game to the new school of whether a cleric is needed in a game that also has healing from long rests.

I am firmly in the camp of Clerics are as much a part of D&D as Fighters, Wizards and Thieves.

My first character ever was Father Johan Werper, Cleric of the God of the Sun, Hunter of the Undead. He was a bit of a generic cleric to be honest, and I choose the sun god because I thought that as a quasi-medieval priest  the sun would be a major feature of all the is holy, bright and good.  Plus I had been reading a bunch of Greek Myths and I thought Apollo would make for a good god.  But the real reason I choose the cleric; Turning Undead.  That was an AWESOME power in my pre-teen mind.   So that has colored my views of the cleric ever since.
(Father Werper, now St. Werper, lives on as an official Saint in COA04: Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall.)

In real life I am an atheist, but I like the play the religious character.  So clerics, witches, druids, all fascinate me.  But clerics are where it all started.

Clerics as Occult Researchers


In nearly every other game I have ever played there have been occult researchers.  There is usually someone that is the party's muscle, the magic-guy, the sneaky guy and the smart guy.  Sometime the magic guy and smart guy are the same, sometimes though they are not.  The Cleric takes on the roll of the Smart Guy or the Occult Researcher.  The books, the ill-fitting glasses, and the wisdom to know what to do is the role of the cleric.

It is fairly well known that the idea behind clerical undead turning  came from Peter Cushing's Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer Dracula films.  Why not extend the metaphor to include the rest of Van Helsing's portfolio.  As a class that puts a high value on Wisdom then the cleric should be a font of knowledge. Sure, this can also be done by the Magic-User / Wiazard,  but the cleric's input should not be understated.  Van Helsing is described as a meta-physian or what we might call a poly-math, or man of letters.  Wizards, even with schools, don't have the same "Academic" credibility as a cleric can have.  Sure the shaman could be considered a cleric in some games, and his schooling could entirely be natural or at least un-scholastic in nature.

In D&D 3, 4 and 5 knowledge of the undead fall within the Knowledge (Religion) or just Religion category.   These characters tend to have more training in this area than other characters.  While wizards are typically the font of magical knowledge, clerics should be the source of knowledge beyond the ken of mortal man and into the realm of the gods and other forms of the supernatural.

Clerics as the Party Leader
The cleric also can serve the role as the leader. While the cleric can run the gamut of influential high priest to crazy street prophet to diabolic cult leader, players typically take on the role of the cleric of the local church, usually good.  Certainly that is what D&D wants you to do and that is fine.  This type of cleric also works as the default leader, whether he/she is or not. So if this is the hand you are dealt, then play it because clerics make great leaders. Under most circumstances they access to power, money, a hierarchy and can expect a modicum of respect from the locals.  All this adds up to an instant authority figure.  Even if they are not.
While this role was stress fairly heavy in D&D4, all other versions of the game also give it tacit, implicit and even explicit lip service.  In D&D5 the divine domains of Knowledge and War make for pretty good leader types. Their better saves in Wisdom and Charisma make them less likely to charmed or otherwise controlled magically, so this can be role-played as a stronger than average mental fortitude.  Which fits the cleric well.

Cleric as the Party Medic
The obvious role.  Clerics have healing magic in earlier editions of the game, have spontaneous healing spells in the 3.x era and can activate healing surges in 4th. The clerics of 5th edition seem to take them back more to their roots in terms of healing.  The role of the cleric cannot be overstated.  Parties without a cleric die.
During my run between 1st and 2nd Ed I created a Healer class.  It shared a number of features that my Witch class did including the ability to heal by touch as she went up in level.  Completely unneeded in 3.x of course, but in 2nd Ed it was quite a game changer.  I also made an NPC healer a pacifist.  She would never raise a weapon to any creature unless of course it was undead and then she went all Peter Cushing on them.  But running that class and character (she was the only character I ever made for that class) showed me how important the healing aspect was.  There was not just the regaining hit points, there was the player morale.  Also, since the character was an NPC it was easy not to have her fight, but the Players really did everything they could to protect her.

BTW. Her name was Celene Weper and she was the grand-daughter of Father Werper above.  Yes clerics in my world get married and have kids, since it is a life-affirming thing.
Plus keep in mind that Clerics as Healers have a long tradition even in our own world.  If ever a character decided to become a pure healing cleric and take an oath of non-violence then I would give them XP for every hitpoint cured and a share of combat XP.  I would also give them 2x the starting funds (even though they would give what they don't spend back to the church) to represent the investment their churches/hospitals have made in them.  After all, can't send a healer out into the world with shoddy armor. Reflects bad on their organization.

Clerics as Combatants?
It almost seems counter to the above, but clerics are the second best major class when it comes to fighting.  Only fighters (and their related classes) are better.  The get good saves vs. magic due to their high wisdom, or Will saves for the same reason and their saves are pretty decent to start with.   Plus they have one thing fighters don't have, the  ability to use magic.  "So what" you say, "so can Wizards and even your favorite witch."  Yes, but can they do it in field plate armor?  Clerics can.  Sure they do not get the combat spells the wizard gets, but they have a few good ones too.  Creeping Doom is a nasty little spell for Druids.  Finger of Death and reversed Heal spells can also ruin someone's day.

In games without Paladins, Clerics are the "righteous fist of (their) god".  Wizards don't smite.
Clerics can also be one of the few character types that can actually kill monsters with-out the moral hangups.  Even fighters, who get paid, and thieves, that might be working as assassins, don't get the same kind of "get out of jail free card" as do clerics operating within the doctrines of their faith and church.  Think back to the Crusades and the Inquisition, the faithful got away with murder, torture and even more horrible crimes in the name of their God and the law had little to say about it or were in collusion with them.

Clerics might then be one of the more well rounded characters in the group.
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