Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodbye Marvel Superhero Roleplaying

Today is the last day.

Due to a licensing change with Marvel, Margaret Weiss Productions will no longer be selling Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

MHR is a great game, but you need the right group to do it.  That might have factored into the sales vs. licensing equation.  In any case get these game books today while you can.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Event Book (Essentials Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Event Book (Premium Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Annihilation Event Book (Essentials Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Annihilation Event Book (Premium Edition)

At midnight tonight they are all gone.

Z is for Zsusr

This is it!
For the last demon I want to give you something completely original.

Back in the early 90s I was working on getting into grad school in psychology.  I wanted something on my resume that would looks good and give me the time at night to study for the GRE.  So I took a job as the night QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Professional) at a local group home for schizophrenics.
One night one of the patients was playing with the house's dog, Sussie. He came into my office later and informed me we needed to get rid of the dog because, as he said in his slurred speech, that "Zsusr" was another name for the devil and the dog was possessed.  I told him that was not the case.  He decided that he just wasn't going to talk to the dog anymore.

So I have wanted to bring Zsusr into my games now for a long time.

Little is know about the Demon Princess Zsusr. Occult scholars have had difficulty recording the experiences others have had of her since she tends to leave all who have contact with her as deranged imbeciles  She appears as a tall, dark skinned woman of middle age. Her clothing will vary, and sometimes she will appear completely unclothed, but that is not her most striking feature.  Zsusr has the head of a dog and her legs are the hind-quaters of a dog as well.  Her dog head is incapable of human speech, but she can communicate telepathically with anyone capable of speech.  Her "voice" sounds like a sonorus whisper; soft but clearly heard by all.  When hearing her voice for the first time a victim must save vs Will, Wisdom or Charm (whatever is appropriate) or permanently loose 1 point of Intelligence.  This save must be made on each new encounter with Zsusr.  Zususr also has other methods to keep those in her thrall.  She can regurgitate a worm that she places in the mouths of her victims.  They must save vs. Poison/Constitution/Fortitude or the worm will find its way to the victims brain, then they will permanently loose 3 points of Intelligence (1 in Ghosts of Albion/Unisystem).

As a demon Princess Zsusr has 700 legions of dog headed demons she may call upon; such as Umu, Glabrezu, Yeth, Hell Hounds and Shucks. But it is rumored that her ties lie elsewhere.  It said that despite being a powerful demon she is also a member, some say the highest member, of the Cult of the Whispering God.
Zsusr may also cast spells as a witch of 5th level.

Zsusr (OSR/Basic)
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
Movement: 60'
Armor Class: 2 (17)
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 90 hp (18+9 HD)
Attacks: claw (x2), bite
Damage: 1d8+2 (x2), 1d10
Special: Immune to fire, Intelligence drain
Save: F18
Hoard Class: NA
XP: 6,000

Zsusr  (Ghosts of Albion)

Creature Type: Demonic Lord
Life Points: 60
Drama Points: 3

Str: 5
Dex: 4
Con: 6
Int: 5
Per: 7
Will: 8

Armed Mayhem: 7, Fisticuffs: 7, Occult knowledge: 8,

Special Abilities: Demon, Fear, Hard to Kill, Increased Life Points, Intelligence Drain, Lesser Sensing, Magic 5, Occult Library (Good), Resistance (Fire).
Anyone seeing Zsusr for the first time must make a Fear check (Willpower x2) or loose 1 point of Int.

Name Score Damage Notes
Claw +11 12 Slash/stab
Bite +11 19 Slash/stab

Deflect +21 - Magic defence action; deflects spell 45˚

Spells +21 - varies by spell

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yaksas/Yaksha/Yakshini

I have a theory.  My theory is that the names of theological demons were all invented (this is not a theory, but true) by monks and theologians with a little spare time on their hands.  They started with A and worked their way down.  This is why we have so man "A" demons but almost no "Y" ones.  ;)
I know that theory has a lot of holes in it. But the data remains.  I think I could have posted an "A" demon every day.  Y on the other hand  doesn't give me a lot of choices.


The yakṣa or yaksha is nature spirit from Hindu, Jain and Buddhist literature/myth.  They can either be good (or least inoffensive) or evil.  There also seems to be a difference between the male yaksha and the female yakṣiṇīs or yakshini.  They share a relationship with the Rakshasa.

I had mentioned previously that myths and folklore rarely conform to the needs of any RPG.  In D&D terms the yaksha might be demons or even something like faeries.  There are numerous stories featuring these creatures, giving them the rough feel to me as fae.

Armor Class:  5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4d8+12* (30 hp)
No. of Attacks: 1 by weapon (long sword) or spell
Damage: 1d8+3
Special: immune to fear
Movement: 60’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Fighter 5
Morale: 10
Treasure: None
Alignment: See Below
XP: 550 / 650

The male Yaksha is a demonic creature related to the more powerful Rakshasa.  They appear as very tall humans with large tusks protruding from their lower jaw.  There is a claim that their eyes are one fire, but that is due to the orange/yellow coloring.  The Yaksha are very strong (18 str) and good fighters.  They are typically armed with a large curved blade.  Yaksha are almost always evil, though cases have been recorded of non-evil individuals.  Scholars have attempted to find a relationship between these creatures and the Oni.

Yakshini are the females of the Yaksha race.  They are very, very rare and in fact only 66 are known to exist.  Unlike their ogre like male counterpart the Yakshini are human looking.  They do not attack with weapons but rather rely on spells.  They can cast spells as a 4th level witch.  They are typically good (Law) in alignment.

Yakaha will not attack humans, if if ordered so by a Rakshasa if a Yakshini is present.  Rakshasas will seek out Yakshini as brides or consorts when possible.

Kickstarters of the Week

Y post up a little later today.  But here are some Kickstarters that caught my eye over the last week.

The Victorian Academy of Magick Book
Paul Voodini is running this one and it looks really cool.  I spoke with him a bit and it would make for a great background book in any magic-based Victorian era RPG.

To get an idea of what the book will be like, check out the Facebook page, The Victorian Academy of Magick, https://www.facebook.com/VictorianAcademyMagick

The Way of Tree, Shadow & Flame for The Secret Fire RPG

reviewed the Secret Fire a while back and Tenkar brought this one up.  It looks pretty cool and I was pleasantly surprised with the Secret Fire.

Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose: Eleventh Collected Trade
Finally the 11th collected Tarot Witch of the Black Rose trade-paperback is up.
It already met it's funding so now it about the stretch goals.
I have stated up Tarot in the past and I like the character to be honest.

Dark Dungeons: The Movie
I am not even sure what to say about this one.  You all know the Chick tract.
There was even an animated movie made of it once.


I of course like my own MST3k treatment (two sites of many)

I might just have to throw some money at this one.


The World's Worst Dungeon Crawl!

No idea yet. But it looks fantastic.  Though I do enjoy the line "Killing characters is easy, entertaining players is hard."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zatannurday: X is for X-Rated

Ok so in "celebration" of today being X day, how about some Zatanna from the X-rated side of things.

The biggest trouble is with "porn" versions of superheroes is not that people are having sex (come on, that is WHY we get them) it's that often the producers of the adult movies do a better job than Hollywood does!  Not always, but sometimes.
I have a number of adult film actors and producers on my G+ and Facebook friends and they are every bit as geeky about this stuff as I am.
Here is a post by fellow gamer  Zak Sabbath on his site, Playing D&D With Porn Stars to pretty much the same conclusions.

So here are two examples of X-Rated Zatanna.  This post though will be safe for work.

I had previously mentioned Super-heroines in 3D before.  I bought it and watched, for research of course!
It stars Chanel Preston as Zee.

The movie itself is Point of View.  So it's like you are part of her...magic act.
Chanel looks great, but I didn't buy her as Zee at all.   I honestly only picked up for the Superhero content, I am not into POV porn.

The next one though is an example of what you can do if you pay attention to your source material.

The Dark Knight XXX: A Porn Parody works better as a B-rate Batman movie.  I also own this one (thanks to Vivid's on-demand service; we live in a Golden Age!). I am not going to get into it too deep to be honest, but there are a few things I did want to bring up.
First, for a Vivid porn, it is rather tame, but it also has a plot. Batman, upset about the defeat of Batgirl and Nightwing, is in exile.  Meanwhile, Bane is tearing up Gotham.

The scene with Joker and Batgirl is straight (more or less) from The Killing Joke.

The scene with Zatanna is what brings me to this movie.  It is Zee (Christy Mack) and Constantine. The actor is a better Constantine than Keanu Reeves was; he has the look and the accent.
Christy Mack looks more like Zee than Chanel Preston.   Though they forgot the fishnets.

She has a scene with Constantine (the impossibly named Clarke Kent), but that is it.

I give the producers credit for knowing their material and casting actors and actresses that look the part (Catwoman and Poison Ivy were great; Bane in here is scarier than Bane in TDKR).  I gotta say the Joker scene ala the Killing Joke made my geeky fan boy happy.

All in all this is still better than the Justice League Movie from 97 or the Doctor Strange movie from 20 years before that, and right now it is the closest we have to a Justice League movie.

X is for Xing-tian

Let's go to the other side of the world from the Wendigo to China, home of the Xing-tian.

The Xing-tian appears as an ogre with no head. Inspection reveals that if it had a head it had been cut off and healed; where the neck would be is a mass a scar tissue.  It has “eyes” where it’s nipple would be and a “mouth” over it’s navel, but these appear only to be markings.  The xing-tian can’t see, hear, eat, breathe, call out or communicate.  It is typically armed with a shield in one hand and an a large axe in the other.  It can feel the vibrations of people nearby.  They attack everything, including other xing-tian, and they always fight to the death.  When not fighting it can be found destroying anything in its path.

Xing-tian are literally about mindless destruction.  They attack anyone in their path and if no one is around they attack trees, rocks and animals.  They also represent a never-say-die spirit.


Armor Class:  6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8+8* (30 hp)
No. of Attacks: 1 by weapon
Damage: 1d8
Special: immune to any spell that relies on senses, immune to gaze attacks, immune to fear
Movement: 75’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Fighter 6
Morale: 12 (will never, ever give up)
Treasure: None
Alignment: Evil (Chaos)
XP: 750

EDITED TO ADD: Jolie Du Pre' is doing Xing-tian too!

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Wendigo

I grew up in Illinois.  At that time it was still possible for me to go to places like Dixon Mounds and see Indian/Native American burial sites and learn a lot about the people who lived here before I did.
I get that these were people and we were walking through their graves, but we were learning about them at the same time and that in my mind was much better.  Whatever the case it left me with a life long fascination with the native people of this area.

The Algonquin (and Illiniwek) people had a great mythology and SOOO under utilized in games or novels.  One creature that I always was fascinated with was the Wendigo. Yes. The Wendigo has been seen a lot in horror fiction, especially with the rise in popularity of werewolves and zombies.  But they are still very interesting.  The most famous one of course is The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood, followed by August Derleth's Ithaqua.

This is a creature that possess humans under conditions of extreme cold and hunger and gets them to become cannibals.  Also people that engaged in cannibalism were also at greater risk of possession.
The Wendigo is a spirit most times, unable to physically manifest in the world or interact with it.  That is until someone in a cold part of the world begins to despair and go hungry.  There are plenty of places in the world that are cold and these have hungry people, the Wendigo though chooses someone though that has or will resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Once this is done the Wendigo has access to the victim's heart.
With their heart frozen the victim becomes the physical Wendigo.  They appear lean and gaunt, but taller; as if stretched out.  Their hands become claws with vile blue talons.  Their entire appearance becomes more feral.  They appear to be something akin to a ghoul or even a starving were-wold mid transformation.  Their are constantly hungry, eating all the flesh they can though they never eat their fill.  Eventually the wendigo strains the host body too much and they die completely in a number of weeks.  Though there are rumors of giant wendigo, whose head reach the clouds that are thousands of years old.


Armor Class:  3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+4* (40 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws / 1 bite / breath weapon
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d6+3 / 1d8+5 (cold)
Special: breath weapon, fear, low-light vision (120’), scent, immunity to cold
Movement: 90’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Fighter 9
Morale: 9
Treasure: None
Alignment: Evil (Chaos)
XP: 1,000

The wendigo is completely immune to all cold based attacks.  It attacks with it's claws and bite and can emit a blast of freezing cold air up 4 times per day (save for half).
This demon shares a number of characteristics with were-creatures and undead.  A cleric can turn one as a Special Undead. Once a person is infected with a wendigo they can not be cured.

Superhero Friday!

My A to Z post will happen later today.
But I wanted to post on two of my favorite Superheroes Games.

I have talked about DC Adventures from Green Ronin many times and I still think it is one of the best supers games I own.  They currently have a new book out and sadly the last of the line.
DC Adventures Universe is what amounts to a campaign guide/world book, but it is also great history of the DC Comics world.  This makes it a good choice for gamers and fans of DC Comics.  What know the details of Gotham City or Metropolis?  They have them here!  What was the past like or what does the future hold?  Here you go.   I picked this up last night and I love it.   Plus if you are a fan of Trey's Warlord Wednesdays then they also detail the Hollow Earth of Skartaris.  As a gamer I think it is a great book.  As a fan of DC comics it is a fantastic book.

Sadly another line is ending too soon and the books will even be gone after today.
Due to a licensing change with Marvel, Margaret Weiss Productions will no longer be selling Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

I have also talked about Marvel here at great lengths.  MHR is a great game, but you need the right group to do it.  That might have factored into the sales vs. licensing equation.
But in any case get these game books today while you can.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Event Book (Essentials Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Civil War Event Book (Premium Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Annihilation Event Book (Essentials Edition)
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Annihilation Event Book (Premium Edition)

Both games are great fun if you love super-heroes (and who doesn't?).

For new readers, here are the stats for both games for the Other Side's covergirl, Justice.
Justice for DC Adventures and Justice for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Get these while you can!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vampires vs. Demons

Instead of doing stats today (sorry Vepar!) I thought I'd discuss some of the issues with research.

When doing research for this blogfest and for my game books in general the first thing you notice is that the myths of the world do not organize themselves in nice logical units.

This could not be more pronounced when trying to figure out what the difference is sometimes between a Vampire and a Demon.

Game books and novels that feature both often make pretty clear lines.  This is a vampire and they do X, Y and Z.  This is a demon and they do A, B, and C and sometimes D.  But go to the myths of the world and then you find creatures that do X, A, B and D but never C, Y or Z.

When getting ready for this I was also researching various vampires.  This was almost an A to Z of Vampires (maybe next year).  what some cultures call a vampire another call a ghost and another a witch and another a demon.  Sometimes with the same names.  A lot of creatures from China, Japan and the Philippines are like this.

The Succubus and most of what I call the Lilim are a great examples.  While they are classified as demons they have a lot of vampire like qualities.  In some games a "Succubus" is even just another type of Vampire (World of Darkness and WitchCraft).  Yet in others a Vampire is a type of demon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Even is games where the distinctions are really, really clear there can still be a lot of overlap.
The succubus is one good example, but so are the Nabassu. Nabassu, also known as Death-Stealers, are described as demons that are close to undead.  They even look like the true form of the vampires from Lifeforce and the Red Court Vampires from the Dresden Files.

Looking at them it is hard to tell which one is the vampire and which one is the demon.

So the issue for writers putting mythological creatures in their books (novels, stories, games) and that is what sort of creature is this?

Have a look at the Mayan god Camazotz.  His name is roughly translated as "Death Bat".  In a book he could be a god, a demon or a very powerful vampire.  Lilith is another great example. Is she a demon, witch, vampire or just a human.  Of even the Baohban Sith, is she a faerie or a vampire.

Of course the one other option is "All the Above".  Creatures that blur the lines a little are nice to have.

EDITED TO ADD:  Other vampires from today

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #62

February 1985 brings us Whited Dwarf #62. While most of my White Dwarfs from here on I picked up many years after the fact, this one was part of my early collection.  It might even have been the last one I bought new. Once again we have an awesome Chris Achilleos cover.  I wonder if they bought these in bulk or something. The monster is some sort of goblinoid, demon or yeti. Either way that dude looks like he is about to become Yeti-chow.

Ian Livingstone mentions he is going to Dallas for the Hobby Industry of America's annual show (and even gets off a even-tired-for-1985 joke about J.R.). There is quite a bit of chatter on the white metal miniatures production.

Up first is an article I really enjoyed back in the day.  A Place of Damp and Darkness dealt with the levels under a city.  Given that it was 1985 and my love of all things British I always thought of London.  In my mind "D&D London" was a weird combination of London of 1066, Elizabethan and Victorian London as cobbled together from various sources as Doctor Who and Hammer films.  Not a pretty place, or even a real place, but a fun one.  Goblins lived in the sewers, something that you will see in my adventures to this very day.

Open Box gets Super-sized. hehe. Not is size, but two new Super Hero games.  Golden Heroes by Games Workshop and Marvel Super Heroes from TSR.    I have only heard of Golden Heroes, never played it.  Marcus Rowland loved it and gave it a 10/10 (even though he gave it a 7/10 for Complexity).  He comes back with MSH and introduces the reader to FASERIP and the differences between Feeble and Unearthly.  He gives it a 8/10 but for the life of me I have no idea why OTHER than he doesn't like seem "tm" all over the page. At this point in my life I was moving away from DC and into Marvel, so this was an awesome time for me. I recall how much we had taking our current D&D characters and restating them up as Marvel Characters.

RuneRites in next with some great spells for RuneQuest.   All have a nice Celtic feel to them.

The Dark Usurper is up, Part 2 of the Fighting Fantasy Solo Adventure.

Gary Draabwell gives us En Garde, Parrying rules for AD&D.  My then DM latched on these and never let go.  I don't think a single sword hit I had ever landed after this article.

Ok this one is an odd duck.
An Alien Werewolf in London is a Traveller Adventure set in 1888 London. A Vargr has time-crash-landed in London and you need to go in a get him. It's a very straight forward adventure.  Frankly it would work FANTASTIC for Cubicle 7's Doctor Who game and I even ran it once under Ghosts of Albion..

Eye of Newt and Wing of Bat is up for part 4. This time Swords and other weapons.  The section on "bane swords" was very helpful when we focused on making "Demonbane" a unique holy avenger  for my then AD&D game.

Fiend Factory has some relatives of the Dryad, the O Caber. They seem interesting enough.'

Treasure Chest covers hermits and hags.  In this case they are ways to customize forest encounters with the strange old man/woman of the forest.

Crawling Chaos is a new bi-monthly Call of Cthulhu feature.  This time they cover two new monsters the Bokrug and their servants the Thuun'ha.  I like the idea of new monsters in CoC, but in truth players

Tabletop Heroes covers painting faces. Crash Course has some more Car Wars has a bunch of smaller ideas and articles.

We end with ads.

Ok so a lot for me personally in this issue.  A lot of material that I made use of over the years or later adapted to something else.  Let this be a lesson to you. Don't throw out your old magazines!

U is for Umu, Uttuku

Here are some I worked up for Ghosts of Albion.

Umu Demons (Ghosts of Albion)
Motivation: Guard dogs
Critter Type: Demon (Guardian)
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 5, Constitution 4, Intelligence 3,Perception 7, Willpower 4
Ability Scores: Muscle 14, Combat 15, Brains 16
Life Points: 48
Drama Points: 3
Qualities: Hard to Kill 2, Armor Value 2, Acute Senses
Drawbacks: Attractiveness -4, Honorable (Rigid)
Skills: Armed Mayhem 4, Fisticuffs 3

Combat Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Big Sword 9 25 Slash/stab, can use one-handed
Bite (2) 8 17 Must Grapple first
Punch 8 8 Bash
Kick 6 10 Bash
Dodge 9 - Defense action
Grapple 8 - Resisted by Dodge

Umu Demons (OSR/Basic/S&W/D&D)

Hit Dice: 8
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d6), 3 bites (1d6) (only three heads may attack at a time)
Special: Magic resistance (45%), regenerate (1 hp/round), never sleeps, never surprised
Move: 24'
Save: 10
Alignment: Chaotic Evil (Chaos)
Challenge/XP: 8/900

Lower level demons employed by the Utukku, Umu demons act as guard dogs-a job they are perfectly suited for. Each Umu demon stands 6' to 7' in height. Their skin is covered with a fine dark fur, often black or dark brown. They are very muscular and often dress in ancient Babylonian or Sumerian garb; open toe sandals, papyrus kilts and bare chested. What sets these demons apart are their four heads. The heads most often resemble that of a Doberman, but some have been reported with jackal heads as well. All faces feature prominent snouts with dozens of needle like teeth. Each head faces a different direction, thus the Umu is never surprised. Their senses are as acute of that of a dog's (sharper sight, hearing and smell) only four times over. They are loyal to their demon employers and thus very much in demand by those that have things they want guarded. Each head is independent of the other. So heads can eat, carry on conversations and even sleep separately of the others.

Umu typically kill and eat anyone that comes too close to the thing they are guarding, making no distinction between friend and foe. Only their employer, the demon or witch that bound them are immune to their attacks.

There is also a rumor that there are three-headed varieties that serve the Goddess Hecate.

Utukku, Utukki
These fiends appear to be large satyr like humanoids.  They stand 7’ tall on the hind quarters of a goat, but upper body of man.  Their faces, while human-like have characteristics of both lion and goat.  Their horns are large and goat-like, and their heads are covered in thick wholly fur that resembles a mane.  Their teeth and claws are very sharp.
In areas where these creature roam free frighten villagers often sacrifice their virgin daughters to appease them.  Sometimes the poor unfortunates return to their villages traumatized and  bearing an awful child in their wombs.  These demons are quite powerful and fairly high in the demonic hierarchy. They only begrudgingly take orders from Marilith and Balor.  All others they see as beneath themselves.    Utukku are related to the Umu demons and have completely subjugated them.  The Utukku allow the Umu to be summoned by other demons and human magic users for a task.  An Utukku can summon up to 1-3 Umu demons per day.


Hit Dice: 11
Armor Class: 1 [19]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (1d8)
Special: Magic resistance (45%), regenerate (2 hp/round), shape change (human), +2 or better weapons to hit.
Move: 24'
Save: 12
Alignment: Chaotic Evil (Chaos)
Challenge/XP: 11/1500

The Umu and the Utukku are both in the service of Tiamat and other Eodemons.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What D&D Character Am I?

Latest internet toy. http://easydamus.com/character.html
I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

NG? Ok. I guess I am more socially-aware than I thought. Wizard of course makes total sense. Not sure how they got to 6th level, but that is fine. Human. Sure. I'll take that.

T is for Tharizdun and Tiamat

Yesterday I talked about the Devil as embodied in Satan.  As I mentioned I don't like the idea of using such impossible evils to kill (if it has stats it can be killed).  But near-impossible ones are fine.

I have talked about Tiamat a lot here.  Not just the D&D concept of her, but the ancient myths and what she means in my world.  She is the current "Big bad" in my kids 3rd edition game.  They began as just a small group looking into researching dragons.  In the process they discovered the rise of the old Cult of the Dragon (I am using what appeared in Dragon Magazine before it was went over to the Forgotten Realms) into a new threat.  The feel the only way to stop this evil from taking over the world is go to the source.
The twist I am planning is the artifacts I am having my kids gather up to summon Tiamat are also just what she needs to come into this world to rule it.  I am using ideas from the old Doctor Who serial "The Key of Time" and the Come Endless Darkness book by Gary Gygax (more on that book later).  They have gathered up all the relics they need; and these are true relics, they are the remains of dragons that are now "saints" in Tiamat's evil pantheon.   They are going to summon her using these relics and a few other items. Then there is going to be a big no-holds-barred fight on the Dragon Isles.
There are some parallels here with my last campaign/game "The Dragon and the Phoenix", but this one should be a lot bloodier.
Here are some of my relevant posts on Tiamat

Tharizdûn is closer to the classical idea of "The Devil" than Tiamat is.  Though I do recall at one point thinking that Orcus was the son of Tiamat and Tharizdun.  Not keeping that, but I might revisit it one day.
Unlike many of the other creatures, I have posted here Tharizdun was created whole cloth by Gary Gygax and expanded on in later books.  He is the main bad guy in the Gord the Rogue books including Come Endless Darkness (he is on the cover in fact).  In my games, he is god chained at the bottom of Hell and Asmodeus is his jailer still.  Though the millennia of Tharizdun whispering in his ear it is hard to say how much of the original Asmodeus is actually left.
He is hinted at in the T1-4 modules and then bits and pieces in S4 and WG4.  I think it would be very interesting to do the entire GDQ series under AD&D but instead of Lolth being the big bad, make her an unwitting pawn of Tharizidun.  Get the Shard of Pure Evil (from 4th Edition) so he can escape his prison and destroy the world.
Sure it is an awful lot like my Tiamat arc above.  But it works, and the stakes would be much higher.

Can't wait for my kids to fight these two!

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Satan

I have talked a lot about demons this month and about Hell prior to this.  The one thing I have not talked much about is the Big D himself, The Devil aka Satan.

Here are two things you likely didn't know about Satan in RPGS and D&D in particular.
First, he usually doesn't appear in them.  In fact, there are no official stats for Satan/Lucifer in D&D in any edition.  Plenty of stats in third party products, but none for the guy himself.
Secondly, I never use Satan in my games.  Not because I don't want too or have any fear of it, simply put there is no way he could ever live up to the expectation of the players.
One lucky roll and all my carefully laid plans become, oh hey we just killed the Source of All Evil.  How many XP do we get?  There is just no way that stats on paper can match up with the expectations of the players.  With a character like Dracula, it is easier.  He can be just as evil, just as much of a threat to the characters, but we know something else about Dracula. It's the same as Smaug, or Voldermort, or Vader or Sauron.  These evils can and were defeated.  Satan is, or at least should be, an unstoppable dreadnaught of evil. He is not the Monster of the Week, he is not even the Big Bad.  He is the Biggest Bad EVER.

Despite the lurid tales from the 80's (check out Asshat Paladin's review of "Playing with Fire") or Pat Robertson's claims, D&D players are not Satanists.  Sure, maybe some are. But no more or no less than say the general population (which is much smaller than people generally think).

Lucifer as Satan has appeared in the pages of Dragon Magazine and in the various Tome of Horrors books.

Satan made his appearance in Dragon #28 from 1979 in the infamous Politics of Hell article.  Here are the stats he had then:

MOVE Whatever desired
HIT DICE 333 hit points
% IN LAIR 5%
TREASURE TYPE H(*2), l(*2), U(*2)
SPECIAL ATTACKS +3 or better weapon and purity of heart required to hit
ALIGNMENT Lawful evil
SIZE Variable
Attack/Defense Modes Special

and his more recent S&W stats:
(Satan from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Scott Greene.)


Hit Dice: 25 (150 hp)
Armor Class: -6 [25]
Attack: Rod of Infernus (3d6), bite (2d4 plus poison) or 2 claws (2d8), bite (2d4 plus poison), tail sting 1d8 plus poison)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Gaze weapons, spells, summon devils, +3 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire and poison, regeneration (4 hp/round), magic resistance (90%), see in darkness, telepathy 100 ft.
Move: 21/30 (flying)
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 40/10400

The Pathfinder stats are even more powerful.
EVEN then there is some character out there that could take this guy.  Maybe not many, but they are out there.

Lucifer and Satan have appeared as separate entities in the old Death's Edge Games Inferno games.
Which got me thinking, what if "Satan" isn't a person, but a title.  Not "Satan" but "the Satan", similar to what I did for Demongorgon.  The idea is not really an original one, Piers Anthony covered it in his Incarnations of Immortality series and it was covered well in the Charmed series with their Source of All Evil concept.
So the idea here is take a demon, already powerful, and juice him up on all the power of evil, or Evil, and he becomes the ruler of all demons.  Take a page from Lexx and His Divine Shadow and make it so that the new host of this evil power, the new Satan, has all the memories of all the previous Satans AND the knowledge of the new host.  That is a very dangerous foe.

So lets combine this idea with Dante's Inferno and some from the the D&D game itself.  In D&D there is a god of Evil, Tharizdun (who I'll talk about more tomorrow) that is roughly the same as Lucifer/Satan.
Tharizdun is trapped in a prison where his jailer was Asmodeus.  Asmodeus is now the leader of Hell and Tharisdun is forgotten.  There are a lot of clues to his whereabouts and even Gygax himself featured him in his Gord the Rogue books.  So my solution is to split "Satan" up into a couple of beings.  Part of him is the imprisoned Beast and another part in actually part of AAsmodeus

Another part...well I have not figured that one out yet.

The real question that in a world FULL of demons, devils and all sorts of monsters what purpose does Satan serve? What does he do?

The recent Kelley Armstrong book "Thirteen" finally features Lucifer.  He is very different than what is typically expected.  Two of my favorite versions was Peter Cook's in Bedazzled and Viggo Mortensen in The Prophecy for different reasons.  Maybe I should do that for my next October Movie marathon, only watch movies that feature the Devil/Satan as a character.

I also have something to say about RPGs and their role in the Satanic Panic of the 80s.  But that needs to be for another day.


CISPA is bad for the internet, bad for people.
Learn more at https://www.eff.org/cybersecurity-bill-faq

Regular post continues later today.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quareen

Qareen, or qarīn, are another demon from Islamic literature.  They are kind of an interesting idea.  I think they have some origins of the idea of a personal daemon like the Greeks talked about, but I have no data to support this.

In a game I would treat them much like another demon I created a while back called the Never Was. Though I would give them a much darker edge.


These creatures are lesser Jinn also known as Personal Demons.  Occult scholars suspect that everyone has at least one, maybe even several.  Unlike other demons, the Qareen rarely if ever manifest in our world as physical beings.  They influence their host by goading them on to do evil. The Qareen are also unique in that they work with nearly any demon.  If a succubus has targeted a particular mortal in order to steal his soul, his Qareen will aid the succubus in the temptation by suggestion.  The succubus gains the soul on the death of the victim.  It is unknown what the qareen get. They seem motivated by evil for evil’s sake.
If the qareen is made manifest (some rare magical books detail how this can be done) they have the same stats as the person they belong too.  Killing the qareen doesn’t affect the person, save for making them feel “good” and want to do good. Sooner or later another qareen will take over.
A carefully worded remove curse spell can remove a qareen, but they usually return when the character is faced with temptation again.

Game Stats:
The Quareen uses the same stats as whatever person it is attached to. They can't normally attack and do not physically manifest.  Though the days when a Qareen is most active the character must make a Wisdom-based save (or Will or Magic with Wisdom mods) to avoid giving into temptation.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Atari 2600 for Sale

Ok, so I normally don't pass on non-RPG related eBay auctions, but in this case I am sure you will forgive me.

My brother is selling a sealed in the box, brand new Atari 2600 system. Never been used.

He bought it at some sale with a bunch of toys.

Either way this is old school video-gaming at it's best.

New Google+ Comments

Trying out the new comment system that is supposed to link Blogger comments and Google+ comment together.
I know some people like to post here, and others over at Google+.

Instead of doing it here first I figure I'll try it on my other blog.
So pop over there to give it a try.


P is for Paimon

Paimon is another demon that was once an Angel.  When he was a Angel he was is in Lucifer's* service and remained there after the Fall.  Paimon is a great king of Hell and he commands 200 legions of demons, a full 25 legions of these demons are his personal retinue of musicians and singers that announce his arrival.  Another 10 are his court, followed by his marshals, generals, and captains. All in his court are scholars of fine learning and repute. These demons are not soldiers and are not expected to go into battle.

Paimon is great scholar in his own right, in fact he may be the greatest mind in the infernal court.  He has no desire for personal power, but he has amassed so much knowledge that no plan gets enacted that he does not know about.  His familiars granted to mages and witches never fail to teach his subjects whatever knowledge they need to know.  All he requires of course his their ever-lasting soul.
While he gives out good familiars he is never summoned himself.  It is said that in order to summon Paimon the would be conjurer first needs to learn his secret language; no small feat.  Then properly summon Paimon in this language and converse with him in it.  Anyone that attempts to summon him will instead get his two chief advisers Beball and Abalam.

Paimon appears as a man with an effeminate or even a woman's face. He ride on a camel that breathes fire.   He is richly dress and always appears kingly.  He carries a rod that he uses to command  or on the rare times that he partakes in combat.
If attacked Paimon sees fighting beneath him and will send his legions in his stead. If he found alone he will summon Beball and Abalam to fight for him.

All other Baalseraph fear him but they also value his sage advice and knowledge. None dare openly plot against him.

Alignment: Lawful Evil
Movement: 180'
Armor Class: -2
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 125 hp (24 HD)
Attacks: Rod
Damage: 1d8 +save vs. death on critical hit
Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire, electricity and poison, regeneration (1 hp/round), see in darkness, magic resistance (75%), telepathy 300 ft., knows everything
Save: F24
XP: 25,000

Beball and Abalam fight as powerful (full hp) Pit Fiends.  Paimon's mount is a camel, but it possess all the same powers of the Shedim including a fire breath weapon like a red dragon.

*For the record, while I have nothing against adding Lucifer to my games it seem far to Judo-Christian for my tastes.  Especially when I can achieve the same goals using the D&D version of Asmodeus or Tharizdun.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day: The Witch

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

Today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day hosted by Tenkar of his eponymous Tavern.
Nearly 150 blogs are gathered to talk about S&W.  He did the same thing a few months back for Basic Fantasy Role-Playing and it was a huge success.   I am a fairly late comer to the world of S&W, having read it and then dismissed it.  I have recently come back to it and detailed my findings in  review and post

I do have to hand it to Frog God Games to have gotten me re-interested in this game with their Complete Rulebook.
If you would like to get some products for this game here's a coupon you can use at the D20PFSRDshop.com, thanks to  John Reyst: SWAD252013

So what should I post about today?  Well really there is only thing I can and should do.  I get a some emails asking me for me for a S&W compatible version of the Witch.  Now to me ALL the retro-clones are largely compatible, but sometimes a ready to go product is also nice.  So for you, the S&W fan, here is the Witch for S&W.

You will still need my book, The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games, and a copy of the S&W rules.  But this will get you going. 
I am also including a new Tradition for you to use with ANY version of the Witch you might want to play.

OGL Notice: The following text is considered OPEN under the Open Gaming License. 
Section 15: "The Witch for Swords & Wizardry" and "Amazon Tradition" copyright © 2013 Timothy S. Brannan.
Art is not considered open and copyright is retained by the artist, Toby Gregory and is used here with permission. 


Prime Attribute: Charisma
Hit Dice: 1d4 per level up to 10th level.  At 11th level, +1 hit point per level.
Armor: Cloth, Padded or Leather only, no shields.
Weapons: A witch may only use a dagger, staff, flaming oil, holy water, net, thrown rock, sling, and whip as weapons.
Special Abilities: Occult Powers; witch spells, ritual spells, herb use.
Race: Elves, Half-elves and Humans may be Witches. Dwarves and Halfings may be NPC Witches.

Witch Experience Table Spells / Level
Hit Dice (d4)
Saving Throw
Occult Powers
2 3 4 5 6 *7 **8
1 - - - - - - -
Herb Use
2! - - - - - - -

2 1 - - - - - -

2 2! - - - - - -

2 2 1 - - - - -

3 2 2! - - - - -
3 2 2 1 - - - -

3 3 2 2! - - - -

3 3 2 2 1 - - -

4 3 3 2 2! - - -

4 3 3 2 2 1 - -

4 4 3 3 2 2! - -
4 4 3 3 2 2 1 -

5 4 4 3 3 2 2! -

5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1

5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2!

5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2

6 5 5 4 3 3 3 2
6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2

6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3
+1 hp/level

6 6 6 5 5 4 3 3
* 7th Level Spells usable only by Witches with CHA of 16 or greater
** 8th Level Spells usable only by Witches with CHA of 17 or greater
! A Witch may take a ritual spell at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 16th levels.

Witch Class Abilities

Saving Throws: The witch gains a +2 bonus to any save verse charm or hold spells.

Spell Casting: The witch owns a book of spells called a “Book of Shadows” this is similar to the books used by magic-users, but each book is unique to each witch.  A Read Magic spell will not enable another witch or magic-user. Witches may cast up to 8th level spells.

Familiar: The witch gains a familiar at 1st level.  This is a supernatural creature that often appears to be a normal animal such as a cat or frog.

Occult Power: At first level and every 6 levels hereafter the witch gains an Occult Power.  These powers vary from Tradition to Tradition.

Ritual Magic: At 2nd level the witch may opt to choose a Ritual Magic spell. These spells have special requirements in terms of components needs and multiple participants. 

Coven: at 13th level a witch may leave her coven to form her own coven. 

New Tradition: Amazon
Witches of the Amazon tradition are one of the most misunderstood witches.  To begin, “Amazon” is a misnomer.  These witches are only remotely related to the legendary female warriors of the same name.  Also these witches are not a group of female warrior-witches, though they opt for fighting professions more often than members of other traditions.

Witches of the Amazon Tradition can only be female; no man may enter this Tradition. This attitude of superiority further extends beyond their own Traditions and covens.  Amazon witches believe that no man should be allowed to be a witch regardless of Tradition.  An Amazon witch will always refer to a male witch as a warlock.

These witches also share an honoring of the Goddess Diana with their warrior cousins. They are associated so much with the Goddess Diana that many call their Tradition The Cult of Diana.  Nonetheless, some small groups of Amazon witches do worship other Goddess, such as Freya, Artemis, Brigit, or even Hecate.

Despite stereotypes, not all Amazon witches are man-haters.   Some are happily married with children. This is not viewed as a problem for these witches as Diana is also viewed as the Patron of children and of women in childbirth. They just believe that men should not be witches.

Humans make up the majority of the witches in the Amazon traditions.  Elves, dwarves and halflings, from a racial standpoint, do not share the Amazon’s philosophy.  Elves in particular gravitate more towards the Faerie tradition.  Dwarves have a special type of Amazon-like tradition that is embodied in the Xothia, the Dwarven witch.

Role: Amazon witches represent, what they believe, to be the righteous anger of the Goddess.  It is believed that these witches may have began as part of the Classical tradition.  When witches began to be hunted and killed, mostly by the priesthoods, the Amazon rose up to fight this oppression.

This tradition overlaps, geographically at least, with areas that are common to Classical traditions and druids.  Thus there have been successful attempts over the years to work for each group’s mutual benefit.  The philosophical differences between the groups have always been the greatest hurdle.

Joining this Tradition: There are no special ability scores required to be an Amazon, although high Strength and Constitution are entirely desirable. The only requirement to becoming an Amazon Witch is the character must be female.

Amazon Witches usually meet in groups, called Meets, during the time of the waxing moon till the full moon.  These meets are very secretive and there is a rumor that any man viewing one will be put to death.
Amazons for the most part are neutral, with some gravitating towards lawful.

Leaving this Tradition: The belief system of the Amazon witch are deeply ingrained into her personality and culture. So most will never leave this Tradition.  Generally, an Amazon who leaves the Tradition will be warmly welcomed into the arms of the Classical or Craft of the Wise Traditions.

Occult Powers:
Minor: 1st Level: Minor Fighting Prowess.  The Amazon witch gains some minor fighting ability and may add one of the following weapons to her skill set; long sword, large axe, long bow or spear.  She may use one of these weapons as she chooses.  She still uses the Magic-User attack tables, but she adds +1 to her “to hit” rolls.  The Amazon witch may also sacrifice one spell per day to give her a bonus to hit and damage equal to that spell level.  This will allow her to overcome the natural resistance that require some creatures to only be hit by magical weapons.

Lesser: 7th Level: Immune to Fear. The Amazon witch becomes so focused in purpose and drive that she becomes immune to the effects of mundane and fear.  She also gains +4 to any checks versus magical induced fear.

Medial: 13th Level: Shape Change. The Amazon witch may shape change as per the Druid ability Wild Shape or Polymorph Self. This may be done once per day at 13th level. The witch may only change shape to a natural animal that is within one size category of her normal size. So a Medium sized witch may only change to a Small, Medium or Large animal.

The number of times the witch may do this per day increases with every other level.  So 2 times per day at 15th, 3 times per day at 17th and 4 times per day at 19th.  The witch may opt to sacrifice one of these times to go outside of her normal range of sizes.  So a 17th level Amazon witch could shift to Huge or Tiny once and her normal sizes the other two (total of 4 shape shifts per day).

Greater: 19th Level: Charge of the Goddess. The Amazon witch at this point is such a force for her Patron that she can summon the Goddess’ own power into herself.  The witch radiates an aura of Fear at 15’ to all her enemies.  She gains a bonus of +3 to all her saves and AC.  She also gains +2 to all offensive attack forms, spells or weapons.  This charge lasts for a number of rounds equal to the witch’s Wisdom or Charisma score, which ever is better.  It may be performed once per day and takes one full action to perform.

Special Restrictions:  Only women may join this tradition.

Equipment:  None required. Amazon witches are more likely to use martial weapons, such as a longbow or spear, than any other Tradition.

The ritual tool of the Amazon witch is the cauldron (representing the Goddess). If adventuring, the witch can or will use a staff, which can double as a weapon.  Both items may also be used for more mundane purposes.

Preferred/Barred Covens: This Tradition is suited mostly to all Amazon covens. Amazon Witches will join covens with other Traditions, but the coven must be exclusively female.

Relationship to the Goddess/Patron: Diana is the protector and guardian of the Amazon witches; they are Her children and heirs to Her world.

Source/Views of Magic: Magic comes from the powers of Creation.  As the bearers of children, only women can be true receptacles of creative forces.  Men can only destroy or pervert this pure and sacred power.

Wealth: Amazon witches start with the amount of wealth allotted to any witch.

Other: Amazon witches generally get along well enough with other traditions, in particular Classical and Craft of the Wise.  The Amazon’s views on male witches usually leads to the Amazon being seen with distrust by the other traditions. Amazon witches do not get along well with clerics of any type, even if they have the same alignment and similar world outlook. They view priests and wizards as patriarchal tyrants.
Amazons will always burn the body of a deceased witch as a proper funeral. It is also common that the coven will burn the witch’s Book of Shadows with the body.

You can download this a PDF file from my Box.com service.

My A to Z post is here: http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/04/o-is-for-ordog.html