Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Class Struggles: The Necromancer, Part 2

The Necromancer
I have not done a Class Struggles in a bit. Let's change that today.

The Necromancer is fertile ground for gamers.  I featured the Necromancer as one of the first Class Struggles.  There is still more to be said. Also in the last few months, I have bought at least three new necromancers. So lets see what we have.

Dragon #76 The Death Master
I spoke a lot about this one when I covered Dragon #76 in This Old Dragon and in my original Class Struggles. It really is the model I follow when creating an evil necromancer type though Len's here was a bit of an arcane necromancer with a bit of a death priest of Orcus mixed in. As I became savvier in what I knew about necromancers and the various D&D worlds I decided that Death Masters were unique to the Word of Greyhawk's Oerth. 

The Death Master became a playable class in the 3.x era with the publication of Dragon Compendium Volume 1 (there was never a vol. 2). Here the Death Master got a full 20 levels and was based directly off of Len Lakofka's class. Personally, I think a Prestige Class would have been a better choice. In fact a Prestige Class with just 13 levels like the original. I'd structure the prerequisites to need 3 levels of cleric and four levels of wizard or something like that. Sadly the Dragon Compendium Volume 1 is not just out of print, it is also not available on DriveThruRPG.  But Amazon has a copy and sometimes Noble Knight Games has them too.  

The Genius Guide to the Death Mage
Speaking of the old Death Master by Len Lakofka in Dragon Magazine. Owen K.C. Steven remembers! it! And this 20-level class for Pathfinder "feels" like that class, but it is its own thing.

This class is a stand-alone class (like most of the Pathfinder classes) complete with new powers and spells over 14 pages. In truth, it is a lot of fun. The author compares it to necromancer wizards, death priests, and undead-bloodline sorcerers, and how it is different. A better comparison is to druids. But where the druid is dedicated to life, the Death Mage is dedicated to death and the spirits of the dead.

There are five "Sub-types" of Death Mages presented. Corpse Mages, Ghoul Mages, Tomb Mages, Reaper Mages, and Shadow Mages.

There are 11 new spells. I think an opportunity was missed here to have 13 spells.

One of the newest necromancers on the block and designed specifically for Old School Essentials.  This is designated as "Play Test Material" but it really is ready to go. There have been necromancers for OSE before and there is at least one necromancer for other B/X-Basic games written by Gavin Norman already. Here the Necromancer is a subclass of the Magic-user, as would be expected, and some notes are given about using these new spells for the magic-user.  But thematically they fit with the necromancer much better. The new spells are from 1st to 6th level and there are 12 of each. I see why there are twelve of each; to fit the style and layout of what Gavin does with his OSE games. But I would have been tempted to make it a nice 13 per level myself. 
The spells are good and fit well. Some we have seen in other forms and formats over the past few years, but that does not detract from this book at all. Do you want a great OSE necromancer? Well, here it is.
The format used here could be adopted for all sorts of other magic-user type classes or subclasses like the Illusionist or Enchanter for example.

Castles & Crusades Black Libram of Naratus
I am a huge fan of Castles & Crusades and frankly, I don't think the game gets anywhere near as much love.

So I grabbed this one since it deals with darker magic and was part of the Haunted Highlands campaign (which I also enjoy). There is also the cover which is a call back to the infamous Eldritch Wizardry of OD&D. The first part covers necromancers and necromancer spells. This includes a way for normal spell casters to gain a level of Necromancer. A nice little add-on for any CK really. There is also a great spellbook in here called the "Grimoire of the Witch Queen" that makes the whole book worth it to me all by itself! That's the first half of the book. Later we get into Ritual/Sacrificial magic, magic items, and some new monsters. Given the types of games I run and the magic I like to have this is a "Must Have" book for me. The book is a tight 38 pages.

I have to give special attention to my other "new" necromancer.  This one does not differ from the previous editions of AS&SH/Hyperborea. At least not that I can tell. The necromancer here is cut from the "evil cultist" mold like their warlock and has a lot of great spells and powers. It is still one of my favorites, but the new OSE one has a lot of great spells to go with their's so a combination might be in order. 

For Pathfinder we have a few choices. 

Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
This book is presented in landscape orientation for easier screen reading. We are given a 20-level base class for Pathfinder with six "Callings" (sub-types). I have to admit this got may attention since my cabal of evil necromancers is called "The Order of Six" so I could restat them as one of each type here. No new spells, but there is a fully...fleshed out...NPC. So it is worth the download really.

New Paths 7: Expanded White Necromancer
This 17-page book gives a new perspective a, GOOD necromancer that protects the dead. I like the idea, to be honest.  It comes with a complete 20-level base class and six new spells. There are also feats and stats for various undead companions. It makes for a great companion piece and counterpoint to the 3.x Death Master from Dragon Compendium Volume 1.

Special Mention: Shadow of the Necromancer

Not a class, but an adventure from friend of the Other Side Mark Taormino. This is a short adventure for 1st to 3rd-level characters. And most importantly (to me) it comes in both Old-School/1st Edition and 5th Edition D&D versions!
The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module itself is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , one page blank).  The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true and it works fine here.  The adventure, as with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run.

Shadow of the Necromancer


I certainly have enough here to do an "Against the Necromancer" sort of campaign. Or even bring back my Order of the Six.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Not a Mail Call: New Board Games

Not really a "Mail Call" but it feels like one. I was down visiting my brothers and sisters this past weekend and look what my brother had for me!

Trireme and Imperium

YES! I have finally got my hands on a copy of Imperium! But the box is full of surprises.

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

Imperium Box

In addition to the Imperium game there is a complete mini-game, Sticks and Stones, the Monster that ate Sheboygan, tourney rules for Imperium, and either another game or pieces of two other games. And a little zine "The Halfling Magazine."

I am going to need to go through it all and see what I really have but it looks like it was all bought at Origins in 1980.

In addition, there is a game I am completely unfamiliar with.  The naval battle game Trireme.

Trireme

Trireme

Trireme

Trireme

Trireme

Not only does it look intact, it looks like it has been completely unplayed!

These will provide me a lot of fun over Christmas break to be sure.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: The Agathós (and other Angels)

Agathós
Running a bit behind today, so I will share something I am working on.

Much like my reclassification of all the demons and devils in the lower planes I am redoing the various forces of good in the upper planes.  Among these forces are the familiar Angels and Archons, but I am also introducing a new group, with some familiar members, the Agathós.

Much like "demon" can refer to a Chaotic Evil fiend from the Abyss or as a general term for all Evil outsiders, the term Angel can refer to a specific set of Lawful Good outsiders or all Good members of the upper planes.

The word agathós comes from the agathodaemon (agathós daímōn) or 'noble spirit.' These were spirits that aided people.  My thinking here came about while working on my syncretism posts for One Man's God and reading over the original write-up for the various angel-like creatures that would eventually end up in the AD&D 1st Edition Monster Manual II.  The Devas were in issue #63, Planetars and Solars in issue #64.  In these cases the alignment of these angels are all listed as Good. At the time assuming there are varieties that are Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic Good. 

So in my Basic Bestariry Angels are Lawful Good, Archons are Neutral Good (working for the great good), and Agathós are Chaotic Good, working for the greatest good they can do there and then.

Agathós

Agathós are independent spirits of good.  They are often confused with angels, which they do not mind, but they are not part of the hierarchy of the Heavens and try to make their own judgments on what constitutes the most good they can do for others. Their alignments are Chaotic Good.

All agathós are immune to poison and are resistant to acid, cold, and electrical damage. They take only half damage normally and on a save take no damage.  They all have magic resistance of varying levels. They take full damage from acid attacks. All have infravision to 120'. Many are immune to the attacks of undead (level drain, blood drain, paralysis, mummy rot).

Unlike Angels, who they share similarities with, the Agathós do not have a Divine and Profane form. This is something only true Angels have. 

These are the creatures from my Basic Bestiary that are classified as Agathós.

  • Astral Deva
  • Aurora
  • Lunar
  • Monadic Deva
  • Movanic Deva
  • Planetar
  • Solar

These creatures are Archons:

  • Bastion
  • Codex
  • Exscinder
  • Gate
  • Harbinger
  • Hound
  • Lantern
  • Legion
  • Shield
  • Stag
  • Star Archon
  • Trumpet

And these creatures are Angels (capital "A").

  • Archangel
  • Cassisian
  • Chalkydri
  • Cherubim
  • Dapsara
  • Dirae
  • Dominions
  • Elohim
  • Empyreal
  • Empyrean
  • Iophanite
  • Powers
  • Principalities
  • Seraphim
  • Thrones
  • Virtues

I might still move some around. A few of these Angels might work better as Agathós for example. I can see where the Dapsara might make a better Agathós. There are also the Agathions from Pathfinder that are all Lawful Neutral.  I have not decided if they fit in to my work at all yet, despite the name. I did the same thing with my Qliphoth versus the Pathfinder Qlippoth.

Something to work on in December.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Acrobatic Flea for NIGHT SHIFT

One of the first blogs I encountered was Tim Knight's Hero Press. He had a lot of the same interests I did and he writes about a lot of cool stuff.  I like to joke that Hero Press is "The Other Side" of England.

Like my Johan, he has a character that has gone with him from game to game, but in particular Villians & Vigilantes.  His character, the Acrobatic Flea, is something of a mascot of Hero Press.  He has built the Flea for many universes, much like I do for my Larina.  

So it stands to reason there is a Flea in NIGHT SHIFT.

The Acrobatic Flea for NIGHT SHIFT

The Acrobatic Flea for NIGHT SHIFT

Aspiring reporter Sean Edward Ridire got his dream job at Weirdly World News. Figuring out he would get the big scoop on the truth about UFOs and aliens. But a chance encounter with a vampire and helping a victim out introduced the vigilante known only as the Acrobatic Flea to the world of the supernatural. 

In the worlds of NIGHT SHIFT this Acrobatic Flea patrols the dark streets of Knight City protecting the innocents of the world from the creatures of the night. Donning a protective suit and special night vision goggles he keeps his identity secret. Using his contacts at WWN he hunts down the stories AND the monsters.  

Here he is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

The Acrobatic Flea
3rd level Survivor (Human)
Archetype: Correspondent

Strength: 12 (0) 
Dexterity: 14 (+1) S
Constitution: 15 (+1) 
Intelligence: 13 (+1) P
Wisdom: 14 (+1)  
Charisma: 15 (+1) S

HP: 16
Alignment: Light
AC: 5 (tactical suit)
Attack: +1

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+1/0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: +1
Saves: +4 to death saves. +2 to all others.

Survivor Abilities
Stealth skills; Climbing; Danger Sense (1-4); Sneak Attack +4, x2; Read Languages 80%

Survivor Skills

  • Open Locks: 35%
  • Bypass Traps: 30%
  • Sleight of Hand: 40%
  • Move Silently: 40%
  • Hide in Shadows: 30%
  • Climbing 75%
  • Perception: 50%

Skills
Research, Insight, Notice (x2)

Gear
Tactical suit, night vision goggles, climbing gear.

--

This could be a lot of fun! I like this, I would love to use the Flea as an NPC one time. Hope you approve Tim!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Monstrous Monday: The Magaga Beast

Magaga Beast
A special one today. I was inspired by recent events for this one.

The Magaga Beast

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 60' (20') [6"]
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 20d8+80***** (170 hp)
  Hit Dice (Gargantuan): 20d20+80***** (310 hp)
To Hit AC0: 4 (+15)
Attacks: Trample, Bite (every other round)
Damage: 4d12+2
Special: Cause confusion (speech), Immune to mind-affecting magics, Regeneration, Summon drumpfs 
Languages: Common*
Size: Gargantuan
Save: Monster 20
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 7,750 (OSE) 8,000 (LL)

Str: 17 (+2) Dex: 9 (0) Con: 20 (+4) Int: 5 (-2) Wis: 5 (-2) Cha: 3 (-3)

Once every four years, the dreaded Magaga Beast will rise up out of its dismal lair to attack the countryside, eating everything in its path. Standing 45' tall, the bloated Magaga Beast, and thankfully there is only one, lumbers through the countryside eating, babbling on, and worse summoning other horrible creatures to its side. It appears as a behemoth creature, vaguely humanoid in shape, though it lower half is obscured by its massive flesh. Two arms stick out with tiny, useless hands. It has slapped a large bit of yellow straw onto its own head in a close approximation to hair.

It is large and virtually unstoppable, but slow and slow-witted. It babbles on in something resembling common, but any who listens to it becomes confused. Its main attack to just trample over everything in its path. It can reach down with its giant maw and attack to eat. On a critical bite attack, it can swallow a person whole. It can only bite once every other round.

Its worse trait is it attracts a large number (2d20) of drumpf goblins to its side to encourage it on. In the presence of the magaga beast, drumphs have a moral of 12 and are more prone to violent behavior to "protect" what they see as their lord and god. The magaga beast will happily eat any drumph that gets too close to its mouth. Nearly as bad is the trail of offal it leaves behind. This offal trail can cause sickness for any that do not save vs. poison. A fail means they are incapacitated for 2d6 days. Success means they can not breathe unless they move at least 10 ft. away

The magaga beast is immune to any mind-affecting magic. Simply put there is not enough of a mind here to be affected. The magaga beast regenerates 5 hp per round, even if reduced to 0 hp it will regenerate. Though if it is brought down to 0 hp it will hibernate for another four years, stirring as soon as two years if disturbed. 

Various communities have tried different means to defeat or sway the magaga beast. Giving it food only makes it demand even more. Others have sent various warriors for justice at it. But sadly it just keeps coming back. Even when reduced to 0 hp it finds a way to come back.

--

The resemblance to any real person is purely conjecture.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Frigid Follow Friday

We are finally getting some proper cold weather here in Chicago! I am not going to complain about it. It's November, it's Chicago. I know what that means.  

It is also Friday and that means it is time for a Follow Friday. Especially important this week with Twitter in melt-down mode.

So if you follow me there, I am sticking around to the end, but here is where else you can find me. 

MiniMe

Blog (here): https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com

DriveThruRPG: https://drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/8419/The-Other-Side-Publishing?affiliate_id=10748

Facebook: https://facebook.com/OtherSideblog & https://www.facebook.com/timothy.brannan/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/the_other_side_pub/ & https://www.instagram.com/timsbrannan/

MeWe: https://mewe.com/group/5c598927dc9a663c488557e9https://mewe.com/i/timothybrannan

Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/timsbrannan

Mastodon: https://dice.camp/@timsbrannan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/timsbrannan

I am still figuring out Mastodon, and MeWe is rather dead. But you can always find me here.

I do hope Twitter sticks around though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Islands, Hyperborea, and Party Like it's 1979

Sort of an overview, sort of me doing more mental gymnastics. 

Note: This one got away from the original thesis, so I cut chunks out for another post later. 

Some light reading material

I have been thinking about a few things this week, namely my 1979 Campaign and my Isles of Avalon one. I flirted briefly with combining them and then realized quickly that by doing so I would lose everything that made the 1979 Campaign special. So I might have ideas that work for that, but I think I need to keep it as it is for now.  One day I'll play it. 

Isles of Avalon is less of a campaign and more of a campaign location. I have a lot of ideas for it. Too many to be honest. But two things in it are prominent. 1.) It has to include an Island nation of Necromancers. 2.) It has* to be run under AD&D 1st Edition.

How are those connected and what does it have to do with today?  Well, I was going over the materials for the IoA idea and began merging the two projects. I quickly realized that I would lose what made the 1979 Campaign idea special to me (moving from a hybrid Holmes Basic/AD&D to pure AD&D) and I also thought maybe I am not wed to the idea of IoA as a pure AD&D 1st edition setting.

I love AD&D 1st Edition. Really I do warts and all. I do want to do a lot more with it in my personal gaming even if it is never seen by you, my reader. After all I never really talked much about the AD&D 2nd Edition games I was playing in here.

But these last two weeks (and most of October) have given me some moments to pause and think. The question remains "What is it I want out of this really?"

The AD&D First Edition Experience

This one is key. I want something like AD&D 1st ed. Which will prompt many to say "then play AD&D 1st Ed, dumbass!" Which is very, very valid. But I also have all these other games that I want to try and I played AD&D 1st ed, for over a decade. I love it, but it sometimes feels like moving back in with your parents or hooking up with your ex-girlfriend.  So. What are my options?

Old-School Essentials: Advanced Fantasy

This one is great, but it isn't really AD&D is it. Plus this is the system I am using for War of the Witch Queens and it is really great for that.

Hyperborea

I have been reminded this week of how much fun Hyperborea is. It is much closer to AD&D. The game is tied very closely to the world and it is a world I enjoy, but some pieces of it don't fit with my idea of what I want to do for my various campaigns. One thing is certain, the ethos of Hyperborea will inform what I do with my Isle of Avalon.

Castles & Crusades

I do love Castles & Crusades and it does provide the AD&D 1st experience I want. Plus I LOVE all the Codex books on world religions and myths. It doesn't quite have the same feeling to it as Hyperborea though.  On the continuum of gritty to light it goes Hyperborea, then OSE-Adv, then C&C. With the endpoints as DCC on the gritty and Hero's Journey First Edition on the light. Still, though I do love this game a lot and I really want to do a lot more with it. 

Special Note: The 1979 Campaign

This one is a special case. The purpose here is to recreate a certain style of play that I would have done in the Fall or early Winter of 1979.  I will only use materials that would have been available then or is closely related.  Rules are a mix of Holmes Basic (not B/X) and AD&D, in particular the AD&D Monster Manual.

--

Why all these mental gymnastics? I am aware that my kids are getting older and moving on. My oldest is a professional pastry chef now. My youngest is in college and spends all their time writing code. They don't have time for dad and his elf-game anymore. Well...they do still play D&D, just with their own groups of friends. My time to get some games on with them is limited and I want to maximize what I can.

So. Let's see what I can cook up here. I know...get to the point already.

Vampire Queen
Isles of Avalon

While I love this name, people who have seen it online and not bothered to read the posts (if you are reading this then that is obviously not you!) were confused with the Arthurian Isle of Avalon and felt they were informing on something. Thanks, but I wrote tons about that in Ghosts of Albion. Still, though, I might tweak the name to be Isles of Avalon Hill to honor its origins. 

So before I put together a campaign (and this would be a sandbox or hex crawl) and try to figure out what rules to use, I think I need to work out some details.

1. This archipelago of islands is old. Really, really old. An empire rose here, grew to greatness, fell into decadence, finally to infighting and decay, and then to dust and forgotten legends.  

2. There is an island of Necromancer kings. This was one of the key notions. Of all the islands, this one is the one that still yearns for the "old times." I think I am coming around to the idea that there is someone called "The Necromancer." Feels ominous. 

3. There is a small island that is home to the Vampire Queen. The Vampire Queen is a reoccurring character in my games. One of her influences is the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen from Wee Warriors, then Pacesetter, now Precis Intermedia.  Wee Warriors and Precis Intermedia also have the Misty Isles, which is another model for my own Isles.  The Vampire Queen lives on a remote island here. 

4. There is the "Big Island" that still has active wizards. The Empire is gone, but there are still wizards that come here for the same reasons there was an empire here. The connection to magical energies here is the strongest. Whether it is a confluence of ley lines, built on the remains of a long-dead but highly magical creature, a magical meteorite hit here, or some combination of all the above.  The only remaining edifice of those times is a place called the Citadel of Conjurers (or at least my original notions of what that place was when I read it in Dragon #91).

Not looking for grand plots. Not looking for world-changing apocalypses. Just a place to do some hex crawling.

Either Castles & Crusades or Hyperborea would fit this fine.

I am leaning more towards Hyperborea for this, but I really, really want to play some Castles & Crusades.

Anyway, random thoughts on a cold Chicago day.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Mail Call: HYPERBOREA

Another Old-school mail call this week and this one is quite timely. I finally got my Hyperborea leatherette Players and Referee's Guides.

Hyperborea leatherette Players and Referee's Guides

If you have been here for any amount of time you know of my love for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, now just called HYPERBOREA.

This new set, 3rd Edition, does not disappoint.

HYPERBOREA

As you can see it comes with the HYPERBOREA Player's Manual, the Referee's Guide, the Atlas of Hyperborea, dice, and a matching dice bag.


HYPERBOREA

HYPERBOREA

HYPERBOREA

HYPERBOREA


HYPERBOREA

HYPERBOREA

Now I have all three editions of this game. I don't need all three, but I can't find myself parting with any of them.

AS&SH and to a degree HYPERBOREA was where I started my ideas for the War of the Witch Queens, but I have moved it on to Old-School Essentials now. I would still LOVE to do something with HYPERBOREA, something special really. 

HYPERBOREA is firmly in the AD&D rules camp of the OSR clones, though it does only go to level 12. 

Part of me wants to run the Dark Wizard Games modules from Mark Taormino. There is some overlap in themes to be sure. I just wonder if some of the Eldritch Weirdness of HYPERBOREA would be lost in the Gonzo weirdness found in the Dark Wizard adventures.

HYPERBOREA and Dark Wizard Games

I have talked before about how great these would be for B/X or OSE, but maybe this is where I need to go. 

Another option is this.

D&D Classics

Now, this would work and The Lost City and Castle Amber both have solid Clark Ashton Smith vibes. Into the Borderlands and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks also fit the tone of HYPERBOREA well. Same with Isle of Dread which is very sandboxey.  The Temple of Elemental Evil is the odd one out unless I do a little massaging. 

Level wise I think it all might work.  Into the Borderlands covers levels 1-3. Isle of Dread covers 3-7. Barrier Peaks covers 8-12. The Lost City 1-3 (though I argue more like 2-4), Castle Amber 3-6, and Temple of Elemental Evil 1-8 (or more). I can already see how I could do this, to be honest. The trouble is I have run most of these with my kids already.

Still might be fun as an intellectual experiment. 

Monstrous Monday: Neh-thalggu (Brain Collector)

Neh-thalggu (Brain Collector)
One of my favorite adventures is X2 Castle Amber. It covers so much of what I love in an adventure. Plus it is full of great Clark Ashton Smith homages and nods.

Among these homages is the Neh-thalggu or the Brain Collector.  It is such a creepy ass monster and I really love them. 

If the amount of OGC on them is any indication, then others like them too. You can find them for d20 3.x style, Pathfinder, and 5e.  This is in addition to official D&D stats for Basic and AD&D 2nd Ed.

Neh-thalggu (Brain Collector)

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
SIZE: Large
HD: 14 (d10) (77 hp)
MOVE: 60 ft.
AC: 16 (natural armor)
ATTACKS: Bite (1d10) + Poison (Save vs. Con or Paralyze), Claws (1d6) 
SPECIAL: Brain collection, Incorporeal, Spell Casting
SAVES: M
INT: Genius to Supra-genius (20-22)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral
TYPE: Aberration
TREASURE: 8
XP: 6,000

The neh-thalggu, also known as the Brain Collector, is a creature from the Outer Darkness.

Neh-thalggus hail from distant worlds, traveling the gulfs of space on immense living ships that swiftly decay when they land upon a new world, leaving behind a deadly cargo of hungry monsters. Neh-thalggus are crablike nightmares with lamprey-like mouths, twitching eyes on their legs, and several blisters along their back that hold human brains. Some speculate that neh-thalggus encountered in this reality may merely be juveniles of their kind, perhaps exiled from their home worlds by greater kin until they can prove their worth on other worlds.

Combat: Neh-thalggu attack with their mouths they attempt to latch on with their mouths and claws to extract the brain from their victims.  They attack primarily with their mouths (bite) and then try to latch on with their claws.  On a successful bite and claw attack the victim must make a Constitution save or become paralyzed. Once paralyzed the creature will remove the victim's brain. 

Brain Collectors. Neh-thalggus are carnivores, but they do not digest humanoid brains they eat, rather, these brains lodge in one of several bulbous blisters on the creature's back and help to increase its intellect. Their brain collections may be a morbid form of currency in their home realm, or the thoughts in these brains may merely be fuel for a dark apotheosis into an even more sinister mature form.

Incorporeal: A neh-thalggu is not wholly in our reality but always remains partially extradimensional. Thus it can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, +1 or better weapons, magic, or psionics, with a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source. It can pass through solid objects at will, and its own attacks pass through armor (except for its bite attack, which is treated as if a corporeal attack). It always moves silently unless it chooses otherwise.

Mind Masters. Neh-thalggu masters lord it over their lesser kin by applying the drained brainpower of their victims toward mastering psychic magic and mesmerism. They may inhabit elaborate mindscapes as their lairs or may subtly influence the thoughts and senses of creatures they lure into their lair in furtherance of convoluted plots to manipulate the societies around them while they dwell in secret. Some dwell alone or with mind-controlled slaves, while others organize clusters of their own kind to spread their sinister schemes and feed their insatiable alien hunger.

Spell Casting. Neh-thalggu can cast spells as 1st level wizard. For every brain, they collect they add one more level of spell casting for a maximum of 12 brains to 13th level wizard.  For this reason Neh-thalggu will target wizards and other magic-using characters.

--

Might need some tweaks, but yeah this is one nasty beastie. 

The plot hook is obvious. A bunch of never before seen monsters are attacking the countryside the day after a shooting star was seen. Worst of all are reports of a "ghost monster" that feeds on brains. 

Don't forget the Indiegogo campaign for Amazing Adventures going on right now!  Grab the books and you can use this guy.

Amazing Adventures


Friday, November 11, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Indiegogo Edition

A couple of really fun ones on Indiegogo this week. Both of which you will see more of here.

Amazing Adventures Multi-Genre RPG

Amazing Adventures Multi-Genre RPG

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/amazing-adventures-multi-genre-rpg#/

I have talked a lot about Amazing Adventures here and elsewhere. It is the Modern multi-genre RPG that uses the same Siege Engine as Castles & Crusades.  This is a new printing that reorganizes the material and has it cleave a bit closer to the Castles & Crusades printings. 


Pan, His Majesty in Yellow

Pan, His Majesty in Yellow

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pan-his-majesty-in-yellow#/

Fairy Tales + Lovecraftian Horrors? Hell yeah!

I am going to have more to say about this one, but for now check out their fundraiser for the Old-School Essentials version. 



Thursday, November 10, 2022

Larina Nichols for Amazing Adventures

I have some projects going on right now that I am trying to get organized for my big Christmas break this year.  I am planning on burying myself in writing. So I am finding bits of text here, and some ideas there, and I have not even gone through my bookmarks* yet.

(*I scribble ideas on bookmarks while I read. Habit from my undergrad days.)

A couple came to me more or less at the same time.  The first was more details on what I am doing with the various incarnations of my iconic witch Larina. The other was some notes about an Amazing Adventures street-level supers game I keep batting around in my notes.  Since the new printing of Amazing Adventures (well, new printing and reorganized material) is now up on Indiegogo I thought, let's clean up one stack of notes with a post. 

The Game: Amazing Adventures

I have always been rather fond of Amazing Adventures. It is a modern version of Castles & Crusades and with the 2nd printing, the rules cleave much closer to the C&C SIEGE Engine rules. My understanding is that this new printing (a bit like a 2.5) is even closer. So close that the three books of Castles & Crusades are called "The Three Sisters" and the new three books for Amazing Adventures are called "The Three Brothers." Three brothers and three sisters? That sounds like my family. 

If you like modern games then this is a great time to get into Amazing Adventures. Especially if you are a fan of Castles & Crusades.

The Character: Larina Nichols

Larina Nichols, witch

One thing that I do with my Larina is to have different versions of her in different games. These are truly different versions of the same character in the multiverse but connected a bit like the Eternal Champion.  These are my worlds, I get to do these things. The GREAT thing about Amazing Adventures is that it IS so much like Castles & Crusades I can make moving between a modern world and a fantasy world much easier. If I can do that with her, you can do it with any character.

Also for me, there is this notion of adventures connected by places or people and displaced in time. This would be my trilogy of adventures "All Souls Night," "Blight," and "The Dark Druid" dealing with D&D-like fantasy, Victorian-age Gothic horror, and modern supernatural respectively. Larina, or someone like her, would be there in all three, reincarnated each time to deal with the threat of the Dark Druid.

But before I can do that right, I have to make sure I can move characters, or their other incarnations, to each time.  Here is my Drosophila melanogaster for these experiments.

Larina photo
Larina Nichols

19th Level Witch (Arcanist)
Race: Human

Strength: 10 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 13 (+1) P
Intelligence: 17 (+2) 
Wisdom: 17 (+2) P
Charisma: 18 (+3) P

Hit Points: 79
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
AC: 10 
BtH: +4
MEP: 226
Primary Spellcasting Attribute: Charisma

Sanity (SAN): 90 (Max), 75 (Current)

Fate Points: 6
Fate Die: 1d12

Languages: English, Latin, Gaelic, Greek, Russian (native language is English)
Background: Scholar (Librarian)
Skills: Mythology (Celtic, Norse)
Traits: Spellgifted (Enchantments/Charms)

Powers
Familiar: Cotton Ball
Spellcasting

Spells
Cantrips: (9) Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Illusion, Detect Magic, Light, Magical Aura, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Stun
First: (5+1) Color Spray, Command, Darkness, Identity, Shield, Sleep
Second: (5+1) Alter Self, Blur, Burning Hands, Hold Person, Pyrotechnics, Scare
Third: (4+1) Aid, Blink, Nondetection, Remove Curse, Tongues
Fourth: (4) Dispel Magic, Emotion, Phantasmal Killer, Seeming
Fifth: (4) Feeblemind, Mass Suggestion, Projection, True Seeing
Sixth: (3) Mislead, Veil, Wind Walk
Seventh: (3) Prismatic Spray, Teleport without Error, Word of Recall
Eighth: (3)  Antipathy, Prismatic Wall
Ninth: (2) Astral Projection

That went pretty fast really. Like creating an AD&D 1st Character.  In fact, that should really be the main reason to check this game out; how close it is to AD&D. 

In truth, that was a LOT of fun to do. Makes me realize how much I miss playing C&C and AD&D too.

So everyone get in on that Indiegogo campaign so others can see just how much fun this game really is. 

Amazing Adventures


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Witch Babylon: Daughter of Eros, Mother of Harlots

So back at the end of September, I guess we had, and missed, another end of the world. Yup. I was reading that September 25, 2022, was supposed to be the Rapture. There were a bunch of videos on TikTok and YouTube that frankly I can't be bothered to link to it. Suffice it to say nothing happened.

But it does give me the excuse to post this picture from Spire Christian Comics

The GREAT SNATCH!!!

I know. I am a juvenile. 

BUT. In the process of looking for that image, I found this one from the same comic.

Babylon Mother of Harlots

Black magic? Witchcraft? Demon contact? Sorcery?

Someone has been reading my letters to Santa again! 

And she is such a groovy cool looking 70s witch too.  I learned that the artist, Al Hartley, had done "Betty and Veronica" comics and some softcore comics prior to being born again. 

This is supposed to be the Whore of Babylon, a character from Revelations. I get that she is supposed to be largely symbolic and not a real person, but sometimes it reads like she is. 

From Revelations Chapter 17.

  1. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
  2. And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
  3. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

I don't pretend to know what all this is supposed to mean. But the imagery is fascinating like most of what is happening in Revelations. 

Of course, I am going to use her as a witch. Come on? 70s occult propaganda? That's my Appendix N!

Who is Babylon?

That art above is plenty to get me going. Given her role in Revelations, I am going to have to say she is a Witch Queen naturally.  But what kind? In my mind, each Witch Queen is head of a large coven and/or Tradition. She is not a Mara Witch, I have plenty of those. Nor is she a Pagan. And she is most certainly NOT a Pumpkin Spice Witch! No, she has a calling and it is not any of these. It could be close to the Classical Witch, but still not exactly right. No I think she is the Queen of a completely different tradition.

Daughters of Eros

Her tradition is something I have been mulling over for a couple of years now. In my recent reviews of the Love WitchThe Pantheon and Pagan Faiths, Sisters of RaptureJeremy Reaban's Beguiler and Enchanter, I have some more ideas of what a new tradition, The Daughters of Eros, could be.

Note I have nothing I am going to publish in a book yet OR even if there is any need/desire/want for such a book. 

Babylon, Mother of Harlots

Babylon
23rd Level Witch, Daughters of Eros Tradition 

Strength: 11 (0) Saving Throws (base)
Dexterity: 16 (+2) Death Ray, Poison 5
Constitution: 13 (+1) Magic Wands 6
Intelligence: 14 (+1) Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 5
Wisdom: 17 (+2) Dragon Breath 5
Charisma: 19 (+3) Rods, Staffs, Spells 7


Hit Points: 55 (10d4+13)+10
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
AC: 1 (Ring of Protection, Garter of Defence)
THAC0: 12

Occult Powers (Daughter of Eros Tradition)
Familiar: Familiar spirit (comes in the shape of a cupid cherub or an incubus)
7th level: 
13th level: Devil's Tongue
19th level: Curse

Spells
Cantrips (6): Analyze Fertility, Clean, Daze, Message, Object Reading, Warm
First (7+3): Bewitch I, Block the Seed, Burning Hands, Charm Person, Command, Drowsy, Increase Sex Appeal, Sleep, Soothe, Twisting the Heartstrings I
Second (6+2): Alter Self,  Bewitch II, Ecstasy, Enthrall, Fever, Hold Person, Rose Garden, Twisting the Heartstrings II
Third (6+2): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Betwitch III, Continual Fire, Fly, Mind Rash, Tongues, Witch Wail
Fourth (5+2): Bewitch IV, Elemental Armor, Emotion, Moonlit Way, Neutralize Poison, Spiritual Dagger, Drawing Down the Moon (Ritual)
Fifth (5): Anti-Magic Candle, Bewitch V, Bull of Heaven, Dream, Song of Discord
Sixth (4): Bewitch VI, Heroes' Feast, Mass Suggestion, Wall of Roses
Seventh (4):  Bewitch VII, Breath of the Goddess, Peace Aura, Serpent Garden
Eighth (4): Astral Projection, Bewitch VIII, Greater Mislead, Mind Blank

--

The Witch Babylon
Named for the city she was born in (Βαβυλών), Babylon is a near-immortal witch. Some say she is the daughter of Lilith, some say she is the bastard child conceived when the demon Astaroth forced himself onto his mother Astarte, but the majority claim she is the youngest child of Eros and Psyche.  She is beautiful like her mother, grandmother (Venus), and older sister, Hedone* (also known as Volupta) but was jealous of all three. 

(*Followers of Hedone are known as Hedonists and are also part of the Daughters of Eros Tradition. Though they tend to be more good and neutral in alignment.)

Whatever her origin she is the patroness of whores and debauched witchcraft. She has allied herself with the forces of evil and will stand as their herald of the end times.  She also represents the corrupting nature of civilization.

Babylon is the quintessential "lover, not a fighter" though she also has no problem charming, compelling, or wiping someone's mind to be her lover. She has an entire cadre of former adventurers that had been on a quest to kill her that are now her mindless slaves.

She shares many attributes with Nocticula and the two try to avoid each other when possible. There is an ongoing rivalry between the two. If Babylon hears that Nocticula is having a Midsummer's Eve party with 1,000 guests, then she will try to increase her own party to 1,100 or more.

She will act as a witch priestess, but to what Patron she will not divulge. All witches are welcome in her court.

Babylon in War of the Witch Queens

Babylon is not likely to change what she is doing during the War of the Witch Queens. Indeed she will remark on how neutral she is and will try to avoid the whole thing. In truth, she is trying to figure out who has done the deed and will figure out if she needs to ally with them or betray them. 

The 1979 Campaign

Come on! You know she needs to be in this! She is too groovy not to be.

Babylon in NIGHT SHIFT

As a nearly immortal witch, Babylon will still be active in the worlds of NIGHT SHIFT. Now she would be living in LA, New York, Paris, or some other large metropolitan city.  She will be involved in all sort of illicit dealings but most especially drugs and human trafficking. On the surface, she runs an "Adult Entertainment Empire" called simply enough, Babylon.


RPG Blog Carnival

This is my entry to this month's RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Campaign Mastery.

This month's theme is "Art-spiration." This is my entry for the Al Hartley art of Babylon above.  I am likely to have more since this is such a fun topic.

RPG Blog Carnival