Monday, July 31, 2023

Monstrous Monday: What is Monster Mash II A Midsummer Night's Dream?

 What is Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Monster Mash II in print

Much like my first Monster Mash, this one has classes that people typically think of as "monsters" for the D&D game, but uses the special "race-as-class" feature of older, Basic-era, versions of D&D like Moldvay Basic/Cook & Marsh Expert and BECMI.

This book features 12 faerie and sylvan-based classes. Bugbears, Centaurs, Hamadryads, Leprechauns, Nymphs, Pixies, Púcas, Satyrs, Werebears, Werefoxes, and Woodwoses.

Each can be played as a Basic-era "Race-as-Class," with each gaining special abilities as they level up, or as an Advanced "Race" with recommendations for classes. 

Also included is the Faerie Witch, because, well, it is one of my books. 

There are also new spells for Clerics, Druids, Illusionists, Magic-users, and Witches. 

And new occult powers and ritual spells for Faerie Witches. 

This book can be combined with my first Monster Mash for even more combinations.

Monster Mash I & II

Grab yours now!

Monster Mash

Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 31

 The last room on this level is a large landing between the flights of stairs going down.  All around the party are portals to the Plane of Elemental Fire. Standing on the landing wielding a huge flaming sword is a fire giant.

Room 31

The fire giant is named Heiðra. He is a former ally of the Vampire Queen. She cursed him to remain here and keep any who would seek her final resting place away. He will do all that he can to keep the party from moving forward. 

Heiðra has the stats of a fire giant, save his sword does an additional 2d6 fire damage.  He has an abode in the Elemental Plane of Fire and there is a portal nearby. He will not retreat, though, and will fight to the death.  If he is dropped to half his HP he will summon 1d4+1 Hellhounds

Sunday, July 30, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 10th Anniversary Edition

Next month, which is also later this week, Dave Chapman's RPGaDay celebrates its 10th anniversary, and I plan on participating again.


And this year I have even more social media sites to get involved with!   Here are the text versions of the prompts.

1) FIRST RPG played (this year)


3) First RPG BOUGHT (this year)

4) Most RECENT game bought

5) OLDEST game you've played

6) Favourite game you NEVER get to play

7) SMARTEST RPG you've played

8) Favourite CHARACTER

9) Favourite DICE

10) Favourite tie-in FICTION

11) WEIRDEST game you've played

12) Old game you STILL play

13) Most memorable character DEMISE

14) Favourite CONVENTION purchase

15) Favourite Con MODULE / ONE-SHOT

16) Game you WISH you owned

17) FUNNIEST game you've played

18) Favourite game SYSTEM

19) Favourite PUBLISHED adventure

20) Will still play in TWENTY years time

21) Favourite LICENSED RPG

22) Best SECONDHAND RPG purchase

23) COOLEST looking RPG product / book

24) COMPLEX / SIMPLE RPG you play

25) UNPLAYED RPG you own


27) Game you'd like a new EDITION of...

28) SCARIEST game you've played

29) Most memorable ENCOUNTER

30) OBSCURE RPG you've played

31) FAVOURITE RPG of all time

I am sure this will be a lot of fun, and I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone does. 

See you all next

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 30

 The alcove on the near right in Room 26 hides a secret door. This one is expected is not a bit obvious.

Room 30

There is a corridor that goes on for some 100 feet. As the party moves on the corridor twists and turns as well as widens.  It opens into a chamber. At the other end of the chamber there is a flight of stairs that goes down as far as the eye can see.

Inspecting these stairs show signs that they one had been grand but have suffered damage from the volcanic activity.  Closer inspection reveals the source of this activity, many open portals to the Plane of Fire where lava and fire are coming through.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 29

The alcove on the far right in Room 26 opens to a long hall. As the party moves down they hear growling.

Room 29

In this part of the hall has the heads of various demons fixed to the walls like trophies, which is exactly what they are.

As the party approaches the demons growl and hiss. The party can read a plaque under each one, it has the demon's name and the date it was killed by the Vampire Queen.  The characters need to be careful, getting too close and the demon head can bite for 2d6 hp of damage. 

Each head is still "alive" but lock in a sort of perpetual death. They can't regenerate their bodies and they can't die. 

The demons demand to be released, but they honestly have no idea how that can be accomplished. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday Night Videos: Sinéad O'Connor

A few times in my life are clearly defined as "Before" and "After.

Graduations. Marriage. Kids. But one that has left a significant mark on me (and my wife Natalie) was Before and After hearing "The Lion and the Cobra" by Sinéad O’Connor. Seeing her in concert remains one of the best shows I have ever been to in my life. 

I do not believe in any sort of afterlife at all. But I hope she finally found some sort of peace.

The effect her music, especially her first few albums, had on me is quite frankly immeasurable. Not surprisingly, she also inspired some of my favorite RPG moments.

I have already talked about characters I have named after her. and how her album, The Lion and the Cobra, has constantly been among my top 5 forever

The Dragon and The Phoenix

I am not going to say there would have been no "The Dragon and the Phoenix," my epic Buffy RPG campaign without Sinéad's "The Lion and the Cobra," but it and everything that came after it (my work on the Buffy RPG, Ghosts of Albion) would have looked very different.

Back in 1988, listening to "The Lion & the Cobra" (for like the 1000th time likely), I had an idea of a character that loved someone so much that they breached the walls of death and came back to that person. It was a powerful image and something I wanted to do ever since. Eventually, that image from so long ago became a central theme of "The Dragon & the Phoenix."  The song was "Troy" (as in Trojans) and the final adventure was named "No Other Troy." Both for the Sinéad O'Connor song and the Yeats poem.

The build-up for this adventure, an interlude, was set to "Drink Before the War," also from "The Lion and the Cobra."

While "The Lion and the Cobra" had a HUGE impact on my life, it was not her only album. Another contributing factor to both my Ravenloft games of the 1990s and "The Dragon and the Phoenix" was "I am Stretched on Your Grave" from her wildly successful "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got."

Another element added to the soundtrack of my early 2000s games was her 1994 album "Universal Mother," with "Fire On Babylon" being the main choice. 

Sinéad also appeared on many other albums. One song of hers really help me find the tone I was looking for for my The Dragon and the Phoenix game. It is "Empire" off of Bomb the Bass's album "Clear."

Other Games

Though back in the late 80s / early 90s the Buffy RPG was not even an idea yet. What was an idea were my ideas for a Star Trek TNG game after picking up some FASA Trek material for TNG. Back then the idea of a Ghost Ship and the song was "Jackie" also from "The Lion and the Cobra."

This was, no doubt, inspired by what I was doing back then. A lot of horror role-playing.

Another song, which while by itself did not lead to any RPG ideas, it lead me to Enya which more or less was my soundtrack for writing Ghosts of Albion. The song was "Never Get Old" also from "The Lion and the Cobra."

Other Videos

I can't have a proper tribute without mentioning "Nothing Compares 2 U."  I was at a party one night back in college. People were drinking and generally doing what you do at an underage college keg party. The TV was on MTV as background noise. Sinéad came on with "Nothing Compares 2 U" and I swear the whole place ground to a halt so people could watch her. Ok, maybe not to a halt, but it was early enough in the release of the song that not many had seen the video yet. I already had heard the song many times, I bought the album on the day it was released, so I knew it. I think I may have even seen the video. But now everyone else was discovering something I already knew. Just how fantastic she was.

Her critics (and there are so many of them) are all quick to point out that Prince wrote this song. Yes. Yes he did and Prince is amazing. He has written so many songs for so many artists. But when Prince wrote this he was singing about a lover. Sinéad was singing about her abusive mother and how she really just wanted to be loved by her the same way she loved her.

Tell me that doesn't make it hit harder.

Speaking of critics.

At the concert to celebrate Bob Dylan's birthday right after the Pope thing, she came on stage and was booed by the crowd. Singer Kris Kristofferson came out, gave her a hug, and told her, "Don't let the bastards get you down." She did her song and fled the stage, where Kristofferson was there to give her a hug. My admiration of him went up several notches after that. In 2009 he recorded an acoustic song, "Sister Sinead."

I'm singing this song for my sister Sinead
Concerning the god awful mess that she made
She told them her truth just as hard as she could
Her message profoundly was misunderstood

There's humans entrusted with guarding our gold
And humans in charge of the saving of souls
And humans responded all over the world
Condemning that bald headed brave little girl

And maybe she's crazy and maybe she ain't
But so was Picasso and so were the saints
And she's never been partial to shackles or chains
She's too old for breaking and too young to tame

It's askin' for trouble to stick out your neck
In terms of a target a big silhouette
But some candles flicker and some candles fade
And some burn as true as my sister Sinead

- Kris Kristofferson, "Sister Sinead" 

#FollowFriday: ME!

 Ok...maybe a little self-serving here. Ok. A lot. But I spent some time organizing my social media profiles and thought I'd share them all here for ease.

Here is my new Link in Bio from 

Link in bio
Oddly, iframes are not working with this one.

As you can see, you can now find me on bsky (BlueSky), Mastodon, and Threads, in addition to all the other places I have been at forever. 

Share yours below and connect with others. With social media a vast and unconnected set of sites, it is hard to find out what cool things people are doing now. Or at least keep track of them.  

I guess this is one of the reasons why I continue to blog here, it is my corner of the Internet, and I can do what I like, as I like. 

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 28

 The closer alcove on the left back in room 26 appears to be a short alcove with another bas-relief of the Vampire Queen (similar to Level 2, Room 18) this time she is playing the violin.  

Level 7, Room 28

It is fairly obvious that the violin is of different construction than the rest of the bas-relief. 

A thief can use a find traps roll or an elf with a secret door roll to discover this secret door.

The door conceals a treasure cache.

There are treasure types Hx2 and Mx2 here.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Updates: Wasted Lands, Gen Con, AI, and more!

 Wow. What a month. I have been heads down playtesting The Wasted Lands all month. The Kickstarter was funded and was completed just about 2 hours ago. 

All the documents are ready. Now comes the layout and buying the last bits of art. It has been a wild ride, really. I can't wait to get my copies.

Wasted Lands core mock up
Wasted Lands core rules mock-up

Gen Con & AI

Sadly I am not headed to Gen Con this year despite being invited by a couple of publishers I have worked with in the past year.  Honestly, prep for the Fall term is kicking my ass and despite the volume of posts here, most have been pre-written days ahead.  In addition to my normal course load (ok, it is actually more this year) I am also part of the team that is working on finding ways to prevent students from using AI for plagiarism. I have never felt more akin to Sisyphus in my life, to be honest. But I do what the Gods command. So I have been eyeballs deep in all sorts of AI tools (and brushing up on my Python) since December just to keep up. I have all these cool AI tools to play with, but the goal is to figure out how to keep students from using them OR how they can use them in ethical ways. One thing though is abundantly clear, these tools are not going away.

So, no Gen Con for me this year. Looks like I'll be at Gary Con again in 2024. Not a bad place to be to celebrate 50 years of D&D.

Monster Mash II

I released Monster Mash II to only a little fanfare. I really need to talk about it more. I am rather happy with it and the art is AMAZING!

Looking Ahead to October

Again I'll be hosting the RPG Blog Carnival in October. My theme is "Gods and Monsters." I hope to talk more about Gods, demons, and monsters. It should be a lot of fun.

Since the beginning of the year, I have also been taking Spanish, so I am going to try my hand at watching nothing but Spanish-language horror movies. Part of my "continuous improvement" this year. I have lost 40 lbs, brought my A1C down to normal for six straight months, and will be off my high-blood pressure meds! Not too bad, really.

Sinéad O'Connor

I can't let the day pass without some mention of Sinéad O'Connor. I am planning a tribute post tomorrow. To say she had an impact on my life is a massive understatement. 

Ok. Have a course to finish up today and I promised a colleague that I would read over theirs before tomorrow.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 27

 The first alcove on the left hides a secret door. In leads down a small flight of stairs to a room filling with water.  The water though, turns to steam nearly as fast. 

Rising from the steam is a demonic figure, similar to the small demons from Room 11, but this one is much larger.

Room 27

Steam Mephit Lord: HD 8; AC 3 [16]; THAC0 11 [+8]; Atk 2 claws (1d8); Move 120' (40') [Fly 240' (80')]; Save D8 W9 P10 B11 S12 (8); Morale 10; AL C;  Special: Breathe steam cloud (3d6, save for half), gaseous form.

This creature is twice as large as the mephits encountered earlier. It appears to be "melting," but that seems to be part of its form.

The Mephit Lord is trapped here, like many other creatures, by the Vampire Queen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Alcastra and The Illhiedrin Book

Alcastra the Fairspoken
I have not been talking much about the various Judges Guild books in a while because of how racist current stewards Bob Bledsaw II and III have been. Really put a sad blemish on what I had always enjoyed as a "local" company.

But that also, unfortunately, did Bob Bledsaw the First and all the other fine authors (like Daniel Hauffe and Jennell Jaquays) a huge disservice.  So I want to revisit some of the Judges Guild books of my youth and see how they could play into my current games. In particular, my War of the Witch Queens or my 1979 Campaign.

Since I always look for witches, I will start with Alcastra and The Illhiedrin Book. 

I don't have the cover as the top image. The reason is simple, when this post gets shared on social media, whatever image is first is used as a thumbnail, and the cover was suggestive by 1981 standards and likely to get me into Facebook jail by 2023 standards.  Shame, really. It is one of the more recognizable covers. 

The adventure is a rare example of an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure from Judges Guild (not just a Dungeons & Dragons one) and a low-level adventure at that.

Like many older adventures, much detail is given to Alcastra's tower and its occupants, but only a little on the spell-caster herself.  In fact, this is all we really know about her:

Alcastra the Fairspoken

This is a pity.  Though it is interesting (to me anyway) that her class is "Wizard" and not "Magic-user," as expected. 

The Illhiedrin Book
Why is she naked on the cover? I am going with it is hot where she is at.

Of course, I would instead use her as a witch. Given her general appearance, I am tempted to make her into an Egyptian witch of the Classical Tradition. For this, I will use my syncretized Greco-Egyptian Gods and use my Classical Witch Tradition book. I would swap out some of the Classical Witch spells for some others, likely from my Witch book for Basic-era games though I should also look into some of my other books.

Alcastra the Fairspoken
Alcastra the Fairspoken
13th level human Witch, Classical Tradition (Greco-Egyptian)

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 18

Breath Attacks: 12
Poison or Death: 9
Petrify or Paralysis: 9
Wands: 10
Spells and Spell-like device: 11

Hit Points: 33
Alignment: Chaotic Good
AC: 3 (Bracers of defense)
To hit AC 0: 16

Occult Powers
Familiar: Hawk (+1 to Wisdom and Dexterity checks)
Lesser: Gift of Prophecy
Minor: Drawing Down the Moon

First: Cause Fear, Charm Person, Read Languages, Sleep
Second:  ESP, Hold Person, Invisibility, Spell Missile
Third: Dispel Magic, Scry, Spark of Insight
Fourth: Fate, Polymorph Other, Witch Power
Fifth: Flame Strike, Teleport
Sixth: Anit-Magic Shell, Bones of the Earth
Seventh: Sirocco

Bracers of Defence
Dagger +2
Staff of Ra. Acts as a Staff of Striking and can cast the following spells:
  3/day: Color Spray, Light
  1/day: Flame Strike, Fury of the Sun, Sun Blessing



A good build to be honest. She also has two apprentices, Mirranscheim (human) and Rhall (half-elf), both 3rd level.  The only stats we get for them are their Charisma scores. I am tempted to make Rhall a desert elf. Just to give her a more interesting background. But in my game, desert elves don't have anything to do with humans if they can avoid them. Rhall could be an outcast. 

I might detail them since they could accompany the party on this adventure.  To make sure their mistress' plan is carried out.  Not sure if they run around naked as well. Let's say no.

Mirranscheim and Rhall

The adventure itself is pretty basic. It could be built up by making "The Creature" a bit tougher.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 26

 The passageway opens into a large circular room. In the center is a large fire. There are four alcoves spaced about the room walls.  The scene on the ceiling is though a sight out of a nightmare.

Room 26

Near the top of the room, writhing on the thermals, are four (4) elemental fire Leeches

These creatures are native to the Elemental Plane of Fire where they are analogous to Giant Leeches. Instead of draining blood the drain heat.

There are also 1d4+4 Fire Opals found on the ground here, worth 100x1d6 GP each. They are from the Elemental Plane of Fire and are worth twice as much to an alchemist or wizard specializing in fire magic.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Mail Call: Enter the Creative Commons Era

 To recover from their massive PR screw-up involving the OGL, Wizards of the Coast swang the completely other direction and released the D&D 5 SRD under the Creative Commons License. 

I know much less about this license than I do about the OGL. I am pretty competent in the OGL and have been part of the Open Gaming Foundation since its beginning. So yeah, I have had nearly 23 years of practice with it. 

I got my copy of the new Swords & Wizardry Complete Revised via their Kickstarter recently and it looks fantastic.  It uses the CC 4.0 By Attribution license.  So I thought I'd grab some more Creative Commons books and see how they are made.

Creative Common books

Not a bad collection, really.

The Arcanum 30th Anniversary Edition is an update to the venerable Arcanum and Compleat books from the 1980s.  I always have had a soft spot in my heart for this series. The 30th Anniversary Edition also does a good job of updating these rules and provides a nice history.  

It has been released under the CC BY-SA - Creative Commons Share Alike license. Sadly, Zila Games seems to be either defunct or at least lost their website. 

In a move I think surprises no one, Basic Fantasy RPG Core Rules 4thEd from Chris Gonnerman also has gone Creative Commons. This one was also released under the CC BY-SA - Creative Commons Share Alike license.

All three are worthy updates to their original versions. If somewhat thicker.

Creative Commons and Originals

The rules have not really changed all that much. The presentation of all three is also better, with Swords & Wizardry inching out as the best-looking update.

This might be just what I needed to help get over my creative hump on my High Witchcraft book I have been playing around with for years.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 25

 Past the corridor there is a split going left and right. The right leads to a door that is locked, barred, and magiced.

Removing the bar requires a combined Strength of 28 to lift. After that a thief with need a successful remove traps roll. Then a magic-user (or witch) will need to cast a dispel magic or remove curse on the lock.

Inside the room is a bound Ifrit.

Room 25

Bound in a Thaumaturgic Triangle is an Ifrit. Not just any Ifrit, but Princess Azadiha. She has been bound her for over 1,000 years.  

She will beg the PCs for her freedom saying she will grant each one wish (treat as a limited wish spell). She won't try to "twist" the wishes, but they will not be very powerful all the same. 

She is telling the truth and wants to kill the one her put in this circle. Not the Vampire Queen, but one of her chief summoners. (Insightful GMs can use the name of a local or personal NPC for the summoner here). 

The Princess is dangerous but honest. The Vampire Queen is not her interest, but if the PCs mention they are hunting for her, she will be inclined to aid them. 

For freeing her the PCs gain 3,000 XP.  She has no treasure.


Azadiha is an NPC in my games. She was painted by my wife

Monday, July 24, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 24

 Beyond the bridge, there is a cave filled with flames.

Room 24

Inside the cave are two Flame Salamanders. They have maximum hp and attack on sight. 

Combined, they have Treasure type F x3.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 23

 The corridor goes on and on for several hundred feet. There are slight turns here and there and there is a gradual decline. 

The corridor open into a large, as in giant cave, the floor has fallen away as the volcanic activity of this level as gotten to this section.  Whatever room was here has fallen into the lava bed below.  

Room 23

Ahead there is a bridge that leads to the other side. The heat and smoke in this room are great, characters must save vs. paralysis to keep from choking. A failed save means the character can't move and must rest for five minutes.  Characters need to make a save once when entering this chamber and once again at the bridge. Any character that fails also moves at a reduced half, rate of speed.

Lava flows in small "lava falls" from above.

It is 1000 ft from the opening of this chamber to the other side of the bridge.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 22

 The corridor beyond widens. The passageway is an art gallery with portraits of the Vampire Queen (you are unable to tell), each in what looks like a wedding portrait. In each one, she is with a different husband. 

Room 22

There are dates under each portrait. The years are unknown to the party, but it seems every few years the Vampire Queen remarries. 

The ornate frames are guided and fitted with all sorts of gems. The frames with portraits are worth 1,000 gp each (x4). The pieces separated will only bring in 2,500 GP total.

Friday, July 21, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 21

 Going back to Room #18 and taking the door behind Gzor'nak this leads to a long hallway covered in gravel. When the party reaches a large chamber (Room 21) the gravel begins to move and form itself into a giant monster.

Room 21

The monster has the stats of a Stone Giant. It regenerates 2 hp per round. 

If it is reduced to 0 hp it will fall apart but reform when it reaches 10 hp.  

This can be prevented by mixing the gravel with volcanic ash (everywhere prior to room 10) and water.  OR by use of a Dispel Magic.

The corridor continues on.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Wasted Lands: Nymwen the Necromancer

 A while back, I posted B/X-OSE stats for the wonderful Morelia the Wood Witch. An "adoptable" NPC from the equally wonderful Ginny Di. With the release of the nonhuman species rules for The Wasted Lands, I thought I might revisit her. BUT while re-reviewing it all, I figured out two things. 1.) I really like Morelia, where I have her now.  And 2.) One of her other characters Nymwen would be much more fun to have in the Dreaming Age!

Nymwen the Necromancer
Nymwen the Necromancer, courtesy of Ginny Di

You can read all about Nymwen on Ginny's World Anvil site. You can also watch her introduction video here:

And Nymwen on her own:

She is a Necromancer and a Sage, so honestly, she would fit right into my notion of Wasted Lands as D&D.

Nonhuman species get a level in their species first and then choose to move on to a class. This gives them abilities that many here would largely expect. 

Nymwen here is a High Elf. She was born and High Elf and was raised as a High Elf, so she takes full advantage of these sorts of rules. So she gains the following.

Vitality Die: d6 (at "first level" only)
Saves: +1 to Persona, +1 to Agility, and +2 to mind-affecting spells 
Senses: Elves are Nightsighted.

She also gains a free 1st level spell.

In Ginny's D&D (Di&Di?) worlds, Nymwen is a cleric with a penchant for Necromancy but is described as a Sage. Here she can do both.  Ginny has her at level 12 and may be a potential villain/adversary. I am going to put her at level 6 and see where she goes. 

Nymwen the Necromancer

Class: Sage
Level: 6
Species: Elf (High)
Alignment: True Neutral
Background: Sage, Occultist

Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 13 (+1)  
Toughness: 14 (+1) N
Intelligence: 17 (+2) A
Wits: 16 (+1) N
Persona: 15 (+1) 

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: None 10
Vitality: 25 (d6)
Degeneracy: None (yet, outside of Alignment)
Corruption: None

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +2 (base)
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Saves: +1 to Persona, +1 to Agility, and +2 to mind-affecting spells (Elf), +4 to saves vs. Magical Effects (Sage)

Sage Abilities

Languages (17), Lore (75%), Mesmerize Others (60%), Suggestion, Renegade Skills, Spells, Read Languages

Renegade Skills

Hide in Shadows: 40%
Open Locks: 45%
Bypass Traps: 40%
Sleight of Hand: 50%

Necromancer Abilities (from Divine Touchstone)

Channel the Dead (30%), See Dead People, Summon the Dead (35%), Command Spirits, Protection from Spirits, Death Knell, Suggestion (Spirits)

1st Level: Mystical Senses (Elf), Protection from Evil, Read Languages, Chill Ray (DT)
2nd Level: Eternal Flame, Zone of Protection vs. Evil
3rd Level: Dispel Magic

Divine Touchstones
Level 1: 
Level 2: 1st level Spell
Level 3: Level 1 of Necromancer
Level 4: 
Level 5: Level 2 of Necromancer
Level 6: Level 3 of Necromancer

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Death, Love

Nymwen can be a figure of tragic love or one of obsession (Ayana). I'll have to see what happens with her as she grows in level. 

Notes on Wasted Lands D&D

The Divine (called here "Heroic") touchstones, allow the character a bit more flair and a bit more power. 

I have not worked out how many Heroic/Divine Archetypes would be right for a D&D style game. If it is 5e I am emulating, then maybe one every level or two every three (like above). One every other level might also be good. One every third level for older style play or even none at all.

Also, if I am going to keep the Divine/Heroic touchstones I think I will also keep the Degeneracy and Corruption rules. It help balance it all out and reinforces the idea that power has a price. 

This will al be fun to figure out.

The outstanding feature here is that with all the rules options in place in O.G.R.E.S., The Wasted Lands RPG is a Rosetta Stone of D&D and ORD games. A game system where anything can be easily added.

As always, thank you to Ginny Di for giving everyone such a great character to play with! 

Please check out and back the Wasted Lands Kickstarter.

Nymwen's Links

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 20

 Going back to Room #18 and taking the door behind Brog'lar the party is met with a similar corridor and ending in a similar room.  Though the contents are very different.

Room 20

In this room there is a glowing orb of light around where the pentagram and magic circle would have been (inspection will see the powder has been blow away).

Voices can be heard coming from the light, sibilant whispers promising all sorts of treasures and power.

If any character touches the light with a bare hand (not a weapon, pole, or even gloved) will be sucked into the light never to be seen again. They are trapped the demonic realms.  

Game Masters can give a character a Save vs. Death to avoid being taken.

There are five gems embedded in floor. Each is a large diamond at the points of the former pentagram. Each is worth 1,000 GP.  Removing them causes the light (and portal) to fade.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Wasted Lands: Larina Nix

 If I am going to try to convert my D&D games over to Wasted Lands, then it only makes sense to try to convert my witch Larina. 

Larina Nix

I have already converted her modern incarnation to NIGHT SHIFT, which is the one I am happiest with. But Wasted Lands has a lot to offer, and I want to see what she can do here.

In this case I want to convert her AS&D 1st Edition version to Wasted Lands, though it will not be a 1 to 1 conversion. Instead, I will convert her concept. Also, this will not be a conversion of her NIGHT SHIFT stats. They will be similar, to be sure, but I want to rebuild her from the ground up.

I always imagine that the various versions of Larina were all in some way different aspects of the same character or even past lives. One thing I have never, to date, figured out was who was the very first (game world chronology) Larina.  It makes sense then to base this build on the first Larina (real-world chronology) from AD&D 1st Edition.

This would be that very first one. Maybe not the first witch in the world (that is a bit presumptuous even for me), but certainly the first one in her line. 

Larina Nix
Larina Nix

Class: Sorceress (Persona Aspected)
Level: 16 
XP: 2,741,986
Species: Human (Avian heritage)
Alignment: Neutral-Light
Background: Sage

Strength: 9 (+0) 
Agility: 11 (+0)  
Toughness: 12 (+1) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: 7
Vitality: 33 (d4)
Degeneracy: 14
Corruption: 3

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +7/+5/+3
Melee Bonus: +3 (base)
Ranged Bonus: +3 (base)
Saves: +6 vs magical effect

Arcane Abilities
Arcana, Spellcasting (140% base + bonus)

Sage Abilities

Languages (17), Lore (37%), Mesmerize Others (20%), Suggestion, Renegade Skills, Spells, Read Languages

Renegade Skills

Hide in Shadows: 20%
Open Locks: 15%
Bypass Traps: 10%
Sleight of Hand: 20%

1st Level: Black Flames, Arcane Darts, Mystical Senses, Night Vision, Chill Ray, Read Languages (Sage)
2nd Level: Beguile Person, See Invisible, Locator Spell: Objects, Magic Lock, Levitate
3rd Level: Clairvoyance, Globe of Darkness, Concussive Blast, Dark Lightning
4th Level: All-seeing Invisible Eye, Befuddlement, Protection against the Deeper Dark, Hop and Skip
5th Level: Convert Stone to Mud, Passageway, Shadow Armor, Dominate Other
6th Level: Dispel Evil, Invisible Servant, Enchant Item
7th Level: Ball of Sunshine, Wave of Mutilation, Widdershins Dance
8th Level: Animosity/Affinity, Wail of the Banshee

Arcane Powers
Level 1: Telekinesis 
Level 4: Beguile 
Level 7: Empathy
Level 10: Precognition
Level 13: Psychic Power: ESP
Level 16: Shadow Walking

Divine Touchstones
Level 1: Sense Magic
Level 2: 
Level 3: Bonus to Spellcasting (+10%)
Level 4: 
Level 5: 
Level 6: Level 1 of Sage
Level 7: 
Level 8: 
Level 9: Spirit Guide (Nightbird) 
Level 10: 
Level 11: Glamour
Level 12: 
Level 13: Magical Recovery
Level 14: Level 2 of Sage
Level 15: 
Level 16: 2 Level Ones: Arcane Power: Astral Projection. Psychic Power: Bio-feedback

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Witchcraft, Occultism

Staff, dagger, ring of protection

Why this Build is Important to Me

AD&D Larina was a very special character for me. I rolled her up as a "Magic-user" with the goal of playing her as a witch. We used our new method of rolling up psionic abilities and she ended up with psychic powers. I thought this was great. Later the infamous Dragon #114 came out, and I converted her to a proper witch. She kept her level of Magic-user (Dual classing), and we said it was because, as a witch, she was pretending to be a wizard so as not to get caught being a witch.

As the game progressed, she became less the magical powerhouse I envisioned back then and more the group's sage, occult expert, and polyglot. So when it came time to level her up I took the spells that gave her more social and mental power/aspects. If the choice was to take a power/spell/magic item that gave a blasty power OR say, learn a new language, then I always took the language.  

For me, the Wasted Lands rules had to capture what happened by happenstance in 1986. Her odd combination of magic-user, psychic, sage, and witch.

I was able to replicate the feel of that AD&D 1st Edition Character rather perfectly, I think. She even has a bit of corruption to cover her, occasionally dipping her toes (sometimes a whole foot) into dark magic. In AD&D, I covered this by having her eyes change color and would replicate in other ways in other games.

Larina, Then and Now

Please check out and back the Wasted Lands Kickstarter in its final week!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 19

 Going through the door with the portrait of Xorxith, the party finds themselves in a dark room, there is a small child lying on the floor inside a magic circle. The powder glows faintly.

Room 19

The child is a demon of course, the room has been sealed up for centuries and the demon has been stuck here. It's been so long that the demon barely remembers who or what they are. So it is not very convincing as a demon or as a child. 

If the child ruse does not work (it is not likely to work), it will shift to a demonic form of a child (thinking it might be better) where it will try to convince the characters to free it so it can reap vengeance on those who imprisoned it. Those mages are dead, but the demon will not let the characters know it knows that. 

The demon will attack once free. It is a demon, after all, and it really wants to kill something.


AC 4 [15], HD 6+6* (33hp), Att 2 × claws (2d6), 1 × bite (1d4), THAC0 14 [+5], MV 180’ (60’) / 240’ (80’) flying, SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (6), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 500, NA 0 (1), TT None

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Wasted Lands: Melissa Belladonna

Melissa Belladonna
Our weekend Fifth Edition D&D games are slowly sliding over into the Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age RPG. We have been able to pivot so well because a lot of what we have been doing in D&D 5 comes from the same roots that you find in the Wasted Lands.  But there is one thing the Wasted Lands doesn't do out of the box that many of the D&D 5e players love, and that is to play non-human characters. 

That is until now.

If you are a backer, you already got the preview of nonhuman species so you can play the likes of an Elf, Dwarf or other stranger things. This is one of the key D&D experiences, and it is a welcome addition for those who want them. The rules addition from Jason includes the expected ones; elves, dwarves, gnomes and the like. But D&D 5 is full of all sorts of species to play. Can you do that in WL?


Keep in mind one very, very important thing about the "humans" in the Wasted Lands. They are not really humans at all. They are proto-humans, proto in the sense that they very well might look like us but they were created by the Old Ones as sort of a "rough draft" of humans. So they could have ancestry from just about anything to be honest. Birds, reptiles, snakes, and yes, primates. The changes are largely cosmetic and immaterial to a group of mortals fighting evil elder things from beyond the stars. So adding an elf, dwarf or even dragonborn is really trivial.

Today I want to try a tiefling. Not just any tiefling, though. 

It dawned on me a couple weeks back that I do not have a tiefling character to call my own. I still didn't but needed an NPC to fill a certain role.  Enter Melissa Belladonna

Melissa is a tiefling Artificer that runs an alchemist shop. You can follow her exploits on Twitter and Twitch (links below). But I was thinking here is a good character to try out. She has a 5e class. She is a tiefling. And she serves a role I needed of an alchemist. Plus, she is fun, and NPCs should be fun.

Melissa Belladonna

The party got to meet up with her, and she was great. I had more planned, but they had other things to do (and tacos were done).  But she will certainly be back.  Here is how I did her for the Wasted Lands.

Part of her background is should used to pretend to be human and used a glamour. That still works here, to be honest. There are demons in the Wasted Lands, so it is possible that there is an offspring of a demon and human that is also good. 

Melissa Belladonna

Melissa by idlemo_bun
Class: Sage
Level: 17
Species: Tiefling (Mammon heritage)
Alignment: Neutral Good (Twilight Good)
Background: Sage, Alchemist

Strength: 14 (+1) 
Agility: 12 (+0)  
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 18 (+3) A
Wits: 15 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) N

Fate Points: 10
Defense Value: None 10
Vitality: 60 (d6)
Degeneracy: None
Corruption: None

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +7/+5/+3
Melee Bonus: +5 (base)
Ranged Bonus: +5 (base)
Saves: +1 Fire-based effects, +1 to Magical-effects (Tiefling), +7 to saves vs. Magical Effects (Sage)

Sage Abilities

Languages (18), Lore (188%)*, Mesmerize Others (170%)*, Suggestion, Renegade Skills, Spells, Read Languages

Renegade Skills

Hide in Shadows: 95%
Open Locks: 90%
Bypass Traps: 100%
Sleight of Hand: 100%

1st Level: Mystical Senses (Tiefling), Beast Speech, Glamour, Read Languages, Restore/Drain Vitality, Summon Familiar (Perry, a Raven)
2nd Level: Create Water, Eternal Flame, Invisibility, Subtle Influence, Zone of Honesty
3rd Level: Anti-toxin, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Slow, Zone of Protection from Evil
4th Level: Befuddlement, Conjure Fire, Kiss of the Succubus

Divine Touchstones
Level 1: 
Level 2: Arcane Ability: Enhanced Senses
Level 3: 
Level 4: Luck benefit (1d6)
Level 5: 
Level 6: "Spirit Guide" Her cauldron homunculus. 
Level 7: 
Level 8: Magical Recovery
Level 9: 
Level 10: 3rd level spell: Conjure Fireworks
Level 11: 
Level 12: Glamour at will
Level 13: 
Level 14: Slow aging
Level 15: 
Level 16: Signature Item: Cauldron
Level 17:

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Sage, Occultism, Dragons

Here lore skill covers her alchemy and artificer skills. She is also widely regarded as an expert on dragons, having conducted extensive field work on studying them for years.

Thank you to Melissa Belladonna for letting me borrow such a great character to play with! Everyone loved her.

Melissa's Links

Some Mini Witches on my Desk

Melissa and Larina

Please check out and back the Wasted Lands Kickstarter.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 7, Room 18

 Going back to Room #15 and taking the corridor on the left leads to a large obsidian-paneled room.

Room 18

This room is a scene from a horror movie. 

The five walls are covered with paintings of demons by various artists. There are notes under each painting detailing when each demon was summoned and subjugated by the Vampire Queen. There are dozens here, and many of the names are unknown to the characters.

There are secret doors behind the three largest paintings. The demons are:

  • Xorxith - This demon is known as the Destroyer in the Darkness. It is a powerful and destructive demon who is feared for its ability to tear through its enemies. He appears as a giant demon (60 ft high) with his head obscured by darkness.
  • Brog'lar - This thin, sexless demon has long delicate fingers and a mouth filled with needle-like teeth. It sits on a pile of skulls.  It is a cunning and manipulative demon who is known for its ability to control others.
  • Gzor'nak - The Hunger. This demon appears to be a huge demonic monster with a giant mouth with thousands of teeth, a large belly, and huge legs. It is a voracious and insatiable demon who is always hungry for more power and destruction.

Reading over these paintings and notes provides characters the following XP.

Magic-users and witches: 100 xp
Clerics: 75 xp
Fighters and thieves: 50 xp 




Monday, July 17, 2023

Monstrous Monday: Monster Mash II A Midsummer Night's Dream!

New Release Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream!

Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Monster Mash II in print

Now available in PDF and Print on Demand.

Monster Mash II: A Midsummer Night's Dream

More Monster Classes for Basic-era Games

For years brave adventures have been going into the dangerous wilderness and fighting monsters.  

Now the monsters are fighting back.

Monster Mash II is an Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy compatible game that allows you to take on the role not of a stalwart hero but as one of the monsters.

This book features 12 faerie and sylvan-based classes.

Bugbears, Centaurs, Hamadryads, Leprechauns, Nymphs, Pixies, Púcas, Satyrs, Werebears, Werefoxes, Woodwoses, and the Faerie Witch.

New spells for Clerics, Druids, Illusionists, and Magic-users. 

New spells, occult powers, and ritual spells for Faerie Witches. 

All are completely compatible with Basic-era OSR games and my previous witch books.

Includes an Advanced Classes Appendix for using this book with "Advanced" versions of your favorite Old-School games.

All art by Dean Spencer

Monster Mash II in print

Monster Mash II in print

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art

Monster Mash II in print with Dean Spencer art