Sunday, December 31, 2023

TARDIS Captain's 31 Day Character Creation Challenge 2024

 Tomorrow is New Year's Day and the start of 2024!

I am also participating in TARDIS Captain's 31 Day Character Creation Challenge. This is always a lot of fun.

Character Creation Challenge

This year, my theme is "Wasted Lands as my Dungeons & Dragons Replacement."

And to put my money where my mouth is, I am going to make Wasted Lands versions of 31 of my past D&D characters from the last 45 years. Now I understand that most people will have no interest at all in *my* characters. So this will be less about how to convert that character on a one-to-one basis and more about how to get the proper feel for the character, and the particular version of Dungeons & Dragons being used.

I am also going to bring in bits from NIGHT SHIFT to show how flexible O.G.R.E.S. is and talk about Thirteen Parsecs a bit too.

But the real goal here is to show how you can have fun with a great fantasy RPG and support the small publishers out there at the same time. 

Yes, yes. D&D is a fine game. We would not be here 50 years later if it wasn't. But there are also other great, games that offer the D&D "experience" and none of the D&D overhead.

Join me all month long!

Buy Wasted Lands & NIGHT SHIFT

Don't forget, Thirteen Parsecs is coming soon!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 31

 The center open leads to a long tunnel going down. At the end of this tunnel is an alcove. Stepping into the alcove activates the portal. The portal leads back to the surface.

Room 31

Through the portal, the surface world can be seen.

The portal is one way, once through the characters can not go back.


That's it! 12 levels, 365 rooms. Undead, goblins, spaceships, and more. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 30

 The room on the right-hand side is of a similar configuration to the library. This one has all the Queen's treasures.

Room 30

This room is large and contains a lot of treasure.

The following can be found here: A x3, B x4, E x3, G, x4, H x3, I x2, M x2, N x5, and O x5.

Additionally, there are magic arms and armor here:

  • Nightbane, +2 Sword, +3 against werewolves, vampires, and witches. Stored here to keep it away from the Queen herself.
  • Mace of St. Werper, +3, +4 vs undead. An item of conquest taken from Father Werper himself. 
  • Armor of Shadows, this black leather armor casts both Mage Armor and Intangible Cloak of Shadows. The Queen doesn't wear this armor due her other protection magics.
  • Helm of Telepathy
  • Helm of Darkness. As a Helm of Brilliance, but only darkness.
  • Cauldron of potions
  • Amulet of Protection
  • 5x Bags of holding

There are no traps here. The Queen honestly did not expect anyone to get this far.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Friday Night Videos: Songs of Thirteen Parsecs

Nothing puts me in the mood for working on a campaign or writing new material quite like a good playlist.

So while we are working on Thirteen Parsecs, Jason has put together a new sci-fi themed playlist for your enjoyment.

Don't forget to sign up to learn more about this project.


Kickstart your Future! Thirteen Parsecs

It's the end of the week, the end of the month and the end of the year. So lets look to the future!

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!

I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

What is Thirteen Parsecs?

Like our other games, NIGHT SHIFT and Wasted Lands, Thirteen Parsecs is an O.G.R.E.S.-powered game. So if you have played a classic RPG then you know how to play this one already.

Also like NIGHT SHIFT, Thirteen Parsecs will be a "toolbox game."  We are going to give you the basic rules and structure for all sorts of Science Fiction style role-playing. So whether you want to play heroic characters in an epic space opera, explore strange new world with a group of explorers, battle alien threats, deal with a post-apocalyptic hellscape, or tackle humankind's first leap to the stars, then this game is for you.

BUT that is not all. Like NIGHT SHIFT we will encourage you to make your own worlds and setting to make it the sci-fi game YOU want. 

I have been talking for years, decades even, on how there has not been a sci-fi game that connects with me. Thirteen Parsecs will change that for me. Here are the worlds I am planning to bring you as my contribution in one form or another.

Space Truckers

This one began as a bit of joke and I have tried in different systems. It is "Smokey and the Bandit" meets "Blake's 7" with a dash of "Red Dwarf" and "Quark."  It is supposed to be silly fun about the lives of long-haul "truckers" on the edge of the Solar Frontier. The Colonies need their light beer too. I am planning on designing this to work with any of the other settings we have.

Dark Star (formerly BlackStar)

I have talked about this one a lot, my "Star Trek meets Cthulhu." The deal here is that Jason also has one he wants to do and so does our other member Derek. So it is very likely they will all get combined somehow into something new and better.  The basic idea here is "In Space, the stars are always right."

Völlig Losgelöst

My love letter to 80s sci-fi horror. This one might appear later due to space (heh) issues. If you enjoyed movies like "Lifeforce," "Galaxy of Terror," and "Xtro" then you will find a lot to love here. This one is explicitly a NIGHT SHIFT/Thirteen Parsecs crossover game, so I might wait until after the core rules are published. Essentially I want to create the future as we saw it from the mid-1980s. 

I have more ideas and these are only mine. Jason and Derek have a ton as well. 

So please sign up and watch for more details!

Want to know more? Just ask!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 29

 This crypt has three openings opposite the entrance: straight ahead, to the right, and near left.

The opening to the left leads to the Queen's vast occult library.

Room 29

This room is filled with scrolls, books, and other volumes of learning.

Spending a week here would allow a character to gain a level of experience. These books can be taken, but the entire collection of these books (225 total) must be accounted for. 

In addition, there are several spellbooks.

There are 6d12 1st level spells, 5d20 2nd level spells, 4d12 3rd level spells, 4d10 4th level spells, 5d8 5th level spells, 6d6 6th level spells, and 4d4 7th level spells.

There are also several thousand books on a variety of topics. The total value of this library is worth at least 1,000,000 gp.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 28

The large double door to the the next room is triple locks (needing three separate rolls to open) and each lock is trapped with a fatal poison. Getting past these will take an expert thief. 

This large circular room is the goal of your quest. This is the crypt of Darlessa, the Vampire Queen.

Room 28

Her sarcophagus is located in the middle of this room. A combined strength of 35 is needed to lift of the stone lid. Once open the PCs will have one round to attack her before she is revived. They have +2 on their initiative rolls.

The Vampire Queen is dead but far from helpless. She is shocked you made it this far, but she is prepared all the same. 

Darlessa the Vampire Queen
Darlessa, The Queen of Vampires

Female Vampire Witch, Demonic Tradition
No. Enc.: 1 (Unique)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
   Fly: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: -5 (bracers of defense, amulet of protection, ring of protection)
Hit Dice: 13
Attacks: 1 (touch, see below) or spell
Damage: 1d10, drain 2 points of Constitution, Witch Spells
Save: W13
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XXII
XP: 11,400

Str: 18 Int: 15 Wis: 14 Dex: 18 Con: (18) Cha: 22

In addition to the powers of a vampire, Darlessa has the following witch spells and Occult Powers.  She casts spells as a 13th-level witch.

Spells by Level
Cantrip (3+5): Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Knot, Mend, Mote of Light, Object Reading, Spark
1st (4+3): Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Everlasting Candle, Hecate's Spiritual Dog, Minor Curse, Read Languages
2nd (4+3): Agony, Bewitch II, Burning Gaze, Enthrall, Ghost Touch, Produce Flame, Rite of Remote Seeing
3rd (3+2): Astral Sense, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Danse Macabre, Toad Mind, Tongues
4th (3+2): Arcane Eye, Bewitch IV, Elemental Armor, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations
5th (2): Death Curse, Greater Command
6th (2): Death Blade
7th (1): Wave of Mutilation

Occult Powers
Familiar (Undead Raven)
Evil’s Touch
Devil’s Tongue

Magic Items
Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Amulet of Protection* (also prevents cleric turning), bracers of defense, ring of protection, ring spell storing (3 stored Magic Missile spells).

Her coffin can be destroyed after she is dead. There is a spare coffin underneath this one. Even if her body is burned, she can come back due to the dark necromancies she has practiced for centuries. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 27

 This appears to be a long hallway with mirrors on both sides. Light from torches that ignite as you enter scatters in all directions.

Room 27

The mirrors are in fact portals from the astral plane. There are 16 in total. As the PCs walk past an Astral Ghoul is released. 

Astral Ghoul

Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 8+16* (52 hp)
Attacks: 2 × claw (1d4 x2 + paralysis), 1 × bite (1d8 + paralysis)
THAC0: 12 [+7]
Movement: 90’ (30’) fly 90' (30')
Saving Throws: D8 W93 P10 B11 S12 (2)
Morale: 12
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 650
Number Appearing: 1
Treasure Type None

These creatures look like ghouls but are partially in substantial. They have the same paralyzing touch of all ghouls.

Astral ghoul

I dreamed about these guys last night.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Mail Call and Boxing Day 2023

Today I normally like to post some sort of Boxed Set thing I have going on. But instead, I'll just talk about my D&D-related fun from the last couple of days. BTW I sliced my finger open on a mandolin making sliced potatoes, so this post is taking a lot longer.

Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen

Up first I got my copies of Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen from Mark Taomino. Both the 10th Anniversary OSR and the new 5th Edition versions.

Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen

Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen

Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen

I signed on early for these adventures. No shock given my love for the original Wee Warriors Vampire Queen. So now I have three different printings of this Vampire Queen.

Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen

Party Like It's 1979!

For Christmas, my oldest son decided to go all out for everyone. This is what he got me.

Atari 2600 and Monster Manual minis

Atari 2600 and Monster Manual minis

The Atari 2600 plugs into any HCMI TV/Monitor and even has an aspect ratio switch.  But the coolest part is it will run old 2600 cartridges. So time to start cruising the Half-Price Books and second-hand stores!

The Monster Manual minis are from set G-J. Though really, G-I.

D&D en Español

My son also ran some D&D for us. We played the "Witchlight Carnival" adventure.

I made a character, but to help with my Spanish, I opted to only use my new Spanish language Players Handbook.

Sombra en Español

El es Brujo y Elfo. For play, I limited myself to what I could read and understand in this book. 

Hope everyone is having a great holiday.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 26

 The last room on the right opens to an empty space, a room with many alcoves on either side.  There appears to be some sort of pile of treasure in the center.

Room 26

Once inside the room, the illusion of the treasure disappears and a horde of undead stream out.

There are 3d12 zombies, 2d10 ghouls, 1d8 ghasts, and 1d6 wights.

If the PCs can get back to the door they can close off the attacks to just a few at a time. Otherwise, in one round they will be surrounded in the "Kill box."


Happy Boxing Day, enjoy the kill box.

Monday, December 25, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 25

 The second room on the left is the treasure room of Vampire Queen.

Room 25

This room is filled with treasure.

There is Type Ax5, Type Bx10, Type Gx5, Type Hx10.

In addition, there are five spell books with 4d6 spells each of levels 1-6. 2d4 Swords of +1 enchantment, 1d6 of +2, 1d4 of +3, and 1 of +4. Armor +1, Staff of the Magi.

There are no magic items here vs. undead, demons, or devils here.  There are also no potions of healing or magical healing of any sort. Vampires of no need of such magic.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 24

 The first chamber on the right is the Cenotaphs of the Vampire Queen's Council of Advisors.  Each is a stone monument erected for her council of 20 advisors.

Room 24

The Vampire Lords are as follows. Each stone has a brief description of the vampire lord or lady whose ashes are inside.

  1. Corvus Nox - A brooding lord wielding shadows like weapons.
  2. Amara Tenebris - A cunning duchess, weaving webs of intrigue in moonlit courts.
  3. Zale Moondragon - A tempestuous warrior, leading their coven with fiery passion.
  4. Silas Ember - A melancholic scholar, haunted by memories of their mortal life.
  5. Seraphina Thorne - A seductive siren, luring prey into an alluring abyss.
  6. Lyander Blackwood - A stoic sentinel, guarding ancient secrets amidst crumbling ruins.
  7. Esme Wysteria - A whimsical trickster, dancing on the edge of chaos with laughter.
  8. Cassius Vervain - A noble alchemist, seeking an elixir to gain true immortality.
  9. Luna Sanguis - A fierce huntress, stalking the night with unerring instincts.
  10. Erebus Umbra - A cryptic oracle, whispering prophecies in forgotten tongues.
  11. Isolde Morraine - A vengeful spirit, driven by an undying thirst for retribution against the gods of light.
  12. Lucian Fane - A charming storyteller, weaving illusions with silken words.
  13. Nyn Obsidian - A master of shadows, vanishing like smoke on the wind.
  14. Aurora Vesper - A radiant anomaly, defying the darkness with a defiant glow.
  15. Darius Argent - A skilled strategist, playing pawns in a grand, blood-soaked game.
  16. Lillian Crimson - A fiery rebel, sparking revolutions against oppressive elders.
  17. Caspian Hawthorne - A gentle healer, offering solace in the heart of darkness.
  18. Amara Whisperer - A silent assassin, leaving only whispers of their victims.
  19. Zephyr Dusk - A fleet-footed scout, mapping forgotten paths across forgotten lands.
  20. Thanatos Requiem - A harbinger of death, wielding a chilling scythe and a bone-chilling smile.

The Cenotaphs are hollow with an earn inside containing the ashes of these vampire lords and ladies. If any are mixed with living blood the vampire lord will return to unlife. They 8+1d6 HD.

Here the PCs will find Treasure Types Ax10, Hx4 & Mx2 stored here.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 23

 The first room on the left is a Ritual Room.

Room 23

This room has altars and ritual spaces dedicated to the demon lords Akelarre and Orcus, the arch Devil Dispater, and to the dark gods Ereshkigal, Hecate, and Hel. The last and central altar is to the Vampire Queen herself.

There are treasures here upwards of 100,000 gp, but all are cursed.  Removing them from this room requires a save vs. Death or die. A Remove Curse can be used, but it must be done on each item. There are seven altars here.

There are no creatures here.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Periodic Table of Elementals, by Catilus

 How about something to lighten the mood around here.

This was shared by a friend. I had seen it on my feed, but he reminded me that it would be good for today.

Periodic Table of Elementals, by Catilus

Periodic Table of Elementals, by Catilus

Catilus is giving us something that honestly we should have all figured out decades ago. But here we get her fantastic art and 5e monsters.

Catilus has been putting out some high-quality and fun 5e books for a while now, and I expect this one will be her best yet.

From her project page:

Periodic Table of Elementals is my third book on Kickstarter and (by far) my largest book to date. It features unique elemental creatures inspired by every actual chemical element, with lore and abilities based on each element’s chemical properties!

What’s in the Periodic Table of Elementals?

    • 118 fully illustrated unique elementals representing ALL chemical elements
    • Abilities and mechanics based on real chemistry
    • Familiars, steeds, and gargantuan summonable elementals
    • Science-inspired lore for each elemental
    • An actual, fully usable periodic table with all the elementals from the book
    • Adventure hooks, optional rules, tables, synergies, and more tools
    • More than 120 detailed illustrations, including art for each elemental, by me!


Sounds fantastic really.  I am not really into D&D 5e these days, but my issues are with WotC/Hasbro not with independent creatives like Catilus. There will be plenty to convert over to other systems should you want.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 22

 This large opening leads to the grand burial chambers of the Vampire Queen herself. There is a flight of stairs going down, opening to a large chamber.

Room 22

The chamber has five exits: two to the left, two to the right, and one ahead.  

Between the party and these exits are a hundred or so skeletons

This chamber has 6d20+10 skeletons that will rise up and attack.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Empty Chair: R. Michael Grenda

R. Michael "Evil" Grenda
 Well. I didn't expect to be doing this today. I just got word that my old High School and College DM, R. Michael Grenda, died yesterday.  The cause of death is unknown, but it is suspected it was a heart attack.

I have mentioned him here many times, usually not by name, I don't name people unless they have explicitly said it was fine. But we began playing in my early high school days. We met via our school's theatre group. Yeah, we were both theatre kids. We bonded over our shared love of D&D and the fact that we both owned TRS-80 Color Computers

He had his world, based mainly on the World of Greyhawk and I had mine, based on the Known World, or what would later be known as Mystara. And we would go back and forth between these worlds. Eventually, we would merge them and he made a map for it that I would eventually lose and then much, much later find the Mystoerth map I still use today. We played chess together often, had similar tastes in fiction, and discovered computer games together.

When I left town to go to University, he eventually followed me there. He was a computer science major and would eventually end up working with databases for the State of Illinois (which is as much archaeology as it is computer science) and met his future wife while we were all at school together. His wife (then his girlfriend) introduced me to Gopher sites and even this new thing called the World Wide Web.

Much of what happened in our games lives on in my work here.  The "Big Bad" of my Buffy campaign "The Dragon and the Phoenix" was Yoln Shadowreaper, one of his NPCs. The entire background of TDaTP was my big War of the Dragons, which was our world-ending battle before college.

Our "D&D on the Computer" game BARDD was largely written by him. When I6 Ravenloft came out I bought it and then made him run it. Back in college, we even did the "Dreams of Barovia" campaign where the characters shifted from one reality to the next, with him running House on Gryphon Hill and me running the original I6. I ran my first test of my witch class with him and we tried out his Riddle Master, Beastmaster, and Shadowmaster classes.

We had met up recently, back in July, and that was great. We had not seen each other in a long time. Family, jobs, kids. You know the story.  I hate to say it, but when his wife called me last night, I was not 100% surprised. I thought he looked a little unwell. But hell, we are all in our 50s now. None of us look "great."  

I have not quite processed it all yet, to be honest.  I owe a lot of my my current writing to him and the games we played. Thought we might roll some dice one more time, but I guess not.


I'll end with him flipping me off at a party a bunch of us were at in college. He would have found it funny.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 21

 A secret door here is similar to the one in Room #18 to Room #19.  Finding that one makes finding this one easier; an extra 1 (on a d6), a +16% (d%), or +3 (on d20).

Room 21

This room contains Treasure Types A, G, and H. There is also a sword +3 here. The sword and all the treasure here is cursed. Removing any of it from this room results in the possessor needing to make a saving throw vs. Magic or begin losing 1 point per turn to a random ability: d6 1=Strength, 2=Intelligence, 3=Wisdom, 4=Dexterity, 5=Constitution, 6=Charisma. To stop the drain the items must be returned to this room.  

Only magic can restore ability loss. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Coming in 2024: Thirteen Parsecs

 You know how I have lamented how I never have found the perfect sci-fi RPG?  Well. That all might be changing.

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!

I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

A bit of background, I think I have mentioned in the past that prior to switching gears to become a psychologist I had actually started out in physics, and astrophysics in particular. I got to a point in calculus where I just stopped understanding it, so I had to switch. BTW this makes my former Actuary (with degrees in math) wife laugh her ass off all the time. 

So it will be wonderful to put all this knowledge I have about astronomy, space, and science to good use.

Launch is not till later in the year, but Jason is already working out all sorts of great things. I hope to resurrect Space Truckers, get some more mileage out of Dark Star (formerly BlackStar), and more.

So please sign up and watch for more details!

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 20

 On the other side of Room 12-17 from Room 18 is another set of stairs to an ornate tomb.  This one belongs to the Vampire Queen's Majordomo, the Dwarf Fizko.

Room 20

Fizko was in charge of the household of the Vampire Queen. She rewarded his faithful service by turning him into a Death Knight.

Death Knight

Armor Class -1 [20]
Hit Dice 12+36 (90hp)*****
Attacks 2 × weapons (1d10+4) + Special
THAC0 6 [+13]
Movement 120’ (40’)
Morale 12
Alignment Chaos
XP 5,900
Number Appearing 1 (1)
Treasure Type None

The Dwarf Fizko is a supernaturally strong Death Knight.

He attacks with a great mattock +3 that he can use to hit twice per round.  He can summon 2d6 Haugbui twice per day.

As a death knight, he has the powers and spells of a 12th level anti-Paladin.  His "lay on hands" ability causes damage instead of healing.

Fizko is fanatically loyal to the Vampire Queen, whom he believes is a Goddess and he swore his oath to her.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 19

 A secret door in Room 18 leads to a secret treasure room.

Room 19

This room contains Treasure Types A, G, and H. Additionally there is a suit of elven chain, and a sword +3 vs. Magic-users (Wizards and Witches).

Monday, December 18, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 18

 This giant area (Room 13) has three exits. One on each side of the room and one ahead. The first on the left is Room 18.

Room 18

This ornate tomb is found at the bottom of a flight of stairs.  The doors are locked but can be picked.

This is the tomb of Dortya, the handmaiden to the Vampire Queen. 

She is a 10 HD Vampire. She has Boots of Speed, Bracers of Defence AC +3, and a sword +2 / +3 vs. Clerics.   Her tomb has Treasure Type F x3.

Her only task is to keep people away from her queen.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 17

 This section of the larger area is the home to the graves of the Queen's Elven sacrifices.  Rising from the graves are Grave Terrors, the halfling undead. 

Room 17

Grave Terror are halfling wights.

Grave Terror

Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3d8+6 (31 hp)
Movement: 90" (30")
Attacks: 1 claw or weapon (+2 to hit, 1d6+2 damage)
Special Attacks: Fear aura, Spectral Blades
Special Defenses: Immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells
Saves: As 3rd level Fighter
Morale: 12 (Fanatic)
Treasure: Nil (grave goods destroyed with their undeath)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil

These creatures were warriors among the halflings until they were cursed to undeath.  They had high Strength and Constitution scores while alive (16+ each) and were formidable fighters.

They attack with a claw or a rusty sword for 1d6+2 points of damage. They can also summon a spectral blade to attack another opponent at the same level of proficiency. 

These undead creatures have Aura of Fear that acts like the spell Fear 15' Radius.  They are immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells. They are turned as Ghouls.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 16

 This section of the larger area is the home to the graves of the Queen's Elven sacrifices.  Rising from the graves are Alp, the elven undead. 

Room 16

Alp are the undead forms of elves.

There are at least six here and the potential for many more.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: The MCDM RPG

 Interesting one this week. I am unsure if I am calling people to support it. My purpose here is often to shed some light on a crowdfunded project you may not have seen. This one though is at $3 Million right now so it doesn't need my help.  But that is not why I am talking about this one today.

But first, the campaign.



This is a new big FRPG from Matt Colville (the "MC" in the name I am guessing).  It is obviously modeled on D&D style play and it is being pitched as a D&D alternative in all but name. Back in the day we would have called this a Fantasy Heartbreaker.

The game looks slick as hell and it will certainly be a lot of fun and look good. Matt does good work on his design so I have no doubt this will be a good game.

BUT...(there is always a but) there are a few things about it that I am not quite connecting with.

If you take D&D as the middle ground and go far out on the gritty/old-school side you get another wildly successful RPG ShadowDark.  Go the same distance in the other direction and you will have MCDM RPG.  Many of the selling points about this game read like "everything ShadowDark is, we are not." For example from the project page:

Compared to what ShadowDark say they are on their Kickstarter Project page:
Shadowdark is

NOW PLEASE UNDERSTAND. I am not trying to set up a MCDM vs. ShadowDark thing here. I think both games are great and their respective successes give evidence that both games are wanted and needed. AND (more to the point) both provide that D&D-alternative to those that want it. 

I think having a good D&D-alternative is a good thing given the bookend events from Wizards/Hasbro this 2023.  

Just as I don't click well with some of the things in ShadowDark, I also don't click very well with some of the things in MCDM.  I *do* want monsters to be able to avoid spells sometimes. I *do* want there to be a chance that the PCs can fail. I do want some grit. But I also want hope. My preferred gaming experience is somewhere in the middle.

Also, reading through the material, I get the sense that the design is not 100% complete yet. That is a red flag for me these days. When NIGHT SHIFT went to Kickstarter the book was done and playtesting complete. When Wasted Lands went to Kickstarter the playtesting on the new mechanics was done, the core rules were done, and the Gazeteer was nearly complete. Both games shipped early.  My concern is this game won't ship for a while.

I have seen online people calling this a "D&D Killer" which I have my doubts about. Pathfinder is a great game but it was not a D&D killer. I have seen a lot of so-called D&D Killers over the years. I don't think this one will be either.  But it might get WotC to pay attention. Maybe.

Even if it doesn't make WotC/Hasbro take notice it will provide a new game to people who love this sort of style and help keep role-playing going for a bit longer. Who knows, maybe I'll pick it up as well one day.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 15

 This section of the larger area is the home to the graves of the Queen's Dwarven sacrifices.  Rising from the graves are Haugbui, the dwarven undead.

Room 15


Armor Class 4 [15]
Hit Dice 6+6 (33hp)***
Attacks 2 × claws (1d6+4), 1 bite (1d4+4) + Ability Drain
THAC0 14 [+5]
Movement 120’ (40’)
Saving Throws D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (6)
Morale 12
Alignment Chaos
XP 1,025
Number Appearing 1d8 (1d8)
Treasure Type None

Haugbui are undead dwarves of fierce warriors cursed to remain in their barrows and underground chambers. 

The attack with a claw, claw, bite routine. On a successful bite attack, they can drain blood at 1 point of Constitution per round. The get these undead unattached requires a strength ability check to pull them off.  

These creatures are very strong; Strength 20 and silver is required to hit them.

These creatures turn as Wights.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 14

 This section of the larger area is the home to the graves of many horses. 

Room 14

There are Undead Horses and Nightmares here.

Undead Horses

Armor Class 7 [12]
Hit Dice 4 (18hp)
Attacks 2 × hoof (1d6+1)
THAC0 16 [+3]
Movement 120’ (40’)
Saving Throws D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4)
Morale 12
Alignment Chaos
XP 125
Number Appearing 1d8 (1d8)
Treasure Type None

Undead horses are skeletal remains of normal horses. They attack much as they did in life, only now they can also be turned as Wights.


Armor Class -4 [24]
Hit Dice 6+6 (33hp)
Attacks 1 bite (2d4), 2 × burning hooves (2d4+2); Breath smoke
THAC0 14 [+5]
Movement 150’ (50’) / Fly 360' (90')
Saving Throws D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (4)
Morale 12
Alignment Chaos
XP 1,025
Number Appearing 1 (1)
Treasure Type None

Nightmares are the steeds of night hags and other demons, black horses with flaming hoofs and mane. Their breath is a cloud of brimstone smoke, which causes any nearby opponent to attack at –2 (saving throw applies). These horrible creatures can become incorporeal and travel between the planes of existence, bearing their evil/chaotic riders.

(Section 15: Nightmare, Swords & Wizardry SRD)


Again, GMs choose as many as they need to challenge the PCs.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Fate Spins Along as it Should

 Thanks to the magic of Withers (and a mere pittance of 100gp), my warlock Larina from my first run can now join my paladin Johan on his current run.

Larina and Johan in Baldur's Gate 3

The game is still rather fantastic and 300+ hours later, I am still discovering more. With some of the mods I added I don't think I'll be able to get Sinéad in there as well. The "half-elf" hireling is gone, replaced by Alfria.

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 13

 Moving into the larger area of Encounter Area 12.  These are the graves of the human sacrifices. There are 666 total graves, from these rise a horde of zombies.

Room 13


How many zombies?  All of them. The idea here is to overwhelm the PCs to keep them from going forward. Indulge your little black heart. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Shrink Wrapped Orange Palace of the Silver Princess on eBay

 I have discussed my fondness for the Green cover B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. It is a fun adventure and great for newbie DMs. It came to me just as I needed it. For its ability to run and more lore to Glantri, and (for me) the ability to easily code it into a computer when I was trying to D&D on my little TRS-80 Color Computer. 

I like the adventure. A lot. But not this much.

B3 on eBay

Right now is it going for just a bit over $10k.  That is up $1000.00 from when I first saw it this morning.

The adventure is fun, no where near as good as the revised Green cover version. And it is certainly not with $10k except to a serious collector. 

Makes me wish I knew what dumpster they were dumped in at the time! I could pay my kids' college tuition with that. 

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 12

 The hallway of Encounter Area #11 opens up to a massive room filled with stone sarcophagi.  A plaque as the PCs enter describes this as the Hall of Sacrificed Dead.

Room 12

These are the final resting places of the followers of the Vampire Queen. She sacrificed them to further her own power and appease her demonic lords.

There are 1,000 sarcophagi here, divided into groups.

  • Group 1 (Encounter Area 13): Humans (666 total)
  • Group 2 (Encounter Area 14): Horses (180 total)
  • Group 3 (Encounter Area 15): Dwarves (55 total)
  • Group 4 (Encounter Area 16): Elves (54 total)
  • Group 5 (Encounter Area 17): Halflings (45 total)

This room is guarded by the undead temple guardians, 10 Huecuva.  They will wait until the characters enter the room and attack them from all sides.


Armor Class: 3 [116]
Hit Dice: 2*** (9 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws or 1 weapon (1d6 x2 or 1d8), ability drain
THAC0: 18 [+2]
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Saving Throws: D11 W12 P13 B14 S15 SS14 (Cleric 2)
Morale: 12
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 35
Number Appearing: 1 (0) (see below)
Treasure Type: C
Turn As: Wight (Type 5)

A huecuva is a Cleric who has been cursed to undeath for their faithlessness. It resembles a skeleton wrapped in old, tattered robes or rusting armor. Small points of red light can be seen in each of its empty eye sockets. A huecuva speaks and reads all the languages it knew in life.

 A huecuva is a cowardly combatant, preferring to set up traps and ambushes for potential interlopers. It will attack Clerics before anyone else. Those struck by the huecuva's claws must save vs. Poison or contract a terrible wasting disease. Each day the target takes 1d3 points of Constitution damage. Those reduced to 0 Constitution die, and rise as a zombie on the following day, under the control of the huecuva. A cure disease spell must be used to prevent death. 

Ability points lost due to a huecuva's disease return at a rate of 1 per day of complete rest. All huecuva can cast spells as a Cleric (level 1d4+1). However, these spells are always reversed.

A huecuva can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons. In addition, it takes 1d6 points of damage from the touch of a holy symbol. A huecuva can be Turned by a Cleric (as a wight), and like all undead are immune to sleep, charm, and hold spells.  

They are turned as Wights.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: Lamassu and Shedu

 We decorated our "Geek Tree" this past weekend.  Even though my kids are older now and not really "kids" anymore (my oldest is a professional and is saving for a house, and my youngest is in school and has a girlfriend), we all still like to watch the old Christmas specials like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph, in particular, is a favorite, not for itself but for how badly it has aged. There is one character in it, though, that is redeemable...well, two. Yukon Cornelius and King Moonracer.  We were talking while hanging up ornaments of starships, astromechs, and TARDISes about what sort of monster Moonracer was.  Manticore? No. Androsphinx? Maybe. Shedu? Maybe. Lammasu? Likely closer. 

This got me thinking later on while indulging in our other favorite Christmas-time indulgence, our re-watch of Game of Thrones.  I was digging around in my notes about Lammasu and Shedu for my One Man's God posts and thought I would resurrect them for today.

Lamassu and Shedu

One thing that bugged me way back when reading the Monster Manual was that many of the monsters were very similar. For example, there are Manticores (Greek), Sphinxes (Egyptian and Greek), the Lammasu, and Shedu, with these last two based on Babylonian/Sumerian/Akkadian myths. Sort of. The Lamassu and Shedu in these myths are actually two different names for the same creature. Also, the name in the Monster Manual has a different spelling ("Lammasu").

I always considered these to be related creatures. Something I would later see in the Forgotten Realms lore.  AD&D 2nd Ed made their differences a little more pronounced by making the Shedu the "psionic one."

Large Celestial (Outsider, Lawful)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1-4 (2-8)
Alignment: Lawful [Lawful Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
   Fly: 240' (80') [24"']
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 8d8+8**** (44 hp)
   Large: 8d10+8**** (52 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 12 (+7)
Attacks: 2 claws + Special
Damage: 1d4+2 x2
Special: Magical abilities, spell use.
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XVI (G)
XP: 2,608 (OSE) 3,040 (LL)
Languages: Celestial, Common, Telepathy

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 18 (+3) Cha: 17 (+2)

Lamassu are spiritual guardians,  often in the service of a Lawful Good god or order, who spend their lives on the Material Planes guarding houses and temples. They can be found in the wild, typically warmer climes. They appear as winged lions with human faces. They are loath to attack mortals but will attack demons, undead, and evil creatures with fear or hesitation.  

The lamassu can attack with two foreclaws for 1d4+2 hp damage each on a single target. They can also employ the following spell-like powers: Protection from Evil 10' at all times, become invisible, and cast dimension door at will.  Additionally, they have the spell-casting and undead-turning ability of a Lawful Good Cleric of the 7th level.

Lamassu are typically viewed as female due to their association with the Goddess Lama. As guardian spirits, though, they are neither male nor female and both at the same time.  They are often compared to sphinxes (whom they share areas with and tolerate), manticores (whom they despise), and shedu (qv.). As spirit guardians made flesh, they are not "born" but come into being at the will of their Goddess. Though it could be argued that She is their mother.

Large Celestial (Outsider, Lawful)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 2 (2-8)
Alignment: Lawful [Lawful Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
   Fly: 240' (80') [24"']
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 10d8+8**** (65 hp)
   Large: 10d10+8**** (75 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 12 (+8)
Attacks: 2 hooves + Special
Damage: 1d4+2 x2
Special: Magical abilities, spell use.
Save: Monster 10
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XVI (G)
XP: 3,606 (OSE) 3,800 (LL)
Languages: Celestial, Common, Telepathy

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 14 (+1) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 18 (+3) Wis: 16 (+1) Cha: 17 (+2)

Shedu are often considered to be the "male" versions of Lamassu. This comes from observations that shedu typically has thick, curly beards, and lamassu does not. Both, though, are genderless spirit creatures. Shedu have the bodies of great equines or bulls, with hooves of brass, the wings of an eagle, and the face of a human. 

Like lamassu, the sheu is loathe to attack mortals of any sort, save for the most evil. The will attacks demons and undead on sight.  They can attack with their great forehooves on a single target, each hoof getting an attack. Additionally, they have the following spell-like abilities they can use at will: Protection from Evil 10' radius, become Etheral or Astral, teleport without error.  They also can cast spells as a 9th-level magic User (wizard). 

Shedu are often found roaming the mortal planes, searching for evil to destroy and lawful good mortals to aid. They are always found in multiples of two. Sheu in their lair are often guarding a larger temple to a Lawful Good god, power, or order. Lamassu and Shedu are rarely found together unless they are working with a more powerful Lawful Good force. Even here, they are always found in multiples of two. When a Shedu is killed on the mortal planes, its spirit will return in seven days. 

Greater Shedu: There are shedu that are greater in power and size than the common Shedu.  These creatures have 14 HD, and their damage is +3 to each attack. They cast spells as a 13th-level Wizard. Greater shedu do travel and work in pairs, but they are also the only type of shedu that can be encountered alone. 

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 11

 Past the tomb is a long hall leading deeper into the complex.  This hallway is filled with traps.

Room 11

The hallway is 120' long, and there is a trap trigger every 5'.  Each trap, once triggered fires 1d4+2 darts.  They attack as a 5-HD monster. There are 24 total traps.  

Each dart has a paralytic poison. Save vs. Paralysis or fall into a paralyzed stupor. One round later the victim must save vs. Death or die.  If the first save is successful then the second save is not needed. 

A thief can find the traps easy enough. Each one they discover increases the chance of discovering the next one by 1% for the first 5 and then 5% per addition for each one after. 

The traps are not a serious threat once they are figured out. It is harder to deal with if the mummies from Room 10 are chasing the PCs.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 10

 This first tomb features the sarcophagi of eight of the Vampire Queen's lesser servants. 

Room 10

Each of these sarcophagi contains the mummies of her dwarven servants. These were dwarves who betrayed their kinsmen to aid the Vampire Queen. She repaid their loyalty by sacrificing them and intering them here.

These mummies will attack any who enter, such is their anger even after death.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 9

 The PCs enter the foyer of the grand tomb. This area is 10 feet wide and 60 feet long.  In front of the party at the end of the 60 feet is a large set of double doors. There is no lock and no mechanism for turning to open the doors.  As the party approaches the door a voice can be heard and even though it is not loud it echoes throughout the darkness.

"From where does the Vampire Queen gather her true power?"

There are four floor-to-ceiling portraits of the Vampire Queen at various stages in her life. In front of each is a small brass brazier with a small hole in the bottom.  Examination will show there are blood stains on and around all the bowls. There is no way to see if one is bloodier than the others.

Room 9

The four paintings are: 

1. The Vampire Queen when she was young and alive. It shows her making her deal with Akelarre.

2. The Vampire Queen at a little older making her deal with Orcus.

3. A portrait of the Vampire Queen alone.

4. The Vampire Queen at the front of a large army of demons and undead, a Death Knight at her side.

The correct answer is #3. The Vampire Queen relies only on herself. A character must cut themselves and bleed into the brazier in front of Portrait #3.

Doing so to any of the others will result in the release of a Bronze Golem fashioned to look like her companion in the portrait (Akelarre, Orcus or the Death Knight). 

Friday, December 8, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Gary Gygax's The Hermit

 Quick one today.

Gary Gygax's The Hermit

Gary Gygax's The Hermit

What needs to be said here?

It is an adventure written by Gygax. Published by Troll Lords.

You have 12 hours left.


#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 8

 Going past the magical mirror, the party finds a huge pit in the ground.  This pit is 50' radius and descends into darkness.  There is no obvious way down.

The pit goes to a depth of 720' into a large cavern. That cave then opens up into an even larger cavern.

Room 8

This large cavern has been carved into a building façade.  

This appears to be the entrance to the tomb proper. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 12, Room 7

 Past the necrotic slime, the party comes to an opening leading to a single circular room some 50' in diameter.  The floor of the room is a reflective, mirror-like black stone. The far wall is dominated by a large blood-red mirror.

Room 7

Once a character sees their own reflection in the mirror out comes a Fetch

A fetch is an undead reflection of the character. They have all the same abilities but appear as corpse versions of the characters. They fight as monsters with the same HD as the character's level, but only half their hit point total.

The mirrored floor has similar magic. When the fetch of the character is freed then a Shadow of the character also comes up from the floor. They are normal shadows, but neither they nor the fetches can be turned. 

Whatever weapons the characters have their Fetch and their Shadow will have similar ones. Both monsters use the opposite hand of the characters.  The Fetch appears as an undead version, the Shadow is a shadowed version.

Once both the Fetches and the Shadows are defeated they will crumble to nothing. No treasure. 

The mirror on the wall will likewise crumble and reveal a passageway beyond.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Person of the Year, 1492 DR

 Never let it be said I am not up with the times.


Goofing off instead of doing term-end work. No disrespect to Taylor Swift. Well deserved, really.