Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Monday, February 26, 2024

Monstrous Mondays: Trollkönig (Troll King)

 Playing around with different layouts for Basic Bestiary. I did a few, and I didn't like most of them. Not a big deal, I have time.

Right now, I am trying to figure out if I want to break up BB1 into smaller 64-page volumes or one larger one. I like the idea of smaller volumes. To round that out, I might need to develop a couple more monsters here and there. Again, not a big deal.

If I did break up BB1 into say three volumes, they would have about 120-130 monsters each. Do I break them up by themes or alphabetically? I guess I need to see how big it is when I am done.

The "theme" of Basic Bestiary 1 is "Monstrous Maleficarum," or monsters I have read about, used, or developed while working on my various witch books. There are also more than a few here from various monster books I loved reading as a child and spent some time hunting down as an adult. 

In any case here is a new one I worked on when I was supposed to be doing editing and layouts.

Troll King Arthur Rackman
Trollkönig (Troll King)
Large Humanoid (Fey, Faerie Lord)

Armor Class: -5 [24]
Hit Dice: 18d8+108 (189 hp)
   Large: 18d10+108 (207 hp)
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 fist slams, 1 bite or 1 weapon (x2) or thrown rock, or roar
Damage: 1d12+5 x2, 1d8+5 or by weapon (x2) or thrown rock 2d12, roar for fear
Special: Magic resistance (45%), immune to  poison;  half damage to cold, can communicate telepathically, Magic +2 weapons to hit, regenerate, roar, summon trolls, sunlight sensitivity
No. Appearing: 1 (unique)
Save As: Monster 18
Morale: 10 (NA)
Treasure Type: C x20
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
XP: 8,900

Languages: Elven, Sylvan, Telepathic, Trollspeak

The King of Trolls may not be the most eloquent or attractive of the faerie lords, but he is one of the most physically impressive.  He appears as a 13' tall troll of massive build. His skin appears to be a dense rock-like hide with patchy bits of hair and numerous scars from his many battles. His eyes, though, betray a keen and malign intelligence not seen in lesser trolls.

Like his subjects, the trolls, he attacks with fist slams and a bite. Though, unlike the lesser trolls, he is also intelligent enough to use weapons. He often chooses to use a giant battle axe doing 1d10+5 hp of damage per attack.  Like a giant, he can throw rocks. The Trollkönig can roar 3 times per day. This roar can cause fear (as per the spell) in any creature of 7 HD or lower, save vs. Petrification to ignore. Creatures less than 1 HD are not allowed a saving throw.  

As their king the Troll King can summon 3d8 trolls to his side. The trolls must be nearby, and they arrive in one turn.   

The King of Trolls also has 45% magic resistance, can only be hit by +2 or better weapons, and is immune to poison and only half damage from cold. This creature also regenerates like lesser trolls, but at an alarming rate of 10 hp per round; starting on the first round, he takes damage. Unlike common trolls, the Trollkönig can regenerate even from fire and acid damage. He can't regenerate if exposed to sunlight.

The Troll King is a powerful individual who has risen above the typical troll, ruling over a vast network of tunnels and caves with utter brutality. Driven by a twisted sense of hierarchy and ambition, the Troll King seeks to assert its dominance over anything smaller or weaker. It hoards treasures stolen from those unfortunate enough to cross its path.  The Faerie Lords tolerate the Troll King, not due to any sense of loyalty or familial ties, but because they often employ him to take care of their enemies and the physical fighting they can't be bothered to do themselves. 

There is a heated rivalry between the Troll King and the Goblin King, largely due to their respective subjects' own rivalries.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Monstrous Mondays: Thunderbird (and Basic Bestiary updates)

Work on Basic Bestiary has picked back up. I have 360 completed monsters for it now. I still have my next pass at editing and mechanics tweaking to complete.  What I really need is art. I don't have any, and while I am happy to use some PD art for it (and it fits the look I want), I will need more. A lot more. While I don't mind AI art (and appreciate the computer science that went into it), I can't in good conscience use any in this. 

Still playing around with stat block ideas. Since this is a "Basic" Bestiary, I figure I should get closer to the Basic-era stat block details as I can. I am adding some "modern" ideas like creature size and type (something we see in BECMI and RC, but not BX), and Ascending AC (Basic Fantasy, OSE and LL).  I need to decide if I want to include other details like Advanced era alignments (I am leaning towards yes), Languages (also yes), and Frequency. I am also still considering hp adjustment due to size. I like it a lot, and it makes creatures a lot tougher.

I believe I have settled on using BX/OSE style XP awards and having a table in the back for all the other games I think people might want to use this for, as long as they are OGC.  Edited: I noticed my math might be off on some higher HD monsters. 

The stat block below is what I am thinking so far. Love to hear some feedback on it.

Yes. I am still going to use the OGL for this one. I have gone too far down that road to go back.

Here is one of the last monsters I worked on for the book. As always, the final version might be different.

Giant Bird
Thunder Bird
Gargantuan Beast (Magical)

Armor Class: -5 [24]
Hit Dice: 17d8+68 (145 hp)
   Gargantuan: 17d20+68 (264 hp)
Move: 90' (30')
   Flying: 360' (120')
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite, special
Damage: 1d12+5 x2, 2d8+5, special
Special: Lighting bolt, thunder, wing buffet
No. Appearing: 1 (1, or 1d4+1, mated pair with chicks)
Save As: Monster 17
Morale: 10 (12)
Treasure Type: None, See below
Alignment: Neutral (True Neutral)
XP: 6,600

Languages: Avian

Thunderbirds are gargantuan birds that appear as storm gray-colored eagles. They have a 70' wing span that can blot out the sun and talons that can carry off livestock, usually one or two cattle each. Their eyes flash with electrical light and can shoot lightning bolts. When their wings flap, they can cause storms and thunder. Natives of the lands the thunderbird calls home to revere the bird as a messenger of the forces of good and liken it to a spirit. It is a mortal animal, albeit a very powerful one. 

The thunderbird can attack with its massive beak and talons.  It swoops down from their mountain homes, which can be hundreds of miles away, to attack its prey. It prefers large cattle, like horses, cows, and bison, and can carry off up to 2,000 pounds worth at a time. Thunderbirds that live near oceans will even make a dinner out of whales when they can catch them. They do not attack humans if they can avoid it. They do not like the taste and attack humans since humans often return in greater numbers and with weapons. If attacked by humans on the ground, the thunderbird will often just opt to fly away. Thunderbirds and Rocs do not get along as they tend to go after the same prey. Their relationship is similar to that of eagles and hawks.  

The thunderbird gets its name from the magical storm-creation powers it has. By flapping its wings and remaining stationary, it can create a thunderclap that does 10d6 hp of damage; Breath Weapon saves for half the damage. Which will also define anyone within a 120' long cone, 60' at its widest.  Targets outside of the 120' are unaffected by either the damage or the deafness. It can also 3 times per day cast a 10d6 lighting bolt from its eyes. The range on this is 100', save vs. Breath Weapon for half damage. Ranges outside of 100' to 300' are at half-damage or save for no damage.  The thunderbird will not use this attack against food prey but rather to defend itself from humanoids or other large creatures it finds itself engaging with.  A thunderbird can also summon storms as per the Summon Weather spell. 

Thunderbirds have no need nor interest in treasure. The feathers of the thunderbird are highly prized as a main ingredient for a staff of lightning bolts and other magical staffs. Their feathers are also used in other magic item creations, typically Wings of Flying. Any item that requires a roc feather can use a thunderbird feather instead for a 50% increase in either speed or duration. The feathers of a thunderbird usually can bring in 1,000 gp on the right markets (usually only 2d6 are viable for arcane use). The eggs of thunderbirds are so rare to discover that bounties of 12,000 gp and more are sometimes offered. The lairs of the thunderbird are usually at the tops of mountains so high they are very nearly impossible to reach. 

Tales tell of a great thunderbird so large that when it flies, the land below is thrust into night. This could be a single unique specimen or an undiscovered variety.  


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

In Search Of Duchess and Candella

 I mentioned earlier in this year that my oldest son's group is running through ALL editions of D&D to celebrate 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons. They made characters, and they are taking them through each edition. They have done OD&D, Basic and they are now ready for 1st Edition Advanced.  The characters are now 2nd to 4th level, but there are only 5 of them. And they want me to run an AD&D game for them.

Last week I finally figured out what I am going to run.  They will go through the Orange version of module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Palaces of the Silver Princess

I will explain its infamy to them and run it like it was 1981 for them. So, a mix of B/X and AD&D. Just like we did it.  I'll talk more about the adventure, but for now, I want to focus on a small side matter with the adventure(s). 

That is, who exactly are the thieves, Duchess and Candella?

Duchess and Candella
In Search of...Duchess and Candella

In both versions of the adventure, you encounter two thieves pretending to be Lady Maidservants. Well... not convincingly, since they know very little about what a maidservant does or where anything in the castle is.  But they are earnest and "very attractive" and ask to join the party. 

Now, I always thought that "Duchess" was the dark-haired one and "Candella" the light-haired one. Largely because I thought the dark-haired one looked like a Duchess and Candella is said to have a string of pearls on her. The orange version gives us their ages as 18 for Duchess and 20 for Candella. 

I always liked that art. You are catching two thieves almost red-handed, and the look of surprise on Candella's face and her hair flying about was just great. 

They became minor recurring NPCs in my games. Showing up, stealing something here and there, and then disappearing again. If the PCs were ever tossed into jail, then sure enough, Duchess and Candella were already there.

I had not thought about them much, and they certainly don't get the ink that the likes of Aleena or Morgan Ironwolf get, but they were/are fun NPCs, and I wanted to know more about them.  Turns out I am not the only one.

What does the Web Say?

There are a few links worth visiting and following up on. First is Greyhawk MusingsOn Duchess and Candella.  This is a great place to start due to its thoroughness. In fact, this blog is a treasure trove of information on them, and I respect David Leonard for that.  He speculates that the dark-haired woman thief in G3, The Hall of the Fire Giant King, is Duchess now 11th level. This begs the question, what happened to Candella? Side note: I used that very same thief as a recurring character when I ran G3, but for me, it was Evelyn the Princess Escalla. But I appreciate what he is doing here.  Like me, he equates Duchess with the dark-haired woman and Candella with the light-haired one. 

We learn from no less of a luminary himself, Frank Mentzer, that these two figures were not just Jean Well's characters; they were her favorite duo of characters. She also did the art of them in Polyhedron #4.  

Candella and Duchess in Polyhedron #4

Sadly, we can't ask Wells herself, as she passed away in 2012.

Greyhawk lore master Jason Zavoda made some similar observations and connections for Greyhawk.

I mentioned I was not the only one to find these two fun. They have appeared in more recent products as well. Or at least homages to them.

Candella, sans Duchess, appears on the cover of Blueholme.

Blueholme

She is the one getting the treasure. Wearing the same outfit as Candella at least.

In a minor cameo, but also a cover, no less, they are part of the new D&D Companion Project. I hope to have more on that soon. 

And as I mentioned above, the 11th-level thief from G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King might also be Duchess, without Candella.

Duchess and Candella in Other Adventures

B12 Queen's Harvest is another Basic-level adventure. This time though the "B" is from the BECMI flavor of Basic and not the BX one.

Very early on in this Carl Sargent-penned adventure from 1989, we are introduced to two thieves, Erren and Sarrah, on pages 6-7.  Their ages and appearances line up with Candella and Duchess, even if their stats don't quite match, though. It is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that Candella and Duchess also have other aliases. They are presented in an NPC Mini-Capsule, so they are important to the adventure, though no other details are given.

The fan module by Agathokles, The Dymrak Dread, makes this connection solid with Sarrah, now known as "the Duchess," and part of the Thieves Guild, and her friend Erren Candella. Here they are 5th and 6th level respectively.  This adventure also has Orcus and witches in it, so it is worth my coming back to.

Another adventure to feature them, and this time by name, is the Palace of the Golden Princess, an homage to the original (Orange) Palace of the Silver Princess and Jean Wells herself. There are 5e and OSE versions of the adventure, and they are tied to a comic series taking place in a land inspired by the map in the Original B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. There are even some allusions (in an oblique way) to the Return to the Keep on the Borderlands.

They also briefly appear in Mr. Welch's Mystara Player's Guide for 5e, notably under Mystara's Most Wanted.

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Mystara Players Guide 5e - Most Wanted

Thought their biggest feature run has been in the various Folio Black Label adventures. Most notably in Folio: Black Label #10 and The Complete Folio Black Label

In The Complete Folio Black Label (covering Black Label 1-6 with extras), nearly every piece of art features our daring duo in all sorts of predicaments throughout all the adventures.  They are also rendered by various artists like Brian Brinlee, Peter Bradley, and Simon Adams, among others. Folio: Black Label #4  and Folio: Black Label #5 even feature them on the cover. Honestly, I bought a bunch of these just to see how much Candella and Duchess art there was in them.

Another artist whose work has been featured in the Folio: Black Label books is Domenico Neziti.  He has done so many pieces of Duchess and Candella that I am giving him his own space below.

Here are a few of his pieces from his Instagram page.







And another I could not find on his Instagram.

Duchess and Candella Demon Bait
Domenico Neziti "Demon Bait"

He clearly has these two down, with some more on his DeviantArt page.

With new books out like Folio: Black Label series it is easy to see how these two have had all sorts of adventures. I can see something akin to distaff versions of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, though maybe less magic. Likely a bit closer to The Rat Queens. When I used them in games I always made Candella closer to the Thief-Acrobat concept and Duchess maybe a little closer to a Thief-Assassin. But I don't get "evil" off of either of them, really. Plus, Duchess doesn't have the strength score to be an assassin. Maybe more fighter-thief.

Duchess and Candella in my Games

Duchess and Candella
Duchess and Candella, Sheets from Dark Wizard Games

I have used them in the past, as I mentioned, but never to the extent I have some other characters and certainly not to the level some other gamers have.

Given all the art out there, they have certainly had a lot of adventures, and some that look outright crazy. But these two seem like fun characters to have "madcap adventures."  I mean, is Morgan Ironwolf going to pretend to be half-naked bait for a demon? No, I don't see it.  I'd love to use these two in my Forgotten Realms adventures but honestly they are so Mystara/Oerth feeling for me I can't see moving them over any easier than I could move the B-modules over.

I have at least figured out how they met. This came up in an adventure before. They were both, independently trying to steal this ruby, from the local guild-mistress of thieves. They didn't know the other was also trying, nor did either know this was the guild mistress. They failed, and the guild mistress, Amara, impressed by their attempt or something else, took them in and made them work together. The two became good friends, and their careers began.  In my mind, Candella had been a tavern wench who had become tired of watching adventurers coming in with ill-gotten gains when she could have all that gold. Duchess' background is a bit darker. She was a servant girl working for a Baron and Baroness. The Baroness had accused her of stealing a necklace, but she had not. The Baron, who was broke, had sold it to cover some of his debts and suggested she could work off her guilt in his bed chamber. When she refused, he got violent, and she ran to escape him, and he fell down the stairs to his death. Knowing she would be blamed and likely executed, she ran. She thinks she is still wanted for the Baron's murder. She isn't; no one ever looked for her. In fact, the Baron's debt was so great that the local authorities had plenty of other suspects. The Baroness died soon after in the home of a relative.

I know, according to the art above, that Candella gains some Boots of Flying, and Duchess gets a huge magic sword. 

Since my oldest is running his group through all of the editions of D&D I'll also do versions of them for every edition. Say 2nd level for D&D Basic/Expert, 4th level for AD&D 1st, 8th level for AD&D 2nd Editon, 12th level for D&D 3.x, 16th level for D&D 4e Essentials (better Rogues), and 20th for D&D 5th Edition.  That should be fun, really.  Course I'll need some good prestige classes when I get to 3.x. I think I'll post them when I get around to stating them all up. 

While I will keep them at the same level, at any given time, Candella is about 600 XP ahead of Duchess. 

Candella and Duchess for BX
Candella and Duchess for B/X. Art by Brian Brinlee and Domenico Neziti, 
Vitruvian Character Sheets Blog of Exalted Deeds

While reading up on them, I saw one person online refer to them as a couple of "party girls." I mean, sure, that fits. The vibe I have always had with them was they were both adventuresses out for a bit of fun and hopefully score some treasure. Ok, a lot of treasure. Though at least one academic dissertation places them in the role of temptresses. I suppose that would work too, though not how I would play them. 

Have you used these two in your games? How did it work for you? What happened with them?

Links

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Mail Call: ¡Anuncio por correo! Spanish BECMI and Pacesetter Adventures

Or at least the BE part of BECMI.  So many of you know I have been learning Spanish. I mainly use Duolingo, but I also print books and audiobooks from Audible. My progress is quite slow I will admit, but the journey is half the fun really. 

Back in 2023, I got copies of the Spanish Language D&D 5th edition books for my birthday and Father's Day.  But something I have wanted since 2020 are copies of BECMI in another language. I thought I might grab one in German (a language I can still -somewhat- speak) but they are always quite expensive.

So imagine my surprise when, after posting my search for Spanish language ones, actually came through!

Spanish Language Basic and Expert

They look great, even if I can only sort of read them at the moment. But I know what is in these quite well, so that helps.

Spanish Language Basic and Expert

Versions of BECMI Basic

It is also fun to compare them to the Spanish D&D 5e books I got last year.

Spanish Language D&D

I am NO WHERE near ready to run a game in Spanish D&D. But maybe I could play one later this year.

I might just stick with Basic and Expert. I have not seen a Companion edition out for a very long time. If the price of the German one I was looking at is any indication then it is way outside of my price range.

I also got copies of some adventures (in English) from Pacesetter Games.

Adventures from Pacesetter Games

I gave Venger's Final Wish to my oldest. He is working on taking his group through all the editions of D&D.  More on that later.

Of course, I am a sucker for anything about the Vampire Queen. So this is a nice addition to my collection.  Since the Vampire Queen adventure is for B/X then maybe a "Castillo de la Reina Vampiro" is in order. 


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Kelek for Wasted Lands

 One more magical character. This time, I want to do Skylla's partner in crime, Kelek the Cruel.

Kelek is a fun character. He was the only Dungeons & Dragons action figure I ever purchased when they were new, except for special edition ones that came out later/recently. And I have used him in a few games. In particular, he is the main bad guy in my War of the Witch Queens

Kelek character sheets

Now Kelek, in my games, has a bit of orc somewhere in his bloodline. So he gets better than expected Constitution/Toughness scores and has slightly pointed ears.  In Baldur's Gate 3 I managed this with carefully editing the half-orc facial features. 

In BG3 and D&D 5 he is a Sorcerer. So he gets magic on the fly. I am able to do this in Wasted Lands by having him take the Street Mage or Hedge Mage arcane power. Like Skylla he is a Persona (Charisma) based caster but his sorcery is different than her witchcraft. He is also one level higher at 7.  

Old hands at D&D B/X or BECMI will note that a 6th-level Magic user has the level title of "Warlock," and a 7th-level Magic user has the title of Sorcerer. Works out here as well. 

Kelek the Cruel
Kelek

Class: Sorcerer
Level: 7
Species: Human* (Orc-men)
Alignment: Dark
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 15 (+1) 
Agility: 10 (0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N
Wits: 13 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 32
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +4
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer) +1 to Toughness saves (Orc-men).

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (3): Street Mage, Enhanced Senses (magic), Detect Thoughts

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Dart, Command, Read Languages, Sleep
Second Level: Beguile Person, ESP, Unlock
Third Level: Concussive Blast, Fly

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: First Level Spell: Chill Ray
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Robe of Protection, Staff of Sorceries

Wasted Lands Magic-users

Skylla and Kelek

Class-wise, Skylla and Kelek are the same class. At least that is how they are in the Wasted Lands. Consequently, this is also how they were in D&D Basic. Both were Magic-users. It has just been the last few years where they have been different things, warlock and sorcerer respectively.

Just like Basic (and OD&D and AD&D) you make them feel different by how you play them.

Wasted Lands adds an additional level of arcane powers; this is the first split. By given Kelek Streer or Hedge Mage we free him from the need of spell books. Though it also means that his big desire of stealing Ringlerun's spell book is sort of lost. For Skylla I give her the arcane power of innate magic to allow her to use Arcane Darts more, a she would an Eldritch Blast. 

I can further separate them with a few choice Divine Touchstones.  Simplicity is the key to flexibility here. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge



Saturday, January 13, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Skylla for Wasted Lands

 Continuing some magic characters, I also want to do one that I have meant to do since Wasted Lands came out. 

Skylla is a character I have talked about a lot here. She is one of the old LJN Dungeons & Dragons figures (who never got a proper figure), was an NPC in the Shady Dragon Inn, and was to appear in the D&D Cartoon. I was talking about her for years before she came back into popularity. Not only have stated her up for various D&D-like/OSR RPGs, I also have her in an "evil run" in Baldur's Gate 3.

While she is a D&D-owned character, I have done quite a lot with her here, and a comparison should be made.

Skylla character sheets

Since I am using Skylla and Kelek together in both Baldur's Gate 3 and my War of the Witch Queens (and Witchlight), I am going to do them both here. Both are magic user, but I also want to highlight their differences.

First up. Skylla.

Skylla is often depicted as a 6th-level Magic-user; this makes her level title "Warlock," which is often how she is described. I my posts on her I have used a variety of classes, but most often a witch. For the purposes of this post I am going to keep her at 6th level.  In the D&D 5e version of her she has Warlock as her class and this is what I went with in Baldur's Gate 3.

Wasted Lands only has a Sorcerer class. So I'll need to make some tweaks to her and Kelek (who will also be a Sorcerer) to make them feel different. 

Skylla
Skylla

Class: Sorceress
Level: 6
Species: Human
Alignment: Dark
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 9 (0) 
Agility: 11 (0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 12 (0) N
Wits: 15 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 28
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +3
Saves: +2 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer) +2 to Intelligence saves (Sorcerous background).

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (2): Innate Magic: Arcane Dart, Begulie Person

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Dart, Glamour, Gout of Flame
Second Level: Beguile Person, Magic Lock, Paralyze Person
Third Level: Dark Lightning, Dispel Magic

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: First Level Spell: Mystic Senses
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Robe of Protection, Staff of the Demon, Necromancies of Thay tome. 

Wasted Lands as D&D 

Early on in the Framingham, MA test trials of the anti-Breast cancer drug Tamoxifen it became so obvious that the drug was effective given the obvious differences in the two sets of participants (experimental vs. control) that even though it was a double blind study everyone knew the the drug was working, and working well. They stopped the study and put all the participants on Tamoxifen. 

That is where I am at now in this experiment. 

I am going to say I can emulate any sort of D&D-like experience with Wasted Lands.

Tomorrow, with Kelek, I'll focus less on this obvious point and more on how to emulate different sorts of spellcasters.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge