Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Ördög

I first saw the word Ördög in the pages of Dracula. It was the Hungarian word for Devil I came to learn.  As is my habit, I wrote the name on my bookmark and went on.  It was not till later that I saw the name again that I starting thinking it would make a good devil-type.

The Ördög is part of the Hungarian folk tradition. They appear much as a satyr or faun; humanoid with the upper torso of a human male and lower portions of a goat.  Their hooves are black and cloven.  Their features are bestial and they have long ram-like horns.  It is sometimes remarked that the best way to know the difference between an Ördög and a Satyr is by the size of  their horns, but this is not always foolproof.
The Ördög also has a long black tail that ends in a blade.  They can't attack with it, but it looks frightening.  Another part of the ördög that is frightening is their overtly large phallus.

The Ördög shares more than surface similarities to the satyr.  Like the satyr, the ördög can be found in rural or wooded areas. Also, the ördög is summoned up most often to partake in the sabbats and rituals of witches.  These devils partake in the infamous orgy-like sabbats of witches, held at midnight.   Children born to the witches after these orgies become ördög themselves if male or witches if female.
One of the more famous (or infamous) Ördög was Caliban, son of Sycorax.

An Ördög can appear as human male, albeit one with thick black hair and black eyes, or as a large fox.

Some occult scholars believe that ördög share the same relationship to hags as satyr's do with nymphs.
Consequently, the offspring of  an ördög and a nymph is a Forlarren.

Since today is Sword & Wizardry Day, here is the ördög in S&W format.

Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d6)
Special: Magic resistance (45%), regenerate (1 hp/round), shape change (human, fox)
Move: 18
Save: 11
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge/XP: 7/650

Ördög are among the lowest of the Shedim. They spend quite a bit of time in the prime material plane where they work as messengers for higher level demons.  Much like imps, they can teach witches of the Malefic, Diabolic or Demonic traditions spells.  A witch can learn one new spell per interaction with an Ördög; once per sabbat.  The ördög needs payment for learning this new spell; usually in the form of a sacrifice or sexual congress.
Ördög are wild demons, they attack with their claws like that of animal; often ignoring weapons even when they are handy.

Swords & Wizardry post is later today.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adventures Dark & Deep is here!

Got home today and look what I found at my door.

My Adventures Dark and Deep hardcover is here.
It is really nice and my hat is off to Joesph Bloch on this one.

Look for a review after a bit.  gotta survive this month first.

White Dwarf Wednesday #61

It's Tuesday!  And that means it's time White Dwarf.
Ok, with the A to Z posts and the S&W Appreciation Day it is going to be a busy day of posting tomorrow.
Today. Not so much.  So instead of giving you WDW late, I figure early is better.  So let's begin.

White Dwarf Magazine #61 is our first issue of 1985.  The first thing we should notice int he increase in price to 95p or $3.00 here in the US. Well that and the cool cover, which is again a Chris Achilleos one, but I think it must be an older one. Ian Livingstone has some bits about things coming up in future WDs, but no mention of the price increase.

Oliver MacDonald is up first on more alchemy for RuneQuest.   I devoured all sorts of articles like this; I always wanted more out of the magic I was doing in AD&D and games like RQ seemed to have all those things.  Or at least that was my perception at the time.

Open Box is a BIG one for me personally. Let's dive in.
First up is the review of the LONG awaited Companion Rules for the D&D Basic game.  I discussed my own history with the Companion Rules before, but long story short I had already gone the route of AD&D (and other games) by this time.  To me, this Companion Set was too little, too late.  Megan C. Robertson (whom I also consider a friend and have worked together a number of times) gives it only a 7/10.  At the time I would have given it lower, but today it would have fared better.  So I can't disagree with her logic.
Next is TimeMaster from Pacesetter.  Man I really, really wanted this game back then.  I was (and still am) a HUGE Doctor Who fan and at the time this seemed like my best bet for getting a Doctor Who game going.
I never got to play TimeMaster though I do own it today. Steve Norledge gives it and it's associated adventure both 7/10.   Also reviewed is a game I never get tired of talking about, Chill. Also from Pacesetter, Chill was MY horror  game.  Not as in "I wrote it" but as in I loved it.  Angus M. McLellan gives it 7/10 and the adventure Village of Twilight a 6/10.  I would have given it more myself.
Witch Hunt is an odd little game and it is next.  I also owned this game. While playing it and Chill I came up with a number of things that would later become part of my games today.  Certainly my Witch book has some DNA from these two games. Jon Sutherland only gives it a 5/10.  Actually that is reasonable since re-playability was low in my opinion and the rules were not great.
Lastly we have Indian Jones.  A lot has been said about this game.  Andrian Knowles gives it a 7/10 and that is very generous.

A bit on Critical Mass.  Dave Langford reviews Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein. I read Job at about this time as well and really, really enjoyed it.  It might very well be one of my favorite RAH books along with Friday.  I have never seen this cover for it before.

Part 3 of Eye of Newt is back.  Great ideas that didn't see an official counterpart till 15 years later.  Mix it with the Alchemy article for some good magic-based fun.

Andy Slack has some Traveller ideas on how to motivate characters (other than just money).

Beyond the Shadow of a Dream is next. It is an adventure for Basic D&D or Fighting Fantasy, though it is not a programmed adventure.  Kudos for WD for trying something new.  There is a defiant influence of Traveller of Call of Cthulhu here in this adventure design.

Letters talking about how boring the letters page is.

A programmed Fighting Fantasy adventure is next. Four pages and 104 entries.

The last part of Superhero games by Simon Burley.  In particular he looks at various other world for Supers games like high fantasy and sci-fi.  I have seen similar treatments in various Supers books out now, but it is still interesting to read this system-free point of view.

Fiend Factory continues with AD&D stats (thought we would be going to CoC or RQ stats as well).  Al sorts of weird bugs.  Perfect if you were running Q1 at the time (and we were).

RuneRites has some treasures, including the Ray Harryhausen inspired Fang Warriors.
Treasure Chest has an adventure contest.  They provided the map you provide the scenario.
Tabletop Heroes gets shoved to the back of the magazine. Must be all those letters they got.

Rumors: A new West End Star Trek Game. Mayfair gets Sanctuary. More Marvel Superhero books coming out.

Followed by ads and small ads.

A good issue. 1985 starts out big for WD and it will get bigger.
Issue 62 has one of my favorite adventures and soon we will see the end of an era.

N is for Nergal

Nergal comes to us from Mesopotamian mythology, the same that gives us Pazuzu, Tiamat and Lilith (after a fashion).  He is an old god of the noon day sun, war, pestilence, disease and the planet Mars.  It could be said that he even symbolizes the worst aspects of the god that would later go on to become Ares/Mars.
Like most old gods he was later demonized by Christian authors.  He even appears in the Hebrew and Christian bibles as one of the few named demons (2 Kings, 17:30).
Christians would equate him with the Devil.  Earlier Zoroastrianism would connect him with the Angra Mainyu, or their evil spirit.

In many of the myths/stories of Nergal he is the lord of underworld, but not the sole lord.  It is a task he shares with his lover Ereshkigal, or as I like to call her, the world's first Goth chick. Depending on the story Nergal either rapes Ereshkigal, she tricks him into staying in the underworld or they have a loving relationship.  All could be true.

In various games Nergal usually gets demoted. In AD&D 1st ed and D&D 3rd ed he gets only a mention as being one of the Rabble of Devilkin.  Again this is unfortunate since it lacks a lot of what Nergal interesting.  He gets a much better writeup in the 1st Ed Deities & Demigods and his girl friend is central to many adventures and games.  I used her in my Army of Darkness/D&D mash up and again in my current 1st ed game with my kids.


Alignment: Neutral Evil
Movement: 120'
Armor Class: -3
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 110 hp (19 HD)
Attacks: Rod (x2)
Damage: 1d8/1d8 +save vs. death on critical hit
Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, command undead, immunity to fire, electricity and poison, regeneration (1 hp/round), see in darkness, magic resistance (55%), telepathy 150 ft.
Save: F19
XP: 13,000

Nergal is the Lord of the Underworld.  While his origin is more closely aligned to the Baalseraph, he is closer in nature to a Demondand or Shedim.  He is a demon that had been a god, but was killed and returned.  He shares this quality with a number of other demon lords including Orcus.
He appears as a tall, older man with thick black hair and beard.  He stands 7' tall, but can appear taller.He wears clothing fitting a king of his time (ancient Babylon) and carries a long rod that he uses in combat.
Like most kings he prefers to stay out of combat himself.  Instead he can summon up to 4 dead enemies from a person's past to fight on his behalf.
He can also command any undead as if he were a 19th level evil cleric.
When angered his countenance changes to that of a lion with a long black mane and skin pocked as if with disease.
Nergal prefers to stay out mortal affairs except in times of war.  Other powerful demon lords (typically Shedim and Baalseraph) employ him as a general or war marshall for their wars against each other.
While Nergal has lost much of his former power he still considers himself a god and not a demon.


Monday, April 15, 2013

M is also for Migraine, MRIs, May, Mars and Majus

So what's on my mind lately?  Well. Have a look for yourself.

Yeah that's my brain stuff.  I have had migraines my entire life, recently though (two weeks in fact) they have been turned up to 12.   So we are trying to figure out what is causing them.
My posting will be sporadic   It's hard to think with a constant pain in your head.  Harder when I am taking the drugs to dull the pain.

But that is a cool picture though.   I still remember enough of my psych to id all major parts.  Good news is that my doctor does not expect to see anything "devastating" in his words. But who knows.  The pain sucks.

Anyway...other things are going on.

I am SO woefully behind in reviews that I am going to spend a lot of time in May catching up.

I'd also love to detail a Mars/Barsoom game using OD&D or S&W.  That would be awesome really.
Something like this, Warriors of Mars.

Don't forget that the Majus Kickstarter is still going on.

M is for Mammon

Mammon, also know as the "Lord of this World" or "Lord of Greed" in my games made his AD&D debut in "From the Sorcerer's Scroll: New Denizens of Devildom," in Dragon #75 from 1983.  He later was featured in the Monster Manual 2.  Though the Mammon he is based on is actually a much more interesting character. He appeared in the Milton's Paradise Lost, Edmund Spenser's The Faërie Queene, the New Testament and has roots in earlier myths as well.  There is a lot of debate about the roots of his name, but it is almost always connected to money and/or greed.

He is almost always depicted a large, fat devil with red skin, bald head.   I most respects his appearance is supposed to represent the over-indulgence that greed and avarice can lead too. Compare if you will the AD&D version and the DC Comics version I posted on Saturday.

Not really all that different.

In my games Mammon is the lord of Greed and one of the Baalseraph.  Not all characters have to be complex and Mammon is a good example.  He fell because he wanted more. He was greedy and that lead to his downfall.

It is believed that he is akin to the Roman god Pluto who also protected the riches of the world.  This in a way makes him kin to Dispater (another AD&D Devil) who also has his roots in Pluto/Hades.  So in my games I would make Mammon and Dispater bitter rivals. Each trying to out-do the other in opulence and overt expressions of wealth and greed.  Mammon would be the physically more powerful devil, but Dispater may have more influence.

It is not a stretch to think of Mammon a bit like Jabba the Hutt. In fact that may have been the idea on his new form in the 3rd and 4th edition materials.  Another good example is Kingpin from Marvel Comics.
Mammon is the archetype of the fat, bloated crime boss surrounded by loyal henchmen, women (in this case Succubi) and wave upon waves of goons.


Alignment: Lawful Evil
Movement: 90'/180' (flight)
Armor Class: -2
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 140 hp (22 HD)
Attacks: sword (x2)
Damage: 1d10/1d10 +flame
Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire, electricity and poison, regeneration (2 hp/round), see in darkness, magic resistance (75%), telepathy 250 ft.
Save: F22
XP: 17,500

When a mortal makes a deal with a demonic entity for riches, it is most often Mammon at the root of it all.   His "standard contract" is wealth and power for a set number of years. Afterwards the contracted party forfeits his soul to the Baalseraph lord and all the riches return to him.  There are plenty of tales where the summoner, knowing his time is running out, attempts to trick or fool the devil into letting him out or granting him more time.  Mammon is very cunning and usually gets his way.
He rarely if ever enters into combat himself. He has a retinue of lesser Baalseraph, Pit fiends and other demons to aid him.  If he must enter into combat he is perfectly capable of defending himself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Updates

Here we go another weekly round up of stuff I find interesting.

New Kickstarter for Atlantis the Second Age
Not sure how it is different from this product yet.

Orphic Vellum Books
I love old books. Orphic Vellum is an online book store that specializes in odd books on all sorts of topics from spiritualism, witchcraft, myth and psychology.  So my kind of place and it is run by Oddities own Wednesday Mourning.

DriveThruRPG Map Tiles & Terrain Print Program
DriveThru is teaming up with publishers Fat Dragon Games and Drama Scape to print high quality map tiles and terrain you can use a dry-erase marker on.
You can see a video and some photos here:

Medieval Ship:

To kick off the launch of these tiles and terrain, they are offering two very special introductory low prices.
Fat Dragon Games' E-Z TILES: Medieval Ship is only $2.99!
DramaScape's Power Room and Computer Room is only $5.99!
All of the tiles and maps can be seen here:

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day
Tenkar is doing a Sword & Wizardry Appreciation Day on April 17, 2013 and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Big Give-a-way
I am keeping the details on this one a little close to the chest right now.  But I am planning something big in May or June and want to give away some prizes to readers.  Keep watching this space for some more details!
It will be big though!