13 September, 2012

Ironwolf Play Report 1

This is page one of one of my play-by-forum games. Since it's a pbp, it should be pretty self-explanatory without much need for any other setup. If you are interested at all, let me know and I will post more from it.

It is well after dark when you finally arrive at your destination. Looking up the black hillside, you can make out the shadows of ancient broken towers. They are barely visible against the heavy clouds and behind the black, hulking skeletons of dying trees. Seeing a tiny breath of orange glowing weakly between some of the branches, you begin making your way up toward the dark towers.

As you hike upward through the trees, you think back on some of the strange tales which brought you here. Long shunned by the nearby townsfolk, years ago a series of vast treasure hoards were discovered in the twisting mazes beneath the castle proper, along with hungry beasts and deadly traps. Legends were made in that time; names the like of Erac’s Cousin, Melf, Tenser, Otiluke, and Lord Robilar will live on for centuries. Eventually, though, the dungeons lost their luster as the treasures became smaller and harder to win, the traps were dismantled, and the monsters slain; eventually only the desperate or foolhardy dared enter the dungeons beneath the castle. Recently, however, reports have surfaced of renewed stockpiles of wealth in the dank passages and chambers beneath the ground.

Near the top you make your way across crumbling black stones, wet from the recent rain and covered in deep green moss. Leaving the densest of the cracking branches behind, you head through the fallen tower ruins in hopes of finding the warmth you spied from below. Instead, you find a dark rectangular chasm plummeting down into the black foundations of the ruined tower.

Another shock of lightning reveals the broken black stones of the descending steps, glistening with rain and moss, and disappearing into absolute blackness some twenty steps below. It also reveals, much more closely than you might have expected, a handful of other people looking down the dark stairwell.

Their clothing wet from the rain, and some showing the glint of metal armor, a red-haired dwarf, a hobbit, a woman, and two men, one looking rather large, stand at the top of this descending stairwell. What would each of you like to do and/or say?

[IC] Finnigan thoughtfully studies the other four figures surrounding the stairway, his hands casually resting on the pommel of his battle axe, and slowly nods his head. Through squinted eyes, and with a low, smooth voice, he says,

"Ay, it looks like I not be the only one set to explore the depths of these here castle ruins this fine wet evening."

[OCC] Squinted eyes? Maybe Fin's near-sighted! Or maybe it's just the rain...

[IC] Mantid stares down into the blackness gripping his mace tightly in his hands and is mumbling to himself as if he was praying. If you listen closely it almost sounds like, "Stop what comes."

Upon hearing the dwarf speak Mantid turns to look at him and says, "We must stop what is coming... I know not what, only that I was sent here to stop it." With blank zealot-like stare Mantid gives the dwarf a nod of acknowledgment.

Mantid will wait until the others have their say before deciding where to go next. Meanwhile he will stand guard and watch for any sign of danger.

The woman is well dressed in expensive blue velvet robes, her long curly blonde hair sensibly up in a bun, although a few wayward tangles escape here and there.

"Stop what is coming, hmm? Personally I just want to see what is down there!"

She turns and give the others a dazzling smile.

"Callista Featherstonehaugh. Pronounced Fanshaw, if you please. Working to understand the workings of the arcane. SO delightful to meet you all".

She pauses, with an attitude of polite expectation.

Hearing a conversation up ahead, drak marches out of the shadowy trees, his armored feet crunching on dry leaves and twigs, stopping to let those assembled on the hill see him. None of his body can be seen, hidden in a bland suit of platemail. A large slab of plain metal is strapped to his left arm, while a blacksmiths hammer is clutched in his gloved right hand. His helmet is a cylinder on his head, with two inverted triangles for eye-slits. His armor and weapons are covered in some unknown substance, appearing black in the weak moonlight. A bleached, human skull hangs off his belt by a thick chain.

He scans the crowd of people, his gaze lingering on the mumbling human. Double checking the grip on his hammer, he waits for one of them to make the first move.

[IC] Mantid glances at the plate mailed clad figure with great suspicion. He doesn't appear to like the looks of him either. A faint echo of a thought flits through his head,"untrustworthy".

Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he smiles towards the woman who calls herself Callista something-or-other. She seems like a nice person... not like that menacing looking fellow in armor.

[OOC] Mantid uses what little charm and intelligence he has to form a bond with those who seem "goodly" to him. He is highly suspicious of the plate mailed fellow though.

"Well met, Callista and to ye, as well, Mr... fine young cleric who never gave his name and appears to have conversations in his head."

"Me name is Finnigan. "

Fin turns towards the lady...

"I've no love for the arcane, young lady, but it seems we share the desire to see 'what is down there,' as that is why I'm here, as well."

... and then turns towards the cleric.

"Stop what comes, eh? Well... if 'what comes' is flesh and blood, and can feel the bite of my axe, and 'comes' with an equal share of treasure... I might be tempted to help ye. Of course... a name would be nice. What shall we call ye, kind sir?"

With a casual glance at the newcomer, Fin sees one who looks like he's looking for trouble. In a disarming tone, he says...

"And you, black knight? You be here to go into the ruins? ... or protect them?"

You fight with the strength of many men, Sir Knight.
I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
I seek the bravest and finest knights in the land...

Right, sorry, I won't go on...

More on topic, Fin thinks doing something for the cleric (possibly an entire brotherhood?) might not be a bad way to raise his "renown" in the area.

You all notice that all 5 of you are wearing backpacks, and are outfitted with rope and empty sacks, and that 3 of you, quite conspicuously, have looooong wooden poles. Most conspicuous is the hobbit, whose pole is nearly 4 times his own height, and seems to be presenting at least a slight difficulty in balancing. If it wasn't for the pole, he would melt quite well into the background, as he is yet to say anything.

Drak puts away his hammer, hanging it in a loop on his belt, and faces the dwarf.

"I am here to search the area, and I am no knight."

Finnigan suddenly notices the tip of a pole waving in the air. Following it down with his eyes, he sees it is held by a man even shorter than him! He gives him a quick once-over and cautiously squints his eyes again as he notices the halfling carries nothing more stout than a knife for close combat...

"What about you, little halfling? What brings you to this gaping hole with a 10' pole?"

[IC]A sudden flash of memory resurfaces in Mantid's head as he peers more closely at the dark man in armor. Upon hearing the dwarf introduce himself to the nice lady, and addressed him with demanding eyes. The fleeting memory vanishes, and Mantid replies,

"My apologies, sir dwarf, um Finna-in? My name is Mantid, Mantid Notallbright they call me back at St. Culthbert's monastery."And with that he smiles broadly at Finnigan and Callista, which quickly turns into a frown as he eyes the armored brooding looking fellow once more. Mantid has a feeling he knows what he came here to stop...

Mantid will remain where he is standing (mace and shield in hand) and will be carefully watching Drak.

"My apologies, good sir, I meant nothing by it. It was the helmet that threw me off, to be sure. And by what name shall we be calling thee?"

Callista starts a little at the sight of this rather.... intimidating looking personage in the helmet.

"oh my!" she murmurs, and watches the scene. She notices the smiles and politely returns them.

Walking quickly (for a halfling) up to the staircase, mostly ignoring the gathering, I peer down into the deep darkness for a few moments. Seeming to find satisfaction in the ancient passageway, I turn back to the dwarf and say him,

"I work alone."

And with that, I start down the stairs.

30 seconds later, I come back out of the crypt, slightly sheepishly.

"Anyone got a light?"

Walking up to the group, drak feels around in a sack until he pulls out a small bag, then throws it at the halfling.

A whistle of air shoots out of the darkness below, and a flash of metal flies toward one of you!

03 August, 2012

Information.. Information!!

As a continuation of this post, another of my regular players, Zach, posed a few more questions about my continuing Original Dungeons & Dragons campaign, Castle Nicodemus:

1) Can any of the various beings (goblins, elves, ogre, bugbears, bullywug) that we have encountered and that now live in Renard's Folly recall any folklore or oral history of the Morvalians, where they came from or where they went? Were they conquerors? Were great wars fought to evict them?
It is widely believed that they destroyed themselves in a great internecine war, The War of the Wizards. Only elves pretend to have any solid knowledge of them, passed down through generations in the region. They maintain that their elven ancestors were even more reclusive and insular in the dim past of the ancient Morvalian lands, thus limiting their contact. However, elven tradition holds that the Morvalian Empire existed for many centuries, and attained great heights of arcane knowledge, perhaps too great. Much of current wizardry, when not attributed to themselves, is deemed an innovation of the Morvalians. The Empire is said to have stretched “beyond common geography,” and for a time may have been a positive civilising force. Though destroyed in the War of the Wizards, it is told the best parts and ideals of the Empire lived on for a time in the realm of the legendary Pomegranate Queen.

2) What kinds of constellations are visible above Castle Nicodemus on the rare clear nights? Anything familiar to our European mercenaries, or entirely unrelated?
Though the clouds have been stubbornly persistent, on the few clear nights you have been witness to a sky completely unfamiliar to those not native to Anglia.

3) Are the occasional magicians, alchemists and other miracle workers we find in your medieval Europe actually native to it, or immigrants from other, more magical realms? If so, are they aware they've come form somewhere else, or did they simply slip into mundane Europe without realizing? Have there been actual dragons in mundane Europe at any point? Actual vampires?
Stories of dragons and vampires, or more commonly strigoi, persist. Many believe they are factual, and take a myriad of precautions, but you have yet to see any direct evidence for yourselves. The unique individuals you’ve met, apart from The Magnificent Brian, are apparently native to Europe and Asia. Brian, who claims his real name is ‘Bran,’ confused by a limner with a travelling circus, has made it plain that he hails not from Europe. He hasn’t elucidated any further on the subject.

4) The badass Gypsy who goes adventuring with us sometimes--does he work for Migellito or the gypsy fortuneteller lady? In my skulking around the caravan, have I had the chance to observe their interactions at all? They seem pretty interested in the stuff we're pulling out of the ruins.
He seems to work for Migellito, but spends the majority of his time near the fortuneteller’s wagon. He and the fortuneteller confer often, but a feeling of romance is never present in their dealings. He appeared shortly after this exchange between Migellito and the fortuneteller.

5) What do the torch-bearers and mercenaries from the caravan that we've been over-paying spend their money on (besides funerals)? How do they feel about us bringing in cheaper mercenaries, and settling in the Folly?
Most seem to have blown their windfall on hard drink and fast women. A few sport fine clothes, now mostly road-worn, and some have excellent boots and the finest tack and harness. Ignatius, for one, apparently sent all of his to his family.

News and Happenings in The Environs of Nicodemus Castle

Late at night, word is sent down below to the denizens of the foundry that something of interest is happening above, and that someone should come take a look. Those climbing up to the surface are treated to a view of an only partly occluded sky above the lookout post atop the crumbling gatehouse. The cold blue stars are decidedly not arranged in the constellations with which anyone is familiar.

Being directed to peer Eastward, the head of a lengthy infantry column is seen marching South on the distant road, this side of the River Wythern. The tail of the column is somewhere to the North, shrouded in dust and darkness. The deep monotone of a rhythmic marching chant floats across the air a quarter mile to reach the roof of the gatehouse.

Suddenly, a pinpoint of firelight streaks toward the column from the other side of the river. A great blossom of orange fire opens in the middle of the road, engulfing nearly a dozen ranks. Several moments later the muted ‘whump’ of the explosion reaches your ears, closely followed by the distant gutteral shouts of rallying troops. Half a hundred are left charred and blackened in the roadway.

The scrambling infantry wastes little time. They break off in sections and begin crossing the river in answer to the sonorous boom of commands which reach your ears a moment later. The water teems white in the starlight as scores enter it from the near bank. The midst of the river begins to glow with a dim green light, as though the waters are lit from beneath, and then a blinding flash of lightning slams down into the river among the struggling troops. Thunder cracks and rumbles over the ruins. The surface of the water has taken on a sluggish quality, and you realise it is choked with bodies.

21 July, 2012

The Riddle Game

I finally decided to go ahead and play Questions with my Nicodemus/Anglia setting. Anthony and Robert from G+ offered a few great questions about the campaign yesterday, and I've done my best to answer them below. If you, dear reader, have more questions, feel free to ask!

1) Are there any notable examples of folks leaving Anglia and traveling to Europe? Anybody famous?
Names bandied about among caravan luminaries include Pythagoras, Iamblichus, Abaris the Hyperborean and Merlin. More recent guesses include Merovech and Charles Martel.

2) Same question as #1, but moving in the other direction.
Ultimately, all the humans of Anglia trace their dim past back to the migrations of the many Germanic peoples of Europe, but via an apparently one-way rift somewhere on the far-away continent of the Old Empire. The ‘shift’ in which Migellito’s Caravan often finds itself is said to be a develpment of only the last couple of years. Bridgewater freeholders speak of only a handful of travellers from ‘The Other Woods’, and none that did more than pass briefly through their little hamlet.

3) Does the gypsy lady ever leave her wagon? How long has she been with the caravan? Does Migellito consult her?
None claim to have seen her more than a dozen steps from her colourful vardo, nor to know her name. She is a relatively recent addition to Migellito’s pan-European caravan, apparently joining up about two weeks before the first adventuring types found themselves exploring the castle ruins. It is assumed amongst the grooms, porters and outriders that she travels with the caravan for simple security in order to ply her trade along their route. That trade is believed to largely consist of fortunetelling, with a substantial side-business in mystic apothecary and uncanny curios. Migellito, in the opinion of the caravan’s rustic worthies, would never deign to consult her, but seems to have with her a very tense business relationship.

4) What demons do goblins worship?
According to Shank the goblinsmith, the statue in the Dungeon Temple is one ‘Orcus.’ This is a constant source of contention between the two goblin men, as Og stridently professes his faith in Demogorgon. Well, faith might not be the most expressive term. Fearful obsequiousness is probably more accurate. For her part, Fap the goblin woman is apparently content to leave spiritual matters to the men.

5) Do gnome/druid/elf territories overlap, or are they separate? How do the 3 groups relate to each other?
Gnomes and elves have a pleasant understanding, rarely engaging and never conflicting with each other. To call them insular, they would need to have some sort of desire for outward interest. They don’t. As far as a sense of ownership, this extends only to the structures they’ve actually built. A gnome would not see the tree he lives in as ‘his,’ only the comfortable dwelling made within it.
Druids are a relatively new addition, arriving soon after and in conjunction with the Anglish settlers, beginning a little over two centuries ago. They have begun to learn the ins and outs of the forests here, but often unwittingly violate little forest customs they don’t even know exist. However, the most negative of elf and gnome opinion of the druids ranges only to ‘exasperation.’
Druids are wont to interpret a great deal of mystic importance in the activities of the forest natives, especially the elves, but for the most part these are misconceptions.

6) Whose territory is Castle Nicodemus on? Is some lord gonna roll in eventually and tell us we're squatting on his land and stealing his treasure?
Ultimately, the land might be construed to belong to Stephen, King of Anglia. He is less than popular among the nearby freeholders and rustics, apparently mostly because his name is “one of those Latin things.” (It’s Greek in origin, of course, but only the most learned sages of the Old Empire would realise those threads existed within the fabric of what they think of as Latin)
The locals appreciate the influence of Baron Meligor of Croyden and Duke Osric of Norchester-and-Norwich even less, despite the fact they revere the individuals themselves at near heroic status. The freeholders are, understandably perhaps, a bit paranoid about nobles trying to turn them back into serfs.
Functionally, however, the influence of these rulers doesn’t extend far enough from their seats of power to affect Nicodemus. This may be in flux, however, in light of the ongoing military invasion.

7) Is the orc invasion a concern across the land, or is Bridgewater just particularly unlucky in this regard? Are there bands of soldiers opposing them at all?
Both rumour and rationale have it that the northern fortified city of Norchester-and-Norwich is completely besieged. The fate of the mountain border fortress of Croydon, to the Northeast, is unknown.. however, no reinforcements or Anglish troops have been seen from there (or at all, for that matter.) The columns of orc footmen seen marching South on the nearby road are clearly headed somewhere, and that way lie both the large fortified city of Cooperton-on-Wythern and eventually the Capitol, Freeport.

8) What's the nearest non-Bridgewater population center?
The nearest settlement other than Bridgewater is the village of Haverhill, about a day’s ride to the South. It is just slightly larger than Bridgewater, or at least it was the last anyone knew.

9) Is there any continuity between Morvalian and Anglian societies, or are they totally separate? Are there Anglians with Morvalian ancestry?
Completely separate, as far as anyone knows. The ruins attributed to the Morvalians were already centuries old, at least, when the Anglish first arrived from the Old Empire and founded Freeport in this new and unexplored country. Ruins like Castle Nicodemus dot the countryside, and Freeport itself is said to be built atop the legacy of an ancient Morvalian city. The bas reliefs, in fact, are the only evidence the Morvalians were humans at all.

10) Are there recorded instances of large migrations of beings from worlds other than Earth?
The oldest and most obscure of extant Morvalian texts make brief mention of a people known as Olnivernians. Only three facts are known about them: their skin is green; their men wear ornate turbans; their women are unparalleled dancers.

11) Is Castle Nicodemus a ruined version of Castle Amber?
In spite of its relatively large footprint, the ruins seem to indicate an edifice far less complex than Castle Amber. Additionally, the geography of the area would have had to undergo sweeping changes.

12) Is there any way for a PC to walk that pattern that is hidden beneath?
Only a blood-descendant of Amber can walk the pattern and live.

13) What is Oberon's master plan?
A system of ordered chaos throughout the multiverse, obeying his hand’s careful influence.

14) Who is Migellito, really?
A retired Italian freebooter with experience in the trans-Saharan gold caravans. Maybe.

15) Is Castle Nicodemus a post-apocalyptic ruin of Amber, one of the "false Ambers" that hold broken patterns, or Corwin's Amber born from his fever-dreams of France when he wrote a new pattern?
Probably not, but I like the France idea!

30 June, 2012

The Ultimate Heresy

Bastardising Tolkien

Now, I love both The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. The Hobbit, as is popularly stated, makes for a great DnD setting. However, Rings doesn't. The reasons are many, but mostly it's because you either need to pick some point far back in history, or some point after the whole thing. If you pick a point in time during the book, you end up as some minor player on the edge of Important but Precarious Events. If the DM doesn't railroad you, you really end up railroading yourself, one way or another. It's all good for an MMO (I enjoy that game) but sucks for DnD. Oh, and picking a point after the book? There's not much excitement there, since the overarching ultimate pervasive goal of the entire trilogy is to remove the violent dramatic excitement. See, that's a bad setup goal for DnD. You don't want your goal to be Make Things Boring.

So now what? Time to fiddle about. For my purposes, the trilogy is related by Samwise. He is a well-meaning, sentimental, unreliable narrator. He is pretty upset that his best friend died in what turned out to be a boondoggle. Instead of being bitter, he writes a view of what he wishes happened.

The Changes So Far:
Gandalf was a mid-level magic-user, not a divine being. When he bit it in Moria, that was it for him.
Aragorn wasn't really a prince.
Boromir didn't have a noble change of heart at the last second. The Ring was too strong for that.
Throwing the ring into the lava didn't do shit.
Faramir fried in a fire.

18 May, 2012

Caves of Chaos Revision

This is a total rework of the Caves of Chaos from B1 - Keep on the Borderlands. I drew this sometime around 1993 to better fit the style of my current group. They were extremely clever, very cautious, mostly around 4th to 6th level at the time, and really enjoyed a challenge. The different colours are to help differentiate overlapping areas, and there are several places where you can see little bridges spanning a tunnel below to connect two sides of a tunnel above. You can also see elevation marks and occasional elevation numbers. I can't remember right now where my zero was for elevation. I thought it was the floor of the box canyon, but looking at some of the numbers I don't get that impression now.
It was stocked in the same spirit as the original EGG module, but with increased numbers. There were also many residents of the Caves who had class and level rather than standard stats for their species. This was present in the original module, as far as I can remember (can't be arsed to look it up now) and I expanded on the idea for my version.

13 May, 2012

Grot Wilderness Travel

Travel across the face of Grot is an inherently hazardous and chaotic affair. As a group of adventurers progress, the inimical terrain around them is randomly generated. This is true even when traversing areas they have been through before. The perilous mountain ranges, caustic seas and the six great citadels stand as the only static landmarks of this percolating milieu of corruption. Below are two examples of the tables useful for inflicting this environment.

Basic Nature of Mid-Latitude Hex

  1. Fungal Forest
  2. Forested Swamp
  3. Cyclopean Briars
  4. Grasping Weedlands
  5. Fungal Hills
  6. Abyssal Valleys
  7. Cinder Waste
  8. Stomatic Canyons
  9. Shattered Rock
  10. Low Fen

Effects of Travel applied to all characters at end of passage through hex
2. Sinister Mist, 2d6 damage
3. Sinister Mist, 1d6 damage
4. Aspect Bugs, 2d6 damage, save for half
5. Weak Spores
6. Leering Briars, 2d6 damage, save for half
7. Leering Briars, 1d6 damage, save to avoid
8. Leering Briars, 1d6 damage, save for half
9. Aspect Bugs, 1d6 damage, save for half
10. Leering Briars, 2d6 damage, save for half
11. Insinuating Spores, save to avoid
12. Oddly Benign
Leering Briars: character descending base armour class is applied as a penalty to the saving throw
Aspect Bugs: character descending base armour class is applied as a bonus to the saving throw
Insinuating Spores: armour provides neither protection nor detriment

30 April, 2012

Super Secret Event Table

After much contemplation, I share my Event Table for the 1 hour walk between Castle Nicodemus and the visiting Caravan from The Fields We Know. Compared to most of my event tables, it has a high percentage of actual encounters. This is mostly due to the fact that I only end up rolling on it twice a session, due to the nature of the G+ Hangout game.
I think it's ok to go ahead and share this now, since there are more people with characters actually originating in the world where Nicodemus sits.

Using the two different dice types puts a big flat spot of equal probability in the middle of it, from 9 to 13. When you do that, the flat spot will be one more than the difference between the two dice.

Environs 1d8+1d12
2 Dead body; roll again to see what died
3 Gnomes 1d12
4 Heavy winds for 2d8 turns; 2d6 for clock direction, 1 = due east
5 Snakes
6 Corkens 1d8; If night, Hellhounds
7 Thunderstorm for 1d8+1 turns
8 Sheep! 4d10
9 Orc Patrol 1d10+1d12; no. times 10% = chance of leader
10 Human Bandits 2d6; no. times 10% = chance of leader
11 Bridgewater Townies 1d4 or Strange Noises
12 Rainstorm for 1d12+1 turns
13 Goblin Bandits 3d6; no. times 10% = chance of leader
14 Giant Beetles or Giant Spiders or Giant Wasps; If night, Ghouls
15 Wolves or Deer
16 Anhkhegs or Giant Rodents
17 Owl Bears 1d6-2; <=1 is 1
18 Spider Bears 1d6-3; <=1 is 1
19 Bulette
20 Roll on the super secret special table

The Super Secret Special Table
1 Wyvern
2 Manticore
3 Wizard
4 Elves
5 Giant Toad
6 Trolls
7 Priest
8 Ominous Raven
9 Gargoyles
10 Hill Giant
11 Giant Slug
12 Werewolves
13 Ogres
14 Purple Worm
15 Sink Hole, 20% chance it opens as you walk over it
16 Sandestin
17 Wights

20 April, 2012

A report to the Van Toads

To Lord Van Toad, Toad Hall, Hopland

I have arrived in the Dark Country, and have made contact with Rupert. We are forced to remain outside the small, brutish village known as Nightwick, but Rupert has been good enough to allow me a room in his own modest abode.

I believe clues to the nature of this White Lady can be found within the nearby ruined abbey, a former bolt-hole of the infamous Sword Brothers. Explorations there are proceeding, though it is slow going as I must rely on the assistance of whatever ruffians are currently about, and motivated by base greed to delve within the edifice.

A short aside: gnomish soldiery will not do. They talk a good game, but crumble under adversity.

The mausoleum entrance at the cliffs on the far side of the abbey may prove fruitful, but seems to be heavily defended by horrid Elk-men. I can only assume they are the result of the repulsive Elk cult, which is worshipped nigh-openly within the village. The large nave of the abbey is occupied with bloodthirsty goblins, and unsuccessful attempts at entry have discouraged the local toughs. This leaves the two standing towers. I have gone beneath the Northernmost of the two more than once now. Each time we have met with horrid monstrosities, but they have not been insurmountable. In addition, sufficient treasure was found to encourage Men to continue delving therein, I believe.

At the bottom of the North tower stairs, going west will lead past a small chapel and two alcoves along a corridor. These alcoves are dedicated to some saint of the Men, but now are debased by Chaos. Past these is a room still containing the vile moving skins of deadmen. They are definitely dangerous.

South of these tower stairs is a room with a small pool, which thankfully contained enough coinage to whet the greed of my companions. Beyond this there is apparently a lair of tiny rat men. East from this point, we heard a diabolical ceremony underway. I believe this is the direction in which my first answers about the Lady may lie.

I will report further at a time such that I am able to.
Yours in service, Frederick Bull, esq.

15 April, 2012

3 Spells for OD&D

Rodney Matthews is freexin awesome
Escher's Thaumaturgic Disjunction
Level 2
This spell will catastrophically disrupt another spell being cast, as long as the target spell is of 1st or 2nd level. The caster of the target spell must make a successful save vs. spells or suffer one of two possible consequences, as decided by the Dungeon Master. The caster either takes 2d6 damage, or must roll on the Dungeon Master’s choice of Magical Mishap Tables. Range: 4”

Fire Slugs
Level 1
This spell is similar in every way to Magic Missile, except that it specifically causes fire damage. Instead of bolts of magical energy, it shoots forth small, slimy, lava-like fire slugs. They dissipate into vapour as soon as they hit, completely preventing them from being able to set anything on fire. The only exception is if the target has been doused or covered in some flammable substance, such as lamp oil. 

Copperfield's Phantasmal Remuneration
Level 2
This spell creates up to 10 gold pieces worth of local currency for every level of the caster. It can take any accepted form, but no more than 1 lb. per caster level can be created. The illusory currency lasts for 1 turn per caster level, then turns into a worthless base material chosen by the Dungeon Master. Gold coins become lead discs; small gems become pebbles; paper currency becomes strips of town-criers parchments; etc.

27 March, 2012

Map Discovered in Castle Nicodemus

This map wasn't actually found last night, during my regular Monday night game. It was found in last week's game, by Dodekatheon, Priest of The Spider God. He discovered it on the marble desk where Darf the Dwarf cut off his own hand to save his life from poison; poison injected by a needle hidden in the top drawer handle of a marble desk; a marble desk with accompanying ancient, worn down marble chair, so old that the centre of the desk is worn a full half inch low by the passage of hand, pen and paper.

Those present were quite sure the map had not been there when Darf's extremity was removed. Neither does it have any blood on it, as do the other parchments on the desk. Furthermore, it bears words in what can best be interpreted by the discoverers as some obscure variation of Anglo-Norman. All the other papers are written with Devolved Morvalian.

Therefore, how did this map come to be present on this desk, in this room? What does it indeed map? What connexion might it have with the elusive spearman? When pursued, the spearman fled down a long, waterlogged, subterranean passage. The passage forked. Where did the spearman go? Who is he?

In last night's game, none of these questions were answered. However, another question, one which our harried vagabonds had not even asked, was answered in full. A matter of weeks in The Lands We Know amounts only to a matter of days in this extrinsic realm of Anglia, wherein Nicodemus lies.

The protagonists had more earthly concerns, of course. The Southern Gatehouse remains cleared of all but the rats. The goblin Ug, beetling away in the subterranean foundry, had not the time to yet complete the mechanism which will hopefully replace Darf's hand. Fap, the she-goblin, had no skill in smithing. Ug was amenable to the impending passage of his loyalty from Darf to Philip the Bloody; after all, Philip is an obvious wizard, and one of clear and decisive mien.

19 March, 2012

Another Adventure Location for Anglia/Nicodemus

Back around 1992 I worked up an adventure locale for my players to work on after they had completed the Mask of Power campaign (a name for it that I only just now invented.) I never considered the term 'campaign' to include the idea of rolling up new characters or playing in a new setting. It was just The New Thing for whenever they got done with The Old Thing.

Well, I moved away, as did some of my players, before we got to finish The Old Thing, so this locale was never visited. It's still there in my milieu though. Somewhere. Waiting. Here, in much-vaunted bullet point style, are the main things about Castle Kirwan.
  • Located in a different world than Anglia/Nicodemus, but accessible from there via Ancient Morvalian gateway.
  • The normal animals of the world, such as mammals, reptiles, etc., are all hexupeds as opposed to our common Earthly quadrupeds.
  • Psionics!
  • The world is loosely based on Klah from the first two or three Robert Asprin Myth books.
  • Other than humans, all the monsters in this world are from the Fiend Folio. However, not every monster in the FF is present in the world. The most common bad-guy species is norkers.
  • Castle Kirwan itself is exactly as seen here, above to the right.
  • The noble family in residence are unwitting shadows of the Royal Family of Amber from the Zelazny novels.
  • The environs of the castle have a distinct Russian feel.
  • A massive war roughly two generations ago left behind huge battlefields where the skeletons of the dead lie beneath the surface. Cue high-level Animate Dead spell.
  • Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden.
  • NPCs include The Veteran of a Thousand Psychic Wars and his faithful manservant Igor.
  • The Russian Tarot, as shown below.

One of the influences for coming up with all this was my love of piroshkis back then. Specifically Igor's frozen piroshkis, which is all I could get where I lived, but they were awesome. I can't find them now. All I can find are these damn hot pocket things, which pale horribly in comparison. Anyway, you can get piroshkis in the environs of Castle Kirwan. Dammit.

15 March, 2012

My Take on Sigil

Planescape continues to interest me, and if you look far enough you can get there from Castle Nicodemus.

My Sigil is a place of wonder and amazement. My Sigil is a place of disillusionment and horror. You will not find priests and priestesses there energised and fresh from afternoon tea with their deity. You may, however, find clerics who seem to stare blankly through you, and who never say a word.

There is no vast wilderness where a hexcrawl will eventually take you from Asgard to Olympus to Gahenna. There is no miles-high spire of rock with a spinning cheerio at the top. There is, though, a great and ancient archway which holds a door of iron 101 cubits high, and which bears the words "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate."

In fact, you will never see the 'outside' of Sigil's massive toroid. Assuming an outside even exists, in it you would find yourself outside reality, and it would shred your mind.

Sigil is not the true name of the city. This moniker refers to the symbol which stands for, or perhaps spells its true name. Only one individual in all the multiverse knows the word for which this glyph stands, and to speak it is to grasp the fate of the City of Doors. This is The Lady of Pain.

14 March, 2012

Some Grot Things

It's been over a week since megasuperGMSunday, and I still haven't gotten up the promised and requested TPS Report. I will. Really.

Not right now though. Right now, it's another list of stuff about the Grot setting I'm working on. There's a label thing you can click on over there to see all of them so far.

  • Lord Vitus is the master of the isolated fortification known as The Morgus. He is a cambion who dances from foot to foot when he becomes excited or agitated. He has, however, no sense of humour. The pile of decomposing jesters can attest to that.
  • The most intelligent denizens of Grot would pale at the suggestion that The Gods actually exist, but none can deny the inexplicable and unpredictable appearances of the being known only as Mr. Scratch.
  • On the continent of Cenobus, in the Fortress of Necron, there still exist those who practice the ancient arcane art of Pupatic Vivification as detailed in the Simulacracon. The resulting Arcano-Automatons are not to be trifled with.
  • A great deal of the wilderness is overrun by briars. Most are animate, antagonistic, and filled with horrific faces.
  • The seas of Grot consist of a widely varying miasmic pus, the effluvia of unseen ulcerations below the surface. The hulls of boats are made of glazed brick or queer iridescent glass to prevent destruction by the corrosive fluids. Sailors learn quickly to stay away from the rail or be consumed by the often animate swells.

03 March, 2012

More Nicodemus Things

More stuff about Anglia, the part of the world where Nicodemus Castle sits. Lurking. Like a toad in a hole.

  • Cathedrals in Freeport are enormous and Gothic. The biggest is dedicated to Odin, but has transepts devoted to Thor, Freya, Frigga, and others.
  • It is possible to find wizards who use learning and casting methods unlike your own.
  • The prevailing political system is a remnant of feudal nobility. There are Dukes and Barons, but not all of them own land. Those that do aren't necessarily in possession of serfs.
  • The largest town in the North is Cooperton-on-Wythern. It's on the Great North Road, several days travel north of Freeport.
  • Goblins often wear enormous hollowed pumpkins, with only their arms and legs sticking out.
  • Rumours out of the Northeast claim there is a secret monastery hidden away far into the mountains, dedicated to some ancient God. It is said the monks cut off a part of their bodies.
  • The dark blue and shadowy mountains are a place of mystery and trepidation. Few venture there by choice. Dwarves are rumoured to go about in the dim daylight there.
  • The theme for the elves, and their part of the forest, is Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
  • Travelling Priests and priestesses of Thor are often seen as respected counsels in villages. It would be highly irregular for such a cleric to hide their calling, even if inconvenient.
  • There are more cloudy days than clear days. Rain and snow are plentiful.
  • It's common for people to confuse hobbits with leprechauns.
  • The Northlands are rife with banditry and highwaymen.
  • Ruins of the Age of the Wizard Kings are a relatively common sight around the countryside. Rumours persist that 200 years past, Freeport was built on top of such ruins.
  • It is common knowledge that orcs and goblins worship various demons and devils. Orcs may, in fact, be named after one of them.

20 Questions

I originally posted this a while ago on the Castle Nicodemus devoted blog. I've since decided not to bother with keeping a separate blog for it - kinda dumb. Thus, I'm re-posting it here.

Thanks to Brendan at Untimately! Here are 20 rule questions that are bound to come up at some point, and the way I will answer them for Nicodemus games.
  1. Ability scores generation method? 3d6 in order, no adjustments. Str, Int, Wis, Con, Dex, Cha.
  2. How are death and dying handled? At zero the player rolls on Trollsmyth's Death & Dismemberment Table. They will keep rolling on it anytime they're hit until they're above zero, usually with a negative modifier the same as their hits.
  3. What about raising the dead? No NPC in the area can do it. Try hauling them elsewhere.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Play an NPC for a while, or roll & arrive.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group, 1st round determines all. Chainmail weapon classes determine melee order.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Crits yes, on a 20 if you also roll max damage. Fumbles are generally rp'd via imagination and circumstance.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Can sacrifice for a head crit.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Yes.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Be willing to run.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yes. Be smart.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Usually no big deal. Don't push it.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Gain a level right away. All spells after starters must be found in some way, including within the party. Also counts for clerics.
  14. What do I get experience for? Treasure, monsters, carousing, session reports.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Either works. Description can be more effective.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes, OD&D rules.
  17. How do I identify magic items? The Gypsy Lady will identify for 250gp.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? The Gypsy Lady occasionally has potions for sale.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? OD&D rules. Can't really be done in the field.
  20. What about splitting the party? Caveat emptor

02 March, 2012

GM Day

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!! It’s the first annual GMs Day Games! March 4th at the Nicodemus Coliseum and Arena. MONSTERS!! NITRO-BURNIN’ WIZARDS!! It starts at 10 AM Eastern, but it goes TIL ALL THE PLAYERS ARE DEAD! No reserve seating, tickets are free! You can have the whole seat, BUT YOU’LL ONLY NEED THE EDGE!!!

go to CoopStuff.com for awesome stuff!
Running all day Sunday on G+ Hangout, for as long as I have players, with a break in the middle while I go play Barry Blatt’s Tekumel. Bring your flailsnails characters and come and go as you please. Join anytime and stay as long as you like.

25 February, 2012

Jack in Hell

Let’s check back in with our vicarious vicar, Father Jack. It looks like he’s back in the Hill Cantons. Yes, that’s certainly the odour of Marlankh, and we can see the familiar skyline of off-whitewashed buildings, domed towers, and squatting there in the middle of it all like a great stone toad is the big square Tomb of the City Gods.

Marlankh has been a bit of a puzzle for our foraying friar. Little more than a month ago, during that dark time he ‘remembers’ as ‘The Dry Days,’ Jack was quite shocked to discover he wasn’t in Wessex any longer. He had only recently awoken sober in the Blue Rabbit, walked outside, and uttered “oh hell, I’m still at that feckin’ abbey on the arse end of Cornwall,” when he was whisked away by the vagaries of interdimensional instability. Although he had already been to the Hill Cantons multiple times, this was the first time he realised it wasn’t south-western Britain. He quickly came to the only reasonable conclusion. He was in Hell.

The Dry Days are past now, of course, as fleeting wealth always seems to find a way back into Jack’s pockets, but their influence has had a lasting effect on the Father’s perception. He knows now that he isn’t merely waking from another delirium, but has rather staggered through a gap in the world he knows into Hades. And this Hades, unsurprisingly, is populated with people he knows! Here is The Clown, The Dandy, and Warlock Spiderman.  Not only are they in Hell, but worse, he suspects them all of being French. And here too is one of the natives of this City of Purgatory, the irrepressible Marzipan.

It doesn’t take many drinks in The Flaming Goat to understand that mischief is afoot. Marzipan has unwittingly found himself bound in matrimony to one of Marlankh’s other hellish denizens. Such unwelcome bonds are not easily broken in the Netherworld, so the logical course of action becomes immediately clear. Kidnap her and demand ransom from her wealthy father. Jack is sure it made sense at the time, and anyway, what of it? One path is as good as another when dealing with these Godless heathens of The Pit.

In hushed and soundly intoxicated tones, a plan begins to coalesce in the smoke filled air of a back corner. The plan grows like a stubborn, deep-rooted vine. The plan is detailed. The plan is complex. The plan is completely over Father Jack’s head.

Even in the Bowels of Hell convention returns, and Jack spends the next three days in accustomed fashion, alternately drinking and sleeping in a hearthside chair at The Flaming Goat. Are those his erstwhile comrades at a table nearby? Why yes, there’s Warlock Spiderman chatting up a woman! This must be the She-Devil of Marzipan. And her sisters! With an expectoration of “girls!,” Jack privately vows to pay more attention to the plan next time.

Hopefully the next plan hasn’t begun yet, because the next thing our vague vicar recalls is standing in front of an illusory merchant shop. Dandy Smallberries is doing his best to entice the She-Devil of Marzipan to come inside. Seeking an antidote for her reluctance, Jack offers a bit of the odd white powder he found in that subterranean laboratory in Outland. The land of imprisonment and broken dreams. Curious, the She-Devil samples a bit of the powder and is suitably enthralled. Entering the phantasmal doorway, her and her brutish guardsman are both put solidly into slumber by the arcane doings of Warlock Spiderman. A quick examination reveals demonic horns upon her retainer, just as Father Jack knew it would. Thankfully, the brutish devil is dispatched with haste.

updated map!
The insensate succubus is hurriedly placed in a bag, and Jack imbues a stone from the floor with the holy power of Silence. Giving the stone to The Clown so that the creature’s devilish howls might not disturb the peace if she were to wake, Jack accompanies the conspirators to a secluded building in the slums. Again a plan begins to take root. Father Jack volunteers eagerly to keep an eye on the abode of the captured creature’s father, concerned that some of the others might fall prey to the charms of the succubus’s sisters.

While trying his best to see into the sisters’ window, Jack witnesses the delivery of a note detailing a best reasonable course for the She-Devil’s father. A sum of twelve thousand coins of some kind is recalled in some relation to this. When next the man leaves his home, Jack, with his faithful torchbearer Girly and the Clown’s man Ool, decides it best to follow. The man, a local guildmaster, travels through Marlankh to a Gypsy Square, and from there mounts the stairs of an old tenement. Could this be a den of assassins? Anything is possible in this festering pit of Purgatory.

After a time, the guildmaster returns to his home, fuming with anger. Not long after, we see him again making his way through the city to the ramshackle tenement, and back up the stairs for another sheltered assignation. Ah yes, more capital was required before the unknown congregation would provide the service he was looking for. But what service? A rescue? A mystic insight? A night of knives? Whatever it might be, it’s clearly not a banking institution. That’s not just vodka Jack smells, it’s the pungent odour of trouble.

Wisely drinking a bit more to further confound his path, our furtive father makes another set of travels between Uptown Guildhouse and Gypsysquare Tenement. A stream of armed toughs and ruffians go to and fro from the upper floor of the rundown walkup. Assassins it is. Watching their backs, the trio heads for the Warlock’s newly purchased slum-hold where the She-Devil is bagged. Seeing that none of the thugs are watching the place, Father Jack enters and gives a quick sermon on the dangers of coveting, and the healthful benefits of avoiding wrath. Incidentally, that town about thirty miles north is rumoured to be nice this time of year.

Here is Father Jack now, resting by a campfire miles North of Marlankh, that city on the Edge of Perdition. Warlock Spiderman pines for his lost love, Marzipan’s succubus. Perhaps Jack will cheer him with a soothing homily. The poor man-thing has fallen for the creature. He laments that he might never get the chance to “fill her up with his spider babies.” Perhaps Jack won’t cheer him with a soothing homily.

With a quick prayer that he might again wake up “at the arse end of Cornwall,” he takes a final drink and goes to sleep.

The Clown – Taurus Hell’s Heart by Cole Long
The Dandy – Meriwether Chambliss by Jeremy Duncan
Warlock Spiderman – Philip the Bloody by Evan Elkins
Marzipan – Manzafrain the Mountebank by Robert Parker
All others by Chris Kutalik

24 February, 2012

Greyhawk Things

Some isolated little bits about my currently running version of Greyhawk.

  • OD&D with all supplements up through Eldritch Wizardry. Chainmail man-to-man combat with d20.
  • Uses the gazetteer from '80, boxed set from '81, Greyhawk Adventures book from '88, City of Greyhawk book from '89, Yggsburgh book from '05.
  • Set in the year 610, some 30 years after the heyday of such figures as Robilar, Tenser and Mordenkainen back in the early 570's.
  • None of that Greyhawk Wars stuff or the Rary traitor incidents ever happened.
  • There is a Zork sub-level in Castle Greyhawk.
  • No one has done any delving in the dungeons under Castle Greyhawk in over 20 years. It was considered mostly played-out.
  • A small adventuring group led by someone named Ironwolf recently plumbed parts of the dungeon, and rumours of returned wealth have re-surfaced.
  • A priest of Khorne has been seen about the city.
  • The city is now often referred to as Yggsburgh, after being styled thus by a number of foreigners. Old-timers still call it Greyhawk.
  • The Striped Mage is now occasionally seen in the company of a barbarian man, a heavily armoured woman, and a bow-slinging elf. They sometimes handle situations in the city which prove too much for the guardsmen.
  • The dungeon under Castle Greyhawk is based on 'The Mad Demigod's Castle.' C&C's Dark Château is nearby. For both the surroundings and the dungeon, I've made extensive use of online copies of notes taken by Gary and his old players. Thanks Grodog and Joe Bloch.
  • The Old Kingdom to the East is a mixture of Melnibonean Immryr and The Wizard of Id. Sort of.
  • Blackmoor in the North is the one from First Fantasy Campaign. The City of the Gods is all HR Giger.
  • Any techno elements hidden away around the map are definitely in the Giger mould, not Star Trekky.
  • If you scrape away the right façade, you will find a nice big dose of Yog-Sothothery.

21 February, 2012

Nasty Powers for Demons

Yay, a table! These are random powers for the Demon Class in Grot. The entries are a bit more general than they might be, because I want to leave plenty of room for the player to figure out exactly how the power manifests. For example, if the table says you can fly, you might decide you have bat wings, or raven wings, or personal telekinesis, or inflating gasbags. View the hidden? Maybe an eye opens on your palm or on your forehead.

Unless otherwise noted, powers last for 1 round per level (unless it's instant) and can be used once per day for each time the player rolls that power. Many of the powers might be similar to spells in the system of choice, in which case they basically work the same way. Unless otherwise noted, victims generally get a save vs. spells to halve or avoid the effects.

If it's a movement power of some kind (or something like invisibility,) how much can you carry with you? Easy! Take your Wisdom score and plug it into the Strength table of your rules set, then use the resulting encumbrance or load amount.

What if you roll a damaging power a 2nd time? Do you get it once more per day? Does it do another d6 of damage, but still just once a day? You pick. Each time you roll it, either increase usage or damage.

  1. You can fly at twice normal movement. See above.
  2. Darkness, 15 foot radius.
  3. Damaging touch, 1d6 damage to anything touched or held. Do they burn? Do they melt? Rot? Something else?
  4. Mind-read. They only get a save if they have mind powers.
  5. Spit, project, or breath damaging substance up to 20 feet. 1d6 damage. Or maybe it's a tentacle that shoots out of your nose. It's up to you.
  6. Enlarge
  7. Shrink
  8. Command
  9. Charm Person. Do you say a word, do they wear your mark, does something get implanted?
  10. Turn invisible
  11. Become ethereal
  12. Teleport up to a distance of 50 feet per level.
  13. Sense magic. This includes spellcasters.
  14. Summon a weird random creature, 1hd per level.
  15. Heat metal. This version is simpler. It lasts one round per level, and each round it does 1d6 damage. It lights flammable touching objects aflame pretty much right off. Make it a cold version if you like.
  16. Brain blast! 1d6 damage per level. Only those with mental powers get a save.
  17. Improve Armour Class by 1 point per level, for one round per level.
  18. Telekinesis, 10 pounds per level. The objects have a movement rate of a typical person. Range is 20 feet per level.
  19. View the Hidden. Sees invisible, concealed, traps, etc. Doesn't see ethereal, etc.
  20. Minor Curse. -1 to all their rolls.
  21. Cause Fear in one individual.
  22. Change shape. Stay the same size.
  23. Immune to fire
  24. Immune to cold
  25. Immune to acid
  26. Immune to electricity
  27. Resist magic, 5% per level
  28. Send thoughts
  29. Make an illusion. Up to a 10 foot cube per level.
  30. Cause disease. The sickness, though not deadly, is debilitating, runs a course of 1 week, and is contagious.
  31. Heal yourself for 1d6 points.
  32. Increase any ability score by 1.
  33. Forgetting touch causing cinematic amnesia.
  34. Voice swap
  35. Animate one corpse
  36. Curse object. Armour is 1 point worse, weapons are -1 to hit and damage, things break more easily.
  37. Grow 1 extra limb. Is it a tentacle?
  38. Stoner touch. Victim turned to stone for 1 round per level.
  39. Paralysis touch. Victim goes limp and falls to the ground. Can't move for 1 round per level.
  40. Cause insanity in one creature. Anger? Sadness? Confusion? Paranoia? It's up to the DM.
  41. Mutation touch! Roll on a mutation table!
  42. Animate object. Includes plants. Thing can be up to 5 pounds per level.
  43. Wasting touch. Reduces any one ability score by 2.
  44. Nasty Wildlife. Something (including plants) within 30 feet gets nasty and attacks. Up to 2hd worth of creatures per level. They will grow claws, or fangs, or something nasty, but can't grow legs or wings if they don't have them. Tiny things will attack in 2hd bunches.
  45. Blindness. One person looking at you is blinded.
  46. Steal any one body part. It appears somewhere on you. No inherent damage. Hand? Eye? Tongue? If you hurt it while it's on you, you get hurt too!
  47. Ungodly odour. Everyone within 5 feet saves or pukes.
  48. Alacrity. Movement and number of actions doubled. Effective Dexterity increased by 1. Triple if rolled again. Quadrupled if rolled a 4th time, etc.
  49. Burst into flames. Anyone in physical contact takes 1d6 damage per level each round they're in contact. It also lights your own stuff on fire.
  50. Imbue with magic. Any one item gains minor eldritch qualities.
  51. Gate closing. Keeps a door shut for 1 round per level. 5% chance per level of closing any interdimensional portal.
  52. Temporal touch. Victim touched is sent forward in time 1 minute per level.
  53. Gravitic anomaly. Victim's mass is partially shunted to another dimension, or added to from another dimension. Weight is increased or reduced by 10% per level, though size remains constant.
  54. Theft. Any one item, weighing no more than 1 pound per level, is transferred to your possession. After one round per level it (or its pieces) goes back.
  55. Futility. One individual within 30 feet is made unable to affect the world around them. Do they turn into a shadow? Become ghostly? Incorporeal and wispy? Turn into a cloud of gnats? Up to you. They can't move about either, and no one can have any effect on them.
  56. Soulcrusher. You possess an item dedicated to holding imprisoned souls. The victim loses 1 point of Charisma per level, with concomitant loss of ability to maintain control of hirelings and henchmen, and also are unaffected by beneficial clerical or druidic magic. If you destroy the item while it holds a captured soul, the victim takes 1d6 per level in damage, but you must then replace the item at a minimum cost of 100gp.
  57. Soul gem. You can store your soul or the soul of a willing individual for 1 hour per level. The individual becomes immune to sleep, charm and mind-reading. However, they lose 2 points of Charisma and are unaffected by beneficial clerical or druidic magic.
I'll add a few more. If you need more ideas, here is an awesome post by Zak with different goals but similar spirit. And here is a neat generator on Abulafia to help if you get stuck with how you look.

20 February, 2012

Classes in Grot

At first I said there would be no classes native to Grot, and all players would hail from Beyond. Well, I changed my mind. Here are two character class ideas for Grot. I may think of more, but probably not.

Zhuvimbie - You are a bit more than dead. You are un-dead. You might have been a human or something else, but now you're dead. Un-dead. You remember it all, too. Cleric is not an option. Wizard, fighter, thief. You might have been a cleric before, but now you're dead. Un-dead. You don't need to breath or eat, yet you sometimes crave brains, possibly for special reasons. You can be unnervingly frightened by clerics, and may be pained by holy water. Other details, as appropriate.

Minor Demon - Yep, a demon. You might also be a daemon, but probably not a devil. Not so much Bible Demon as Realm of Chaos Demon. Depending on where you visit, certain sorcerers in-the-know may be able to contain your movements within pentacles. Similarly, clerics and holy water may be an annoyance. On the plus side, you get 2 Neat Things at first level. Either a Nasty Power or a Horrific Mutation. One of each or two of a kind, your choice. Every level you get 1 more Neat Thing, and you get to pick which table you roll on. Nasty Power or Horrific Mutation.

Interesting Points

Today I'd like to talk a bit about an issue that's been going around the OSR. Ha! Just kidding! Here's a bullet list of hopefully interesting things about the (since 1989!) setting in which lies the ruined Morvalian edifice, Castle Nicodemus.

  • The Ancient Morvalians are mostly known to academics, mages and other wackos. A few people have heard of The Old Wizard Kings, but most common folk in Anglia just know about Some Old Ruins Nearby.
  • Boorman's Excalibur, Bakshi's Wizards and plenty of Dragonslayer.
  • Men (as in humanity) began settling Anglia in earnest a little over two centuries ago. A lot of nasty orc and goblin blood was spilled in the process.
  • Your typical clergy at churches and cathedrals don't cast spells.
  • The King of Anglia, who rules from his seat in Freeport on the southern coast, technically owes fealty to The Grand Theodic Emperor across the ocean to the East.
  • Anglia is in the southern hemisphere of its planet.
  • Trolls are big, fat, and turn to stone in the sunlight.
  • The most commonly practised religion in Anglia is based on Scandinavian paganism.
  • Elves and dwarves are only rarely seen abroad. They stuck to their own small territories before humanity arrived, and they mostly still do. They don't mind that humans killed off or chased away a ton of orcs, but it didn't really do them much good either.
  • Magic is not all The Devil's Work, but it's unusual and often viewed with surprise and suspicion.
  • Castles were built by the Anglish to command the borders. Towns have sprung up around most of them.
  • Humans in The Empire of The East, The Grand Theodic Empire, have a much longer and richer history of dealings with elves. Legends say that elves were already there when humanity arrived. Elven influence is responsible for a lot of advances in metalworking. In recent centuries many elves in The East have distanced themselves from humanity.
  • The overwhelming majority of People In Charge have no class or level to speak of.
  • Currently extant humans in this world are here due mainly to dimensional fissures encountered by the Germanic Tribes during the 'migration period.' A handful of Celtic peoples preceded them, but were far less in number, most of them considering the dimensional weak spots off-limits for one reason or another. This isn't general knowledge, of course, but things hint at it.
  • Priests of chaos and anarchy plot against the current establishment.
  • Armies of orcs are invading from the north, occupying villages and imprisoning people. Their ultimate goal is unclear.
  • Hobgoblins are nasty little townies, like a combination of brownies and goblins.
  • There is a lot of Old Forest in Anglia which has yet to be intruded upon by humans. Dark & Mysterious.