Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let the Blink Dog Eat!

I came across this image last year during an unrelated google image search and I kept it, cause I liked it and thought it might be useful in the future. And so it is.
There is a 2004 date in the corner, but the artists name is illegible, so I have no idea who created it, or where it first appeared.

I was rolling old newspapers for fire-starters and came across that saying, "Let the Big Dog Eat!" It was probably a basket ball reference, you can't escape that crap in Indiana.
Anyway, it got stuck in my head, like slogans do, whether you like them or not, and later,as I was reading in the old Monster Manual it attached itself to the Blink Dog entry, and there you go.

Let the Blink Dog Eat!

I like blink dogs. They're one of those just-for-D&D monsters created for the game which has no literary, or mythological ancestors. Like the owlbear, the gelatinous cube, the rust monster, and the Bulette. These monsters are purely D&D and they have that slightly off-kilter flavor that so characterizes the early game. At least, I think so.
Blink dogs never seemed to get the play that most of the other monsters did, though. It might be because they're lawful good, and so unlikely to be adversarial. Or it might have been the name, blink dog. It's just not very threatening. You can't say the word, "blink" and make it sound ominous.

So, I thought, what can I do to make blink dogs more of a worthy encounter?

Answer, cross breed them with Hell Hounds!

Flare Wolf.

Frequency: Very rare
No. appearing: 1-6
Armor class: 4
Move: 12"
Hit Dice: 5-7
% in lair: 25%
Treasure type: C
No. of attacks: 1
Damage/attack: 2-8
Special attacks: From rear 50% of the time, breath fire.
Special defenses: Teleporting.
Magic Resistance: Standard.
Intelligence: Average.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral (evil)
Size: M (4' at the shoulder, 200 lbs)
Psionic ability: nil

A Flare Wolf is not actually a wolf at all. It is, in fact, a creature created by the inter breeding of blink dogs and hell hounds. Whether or not this happened, "naturally", or by wizardly meddling is unknown. What is known is that these monsters are deadly, and a plague on any land unlucky enough to host them.

Flare wolves possess the blink dogs limited teleportation power, and use it in the same way during an attack. A flare wolf will teleport to the attack from as far as medium range, with a 50% chance of appearing directly behind the victim. There is a 50/50 chance that the flare wolf will either bite, or breath fire as would a hell hound.
Fiery breath does 1 point of damage per hit die, plus a 30% chance of any flammable material worn or carried by the target, catching fire. Fire damage caused by, say, a burning cloak, will be determined by the Game Master separately.

A flare wolf moves with the stealth of a hell hound, they surprise on a roll of 1-4 out of 6.
Most often, a flare wolf will stalk it's victims unnoticed, and then attack by teleporting to melee range at a moment when the target creature is at a disadvantage of some sort.

A flare wolf appears as a huge, shaggy and wolfish, hound, with fiery, glowing red eyes, and with black teeth and lolling tongue. Their fur is rusty black, and when they teleport, they are engulfed in a flare of lurid red fire, and brimstone reeking smoke.

Flare Wolves are most often encountered singly, but sometimes form small packs. A pack of these monsters is a terror, and will strip a land of livestock and peasantry in short order.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

D6 Random Unique Dragon Generator.

I'm a big fan of Gygaxian Naturalism, the idea that the ecology of the game world should, in general, function like that of the real world. Creatures reproduce normally, and fill niches in the ecologic system in a way that makes sense. Or, at least, game sense.

That being understood, I also really like Monsters. A monster being something that doesn't necessarily make ecologic sense. Something that's truly horrifying and unnatural.

I don't see this as being contradictory, at least where The Game is concerned. If, normally, the game world is seen as much like our own in the way that nature functions, the players become more at ease in it. It's easier to slide into that suspension of disbelief if what you're asking them to believe is not too far removed from that National Geographic special they just watched.

That makes the Unnatural all the more powerful and unnerving, when they hear it gurgling and panting out there in the tarry blackness just beyond the torch light.

I think dragons should be just this sort of uncertain creatures. They've had so much attention from game designers, and fantasy enthusiasts of all stripes, that they've become a bit too standardized for my taste.
It has been only very recently that fantasy literature and media has made the dragon a creature which is always reptilian, four legged, fire-breathing, and winged. The dragons of medieval and ancient legend varied widely in form and type.
So, instead of different breeds of dragon, red, blue, copper, etc... I like to make every dragon a unique monster, widely variable in type. I assume all can interbreed with each other, but all offspring are singular. My dragons do not breed true to type.
This is a stripped down version of my dragon generator just for the D6, it's quick, easy, and the players won't know what hit them.

The D6 Random Unique Dragon Generator

1. S (smaller than man)
2. M (man size)
3. L (larger than man size)
4. VL (very large)
5. H (huge)
6. G (giant)

General Appearance.
1. Serpentine, no legs
2. Serpentine, front legs only
3. Bipedal, Tyrannosaur-like
4. Four legged.
5. Multi-legged, (six or more)
6. Bipedal, no forearms.

1. Very Young
2. Young
3. Adult
4. Mature
5. Old
6. Ancient

Armor Class.
1. 6
2. 4
3. 2
4. 0
5. -1
6. -3

Special Defenses, 2 in 6 chance of possessing.
1. Only hit by magic weapons.
2. Anti-magic field, 5' radius
3. Chameleon, treat as elven cloak
4. Miasmal fog, Anyone closing to melee range must save or contract random disease.
5. Regenerates as does a Troll.
6. Blinks as does a Blink Dog.

1. LG
2. LE
3. NG
4. NE
5. CG
6. CE

1. Animal
2. Low
3. Average
4. Very
5. Highly
6. Genius

1. 6/18
2. 10/10
3. 12/24
4. 9/24
5. 9/30
6. 12/30

# of attacks
1. 1
2. 2
3. 2
4. 3
5. 3
6. 4

Damage per attack , (roll as many times as indicated by # of attacks roll)
1. 1-4
2. 1-6
3. 1-8
4. 1-10
5. 1-12
6. 2-12

Special Attack, 2 in 6 chance of possessing.
1. Claws of Sharpness.
2. Tail spines as Manticore
3. Frog tongue, attacks as would a Cave Fisher
4. Hypnotic gaze. Those who meet the dragons eyes must save or be "Charmed" as per spell.
5. Cause Madness. Target must save or be stricken with random mental illness *
6. Prehensile tail. Dragon can grasp, hold, or constrict for 1-6 damage per round.

Hit Dice.
1. 5-7
2. 6-8
3. 7-9
4. 8-10
5. 9-12
6. 10-13

Chance of
1. 30/10/50
2. 60/30/30
3. 30/30/50
4. 45/40/40
5. 75/40/20
6. 100/100/5

% in lair
1. 10%
2. 20%
3. 30%
4. 40%
5. 50%
6. 60%

Breath Weapon
1. Fire
2. Cold
3. Acid
4. Poison Gas
5. Lightening
6. Unique (roll on unique breath weapon subtable)

Unique Breath Weapon
1. Spittle ball causes random polymorph to those hit.
2. Roar/cone of sound, does 1-8 dmg per hit die, and causes permanent deafness to those failing save.
3. Breath becomes "Web" as per the spell.
4. Glob of protoplasm which transforms into random monster under the dragon's control.
5. Breath disintegrates metal. Only magic items may attempt to save.
6. Hurricane force wind. Failure to save results in target being dashed against closest obstruction. Calculate as falling damage.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Feral halfling subrace; Rockchuckers

Halfling; Rockchucker

Frequency: Rare
No. appearing: 6-60
Armor class: 7
Move: 9
Hit dice: 1-6 hit points
% in lair: 50%
Treasure type: by individual, in lair, k, b
No. of attacks: 2
Damage/attacks: by weapon, or 1-4
Special attacks: +2 with bow or sling, +3 with hurled stone
Special defenses: Save at 4 levels higher
Magic resistance: save at 4 levels higher
Intelligence: Average, but cunning
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Size: S (2 1/2'-3 1/2' tall)
Psionic ability: nil

Inbred, stubborn, and hostile, Rockchuckers are the trash of the halfling world. Willfully ignorant and deliberately difficult, any interaction with them is a trial. Either greatly overweight, or rail thin, Rockchuckers are too lazy to develop their skill with the bow or sling like other halflings. They are, however, deadly with hurled stones which they choose with care from streams.

When hurling stones, Rockchuckers get two attacks per round, and will always target unhelmited characters first.
A natural twenty indicates a successful head shot, and the victim must save vs petrifacation or be, "Brained". This indicates double damage plus the victim is stunned for 1d6 rounds.

Travellers wishing to visit a halfling town may often have to pass through Rockchucker territory to get there. Rockchuckers rarely are active bandits, but anyone who fails to show the proper respect, or offer the proper "gifts" may find themselves running from a barrage of rocks.

Semi-nomadic, Rockchuckers prefer to live along streams, forrest paths, and known game trails. They dwell in small, roofed carts and rickety wagons which they refer to as, "Trailers".
Generally living together in extended, and intertwined family groups, Rockchuckers occasionally gather together in larger numbers for important events. When a large number of trailers is brought together, the event is known as a , "Park".

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I am Locutus of Old Guard.

Lower your stodgy dogmatism and prepare to be assimilated.
I will add your gaming philosophies and techniques to my own.
Your house rules will be altered to service my own game.
Resistance is futile.

Unless, of course, you manage to roll successfully on the save vs assimilation table.

My favorite part of the whole blog and forum scene is trawling for cool new ideas and rules to modify for my own use. All the historical discussion and hair splitting about new vs old, Greyhawk vs Eberon, narrativeist vs gamist vs simulationist vs kewl powrz vs David Letterman is still very interesting to me, but, the stuff I like best is when I run across an idea, or way of looking at something that I hadn't thought of before.
I don't get surprised very often, and I friggin love it when something comes out of the blue and I can say, "Holy crap!, I never thought of that!"
This is the essence of Old Guard Gaming, the omnivorous assimilation of anything that can contribute to The Game.
I visit all sorts of sites devoted to gaming, and I don't restrict myself just to the old school, or tsr, or pre 1983, or whatever. Even if I don't understand the attitudes of the posters in a forum, (ENWorld), I still drag my seine through it occasionally. You just never know when you'll dredge up a nugget of gaming goodness.
I see AD&D as a tool box. I never play completely by the book, I pick and choose what rules to apply at which time to keep the game running smoothly. By extension, I look at all gaming the same way. I will gladly cross editions to pry off a handy bit of one and weld it on another.
I think Old Guard/Old School gaming is this philosophy behind the rules, as much as it is any particular set of rules.

I really meant to make this post longer and more in depth, but, my wife says I have to get in the shower so we can go out. Maybe she'll let me come back out to play more later.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just a little something to lighten the mood.

I put this on a T-shirt for my brother. He's a big DC comics guy. I always leaned toward Marvel more myself.

There's been such a run of bad news for gamers lately. I never met Dave Arneson, or J.R. Mapes, or even corresponded with them. I can't help feeling like I've lost allies though, you know? I read their posts on forums with great interest and appreciation. I just never had any direct communication. It seems that I just can't type fast enough to get a post in before everything I was going to say, or ask, has already been covered.

I think alot of would-be forum posters get that late-to-the-party syndrome.

I lurked at Knights-n-Knaves for years before I finally registered, same for Dragonsfoot.
It kind of freaks me out to see us keep losing members of the Old Guard, but it's going to keep happening. Our only real defense against the slow attrition of time is new recruits. The Renaissance is growing in size and power, but I want to make sure that it's not just reactivated grognards picking back up where they left off years ago. It's not even good enough for us to turn on current new school gamers to roots gaming, though,of course, that's a good thing.
I think the most important group to bring into the Renaissance is the young first timers.
They are the ones who will take gaming into the future. If we teach them, or leave it in the past if we ignore them.
We have to do everything we can to make sure there are kids the same age we were when we started, who are learning the game, and having a great time doing it. As much as I love the Renaissance, I won't be content until it becomes a Restoration.

This stupid game is unreasonable important to me. I really require the sort of complex mental diversion it provides. People deride "Escapism", but if I didn't have a safety valve, I'd have climbed a bell tower with a rifle a long time ago. I suspect alot of you guys are the same way.

I think it's important for gaming to be there for the kids growing up now, who are like we were then. Sure, there are lots more choices for diversion and release now than there were then, but The Game requires the sort of deep consideration and effort that certain minds need to keep from throwing a rod. Or am I just projecting here? Like the man said, " I require brain work!"

Well, crap. This was just going to be a quick and funny post to buy some time while I work on other things and here I've gotten all touchy feeley. You never can tell what's going on in your own head sometimes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Annnndd, that's all I've got to say about that.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Did the moneylender seem a bit odd to you?"

A piece clipped from an illustration for Grimm's fairy tales by Arthur Rackham. With Edmund Dulac, he's one of my very favorite of the golden age illustrators.

Right now, I'm using direct links from a photobucket account to put up these images here on Old Guard. I'm resizing them down to the max size so that they fit in the column, but I know I should be able to make them clickable so that you guys can see them full size. I'm a bit e-challenged though, and I'm not sure how to do this. Let me know how that works, and you'll love the big scans.

So, here's the monster that came to mind when I saw this illo.

Frequency: very rare
No. appearing: 1
Armor class: 2
Move: 6"/24"
Hit dice: 7
% in lair: 75%
Treasure type: variable
No. of attacks: 3
Damage/attack: 1-6/1-6/2-12
Special attacks: Breath weapon, possible magic use
Special defenses: nil
Magic resistance: nil
Intelligence: exceptional
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: M/L (12' long in wyrm form)
A Wyrmson is the spawn of a male dragon in human form and a normal human woman. Dragons occasionally take man shape to move undetected in cities, or to "entertain" a captive. A wyrmson is not a were-dragon. It will appear to be an average human being until at least the age of 70. Only then is it possible that a triggering event will cause the transformation that reveals it's draconic parentage.
In either shape, avarice is the defining characteristic of a wyrmson, the creature is consumed by lust for personal gain in any form.
In it's human life, a wyrmson will be drawn to work involving money and power. A wyrmson may become a moneylender or changer, a banker, a merchant in expensive goods, or, it may work it's way into some appointed position of power that will allow it to accumulate wealth at the expense of others. A tax collector or harbor master perhaps.
A wyrmson will live a normal life, unexceptional except for the power of it's greed, until it has reached an age equal to young maturity, for a dragon. At that point, there is a 20% chance per exposure to a significant, "treasure", that the wyrmson will transform into it's permanent semi-dragon form.
"Treasure", in this instance, is defined as anything which others set great store by, or greatly value. This can be, of course, the standard gold or gems, but it may also be art, magic items, or a beautiful woman. The wyrmson's desire for treasure is driven not by the real value of a thing, but by the need to deny the ownership of others.
In it's changed form, a wyrmson is a grotesque, dragon-like humanoid combining the worst features of dragon and man. Pot-bellied and long limbed, a wyrmson still has strength as great as that of an ogre, and iron talons capable of rending mail.
A wyrmson's breath weapon is a bloodcurdling roar that does 6-12 points of damage to those directly in front of it, (a cone shaped area 5' x 30') and causes fear and confusion to everyone within 12' who fails to save vs breath weapon. The wyrmson may only use this ability once per day.
A wyrmson may use magic if, in it's human life, it was capable of doing so.
A fully changed wyrmson will seize whatever, "treasure" triggered it's transformation and fly off to establish it's new hoard. Thereafter, it will begin to systematically raid the surrounding area, compulsively stealing anything of value to add to it's hidden treasure vault.
* note for the game master: The wyrmson is meant to be a surprise monster. The player characters should be interacting with it in it's human form for some time before it's transformation. It could be that the wyrmson is a tax collector who plagues them when they return from the dungeon, laden with gold. Or it may be that the wrymson is a moneychanger whom they deal with to hold and secure the treasure they win in their adventuring. In any case, the eventual transformation will be an event which costs them dearly and provides a hook for further adventure.
Game on!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Run for your lives! It's a Grizzly Bugbear!

I clipped this image from a Frazetta Buck Rogers illustration. Frazetta is famous for his painted art, especially the Conan images, but he got his start in comics, and did a lot of excellent work in them.
I'm tired tonight, so I'll just go right to the reason for the above image.

The Grizzly Bugbear.

Frequency: Very rare
No. appearing:1-3
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12"
Hit dice: 5+3
% in lair: 25%
Treasure Type: individual, O,C,Y
No of attacks: 3
Damage/attacks: 1-6/1-6/2-8
Special attacks: hugs for 2-8
Special defenses: nil
Magic resistance: nil
Intelligence: low
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (evil)
Size: L (8'+, up to 800 lbs)
Psionic ability: nil

Rarely, a lone bugbear, outcast, exiled, or perhaps a last survivor of it's tribe, will seek shelter from the bitter winter winds in the den of a hibernating Great Northern Bear. There, in the dark and silent depths of winter, sometimes, love takes it's unnatural course.
The result of this union of bear and bugbear is known as a Grizzly Bugbear.

Standing over eight feet in height, and weighing up to eight hundred pounds, the ferocious Grizzly Bugbear is a foe that even a band of ogres would fear to face.
Combining bear and bugbear features, the grizzly bugbear has a powerful hump of muscle across the back of it's shoulders that drives it mighty arms and tearing claws.
It's huge, knobby hands end in heavy, four inch claws which it employs both in ripping apart fallen logs in search of grubs, and also in tearing the heads off reckless adventurers. A long, shaggy coat of brown hair tipped with silver covers them head to toe. A short, but broad, and fang-filled, snout spans the width of their faces beneath their small, murderous eyes.

The Grizzly Bugbear is smart enough to use weapons, but will rarely think to do so.

If the Grizzly Bugbear scores an 18 or better to hit, it will hug the victim next round for a further 2-8 points of damage. The round after, it will drop the victim if under attack from other sources, or if not, it will bite for another 2-8 points of damage.
Bear-like, they are able to continue fighting into negative hit points, only collapsing 1-4 rounds after reaching -10 hit points.

A Grizzly Bugbear has excellent hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight. They move with a heavy shambling gait, but are capable of short bursts of tremendous speed, matching a horse for a short sprint. Their senses and speed allows them to surprise on a 1-3 out of 6.
A Grizzly Bugbear possesses great determination once it has decided on a goal, such as figuring out how to get a plump halfling out of a tree. While not as intelligent as most normal goblinoids, they are smarter than the average bear.

Because of the circumstances of their creation, Grizzly Bugbears are generally solitary creatures. Only very rarely will more than one be encountered. Two together will be either a mated pair, or a female and cub. Grizzly Bugbears never breed true, meaning the cub will be either a young bear, or a very confused bugbear child.

Any encounter between were-bears and grizzly bugbears will end in blood shed.

Grizzly Bugbears very much enjoy sweets, and will force-feed captured halflings on wild berries before devouring them.