Friday, June 26, 2009

Minor, but entertaining, cursed items.

I like small curses that add flavor to character interactions without loading the game with extra mechanics. This is a list of a few minor cursed items that make fine back-ridding monkeys for overly confident characters, but don’t clog up the flow of the game. All still require a Remove Curse spell to be gotten rid of though, so they aren’t things that can be shrugged off by characters.

Insulting Gloves: A pair of fine, soft leather gloves. There is a 10% chance that during any interaction with a social superior of the wearer, the gloves will cause him to suddenly, and without provocation, slap said superior roughly across the face. This chance is not cumulative.

The Cruel Chapeau : A fashionable appearing hat. The Cruel Chapeau may be removed easily, but once worn, the wearer suffers severe, permanent hat-hair. This lowers charisma by 2 points.

The Cowardly Scabbard : An empty scabbard of fine quality, it will adjust itself to perfectly fit any sword inserted into it. Any time that the bearer finds himself in a dangerous situation, however, the scabbard will refuse to release the weapon it holds until all danger is past.

The Quiver of Sargent Fumbles : The first time the owner attempts to draw an arrow from the quiver in a combat situation, the quiver will suddenly dump all arrows within it in a heap about the owners feet. This will cost the quiver bearer all actions for that round.

The Scroll of Iniquitous Injunction : A type of cursed scroll. Who so ever reads the scroll will be forbidden or denied one specific thing of the DM’s choice. For example, the reader may not speak to an elf, the reader may not ride a horse, the reader may not eat pie. The Iniquitous Injunction can only prevent the reader from taking a given action, it can never force a reader to take or preform any action.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A link for more Deja Thoris!

Here is a link to the blog of The Crotchety Old Fan. As Grognards are to Dungeons & Dragons, Crotchety is to Science Fiction. This particular entry is his favorite examples of Deja Thoris art. Some possible Not Safe For Work.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ferrumvorax, or, "An eight legged bear? I'll run it throug-AAARRRHHHHH!"

I really wish I could have found a pic for this one.


Frequency : Very rare
No. appearing : 1
Armor class : 0
Move : 10"
Hit dice : 12
% in lair : 40%
Treasure type : incidental
No. of attacks : 1
Damage/attack : 1-6/1-6/2-8
Special attack : knock down/pinon
Special defenses : Unharmed by blunt weapons, immune to poison, gas, normal fire.
Magic resistance : standard
Intelligence : low/animal
Alignment : Neutral
Size : M (6' long, 3' at the shoulder, 500 lbs)
Psionic ability : nil
Level/XP value : VIII/2800

The thought is put forward, by those learned in such matters, that perhaps the iron devouring Ferrumvorax is the result of that most fearsome beast, the Aurumvorax, an animal not native to this sphere, acclimating, or adjusting it's physiology to better suit life in a new world.

The Ferrumvorax is both larger, and more aggressive in attack than it's assumed progenitor. In fact, the creature is without fear, relentless, and fighting until killed.
It's coat is iron grey and streaked with rusty red. It's flesh, bone, teeth, and fur are bonded with the iron it eats.
A ferrumvorax will seek out and claim any large deposit of iron for it's own. Their appearance is especially dreaded in the mines of dwarves and gnomes.
A ferrumvorax which finds itself without a source of natural iron will develop the habit of preying upon travellers in order to satisfy it's need for the metal. As the creature requires flesh as well as iron to survive, the mailed fighting man is a most eagerly hunted prey. Those warriors most heavily armed and armored will always be a ferrumvorax's chosen target.
The ferrumvorax's initial attack will be to rear up on it's back four legs, and attempt to knock it's target to the ground. If the target creature weighs less than the ferrumvorax, a hit indicates that it has been struck off it's feet. If the hit was a natural twenty, the prey will be pinned beneath the ferrumvorax. The creature will use it's great weight to hold it's victim down while it savages it with tooth and claw.
A pinned victim must successfully roll to bend bars/lift gates in order to escape from beneath the ferrumvorax.
The hide of a ferrumvorax, in the hands of a master leather worker, can be made into a suit of leather armor which is equal to plate mail in protective value.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Stone Woman.

This pic is by John Jude Palencar, but I'm afraid I don't know it's name. I assume it was done for a book cover. I don't know what book either, but it gave me an idea!
Wooo Hoooo!

Stone Woman.

Frequency : Very rare.
No. appearing : 1
Armor class : 0
Move : 6"
Hit dice : 6
% in lair : 100%
Treasure type : special, offerings from locals and knowledge seekers.
No of attacks : 1
Damage/attack : 1-8
Special attacks : nil
Special defenses : meld with stone.
Magic resistance : 65%
Intelligence : Exceptional
Alignment : Lawful Neutral
Size : M
Psionic ability : nil
Level/xp value : VI/ 300 + 4/hp

As a dryad is to her tree, a stone woman is to her standing stone. In any place where ancient megaliths stand, there is the possibility that a stone woman dwells within one.

A stone woman will be pleased to converse with anyone who is polite, and properly deferential. The tremendous, possibly immortal, lifespans of these creatures of nature endows them with the knowledge and wisdom of many mortal life times. On matters concerning the history and inhabitants of the lands about her standing stone, a stone woman may be treated as though she were a sage. Would be conversationalists are warned, however. Those who find speaking with an Ent to be trying, will likely be defeated in attempting to gain information from a stone woman.

In addition, a stone woman may discern the history of any object made of a natural material which she is allowed to hold.

A stone woman will appear to be a tall, human, or elf-like woman, of cool, statuesque beauty. She will often be revered by the local people as a giver of wisdom, and consulted on matters of importance. They will bring her gifts which may be buried near her stone, or left upon it.

A stone woman will never initiate combat, but if such is unavoidable, her slim hands strike as though made of stone, and her strength is equal to that of a hill giant. Non-magical weapons will be unable to cause her damage. As a last resort, a stone woman can meld with stone, stepping back within her standing stone to safety.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some times, I even creep myself out.

This is another unsettling photo-manipulation I ran across on Worth1000. I think it's brilliantly done. Disturbing, but hard to look away from.
It made me think of a movie I saw once, The Edge, with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.
The Edge wasn't a great movie, concerning the plot, I remember that Hopkins was a mega-rich man, and Baldwin was attempting to bump him off in order to have his wife. The pair of them are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after a plane wreck and have to work together to survive. There was a third person with them for a short time, the pilot maybe? I don't recall now.
Anyway, third wheel is killed while wounded and helpless at fireside by a grizzly bear in the most horrific mauling death I've seen in a movie. It gave me nightmares, and I was thirty two at the time. The rest of the film Hopkins and Baldwin are on the run from the man-eating grizzly.
That's the memory the above pic brought to mind, and so I thought I'd have to find a way to inflict it on the rest of you.


Frequency : Extremely rare.
No. appearing : 1
Armor class : 5
Move : 12"
Hit dice : 6
% in lair : 40%
Treasure type : c
No. of attacks : 3
Dmg/attack : 1-8, 1-8, 1-10
Special attacks : hugs 2-16, poison
Special defenses : nil
Magic resistance : standard
Intelligence : Low
Alignment : Neutral Evil
Size : L (10' tall, 800 lbs)
Psionic ability : nil

No more than a handful of these horrific creatures have ever been encountered, and it is supposed that they are created one at a time by some malevolent agency, rather than that they breed and reproduce as would natural animals.

Though they are of low intelligence, they have sufficient awareness to engage in evil for it's own sake. They relish terrorizing and torturing their victims before making the kill.

A Spiderbear will cast web strands about in a seemingly random pattern within the area it has claimed as it's territory. These strands are not proper webs such as a spider would weave, but single, rope-thick sticky cables strung between trees, or other strong attachment points.
The spiderbear's favored tactic is to ambush and scatter it's victims, so that it can drive them into the snare area.

The web-strands are more weakly sticky than those of a giant spider. A creature with a 16 or above strength may break free in one melee round, a 15 strength in two melee rounds, a 14 strength in three melee rounds, and so forth.

A spiderbear derives great pleasure from observing the fear of it's victims. It will approach slowly anyone caught in it's webs, flaring it's mandibles, ramping, and uttering it's high-toned, screeching roar.

The poison of a spiderbear does not result in death, instead it causes the victim to convulse in a spastic, thrashing, fit for six rounds, and then fall paralyzed. This paralysis lasts for 3-6 rounds.

A spiderbear will often hang the dessicated corpses of it's victims from trees in places where it is sure that they will be seen.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Castle guide to success.

Frank Castle knows that success comes from setting goals!

Step 1. Steal a car.

Step 2. Go to Mexico.

Step 3. Shoot that guy in the face!

A valuable lesson for us all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fighting Friar will beat your Monk senseless!

The Friar.

My own Greyhawk campaign is very much Fantastic-Medieval European in theme and tone. With undercurrents of sword & sorcery, and cosmic horror. I’ve never thought the Monk class, as written, was a good fit for it. The Monk grew out of the kung-fu movie fad of the seventies and it never felt to me to have any connection to the other archetypal characters of the game.

I do like the idea of having an class that at least, leans towards unarmed combat though. The Friar is the class I came up with to replace the Monk in my Greyhawk. It is meant to fill the role of unarmed combatant, without the mysticism and eastern philosophical baggage associated with the kung-fu movie derived Monk.

This class is tailored to my own Greyhawk, which is low-magic, and largely lower level adventuring. Tenth level is about the highest any one ever gets. I have open guidelines for hand-to-hand combat, I rely more on common sense than crunch. The worthy Dungeon Master should still have little trouble modifying the Friar to fit his own game world, and is welcome to do so.

The Friar.

The Friar can be considered a subclass of the Cleric, if you like. The Friar is a holy man of a religious order which protects and ministers to the peasantry. Where the Cleric is concerned with exalting his religion and expanding the power of his church foremost, The Friar sees his purpose fulfilled by doing good by the commoners, especially in situations where the local Lords are lax in their duties, or where there is no Law to shield and guide them.

Only humans may be Friars.
The Friar rolls d8 per level for hit points.
A Friar must have a minimum score of 12 for both strength and dexterity.
A Friar must have a minimum wisdom score of 9.
May wear leather, or studded leather armor only.
A Friar may not use a shield.

A friar may use clerical spells, but is limited to 4th level of magic use. 5th level if having a wisdom of 17, 6th level if having a wisdom of 18.
Otherwise, the Friar acquires and employes his spells in the same manner as the Cleric.

A Friar may not use edged weapons.

The Friar may specialize in the use of two weapons, the fighting gloves, or Caestus, and the Crook-staff, also called simply the Cruk.

Caestus are gloves made of multiple leather straps and studded with knobs of bronze or iron. A Friar wearing fighting gloves adds 2 points of damage to a strike with his hands for every three levels of experience. (+2 dmg at levels 1-3, +4 dmg at levels 4-6, +6 dmg at levels 7 and above.

The Crook-staff is a staff of heavy, close-grained wood, equal to or taller in height than the Friar, which has a bent hook on one end similar to that of a shepherd’s staff. A Cruk may be employed in the manner of a quarter staff, doing the same damage, and it may also be used to hook an opponents leg, arm, or neck. In combat, the Friar must declare an attempt to hook an opponent before rolling to hit. If a successful hit is indicated, the Friar may pull a humanoid opponent off it’s feet, prevent it’s attack next round, or hold it in place for one round per level of experience.

A Friar may use other, blunt weapons, such as those allowed a Cleric, but will always suffer a -2 to hit penalty. The only way this can be avoided is to have the Friar train under a martial Cleric, or a Fighter, and expend 1500 experience points in the training.

A Friar is a specialist in the arts of unarmed combat. The various orders of Friars teach their Brothers, pugilism, wrestling, foot-fighting, and other hand-to-hand fighting methods. Any unarmed attack by a Friar is considered a ,"Strike". This includes kicking, gripping, punching with the closed fist, or the open hand, kneeing, or elbowing, attempts to trip, or knock down an opponent, etc.. All such attacks are rolled normally on the Fighters to hit matrix. All Strikes by a Friar do a base damage of 1-6, plus modifications for strength if applicable.
It is assumed that Friars are taught to deal with armored opponents in training. Directing their Strikes at joints, exposed areas, the face, etc, thus, non-magical armor does not lessen the damage a Friar can inflict.

A Friar’s ability to fight increases with age and experience. At levels 1-3, a Friar’s strike does 1-6 points of damage, at levels 4-6, 1-8 points of damage, at level 7 and above, 1-10 points of damage
Damage dealt by a Friar is automatically considered, "subdual damage", unless the Friar announces that he is striking to kill. An opponent driven to zero hit points by the unarmed attack of a Friar has been beaten unconscious, and while helpless, is not dead.

A Friar becomes more difficult to hit as he gains experience . At levels 1-3, he can subtract 1 from his armor class, at levels 4-6, he can subtract 2 from his armor class, at level 7 and above a Friar subtracts 3 from his armor class.

Once per day, the Friar can, "take a punch", or shrug off damage from an attack. This varies by level. 1-4 points of damage can be shrugged off at levels 1-3, 1-6 points of damage at levels 4-6, and 1-8 points of damage at levels 7 and up.

If a Friar strikes with Surprise, he has a chance of Stunning an opponent. This chance increases with the Friar’s level of experience. 10% chance of Stunning at levels 1-3, 25% chance at levels 4-6, 50% chance at levels 7 and up.

A Friar attacks on the Fighters matrix and not the Cleric’s.

A Friar advances in level on the Clerics Table.

All Friars below tenth level simply use the level title "Brother". At tenth and above, they are called, "Father".

Not all Gods will have Friar’s Orders in their service. Friar’s will always be of Good alignment, predominantly Lawful, with some Neutral, and few Chaotic.

Friar’s Brotherhoods of Greyhawk include, The Drubbers Brotherhood of Cuthbert, The Righteous Smiters of Pholtus, Fharlanghn’s Sons, The Enlighteners of Delleb and others.

Friars will dress according to their order, with plain brown or black robes over their clothes or armor in most cases. The Righteous Smiters of Pholtus wear white or yellow, often with a Sunface embroidered on the shoulder. Cuthbert's Drubbers wear shapeless hats instead of hoods. Fharlanghn's Sons wear no shoes, and the Enlighteners of Delleb consider it their sacred duty to spread literacy and combat ignorance. They will always have writing utensils and materials to share.

Caestus are actually Roman boxing gloves, I knew I had to work them into The Game at some point. Roman boxing was probably more like today's Ultimate Fighting than modern boxing as we know it.

It's harder than you might think to find a good image of a shepherd's crook. This one looked the most, hand-crafted and sturdy to me.

And, we're off to pummel evil!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Death Grippli, or, What in the Nine Hells is wrong with that frog?!

I ran into this lovely image whilst trawling with my Inter-net at Worth1000. I thought to myself, man, that's an angry frog.

Death Grippli.

Frequency: Very Rare.
No. appearing: 2-4
Armor class: 7
Move: 9"/15", on the ground/in the trees.
Hit Dice: 2
% in lair: 40%
Treasure Type: nil, or random
No. of attacks: 1, bite
Damage/Attacks: 1-6
Special attacks: surprise on 1-3
Special Defenses: nil
Magic Resistance: standard
Intelligence: low
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Size: S, 2.5' tall
Psionic ability: nil
Level/xp value: II/50+2/hp

Most often encountered on the outskirts of a community of normal grippli, Death grippli are believed to be victims of a peculiar, amphibian rabies. The disease causes madness, which increases the grippli's strength, while also causing it to develop heavy, blunt, tusk-like teeth. The grippli is also seized by insane rage, and driven by constant, gnawing hunger. Without fail, a Death Grippli will immediately attack when encountered.

As they are no longer intelligent enough to use weapons, they attack by biting only. Leaping from concealment as soon as a target presents itself.

A successful hit indicates the Death Grippli has clamped it's jaws around the target's throat. It will then use it's sticky hand pads, and it's lunatic strength to hang on. Once it has bitten a target, a Death Grippli will not let go, instead, grinding and chewing for a further 1-6 points of damage per round until it is killed. Only death will cause it to release it's grip.

Death Grippli are silent, except for the odd croaking-trilling vocalization they make once attached to a victim. Few who have heard that sound, "AHMMM-NAHMMM-NAHMMM!" , have lived to tell of it.

* I defaulted to standard AD&D stats for this one, cause I'm tired, and I didn't feel like messing with the html.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fear the Spear!

In my folder of old characters, I have a chaotic neutral human fighter that I used to run named, Maeglyn the Bastard. Maeglyn had joie de vivre, and while something of a loose arbalest, and liable to kick in doors without prior consultation with the party, usually came through for his comrades.
He didn't get killed, just sort of fell out of rotation.
Anyway, I had Maeglyn use a hewing spear as his primary weapon. The hewing spear is a weapon that is referred to in the sagas, but no one is sure what it looked like, or exactly how it was used. No original examples have been found.
The above pic is a spear head made by Museum Replicas ltd as a theoretical reconstruction. It's got a 16" blade that can be used in a slashing or chopping attack, as well as the normal thrust.
It's nearly a short sword on a pole.
The spear in all it's forms has been the weapon of choice for most of history.
It's easy to use, it takes less time and material to make than other weapons, and it gives the user a longer reach than the sword or axe. A spear is also a multi-attack weapon, it can be thrown as a missile weapon, as well as used hand to hand. With a good butt cap on it, it can be used in lieu of the famous ten-foot-pole as a probe or a door spike. There's just no end of things a good spear can be used for.
The spear never seems to get much love from D&D players though, Maeglyn was the only character played in the group that used it. Everyone always wants to be the mighty sword-wielder, or the brutal axe-man.
I've been thinking about ways to maybe make the use of a spear more interesting. I don't know if I'd actually institute any of these ideas in the game, I think if you start detailing weapons too much, things get overly complicated fast.
I think I might try a rule letting a spear wielder always strike first in the beginning round of a melee, provided he is not surprised. This would be to reflect the fact that the spear head is already halfway between the attacker and defender to begin with.
Or, I thought I might let a spear-wielder who is in retreat, or defending only, to use the spear to perform a Stop-thrust that halts an attackers attempt to hit, if the defenders Dexterity is higher than that of the attacker.
I think I'd have to assign a standard Dexterity to all humanoid monster races though, or maybe just throw 3d6 to get a quick dex rating for each attacker on a case by case basis.
Or, You could have a spear hit on a natural twenty mean that the target has been transfixed or impaled, and if not killed out-right, must spend the next round attempting to pull itself off the spear.
I think, that something like these rulings, combined with Trollsmith's great shield rule ideas, would make the spear and shield combination a more formidable duo, and push this classic pairing back to the forefront of combat where they belong.
At the least, it would make henchmen and accompanying men-at-arms a more potent threat
What do you guys think? Any suggestions?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Non-gaming post. I haven't felt that bloggy lately.

I've had too many other things going on this last week or so to really have time for the blog. I'm expanding the garden, and remodeling the kitchen, and mowing my uncle's place while he's away, and repainting grandma's house, and helping Dad with his kitchen remodel, and job hunting, planting fruit trees, digging a duck pond, straightening and reorganizing the shop, and lots of other stuff. I've got some new posts in the works, my Greyhawk's version of the Paladin, my Monk replacement character class, several more monsters are cooking in the vats, etc...
I've just had to put more effort into getting the old homestead better prepared for the oncoming economic apocalypse, since at this point, it's pretty much unavoidable. The accumulated bad decisions of the last hundred years have given the hand basket to hell a momentum and inertia that can no longer be guided by human arrogance.
I will have some more good game stuff soon though, so, when you're finished rooting through the ruins of civilization for food for the day, you'll still be able to get a game together with your fellow survivors. At least, the ones you haven't eaten.