Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Unexpurgated Dragon Generator.

A while ago, I posted the D6 version of my Random Dragon Generator. This is the full-size version, along with an example dragon. As I said before, I make a distinction between, monsters, (species in the Gygaxian Naturalism tradition), and MONSTERS, (unnatural unique creatures which don't have to follow the rules of Nature). I employ both in my own Greyhawk, and my players can never be certain just what the hell they're up against in any given encounter. It adds spice to the game and checks the over confidence that leads to complacency and boredom.
Dragons especially seem to get over-defined in the game. Ancient and medieval dragons were extremely varied in form. Like elves and goblins and such in myth, they were rarely described in the same way consistently.
A randomly generated dragon will bring to your game some of that fear of the unknown which was the norm for people before the reign of technology.

The Random Unique Dragon Generator.

roll 1d6
1. Animal
2. Low
3. Average *
4. Very
5. Highly
6. Genius
* If intelligence is greater than Average, there is a 20% chance of some form of madness. If so, roll on Mental Disorder Sub-table.

There is only a 20% chance the dragons alignment will be any form of Good. Roll 2d10 first, and then roll 1d8. Only if indicated by the percentile roll, can the dragon’s alignment be a Good one.
1. Lawful Good
2. Lawful Evil
3. Neutral Good
4. Neutral
5. Neutral Evil
6. Chaotic Good
7. Chaotic Evil
8. Alignment subject to change. Re-roll per encounter

roll 1d8
1. Very Young. 1 hit point per die.
2. Young. 2 hit points per die.
3. Sub-adult. 3 hit points per die.
4. Young adult. 4 hit points per die.
5. Adult. 5 hit points per die.
6. Old. 6 hit points per die.
7. Very old. 7 hit points per die.
8. Ancient. 8 hit points per die.

roll 1d6. The size list is very general, it is open to interpretation by the DM.
1. S (smaller than man-size, up to 140 lbs)
2. M (man-size, up to 300 lbs)
3. L (larger than man-size, up to 12 feet, 1000 lbs)
4. H (huge, up to 20 feet, 2000 lbs)
5. G (giant, up to 35 feet, 3500 lbs)
6. E (enormous, up to 55 feet, 5000 lbs)

Armor Class.
roll 1d8
1. Ac 8
2. Ac 6
3. Ac 4
4. Ac 2
5. Ac 0
6. Ac -1
7. Ac -2
8. Ac -3

Hit Dice.
roll 1d8
1. 4-6 hit dice
2. 5-7 hit dice
3. 6-8 hit dice
4. 7-9 hit dice
5. 8-10 hit dice
6. 9-12 hit dice
7. 10-13 hit dice
8. 11-14 hit dice

Move: On the ground/flying
roll 1d6
1. 6/18
2. 10/10
3. 12/24
4. 9/24
5. 9/30
6. 12/30

Number of attacks per round.
roll 1d6
1. 1 APR
2. 2 APR
3. 2 APR
4. 3 APR
5. 3 APR
6. 4 APR

Damage per attack.
roll 1d6 (Roll as many times as indicated by # of attacks per round)
1. 1-4
2. 1-6
3. 1-8
4. 1-10
5. 1-12
6. 2-12

Breath Weapon.
roll 1d8
1. No breath weapon
2. Fire. (as red dragon)
3. Cold. (as white dragon)
4. Acid. (as black dragon)
5. Poison Gas. (as green dragon)
6. Lightening. (as blue dragon)
7-8. Unique breath weapon. (roll on Unique Breath Weapon table)

Unique Breath Weapon.
Roll 1d10
1. Spittle ball causes random polymorph to those hit.
2. Laughing gas, save vs dragon breath or be rendered defenseless due to convulsions of laughter. (gas attack has same dimensions as green dragon toxic gas breath weapon)
3. Roar/cone of sound, does 1-8 points of damage per hit die, and causes permanent deafness to those failing save.
4. Dragon vomits forth a gusher of stinging insects. 1-4 points of damage per hit die, plus save vs poison or be immobilized with pain for a number of rounds equal to the dragons hit dice.
5. Breath becomes "Web" as per the spell.
6. A gust of "Sleep" fumes as per the spell.
7. A glob of protoplasm which transforms into a random monster under the dragon’s control.
8. Breath disintegrates metal. Only magic items may attempt to save.
9. Giant wad of phlegm which will glue victims to surfaces or to each other. The dragon will direct it at the highest concentration of foes. Alcohol will dissolve the phlegm in three rounds.
10. Hurricane force wind. Failure to save results in targets being dashed against closest obstruction. Calculate as falling damage.

Special Defenses. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Only hit by magic weapons.
2. Anti-magic field, 5' radius.
3. Chameleon, treat as elven cloak.
4. Constantly sheds caltrop-like scales. Unless characters have a dexterity greater than 14, they have a 20% chance per round of stepping on a shed scale and taking 2 points of damage when within twenty feet of the dragon.
5. Dragon is perpetually enveloped in fire. Coming within melee range causes 1-4 points of damage per round.
6. Miasmal fog surrounds the dragon. Anyone closing to melee range must save or contract random disease.
7. Dragon regenerates as does a troll.
8. Dragon is constantly coated in frost. Immune to cold-based attacks and anyone coming withing melee range must save or be frost-bitten for 1-4 points of damage a single time.
9. Dragon blinks as does a Blink Dog.
10. Dragon’s blood is poisonous. If wounded by an edged weapon, the attacker must save vs poison.

Special Attacks. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Dragon has claws of sharpness. On a natural twenty, the victim of the dragons claw attack will have a random limb severed.
2. Dragon Speech. Those hearing the dragon speak must save or be charmed and become the dragons staunch supporters.
3. Frog tongue. The dragon can attack as would a Cave Fisher.
4. Tail spines as a Manticore.
5. Gaze weapon causes diametric alignment shift. Treat as a Medusa’s gaze attack.
6. Dragon sprays caustic urine causing 2-12 points of damage and painful blistering.
7. A slap of the dragon’s tongue will cause madness. Target must save or be stricken with a random mental illness.
8. Dragon’s wings are edged with bony serrations. It may slash for 1-8 points of damage at targets twice as far away as normal melee range.
9. Dragon may speak a minor curse once per day. Example; "May you never wield a sword again!" The curse will hold until lifted by a cleric.
10. Dragon’s tail ends in a bone club. When stuck against the ground, or other hard surface, the bone club will shatter, hurling shrapnel in all directions. Those struck will take 1-6 points of damage. The club regrows within a day.

Special Abilities. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Dragon burrows as a Bullette
2. Dragon travels distances greater than 100 feet via natural Dimension Door.
3. Dragon possesses lernaean regeneration abilities. If it loses a head, or limb, it will regrow two to replace it within 1-4 rounds if the stump is not burned with fire.
4. The dragon may climb surfaces as would a giant gecko.
5. The dragon sprays a musk which will attract wandering monsters until removed by rubbing with pumpkin flesh. Every subsequent wandering monster check will result in an encounter.
6. The dragon is an oracle and may foretell events if persuaded.
7. As a displacer beast, the dragon always appears to be 3 feet from it’s actual position. This adds two points to it’s saving throws, and subtracts 2 points from opponents attack rolls.
8. The dragon has the ability to mimic the form of anyone it has recently observed. Treat as a doppleganger.
9. The dragon can see and strike ethereal and astral creatures, and those using magic to transport themselves to those planes.
10. Undead must obey the dragon. It cannot create, or summon them, but any encountered must heed it’s commands.

General Characteristics.
The dragon’s dominate features are generally:
roll 1d8
1. Mammalian. Bare flesh, or fur. The dragon exhibits qualities which are, cat-like, bearish, wolf-like, etc...
2. Reptilian. Scaled or pebbled hide. The dragon is serpent-like, crocodilian or dinosaurian.
3. Amphibian. Smooth and slimy skin. The dragon is salamander-like, or frogish.
4. Avian. Feathered and/or beaked and taloned. The dragon is somewhat bird-like.
5. Unnaturally monstrous. The dragon may not be native to this plane. It’s form may be difficult to discern, or may not be set. The dragon may be only partially material.
6. Construct. The dragon is a made thing. It may be like a flesh golum or built of unliving materials.
7. Humanoid dragon. The general form of the dragon’s body is similar to that of a man. Or, it may have human-like features, eyes, hands, a human like mouth, etc...
8. Amalgamation. Roll twice on this table and combine results to make a dragon which is truly bizarre.

General Form.
roll 1d20
1. Serpentine, no limbs.
2. Serpentine, winged
3. Serpentine, forelimbs only.
4. Serpentine, forelimbs and wings.
5. Serpentine, four legs only.
6. Serpentine, four legs and wings.
7. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs only.
8. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs and wings.
9. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs and fore arms.
10. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs, fore arms, and wings
11. Traditional heavy bodied dragon with four limbs and wings.
12. Bipedal, carnosaur-like.
13. Bipedal, carnosaur-like with wings.
14. Traditional heavy bodied dragon, four limbs only.
15. Multi-legged, six limbs or more.
16. Multi-legged, six limbs or more and winged
17. Multi-legged, one hundred limbs or more.
18. The dragon’s form changes after each encounter. Re-roll for beginning form.
19. The dragon lacks limbs. paws, claws, or hands attach directly to the body.
20. Head and body as one, no neck. Bipedal, long tail, no fore arms or wings.

Primary and Secondary colors.
Roll 1d8 twice for colors, Choose scheme or pattern as you like. (Spots, stripes, blotches, solids, etc...)
1. Black
2. White.
3. Red.
4. Green.
5. Blue.
6. Yellow.
7. Brown.
8. Grey.

% in lair.
roll 1d6.
1. 10%
2. 20%
3. 30%
4. 40%
5. 50%
6. 60%

Chance of Speaking/Magic-use/Sleeping
roll 1d6
1. 30%/10%/50%
2. 60%/30%/30%
3. 30%/30%/50%
4. 45%/40%/40%
5. 75%/40%/20%
6. 100%/100%/5%

Purpose or Obsession.
The thing which drives the dragons actions.
roll 1d12
1. Arcanovore. The dragon devours magic items, spell books, and spell casters.
2. The dragon lusts to accumulate treasure.
3. The dragon must eat sentient creatures.
4. The dragon loves music and collects musicians who must play for it’s enjoyment until they die.
5. Bibliophile. The dragon hoards knowledge. If it captures books which it cannot itself, read, it will search for persons who can be forced to read to it.
6. The dragon exists to foul pure wells and water sources.
7. The dragon collects maidens. It may or may not eat them.
8. The dragon destroys temples and priests regardless of alignment.
9. The dragon is obsessed with colorful fish.
10. The dragon always seeks to expand it’s personal desolation.
11. The dragon is zealously attempting to found it’s own religion, centered on the worship of itself.
12. Fighting is the dragon’s raison d’etre. It always seeks to match itself to the greatest possible foes.

Allies or Minions.
There is only a 25% chance the dragon will have either.
If so, roll 1d10
1. A second, lesser dragon of a standard type.
2. A second, lesser Randomly generated dragon.
3. A thrall monster. (roll on appropriate random wilderness encounter table.)
4. A non-dragon mate. The Random Unique Dragon is a Monster and capable of breeding with any other creature.
5. The dragon functions as the Local Lord. Roll for a group of fighters of the dominate area race.
6. The dragon is venerated by the locals. It will be defended by it’s Zealots who will sacrifice offenders to their "god".
7. The Local Lord placates the dragon by regular human sacrifices. He will prevent anyone upsetting the arrangement.
8. The dragons actions serve the purposes of a minor infernal power. There is a 20% chance that it may send demonic assistance if the dragon is hard pressed.
9. A famous dragon-slayer opposes any who would attempt to destroy the dragon before him.
10. The dragon is in-fact, an agent of, or controlled by, a neighboring power of the lands it is despoiling. Destroying it may upset plans the PCs know nothing about, and gain them the attention of powers of which they are unaware.

The dragon generated by these lists may have apparent contradictions. The DM may re-roll attributes which cause conflicts, or he may come up with creative rationalizations which smooth out stat conflicts.
Many of the randomly generated statistics will require the DM to come up with plausible back-stories or justifications for exactly why the dragon is as it is, and why it does as it does. This, fleshing out of the dragon is nearly as much fun for the DM as it is when he gets to see the over confident PCs first encounter the Unique Dragon.

There is no promise that the randomly generated dragon will be a level-appropriate foe for the party. It could easily outmatch them, and it could just as easily be a push-over. The fun part is, they don't know which it is. The beast's size and appearance can be totally at odds with it's actual ability to deal out death.

An example dragon, Slurgorth, the Beast of the Black Vale. Rolled up with out any fudging of the dice, so help me Gary.

Intelligence: Highly intelligent. (I rolled a 5, and a 15% on the chance for mental problems, under the 20% required. Slurgorth has some form of insanity.)

Alignment: Subject to change, re-roll at each encounter. ( I rolled an 8 and re-rolled a 4, so, Slurgorth starts with a Neutral alignment.)

Age: Sub-adult, 3 hit points per die. ( rolled a 3, so Slurgorth is not as old and formidable as he might otherwise be.)

Size: L. ( I rolled a 3, so I’m going to make him maximum for the class, 12 feet long, and 1000 lbs.)

Armor class: -3. ( I rolled an 8, so Slurgorth is very difficult to hit and damage.)

Hit dice: 4-6. ( I rolled a 1, so Slurgorth dosen’t have as many hit dice as he might. I therefore go for the max allowed, 6 hit dice. This gives him 18 hit points at his age. Not a lot, but his high AC will compensate for this.)

Move: 6/18. ( I rolled a 1 again, Slurgorth moves slowly on the ground and flys heavily through the air.)

Attacks per round: 2 attacks per round. ( Rolled a 3, Slurgorth is slow enough that he doesn’t get two claws and a bite in the same round.)

Damage/attacks: 1-10/1-8. ( I rolled a 4, and a 3, Slurgorth’s clawed fore arms are more dangerous than his relatively weak bite.)

Breath weapon: ( I rolled an 8, indicating a unique breath weapon.)

Unique Breath Weapon: Slurgorth can expel a spittle ball which causes those struck to undergo a random polymorph. Roll on reincarnation tables to determine new form. Victim may save vs dragon breath to make the transformation temporary. As with standard breath weapons, this may be used three times per day.

Special defenses: nil. ( There is only a 35% chance of the dragon possessing special defenses, and I rolled above that, so nothing for Slurgorth.)

Special attacks: Slurgorth’s wings are edged with bony serrations. He may slash at targets twice normal melee range distant for 1-8 points of damage. This means he may attack first in the first round of melee regardless of initiative. ( I rolled a 10%, under the 35% required for Special attacks, and then an 8 for the wing serrations.)

Special abilities: nil. (I rolled above the 35% chance to possess special abilities.)

General characteristics. Amalgamation, Amphibian and Unnaturally Monstrous. ( I rolled an 8 and got amalgamation, and then a 3 and a 5. I decide that Slurgorth is a salamander-like thing from the outer dark, possibly brought here to this world accidentally. )

General Form: Serpentine and bipedal, with long taloned fore arms and wings. ( I rolled and got a 10. Slurgorth walks in a powerful, but shambling gait on it’s long hind legs. It’s terrible forearms hang nearly to the ground and it’s long flexible back allows it to quickly turn and attack in any direction. It’s mucous coated wings lie flat against it’s back when not in use. It’s pale and lamp-like eyes goggle about in search of victims.)

Colors: Slurgorth is a glistening black and mottled with a random pattern of brown speckling. ( I rolled a 1 for primary color, and a 7 for secondary.)

% in lair: 50% ( I rolled a 5, Slurgorth spends much time in it’s foul lair, contemplating it’s hopes for future malevolence. )

Chance of Speaking/Magic-use/Sleeping: 75% chance of speaking, 40% chance of magic-use, 20% chance of sleeping. (I rolled a 5. Slurgorth may or may not speak, quite possibly can use magic, and is rarely to be caught sleeping.)

Purpose or Obsessions: Arcanovore, Slurgorth compulsively devours anything with the scent of magic upon it, or them. It hopes that if it absorbs enough magical potential, it may be able to force a door to it’s place of origin. Perhaps to return home, or perhaps to bring others into this world. ( I rolled a 1.)

Allies or Minions: nil. ( I rolled above the 25% possibility that the dragon could have any allies.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Alchaemist. A magic-user subclass for AD&D/OSRIC.

The Alchaemist, a magic-user subclass for AD&D.

The Alchaemists are those magic-users who specialize in the practice of Alchaemancy, that branch of magic which is concerned with discovering, understanding, and activating the magical potential which is inherent in all natural materials and living things. In fact, in some lands, the term Alchaemancer is used in place of the more commonly given name, Alchaemist.

Rather than engaging in spellcraft directly, Alchaemists create Alchaemical Formulae. These formulae are complex instructions, often presented in allegorical, or pictographic forms, for the compounding, mixing, distillation, brewing, or otherwise preparing of potions, powders, oils, balms, salves, and other ingestable and applicable mediums which serve to store and convey magic.

The alchaemist’s painstaking and careful approach to magic, emphasizing reproducible procedure and orderly methodology, often sets ill with the more individualistic will-workers and arcanists. Wizardly and Sorcerous magic-users often look down on Alchaemists as mere artisans to their artists. For their part, alchaemists view standard magic-users as sloppy and perhaps, somewhat primative.

Alchaemical formulas are just as well-guarded, rare, and sought after as are the spells of wizards and other magic-users. Alchaemists must create, or search for these ancient and forgotten instructions which make their particular discipline of magic possible. Likewise, an alchaemist must search for, buy, beg, borrow, or steal, the precious ingredients and reagents that make up the material components of their potions and powders.

An Alchaemist lucky enough to find one of these formulas must inscribe it into his Alchaemical manual. The manual is a book much like a magic-users spell book. Alchaemical formulae are spell-like in that they will slip from the mind and be lost if not written down. The alchaemical manual is a necessary reference for the alchaemist in his potion making. Alchaemical formulae are divided into levels of power in the same manner as spells.

An alchaemist may learn and cast cantrips and first level spells as any magic-user might, but may not learn spells of any higher level. An alchaemist who also learns a standard magic-user spell gives up the ability to create a potion of equal level. The spell takes up the same amount of concentration which the execution of an alchaemical formula would. Standard spells will require the alchaemist to keep a spell book in addition to his alchaemical manual.

An alchaemist may not wear armor.

An alchaemist may carry a small shield.

Weapons available to the alchaemist include all those open to the magic-user, plus the short sword.

An alchaemist rolls 1d4 per level for hit points.

An alchaemist fights on the magic-user matrix. Note that though an alchaemist may carry a short sword and small shield, he will generally use them only in defense when all else has failed. The constant mixing, grinding and pounding required of a practicing alchaemist gives him greater physical competence than a standard magic-user, but, as he still fights as a magic-user, and rolls d4 hit points per level, hand to hand combat is not his forte.

The Alchaemist advances in level on the Magic-user's advancement table.

An alchaemist may use any magic item usable by standard magic-users except for magical staffs.

The number of alchaemical formulas which an alchaemist can execute in a day is equal to the number of spells a magic-user of the same level may memorize in a day.
Refer to the, Spells usable by Class and Level chart for magic-users.

An alchaemist may identify any potion with a single drop on the tongue. This is identification of the potion only, not understanding of it’s formulation.

Alchaemical potion making is not the same as that practiced by standard magic-users and alchemists. In order to create a specific potion, the alchaemist must possess the necessary alchaemical formula and follow it to the letter. Once the material components have been mixed and processed to readiness, the alchaemist must cast the spell, alchaemancy, on the mixture. This activates it’s magical power.
Alchaemancy is unavailable to non-alchaemist magic-users. Alchaemical knowledge is conveyed by a deeply esoteric and symbolic language, the meaning of which, no alchaemist will willingly share with a non-initiate of the craft.

A potion created by an alchaemist will retain it’s potency for one week per level of experience of the alchaemist if kept in a non-magical container. The same potion will retain it’s power permanently if contained within an Alchaemical Flask.

An Alchaemical Flask is defined as any container for liquids or solids, which has been specially constructed and enchanted to hold alchaemical magics. Such a flask must be made of the finest materials and will cost at least 500 gold pieces to make. An alchaemical flask may be reused so long as it is carefully washed with pure water before being refilled in order to prevent potion mixing. If this is not done, the potion miscibility tables must be consulted.

An alchaemist may create potions of up to the third level of formulation with the small equipment he is able to carry,"in the field". Alchaemical formulation of greater than third level will require the alchaemist to have access to a fully equipped laboratory and an assistant, or assistants. The workspace and equipment needed to perform the Greater Formulations will cost, at the least, 10,000 gold pieces.

The begining alchaemist is assumed to possess an alchaemical manual containing the alchaemancy spell as a parting gift from his teacher. He may also possess three other alchaemical formula of the first level, and a single potion in a non-magical container.

There are many schools of alchaemical philosophy. Each strives for certain goals. These schools are not exclusive, alchaemists may belong to more than one school, or to none, as their interests overlap.

Of the known schools, those who search for the Elixir of Life are most numerous. The Elixir is said to grant everlasting life, perfect health, and eternal youth to him who rediscovers it’s formula.
So powerful is the Elixir of Life, that it is said even to be able to lift the curse of unlife and bring a lich back from it’s deathless state to again become a living and breathing creature.
No existent alchaemist is known to have rediscovered the formula for the Elixir.

The second most numerous school of alchaemancers are those who search for the Philosopher’s Stone. This material is said to be able to transform base metals into precious ones. Though some seek it solely for the hope of worldly gain, this is not the only reason. The Philosopher’s stone can be used to separate and refine impurities from any material, and replace any material components required for wizardly spell casting. There are those who say that the substance of the Philosopher’s Stone is in fact, the stuff of elemental existence. That which was before the Gods called the universe into being.
It is also argued that in order to create the Elixir of Life, it is first necessary to discover the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The truth of this is unknown to the alchaemists of today, and it is a great question which many diligently research.

Other associations of alchaemists search for answers to the questions which especially interest them. They bend their studies and expeditions towards the strengthening of metals, the improvement of crops, the making of glass, or any of hundreds of other small preoccupations.
These schools are in no way organized or sanctioning. They are simply associations of like-minded individuals who gather, often around a single alchaemist of great reputation, to discuss, argue, and share the knowledge they have gained, and rumors of where ancient and lost formulae may be rediscovered.

Here are suggestions for the first two levels of Alchaemical formulae. I’m leaving them fairly rough in outline. When I get a chance, I’ll post a complete set. But for now, this will serve as a place holder, and you mad do-it-yourselfers can just take this and run with it. Put down the scissors first.

Alchaemical Formulae

Alchaemical formulae are the written instructions by which an alchaemist creates his potions. The formulae are rare and sought after in the same manner in which a magic-users spells are.
The Dungeon Master is free to determine exactly how much detail he will require in his own game as to the type, nature, and availability of the material components which must go into the creation of a potion. Whatever level of definition is most congenial to the spirit of the game, from making the player character acquire rare and hard to find materials for each formula, to simply hand-waving the procedure, is for the Referee to decide.

Players who are susceptible to the lure of power gaming may attempt to turn an alchaemist into a power house or alchaemical grenadier. The savvy Dungeon Master may control such mischief makers by strictly tracking time in the game and requiring the player to keep accurate records of available potion components. As an alchaemist’s potions have a limited life-time, it is not possible for the Player to build too large of a back stock of magic. Additionally, The DM should consider creating a table to deal with the possible consequences of imbibing a potion that has past it’s prime.

The magics of alchaemical potions are more often linked to the vitality and level of the drinker than they are to the level of the alchaemist who made them. The personal power of the imbiber is a component of the potions magic, and thus, many of the potions listed here have their duration determined by the level of the drinker, and not by the level of the creating alchaemist.

First level Alchaemical Formulae.

Alchaemy is actually a spell, and not an alchaemical forumula. It is not, however, accessible to standard spell casters. Only alchaemists have the proper mind-set to understand and cast it.
The basis of the entire school of Alchaemical magic, Alchaemy is cast upon a potion, powder, oil, etc, after it has been newly mixed. This spell activates the magical potential inherent in the materials of the potion and gives it it’s power.

Discern Formulation
This spell is to alchaemy as Read Magic is to standard magic use. By drinking an entire dose of an unknown potion, and casting Discern Formulation immediately after, the alchaemist can learn the alchemical formulation necessary to recreate the unknown potion. The potion being discerned acts as the material component of the spell and does not take effect normally.
The new formula must be inscribed into the alchaemist’s manual within 4 turns or the knowledge will be lost. This does not give the alchaemist the ability to compound the formula if it is above his level of experience.

Flame belch
A flame belch potion will give the drinker the ability to belch forth a tongue of flame which will cause 2 points of damage per level of the imbiber. The flame belch will reach 4' per level of the drinker, and is likely to set fire to any combustibles it encounters.

Detect magic
This potion functions the same as the magic-user spell Detect Magic, save for it’s longer duration.
The drinker will be able to detect magic for 2 turns per level.

Animal Control
This is the same potion as the standard animal control potion listed in the AD&D DMG.

Charming Draught
As the spell, Charm Person.
The drinker of this potion may direct it’s enchantment at any one sentient creature. So long as the drinker treats the charmed creature as a comrade and goodfellow , the magic will stay in effect.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

Enlarging potion
Similar to the spell Enlarge, save that it affects only the drinker. The potion will increase the size of a living creature by 25% per hit die or experience level. This change lasts for 1 turn per hit die, or experience level.

Summon Laboratory Assistant
Similar to the magic-user’s Find Familiar. The formula to summon a laboratory assistant is a dry concoction which is burned in a brazier, emitting a cloud of luminescent smoke. The cloud will dissipate after a time and a humanoid creature, eager to serve the alchaemist will arrive within two days time. The laboratory assistant will act as the alchaemist’s right hand man, running errands, preparing material components, or whatever else the alchaemist needs taken care of.

Prul’s eraser
A thick felt pad which is soaked in the alchaemical solution, the eraser will wipe away any form of writing or cartography from any surface. Even letters carved in stone, or graven on metal will be smoothed away by the magic of the eraser. One dose of the potion is good for a use that will clear a 10'x10' area.

Stone melt
Harmless to flesh, wood, metal, and glass, stone melt liquefies any type of stone it comes in contact with for a period of 6 turns. After that, the stone will revert to a solid in whatever form it has taken. A finger dipped in the stone melt can be used to inscribe words in stone.

Alchaemist’s glue
This thick yellow glue will bond any two substances together for 10 turns before dissipating into an acrid smoke. A Dispel Magic will dissolve the glue, otherwise, nothing short of a wish can separate the bonded items before the end of the potion’s duration. The glue is kept in it’s own pot, with a special brush to apply it. The formula creates enough glue for 4 uses.

When this potion is drunk, the individual may make one 20 foot leap per level of experience.

Confidant’s cordial
When two persons share a swig from a flask of the confidant’s cordial, Each will be able to speak softly under his breath, and the other will hear what is said, no matter the distance between them. A swig is good for two sentences, spoken and heard by each drinker. The formula creates enough cordial for six swigs.

The potion is contained within a clay sphere, and is hurled instead of drunk. When the sphere shatters, the potion vaporizes and rises as a cloud of fumes. All creatures within a 20' x 20' foot space centered on the broken sphere are affected as per the Sleep spell.

Shocking grasp
This potion acts as the magic-user spell, save that any contact with the drinker discharges the potions effects regardless of the drinker’s wishes.

Drinker must save or die. Poison must be ingested, it cannot be used to envenom a weapon.

Iron bane
This potion turns iron headed and edged weapons away from the drinker for 1 round per level of experience. An attacker with a magic weapon may save vs spell to attempt to hit, and then must roll the attack normally. Non-magical weapons with iron or steel parts may not be forced within melee range of the drinker for the potion’s duration. Iron in the drinker’s possession is not affected.

Silvery ward
A packet of greasy silver dust. Smeared on the forehead in an alchaemical symbol it functions as a Protection from Evil spell. It does not require a magic circle be drawn on the ground. So long as the bearer of a silvery ward does not act in a hostile manner, creatures of evil alignment may not approach within ten feet of them. A silvery ward lasts for 1 turn per level of the bearer. A packet contains three treatments.

Illuminator’s paste
Illuminator’s paste is a thick gray gel kept in a heavy waxed paper tube. Objects coated with the paste radiate Light as per the spell. A tube contains 4 treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Vocal Mimicry
Drinker may perfectly reproduce the voice of anyone he has recently heard speak. This effect lasts for 3 rounds per level of the drinker.

Smoke powder
When a hand full of smoke powder is cast down, it produces a flash and a thick cloud of grey smoke. The smoke obscures an area of 10x10 for 4 rounds. A bag of smoke powder holds 4 handfuls.

Second level alchaemical formulae.

Glamer dust
A powder which when blown into the air, simulates an audible glammer spell in a pre-set manner. The sounds the glamer dust emits may be any sound which the alchaemist has heard for himself. Men talking, a blast of trumpets, the roar of a dragon, and many other sounds have been captured in a straw of glamer dust. The formula produces enough dust for single straw’s full.

Perpetual phosphorescence
A non potable potion, sealed within a globe of clear, thick glass. It emits light as a continual light spell. The formula creates enough liquid for a single globe.

Curtain of Night
Poured on the floor in a ring, this potion will obscure the area inside the ring as a darkness spell would. A curtain of impenetrable blackness will rise from the floor and remain for 10 rounds before dissipating. Enough for a single use is made by the formula.

True Sight
For a duration of 1 turn per level of experience, a potion of true sight will allow the drinker to see invisible, or otherwise magically hidden creatures and objects.

Dew of Forgetfulness
Instead of being ingested, the dew of forgetfulness is used by dipping the fingers in it and flicking droplets in the target’s face. The target creature will then completely forget the events of the past ten minutes.

Thief-catcher’s paste
Spread thinly on objects or surfaces, the paste will act as Sovereign Glue only if touched by someone with larcenous intentions. Dispel Magic will dissolve the Thief-Catcher’s paste. The formula will create three treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Intelligence
Drinking this potion will increase the imbiber’s Intelligence score for 1 turn per level of experience.
Magic-user: 1d8 points
Cleric: 1d6 points
Thief: 1d6 points
Fighter: 1d4 points
Characters drinking the potion of intelligence may receive fresh insight into a problem they are facing. The player will be allowed to ask 1 question directly of the DM, in addition to whatever normal advantage would be conferred by the higher Intelligence score.
The Potion of Intelligence must be used with care. Each use after the first incurs a cumulative 5% chance of developing a mental disorder. If such happens, the DM must roll randomly to determine the malady.

Same as the spell, save that the potion is cast into the air towards the target, and becomes the web upon contact. The formula creates a single use amount of the potion.

Fearsome Gaze
Creatures who meet the eyes of the drinker must save vs spell, or flee in terror for 6 rounds. The magic of the potion is expended in a single use. The formula creates 3 doses of potion.

Coffin Breath
As the magic-user spell, Stinking Cloud, except that the drinker of the potion breathes forth the vile cloud of noxious fumes in the direction of his target. The formula creates enough potion for a single use. May discolor the teeth.

Similar to the magic-user’s Knock spell. No locked portal, chest, or container of any sort will withstand the drinker of a Rap potion. A soft tapping will cause anything which can be opened, to do so. A single dose of the potion enables the drinker to rap three times. The formula creates one dose.

Jester’s friend
This potion is not drunk, but spread or poured. It will make a 10'x10' area completely frictionless for a duration of 5 turns. No matter the material, stone, dirt, grass, carpet, etc, no creature will be able to stand or walk normally without falling. A creature who falls in the center of an area treated with the jester’s friend will be unable to escape the treated space if unable to reach beyond it’s area of effect.

Powdered Guidance
When cast into the air, and a directional, or locational question is asked, this glittery dust will briefly form an arrow pointing in the correct direction as it drifts to the floor. Questions must be a single, clear sentence. "Which way is least dangerous?" or " Which way lies the way out?" The formula creates enough guidance powder for three questions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gyrgieno, the Black Charlatan. An NPC-antagonist to inflict on your players.

A gleeful murderer, a pitiless robber, a wine guzzler, a cad, and a ruiner of women, Gyrgieno the Black Charlatan is a thief of no small skill, and greater than average affinity for magic.
Though he hasn't enough talent to actually cast spells, he can decipher magical writings and utilize scrolls with only a 5% chance of failure, rather than the standard 25% chance of most other thieves.
Long, if unguided, study of pilfered tomes and alchemical manuals has allowed Gyrgieno to learn to compound weak potions of limited duration and effect.
His self-taught arcane dabblings are dangerous to the user, and unpredictable in effect, but, as he himself never imbibes his own experimental concoctions, but instead slyly administers them to unknowing dupes and pawns, his lack of procedural rigor concerns him not at all.

Gyrgieno often carries with him potions he has made, and will attempt to sell them to any who appear gullible enough to fall for his artful presentation.
On his person he currently carries, a potion of Haste, which will affect only one of the drinker's legs. Which will cause him to run in circles, or into walls. A potion of Growth which will affect only the drinker's head, causing it to grow to three times normal size. And a potion of Nightsight, which will give the drinker excellent night vision, but which does so by permanently transforming their eyeballs into fixed rod-shaped owl eyes. The drinker must then turn his head to see and can only perceive what he directly faces.

One potion which he does not sell is his favorite. He refers to it as, "the cur-bringer". This potion inflicts a weak form of were-wolfery upon the drinker. Upon the rising of the next crescent moon, the victim becomes a wretched, hairless wolf-man, totally under the control of Gyrgieno.
The Black Charlatan employs this potion in a particular manner. Frequenting taverns, inns, and bawdy halls, he begins conversations by asking for tales of adventure, and news of abroad of travelers and strangers. Once the conversation has gone on long enough for those present to have forgotten that he himself instigated it, Gyrgieno will tell a tale of the rumors he has heard concerning the fearsome werewolf bandits who have begun to prey on night travelers on the local roads. He will be most descriptive of the horrors visited upon the werewolves victims, and will relate the rumor that only by flinging to the lycanthropic robbers all valuables and fleeing in haste, might the worst be averted.
He will tell this story several days in a row to be sure the tale has made the rounds before he spikes the drink of a chosen pawn with the cur-bringer and waits for the crescent moon.

A potion-cur can do only 1-4 points of damage with bite or claw and attacks twice per round. The cur is armor class 9 and retains it's normal hit point total. In the thrall of the potion, the victim is unthinkingly obedient to Gyrgieno. The cur-bringer will work for one month only per dose. At sunrise, the cur reverts to normal form and is unaware of the night's events.

In the mean time, Gyrgieno will pick out likely targets, and when the chance arises, he will send the potion-cur to rob them, preferably on the road and alone. When confronted by the dread werewolf bandit, most victims flee in terror after throwing their gold to the ground. Should one find his spine and the potion-cur be slain, it is of no matter to Gyrgieno. New dupes can always be created.

Class: thief
Race: human
Level: 10
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Armor class: 8
Hit points: 41
Str: 13
Int: 16
Dex: 11
Con: 7
Wis: 12
Chr: 13

Gyrgieno is tall, spare, hook-nosed, and lank-haired, but he is an engaging speaker. Bumpkins will think him well traveled, and the sophisticated will consider him harmless local color.
He is armed with a cut-and-thrust sword he calls Fortune Filch. The blade is +1 and on a hit it siphons luck from it's target and transfers it to it's wielder. This takes the form of a two point bonus for the wielder's next saving throw, and a two point penalty on the victim's next save. This can only happen once to a particular opponent per fight.

Gyrgieno will also carry, or have available to him, all the standard items which a thief may favor.

He will not engage in direct personal combat unless escape is impossible.

* This pic is by Boris Dolgov and from a 1947 issue of Weird Tales. Courtesy of Mr Door Tree at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The ideal RPG table shape. and a short rant about crappy journalism.

Sunday mornings, I like to get my giant, steaming cup of coffee, a note book to jot down any stray thoughts on gaming, make myself comfy on the couch with the dog at my feet, and yell at the TV.
I switch back and forth on the various talk/news shows, or what passes for news nowadays, and Meet the Press is second only to that smarmy gnome Stephanopoloulos for raising my ire.
If the media would like to know how they can stop losing ground to internet blogs and radio shows, my suggestion would be to do real journalism.
In the eighth grade, Mrs Black taught me that a story was, who, what, when, why, and how.
Not lies, spin, innuendo, revisionism, and disingenuousness. Contemporary TV news is a parade of nit-wits asking stupid questions about the wrong stories of mendacious, self-serving government stooges and snake oil selling experts.
I play a game of predicting just how the anchor intends to slant the presentation of the story to serve his views, or the views he has been given to represent by his corporate masters and The Party.
Meet the press has always been easily predictable in this regard, both with Russert, and the new guy, what'shisname. I don't even bother with FOX news. When they lie, it's too obvious, no challenge.
The lefty news is much better at candy coating their bull so that people will swallow it. It does seem that they've become more open and less artful about it since the democrat wing of The Party got the upper hand.

They do, however, have a very nice table.

I've seen lots of ultimate game table designs and projects on line, but this is more about the shape of the top. I don't really need lots of bells and whistles on a game table. We have a simple style of play. Electronics and message tubes and sunken mats are just too much gimmickry for us. I don't think that I'd have cupholders or anything like that in the table itself.

Maybe in the chairs. I don't like food or drinks on the table during the game.

Role playing is a face to face endeavor, and I want the table to support and maximize that.
As you can see in the pics, it's a six sided design, like a superman emblem, but with the bottom point clipped off.
The interviewer sits at the top, or the head of the table, and the guests face him along the long sides. I think this would make an excellent arrangement for role playing gaming, since the outer players face the GM as well as the inner players do. Also, the GM can see everyone else clearly too.
Now, the Meet the Press table is wider at the interviewer's end and narrower at the guest's end than I would have it as a game table. It's built that way so the cameras have room to get unobstructed views of the guests faces while they spin and lie.

On a game table version, I'd make the table a bit longer and both wider at the end, and narrower at the head. Almost a classic coffin shape.
I don't know that I'd make it for more than 4-6 players, but that's my preferred size for a group. I have a hard time handling more than that in a game at the same time.

This is all, of course, concerning a gaming only table. If you don't have the room for a dedicated table just for the game, then I think a normal rectangle is fine.
I think the style of play you prefer makes the difference in deciding what your "ultimate game table" is going to be like. Lot's of gamers like the conversation pit type set up, couches around a coffee table, but I find that a bit too relaxed. When I've played that way, the game often turned into a gab session.

I know lots of you guys use laptops at the table now too, but the presence of electronics is a deal breaker for me. No real world technology in my fantasy world simulation thank you. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm saying this on a freaken blog on the internet, I don't have a problem with double standards. Good for talking about the game, not good for playing the game.

Materials make a big difference as well, the table would have to be solid wood, preferably a hardwood. And dark and scarred. I like things to look old and well used. Like a hundred year old pub table. I might put a leather insert in the middle of the surface.
Man made materials, fiberboard, linoleum, plywood, are also right out. Just like the electronics, they jar against my sense of immersion.

Here's the table from the other end, sans weasles. I'd like to know the actual measurments of the studio table to see just how much I'd have to tweek it for gaming.
I've also never gotton a look at the support system, so I don't know if it's a fixed pedestal, or a trestle set up of some sort.
Any table that has to deal with excited gamers beating on it needs to have strong support. And maybe a bolt-to-the-floor option to avoid those TPK table flips.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Handsnake, or, Ha! Blordel was wuss-slapped by a snake!

Frequency: Very rare
No. appearing: 1-4, (most often singular)
Armor class: 5
Move: 8'
Hit dice: 2
% in lair: 20%
Treasure type: special
No. of attacks: 2
Damage/attack: 1-4, or by weapon
Special attacks: nil
Special defenses: nil
Magic resistance: 30%
Intelligence: Average, (10)
Alignment: Variable, roll for each individual, or DM choice.
Size: S, up to 8 feet long, up to 40 lbs
Psionic ability: nil
A Handsnake appears to be a large, heavy -bodied serpent, with a scaled human hand in place of a head.
The origin of these strange creatures is unknown, but presumed by interested parties to be magical.
Handsnakes are highly individual in temperament. They may be rude, humorous, cruel, lascivious, helpful, etc. An encounter with a handsnake may be either a boon, or a bane to a party, depending on how they handle the meeting.
A handsnake is intelligent, but having no mouth, cannot speak. Instead, they communicate with universally understood hand gestures, or, they may be taught to employ an actual sign language.
A handsnake may attack by coiling and striking as an adder would, but instead of biting with fangs, it will punch with it's fist, or attempt to blind by poking an attacker in the eyes.
A handsnake is capable of wielding a dagger, or hurling rocks, and it's strength in doing so is equal to an adult halfling.
Handsnakes are quirky in their motivations. They have been known to stealthily slither into campsites unnoticed and make off with odd items. Some have proven very friendly and given to offering unnerving handshakes to passers bye. One tale tells of a handsnake murdering a sleeping woman by coiling about her throat and griping its own body with it's hand until she was asphyxiated. Another story relates the actions of a handsnake known as the Insulting Serpent, which apparently made a habit of proffering rude gestures to travellers on the Hocknell road.
The Gold Miner, is the name given to a handsnake which seems to live near the gnome warrens of Gluraumgh. It is much despised for it's game of sneaking up on the unsuspecting and suddenly thrusting one of it fingers deep in the nose of it's victim.
A young handsnake, known as a fingerling, can be raised to be a henchman, or summoned to serve as a familiar. If well treated, they can be invaluable helping hands.
A handsnake does not eat as would a normal snake. It appears that they live by drawing off minute amounts of energy from both living things, and magic items.
Large animals, such as horses and cattle, are sought out by handsnakes as steady sources of sustenance. Despite their unnatural form, the presence of a handsnake is often accepted by these farm and draft animals as it will bring them apples or other treats, and thus win their favor.
A normal, healthy creature of a size larger than a rat will suffer no harm by the feeding of a handsnake, no more than it would by a normal snake seeking the heat of it's body. However, there could possibly be some danger to those gravely wounded, or very small creatures such as pixies or sprites.
Like wise, magic items which carry a permanent enchantment will not be harmed by a handsnakes energy basking. There is some small chance, (5%), that magic items which expend charges, such as wands, may be spontaneously drained by a handsnake.
There are stories, certainly spurious, which tell of monstrously huge handsnakes dwelling far to the south, in the reeking jungles of the equatorial region. These stories are of course, not true, however, if they were true, such a handsnake would be 30 to 60 feet in length, with a hand the size of a giants, and 6 hit dice. Luckily, there is no such thing as a Handaconda.
*The pic is a clip from a larger image by Brad Holland that Mr Door Tree put up on Golden Age Comic Book Stories last night. (link in my blog list)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stand away from the drain grate, lass! There be Otyugherds in the sewers.

So, I've been working, on and off, on a rules addition for AD&D to better simulate the themes and events of Sword & Planet, and science fantasy fiction. I'm calling it Weird Space for the time being. It isn't going to be a stand-alone game, but instead, a bolt-on rule set to modify AD&D enough to make play smoother for this particular genre of fiction.

Anyway, I'm Googling around last night, looking for more inspirational art to give me ideas for Weird Space, and I hit on pics from Weird Science, a movie which I'm sure that Old School D&D blog readers are old enough to remember.

I loved that movie. Kelly LeBrock, Anthony Michael Hall, and... Oingo Boingo! Yah!

One of the pics is of the thing that Lisa,(LeBrock), turns evil older brother Chet,(Bill Paxton), into.
I used to be into science fiction movie prop replica building, and effects stuff, and the prop guys referred to the Chet/thing as, "The Sh*t Monster".

"Ah-Ha!", said the part of my brain which never stops blathering to itself about D&D, "That reminds me of Otyughs, Maybe the Chet/thing is a Otyugh/human fusion!"

And that's how we ended up here.


Frequency: Very rare
No. appearing: 1-6
Armor class: 6
Move: 3'
Hit dice: 2
% in lair: 50%
Treasure type:
No. of attacks: 1
Damage/attack: 1-6, (bite)
Special attacks: 80% chance of bite causing disease, caustic gas release once per day
Special defenses: Revolting, Save vs poison in order to approach within melee range.
Magic resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Size: M, 4' tall, 4' wide
Psionic ability: nil

Though the great cities dazzle visiting country folk and bumpkins, with their towers and palaces reaching high into the sky, these places reach just as far below the level of the streets with their cisterns and wells, their dungeons and sewers. All things bright and wondrous are balanced equally with those things both foul and dark.

When an Otyugh is employed in the sewers of a large city, Otyugherds are often a part of the arrangement. Functioning as both keepers and servants of the Otyugh, they scour the adjoining tunnels to bring it choice bits of offal which may have lodged here and there and escaped the sewer currents. This activity keeps the sewers open and flowing.
Otyugherds clear offal jams, dung damns, and the corpses of those who may have run afoul of the Hidden Guild.

Squatly conical, and only vaguely humanoid, the origin of the Otyugherds is unknown, and unsettling to speculate on. Well adapted to their sewer dwelling lives, Otyugherds move only slowly by scooting themselves along on their broad and callused buttocks. Their short, and relatively weak arms and legs cannot bear their full weight.

Revolting in both mind and body, Otyugherds are vile creatures and any helpless victim who falls into their clutches can expect to suffer the most horrid perversions before their deaths, and likely afterwards as well.

Though their flabby hands may grip, only their bite causes damage. Anyone bitten by an otyugherd suffers and 80% chance of contracting some disease. Often typhus, or cholera.

Once per day, an otyugherd may explosively empty it's bowls, releasing a caustic gas. All those within 20' of the otyugherd must save vs poison or take 1d6 points of sinus damage and either vomit in nausea, or flee for 3 rounds. 50% chance of either.

Just imagine inflicting a half dozen of these on your players in some filthy sewer. It'll be hysterical!

"From my heart and from my hands, why don't people understand, my intentions?"