Friday, November 20, 2015

Of Pixies and Proboscis Monkeys

Because you demanded it (well, two of you), I now proudly present the proboscis monkey (or bekantan) and pixie as playable races for Blood & Treasure. I will expect to see many bekantan and pixie characters popping up in the next few months to reward me for my toil.


Found HERE; modified by yours truly
The life of a bekantan is boring. They dwell in the treetops, grazing on leaves. Because the leaves contain toxins, they only eat young leaves, and they only eat a few leaves from each tree, to avoid too big a build-up of that tree’s particular toxins in their system. Tree to tree, leaf after leaf. Boring.

A rare bekantan is born a little smarter than its kin, and wants a little more out of life. These bekantan become adventurers.

Bekantan have reddish-orange fur and pink-orange faces. They are notable for their large noses (especially on the males) and pot bellies.

Bekantan are not particularly violent, and couple with their small size makes them relatively poor warriors. They usually are not intelligent enough to become magic-users, and few enter the priestly ranks. This makes most bekantans thieves (or Jimmy Durante impersonators, but I haven’t written that class yet, so we’ll let it lie).

Bekantan modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str -1, Dex +2, Int -2, Wis +1, Cha -1

Bekantan have a base movement rate of 30' per round and a climb speed of 20’ per round. They have a knack for climbing sheer surfaces, jumping and swimming (they have webbed toes). Bekantan enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. poison. They can make a bite attack for 1d3 damage in place of a weapon attack.

Bekantan can multi-class as fighter/thieves, magic-user/thieves or cleric/thieves if they can meet the requirements.


Pixies are fey kin to halflings, though far less likely to mingle with humanoids than their portly, burrowing cousins. Most live a carefree existence in the woods, doing fey stuff and ignoring the world of men and dwarves (and elves and half-elves and half-orcs and … you get the idea). A few are bold enough to step out of the woods and become adventurers.

Pixies modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str -3, Dex +3, Int +2, Wis +1

Pixies are small creatures with a base movement rate of 20’ per round. They can also fly at a speed of 60’ per round if they do not wear armor heavier than padded or leather and if they are not encumbered.

Pixies have numerous magical abilities. They can become invisible, at will, for up to 1 minute per day per level (per the invisibility spell). They also enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. magic.

Pixies with a Charisma score of at least 11 can cast the following spells, each once per day: Detect thoughts (ESP), detect evil and dancing lights.

Pixies can multi-class as fighter/sorcerers and sorcerer/thieves if they can meet the requirements.

All pixies suffer a -20% penalty to earned experience, due to their numerous special abilities. Pixies cannot advance beyond 8th level as sorcerers or warlocks (alternate sorcerer class), or 7th level in other classes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Beasts of Mild Interest [Monsters]

I was groovin' around the internet the other day and came across some cool animal pictures. So I made stats for them. Because I'm a geek.

Not all of these animals are dangerous, per se, but in D&D world everything is trying to kill you, so why not these blokes. They could also be used to make giant versions, weird hybrids, lycanthropes or be used as familiars, so enjoy!

Maned Wolf
Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Small Animal
Hit Dice: 0
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 bite (1d4 + trip)
Movement: 40
Saves: F14 R13 W19
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Maned wolves are the tallest canines in the world. They have a distinct odor, which is why they are also known as "skunk wolves". They are native to Brazil. They would make cool mounts for pixies.


Size/Type: Medium Animal
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 13
Attack: 1 bite (1d6 + constrict) or tail (1d8)
Movement: 30 (Swim 40)
Saves: F12 R12 W17
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d8
XP: 300 (CL 4)

Gharials are river crocodiles from India. They have very narrow snouts, and tremendous maneuverability when swimming.

Gharial - Large
Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Large Animal
Hit Dice: 9
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 bite (2d6 + constrict) or tail (2d6)
Movement: 30 (Swim 40)
Saves: F8 R9 W14
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 900 (CL 10)

While most gharials adhere to the previous stats, some males grow much larger.

Bekantan (Proboscis Monkey)
Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Small Animal
Hit Dice: 0
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 bite (1d3)
Movement: 30 (Climb 30)
Saves: F14 R13 W19
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d10+8
XP: 25 (CL 0)

Proboscis monkeys live in large bands in roughly the same terrain as orangutans. They can swim up to 60 feet underwater.


Size/Type: Large Animal
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 slam (1d6)
Movement: 40
Saves: F10 R11 W16
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 250 (CL 5)

Okapi are natives of tropical jungles. Rarely seen, they are inoffensive creatures who would look really cool as mounts for elven druids.

Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Medium Animal
Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 11
Attack: 1 gore (1d4)
Movement: 40
Saves: F13 R13 W18
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1 (male) or 1d4x20 (females and young)
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Babirusa are swine that dwell on tropical islands. Their tusks grow so long that curl around and can even pierce their own heads. They can fight until reaching -6 hit points, and can run at five times their normal movement rate.

Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Large Animal
Hit Dice: 7
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 gore (2d6)
Movement: 40
Saves: F9 R10 W15
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 5d6
XP: 350 (CL 7)

Ankole-watusi are African cattle with enormous horns. A frightened herd flees as a group in a random direction (but always away from the perceived source of danger). They run over anything of Large size or smaller that gets in their way, dealing 1d12 points of damage for each five cattle in the herd (Reflex saving throw).

Leopard Seal
Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Large Animal
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 13
Attack: 1 bite (1d6)
Movement: 20 (Swim 50)
Saves: F9 R9 W15
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 300 (CL 6)

Leopard seals are seriously dangerous predators who have been known to attack and kill people ... so totally D&D.

Patagonian Mara
Image via Wikipedia

Size/Type: Small Animal
Hit Dice: 0
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 bite (1d4)
Movement: 50
Saves: F14 R12 W19
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 25 (CL 0)

Patagonian maras are great big bunnies with small ears from South America.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dragon by Dragon - June 1980

It's Fall here in Nevada - finally. Summer usually lingers until Halloween (or Nevada Day, if you prefer) and then gets its back broken. But Dragon #38 was published in June of 1980 - summertime! The guy on the cover is appropriately attired for summer, though somewhat less so for adventuring. It's worth remembering that the male equivalent of the chainmail bikini was the fur underwear that graced many of a barbaric warrior in the 1980's (and professional wrestlers - it was really the heyday of violent men in their underwear).

So, onto the ten best things about Dragon #38!

We start this post with an advertisement.

The first is S3 - Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, the special Fifth Anniversary Module! Only $8.00 - approximately $23 in today's dollars. Am I selling my stuff too cheap? Well, I'm not writing classic modules, so probably not.

#1 ... In the Weeds with Dragons

I'm not trumpeting this article because it's a truly great addition to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Rather, because it takes me back to a day when these sorts of "scholarly" articles about the game were not so unusual.

Lakofka was a master of them (perhaps he still is). He had a penchant for digging into the elements of the game, thinking deeply about them, and then reworking them for his campaign. Were they better for the attention? I suppose that's a matter of opinion ... but I like that he did it.

In this article, he presents new percent chances for dragon's speaking and casting spells. He also comes up with the chances that dragons might cast spells other than magic-user spells. He also presents a three new dragons - Brown, Orange and Yellow. The brown dragon has faerie fire and lightning breath weapons, the orange dragon color spray breath weapon (I dig this) and the yellow dragon has breath weapons that cause disease and blindness. Len also presents a big time dragon named Tiamat, and one named Bahamut. Pretty cool - too bad they never caught on.

#2 ... Redacted

Merle Rasmussen writes an article about a new game ... Top Secret. I never played it, but was always intrigued. I did a quick check, and didn't see anything about a retro clone of this one - maybe some fan out there can create one. In the meantime, I would suggest checking out Bill Logan's White Lies. Looks awesome.

#3 ... Memories

Speaking of spies and espionage ... the Cold War. The advertisement to the right was one of many games about nuclear destruction (or its bizarre aftermath) from the period. I'm never sure if the people writing them didn't want it happen a little. This one also brought to mind Supremacy. Fun game - I played it often. I remember the f-u move in that game was, when it was obvious you were going to lose, to nuke your own territory and launch a nuclear winter so that nobody won. Tricky, weird, stupid game, but lots of fun with friends. Right up there with RISK and Axis & Allies.

#4 ... Gygaxian Sugar Coating

The old man himself speaks on the idea that good characters must be stupid ...

"Good does not mean stupid, even if your DM tries to force that concept upon you. Such assertions are themselves asinine, and those who accept such dictates are stupid."

Which begs the question: Is Raggi the Gygax of his day?


"Female dwarves are neglected not because of male chauvinism or any slight. Observers failed to mention them because they failed to recognize them when they saw them. How so? Because the bearded female dwarves were mistaken for younger males, obviously!"

I was never big on bearded female dwarves, but I think I'm changing my mind. Time to commission an all-female dwarf party illo for the new Blood & Treasure.


Always wondered what the heck the deal was with the ducks in that game. Was it Howard the Duck inspired?

#5 ... The Seven Magical Planets

Super cool article by Tom Moldvay with great art by Darlene.

The article draws on Agrippa to present the magical correspondences of the different classical planets for use in gaming. For example, here's the entry for the Sun.

THE SUNArchetypal Plane: Light (or the Positive Material).

Description of Archetype: A blond, golden-skinned child holding a sceptre. A rooster crowing. A lion roaring. A sleeping gold dragon. The phoenix rising from flames. An individual with a tawny complexion, yellowish eyes, and a short, reasonably hairless, handsome body. A wise, honorable personality, courageous to a fault, but constantly seeking praise.

Planetary Powers: Magic concerned with money. Fortune and destiny in general. Any operation involving peace, harmony, and friendship. Long life and health. Transmutation of the elements. Spells involving light; magic whose prime purpose is goodness.

Color: Gold, or bright yellow.

Metal: Gold.

Stones: Amber, Topaz, Heliotrope (Yellow Jasper), Cat’s Eye

Agate, Citrine, Jacinth.

Plants: Sunflowers, Saffron plants, Ginger, Gentian, Celadine, Dittany, Lotus trees, Laurel trees, Poliginia, Ivy, any vines which climb toward the sun.

Animals: Lions, Roosters, Eagles, Rams, Boars, Shellfish, Worms, most Beetles, the Phoenix, a Cockatrice.

Day: Sunday.

Numbers: 1, 6, 11, 66, 666.

Selected Deities: Sol, Helius, the Titans Theia & Hyperion, Samas, Tai Yang Ti Chun, Tionatuh, Brigit, Apollo, Suya, Vishnu, Asar, Ra.

Angel: Michael.

Angelic Order: The Shinanim.

Devil: Surgat. (possibly also Mephistopheles).

Demon Order: Type III Demons.

Spirits: Dardael, Hurtapel, Nakiel, Vianathabra, Carat, Haludiel, Machasiel, Burchat, Suceratos, Capabile, Och, Sorath, Aquiel.

Tarot Trumps: The Sun, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged Man.

This is just one of those really useful articles for generating gaming ideas.

#6 ... True Confessions

I freaking love the line drawings for miniatures they used to do in The Dragon. I want to make them all into characters. And, most importantly, I want to learn how to draw something that cool in such a small, compact package.

#7 ... Another Damn Ad ...

I know, but look at this thing!

#8 ... The Civil War

The Electric Eye article by Mark Herro looks at two games - Civil War and Star Trek. Why is this so cool ... because when I was a young nerd, my father borrowed a book of programs from an old nerd and I typed the Civil War program into a computer and played it. So help me God. To kids out there, I might as well be explaining about the day the guy who invented fire showed me how it was done.

#9 ... The Flolite

Sometimes it's the monster's stats that make you want to use it. Sometimes its the art. For the flolite, it's the art.

And dig the Dyson-esque hatching on the verges of the lights. So cool.

So what about the stats for Kevin Readman's little beastie? Here's the B&T version:

Flolite, Medium Aberration: HD 5+1; AC 15; ATK 1 tentacle (1d4+1); MV Fly 30'; CL/XP 7/1250; Special--Excellent sight and hearing, 30' radius daylight around creature, when deals max damage with tentacle it drains 1 point of Strength and gains 1d8 hit points, frenzy against flying creatures (+1 to hit, +3 damage).

The monster's eye, if harvested, protects an adventurer from the level or prime requisite draining abilities of vampires, night hags, wights, etc. What a great adventure hook - the adventurers know they have to take on a vampire in her castle, or follow a night hag into the Astral Plane to retrieve the Christmas dreams of the children of Sombertown, and to avoid the energy drain they must first venture into the desert after some flolite eyes.


A game by Brian Blume in this issue - Ringside - that simulates boxing. "Match the pros or create your own fighters."

I admit, I've never been into boxing, but this sounds like a fun game for a Saturday afternoon. Invite some friends over, make a championship belt, and have some fights.

The game is pretty simple - Agility, Endurance, Counterpunch and six punches. Combat uses a punching chart. There are basic rules, advanced rules and campaign rules, and stats for 30 of the greats, including Ali, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano.

And that's it for Dragon #38 - June 1980. Find a copy and enjoy, boys and girls!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Black Death Preview

Today, I'm talking about my next Quick & Easy (though that classification might not fit exactly) game, Black Death. Obviously, it's a cheery game about rainbows and gumdrops.

The idea for Black Death was really just an image of a guy being molested by a skeleton. From there, it turned into a game set during the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, culminating in the devastating Thirty Years War, in which all the fighting and condemnations and general hatred have allowed Hell to burst forth on Earth. Now the Catholics and Protestants also get to deal with demons, the undead and other fantasy creatures. Into this cesspool of violence, black magic and disease (lots of disease), a band of mercenaries, picaros and itinerant scholars does their best to survive and thrive.

Here are a few bits and pieces from the game as it currently stands. Right now, it's about 80% there - written, but with lots of editing and tweaking needed, but well on its way. I've also got the hex map for NOD 28 done (need to start writing my buns off), and I'm doing another round of edits on GRIT & VIGOR.

Abilities: Strength, Agility, Constitution, Intelligence, Willpower, Perception and Charisma.

Allegiance: This can be to a religion, nation or other concept. Characters get to allegiances, and they get an experience bonus when they serve them (which may pit characters against one another, if their allegiance's clash)

Classes: Hoo boy, there are a few of these. Since classes in Q&E games are just a collection of skills, it's not too hard to build them. Each of these classes also have a special ability each. Here are a few examples:

HexenhammerHexenhammers are witch hunters, scouring the countryside for the tools of Satan (or harmless-but-scary old women, as the case may be). Hexenhammers are possessed of a frightening determination, and once they are on the scent of a witch, they do not stop their hunt until they have their quarry. Every hexenhammer carries with her a well-worn copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, a guide book for witch hunters.

Primary Skills: Fighting (Str)
Secondary Skills: Endure (Con), Intimidate (Str), Prayer (Wil)

Special Ability: After long study of the Malleus Maleficarum, hexenhammers know well their ways. They can use a Sixth Sense task check to sense the presence of witches, conjurers, heretics and tools of Satan within 60’.

The landsknechts are mercenaries, fighters-for-hire that care little about the cause, only the reward. English mercenaries might instead be called “gentleman adventurers”, Italians “condottieri” and the Swiss “reisläufer”, but they’re all just mercenaries. When a general is willing to pay them, they are happy to fight battles. When clients are in short supply, they are happy to turn to brigandage or adventuring to earn a living.

Primary Skills: Fighting (Str)
Secondary Skills: Marksmanship (Dex), Carouse (Con), Endure (Con)

Special Ability: Landsknechts are well trained in the fighting arts, and may use any armor and any melee or missile weapon, regardless of their current Fighting or Marksmanship skill values (q.v.).

Magicians practice the scholarly magic of the Renaissance. While they themselves may be benevolent, they must have truck with demons to produce their magical effects, and therefore are considered suspect by most decent folk. Magicians are usually to be found in the robes of a magic, or in the dress of a gentleman or gentlewoman with one or several grimoires on their person, heavily annotated in the margins and smelling slightly of sulfur. The most famous of their number is perhaps Doctor Faustus.

Primary Skills: Invocation (Int)
Secondary Skills: Flee (Agi), Fortune Telling (Wil), Learning (Int)

Special Ability: Conjurers receive their magical knowledge from books, and are thus always literate. When they have a grimoire in hand, they can use it to aid in their magic. For each grimoire they possess, they can add +1 to their Invocation score during a task check, but add one combat round to the time it takes them to cast the spell.

Other classes include the archer, barbarian, cleric, courtesan, doctor, flagellant, fool, gypsy, hunter, inquisitor, knight (dame), mariner, musketeer, picaro, professor, rakehell, rat-catcher, resurrectionist, robber, satanist, student prince, trader and witch.

When these classes run around killing things (or trying not to be killed), they'll have a big list of weapons. I went a little nuts on the weapons, and each weapon is capable of a "weapon trick" in place of doing damage - things like tripping people, backing them up, disarming them, crushing armor.

There's a section on disease - lots of opportunities to catch something nasty - and on damnation. Damnation points are collected when people do bad things - absolution by the church can remove them, as can holy quests and pilgrimages.  The more damnation points, the harder it is for holy magic to work on you, and the more likely you bear a "mark of Satan" - i.e. a mutation.

There are lots of monsters - undead and demons, but also fey creatures. The monsters are mostly from Central European myth and folklore, but some other bits and pieces as well, such as from Dante's Inferno.

It's still a pretty quick and easy game to play (I think), but it does look like it's going to be about 88 pages long - about twice the size of earlier efforts. I'll keep folks updated.

Oh, and here's an early draft of the map, broken into regions for easy travel rules.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fun with Halloween Magic

Happy Halloween boys and girls. Here are a few spells inspired by the season:


Level: Druid 4
Range: See below
Duration: See below

To cast this spell, a druid carves a jack-o'-lantern from a pumpkin or similar gourd and places a candle inside it. The light emanating from the jack-o'-lantern's face has a magical effect, as follows:

If the face is frightening, creatures caught in the light (including allies, so be careful) are subject to the effects of the cause fear spell. If the face is amusing, creatures caught in the light are subject to the calm emotions spell.

The light from the jack-o'-lantern also negates magical invisibility, and causes magic items to glow orange.

The magic lasts as long as the candle lasts (probably 1 or 2 hours), and the range is per a normal lantern.


Level: Magic-User 6
Range: Close (30')
Duration: 1 hour (then permanent)

If during the duration of this spell the magic-user is killed, his or her head immediately teleports to and is transplanted on the nearest humanoid creature within 30 feet. The victim's head remains on the body as well.

The magic-user and his subject will be dazed for 1 minute afterwards, and the magic-user will be unable to cast spells until it takes control over the victim's body. Each day, the magic-user can attempt a contest of wills against the victim; each rolls a Will saving throw. If the magic-user succeeds at his save, and succeeds by more than the victim, he gains control of one arm. Another success wins him the other arm, and a third the legs. A failure over the same period loses him an arm or the legs. When the magic-user has control of the arms, he can cast magic spells again as normal.

(Yeah, The Thing With Two Heads was on TV this morning).


Level: Magic-User 4
Range: Close (30')
Duration: 10 minutes

As hideous laughter, with the following differences: The victim is not completely helpless - they can move and even attack, but cannot stop cackling. Any strenuous activity causes fatigue for 10 minutes. Also, the cackling forces those who hear it to pass a Will save vs. fear or be affected as per the cause fear spell.


Level: Magic-User 3
Range: Close (30')
Duration: 1 hour

This spell turns bone into steel. Only dead bones (i.e. not part of a living creature) are affected. Bones like femurs are turned into the equivalent of light maces. Animated skeletons gain AC 17.


Level: Magic-User 5
Range: Personal or 1 creature touched
Duration: 2 hours

The beneficiary of this spell does not suffer from gaze attacks as normal. If the gaze normally causes fear or blindness, it now instead reduces the victim's Wisdom by half. If the gaze normally causes petrification, it now instead reduces the victim's Dexterity by half. Other effects can be determined by the TK as necessary. The effects of the gaze attack last for 3 hours.


Mr. Sardonicus
Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 24 hours

The touched victim must pass a Fortitude save or their face is twisted into a terrible grimace, reducing their Charisma score to 3 for the duration of the spell.

Have fun, folks - don't eat too much candy!


Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Close (30')
Duration: 10 minutes

The magic-user holds an object (any object) up and focuses on a single victim. If the victim fails a Will saving throw, they become obsessed with possessing the object for 10 minutes, to the exclusion of all other goals. When they get the object, they crouch on the floor, petting it and proclaiming it their "precious".

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dragon by Dragon - May 1980

To be completely honest, The Dragon was not the biggest thing that happened in May 1980.

That being said, it may have been the biggest thing that happened in RPG's that month, and that's good enough for me. Let us delve into the top ten things about The Dragon #37.


Arthur W. Collins fills in the alignment gap of dragons in this article, and introduces the gemstone dragons we have all come to know and love (well, some of us). These are dandy creatures, especially if you're into psionics. What follows are some quick stat blocks in Blood & Treasure style for the gemstone dragons (all adults, max. hit dice):

Crystal Dragon, Large Dragon: HD 6; AC 18; ATK 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d6); MV 20' (Fly 50'); SV F9 R9 W9; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day dazzling cloud that cause blindness, 10' cone), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (35%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 50% chance of speaking, 30% chance of magic-use, druid spells (1/1/1/1), magic-user spells (1/1/1), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Topaz Dragon, Large Dragon: HD 7; AC 19; ATK 2 claws (1d4+1) and bite (2d8); MV 20' (Fly 50'); SV F9 R9 W9; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day dehydration gets rid of 3 cubic feet of liquid per dragon hp and deals 1d6+6 Str damage to creatures, 10' cone), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (40%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 60% chance of speaking, 35% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Emerald Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 8; AC 20; ATK 2 claws (1d6) and bite (3d6); MV 20' (Fly 60'); SV F6 R8 W8; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day; sonic vibration knocks people unconscious for 1d6 x 10 minutes or deafens them for same if they save), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (50%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 70% chance of speaking, 40% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/2/2/1), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Sapphire Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 9; AC 21; ATK 2 claws (1d6) and bite (5d4); MV 20' (Fly 60'); SV F6 R8 W6; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day, sonic vibration disintegrates a number of hit points equal to the dragon's hit points), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (55%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 80% chance of speaking, 45% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/2/2), magic-user spells (2/2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Amethyst Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 10; AC 22; ATK 2 claws (1d8) and bite (5d6); MV 30' (Fly 80'); SV F5 R7 W5; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day shriek like a banshee), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (65%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 90% chance of speaking, 50% chance of magic-use, druid spells (2/2/1/2/2/1), magic-user spells (2/1/2/2/2), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Sardior the Ruby Dragon, Huge Dragon: HD 11; AC 23; ATK 2 claws (1d10) and bite (5d8); MV 30' (Fly 80'); SV F5 R7 W5; AL Neutral (N); Special: Breath weapon (2/day shriek like amethyst dragon or dazzling cloud like crystal dragon), entrance (10% cumulative per minute of talking), implant suggestion (75%), telepathic, 50% chance of psionics, 100% chance of speaking, 100% chance of magic-use, druid spells (3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3), magic-user spells (3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3), save aura (+4 to save against), blink 6/day

Inflict one on your players today!

Side Trek #1 - Fiends!

"On other fronts, it seems likely now that TSR and Games Workshop have reached a final agreement regarding the publication of the Fiend Folio ..."

Love the Fiend Folio. Love it.

Side Trek #2 - Calling Mr. Hall

"Question: My character is a 9th-level Druid changed to a Magic-User (he is now 10th level as a M-U). I want to be able to put my previously owned Apparatus of Kwalish inside my newly acquired Mighty Servant of Leuk-O. Then I would have the ultimate weapon ..."

#2. Happenstance

So I'm knee-deep in writing Black Plague, which is set, vaguely, during the Thirty Years War. What article do I happen to come across, but "Armies of the Renaissance by Nick Nascati Part VI - Landsknect and Reiters".

Apparently, the Landsknecht army (and my game) should include:

Infantry - pike-armed, in the style of the Swiss pikemen they were trying to counter

Light Cavalry - dressed as landsknechts, armed with arquebus or crossbow - trained as skirmishers and scouts

Ritters - armored lancers with full plate, battle lances and longswords, and plate barding for the horse

Reiters - black-armored pistoliers, they took two form - light reiters wore a shirt of mail and heavy reiters wore half-plate; both carried three wheellock or matchlock pistols and an estoc

The landsknechts were true mercenaries - a good war to them was one with lots of prisoners they could ransom!

#3. Magic-Users are Experience

T. I. Jones presents a very long article about magic research for magic-users and clerics. I think it's one of those interesting pieces that tried to deal with all that treasure that was floating around in AD&D. The idea, which I generally ascribe to, is to keep the players needing money, and that keeps them delving into dungeons. The DMG had training costs, which we never used when I was a kid and which I now understand were kind of important to the game. There was also the expense of one day setting up a stronghold. This article gives another - magic research. For example:

"Research in one’s own library will require that such a library have been acquired and built up over the course of several levels of experience. It should be not only difficult but expensive to acquire such a library—a minimum expenditure of 10,000 gold pieces per level of the spell to be researched is recommended. That is, if a Magic-User is to research a second-level spell, he should have spent at least 20,000 gold pieces on his library."

#4. Libraries

Speaking of libraries, the next article, by Colleen A. Bishop, is a random book generator. Let's build a library shelf by rolling some percentile dice:

Our shelf contains 250 scrolls (holy cow! - I'm not rolling up all of those) and five books. There's a 4% chance of a scroll being magic, so there should be 10 magic scrolls on the shelf. The books are two histories of particular castles, a book about the inferiority of kobolds to human beings, and another about how humans are better than dwarves and an alchemist's notebook in which the writing is too difficult to read.

This would be an excellent random table to automate, to produce large libraries quickly.

#5. Giant in the Earth

Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay present another batch of literary heroes for D&D. This time, the article does not include any character stats. Rather, it describes the rationale used by the authors for creating their stats. The article includes a great passage about doing stats for Tolkien's creations ...

"As far as writing up the characters from Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy, we would love to try our hand at them. Unfortunately, the Tolkien estate is known to be fanatically paranoid about the slightest possible infringement of rights (whether real or imagined). We were also unwilling to attempt them because 90% of the Tolkien fans would be unhappy with the results, regardless of what they were. In the end, we decided it was simply too much hassle to write up Tolkien characters."

Yeah, this would be post-lawsuit.

The article has a nice table comparing AD&D to D&D levels, which I reproduce:

AD&D 21+ = D&D 40+ / equivalent to demigods, for characters with magically extended lives or who are in close contact with the gods

AD&D 17-20 = D&D 30-30 / the max. an exceptional character would obtain in a single lifetime

AD&D 13-16 = D&D 20-29 / average for heroic characters

AD&D 9-12 = D&D 10-19 / normal minimum for any hero

AD&D 5-8 = D&D 5-9 / this line was actually missing from the article

AD&D 1-4 = D&D 1-4 / low-level cannon-fodder

#6. Urban Encounters

Here's a nice table folks should find some use for ...

#7. Nothing New Under the Sun

From the letters to the editor ...

"Unfortunately, I do not feel so good about Mr. Fawcett’s article, “Angels in Dungeons and Dragons.” Yes, I did read the article’s opening statement about the source material being both
religious and fictional in nature. As a DM, I will admit that the concept of having angels for the
deities of a mythos is intriguing. However, it is the source material that bothers me. Let us remember that much of the article was derived from the Holy Bible, and as far as I’m concerned
that is not a book to be taken lightly! Games are games, but the Word of God is not something to
be used in such a manner.

I happen to believe in the Bible. However, I also happen to believe in the Constitution, and I
respect your right to print what you wish. But I think that “Angels in Dungeons and Dragons”
was in extremely poor taste."

#8. Magic Items

Some goodies in the Bazaar of the Bizarre this month. Here's an inventory:

Mirror of Speed
Mirror of Confusion
Mirror of Memory
Mirror of All-Seeing
Yefar's Great Mirror (all by Gerald Strathmann)
Rod of Singing by Robert Plamondon (cursed  item)
The Discus Shield by Roger E. Moore

#9. Vulturehounds

A cool monster by Chris Chalmers and Dan Pollak. Quick stat block

Vulturehound. Small Magical Beast: HD 2; AC 15; ATK 2 claws (1d3) and bite (1d6); MV 50' (fly 30'); SV F13 R11 W18; AL Neutral (N); Special-None.

They run around in groups of 4d6, and have voracious appetites. I think they'd be a great encounter in dry hills.

Side Trek #3 - I love McLean!

Always loved the art style, and the humor

#10. The Pit of the Oracle

A module by Stephen Sullivan, with a nice cover image by Jeff Dee in which a fighter is either doing a bad-ass, casual back strike against a troglodyte, or in which a fighter is about to get his ass kicked by a couple troglodytes.

The module contains a dungeon and a town (and a Temple of Apathy), as well as some other nice art pieces by Dee, Roslof, Otus and Sutherland. You can tell the elements of D&D's most classic phase are all coming together.

The map has all sorts of notations on it, which makes me think the adventure is a bit complex ... but it also looks really cool. Hey, maybe that's just the art talking.

And that's Dragon #37 - happy Sunday folks and have a groovy week ahead.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Gargantuan Success

Patrice 'Kabuki Kaiser' Crespy was kind enough to send me a review copy (electronic format) of his Castle Gargantua, and may I just say - Bravo!

This is the kind of Old School product I love - innovative. It takes a difficult concept and makes it concrete and playable - something truly different for players (and referees) to experience. Hey, a good, old-fashioned dungeon is fun, and I think most of us get the urge to run or play in one every so often. But it's these innovative adventures that keep everything fresh.

Now, I'm not going to go into how it's done, because that would ruin the surprise for the players. Suffice to say - Castle Gargantua gets it done. I can affirm this because I tried to do something similar with the city of Dis in my Hell Crawl a while back, and KK does it better. Quite a bit better, in fact. Dang it.

1) You get moody, evocative art by Jeremy Hart and excellent maps by Dyson Logos

2) You get fantastic rumors to drive the adventurers on - I really enjoyed these

3) There is a random element to the dungeon, so there is the possibility of repetition. I think referees might need to veer from the script from time to time. A minor quibble, and it does not detract from the quality of the composition or execution, because ...

4) ... the random elements are awesome - super fun to read, and probably super fun for players to experience. Having written a few hex crawls, I can attest to the quality of the imagination in Castle Gargantua and the effort it must have taken to write.

Final thought ... buy the book. For $5.00, the PDF is a steal. I'm going to shuffle off and buy a hard copy myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I have three new (or recent) releases to bring to your kind attention.
Before I talk about them, though, HERE'S A LINK to those Bloody Basic printable character sheets I mentioned (including Weird Fantasy edition), with background color removed.

NOD 27

This issue of NOD features:

* Gloriana's Blessed Isle, Part 2 - The continuation of the Ulflandia hex crawl that started in NOD 26 - this one covers a little of the island, the Bragart Hills, the southern portion of the Klarkash Mountains and a wee bit of the Wyvern Coast ... a real cross roads. Features some groovy art by Denis McCarthy

* d20 Mecha I: The Classes - The first part of a three part article on adapting d20-based games for giant robot adventures - by my good friend and mecha-aficionado Luke DeGraw. Part 2 will cover equipment, and in Part 3 we're going to collaborate on simplified rules for the mecha themselves, using some of the rules I've developed for GRIT & VIGOR.

* The Nodian Bestiary - Featuring 10 new monsters

* Strength: A Primer - Exploring the strength ability score

* The Muscleman - A new class that puts strength to the test ... yeah, he can bite through chains and throw halflings ... nice art by NOD regular Jon Kaufman

* You Pull the Lever and ... - Ideas for lever-based traps and tricks ... with more from Kaufman

* Racial Variations: Earth - Elemental twists on the classic fantasy races ... and a third Kaufman piece

* Plan 9 from Outer Space: The RPG - A Quick & Easy minigame for Halloween ... I'm super excited about this silly thing

* The Grey Planet Beckons - The negative-energy planet Pluto for the Nodian cosmos

$4.99 for the e-book ... print edition coming soon 


I know some folks have been waiting for this one. The Weird Fantasy Edition rules are inspired by the wondrous prose and poetry of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany and the art of such luminaries as Aubrey Beardsley and Sidney Sime. It include rules for the races, classes, spells and monsters of weird fantasy tales. Ever wanted to play a grotesque puissant? Now's your chance.

This one was briefly in the Top 10 hottest titles on rpgnow ... pretty cool!

$4.99 for the e-book ... print edition coming soon


Can you survive the mean streets of New York City in the 1970's? Muggers, psychos, junkies, sewer-gators, street punks, and gangsters! Oh My!

Deviant Decade is a quick and easy game to learn and play. All you need is a few friends, some pencils and paper, a few ordinary dice and this book ... leisure suits are optional.

$2.99 for the e-book (no stagflation here) ... print edition coming soon

For sale now at both Lulu and Drive Thru / Rpgnow


Well, I think that's enough productivity for the moment. I'm working on Black Death (coming along nicely - and a little more meat than past Quick & Easy games - I think Swords & Sandals will need a revision next year) and NOD 28 (exploring the northern Land of Og in this one) now, and I'm determined to get GRIT & VIGOR released by the end of the year.

Then I can focus on the revisions of BLOOD & TREASURE, MYSTERY MEN!, SPACE PRINCESS and PARS FORTUNA. I've already commissioned new cover art for B&T!!! Super excited.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bloody Basic Character Sheets

I had some time last night to make some simple, one-page character sheets for the different versions of Bloody Basic. Enjoy!

Yeah, I did it in goldenrod, just because.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Monster Tome II - The Worm Harmonious

I don't know if the Monster Tome II will ever be a physical (or electronic) product, or if it will just be a series of blog posts. Either way, here's an entry for you ...


Size/Type: Huge Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 8
Armor Class: 17
Attack: 1 slam (1d12)
Movement: 30 (Burrow 10)
Saves: F R W
Immune: Sonic attacks, mind-effects
Alignment: NeutralIntelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1d2
XP: 800 (CL 9)

The worm harmonious looks like a long, thick, wriggling vermin with pale pink flesh (sometimes marked with saffron streaks or speckled with deep aubergine spots) and odd markings on its "face" that approximate a mime or geisha. Extending from its head, down the sides of its body for about 10 feet are a number of long "hairs", which it can vibrate to create or negate sound. Its entire body is actually covered by these hairs, though most are much smaller and are nearly invisible.

As alluded to above, the worm harmonious can negate sound, and thus create an area of silence (as the spell) in a 100' radius by using its hairs to absorb the sound. While absorbing sound, the monster cannot move, and its attacks suffer a -3 penalty to hit. After three rounds, the monster can release this absorbed sound as a sonic blast, dealing 1d8 points of sonic damage to all creatures within 30'. Alternatively, it can give off a low, disorienting hum for 3 rounds that forces all within 30' to pass a Will save or suffer one of the following effects:

Roll d6
1-3. Dazed (-1 penalty to hit and AC)
4-5. Confused (as the spell)
6. Stunned (no actions, only reactions)

It can also use its hairs to create a horrible, piercing screeching noise approximating some of the less successful attempts at Jimmy Hendrix-style guitar riffs. While doing this, the monster attacks normally, but its foes suffer a penalty to Armor Class and attacks, combined, equal to -3. They can choose, for example, a -2 penalty to AC and a -1 penalty to hit, or no penalty to AC and a -3 penalty to hit, etc. As long as the penalties add up to -3.
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