PARS FORTUNA Monster Vote!

I’m going to commission a monster piece from Russ Nicholson, my favorite monster illustrator ever (yeah, I’m one of those Fiend Folio fans – I even like the flumph). The question is – what monster should I request? I’ve decided to let the readers of this blog make the decision for me. You will see below a description of five monsters – just leave a comment on this post with your choice or shoot me an email and in a week I’ll tally the results and see about making the commission.

1. Fiend: A scaly demon carrying a barbed spear and sticking out a long, wavy tongue.

2. Meagle: Stunted piskie, looks like a cross between a hedgehog and gnome with bat wings; carry nets woven from human hair.

3. Nine: Humanoid otter with four beady eyes; carries a long knife and/or sling; quaff mystic beer; extremely quick.

4. Eight-Headed Creeper: Weird creatures with eight jabberwocky-ish heads on long necks, clawed feet, long arms with long, nimble fingers and large, bat-like wings.

5. Bounder: Giant bipedal grasshoppers wielding military forks and chakram.

UPDATE – Interesting! After a day of voting, people have pretty much divided into the Meagle party and the 8-Headed Creeper party, with the Bounder showing up in the roll of the Libertarians. Keep the votes coming – I’ll collect them until next Sunday and then reveal the winner and request the commission.

The Gods of the Motherlands – Part Three

Lawful god of valor, honor, chivalry and soldiers
Wields a lance
Served by angels
Symbolized by a bull or cross
Mithras’ clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to hit and damage the undead

Mithras is a demigod associated with Minerva. His cult originated with the dervishes, who cast him as the prophesied slayer of Tiamat. Mithras is a patron of chivalry and is worshiped by soldiers and the nobility.

Mithras is depicted as a handsome young warrior wearing a Phyrigian cap and a crimson cape. His temples, called mithraeum, are constructed in caves and kept secret, for his is a mystery cult that is spread from initiate to initiate. A place of honor in his temples is reserved for an idol of the god slaying a bull, a serpent and dog drinking from the animal’s bleeding wound. Other symbols that may appear with the idol are a goblet, small lion, raven and scorpion. Twin celestial torchbearers stand on either side of the idol with their legs crossed. Above Mithras, the symbols for Sol Invictus and Luna are present in the starry night sky. New initiates to the cult are brought to such a temple where a mystagogue explains the symbolism and theology. A rite is then performed to re-enact the Water Miracle, in which a bolt is fired into a rock, causing water to spout from it.

The Mithras cult has seven ranks, which are in order: Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun-Courier and Father.

Mithras is celebrated September 29.

Nethuns, Poseidon
Neutral god of the sea, storms and earthquakes
Wields a trident
Patron deity of Dominions
Served by fey, water elementals
Symbolized by a trident or dolphin
Sacred animals are the dolphin, horse and bull
Neptunus’ druids can cast Water Breathing as a 2nd level spell

Neptunus is the god of the seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, and earthquakes. He has the power to create new life forms and is the creator of bulls and horses. He can also summon and control non-divine forms of sea life and change his own shape into that of any living being at will. In his true form, he is a man standing a hundred feet tall holding a trident and wearing a crown.

Neptunus is capable of raising islands up from the sea or shattering them with earthquakes. He can bring fair weather to sailors or strike them with a terrible storm, necessitating sacrifices in the form of drowning horses.

Neptunus is the son of Saturnus and Rhea, and the brother of Jove, Juno, Pluto and Vesta. His consort is Amphitrite. He has fathered many heroes, including Theseus and Orion. He is the father of Arion the talking horse by Ceres and the father of Pegasus by Medusa. Other monstrous children are the tritons, mermaids, cyclops and giants.

Neptunalia (July 23-24): Games are held during this festival, including a knightly tournament and boat races. People erect colorful pavilions and use them for feasting and entertaining friends.

Aidoneus, Dispater, Hades, the Silent One
Neutral god of the underworld and its treasures
Wields a mace
Served by earth elementals and the undead
Symbolized by a ram’s head
Sacred animals are the ram, raven and serpent
Pluto’s druids can rebuke undead as a cleric 3 levels lower

Pluto is the King of the Underworld and lord over all it contains, from the souls of the dead to the precious metals and gems locked inside it. Pluto is also the god of wine under the name Dionysus Cthonios. He also has a measure of control over the creatures that dwell underground, especially the treasure hording dragons. Although not evil, Pluto is grim and morbid, and thus not popular among gods or mortals. In fact, mortals fear him enough that they rarely utter his name, lest they draw his attention. Although Pluto rules the Underworld, he is not death itself. That entity is called Thanatos.

Pluto’s kingdom is called Erebus and contains such places as the Asphodel Meadows, Elysium and Tarterus, the abode of the Titans and devils. The five rivers of Erebus are Acheron (Woe), Cocytus (Lamentation), Phlegethon (Fire), Lethe (Oblivion) and Styx (Hate).

Pluto is the brother of Neptunus and Jove, and with them defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the cosmos. His wife is Persephone, daughter of Ceres.

Secular Games (May 31 – June 3): Every hundred years (a saeculum) the Secular Games are held in Pluto’s honor. The games include all manner of athletic endeavors, with nightly sacrifices of lambs, she-goats, bulls, sacrificial cakes, cows and sows.

Lawful god of learning, writing and magic
Wields a staff
Patron deity of Ibis (as Thoth)
Served by elohim
Symbolized by a quill or book
Prometheus’ clerics can learn one 1st level magic-user spell at each odd level, and cast them in place of cleric spells

Prometheus is the god of magic, philosophy, science and learning. He is the patron of scholars, illusionists, scientists, wizards and potters (since he created man from clay). Prometheus’ temples are gathering places for philosophers and scholars to debate and learn; they are often connected to universities and colleges. Promethean clerics are dedicated to the protection of their deity’s worshipers, and the enlightenment of human and demi-humankind.

Prometheus is the brother of Epimetheus (“Afterthought”), Atlas (“Enduring”) and Menoetius (“Ruined Strength”). His parents are the titans Japetus and Clymene. Prometheus’ gift of fire to mortals earned him the enmity of Jove, who had him bound to a rock while an eagle ate his liver every day, only for it to grow back. Prometheus was eventually freed by Hercules.

Aphrodite, Astarte, Turan
Lawful goddess of love and beauty
Wields a mace
Patron deity of Ishkabibel
Served by elohim and nymphs
Symbolized by a mirror or crown
Venus’ clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to reaction checks

Venus is the goddess of beauty, love and gardens. As befits her position, she is an enthusiastic companion of the male gods. She is married to Vulcanus, but this did not stop her from consorting with Mars, Neptunus, Pluto and others. Venus can charm any male, god or mortal, and can generate strong emotions (love, hate, anger, sorrow, etc.) in any intelligent being. The myrtle, dove, sparrow and swan are sacred to her.

Although she can assume any form (all of them beautiful), in her true form she is a woman of astonishing beauty with golden hair. She also has a more martial aspect, sometimes appearing armored and carrying a mace.

Venus was created when Cronus castrated his father, Saturnus, and cast his testicles into the sea. She is married to Vulcanus, but has had notable affairs with Mars, Mercurius, Pluto and Adonis. Her children include Cupid, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia and Fortuna.

May Day (May 1): The day is celebrated by the gathering of herbs and wild water (from which holy water is made), the blessing of houses, ‘beating the bounds’, greenwood marriages, and dancing around May Poles.

Hephaestos, Mulciber, Weyland
Neutral god of fire, volcanos, smiths and invention
Wields a battle axe
Patron deity of Galardis
Served by fire elementals
Symbolized by a hammer and anvil
Druid totems are the bull, boar and serpent
Volcanus’ druids enjoy a +1 bonus to save vs. fire and heat

Volcanus is the god of fire, earth, and the forge. He is the smith of the gods, creating their weapons, armor and thrones. Volcanus is also a patron of engineers and an expert trap maker. Temples of Volcanus are decorated with precious stones and metals and are usually supported by the local guild of smiths.

Volcanus is depicted as a dour, ugly man with a twisted leg. He carries the tools of a smith and his skin is blackened from soot and exposure to fire.

Volcanus is the son of Juno, created by her alone as Jove created Minerva. Hurled from heaven for his ugliness, he was found by the sea nymph Thetis and raised as her son. His wife is Venus, though they are estranged due to her indiscretions. He is the creator of Pandora from clay and the father of Periphetes, the demi-god of bandits.

Vulcanalia (August 23): Bonfires are created in honor of the god. The bonfires are used to roast fish and small animals and a red bull-calf and a red boar are sacrificed at the god’s temple to ward away destructive fires.

Mystery Men! Update – The Tough Guys

The project now has six backers, with Mike Davison of Swords of Abandon joining the project as a Golden Age patron. The project is now 57% funded with 24 days to go – if you’re considering becoming a backer, check out the Kickstarter page HERE. Remember, the more money we gather, the more art we can afford and the better this project will look.

I’ve put some work into the alpha document, and I am now about 25% finished with character creation. I still need to do some work on the classes (adventurer, sorcerer and scientist – only minor differences between the three, mostly in how powers are purchased) and then work on all of the powers – that will likely be the lion’s share of the project.

Last update, I previewed the ubermenschen who were up for a vote on who gets illustrated by our artist, Joel Carroll (that’s a sample of his work in the upper right corner) and included in the book as sample heroes. This time, we’ll look at the “tough guys”.

Tough guys are mostly non-powered heroes who rely on their fists, guns and wits to stop crime and punish evil-doers. The category includes “dark avengers” as well as the archers that loom large in comic books even to this day.

Tony Quinn was a district attorney scarred by acid thrown at him by an angry criminal. Blinded in the attack, he gets a new set of eyes in a transplant that allow him to see in the dark. A true dark avenger type, he carries twin .45s and leaves a bat-shaped scar on his victims.

John Perry is a gossip columnist who puts on tights, cape and cowl to, surprisingly, wage war on crime. He is assisted by his ward, Chuck – AKA Kid Fury. Wonder where they got that idea?

Wrestler Bob White and this teen-aged manager Terry Wake enjoy pounding criminals in their off hours. Nothing weird about that. He later got a less frightening costume – a move you just know has “angry moms” written all over it.

Rick Raleigh is an assistant district attorney who fights crime with athleticism, fighting skill, a keen red gun and trained bees, one of whom is named Michael. How can you not get behind a trained bee named Michael?

Dianne Grayton is a millionaire playgirl who dresses up like a witch to fight criminals. She has a thing for another hero called The Raven, and uses trained spiders in her crusade against villainy.

Golden Age patrons don’t need to vote now – if the project gets funded I’ll email you a “ballot” to handle all that.

The Unpublishables

Just about every GM / DM / Referee, over the course of their “career” stats up monsters inspired by sources protected by that pesky little thing called copyright – monsters you can feel free to use in your home campaign, but that you couldn’t otherwise put in print. Well, instead of throwing out the next installment of the Gods of the Motherlands (which I will do tomorrow), I’m presenting my thinly veiled (one so thinly veiled that its positively indecent, and a couple others working entirely in the raw) unpublishables. Since I can’t publish them, I didn’t go to the trouble of making them particularly compliant with any set of rules.

Astral Knight
Astral knights patrol the dimensions fighting evil, particularly the undead. Their armor increases their strength and gives them the ability to fly. It can seal itself from the depredations of hostile environments, allowing the astral knight to ignore extreme heat and cold and the absence of air. An astral knight can seal its systems for a full day, after which they must resupply their air supply.

Astral knights have three special items they can employ, all of them being stored in a pocket dimension (per a bag of holding). All of an astral knight’s weapons resemble guns. The “neutralizer” fires a ray that acts as a dismissal spell against extra-planar and undead creatures or deals 2d6 points of energy damage against normal corporeal creatures. The analyzer fires a ray that acts as both a true seeing and know alignment spell. The universal translator acts as a tongues spell when held by an astral knight and pointed at a speaking creature. Astral knights speak the cosmic tongue and their alignment language.

If stripped of their armor, they lose all access to their abilities and are merely humanoid warriors with 2 hit dice.

| Astral Knight: HD 4+1; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 slam (1d6) or 1 weapon; Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Sealed system, special items.

Astral Ninja
Astral ninjas are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral pirates, with whom they war constantly. The astral ninjas are governed by an undying wizard-king. Being monastic creatures, the astral ninjas use very plain weapons and equipment. They maintain a few strongholds in the material plane. These squat towers are quite strong, being constructed of adamantine and housing 500 ninja. Astral ninjas are rarely encountered outside their strongholds.

Outside of their strongholds, most astral ninjas are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral ninjas, a warlock and a sensei.

Temporary lairs will contain 1d10+10 astral ninjas, 8 warlocks, and 2 sensei. Astral ninja lairs will contain 2d8 magic items.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord (does not affect psionicists using psychic defense). The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal, and can cut the silver cords of psychics using psychic defense.

| Astral Ninja: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 50% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis).

| Warlock: HD 5; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 13; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 5th level magic-user.

| Sensei: HD 7; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (2d6+3); Move 15; Save 9; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 7th level magic-user.

| Wizard-King: HD 16 (120 hp); AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 vorpal sword (4d6); Move 15; Save 3; CL/XP 24/5600; Special: 75% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 16th level magic-user.

Astral Pirate
Astral pirates are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral ninjas, with whom they war constantly. Astral pirates have levels in fighter, wizard or fighter/wizard. They are led by a lich-queen. Astral pirates use baroque armor (splint mail +4) and weapons. They dwell in mighty castles on the astral plane or aboard astral pirate ships. All astral pirates are capable of manifesting themselves in the material plane at will.

Outside of their castles, most astral pirates are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral pirates, one sergeant, and a knight.

Temporary lairs and astral pirate ships will contain 1d10+9 astral pirates, 10 mates and 5 captains. Material plane lairs will contains 1d6+4 magic items.

Astral pirates have a special pact with a group of large red dragons. In return for food and shelter, the dragons allow the astral pirates to use them as mounts; each can carry anywhere from 5 to 11 pirates depending on their size.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord. The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal.

| Astral Pirate: HD 2; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Mate: HD 5; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword +1 (2d6+2); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Captain: HD 8; AC -3 [22]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), protection from good, cause disease 1/week.

| Lich-Queen: HD 12; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 vorpal sword +5 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 3; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), 12th level magic-user.

The doloks are a race of aberrations dedicated to the destruction of all life. Outside of their vehicles they look like anemic little squids and can be destroyed easily with a single weapon blow. Inside their vehicles, however, they are quite formidable. Doloks will instantly attack any living creature that crosses their path, shouting endlessly “destroy, destroy” in their high, metallic voices. They attack by firing a disintegration ray from their forward cannons. This ray works like the spell disintegrate. Doloks are immune to fear and other mind-affecting effects. Doloks can be encountered on the astral plane.

| Dolok: HD 6; AC -6 [25]; Atk 1 ray (disintegration); Move 6 (Fly 9); Save 11; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Disintegrate ray, fearless.

Dune Raider
Beyond the shallow, black seas of the moon and the fungus forests that crowd those shores are the windswept lunar deserts. These deserts are frightening places; broiling hot in the daytime and freezing cold in the night, with fine, choking gray dust. The beasts who dwell in these deserts are fierce survivors, and the barbarians who hunt them are doubly fierce.

The dune raiders live in small hunting tribes. They live their entire lives wrapped in silk scarves and thick, woolen cloaks meant to protect their skin from the elements and their lungs from the lunar dust. They are built as humans, but have deep, croaking voices that betray their alien nature.

Dune raiders use massive woolly lunar caterpillars (10 HD, AC 18, MV 30, SV P, slam for 2d6 damage) as their mounts. These creatures are larger than elephants and exist in their caterpillar stage for over one hundred years before burrowing in the sand and emerging a century later as a lunar moth. The caterpillars are mostly inoffensive creatures capable of sustaining themselves on nutrients sifted from the sand. The raiders use their silk to weave their scarves and their hair to weave robes and cloaks.

Dune raiders use morningstars made of petrified seedpods found beneath the lunar sand. They are as effective as metal weapons and affect lycanthropes as though they were silver. The light weight of the seeds allow their wielders a +1 bonus to initiative.

They also arm themselves with ancient jezzails (rifles), the origin of which are unknown. An explosive powder and metallic balls are procured somewhere in the desert. These weapons have a range of 200 ft and deal 2-16 damage with a successful hit. They jam about one time in ten, and have such an explosive recoil that their firers must succeed at a CC 15 strength check to avoid being knocked prone.

The most important device the dune raiders have at their disposal, and another mystery for wizards, is their breathing tube. Anchored beneath their necks, these copper tubes sneak beneath their scarves and provide them with cool, dust-free air.

All dune raiders have the abilities of 3rd level rangers. If the dune raiders have a religion it is unknown, and spell casters have never been encountered among their kind. They make their way hunting the sands and raiding small settlements. On rare occasions they will seek to trade their silk and wool for seemingly worthless baubles; they are especially fond of glass and copper.

| Dune Raider: HD 3; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 3rd level rangers.

Jeeps are rare, dog-like creatures that live in Africa. They originate in the 4th dimension, and their extraplanar origin gives them the ability to use the following spells at will: dimension door, ethereal jaunt and spider climb. Jeeps eat only orchids, making them expensive pets to keep. They never tell lies and are loyal to the end.

“A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world-in this case our world- but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here’s what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are to some extent are relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal.”

| Jeep: HD 2; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Dimension door, ethereal jaunt, spider climb.

Klingens are a race of humanoids with swarthy skin and black hair. Both males and females have hard features and thick eyebrows. Male klingens usually cultivate beards and mustachios. Although klingens live in a highly regimented society, one should not come to the conclusion that they are lawful. Advancement in their society is through murder of those of higher rank, and klingen groups are rife with factions and double-dealing. All klingen warriors (and most civilians) can back attack for double damage.

Klingen warriors wear mail shirts and wield ray guns and daggers. Their ray guns fire a beam that can either inflict 2-12 points of subdual damage or 2-12 points of lethal damage. For every 10 klingen warriors there is a commander with 2 HD and the ability to back attack for triple damage. For every 5 commanders there is a 3 HD lieutenant with the death attack ability of a 2nd level assassin. For every 5 lieutenants there is a 5 HD captain with the death attack ability of a 4th level assassin.

Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to wisdom and a -1 penalty to charisma. Typical classes are assassin, fighter and rogue. Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to making rear and flank attacks, over and above normal bonuses. Their thick skin and unique physiology gives them a +1 bonus to armor class.

| Klingen: HD 1+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Backstab x2.

| Commander: HD 2+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Backstab x3.

| Lieutenant: HD 3+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Death attack as assassin.

| Captain: HD 5+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Death attack as assassin.

Mystery Men! Update

The project now has five backers – with Wendy Stater (who may or may not be my wife – Hi honey!) and old friend and fellow blogger Tom Feeney joining the project as Golden Age patrons and Trey Causey, architect of the The City, becoming a Silver Age patron. The project is now 47% funded with 26 days to go – if you’re considering becoming a backer, check out the Kickstarter page HERE.

I’ve made a minor update to the google doc – taking a few spare minutes this morning to write about ability score generation. Nothing too exciting yet, as this month is dedicated to producing NOD #5, PARS FORTUNA and a secret project I’m working on.

Now, part of the community involvement in this project concerns which heroes are going to get the nod and be drawn by our artist, Joel Carroll (that’s a sample of his work in the upper right corner), and included in the book as sample heroes. I’ve gone through about 300 golden age, public domain heroes and whittled it down to 35 heroes in seven different categories – Golden Age patrons are going to get to vote on which hero from each category makes the cut. Today, I’m featuring the five heroes competing in the Ubermensch category.

An ubermensch is a hero based on the prototypical hero – flight, super strength, invulnerability and a few extra powers stuck in to avoid a copyright violation. Our ubermenschen are …


A seaman named Willy with the power of the atom in his hands – is there anything radiation can’t do?



His name is Lance Gallant, and he has a magic birthmark that joins him with his dead twin – not for nothing did he appear in Crack comics



Black-clad avenger of injustice – imagine if Supes went around torturing people – now imagine he lived under the 1939 World’s Fair



Cantankerous alien defender of Earth – I needed an alien in this category for obvious reasons, and I liked that this one seemed to have a crappy attitude toward the people he was saving, probably because of the name they gave him – and check out those eyebrows!



Demi-goddess defender of the great white north. Her enemies include the Queen of Statica (too clingy), Dr. Electra (has a complex) and Adolf Hitler (yeah, that guy).

Golden Age patrons don’t need to vote now – if the project gets funded I’ll email you a “ballot” to handle all that.

Combat Notions for Pars Fortuna

While PARS FORTUNA started out as an experiment in randomly generated material for an RPG, I soon decided to add in optional rules for Old School games to make it a true tool box. To that end, I have an easy rule for encumbrance, a unique (I think) method of spell casting, a slightly different take on armor and weapons and an easy system for special combat maneuvers. Nothing necessarily ground breaking, but maybe bits and pieces that Referees will find useful for their own games.

Movement & Combat
Today, I’m thinking about movement and the fact that it is virtually useless in most games. My guy has a movement of 12 (or 30′ or whatever your system uses) and you have a movement of 9 and, let’s be honest, how often does this really come up. Maybe if we’re being chased, but usually movement in the dungeon comes down to “we walk down the hall” or “we walk into the room, carefully”. Movement might come into things in outdoor adventures where the spaces are larger, but it’s a rare dungeon chamber indeed in which movement (and missile ranges – more on that later) make much difference. So, what’s to be done?

One idea is to mark off movement on a grid, but in all my years of playing 3rd edition, I don’t think movement rates ever had much effect within the dungeon – again, the rooms are rarely large enough to make a movement of 30′ that much better than a movement of 20′ – and we all know how much grid movement can slow down a combat.

My idea is to link initiative to movement rates, as follows:

Combat Speed
Quick = a movement rate of 15 or higher (note, I’m using Swords and Wizardry’s movement rates here; in 3rd edition think 40′ or higher)

Slow = a movement rate of 9 or below (20′ in 3rd edition)

Everything else is considered “normal speed”

When combat rolls around, I use the following order of events:

1. Missile Fire: Ranged weapons are valuable because they attack first, and thrown weapons are included here. Determine first strike in this phase by casting dice. You can either let every person and monster (or monster group) throw a D6 and go high to low, or have each side throw a D6 to determine which side attacks first. If your character has a higher rate of fire than 1 shot per round, just make the first shot during this round.

2. Quick Creatures: Quick creatures move and attack – again, to determine first strike just throw dice, giving creatures/characters a bonus of +1 to their role if they have a longer weapon or reach than their opponent. You could also break up the movement and the attack – everyone moves, and then anyone within 10′ of an opponent is considered in melee and may attack, rolling to determine who strikes first.

3. Normal Creatures: Normal creatures move and attack – as above

4. Slow Creatures: Slow creatures move and attack – as above

5. Spells: Spells are fired/cast – I’m assuming that chanting a spell takes longer than knocking and firing a bow; also gives the side without a spell caster time to disrupt the spell casting with a well placed attack.

6. More Missiles: For those with high rates of fire (see above).

In essence, creatures with higher movement rate always win initiative, though their counterparts with the same combat speed might beat them to the first strike. This way, movement rates have a very tangible effect on character survival, and those who choose to stay light and mobile get some advantage over those who are burdened with gear, armor, etc. Weight management becomes a tactical decision.

Missiles & Ranges
We all know that in most fantasy games, ranged weapons are given a range or range categories, and these ranges impose penalties on ranged attacks. Much in the same way as movement, though, how often do these ranges come into play when most combats occur in rooms that are 10′ or 20′ or 30′ square. Outdoors, of course, ranges matter. This makes perfect sense, since the game was designed as a war game and then modified to support dungeon delving. My suggested optional rule for PARS FORTUNA is to give each creature an effective range, in feet, based on his Dexterity score. For monsters, you can just assume an effective range of 10′. Within this effective range you suffer no penalties. Outside of this effective range, you suffer a -1 penalty to hit for each increment beyond effective you go. Thus, a fighting-man with an effective range of 10′ would have the following modifications based on range:

0-10 feet: No penalty
11-20 feet: -1 penalty to hit
21-30 feet: -2 penalty to hit
31-40 feet: -3 penalty to hit

For a poor slob with a dexterity of 6, the ranges would be:

0-6 feet: No penalty
7-12 feet: -1 to hit
13-24 feet: -2 to hit
25-36 feet: -3 penalty

This gives the high-dexterity character a nice benefit in missile combat, and makes “short passes” easier than “long bombs” even within the confines of a dungeon.

Tales from the Boneyard

Since I’ve been talking about comic books on this site recently, I though I would share this project from my home town of Las Vegas: Tales from the Boneyard – the boneyard in question being where many of the old neon signs from “the Strip” and Downtown casinos are kept. Those of you who watched Mars Attacks might remember a scene shot in the old boneyard.

Tales from the Boneyard is a collection of comic stories by local artists, with proceeds of sales going to support our public libraries (yes, we have them).

As for Mystery Men! – 4 backers and almost half way to the goal. Lend your support if you’re interested in an easy to learn, easy to play, easy to afford comic book hero game!

Venatia – Introduction

I’m juggling four projects right now, but I finally finished the intro to Western Venatia, the sandbox slated for NOD #6 in December.

I. Overview
Venatia is a region of woodlands and hills nestled between the Klarkash Mountains in the west and the Great Yamas in the east. Once dominated by the Nomo Empire, it is now home to several competing city-states, the largest being Lyonesse of the Gleaming Towers, heir apparent to Nomo. Other city-states in the region include Antigoon, heart of a mercantile network that stretches across NOD, and Blackpoort, a city of ne’er-do-wells on the shores of Blackmere.

Pandiluvian Age
During the Pandiluvian Age, Blackmere was connected to the Tepid Sea via a narrow, rocky channel. The Klarkash Mountains constituted the major landmass of the region and supported dozens of ophidian citadels, while the remainder of Western Venatia consisted of swampy, mosquito-ridden islands. The elder races constructed cities beneath the Tepid Sea while one tribe of aboleth constructed a maze-like fortress in the depths of Blackmere.

When the waters receded from the landscape, Western Venatia took on its modern appearance. The aboleth were trapped in Blackmere and very few still survive, while the heights of many a submerged city in the Tepid Sea were exposed. Lizard men moved into the swampy valleys and canyons and constructed cliff cities and magnificent ziggurats to Tiamat, the Mother of Monsters. Unlike the eastern lizard men, who formed the kingdom of Karzak, the western lizard men maintained small, feudal towns that warred incessantly. The ophidians were forced to seek shelter deep beneath the earth near volcanic vents as the Klarkash Mountains cooled.

Golden Age
As in Eastern Venatia (see NOD #4), the human slaves of the lizard men rose up and destroyed their masters, founding a number of farming and fishing villages. Where the lizard men preferred the valleys, the humans constructed their lairs on hilltops and worshiped the sky (i.e. Jove) rather than the sea. Many humans lived in the woodlands as hunter-gatherers, and persist to this day as wild men of the woods.

The human villages never amounted to much, and thus dozens of humanoid tribes (orcs, gnolls, goblins and hobgoblins) were able to establish themselves in Western Venatia.

Modern Age
The Modern Age was initiated with the coming of the legions of Nomo. Legion XXXI descended into the Rooky Wood from Chimeria in the Klarkash Mountains and established the forts that would become Morrow and Pfeife. Legion XXXI became bogged down fighting the goblins and spiders of the woods, and went no further. In the meantime, Legion XIV arrived from the south (after securing Brigandy’s tribute via a marriage between the son of Corundus, legion commander and the niece of Queen Gloriana, who reigns to this day), constructing the old fort at Antigoon and then moving up the Swiven River. Legion XIV would found Blackpoort and Lyonesse on their way to carving out what become known as the Westerling Empire, subservient to Nomo but always threatening revolt.

With the fall of Nomo, the city-states of Western Venatia enjoy independence. Tristram, the king of Lyonesse, fancies himself a contender for the imperial crown, and would very much like his agents to find the lost relic that he may claim the title. Antigoon and Blackpoort, meanwhile, arm themselves for the eventual struggle with Lyonesse, for they wish to remain independent.

II. Regions

Blackmere is a large, fresh water lake that empties into the Tepid Sea via the Swiven River. Blackmere is a shallow lake with crystal clear water; passing ships have no trouble spotting the ruins that lie beneath the water, though the predators of the lake have adapted camouflage in the form of black skin or scales. The eastern shore of Blackmere is treeless and interrupted by rocky gullies the pour in frothing, freezing water that originates in the Klarkash Mountains and rushes through the wooded canyons of the Rooky Wood. The western shore is choked with massive, black oaks and willows. The bottom of the lake is covered in smooth, black stones and large forests of bright, green kelp that hide the stone houses of the lake goblins.

Dreadful Forest
The Dreadful Forest is thick and dark, consisting mostly of evergreens (spruce, pine) and brambles. More information on the Dreadful Forest can be found in NOD #4.

Forest Perilous
The Forest Perilous is an ancient woodland of oaks, hawthorns, and willows. The trees here are gnarled and twisted and prove very difficult to traverse. Many small, quick streams flow through the woodland. Forest paths are almost always twisted and useless; most end in traps set by ogres or pixies. Light in the woodland is never better than twilight.

The Forest Perlous surrounds the city-state of Lyonesse. Some suggest that only the devotion of the Lyones to Ceres keeps the forest monsters at bay.

Gaestly Hills
The Gaestly Hills are an expanse of rough highlands studded with ancient barrows and burial chambers. Most of these burial sites were cleared by adventurers over the last 100 years, their treasures plundered and their secrets revealed, but a few remain untouched. The Gaestly Hills are rich with iron and silver deposits. They also support a good deal of game, and make adequate pasture for sheep and goats.

The hills are dominated (if anything can be said to dominate the bleak, mossy landscape) by the city-state of Blackpoort. Blackpoort is the main southern port on Blackmere, and handles goods coming from exotic Mu-Pan by the Jade Road via the Venatian League in the north.

Grete Myre
The Grete Myre is a thick, wooded swamp stalked by reptilian savages. A few bold human renegades dwell in the swamp, often hiding from the authorities of Antigoon. These “myrefolk” supply the alchemists of Antigoon with rare herbs and animal specimens.

The myre is bordered to the north by the Gaestly Hills, to the east by the Dreadful Forest, to the west by the Nybling Hills and the the south by Biscotti Bay, an arm of the Tepid Sea. The principal settlement of the Grete Myre is Antigoon, which dominated the moors that rise on the border between the myre and the hills.

Klarkash Mountains
Ancient and wicked, the Klarkash Mountains separate Venatia from Umbriago, the cradle of Nomo. The mountains are tall and have molded by the wind into great lumps of limestone divided by deep, lightless canyons. These canyons are home to fungal horrors and depraved fairy folk, as well as a few rugged clans of wild men and several hordes of hobgoblins.

The western mountains that border Venatia are a bit less severe than the eastern reaches, and even support stands of silvery beeches and coppery grass on their ledges.

Nybling Hills
The Nyblings are wooded hills that extend from the Tepid Sea to the Klarkash Mts. They have a pleasant climate and are mostly covered with oak trees. The local “barbarians” include gnomes, kobolds, svarts and bugbears. The northern portion of the hills is settled by Antigooners and has many trails connecting manors and strongholds. The remainder of the woodland is quite wild, with the southern reaches dominated by trolls.

The hills were once the hunting preserve of the Nomo’s Emperor and his clan. He constructed his summer palace, Amvianda, in the hills and each year hosted a glorious bardic college. Amvianda is now a lonely beacon of civilization in the midst of the wilds. Patrols of rangers do their best to keep the town safe and maintain communication with the outside world, but they are hard pressed. Since the fall of the Emperor, the chamberlain of the palace has been the defacto ruler of Amvianda, and he has proven to be less than capable in the role.

Rooky Wood
The Rooky Wood was the last portion of Venatia brought under (loose) control by the legions of Nomo. It consists of a number of narrow, winding canyons shot through by fast, icy streams that empty into Blackmere. The badlands support hardy, evergreen trees and brambles and are haunted by arachnids and goblins. The forest was once home to demon worshipers, who summoned many fiends in the days of old. Shrines to demon princes can be found in the woods, and often they bear signs of recent use.

Tepid SeaThe Tepid Sea is thoroughly described in NOD #1. We will note here that it is a shallow, blue-green sea and home to mermaids, sahuagin, tritons and undines. A good deal of commerce goes through the Tepid Sea to Mother Ocean, much of it to or from the city-state of Antigoon. The two other major ports on the Tepid Sea are Tremayne and Ophir (which appears in NOD #2).

III. Random EncountersRandom encounters should be diced for twice each day, once in the daytime and once at night, with dangerous encounters occurring on the roll of 1 on 1d6 and traveler encounters on the roll of a 6 (see below).

1-2 Men-at-Arms (6d6)
3 Pilgrims (3d6)
4 Refugees (9d6)
5-6 Traders (2d6)

1 Aquatic Hobgoblins (6d6)
2 Aboleth Thralls (6d6)
3 Nixie (6d6)
4 Privateer (6d6)
5 Raven, Giant (3d6)
6 Kelpie (2d6)
7 Cathbad (1d8)
8 Scrag (1d8)
9 Ghost (1d4)
10 Afanc (1)

Dreadful Forest
1 Carnivorous Flying Squirrel (6d6)
2 Wild Man (6d6)
3 Lizardman (5d6)
4 Giant Lizard (4d6)
5 Black Bear (3d6)
6 Noroob (3d6)
7 Ogre (3d6)
8 Baccae (2d6)
9 Firedrake (2d6)
10 Pseudo-Dragon (2d6)
11 Woodwose (1d8)
12 Hill Giant (1d6)

Forest Perilous
1 Brownie (6d6)
2 Elf (6d6)
3 Wolf (5d6)
4 Ogre (3d6)
5 Dryad (2d6) or Nymph (2d6)
6 Satyr (2d6)
7 Wraith (2d6)
8 Actaeon (1d8)
9 Treant – 7 HD (1d8)
10 Dragon – Green, Adult, 7 HD (1d6)
11 Leopard (1d6, attack with surprise)
12 Unicorn (1d6)

Gaestly Hills
1 Bandit (6d6)
2 Orc (6d6)
3 Wolf (5d6)
4 Ghoul (4d6) or Ghast (2d6) or Ghost (1d6)
5 Falcon, Giant (3d6)
6 Lycanthrope – Were-rat (3d6)
7 Ogre (3d6)
8 Vierd (3d6) or Wight (2d6)
9 Bat, Giant (2d6)
10 Owlbear (2d6)
11 Cockatrice (1d8)
12 Hill Giant (1d6)

Grete Myre
1 Giant Leech (5d6)
2 Lizardman (5d6)
3 Thugtoad (5d6)
4 Crocodile (4d6)
5 Zombie, Leper (4d6)
6 Giant Frog – Large (3d6)
7 Harpy (3d6)
8 Noroob (3d6)
9 Giant Dragonfly (1d6)
10 Hydra (1d4; roll heads randomly for each)
11 Shambling Mound – 9 HD (1d3)
12 Froghemoth (1)

Nybling Hills
1 Badger – Giant (4d6)
2 Black Bear (3d6)
3 Bugbear (4d6)
4 Bulette (1d4)
5 Giant Owl (2d6)
6 Giant Weasel (2d6) or Wereweasel (2d6)
7 Gnome (6d6)
8 Highwayman (3d6)
9 Kill-Bunny (5d6)
10 Kobold (6d6)
11 Troll (1d8)
12 Wolf (5d6)

Rooky Wood
1 Aranea (1d8)
2 Bugbear (4d6)
3 Cave Bear (1d8)
4 Drider (1d6)
5 Ettercap (2d6)
6 Forlarren (2d6)
7 Forester’s Bane (2d6)
8 Giant Spider – 4 ft (2d6) or Phase Spider (2d6)
9 Goblin (6d6)
10 Hobgoblin (6d6)
11 Imp (1d8) or Quasit (1d8)
12 Quickling (1d8)

Tepid Sea
1 Locathah (6d6)
2 Pirate (6d6)
3 Mermaid (3d6)
4 Scrag (2d6)
5 Harpy (1d6)
6 Sea Serpent – Gilded (1d6)
7 Shark, Large (1d6)
8 Sea Serpent – Fanged (1d4)
9 Giant Octopus (1d3)
10 Roc (1d3)
11 Sea Serpent – Briny (1d3) or Spitting (1d3)
12 Aspidochelone (1)

Pars Fortuna Monster Preview!

To celebrate commissioning some awesome monster drawings from Michael Stewart and finally finishing statting all the monsters in the game, I present this preview of a few of the beasts …

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Claws and bite (2d6)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Surprise on 1-2 on 1d6 due to camouflage
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

These giant armadillos are the size of oxen, and are used in much the same way by the natives of Fortuna’s Wheel. In the wild, they dig massive burrows and feed on giant insects and other small creatures.

Environment: Grasslands and wastelands.

Moggie (Giant Cat)
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Claw and bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Special: Surprise on 1-2 on 1d6
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 1/15

Moggies are giant versions of the normal cat. They are the size of mastiffs and retain their specie’s love of stalking and playing with their prey.

Environment: Any.

Gongthrottle (Bronze Ape)

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 6+6
Attacks: 2 Fists (1d6+2)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Gong, throttle
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

Gongthrottles are castings of gorillas in black bronze, with seams at their neck, arm and leg joints. They are hollow, and animated by wrath. A gongthrottle can pound its chest, sending out reverberations like those of a bell being struck. Creatues within 30 feet suffer 1d6 damage from the sonic waves and must pass a saving throw or be deafened for 24 hours. Gongthrottles who successfully attack with both fists grab their opponent and throttle them each round for an automatic 2d6 points of damage.


Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: Greatsword or Axe (2d6) or net
Saving Throw: 14
Special: None
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 3/60

Hamazaks are amazons with scarlet skin and blue-black hair that they wax into bizarre shapes reminiscent of horns or complex antlers. They are tall and athletic, and excellent warriors. Hamazak warriors wear light armor in the form of hides and furs and wield two-handed swords and axes as well as heavy crossbows that fire bundled nets. Treat attacks from these weapons as ranged grapple attacks. Hamazaks are slavers and plunderers. Bands of hamazaks are accompanied by 2d6 slaves (random folk, usually commoners).

Environment: Highland, Montane, Wasteland and Sub-terranean environments.


Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 2+1
Attacks: Flail (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Misfortune
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 3/60

Qwards look like stocky, humanoid felines with long, indigo fur and long, braided mustachios. Warriors wield heavy flails and wear medium armor in the form of brigandines.

Qwards are a nomadic people who ride giant beetles across the grasslands, alternately trading and raiding with the people they meet. They live in groups called clowders that are ruled by their females, or mollies. Mollies have shorter, grayer fur than the males and can afflict people with an eyebite (saving throw or suffer -1d4 penalty to all d20 rolls for the rest of the day). Qwards sometimes serve powerful adventurers as bodyguards. Mollies wear necklaces of tiny skulls.

Environment: Grasslands, in beetle caravans.


Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Rod (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16 (14 vs. magic)
Special: Control winds, magic resistance 10%
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

Zwunkers are black-skinned dwarves with long manes of gold hair. Their eyes are faceted and resemble yellow diamonds. Zwunkers live in caves overlooking the sea. They are skilled sailors and love nothing more than to feel the wind whipping through their manes. Once per day, a zwunker can control the winds, either calming them or whipping them into a frenzy. Zwunkers are highly resistant to magic, and their presence actually absorbs magical energy. Essentially, a zwunker’s magic resistance applies to all magical effects within 30 feet of of the zwunker. Zwunkers wear elaborate leather armor and carry steel rods for weapons.

Environment: Caves overlooking the sea.


Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 6+2
Attacks: 4 slams (1d6)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: None
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

Kruks are a tall race of white-skinned humanoids with four arms, duck-like bills and tall, bony crests which allow them to communicate over long distances with rumbling roars. They dwell in subterranean caverns they have carved into perfect squares, with each cavern connected to others via underground canals filled with oily water. Kruks trade humanoid flesh and slaves in markets well attended by other creatures of the underworld.

Environment: Underground


Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: Bite (2d6)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Swallow whole
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Rhuups are portly, furred ogres with a tigerish cast. They adore jewelry and fine clothes, and are remarkably intelligent (i.e. can answer questions about obscure lore with a successful saving throw). Rhuups have large, cavernous maws with frightful teeth, and their jaws are hinged in such a way that they can swallow people whole. Any bite that kills an opponent can also be assumed to result in the person being swallowed. This heals the Rhuup of 2d6 points of damage, and allows them to absorb the knowledge of the person swallowed.

Environment: Subterranean

Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 3+3
Attacks: Claw and bite (1d6) or weapon (1d6+2)
Saving Throw: 14
Special: Half damage from non-magic weapons, immune to cold, fire and poison
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Fiends are the foot soldiers of the demonic dimensions. They have a highly variable appearance, often taking forms so bizarre and unnerving that the mind reels. Each fiend has one of the following aspects (roll 1d4).

Random Aspect
1 Scaly, covered in matted fur, scabby: Improve AC to 1 [18]
2 Horns, tusks, spines, spikes, serrated limbs: Improve bite/claw damage by +2
3 Special Attack (see below)
4 Spell Ability (see below)

Random Special Attack
1 Venomous: Poisonous bite, save or 2d6 damage
2 Vomit acid on opponent: 1d6 damage and armor bonus reduced by 1
3 Belch fire in 10-ft cone: 2d6 damage
4 Sulpherous Blast forms a 20-ft diameter circle; those within suffer a -2 penalty to hit and 1d3 damage each round

Random Magical Ability
1-2 Random level 1 spell, use once per day
3 Random level 1 spell, use once per round
4 Random level 2 spell, use once per day
5 Random level 2 spell, use once per round
6 Random level 3 spell, use once per day