Deviant Friday: Paul Harmon Edition

Okay, I guess I’m not done posting this month/year after all. Today’s deviant is Paul Harmon, aka dogmeatsausage. A few different encounters in NOD were inspired by his work – enjoy the last Deviant Friday of 2010!

Bats

I remember the first time I saw that bat dude on the right – immediately decided he lived somewhere in the Klarkash Mts.

Thundarr was my introduction to the post-apocalyptic world concept – still love it.

Elder

Just for fun, some OMAC stats for Mystery Men! using 10 dice for ability scores and 25,000 XP for powers.
 OMAC 
4th level adventurer
Str 8/+2, Dex 7/+2, Con 8/+2, Int 3/+0, Wis 7/+2, Cha 2/+0
HP 32, DC 16, Move 100, Save 13, XP 3200
Powers
Limited – Super Constitution (12/+3), Super Dexterity (11/+3), Super Strength (12/+3)
Single-Use – Armor, Correspond (Brother Eye), Energy Bolt, Endure Elements, Fly, Haste, Heroism I, Jump, Regenerate, Stoneskin

Update from the Land of Nod

Just a quick update from the merry old Land of Nod.

1 – Finished maps for Antigoon and Blackpoort today, for NOD #7 to be published in Feb 2011. Haven’t numbered Antigoon yet, but will soon. I’m going to work on Lyonesse tomorrow and then get working on writing those city-states up.

2 – My Hawkeyes won the Insight Bowl having lost their top receiver (drug charges) and first and second string running backs to transfers before the game. How ’bout them Hawks?!

3 – Finished writing up the powers for the alpha release of Mystery Men! Should finish up the rules this week or next, at which point I (and anyone else) can do some playtesting. I should begin showing off some of the art in January – can’t wait. I have a good feeling about this one.

4 – Watched Mystery Science Theatre 3000 yesterday with the kid – Hercules Unchained. It (the MST3K show) was made 20 years ago – damn I feel old.

5 – Starting work on Hexcrawl Classics #3. I’ve seen some of the art for the first two, and when I get permission will show some of it off on the blog.

And Now – Our Special Guest Villain

A couple posts ago I statted up Invisible Woman using the alpha release rules (such as they are) for Mystery Men! Now, to show how the powers can be used to build an essentially non-powered character (and to give some attention to the other big name in comics), I decided to apply some stats to Catwoman.

Even though, for all intents and purposes, Catwoman has no super powers, it is fairly obvious that her abilities far exceed that of a normal human being, even within the fantasy universe of comic books. The powers in the game are really meant to represent results – i.e. what a character can do – not freakish abilities that are handed out by atomic blasts, radioactive animals or sharing some DNA with the gods. In that sense, Catwoman should definitely have some powers.

Ability Scores
While Sue Richards is a “normal person”, ability-wise, with extraordinary powers to make her a super hero, Catwoman is almost the opposite. Catwoman has, above all, impressive dexterity – acrobatics, sneaking about, slinging that whip, etc. Naturally, she has a high charisma as well – you can thank the primarily male audience of comic books for that – and probably a good intelligence and wisdom as well. If there are any stats we can “ignore”, they’re probably strength and constitution. So, we have 14 dice to distribute among our ability scores, we’ll put 1 each in Strength and Constitution, 2 each in Charisma, Intelligence and Wisdom and the remainder, 6, in Dexterity:

Strength: 5 (+1)
Dexterity: 25 (+8)
Constitution: 3 (+0)
Intelligence: 8 (+2)
Wisdom: 6 (+1)
Charisma: 10 (+3)

Wow – rolled extremely well for Dexterity. If I was doing a straight conversion of the character, I probably wouldn’t have gone that high with Dexterity, but since I’m randomizing this, we’ll go with 25.

Powers
Selina Kyle is an adventurer. Because she’s a major character and a long-time villain, and because I’m going to pit her against Invisible Woman to demonstrate the combat rules, I’m giving her 50,000 XP to spend on powers and levels. Normally, I would give her Super Dexterity (re-named from Cat’s Grace), but since her ability score roll was so good, I don’t need to. Her powers (and costs) are as follows:

Alarm (limitless) – 1000 XP
Catfall (limitless) – 1000 XP
Find Clue (limitless) – 1000 XP
Moment of Prescience (single use) – 7500 XP

The new incarnation wears goggles, which we’re going to invest with the Darkvision power (limitless) for 1,500 XP. Catwoman also carries a whip (ranged weapon, 10′ range, 1d6 damage). She wears leather armor.

The total XP cost of Catwoman’s powers would be 12,000 XP, leaving her 38,000 XP to put towards her level, making her a 16th level villain.

Our finished Catwoman conversion looks like this:

CATWOMAN

Name: Selina Kyle

Class: Adventurer
Level: 16
Hit Points: 65
Armor Class: 20 (+8 Dex, +2 Armor)
Saving Throw: 7
Attack Bonus: +16

Abilities: Str 5 (+1), Dex 25 (+8), Con 3 (+0), Int 8 (+2), Wis 6 (+1), Cha 10 (+3)

Powers: Limitless – Alarm, Feather Fall, Find Clue; 1/issue* – Moment of Prescience.

* At the moment, I’m doing time in Mystery Men! in terms of panels (about 1 minute), pages (10 minutes) and issues (1 day). One commenter last time didn’t care for this, and I’ll admit it’s cutesy (kinda like calling a referee a Dungeon Master), but I kinda liked it. I’m not married to the concept, though, so I’d love to hear what others think of it.


So – next time around I’ll run a little scenario in which Catwoman has broken into the Baxter Building to steal a cat statuette taken from the tomb of the Living Mummy. Sue Richards hears the alarm and goes to investigate …

Catwoman is the property of D.C Comics and the application of Mystery Men! stats and use of images of the character in this blog post is not intended to threaten or infringe on their copyright or intellectual property. Top image is Julie Newman as Catwoman from the greatest TV show ever made, and the bottom image is by Darwyn Cooke.

Merry Christmas and a Magic Item

Nothing fancy in this post – just my wishes that everyone who reads this blog (and everyone who doesn’t) has a fun, healthy Christmas and prosperous, successful New Year – keep on gaming and good luck in all your endeavors!!!

Oh, and since I feel like I should do something game related …

Wand of Ice Missiles: The wand of ice metals is a cobalt blue tube about 12 inches long. By blowing in one end, you can launch a magical dart of ice out the other. The ice darts have a maximum range of 30 feet and deal 1d4 points of physical damage and 1d6 points of freezing damage. The ice darts also numb (effectively paralyze) the body part they hit. Roll 1d10 on the following table:

1-2. Right leg – movement reduced by one half, cannot run
3-4. Left leg – movement reduced by one half, cannot run
5. Left arm – unable to use shield or weapon
6. Right arm – unable to use shield or weapon
7-9. Torso – paralyzed for 1d4 rounds
10. Head – Unconscious for 1 hour

In all cases, the target receives a saving throw to avoid the numbness. Attacking with the ice dart requires a successful ranged attack. The wand can be used four times per day, but only once per hour, unless you are in a cold environment, in which case it can be used once per round, up to 10 times per day.

Image is Maxfield Parrish’s idea of Santa Claus via Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

Deviant Friday – Doc Shaner Edition

If you hooked me up to one of those old sci-fi contraptions that puts your thoughts onto a video monitor, the screen shots would look a lot like Doc Shaner’s DeviantArt album. When it comes to comic books, I prefer bright, fun and heroic, and Doc Shaner delivers. Enjoy some happy images and Merry Christmas to all!

Somebody needs to run a Jonny Quest game online. Maybe mid-century science adventure would be a good companion piece to Mystery Men!
Such a great character, and interesting how the character’s distinctive voice and ability to “cloud men’s minds” owe their origin to it being developed as a radio show. If you’ve never listened to them – do so NOW
Alex Ross once opined that, whatever they do to Superman or Batman or Spider-Man in modern comics, the characters will always retain their classic look in the imagination of the public. I think, in essence, modern comic adaptations of the characters is little more than authorized fan fiction – the characters have a timeless continuity all their own.
This mug just showed up on an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Any cartoon that features Animal Vegetable Mineral Man ranks high in my estimation.
I love all things Thor (well, except for the metal quilt they have him wearing these days). The Enchantress probably tops the list, followed by Beta Ray Bill and Volstagg.
Comic strips from the Golden Age of the comic page outclass anything produced since, whether comic book or comic strip. Thimble Theatre after the introduction of Popeye (yes, my favorite superhero) is among the best, along with Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dick Tracy. This one is easily my favorite piece by Doc Shaner – I only wish it was available as a print.
Clobbercolor
The Popeye of the Marvel universe.
In the world of Hyboria, I imagine gruff tavern goers discuss Belit vs. Red Sonja in the same reverent tones that Americans from my generation discuss Ginger vs. Mary Ann and Betty vs. Wilma. For the record – I’m going brunette in all three categories.

Mystery Men! Update

Now that PARS FORTUNA, NOD 6 and Hexcrawl Classic #2 are off my plate, I have some breathing room to work on Mystery Men! The alpha document now has magic-user spells from level 1 to 5 converted into powers. The character creation section is about 80% complete and most other rules sections are outlined. While I’ve been writing out the powers, I’ve become very itchy to write up some heroes, especially heroes that everybody knows and loves to give people an idea of how the game works. With that in mind, I give you a brief conversion of the first lady of the Marvel Universe – Invisible Woman into Mystery Men! stats.

Ability Scores
So, first things first, we need to work on ability scores. For the most part Sue Richards is a normal person, ability-wise, with extraordinary powers. For that reason, I’m going to assign two dice to every ability except Wisdom and Charisma, which get three dice each to represent her beauty and common sense Rolling the dice, we get the following stats:

Strength: 5 (+1)
Dexterity: 5 (+1)
Constitution: 8 (+2)
Intelligence: 10 (+3)
Wisdom: 14 (+4)
Charisma: 11 (+3)

Powers
Sue is going to be an adventurer rather than scientist or sorcerer. Because she’s a major character and a long-time hero, we’re going to give her 50,000 XP to spend on powers and levels. Her powers (and costs) are as follows:

Force Missile (limitless) = 1,000 XP
Force Sphere (limited) = 6,000 XP
Shield (limitless) = 1,000 XP
Wall of Force (limited) = 9,000 XP
Invisibility II (limitless) = 10,000 XP
Invisibility Sphere (limited) = 3,600 XP

In addition, her costume (designed by Reed) is invested with two powers, Armor and Endure Elements. This costs an additional 200 XP.

The total XP cost of Sue’s powers would be 30,800, leaving her 19,200 XP, making her an 11th level hero.

Our finished Invisible Woman conversion looks like this:

INVISIBLE WOMAN
Name: Sue Richards
Class: Adventurer
Level: 11
Hit Points: 62
Armor Class: 15 (+1 Dex, +4 Armor)
Saving Throw: 9
Attack Bonus: +11

Abilities: Str 5 (+1), Dex 5 (+1), Con 8 (+2), Int 10 (+3), Wis 14 (+4), Cha 11 (+3)

Powers: Limitless – Force Missile, Invisibility II, Shield; 1/page* – Force Sphere, Invisibility Sphere, Wall of Force.

* At the moment, I’m doing time in Mystery Men! in terms of panels (about 1 minute), pages (10 minutes) and issues (1 day).

Invisible Woman is the property of Marvel Entertainment and the application of Mystery Men! stats and use of images of the character in this blog post is not intended to threaten or infringe on their copyright or intellectual property.

Celebrating The Dragon – A Challenge

Greg at Gorgonmilk posted some of his favorite covers of the venerable Dragon Magazine, and one of them just happens to be one of my favorites as well. So I got this idea – and I challenge the RPG blogosphere to do the same – find your favorite Dragon cover and write up a brief description with stats. Any era or edition (or any set of rules for that matter) – let’s forget the edition nonsense and celebrate a grand old magazine with a little fun and creativity!

For my part, I give you this little beauty from Denis Beauvais

There was much honor to be had in escorting Mirandra, one of the Vestal Virgins of Nomo, to storied Galardis to reconsecrate the Temple of Vesta in that city, recently uncovered from rubble in one of the ruined precincts. For Keiros the Centaur, it was a chance to cement his reputation as a paladin of the highest water, a reputation he had worked especially hard to establish given the proclivity of his people to drinking and fighting. For Gimwold of the Crooked Staff, it meant a chance to delve into the infamous Librarium of Galardis for the lost tomes of the ancient elves. Neither Gimwold and Keiros trusted the canyon bridge they had come to in the Klarkash Mts, but it was a short span, and the men-at-arms and bearers were already grumbling about journeying through those dark and wicked peaks. It was then that Gigatrikh, wretched scion of the great wyrm Yakh Six-Claw, chose to strike. A nubile maiden was just the thing his hoard lacked!

Gimwold of the Crooked Staff, Magic-User Lvl 7: HP 25; AC 8 [11]; Move 12; Save 9 (7 vs. spells); Special: Spells (5/3/2/1). Str 10, Int 16, Wis 13, Dex 14, Con 13, Cha 13. Speaks Common, bugbear, elf, giant and halfling. Equipment: Staff, darts (3).

Keiros the Juste, Centaur Paladin* Lvl 5: HP 24; AC 2 [17]; Move 12; Save 12; Special: Detect evil, protection from evil, immune to disease, cure disease 1/wk, lay on hands (10 hp), turn undead, destrier, carry 150% more than human, +2 AC vs. grapple and overbearing, attack with hooves (1d6). Str 15, Int 9, Wis 12, Dex 11, Con 12, Cha 15. Speaks Common, centaur. Equipment: Platemail, shield, longsword.

Mirandra the Vestal Virgin, Adept Lvl 3: HP 15; AC 9 [10]; Move 12; Save 13; Special: Healer, spells (2 x 1st). Str 10, Int 10, Wis 16, Dex 14, Con 11, Cha 13. Speaks Common. Equipment: Dagger (dropped).

Gigatrikh, Adult Red Dragon: HD 10 (40 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), bite (3d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 5; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Breathes fire (90′ cone, 30′ at base), can speak but not cast spells.

* The centaur race and paladin class can be found in NOD 1

Retro-Engineering: Darkness and Dread

In the annals of the old school wave that hit the d20 system in the 2000’s, Darkness & Dread from Fantasy Flight Games is generally, and unfairly, overlooked. Ostensibly, Darkness & Dread was intended as a tool box for running dark fantasy, horror-style games with the d20 rules. In fact, it plays very much like a weird love child of old D&D and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, with d20 serving as a surrogate mother.

This is most obvious in the classes – all 24 of them. All of the classes have either five or ten level, and all can be entered into after first level (remember, in d20 you don’t gain levels in a class, you just gain levels, choosing to take that level in whatever class you like) only if one has a requisite number of points in a given skill – a nod to WFRP’s career system. Moreover, they divide the careers into categories (Academic, Expert, Laborer and Orator) and have an optional rule that permits one to randomly determine their profession at 1st level – another nod to WFRP. Like old school D&D, the classes are much lower powered than their d20 equivalents. The spell casting classes (Acolyte, Alchemist, Apprentice and Herbalist), for example, never make it past 4th level spells (the apprentice). The game also suggests that treasure be doled out at 10% the normal level (i.e. fewer magic items – and in d20, you get loaded down with magic items). Most of the classes depend on the skill point system in d20, so don’t necessarily translate well into older editions that tend to hand-wave skills and ignore professional and craft skills. A few make for nice additions to a low-powered game, or interesting variations on the old standbys.

Acolyte (Academic)
Within a religious hierarchy, the acolyte is an administrator, a priest assigned to a small village, or a similar minor underling.

Prime Requisite: Wisdom and Charisma, 13+ earns +15% experience
Hit Dice: 1d6
Armor Permitted: Leather
Weapons Permitted: Club, dagger, staff, light and heavy crossbow
Attack As: Cleric
Starting Gold: 1d4 x 10 gp
Entry Requirements: To take levels in acolyte after 1st level, one must gain the sponsorship of a religious organization and complete training in its basic tenets.

Special Abilities
Acolytes gain access to a small number of divine spells. Acolytes prepare and cast spells as clerics. They can select spells from the following list:

Level 0: Detect magic, detect poison, light, purify food & drink
Level 1: Cause fear*, cure light wounds*, detect evil
Level 2: Bless, find traps, hold person, speak with animals
Level 3: Continual light, cure disease*, darkness, prayer

* Denotes a reversible spell

Ward the Unholy: Acolytes can call on their god to hold supernatural creatures at bay. This divine blessings grants the acolyte and her allies a +1 bonus to AC and a +1 bonus to saving throws against magic and mind effects. To use this ability, the acolyte must have 5 gp worth of incense, holy water, and other religious paraphernalia at hand. These items are consumed when the acolyte uses this ability. The acolyte can do this once per day at 1st level, gaining an additional use at 3rd, 6th and 9th levels.

Tend to the Flock: At 5th level, an acolytes time spent dealing with the people in his parish makes him skilled at managing large crowds and leading mobs of commoners and other folk who adhere to his faith. By chanting prayers and benedictions, the acolyte can calm others and steady their nerves. All allies within 60 feet of the acolyte who are 3 or more levels below the acolyte’s total level gain a +2 bonus to save vs. fear and a +1 bonus to hit in combat. The acolyte can use this ability twice per day, and each use lasts for 5 rounds + the acolyte’s Charisma modifier.

Strength of the Faithful: At 10th level, the acolyte is perhaps one of the most accomplished members of his church hierarchy. His faith is unshakable in the face of the horrors that lurk just beyond the knowledge of mortal men. He gains a +2 bonus to saving throws against fear. In addition, once per day he can choose to automatically succeed at a single save against fear.





Spells
Level XP HD Save 0 1 2 3
1 0 1 15 1
2 1,000 2 14 1
3 2,000 3 13 1 1
4 4,000 4 12 2 1
5 8,000 5 11 2 1 1
6 16,000 6 10 2 2 1
7 32,000 7 9 3 2 1 1
8 64,000 8 8 3 2 2 1
9 100,000 9 7 3 3 2 1
10 140,000 10 6 4 3 2 2

Prospector (Expert)
Prospectors seek out veins of gold and other precious metals, but many of them also delve into forgotten ruins in search of lost treasures and valuable relics from an earlier era.

Prime Requisite: Dexterity & Intelligence, 13+ earns +15% experience
Hit Dice: 1d8 (or 1d6+1 if you prefer)
Armor Permitted: Leather
Weapons Permitted: Club, dagger, dart, javelin, mace, morningstar, sling, spear, staff, light and heavy crossbow
Attack As: Thief
Starting Gold: 2d4 x 10 gp
Entry Requirements: To take levels in prospector after 1st level, one must already have the ability to search for and disable traps.

Special Abilities

Skills: Prospectors can use the following skills as a thief (using whatever rules you prefer for thieves): Climb Walls, Find & Remove Traps and Open Locks. They are also capable of appraising the value of metals and stones and they can survive in the wilderness.

Trap Mastery: Prospectors are experts at setting traps and concealing pits. Damage from these traps depends on the prospector’s level, with traps doing 1d6 damage at 1st level, 1d8 damage at 2nd level, 2d6 damage at 3rd level, 3d6 damage at 4th level and 4d6 damage at 5th level.

Oiled Reflexes: If a 3rd level prospector is about to set off a trap due to a failed attempt at removing it, he can immediately make a second remove traps attempt to keep it from triggering. If this second attempt fails, the trap is triggered. If it succeeds, the trap is not removed, but does fail to trigger.

Danger Sense: 5th level prospector’s can re-roll failed saving throws against traps once per day, or twice per day if their intelligence score is 13 or greater.

Level XP HD Save
1 0 1 14
2 1,000 2 13
3 2,000 3 12
4 4,000 4 11
5 8,000 5 10

Pit Fighter (Laborer)
Pit fighters are down-and-dirty gladiators who fight for money, fame and glory.

Prime Requisite: Strength & Dexterity, 13+ earns +15% experience
Hit Dice: 1d10 (or 1d6+2 if you prefer)

Armor Permitted: Leather and shield
Weapons Permitted: Any weapon
Attack As: Fighting-Man
Starting Gold: 2d4 x 10 gp
Entry Requirements: To take levels in pit fighter after 1st level, one must already have an attack bonus of at least +1 and must train as a gladiator for 1 month.

Special Abilities

Frenzy: Once per day, a pit fighter can enter a berserk fury for 5 rounds + the pit fighter’s constitution bonus. During the frenzy the pit fighter gains a +1 bonus to hit and damage, +1 hp/level, +2 on all saves against fear and a -2 penalty to AC. When the frenzy ends, the penalty to AC continues until the encounter is over.

Dirty Fighter: Pit fighters do whatever it takes to overcome their enemies. If a pit fighter of 3rd level or higher attacks from the rear or attacks an opponent who is surprised or flanked by an ally, he does double damage.

Fearless Frenzy: At 5th level, pit fighters gain a second use of frenzy each day and are completely immune to fear.

Level XP HD Save
1 0 1 14
2 1,000 2 13
3 2,000 3 12
4 4,000 4 11
5 8,000 5 10

Medium (Orator)
Mediums are those rare, special individuals who have the ability to pierce the psychic veil, using ESP, object reading and other talents.

Prime Requisite: Wisdom & Charisma, 13+ earns +15% experience
Hit Dice: 1d6

Armor Permitted: None

Weapons Permitted: Club, dagger, staff, light and heavy crossbow

Attack As: Magic-User
Starting Gold: 1d6 x 10 gp
Entry Requirements: To take levels in medium after 1st level, one must already have a wisdom score of 13 or higher and must have failed a saving throw vs. fear from some supernatural creature.

Special Abilities

Skills: Mediums can pick pockets as well as a thief of equal level. In addition, they receive a +1 bonus to reaction checks when speaking for their party and collect double the normal number of rumors.

Sense the Unseen: With quiet study and meditation, mediums can read the emotional background of a specific area, such as a room, a forest clearing or a short section of road. By studying the area for a peaceful hour, the medium can learn if a traumatic event took place there by making a successful saving throw with a -2 penalty per year since an event took place. If the medium doesn’t know about a particular event, she can use this method to learn of the last traumatic event that took place there. If the saving throw is successful by more than 3 points, the medium gains a hazy, incomplete mental picture of the event. If she beats the saving throw by 6 or more points, she gains a perfect mental picture of the event, but will suffer any fear effects associated with the event. This power can also be used to read a specific object, like a dagger or article of clothing.

Sixth Sense: At 3rd level, a medium can make a saving throw to detect any supernatural or undead creature that comes within 100 feet of him. If the check succeeds, he senses the creature’s general location. The power of the sensation depends on the Hit Dice of the creature detected: It is faint for creatures with 1-3 HD, disturbing for creatures to 4-8 HD, powerful for creatures with 9-12 HD and overwhelming for creatures with 13+ HD.

Pierce the Veil: A 5th level medium can cast her sight into the land of the dead. She may cast speak with dead once per day.

Level XP HD Save
1 0 1 15
2 1,000 2 14
3 2,000 3 13
4 4,000 4 12
5 8,000 5 11

Other excellent mini-classes include the antiquarian, engineer, physician, sage, artisan, kennelmaster, merchant, thief, tracker, grave robber, sewerjack, veteran, worker, beggar, gambler, grifter and minstrel. One immediately recognizes some old class titles from old D&D.

Darkness & Dread, written by Mike Mearls, has many more excellent ideas that I’ll cover in future editions of Retro-Engineering. In the meantime, if you’re heading into Middenheim or considering sending your players into Hammer Film territory, check Amazon for a copy – the book is pretty easily adapted to older editions of the rules.

Holy Monkey! That’s a Nice Paper Mini

I’ve been thinking about doing something with mass combat in NOD using the Swords & Wizardry rules (because they’re simple and straight forward) or the Swords & Shields rules by ckutalik at Hill Cantons that he recently made available as a free download.

In either event, I tried to make NOD more mass combat friendly in NOD 6, stating combat forces as squadrons (of 10 troops) and companies (of 20 troops) in one of several troop types:

Militia: Peasant Militia, Yeomen Militia and Scouts

Footmen: Archers, Crossbowmen, Handgunners, Slingers, Light Foot, Heavy Foot

Horsemen: Light Horse, Heavy Horse, Knights

NOD 6 is a free download, so I’m not going to go into the whole thing in detail here – just check the article on Western Venatia for more. Anyhow – last night I was looking for some paper minis. I think the Cardboard Fighters are my favorites (sample below), and I’d love some black and white templates of those figures so I could color them in myself with the blazonry of the different armies in NOD.

I also discovered the paper minis at The Fantasy Trip and was absolutely blown away! Check them out – you will not be disappointed (sample below) and you can’t beat the price.

Bear in mind – each of these images is a clip of a much larger sheet.