NOD 11 – Just in Time for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, NOD 11 arrives with the beginning of a five part hex crawl set in the scariest place in creation – HELL! Also, four new races for your underground adventures, a sinister new class – the demonologist, four new demon lords to bedevil your players and some tips on sprucing up the most under appreciated mega-monsters in gaming, the titans.

Compatible with most old school rules

140 pages

PDF is $3.50

Print version not on sale until I get a proof copy

Well, what are you waiting for? GO BUY IT MAN!

NOD 12 (coming in December) will feature the next installment of Hell, a write-up of a hero and villain for Mystery Men!, the first part of the “shades of …” dragon articles, four more underground races (drow, duergar, svirfneblin and notac-ichat) and, finally, the Mutant Truckers mini-campaign.

Happy Halloween from the Mystery Men

‘Tis the season, and all that. Thought I’d write up a few heroes who seem appropriate for the holiday.

Bogey Man
Bogey Man is author Kendall Richards, a famous crime novelist who is forced to go undercover when a gangster called Blade steals his latest book, in which he has concocted the perfect crime. Once he gets his book back, he continues fighting crime as the Bogey Man.

Destroying Demon
Secret agent Bruce Blackburn is forced to go undercover as a traitor to break an un-American spy ring (no, that’s not political – they actually called themselves the Un-American Group). Most folks think he is dead, but he actually fights crime and spies as the Destroying Demon. His main weapon – a bungee cord that allows him to jump from building to building.

Fantomah
Fantomah is a jungle goddess who deals out grim punishment to evil-doers in Africa. She can either take the form of a beautiful blonde jungle girl or a blue-skinned, skull-faced hellion.

Purple Zombie
Zoro – if that’s his real name – was a corpse that was revitalized by a ray invented by Dr. Hale and Dr. Malinsky. Malinsky wants to create an army of zombies to take over the world, and when Dr. Hale opposes him he shoots Hale. The zombie, in return, strangles the evil scientist and then goes on a rampage. He is finally captured, but it turns out that Dr. Hale is still alive and is able to control him. The court releases Zoro to the doctor and embark on a life of adventure.

Happy Halloween Folks!

The Macabre

Once upon a time, the story goes, the fey retreated before the unstoppable spread humanity into the kingdom of Faery, rarely to be seen again. This, of course, is utter rot. Oh, the elves sometimes slip between the dimensions and travel through time as their magic allows, but most of the fey stayed put, learning to blend in and live among, though usually separate from, humans. The elves remained beautiful, of course, and the goblins weird and macabre, and they can be found today as members of a few weird families throughout the world, rarely intermarrying with humankind and otherwise enjoying themselves as best they can in a world that fears them.

The Macabre
The macabre are humanoids (well, mostly) who are, to a man and woman, unwholesome, or at least odd, in appearance. They are possessed of a dark humor and a glee that sometimes runs to the murderous. Encountered outside their close knit clans, the macabre refer to themselves as uncle, aunt, cousin or even grandmother or grandfather, indicating their race’s kinship to mankind. They call themselves by names profane, morbid or macabre.

The macabre are possessed of strange powers. All of them have rather special powers of regeneration, healing at double the normal human rate (i.e. 2 hp per day). Macabres can see in the dark up to 120 feet. Each one has an additional extraordinary ability rolled on the following table:

1. Startling strength (can boost their strength once per day per gauntlets of ogre strength)
2. Half damage from fire
3. Half damage from acid
4. Half damage from electricity
5. +3 bonus to save vs. poison
6. +3 bonus to save vs. disease
7. Menagerie (commands a swarm of spiders, a pack of six giant rats or a single vulture, lion or octopus)
8. Witch or warlock (cast prestidigitation three times per day)
9. Has an assassin vine as a boon companion
10. Has an old crawler (a disembodied human hand) as a boon companion
11. Swordsman (+1 to hit with swords and -1 [+1] Armor Class while fighting with a sword)
12. Explosives (can mix and set off explosives without harming himself)
13. Inhumanly tall (-1 to dexterity, +1 to strength)
14. Inhumanly short (-3 to movement, +1 to strength)
15. Inhumanly fat (-3 to movement, +1 to constitution)
16. Inhumanly thin (-1 to constitution, +1 to dexterity)
17. Raucous cackle (once per day, all within earshot must save vs. fear or flee for 1d6 rounds)
18. Regenerate 1 hp per round up to half normal hit points unless reduced to 0 hit points
19. Covered in thick hair (-1 [+1] to Armor Class)
20. Tunneler (has a burrowing speed of 6)

Macabres can advance as fighting-men up to 7th level, magic-users up to 5th level and as thieves with no level limit.

Illustration by Charles Addams. Found HERE.

Map of Hell Hex Crawl – Current Incarnation

Quick and easy post today – the Hell map in its most current incarnation. Things will be added as I write the rest of the hex crawl. The red river near the middle is Phlegethon. The little yellow squares indicate the location of something Hellish. The letters indicate the different tunnels and vaults, such as …

[A] Hall of Surt: This tunnel is roughly 10 miles wide and 300 feet tall, with roughly rectangular walls carved throughout with the images of solemn fire giants. The air here is warm and dry, and the tunnel has no resources, including flora, fauna and water, to be spoken of. The floor is covered in massive stalactites and the ceiling in stalagmites, some of them so massive as to connect to form pillars 30 to 50 feet in diameter. This forest-like environment makes travel slower than normal (one hex every two days) and increases the chance of wandering monsters to 2 in 6 per day.

I’ll have a more interesting post tomorrow – converting a famous Halloween family into something playable for Swords and Wizardry. Here’s a hint – they’re both creepy and kooky.

Rappan Athuk Memories

Maybe five years ago, I was getting tired of running 3rd edition D-n-D. Lots of work, that one. I was happy to have discovered a new game called Castles and Crusades and was eager to get my players into the new system. To do it, I set up a one-shot excursion into Rappan Athuk, Necromancer Games’ mega-dungeon that promised an encounter with Orcus in its deepest depths.

To introduce the game in the most painless way possible, I set out to make some pre-gen characters for the group. Being a man who loves fantasy art, I started with that. Find a picture, stat it up. Stuck around 6th to 9th level, as I remember and eventually threw in some sci-fi, Popeye, etc. Gonzo.

The play concept was simple. I put about 10 character sheets on the table and let people choose their favorite. I had another 20 or so in reserve. When a character died, they disappeared and were replaced by another, rolled randomly.

Before the group had even made it into the dungeon they had a female thief torn to shreds by gargoyles. Another died in that crypt trap. Deeper in, a psion torched himself and his fellows and sent at least one character to Hades. Another guy got stuck to the … well, I won’t get too much into spoiler territory. Lots of fun, lots of casualties, no tears.

That was Rappan Athuk to me – everything the damned game is supposed to be. And now we’re going to have an expanded version for Swords and Wizardry. Neat!

Handy Dandy Mini-Dungeon Chamber Generator

I’m finishing up the first chunk of my Hell hex crawl now, and that means mini-dungeons. I save most of them for last and have about four or five more to go [dude, just counted – there are 13 of them – how appropriate]. To that end, I scribbled down some ideas for generating chambers that I thought others might find useful.’

Contents
1. Empty
2. Trap
3. Monster
4. Monster with treasure
5. Trap with treasure
6. Monster, trap and treasure

Since this is for mini-dungeons, I want fewer empty rooms so I get more bang for the buck. If you’re only dealing with six or seven rooms, making three or four of the empty doesn’t work for me.

Shape
1-3. Square or rectangular
4. Circle
5. Other shape (pentagon, hexagon, octagon)
6. Cross or L-shape

Levels
1-4. One level (i.e. normal, flat room)
5-6. Multi-level – levels connected by
        1. Ramps
        2. Stairs
        3. Balconies (i.e. no connection)
        4. Beams (i.e. no connection)
        5. Pit (i.e. no connection)
        6. Ropes or chains
        7. Magic (levitation discs, air currents, teleporters)
        8. Roll twice, maybe adding a third level to the room

Monster Is …
1. Alone (CR = party level +3)
2. Duo (CR = party level +2)
3. Trio (CR = party level +1)
4-5. Mob (CR = party level)
6. Monster and mob (CR for monster = party level, CR for mob = party level -1)

Exits
1. No additional exit – dead end
2-3. One exit
4-5. Two exits
6. Three exits

Special Room
1. Fire / ash / smoke / torches / fire pits / burning walls / obsidian / red
2. Water / sludge / fountains / pools / well / reservoir / damp / rain / geysers / blue
3. Ice / freezing / snow / cold winds / white
4. Gas / sleeping / poison / acidic / fog / clouds / yellow / green
5. Light / multi-colored / bright / dark / twilight / candles / lamps / witch lights
6. Crystal / reflections / mirrors / glass / gem encrusted / facets / vibrations
7. Bone / blood / flesh / mold / rot / unholy / quivering / breathing / secretions / heaving
8. Noise / screaming / breathing / moaning / sighing / music / song / chanting
9-20. Nothing special

Image by Joseph Gandy

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Addendum – Just got this from Lulu.com. My shop link is up in the corner. You know what to do, if you have a mind to.


Deviant Friday – Kendrick Lim and Kippery Edition

Looking at two different artists on DeviantArt today.

Kippery works in a style that reminds me of some of the fairy tale work produced in the early 20th century. Strong, clean lines, thin figures and muted, flat colors.

Kendrick Lim (kunkka), on the other hand, produces beautiful, full, rich colors – very vibrant and satisfying.

KIPPERY

theysayheslaysdragons

mermaidlure

thefall

strangermasked

KUNKKA
Maiden of Fire

Defense of the Ancients

Gina – gyromancer

Dragon Lady

Hell Preview 11 – Earth, Wind and Water?

Another preview – maybe the last before the release of NOD 11. I’m going to try to finish the first Hell hex crawl installment this weekend and publish sometime next week. I think the schedule will be …

NOD 11 – Ante-Hell, Circle 1 and Circle 2 – North half

NOD 12 – Ante-Hell, Circle 1 and Circle 2 – South half

NOD 13 – Circles 2-5

NOD 14 – Circle 6 (City of Dis)

NOD 15 – Circles 7-9

I think it’s safe to say that by NOD 15, I’ll be sick and tired of writing about Hell.

In the meantime – here’s the preview material …

15.39 Aella: This windy hex holds the stronghold of Aella, titaness of whirlwinds, daughter of Khaos. Aella’s barony is always windy, with the direction of the wind shifting substantially from moment to moment and whirlwinds forming each hour on a roll of 1 on 1d4 (treat as an air elemental’s whirlwind power).

In the midst of these winds there is a great dome of tarnished gold. The dome is pierced by a grand gatehouse of white marble with towers 60 feet tall and inner and outer portcullises. The gatehouse and dome are defended by 15 companies of sinister bronze men, who pour molten bronze upon people from murder holes in the gatehouse (6d6 damage, save for half) and 5 squadrons of harpies, who pepper invaders with arrows and sing their terrible songs.

Aella is lithe and graceful, but her green eyes have a malevolent cast and her red hair is wild and unkempt. Her skin is the color of a crimson sunset and her frame is encased in mithral platemail. She carries a massive glaive. Her treasure includes 3,920 gp, 740 pp and a silver idol in a copper basin (worth 14,000 gp) that depicts her father.

18.28 Mount Kippat: Kippat is a lonely mountain that towers over the surrounding savannah. Plumes of white and yellow smoke pour out of crevices near the base (climbers must save vs. poison or fall unconscious and fall for 6d6 points of damage). The cracks and crevices of the mountain are inhabited by a tribe (really multiple families) of 400 goblins. The crevices are anywhere from 10 to 30 feet deep, and the bottoms have been hollowed out by the goblins, who sought both a place to live and the green garnets that abound here. Over time, the goblins tunneled deep into the mountain, discovering that the deeper one went, the larger the garnets became until they finally coalesced into a single garnet about 20 feet in diameter at the very center of the mountain. A bizarre creature appears to exist in the heart of the garnet. The garnet’s great size and faceted nature makes it difficult to discern just what it hides, but it is clearly evil and the garnets of its mountain seem to carry with them a taint to this mother garnet.

66.9 Water Bridge: A powerful gout of water emerges from the ground here and arcs into the distance, well past the horizon. One can step into the rushing water and, if they can hold their breath for 10 rounds or fight the current enough to keep their head out of water (requires an open doors roll each round) they are delivered across the hex, suffering only 3d6 points of damage for the journey.

Unfortunately, the plume of water plunges back into the ground at the end of its journey, depositing the adventurer in a series of partially submerged limestone caverns crawling with giant centipedes, green slimes and other monstrosities. It is impossible to “swim” back up the flowing water and the limestone caves seem to climb ever downward, with waterfalls and submerged tunnels all the way. At the bottom of the caves there is a sickly titan chained to the cavern walls. The titan looks pale, its eyes rheumy and its lips lank and parched despite the moisture of the caverns.

The titan, Felix, is the son of Anatole, goddess of the sunrise and Sors, the god of luck. He was locked away, hidden from the Sun, as a means of tormenting his mother. His chains are semi-ethereal and pass through his wrists and ankles. They keep him weak and prevent him from using his magical powers. If freed, he would be a target for every demon and devil in Hell, but he would be a powerful ally for a time and a great help in escaping Hell.

Yeah, the titans were built with the help of THIS.

Ray Guns and Invizo-Screens [Space Princess]

The esteemed Jason Sholtis is now working on illustrations for Space Princess, so the game’s release is imminent. To keep the atomic fires of excitement for this game stoked, I thought I’d provide a sampling of the super science that scientists in the game can build, provided they have the skill and resources.

Super Science
Super Science is our name for high-tech equipment. The following list of super science is not exhaustive, and Referees and the players of scientist characters should feel to invent new items.

The name of each item is followed by a number in parentheses. This number is the test value for a scientist’s skill test when trying to fabricate the item.

Found super science devices can be salvaged for parts. A working super science device is worth a number of SCI (science points) equal to half its test value, rounded down. Thus, a working anti-gravity belt is worth 7 SCI. A non-functional device is worth 1d6 SCI.

Anti-Grav Belt (TV 15): An anti-gravity belt allows one to rise or descend through the air (or vacuum) at a rate of 10 paces per round. An anti-gravity belt can be used 10 times before needing a recharge.

Electro-Scrambler (TV 20): An electro-scrambler can be used to disrupt the electric brains of robots, androids and gynoids. The effectiveness of an electro-scrambler depends on the skill level of the scientist who created it. When used, consult the following table:

Find the skill level of the inventor and then cross reference the number of Hit Dice of the robot. The resulting percentage is the chance that the electro-scrambler works. When unleashed, an electro-scrambler affects all robots, androids and gynoids in a 30-ft radius unless they have specifically been given immunity by the inventor of the device (i.e. a scientist can choose to make the androids and gynoids that are his allies immune to his electro-scrambler). Making these modifications costs five Science Points per android, gynoid, or robot so modified.

Robots that are affected must flee (usually while bleeping loudly and smoking) for 1d6+1 rounds in the opposite direction. If they cannot flee, they simply walk repeatedly into a wall. If attacked while affected by an electro-scrambler, a robot goes berserk, fighting back with a +2 bonus to hit. Androids and gynoids receive a Mentality test to ignore the effects of an electro-scrambler.

Force Screen (TV 10): A force screen is usually projected from a belt or other small piece of equipment attached to a person’s clothing. The force screen grants a +2 bonus to DEFENSE against missile attacks. It can be used for 10 rounds of combat before needing a recharge.

Invizo-Screen (TV 20): An invizo-screen emanates from a helmet worn on the head, making the person completely invisible for up to 10 rounds before it must be recharged. An invisible person has their Defense Rating increased by 10 if they do not attacks, and increased by 5 if they do attack in combat. Invisible people can still be heard, felt and smelled.

Medi-Kit (TV 10): A medi-kit is a small box that can dispense chemicals that heal wounds (+2d6 hit points) and neutralize poisons. A medi-kit can be used 6 times before its chemical stores must be replenished.

Mento-Helmet (TV 20): A mento-helmet amplified a person’s natural brain waves and performance. It grants a +2 bonus to mentality tests and gives a person the ESP ability of mystics. The mento-helmet can be used 10 times before needing a recharge.

Ray Gun – Basic (TV 10): A basic ray gun fires rays of energy. Ray guns can be used 10 times before they must be recharged. All ray guns have a range of 30 paces.

Ray Gun – Freeze (TV 15): A freeze ray immobilizes a creature for 1d4+1 rounds unless they pass a test of Strength (TV 10).

Space Suit (TV 10): A space suit allows a person to survive in a vacuum for 1 hour before its oxygen supply must be replenished. It consists of an air-tight suit of plastic and rubber, a glass helmet and oxygen tanks that can either be external or worked into the lining of the suit.

Image found HERE.

Dark Shadows – My Obligatory October Horror Post

Over the past few months my wife and I have been watching Dark Shadows, the 1960’s gothic horror soap opera that eventually revolved around Barnabas Collins, a vampire from the coast of Maine. My wife and her friend got into Dark Shadows years ago when they were first released on video cassette and then DVD. I’m a newcomer to the saga, and, given my retro proclivities and love of quality cheese, I’m completely hooked.

For the old school RPG enthusiast, Dark Shadows is a pretty good fit. For starters, it has production values that are on par with our beloved LBB’s. Lines are forgotten, mike booms and cameras sometimes get into shots and impenetrable brick walls often shudder when touched. Re-shooting scenes was an expense the producers were not able or willing to incur, but I’m a firm believer that bad special effects do not ruin good stories. Dark Shadows is a cracking good story.

Most DVD collections ignore the early episodes in favor of the episodes that introduced Barnabas, who became the break-out hit of the series. The story begins with Victoria Winters taking a job as a tutor with the Collins family. The Collins family is suitably Gothic and weird.  The grand dame is Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, who hasn’t left the family home in over a decade – and nobody knows why. Well, nobody except one Jason McGuire, who knows precisely why and is blackmailing Elizabeth as a result. McGuire, as played by Dennis Patrick, is so slimy I found myself dreading his arrival as much as the characters – and praying for his violent downfall as much as his victims as well. Elizabeth’s brother is Roger Collins, an alcoholic single father who was apparently married to a phoenix – i.e. his wife left him and then returned and revealed she was really a mythological creature who catches fire and burns. Weird. Roger’s son is David, a precocious boy (they always are in the 1960’s) who claims that the ghost of Josette Collins still haunts the old house on the estate (she does – for a while, at least, until a new ghost shows up). Elizabeth has a swinging daughter named Carolyn who hates Jason McGuire enough to take up with the world’s goofiest hippy biker just to piss off mom. Jason’s comrade in villainy is one Willy Loomis, who thinks he has discovered that the Collins family jewels are sealed in a crypt on Eagle Hill Cemetery, only to find out that something terrible is hidden within (I’m sure plenty of RPG tomb robbers can relate).

Barnabas, when he finally arrives, proves the maxim that you can’t judge a production by its budget. The storylines with him are often very creepy. His big goal, early on, is to be re-united with Josette, the woman he loved back in 1795. I won’t go into the details, but the storyline is well written and often well played and is disturbing even if you ignore the fact that Barnabas is a vampire. This is something for RPG referees to think about. Don’t let your villains be villains because of the special abilities written next to their names. Make them villainous because of what they do, not because of what they can do.

Eventually, Dr. Julia Hoffman arrives on the scene and adds a new dimension in villainy. She sees curing Barnabas of his vampirism as a way to establish herself as a medical genius, and pursues this with an amoral zeal that eventually catches up to her. Another good template for a villain in RPG’s – the amoral enabler whose agenda complicates the lives of the protagonists.

I highly suggest that folks with a Netflix account or some other way to access the series give it a try. Don’t be put off by the production values – as with the LBB’s, there’s some real treasure buried beneath the modest facade.