Notable Nobles – Part the Last

Finally, we come to the last post in the series on noble nicknames, this time with dwarf nobles. I went all out on this one and gave each three nicknames – hey, maybe dwarves like their nicknames.

WILDGRAVE OGMUND the Standard Bearer, the Tempest, White Shirt

Ogmund is a ragged, wild-haired dwarf who dwells in the rugged borderlands on the edge of the dwarf kingdom, lands invaded regularly by the goblin races, ettins and trolls. A famed giant-slayer, he is a loyal companion of Jarl Vagn, having gone on many adventures into the giant country with his father, Vagr, when they were both young dwarfs with much to prove. Ogmund’s nephew, Skapti, is rarely far from his side save when Ogmund’s berserkergang comes upon him. His retinue also includes three chroniclers, two dwarf warriors and their sergeant, Odi and Ljot, a 5th level fighter who serves as his champion and bailiff. Ogmund always dresses in a white tunic and white, hooded cloak.

OGMUND: HD 9 (52 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 9 (12 out of armor); Save 5; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Double normal number of followers, immune to fear, berskerer.

THEGN INGIRID the Treacherous, the Usurper, the Well-Served

Ingirid is the half-sister of Jarl Vagn and his most hated rival. Hated by most of her kin due to her treachery and her dealing with the goblins and orcs, she nevertheless holds fortitided iron mines in the southern mountains that keep her wealthy and influential. Her consort is Vandrad, an exile from the Jarl’s court, two scribes and one orc sergeant, Forox. Her minions are very loyal.

INGIRID: HD 5 (23 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 9 (12 out of armor); Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Treasure as CL 15, low charisma (6), cast bane (reverse of bless) once per day, +1 morale bonus to soldiers.

JARL VAGN the Springer, Star of the North, the Tail

Jarl Vagn is the young, dashing king of the dwarfs, having taken the throne when his father Vagr finally passed into the halls of his ancestor. Vagn is a lover of gold and luxury, unlike his more stern father, but his glib tongue, handsome features and strong sense of justice have kept him popular with all but his half-sister Ingirid. Vagn is accompanied by the berserker Bersi, the shieldmaiden Hlif (who drives him mad with desire), four clarks (one a 3rd level fighter/thief in service to Ingirid), five dwarf warriors and their sergeant, Olaf the Round.

VAGN: HD 2 (12 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 9 (12 out of armor); Save 16; CL/XP 2/60; Special: Triple normal number of followers, treasure as CL 20, +2 initiative, +2 to all attacks and saves.

The Gas Mines of Regulon-4 [Space Princess]

Finally got to sit down with the Daughter of Nod last night and play some Space Princess. You met the core of her crew a few days ago. We added a couple more for this run-through – a veteran gynoid star warrior named XJ9 (pronounced “nye-in”, for those who never saw the cartoon) and a genius scientist named Egon. It gave me a chance to find the missing parts in the game and tinker with the mechanics. It also was pretty fun. Here’s a brief re-cap:

The gas mines are located on a small moon of Regulon-4, which is surrounded by a sort of asteroid belt / ring structure like Saturn. They represent a forward base for the empire of Lord Kang. Recently, one of the space cruisers of Kang overtook the royal yacht of the Princess Miranda and captured her. The dreadnaught took her to the gas mines, where she will be held until Kang can arrive and “convince” her to marry him, thus uniting his empire with the the Space Kingdom of New Avalon. Or something like that.

My daughter’s crew has managed to sneak into the gas mines via a forgotten shaft that runs through an exhaust port for the radium furnaces located beneath the main mine structure. A diversion caused by a wing of star fighters allowed their shuttle to land in a nearby crater on the rocky, barren, slightly radioactive moon.

The action kicked off with them sneaking into the exhaust port. This was a room divided by a 10-ft wide chasm through which radioactive green gasses were vented. There was a door and control panel on the other side of the room that looked as though it extended a bridge. Every so often, gasses would be vented. The crew were in space suits, so being in the presence of the radioactivity was not a problem, but being caught in the exhaust would probably kill them. Declining to use Lum’s “leap and swing” skill to vault the chasm, and instead sent Egon, with his anti-grav belt, across. Once there, he commandeered the control panel and extended the bridge. The crew waited for a venting of the gasses and then hurried across. Egon opened the door and they made their way into the complex.

A few turns later, they were listening at doors. Behind one there were many voices, so they passed it by. Another was fairly silent, so they opened it to find a sleeping carnelian space dragon and dozens of silvery gas canisters. They closed the door before it awoke and tried the door across the hall, which had the sound of industrial machinery.

This room had a balcony overlooking several machines that were extracting gas from the asteroid and packing it in the cannisters. Two maintenance drones were working here and ignored the group. The balcony had, one either end, two silvery discs implanted in the floor. Declining to look at these (I think she forgot they were there), Egon again used his anti-grav belt to reach the floor 20 feet below. Realizing the others were still trapped up there, and with some prodding by dad, she tried out a disc and found that it was a sort of elevator. When the whole crew got to the floor below, they checked out an exit door. This led into a small, 10×10 metal room with another door. Stepping in, they triggered a freeze gas trap, but all managed to duck back out before they were frozen. Egon went to work on the trap and disabled it, allowing them to enter yet another room.

This room was piled high with the gas canisters, all labeled and organized. As they entered, a computer voice asked them their business. Not knowing what to say, they quickly moved checked out another door, which led to another freeze gas trap. A third door led into a long room occupied by a floating black hole. Egon identified it as a graviton, a dangerous creature, so they retreated. Now, the computer voice was asking for a pass code. Egon managed to find a control panel and got lucky, entering a code and quieting the voice.

Passing through the trapped room, they enter a sort of small break room – coffee dispensers, chairs, tables. [Made me think of this – some language NSFW]. Sitting in here were three bounty hunters, which we nicknamed Space Cowboy, Space Pirate and Evil Space Suit. A fight breaks out, and after young Dr. Zaius is nearly killed (he has to spend a luck point to avoid death), the good guys finally prevail. Unfortunately, they’ve taken some damage by now. Egon and Dr. Zaius get to work jerry-rigging a medi-kit from spare parts (they take apart a communicator and locator device found on the bounty hunters, and also find another anti-grave belt and three ray guns for the scientists and psychic). While they’re working on the medi-kit (takes an hour), a wandering probe-bot enters the room, stunning the scientists with an blue cone of light and nearly killing the psychic by the time they’re done. Its spare parts are added to the scientists’ collection, the medi-kit is used to do some healing (three uses, only three were then left), and the group gets a move on.

Their next encounter comes as they enter a large arena, setting off alarms. A slasher (essentially a robotic marilith demon) is lifted into the arena and attacks. it is defeated, but when the group tries to leave the way they entered, they find a squad of soldiers coming their way. They quickly close the doors and Egon locks them. As the soldiers blast at the doors, the group opens the other exit. Only one soldier is posted there, and he is quickly dispatched with a hail of ray gun fire. Running down the long corridor, they trip a pit trap. Zaius and Crow T. Robot fall in and have to be rescued using the anti-grav belts. The group moves to the end of the corridor and finds an elevator.

The elevator, once activated, takes them up to the plush quarters of Lord Kang, who is not present yet. Here, they find the bound Princess Miranda and a hideous Star Inquisitor. The inquisitor uses its mental domination and turns Zaius and Lum against the party. Now, XJ9 and Crow engage the Star Inquisitor while Egon tries to subdue Zaius and Zora Lum. Egon makes pretty quick work of his student, but Lum kills Zora. Egon then subdues Lum. In the meantime, the Star Inquisitor has been slowly beating Crow while the two robots, immune to his psychic powers, chip away at him. In the end, the Star Inquisitor is subdued by a final ray gun blast from Egon (probably the party’s MVP for the session) and Lum and Zaius are released from his grip.

At this point, we stopped because it was getting late. Getting back out of the fortress while it was on alert would have been daunting, but fun.

Addenda: I used my handy dandy chamber generator to make this adventure on the fly while we played. Initially, there were no gas mines, but when the first four rooms ended up with “Gas” as special, it became a gas mining station. That, ladies and gentleman, is the value of random tables.

Alternate Dying Rules

I just wrote up these alternate dying rules for Blood & Treasure. The normal rule is the old fashioned dead at 0 hit points.

ALTERNATE DYING RULES
Some referees (and many players) think death at zero hit points is too harsh and prefer a system that makes dying less common. With those folks in mind, we present this alternate death system. Using this system for most monsters can be a bit of a headache with most monsters, though it might be used for important or unique monsters.

At zero hit points, a character fall unconscious for 1d4 hours. While they are unconscious, they are completely helpless and can be slain by a foe that has the time to slit their throat, stab them in the heart or strangle them with their bare hands. Any amount of healing, either from overnight rest or magic brings them to a conscious state.

If a character is driven into negative hit points, they must pass a fortitude saving throw modified by their current negative hit point total or die.

If such a character does not die, they are considered unconscious and severely wounded. They remain unconscious until their hit point total is brought back to 1 or higher. While severely wounded, a character heals only one hit point of damage per day of rest. Moreover, they must roll on the following table to determine the extent of their severe wounds.

SEVERE WOUNDS TABLE
1-4. Facial scars. Character loses 1 point of charisma permanently.
5. Blindness. This can be cured with remove blindness.
6. Deafness. This can be cured with remove deafness.
7. Mangled limbs. Roll 1d4 to determine the exact limb (1 Left Arm/Hand, 2 Right Arm/Hand, 3 Left Leg/foot, 4 Right leg/foot). Folk with arm or hand damage lose 1 point of strength permanently and suffer from all the obvious effects of such an injury. Folk with leg or foot damage lose 1 point of dexterity permanently and move at half the normal rate.
8. Chest trauma. This might be a punctured lung, broken ribs or other organ damage. The victim loses 1 point of constitution permanently.
9. Severed limb. Roll 1d4 to determine the exact limb (1 Left Arm/Hand, 2 Right Arm/Hand, 3 Left Leg, 4 Right leg). Folk who lose an arm or hand lose 1d3 points of strength permanently and suffer from all the obvious effects of losing such a limb. Folk who lose a leg lose 1d3 points of dexterity permanently and move at half the normal rate. The regenerate spell can restore lost limbs.
10. Head injury. Victim loses 1d3 mental ability score points. For each lost point, roll 1d6 randomly to determine which ability score is affected: 1-2 Intelligence, 3-4 Wisdom, 5-6 Charisma.

Cure serious wounds, cure critical wounds and heal remove the effects of these serious wounds (except for severed limbs) as well as healing hit point damage. Lesser cure spells return lost hit points, but do not remove the effects of these wounds. Some other spells (as noted above) can alleviate these wounds, specifically any spell that heals ability score damage.

Hell South – Preview 4

Another glimpse at the Underworld …

24.94 Old Buckle: The ground here is quite uneven, with deep (1d4 x 100 feet) canyons and narrow ridges. On the edge of one such ridge an adventurer might spot a buckle and the remains of a leather belt hung on a small spike of stone attached to the ridge. An adventurer tried to use the belt as a rope to swing themselves down to a ledge located about 6 feet below the edge of the ridge. On this ledge there is a small idol of Lilith made of gold with inlaid ruby lips and amethyst eyes (worth 500 gp, weighs 100 lb). Touching the idol causes one to lose their balance. Kissing the idol teleports them into the stronghold of Lilith in Erebus, the second circle of Hell.

39.107 Quarry Men: A tribe of 200 rock men have an extensive quarry here, pulling granite from the walls of the cavern and selling it throughout the Glooms. Despite their stodgy and staid ways and dull way of speaking, the rock men are quite intelligent and excellent bargainers. The rock men dwell in small caves dug into the sides of their ever-expanding quarry. The best granite is retained and carved into new rock men. The rock men have a treasure of 2,130 sp, 380 ep, 2,520 gp, a brass icon of Vulcanus (worth 30 gp), two fine rhodochrosites worth 500 gp each and 20 barrels of mineral spirits (worth 6 gp each).

51.109 Notac-ichat: A clan of 40 notac-ichat and their 30 females and 35 young dwell here in a citadel of gray bricks, tiny windows and flat, crenelated roofs. The notac-ichat own a tapestry in which is impressed not only the image, but the intelligence of the archmage Vaunus the Vain. The tapestry advises their chief, Yar-Iskr, a rambling old male with purple chitin and a wandering mind. In truth, the archmage controls him and rules his people, using them to collect rare ingredients for a spell to make a simulacrum body that his mind can inhabit until something more permanent comes along. They currently lack an ounce of halfling blood and the wisdom teeth of a dwarf.

Image from Wikipedia

Deviant Friday – Leinilyu Edition

Playing some Space Princess with the daughter tonight. Had a brief skirmish between her crew of 6 and a sapphire space dragon. She lost her gynoid star warrior, but they finally finished off the dragon. Now I’m looking at the next artist in line for a Deviant Friday spotlight, and I see that it is Leinilyu, who happens to have some nice sci-fi art. Leinilyu brings Travis Charest to mind – very nice lines, understated and beautiful, but some great action work as well. Enjoy.

Spider-Woman

Digital Girl

Nike bot

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Sketch

Saucers

Serenity Cover

Sworn Sword Cover

Happy Thanksgiving, Mystery Men! Style

To start off, I want to give thanks for what has been a pretty good year for me. A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d now be making a few bucks writing game material and even publishing my own games. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and for the support folks in the game community have given me. I’m even more thankful for my wife, daughter and family and friends. Things are going well today, but I know that things can change, and I’m determined to be thankful for what I have while I still have it.

Now then, on to the goodies. When I was a kid, we used to do these book orders in elementary school. One of the items we could get from these four-page “catalogs” was a subscription to one of two magazines (I think one was four younger kids, the other for older kids, though which is which I don’t remember), Bananas and Dynamite. One little article from Dynamite that stuck with me was about “Zero Heroes”. Apparently, these less-than-stellar superheroes were created by B. K. Taylor as a set of stickers. Years later (now, in fact) I managed to find them online (amazing, isn’t it) and happily present you a hero for the holiday (well, kinda).

The Great Gobbler
According to the back of the sticker, the Great Gobbler had some exciting adventures, but his series was finally cancelled because, no matter how exciting they were, people couldn’t get over the fact that he was just a big turkey.

Cover image above from retroCRUSH.

When Monks Aren’t Allowed in Dungeons

So you think monks don’t belong in your fantasy game?

This is what happens when monks don’t have dungeons to delve into …

For the love of Shaolin, give the monks something useful to do. Monks should be kicking orcs in the face, not making spectacles of themselves on weird game shows.

Queen and Kaiser – Some Thoughts

I know – I have lots of projects to work on, but when the muse kisses you on the forehead, you have to put pen to paper or risk forgetting everything. Thus, some notes on Queen and Kaiser.

Theme: Full-throated Victorian adventure. All the characters in a group serve a government – their success turns into success for that country in terms of expanding its empire, inventing new devices – etc.

Influences: Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Joseph Conrad, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelly, Charles Dickens, Flashman (of course)

Replace the concept of “race” in most games with class – Low, Middle or High – maybe – might make the rest of the character creation concept too complicated

No classes – characters shaped by random experiences – kind of like Traveller.

Game set circa 1890

Roll experiences based on age of character – different tables for Youth (i.e. school days), 1881-1890, 1871-1880 and 1861-1870. Whatever age range you choose (youth, mature, middle-aged, old), you roll up to three times on a table, declaring the number of rolls before making the rolls.

The basic experiences involves adventures in Victorian England / France / Germany / Russia

One “experience” is called Bend Sinister – this sends you to a different table concerning crime and the underworld, a table one may never escape

One “experience” is called Foreign Service – this sends you to a different table concerning foreign affairs – spying, wars, going native, etc. This table can send you back home to the basic table

One “experience” is called Supernatural – this one goes into Victorian horror and science fiction – one roll, then back to the basic table and no more dips into the supernatural pool – can be ignored if the Referee does not wish to use this material in his or her game

Base the different eras on the literature and historical events of that period

Might restrict the characters in the basic game to English or German, maybe adding different groups in NOD articles – i.e. French, Russian, American, Japanese, Dutch, Ottoman

Characters can be male or female, though experiences might be different

Ability Scores – roll as normal for Target 10

Vigor (strength, fortitude, courage)

Dash (dexterity, quickness, flair for the dramatic)

Study (knowledge, learning, ability to think things through, common sense)

Charm (manners, etiquette, courtship)

You have “hit points” based on your Vigor and “charm points” based on charm, etc. to allow for different forms of combat – Dash can help in all of these things

Hit Point combat is normal fighting

Charm Point combat is about combat in the social sphere- getting the best of a person through being witty, using innuendo, out-talking people – wins people to your side

Skills
Horsemanship (riding tricks, charging, increasing daily movement, polo, steeplechase)

Fencing (swords, axes, spears, walking sticks, knives)

Ballistics (rifle, shotgun, pistol, maxim gun, light cannon)

Fisticuffs (boxing, wrestling)

Archery (bows, crossbows, slings, spears)

High Society (contacts in high society, waltzing, manners, witty conversation, negotiation, waltzing)

Sports (rowing, cricket, football, rugby, darts, billiards, bicycles, croquet, lawn tennis, roller skating)

Command (leading troops, morale checks, military contacts)

Climbing & Leaping (acrobatics, scaling walls and cliffs, leaping over chasms, balancing)

Decipher Scripts (decoding codes, reading ancient tongues)

Detection (finding clues, noticing things, sensing motivations)
Skullduggery (sneaking, cheating, lying, picking pockets, forgery, underworld contacts)

Occultism (uncovering frauds, divining the future, hypnotism, sixth sense)

Prestidigitation (escaping bonds, card tricks, sleight of hand, use of magical props)

Physician (first aid, more complex operations, etc)

Soldier (marching, camp life, cooking, resisting fear under fire)

Scholarship (basic knowledge from university life)

Invention (working with electricity, magnetism and chemicals)

Engineering (working with mechanical objects, building and repairing, clockworks)

Native (local customs and mores, finding one’s way, survival in the environment, native contacts)

Domesticity (managing books, managing servants, cooking, cleaning, first aid, contacts in the shops, commanding others)

Woodcraft (tracking, stalking, knowledge about flora and fauna, survival in home environment)

Husbandry (controlling animals, training animals, taming wild animals)

Seamanship (sea legs, climbing, swimming, gunnery, navigation)

Advance through skills as follows:
– Start at Acquainted (+1)
– Then move to Practiced (+3)
– Then Expertise (+6)
– Finally Mastery (+12)

At expertise, you may take one element of that skill set and advance it to specialization +9 (i.e. with expertise in soldiery you could become a specialist at resisting fear)

At mastery, your previous specialized skill becomes legendary (+15)

Foreign adventures and schooling tutor people in languages. For languages, it goes:
– Smattering (+1) – brief commands and a few words
– Conversational (+3) – can speak with others with no problem
– Literacy (+6) – can read and write in the language
– Fluency (+12) – can write well, have a knowledge of their history and lore and count as having a smattering of all related languages, including ancient dialects

The skills give variable incomes for expertise and mastery, based on the perceived value of the profession – this can be used to procure supplies for expeditions.

Each of the episodes in a life has a dark side as well, requiring one to make an ability check (DC 5, usually) or succumb to an injury, phobia, or some other flaw. The final character may be skilled, but will have some baggage he’s pulling around. Hopefully this makes the character breath and live in the mind of his player!

How about a war wound table?

– Lost limbs – major reduction of movement or dexterity
– Lost eye
– Wounded limbs – reduce movement or dexterity and such
– Permanent hit point loss (no more than 1) – minor wound and scar
– Dengue fever – yellow fever – malaria – reduced Vigor

Expeditions

The game concerns the adventurers being sent on expeditions by the Queen / Kaiser / Czar, etc.

Guides for different adventurers, but always focused on accomplishing a goal (first person to climb a mountain, discovering a lost city, recovering a stolen item, stealing an item, securing a fort, mapping a river, forging diplomatic ties with an aboriginal king or influential noblewoman, etc.)

There would also be a map of the colonial possessions of the empires of the period, and tables for how the world situation changes as adventurers succeed or fail at different tasks. There could always be the threat of a Great War, and the changing political climate could itself spur new expeditions (i.e. “After losing their hold on Rhodesia to the Germans, the Queen’s government has decided they need to obtain the plans for the latest German cruiser which is now stationed off the coast of Tanganyika.)

Foes
Drawn from the archetypes of Victorian fiction, but also from the Gothic romances and horrors, etc. Lions, tigers and bears, of course. Wells’ Martians, maybe.

First two images from Wikipedia


Strongman from the aptly named Olde Strong Men blog. No, I wouldn’t have ever known it existed if I hadn’t searched Google.

Waltz image from the Victorian Web.

First Playtest Characters for Space Princess

Last night, the kid and I rolled up some characters for Space Princess to test things out a bit. Thus were born these guys …

It was late, so there was no time to actually delve into space fortress and rescue a princess, but we did play out a couple of the “escape in a spaceship” scenarios.
Both went pretty well. In both cases, Crow was flying the Satellite of Love, a blockade runner. Lum was manning the light lasers and Zora the heavy lasers (and she was a crack shot), while Dr. Zaius was working the navigation computer – very slowly, I might add.

The first scenario pitted the blockade runner against four starfighters. After about six rounds of combat, the starfighters had been taken out of play – two having their weapons knocked out, the other two their engines. In essence, the escape was made. The starfighters had little ability to score meaningful hits on the blockade runner, so I might need to supe them up a bit.

In the second scenario, the SOL went up against a dreadnaught. This one was a bit more exciting. Initially, the SOL had no trouble out-maneuvering the dreadnaught. Crow is an expert pilot and the blockade runner is a quicker ship. Zora even scored some early successes with her heavy lasers. But as time went on, the firepower of the dreadnaught began to tell. The SOL‘s armor was degraded, then its weapons systems were taken out, the nav computer damaged (which prolonged making the jump to light speed). Finally, the artificial gravity was knocked out. It looked like Zaius had one shot left at making that jump into light speed and … he did. Just barely.

The kid was charged up over the battle, and even though the mechanics were very simple (pilot check, fire weapons, navigation check), the slow erosion of the blockade runner’s systems and the seemingly inevitable defeat made the process enjoyable. Mind you – one more round, and it’s very likely the SOL was, well, SOL.

Over the holiday I’m going to run the first official play tests of a space fortress, and I’ll post those results next week.