A SAN Check for New Year’s Eve (and a bit more)

Most disturbing video of 2011? Perhaps …

Weird Al aside, just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made 2011 a good year for me. I spend my days researching the Las Vegas commercial real estate market and the economy in general, which has been both interesting and depressing for the last few years (and just wait for 2012 …), but the year has been pretty good overall. I’ve had the opportunity to do some TV interviews here in town, which has bolstered my real job. The family is healthy and happy, by and large, and I’m thankful for that.

On the hobby side, I want to thank all of the kind folks who read the blog and buy my goods – you’ve made a dream come true for me. I want to thank Bill Webb and Frog God Games for giving me the opportunity to be published by someone other than myself (Hex Crawl Chronicles – available now!), and for the opportunity to work on Tome of Horrors Complete and the new Rappan Athuk conversion. I’d also like to thank the players of my Google + Mystery Men! game, which is proceeding nicely through the Dark Renaissance storyline (the heroes are now split between Washington D.C. and Greenland – who knows where they will go next).

For those who didn’t have such a banner 2011, I pray that 2012 is a better year. Economics and finances is a big part of life, but it is only one part of life. Many folks who lived through the Great Depression learned that lesson and a few of us old timers (well, middle agers maybe) were lucky enough to spend time with those folks, who were our grandparents to hear about their experiences. That said, when the wolves are at the door, it’s hard to pay attention to much else. The best we can all do in 2012 is to be creative, productive and optimistic.

Of course, if the Inca are right (yeah, I know – just let me play with the meme), we could be spending the latter part of 2012 like this …

When everything goes wrong, remember … be the barbarian!

Finally … NOD

In two years (well, really more like a year and a half) I’ve managed to scrawl out 12 issues of my own little magazine. I’m hoping for another six issues in 2012.

NOD 13 (Feb ’12) should feature three more rings of Hell – Abaddon, Gehenna and Stygia. I should manage to get the different shades of dragons in this one, as well as some more Mystery Men! content. I have one more level of the Pleasure Palace of Izrigul I want to produce, but I’m not sure when it will happen. Sometime in 2012 for sure. By the time this is out, I hope Space Princess will also be out, allowing me an opportunity to play with sci-fi a bit more in the magazine.

NOD 14 (Apr ’12) will delve into Dis, the massive city of Hell. I’m hoping to do something interesting with this one – more of a metaphysical crawl through the back alleys of the mind than a proper city with streets and buildings. We’ll see. Hopefully Blood and Treasure will be completed by the time this issue arrives.

NOD 15 (Jun ’12) will kick off Summer with the final installment of the Hell hex crawl, right down to Hell’s frozen heart and the great escape through Lucifer himself. God willing, I’ll have begun work on Action X by now. I also hope to complete a Pars Fortuna dungeon for this issue.

NOD 16 (Aug ’12) will leave Hell behind for the savannah of Pwenet and the jungle basin of Cush. I’ve already submitted an excerpt from this Africa-inspired hex crawl to Fight On!, and this issue will take up half of that complete hex crawl.

NOD 17 (Oct ’12) will feature the city of Iksum on the savannah of Pwenet. Iksum has a small part to play in a future adventure set in Nod that is being written by Greg Vaughn, who does work with Frog God Games. I have no idea what else will show up this far in advance.

NOD 18 (Dec ’12) will round out the year with the finish of the Cush/Pwenet hex crawl and other assorted holiday goodies. I didn’t think I’d make it to 6 issues in 2011, and I only hope I can make it to 6 in 2012.

Besides Nod, I’ll be working to finish Space Princess, Blood and Treasure, Action X, Queen and Kaiser and 1800 – American Empires. I have a few mini-campaign ideas for NOD, including one based on the Bowery Boys/East Side Kids movies. I had wanted to do a couple other mini-campaign things in 2011 that didn’t materialize, and perhaps they will show up at some point in 2012 (post-apocalyptic Great War and giant robots). Some folks have asked for a compilation of classes that have appeared in NOD over the past couple years, and if I hear from some more people interested in such a thing, I’ll see about doing that as well.

Oh, and if the Mystery Men! Dark Renaissance campaign on Google + comes to a close (which I think it will), I’d like to start a new campaign … maybe a crazy MM! campaign based on the comics of the Silver Age, but more likely something with Pars Fortuna or a Nod hex crawl. A cruise along the highways of post-apocalypse America with Mutant Truckers could be fun as well, and might not take too much time. If you’d be interested in playing such a game on Google +, keep your eyes peeled for announcements on this blog.

So, to close this ridiculously long blog post (and blogging in general for 2011) – Thank You! I hope I can continue to entertain folks with my writing in 2012 and well into the future. If any of you need some help making your own ideas materialize, feel free to call on me – I’ve been very fortunate these last two years, and I’d love to help somebody else realize their dreams in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Deviant Friday – In Memoriam

Okay, not technically a Deviant Friday, because this has nothing to do with DeviantArt. Instead, I thought I’d honor some of the artists who passed away in 2011. If I missed anyone on this list, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the shrine. R.I.P to them all, best wishes for those they left behind who are missing them terribly, and a hearty thank you for all the wonders they introduced to the rest of us through their art.

Dave Hoover

Jerry Robinson

Minck Oosterveer

Shingo Araki

Gene Colan

Joe Simon

Eduardo Barreto

Mamoru Uchiyama

Darrel K. Sweet

Jim Roslof

Jeffrey Catherine Jones

On a personal note, I’d like to honor my uncle, George Stater, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year. I love him dearly, and everyone who knew him will miss him keenly in the years to come.

NOD 12 – Just in time for 2011!

NOD 12 is ready to go. You can buy the electronic version HERE now – I’ll put the print version up for sale as soon as I get a proof copy and make sure it isn’t totally screwed up. What do you get in 144 pages?

Welcome Back to Hell – The southern portion of the Glooms, Acheron and the first two rings of Hell.

Pandaemonium V – Stats for Asmodee, Barbatos and Naamah.

Deep Denizens II – Drow, duergar, notac-ichat and svirfneblin as playable races. Art by Jon Kaufman.

The Gourmand – The PC class that takes a bite out of … no – I can’t do that bit here.

Exotic Dining – Random tables for generating bizarre feasts.

Hero vs. Villain – A new article series that presents one original villain and one rejuvenated Golden Age hero for Mystery Men! This inaugural article presents the villainous Shatter and the heroic Madame Strange. Art by Stefan Grambart.

Mutant Truckers – A mini-game using Target 10 depicting the highways of post-apocalyptic America and the truckers who drive them. Art by Bradley K. McDevitt and Chris Huth.

Hope everyone enjoys it. The projects up ahead for me – today I try to finish putting together a glimpse of the next hex crawl, the savannah of Pwenet and jungle of Cush, for Fight On! because I’ve owed them an article for the better part of a year and because part of it might relate to a project somebody else is writing for Frog God Games set in NOD (blows my mind).

The weekend will be spent converting a few more levels of Rappan Athuk to Swords and Wizardry. After that, my focus is on NOD 13, Blood and Treasure and Space Princess.

So little to do, so much time. Wait – scratch that and reverse it.

Hell South – Final Preview – Palace of Minos

For those not up on their lore of Hell (or Dante’s Inferno, as the case may be), Minos (former King of Crete, had a bull-headed stepson) is the judge of damned souls in Hell. His brothers show up sometimes as well, but Dante just uses Minos and I went that route as well. Minos is an interesting character – son of Zeus and Europa (remember – that’s the one where Zeus masqueraded as a white bull to carry her away – bulls are a running theme for Minos), marries Pasiphae, the daughter of the titan Helios and an Oceanid named Perses. This means that Minos and Pasiphae are both, in Nod reckoning, titans. That was fun to play with.

Anyhow – Minos judges damned souls and decides which ring of Hell they should spend eternity being punished on. He also guards the narrow stairs that lead from Asphodel (ring #1 in Nod’s Hell cosmology) to Erebus (ring #2), so PCs adventuring in Hell will probably have to go through Minos if they ever want to escape. Presented below is a map of his palace, a mini-dungeon in the game that is based very loosely on Minos’ actual palace on Crete. Enjoy!

It was meant to be maze-like without really being a maze. The un-drawn dungeons below hold a labyrinth, of course, inhabited by Asterion, the original Minotaur – a rough customer to be sure. Oh – and the cover for NOD 12, which will be published a bit later today …

The Archangel Michael in action by Guido Reni (1575-1642).

Hell South – Preview 10 – Breezy Books and Sheva’s Chariot

Finishing up NOD 12 – just a bit more work to be done on the hex crawl, then writing the OGL page – always takes a while due to all the critters from the Tome of Horrors that show up. Anyhow – a few more locales for you to preview …

40.97 Breezy Book: A skeleton lies in the grass here. The skeleton has a crushed skull and ribs and is wearing a robe of damask silk and a tasseled hat. The skeleton has two gold teeth (fangs, actually), a silver dagger on his belt and a leather pouch that holds his spellbook.

The spellbook has a wind walker trapped within it. The wind walker’s presence makes it impossible to read the spellbook, for the pages are whipped around violently, as though in a high wind. Attempting to handle the book carries with it a 2 in 6 chance per minute of ripping some pages and ruining one of the spells contained within. Naturally, the highest level spells are ruined first.

Spells: 1st – Detect magic, hold portal, magic missile, read magic, sleep; 2nd – darkness 15-ft. radius, ESP, knock, magic mouth, strength; 3rd – darkvision, haste, protection from normal missiles, rope trick, slow; 4th – extension I, ice storm, plant growth, wizard eye; 5th – cloudkill, magic jar, passwall, wall of stone; 6th – enchant item, invisible stalker, repulsion; 7th – monster summoning V.

51.101 Chariot: Having been driven from his lair on a deeper level of Hell, the lich Sheva of the Silver Hair has wandered Asphodel on a chariot pulled by two giant hyena. She has ever sought to build a network of alliances based on favors and threats that might return her to her lair, currently inhabited by the efreet Nabeel in the metallic desert of Gehenna. Many secrets are held in her lair, secrets she must reclaim to advance her grander schemes. Sheva’s phylactery is hidden within the tombs that circle the pit of Tiamat [57.99].

67.105 Skeletal Harpies: Nine skeletal harpies are roosting in a grove of trees here, nibbling at the sour fruits that hang there. The fruit look like human hearts, and have a pulpy, acidic flesh. The harpies really hunger for human flesh. Each time they score 5 or more points of damage with a bite attack on a humanoid, a layer of musculature covers their bones. When they have scored a total of 35 points of damage, they reform as true harpies, with all the powers and abilities of such creatures.

86.96 Lake of Sorrow: A long, narrow lake sits here on the savannah, surrounded by a thick tangle of briars that bear fragrant black roses. Bubbles rise and pop on the surface, bringing with them the sounds of sighs, moans and cries that hang over the still waters. The water of the lake is intoxicating, leaving people in a deep melancholy and unable to summon the will to do anything for 24 hours other than defend themselves. At the end of the 24 hours, they must pass a will save to keep from drinking again.

97.91 Double Trouble: The land descends into a series of interlocking canyons here. The canyons are barren of life, with grey, rigid, angular sides. Once per day, a chill wind begins to blow, tussling hair and tugging at clothes. It grows stronger, and soon forms small whirlwinds that combine to form larger whirlwinds that glow with a pale, cheerless light. Assume each character has a 1 in 6 chance per turn of being touched by one of these whirlwinds. The whirlwinds only last about for one hour (6 turns).

Any person enveloped by a whirlwind emerges unscathed, but with a double intent on murdering his “comrades”. The player has a 50-50 chance of playing either his own character or the double, and only he will know which character he now plays. The character and his double cannot harm one another – any attempt to do so meets with failure and crushing pain (6d6 points of damage) for the instigator of the violence.

Image found HERE 

Merry Christmas from the Land of Nod!

Nothing geek or game related. Just a wish for a Merry Christmas to all within the sight of my pixels!

(Well, okay, the Santa image to the right is kinda steampunk, so I guess there’s  a little something geek related).

(And I said pixels, and that’s a bit geeky.)

Oh – what the heck …

FLYING REINDEER
Flying reindeers are more than just magical beasts – they are cherished creatures of the forces of Law. They appear as large, handsome reindeer with a golden tinge to their fur and a crystalline sheen to their antlers. They are uncommonly intelligent and immensely patient, though they fly into battle with creatures of chaos at the drop of a hat. The most famous of the flying reindeer are part of the team used by Saint Nicholas to make his one-per-year trip around the world to deliver gifts and tokens to all the Lawful boys and girls in the world.

Flying reindeer are capable of using the following spells: At will – detect evil, sanctuary; 3/day – haste; 1/day – time stop. They are always under the effect of a protection from evil 10-ft radius spell.

FLYING REINDEER: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 gore (2d6) and 1 bite (1d4); Move 15 (Fly 36); Save 11 (9 vs. abilities of chaotic creatures); CL/XP 11/1700; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to cold, turn undead as 10th level cleric, spells, smite evil 1/day (double damage if gore attack is successful, forces demons and devils to save or be thrown back into Hell), magic resistance (15%).

Image from Golden Age Comic Book Stories

Saturday Grab Bag

Just some random nonsense. I have some leaf raking and bagging to do today, along with other household chores to prepare for the family coming over tomorrow for all the traditional festivities. Whatever you do tomorrow, do it with a little love in your heart and find a way to be happy.

From the Old Fashioned Geek-mas Dept.

When I was a young lad, maybe 12, I remember borrowing a friend’s copy of B1 – In Search of the Unknown and transcribing it on my parent’s typewriter. Not as fancy a model as this (and they still have it!), but until I finally got an Apple IIE, the typewriter was one of my most important RPG tools. Image comes from James Lilek’s Merry Kitchmas site.

From the Zeppelin Christmas Mash-Up Dept.

Fleming & John – Winter Wonderland to the tune of Misty Mountain Hop. Image and link from one of my favorite daily reads, NEVVER.

From the My Hero Dept.

I officially declare that the rest of my life will be dedicated to trying to match the greatness of this man.

From the Heart’s Desire Dept.

I’m back on the weight loss trail again. I lost 50 pounds about a year ago, and then hit a long plateau. I’m now back on the trail, trying to finally get back to my college weight of 180. Images like this are both a balm and a torment.

From the Sci-Fi RPG Challenge Dept.

Okay, so we have a couple new planets to play with. Who wants to do a non-denominational sci-fi hex crawl with one of these planets? Maybe I could set up a blog called Kepler 20-F, post a map and people could all throw their 2 credits in. No game stats, no over-arching theme other than – “Recently discovered by ‘Man’, largely unexplored, holds secrets and ruins of the ancient Keplons”. Just anything that grabs your fancy that other Referees could then use with their groups to explore. Whaddya think?

From the Thank God for Frank Cho Dept.

Yeah – just … yeah.

From the Super Short Story Dept.

I wrote a very short story for some Lulu contest. You can download it for free from HERE if you have an e-reader thingee. If not, I’ll probably post it in the near future. It’s set in the Beyond the Black Water hex crawl I did with Frog God Games, and I might look at expanding it into a proper short story.

From the Blood and Treasure Art Dept.

I leave you with an elf paladin and a dwarf cleric from Blood and Treasure, both illustrations by Jon Kaufman (Pachycrocuta). Not a bad way to end a pre-Christmas post. Maybe a post tomorrow, maybe not, definitely normal posting next week. Enjoy the day, even if it has no spiritual meaning for you.

Deviant Friday – Recent Favorites

Instead of highlighting a particular DeviantArt artist today, I thought it would be fun to show off some recent favorites of mine from the site.

The Queens of Elemental Earth

This idea popped into my head today, so I explored it a bit.

The primal earth has produced many wonders, but none so lovely (and few so powerful) as the so-called Queens of Elemental Earth. These five sisters are worshipped as goddesses by many of the folk who dwell beneath the earth and are honored by all elemental earth creatures.

The queens look like astoundingly beautiful statues of women in their natural state. They are translucent and gleam with an inner light that produces a magical aura. Within their eyes dance shimmering motes of light that affect all upon which they train their gaze. They dwell in luxurious palaces beneath the ground, served by lesser elementals and fey creatures.

While the queens are ground in neutrality, with some preference for order (i.e. Law), they are, as one might expect, possessed of a very keen appreciation for the wonder that is them. They do not like to be disobeyed or their intentions and desires frustrated, and they have no qualms about destroying lesser creatures that get in their way.

All of the queens can move through rock, stone and soil as easily as a human moves through the air. They suffer half damage from all attacks from manufactured and natural weapons.

Adamantia
Adamantia is Queen Diamond. She has a smooth body of translucent crystal with inner reflections of pink. Adamantia is the strongest and most durable of the five sisters, and she is unforgiving in her disdain of imperfection and muddled thinking. She is always under the effect of a true seeing spell and a zone of truth. She is worshipped as a goddess of clarity, truth and perfection. Her stronghold is a fortress of gleaming adamant, with every surface stark white and lit by a soft, pinkish-white glow. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as entities of Law and a host of human paladins that have declared her the focus of their courtly, chaste love.

Adamantia produces an aura of truth (see zone of truth above) that also acts a protection aura against chaotic creatures (per protection from evil, 10-ft. radius). Her gaze acts as a hold monster spell.

Adamantia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – charm person; 3/day – break enchantment, charm monster, cure disease, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, ray of enfeeblement, strength, suggestion, wave of exhaustion. She can also cast spells as a 10th level cleric.

Adamantia: HD 21; AC -7 [26]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Rubinia
Queen Ruby, Rubinia, is composed of a translucent red substance. Her hair (though it is merely sculpted on her head) appears wild and unkempt and her eyes gleam with power. She is worshipped as a goddess of fire and passion and strength. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as exiled or rebellious elemental fire creatures. Her stronghold is enclosed in a ruby sphere with spherical chambers that look like bubbles within the sphere and connected by curving tunnels that radiate out from her central court. Gravity is completely relative within the sphere, with people able to walk on all surfaces.

Rubinia produces an aura of weakness (10-ft. radius) that forces people to pass a saving throw or be affected per a ray of enfeeblement. Her gaze forces people to pass a saving throw or be enraged (per the emotion or rage spell, depending on which version of the grand old game you play). Enraged folk never turn their anger upon Rubinia or her servants. Her touch ages people as the touch of a ghost.

Rubinia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – augury; 3/day – charm person, divination, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, flame strike, heal, heat metal. She can also cast spells as a 10th level magic-user.

Rubinia: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Esmeraude
Esmeraude, Queen Emerald, is the most sensuous and beautiful of the sisters, possessed of a green, healthy glow and a warm, though unyielding, touch. Her stronghold is a paen to love and romance, being a series of limestone caverns with jade pools, rushing streams, laughing waterfalls and gardens of flowering trees, ferns and flowers. Her court consists of elemental earth creatures, nymphs and dryads.

Esmeraude radiates an aura of blinding beauty (per a nymph) and her gaze stuns creatures for 2d4 rounds. Her kiss can grant magic-user’s the effects of a mnemonic enhancement for 24 hours, but also imbues upon them a geas that they must visit her once per year and serve her faithfully for one week.

Esmeraude can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – cause blindness; 3/day – cure blindness, cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – charm monster, dimension door, entangle, plant growth, suggestion. She can also cast spells as a 12th level druid.

Esmeraude: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Amethysta
Queen Amethyst appears as a woman of translucent purple crystal accompanied always by three legendary panthers with purple-black fur. She is a queen of dreams who commands a court of elemental earth creatures, succubi and illusionists. Her court is held in a palace of mottled purple walls set in a maze-like layout, with many secret chambers where visitors can rest themselves on comfortable beds stuffed with celestial goose down and sleep under silk and satin, perhaps never to wake again.

Amethysta produces a purple aura of slumber (as the daze spell) and her gaze causes confusion. Those struck by her, even lightly, must pass a saving throw or fall into a deep sleep. She can deliver a kiss that drains levels per a succubus.

Amethysta can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – sleep; 3/day – cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, dream, nightmare, phantasmal killer, poison. She also casts spells as a 10th level illusionist.

Amethysta: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 31/7700; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (45%), regenerate 3 hp/round, life drain.

Zaffira
Zaffira is a bubbly, almost giddy queen of sapphires. She appears as a beautiful, young woman with translucent blue skin, her eyes like star sapphires and her hair tumbling like cascades of water down her back to her ankles. She dwells in a floating palace of sapphire walls and misty, damp halls occupied by elemental earth creatures as well as sylphs and other exiled air creatures and giant eagles. Zaffira is worshipped as a goddess of innocence, truth and courage.

Zaffira produces an aura of euphoria. Folk who enter it must pass a saving throw or be calmed, losing all desire to commit violence or even engage in argument. Her gaze causes people to break into uncontrollable laughter (per the spell).

Zaffira can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – hold person; 3/day – cause fear, discern lies, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – globe of invulnerability, mark of justice, ray of enfeeblement, resilient sphere, strength. She also casts spells as a 12th level cleric.

Zaffira: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 23/5300; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to fire and cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Image found HERE. Painted by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1786).