Big, Green and Plenty Mean [Monster]

In honor of the new John Carter movie (no, I haven’t seen it), and the fact that this kick ass illustration is in the public domain, I present everyone’s favorite green, four armed aliens for a variety of systems with the serial numbers just barely filed off.

Consider this baby Open Game Content.

ZHARKS (GREEN MARTIANS)

Illustration by J. Allen St. John

Zharks are tall (18-ft for males, 12-ft for females) humanoids who inhabit ruined cities in great wastelands. Exceptionally warlike and cruel, they form great hordes that compete, violently, for resources and slaves. Zharks have long torsos that support four arms, one pair located about 2 feet above the other. They have large eyes, ear stalks on the top of their bald heads, and great tusks jutting from their mouths. Zharks have olive green to dark green skin that is thick and waxy, helping to keep their bodies from losing too much moisture in the warm deserts they call home.

Zharks arm themselves with swords, spears and radium guns. These guns are exceptionally long rifles that fire bullets with a core of radium. When the outer casing of the bullets cracks and the radium is exposed to sunlight, it explodes for an additional 1d6 points of damage. Some zharks carry smaller radium pistols. The zharks acquire their more high-tech weaponry from others, for they are only capable of crafting primitive weapons.

Zharks are usually mounted on eight-legged monsters called zhotes. Their arch enemies are the girallons.

BLOOD & TREASURE
Zhark, Large Monstrous Humanoid, Chaotic, Average Intelligence
HD 5; AC 14; Atk 4 weapon attacks; Move 40; Saves F 12, R 11, W 11; XP 250; Special: None.

SWORDS & WIZARDRY

Zhark: HD 5; AC 5 [14]; Atk 4 weapon attacks; Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: None.

MYSTERY MEN

Zhark: LVL 5; PH 7 (+2); MN 3; DC 15; SPD 2; XP 500; Atk 4 weapon attacks.

SPACE PRINCESS

Zhark: HD 5; DEF 16; FIGHT 12 (1d10); SHOOT 9 (2d6); MOVE N; STR 7; DEX 4; MEN 5; KNO 3; DL 6; Special: Can make a total of four attacks each round.

I Dream of Uranians [Space Princess]

Uranians have been known, from time to time, to fall in love with handsome astronauts.

The Uranians, also known as space genies or radiation genies, are powerful entities of energy who have learned the secret of transforming matter into energy and energy into matter. They usually appear to material folk as masculine or feminine humanoids, sometimes with pointed ears or other such flourishes. Immensely powerful, most folk know to treat them with respect, and it is not unknown for them to perform favors for folk who impress them. A uranian’s powers can be completely contained with a force box or sphere (super science DC 25 to project a small force cube or sphere, DC 30 to project a large force cube or sphere) and should they enter the circuits of a super science device, it is possible to trap them within (invention test, DC 25).

Uranians can emit energy beams that deal 2d6 points of damage and steal away one point of STR (which can be healed normally). They are capable of changing themselves into pure energy, in which form they are immune to most attacks or taking material form. In energy form, they are effectively immaterial and cannot harm material creatures. Uranians are capable of changing ambient energy into matter or matter into ambient energy three times per day (or once per day if they are creating or dematerializing something larger than man-sized). They can alter the size of others or themselves, making them up to a tenth of their normal size or up to twice their normal size (modify STR and DEX as you see fit). Finally, they can, once per day, make themselves invisible and remain invisible until they attack or otherwise interact with another person.

Uranians suffer only half normal damage from ray guns and other energy-based attacks.

URANIAN: HD 6; DC 18; FIGHT 12 (strike 1d6); SHOOT 12 (energy beam 2d6); MOVE F; STR 6; DEX 6; MEN 6; KNO 5; DL 10; Special: Invisibility, transmute matter and energy, energy form, enlarge or reduce self or others.

A Fantasy Cosmos

While writing (or, to some degree, copy/pasting from the SRD) Blood & Treasure the other day, I finally came to the section on the planes. I decided, for a sample cosmos (and I do mean sample – there is no official cosmology for Blood & Treasure), to present something like the one I use for NOD. I thought folks might like to see it, but note – it lacks a mention of Hell or the Firmament at the moment.

ONE POSSIBLE COSMOLOGY

This cosmology of planes is inspired by the old Ptolomaic view of the universe, i.e. The Earth at the center of the universe surrounded by “crystalline spheres” containing the different planets and beyond them the Empyrean Heaven of God and the angels. At the center of Earth lies Hell, essentially a plane within a plane.

In this conception, the Ethereal Plane extends beyond Earth to the Moon, but no further. The Astral Plane extends throughout the entire universe, to the borders of the Empyrean Heaven.
All of the planes (i.e. planets) in this cosmology other than the Empyrean Heaven are self-contained spheres. Heaven is infinite.

EARTH AND THE MOON (MATERIAL PLANE)
Earth and the Moon are the Material Plane, the center of the universe. The Moon differs from Earth only in that it is mildly-chaotic. They define what is considered normal. The Material Plane has the following traits:

• Normal gravity.

• Normal Time

• Alterable morphic.

• No Elemental or Energy Traits (specific locations may have these traits, however)

• Mildly neutral-aligned (mildly chaos-aligned for the Moon).

• Normal magic.

THE ETHEREAL PLANE
The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and the plane of Luna. The Material Plane itself is visible from the Ethereal Plane, but it appears muted and indistinct, its colors blurring into each other and its edges turning fuzzy.

While it is possible to see into the Material Plane from the Ethereal Plane, the Ethereal Plane is usually invisible to those on the Material Plane. Normally, creatures on the Ethereal Plane cannot attack creatures on the Material Plane, and vice versa. A traveler on the Ethereal Plane is invisible, incorporeal, and silent to someone on the Material Plane.

The Ethereal Plane is mostly empty of structures and impediments. However, the plane has its own inhabitants. Some of these are other ethereal travelers, but the ghosts found here pose a particular peril to those who walk the fog.
It has the following traits.

• No gravity.

• Alterable morphic. The plane contains little to alter, however.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Normal magic. Spells function normally on the Ethereal Plane, though they do not cross into the Material Plane. The only exceptions are spells and spell-like abilities that have the force descriptor and abjuration spells that affect ethereal beings. Spellcasters on the Material Plane must have some way to detect foes on the Ethereal Plane before targeting them with force-based spells, of course. While it’s possible to hit ethereal enemies with a force spell cast on the Material Plane, the reverse isn’t possible. No magical attacks cross from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane, including force attacks.

PLANE OF SHADOW
The Plane of Shadow is a dimly lit dimension that is both coterminous to and coexistent with the Material Plane. It overlaps the Material Plane much as the Ethereal Plane does, so a planar traveler can use the Plane of Shadow to cover great distances quickly.

The Plane of Shadow is also coterminous to other planes. With the right spell, a character can use the Plane of Shadow to visit other realities.

The Plane of Shadow is a world of black and white; color itself has been bleached from the environment. It is otherwise appears similar to the Material Plane.

Despite the lack of light sources, various plants, animals, and humanoids call the Plane of Shadow home.

The Plane of Shadow is magically morphic, and parts continually flow onto other planes. As a result, creating a precise map of the plane is next to impossible, despite the presence of landmarks.

The Plane of Shadow has the following traits.

• Magically morphic. Certain spells modify the base material of the Plane of Shadow. The utility and power of these spells within the Plane of Shadow make them particularly useful for explorers and natives alike.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. Spells of shadow are enhanced on the Plane of Shadow. Such spells are cast as though they were prepared with the Maximize Spell feat. Shadow conjuration and shadow evocation spells are 30% as powerful as the conjurations and evocations they mimic (as opposed to 20%). Greater shadow conjuration and greater shadow evocation are 70% as powerful (not 60%), and a shades spell conjures at 90% of the power of the original (not 80%).

• Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved here. Despite the dark nature of the Plane of Shadow, spells that produce, use, or manipulate darkness are unaffected by the plane.

THE ASTRAL PLANE
The Astral Plane is the space between the planes. When a character moves through an interplanar portal or projects her spirit to a different plane of existence, she travels through the Astral Plane. Spells that allow instantaneous movement across a plane briefly touch the Astral Plane.

The Astral Plane is a great, endless sphere of clear silvery sky, both above and below. Occasional bits of solid matter can be found here, but most of the Astral Plane is an endless, open domain. Both planar travelers and refugees from other planes call the Astral Plane home.

The Astral Plane has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Timeless. Age, hunger, thirst, poison, and natural healing don’t function in the Astral Plane, though they resume functioning when the traveler leaves the Astral Plane.

• Mildly neutral-aligned.

• Enhanced magic. All spells and spell-like abilities used within the Astral Plane may be employed as if they were improved by the Quicken Spell feat. Already quickened spells and spell-like abilities are unaffected, as are spells from magic items. Spells so quickened are still prepared and cast at their unmodified level. As with the Quicken Spell feat, only one quickened spell can be cast per round.

MERCURY (ELEMENTAL PLANE OF EARTH)
Mercury is a solid sphere of rock and metal burrowed through by a multitude if tunnels and caverns. An unwary and unprepared traveler to Mercury may find himself entombed within this vast solidity of material and have his life crushed into nothingness, his powdered remains a warning to any foolish enough to follow.

Despite its solid, unyielding nature, Mercury is varied in its consistency, ranging from soft soil to veins of heavier and more valuable metal.

Mercury has the following traits.

• Earth-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create earth or stone are both empowered and extended (as if the Empower Spell and Extend Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already empowered or extended are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create air (including spells that summon air elementals or outsiders with the air subtype) are impeded.

VENUS (POSITIVE ENERGY PLANE)
Venus is a lush world of brilliant, almost blinding color and overgrown vegetation and animals. Some area of the plane are so fertile that entering them can actually cause a person to explode with life.

Venus has the following traits.

• Normal gravity.

• Minor positive-dominant. Some regions of the plane have the major positive-dominant trait instead, and those islands may be inhabited by various divinities of fertility and life.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are maximized (as if the Maximize Spell metamagic feat had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use positive energy, such as turning and destroying undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll to determine Hit Dice affected.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy (including inflict spells) are impeded.

MARS (PLANE OF NEUTRALITY)
Mars is an earth-like plane dedicated to neutrality in the war between Law and Chaos. It is a small sphere and taken up by red, sandstone hills, shallow, salty seas, lowlands of red, tuberous plants watered by vast canals and gleaming, ancient cities slowly falling into ruin. The various people of Mars are warriors who glory in combat.

Mars has the following traits.

• Light gravity.

• Strongly neutral-aligned. Lawfuls and chaotic suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Limited magic. The following spells operate normally on Mars: Detect thoughts (ESP), xxx. All other spells fail to operate here.

• Flowing time. Time passes more quickly on Mars than the Material Plane. A year spent on Mars corresponds to a day on the Material Plane.

SUN (ELEMENTAL PLANE OF FIRE)
Everything is alight on the Sun. The ground is nothing more than great, evershifting plates of compressed flame. The air ripples with the heat of continual firestorms, and the most common liquid is magma, not water. The oceans are made of liquid flame, and the mountains ooze with molten lava. Fire survives here without need for fuel or air, but flammables brought onto the plane are consumed readily.

The Sun has the following traits.

• Fire-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are both maximized and enlarged (as if the Maximize Spell and Enlarge Spell had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water (including spells that summon water elementals or outsiders with the water subtype) are impeded.

JUPITER (ELEMENTAL PLANE OF AIR)
Jupiter is a giant spheric plane of air. At the heart of Jupiter there is a core of iron and adamantine, and there are other bits of solid ground and water vapor floating amid the endless, roiling skies of Jupiter.

Jupiter is the home of all manner of airborne creatures. Indeed, flying creatures find themselves at a great advantage on this plane. While travelers without flight can survive easily here, they are at a disadvantage.

Jupiter has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. Inhabitants of the plane determine their own “down” direction. Objects not under the motive force of others do not move.

• Air-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use, manipulate, or create air are both empowered and enlarged (as if the Empower Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them).

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create earth (including spells that summon earth elementals or earth-based outsiders) are impeded.

SATURN (PLANE OF CHAOS)
Saturn is a plane infused with chaos, and therefore quite alien to most folk of the Material Plane. It is covered by all manner of fascinating land-scapes, including ashen plains cut by streams of mercury, swamps of sentient ooze, thickets of mineral plants like sheaves of swords and towering mountains of vapor, all under a greenish-black sky illuminated by the plane’s wondrous rings from which ioun stones are plucked.

Saturn has the following traits:

• Strongly chaos-aligned. Lawfuls suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Wild magic.

NEPTUNE (ELEMENTAL PLANE OF WATER)
Neptune is a sea without a floor or a surface; an entirely fluid sphere lit by a diffuse glow. It is one of the more hospitable of the Inner Planes once a traveler gets past the problem of breathing.

The eternal oceans of this plane vary between ice cold and boiling hot, between saline and fresh. They are perpetually in motion, wracked by currents and tides. The plane’s permanent settlements form around bits of flotsam and jetsam suspended within this endless liquid. These settlements drift on the tides of the plane of Neptune.

Neptune has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity. The gravity here works similar to that of the Elemental Plane of Air. But sinking or rising on the Elemental Plane of Water is slower (and less dangerous) than on the Elemental Plane of Air.

• Water-dominant.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use or create water are both extended and enlarged (as if the Extend Spell and Enlarge Spell metamagic feats had been used on them). Spells and spell-like abilities that are already extended or enlarged are unaffected by this benefit.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities with the fire descriptor are impeded.

URANUS (PLANE OF LAW)
Uranus is the opposite of Saturn, a plane of law and perfection. Uranus has the same landscapes as the Material Plane, but they are each perfect and slightly angular, often repetitious, as though made by the will of a single artist. The skies and landscapes of Uranus all carry a metallic hue – warm coppers, brilliant silvers and dazzling golds.
Uranus has the following traits:

• Strongly law-aligned. Chaotics suffer a -2 penalty to reaction checks and to intelligence- and wisdom-based checks.

• Static. Uranus cannot be altered by visitors.

• Timeless. Time does not flow on Uranus.

PLUTO (NEGATIVE ENERGY PLANE)
To an observer, there’s little to see on Pluto. It is a dark, empty place, an eternal pit where a traveler can fall until the plane itself steals away all light and life. Pluto is the most hostile of the planets, and the most uncaring and intolerant of life. Only creatures immune to its life-draining energies can survive there.

Pluto has the following traits.

• Subjective directional gravity.

• Major negative-dominant. Some areas within the plane have only the minor negative-dominant trait, and these islands tend to be inhabited.

• Enhanced magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use negative energy are maximized. Spells and spell-like abilities that are already maximized are unaffected by this benefit. Class abilities that use negative energy, such as rebuking and controlling undead, gain a +10 bonus on the roll.

• Impeded magic. Spells and spell-like abilities that use positive energy, including cure spells, are impeded. Characters on this plane take a –10 penalty on Fortitude saving throws made to regain lost levels from a life drain attack.

B&T Lost Classes: The Shadowdancer

The shadowdancer is an interesting little class. While I don’t think of it being an archetype of fantasy fiction (at least not the old stuff I read), one can imagine it fitting in well with Gygax’s concept of a “shadow plane” and even with some of the mythology surrounding the ninja. Ultimately, I don’t know where this class fits in, but I do know that somebody out there could have a good time playing one, and that’s good enough for me.

Shadowdancer

Silhouette from Telecanter

Shadowdancers are characters akin to thieves and assassins, with mystic powers related to the mysterious shadow plane.

Requirements: Shadowdancers must have dexterity and charisma scores of 13 or higher.

Hit Dice: d6 (+2 hit points per level from 10th to 20th).

Armor: Padded and leather armor.

Shield: Bucklers.

Weapons: Club, crossbow (any), dagger, dart, light mace, morningstar, punching dagger, quarterstaff, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword.

Skills: Balance, decipher script, disguise, escape, hide, jump, legerdemain, listen at doors and move silently.

CLASS FEATURES

Shadowdancers are so at home in the darkness that they gain darkvision to a range of 60 feet. They are so skilled at hiding in shadows that, as long as there are shadows within 10 feet, they gain a +3 bonus to all hide attempts as the shadows seem to flow over their bodies. Furthermore, a shadowdancer can use the spell deeper darkness three times per day.

At 2nd level, a shadowdancer can create visual illusions per the spell silent image once per day, but only if in a shadowy area.

At 3rd level a shadowdance learns to separate her own shadow into an independent entity. Unlike a normal shadow, this shadow’s alignment matches that of the shadowdancer and the creature cannot create spawn. The summoned shadow cannot be turned, rebuked, or commanded by any third party. This shadow serves as a companion to the shadowdancer and can communicate intelligibly with the shadowdancer. Every third level gained by the shadowdancer adds +2 HD to her shadow companion.

If a shadow companion is destroyed, or the shadowdancer chooses to dismiss it, the shadowdancer must attempt a Fortitude save. If the saving throw fails, the shadowdancer loses 200 experience points per shadowdancer level. A successful saving throw reduces the loss by half, to 100 XP per class level. The shadowdancer’s XP total can never go below 0 as the result of a shadow’s dismissal or destruction. A destroyed or dismissed shadow companion cannot be replaced for 30 days.

At 4th level, a shadowdancer gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some shadow. A shadowdancer can jump up to a total of 20 feet each day in this way; this may be a single jump of 20 feet or two jumps of 10 feet each. Every two levels higher than 4th, the distance a shadowdancer can jump each day doubles (40 feet at 6th, 80 feet at 8th, and 160 feet at 10th). This amount can be split among many jumps, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment.

Starting at 6th level, once per day, when a shadowdancer would be reduced to 0 hit points or less by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), she can attempt to roll with the damage. She makes a Reflex saving throw and, if successful, takes only half damage from the blow. She must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute her defensive roll.

At 8th level, the shadowdancer can cast the blacklight spell once per day.

At 10th level, the shadowdancer can cast the shadow conjuration spell once per day. Their use of the blacklight spell increases to three per day, and they can use deeper darkness and silent image five times per day.

At 12th level, the shadow dancer can cast the shadow evocation spell once per day. Their use of shadow conjuration increases to three times per day, they can use blacklight and silent image five times per day and cast deeper darkness at will.

Beware the Genomes! [Space Princess]

Can stats for Spaceman Spiff be far behind?

Genomes are small humanoid aliens with highly variable features (highly variable!) because of their penchant for body modification. I’m not talking about tattoos and piercings, folks. I’m talking about genetic engineering, mutagenic gases and the grafting of flesh onto flesh.

The standard stock for these genetic whiz-kids is that of a small humanoid, about 3 to 4 feet tall, with slightly hunched shoulders, a large, sensitive nose (per super scent), skin ranging from nut-brown to creamy white and very bright, clear eyes that pierce the darkness per infra-vision. Due to the aforementioned body modifications, most have 1d3 different “mutations” in play. These mutations mimic the different special abilities of alien characters.

MUTATION
1 Increase random ability score by +1
2 Bulk
3 Climbing
4 Electrical Field
5 Leap
6 Multiple Arms
7 Multiple Legs
8 Stunning Grasp
9 Super Hearing
10 Super Vision

Genomes operate in bands of 2d4 individuals, always looking to harvest genetic material for their experiments. They are as capable as scientists in terms of identifying and operating super scientific devices, and always carry medi-kits and mutation-rays. Creatures struck by a mutation ray suffer 1d3 points of damage to a random ability score (1 = Str, 2 = Dex, 3 = Men, 4 = Kno) and must pass a Strength test (DC 10) or be transmogrified into a random monster under the control of the genome for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the character can make a Mentality test (using their normal MEN score). If they succeed, they change back to normal. If not, they remain in their monster form, but are no longer under the control of the genome. If captured, the creature can be changed back to normal provided his or her comrades have captured a mutation ray gun (and figured out how to use it) or they have a scientist capable of designing a mutation ray gun (super science DC 25).

RANDOM MONSTER
1 Ankheg
2 Baric
3 Flail Snail
4 Gelatinous Cube
5 Giant Beetle
6 Giant Lizard
7 Giant Spider
8 Great Horned Ape
9 Killer Shrew
10 Random Alien Animal

GENOME: HD 1; DEF 15; FIGHT 4 (vibro-pick 1d8); SHOOT 6 (mutation ray); MOVE N; STR 3; DEX 5; MEN 4; KNO 8; DL 3; Special: Infra-vision, super scent, 1d3 mutations, mutation ray.

Into Stygia … Preview 1 Again!

Is it me, or is that demon photo-bombing those fighting naked dudes?

Well, you’ve seen the sketch of Stygia a bit earlier … now the finished product.

STYGIA
As one passes from hot, dry Gehenna into cool, damp Stygia, the metallic sands beneath their feet harden and become a plain of swirling metals. This plain abruptly ends in a metal cliff, perfectly smooth and angular, as though cut by a die. One mile below the top of this cliff lies the murky swamp of Stygia, a land of mangrove swamps (though such mangrove trees one has never seen on the surface, with trees so twisted and black that even a druid would be compelled to grab and axe and fell the lot of them) mud flats, rocky, vine-choked promontories and always the thick, reddish water, so much like blood, that sucks and laps at the swampy shores. Eventually, the islands in the swamp become less and less, and finally one enters the sluggish, crimson River Styx. Beyond the Styx, of course, lie the battered walls of Dis, the great metropolis of Hell in which lies Pandaemonium, their parliament, and the manors and manses of the lords of Hell.

Stygia is the fifth circle of Hell, given over to the souls of the wrathful and forlorn. It is swathed in darkness both physical and spiritual, and sits upon a base of black mud. Wallowing in this mud, incapable of escape, are the souls of the wrathful, who look much as they did in life, but with faces twisted with unending ire. Beneath their feet are trampled the souls of the sullen and forlorn, who choke eternally on the mud and seek to pull others into it.

Stygia is an eternal battleground between two great princes of Hell, Bael and Dagon. Ancient enemies, they launch their forces against one another in an unending farce, for Bael rules the land and has no use for the waters of the Styx, while Dagon rules the Styx and has no use for the land above. One cannot use what the other possesses, but desires it just the same.

Dangers of Stygia

Crossing Stygia: Stygia is a difficult terrain to move through, for it requires a boat, skiff or raft of some sort, and such an item is not readily available when one first enters the swamp. One might wait for Phlegyas, the boatman of the Styx, to arrive, but his price is a heavy one – a portion of one’s soul (and impossible gift for those of lawful alignment) and a service to be granted at some point in the future. We’ll discuss Phlegyas more below.

Wrathful and Sullen: Assuming one is not ferried across Stygia, one must pole themselves across the landscape. The channels of Stygia are treacherous and ever-shifting. When one seeks passage from one hex into another, one must roll a die to see what passage they find:

ROLL PASSAGE
1-2 No passage by water – one must walk and leave their craft behind
3-5 A narrow channel (see below)
6 A wide channel (see below)

Wide channels are also deep and the safest routes for travel (though random encounters may occur there as well as anywhere else). Narrow, shallow channels, on the other hand, are clogged with the souls of the wrathful and sullen.

Those who travel a narrow channel have a 1 in 6 chance per mile (roll 1d4 to determine the length of the channel) of being beset by these creatures. Each person so attacked must pass a saving throw or be grappled by 1d4 wrathful. They are incredible powerful, making grapple attacks with a bonus of +3. If they get a hold, they then attempt (also with grapple attacks) to pull a person into the water. Each successful attack deals 1d4 points of damage. A successful grapple attack on a person already grappled drags them into the water and muck.

Each round, 1d4 more wrathful will attempt to grab a person not already dragged into the water (and each of their companions, so delayed, must make another saving throw to avoid the same fate). No more than six wrathful can grapple a person at one time.
If a person is dragged into the water and mud, they are then grappled by 1d6 of the sullen, who lie beneath the mud (and who also attack with a +3 bonus), with the purpose of drowning them.

Waters of the Styx: A dip in the Styx has the same effect as oil of invulnerability (i.e. per the spell stoneskin). This effect lasts for 24 hours. The invulnerable is also affected as per the spell rage whenever they are challenged in any way.

Finding Phlegyas
Phlegyas dwells in a stone tower bathed in blinding light. This tower’s position in Stygia is quite variable, moving every 1d6 days. Its position can be rolled as follows:

ROLL POSITION
1-2 Opposite side of Stygia from the adventurers
3-4 Quarter of the way around Stygia from the adventurers
5 2d4 hexes away from the adventurers
6 In the same hex as the adventurers

Races of Stygia
Stygia, like most of the other circles of Hell, is not only inhabited by pitchfork-carrying devils and their victims. Five races known to people of the surface world dwell in Stygia, though these races have been changed in many ways by their habitation in Hell.

In particular, the race of Stygia, living so long near or in the River Styx, are nearly invulnerable to normal weapons (i.e. those of less than adamant construction), taking only half damage from such weapons. They are also all berserkers, gaining double their normal attacks in combat, but suffering a -2 penalty to their Armor Class.

Frog Men: The frog men have long, thin legs and great, wide mouths filled with needle thin teeth. They have glossy black skin and warm, amber eyes that produce a dim glow. Their tongues are long and barbed, and those struck by them must pass a saving throw or be infected by disease (lose 1d3 points of wisdom per day). Just as frogs straddle land and water, the frog men straddle the lines between Bael and Dagon, attempting to play one side off the other for their own benefit.

Hobgoblins: Hobgoblins, as mentioned in NOD 11, are “the wrathful”, so it is only right that they dwell in Stygia as the foot soldiers of Bael. Stygian hobgoblins have crimson skin so dark it is almost black, with beady eyes of a sulfurous yellow. They dress in light or medium armors, like ring armor or lamellar, for the danger of being sucked into the mud is ever present in Stygia. Stygian hobgoblins arm themselves with sabres and scimitars, hacking falchions, barbed spears, throwing axes, brazen muskets and pistols. Some protect stone fortresses hidden in the swamp, while others patrol the swamps in shallow draft, iron-clad galleys armed with rows of ornate bronze cannon.

Mermaids: The mermaids of Stygia have pallid skin and overly large, deep green eyes that can allow them to charm person. Their lower bodies are those of eels and their hands are tipped with deep, green claws. They are utterly without mercy and quite carnivorous.

Ogres: The ogres of Stygia are the armorers of Bael, forging the weapons, armor and ordnance of his armies. They have greenish-black skin and lank, green hair that grows to their ankles. This hair is matted, sometimes braided, and the ogres weave iron knobs into the ends so that their hair becomes a weapon while they are fighting. Any creature in melee contact with them must save each round or suffer 1d4 points of damage from these knobs. The ogres of Stygia are berserkers (two attacks per round).

Sahuagin: The sahuagin of Hell are not terribly different from the sahuagin of any other world – a testament of sorts to their innate wickedness and ferocity. The Stygian sahuagin have dull black scales that aid them in surprising their prey in the black waters of the swamp and river.

Lords of Stygia
Stygia is divided between two princes, Bael and Dagon.

Prince Bael is a fallen solar, and one of the principal kings of Hell. He is one of Lucifer’s lieutenants, and thus also one of his greatest rivals. Bael can take the form of a crimson-skinned man with a face twisted with rage (even when he is calm is appears this way) and bull’s horns jutting from his head, as a brazen bull with a man’s face, or as a strange creature with the body of a spider and three heads, those of a crowned man, a cat and a toad. This last form is his true form since his fall from grace.

Dagon is the prince of the waters of Stygia, i.e. the River Styx. Also known as Lotan, the patron deity of Ophir, he dwells in a grand palace beneath the Styx with his wife, Ishara, a demi-goddess of the oaths and magical bindings, who inflicts bodily penalties on oath breakers. Both appear as demonic merfolk. Ishara is known for her milky white skin. She can also take the form of a white scorpion.

Vepar is the lieutenant of Dagon and a great duke of Hell in his own right. He governs the waters and on Nod is invoked to guide armed vessels to safety or to sink such vessels beneath the waves. He takes the form of a fetching mermaid clad in armor of coral and gold.

Furfur, a great earl of Hell, is the chief of the perytons, and he commands 29 companies of demons and devils. He appears as either a winged deer or an angel and is the patron of furcifers (i.e. scoundrels). Furfur believes the skies of Stygia to be his domain, and he counts himself neutral between Bael and Dagon, though the raids of his servants on the land forces of Bael have disposed the former quite badly toward him.

Aguares, who was covered in NOD 9, is a duke of Hell and an unsteady servant of Bael. He appears as a pale, old man mounted on a crocodile, with a hawk on his fist. He is served by 31 companies.

Scox is a marquis of Hell and the chief of the eblis, and he attempts to take no part in the battles between Bael and Dagon. He is faithful to Lucifer, and acts as his chief factor in Stygia, despite the fact that Bael is supposedly Lucifer’s right-hand-man.

Nickar, chief of the kelpies and pirates, is a servant (unwilling to some extent) of Dagon. He commands the shallower channels and appears as a demonic nixie playing a harp and attended by kelpies and nixies who comb his hair and whisper sweet nothings in his ears.

Finally, we come to Styx herself, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, a titan and nereid who bore to the titan Pallas the children Zelus, Nike, Kratos and Bia. She remains above the fray, but lends some support to both sides to keep them locked eternally in battle and thus out of her hair. Styx is fairly neutral in alignment, and the most approachable of the lords of Stygia, though she is rarely inclined to lend aid.

Into Stygia … Preview 1

I’m just beginning the process of writing the Stygia portion of my Hellcrawl – the fifth circle of Hell, to be precise, wherein dwell the wrathful and the sullen. What follows is my initial sketch of the overview. Some parts are in a finished state, most are just bits and pieces of notes. I thought it might be interesting to people – like an illustrator showing a sketch before the finished drawing.

WHAT – swamp, mangroves, weird plants, amphibians, deeper lakes, river

WHO (WRATHFUL)

Stygian darkness

Wrathful souls in the mud, biting and attacking

Berserkers

Souls of the sullen beneath the waters, grasping and pulling people down

Inability to control anger and rage

Tower wreathed in flame and boatman Phlegyas taking people across the Styx proper

Blue bayou pirates

Terrains – mud flats, rocky islands, wooded islands, clumps of mangrove, Spanish forts, Spanish moss, vines

“Shooting the Rapids”
You have to do a check to find a channel to the hex you want to enter – if successful, you find a deep channel. If not, you find a shallow channel filled with the souls of the wrathful, who are stuck in the mud but no less dangerous for it.

Reflex saving throws – once per mile

If failed, you are grappled by first one wrathful, then 1d4 more per round, all trying to damage you and pull you into the mud, where then the sullen grab from below and suck you in to drown

Dipping in the Styx can make people invulnerable for a time (1d8 days) (bonus to armor and saves), but also makes them intemperate (save or go berserk)

Races of Stygia
Stygia, like most of the other circles of Hell, is not only inhabited by pitchfork-carrying devils and their victims. ??? races known to people of the surface world dwell in Stygia, though these races have been changed in many ways by their habitation in Hell.

Sahuagin: The sahuagin of Hell are not terribly different from the sahuagin of any other world – a testament of sorts to their innate wickedness and ferocity. The Stygian sahuagin have dull black scales that aid them in surprising their prey in the black waters of the swamp and river.

Frog Men: The frog men have long, thin legs and great, wide mouths filled with needle thin teeth. They have glossy black skin and warm, amber eyes that produce a dim glow. Their tongues are long and barbed, and those struck by them must pass a saving throw or be infected by disease (lose 1d3 points of wisdom per day).

Ogres: The ogres of Stygia are the devoted servants of Bael. They have greenish-black skin and lank, green hair that grows to their ankles. This hair is matted, sometimes braided, and the ogres weave iron knobs into the ends so that their hair becomes a weapon while they are fighting. Any creature in melee contact with them must save each round or suffer 1d4 points of damage from these knobs. The ogres of Stygia are berserkers (two attacks per round).

Mermaids: The mermaids of Stygia have pallid skin and overly large, deep green eyes that can allow them to charm person. Their lower bodies are those of eels and their hands are tipped with deep, green claws. They are utterly without mercy and quite carnivorous.

Lords of Stygia

Prince Baal of the Land – sometimes Bael, Baell – associated with Ashtaroth – principal king of Hell – 66 legions of demons, main assistant of Satan – can make people invisible or wise, speaks hoarsely, carries ashes in his pocket, appear in forms of man, cat and toad or as a man or bull

Prince Dagon of the Water – also called Lotan, patron of Ophir – has a chain gang of drowned kings – Anat is his sister, cooked kings on a fisherman’s spit – wife is Ishara or Shala – patron of Hammurabi – weapon of the god was used to slay Arman and Ibla by Naram-Sin – Joppa (Jaffa, famous for Jonah) is the land of Dagon – possesses the head of Saul – also called Marnas – Saint Porphyry destroyed his temples

Ishara – goddess of the oath, “binding promise”, “magical charming”, “white ghost” – inflicts bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular breakers of military oaths and a goddess of medicine, mother of the seven stars, associated with Scorpio, also love goddess and associated with underworld

Vepar – strong Great Duke of Hell, 29 legions of demons, governs waters and guides armored ships laden with ammunition and weapons; can bring storms and rough seas, can make men die in three days by putrefying sores and wounds, causing worms to breed in them, depicted as a mermaid

Furfur- great earl, chief of perytons – 29 legions of demons, liar unless compelled to enter magic triangle – causes love between man and woman, creates storms and tempests, thunder, lightning and blasts, teaches on secret and divine things, can appear as winged deer or angel – corruption of Furcifer, Latin for scoundrel

Aguares – duke of the eastern zone of upper Hells – duke served by 31 legions – see NOD 9 – can make runaways come back, and those who run stand still, cause earthquakes and teaches languages, finds pleasure in teaching immoral expressions, destroy dignities (temporal and supernatural) – pale old man riding crocodile with hawk on his fist

Scox – chief of the eblis – Marquis – also Shax, Chax, Shass, Shaz – 1000 legions of demons on evil horses, takes away the sight, hearing and understanding, steals money from kings’ houses, steals anything, discover hidden things, faithful and obedient, but a great liar, stork who speaks with a subtle and hoarse voice, but voice becomes beautiful when forced into magical triangle and made to speak the truth

Nickar – chief of the kelpies and pirates – green hair and plays harp – mermaid creature

Styx – daughter of Oceanus and Tethys – a titan/neried, wife to Pallas, bore him Zelus, Nike, Kratos and Bia (Eos) – supported Zeus in the titanomachy

Phlegyas – the boatman of the Styx (according to Dante)

Random Encounters
Demons – Lemures, Dretches, Imps, Achaierai, Rutterkin, Vrock, Chasme, Hydrodaemon, Greruor, Shrroth

Dhezik
Wight
Eblis
Kelpie
Spriggan
Peryton
Devil Wasp
Brykolakas
Ghoul Stirge
Ogre Mage
Grey Nisp
Undead Raven Swarm
Aberrant
Witch Tree
Bog Mummy
Cerebral Stalker
Fen Witch
Entropic Ooze
Tenebrous Worm
Groaning Spirit
Demiurge
Hydra
Widowshark
Giant frog
Giant crocodile
Froghemoth
Death head moths

Blood & Treasure: An Idea and a Problem

Before I begin this post … The NOD 13 E-Book is back up for sale. I had forgotten to credit an artist, so I needed to bring it down until I could fix the PDF this morning. So – back up for sale, $3.50. Buy it HERE if you’ve a mind to.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post …

How many readers do yard work or putter around in the garden? If not, I highly suggest it, because it gives you time to think and create.

THE IDEA

B&T Ranger by Jon Kaufman

Today I was putting in a veggie garden and while I toiled a thought popped into my head. I want Blood & Treasure to be inclusive of all the editions that fed into the SRD – but that means a Referee who wants to run the game without some material from one or another edition has to put together a list for his players of what material is forbidden. That’s a pain in the butt.

So, working off of ideas I’ve seen floated around by Zak Smith and Jeff Rients and possibly others, I thought I might help those Referees out. Obviously, if a Referee is exluding material based on the theme of his or her campaign, I can’t read their minds and help with that. But, if they want to exclude things based on the edition it showed up in, that I can handle.

The idea is simple. I’m using three categories of material:

Classic: For me, this is the material that showed up in the three original books and material from the “basic” game written by Holmes and expanded by Moldvay, Cook and Mentzer. So, the four basic classes (yes, of course you don’t have to use the thief), the human, elf, dwarf and halfling, the old stand-by spells and the old stand-by monsters.

Advanced: This is the stuff from the original supplements as well as the first edition of AD&D. Material (i.e. classes, races, spells and monsters) that is “advanced” will be marked with a little black diamond next to the name.

Expanded: This is the stuff that showed up in the 2nd and 3rd editions of the game, from feats to sorcerers to tieflings to grey renders. Expanded material will be marked with a little black circle.

So, if a Referee just wants to run a “classic” campaign, he can tell the players to avoid any race, class or spell marked with a diamond or circle.  Likewise, those who want an “advanced” campaign can caution players not to attempt to use materials marked with a circle. Simple and, I think, not too intrusive. Let me know what you think …

THE PROBLEM
Inclusivity is nice, but it poses some problems. For all intents and purposes, I am finished writing Blood & Treasure and it looks like it’s coming in around 300 big fat pages. That’s a sizable book, and not to some peoples’ taste. So …

How about I produce three books?

One will be a 300 page monster with everything in it. This should run in the $30 range.

The other two will be divided into a Player’s Guide with the classes, races, spells and basic rules (combat, skills, saving throws, etc.) and a Referee’s Guide with monsters, treasure and info on creating and running adventures and campaign worlds. These would probably sell in the $15 range.

My only worry here is that somebody could accidentally buy all three and waste some of their hard earned money.

Again, let me know what you think.

B&T Lost Classes: The Dragon Disciple

I love classes. Since I picked up my first Dragon ages ago and discovered the concept of the “NPC class” (like we weren’t going to try to play them), I’ve loved classes. I’ve posted quite a few on this blog. When it came to Blood & Treasure, I wanted to stick to the classes in the SRD – i.e. the classic classes of AD&D plus the sorcerer. I decided, to make Blood & Treasure a little different, I would throw in one more, in this case converting the Duelist prestige class into a class of its own. That gave me 13 classes, which I somewhat doubled by giving examples of variant classes one could create with a little reassembly of existing parts.

All along, though, there were a few other classes I wanted to throw in. The psychic (my version) was one of them, but I decided with four dedicated spell casters in the game already (cleric, druid, magic-user and sorcerer), one more was overkill. From the SRD, three other classes caught my eye. The first was the soulknife, and it nearly made it in. The other two, both prestige classes, were the shadowdancer and dragon disciple. I’m calling these three the “lost classes” of Blood & Treasure, and I’m posting them here, starting with the dragon disciple.

And yeah, I know, I’m posting “lost classes” from a book that hasn’t been published yet. So sue me.

DRAGON DISCIPLE
Dragon disciples are men and women who enter into secret dragon societies with the object of harnessing the powers of dragons and eventually transforming themselves into dragons. All of them have the mystic blood of dragons flowing through their veins, and by energizing their chakras, they can become dragons themselves.

Requirements: Dragon disciples must have intelligence, constitution and charisma scores of 13 or higher.

Hit Dice: d10 (+3 hit points per level from 10th to 20th).

Armor: None.

Shield: No.

Weapons: Club, crossbow (any), dagger, hand axe, javelin, kama, nunchaku, punching dagger, quarterstaff, sai, shuriken, siangham, sling and spear.

Skills: Escape, find secret doors and listen at doors (see Heroic Tasks below).

CLASS FEATURES
Dragon disciples are scholars as much as they are warriors, and have the abilities of a sage (see Henchmen).

At 1st, 4th, and 7th level, a dragon disciple gains a +1 bonus to their existing natural armor. As his skin thickens, a dragon disciple takes on more and more of his progenitor’s physical aspect.

At 2nd level, a dragon disciple gains claw and bite attacks if he does not already have them. Medium-sized dragon disciples deal 1d6 points of damage with bite attacks and 1d4 points of damage with claw attacks. Smaller dragon disciples reduce these values by one dice size, while larger dragon disciples increase these values by one dice size.

As a dragon disciple gains levels, his ability scores increase as follows:

Level | Boost
2nd | Str +1
4th | Str +1
6th | Con +1
8th | Int +1

At 3rd level, a dragon disciple gains a minor breath weapon. The type and shape depend on the dragon variety whose heritage he enjoys (see below). Regardless of the ancestor, the breath weapon deals 2d6 points of damage of the appropriate energy type.

Dragon Variety |  Breath Weapon
Black |  Line of acid
Blue |  Line of lightning
Green | Cone of corrosive gas (acid)
Red |  Cone of fire
White | Cone of cold
Brass |  Line of fire
Bronze | Line of lightning
Copper |  Line of acid
Gold |  Cone of fire
Silver |  Cone of cold

At 7th level, the damage of the breath weapon increases to 4d6, and when a disciple attains dragon apotheosis at 10th level it reaches its full power at 6d6. Regardless of its strength, the breath weapon can be used only once per day. A line-shaped breath weapon is 5 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 60 feet long. A cone-shaped breath weapon is 30 feet long.

At 5th level, the dragon disciple can use nonvisual senses to notice things it cannot see. He usually does not need to make checks to notice and pinpoint the location of creatures within 60 feet, provided that he has line of effect to that creature.

Any opponent the dragon disciple cannot see still has a tactical advantage against him.

At 9th level, a dragon disciple grows a set of draconic wings. He may now fly at a speed equal to his normal land speed.

At 12th level, a dragon disciple takes on the half-dragon template. His breath weapon reaches full strength (as noted above), and he gains +2 to strength and +1 to charisma. His natural armor bonus increases to +4, and he acquires the low-light vision of elves, darkvision to a range of 60-ft, immunity to sleep and paralysis effects and immunity to the energy type used by his breath weapon.