Bring Some Love to Your Dungeon – The Puttis

Dungeons – dank and damp and deadly – killing the spawn that chaos belches into the inner recesses of the earth – retrieving all manner of treasures, sacred and profane – falling deeply in love with a minotaur and betraying your friends on its behalf … wait, what?

PUTTI

Small Outsider, Neutral (CN), High Intelligence; Flutter (1d6)

HD: 3
AC: 16 [+1]
ATK: 1 arrow (1d4 or see below)
MV: 20 (Fly 40)
SV: F12 R11 W10
XP: 300 (CL 4)

Putti are mischevious little bastards, spawn of the gods and goddesses of love, who haunt dungeons looking for opportunities to spread love and trouble. They appear as plump humanoid infants with pink skin and rosy cheeks and small white wings (clearly too small to allow them to fly, yet fly they do).

Putti are armed with short bows and a quiver of 10 arrows. These arrows can be fired as normal shafts, or they can be used to deliver the putti’s spell-like abilities. When used to deliver spells, roll damage (1d4) and apply this as a penalty on the victim’s saving throw.

Spells: 3/day – Calm emotions, charm person, clairaudience/clairvoyance, confusion, light, rage, suggestion; 1/day – Charm monster, command, dimension door, dominate person, dream, ethereal jaunt, irresistible dance.

Special Qualities: Immune to fear, magic resistance (15%)

Dragon by Dragon – March 1979 (23)

I haven’t delved into an old Dragon for a while, so I thought tonight was as good a night as any to do a new “Dragon by Dragon”. What does March 1979 have in store for us?

I often like to start with an ad, and this one has a dandy for Fourth Dimension, the game of Time and Space. You get to play a Time Lord in this one, with an army of Guardians, Rangers and Warriors. No dice in this game – all about the strategy.

In terms of articles, the first one up is about playing EN GARDE! (love the days of capitalized game names) as a solitaire game. Folks might find a use in the Critical Hits table.

Die Roll. Result (Damage Points)
1-10. Light Leg Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
11-20. Light Left Arm Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
21-30. Light Right Arm Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
31-40. Light Head Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
41-50. Light Body Wound (Base 25 + 16-sided die roll)
51-60. Serious Leg Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
61-70. Serious Left Arm Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
71-80. Serious Right Arm Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
81-90. Serious Head Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
91-99. Serious Body Wound (Base 100 + 120-sided die roll)
00. DEAD

Love the 16-sided dice and 120-sided dice – not sure how that was accomplished, though I’m sure a dice whiz can inform us in the comments. If modifying for use in “traditional fantasy games”, you could maybe replace “Base 20 + 16-sided die roll” with 6 + 1d6 or something like that.

Next is some fantasy fiction by Gardner F. Fox – “The Thing from the Tomb”. The first paragraph goes thus …

“Niall of the Far Travels reined in his big grey stallion, lifting his right hand to halt the long column of riders who followed him across this corner of the Baklakanian Desert. In front of him, and far away, he could make out a dark blotch on the golden sands toward which he was
moving.”

Jeff P. Swycaffer presents “Mind Wrestling”, a variation on psionic combat. To be honest, I still regret not throwing in a psionics appendix into Blood & Treasure. The idea here is that two people are attempting to push a cloud of power suspended between them into their opponent’s mind. The system uses a double track to represent the “field” of combat. Attackers secretly declare an outside or center attack, defenders secretly divide their Psionic Strength between outside and center defense, and then the attacker’s Psionic Strength (+40 or doubled, whichever is less) is compared to the defender’s strength. If a ratio of 2:1 is achieved, the marker is moved one space. If a ratio of 3:1 is achieved, it is moved two spaces. The attacker then has his psionic strength returned to normal and loses 3 points, and the defender loses twice as many points as his marker was pushed back. Simple system, and would probably be a fun game-within-a-game, especially for psionics-heavy campaigns.

Carl Hursh has rules and guidelines for water adventures on the Starship Warden. Lots of monster stats, including craboids and gupoids.

Michael Mornard presents notes on armor for fantasy games, maybe the first article to talk about how D&D armor and weapons is heavier than real armor and weapons.

Gygax’s Sorcerer’s Scroll presents the random generation of creatures from the lower planes – always a fun one, and I highly suggest people use it when sicing demons of various types on their players. You can either use it to generate additional “types” of demons, or use it to alter the appearance of existing types.

James M. Ward presents an article I’m excited about – Damage Permanency (or How Hrothgar One-Ear Got His Name). This system is used when a person is reduced to 1 or 2 hit points. When this happens, there is a 50% chance of no permanent damage, a 20% chance of needing magical healing to heal properly, and a 10% chance of being maimed unless wish or a 5th level or better clerical healing spell or device is used.

What follows are a number of tables – one to determine the area of the body damaged, and tables for each body location to determine what happens. Head damage, for example, is as follows:

1-12 Hearing Loss
13-24 Sight Loss
25-36 Speech Impaired
37-48 Charisma Impaired
49-60 Intelligence Impaired
61-72 Wisdom Impaired
73-88 Fighting Ability Impaired
89-100 Spell Ability Impaired

Of course, more detail follows. “Spell Ability Impaired” mean that the person loses one level of spell ability – i.e. a 3rd level magic-user would have the spells of a 2nd level magic-user.

The Design Forum features “Dungeons and Prisons” by Mark S. Day. Essentially, it covers the idea that dungeons should have some prison cells, and gives a few notions about how one might use them.

And that does it for Dragon in March 1979 – a useful little issue. One parting shot …

Ah – the good old days were just getting started in 1979!

Soon, I’ll review the latest adventure offering from Tim Shorts – Knowledge Illuminates!

Women, Cars and Spaceships … A Retrospective

While driving to work this morning, I was listening to classical music and musing on the design of cars and spaceships. I don’t mean real spaceships, of course – I mean the kind you see in movies, comic books, pulp fiction and television – the good stuff. I also started thinking about mens’ taste in women, and how the styles of disparate things tend to conflate at different times. With that in mind, I decided I was going to put together some images from different years (or small spans of years) of the top spaceship of that time, the top car of that time and what were considered the top sex symbols of that time to see if they clicked.

Here we go …

We’ll begin with 1929 and Buck Rogers. The spaceship was still in the “could have been designed by lonely housewives” era. Fairly sleek and only a few doodads stuck to the outside of the ship. For our car, we have a 1929 Duesenberg – also pretty sleek, formal and yet also sporty. Whether Buck’s spaceship had leather seats, I don’t know. For our sci-fi beauty, we have Col. Wilma Deering, Buck’s erstwhile companion and drawn as a classic beauty of the era – rounded face and graceful lips.

By 1936, Flash Gordon has burst onto the scene in the first of his film adaptations. The spaceship isn’t much different than Buck Rogers’ craft, though perhaps a bit sportier (check out the chrome!). Dale Arden, as played by Jean Rogers, conforms pretty closely to the earlier beauty standard, and the car isn’t terribly different from the 1929 Duesenberg, though you’ll note the nose is slanted back a bit.

1950 brought the film classic (?) Destination Moon. Destination Moon at least played at being hard sci-fi, though the design was definitely of the moderne period, with the sleek spacecraft. The beauty of 1950, Erin O’Brien-Moore was pretty sleek herself, and shows how tastes were changing at the dawn of a new decade. The car is a bit more compact than in the 1930’s, but in this case it looks like the spaceship designs are beginning to presage developments in automobiles.

In 1956, Forbidden Planet put earthlings in a flying saucer (guess those captured German scientists were finally earning their keep). Beauty isn’t much changed from 6 years ago, and the car, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, is not yet exhibiting the giant fins that will grace vehicles in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

By 1966, Star Trek has premiered. The Enterprise is unlike any spaceship audiences have seen before, and also notable is that the sole beauty of the cast (unless you include Sulu) is a black woman! Nichelle Nichols typified late ’60s beauty – curves and tall hair. The cars are becoming more slick as well – away from the tail-fins and into the muscle car era.

The next big leap, in this case back in some ways and forward in others, was 1977’s Star Wars (you might have heard of it). For the first time on film, we get a real sense of the “starfighter” – fighter aircraft in space. Yeah, the Star Destroyers were pretty iconic as well, but you really can’t beat the X-Wings and TIE Fighters for capturing the imagination of kids in that era. Our beauty is, of course, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who really found herself thrust into unfamiliar territory in her slave girl costume. The 1977 Ferrari pictures seems to have a similar profile to those X-Wings.

One last stop, and a leap forward to one of my favorite sci-fi series – Red Dwarf. Not American, and played for laughs, it introduced a completely utilitarian (and grandiose) spacecraft in the eponymous Red Dwarf. By 1994, we had maybe my favorite of all the sci-fi beauties introduced on this post – Chloë Annett as Kristine Kochanski (I like my women smart, beautiful and with a wry sense of humor) and the fairly utilitarian Rover. Substance over style in 1994 sci-fi.

Okay, there’s many more I could do – various incarnations of Star Trek, Alien, etc. I’ll leave further explorations to others.

A Stroll Through the Virgin Woode – Sun Gods, Fort Adventure, Giant City and the White Tower

A few more previews of the Virgin Woode

0848. Ancient Idol | Dungeon
An ancient idol of Asur, the sun god of the ancient elves, stands here, half-toppled and overgrown with creepers that bear large, violet blooms. The statue has been damaged and defaced, the gold leaf stripped from it, the small, bench-like altar that stood before it cracked in half.

The blooms that grow around the idol put off a sweet-smelling odor, and in the presence of warm bodies release a pollen that intoxicated (Fortitude save vs. poison or fatigued).

The base of the idol, if one can get to it through the underbrush and creepers, holds a secret compartment accessed by speaking the high holy words (Klaatu Barada Nikto) or with a prying device, holds a large garnet that provides proof against illusions. If a person holds the stone in his or her mouth (don’t swallow it), they are immune to illusions, including invisibility. Fighting or doing other rough work while holding the stone in one’s mouth carries with it a chance of accidentally swallowing it (Reflex save, attempted once per minute). If swallowed, the stone causes nausea for 1d4 hours, and piercing pains in the gut as it is passed over the course of a few days.

Image found HERE

1118. Fort Adventure | Stronghold
A fighting-woman of Salem colony, Hepzibah Stanis, has established a fort in this hex as an early defense of the colony and as a base of operation for pilgrim adventurers. The fort consists of a wooden palisade around several log buildings, barracks for the fort’s 20 pikemen, 16 longbowmen, 10 cuirassiers and 10 rangers, a home for Hepzibah and a small shrine to Diana tended by Elder Druthy Avanulf. A second druid, Elder Wandla Narlis once served here, but he was dishonest and greedy, and now dwells with brigands in the woods, consorting with demons. Hepzibah is gathering soldiers to route the brigands and bring the surrounding skraeling clans to heel.

1142. Skagarak | City-State
Skagarak is a large city of cyclopean architecture nestled in the wooded hills and surrounded by fields plowed by mammoth and mines dug by enslaved kobolds. The city is inhabited by 2,000 stone giants with shocking red hair and prominent jaws. The stone giants of Skagarak are rooted in the paleolithic, and claim to have dwelled in these hills since before the arrival of the ancient elves. Their city consists of great stone lodges inhabited by up to a dozen families bound together as a clan, walls 70 feet in height and buttressed by five great towers, a temple dedicated to mighty Atlas, and a splendid palace inhabited by their king, Tsul’kalu, and his royal clan. The streets are narrow and twisty, and the walls are surrounded by a a dry moat 20 feet deep.

The stone giants claim this hex as well as the hexes around it, using them to grow their crops and quarrying various stones (mostly granite and flint) and precious stones. They are not hostile to the wild elves, but care nor for their company, nor the company of the newly arrives humans.

1204. White Tower | Dungeon
The white tower is an example of an ancient elven ruin that the player’s might discover. It is a tall structure of white marble rising out of the woods. Inside the tower there is a golden stair leading to a chamber at the top of the tower. An antipathy spell has been cast on this chamber. The floor is littered with several uncut green garnets (5 gp each).

Each garnet confers on its possessor a single druid spell of 1st to 3rd level (roll randomly) that can be cast at the cost of 1d4 hit points. A creature must concentrate to cast this spell, and will only notice the hit point loss with a successful Will save.
Creatures killed by casting spells with these garnets will rise one day later as spectres that appear as glowing white skeletons with green garnets for eyes. The newly risen spectre will seek out the tower and reside in its walls.

Each garnet a creature steals from the tower will be pursued by a spectre. The spectres will appear each night in the thief’s dreams, chasing them through the dark woods toward the tower.

The dreamer will always awaken just as they reach the tower door and just as the glowing spectre is about to place its hand on their shoulder. Each night that they have this dream, they must pass a Will saving throw. If ever they fail, the spectre will be waiting for them in the waking world and it will immediately attack them. If killed, the unlucky thief will be found with all the color drained from their bodies and their eyes missing. The unfortunate will rise as a spectre as detailed above.

Last of the Mohicans [Quick Review]

I’m on a reading kick lately, specifically delving into about 100 classic books I’ve recently downloaded onto my Kindle from Project Gutenberg. A couple days ago I finished reading James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans – I thought it was a good choice given the fact that I’m writing a colonial North America-themed hex crawl at the moment.

For a book written in 1826, Last of the Mohicans is pretty accessible to the modern reader. Many books of that era make long, wide detours away from the story to touch on matters of history, geography, etc. This isn’t a bad thing in-an-of itself, but it can distract from the matter at hand. Last of the Mohicans stays the course, telling the tale of the white scout Hawkeye (Nathaniel Bumppo) and the Mohicans, Uncas and Chingachgook, as they endeavor first to deliver Cora and Alice, daughters of Col. Munro, and their companions, Major Heyward and the psalmodist David through the wilderness to safety. Ultimately, they fail at this, and must free them from the clutches of the Hurons and their chief, Magua.

Last of the Mohicans is a rousing tale worth reading. For gamers, it’s a good study on the way a wilderness campaign might be conducted. As I read the book, I also got the distinct feeling that it was a major inspiration on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I’m no Tolkien scholar, so I might be completely wrong on this one, but the use of language, the singing of songs, the overall feel of the flight through the wilderness all reminded me of the Fellowship of the Ring. I do know that Tolkien’s rangers were inspired by the real life ranger of North America, so I suppose it’s possible that the professor was a fan of the book.

So – your assignment before tramping through the Virgin Woode is to delve into Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757.

Click here for Project Gutenberg’s copy

The Chevalier

Whether knights in shining armor or blackguards, chevaliers are the mailed fist of the feudal order, serving their suzerain in war and peace. At the heart of a chevalier’s pride (or arrogance), is his coat of arms, a symbol of his puissance at arms and place in the great chain of being. From a chevalier’s armorial, he draws powers beyond the simple hack and slash of the average fighter.

The chevalier is a sub-class of fighter who gains special abilities from the invocation of his coat of arms, in particular from his the tincture of the field (or main tincture of the field, since some are divided) and from the charge.

Requirements

Strength of 9 or higher and Charisma of 13 or higher. A character that does not have a Charisma of 13 or higher can still enter the chevalier class, but does so as a 0-level character called a squire (see below)

Armor Allowed

Any armor except padded, leather, studded, ring (i.e. scale or better), and bucklers and shields

Weapons Allowed

All weapons

Skills

Riding

XP Requirements

As fighter

Special Abilities

Before we cover the special abilities of a chevalier, we must address the concept of a 0-level chevalier, the squire. Some men are not born as wealthy or well-connected as others, yet they still have the drive to become knights. These poor souls (i.e. folks with low charisma) can still enter the service of a suzerain, holding the rank of “squire”.

A squire earns experience points just as any other character, but can only spend them to increase his or her charisma. One point of charisma can be purchased by the squire for 200 XP. When the squire achieves a charisma of 13, he or she becomes a 1st level chevalier and their experience points are reset to 0.

The first step to becoming a chevalier is to draw up a coat of arms. A perusal of the internet can assist in this, and your Treasure Keeper can make sure you haven’t copied the arms of an existing NPC or PC in the game world. The tincture and charge of a chevalier’s arms determine their special abilities, so read the entire description of the class before designing your arms.

A 1st level chevalier (armiger) can invoke their tincture once per day. The special ability associated with the tincture lasts for one hour. If a chevalier has more than one tincture on his arms (i.e. he has divisions), they must choose which tincture is their “main tincture” at 1st level. At 5th level, the chevalier can invoke their tincture three times per day.

Argent (Silver/White): The chevalier gains use of feat Fast.
Azure (Blue): The chevalier gains the use of the feat Expertise.
Ermine/Vair (Furs): The chevalier gains the use of the feat Alertness.
Gules (Red): The chevalier gains the use of the feat Power Attack.
Or (Gold/Yellow): The chevalier gains the use of the feat Iron Will.
Purpure (Purple): The chevalier gains the use of the feat Great Fortitude.
Sable (Black): The chevalier gains the Trickery skill.
Vert (Green): The chevalier gains the Tracking skill.

A 3rd level chevalier (cavalier) can invoke the charge on his coat of arms to gain a special attack or defense, most of them the equivalent of a spell. A 3rd level chevalier can invoke his charge once per day. A 10th level chevalier can invoke his charge three times per day.

Angel: Cure serious wounds (per the spell)
Arm: Strength (per the spell)
Bear: Chevalier can grapple (as though he has the Improved Grapple feat) for 1d8 points of damage
Bee: Chevalier can summon a giant bee (per summon monster IV)
Boar: Chevalier can continue to fight for 1d6 rounds after reaching 0 hit points, as a boar
Bull: Forceful hand (as the spell, though the attack bonus is only +8)
Castle: Stoneskin (per the spell)
Cross: Holy smite (per the spell)
Deer: Haste (per the spell)
Devil: Inflict serious wounds (per the spell)
Dolphin: Chevalier can swim at a speed of 80, as a dolphin, even when armored
Dragon: The dragon charge on his shield releases a breath weapon in a 15-ft. cone that deals 3d6 points of damage of an energy type associated with the color of the chevalier’s dragon charge
Eagle: Fly (per the spell)
Estoile/Mullet: Psionic blast (per the spell)
Fleur-de-lis: Magic vestment (per the spell)
Fox: Charm monster (per the spell)
Griffin: Magic circle against evil (per the spell)
Harp: Fascinate as a bard of the chevalier’s level
Harpy: Can captivate per the special attack of the harpy
Heart: Immune to fear
Leopard: Invisibility (per the spell)
Lion: Heroism (per the spell)
Mermaid: Water breathing (per the spell), and can swim without penalty in armor
Owl: Dispel magic (per the spell)
Phoenix: Continual flame (per the spell)
Raven: Deeper darkness (per the spell)
Rose: Suggestion (per the spell)
Salamander: Protection from energy (fire) (per the spell)
Serpent: Sticks to snakes (per the spell)
Sphinx: Confusion (per the spell)
Spur: Phantom steed (per the spell)
Sun: Searing light (per the spell)
Sword/Axe: Keen edge on a weapon of the same general type as the charge (per the spell)
Tree: Barkskin (per the spell)
Wolf: Chevalier can summon 1d4 wolves (per summon monster IV)
Wyvern: Poison (per the spell)

A 4th level chevalier (knight errant) can inspire courage in his henchmen and retainers, giving them a +2 bonus to save vs. fear effects as long as they are within the sound of his voice.

An 8th level chevalier (worthy) earns the right to build a castle and either start an order of chivalry (becoming a “knight commander”) or swear fealty to a royal personage (becoming a “baronet”). A chevalier with a castle attracts 1d6 men-at-arms per level, 1d6 first level chevaliers who wish to train under him and one 3rd level chevalier to serve as his castellan. These chevaliers should be generated as characters under control of the player.