Nymphomania (Part 1)

No, not that kind of nymphomania. Get your mind out of the gutter.

I’m talking about the myriad varieties of nymphs in Greek mythology. A few have made their way into the annals of fantasy gaming, but there are so many more, and I need a blog post, so you do the math.

For the nymphs that follow, I’m going to assume that they have modifications of the basic nymph stats and abilities from Blood & Treasure. In other words, I’m not going to put in a full block of monster stats for each one, just list where they differ from what is below.

NYMPH
Medium Fey, Lawful (NG), High Intelligence; Solitary

HD 6
AC 17
ATK Dagger (1d4)
MV 30 (Swim 20)
SV F 12, R 10, W 9
XP 600 (CL 7)

Nymphs are female fey of astounding beauty. The daughters and grand-daughters of the gods, they represent the beauty and mystery of nature. Nymphs speak Sylvan and Common.
All humanoids within 30 feet of a nymph that look directly at a nymph must succeed on a Fortitude save or be blinded permanently. A nymph can suppress this ability if she wishes.

As a gaze attack, a wrathful nymph can stun a creature within 30 feet with nothing more than a sidelong glance. The target creature must succeed on a Fortitude save or be stunned for 2d4 rounds.

Besides their spell-like abilities, nymphs cast spells as 7th level druids.

Spells: 1/day—dimension door

Typical Druids Spells: 0—cure minor wounds, detect magic, flare, guidance, light, resistance; 1st—calm animals, cure light wounds, entangle, longstrider, speak with animals; 2nd—barkskin, heat metal, restoration, tree shape; 3rd— call lightning, cure moderate wounds, protection from energy; 4th—rusting grasp

ANTHOUSAI (FLOWER NYMPHS)
These are the nymphs of flowers. They are smaller than the basic nymph, and have hair that resembles a cascade of hyacinth flowers. Anthousai have 4 HD (and XP 400, CL 5) and AC 15. In place of the nymph’s gaze attack, the anthousai can emit a perfume in a 20-ft. radius that acts as a dose of charm monster and suggestion. Anthousai usually suggest that people leave, or perhaps perform mundane tasks for them.

ASTERIAE (ASTRAL NYMPHS)
The asteriae are the nymphs of the Astral Plane. They have porcelain skin, sapphire eyes and silver hair that floats wild and free in astral space. Astral nymphs are wild and carefree. They are capable of moving as they like in astral space. In place of the normal nymph’s gaze attack, an asteriae can bring blessing or bane with their gaze (per the bane spell or bless spell). In addition, they can gather the energies of the Astral Plane and project them as a sapphire ray from their eyes (per searing light) three times per day. Asteriae cast magic-user spells rather than druid spells.

AURAE (WIND NYMPHS)
Aurae are nymphs of the winds, nestled and caressed by the air spirits, which are fiercely protective of them. They have pale skin and windswept hair of white, and eyes they always seem to reflecting a clear blue sky. Aurae can fly (speed 60) and are unaffected by wind conditions. They can cast gust of wind at will and wind walk once per day. Aurae are chaotic neutral in alignment.

HECATERIDES (ELDER NYMPHS)
The hecaterides are the mothers of oreads and satyrs. They appear as stately, almost matronly nymphs, full of breast and wide of hip and bedecked in silk gowns and wreaths of flowers and spun gold. They are immune to mind control and possess magic resistance 15%. Hecaterides can cast irresistible dance once per day with their gaze attack. Once per day, a hecateride can attempt to summon 1d4 oreads or satyrs with a 60% chance of success. Hecaterides are chaotic neutral in alignment.

HYLEOROI (WATCHERS OF THE WOODS)
Hyleoroi are warrior nymphs charged with the protection of the woodlands. While most nymphs are content to play all day, the hyleoroi are patrollers, often joining other woodland folk like satyrs, brownies and rangers.

Hyleoroi have 8 Hit Dice instead of 6, and therefore have the following saving throws: F11 R9 W10. They wear leather armor and carry a longbow and bronze short sword. Their gaze attack is replaced by an at-will true seeing ability, and they have the special abilities of 4th level rangers.

KABEIRIDES (FORGE NYMPHS)
Forge nymphs are the nymphs of metal, glorying in the riches of the earth. They have skin that runs from bronze to gold and hair in the same colors. Their eyes are like white hot embers. A forge nymph’s gaze acts as a heat metal spell. They enjoy a +3 bonus to sunder metal weapons and armor, and when such items are saving against a sundering attack from a forge nymph, they do so at a -3 penalty. Finally, they are capable of summoning flaming hammers (1d4 + 1d6 fire damage) into their hands.

LAMPADES (TORCH NYMPHS)
[I think I covered these nymphs when I did my Hellcrawl, but I frankly don’t remember and frankly I’m too lazy to look …]

Lampades are the nymphs of the underworld, devotees and companions of Hecate and her priests and magic-users. They have pallid skin that they can cause to become pitch black at will, allowing them a 4 in 6 chance of surprise in darkness. Lampades carry magic torches which they can extinguish at will. The light of these torches forces those in sight of them to pass a Will save or be struck with insanity that lasts 24 hours. At the end of 24 hours, those who have succumbed to madness must pass a Will save or they acquire a random phobia permanently. Lampades do not have the gaze attack of a nymph, but their touch causes 1 point of wisdom damage. They can rebuke undead as 6th level clerics, and cast spells as magic-users rather than druids.

D10 RANDOM PHOBIA
1 Fear of rats
2 Fear of slime and ooze
3 Fear of flying
4 Fear of vile odors
5 Fear of spiders
6 Fear of heights
7 Fear of disease
8 Fear of pain
9 Fear of confined spaces (like dungeons, maybe?)
10 Fear of the dark

When a person is faced with the source of their phobia, they must pass a Will save to overcome it for the encounter. If they do not, they become frightened.

MAENADS (WILD NYMPHS)
Maenads are the nymphs of Dionysus – berserk man-killers drunk on the wine of their god. They look like normal nymphs, save their hair is wild and unkempt and their eyes are bloodshot and savage. They wear leopard furs and have vines tangled in their hair and wrapped around their bodies.

Maenads fight like berserkers, having 2 attacks per round. They can control wolves within 30 feet of themselves (wolf companions of characters may make a Will save to resist this), and can summon 1d4 wolves once per day. A maenad loses a nymphs gaze attack and their blinding beauty, but gains a touch that causes one of the following effects depending on the target’s Hit Dice and if a Will save is failed:

HIT DICE EFFECT
0-2 Confusion (1d6 rounds) + Hideous Laughter (1d6 rounds) + Drunkenness (1 turn)
3-6 Hideous Laughter (1d6 rounds) + Drunkenness (1 turn)
7+ Drunkenness (1d6 rounds)

A drunk character suffers the same effects as a fatigued character.

Maenads can rebuke lycanthropes as a 4th level evil cleric rebukes the undead.

The Creeps (Part 2) [Monsters]

Today I have the second installment of the Creeps. Enjoy!

GEMINETTES
Medium Fey, Chaotic (LE), Average Intelligence; Pair
HD: 4
AC: 13
ATK: 1 strike (see below)
MV: 30
SV: F 14 R 11 W 11
XP: 500 (CL 5)

Geminettes always appear in pairs, with cold, calculating eyes and graceful forms. In combat, they attempt to maintain contact with either their white or black hands; while in contact, they suffer a -2 penalty to hit and a -2 penalty to AC, but gain 25% resistance to magic and can only be harmed by silver and magical weapons.
When a geminette strikes with its black hand, the effect is per a chilling touch spell. When it strikes with its white hand, the effect is per a shocking grasp spell.

All creatures within 20 feet of a pair of geminettes find themselves becoming conflicted. In any round in which they attempt an action, they must pass a Will save. If they fail the save by 1 to 5 points, they hesitate and do nothing during that round. If they fail the save by 6 or more points, they decide to do the opposite of their desired action (or, if “the opposite” simply does not make sense, then nothing at all). Whenever such a save is failed, the adventurer suffers 1 point of charisma damage and the geminettes gain a +5% bonus to their magic resistance.

AWFUL EYEFUL
Medium Fey, Chaotic (LE), High Intelligence; Solitary or Pair
HD: 8
AC: 17
ATK: 1 slam (1d4) or eye ray
MV: 30
SV: F 11 R 9 W 8
XP: 800 (CL 9)

Awful eyefuls consider themselves the nobility of the creeps. They always dress well (whatever era they are found in), and they have the ability to mask their true appearance with that of a vaguely handsome man.

Awful eyefuls walk among mortals, causing them to feel envy and feeding off their petty (and not so petty) jealousies. All creatures within sight an awful eyeful must pass a Will save anytime they see another person doing something they cannot, or doing at a higher level than they can. If they fail this save, they become intensely jealous, suffering a point of intelligence damage and immediately spending a round attempting to outdo that person.

As awful eyefuls feed, they gain the following special abilities:

INT DAMAGE INFLICTED: ABILITIES GAINED
0-2: None
3-5: Detect thoughts (ESP) at will and +1 bonus to hit, damage and AC
6-8: Steal the fighting ability or skills of one creature per round within 20 feet; this translates into applying a 3 point penalty to an opponent’s attack bonus or skill bonus and gaining a like bonus themselves
9+: Steal the spellcasting ability of one creature per round within 20 feet; the awful eyeful steals one spell from an opponent and gains the ability to cast it one time.

SWAMM
Small Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Band (1d8)
HD: 3
AC: 14
ATK: 1 touch (poison III)
MV: 20
SV: F 15 R 12 W 12
XP: 300 (CL 4)

Swamms appear as dancing mushrooms, surrounded by a sparkling cloud of spores in a 10-ft. radius. Folk who breathe in these spores must pass a Fortitude save each round or find themselves becoming sluggish and lazy. This translates into a -1 penalty to hit and to AC, and a -3 penalty to base movement, as well as 1 point of charisma damage. The loss of charisma represents a loss of ambition. Creatures that have lost half their charisma score to a swamm’s spore cloud are affected per a sleep spell. Each time a victim of a swamm suffers a point of charisma damage, the swamm heals 1d3 points of hit point damage.

MAD MUM
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Solitary
HD: 5
AC: 15
ATK: 1 strike (1d4 + confusion)
MV: 30
SV: F 13 R 11 W 11
XP: 500 (CL 6)

Mad mums feed on love and the desire to protect loved ones. Mad mums never speak, and in fact appear to hate loud noises of any kind. They appear as plastic faced women holding dolls. These dolls are their murderous moppets, dirty-faced, greasy-fingered tots that, when thrown by the mad mum, animate and attack, fighting as well as gnolls.

The touch of a mad mum returns people to an infantile state (per the confusion spell) if the target fails a Will save. Gestures of love or protection made in front of a mad mum force the protector to pass a Will save or become obsessed with the creature they are trying to defend. They suffer 1 point of intelligence damage, and find themselves unable to move more than 3 feet away from the object of their obsession, and they do nothing but fight defensively, lending their bonus to AC to the person they are trying to defend.

Spells: At will—silence

Special: Vulnerable to sonic damage

TUCK
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Buffet (1d6)
HD: 1
AC: 16
ATK: 1 kick (1d6)
MV: 30
SV: F 15 R 13 W 13
XP: 100 (CL 2)

Tucks appear as dancing bits of meat. They appear before hungry people, dancing about, taunting them. All tucks operate under a displacement effect (per the spell), making them difficult to catch or hit.

Their taunting of the hungry causes desperation and frustration, which they feed upon. Each time a person attempts to hit or grapple them and fails, they must pass a Will save or suffer 1 point of wisdom damage. Each time this happened, the tuck gains 5 points of movement and increases its AC by 1 (to a maximum of 60 feet per round and AC 20).

LOB-LOLLY
Medium Fey, Chaotic (NE), Average Intelligence; Web (1d6)
HD: 3
AC: 14
ATK: 1 parasol (1d4 + stun for 1 round) or strike (1d3 + poison I)
MV: 40
SV: F 14 R 12 W 12
XP: 300 (CL 3)

Lob-lollies appear as spidery women in webbed outfits. They carry similarly webbed parasols, which they use to deadly effect in combat. With each step they take, they send out a web of psychic energy through the ground, forcing all within 10 feet to pass a Will save or be held (per hold person) for 1d4 rounds.

Lob-lollies can walk on walls and ceilings (per spider climb). They can spin their parasols in combat, causing a hypnotic pattern (per the spell). While holding their parasols and able to move, they enjoy the benefits of the protection from normal missiles spell.

Lob-lollies always laugh gaily as they fight, and their moves are sensuous. Males and some females watching them them must pass a Will save each round or become loathe to attack them (-2 penalty to hit, 1 point of wisdom damage). If a person loses half their wisdom to this effect, they attempt to defend the lob-lolly, trying to win their affection (and impossible task). Each time a person loses a point of wisdom, the lob-lolly regains one lost hit point.

But before we go … one more sort of creep to annoy your players …

JINKS
Small Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Band (1d8)
HD: 0
AC: 13
ATK: 1 strike (1d3) or small weapon (1d4)
MV: 50
SV: F 17 R 12 W 13
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Jinks are goblin-like creeps that look like children wearing grotesque masks. They gather in gangs in dark places – they even enter settlements at night – and prey on the fears and superstitions of people. They generally lurk in the shadows (hiding as well as a 6th level thief) and use their spells to unnerve people. Anyone failing a saving throw against one of their spells also suffers a point of wisdom damage (or 1d4 points of wisdom damage if they succumb to the jinks’ cause fear spell) as they become more jittery and prone to fright. A person who has lost half their wisdom to the jinks spells must pass a Will saving throw each round or become frightened for 1 turn. For each point of wisdom damage caused by a jink, it gains a +1 bonus to hit and damage for the remainder of a fight.

Spells: At will—audible glamer; 3/day—mage hand, phantasmal force; 1/day—cause fear

The Creeps (Part 1) [Monsters]

Creeps are a breed of being akin to the fey. While there are many sub-species (so to speak), as one can see from the picture, they all have one thing in common – a love of fear. All creeps feed on emotions in one way or another, so they have a tendency to pray on the weak (i.e. folks who tend to fail saving throws).

The creeps, seen to the right, are as follows (top to bottom, left to right): Sparoo, snozzle, wall hag, hood, pompion, gumble, gimenettes, awful eyeful, swamm, mad mum, tuck, lob-lolly.

SPAROO
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Peck (1d4)
HD: 4
AC: 16
ATK: 1 rapier (1d6)
MV: 50
SV: F 14 R 10 W 11
XP: 400 (CL 5)

Sparoos appear as bird-headed men, always dressed in silks and satins and always armed with spears. They are lightning fast in combat, and fight in a flashy, bounding style while their bird eyes dart back and forth, their heads cocked to the side in a manner quite offputting, as though the head and the body are not entirely in league with one another.

Sparoos feed off courage and grit, and they have the ability to inspire combatants to get in over their head. When combat begins, a sparoo points its spear at a foe and cocks its head in a sort of challenge; the target must pass a Will save or duel them, shouting at others to stay out of the fight and even turning on allies who attempt to assist them.

As the foe of a sparoo loses hit points, their will to fight on feeds the sparoo. When a sparoo’s foe has lost one third of its hit points and decides to fight on it loses 1 point of intelligence and the sparoo gains a +1 bonus to hit and damage against them. When a sparoo’s foe has lost one half its hit points and continues to fight one it loses 1d4 points of intelligence and the sparoo gains a +2 bonus to AC against their foe. Finally, when a sparoo’s foe has lost three-quarters of its hit points it loses 1d8 points of intelligence and the sparoo gains an additional attack each round against them.

SNOZZLE
Medium Fey, Chaotic (NE), Low Intelligence; Snuffle (1d8)
HD: 6
AC: 16
ATK: 1 trunk slap (1d6) and 2 slams (1d4)
MV: 30
SV: F 12 R 10 W 11
XP: 600 (CL 7)

Snozzles are rather thick (in terms of a lack of intelligence and in terms of powerful muscles and sturdy bones) humanoids, with elephantine trunks. Their large eyes allow them to see through illusions (+3 to save) and invisibility (invisibility works as the blur spell against snozzles).

Each round, they can either use their trunks to slap their foes (up to 3-ft range) or exhale one of the following spells: Glitterdust (at will), obscuring cloud (3/day) or cloudkill (1/day).
Snozzles feed on pity. They always pick on the weakest member of a group (they can sense this innately); those witnessing this must pass a Will save each round or attempt to defend the target of the snozzle’s attacks, placing themselves between the snozzle and their victim and always fighting defensively.

Each round they succumb to this urge, they suffer one point of wisdom damage and the snozzle gains 1d6 hit points. Hit points over the snozzle’s normal maximum are retained only during the snozzle’s current battle. When a snozzle has gained 5 hit points more than its normal maximum, the snozzle grows, becoming a large monster (Fort save 11, +1 to hit and damage). When a snozzle has gained 10 hit points more than its normal maximum, it becomes huge (Fort save 9, +3 to hit and damage).

WALL HAG
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), High Intelligence; Covey (1d3)
HD: 5
AC: 15
ATK: 2 claws (1d6)
MV: 30
SV: F 13 R 11 W 10
XP: 500 (CL 6)

Wall hags are born from despair, germinating within the walls of places that have known not only sadness, but hopelessness. They dwell in the walls, moving in and out of them as though using a meld with stone spell (works on wood but not metal).

Wall hags despise metal, suffering +1 points of damage when struck with bronze weapons, +2 from iron and steel weapons and +3 from adamantine and mithral weapons. They exude a terrible chill in a 10-ft radius that affects metal per the chill metal spell and sentient creatures per a chilling touch spell; creatures and items must save against this effect each time they enter the aura, though not each round they spend in the aura.

Wall hags feed on despair and hopelessness. Each time they are missed in combat, and each time they pass a saving throw, they gain the ability to weave a magic-user spell; the first time, this is a 0-level spell, the second time a 1st level spell, and so on, the ability capping at 3rd level spells. Those who miss the hags or fail to hit them with their spells must pass a Will save or suffer one point of charisma damage.

HOODS
Medium Fey, Chaotic (LE), Average Intelligence; Mantle (1d4)
HD: 3
AC: 14
ATK: 2 claws (1d3) and gore (1d4) – gore is for males only
MV: 30
SV: F 14 R 12 W 12
XP: 300 (CL 4)

Hoods are rotten bullies, appearing as humanoids wearing black hoods. Males have horns on their hoods, while females do not. Hoods have no faces or heads beneath their hoods, and delight in raising their hoods and freaking people the heck out.

When a hood raises its hood, all within sight must pass a Will saving throw or go into fight or flight mode. The adventurer can choose the effect – either they become frightened and flee or they go into a fury (+2 damage, -2 AC). Hoods are expert at avoiding the clumsy attacks of a person in a fury, and each time a person misses them with an attack, they lose 1d4 hit points. Once a person has lost 10 hit points from their flailing about, they must pass a Fortitude save each round or become fatigued (see conditions). Once a person is fatigued while fighting a hood, they suffer 1 point of constitution damage each round they continue to fight.

Once a hood has worn a person down, they make quick work of them and soon are feasting on their heart.

POMPION
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Patch (1d4)
HD: 1
AC: 14
ATK: 2 claws (1d4)
MV: 30
SV: F 15 R 13 W 13
XP: 100 (CL 2)

Pompions look like humanoids with great pumpkin heads. They are kin to the jinks (see Part 2, tomorrow), and if encountered alone probably (65% chance) have 1d6 jinks with them.

Pompions are surrounded by a 30-ft. aura of shadows, the only illumination within this aura coming from the flames within their devilish heads. When they make these flames crimson, they can breathe a 10-ft. cone of flames each round that deals 1d6 points of damage. When their flames are emerald, they allow the pompion to exhaule a stinking cloud that follows them about in a 10-ft. radius around the pompion. When the flames burn yellow, the shadows around them rear up into frightening shapes, forcing those within the shadows to pass a Will save each round or become frightened. A pompion can only maintain a color of flame for a maximum of three rounds during a single fight.

When creatures are frightened by a pompion, they suffer 1 point of wisdom damage per round. Each frightened creature within a pompion’s aura of shadows grants the pompion a +5% to magic resistance and 1 point of damage reduction from each physical blow they suffer.

GUMBLE
Medium Fey, Chaotic (CE), Low Intelligence; Solitary
HD: 8
AC: 18
ATK: 2 slams (1d8)
MV: 30
SV: F 11 R 9 W 10
XP: 800 (CL 9)

Gumbles look like … oh heck, they look like the Michelin Man. Their hides are thick and rubbery (as in literally made of rubber), and absorb the blows of bludgeoning weapons. When struck with a bludgeoning weapon, the gumble suffers no damage. The striker rolls damage anyhow; the damage value becomes a penalty to a Fortitude save which, if failed, results in the striker being knocked prone and suffering half the damage they would have caused to the gumble.

Gumbles can jump (per the spell) at will, bouncing off walls and ceilings as they do. People watching this must pass a Will save each round or begin giggling and laughing; the gumbles feed off of this amusement, their foes suffering 1 point of intelligence damage each round, and the gumble gaining 1 point of damage reduction from physical attacks for each point of intelligence damage their antics cause.

Weird Beard [Mystery Men!]

Professor Bartholomew Vandyke was working on the regeneration of human tissue when he accidentally created a strange, living filament. While working with a large number of these filaments, he discovered to his chagrin that they had a mind of their own. The parasitic filaments attached themselves to his face, something in the manner of a beard. This intrigued Vandyke, as he found he could communicate with the filaments and control them. They could grow, stretch and manipulate objects.

While pleased with his new-found powers, and convinced he had made an important discovery, Professor Vandyke was annoyed at the new nickname his students at Shore City University gave him: Weird Beard. More distressing was the news that he had been denied tenure and that his funding had been cut off, as the university felt he had made no serious progress in his research. Vowing then and there to continue his research, Vandyke took up the mantle of Weird Beard, criminal scientist, and began staging robberies to fund his research. Ultimately, his schemes were foiled by Captain Triumph.

Weird Beard would go on to plague the heroes of Shore City (and beyond) many more time, his research leading him to cloning experiments, the creation of franken-zombies and his infamous hair-animation ray.

LVL 7 | STR 2 | DEX 2 | CON 2 | INT 6 | WIL 4 | CHA 2 | HP 7d8 | DC 10 | ATK +6 | SPD 2 | XP 8,750 (50,000 XP)

POWERS*: Super Intelligence [6]-Add +6 to all Int feats + logic, make whole, understand language, speak language, discern lie

GEAR: Beard Filaments (Freestyle [5]-elasticity; Invulnerability [3]- Add 3 to DC + endure elements, shield other; Beard is DC 15, HP 15)

* Weird Beard uses the new power pack system published in NOD

You Pull the Lever and …

1. It electrifies just enough to hold your hand tight and inflict 1 point of electricity damage per round.

2. Your hand sticks to it … you just grabbed a mimic, buddy.

3. It comes out of the wall with a shower of sparks.

4. Your fingers tingle and then begin changing to stone (save vs. petrification); if this save fails, it begins to affect your arm (another save), etc.

5. Loud bells begin ringing, shaking dust from the ceiling and alerting all monsters on the level to your presence; some come running for a free-for-all, while others begin setting traps.

6. The floor opens beneath you (10-ft. pit; 50% chance of spikes; 25% chance of water; 10% chance of a crocodile; 5% chance of 4 skeletons; 1% chance of a magic item).

7. The floor opens beneath you (chute down to next dungeon level).

8. The ceiling opens above you, water pours down (1d4 damage).

9. The ceiling opens above you, green slime pours down.

10. The wall falls down, revealing a treasure room.

11. The wall falls down, revealing a clutch of rust monsters.

12. The walls falls down … on you (save or crushed for 2d10 damage).

13. Iron walls rise from the floor to block all exits, poisonous gas begins filling room.

14. You teleport to a random location on this dungeon level.

15. You teleport to a random location on a lower dungeon level.

16. You teleport back to the surface.

17. The room makes a 180-degree turn (save or knocked prone on floor); you are now in a mirror universe.

18. You gain the ability to use one random 1st level magic-user spell, one time. On a second pull, you gain a spell, but only if it can be plucked from the mind of a comrade. On a third try, you lose any spells you had memorized/prepared. On a fourth try, you summon a marilith demon, because seriously, how many damn times are you going to pull this lever?

19. You change into a random animal with as many hit dice as you have levels; your own mind is submerged beneath the psyche of the beast; this change lasts for 10 minutes.

20. You turn off all lights in the room (torches, light spells, etc.) off; pulling again reverses this.



I know, been a while. Very busy at work, also busy writing NOD Companion and Action X – which don’t lend themselves to excerpts just yet. I have a few posts planned for this week, though, so hang in there with me.

Max Fleischer is my Dungeon Master

Among cartoon aficionados, Max Fleischer needs to introduction. An Austrian who made good in America, Fleischer was among the pioneers of animation. The cartoons his company produced were often wonderfully bizarre and imaginative.

These bizarre cartoons have long had me thinking of them as a source for inspiration for the sort of gonzo, anything-goes role-playing I tend to enjoy. They also make me wonder what a Fleischer-esque campaign world might look like.

Class & Race
It’s hard to write that without it looking like you’re going to get into some heavy sociological commentary. Fortunately, any RPG’er worth his or her salt knows what I’m talking about.

What races make sense in a Fleischer universe? Well, humans, such as they are, are an obvious choice. Anthropomorphic animals as well, though anthropomorphic animals rarely behave any differently than humans in terms of their abilities. Perhaps it’s best to just treat them as halflings (per OD&D) and get on with it. Humans and funny animals (i.e. halflings), the two races who adventure in Fleischer’s universe.

Class is another thing entirely. With classes, especially in OD&D-style games, I like to think in terms of archetypes. Three come to my mind in relation to Fleischer’s cartoons, those three being some of his biggest stars: Popeye, Betty Boop and Koko the Clown.

So, our three classes are going to be Sailor Man, Flapper and Clown.

Sailor Man works pretty well as a fighter, though the AD&D monk class, if you leave out the whole quivering palm thing, actually plays quite a bit like a cartoon action hero. For our purposes, we’ll treat Sailor Man like a fighter (for attacking and saving throws). In terms of special abilities (we’ll keep this simple), the concept of “barbarian rage” actually works pretty well for old Popeye. The sailor man can, once per day, gobble up some spinach and gain a great big +3 bonus to hit, to AC and to damage. On the other hand, sailor men disdain armor, so they don’t wear it, and since they prefer to fight with their “fisks”, they can deal 1d4 points of damage with their unarmed attacks.

Flappers are probably closest to magic-users in our little Fleischer-esque game. They aren’t spellcasters, but they do have some “magical” abilities at charming the opposite sex. We’ll treat them like magic-users in terms of attacking and saving throws. Like sailor men, they don’t wear armor, and like magic-users, their pretty limited in terms of their weapon choice. Anything (yes, any thing – see below for more on this) that looks on a flapper must pass a saving throw or be charmed, so long as the flapper is trying to be seductive and playful – i.e. provided she is singing and dancing. The degree of the charm effect depends on how badly they flub their saving throw:

Miss save by 1 to 2: Fascinated by the singing and dancing, they do nothing but watch and whistle.

Miss save by 3 to 5: Charmed, per the charm person or charm monster spell.

Miss save by 6 to 10: Under her spell, per the charm monster and suggestion spells.

Image found HERE

Clowns are the tricksters of the bunch, and somewhat analogous to thieves. We’ll use the thief as our basis for attacking and saving throws. Clowns don’t wear armor (I know – no armor in this game … read below for why) and they can use thief weapons. Being cartoons, they are highly maleable and able to imitate objects and hide behind objects smaller than they are (as thief’s hide in shadows ability), sneak around (move silently), do simple bits of prestidigitation (pick pockets) and run up the side of walls and on ceilings (climb walls, but -25% or -5 when running on a ceiling).

Cartoon Physics
Now that we have the basic classes down, it’s time to delve into cartoon physics. A few ideas come immediately to mind:

Everything is Alive! – In old cartoons, everything is either animated or has the potential to be animated. Trees are all animated (though maybe not all treants), cars and other machines have faces and minds of their own, etc. If you want to chop down a tree in the Fleischer-verse, you better watch out – it might very well chop back.

Since everything is alive, though, it also means everything is sentient to one degree or another. Everything seems to understand speech, even animals (though they may ignore it), even if they don’t speak themselves.

Gravity is Subjective – This is the “save vs. gravity” concept. When a character should fall, they can avoid it by being unaware of having walked into thin air. Characters can move up to 10 feet into thin air before needing to make a save (provided they don’t look down), and can avoid noticing their predicament by roll 1d20 and trying to roll higher than their Wisdom score. Sometimes it pays to be oblivious in cartoon-world.

Even if this saving throw doesn’t do the trick, and falling is imminent, cartoon characters can try through manic action and sheer will to hold off the inevitable. Each cartoon character can flail around and flap their arms for 1d4 rounds before they actually fall.

Charisma as Armor Class – You’ll notice that the classes above do not permit armor. To make up for this, we’re going to use a character’s Charisma score as their Armor Class. Cartoon characters survive by force of personality and their ability to laugh off troubles.

Nothing Up My Sleeve – Cartoon characters have an uncanny ability to pull items out of thin air (or their pockets, or from their sleeves or from behind their backs) when they need them. Anytime a character needs something, they can attempt to roll 1d20 under their intelligence score. If they’re successful, they have what they’re looking for. They can only try this once per adventure.

Monsters
All the common monsters can be used in a cartoon game. The “animated object” from the SRD is a must-have, of course, since everything is alive. Popeye tangled with a roc, giants, cyclops, and pirates, spooks (i.e. the undead) showed up frequently and Betty Boop even did a turn in Hell (in a dream, but still).

The idea here isn’t to recreate old cartoons, but rather to run dungeon adventures in a cartoon style.

Psionics of Lore by Tanner Yea

Tanner Yea of the Pulpwood Blog, who wrote the SUP 1 – Heroes of Lore and SUP 2 – Races of Lore products you can find on the Blood & Treasure page on this blog, has just finished up SUP 3 – Psionics of Lore. This is based on the SRD psionics system, for those who want to run a psionics-based Blood & Treasure campaign, or who want a system easily adaptable to other old school rules.

The book includes psionic races, classes, feats (if you’re into that sort of thing) the psionic powers, psionic monsters and psionic treasures.

You can download the book HERE.

If anybody else out there would like to write for Blood & Treasure, I’d be happy to provide the layout work as I did on Tanner’s three books. Your writing remains your own to do with as you please, of course – I’m just happy to be able to provide support for my game.

Intrigue at Court with Random Factions

Adventurers, at least those in the mid- to high levels, are probably no stranger to royal courts. What better patron to foot the bills and look the other way when people start getting fried by stray fireballs than a king or queen?

King, queens and their courts are centers of power, though, and power breeds a certain sort of paranoid hunger. After all, working for a living is for suckers. Getting paid to do nothing other than figure out a way to keep out of a field or factory for another day is pretty sweet gig, but also pretty competitive. This makes royal courts hotbeds of intrigue. Courtiers compete in the most civilized way (well, if you consider poisoning people civilized … Conan probably would, hence his hatred of civilization) for power, and in monarchical terms, that means the favor of the king and/or queen.

When adventurers wander into court, they often enter wealthy (from all that plundering), and romantic (from all that murder and mayhem). They’re like fantasy rock stars, and that means there’s a good chance they’ll receive the favor of the king or queen. That makes them a target. But a target for who?

RANDOM FACTIONS
The following is really just a collection of notions about court factions disguised as random tables. They involve determining five things about potential factions:

Cause: This is the cause or notion that ties the faction together. Power is the real tie, of course, but every faction has a few idealists who actually believe what their leader says.

Size: This is the overall size of the faction at court. It is given as a percentage of the members of court, which would include minor nobles, royal ministers, ladies in waiting, pages and folks like jesters, court magicians, court chaplains and heralds. The total size of a royal court is up to you, the GM.

Symbol: This is the overt or covert symbol of the faction.

Leader: This is the leader, again secret or public, of the faction.

Allies: This is a powerful ally of the faction.

CAUSE
Causes might be straight-forward political desires, philosophical notions, religious beliefs or rather silly fashion trends. Note – if a faction desires a particular course of action, there is likely a faction in court opposed by them.

D20
1 Attack the nearby humanoids – the faction wants an aggressive policy in the borderlands
2 Attack a nearby city-state/nation
3 Raise taxes, especially on adventurers and merchants
4 Ban adventuring – nothing but upstarts and pirates
5 Seize property from high-level adventurers – too much money on the borderlands, not enough loyalty
6 Encourage more settlements in the borderlands (i.e. subsidize stronghold construction)
7 Desire a ban on the use of magic-user style magic – witch hunters who claim magicians are secretly controlling the country
8 Cynics – support a lifestyle that rejects a desire for wealth, power, sex and fame (for others, of course, not the folks in court!)
9 Epicureans – pleasure is good (Epicurus meant knowledge, his followers probably don’t), superstition and divine intervention (i.e. clerics) are bunk
10 Stoics – emotions are bad; essentially fantasy Vulcans who primarily exist to drive chaotic players nuts
11 Skeptics – want everything investigated to within an inch of its life before a decision can be made
12 Chaos – worshippers of chaotic/evil deities – probably a secretive faction
13 Neutrality – seek a middle way between Chaos and Law; resist those alignments and their adherents
14 Law – worshippers of lawful/good deities – demand virtuous, honest behavior from government and the adventurers who work for it
15 Fashion – a faction of fashionable men and women, seemingly non-political but generally in favor of more power and wealth for aristocrats and more obedience from everyone else
16 Regional – a faction of humans from a particular region of the kingdom
17 Racial – a faction of demi-humans and their human supporters from within the kingdom
18 Peasants – not peasants at court, but aristocrats who want to champion “the people” – want all that adventurer and noble wealth spread around (except their own; oh, and they’ll be happy to take a cut of the distributed wealth as well, thanks)
19 Moralists – more than just the “government should be honest” Lawfuls, these folks want to see morality pushed from the top down – no sex, no booze, no … well, anything adventurers are going to want to buy with their ill-gotten gains
20 Traitors – a secret faction who wants to undermine the existing political structure – either getting rid of the monarchy in favor of something else, or replacing the current monarchs with one’s of their choosing

SIZE OF FACTION
Roll 1d4 and multiply by 10; this gives you the percent of the court that supports this faction and actively works for its goals

HEAD OF FACTION
You can go 50/50 on whether the head of the faction is male or female. Alignment could be determined by the faction itself, or just make it up. The leader’s race should match that of the king and queen or the ruling elite of the kingdom unless the faction’s cause is racial or the leader is monster (see below). When leader is determined, roll for the chance they are a court officer first. If they are not, then roll to see if they are a minister.

D8
1 Aristocrat (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a wealthy family; probably not of the nobility; 10% chance the leader is a court officer; 1% chance the leader is a court minister
2 Knight (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a minor noble family (Knight or Dame); 25% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
3 Noble (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a more powerful noble family (Baron, Count, Duke, etc.); 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister
4 Minor NPC (1d3 for level) – member of a class; if the faction is political, the leader is probably a fighter; if philosophical, leader is probably a magic-user; if religious, leader is probably a cleric; otherwise, use whatever you like; 25% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
5 Medium NPC (1d4+3 for level) – see above; 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister
6 Major NPC (1d4+7 for level) – see above; 75% chance the leader is a court officer; 50% chance the leader is a court minister
7 Spy – leader is an assassin working for a foreign power or a powerful monster; whatever the faction appears to be, it is really working towards the furtherance of that foreign power or monster; faction includes 1d4+2 additional low-level assassins; other members are unaware of the faction’s true purpose; 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
8 Monster – the faction is led by a monster that can masquerade as a human being (doppelganger, shapeshifter, vampire, etc.); 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister

SYMBOL OF FACTION
Note that a secret faction will likely just use option 5 or 6.

D6
1 Members wear a small shape cut from paper and plastered on the face
2 Members wear a particular color or pattern of colors (stripes, checks, etc.)
3 Members wear a particular item of clothing – a sash, feathers, hat, boots of a particular height
4 Members carry a particular type or style of weapon (silver daggers, etc.)
5 Members communicate with a secret language (code words, alignment language, hand signals)
6 Members have a symbol tattooed on their bodies, probably in a place usually concealed by clothing, but which can be displayed if necessary

ALLIES OF FACTION
Allies might be secret backers or controllers of the faction, or simply powerful people that are not officially members but show favoritism for the faction and its cause.

D8
1 None – the faction has no powerful ally
2 Officer of Court
3 Minister of Court
4 Member of royal family other than king or queen
5 Queen (if applicable, otherwise no ally)
6 Queen Mother (if applicable, otherwise no ally)
7 King (the faction is currently in favor at court)
8 Powerful monster (demon, angel, devil, vampire, lich, aboleth, mind flayer, etc.)