Freeform Fantasy Races

Before I started writing this blog or publishing, I did a fair amount of writing for myself and the people with whom I gamed. I recently came across some files I’d stashed away, including the “original” NOD RPG, which was really just a mash-up of Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades, with art from Wayne Reynolds, and this little ditty about racial archetypes.

The idea was to swap out the common fantasy races for these archetypes, with options chosen by the players so that they could, in essence, build their own “race” for their character. I used some of these idea later in Space Princess for those races, and a few ideas have probably filtered into Blood & Treasure, but I thought people might enjoy seeing the original, with only a little editing for spelling. Again – assume these were for some unholy mash-up of S&W, C&C and 3rd edition.

These rules are designed to let you model races not found in the Player’s Handbook.

Attribute Modifiers
All of the archetypes in this document except Aliens, Dynamics, and Natives are allowed one attribute modifier from the following list.

• +1 Cha, -1 Wis.
• +1 Dex, -1 Con.
• +1 Int, -1 Str.
• +1 Str, -1 Int and -1 penalty to one ability score of your choice.
• +1 Con, -1 Dex.
• +1 Wis, -1 Cha.

Dynamic Characters
Dynamics are the most common form of adventurer. They rely on training and luck to win the day, not innate powers.

Senses: Normal.

Prime Attributes: Dynamic characters may choose three prime attributes instead of the usual two.

Alien Characters
Aliens are defined by strange physical and mental powers. They are probably the most versatile type of hero, after the dynamic. Virtually any kind of “super powered” hero can be realized with the alien type.

Senses: Normal – but see below.

Powers: Aliens can choose three powers from the following list.

Mental Powers
All mental powers that are derived from Jason Vey’s psionics rules follow those rules normally. The alien should be treated as a 1st level psionicist for the purpose of using the ability. If an alien takes a psionic mental power multiple times, he increases his effective level for using that power by 1. Thus, an alien that took metabolic control three times would use the power as a 3rd level psionicist.

  • Alien Mind: Creatures that try to read or control your mind must make an Intelligence save or be confused for 1 round.
  • Clairaudience: See psionics rules.
  • Clairvoyance: See psionics rules.
  • Dual-Mind: You are capable of engaging in two mental tasks at once, making an attribute check for each at -2. You cannot cast two spells or use to psionic powers simultaneously with this power. In addition, you also get to make two saving throws against mental effects. As long as one mind makes it save, you can ignore the effect, though you suffer a -2 penalty to all actions.
  • Empathy: See psionics rules.
  • Heightened Mentality: Increase one of your mental attributes (Int, Wis, or Cha) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Metabolic Control: See psionics rules.
  • Obfuscation: See psionics rules.
  • Psionically Gifted: You gain a +1 bonus to all psionic power checks.
  • Psychic Defense: See psionics rules.
  • Spell Resistance: You gain spell resistance 1. Each additional time you take this ability you increase your spell resistance by +1.
  • Telepathic Communication (Wisdom): See psionics rules.

Physical Powers

  • Chameleon: This is the ability to change the body’s colors (though not the color of items worn or carried) to match the environment. Generally it should give a bonus of +1 to +5 on hide checks.
  • Energy Resistance: You gain resistance to one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This can be power can taken more than once, but it applies to a different energy form each time you take it.
  • Extra Arms: When using two-weapon fighting, you may make two off-hand attacks instead of one. Alternatively, you may wield an additional shield in combat.
  • Extra Legs: You are a quadruped – you gain a +4 bonus to avoid being knocked over. In addition, your carrying capacity is increased by 10%.
  • Heightened Physique: Increase one of your physical attributes (Str, Con, or Dex) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Heightened Senses: You gain twilight vision, an enhanced sense of smell, and a +2 bonus to all listen checks.
  • Improved Speed: Your base land movement is increased by +5 ft. This can be taken more than once, and its benefits stack.
  • Natural Armor: You have scales, thick fur, or thick skin of some kind that give you a natural AC 12. Each additional time that you take this power you increase your natural armor by +2.
  • Natural Weapons: You either gain a bite, claw, gore, slam, slap, sting, talon, or tentacle attack that deals 1d4 damage. This attack can be used in addition to weapon attacks at no penalty. Each additional time you take this power you can either gain an additional attack form, or increase the damage of an existing attack form by one dice size.
  • Poison: You are poisonous – either through bite, skin contact, or writhing snakes on your head. Opponents who are stricken must succeed at a Constitution save or suffer 1d6 points of damage.
  • Quills/Spikes: Your outer arms, back, head, legs, etc are covered in quills or spikes. You gain a +1 bonus to AC, and can inflict 1d4 points of bonus damage when grappling or grappled. Opponents that strike you without using weapons suffer this damage automatically.
  • Regeneration: Gains fast healing 1.
  • Spider Climb: You can use spider climb, as the spell, at will.
  • Stretch: You can increase your reach by 5 ft (at the cost of 2 points of strength), and squeeze into small spaces with a dexterity check.
  • Tentacles: Tentacles emerge from some portion of your body – they may replace your arms or legs, or jut out from your chin. They grant you a slam attack that deals 1d4 damage, and grant you a +2 bonus to grappling attacks and climbing.

Sample Alien: Githyanki

The githyanki are descended from human slaves kept by the mind flayers. Ages ago they rebelled and escaped to the Astral Plane, where they now dwell. Githyankis have three mental powers: Alien mind, heightened mentality (+1 Int), and psionically gifted.

Beaste Characters
A concept drawn from folklore, beastes are shape shifting magical animals.

Senses: Twilight vision, enhanced sense of smell.

Alternate Form: Beastes can alternate their form between that of an animal, a humanoid, and a hybrid form. Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the beaste. In each form the character’s level and attribute scores are unchanged.

Animal Form: When in animal form the beaste is virtually undetectable from a normal animal. Beastes gain the ability to speak with normal animals when in their animal form. While in animal form, a beaste cannot use any weapons, armor, or equipment, nor can they cast spells. They can understand any language they know, but may not be able to reply.

Humanoid Form: When in humanoid form, beastes looks like a normal humanoid of a type chosen during character creation (i.e. elf, dwarf, human, orc, etc). Whatever their chosen humanoid guise, they always retain some distinctive feature of their beaste form. The choice is up to the player. In humanoid form, the beaste loses its twilight vision and enhanced sense of smell.

Hybrid Form: A beaste in hybrid form appears as a combination of animal and humanoid – their exact appearance is up to the player. In this form, they retain the special attacks and qualities of their animal form, but also have working humanoid hands, and can speak humanoid languages.

Speak To Animals: In all forms, a beaste can speak to animals at will.

Sample Beaste: Kitsune

Kitsune are fox beastes of Japanese folklore. They are capable of taking the form of a human, fox, or human-fox hybrid. They gain a +1 bonus to charisma and a -1 penalty to wisdom.

Elemental Characters
Elementals carry the blood of elementals in their veins. All elementals show this heritage in their physical appearance.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Energy Resistance: All elementals have 50% resistance to one energy type based on their elemental heritage:

Air 50% resistance to electricity
Earth 50% resistance to acid
Fire 50% resistance to fire
Water 50% resistance to cold

Elemental Power: Elementals have special abilities based on their elemental heritage.

Air: Reduce falling damage by 50%, double jump distance.
Earth: +2 AC vs. overbearing attacks, +1 natural AC
Fire: Deal 1 point of fire damage with all melee attacks.
Water: Breathe underwater, gain swim speed equal to land speed.

Sample Elemental: Fire Gnome
The fire gnomes are gnomes that dwell near volcanoes. They have 50% resistance to fire and can deal 1 extra point of damage with their melee attacks. In addition, they have the small subtype, giving them a +2 bonus to dexterity and a -2 penalty to strength. They have a +1 bonus to intelligence and a -1 penalty to strength (making a total -3 penalty to strength).

Macabre Characters
Macabres are either born from the undead (i.e. their parents were made undead while they were in the womb, or they were sired by a vampire, or there was a strange ritual involved), the result of botched resurrections on their pregnant mothers, or maybe they are actually sentient undead. Macabres can choose to be intangibles (like ghosts, shadows, or wraiths) or corporeals (like zombies, ghouls or vampires). They can be small, medium, or large.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Macabres are damaged by positive energy and healed by negative energy. Thus cure light wounds will inflict 1d8 points of damage on a macabre, while inflict light wounds will cure 1d8 points of damage.

Stunning Touch: Macabres have a touch attack that stuns living creatures for 1d4 rounds if they fail a constitution saving throw. They can use this once per day.

Intangibles: Intangible macabres can use ethereal jaunt once per day.

Corporeals: Corporeal macabres have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits.

Sample Macabre: True Ghoul
The true ghouls are a race of undead that haunts the deepest reaches of the Underworld. Unlike normal ghouls ,they are intelligent and more-or-less civilized. A true ghoul has the normal resistance to positive and negative energy and stunning touch of a macabre. As corporeal macabres, they have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits. They have a +1 bonus to constitution and a -1 penalty to dexterity.

Magical Characters
Magical characters have magical power flowing through their veins. This is usually due to a fey, planar, or draconic heritage.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Magicals can choose to have 25% resistance to any three energy types of their choice, 90% resistance to sleep and charm effects, or a flat magic resistance of 10%.

Spells: Magicals can choose four 0-level spells, two 1st level spells, or one 2nd level spell to cast as spell-like abilities once per day. The magical character has a caster level of 1 with his spell-like abilities.

The list a magical character chooses his spell-like abilities from often corresponds to his heritage: wizard for draconics, illusionist or druid for feys, and cleric for planars.

The spells chosen must be approved by the CK.

Sample Magical: Tiefling
Tieflings have fiendish blood in their veins. They have 25% resistance to cold, fire and poison damage, and can cast darkness once per day. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Native Characters
The native is tied to where he has grown to adulthood, whether he is a barbarian of the forests or a city slicker.

Senses: Normal.

Native Environment: Natives must designate one “environment” as their native environment. A native can choose from the following environments: Aquatic, Arctic, Desert, Forest, Jungle, Hills, Marsh, Mountains, Plains, Underground, and Urban. Man-made dungeons do not count as an urban or underground environment.

All natives receive a +1 bonus to initiative, attribute checks that would benefit from familiarity with an area, and +10 ft to movement when in their native environment.

In addition, natives can choose to get either a +1 bonus to hit three traditional enemies of their people (chosen with CK’s approval), or a +1 bonus to hit with a traditional weapon of their people.

Finally, natives get a +2 bonus to AC when fighting large creatures native to their native environment.

Sample Native: Cimmerian
The Cimmerians of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian tales are native to a land of steep, rugged hills. In such environments they gain a +1 bonus to initiative and attribute checks, a +10’ to their movement. Their traditional enemies are the Picts, Vanir, and Hyperboreans, against whom they are +1 to hit. Against large creatures native to Cimmeria they have a +2 bonus to AC.

Promethean Characters

Monkbot, from HERE

Note: I think I snagged this from somewhere else – maybe Jason Vey – if anyone knows, let me know

Prometheans are creatures that are manufactured by other creatures. They are sentient, and as capable of emotion as their player wishes them to be. Prometheans can be built from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, stone, clay, porcelain, or even unliving flesh.

Constructed: Prometheans are immune to any effect that requires a constitution save that doesn’t normally affect objects. They do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, although they can benefit from imbibing a magical potion.

Outer Shell: Prometheans gains special abilities based on the composition of their outer shell. Choose one.

Ceramic: +2 to charisma checks
Cloth: +2 to dexterity checks
Metal: Natural AC 12
Wax: Change self once per day, vulnerable to fire
Wood: Natural AC 11, swim speed equal to half their land speed

Innards: Prometheans gain special abilities based on their innards. Choose one.

Clockwork: +2 to grapple attacks and to disarm AC due to the ability to lock their grasp
Cotton: Cold resistance equal to 25%
Hollow: Conceal objects one size category smaller within its body
Sand: Fire resistance equal to 25%
Sawdust: Acid resistance equal to 25%
Solid: 25% chance to negate extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits

Sample Promethean: Karakuri
In real life, karakuri are primitive Japanese clockwork automatons. In a fantasy game they can be prometheans of ceramic composition and clockwork innards. This gives them a +2 to charisma checks, a +2 bonus to grapple attacks, and a +2 bonus to AC vs. disarming attacks. Since they are constructs, they need not eat, sleep, or breath. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Racial Subtypes
The following subtypes can be added to any racial type.

Aquatic: Aquatic creatures can breath underwater and gain a swim speed equal to their land speed. They must immerse their bodies in water at least once per day or lose 1 point of Constitution to dehydration.

Avian: Avian creatures have working wings; they gain a fly speed equal to their land speed, but suffer a -2 penalty to Constitution due to their hollow bones.

Insectoid: An insectoid’s antenna give it the ability to fight without the benefit of sight. They suffer half the normal penalty when fighting blind.

Subterranean: Subterranean creatures have darkvision to 60 feet, but are -1 to hit in bright light. Alternatively, they can have deepvision to 120 feet, but suffer a -3 penalty to hit in bright light.

Size: A creature’s size is assumed to be Medium, i.e. between 5 and 7 feet in height. Optionally, it can be Tiny, Small, or Large.

  • Tiny (1-2 ft): +4 Dex, -4 Str, 50% reduced carrying capacity
  • Small (3-4 ft): +2 Dex, -2 Str, 25% reduced carrying capacity
  • Large (8-12 ft): +2 Str, -2 Dex, 25% increased carrying capacity

Dragon by Dragon – February 1981 (46)

Happy Easter boys and girls. I hope you have a good one – family, friends, fun and a little time for relaxation and meditation. Hopefully, you also have some time to read this review of Dragon 46 (and White Dwarf 23).

I’ll level with you here. The first time I saw this cover, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. There are a few other “cute” Dragon covers, but this one sorta took the cake. It’s not a bad cover, though, and actually relates to a new comic in this issue – Pinsom by Steve Swenston. It’s a style of fantasy I always digged, and one which I wish had had more coverage in Dragon. Check the end of the article for another glimpse of Swenston’s work.

Moving on …

First up – an advertisement (no, not for anything I did)

 

Yes, for those of us who lived through the transition, there was home entertainment BEFORE Dungeon!, and home entertainment AFTER Dungeon!. You young whippersnappers have no idea.

In all seriousness, if you’ve never played the game, I highly recommend it (at least, the old version that I used to have – I don’t know if they done any crappy re-imaginings lately). It just occurred to me that it might be cool to combine Dungeon! with Talisman – at least, with the “classes” in Talisman.

The first bit of content in this issue is a short story by J. Eric Holmes, “The Sorceror’s Jewel” – so always worth a read. Great art by Roslof to go with it! Here’s a sample (of art and text) …

“When Tarkan departed from The Green Dragon, only minutes later, Zereth pushed Boinger off the end of the wooden bench on which they both sat. “Follow him,” he ordered, “and be secretive about it.” It was midnight when the little thief returned. His elven companion had left the tavern common room and gone upstairs to the rented room the two shared, but when Boinger roused him he dressed and came down. The noisy crowd at the bar and fire served their secret purpose better than whispering in their room, where ears might be pressed to the adjoining wall.”

That image to the right just screams D&D to me, and the story does as well. I’ll admit I’m not much of a reader of the fiction in The Dragon, which I should probably remedy at some point, given that I dig Gardner Fox, Homes and Gygax. More importantly, It would be interesting to glean some bits of useful lore from the stories that ostensibly come from actual gameplay.

Here’s another Roslof from that issue:

 

 

Love the halfling.

This issue goes pretty heavy into variants on Divine Right (which I don’t have) and touches on The Tribes of Crane (which I never played). I mention this in case people have do have or have played those games want to check out the issue.

The “Dragon’s Bestiary” features the Gaund by Ed Greenwood. Greenwood’s monsters are always well thought out, and seem to point to the direction in which games were moving at the time, which I guess you could call fantasy realism.

I’m more enthused about Roger E. Moore‘s “This Here’s Tyrannosaurus Tex”, a Boot Hill Scenario based on The Valley of the Gwangi.

For those who do not know of The Valley of the Gwangi

 

I haven’t seen it in a long time – I need to put it on the list.

Among other things, the article includes a hit location chart for the t-rex …

01-20  Tail
21-50  Rear leg
51-55  Forearm
56-75  Abdomen (1% chance of mortal wound)
76-85  Chest (5% chance of mortal wound)
86-00  Head and neck (2% chance of mortal wound)

Also this handy guide to killing a t-rex with dynamite

“For every two sticks of dynamite used against a Tyrannosaur in one attack, there is a cumulative 50% chance of stunning it for one turn (10 seconds), a 25% chance of inflicting a wound or wounds (d10: 1-2 = one wound, 3-5 = two wounds, 6-8 = three wounds, 9-0 = four wounds), and a cumulative 10% chance of killing it outright. This percentage is reduced by 20% (for stunning, wounding, and killing) for each 2” (12’) that the monster is distant from the explosion. For example, 20 sticks of dynamite exploded 4” (24’) from a Tyrannosaur has a 460% chance of stunning it (500-40=460), a 210% chance of wounding it (250-40=210) and a 60% chance of killing it (100-40=60). Treat any amount of dynamite greater than 40 sticks as 40 sticks.”

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh follows up with another Boot Hill article, “How to ease the Boot Hill identity crisis”. I love the first paragraph …

“Everyone seems to have a place in Boot Hill except the player-characters, who have to be content with a place on Boot Hill. They wander in out of nowhere, invariably causing much havoc and then moving on.”

I have to admit, that sounds pretty good to me – not sure I want to remedy that situation. However, if you do, you’ll find a random table of identities for a Boot Hill character. I dig the fact that female characters have a 2% chance to be nuns. I’d love to play a gunslinging nun.

The feature of this issue is “The Temple of Poseidon” by Paul Reiche III. The intro has nothing to do with the adventure, but it does delve into TSR history …

“I wrote The Temple of Poseidon early in the spring of 1980 as part of an application for employment at TSR Hobbies, Inc. Having grown tired of fourteen straight years of school, I decided to take some time off from college and work full-time for a change. The problem was where to find a job. I had already had several, all of which were boring or (as was with the case with piano moving) physically undesirable.

A year earlier, TSR had hired my good friend Erol Otus as a staff artist. After visiting Erol out in the chilly wastes of Wisconsin, and learning that—contrary to what I had heard—the men and women of TSR were not evil, hateful creatures, I decided that perhaps a job with TSR was the kind of change I was looking for. So with several years of playing experience and authorship of two fantasy roleplaying supplements under my belt (Booty and The Beasts and The Necromican co-authored with Mathias Genser and Erol Otus) I started work on the Temple of Poseidon.”

He goes on to say the adventure was inspired by Lovecraft and CAS – and it’s a great dungeon crawl. Well worth reading and running.

Another dandy by Roslof – casting a spell from a scroll

Here’s a cool bit:

“Time and the way the party spends it plays an integral part in this adventure. Exactly 10 turns after the characters descend the spiral staircase and enter the alien base, the evil priests of Ythog Nthlei will succeed in freeing their master. The only way to prevent them from attaining their goal is to kill them before the end of 10 turns. If they succeed, Ythog Nthlei will instantly move to Room 31 with his treasure: The priests will remain in their room.”

“Giants in the Earth“, by Tom Moldvay, opens things up for contributions. So, no giants this time. Dang.

Time for some sage advice …

Question: What happens when a cornered (as in a deep pit) undead creature is turned?

Answer: The act of turning undead (by a good Cleric) compels the victim to turn directly away from the Cleric and move as fast and as far away as possible for 3-12 rounds. When it is physically impossible for the creature to keep moving away, it will retreat to the most remote (from the Cleric) location in the area and continually face away from the Cleric and his/her holy symbol. — J. Ward, W. Niebling

So basically, it’s like the cleric telling the undead to go stand in the corner and think about what they’re done.

And now we come to the comics, and Steve Swenston‘s Pinsom.

Cool stuff.

And so ends the chronicle of February 1981’s Dragon Magazine. But what were those knuckleheads in the UK up to?

At a minimum, the White Dwarf cover for Feb/Mar 1981 (that would be #23) was putting off a very different vibe than The Dragon. It’s definitely an image with which to conjure.

This issue of WD starts a series by Lewis Pulsipher, “An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons”. Good series, and worth the read for the newcomers to the hobby – although I’ve always thought learning to play these games is much better done by joining an existing group and playing. In the early days of the hobby, though, this wasn’t always possible and many groups were learning as they went.

Next up is an interview with Marc Miller, covering his origins and the origins of Traveller. If you’re a fan, you might want to give it a look.

You might also enjoy a look at the Marc Miller of 1981 …

 

The “Fiend Factory” this issue has the Flymen by Daniel Collerton, with art by Russ Nicholson – great monsters, though they’re only a half-inch tall. However, with a handy shrink ray, they could give a party of adventurers plenty of trouble as they look for a way to return to normal size.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats, first for the tiny-sized fly men in a swarm, and then for the fly men as they would appear to shrunken adventurers:

Flyman, Tiny Humanoid: HD 0 (1 hp), AC 14 (20 when flying), ATK special, MV 5′ (Fly 30′), SV F16 R16 W16, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Swarm surrounds a person’s head blinding them (-4 to hit, 1d4 automatic hits per round), tiny weapons are poisoned and people have a 1 in 20 chance of being allergic and suffering ill effect; roll 1d8; 1-7 renders the area stung swollen and useless, taking 1d4 turns to set in and then lasting for 1d20+24 turns. An 8 means the character falls into a coma in 1d4 rounds and dies in 1d20+24 turns unless the venom is neutralized.

Drone, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 0 (3 hp), AC 12, ATK nil, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F13 R16 W17, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Strength of 17, semi-intelligent, 1d10+10 appearing.

Artisan, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 1, AC 12, ATK 1 weapon, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F 13 R15 W15, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Usually armed with unpoisoned daggers, their skill in metalwork surpasses the dwarves.

Warrior, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 3, AC 14 (carapace, shield), ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F12 R14 W14, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry shields, carapace like studded leather, armed with short bow, short sword, dagger, poisoned weapons (save vs. poison, if save suffer 1d6+4 damage, if fail die instantly), allergic people suffer -4 penalty to save, weapons have enough venom for 5 strikes.

Flyguard, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 9, AC 16 (chain, shield), ATK 2 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV F9 R10 W11, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry composite bow, longsword and dagger (poisoned as above), can size-change and have size rods, ride wasps.

Flymage, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 6, AC 16, ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV as 12th level magic-users, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Can size-change and have size rods, has innate powers (locate insects, summon insects, insect plague, creeping doom, size change to medium size for 30 rounds) and powers granted by their god, Ssrrpt’ck (must pray for 5 rounds).

There are five fly mages per hive, and each has extra powers depending on his role. There is the Master Attack, Master Defense, Master Healer, Master Knowledge, Master Worshiper.

The article also includes info on other types of flymen, the Northflies and Sandflies. Awesome stuff – seek it out and use it, for crying out loud. The flymen would make an incredible side trek in a dungeon or wilderness. In fact, the issue includes “The Hive of the Hrrr’l”, also by Daniel Collerton, so you’re all set.

Also: The flymen’s heads can be hollowed out and used as masks.

In addition:

Size-Change
Magic-User 4, Cleric 3

Range: Touch
Duration: 30 rounds

Spell causes a creature to shrink by a factor of 144 (human down to 1/2″ in height).

Spell Focus: A telescoping rod (costs 1,000 gp) that must be pushed in while the spell is being cast.

The White Dwarf isn’t done yet – you also get a new class, The Elementalist by Stephen Bland, the Khazad-class Seeker Starship for Traveller by Roger E. Moore, and A Spellcaster’s Guide to Arcane Power by Bill Milne. That last article involves a spell point system for spellcasting. There are also some keen magic items.

All in all, a really good issue of White Dwarf … in fact, I give it the nod over The Dragon this time around.

Happy Easter folks!

How to Herc – An Illustrated Guide to Demigodery

Every day, hundreds of people (or none) email me asking how they can be more like Hercules. They also ask for my social security number, so it may be an elaborate internet scam, but in case it isn’t, I present this guide.

If your fighter or barbarian character checks off everything on this list, when they die they will ascend to Mount Olympus and become a god. Any player at the table who plays a cleric will have to convert to your new religion, which obviously means they have to adopt your dead character’s alignment and they lose access to spells if they don’t fetch drinks and chips for you.

Kirk Morris as Hercules and Illoosh Khoshabe as Samson

Throw a Mega-Punch

At least once in his life, a real Hercules must throw a mega-punch. Here’s how:

1. When making an attack, declare it’s a mega-punch

2. Roll a d20, d12 and d10, adding your Str bonus and attack bonus to each dice

If all three rolls best your opponent’s AC, you reduce the target to 1d6 hit points and knock them out for an hour – yep, even if its Gandalf or Cthulhu

If two hit, you score normal punching damage, and are banned from mega-punching again until you gain a new level. We’re all a little disappointed in you.

If one hits, you swing wildly and miss. Any ally within fist range, though, must pass a saving throw or get clocked by you, suffering normal damage. If this occurs in a bar, your friend now has to get up and punch a stranger, and so on.

If none hit, you lose one level due to embarrassment and divine punishment. This lost level returns after you defeat something awesome in battle – without help Poindexter!

Reg Park as Hercules

Swear an Oath to the Gods

When bad shit happens to good people, look to the heavens and cry, “By the power of Zeus I will avenge you!”

Then do it.

Earn double XP, and operate under a bless spell during your next adventure.

Dear God, It’s Me, Hercules

A variation on the above. Whenever you screw up something you shouldn’t have, look to the sky and ask “Why have you forsaken me?”

There is a 1% chance, +1% per person at the table who laughed or snickered at your failure, that the head of the pantheon appears and tells you, and then gives you a quest to fulfill.

What’s the upside? There is none. But being Hercules ain’t all cheese and crackers, you know.

Gordon Scott as Hercules

Wrestle With Something Way Out of Your Class

If you’re medium, it should be huge. You can warm up on something large, but eventually you need to step it up to huge. And I mean wrestle – not attack with sword. Grab it. Pin it. Choke it out.

Dan Vadis as Hercules

Ruin Architecture

If the world provides you with two pillars within arms reach of one another, you damn well better knock them down.

“But wait,” you cry, “I can’t do that with even an 18/00 strength!”

Then I guess you can’t be a god.

Steve Reeves as Hercules

Kill Someone with Chains

And not just any chains. The chains with which they bound you. Break out of the chains, then pick them up, and then start cutting down bastards like you’re harvesting grain.

Heavy chains do 1d6 damage and add 5′ to your reach. When attacking anyone who was involved in binding you, you score double damage.

Mark Forest as Hercules

Lead and Army in Skirts

No armor, just grim determination and skirts so short they would make a nun blush. Bonus if the army is Inca. You know, because of mythology and such.

Smack Around Some Moon Men

They may look like earth elementals, but trust me, they’re Moon Men and they have it coming.

Note – unless you’re lucky and they’re on Earth plotting to resurrect their queen by draining the life from a human woman, you’ll have to go to the Moon to fight them.

Mark Forest as Hercules

Choke a Thick Snake

Proudly, and announce that you’re choking a thick snake. Repeatedly. And talk about how your hands are tired afterward.

Don’t worry – each person at the table that snickers only adds to your glory. It’s called confidence, and there’s nothing manlier than that.

Sylvia Lopez as Omphale

Dally with an Evil Queen

She needs to be scary-hot. And evil.

Doing it while under a spell counts.

Changing her alignment counts for more.

Nigel Green as Hercules (one of my favorites)

Endanger The Party with Your Antics

Like, maybe by awakening Talos by stealing treasure you were specifically told not to steal.

Of course, you also have to save the day, or die trying.

Reg Park as Ursus

Two For One

Kill two men-at-arms by throwing one at the other. Extra points for a trick shot.

Fight Moloch

Or a guy dressed up as Moloch.

Okay – I just included this one because I thought the guy looked cool.

Steve Reeves as Hercules

Row a Galley

Bonus points if the captain can water ski behind it.

AND FINALLY …

 

Learn to laugh at life!

Man-At-Arms-A-Rama

When I get half a second (after Blood & Treasure Second Edition and NOD 29 and Mystery Men! Second Edition), I want to write a quick book called 200 Lines about 100 Men-At-Arms. A nice random selection of folks, with some tables for names, and such. I took the time to peruse a whole crap load of Osprey plates featuring different warriors throughout time, and thought, in the meantime, I’d share how those men-at-arms were equipped.

So here’s over 400 men-at-arms and their equipment, arranged by time period (-35c means 35th century BC, 5c means 5th century AD, and I’m sure you can figure it out from there). Use them as henchmen or randomly encountered warriors or random starting gear for fighters or whatever else you can think of. If you have a d408 you’re golden. You could also roll 1d5, then either 1d100 or 1d8 to generate a random man-at-arm.

1. Sumerian heavy footman -35c Shield, spear
2. Nubian warrior -30c Shortbow, club, 20 arrows
3. Philistine heavy footman -30c Banded cuirass, short sword
4. Semite archer -19c Shortbow, battleaxe, 20 arrows
5. Syrian archer -14c Shortbow, 20 arrows
6. Hittite charioteer -13c Lamellar, shield, spear
7. Bedouin warrior -12c Sickle sword, 2 javelins
8. Sea People mercenary -12c Shield, spear, longsword
9. Egyptian heavy footman -12c Padded, shield, spear, curved knife
10. Egyptian heavy footman (ancient) -12c Shield, khopesh or battle axe
11. Libyan tribesman (ancient) -12c Short sword
12. Egyptian archer -12c Shortbow, 20 arrows
13. Nubian archer -12c Shortbow, 10 arrows
14. Sherdan warrior -12c Shield, short sword
15. Mycenaean noble -12c Dendra armor, tower shield, spear, short sword
16. Myceaean warrior, late bronze -11c Shield, battle axe, short sword
17. Myceaean warrior, late bronze -11c Shield, spear, short sword
18. Hittite warrior -9c Shield, spear
19. Assyrian footman -8c Shield, spear, dagger
20. Assyrian footman -8c Buckler, disc, spear, dagger
21. Assyrian footman -7c Shield, spear
22. Assyrian archer -7c Shortbow, short sword, 10 arrows
23. Elamite archer -7c Shortbow, 20 arrows
24. Assyrian archer -7c Lamellar shirt, shortbow, dagger, 20 arrows
25. Assyrian footman -7c Lamellar shirt, tower shield, spear
26. Assyrian horseman -7c Lamellar shirt, short bow, spear, dagger, 20 arrows
27. Assyrian royal guardsman -7c Lamellar shirt, shield or tower shield, spear
28. Persian immortal footman -6c Scale cuirass, shield, hand axe
29. Greek hoplite -5c Linothorax armor, shield, spear, dagger
30. Etruscan officer -5c Shield, disc, falchion
31. Sindo-Meothic nobleman -5c Lamellar, shield, spear, short sword, dagger
32. Scythian nobleman -5c Leather, short bow, short sword, 20 arrows
33. Scythian noblewoman -5c Leather, short bow, short sword, 20 arrows
34. Scythian heavy horseman -5c Lamellar, composite bow, horseman’s pick, 2 javelins
35. Companion horseman (Alexander the Great) -4c Light lance, short sword
36. Companion officer (Alexander the Great) -4c Scale shirt, light lance, short sword
37. Libyan archer -4c Shortbow, 10 arrows
38. Phoenician marine -4c Padded cuirass, shield, falchion, 3 javelins
39. Persian horseman -4c Battleaxe
40. Persian horseman -4c Short sword, 3 javelins
41. Persian footman -4c Shield, spear
42. Persian royal footman -4c Shield, spear, composite bow
43. Thracian heavy horseman -4c Breastplate, short sword, 2 javelins
44. Thracian light horseman -4c Buckler, 2 javelins, short sword
45. Thracian footman -4c Shield, 2 javelins, short sword
46. Thracian horseman -4c Breastplate, shield, light lance, short sword
47. Getic heavy horseman -4c Lamellar, light lance, short sword
48. Getic horse-archer -4c Composite bow, short sword, 20 arrows
49. Prodromoi horseman -3c Light lance
50. Footman -3c Battleaxe, short sword
51. Foot companion -3c Shield, spear, short sword
52. Iberian footman -2c Mail/scale shirt, spear, short sword
53. Iberian footman -2c Mail/scale shirt, shield, spear
54. Iberian horseman -2c Mail/scale shirt, buckler, light lance, short sword, barding
55. Liby-Phoenician heavy footman -2c Mail shirt, shield, spear, short sword
56. Gaul footman -1c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, spear, javelin
57. Gaul horseman -1c Longsword
58. Parthian horse-archer -1c Composite bow, 10 arrows
59. Western Han spearman -1c Lamellar breastplate, spear
60. Western Han swordsman -1c Lamellar breastplate, buckler, long sword or short sword
61. Western Hand crossbowman -1c Heavy crossbow
62. Roman warrior 1c Banded cuirass, shield, short sword, dagger, spear
63. Celtic light footman 1c Buckler, longsword
64. Han lancer 1c Lamellar breastplate, light lance, longsword
65. Han mounted archer 1c Composite bow, 10 arrows
66. Myrmillo (gladiator) 2c Shield, short sword
67. Dacian warrior 2c Scale shirt, shield, short sword
68. Persian cataphract 2c Banded mail, light lance, longsword, barding
69. Armenian cataphract 2c Chainmail + lamellar, light lance, longsword, barding
70. West Sassanian armored horseman 2c Mail shirt, composite bow, light lance, longsword, barding
71. Kushan footman 2c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword
72. Eastern Han archer 2c Short bow, 20 arrows
73. Vietnamese Auxiliary 2c Scale shirt, buckler, spear
74. Eastern Han armored foorman 2c Shortbow, short sword, 20 arrows
75. East Parthian cataphracts 3c Lamellar, light lance, composite bow, longsword
76. Parthian horse-archer 3c Composite bow, dagger
77. Clibanarius from Ahwaz 3c Mail shirt, composite bow, spear, short sword, barding
78. Three Kingdoms armored horseman 3c Scale shirt, light lance, composite bow, longsword
79. Three Kingdoms Northwest rebel footman 3c Shield, spear
80. Northern Han Dynasty catapract horseman 4c Scale, light lance, longsword, barding
81. Northern Han Dynasty armored archer 4c Scale breastplate, composite bow, 10 arrows
82. Sassanid Persian cataphract 4c Lamellar, light lance, composite bow, barding
83. Tanukhid auxiliary horseman 4c Spear, short sword
84. Alamannic warrior 4c Shield, spear, short sword, throwing axe, dagger
85. Visigoth 4c Shield, short sword, spear, javelin
86. Japanese footman 4c Lamellar breastplate, shield, spear, short sword
87. Japanese foot commander 4c Lamellar breastplate, spear, short sword
88. Hun warrior 4c Scale, spear, scimitar, composite bow, 20 arrows
89. Roman horse officer 4c Scale, shield, short sword
90. Roman sailor, Saxon short fleet 4c Short sword
91. Roman horseman 5c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, light lance
92. Roman foot officer 5c Shield, spear, longsword
93. Aksumite warrior 5c Shield, spear, short sword
94. Frankish 5c Mail shirt, buckler, short sword, spear
95. East Sassanian horseman 5c Composite bow, longsword, 10 arrows
96. Han tribal leader 5c Lamellar breastplate, composite bow, longsword
97. Ephthalite nobleman 5c Longsword
98. Saka horseman 5c Shield, longsword
99. Kushan nobleman 5c
100. Tashtyk tribesman 5c Lamellar shirt, shield, longsword, composite bow

101. Hsing-nu horseman 5c Padded + lamellar, composite bow, light lance, scimitar
102. Japanese clansman (footman) 6c Lamellar, spear, longsword
103. Lakhmid elite horseman 6c Mail shirt, composite bow, scimitar
104. Byzantine footman 6c Scale shirt, shield, longsword
105. Sassanid clibanarius 6c Lamellar, shield, footman’s mace, longsword, barding
106. Sassanid war elephant 6c Driver, archer (scale shirt, composite bow), warrior (mail shirt, 7 javelins)
107. Nomadic Iranian horse-archer 6c Composite bow, short sword, light lance
108. Chionite-Ephthalite horse-archer 6c Buckler, composite bow, 3 javelins, 20 arrows
109. Byzantine footman 6c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword
110. Northern Ch’I Dynasty armored footman 6c Leather, shield, longsword
111. Northern Wei Dynasty frontier guard 6c Padded armor, shield, spear
112. Sui Dynasty guardsman 6c Breasplate, greatsword
113. Liang Dynasty armored horseman 6c Scale, light lance, longsword, composite bow, barding
114. Liang Dynasty swordsman 6c Shield, longsword
115. Arab footman 7c Mail shirt, shield, spear, short sword
116. Persian horse-archer 7c Leather coat, composite bow, longsword, dagger, 10 arrows, barding
117. Avar heavy horseman 7c Lamellar, light lance, scimitar, barding
118. Slavic tribal footman 7c Shield, handaxe, 2 javelins
119. Sassanian aswar in Yemen 7c Lamellar shirt, shield, longsword
120. Sassanian aswar officer in Oman 7c Mail shirt, composite bow, longsword, light lance
121. Arab boy warrior 7c Shortbow, 5 arrows
122. Khurasani heavy horseman 7c Lamellar, buckler, light lance, scimitar, composite bow, barding
123. Sassanid clibanarius 7c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, barding
124. Umayyad elite horseman 7c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, light lance, longsword
125. Umayyad light horseman, Egypt 7c Light lance, longsword
126. Pictish horseman 7c Scale shirt, spear, short sword, 3 darts
127. Pictish footman 7c Buckler, short sword, spear, 3 javelins
128. Iberian horseman 8c Mail shirt, shield, light lance, longsword
129. Arab officer 8c Shield, longsword
130. Ghulum cavalry guardsman (Abbasid Empire) 8c Composite bow, dagger, 40 arrows
131. Abna footman (Abbasid Empire) 8c Mail shirt, 2 javelins, dagger
132. Transoxanian Turk horseman 8c Lamellar shirt, scimitar, composite bow, 10 arrows
133. Umayyad infantry guardsman 8c Mail shirt, shield, spear
134. Umayyad infantry guardsman 8c Scale, shield, longsword
135. Umayyad cavalry guardsman 8c Buckler, light lance
136. Umayyad infantry archer 8c Composite bow, footman’s mace
137. Japanese footman 8c Padded, short sword
138. Khirgiz horseman 9c Lamellar breastplate, shield, light lance, scimitar
139. Khirgiz tribal horseman 9c Lamellar breastplate, light lance, longsword, composite bow, 10 arrows
140. Khirgiz tribesman (mounted) 9c Lamellar, longsword, composite bow, barding
141. Alan nobleman 9c Composite bow, scimitar, dagger, 10 arrows
142. Khazar horseman 9c Chainmail, light lance, hand axe, scimitar
143. Khwarazm Muslim mercenary 9c Mail shirt, shield, spear, dagger
144. Berber footman 9c Lamellar, buckler, longsword, spear, 2 javelins
145. Sindi horseman 9c Buckler, battleaxe
146. Transoxanian horse-archer 9c Lamellar, buckler, spear, longsword, composite bow
147. Egyptian horseman 9c Scale, spear, hand axe, longsword
148. Eastern Kiev tribal warrior 9c Padded, spear
149. Scandinavian merchant-venturer 9c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe
150. Eastern Magyar horseman 9c Lamellar, buckler, light lance, longsword
151. Japanese sohei 10c Naginata, scimitar
152. Hamdanid horseman 10c Scale shirt, shield, light lance, short sword
153. Muslim-Armenian frontiersman 10c Padded, shield, battleaxe
154. Malatya frontier warrior 10c Padded, shield, short sword
155. Saljuq Turcoman horse-archer 10c Buckler, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
156. Bedouin auxiliary 10c Buckler, short sword
157. Arab tribesman 10c Buckler, light mace, dagger
158. Varangian guard 10c Chainmail, lamellar, shield, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
159. Nubian footman 10c Padded, shield, spear
160. Rus mercenary 10c Shield, poleaxe, longsword
161. Scandinavian mercenary 10c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword, dagger
162. Anglo-Danish warrior 10c Short bow, battleaxe, dagger, 10 arrows
163. Byzantine skutatos 10c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword
164. Byzantine peltastos 10c Padded, shield, spear, 2 javelins, short sword
165. Byzantine skutatos 10c Lamellar/mail, shield, spear, short sword
166. Azerbaijan footman 10c Lamellar, shield, spear, scimitar
167. Byzantine cataphract (klivanophoros) 10c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, battleaxe, longsword, barding
168. Byzantine footman 10c Padded, shield, hand axe
169. Byzantine scutatoi spearman 10c Chainmail + scale, shield, spear
170. Andalusian footman 10c Padded, buckler, spear, short sword
171. Berber-Andalusian light horseman 10c Buckler, spear
172. Byzantine kataphractos 10c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword, dagger
173. Khazar-Kagan horseman 10c Composite bow, longsword or warhammer
174. Saxon housecarl 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword, pole axe
175. Andalusian horseman 11c Chainmail, buckler, spear, short sword
176. Andalusian infantry archer 11c Mail shirt, composite bow, 20 arrows
177. German knight 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword
178. Norman knight 11c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
179. Bohemian footman 11c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
180. Polish heavy horseman 11c Scale, shield, light lance, longsword, hand axe
181. Italo-Norman mercenary horseman 11c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
182. Italo-Norman mercenary footman 11c Scale mail, shield, longsword
183. Northern Italy horseman 11c Chainmail, shield, longsword, light lance
184. Northern Italy urban militia 11c Chainmail, shield, spear
185. Northern Italy rural militia 11c Footman’s mace, dagger
186. Hiberno-Norse jarl 11c Spear, javelin, short sword
187. Varangian guardsman 11c Chainmail, shield, poleaxe, longsword
188. Kiev commander 11c Lamellar, longsword, light mace
189. Kiev warrior 11c Lamellar, shield, longsword
190. Kiev urban militiaman 11c Shield, battleaxe
191. Fatimid Caliphal guard 11c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, 2 javelins
192. Sahara tribal horseman 11c Spear
193. Fatimid horseman 11c Lamellar shirt, buckler, spear
194. Fatimid urban militiaman 11c Padded, buckler, glaive
195. Byzantine kataphractos 11c Scale shirt, shield, pike, longsword
196. Japanese sohei 12c Lamellar, glaive, short sword
197. Italo-Norman nobleman 12c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
198. Sicilo-Norman crossbowman 12c Chainmail, light crossbow, short sword, 10 bolts
199. Sicilian reduta 12c Scale shirt, spear, dagger
200. Byzantine skutatos 12c Scale shirt, shield, spear, short sword

201. Norwegian backwoodsman 12c Padded, shield, longsword
202. Swedish crossbowman 12c Lamellar, shield, spear, light crossbow, 20 bolts
203. Norwegian knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
204. Danish knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
205. Danish footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, longsword
206. Danish militia footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe
207. Volga Bulgar horseman 12c Mail shirt, light lance, scimitar, hand axe
208. Kipchaq horseman 12c Mail shirt + lamellar, composite bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
209. Seljuk mercenary footman 12c Mail shirt, buckler, horseman’s mace, longsword
210. Lotharingian footman 12c Mail shirt, shield, longsword
211. German knight 12c Chainmail, shield, longsword
212. Heavy footman 12c Chainmail, shield, spear, longsword
213. Veronese footman 12c Chainmail, shield, spear, longsword
214. German knight 12c Chainmail, shield, light lance, longsword
215. Italian knight 12c Chainmail, shield, horseman’s mace, longsword
216. Milanese footman 12c Shield, falchion
217. Seljuk horse-archer 12c Composite bow, longsword
218. Bedouin warrior 13c Mail shirt, buckler, spear, short sword
219. Mongol light archer 13c Padded, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
220. Mongol heavy horseman 13c Lamellar, shield, scimitar, horseman’s mace, hand axe, barding
221. Iraqi footman 13c Chainmail, spear, short sword
222. Anatolian footman 13c Mail shirt, shield, spear
223. Anatolian horseman 13c Chainmail, composite bow, horseman’s axe, curved knife, 10 arrows
224. Ghulam heavy horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, spear, short sword
225. Western Russian horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, longsword, 3 javelins
226. Boyar nobleman 13c Chainmail, longsword
227. South-Eastern Russian horseman 13c Chainmail, shield, composite bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
228. Khwarazmian horseman 13c Chainmail + lamellar, light lance, short sword, composite bow, barding
229. Mamluk askari 13c Shield, longsword
230. Mamluk askari horseman 13c Shield, spear
231. Mamluk amir 13c Chainmail, buckler, spear, longsword
232. Mamluk askari 13c Buckler, composite bow, longsword, 10 arrows
233. Sicilian Saracen archer 13c Padded shirt, shortbow, 10 arrows, longsword
234. Sicilian Saracen archer 13c Padded shirt, buckler, shortbow, 10 arrows, longsword
235. Sicilian Saracen horse-archer 13c Shield, composite bow
236. Sicilian crossbowman 13c Light crossbow, dagger
237. Syrian amir 13c Chainmail, longsword
238. Templar knight 13c Chainmail, buckler, light lance, longsword
239. Tunisian Berber bodyguard 13c Lamellar breastplate, shield, spear, longsword
240. Turcoman auxiliary footman 13c Buckler, battleaxe
241. Turkish archer 13c Composite bow
242. Knight 13c Chainmail, buckler, longsword
243. Almohad elite warrior 13c Mail shirt, shield, footman’s mace, longsword, dagger
244. Danish sergeant 13c Mail shirt, shield, longsword, spear
245. Danish rural levy 13c Mail shirt, shield, battleaxe, short bow, 20 arrows
246. Danish knight 13c Chainmai, buckler, light lance, longsword
247. Russian crossbowman 13c Mail shirt, light crossbow, short sword
248. Urban militiaman 13c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
249. Light foot archer 13c Padded, battleaxe, shortbow, 20 arrows
250. Knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
251. Southern French sergeant 13c Chainmail, shield, battleaxe, longsword
252. French royal knight 13c Chainmail, shield
253. Southern French crossbowman 13c Padded, heavy crossbow, dagger
254. Braboncon knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
255. Braboncon mercenary horseman 13c Padded, short bow, scimitar, 10 arrows
256. Cuman auxiliary footman 13c Chainmail, leather apron, shield, spear, longsword
257. French squire 13c Padded, dagger
258. Mongolian foot officer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, scimitar
259. Mongolian archer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows
260. Mongolian heavy mounted archer 13c Lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows, barding, scimitar
261. Mongolian light mounted archer 13c Leather, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
262. German knight 13c Chainmail, shield, longsword
263. German knight 13c Chainmail, leather apron, shield, bastard sword, longsword
264. Berber archer 13c Shortbow, dagger, 20 arrows
265. Berber horseman 13c Shield, light lance, short sword, dagger
266. Spanish crossbowman 13c Mail shirt, shield, light crossbow, short sword
267. Byzantine footman 13c Shield, scimitar
268. Epirote Byzantine footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, composite bow, scimitar, spear
269. Byzantine Bulgarian footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, scimitar
270. Mamluk Khassaki horseman 14c Lamellar, shield, longsword
271. Amir’s mamluk horseman 14c Light lance
272. Halqa trooper horseman 14c Lamellar breastplate, composite bow, handaxe, 10 arrows
273. Mamluk horse-archer 14c Padded, buckler, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar
274. Mamluk heavy horseman 14c Lamellar, battleaxe, short sword
275. Mongol refugee footman 14c Lamallar shirt, composite bow, spear, 10 arrows
276. Grenadine mounted crossbowman 14c Light crossbow, dagger
277. Grenadine qadi 14c Longsword, holy book
278. Grenadine light horseman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, spear, longsword
279. Hussite footman 14c Padded, shield, godentag, longsword
280. Hussite handgunner 14c Padded, shield, handgonne, longsword, dagger
281. French crossbowman 14c Mail shirt, shield, medium crossbow, dagger
282. French militiaman 14c Chainmail, shield, footman’s mace, dagger
283. Southern French light footman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, longsword, dagger
284. Serbian auxiliary horseman 14c Mail shirt + lamellar, composite bow, 10 arrows, light lance, longsword
285. Bulgarian auxiliary footman 14c Padded, composite bow, 10 arrows, scimitar, dagger
286. Western Russian light horseman 14c Chainmail + lamellar, shield, light lance, scimitar
287. Western Russian heavy horseman 14c Platemail, shield, bastard sword, barding
288. Novgorod urban horseman 14c Mail shirt, shield, battle axe, scimitar, composite bow
289. Turkish sipahi 14c Mail shirt, shield, horseman’s mace, composite bow, 10 arrows
290. Knight 14c Platemail, buckler, longsword
291. Swiss knight 14c Plate armor, heavy lance, longsword, dagger
292. Bohemian archer 14c Longbow, dagger, 20 arrows
293. German footman 14c Mail & plate, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
294. Central Italian horseman 14c Mail & plate, longsword, shield, dagger
295. German knight 14c Chainmail, longsword, shield, dagger
296. Catalan man-at-arms 14c Platemail, shield, longsword
297. North Italian footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, dagger
298. North Italian crossbowman 14c Padded, buckler, light crossbow, short sword
299. Venetian footman 14c Mail & plate, shield, longsword
300. Lombard knight 14c Platemail, longsword, dagger

301. North Italian handgunner 14c Handgonne, dagger
302. Italian heavy footman 14c Platemail, glaive
303. Knight 14c Chainmail, shield, longsword, light lance
304. Footman 14c Chainmail, shield, spear, short sword
305. Crossbowman 14c Chain & scale, longsword, light crossbow, 10 bolts
306. English crossbowman 14c Mail shirt, heavy crossbow, dagger, 20 bolts
307. English archer 14c Padded, longbow, pole arm (guisarme), 20 arrows
308. Italian army commander 14c Chainmail, longsword
309. Austrian man-at-arms 14c Platemail, battleaxe, longsword, dagger
310. English bowman 14c Mail shirt, buckler, longbow, short sword
311. Footman 14c Platemail, shield, falchion, dagger
312. Byzantine light footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, spear, longsword
313. Byzantine horseman 14c Chainmail, shield, longsword, dagger
314. Golden Horde Mongol horseman 14c Lamellar, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
315. English footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, bardiche, short sword
316. English footman 14c Mail shirt, shield, warhammer, short sword
317. English footman 14c Padded doublet, buckler, hand axe, dagger
318. West Anatolian footman 14c Chainmail, shield, spear, dagger
319. Ottoman Gazi 14c Lamellar, shield, composite bow
320. Turcoman tribal horseman 14c Padded, shield, composite bow, longsword
321. Timur’s cavalry officer 14c Chainmail, composite bow, light lance
322. Timur’s Tarkhan ‘hero’ 14c Platemail, composite bow, light lance, scimitar, barding
323. English longbowman 15c Unarmored, longbow, dagger, 40 arrows
324. Crossbowman 15c Padded, heavy crossbow, 10 bolts, shield, dagger
325. English archer 15c Mail shirt, longbow, longsword
326. Knight 15c Chainmail, shield, longsword, dagger
327. Handgunner 15c Mail shirt, handgonne, dagger
328. Mounted archer 15c Padded, longsword, short bow
329. Longbowman 15c Padded, dagger, longbow
330. Muscovite horse archer 15c Mail shirt, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
331. Muscovite musketeer 15c Padded, musket, dagger
332. Muscovite officer 15c Platemail, buckler, scimitar
333. Danish man-at-arms 15c Platemail, longsword, dagger
334. Danish handgunner 15c Platemail, musket, warhammer
335. Danish militia crossbowman 15c Platemail, heavy crossbow, longsword, 10 bolts
336. Italian knight 15c Platemail, longsword, dagger
337. Italian light footman 15c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
338. Artilleryman 15c Padded, dagger, bombard
339. Eastern Russia horseman 15c Lamellar/mail, light lance, shield, scimitar
340. Eastern Russia prince on horse 15c Lamellar (gilded), longsword, dagger
341. Byzantine varangopoulos 15c Platemail, buckler, bastard sword
342. English guardsman 15c Chainmail, shield, pole axe, longsword
343. Cretan guardsman 15c Mail shirt, shield, spear, longsword
344. Knight 15c Plate mail, longsword
345. English man-at-arms 15c Plate armor, halberd, longsword
346. Knight 15c Plate armor, horseman’s mace, barding
347. Mounted crossbowman 15c Mail shirt, breastplate, light crossbow, longsword
348. Flemish mercenary footman 15c Platemail, pike, longsword
349. Ottoman-Balkan yaya 15c Padded, spear, scimitar, dagger
350. Ottoman footman 15c Chainmail, shield, hand axe, scimitar
351. Man-at-arms 15c Plate armor, glaive, longsword, dagger
352. Serbian knight 15c Platemail, shield, longsword
353. Balkan light horseman (stradiot) 15c Padded, buckler, light lance, scimitar
354. Balkan heavy horseman 15c Plate armor, scimitar
355. Balkan footman 15c Padded, shield, spear, longsword
356. Acemi Oglan 16c Musket, scimitar
357. Billman 16c Padded, billhook, longsword
358. Archer 16c Longbow, dagger
359. Soldier 16c Breastplate, polearm (guisarme), shortsword
360. Inca general 16c Shield, spear, light mace
361. Inca general 16c Spear, light mace
362. Inca warrior 16c Shield, battleaxe
363. Maya general 16c Spear
364. Maya warrior 16c Buckler, spear
365. Maya peasant levy 16c Buckler, sling
366. Aztec archer 16c Shield, shortbow
367. Aztec peasant levy 16c Shield, club, spear
368. Aztec allied captain 16c Pole arm
369. Mexica cuahchic 16c Buckler, obsidian axe-sword
370. Mexica warrior priest 16c Buckler, obsidian axe-sword
371. Triple Alliance warrior 16c Padded shirt, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
372. Triple Alliance jaguar warrior 16c Padded, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
373. Aztec soldier 16c Buckler, spear
374. Mexica captain 16c Padded, buckler, obsidian axe-sword
375. Spanish tercio 16c ¾ plate, shield, longsword (estoc)
376. Spanish musketeer 16c Padded shirt, longsword, musket
377. Spanish footman 16c Padded shirt, longsword, spear
378. Spanish hargulatie 16c Arquebus, pistol, longsword
379. Spanish lancer 16c ¾ plate, heavy lance, pistol, longsword
380. German reiter 16c ¾ plate, pistol, longsword
381. Spanish conquistador 16c Padded shirt, buckler, longsword
382. Aztec eagle warrior 16c Padded armor, shield, obsidian ax-sword
383. British petty-captain of foot 16c Mail shirt, ox tongue, longsword
384. British landsknecht captain 16c ¾ plate, spear, longsword
385. Irish auxiliary footman 16c Longsword, 2 javelins
386. Irish border horseman 16c Mail shirt, shield, light lance, dagger
387. Irish galloglass 16c Mail shirt, greatsword
388. Irish kern 16c Padded shirt, glaive
389. Polish hussar 16c ¾ plate (or banded), shield, pistol or dragon, scimitar
390. Polish musketeer 16c Mail shirt, scimitar, musketeer
391. Mamluk Khassaki 16c Chainmail, shield, battleaxe, scimitar
392. Mamluk Qaranis 16c Chainmail, composite bow, 20 arrows, spear
393. Mamluk African handgunner 16c Mail shirt, musket
394. British pikeman 16c Padded coat, pike, longsword
395. British demilance (horseman) 16c ¾ plate, light lance (demilance), longsword
396. British soldier 16c Godentag, longsword
397. British halberdier 16c ¾ plate, halberd, longsword
398. British archer 16c Longbow, dagger, 20 arrows
399. British captain of foot 16c ¾ plate, longsword, dagger
400. Irish gallowglass 16c Mail shirt, greatsword, dagger

401. Irish kern 16c Glaive, short sword
402. Cossack horseman 17c Chainmail, scimitar
403. Winged Tatar uhlan 17c Padded, spear, scimitar
404. Comman Tatar horseman 17c Composite bow, 20 arrows
405. Cossack 17c Musket, scimitar, bardiche or footman’s flail
406. Polish winged hussar 17c ½ plate (banded), heavy lance, scimitar, longsword
407. Ottoman imperial guardsman 17c Buckler, composite bow, scimitar, 20 arrows
408. Ottoman footman 17c Chainmail, spear, shield, short sword

 

Dragon by Dragon – January 1981 (45)

A new year! 1981!

Inflation was rough as hell, but if you scrape it together you could get a new Tandy TRS 80 PC for $150 (or $390 in today’s dollars). This year would see the release of the hostages in Iran, the first flight of the space shuttle Columbia and an attempted assassination of President Reagan.

For the geek set, it was an embarrassment of riches in the movie theaters – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mad Max 2, Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Halloween, Escape from New York, Clash of the Titans, Time Bandits, Scanners, Excalibur, Dragonslayer and, of course, the finest film ever made, Cannonball Run.

How did the venerable Dragon kick off 1981? Let’s see …

From the art in the first article, it would appear it was stinking up the place.

Actually, Robert Plamondon‘s article “Gas ’em Up and Smoke ’em Out” reviews how gases and smoke would work in a dungeon environment. It’s a sign of the times, as Old School (which I now realize means pre-1980) gaming gives way bit by bit to realism, at least for game designers and article writers. Here’s a sample:

“Using the rule-of-thumb design specs of 500 cubic feet per person of room volume and 24 cubic feet per minute per person of ventilating air, and applying a little algebra, we find that the ratio of incoming air volume to room volume is about 1:20.83.”

This article uses a little math and engineering, but also comes across with some useful bits for referees:

  • A room with standard ventilation will take about 2 hours and 20 minutes for poison gas or smoke to go away. Even without ventilation, poison gas will eventually react with everything in the room and become harmless.
  • Poison gas costs between 1,000 gp and 6,000 gp per trap.
  • Gas masks should be easy for an alchemist and leather worker to put together, but inventing them will take 2d4 months and 1d6+1 x 1,000 gp, with a 50% chance of success.
  • A successful save vs. poison gas means holding one’s breath and escaping the gas. A failed save means breathing the gas and dying. Initially one falls unconscious and dies 5 rounds later.
  • People who know about the presence of poison gas get a +4 bonus to save against it.

Plamondon also provides a nice table of poison gases, which may come in just as handy for modern games and fantasy games:

 

Oh, and THIS GUY might be the Robert Plamondon of the article.

The Dragon Tooth miniatures ad would make a nice deep dungeon encounter table:

Roll d20

  1. High Elfin Hero-King in Dragon Helm (Elf Fighter 8/Magic-User 7, helm controls dragons, longsword, chainmail, shield)
  2. Rogue or Thief, Skulkingly Caped (Human Thief 1 or 9, rapier and dagger)
  3. Sorcerer, Sorcerering or Sorceress, Sorcerering (Human Magic-User 9, staff)
  4. Swordswoman armed with Sword and Spear (Human Fighter 3, longsword and glaive)
  5. Rictus, the Zombie King (Zombie with 10 HD, scimitar, skeletal horse)
  6. Swordsman Kane, in Scale Armour (Human Fighter 3, sword, scale mail)
  7. Cleric in Mitred Helmet Armed with Mace in Scale Armour (Human Cleric 9, footman’s mace, chainmail)
  8. Fool or Jester, Armed with Sword (Human Bard 4, longsword)
  9. Bard or Harpist with Harp and Armed with Sword (Human Bard 8, longsword)
  10. Swordsman Roland with Sword and Shield in Scale Armour (Human Fighter 3, short sword, scale mail)
  11. Elfin Enchanter, Enchanting (Human Magic-User 7)
  12. Female Thief or Rogue, Caped and Thieving (Human Thief 1 or 9, rapier)
  13. Silent Stalker, Stalking (honestly, your guess is as good as mine, but I love it)
  14. Gladius-Hero in Roman-Style Armour (Human Fighter 4, breastplate, shield, short sword)
  15. Barbarian Hero wearing Vulture Helmet and Fur (Human Fighter 4, scimitar, leather armor and shield)
  16. Rachir, the Red Archer-Ranger/Fighter with Bow (Human Ranger 3, composite bow, long sword, leather armor, shield)
  17. High Elfin Warrior Maiden Armed with Sword (Elf Fighter 4, broadsword, chainmail)
  18. Gundar the Barbarian with Axe and Sword (Human Fighter 9, leather armor, battle axe, longsword)
  19. Subotai the Mongol-Swordsman with Shield (Human Fighter 3, scimitar, dagger, chainmail, shield)
  20. Swashbuckler Fighter with Cutlass and Dagger (Human Fighter 5, scimitar, dagger)

Next up, we have a couple old school NPC classes – the Astrologer by Roger E. Moore and the Alchemist by Roger E. Moore and Georgia Moore. These are nice and short classes, and could probably be adapted as non-classed NPCs with interesting abilities by most GM’s. Of course, I’d also love to see them used as PC’s in a game.

Here’s a taste of the astrologer:

 

Here’s a nice bit from the alchemist class:

“For the creation of homonculi, it is suggested that Pseudo-Dragon venom and Gargoyle blood be among, the. required ingredients, as well as the Magic-User’s own blood, since these items bear some relationship to a Homonculous’s poisonous bite and appearance. Costs and time for making a Homonculous are outlined in the Monster Manual.”

And this:

“Formulas for manufacturing cockatrices may be found in L. Sprague de Camp’s book, The Ancient Engineers, Chapter 9, “The European Engineers.” Additional notes appear in The Worm Ouroborous, by E. R. Eddison, “Conjuring in the Iron Tower.” Note that de Camp’s book refers to the cockatrice as a “basilisk,” and tells of an alchemical way of making gold from burnt “basilisk” parts.”

One more reason to read Eddison’s book, and now I want to find de Camp’s as well.

Oh Hell, and this:

“At the Dungeon Master’s option, cloning may be performed by biogenesis-studying Alchemists; this should be considered a very powerful (and very rarely performed) ability that will entail expenditures of 100,000 g.p. or more.”

Philip Meyers‘ article “Magic Items for Everyman” covers random magic items for NPC’s. They’re quite extensive and worth taking a look at.

Bazaar of the Bizarre has a couple nifty magic items. The Eidolon of Khalk’Ru is a real pip if you have a cleric or magic-user in the party (and who doesn’t?). There’s also the Bell of Pavlov, box of many holdings, ruby slippers, ring of oak and pet rocks – man I want to pit a guy with three pet rocks up against an unsuspecting party.

But hey – we’re not done with new classes yet. Len Lakofka presents a new fighter or ranger sub-class, the Archer. Really, it’s the archer, a fighter sub-class, and the archer-ranger, a ranger sub-class. This is accompanied by whole host of advanced rules for missile fire in D&D.

Archers get fewer melee attacks per round than fighters and more missile attacks than fighters. They get an additional +1 with magic bows and arrows. If their intelligence is 9 or higher, they also learn some magic-user spells at 7th level. At 3rd level they learn to make arrows, and they learn to make bows at 5th level.

The main bonus for archers are bonuses to hit and damage, which get pretty big at high levels.

The big feature of this issue was the Dragon Dungeon Design Kit – a bunch of cardboard pieces you could use to create tabletop maps of the dungeon rooms adventurers encountered. You got wall sections, treasure chests and all sorts of dungeon dressing.

Michael Kluever‘s article “Castles, Castles Everywhere” is a nicely researched article about castles. Worth the read.

Roger E. Moore is back this issue with “How To Have a Good Time Being Evil”, a lighthearted look at the subject. Think over-the-top silver age comic book evil rather than the genuine article. One bit I especially liked was this, as it is a good description of the Chaotic / Evil alignment:

“Now for the group goals. Anyone who’s played Monsters! Monsters! already knows what the goal is in an evil campaign. The goal is to beat up on the good guys. The goody-good Paladins, sneaky Rangers, and less-than-macho elves are going to get what they deserve. What right have they got, breaking into our lairs, killing our underlings and friends, and taking away the treasures we worked so hard to steal? Besides, what we’re doing is the way of the universe. Only the strong survive. Nice guys finish last. I’m number one. If you help all the wimps get ahead in the universe, you undo natural selections and evolution, which is trying to make us tougher. Might makes right. And so on. Working up the goals and general background philosophy of an evil campaign is not difficult (and is actually a little disturbing, as some people say such things in seriousness. How little we know about our own alignments …)”

I think the true test of a great monster is great art. Well, maybe not, but a nice piece of art makes we want to use a monster, regardless of its stats. To whit, the skyzorr’n by Jon Mattson:

Art by Willingham, of course. It’s actually not a bad beastie – nomadic insect people.

Skyzorr’n, Medium Monstrous Humanoid: HD 2+1, AC 16, MV 20′, ATK 1d4 claws (1d4) or 1d2 by weapon; AL Chaotic (LE), Special–Bite for 1d4+1 plus poison, surprise 1-3 on 1d6, immune to natural paralysis (not spells) and 90% of poisons, +2 to save vs. heat and cold attacks, resistance to edged and piercing weapons.

They inhabit deserts and badlands in hive communities (70% underground). They are matriarchal, ruled by queens (they look like grotesque bloated spiders) with High intelligence. They use weapons 50% of the time (longswords, scimitars, military forks, spears and slings). If two claw attacks hit, they get a bite attack. The poison deals 1 point of Strength and Dexterity damage for 2d4 turns.

Read the issue to get the full description – very cool. They also have sand lizards by Marcella Peyre-Ferry and dust devils by Bruce Sears.

I wonder if WOTC would consider making a monster book with all of these creatures in it?

Well – that’s all folks. No White Dwarf supplement this time, since it was bi-monthly. I’ll hit it next week (God willing and the creek don’t rise).

Lazy Saturday Post

Just a lazy Saturday post today with a few preview locations from the next Og hex crawl in NOD 29. Pour yourself a drink and enjoy!

2913 Morgor | Settlement

Morgor is a mining village of 400 lanky hill dwarves and flinty gnomes. The dwarves of Morgor are more lively than most due to the positive influence of the gnomes and their hand organs. The warriors of the village, 20 dwarves and gnomes, wear bulbous helms and coats of mail and carry military picks and light crossbows.

The village currently looks abandoned, for the people have had to withdraw into their mine. They have been terrorized for more than a week by a weird sorcerer called Tall Darrow. The countryside around the main village is populated by 3,200 dwarf and gnome farmers. Many of them have fled the area and are on their way as refugees to Azsor. Many others are hiding in cellars or caves in the wilderness.

Tall Darrow has pale, waxy skin spread over his tall, thin form. He is capable of replacing his head with one of six others, all of them being the preserved heads of ancient sorcerers, and each having their own set of magic spells that they know. Each morning, the sorcerer can remove one head and then attach a new one – this can only be done in the first rays of dawn, and the process takes 10 minutes during which the sorcerer can do nothing.

Morgor’s ruler is the Lady Ymarr, a rough and tumble hill dwarf war-maiden with a pet winter wolf she rescued as a cub. The wolf is growing impatient in the mine, and is threat-ening to return to its naturally evil form.

Village Treasure: 850 gp, 2,500 sp, 13,000 cp, 2 fancy stones

3023 Gloomy Storm Giantess | Monster

There exists in this hex a pleasant hollow surrounded by tulip trees. In the midst of this grove there is a silver tube that juts up from the ground. Should anyone drop a gemstone down this tube, they will hear a hollow, echoing voice ask “What need thou know, friend?”

At the moment, a storm giantess by the name of Avnell is consulting the subterranean oracle about whether her lover will ever return from Utt, the City of Giants located far to the north in the White Mountains. She is quite distraught, which explains the gloomy clouds and temperamental rains that plague this hex at the moment.

If adventurers will promise to journey north and find her lover, the erudite storm giant Jondr, she will promise them the moon and the stars.

3109 Shadow Horses | Monster

A herd of shadow horses sweeps down from the hills at eventide, leaving crystal growths to grow behind them. These crystals last for 1d4 hours before they explode into a mist of negative energy that chokes and drains. The mist persists for 1d6 hours (or 1d6 turns if there is a strong wind, 10% chance). The crystals can be harvested and used to create magic items, but they drain 1 hit point (permanent) per day from any within 10 feet of them. The horses are heading towards the City of Sand and Stone [3403].

3429 Temple of Mental Fortitude | Stronghold

The Temple of Mental Fortitude is a strange place indeed. The “temple” consists of a thousand stone pillars of unknown height, emerging from a valley shrouded in chill mists. In the surrounding mountains dwell a flock of giant eagles. Seekers of enlightenment come to the lip of the valley and meditate for three days before holding up a golden offering to the giant eagles. If they are judged worthy, an eagle swoops down, grabs the monk with its talons (inflicting damage) and deposits them atop one of the icy pillars.

The pillars are about 10’ in diameter. There, the monk con-tinues his meditations for 14 days, eating nothing and hydrating himself on the ice that gathers on his pillar. This mortification of the flesh is intended to bring about enlightenment and mental fortitude. If they survive, they increase their Wisdom by 1d4, and reduce their Constitution by the same.

When a monk has finished his time on the pillar, he crawls to the edge of the pillar and leaps off. A giant eagle will either catch him and carry him back to the edge of the cliffs that ring the valley, or he plunges into the mists and is never seen or heard from again.

3631 Temple of the Fox | Monster

A crevice in this hex, narrow and spooky, hides a small temple dedicated to Ruch, the Fox Spirit of the Qum’al. The temple is carved into the red walls of the crevice, with a single small door flanked by bas-reliefs of fox women. The door opens to a tunnel entrance that goes back about 30’ into the cliffs, ending in a chamber 20’ in diameter with a 30’ domed ceiling.

The temple room is completely dark – magically dark – with a number of motes of light that resemble stars. These motes orbit the dome, moving slowly unless somebody attempts to grab one or interfere with one – then they scramble and swarm around the room at full speed.

Grabbing a mote (treat them as AC 25) causes a terrible burn (1d6 damage) and leaves a key-shaped imprint on their palms. If the key is made and one returns to the temple they will find it guarded by seven foxweres, lithe women wrapped in poly-chromatic veils that hide mithral mail shirts. They are armed two scimitars and can cast spells as 4th level druids.

In the floor of the temple there is a tiny hole, just big enough for a key. When a key created from an impression left by a mote is put in the hole and it is turned, the corresponding mote becomes larger as the key is turned, and becomes a portal into a vault buried deep beneath the ground.

These vaults belong to some of the greatest thieves in the world, and are guarded by death traps of their own devising. Here, they hid away their greatest treasure – their memories and true identities.

Have a groovy weekend. I’ll be back tomorrow with a Dragon review (I hope).

The Black Mystics

I was going to offer a no-prize to whoever could identify from whence these fellow come, but then I decided to use the art down below, which should kill any mystery to their origin. These guys are pretty tough, but I also tried to keep them simple.

Black Mystic (Black Master)

Black Mystic

Medium Aberration, Chaotic (NE)

Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 18
Attack: Strike (1d8) or by weapon +2
Movement: 60′
Saves: F12 R11 W19
Intelligence: High
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 600 (CL 7)

Magic resistance*

Spells—Augury (1), detect thoughts (ESP) (1), hold person (3), phantasmal force (2)

Black Master

Medium Aberration, Chaotic (NE)

Hit Dice: 12
Armor Class: 20
Attack: Strike (2d6) or by weapon +4
Movement: 80′
Saves: F9 R8 W4
Intelligence: Super
No. Appearing: 1 + 1d4 mystics
XP: 1,200 (CL 13)

Magic resistance*

Spells—Augury (3), cause fear (3), contact other plane (1), detect thoughts (ESP), dimension door (1), divination (1), hold monster (3), spectral force (3)

Black mystics are men (always men) who have entered into a dark pact with the nether forces in a bid for earthly power. To become a black mystic, they must have all the goodness in their souls extracted. This goodness, or higher soul, takes the form of a golden sphere, and is kept imprisoned by the black mystics in some form of mystic receptacle or iron-bound box.

Black mystics have amazing reflexes, catching or slapping away normal missiles on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6. They make no sound when they move, and have an 85% chance to hide in shadows. The sight of their twisted bodies forces creatures with 2 HD or fewer to pass a saving throw or be stunned with disbelief for 1d6 rounds.

Black masters rule the black mystics. They have a 95% chance to hide in shadows, and can shapechange twice per day into giant constrictors, giant vultures (use stats for giant eagle) or giant scorpions.

If a black mystic or black master’s higher soul is released from its captivity, it vaults into the celestial heavens and leaves the mystic or master dead. Damage against the soul’s receptacle causes stuns mystics and masters if they fail a saving throw.

* In Blood & Treasure Second Edition, magic resistance is not a percentage. Rather, it requires the spell caster to roll higher than the creature’s HD+10 with 1d20 + the spellcaster’s level. If you want to use a percentage, I’d go with 15% for the mystics and 30% for the masters.

EDIT: Well, it was at the time … now, not so much (Aug 2017)

Magic in the Blood and Other Ruminations

The main reason I wrote Blood & Treasure was that I got tired of converting material to Swords & Wizardry, which was the first system I used in my hex crawls. I decided, rather than make a clone, I would make a rules lite version of the game that stuffed 30+ years of monsters, classes, spells, etc. into the main rules so I would spend less time converting on the fly, and so my OGL statements wouldn’t be so darn long.

To that end, I included the 3rd edition sorcerer among the classes. After all, some folks who played 3E and Pathfinder probably loved the class, and they might be looking for a rules lite game that would support it.

Now, I’m working on the 2nd edition of Blood & Treasure. The goal is still to have a rules lite game that throws everything into the pot and allows folks to pick and choose what they want to use, but I’m also trying to give the game a bit more character of its own. Part of that involves making sure the character classes have something cool about them that makes people really want to play them. These are generally things inspired by folklore or fantasy literature or movies – things that are part of fantasy, but not necessarily part of D&D. Fighters, for example, are going to get a little boost in the form of being able to subdue monsters and turn them into mounts. We see tons of fantasy art and miniatures with warriors riding all sorts of animals and monsters, and D&D had something like this in terms of subduing dragons, so I’m expanding that concept.

The sorcerer … well, the sorcerer needs some help. The entire class is really just an alternate magic system for magic-users – it has no real character of its own. To help the sorcerer stand on its own two feet, I’ve added two abilities that work well with the “magic in the blood” theme.

In my current draft of Blood & Treasure Second Edition, they have an inborn ability to pick up on “magical vibrations”, which means they know when they’re in the presence of spells, illusions and monsters, but they don’t know what is magical around them or how – kind of like Spider-Man’s spidey sense.

Sorcerers also have a way to increase their spell use through dangerous means, somewhat like the spell casting rules in Pars Fortuna. Sorcerers can attempt to cast spells they do not know, but must make a roll to do so, and if they fail may end up doing themselves irreparable harm, or being visited by powerful outsiders, who are accidentally gated in and might be angry about it, or just casting the opposite of what they meant to cast.

They also gather cult-like followers at higher levels, rather than building strongholds. Sorcerers strike me as eccentric wanderers, rather than conservative castle builders.

I’ve also written some variant bloodline sorcerers that are comparable to the variant specialist magic-users, that give them a chance to be related to some of the monsters they meet, and give them some other boosts.

Other Tropes

Sorcerers get the biggest face lift in the game, but a few other fantasy tropes have found a home with other classes.

Fighters have a way of subduing monsters and turning them into mounts (think of all those warriors riding on weird animals and monsters in fantasy art).

Paladins pick up some knightly honors as they advance in level, giving them access to noble and royal courts and improving their reaction rolls (except with chaotic evil monsters, who become more likely to attack them).

Duelists pick up a lackey to be used and abused.

Magic-users pick up odd bits of pseudo-scientific lore as they learn new spell levels – bits of alchemy, knowledge of parachutes, how to build clockworks and a few tips for slight increases in the potency of their spells.

Druids can sacrifice “despoilers of the wilderness” to pick up some extra elemental power, with the extra power depending on the means of sacrifice (blade, drowning, hanging, etc.)

Thieves at mid-level can assemble teams of lesser rogues for dungeon heists – essentially a quick way to pick up some henchmen for a job (but can they be trusted?)

Assassins can now brew some interesting poisons.

You get the idea. Hopefully, these abilities will prove fun and interesting during game play, and will give Blood & Treasure a bit more character of its own.

Metallic Men [New Monster]

Just a little ditty inspired by a metallic mannequin in a robe I saw in a Ral Partha ad (right over there on the right).

I designed them to be an alternate low-level challenge for dungeons, or maybe an interesting planar civilization.

Metallic Man

Medium Elemental (Earth), Neutral (LN)

Hit Dice: 1+2
Armor Class: 16
Attack: Fist (1d4) or by weapon
Move: 30’
Saves: F13 R15 W15
Intelligence: High
No. Appearing: 1d8*
XP: 100 (CL 2)

Immune to electricity and poison, resistance to cold, fire and edged weapons, no discernible anatomy

The metallic men are refined creatures of elemental earth. They look like humanoids composed of gleaming silver. Their skins are not fluid, per se’, but they move the way creatures of flesh and blood move. They have discernible mouths, eyes, and noses, and appear to breath (and can suffocate) and eat, though they do not sleep. Their food is usually iron-rich, and a draft of fresh blood (1 HD worth) can provide 1d4 points of healing in battle.

Metallic men are extremely logical, and masters of advanced mathematics (roll 5d4 for intelligence). They rarely speak, and when they do sound something like a fuzzy, scratchy drive-thru restaurant speaker. This, coupled with their reserved emotional state, leaves them rolling 3d4 for Charisma.

If struck by electricity, they can channel it into a bolt of lightning with a range of 60’ and dealing damage equal to the original source up to a maximum of 3 dice.

Metallic men are capable of forming their hands and upper arms into weapons. For all intents and purposes, a metallic man can form any sort of weapon it wishes. These pseudo-weapons deal damage as their normal counterparts, though they are somewhat clumsy (-1 to hit). They cannot be sundered – a sundering attack would be, in essence, a normal attack against the metallic man. Metallic men cannot form bucklers or shields from their arms/hands. Obviously, weapons so formed cannot be thrown; they can only be used for melee combat.

Metallic men live in colonies of 20-200 on the Elemental Earth plane, or of 10-40 on the material plane (usually in hiding). For each colony there is one golden metallic woman per 20 metallic men. Metallic women have high wisdom scores (roll 2d6+6) and act as conduits to the higher powers of elemental earth (commune once per week, but are stunned for 1d4+4 minutes after). Metallic man warriors carry footman’s maces and pellet bows (fire sling bullets for 1d4+1 damage instead of arrows). Most carry shields (AC +2).

Warriors are commanded by one decarch (HD 2+2) per 10 warriors and one centarch (HD 4+2) per 100. Armies over 100 are commanded by a fighter of level 1d6+3 or a fighter/scientist of level 1d6+2. They are sometimes mounted on battle platforms that look like round discs atop eight metal, spider-like legs. The riding disc is surrounded by a force field (AC +2, lesser globe of invulnerability).

Battle Platform, Large Construct: HD 6, AC 18, ATK 2 stabs (1d6), MV 60’, SV F11 R11 W12, AL -, XP 600 (CL7), Special-Non-sentient, same immunities and resistances as metallic men, force field.

Edit: Added the weapon forming ability (Mar 11), corrected some spelling

Dragon by Dragon – December 1980 (44)

When Christmas rolled around in 1980, a young me was still four years away from role playing games, though I did get this slick bike:

Found HERE!

 

A year later, I decided I like the Steelers better, and was stuck with a Cowboys bike – c’est la vie. I grew up in Las Vegas, so I was pretty fluid in my “favorite team” selection – I switched to the Raiders in 1984 when I was the only kid on my bus who picked them to beat the Redskins in the Super Bowl – I only did it to avoid going with the crowd.

Still, if you were already plays RPG’s in 1980, this issue of Dragon, #44, was what you were perusing over a cup of hot chocolate with some Rankin-Bass on in the background. It looks like a dandy – with a mini-game and everything!

As is often the case, the first thing that caught my eye was the ad by Ral Partha. They usually have the first ad in these old Dragon magazines, and this one is for a number of boxed adventure games they did. The games included miniatures, and look pretty cool.

 

I found a site with some pictures of the miniatures.

And the mannequin in the hooded robe just gave me an idea for a monster – I’ll post that later in the week.

Dig this missive from Mrs. Lori Tartaglio from Mercerville, N.J. She covers bearded female dwarves and Iran hostage crisis all in one letter.

“Dear Editors:

Will this endless quibbling never cease? Who CARES if female dwarves have beards or not? (TD#41) Why not let each DM or player or gaming group decide for themselves, for Ghu’s sake?!

Answer me this: Will the fact of dwarven women having or NOT having beards affect the outcome of the game in any major capacity? In my humble opinion, the answer is “no.” Not, of course, unless the DM has designed a “beard catcher” as one of his nasty little traps, and a female character of the dwarven persuasion (although no one ever had to persuade me to be a Dwarf-lady!) happens to be one of the party who’d sprung the trap and. . .

OY! This is getting out of hand! Now you’ve got me doing it!

C’mon, EGG and the rest of you guys! Grow up! If you’re going to argue, then do it about something worthwhile — like “do we go techno and nuke Iran off the face of the earth or do we send in a party of chaotic neutral fighter-mage mercs to teleport the hostages home and drop the Ayatollah with a black arrow.”

And by the way – I mentioned a few reviews ago that I was going to commission some bearded lady dwarf art, and I did, from Denis McCarthy – this will appear in the second edition of Blood & Treasure.

 

Just as some older issues of Dragon had stats for fictional western heroes for Boot Hill, this issue does the same for some fictional secret agents for Top Secret. The article is written by the developer and editor of the game, Allen Hammack.

For those keeping score, here’s some stuff you should know …

Strongest secret agent – John Steed, followed by Derek Flint and James Bond

Most charming secret agent – John Steed, followed by James Bond and Derek Flint

Most courageous secret agent – James Bond, followed by Derek Flint and a tie – Jim Phelps and Number 6

The weakest stats belong to Maxwell Smart and Napoleon Solo. I don’t want to criticize, but not making Emma Peel the most charming seems crazy … at least from my perspective. The article has full stats for all the agents, which is pretty damn cool.

Gregory G. H. Rihn presents one of the articles that could only be from the early days of the hobby – “Fantasy Genetics I – Humanoid Races in Review”. The article gives scientific names for the fantasy races. Elves, for example, are homo sapiens sylvanus, while orcs are homo sapiens orc. Those two races have to be homo sapiens able to breed with good old fashioned homo sapiens sapiens. I guess they should also be able to breed with homo sapiens neanderthalensis. An elf neanderthal crossbreed would give strong math skills, great strength and pointed ears – so Vulcans, essentially. He makes the kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears part of the genus Australopithecus and ogres Ramapithecus. This is an interesting idea, and points to a time when the look of the fantasy races was not established – yeah, there was art in the Monster Manual, but it wasn’t treated as carved in stone.

This is followed up by “Fantasy Genetics II – Half-Orcs in a Variety of Styles” by Roger Moore. This is a cool little article about the fact that half-orcs are always half-human. So you get some monster stats for orc-kobolds, orc-goblins, orc-ogres, orc-bugbears, orc-hobgoblins and orc-gnolls. Short and sweet, and it would be a nice addition to the half-orc playable race.

But we’re not done yet, because John S. Olson gives us “Fantasy Genetics III – What Do You Get When You Cross?”, which is designed to discourage weird crossbreeds. I wonder if the author is this guy from Rice University?

Which, of course, brings us to the end of this discussion. There could be absolutely no more to write on the subject of fantasy genetics – the topic has been so thoroughly dealt with that to continue would be folly!

To paraphrase Johnny Carson, “Not so fast jelly doughnut breath!”

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh brings us “Fantasy Genetics IV – Half + Half Isn’t Always Full”. Honestly, I cannot see the point of this article. Moving on …

Here’s a little piece from Sage Advice that might quash the whole murder hobo mystique:

“Question: Is it okay for a Monk (Lawful Neutral) to sneak up on an opponent and then backstab? (Is this act chaotic? Is this evil?)

Answer: The act of killing a victim without knowing if he/she is truly an enemy (in other words, killing a complete stranger without knowing if he/she presents a threat) is a chaotic act. The act of killing an opponent with the knowledge that there is some other way to overcome him/her is an evil act. It would seem permissible for the Lawful Neutral Monk (or any other similarly aligned being) to attack a known enemy from the back, when circumstances make it necessary to kill that foe. —J. Ward, W. Niebling”

So, if the orcs don’t attack first, and you attack without trying to talk to them, you’re evil.

When I see ads like this:

 

I always do a search hoping to stump BoardGameGeek.com – hasn’t happened yet.

I know nothing about the game, but the miniature illustrations are cool, and the name “hellborn” is awesome – also Avenging Angels and Saints and Giant Knights. I found the rules for sale for $12.95 by the Gaming Gang and bought a copy – I’ll review them later this month (probably).

This issue’s “Giant in the Earth” switches authorship from Tom Moldvay to Dave Cook. Dave writes stats for C.S. Lewis’ Reepicheep (LG 7th level fighter) and Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger (LN 16th level fighter with special sage abilities). Challenger’s Express hunting rifle is given a 300 yard range and 2d6 damage, in case you’re interested.

In 3rd edition, all the monsters got stats. In 1st edition, many of the monsters got stats, here and there, haphazardly. Len Lakofka‘s article this issue, “Monsters: How Strong is Strong” is one of those early efforts to codify these issues, and shows the gradual march of the game from “rulings not rules” to “a rule for everything”.

It’s predicated on the fact that a belt of hill giant strength gives a fighter damage that a hill giant doesn’t get, which, of course, cannot be permitted to persist. I guess. For those interested, bugbear chiefs are as strong as ankhegs, but not as strong as gorillas, who are as strong as black bears, but not as strong as carnivorous apes and brown bears. Kobolds roll 4d4 for strength, while leader types have d4+13 strength. He also gives a bit on “how to calculate the combat ability of a monster”. I was going to put in an excerpt, but dang is it long!

Next up is the aforementioned mini-game – “Food Fight” by Bryce Knorr (this guy?). This is set in a high school and features some early art from Bill Willingham (see to the right – maybe that’s Morgan Ironwolf when she was in high school). Make no mistake – for a mini-game about throwing food, it has pretty exhaustive rules. All of the foods have numerous stats, such as:

Ice cream with attack mode D has Range 1, Hit No. 8, App. Damage of 1d6+2, no ability to stun, but the number to splat is 5, slipperiness is 2 and APE is 5. There are different stats for attack mode F and attack mode T.

Oi! I now have a strange desire to make a rules lite version of the game.

By the way, this piece by Jack Crane from the fiction in this issue is all kinds of groovy …

 

This issue also has a long article by William Fawcett on the Judge’s Guild (I just noticed a Kickstarter popped up for a JG collection), along with reviews of nine of their products.

Speaking of reviews, Mark Herro offers up some reviews of early computer games (or super modern computer games, by the standards of 1980). You can see one of them, Android Nim, in action below:

He also reviews Dungeon of Death and Time Traveller.

Roger Moore has a new monster in the bestiary this month – the Koodjanuk, a monster from Elysium, and the Cryoserpent. I especially like the cryoserpent art. The B&T stats are below:

Koodjanuk, Large (30′ wingspan) Outsider: HD 8, AC 22 [+2], ATK 1 bite (2d6) or 2 talons (4d4), MV 50′ (Fly 110′), SV F8 R6 W8, AL NG, XP 800 (CL 9), Special-Magic resistance 75%, cast cleric spells as 12th level clerics, use psionics, 15% chance found with other good creatures of the upper planes.

Cryoserpent, Huge (50′ long) Monster: HD 12, AC 19, ATK 1 bite (4d6), MV 20′, SV F4 R7 W8, AL CE, XP 1200 (CL 13), Special-Magic resistance 25%, immune to cold, vulnerable to fire, gaze paralyzes creatures with 4 HD or less (save negates), tongue freezes water (12,000 square feet, 6″ deep, lasts 12 minutes), hollow tongue can fire 120′ freeze ray (48 damage, save negates), tongue may launch a 4″ diameter ball of ice (120′, +4 to hit, explodes when hits target for 4d6 damage in 10′ radius) – can use these last three powers up to a total of 6 times per day.

The bestiary also includes the ice golem by Rich Baldwin.

That’s it for #44. As always, I leave you with Wormy …

 

I miss Bender.

But what about White Dwarf?

The Dec 1980/Jan 1981 issue has the usual cool cover, though the color of the lettering could have been a bit better.

This issue includes aristocracy for Traveller by Rick D. Stuart, some cool magic items for AD&D, a very cool NPC class by Lewis Pulsipher called Black Priests. Here are the highlights:

Black priests must have Wis, Dex and Cha of 13 or higher. They roll d6 for hit points, and they must be evil. If they change alignment, they become thieves. They can wear up to leather armor and use shields when not using thief skills.

A black priest’s chance to move silently and hide in shadows is doubled in their own evil temples (neat touch). They are -1 to hit and damage with swords, and +1 to hit and damage with daggers, and -2 to hit with ranged weapons other than throwing knives. Black priests can “backstab” with a strangling cord (1d8 damage, must have Str 7 or higher to use). They rebuke undead and cast spells as evil clerics, and they can call upon the Lords of Evil to summon a monster each battle (lots of rules governing this ability).

They gather followers at high levels, including other black priests, displacer beasts, gorgons, hill giants werewolves, minotaurs, invisible stalkers (summon 1/wk), trolls, undead and nightmares. Great class!

This issue has an adventure (as most did) – “The Search for the Temple of the Golden Spire” by Barney Sloane. It is intended for seven 2nd-4th level characters.

The monster section goes big time, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Ian Cooper (one of them, Ky, is a Supra-Lich), Capricorns by Roger Moore, Crystal Golems by Robert Outram, and Ungoliant, Queen of the Spiders by Peter Cockburn.

Ungoliant, Huge Outsider: HD 38 (225 hp), AC 26 (Body) 14 (Belly) 24 (Eyes) [+3], ATK Bite (3d12 + swallow whole for instant death on natural 20) and 2 legs (2d12) or 2 palps (1d12), MV 90′, SV F3 R3 W3, AL CE, XP 38,000 (CL41), Special-Magic resistance 80% (50% of which is from her unlight (see below), and can be dispelled), immune to psionics, body oozes contact poison (Poison IV, -3 to save), breath 30′ x 30′ x 30′ fear gas 3/day, 10 eyes function as beholder, except 7th eye fires a matter agitation ray (as the psionic discipline) – one eye fires at a random target every 2 rounds, summon 3d10 phase spiders to cover her retreat.

Ungoliant is the originator of all spider kind. She is swathed in unlight (awesome concept – it’s equivalent to 5 darkness spells). She swallows gems, gaining 1 hp per 10 gp value. If she is seriously wounded, she rears up, exposing her belly, and attacks with her bite and 6 legs (2d12). If her unlight is dispelled with five continual light spells, then additional magical light deals 3d10 damage or destroys one of her eyes. A magic whip is embedded in one of her legs. In the hands of a chaotic evil creature it is a +5 flaming whip, +8 vs. good that inflicts 6d6 damage, or 12d6 in the hands of someone with a strength higher than 18.

Wow! Lolth is a piker in comparison.

Lewis Pulsipher also contributes a bit on an explanation of character stats in D&D. Here’s the interesting passage:

“Dragon breath, after all, does not burn the skin to a crisp (or freeze it) – a slightly ludicrous notion even if dragons are magical. Rather the superheated (or supercold) air, if it fills the lungs, does the damage. A victim of dragon fire dies because his lungs are destroyed, and it’s clear enough that turning one’s head away and keeping one’s mouth and nose shut will help reduce the damage.”

So save vs. dragon’s breath involves turning one’s head and holding one’s breath. Interesting concept.

That’s it for the White Dwarf, folks – and this post. Have fun!