|Bo’al, Ilel, Caledjula and Cakrol
It was about seven years ago that I published Pars Fortuna, my first game. It used the Swords & Wizardry engine, with a few alterations by myself just to test out ideas for alternate mechanics. Seven years, and now it’s time for a little revision.
Revising seems to be my main hobby at the moment. I’ve just done a 2nd edition of Blood & Treasure, so I’m now working on revising the two B&T supplements, the Monster Tome (to be re-titled Monsters II) and the NOD Companion (to be re-titled Esoterica Exhumed). That goes on apace, one piece at a time. Now I’ve started delving into Pars Fortuna, and it has been fun to explore that weird little book.
The idea at the time was to make a random RPG. This meant removing the races, classes, spells, monsters and magic items that we all knew and (mostly) loved, and replacing them with things that had their genesis from random generators. At the time, I described it as reminiscent of Talislanta (“no elves”). For the most part, that’s what I did. Random classes just were not workable at the time, though I later developed a random class generator. To deal with classes, I went the race-as-class route. Random spells had the same problem, so I just rolled randomly on some lists of OGL, but non-SRD, spells.
Now I’m revising, and that means re-reading, and I’m amazed at how much I wrote that I do not remember writing. A couple of the races receded from memory and were nice surprises to me now. Many of the monsters were forgotten, and now I’m realizing how much monster art I’m going to need.
In Pars Fortuna Revised, I’m going to bring the rules more in line with what will be, next year, a revised Bloody Basic. Mostly just messing with saves and skills – nothing earth shattering. The race/classes will get some more options (essentially a warrior, skill monkey and magician class for each race). Pars Fortuna’s spell system will remain intact, and I’ll add in a few extras that I created after it was published and maybe a few things that have been bouncing around my head for a while.
Speaking of art … art was the weak spot for me when I wrote Pars Fortuna. At the time, I had zero budget to work with, so I convinced my wife that sinking $120 or so of our money into this silly project was a good idea. I contracted with Jon Kaufman to give life to the bizarre races in the setting, and I still remember the feeling of absolute delight when I got that first illustration (at the top of the post) from him. It’s still one of my favorite things ever from my years of commissioning art for games.
And then came the monsters. I tapped a fellow named Michael Stewart for a few pieces (gongthrottle over to the left is among my favorite, but the hamazak and qward are also awesome), as well as Russ Nicholson (who I’m proud to say is now working on a cover for B&T Monsters II) and Rhiannon McGuiness (who did the delightful illustration of ouphs). All great illustrations, but … there were so many more monsters to be illustrated! Almost all of the monsters in the book are original (to some extent), but I didn’t have the money to commission more art for them. Seven years later, I have a bigger budget to play with, so I plan to commission quite a few more monster illustrations. Here are a few that are on my list of potential targets for illustration:
Arahkhun – giant racoons, as big as bears and excellent grapplers
Armadillox – armadillos the size of oxen and used as draft animals; a cakrol (pangolin man) mounted on an armadillox would be just dandy!
Bebb – bears with curled goat horns
Gangarou – glossy black giant kangaroos, sometimes used as mounts
Haloot – owl-lions – quadrupedal raptor, with cheetah speed
Jumart – horned horses with shaggy hair
Mursa – furry, white walruses with bear-like legs
Olph – carnivorous sheep with wide faces and toothy maws
Opur – penguins the size of orcas, filling a similar niche
Woin – sleek wolverines with skin membranes that allow them to glide
Abominid – a giant spider stitched together from humanoid arms and legs by a vivimancer
Fulminator – five bronze spheres joined together by arcs of electricity and moving like a humanoid
Mercurial – animated mercury in the vague shape of a rat
Ningyo – animated wooden puppets with demon faces
Retriever – clockwork dingo
Sanctus – animated statue of a saint
Skeloid – animated skeleton bound in silver and gold wire with its head replaced by a wooden raptor or crow head
Tinker King – mechanical man with gemstone eyes
Nine – furry humanoids that look something like otters or seals, but with four eyes; extremely fast
Nizzertit – slimy burrowers with big eyes; keep guard cats
Nurg – short, hairy men with savage tempers; have large fists
Spenwanan – spider people of dungeons and grasslands
Zimbad – humanoid pterosaurs
Goon – evil underground humanoids who wear crowns and cause trouble
Ingalas – amazon nymphs of the jungle
Meagle – stunted moor-folk who like like a combo of hedgehog and bat
Osk – golden humanoids with sharpened teeth; covet jewelry
Tomb Robber – tiny men with grey skin, white eyes and oversized black claws
Azimok – towering crimson humanoids with protruding foreheads; urbane philosophers in daylight, raving madmen at night
Booglemoon – bear-sized wingless turkeys with crushing beaks
Cavern Crawler – terrestrial octopi
Crystalline tree – can throw beams of searing light
Dreak – look like polliwogs with the faces of human children; lake predators
Floating Horror – floating eyeball formed of protoplasm
Hyari – feathered carnosaurs with long snouts and who can leap like fleas
Idekel – cross between alligator and boa constrictor with illusion powers
Lady-of-the-depths – plant that uses illusion to look like a dainty woman; enslaves people with tendrils, who then serve as her handmaidens
Nanc – coppery capybaras with spiny tails
Oroboros – worms with lamprey mouths on either end; Pars Fortuna’s answer to color-coded dragons
Palasm – look like faceless baboons with distended bellies
Pellucid – colonies of translucent crystals
Pyroceros – stone rhinos with cores of magma
Sand rat – scaled rats with sapphires embedded in their foreheads
Sagebane – large frogs with psychic powers
Snurl – mastiffs covered in lobster-like armor
Wyveroon – like little wyverns; they adore magic rings
Zavvo – body of giant serpent, head of bat, wings of vulture; surrounded by darkness
Archfiends – Haaqugo the Burning One, Ac’ishlath the Elder Goddess and Y’dhortshagg
Lunarch – slightly amorphous silvery bear with a cluster of spider eyes on its head
Malhora Swarm – tiny moths that accelerate time
Nokt – evil spirit that looks like a five-headed green crow
Pillar of Fire – ’nuff said
Volp – crystalline wolves
Zax – energy creatures (look something like 9-bit designs from old arcade games)
If I can manage to commission a third of these, I’ll be pretty happy. If I can do more than that, I’ll be ecstatic. If you have any favorites from the list above, let me know in the comments.
I’m thinking of doing a separate setting book for the game, and both rule book and setting book (if I do separate them) will have adventures in them as well. Should be a fun project, and a nice chance to resurrect one of my first attempts at making games.