The Coming of the Triphibians

The triphibians have their origin in a delightful Japanese film with numerous titles, the most common in the U.S. of A. being The Monster from a Prehistoric Planet. Another title (Gappa: The Triphibian Monster) refers to the monsters in question being triphibians. I really dig that word, so I decided to make them into more useful monsters for the average fantasy/sci-fi game – i.e. I resized them as humanoids rather than uber-massive kaiju. Here then, are the triphibians, compatible with Blood & Treasure and other OSR games.

Triphibian

Type: Humanoid
Size: Medium
Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 15
Attack: Slam (1d4) or by weapon
Movement: 30′ (Fly 90′, Swim 30′)
Save: 16; +3 vs. poison
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Neutral (N)
No. Appearing: 1d6*
XP/CL: 200/3

SD—Immunity (electricity), resistance (fire)

Triphibians look like beaked humanoids with scaly skin and large wings which they can fold onto their backs, nearly hiding them. They are emotional creatures, and their scales change colors to match their emotions. They are not desirous of contact with other species, and do their best to maintain a wide buffer between their lands and those of other creatures. In their own territory, they are highly aggressive towards intruders, especially when they are protecting their eggs and their young. In battle, they fight with swords, spears, bows and javelins, and sometimes use shields.

Triphibians can fly and they can breath underwater, making them a triple threat. Nations that have gone to war with them find their skies blackened by their warriors dropping heavy stones or bombs, and their boats falling prey to their attacks from underwater. Triphibians do not believe in fair fights, and use their abilities to the fullest to get an advantage.

Triphibians dwell in tribes of 1d6 x 60 warriors and twice as many noncombatants. They usually make their home underwater near thermal vents or in secluded mountain strongholds near lakes. It is not unusual for 1d6 tribes to live within a mile of one another, forming a confederation.

Triphibian tribes are commanded by a 6 HD king or queen who can breath a 10′ cone of electricity (2d6 damage) three times per day. These kings and queens undergo a secret ritual that increases their size to Large and their intelligence to High. The king or queen is attended by a bodyguard of 3d6 warriors with 2+1 Hit Dice. There is a 36% chance that a tribe has a spell caster, usually an adept (roll 1d4 for level). This philosopher, as the triphibians call them, is a spiritual teacher to the people, attends the king or queen on matters of state, conducts public rituals (including coronations) and joins the tribe in battle.

NOTE: These monsters would work very well in a PARS FORTUNA campaign, substituting for the larger humanoids like gnolls and bugbears that appear in traditional fantasy. By adding ray guns and such to their weaponry and putting them in serene bubble architecture above or below the sea, they would also work in a sci-fi setting such as Space Princess.

Bloody Basic (Revised) Stats

Size: Medium
Type: Humanoid
Hit Dice: 2
Armor Class: 16
Movement: 30′ (Fly, Swim)
Attacks: Slam or Weapon
Saving Throw: 16
Alignment: Neutral
CL/XP: 3/300

Don’t Lose Your Barbaric Edge

This is a half-formed notion that came to me last night while working on Blood & Treasure Second Edition. It’s not in that book, but I thought somebody might find it useful.

The idea of a “barbaric edge” comes from good old Robert E. Howard, who posited the notion that barbarians were in many ways superior to members of civilization, whether they be decadent nobles or downtrodden peasants. Barbarians in Howard’s fiction are usually a cut above non-barbarians.

The Edge

In games, the barbaric edge allows you to treat one of the following ability scores – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution or Wisdom – as though it were an 18. Each morning, a person with the barbaric edge can decide which ability they will treat this way. Ability damage affects the temporary score, and the real score if the damage persists and the barbarian chooses to boost a different ability score from the one that was damaged.

Note that druids who boost Wisdom do gain extra spells for high Wisdom, but clerics do not unless they worship something wild and primordial. One might permit it for a cleric of Thor, for example, but not a cleric of Minerva.

Example: Crom the Barbarian (pictured above) wakes up one morning and stretches his iron sinews. He normally has a strength score of 13 (a +1 bonus). Today, he’ll increase his bonus (but not his actual strength score) to +2. Tomorrow he might be feeling especially cat-like, and improve his +0 dexterity modifier to +1.

Gaining the Edge

How does one obtain a barbaric edge? By living rough in the wilderness and eschewing the soft pleasures of civilization. This means that the barbaric edge is open to any class, provided they do the following:

1) Always sleep outside in the wilderness; in a pinch, sleeping in an alley or field will do. This means no beds, no pillows – no more than an animal pelt to protect you from the elements.

2) Low retention of wealth; you can keep 10% of your found treasure to spend on equipment and gear (maybe more if you use a system that requires paying for training to level up), giving the rest away. Treasure is there to be won, not enjoyed – think of it as catch-and-release. Treasure not kept must either be discarded as though it were trash, given to others (who may not spend it on you) with a hearty sniff of contempt, or spent in a tavern on booze and sex (i.e. drinks on the house, and you must drink until you collapse or get in a rip-roaring fight).

3) No fancy clothes or armor; you retain the barbarian edge by wearing no more than leather armor or maybe a chainmail shirt if they are used in the campaign. You cannot wear silks and satin – really just a loincloth and sandals or fur boots will do when you’re not fighting.

4) A lack of trust for civilization and civilized people. A barbarian can adventure with civilized men and women, but they must be kept at an emotional distance, and the barbarian must sneer at and criticize their soft living and decadent morality. This is primarily done through role playing.

5) A barbarian’s food must come from his own hunting, gathering or fishing rather than from “iron rations” and magic. If this means going hungry, so be it. The barbarian may indulge in a tavern after an adventure, but only once and only in terms of a tavern crawl as in (2) above.

Losing the Edge

Breaking any of these rules means the barbaric edge is lost. No ability boosts. It can only be regained by living by the above rules for a full month of game time (or perhaps for two or three game sessions if that’s easier to calculate). Only after that time spent living wild does the barbarian shake off the excesses of civilization and regain his barbaric edge.

Don’t trust them Conan, they use rugs!

 

Release-A-Palooza

I have three new (or recent) releases to bring to your kind attention.
Before I talk about them, though, HERE’S A LINK to those Bloody Basic printable character sheets I mentioned (including Weird Fantasy edition), with background color removed.

NOD 27

This issue of NOD features:

* Gloriana’s Blessed Isle, Part 2 – The continuation of the Ulflandia hex crawl that started in NOD 26 – this one covers a little of the island, the Bragart Hills, the southern portion of the Klarkash Mountains and a wee bit of the Wyvern Coast … a real cross roads. Features some groovy art by Denis McCarthy

* d20 Mecha I: The Classes – The first part of a three part article on adapting d20-based games for giant robot adventures – by my good friend and mecha-aficionado Luke DeGraw. Part 2 will cover equipment, and in Part 3 we’re going to collaborate on simplified rules for the mecha themselves, using some of the rules I’ve developed for GRIT & VIGOR.

* The Nodian Bestiary – Featuring 10 new monsters

* Strength: A Primer – Exploring the strength ability score

* The Muscleman – A new class that puts strength to the test … yeah, he can bite through chains and throw halflings … nice art by NOD regular Jon Kaufman

* You Pull the Lever and … – Ideas for lever-based traps and tricks … with more from Kaufman

* Racial Variations: Earth – Elemental twists on the classic fantasy races … and a third Kaufman piece

* Plan 9 from Outer Space: The RPG – A Quick & Easy minigame for Halloween … I’m super excited about this silly thing

* The Grey Planet Beckons – The negative-energy planet Pluto for the Nodian cosmos

$4.99 for the e-book … print edition coming soon 

BLOODY BASIC – WEIRD FANTASY EDITION

I know some folks have been waiting for this one. The Weird Fantasy Edition rules are inspired by the wondrous prose and poetry of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany and the art of such luminaries as Aubrey Beardsley and Sidney Sime. It include rules for the races, classes, spells and monsters of weird fantasy tales. Ever wanted to play a grotesque puissant? Now’s your chance.

This one was briefly in the Top 10 hottest titles on rpgnow … pretty cool!

$4.99 for the e-book … print edition coming soon

DEVIANT DECADE

Can you survive the mean streets of New York City in the 1970’s? Muggers, psychos, junkies, sewer-gators, street punks, and gangsters! Oh My!

Deviant Decade is a quick and easy game to learn and play. All you need is a few friends, some pencils and paper, a few ordinary dice and this book … leisure suits are optional.

$2.99 for the e-book (no stagflation here) … print edition coming soon

For sale now at both Lulu and Drive Thru / Rpgnow

COMING SOON

Well, I think that’s enough productivity for the moment. I’m working on Black Death (coming along nicely – and a little more meat than past Quick & Easy games – I think Swords & Sandals will need a revision next year) and NOD 28 (exploring the northern Land of Og in this one) now, and I’m determined to get GRIT & VIGOR released by the end of the year.

Then I can focus on the revisions of BLOOD & TREASURE, MYSTERY MEN!, SPACE PRINCESS and PARS FORTUNA. I’ve already commissioned new cover art for B&T!!! Super excited.

Found Under the Loose Dungeon Floor Tile …

Before we get to the random table, I’d like to announce that Bloody Basic – Sinew & Steel Edition is now up for sale at Lulu.com as a PDF (the book will follow). This is basic role-playing without the magic – imagine if the original fantasy game had been based on the medieval war game rules without the fantasy supplement included.

Races are exchanged for Social Ranks, classes are Armsman, Scholar and Villein, and to make up for all the space normally taken up by spells, fantasy monsters and magic items, I included some simple rules for mass combat, sieges, jousting and archery tournaments. The rules are still pretty short, so the book only costs $6.99 – not too bad. Click on the title to check it out at Lulu.

I should get NOD 26 up for sale tonight as a PDF. When I get my review copies, the books will follow. More on that later.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program …

What I Found Under the Loose Dungeon Floor Tile (Roll d20)

1. A yawning abyss – it is cold, and light flute music can be heard from within it

2. A giant, leering eye

3. A rope loop – pull it to set off all the traps on this level of the dungeon

4. A wooden box – holds …
     A. The ashen remains of a vampire
     B. Mummy bandages
     C. Incense cubes – varying scents, one casts a cloudkill spell
     D. Candle stubs – one holds a key to an important room in this dungeon
     E. Chicken bones
     F. Shuriken, one is a +1 shuriken
     G. 1 week of iron rations
     H. A vial of holy water
     I. A collection of glass eyes
     J. Silver pince-nez

5. An iron strong box – holds …
     A. Copper coins – ancient and verdigrised
     B. Silver coins – all pierced and defaced
     C. Gold coins – the edges have been sharpened
     D. Silk handkerchiefs (5)
     E. A velvet glove (allows a single vampiric touch then decays into dust)
     F. Shards of delicious peanut brittle

6. Goop – smells terrible, stains skin and clothes muddy purple – treat as stinking cloud

7. Green slime – actually forms a layer under the entire floor, and will bubble up through the cracks at an inopportune time

8. Last will and testament of a high level adventurer

9. Map of a lower level (incomplete)

10. Intense light (save vs. blindness)

11. Nothing – but causes a steel cage to materialize around the adventurers

12. Nothing – but removing it causes the dungeon illusion the adventurers have been in to disappear, revealing they are in an alien laboratory (break out Star Frontiers!)

13. An oil slick (Texas tea!) – begins pouring up and soon covers most of this level of the dungeon (same effect as grease spell)

14. An intelligent +2 dagger with a note – the dagger will obey so long as its wielder commits to assassinating a local dignitary or royal within 1 week; turns into a -2 cursed dagger if this is not done

15. A long, narrow shaft to a pocket dungeon level or just a lower level of the dungeon

16. A grasping hand on a long arm (treat as a ghoul or wight)

17. A silver spike driven into the ground – it was driven into a vampire’s heart, which will regenerate if the silver spike is removed

18. A carved stone that tells the dungeon’s history (or fills in gaps in the characters’ knowledge)

19. Black tentacles (per the spell) erupt from the floor

20. A portal back to the dungeon entrance (works once, afterwards, it just sends people to random rooms on deeper levels)

Of Armsmen and Puissants [Bloody Basic]

I’ve put in some yeoman’s work on the Weird Fantasy Edition of Bloody Basic, and, in the process, had some inspiration for what I think I’m calling the Sinew & Steel Edition.

Sinew & Steel is designed to be a version of Bloody Basic with no magic or supernatural elements at all. In other words, it is role-playing in the real (well, mostly real) Middle Ages, with all the filth and plague you would expect from such a thing. Naturally, Sinew & Steel only has human characters, and they may (at least for now) take levels as armsmen (with the subclasses of barbarian, cavalier and cleric), thief (with the subclasses of assassin, charlatan, hedge wizard and minstrel) and scholar (specializing as a lawyer, theologian or leech). The game will feature some simple rules for strongholds, warfare, storming castles (rather than dungeons) and sieges. When you take out spells, monsters (outside of human and animal monsters) and magical treasure, you sure make a concise game, so I’m trying to fill the pages with other useful materials.

I need to get back to work on the next issue of NOD, and I need to set up my own little playtest of GRIT & VIGOR, but I think I might be able to complete Bloody Basic – Weird Fantasy Edition and Bloody Basic – Sinew & Steel Edition by sometime around mid-summer. And, of course, “midsummer” brings up the possibility of doing a Shakespeare edition of Bloody Basic. ‘Zounds, that would be fun!

Now, the armsman … or as the class is known in the Weird Fantasy Edition, the puissant.

The armsman uses the spell casting ability of the magic-user as a basis for using combat feats. I’ve brought this idea up before, and I’m certainly not the first person to think of it, but I thought I might post the class here for your enjoyment and use.

THE ARMSMAN
The armsman is a trained warrior, a master of fence, who is designed to dominate utterly the field of battle. While any sort of historical warrior can be portrayed using the armsman class, most wear heavy armor and carry the most potent weapons they can.

REQUIREMENTS & RESTRICTIONS – Armsmen must have a Strength score of 9 or higher. They can be of any religion, and they can use any weapon and wear any armor.

SPECIAL ABILITIES – Armsmen have the ability to perform feats of combat excellence while fighting. An armsman can perform a limited number of feats per day, based on their level and the level of difficulty of the feat. Armsmen know only a limited number of feats, beginning with three first level feats at first level. An armsman learns a new feat each time they advance in level. They might also learn additional feats from other armsmen.
At sixth level, an armsman gains a retainer. The retainer is a loyal companion under the control of the armsman’s player. The retainer is rolled randomly on the retainer table at the end of this section. The TK should roll ability scores for the retainer and assign them a name and religion. The armsman must pay for his retainer’s room and board. Arsmen receive 25% of the XP earned by the armsman.

FIRST LEVEL ARMSMAN FEATS

1. ARTFUL DODGE – You avoid one enemy attack this round, provided you are capable of moving.

2. CLEAVE – If you slay an opponent this round, you get an extra attack against another opponent within reach.

3. CRITICAL HIT – One successful attack you strike this round does an extra 1d6 points of damage.

4. FAR SHOT – You double the range of a missile weapon attack.

5. FIGHT BLIND – You can make one attack while blind without suffering any penalty on the attack.

6. GUARDS & WARDS – You accept a penalty to hit, and gain a bonus equal to that penalty to your own Armor Class.

7. IRON FIST – You may deal 1d4 points of damage with an unarmed strike this round.

8. POWER ATTACK – You accept a penalty to hit, and if your attack is successful gain a bonus equal to the penalty to damage.

9. QUICK – You add +1 to your initiative roll next round.

10. SHIELD BASH – You may attack with a shield at no penalty, scoring 1d4 points of damage if successful.

11. SWORD & DAGGER – You may attack with two weapons you are holding this round. One weapon can be of medium weight, the other must be light. The light weapon attacks at a penalty of -4 to your attack roll.

12. WEAPON FOCUS – Choose one weapon. For the remainder of this combat, you gain a +1 bonus to hit with that weapon.

SECOND LEVEL ARMSMAN FEATS

1. BULL RUSH – Any opponent you successfully attack this round is also knocked out of your way (up to 5 feet).

2. DEFLECT ARROWS – For one minute you can negate hits on you from missile weapons with a successful Reflex saving throw.

3. DISARM – Any opponent you successful attack this round is also disarmed of their weapon or any other item they are holding.

4. FEINT – Any opponent you successful attack this round is fooled into moving into an awkward position, and is denied an attack on their next turn (whether this round or the next).

5. GRAPPLE – Any opponent you successfully attack with an unarmed strike this round is also held and pinned by you. This pin is maintained until they make a successful attack roll against you.

6. STUNNING FIST – Any opponent you successfully attack with your unarmed strike is dazed for 1d4 rounds. While dazed, they may not move or attack, but can defend themselves.

7. SUNDER – Any opponent you attack this round also has their weapon, shield or some other item they are holding sundered in twain. Fragile items are broken instantly. Wooden items have a 2 in 6 chance of surviving. Metal items have a 4 in 6 chance.

8. TRIP – Any opponent you successfully attack this round is also knocked prone to the ground.

THIRD LEVEL ARMSMAN FEATS

1. GREAT CLEAVE – As long as you keep slaying opponents, you keep gaining extra attacks against new opponents within reach.

2. SHOT ON THE RUN – You may make a full run and still shoot or throw missiles without any penalty to your attacks.

3. SNATCH ARROWS – As deflect arrows, but you actually catch the missiles and may immediately, out of turn, throw them back at your attackers (if they are within range).

4. SPRING ATTACK – You may make a move, attack, and then make a second move.

5. WHIRLWIND ATTACK – You make one attack against every opponent within reach of your weapon. A penalty equal to the total number of attacks you are making is applied to each and every one of these attacks. Attacking five people, therefore, results in a -5 penalty to each of those five attacks.

BARBARIAN SUBCLASS
An armsman with a Constitution of 13 or higher can opt to be a barbarian. Barbarians are wild and woolly warriors from the wilderness. They eschew the civilized ways of normal armsmen. Barbarians do not gain the feats of an armsman and they cannot use armor heavier than maille. Barbarians can go berserk in one combat per day per level. While berserk, the barbarian deducts two from her Armor Class, but scores double damage with successful melee attacks. In addition, barbarians can climb sheer surfaces and move silently as thieves (see below).

THE CAVALIER SUBCLASS
An armsmen with a Dexterity score of 13 or higher can opt to be a cavalier. Cavaliers specialize in mounted combat. They suffer no penalty for fighting on horseback, and gain three special feats not available to other armsmen.

1. RIDE-BY ATTACK – While charging on a mount, the cavalier may attack at any point during the charge – in essence, making a move, attacking, and then moving again.

2. SPIRITED CHARGE – The cavalier deals double damage with his weapon attack while charging on a mount.

3. TRAMPLE – The cavalier can trample opponents with its mount by simply riding over them. The mount gets no attacks that round other than trampling, dealing double hoof damage to all in its path unless they pass a Reflex saving throw, in which case they cut the damage in half. The cavalier may still attack with his own weapon while trampling.

THE CLERIC SUBCLASS
An armsman with a wisdom of 13 or higher can opt to become a cleric. Clerics are religious knights or fighting priests. While clerics must have a religion, the extent of their faith is up to them. One can be a fighting bishop and give only cursory lip service to their faith. Clerics can bless, as theologians (see Scholar below).

Weird Fantasy

I’m a weird-o (if that’s the correct spelling). I’ve come to this conclusion as “geek culture” has become more prominent, and I came to realize that while my interests have some overlap with geek culture, I’m definitely not part of that culture. Of course, definitions vary, so we won’t linger on that. The point is – I like weird stuff, including weird fiction and weird fantasy. I’m more of a Clark Ashton Smith guy than a J.R.R. Tolkien guy.

This brings me to my next mini-project. Bloody Basic – Weird Fantasy Edition.

I know, I said I’d probably do a different edition next, but then I was perusing some Aubrey Beardsley art, and that led to Harry Clarke art and then Clark Ashton Smith and the next thing you know I was spit-balling ideas and writing up an outline.

Here’s my intro to the edition:

Weird fantasy is a cornerstone of fantasy role-playing games, influencing the earliest games and lending them their unique flavor. Born from the Romantic Movement and symbolism, weird fantasy was a reaction to the modern world in which the authors lived. Weird fantasy was lush and decadent and yearned for meaning and release. It consisted of simple stories set in ornate worlds, and reveled in obscure, flowery and archaic text. The weird fantasy author and his characters were like tourists drinking in exotic places that existed only in their dreams. It has in its genes both pseudo-historical romances, Orientalism and fairy tales. Not fairy tales fit for children, but fairy tales that were not stripped of their violence or their erotic overtones.

Weird fantasy is steeped in meaning and bereft of it. It is quiet and noisome and ridiculous and sublime … and makes an excellent place for players to explore and indulge their sense of wonder. Weird fantasy characters are decadent and seek escape from the tedium and constrictions of the industrial age. They are errant knights, burglars, wise women, mystery priests and magicians, entering a world of fantasy through their dreams. They are bent on one last grand adventure, one chance to crack open the bones of drudgery and suck out the marrow of life, one final opportunity to live deeply and truly and transform the mundane into the beautiful … are you?

Does this sound right to you? It’s one of those situations where I know what mean, but I don’t know if I’m conveying what I mean.

Races for the edition, at the moment, are humans, elves (with a little soulless fairy twist), grotesques (ugly little buggers) and satyrs. Classes are the hierophant (unarmored clerics that accept taboos to gain access to the spell lists of divine mystery cults), the magic-user, the vagabond (basically the thief with a different name, not unlike the knave of the Mother Goose Edition) and the puissant (a warrior that uses combat feats the way magic-user’s use spells). Sub-classes are the rake (puissant), and the demimonde, odalisque and traveler (vagabond sub-classes).

I’m still working on monsters – trying to get the basics in (after all, we’re still dealing with good, old-fashioned dungeoneering), with some CAS-inspired stuff added in. I don’t want to go the Lovecraft route because I think that it is a little overexposed at the moment, and it tends to dominate. Alignment is replaced by passions, which are dangerous to indulge (one loses wisdom or constitution, as over-indulgence leads characters to madness or physical degredation) but are worth bonus XP when they are indulged. I might switch out the bonus XP for special abilities, though – something more palpable and flavorful that just raw numbers.

I might mess with spell names, treasure and the weapons and armor to use more archaic, ornate language, a la Clark Ashton Smith. I say I might, because I’m not sure if that’s just adding complexity without adding enough flavor to make it worth while.

So, what else? And what public domain art would make for a good cover image? I’d love to hear some ideas from the peanut gallery – make sure this edition is all it could be. Let me know in the comments or on G+, if you would be so kind. Thanks!

Two New Products and a New Notion

Hey folks. Three items today …

ITEM ONE – BLOODY BASIC IN SOFT COVER

Bloody Basic – Classic Edition is now up for sale as a soft-cover book. A game with characters levels 1 to 6, with elves, dwarves, halflings, fighters, clerics, magic-users, thieves and all the rest of the classic fantasy elements, for $8.99. I’m working on getting the Contemporary Edition out pretty soon as a PDF, and then a hard copy, and then the other editions will follow – Fairy Tale, Chaos, Apocalypse, Jules Verne, etc.

ITEM TWO – BLOOD & TREASURE MONSTER TOME PDF

The PDF of the Monster Tome is now available for download for $6.99. It includes 172 pages of monsters, with 258 monster entries. I hope to have the softcover and hardcover books up for sale in two or three weeks. As I often do, I’ll be offering a free PDF to those who buy the hard cover edition of the Monster Tome, so if you’re planning on buying the hard cover later, you’ll probably not want to buy the PDF now.

Monster Tome II will have to wait for 2015.

ITEM THREE – STRANGE TWIST OF FATE

Just so this isn’t a completely commercial post, here’s a little notion for using a fate mechanic in your adventures.

When you delve back into heroic fiction, back to the days of the Greeks, Romans and Norsemen, it’s hard to avoid the concept of fate. The Fates and Norns measured out the days of a man or woman’s life and cut the string when it was time for them to die.

If you’re running a game set in these times, or any time if you like it, you might want to inject a little fate into the game. You could also inject Doctor Fate into your game, but that’s a matter for another post.

Obviously, you don’t want to use fate as a way of arbitrarily cutting a character’s life short. You can, however, use it as a way to determine whether character’s are beloved or cursed by “the gods”.

You could do this in one of two ways.

The first is to randomly determine a person’s fate for each adventure, every adventure. First, determine which deities are looking down on the player characters by rolling D10.

1. Lawful Good
2. Neutral Good
3. Chaotic Good
4. Lawful Neutral
5-6. Neutral
7. Chaotic Neutral
8. Chaotic Evil
9. Neutral Evil
10. Lawful Evil

If you use the three-tier alignment, roll D6.

1-2. Lawful
3-4. Neutral
5-6. Chaotic

Next, determine the character’s fate for that adventure by rolling 3d6. If the character is the same alignment as the deity, they enjoy a +2 bonus to their roll. If they are the opposite alignment, they suffer a -2 penalty to their roll.

1-2. You are loathed by the gods – subtract -2 from all d20 rolls during this adventure
3-6. You are cursed by the gods – subtract -1 from all d20 rolls during this adventure
7-12. The gods are disinterested – your fate is in your hands
13-16. The gods favor you – add +1 to all d20 rolls during this adventure
17-18. You are beloved by the gods – add +1 to all d20 rolls during this adventure, and re-roll one failed saving throw.

An interested god will be watching over the adventure. Whenever an accursed or loathed character performs an action in accordance with the deity’s alignment (or any element of their alignment), they are permitted to re-roll their fate. Whenever a favored character does something in opposition to the deity’s alignment (or any element of their alignment), they likewise must re-roll their fate.

If you are using this system, you might want to add a couple spells to your game.

Tell Fortune – 1st level spell for clerics, druids and magic-users; it literally tells the character’s fortune (i.e. loathed, cursed, favored, beloved).

Read Signs – 1st level spell for clerics, druids and magic-users; tells you the alignment of the deity watching over the characters during this adventure.

The other way you can use a system like this is to put the characters’ fates into their own hands. Instead of always rolling to determine a character’s fate for an adventure, the player’s instead offer themselves up for judgment. The system works the same way, it just puts the decision in the hands of the players.

1800 – American Empires Revisited & Monster Previews

A couple years ago I had a little brainstorm that resulted in an article for NOD involving fantasy Napoleonic-era wars in a North America divided into a number of competing nations, not unlike the Europe of the real Napoleonic era. I planned to turn it into a game called 1800 – American Empires, and then … well, I got a bit off-track.

First and foremost, I got started on something called Blood & Treasure, and that sure took up a chunk of my time. Secondly, the huge hex map of North America I painstakingly created was lost due to a computer crash (don’t worry, my daughter now has a much better understanding of what we do and do not click on on the internet). That really took the hydrogen out of my blimp.

Well, even though it was put on the back burner, American Empires never completely left my brain. I still love the idea of the thing, and I think it’s just about ripe for development. Now that I’ve put together the framework of Bloody Basic, I think it would serve as a great little engine for the game. (By the by – still need to produce the soft-cover book for Bloody Basic … dang, the time sure flies).

Grit & Vigor still has to take precedence once I’ve finished with the B&T Monster Tome (should be on sale next week, if all goes well). But once G&V is finished, and while I work on the next issue of NOD, I’m going to put some work into American Empires. Four classes (scout, soldier, venturer and magician), just one race, humans (though some other humanoids will show up as monsters, with some options for using them to play), a nice gazatteer of fantasy Napoleonic America (including a Napoleon-ruled Louisiana, Jefferson’s Virginia Commonwealth, the stern Yankees of New England, Aaron Burr’s Texican Republic and those red coats up on Canada), and lots of rules aimed at wilderness exploration (really wilderness as dungeon), armies and stronghold, colony and nation building. Should be a blast, and I look forward to doing it.

Now, since this post has been nothing but a commercial, I feel compelled to give a couple sample monsters from the Monster Tome, art included.

It’s Bloody Basic!

Blood & Treasure Basic is going to officially be called Bloody Basic. I like the sound of it, and that’s all the market research I need (or can afford).

The draft is completed and the layout is finished. I’m now editing the text, and should be done by the end of the day (which is good, because I need to finish up layout on NOD 23 and then get my butt in gear on the Monster Tome – some of the art for that thing is so awesome I’m chomping at the bit to get it out there). The first publication will be the Classic Edition in blue. At the moment I plan to follow it up with the Contemporary Edition in red, the Fairy Tale edition in green and then maybe a the Victoriana Edition in brown.

All of these editions will be the same basic game, but the illustrations will be different and there will be slight alterations made to fit the rules to the theme. The Fairy Tale edition, for example, will be based on my “Mother Goose is My Dungeon Master” articles. The Contemporary edition might have automatons and tieflings as playable races, and sub-classes like shadow dancer and soulknife.

That’s the plan. This is probably the quickest I’ve ever gone from idea to publishing, so hopefully it won’t bite me in the ass (fingers crossed).

These covers are mock-ups – I plan to vary the cover images for the different editions – but they should give you the idea. Obviously, if these prove popular, I might other editions, assuming I can come up with a theme that can sustain an edition – the one that comes immediately to mind is a sort of “mirror-mirror” Chaos edition, where you play the monsters and the dungeons are actually human and demi-human fortresses.

Okay … actually, that sounds pretty good.