Twelve Kingly Archetypes

If a campaign goes on long enough, with PC’s gaining more and more power, wealth and ability, there’s a good chance they’ll eventually deal with a king (or queen). But what kind of king? Oh, it could just be a very basic monarch type who hands out a quest in exchange for money or some other royal favor. If the focus is the dungeon, the king doesn’t need to be particularly interesting.

On the other hand, you could leverage the amazing potential kings offer for role playing and campaign play. A monarch can become a very important NPC in a game, hindering and helping the PC’s in a wide variety of ways. A helpful king might have a much less helpful rival in the wings, making him a resource to be protected and making his protectors targets for that rival and his faction. On the other hand, a cruel king might have a more worthy successor somewhere around whom the referee can build a campaign of regime change and revolution. So many possibilities, but only if you put a little time and effort into creating a king worthy of a campaign.

So – today we look at twelve archetypes that you can use in your campaign. Later, I’ll try to do the same for queens later, though clearly these archetypes are as applicable to females and males.

God be praised!


The heroic king is a fixture of mythology and folklore. King Arthur is a good example, a storied monarch that founds a nation, protects it, and, after death, is expected to return to usher in a new golden age. In a campaign, you might use the Hero-King when he is a young man, still founding his kingdom, or when he is an old man, largely inactive as an adventurer but commanding a renowned band of knights. Of course, a young adventuring king does present one problem – why is he sending the adventurers on a quest when he might do it himself. Well, even hero-kings have paperwork.

A hero-king is almost certainly going to have levels (at least 9) in a PC class, with fighter, paladin and barbarian being likely candidates.

Warrior kings at play


Warrior kings aren’t uncommon in history. After all, it takes a fair bit of war to establish and maintain a kingdom in a medieval or ancient milieu. Famous warrior-kings include Richard I of England (the Lionheart), his rival Saladin (or Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb to be more precise), Agamemnon, Henry V of England, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, Napoleon of France, Genghis Khan and William the Conquerer. All of these men were known for personally leading their followers into battle, and that’s the key to a warrior-king – they actually fight. They may be great strategists and tacticians, or they may just be brave men who like to wade into melee. In either case, they will tend to be resolute and decisive when dealing with adventurers, and they will always be very goal-oriented. Their own past success in battle will tend to make them less accepting of failure on the part of others.

Warrior-kings might be simple aristocrats in armor, but they are more likely to have levels (at least 5 to 6) in fighter or another warrior class.

Bring on the girls!


No man better represents this archetype than Henry VIII of England. The young Henry, for sure, but especially the older, fatter Henry. Lusty kings are all about indulging their passions. They are headstrong, stubborn and do not deal well with being told “no”. Lusty kings are selfish and egotistical, and quests for them may very well be about settling scores and seizing prizes on their behalf. Fail a lusty king and … well, just ask Henry’s wives how that works out (if you have access to a speak with dead spell).

Lusty kings may very well be simple aristocrats with massive egos. If you were to give then class levels, consider barbarian – an enraged lusty king throwing a temper tantrum would be all the more dangerous and entertaining if they have a few levels of barbarian to draw on.

Squeeze every last drop out of those insolent … musical … peasants.


Prince, and later King, John, the brother of the Lionheart, has come down to us through the pen of Shakespeare, as a weakling intent on tyranny. Ustinov made him a sniveling moron in Disney’s version of the Robin Hood tale. The real story is a bit different, though to be fair, he did attempt a coup d’etat while Richard was on the 3rd crusade. Still, he proved an able administrator, if not a brilliant leader during war. John represents the politician king – not powerful or popular enough to have his way, he must bargain and triangulate. He is a master of political, if not military, strategy.

Politician kings can rarely be trusted. They are out for number one, and they are willing to get where they want to be though almost any means (or any means, if they are evil) necessary. They are also patient, and understand that to get what they want, they must make a bargain. Adventurers will be fairly paid for their service, but when they become a liability, they’re dropped like a hot potato.

Politician kings are probably just aristocrats with no, or few, class levels. They probably have higher than normal intelligence, wisdom and charisma scores, for without them they would be poor politicians indeed.

Yeah, he’s every bit as big a d-bag as he looks


When Europe’s monarchs found themselves in control of nation states, the old relationship between the royal court and the royal subjects changed. With large, standing armies at their disposal, the old parliaments of Europe fell by the wayside, leaving the power of the king virtually unchecked.

Tyrant-kings, like King Louis XIV, believe they are and must be supreme over all their subjects. There is no possibility of power-sharing, in political terms, and more importantly, there can be no intimation that they are not perfect human specimens. They are, after all, placed on their throne by the will of God, and God would not put an inferior man upon the throne.

Tyrant-kings are no picnic, and adventurers, who represent not only an independent streak but also a potentially competing power center, must almost certainly run afoul of them. Even tyrant-kings who are not egomaniacs must behave that way in their dealings with others to preserve the edifice of the absolute monarchy and stave off rebellion. Tyrant-kings will go to any length to maintain their hold on power, so assume they are at least mildly evil in alignment. Their lack of respect for man-made laws would tend to rule out the lawful alignment – neutral, chaotic neutral, neutral evil and chaotic evil are probably the most likely alignments for tyrant-kings.

Caligula – not the most “safe-for-work” Google search you can do


While Ludwig of Bavaria (Mad King Ludqig) might be the most famous of the mad kings (which is unfortunate, because later evidence suggests he was not insane and that this was merely an accusation made by his ministers to reign in his spending), there have been many over the centuries. Caligula, Charles VI of France (Charles the Mad), Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (the Mad Caliph), and Tsar Ivan IV of Russia (Ivan the Terrible) – all lacking in the whole sanity thing.

Mad kings are unpredictable, which means they can be the adventurers’ best friends one moment, and their worst enemies the next. This makes them tricky patrons, but terribly useful to game masters, as they can generate all sorts of fodder for the campaign. Maybe the best way to model a mad monarch is to randomly determine their alignment whenever the adventurers meet them, or maybe begin with a good alignment of some sort, and then begin making some sort of insanity check for the monarch each month. Maybe their alignment changes a bit, maybe it stays the same. If it does change, only change it one step. As time progresses, make those checks once a week, and allow more severe alignment changes. Eventually, the king will be checking each day, with alignments being almost random – though never Lawful.

The Wisdom of Solomon


Solomon is a by-word for Wisdom – just ask Billy Batson. He is the perfect model not only for a wise king, but for the magical king, for Solomon was by all accounts a magician. He could control devils and genies and the like, and raise palaces in a day and even convince that super-fine Queen of Sheba to drop by for a visit.

A magical king is probably a magic-user rather than a cleric. Solomon was interesting in the stories because his great magical power eventually turned him against his patron, God, and led to his downfall. Fantasy game campaigns are better served by a story arc of this sort than by just sticking a 20th level magic-user on a throne and having him send the adventurers on quests he could probably better perform himself.

The Queen’s okay, but the king … not so much


Not every king is strong and resolute. Many weak kings – either weak physically, mentally (but not to the point of madness – see above) or morally – have sat on thrones, at least for a while. Boy kings, kings henpecked by their more willful queens, and kings controlled by their advisers are included in this category, as are kings who would be better off if they were being controlled. The depiction of Phillip III of Spain in The Adventures of Don Juan is a great model for this sort of king.

When there is no leadership on the throne, a kingdom soon falls into chaos. What a wonderful place for adventurers to play. The value of a weak king on a throne is probably that his kingdom is embroiled in revolution, rivalry and brigandry – the perfect spot for a brave band of plunderers to work. Those adventurers might also be cast into the role of protecting the kingdom as it disintegrates, hoping to keep it in one piece until a new king can take the throne.

Marcus doing his impression of a Jack Kirby character – Image found HERE


Marcus Aurelius has come down in history as a philosopher king, the real-life embodiment of Plato’s philosopher kings that ruled over his perfect society. Setting aside how well academics do when put into positions of power, the ideal philosopher is wise, logical and calm – an able administrator and a preserver of justice.


Well, not necessarily. A philosopher-king might rule over a civilized, peaceful land, but in a fantasy world, that peaceful land may have chaos lapping at its shores. Where there is chaos, there is something for adventurers to do – and in the case of a kingdom ruled by a philosopher-king, a safe place to return to when they are done.

As a patron, a philosopher-king is going to be trustworthy and even-handed. Adventurers will have to watch what mischief they get into, as he might not be inclined to tolerate trouble in his kingdom, even by useful allies. Philosopher-kings are probably lawful good or lawful neutral, since they rule within the law rather than above it, and since they generally show an interest in the well-being of their subjects.

Not the nicest fellow in town


While the tyrant-king is willing to do evil to maintain his power, and the mad king might well do evil because he has little control over himself, the villain-king is just out and out evil. Villain-kings are needlessly cruel – they hurt people because they enjoy it. They are treacherous and murderous and in all ways not fit company for paladins. Attila the Hun got the reputation for being a villain-king, and Claudius, slayer of Hamlet’s dad, could also fit the bill.

If a villain-king is the patron of a band of adventurers, they can at least take solace in the knowledge that there is nothing they can do that will offend him morally or ethically. On the other hand, the man is not to be trusted, especially if the adventurers seem to challenge his authority in any way shape or form. Because villain-kings are so cruel and despicable, their lives are constantly being threatened. In a fantasy game, it’s likely they’ll need class levels (and extra hit points) just to keep them alive.

Not only saintly, but apparently huge – looks like he’s winking in this shot – “Say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink”


In the real world, a sainted king often received his sainthood for primarily political purposes. Everyone knows that two of Saint Louis’ miracles were card tricks, after all (yeah, I ripped off Father Guido Sarducci). Sainted kings include St Louis of France, St Edward the Confessor, St Alfred the Great, St Stephen I of Hungary and St Charlemagne of France.

In a fantasy world, of course, a sainted king can really be a saint, or at least a trusted ally of the higher (or lower) powers. The saint-king might be a cleric or druid, but they might also simply possess great spiritual powers, a la a demigod in Deities and Demigods or a saint in “Setting Saintly Standards” (Dragon Magazine, Nov 1983).

Assuming the saint-king is lawful good in alignment, he can be a powerful ally and a powerful enemy of a band of adventurers. He’s good, so when they’re serving him they have access to his powers. But when adventurers start acting like, well, adventurers, they may find themselves in a sticky situation.

I bid you … welcome


Vlad Tepes. Enough said. Okay – he was only a count, and in reality he was just a homicidal maniac (at least, from what I gather), but in a fantasy milieu we know that he became a vampire.

A monster-king is literally that – some creature taken from the pages of a monster book and sat upon a throne. In NOD, I have a gynosphinx ruling the pseudo-Egyptian city-state of Ibis, and in the Ende hexcrawls I’m finishing up, four rival city-states are ruled by nagas.

The monster king probably exhibits some aspects of the other archetypes provided here, and those should be referenced based on the monster’s alignment and inclinations. They make obvious foes for a band of adventurers, of course – turning the royal palace into an above-ground dungeon for a group powerful enough to challenge the legal ruler of a kingdom.

Hopefully these archetypes will aid you in creating some memorable monarchs to help and hinder the adventurers in your game.

Warriors for Hire

Sometimes, you need to hire some muscle to dig into that dungeon. Sometimes, you need a quick, easy blog post that can be written off of a simple illustration. This is that time!

The following warriors correspond to the images above, in order from left to right.

STR 14 INT 10 WIS 5 DEX 11 CON 13 CHA 11
HP 17 AC 15 ATK +1 FORT 11 REF 14 WILL 16
Dominate 0 HD foes
Bull Rush
Chainmail, Quarterstaff (1d6+1), Short Bow (1d6)

Barl cut his teeth on the field of battle, and fancies himself quite the tactician. Of course, his tactics usually involve rushing the enemy and hacking them to pieces …

STR 13 INT 6 WIS 16 DEX 13 CON 10 CHA 5
HP 7 AC 15 ATK +2 FORT 12 REF 11 WILL 13
Sworn enemy (orcs)
Chainmail, Short Sword (1d6+1), Longbow (1d8)

Avomir prefers the woodlands and the small villages on its borders to town and city. A lusty rascal, his exploits with the fairer sex are known far and wide.

STR 13 INT 8 WIS 11 DEX 11 CON 11 CHA 10
HP 12 AC 00 ATK +4 FORT 11 REF 14 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes
Iron Will, Knack (Hide in Shadows)
Chainmail, Halberd (1d10), Short Sword (1d6)

Astley comes from a far-away kingdom that was laid low by the fires of a red dragon. Speaking little, he prefers to keep to the shadows when not fighting. Astley is a suspicious man, believing there was a traitor involved in the death of his homeland and family.

STR 14 INT 5 WIS 15 DEX 13 CON 13 CHA 15
HP 20 AC 19 ATK +4 FORT 9 REF 11 WILL 9
Detect evil, smite chaos (evil) 3/day, lay on hands, immune to fear, turn undead, quest for warhorse
Dodge, Iron Will
Banded Mail, Shield, Spear +1 (1d6+1), Silver Dagger (1d4)

Ormsby is everything a paladin should be, save for his rather conservative approach to fighting evil. Ormsby is a plodding planner, who often takes his comrades to the brink of madness with his hesitancy to move.

STR 15 INT 9 WIS 10 DEX 10 CON 16 CHA 11
HP 20 AC 14 ATK +3 FORT 10 REF 14 WILL 14
Land speed +10, rage 1/day, sixth sense
Cleave, Two Weapon Fighting
Scale Armor, Short Sword (1d6), Hand Axe (1d6)

Despite his prickly exterior, Carlovan is a rather decent man, though with admittedly little patience for the ways of “civilized folk”. If it were not for taverns, he would have no use at all for entering towns and cities.

STR 14 INT 8 WIS 9 DEX 12 CON 13 CHA 12
HP 31 AC 19 ATK +6 FORT 9 REF 13 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes, two attacks per round
Alertness, Weapon Focus (Longsword)
Platemail, Shield, Longsword +1/+3 vs. Dragons (1d8+1)

Zybolt doesn’t speak much of his history, but he has the acid scars on his back to prove that he once did battle with a green dragon. He offers no proof that he slayed the beast. He is a cunning warrior with a boundless, though wry, wit and a particular love of hard cider.

STR 17 INT 6 WIS 7 DEX 14 CON 10 CHA 10
HP 6 AC 13 ATK +1 FORT 13 REF 14 WILL 16
Leather Armor, Pole Axe (1d8+1), Dagger (1d4)

Geoff is a big country boy, earning his armor by fighting orcs on the frontier. A bit naïve, he is nonetheless a brave and patient warrior with a desire to become better.

STR 14 INT 10 WIS 12 DEX 13 CON 12 CHA 6
HP 21 AC 16 ATK +5 FORT 10 REF 12 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes, two attacks per round
Cleave, Sunder
Chainmail, Short Sword (1d6), Heavy Crossbow (1d6+1)

Even dwarves find Hafnar unpleasant company. He is unrelentingly bleak in his outlook on life, though fortunately he speaks only rarely, preferring instead to spend his downtime smoking his pipe and staring into the fire. Despite his pessimism, he looks forward to one day building a stronghold and governing a barony.

Six Wicked Witches!

Starting a new series today for the Spooky Season. Below you will find six wicked witches (no, I’m not saying all practitioners of witchcraft are wicked … just that these particular ladies are) you might use in your game. Stats for Blood & Treasure are included.



Beleve is a homey little midwife who operates in a burgeoning village. Short and plump, with curly auburn hair and twinkling green eyes, she is a flurry of activity – everywhere doing everything for everyone is Beleve.

Unfortunately, Beleve is also deeply wicked. She harbors a terrible and irrational hatred of men and the women who attract them. Several of the children she has delivered have been replaced with changelings (demons, doppelgangers, whatever is appropriate for your campaign), and her wholesome stews often contain cunning poisons when they are delivered to villagers who she feels have crossed her (they are often unaware of the cross) or in some way hurt her feelings.

Beleve: Human Magic-User: LVL 1 (Adept); HP 3; AC 10; ATK by weapon -1 (1d4-1); MV 30; F14 R15 W12; XP 100; AL Chaotic (CE); Special – Spells (3/2); Str 7 Int 16 Wis 14 Dex 9 Con 8 Cha 12.


Mabel is a morose woman of dark demeanor – she dresses in black, as though in constant mourning, her eyes are downcast, her face slack. She dwells in a small town, where she works with the local thieves’ guild, providing what magical assistance she can in exchange for protection and a small piece of the action. She does more than this, though. Mabel is in mourning – for the loss of her fiance many years ago at the hands of the local constabulary. The death came after he got into yet another of his drunken brawls and took a cudgel to the skull. A small guilt offering was made to the grieving bride-to-be, but it only stoked the flame of revenge in her heart. She will have the baron’s heart in payment for her beloved’s demise, and she is slowly worming her way into the luminaries of the guild as a way of getting it. Despite her grieving face, Mabel remains a beautiful woman, and her tale of woe pulls on the heartstrings. Two thieves have already fallen for her dolorous charms and have sacrificed themselves on foolish forays into the baron’s keep. How many more will follow?

Mabel: Human Magic-User: LVL 3 (Invoker); HP 7; AC 11; ATK by weapon +0 (1d4); MV 30; F14 R13 W12; XP 300; AL Chaotic (NE); Special – Spells (4/3/2); Str 8 Int 17 Wis 11 Dex 13 Con 11 Cha 16.


Gwynever is a bubbly woman with cascades of red, curly hair framing her pretty face and ample bosom and blue eyes so deep they almost count as a gaze attack. Most people thought her a pretty little scatterbrain – warm and wonderful and destined to make some lucky man a very expensive wife – and most folk believe that is precisely what happened. At the ripe old age of 16 she did marry, to a timber merchant in a large town. Ten years later, the blush of her youth still radiates from her rosy cheeks and her husband is now a silk and spice merchant, owner of two merchant cogs and proprietor of the estate vacated by old Lord Pasmere (who took ill and died so suddenly, and sadly after his three heirs died in a freak barn fire). Now, Squire Benthick looks forward to the lord mayorship and maybe an elevation into the peerage – no thanks to his silly, expensive, oh so lovely wife.

Gwynever: Human Sorcerer: LVL 5 (Whiz); HP 7; AC 10; ATK by weapon -2 (1d4-2); MV 30; F14 R14 W10; XP 500; AL Chaotic (NE); Special – Spells per day (6/7/5), spells known (6/4/2); Str 5 Int 9 Wis 14 Dex 8 Con 7 Cha 17.


Cadmina is a woman with a severely beautiful face and calm, almost passive demeanor that, when presented with wickedness and vice falls like a stone to reveal a frightening passion for denouncement and finger pointing. Well known in her town for her simple and goodly ways, she dresses simply despite being the wife of a wealthy man, and speaks simply despite coming from a family once known for its stagecraft and rhetoric. Most people know she possesses a talent for magic, and they know too that she has become a veritable bulwark against evil, her denouncements of people powerful and powerless whipping the population of the city-state into a frenzy of witch burning, despite the admonitions of the Lawful church. What people do not know is that Cadmina is the spawn of a succubus, who seduced her father and brought ruin on her family – a ruin that struck behind the scenes and is generally unknown by people at large. She delights in sewing the seeds of suspicion in her city-state, and has no greater aim than the spread of hatred between neighbors.

Cadmina: Fiendish Human Magic-User: LVL 7 (Marvel); HP 20; AC 10; ATK by weapon +0 (1d4-2); MV 30; F13 R13 W10; XP 1,750; AL Chaotic (LE); Special – Spells (4/5/3/2/1), +1 or better weapon to hit, resistance to fire, magic resistance 10%, +2 to hit and damage vs. Lawful (Good) creatures; Str 5 Int 13 Wis 10 Dex 10 Con 9 Cha 12.


Avira is a strange woman who dwells in the rugged hills around Kalok’s Bowl – a wooded valley watered by natural springs that is surrounded by granite hills. The hills are haunted by trolls, who avoid their “sister” Avira, the daughter of a green hag by a trader from the valley who disappeared 20 years ago. The people of the valley are farmers who do their best to avoid the notice of neighboring kingdoms. When they’ve no other choice, they send delegations into the hills with gifts for Avira and any troll they might run into. Avira looks like a gaunt, but attractive woman. She brews potions for sale and looks forward to adding to the collection of maidens she keeps chained in her gloomy cellar.

Avira: Fiendish* Human Magic-User: LVL 9 (Wizard); HP 17; AC 10; ATK by weapon +3 (1d4); MV 30; F12 R12 W9; XP 2,250; AL Chaotic (CE); Special – Spells (4/5/4/3/2/1), +1 or better weapon to hit, resistance to fire, magic resistance 10%, +2 to hit and damage vs. Lawful (Good) creatures; Str 12 Int 13 Wis 10 Dex 11 Con 12 Cha 8.


Saphon is a glorious, radiant queen who took the throne of a small mountain kingdom after her husband, the lake Duke Elleran, was slain by rebellious hill people while on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Walwick. The Duchess quickly took control of the situation and rallied Elleran’s knights to her cause, though the beloved court magician Aswill was sadly slain in the peasant uprising that followed the duke’s death (an uprising few peasant remember having happened). Since then, many of the duke’s heirs have died in the campaign by malefactors that the duchess’ constable has been trying to stamp out. One now remains, the duke’s daughter Alwisse, from his first marriage. A small body of knights worries over her safety, and might look to foreign adventurers to steal her away from Saphon’s reach.

Saphon: Human Magic-User: LVL 11 (Wizard); HP 21; AC 10; ATK by weapon +3 (1d4-1); MV 30; F11 R11 W7; XP 1,100; AL Chaotic (LE); Special – Spells (4/5/4/4/3/2/1); Str 8 Int 14 Wis 13 Dex 9 Con 10 Cha 13.

Next up … Six Groovy Ghouls

Dragon by Dragon – November 1978 (20)

And so we come to November of 1978, which is notable … for nothing that I’m aware of, other than this magazine. This appears to be their Halloween issue (why November? Kask explains it’s because November is the dreariest month of the year – what with all the football and Thanksgiving? – and thus a good month for horror stories).

Whatever the reason, let’s see what Dragon #20 has to offer.

Designer’s Forum – The Making of a Winner: Imperium – Outstanding Game of 1977 by Marc Miller

Yeah, that Marc Miller. In this article, Miller describes the origins of Imperium. Apparently it began as two games, Imperium being a giant sci-fi game of economics and conquest, and StarFleet, which was on a smaller scale. Ultimately, StarFleet was put on the back burner while Traveler was made. When Lou Zocchi mentioned that the name could get them in trouble with the Star Trek folks, and when they decided Imperium was too big to publish, they decided to take what they had learned making Traveler and apply to StarFleet, which would now be renamed Imperium.

Anywho – the article goes on to describe the design process behind Imperium, and to also provide some rules clarifications and addenda.

I enjoyed this bit …

Whatever happened to that guy?

Distributing Eyes & Amulets in EPT by Mike Crane

One of those great articles that makes perfect sense to people who play the game. The article is just a series of random tables that makes sure “rare” eyes and amulets show up less often than “common” eyes and amulets.

The Mythos of Polynesia in Dungeons & Dragons by Jerome Arkenberg

This article covers everyone from Tangoroa, God of the Ocean, to Pele the Destroyer, to Miru, God of the Underworld. The heroes seem more interesting …

The Polynesian Heroes were born in non-human form, and were brought up by their maternal grandparents, from whom they derived their magic. When in human form, they could transform, stretch, or shrink themselves, fly, take giant strides, and perform great feats of strength.

Maui is, of course, the badass of the crew (and he happens to look like a buffoon with eight heads) – here are some stats for Blood & Treasure.

Maui, Challenger of the Gods: Magic-User 18 and Fighter 15; HP 140; AC 12; ATK 4 slams +7 (1d3+5); MV 30 (Fly 40); F 6 R 9 W 4; XP 4500; Special: Dominate foes with 0 HD or less, 4 attacks per round, spells per day (4/4/4/4/4/4/4/3/3/2); Str 20, Int 18, Wis 18, Con 18, Dex 17, Cha 3.


In this episode, Frank and Dudley abscond with one of the demon eggs to spring them on the ogres. It’s amazing how engaging this strip was right from the beginning.

D&D Variant: Another Look at Witches and Witchcraft in D&D by Ronald Pehr

Love the editor’s note:

Editor’s Note: This seems to be a well thought out class-variant. At the very least, it makes an excellent NPC or hireling/acquaintance. For those DM’s bold enough to try it, it provides a very viable character for ladies; be they sisters, girlfriends, lady gamer or others. D&D was one of the first games to appeal to females, and I for one, find it a better game because of that fact.

It manages to be both inclusive and a bit sexist at the same time.

So, what do the ladies get with this witch? It’s actually a nice class, and, I believe, the origin of the later witch class that showed up in Dragon in the 80’s. Witches here are not Satanists, but more nature lovers who use magic to charm and control – I guess what you would call an enchanter in more modern versions of the game – and who can brew potions, narcotics, hallucinogens, etc. Witches get eight levels of spells, many of them new, and they appear to straddle the normal magic-user/cleric divide.

D&D Variant: Demonology Made Easy by Gregory Rihn

This article is all about conjuring demons (and devils). The key here is learning a demon’s name, and the process is simple and clever: You research a demon or devil’s true name the same way you research a spell:

Demon prince, arch-devil = 9th level spell
Type VI, pit fiend = 8th level spell
Type V, ice devil, succubus = 7th level spell
Type IV, horned devil, night hag = 6th level spell
Type III, bone devil = 5th level spell
Type II, barbed devil = 4th level spell
Type I, erinyes, misc. = 3rd level spell

Definitely one of those, “Why the heck didn’t I think of that” moments.

Once you get down to the conjuration, you roll some percentile dice to see if what you call is what you get. Calling a demon prince, for example, has the following chances:

01-50 = Type V demon
51-75 = Type VI demon
76-00 = Demon Prince

High level conjurations require assistants and sacrifices, and there are additional chances for failure for characters below 20th level. Very good article.

GenCon XI Photo Album

Greg Costikyan of SPI … I believe I recognize the woman as Gygax’s daughter
That Gygax fellow
J Eric Holmes and his son Chris
Jeff Perren
Lou Zocchi and Woody … proving that GenCon’s best days are clearly behind it
Marc Miller
Mike Carr
Tim Kask
Tom Shaw of Avalon Hill

Review: See Africa and Die! or, Mr. Stanley, Meet Dr. Livingstone by Gary Gygax

Gygax reviews Source of the Nile here. Apparently, this is a super long play game. It is pretty extensive review, and it looks like a pretty cool game. Best line of the review:

Be certain to read and KNOW the rules before you attempt to play. The rules are not well organized, nor are they very complete. In fact, in many ways they remind me of those originally written for D&D®.

Gygax also gives some additional ideas for the game.

The Asimov Cluster by William B. Fawcett

This article discusses the problems inherent in recreating scenes from sci-fi novels in games of Traveler. It also provides stats for the planets of the Asimov Cluster from the Foundation Trilogy.

Advert for the drow modules. The drow are going to change quite a bit over the next 30 years.

Preview: The Lord of the Rings by Allen Hammack

This preview is for the Bakshi animated version (which I’ll admit I like, sue me). It mostly gathers together some stills from the movie and a few production notes from Bakshi.

It’s a Good Day to Die by Lyle Fitzgerald

This article compiles death statistics of a D&D campaign in Saskatoon. In two to three years, this campaign racked up 600 deaths of PCs and their advance-able hirelings. Wow! I know the old game was deadly (I’ve played it), but this does seem excessive. The top killers are Miscellaneous Causes (14.6 percent) and goblin races (10.1 percent). Dragons were responsible for 7.5 percent of the kills and giants 5.7 percent – respectable numbers for the big guys. War only caused 6 deaths – I guess one of the four horsemen needs to be replaced by a goblin.

War of the Ring Variant by Allen Hammack

Simple rule change – hide the movement of the fellowship so the bad guys don’t have to pretend they don’t know where they are. Honestly – can’t believe the designers didn’t think of this.

Fineous Fingers

A dragon throws a stupid paladin off a cliff. Nice tactic – fake a subdual.

Demonic Possession in the Dungeon by Chas. Sagui

This article takes the rules to task on the inability of demons to possess victims. In Chas’ rules, only demons of Type IV or higher can possess mortals. Interesting line:

The rule of the thumb is that only those demons that are immune to all but magical weapons and therefore exist upon two planes at once may possess.

One of those, “wait – is that really why, or did he just make that up?” lines.

The basic idea is that the DM let’s the players all know they might be possessed. Everyone rolls a saving throw, but only one character is really the victim. The victim is chosen “randomly” – i.e. first person into a room, last person, etc. A save vs. magic is allowed to avoid the possession.

The possessed dude has his normal AC, but attacks as the possessing demon. They cannot use lawful-aligned magic weapons. The demon can use its normal powers, provided its new body doesn’t preclude it. All damage is taken by the body, not the demon.

There’s more, but you’ll need to read the article.

Not a bad issue, really. The witch and the demon conjuration articles are my favorites. I’d recommend hunting it down.

Power Packs: Alternative Power System

I like to take walks – usually 2 or 3 miles. Clears the head, good exercise, etc. Also gives my mind time to wander without external influence from radio/tv/internet.

So, the other day I was walking about and an idea for a new system of buying super powers for Mystery Men! flew in and took roost. It took a couple more walks to get it to a point where it would work using an idea I’m calling Power Packs. I’m going to publish the entire thing in the next issue of NOD, but here’s a sample …


Yeah, I’m a little ashamed. But dang!

Power packs are an alternate way to handle character creation in Mystery Men! Please note that if players and masterminds wish to use this method, the method will need to be adopted by all in the game, as power packs, while blending into the rules as written, can produce more powerful characters than are produced using the normal character creation rules.

With this system, characters purchase power levels in a variety of “power packs”. A power pack is a grouping of powers under a single heading. A character with electricity powers, for example, would now purchase power levels in the Electricity power pack, rather than buying individual powers. Within each power pack, individual powers are given a rank. If a character’s power level in a power pack is equal to or greater than a power’s rank, they can access that power automatically. If the power’s rank is higher than their power level, they can attempt a dice roll to activate that power. This gives heroes and villains a greater variety of powers, often at a lower cost than when using the rules as written.

As with the official MM! rules, the cost of powers can still be halved by introducing limitations on power packs. Powers can also still be invested in items, the equivalent XP cost of the powers depending on the power’s power rank:

1.  1,000 XP
2.  2,000 XP
3.  3,000 XP
4.  4,000 XP
5.  6,000 XP
6.  10,000 XP
7.  15,000 XP
8.  25,000 XP
9.  35,000 XP
10.  50,000 XP

Using this system, characters have ability scores ranked from 1 to 6. Various power packs add their power levels to ability feats and other rolls without actually increasing the ability score. Ability score bonuses with this system are equal to the ability score, thus a score of 6 adds a bonus of +6 to rolls associated with that ability score.

When creating a character, all ability scores start at 3. One ability score can be increased by lowering another ability score by the same amount.

Using this system, all characters can use the same adventurer class. Sorcerers purchase power levels in the Sorcery Power Pack, among others, and Scientists purchase power levels in the Super Intelligence Power Pack.

Powers with a rank (the number in parentheses) equal to or lower than your power level can be activated by you automatically, with no roll of the dice. Powers of a rank higher than your power level can only be activated by a roll of the dice. Subtract your power level from the rank of the power (the number in parentheses after the name of the power). You must roll higher than this number on 1d6 in order to activate the power.


Here are a couple sample power packs …

FORCE FIELDS (6,000 XP/Level)

FORCE MISSILE (1): You fire a single missile of pure force that deals 1d6 points of damage per power level and requires a ranged attack to hit.

SHIELD (1): An invisible disc of force gives you a +4 to DC and completely blocks force and energy missiles. Shield lasts one round per power level.

LEVITATE (3): You levitate up to 100 lb. per power level at rate of ascent or descent of 100 ft. per round.

FORCE SPHERE (5): You create a sphere of force 2 ft. in diameter per power level within a range of 30 ft. The sphere lasts for as long as you concentrate on it. A force sphere is only affected by disintegrate or negate power. A subject inside the sphere can breathe normally, but is otherwise trapped.

FORCE WALL (6): You create an invisible and invulnerable plane of force up to 10 sq. ft. per power level that lasts 1 round per power level. The plane cannot be damaged and it is unaffected by negate power, although it can be destroyed with disintegrate. Dimension hop and teleport can bypass the wall of force, but other powers cannot be used to get through the plane. The plane can be generated as a wall, floor or ceiling, and can be slanted like a ramp.

INVISIBILITY (6): You cannot be seen, but you can be sensed by hearing or scent. Opponents suffer a -5 penalty to hit you in combat. Lasts as long as you concentrate and 1 round per level thereafter.

FORCE CAGE (8): You create a prison cell of force 10 ft x 10 ft x 10 ft that lasts as long as you concentrate on it plus one round per power level thereafter.

FORCE SWORD (8): You create a blade of pure force that appears before you and attacks as monster of your power level. The sword deals 4d6 points of damage per hit and can affect ethereal and incorporeal creatures. The sword lasts as long as you concentrate on it.

MASS INVISIBILITY (8): As Invisibility, but affects you and one other target per power level. Mass Invisibility lasts as long as you concentrate plus 1 round per power level.

FORCE HAND (9): You create a giant hand-shaped force field that can provide a +4 bonus to you DC or can bull rush or grapple as a monster equal to your power level. The hand deals 2d6 points of damage per attacks.


A character with this power pack adds his power level to all Strength feats, melee attack rolls, and adds 1d6 per power level to damage inflicted with a melee attack.

ADRENALINE (6): For 1 round per power level you increase your STR and CON by +2 (and thus gain bonus on melee attacks and damage and hit points), gain a +1 bonus on WILL feats and suffer a -2 penalty to your Defense Class. The Adrenaline power can only be used once per day.

STOMP (10): You stomp your feet to create a shock wave that knocks people within 10 feet per power level prone (STR feat negates) and inflicts 1d6 points of damage per power level on all who fail their STR feat.

When creating a character, especially an established comic book character, the above power packs often do not quite capture the right powers for the hero or villain. Players and Masterminds alike can, therefore, buy freestyle powers (or powers à la carte). The cost per level for a freestyle power depends on the power’s rank.

1.  50 XP/power level
2.  100 XP/power level
3. 150 XP/power level
4. 200 XP/power level
5. 300 XP/power level
6. 500 XP/power level
7. 800 XP/power level
8. 1,000 XP/power level
9. 1,500 XP/power level
10. 2,000 XP/power level

Here’s a quick sample character who uses the Force Fields power pack above. This character is built with 50,000 XP.

LEVEL 9 | HP 58 | DC 15 | SPD 2 | XP 14,000

STR 2 | DEX 5 | CON 2 | INT 3 | WIL 2 | CHA 4

Power Packs: Force Fields [6]

Auto Powers: Force Missile (6d6), Shield (6 rounds), Levitate (600 lbs.), Force Sphere (12-ft. diameter), Force Wall (60 ft.; 6 rounds), Invisibility (6 rounds after concentration)

Activated Powers: Force Cage [3-6], Force Sword [3-6], Mass Invisibility [3-6], Force Hand [4-6]

With her 6 levels in Force Fields, Vectrix can access the following powers automatically: Force missile, shield, levitate, and force sphere. The other powers can be accessed by making an activation check. The numbers needed on a 1d6 roll to activate a power are included above.

Blood and Treasure Pregens

I received an email a week or so ago asking whether there would be an intro adventure for Blood & Treasure as well as some pre-generated characters. Short answer … yes.

I was initially unsure about producing adventures for B&T. My intention was to make a game that could handle most adventures produced for everything from the original edition to Pathfinder (with more GM work on converting 3rd edition and Pathfinder than the classic D&D products). So, if just about every adventure ever written works, more or less, with B&T, why produce more outside of short adventures in issues of NOD? Well, honestly, because someone asked, and because it seemed like a decent freebie download for the game.

That being said, I’m now working on an intro adventure that will play off of the “sample play” bit in the rulebook. Kobolds, exiled bugbears, goblins, fungus, necromancers, etc. Your typical fare.

I’m also working on some pre-gen characters (see below) – I know, the equipment doesn’t always match the art … c’est la vie. I only bought weapons, armor and equipment required by the class – the players could spend the rest of the money on adventure supplies (a good time to learn about the importance of logistics!)














Gentleman Dog

Philo was a sophisticated man about town, a bon vivant with a mind like a steel trap. While he spent his days with the smart set, at night he often rubbed shoulders with a rougher element, aiding the New York City police when a crime proved too tough to solve. It was a day trip into Greenwich village, though, that proved his undoing.

A trip to a coffee house in Greenwich led to the discovery of a murder in the backroom, and through his investigations, Philo found himself confronting a rather powerful magician, one Hayden Olivier. Hayden murdered the woman in the coffee house accidentally, but has no intention of serving time in prison. More importantly, he has discovered in murder a powerful new form of magic, and now sets his sights on another, a sorceress of no mean ability named Leah. In the final scene of Philo’s case, he found himself caught between the two sorcerers, and though Olivier was forced to quite this plane, mortally wounded, he left behind a dead rival and a transformed detective. Philo was now a dog – a cunning, dashing little hound, of course, but a dog just the same. With her dying breath, Leah lays down a final, tender curse upon Philo – that he should live until the magic was reversed.

So it was that Philo became known as Gentleman Dog, a surprisingly cunning beast with a strange knack for making himself understood. With top hat and monocle, he lives an almost immortal existence, solving crimes and seeking out practitioners of the occult in hopes of reversing Hayden’s curse.

GENTLEMAN DOG, Adventurer 7 (Dog, Detective)
STR 1 (+0) | DEX 4 (+1) | CON 4 (+1) | INT 9 (+2) | WIL 5 (+1) | CHA 7 (+2)
HP 35 | DC 11 | ATK +6 (+6 melee, +7 ranged) | SPD 3 | XP 8,125 (start with 25,000 XP)

Ability Boosts: Charisma +4, Constitution +1, Dexterity +2, Intelligence +6

Powers: Sending (must make eye contact, humans only, short messages that come to the person as sudden realizations), Super Speed +1

Gear: Top hat, monocle, pipe

Found here … yeah, all this, because I found a picture of a dog in a top hat with a pipe and had to do something with it … I am at least proud that I managed to turn it into a half-assed mash-up of Philo Vance and Aleister Crowley. 

PS – Anyone out there want to do a comic book set in the “Mystery Men! Universe” – or maybe more properly the Shore City Universe? If so, let me know. I’d love to publish some 1 or 2 page quickie stories in Land of Nod.

Comic Mockery – Cave Girl

Honestly, this is probably the last jungle comic I can handle. Great art by Bob Powell, written by Gardner Fox … but the comic book jungles are thick with the danger of unkind stereotypes. Still, we’ll press on through this one and see if there’s anything worth while.

As always, this one was found at the Comic Book Catacombs!

I dig the term “morass country” – I’ll have to steal that one for the Pwenet/Kush hexcrawl (coming soon!). That bit at the end is what a saving throw looks like – or maybe just a missed attack roll. The art is by Bob Powell, who was known for his “good girl” art. Good indeed. Nice action shots as well – he could draw more than just a pretty face.

“Fat One” – nice. I suppose the elephant was trying to kill them, but is it really necessary to hurt the beast’s self esteem. We’ve gone a couple pages so far and no unkind stereotypes yet, so it’s looking pretty good.

Ah, spoke too soon. Well, if Eisner’s Spirit can be forgiven, maybe Cave Girl can as well. Impressive display of super powers from the kid though (invulnerability III, perhaps).

Wild time in the old town tonight, though, isn’t it. First an explosion, then a crazy guy with a knife. One question, though – is that guy rabid, or did he just go berserk while he was shaving. Or, in the words of a half-dozen Marvel comic book covers … “Is he both?”

Wonderful stroke of luck, those two shriners with outrageous English accents showing up to help. Still, this does diffuse the stereotype problem a little.

Here, Cave Girl makes a case for being a druid (or my beastlord variation thereof) – speak with animals, calm animals, etc. The chick in the last panel looks like she’s trying to pass a brick.

Nice action here – knee to the chin ranks right up there with face kicking. And a real waaa-waaa-waaaaaaa moment at the end. The woman who brought Cave Girl into town looks like an oompa loompa at the end.

I dig the art in this one, and the story isn’t any worse than was typical for the genre/time period. Cave Girl almost made the cut into the Mystery Men! rulebook, but I decided to stick with the more classic concept of superheroes. Here are some stats, though, for those who want to do a little knee-to-the-chin action themselves …

CAVE GIRL, Adventurer 14 (Jungle Girl)
STR 7 (+2) | DEX 7 (+2) | CON 7 (+2) | INT 3 (+0) | WIL 7 (+2) | CHA 7 (+2)
HP 88 | DC 16 | ATK +11 (+13 melee, +13 ranged) | SPD 2 | XP 29,500

Ability Boosts: Str +1, Dex +5, Con +5, Int +2, Wil +2, Cha +3

Powers: Calm Emotions (Animals Only), Catfall, Invulnerability I, Jump, Speak With Animals

Gear: Leopard skin, flower in hair

Three Bad Bishops, You Know So Well

Let’s review, for a moment, the cleric.

The cleric was the original middle child of D&D – stuck square between the magic-user and fighter in terms of spell use and fighting ability – and the first class born from play, rather than the Chainmail rulebook. Legend has it that Sir Fang, a vampire character (yes, monster characters are as D&D as apple pie is American), was proving troublesome, so somebody decided they needed a Van Helsing* to deal with the rapscallion.

* Side Note: If you want to thoroughly understand the undead of D&D, you need to watch the Universal and Hammer horror films. Never understood the whole “vampire energy drain touch” thing? Watch Captain Kronos. You’ll understand. Plus Caroline Munro

So, the cleric, as it was introduced into the rules, became a mix of Van Helsing vampire hunter and medieval bishop-of-war, with the stylistic emphasis on the latter rather than the former. Who were these battling bishops of the Middle Ages, you ask? Read on …


Adhemar (totally made up name, right?) hailed from France, and he plays an important part in the First Crusade. You can see him to the right, wearing the mitre*

* Side Note: If your 9th level cleric doesn’t enter dungeon fully armored and wearing a mitre, he should be stripped of his clerical powers and forever consigned to being a second-rate fighter. No Lawful or Chaotic deity worth his salt should forgive the sin of “awesome headgear aversion” in his followers.

He was paired up on the crusade with a bunch of stupid fighting-men who quarreled all the time over leadership, but managed to keep things focused with his spiritual leadership throughout the ordeal. When he died (probably of disease*), some claimed that he pulled the old Obi Wan trick (remember, Star Wars was a “long time ago”, so it technically occurred before the First Crusade) and returned as a ghost to cheer the foot soldiers on.

BISHOP ADHEMAR, LAWFUL CLERIC 9: HP 24; AC 15; ATK 1 longsword +6 (1d8); MV 30; SV F 10, R 12, W 8; Special: Turn undead, cleric spells (6/5/4/3/2/1); Gear: Chainmail, longsword, mitre, holy symbol, warhorse; Abilities: STR 12; INT 13; WIS 15; DEX 12; CON 8; CHA 14.

* Side Note: Died of disease? Hello! Cure disease – low level spell – what’s the deal? Well, it turns out that many of these bishops, uninformed of the D&D rules, used edged weapons and thus were unable to cast spells. Fortunately, fighting bishops of the future will be forewarned.


Half-brother to William the Conqueror (a 9th or 10th level fighting man in his own right), Odo has one of the great names in the history of names (but far behind this guy). In fact, whenever I’m writing high-level clerics in a medieval milieu, it’s all I can do to avoid naming all of them Odo.

Odo is a little more “traditional D&D cleric” than the others, or at least pretended to be. Apparently, the Bayeux Tapestry (according to that shining light of accuracy Wikipedia) belabors the fact that he did not actually shed blood during the battle, and he is pictured armed with a club rather than an edged weapon urging the soldiers to battle – perhaps with a bless spell.

Odo also, apparently, gained his fortune by killing things (well, people) and taking their stuff, which I think cements him as a true D&D cleric, albeit a chaotic one. He joined the First Crusade (see above), but died before he actually got there, thus robbing the crusaders of some very useful cure (or cause) wounds spells.

BISHOP ODO, CHAOTIC CLERIC 9: HP 35; AC 15; ATK 1 club +7 (1d4+1); MV 30; SV F 9, R 12, W 9; Special: Rebuke undead, cleric spells (6/5/4/3/2/1); Gear: Chainmail, club, holy symbol, warhorse; Abilities: STR 14; INT 12; WIS 9; DEX 9; CON 12; CHA 12.


Turpin is no mere bishop. He’s an archbishop (so, 12th level, I guess). Turpin lived a few centuries before the other two in this post, and he was one of the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne and a pal of Roland. Some of the legends of Turpin might be confused with his predecessor, Milo, a “warrior clerk” (i.e. cleric).

In any event, Turpin was a bad-ass, and he wielded a magic sword called Almace (“Almighty”) that may have been forged by Wayland (the god-smith, not the puppeteer). A comparison of the three magic swords of the romances of Roland declared Kurt the least, Almace the second and Durendal the finest, so naturally I’ll assume Kurt is a +1 sword, Almace +2 and Durendal +3 (it’s science, dude).

ARCHBISHOP TURPIN, LAWFUL CLERIC 12: HP 34; AC 16; ATK Almace +11 (1d8+3); MV 20; SV F 7, R 11, W 7; Special: Turn undead, cleric spells (6/6/5/4/3/2/2); Gear: Banded mail, Almace (+2 longsword), holy symbol, warhorse; Abilities: STR 13; INT 11; WIS 16; DEX 9; CON 10; CHA 14.

It’s a Dirty Job …

In my Google + Nod game, two characters recently found the need to do some day jobs while the party was resting between dungeon delves. One just didn’t have much coin, and the other decided to take Jeff Rients’ Carousing Table for a spin (and he was a paladin when he did it – the operative word being “was”).

Anyhow, I came up with this table of crappy day jobs, none of which pay much, and some of which carry a little danger.