Merry Christmas from the Land of Nod!

Quick note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the blessings of the season. More than getting everything you wanted, I hope you all have everything you need (and are wise enough to know it, if you do). My Christmas present to you folks today is a quick preview of some new art I’ve commissioned for the forthcoming NOD Companion – all of it drawn by Jon Kaufman – for the classes collected in the book. Enjoy the art, and I hope you all have a wonderful day, whether you’re celebrating or not.

Puritan by Jon Kaufman


Psychic by Jon Kaufman


She-devil by Jon Kaufman


Traveler by Jon Kaufman.

I’ll be posting a couple new ones soon that will appear in the book – The Vigilante and the Femme Fatale.

Merry Christmas folks! Thanks for making me feel like a success with this little hobby of mine. Like many folks of the geeky persuasion, I’ve never had the best self image in the world, and your support over the last few years has done wonders for me. In the coming year, let’s all remember to be kind to one another.

Holly Jolly Warriors for Your Dungeon

‘Tis the season for being goofy, don’t you know, so I present this long overlooked fantasy archetype for your favorite fantasy game. Check you stocking for dice, roll up a kringle, and go slip the hobgoblins some coal (and cold steel) upside their pointy heads.


H/T Trey’s Sorcerer’s Skull Blog

Kringles are holy warriors dedicated to generosity to the poor, protection of the weak and punishment of the wicked. They adventure to take their war on naughtiness into dungeons and to acquire enough wealth to one day build a fortified workshop of their own.


Strength and Wisdom of 13+; Kringle’s must be Lawful or Lawful Good, depending on what alignment scheme you use.

Any armor and shields

Any bludgeoning weapon

Escape Bonds, Move Silently, Riding

Kringles advance as paladins

A kringle can use the know alignment spell at will; he knows just by looking at you whether you’ve been naughty or nice. In addition, they are capable of squeezing through very small openings, as though they were tiny in size.

A 2nd level kringle is capable of using the minor creation spell, though they can only create an item if they have a sack from which to pull it. At 6th level, a kringle can use minor creation three times per day, and major creation one time per day. A 9th level kringle can use minor creation at will, and major creation three times per day.

A 3rd level kringle is immune to fear. Each ally within 10 feet of him gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against fear. In addition, a xxx gains immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases.

A 4th level paladin (gallant) gains the ability to turn constructs, as a cleric turns undead, as a cleric three levels lower.

A 5th level kringle can undertake a quest, guided by a divine vision, to find and gain the service of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal reindeer to serve her in her crusade against naughtiness. If the kringle’s mount dies, he must atone (per the atonement spell) and then wait until gaining another level of kringle to undertake the quest again.

A 9th level kringle is capable of using time stop once per day. This increases to three times per day at 16th level.

At 9th level, a kringle is permitted to use crystal balls as though they were magic-users. How else could they know when folks are sleeping or when they’re awake?

An 11th level kringle can choose to establish a workshop in the wilderness and gain followers (see High Level Play below). A kringle who becomes a lord or lady attracts 1d6 gnome artisans per level, 1d6 automatons (1st level fighters – toy soldiers, get it?) and one 3rd level kringle to serve as a foreman. The automatons and the kringle should be generated as characters under control of the player.

What’s In Santa’s Sack – Halfling Edition

Image from here

Christmas is maybe the most halfling holiday of the year … well, except for Thanksgiving. Either way, you have to imagine that old St. Nick has a few packages in his sack for those little Lawfuls of the Shire …

1. Cheese – and lot’s of it.

2. Mithril mixing bowl – nothing sticks to mithril except dire molasses

3. Jar of dire molasses

4. Rose-colored glasses (+1 to save vs. sadness and fear)

5. Lederhosen – pre-worn in by the elves at the North Pole and thus smelling of peppermint

6. Toe hair combing kit in a fancy leather case

7. Scented foot oil

8. Pennywhistle, mouth-harp and set of musical spoons – to pass the time on long trips

9. Brand new slingshot with a compass and a thing that tells the time in the stock

10. Crushed velvet bag containing 10 silver sling bullets

11. A set of hand-carved bird calls – includes one’s for giant eagles, rocs and giant owls (1 in 6 chance of attracting an owlbear)

12. “Get Out of Gaol Free” card signed by St. Cuthbert himself

13. Stickum – useful for halfling thieves (bonus to climb and pick pocket checks)

14. Autographed copy of There and Back Again

15. Set of three nosegays (+1 save vs. poison gas)

16. Daisy chains, enchanted to never wilt

17. Elven cloak (ever since that book came out, every halfling wants one)

18. New hurling stick (can be used as a club or to hurl things like flaming oil or holy water)

19. A prize pig of surprising intelligence, large enough to be used as a mount

20. Sack of walnuts

21. Shire Army Knife (fork, spoon, knife, toothpick and corkscrew)

22. Silver locket containing a curly auburn lock – find the owner and get a free kiss

23. Embroidered shirt or dress – hand stitching

24. Gnarly, wooden walking stick

25. Sack of jelly babies

26. Glass bottle of bay rum

27. Seat cane with silver top (counts as a silver club for attacking incorporeals and lycanthropes)

28. Dragon-nip – throws dragons off your scent when sneaking into their hordes

29. Silver dagger

30. Book of Riddles – useful for stumping gollums

What’s In Santa’s Sack? – Elf Edition

Of course, Santa Claus isn’t going to forget about those Chaotic Good demi-humans, close kin to his helpers at the North Pole. Grab a d30 and roll up some loot for your favorite fairy.

1. Bejewelled ear-wax cleaner
2. Pointy hat in glorious velvet
3. New silver bells for one’s formal pointy shoes
4. Magical easy bake oven in the shape of a tree
5. Autographed tapestry of Santa Claus
6. Stereoscope cards of Freyr in all her divine glory
7. A shiny new sword with silver engraving in the shape of acanthus leaves
8. Magical coat of leaves – they match the woodland environment and season and act as camouflage
9. Licorice drops – elves can’t get enough of licorice drops, and each is embossed with an elf-cross
10. Nymphs and Dryads I Have Known, a memoir by Högni Half-Elven
11. Drizz’t plushie and a collection of silver pins (worth 5 gp)
12. A box of flower petals crystalized in sugar
13. A trick flask with two sides to allow one to hide potions or trick enemies into drinking poison!
14. New woolen tights
15. Harp engraved with prancing unicorns
16. False mustache and beard
17. “Brownie-whistle” – a silver whistle only the fey can hear
18. A silver comb
19. An Italian greyhound puppy, since they’re effectively the elves of the dog world
20. 1001 Things to Say to Piss Off a Dwarf – popular old joke book
21. Magical chemise – one can pull an endless number of red roses from the sleeves
22. Silver dagger
23. A sword cane – come on, you know elves would love those things
24. Kerchief of Elvenkind – admittedly, not as useful as the cloak or boots, but a dapper touch nonetheless
25. Quiver of handmade elfshot
26. Wooden sculpture of a feminine leg with a continual light spell cast on it’
27. New longbow
28. Set of three bowstrings woven from the tail hairs of a unicorn (+1 damage, worth 10 gp each, each lasts for 1d20 shots)
29. Flagon of sweet, clear wine
30. Shirt of elven mail

What’s In Santa’s Sack? – Dwarf Edition

Are you eye-ballin’ me boy?

Let’s kick the holiday season off right with a nice gift guide for the dwarf in your life. If your players have a lawful dwarf in their midst, roll a D30 and give the little bugger something nice from old Kris Kringle …

1. Beard extensions
2. Spiked boots of tooled purple worm leather
3. Jeweled eye patch (or two, if the poor dear is blind)
4. Treacle surprise!
5. Rock candy shaped like little earth elementals
6. New undergarments with a fresh pine scent
7. Monogramed leather apron – smith in style!
8. Blue dragon leather grip for the warhammer
9. Illustrated copy of The Amorous Adventures of Freya Grunsdottir
10. Basket Weaving Made Easy – much of it is applicable to beards
11. Woolen stockings – 3 pairs!
12. Bag of novelty pipe cleaners
13. Subscription to the Mead of the Month club
14. A real treasure map!
15. Balrog-B-Gon (1% chance of actually working)
16. Pair of gold-sniffing ferrets
17. Aurumvorax-fur coat
18. Helm with handy-dandy candle holder
19. Nose wax (to keep the old neb nice and shiny!)
20. Monogram lace hanky, ‘cause even dwarves need a good cry sometimes
21. Leather bodice studded with rhinestones (for the dwarfettes … or maybe not …)
22. Adamantine pick-axe autographed by Bjorn “the Badger” Bjornholm
23. Lead miniature collection, “The Great Dwarves of History”
24. Official Junior Vulcan Metallurgy Set
25. Bar of lye soap, nose tweezers and ivory mustache comb in a tasteful gift bag
26. Box of assorted candied beetles
27. 50’ of silk rope
28. Cave bear rug
29. Ale mug engraved with the dwarf’s name
30. Collection of Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri commemorative plates


Happy Thanksgiving, One and All!

From We Heart Vintage

Just a quick note today to wish everyone (American or not) a happy day. It’s always a good idea to stop and take an inventory of the blessings in your life, and among mine is the audience of folks who read my blog and buy my stuff. You folks have given me, through your attention and your cold hard cash, an opportunity to pretend to be a real grown up writer, and I appreciate it more than you know.

As a way to show my appreciation, I’m put all of my books at Lulu are now 10% off between now and the end of the year (not the PDF’s though – they’re cheap enough already). At the moment, Lulu is doing a 30% sale as well (code is DELIRITAS), so if you’ve been waiting to buy NOD or Blood & Treasure or anything else, now’s the time! Remember, with Blood & Treasure, I’ll send you a link for a free download of a PDF when you buy a hard cover book – just email me the receipt.

In other news, I’ve commissioned the first bits of character class art for the Nod Companion, which will gather together classes, races and other useful character bits from the NOD magazines, revising and updating them for Blood & Treasure. It will also include a brief run-down of the Land of Nod’s history and major city-states and peoples, for those who want to know more and can’t wait for me to hex crawl the entire planet (yeah, that’s just about what I’m aiming for – I might skip a bit of open ocean, but I do want to hex crawl the entire landmass).

And finally, to keep this post useful …


Hell-punkins are orange gourds that are grown in the swamps of Hell. They are steeped in hatred and misery and, when the air turns cold, heaved out of the depths to spread fear on the Material Plane.

Hell-Punkins look like large pumpkins (usually about 3-ft in diameter) with burning red eyes and jagged mouths that look as though they were ripped into the flesh of the plant by the plant’s own burning desire to nibble on the flesh of innocents. A single long tendril (8 feet) rises from the top of the plant.

Hell-Punkins can breathe cones (10 ft.) of molten gunk and seed from their mouths once per day. The gunk initially does 2d6 points of damage, and if the target fails their Reflex save to cut the damage in half, sticks to people’s skin and deals another 1d6 points of damage the next round. More importantly, the seeds in the gunk begin to sprout the second round, digging roots into the person’s blood (1d4 points of damage) and then sprouting forth in tendrils that grow quickly, entangling the victim (per the spell entangle). Victims killed by this burning gunk eventually become the fodder for a new crop of hell-punkins.

The creatures move by bouncing and utter a wheezy cackle of delight when they discover new victims.

Demons and devils enjoy a spicy pie made from hell-punkins, a pie that deals 3d6 points of internal damage to most humanoids.

Hell-Punkin, Small Plant, Low Intelligence: HD 3; AC 16; ATK 1 bite (1d4) and 1 tendril whip (1d4/10′ range) or breathe burning gunk; MV 20; F13 R14 W15; AL Chaotic (CE); XP 300; Special – Breathe gunk, immune to fire and poison, magic resistance 15%

One Last Trick

Here’s a monster that popped into my mind yesterday …


Reapers look like long-armed goblins with glossy black skin and magnesium green eyes that have a slight phosphorescence. Some wear carved pumpkins over the heads, like masks. They travel in small packs and are armed with very sharp cutting blades, each one carrying a mild enchantment that makes it especially dangerous.

A creature hit by a reaper’s blade and suffering 5 or more points of damage must pass a Fortitude saving throw (or save vs. petrification) or have one of their arms lopped off. The severed arm instantly comes to life and begins grabbing at its former owner or performing any other task the reaper sets it to. Arms have the same armor class as their former owner, and 1d4 hit points. If an arm is “killed” it is destroyed. Otherwise, the arm can be reattached (remember, there’s magic involved) to its original owner once the reaper has been killed.

Some especially lucky (or talented) reapers ride strange mounts composed of severed arms. These mounts look something like centipedes.

Reaper, Small Humanoid, Average Intelligence: HD 3; AC 16; ATK 2 blades (1d6 + sever limb); Move 30; F13 R14 W14; AL Chaotic (CE); XP 300; Special – Sever and control limbs.

Manopede, Large Aberration, Non-Intelligent: HD 4; AC 14; ATK 2 slams (1d4+1 + grapple); Move 50; F13 R13 W11; AL Neutral (N); XP 400; Special – Grapple.

Severed Arm, Tiny or Small Aberration, Non-Intelligent: HD 1; AC varies; ATK 1 slam (1d3 + grapple); Move 10; F16 R16 W13; Special – Grapple.

Six Malevolent Mummies

Mummies are a natural monster for fantasy games due to their lineage in horror movies (good and bad). The traditional mummy is Egyptian (or faux-Egyptian), but that need not be the case …


Brost was a trader 300 years ago who plied the high mountains, carrying silver ornaments down from the bat-headed people to the towns and villages in the green valleys far below. It so happened one day that Brost made a serious miscalculation with the daughter of a local lord with a well known lack of temper, and he found it necessary to make an unscheduled trip into the mountains. Winter had already come to the valley, and the mountain passes were exceptionally dangerous when he set out, and alas, one misstep was all it took to end Brost’s life. He lie in a crevasse that was soon filled with snow and ice, preserving his body while a taste for revenge preserved his spirit (in a fashion). The next year, Brost rose from his icy tomb and closed the pass to traffic, defying the petty priests of the valley and cutting the people of the valley off from civilization. He demands single combat with the lord who chased him out of the valley, and will not rest until he has gotten it.

Unlike most mummies, Brost’s touch does not cause disease. Rather, it is an icy grip that drains a person of 1 point of dexterity per round (or 1 point of AC if the victim has no known dexterity score). This dexterity damage cannot be healed normally; healing first requires the curse of the ice man to be removed.

Brost: HD 8; HP 33; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + icy grip); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (NE); XP 800; Special: Fearsome visage, vulnerable to fire, immune to cold.


Adana was a sneak thief who operated in a northern town, using her charm and nimble fingers to relieve visiting merchants and sailors of their worldly goods, and, on occasion, their lives. Finally caught by the duke’s soldiers, she was tried and hung, her body thrown into a bog. Thirty years later, the slow process of “bog mummification” was finished, and her tormented spirit, which had long roamed the bog as a will-o-wisp, settled back into its old home. She now haunts the wilderness as an undead robber, casting aside coins in favor of jewelry to adorn her black, leather hide. She currently wears a golden torc (worth 200 gp), several bronze bracelets (worth a total of 30 gp) and a golden anklet (worth 300 gp), plus whatever random jewelry you might roll for her.

Unlike most mummies, Adana’s touch does not cause disease Rather, it delivers acid damage that deals 1 point of damage per minute until a remove curse spell is cast to counter it. A delay poison spell halts the acid damage for a time, as does submersion in bog water.

Adana: HD 8; HP 27; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + acid touch); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (CE); XP 800; Special: Fearsome visage, immune to acid, surprise (2 in 6), back attack x2. 


Titena was the slave and close confidant of a high priest of Seth. She served her master loyally for many years, tending his every need, always desirous of one day being freed. It finally passed that an assassin found his mark, and the high priest was killed. His acolytes quickly swept up his servants and animals and slayed them that they might be mummified so that they could serve their master again in the afterlife. So it was that Titena, filled with wrath, was made a mummy and sealed in the crypt of the high priest. Whether the others made the journey to the other world is unknown, for she awoke as a mummy, alone and consumed with hatred. She quickly defiled her master’s body and now waits for release from her seemingly eternal prison. She has a single gem of true seeing lodged in her forehead.

Titena: HD 8; HP 29; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + mummy rot); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (CE); XP 800; Special: Fearsome visage, vulnerable to fire. 


Vadun was a monk and mathematician who underwent the process of living mummification (a strict dietary regimen, exercise and poisoning) that he might be preserved for all time. After death, he was sealed into an alcove with bricks, to be unsealed three years later. Unfortunately, between his death and his appointed time of release, the monastery was sacked, its monks killed, its treasures carried away. Vadun now remains a prisoner in the monastery, his staggering intellect bent on taking revenge on the world for his humiliation.

Unlike most mummies, Vadun does not spread disease with his touch. Rather, his touch is poisonous (per poison III). Damage from this poison can only be healed after a remove curse spell has been received by the victim.

Vadun: HD 8; HP 31; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + poison touch); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (LE); XP 2000; Special: Fearsome visage, vulnerable to fire, cast spells as 9th level cleric. 


Zuranthula was a powerful warlord among the Kith-Yin. After death, he was mummified by his followers, that he might continue to lead them on their raids in the Astral Plane. Unfortunately, before he could awake, his people were attacked by their rivals. Zuranthula’s sarcophagus was cast out into Astral Space to float for eternity. It would have done just that, but the conjuring of a curious wizard brought it into the Material Plane. Surprised by the contents, the wizard was soon killed, and Zuranthula, now crazed, began haunting the wizard’s dungeon complex, still seeking a return to the Astral Plane.

Zuranthula: HD 8; HP 32; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + icy grip) or silver sword (1d6+1); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (NE); XP 800; Special: Fearsome visage, vulnerable to fire, spells as kith-yin. 


Castillos was a very wicked man, though his wickedness was subtle. Most folk considered him a rather dashing figure, fairly honest, and good company. His squire, Manuel, knew better. He had seen him dally with the affections of many women, and when Castillos dared turn his eye upon Manuel’s own lady love, Castillos’ fate was sealed. On one night, after a drunken revel, Manuel led his master into a dank catacomb, ostensibly in search of a cache of elven wine he had heard tell of. In truth, he clubbed his master over the head and bricked him into a chamber, his body sealed inside a cask of wine. Castillos died there, but the alcohol preserved him, and now he seeks Manuel, who inherited his estate.

Unlike most mummies, Castillos does not spread disease with his touch. Rather, his touch brings on a sort of manic drunkenness (per the hideous laughter) spell.

Castillos: HD 8; HP xxx; AC 19; ATK 1 slam (1d8 + hideous laighter); MV 20; F11 R11 W10; AL C (NE); XP 800; Special: Fearsome visage, vulnerable to fire. 

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

Mass Combat in Blood and Treasure


I want to start this off by wishing folks a happy Memorial Day, especially those who are serving in the armed forces, have served, or lose a loved one who served. Though my family doesn’t have a massive history of military service, I can point to my father Rick, who served in the USAF and spent some time overseas in Thailand, my grandfather John (“Pa”) who was a doctor in the US Army and helped take care of folks after the bombing of Hiroshima, and several uncles.

And since I’m thinking of the military and mass combat (and need an easy blog post for the day), why not take a look at the mass combat system for Blood & Treasure. The system is easy to run and essentially works off the games normal combat rules, so don’t expect anything earth shattering. The idea behind Blood & Treasure isn’t to break new ground in gaming, but provide a platform in between the different editions. Anyhow …

When a lord or lady finds it necessary to place themselves and their followers on the field of battle against another large force, the normal rules for combat may become untenable. For this reason, you can instead use these rules for mass combat. In most respects, they use the same basic rules as normal combat, but adjust those rules to take into account the larger numbers of combatants involved.

To keep things simple, groups of combatants are divided into squadrons of 10. The squadron is the basic unit for fighting, and in mass combat a squadron attacks as though it were a single creature. Thus, a squadron of dwarves would make a single weapon attack on its turn, while a squadron of lizardmen could make a weapon and bite attack.

A squadron has as many hit points as its collective members have Hit Dice. Thus, a squadron of 10 dwarves, who have one HD each, has 10 hp. For mass combat, 0 HD troops are counted as ½ HD.

Squadrons of Large creatures (and mounted troops are considered to be the same size as their mounts) have only five members, while huge creatures and siege engines are treated as units in and of themselves.

Squadrons can be grouped into larger units, as follows: A company consists of 2 squadrons (and thus makes double the normal amount of attacks), a battalion consists of four squadrons and a regiment consists of eight squadrons.

Each squadron is assumed to form a single rank of troops on the battlefield. A squadron of men-at-arms would therefore consist of 10 men-at-arms standing in a row. A company of men-at-arms could either consist of 20 men-at-arms standing in a row or two ranks of ten. With each unit, it is necessary to note its number of ranks.

Note that only the front rank of troops can attack unless the troops are armed with pole arms or spears (in which case the second rank can attack), pikes (in which case the second and third ranks can attack), or ranged weapons (in which every rank can attack).

Typical units of soldiers might be as follows (note, the number in parentheses represents the number of squadrons and then the number of creatures):

Squadron of Ogres (1/5): Ranks 1; HD 4; hp 20; AC 16; Atk 1 greatclub (2d8) or javelins (30 ft., 1d8); Move 30; Save Fort 10, Ref 14, Will 15. Leather armor, greatclubs and javelins (1).

Company of Halberdiers (2/20): Ranks 2; HD 1; hp 20; AC 15; Atk 2 halberd (1d10); Move 30; Save Fort 13, Ref 15, Will 15. Chainmail, halberd.

Battalion of Halfling Slingers (4/40): Ranks 1; HD 0; hp 20; AC 15; Atk 4 sling (50 ft., 1d4) or 4 short sword (1d6); Move 20; Save Fort 13, Ref 16, Will 16. Padded armor, sling, short sword; halfling special abilities.

Regiment of Orcs (8/80): Ranks 4; HD 1; hp 80; AC 13; Atk 2 falchion (2d4) or 8 javelin (50 ft., 1d4); Move 30; Save Fort 13, Ref 15, Will 16. Studded leather armor, falchion, javelins (1).

Mass combat uses the following order of play:

1) Orders Phase
2) Missile Phase I
3) Movement Phase
4) Melee Phase
5) Magic Phase
6) Missile Phase II

After the second Missile Phase, play returns to the Orders Phase.

Orders Phase: In the orders phase, each unit is given its orders. Once these orders are given, they cannot be changed, though they can be disrupted by events on the battlefield. In other words, once the command has been given for a company of orcs to march up a hill, they cannot change their mind when a company of knights gets there first. Naturally, orders are given without each commander knowing what commands his opponent is giving to his soldiers.

Missile Phase: There are two missile phases during each round of mass combat. During a missile phase, groups of missile armed troops can cast their missiles if they did not move during the movement phase. The rate of fire of various ranged weapons is very important during mass combat missile phases. Some ranged weapons can attack in both missile phases, others in only one.

Blowguns, bows, javelins, darts and slings can attack in each missile phase.

Crossbows, muskets and pistols can attack in one missile phase.

Siege engines can attack in one missile phase.

Movement Phase: During this phase, units move in the direction and at the speed they have been ordered. Units within 10 yards of an enemy unit cannot move at faster than combat speed (i.e. half normal speed). Movement of troops is simultaneous.

Melee Phase: Enemy units that have come into contact (i.e. within 1 yard of one another) must participate in a round of melee combat.

Magic Phase: During this phase, spellcasters on the field of battle can discharge spells. Remember that rounds in mass combat are one minute long, so spell durations may be altered.

As mentioned above, each squadron in a game can attack as though it were a single creature of the same type using the same attack rules as used in normal combat (see above). Combat rounds in mass combat are measured in minutes, rather than six second intervals. Each successful attack by a squadron, by spell or weapon, rolls normal hit point damage against its target unit.

A unit can sustain no more hit point damage than it exposes in its first rank. Thus, a unit with five normal humans (1 HD each) in its first rank can sustain no more than 5 points of damage. If that unit is being attacked by spears or pole arms, double this total. If it is being attacked by pikes, triple this total. If it is being attacked by ranged weapons, it can suffer as much damage as the attackers can dish out.

Units can also “bull rush” an opposing unit in combat, making a normal attack with a +1 bonus for every additional rank it has over the opposing unit. If successful, it pushes the opposing unit back 10 yards, but scores no damage.

Three events can force a unit to check morale.

1) When a unit has lost half or more of its hit points, or takes damage when at less than half its normal hit points.
2) When its commander has been killed.
3) When it is subjected to a magic fear effect.

When a unit must make a morale check, it rolls a Will saving throw using either its own Will save value or its leaders.
If a unit succeeds on this save, it keeps on fighting. Otherwise, it flees from enemy troops at running speed. If it was engaged with another unit, that unit gets a free set of attacks against it with a tactical advantage bonus.

Each round, the unit commander, if one remains, can attempt to rally the troops with a new Will saving throw modified by his or her Charisma modifier. If successful, the unit spends one minute reforming itself and can then move and attack on the next round. After two full rounds of fleeing, the unit disintegrates into its constituent parts and effectively ceases to exist.

Siege engines are large weapons, temporary structures, or pieces of equipment traditionally used in besieging a castle or fortress.

Catapult, Heavy: A heavy catapult, or trebuchet, is a massive engine capable of throwing rocks or heavy objects with great force. Because the catapult throws its payload in a high arc, it can hit things out of its line of sight.

To fire a heavy catapult, the crew chief makes a ranged attack modified by Intelligence rather than Dexterity. If the attack succeeds, the catapult stone hits the place the catapult was aimed at and deals the indicated damage. Characters that succeed on a Reflex saving throw take half damage. Once a catapult stone hits, subsequent shots hit the same spot unless the catapult is re-aimed or the wind changes direction or speed.

If a catapult stone misses, roll 1d8 to determine where it lands. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 being back toward the catapult and 2 through 8 counting clockwise around the target square. Then, count 3 squares away from the target square for every range increment of the attack.

Loading a catapult requires one minute to reload and another minute to re-aim (if necessary). A heavy catapult takes up a space 15 feet across. It is operated by a crew of no less than 6.

Catapult, Light: This is a smaller, lighter version of the catapult. It functions as the heavy catapult. It takes up a space 10 feet across. Some examples are the onager and mangonel. It is operated by a crew of no less than 3.

Ballista: A ballista is essentially a huge crossbow. It takes a creature smaller than large two rounds to reload the ballista after firing. A ballista takes up a space 5 feet across. It is operated by a crew of no less than 2.

Cannon: Early cannons were cast in bronze and were quite large. They throw the same kind of ammunition as catapults, but do so in the manner of a ballista. A heavy cannon takes up a space 10 feet across and has a crew of no less than 6. A light cannon takes up a space 5 feet across and has a crew of no less than 3. A natural ”1” rolled to hit with a cannon means the engine has exploded, dealing 3d6 points of damage to everyone within 10 feet.

Ram: This heavy pole is sometimes suspended from a movable scaffold that allows the crew to swing it back and forth against objects. The character closest to the front of the ram makes an attack roll against the AC of the construction. In addition to the damage given on Table: Siege Engines, up to nine other characters holding the ram can add their strength modifiers to the ram’s damage. It takes at least one huge creature, two large creatures, four medium creatures, or eight small creatures to swing a ram. Tiny creatures cannot use a ram. A ram is typically 30 feet long.

Siege Tower: This device is a massive wooden tower on wheels or rollers that can be rolled up against a wall to allow attackers to scale the tower and thus to get to the top of the wall with cover. The wooden walls are usually 1 foot thick.

A typical siege tower takes up a space 15 feet across. The creatures inside the tower push it at a speed of 10 feet. The eight creatures pushing on the ground floor have cover against missiles.

Table: Siege Engines

Catapult, heavy – 800 gp – 6d6 – 1,000 ft. (100 ft. min.) – 4
Catapult, light –  550 gp – 4d6 – 500 ft. (100 ft. min.) – 2
Ballista – 500 gp – 3d8 – 200 ft. – 1
Cannon, Light – 1,000 gp – 5d6 – 500 ft. – 3
Cannon, Heavy – 2,000 gp – 10d6 – 1,000 ft. – 5
Ram – 1,000 gp – 3d8 – — – 10
Siege tower –  2,000 gp – — – — – 20

10-ft. thick stone walls have an AC of 18 and can withstand 500 points of damage on a 10-ft. x 10-ft. section before crumbling. 5-ft. thick stone walls can withstand 250 points of damage on a 10-ft. x 10-ft. section before crumbling.

[The one thing I’m thinking about changing is the whole siege engine bit. I’m thinking about something that doesn’t involve tracking the hit points of a wall section. Something like …

A wall has a damage threshold based on the material (wood, stone, etc.) and the thickness of the wall. If the siege engine damage roll (no hit roll – the damage roll is considered part of the “does it hit the right spot” thing) passes the threshold, it has a percentage chance of toppling the wall, perhaps equal to the amount the damage exceeds the threshold. Maybe there’s also a roll to determine how high up the wall is struck. The type of weapon would also determine the size of the hole created. So – no damage to track, still takes (most likely) many hits to topple a wall.

Let me think out loud for a moment. We’ll say a stone wall has a damage threshold of 20 + 5 per 10 feet of wall. A 20-ft thick stone wall, then, has a damage threshold of 30.

A ballista has no hope of getting through the wall – which is probably right.

A light catapult does 4d6 – so an average of 14, max of 24. That means a light catapult doesn’t have a chance of breaching the wall either.

A heavy catapult does 6d6 – so an average of 21, max of 36. On a max. damage roll, each heavy crossbow has a 6% chance of breaching a wall.

A light cannon does 5d6 – so an average of 18, max of 30. No chance of breaching that wall.

A heavy cannon does 10d6 – so an average of 35 (5% of wall breach), max of 60 (30% chance of wall breach). Heavy cannon are going to knock down most walls, probably in a relatively short time. That’s also pretty accurate.

In all, I think a system like this can work, but I probably need to adjust the numbers a bit.

Status update, by the way. The only things left to write for the game are some embellishments to the chapter on dungeons, wilderness and cities, and ship combat (which will be a distillation of the ship combat rules I published way back in NOD 2.) The monster chapter is being edited (thanks Tanner), so the end is nigh.

Have some new undead critters coming later today on the blog … see ya then.