Dungeon of the Apes Art!!!

Now I have the art (by Jon Kaufman, of course) – I’m going to have to do something with it.

Maybe a Blood & Treasure dungeon adventure that is Planet of the Apes themed. I do so many hex crawls, a dungeon crawl might be a nice change.

We’d need radiation, a nuclear bomb, mutated psychos with false faces and psionic powers, Roddy McDowell, a research lab, a half-buried Statue of Liberty …

My Corner

Thought I’d share a picture of a corner of my study (no, I don’t have a man-cave – I’m sick of this trend of making men appear foolish or primitive to boost the fragile egos of modern women – come on ladies, I’d like to think you’re better than that).

I don’t know if it’s geeky enough (and I don’t care – I’ve never been one for sub-cultures), but it’s where I keep my role-playing game nonsense and a few comic book and comic strip collections I enjoy, as well as my grandfather’s chair, a map of the heraldry of Scotland (Scottish, English and Welsh on my mother’s side, German and English on my father’s), a few prints from Jeff Dee’s kickstarters (Morgan Ironwolf became the source of a husband-wife grudge match not seen since the Old Man got his major award), a globe I got for Christmas when I was a wee lad, a coonskin cap from Disneyland and an old sailing ship that used to grace the old Curtis Mathis in my childhood home.

I guess the funny thing is, I rarely work or write in my study these days, preferring to use my laptop out in the family room with, you guessed it, the family. My study is now primarily where I exercise – the treadmill is just to right of the lamp, and I have a pair of dumbbells and a kettle bell just out of sight by the chair.

Okay – back to work. I have quarterly reports to concoct, an issue of NOD to complete and a NOD Companion to work on.

Musing on the Design of Star Wars

Image found HERE

I just finished listening to some folks talk about Star Wars and its possible future under Disney (main take-away – how can Disney screw it up more than Lucas?). The podcast ended with the tune played by the Cantina band, and that got me thinking about the over 1940’s vibe of the original trilogy, and, more importantly, what I consider the design failure of the second trilogy. Among other problems with the second trilogy, I felt that they missed out on some design cues that might have cemented it into the same universe with the original trilogy.

Star Wars had a significant 1940’s vibe to it – it was very much a recreation of 1940’s sci-fi serials and WW2 movies – with some Akira Kurosawa thrown in for good measure. Okay – the cantina music was more 1920’s, and the 1930’s fills in as well – so maybe we’ll call it a 1920’s to 1940’s vibe. Now, one cannot remove the design of a piece, even a pseudo-period piece, from their own time and place. That makes it an interesting mix of 1920’s-1940’s and late 1970’s design (and boy, can you tell that the second and third movies were designed in the 1980’s). The “seventies meets the past” look was nothing new, really – there was a definite interest in resurrecting the 1920’s through 1940’s look in that era, with a modern twist.

Luke and Leia appear to be about 18 years old or so, so the second trilogy should be taking place about two decades earlier. What I think would have been cool, then, is to make the second trilogy look very 1900’s-1920’s.

I guess what I’m getting down to is this: What might a very “early 20th century” Star Wars have looked like? A very aristocratic Galactic Senate in old fashioned military uniforms – a doughboy vibe to the soldiers and proto-storm troopers – bobbed hair on the ladies – a little more ornamentation on things than was necessary, that transition from the Gilded Age to Moderne – more of an Egyptian style to things – a waxed mustache on Yoda. Perhaps some of these elements were present in the second trilogy.

I don’t know quite what it would look like, but it makes me wish I was an artist so I could explore the look of the thing.

The Monsters of Henry Justice Ford – Part II

Today, I present three giants to confound (and stomp on) you precious PC’s.

River Giant
Huge Giant; Chaotic (NE); Average Intelligence; Eddy (1d4)

HD 12
AC 17
ATK 1 slam (2d6) or 4 locks (1d4 + constrict)
MV 30 (Swim 40)
SV F4, R9, W9
XP 1200 (CL 13)

River giants are the children of the great rivers. They appear as massive humanoids with long, grey mustaches and beards which seem to flow and ripple with a will of their own. They dwell within rivers, sometimes in simple caves, but more often in submerged strongholds with courts of nixies and river nymphs.

In combat, a river giant can breathe forth, once per day, a fetid mist per the obscuring mist spell. Those trapped within the mist must pass a single Fortitude saving throw or succumb to filth fever. Their mustaches and beards can be used as tendrils to grab and constrict attackers.

Special Qualities: Resistance to cold

Large Giant; Chaotic (NE); Average Intelligence; Blaze (1d6)

HD 4
AC 14
ATK 1 slam (1d10 + 1d6 fire) or by weapon (+1d4 fire)
MV 30
SV F10, R14, W14
XP 400 (CL 5)

The jinnati, or fire-eaters, are a breed of fire-breathing ogres who dwell in volcanic hills in tropical regions. They have ruddy to dull green skin, lustrous black hair and sparkling eyes that suggest clever malevolence. Jinnati rarely wear armor, though when they do it is usually formed of glowing, red scales, and likewise when they arm themselves they do so with metal weapons. They have a profound lust for reddish and orange gemstones, and will almost anything to possess them, even behave honorably.

Jinnati can breathe a 15-ft. long line of fire once per day. This fire deals as many hit points of damage as the jinnati currently possesses (or half that with a successful Reflex saving throw). They can recharge this fire breath by eating fire – that is, inhaling flames from any sort of source larger than a torch.

Creatures grappled by the monsters suffer as though from a heat metal spell, in addition to suffering normal grapple damage.

Special Qualities: Immune to fire, vulnerable to cold

Large Giant; Chaotic (CE); Average Intelligence; Roost (1d6)

HD 6
AC 15
ATK 2 claws (1d6) and bite (1d4)
MV 30
SV F9, R12, W12
XP 600 (CL 7)

Stalos are magical ogres that haunt the northern woodlands and steppes. They have dark brown to nearly black skin, leering yellow eyes and pronounced fangs.

A stalo possesses a set of pipes not unlike those of a satyr. When playing those pipes, those within 1 mile must pass a Will saving throw or be charmed (per the charm person spell) and convinced that they must journey to the source of the piping. Subjects within 30 feet of the piping must make an additional Will save or be held (per the hold person spell) for 1d6 rounds, during which time the stalo will kill them for its supper. A stalo can track unerringly on his home territory.

A stalo has one weakness, and that is running water. While they can cross running water, they do so slowly (movement rate of 5) and must pass a Will save each round or be either frozen with fear for one round.

Spells: At will—calm animals, speak with animals; 1/day—summon nature’s ally II

The Monsters of Henry Justice Ford – Part I

Henry Justice Ford, in case you, the reader, haven’t heard the name, is one of the finest illustrators of fantasy and folklore to have ever come around the bend. Recently, Monster Brains did a very long post showcasing a ton of his work – I highly suggest taking a tour of the post and the site (one of my favorites).

Many of the works depict monsters that were new to me, either in the sense that I was unaware of the fairy tale in which they originated, or they were drawn in a way that sparked my imagination. I decided it might be fun to stat a few up for Blood & Treasure, and, if you continue reading, you will find that that is precisely what I’ve done.

By the by – I think the idea of a monster book divided up by great artists (in the public domain, of course) in the manner the old Deities & Demigods book was divided up by mythos, would be pretty cool, in case anyone wants to collaborate.

Three-Headed Draken
Medium Monstrous Humanoid, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Band (1d10)

HD: 2
AC:  14
ATK: 2 claws (1d6 + rend) and bite (1d4)
MV: 30
SV: F12 R15 W12
XP 200 (CL 3)

The three-headed draken are goblinoids with skin as black and as shiny as coal. They have feet tipped with cruel talons, mouths full of fangs, and generally lurk in ruins planted with fruit trees. They regard this fruit as a dragon regards its treasure, for the trees to which they are bound are the only ones from which they can draw sustenance.

Special Qualities: Regenerate

Black Master of the Beasts
Large Fey, Neutral (N), High Intelligence; Solitary

HD: 9
AC: 16
ATK: 1 club (2d8) or slam (1d6)
MV: 20
SV: F10 R9 W8
XP: 900 (CL 10)

A black master of beasts is a fey guardian of a particular woodland, having the animals of that woodland under his protection. Black masters appear as black-skinned giants with single eyes in their heads and single legs to support them. They wield massive iron clubs and are capable of summoning 30 HD worth of animals, dragons and magical beasts common to their woodland (i.e. they show up on a random encounter chart) to their service once per day. These animals arrive in 1d4 rounds.

Special Qualities – magic resistance, immune to fear

Spells – 3/day—augury, calm animals, hold animal; 1/day—divination, magic fang, quest

Huge Aberration, Chaotic (CE), Average Intelligence; Solitary

HD: 16
AC: 18
ATK: 5 heads (1d8 + constrict)
MV: 10 (Swim 30)
SV: F4 R7 W5
XP: 4000 (CL 18)

Scyllas are primordial sea monsters, terrible abominations that haunt narrow straits, lying in wait for prey. They have bodies shaped something like hydras, with scaled skin and five thick necks that end in massive humanoid heads. These heads have beards of tentacles, six tentacles each. Scyllas communicate telepathically, and they can induce fear (as the spell) once per day per head in creatures with 5 or fewer hit dice. If one head of the scylla is casting a spell, the others are still capable of attacking.

Special Qualities – Immune to fear, immune to cold, regeneration, magic resistance 40%, resistance to electricity

Spells – 3/day—control water; 1/day—control weather

Monsters by Email

No, this isn’t a project I’m working on – but it is a project I’m supporting. Artist Nicholas Cloister has started a new project to deliver images of original monsters by email to subscribers, monsters that they can use in their publishing ventures provided they follow a few provisos and a couple quid pro quo (to quote a famous genie).

The price is super reasonable, and, as you can see from the following images, the art is top notch. He’s looking for more subscribers to make this a going concern, so if you’d like to see a few of these beauties (well, not these beauties, but new beauties) given monster stats in the pages of NOD or other of my publications, and if you have some projects of your own or just want some nice art to use at your table, give it a look HERE. For more samples of his art, click HERE.

Copyright Nicholas Cloister

Copyright Nicholas Cloister

Copyright Nicholas Cloister

Monster of Monsters

Saw a neat illustration today at Super Punch by Kelly Tindal that I had to share …

Naturally, something this grand must have some stats:


Medium Construct; Chaotic (CE); Average Intelligence; Solitary

HD: 10 (50 hp)
AC: 16
ATK: 2 claws (1d4), bite (1d6 + energy drain) and snakes (1d4 + poison III)
MV: 30
SV: F 10, R 10, W 10
XP: 2,500 (CL 12)

A patchwork monster is perhaps the highest expression of the golem maker’s art, as it is composed not of bits of humans, but of humanoid monsters. More importantly, the maker of a patchwork monster must preserve the special abilities of the creatures he uses. The traditional patchwork monster uses components from a medusa, werewolf and vampire

A patchwork monster’s gaze turns people to stone for 1d6+1 days. A Fortitude saving throw negates this power. If a patchwork monster uses a special grapple attack with its bite, it can sink its fangs into a victim and drain blood, dealing 1d4 points of constitution damage, and gaining 1d6 temporary hit points for itself.

Special Qualities: Weapon resistance (silver weapons), immune to energy damage and drain, ability damage and drain and fatigue

Fraternal and Votive Orders

Not the white lady the order probably had in mind …

While tooling around the internet the other day (I have no idea what I was looking for at the time, now), I ran across the wikipedia page for Emprise de l’Escu vert à la Dame Blanche – AKA “Enterprise of the Green Shield with the White Lady”. I’d never run across this order before, but I loved the name and investigated just a bit.

The order was what was called a “votive order”. Votive orders were formed on a vow, and were really a less serious form of “fraternal order”, which also involved a pledge. Wikipedia lists the following fraternal and votive orders:

Compagnie of the Black Swan, founded by 3 princes and 11 knights in Savoy (1350)

Corps et Ordre du Tiercelet (Corps and Order of Tiercelet), founded by the vicomte de Thouars and 17 barons in Poitou (1377–1385)

Ordre de la Pomme d’Or (Order of the Golden Apple), founded by 14 knights in Auvergne (1394)

Alliance et Compagnie du Levrier (Alliance ad Company of the Greyhound), founded by 44 knights in the Barrois (1416–1422), subsequently converted into the Confraternal order of Saint Hubert

Emprise de l’Escu vert à la Dame Blanche (Enterprise of the green shield with the white lady), founded by Jean Le Maingre dit Boucicaut and 12 knights in 1399 for the duration of 5 years

Emprise du Fer de Prisonnier (Enterprise of the Prisoner’s Iron), founded by Jean de Bourbon and 16 knights in 1415 for the duration of 2 years

Emprise de la gueule de dragon (Enterprise of the Dragon’s Mouth), founded by Jean comte de Foix in 1446 for 1 year.

In all cases, these orders were not centered around a nobleman – just a group of people vowing something to one another, and sometimes for a limited, set amount of time. Sounds a bit like an adventuring party to me. In the past, I have compared adventuring parties to merchant companies, which had a charter (i.e. “The Company of the Red Dragon shall plunder the red dragon’s lair and split the proceeds as follows …), but fraternal and votive orders could fit the bill as well.

To use the Emprise de l’Escu vert a la Dame Blanche as an example – it was founded for the protection of women suffering oppression, especially widows. Any woman so beset could petition the order, and they would send a knight forthwith to fight her oppressor personally.

The Emprise du dragon rouge, for example, could be founded by 6 knights (the adventurers) and their 12 retainers for the period of 1 year with the vow to hunt down and kill the red dragon Aglemire (and plunder his lair, of course).

Even better, an order founded by Lawful (or Good) characters could be a great cornerstone for a campaign. A band of adventurers could, for example, make it known far and wide that their order could be called upon by all honest folk who are being oppressed by foul wizardry, and then sit back and wait for the campaign hooks to roll in. They’d be a little bit like a medieval A-Team.