A Duet of Spells

Since most of my time right now is devoted to editing, it’s been tough to produce new material for the blog. I guess I had the Bard of Avon buzzing in my ear this weekend, though, when I wrote these thought up these spells …

Star Crossed
Magic-User 3
30’ range
Permanent until removed

The magic-user causes two creatures within 30 feet to have their fates exchanged. The two creatures must be friends or allies of one another. The spell exchanges the ability score modifiers, attack bonus and saving throw values between the two creatures. The spell lasts until the two creatures make contact with one another while remove curse is cast on them.

Cleric (Lawful) 2
30’ range
Lasts a number of rounds equal to the cleric’s level

One target within 30 feet has terrible, bleeding wounds opened up on its hands and feet. The pain is terrible, leaving the creature crippled (see Conditions) and imposing a -3 penalty to attack and perform tasks involving holding tools or using their hands (pick pocket, open lock, etc.).

For Lawful clerics, though, it also brings on an apotheosis, increasing their caster level by +2 and granting them a +1 bonus to save vs. magic for 24 hours.

I’ve been wanting to do something Shakespearean – perhaps this points the way.

Spell Hooks

I’ve been busy editing Blood & Treasure Second Edition for the last couple weeks, a great deal of that time spent on the spells. I’m trying to streamline them wherever possible, and there are plenty of them to edit.

While doing so, it’s occurred to me how many of them are really more NPC spells than PC spells. That’s not to say they cannot be used by PCs, but they often require more forethought than most players can realistically use (i.e. they are meant for plots, rather than reactions to plots), and they are not as action oriented as most PCs need in dungeon delving.

These NPC spells are useful for GM’s to use as adventure hooks or encounters. Here are three such ideas:

Magic Jar

Magic jar is a natural, but I don’t know that is sees much use as an adventure hook. An evil magic-user hides his essence in some vessel, and uses it as a base of operations for possessing the adventurers or their henchmen, slowly picking them off, one by one, until they are destroyed.

The plan would work as follows: There’s a plain vessel in one of the rooms of a dungeon. It’s plain so the adventurers leave it alone. An evil magic-user has used it as a magic jar. When adventurers first enter the room, he possesses one of the henchmen, grabbing the vessel before he leaves. He using the form to spy on the party, maybe steal something, maybe put one or more adventurers or henchmen in mortal peril in a way that is not obviously his fault. Since the henchman is carrying the vessel with him, the magic-user can possess others, slowly tearing the party apart from the inside. Perhaps he is ultimately leading them to their doom elsewhere, where he can leap back into his own preserved form.

Secret Chest

In this scenario, an adventurer moving on the Ethereal Plane stumbles (literally) across a secret chest that was abandoned there long ago. The chest is hard to open, and probably contains something dangerous that was never meant to be found or released.


The adventurers are hired by a simulacrum (they don’t know this) for a mission to rescue the original magic-user. The simulacrum has 50% of the original’s experience and knowledge, so she’s useful in the party, but not too useful, and there are important gaps in her knowledge that relate to finding the original.

Here’s the rub. The original is in mortal peril, and will die before rescued. The original is also evil, and on a very dangerous mission. After the original dies, the simulacrum begins gaining more experience and knowledge, and begins to gain the evil alignment of the original. Now, the simulacrum is leading the adventurers into a trap, where she can sacrifice them to gain the immense power the original was after.

Dragon by Dragon – February 1981 (46)

Happy Easter boys and girls. I hope you have a good one – family, friends, fun and a little time for relaxation and meditation. Hopefully, you also have some time to read this review of Dragon 46 (and White Dwarf 23).

I’ll level with you here. The first time I saw this cover, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. There are a few other “cute” Dragon covers, but this one sorta took the cake. It’s not a bad cover, though, and actually relates to a new comic in this issue – Pinsom by Steve Swenston. It’s a style of fantasy I always digged, and one which I wish had had more coverage in Dragon. Check the end of the article for another glimpse of Swenston’s work.

Moving on …

First up – an advertisement (no, not for anything I did)

Yes, for those of us who lived through the transition, there was home entertainment BEFORE Dungeon!, and home entertainment AFTER Dungeon!. You young whippersnappers have no idea.

In all seriousness, if you’ve never played the game, I highly recommend it (at least, the old version that I used to have – I don’t know if they done any crappy re-imaginings lately). It just occurred to me that it might be cool to combine Dungeon! with Talisman – at least, with the “classes” in Talisman.

The first bit of content in this issue is a short story by J. Eric Holmes, “The Sorcerer’s Jewel” – so always worth a read. Great art by Roslof to go with it! Here’s a sample (of art and text) …

“When Tarkan departed from The Green Dragon, only minutes later, Zereth pushed Boinger off the end of the wooden bench on which they both sat. “Follow him,” he ordered, “and be secretive about it.” It was midnight when the little thief returned. His elven companion had left the tavern common room and gone upstairs to the rented room the two shared, but when Boinger roused him he dressed and came down. The noisy crowd at the bar and fire served their secret purpose better than whispering in their room, where ears might be pressed to the adjoining wall.”

That image to the right just screams D&D to me, and the story does as well. I’ll admit I’m not much of a reader of the fiction in The Dragon, which I should probably remedy at some point, given that I dig Gardner Fox, Homes and Gygax. More importantly, It would be interesting to glean some bits of useful lore from the stories that ostensibly come from actual gameplay.

Here’s another Roslof from that issue:

Love the halfling.

This issue goes pretty heavy into variants on Divine Right (which I don’t have) and touches on The Tribes of Crane (which I never played). I mention this in case people have do have or have played those games want to check out the issue.

The “Dragon’s Bestiary” features the Gaund by Ed Greenwood. Greenwood’s monsters are always well thought out, and seem to point to the direction in which games were moving at the time, which I guess you could call fantasy realism.

I’m more enthused about Roger E. Moore‘s “This Here’s Tyrannosaurus Tex”, a Boot Hill Scenario based on The Valley of the Gwangi.

For those who do not know of The Valley of the Gwangi

I haven’t seen it in a long time – I need to put it on the list.

Among other things, the article includes a hit location chart for the t-rex …

01-20  Tail
21-50  Rear leg
51-55  Forearm
56-75  Abdomen (1% chance of mortal wound)
76-85  Chest (5% chance of mortal wound)
86-00  Head and neck (2% chance of mortal wound)

Also this handy guide to killing a t-rex with dynamite

“For every two sticks of dynamite used against a Tyrannosaur in one attack, there is a cumulative 50% chance of stunning it for one turn (10 seconds), a 25% chance of inflicting a wound or wounds (d10: 1-2 = one wound, 3-5 = two wounds, 6-8 = three wounds, 9-0 = four wounds), and a cumulative 10% chance of killing it outright. This percentage is reduced by 20% (for stunning, wounding, and killing) for each 2” (12’) that the monster is distant from the explosion. For example, 20 sticks of dynamite exploded 4” (24’) from a Tyrannosaur has a 460% chance of stunning it (500-40=460), a 210% chance of wounding it (250-40=210) and a 60% chance of killing it (100-40=60). Treat any amount of dynamite greater than 40 sticks as 40 sticks.”

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh follows up with another Boot Hill article, “How to ease the Boot Hill identity crisis”. I love the first paragraph …

“Everyone seems to have a place in Boot Hill except the player-characters, who have to be content with a place on Boot Hill. They wander in out of nowhere, invariably causing much havoc and then moving on.”

I have to admit, that sounds pretty good to me – not sure I want to remedy that situation. However, if you do, you’ll find a random table of identities for a Boot Hill character. I dig the fact that female characters have a 2% chance to be nuns. I’d love to play a gunslinging nun.

The feature of this issue is “The Temple of Poseidon” by Paul Reiche III. The intro has nothing to do with the adventure, but it does delve into TSR history …

“I wrote The Temple of Poseidon early in the spring of 1980 as part of an application for employment at TSR Hobbies, Inc. Having grown tired of fourteen straight years of school, I decided to take some time off from college and work full-time for a change. The problem was where to find a job. I had already had several, all of which were boring or (as was with the case with piano moving) physically undesirable.

A year earlier, TSR had hired my good friend Erol Otus as a staff artist. After visiting Erol out in the chilly wastes of Wisconsin, and learning that—contrary to what I had heard—the men and women of TSR were not evil, hateful creatures, I decided that perhaps a job with TSR was the kind of change I was looking for. So with several years of playing experience and authorship of two fantasy roleplaying supplements under my belt (Booty and The Beasts and The Necromican co-authored with Mathias Genser and Erol Otus) I started work on the Temple of Poseidon.”

He goes on to say the adventure was inspired by Lovecraft and CAS – and it’s a great dungeon crawl. Well worth reading and running.

Another dandy by Roslof – casting a spell from a scroll

Here’s a cool bit:

“Time and the way the party spends it plays an integral part in this adventure. Exactly 10 turns after the characters descend the spiral staircase and enter the alien base, the evil priests of Ythog Nthlei will succeed in freeing their master. The only way to prevent them from attaining their goal is to kill them before the end of 10 turns. If they succeed, Ythog Nthlei will instantly move to Room 31 with his treasure: The priests will remain in their room.”

“Giants in the Earth“, by Tom Moldvay, opens things up for contributions. So, no giants this time. Dang.

Time for some sage advice …

Question: What happens when a cornered (as in a deep pit) undead creature is turned?

Answer: The act of turning undead (by a good Cleric) compels the victim to turn directly away from the Cleric and move as fast and as far away as possible for 3-12 rounds. When it is physically impossible for the creature to keep moving away, it will retreat to the most remote (from the Cleric) location in the area and continually face away from the Cleric and his/her holy symbol. — J. Ward, W. Niebling

So basically, it’s like the cleric telling the undead to go stand in the corner and think about what they’re done.

And now we come to the comics, and Steve Swenston‘s Pinsom.

Cool stuff.

And so ends the chronicle of February 1981’s Dragon Magazine. But what were those knuckleheads in the UK up to?

At a minimum, the White Dwarf cover for Feb/Mar 1981 (that would be #23) was putting off a very different vibe than The Dragon. It’s definitely an image with which to conjure.

This issue of WD starts a series by Lewis Pulsipher, “An Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons”. Good series, and worth the read for the newcomers to the hobby – although I’ve always thought learning to play these games is much better done by joining an existing group and playing. In the early days of the hobby, though, this wasn’t always possible and many groups were learning as they went.

Next up is an interview with Marc Miller, covering his origins and the origins of Traveller. If you’re a fan, you might want to give it a look.

You might also enjoy a look at the Marc Miller of 1981 …

The “Fiend Factory” this issue has the Flymen by Daniel Collerton, with art by Russ Nicholson – great monsters, though they’re only a half-inch tall. However, with a handy shrink ray, they could give a party of adventurers plenty of trouble as they look for a way to return to normal size.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats, first for the tiny-sized fly men in a swarm, and then for the fly men as they would appear to shrunken adventurers:

Flyman, Tiny Humanoid: HD 0 (1 hp), AC 14 (20 when flying), ATK special, MV 5′ (Fly 30′), SV F16 R16 W16, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Swarm surrounds a person’s head blinding them (-4 to hit, 1d4 automatic hits per round), tiny weapons are poisoned and people have a 1 in 20 chance of being allergic and suffering ill effect; roll 1d8; 1-7 renders the area stung swollen and useless, taking 1d4 turns to set in and then lasting for 1d20+24 turns. An 8 means the character falls into a coma in 1d4 rounds and dies in 1d20+24 turns unless the venom is neutralized.

Drone, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 0 (3 hp), AC 12, ATK nil, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F13 R16 W17, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Strength of 17, semi-intelligent, 1d10+10 appearing.

Artisan, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 1, AC 12, ATK 1 weapon, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F 13 R15 W15, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Usually armed with unpoisoned daggers, their skill in metalwork surpasses the dwarves.

Warrior, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 3, AC 14 (carapace, shield), ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 20′ (Fly 50′), SV F12 R14 W14, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry shields, carapace like studded leather, armed with short bow, short sword, dagger, poisoned weapons (save vs. poison, if save suffer 1d6+4 damage, if fail die instantly), allergic people suffer -4 penalty to save, weapons have enough venom for 5 strikes.

Flyguard, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 9, AC 16 (chain, shield), ATK 2 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV F9 R10 W11, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Carry composite bow, longsword and dagger (poisoned as above), can size-change and have size rods, ride wasps.

Flymage, “Medium” Humanoid: HD 6, AC 16, ATK 1 weapon + poison, MV 30′, SV as 12th level magic-users, AL Neutral (LN), Special-Can size-change and have size rods, has innate powers (locate insects, summon insects, insect plague, creeping doom, size change to medium size for 30 rounds) and powers granted by their god, Ssrrpt’ck (must pray for 5 rounds).

There are five fly mages per hive, and each has extra powers depending on his role. There is the Master Attack, Master Defense, Master Healer, Master Knowledge, Master Worshiper.

The article also includes info on other types of flymen, the Northflies and Sandflies. Awesome stuff – seek it out and use it, for crying out loud. The flymen would make an incredible side trek in a dungeon or wilderness. In fact, the issue includes “The Hive of the Hrrr’l”, also by Daniel Collerton, so you’re all set.

Also: The flymen’s heads can be hollowed out and used as masks.

In addition:

Magic-User 4, Cleric 3

Range: Touch
Duration: 30 rounds

Spell causes a creature to shrink by a factor of 144 (human down to 1/2″ in height).

Spell Focus: A telescoping rod (costs 1,000 gp) that must be pushed in while the spell is being cast.

The White Dwarf isn’t done yet – you also get a new class, The Elementalist by Stephen Bland, the Khazad-class Seeker Starship for Traveller by Roger E. Moore, and A Spellcaster’s Guide to Arcane Power by Bill Milne. That last article involves a spell point system for spellcasting. There are also some keen magic items.

All in all, a really good issue of White Dwarf … in fact, I give it the nod over The Dragon this time around.

Happy Easter folks!

Fun with Halloween Magic

Happy Halloween boys and girls. Here are a few spells inspired by the season:


Level: Druid 4
Range: See below
Duration: See below

To cast this spell, a druid carves a jack-o’-lantern from a pumpkin or similar gourd and places a candle inside it. The light emanating from the jack-o’-lantern’s face has a magical effect, as follows:

If the face is frightening, creatures caught in the light (including allies, so be careful) are subject to the effects of the cause fear spell. If the face is amusing, creatures caught in the light are subject to the calm emotions spell.

The light from the jack-o’-lantern also negates magical invisibility, and causes magic items to glow orange.

The magic lasts as long as the candle lasts (probably 1 or 2 hours), and the range is per a normal lantern.


Level: Magic-User 6
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 1 hour (then permanent)

If during the duration of this spell the magic-user is killed, his or her head immediately teleports to and is transplanted on the nearest humanoid creature within 30 feet. The victim’s head remains on the body as well.

The magic-user and his subject will be dazed for 1 minute afterwards, and the magic-user will be unable to cast spells until it takes control over the victim’s body. Each day, the magic-user can attempt a contest of wills against the victim; each rolls a Will saving throw. If the magic-user succeeds at his save, and succeeds by more than the victim, he gains control of one arm. Another success wins him the other arm, and a third the legs. A failure over the same period loses him an arm or the legs. When the magic-user has control of the arms, he can cast magic spells again as normal.

(Yeah, The Thing With Two Heads was on TV this morning).


Level: Magic-User 4
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 10 minutes

As hideous laughter, with the following differences: The victim is not completely helpless – they can move and even attack, but cannot stop cackling. Any strenuous activity causes fatigue for 10 minutes. Also, the cackling forces those who hear it to pass a Will save vs. fear or be affected as per the cause fear spell.


Level: Magic-User 3
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 1 hour

This spell turns bone into steel. Only dead bones (i.e. not part of a living creature) are affected. Bones like femurs are turned into the equivalent of light maces. Animated skeletons gain AC 17.


Level: Magic-User 5
Range: Personal or 1 creature touched
Duration: 2 hours

The beneficiary of this spell does not suffer from gaze attacks as normal. If the gaze normally causes fear or blindness, it now instead reduces the victim’s Wisdom by half. If the gaze normally causes petrification, it now instead reduces the victim’s Dexterity by half. Other effects can be determined by the TK as necessary. The effects of the gaze attack last for 3 hours.


Mr. Sardonicus

Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 24 hours

The touched victim must pass a Fortitude save or their face is twisted into a terrible grimace, reducing their Charisma score to 3 for the duration of the spell.

Have fun, folks – don’t eat too much candy!


Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 10 minutes

The magic-user holds an object (any object) up and focuses on a single victim. If the victim fails a Will saving throw, they become obsessed with possessing the object for 10 minutes, to the exclusion of all other goals. When they get the object, they crouch on the floor, petting it and proclaiming it their “precious”.

The Old Mage’s Almanac – Spells of Voice

A few spells occurred to me recently which I thought might be especially annoying to enemy spellcasters, bards and those who are generally talkative.

Level: Bard 2, Mage 2
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 10 minutes

This spell causes people to speak unintelligibly for the duration. They understand other people perfectly well, and think they are forming normal sentences when they speak. They do not, therefore, realize that are speaking gibberish until it is pointed out to them. The afflicted may attempt a Will saving throw to negate the effect. Thereafter, he may attempt secondary Will save to make himself intelligible, with a penalty of -1 per word to be spoken. Spellcasters can make similar saving throws to utter their spells properly, with a penalty equal to the level of the spell +1. If a spell is uttered as gibberish, it is still considered “used” for that day.

Booming Voice
Level: Bard 1, Mage 2
Range: 120′
Duration: 1 hour + 1 hour per caster level

This spell affects up to 10 targets within 120 feet. The targets, if they fail a Will saving throw, cannot help but speak as loudly as possible. These booming voices have the normal chance for attracting wandering monsters, and might cause other calamities as well (per the TK’s discretion).

Loose Lips
Level: Bard 2, Cleric 3, Mage 3
Range: Close (30′)
Duration: 1 minute

This spell causes a single target, who can negate it with a successful Will saving throw, to divulge any secrets she is keeping for one minute. They usually start with their most pressing, timely secrets (like her plan for assassinating the king and queen with an exploding hedgehog), and work their way towards long held secrets from childhood (stole some tarts from the castle kitchen when she was 9).

Unseen Clerk
Level: Mage 0
Range: n/a
Duration: 1 hour

This spell creates something akin to an unseen servant, save it will do nothing but transcribe the activities of the spellcaster and her associates for 1 hour, including drawing a map of where they have explored in a dungeon and taking down all conversations within 60′ of the unseen clerk. The spellcaster can cause the unseen clerk to strike things from the record as she desires. The spellcaster must provide a pen and paper for the unseen clerk, and they will follow her around, busily scratching things down as she goes.


Two Cinematic Hex Crawls

Over the last few days, I managed to watch some D&D-ish movies before work – just dumb luck, they just happened to be on.

The first involved a few PC’s and their henchmen taking a dangerous cruise on a quest to break an evil magic-user’s polymorph other spell on a prince, who ended up a baboon. The quest eventually takes them to the arctic and a hidden, pleasant land within the arctic. On the way, they fight monsters, counter spells and eventually break the spell. Alas – no treasure, but they’ll probably be rewarded by the prince.

The second involved five people, four men and a woman, dragged from modern times into ancient Greece. The men are made galley slaves, while an evil king tries to romance the woman. The men eventually lead a slave revolt, wash up on shore, do a little hex crawling, and are made slaves again. Luckily, one of the guys ends up with an 18/00 strength (or maybe higher), and in this capacity serve a different king, and wind up fighting Hercules himself to get back to their own time period.

The first film was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the second The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. Scoff if you will, but the second flick is probably close to most D&D campaigns than the first. Oh, we all dream of Lord of the Rings-caliber gaming, but bumbling insanity is often what we get.

Both films were lots of fun – I’d actually never managed to watch the Sinbad flick, despite being a fan of Harryhausen – so here are a few bits and pieces inspired by these movies:

Giant Walrus


Size/Type: Huge Animal
Hit Dice: 11
Armor Class: 16
Attack: 1 bite (2d6)
Movement:15 (Swim 60)
Saves: F5 R8 W13
Alignment: Neutral (N)Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 550 (CL 11)

Giant walruses are much like their smaller counterparts, though they are more aggressive.



Size/Type: Large Construct
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 18
Attack: 1 gore (1d10) or by weapon (2d6)
Movement: 30
Saves: F11 R12 W12
Resistance: Fire, electricity
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Non-
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 600 (CL 7)

Minotons are bronze automatons made by magic-users for brute labor and basic fighting. Most are armed with spears. They are tireless and immune to all mind effects, and only obey the commands of their creator.



Size/Type: Large Giant
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 14
Attack: 1 gore (1d6) and 1 slam (1d4) or by weapon (2d6)
Movement: 30
Saves: F10 R14 W15
Alignment: Neutral (N)Intelligence: Low to Average
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 200 (CL 4)

Troglodytes are large, primitive ancestors of human beings. They speak the language of simple primates, and though fearsome are not particularly aggressive. Female humanoids get a +2 reaction bonus with male troglodytes.

Eye of the Tiger


Level: Magic-User 3
Range: Personal
Duration: 10 minutes

When this spell is cast, a magic-user’s eyes become cat-like (giving them darkvision to a range of 60′). Any feline they look upon within 60′ must pass a Will saving throw or the magic-user turns into a vapor and inhabits the cat’s body. The magic-user retains her own intellect, and gains the fighting ability of the cat. The magic-user can leave the cat’s body at any time, but if they are still inside the cat when it is killed, they die along with it.

Two-Headed Cyclops


Size/Type: Huge Giant
Hit Dice: 16
Armor Class: 16
Attack: 2 weapons (3d6) or boulder (100’/3d6)
Movement: 40
Saves: F3 R7 W8; +2 save vs. mind effects
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 800 (CL 16)

The two-headed cyclops stands about 50′ tall. It is terribly bright, but it really doesn’t need to be to get along.

Sleeping Pills

These magic items are akin to potions. They are made in lots of 4, and each pill packs the punch of a potion of sleep. Saves against them are saves against magic, not poison.

New Spell – New Monster – New Class

Just a few things that popped into my head lately …


Alter Voice
Level: Magic-user 0
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 hour

This spell permits you to alter your voice, mimicking another voice you have heard perfectly. It does not enable you to speak another language, of course. The spell also alters your inner voice, permitting you to fool creatures through the medium of telepathy.

(I’ve watch lots of old movies and TV shows, in which characters have an uncanny ability to duplicate other character’s voices, especially over the phone)


Zoophytic Mangler

Size/Type: Medium Elemental
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 17 [+1]
Attack: 2 slams (1d8)
Movement: 20
Saves: F10 R12 W12
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Non-
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 600 (CL 18)

A zoophytic mangler is an quasi-elemental creature raised from the sea floor by aquatic mages who have learned the spell. The creature is composed of a core of dead coral. Its exterior is covered with hundreds of beautiful, flower-like living corals. These corals exude a poisonous mist that surrounds the monster to a radius of 20′. Any creature breathing this mist must pass a Fortitude save at -2 or be affected as per Poison III. Those who do save are still sickened, and remain sickened for 1 hour after they leave the monster’s presence. This mist works in the open air and underwater.

(Just read a story about a venomous coral that has sickened quite a few folks)


Knight of Flowers

I drew this!

Knights of flowers are a variation on the paladin class. It is only open to halflings, gnomes and other small fey folk. A knight of flowers differs from the paladin as follows:

They must be good in alignment, but can be lawful good (the Rose Order), neutral good (the Lily Order) or chaotic good (the Daffodil Order).

They are skilled in nature lore and flower arranging, rather than riding

Can detect poison at will, instead of evil

Learns to turn plant creatures and evil fey, instead of undead

Instead of a gaining a special warhorse, they gain the ability to draw special abilities from wreaths of different flowers. The wreath must be woven by a maiden, dryad or nymph, and the magical potency of the flowers lasts for one adventure. The knight of flowers can only wear one wreath at a time:

+1 to hit Evil — chestnut

+1 to Charisma tasks — dahlia, daisy, dandelion, plum blossom

+1 to Fortitude saves — ivy

+1 to Intelligence tasks — cherry blossom, lilac, pansy

+1 to Strength tasks — laurel

+1 to Will saves — gladiolus

+1 to melee damage — fennel, oak leaf

+2 to save vs. disease and poison — lily

1 re-roll (d20) per day — gardenia

Animal Friendship (1/day) — magnolia

Bane (1/day) — lobelia

Calm Emotions (1/day) — bullrush, olive

Charm Monster (1/day) — orchid

Charm Person (1/day) — amaranth, carnation, jasmine, chrysanthemum, coriander, honeysuckle, tulip

Color Spray (1/day) — iris

Command (1/day) — heliotrope, thistle

Crushing Despair (1/day) — yellow rose, rue

Cure Light Wounds (1/day) — Eglantine rose, lotus

Daze (1/day) — wormwood

Detect Magic (1/day) — witch-hazel

Disrupt Undead (1/day) — cypress

Fool’s Gold (1/day) — buttercup

Good Hope (1/day) — delphinium, peony

Hold Person (1/day — mistletoe

Inflict Light Wounds (1/day) — marigold

Light (1/day) — sunflower

Magic Weapon (1/day) — red rose

Protection from Evil (1/day) — baby’s breath

Protection from Normal Missiles (1/day) — heather

Ray of Frost (1/day) — hydrangea

Silence (1/day) — white rose

Sleep (1/day) — poppy

Speak with Dead (1/day) — asphodel

Surprised on d8 — begonia

Tongues (1/day) — balm

Can neutralize poison instead of curing disease

Casts spells from the druid spell list, instead of the paladin list

Otherwise, they have the paladin’s special abilities


I’ve been quite busy with real life the last week – you might note that I didn’t get a Dragon By Dragon out last Sunday – so I’m forcing myself to stop and write this.

Level: Illusionist 1
Range: Close (30′, 50′ for gnomes)
Duration: See below

The prank spell permits the illusionist to carry out one of several classic pranks, as follows.

Blacken: Causes a black ring to appear around a person’s eye when using a spyglass
Blat: Causes a roar of flatulence to blast out when somebody within range sits down

Burn: Causes a bite of food to become extremely spicy; the victim must pass a Fortitude savinv throw or spit the food out, drink lots of water and generally carry on for a round

Dribble: Causes liquid to dribble from a vessel on a person’s shirt

Kick: Causes an illusory “kick me” sign to appear on the person’s back; the first person (other than the spellcaster) who sees it must pass a Will saving throw to resist the temptation

Mark: Causes an illusory mustache and goatee (and perhaps blackens a tooth) on the target

Slip: Causes a banana to appear under a person’s feet (Reflex save to avoid slipping)

Sneeze: Causes the victim to break into a sneezing fit for 1 round if they fail a Fortitude save

Squirt: Permits any flower within range to squirt a person in the face with water

Tinkle: Causes a sensation of warm water on a sleeping person’s hand; they must pass a Fortitude save or have an accident

Some effects are instantaneous. Otherwise, the prank lasts for 1 minute per spellcaster level. Once the spell is cast, the illusionist has one turn (10 minutes) to activate the effect. Only one effect can be created with each casting of the spell.

Ulflandia – Giants and Magic Wells

I’m about 90% finished writing the Ulflandia hex crawl, which means I’m pretty much on schedule to get the next issue of NOD out this month. I should get Bloody Basic – Sinew & Steel Edition out as well, and maybe Bloody Basic – Weird Fantasy Edition (depending on how much reading I get done between now and the end of the month). Once those are put to bed, I turn my near-sighted eyes to Grit & Vigor, which I would like to publish before the end of summer.

That being said, I thought I’d post a few Ulflandia entries today to give people a taste of it. Enjoy!


Old Grog the hill giant smith dwells here, keeping a forge, three unruly daughters and a motherly wife who could only kill a person with kindness, for she’s otherwise gentle as a lamb. Old Grog remembers the old ways, and he can breathe magic into his creations if he has the mind to – he’ll swap minor magic weapons and armor for tales well told (and a heap of gold). If somebody will promise to wed one of his daughters, he’ll make more powerful magic items. He keeps a giant spider on an unbreakable silver thread in his workshop as a guard animal and companion. The spider is well versed in elven poetry and gnomish limericks, and he has a fine baritone voice (for a spider).

Treasure: 150 pp, a silver hammer (80 gp).


A band of fifteen forest giants and their mates dwells in a massive hall made of timber in this hex. The longhouse is surrounded by a wooden picket and a shallow moat, about 20 feet wide, filled with gooey mud and crossed by a drawbridge.

The forest giants have grey skin, no hair and emerald eyes. They dress in tunics and leggings, usually of green, brown, russet or grey, and wear cloaks. Forest giants are excellent bowmen, and carry large longbows and scimitars.

The forest giants have a love for ale and wine, and will gladly trade their guidance through the woods for intoxicants.

Treasure: 65 pp, 1,750 gp, a silver medallion set with a citrine (500 gp), a sable cloak with a golden clasp set with alexandrite (1,500 gp), a scroll of darkvision, a +1 shield (giant-sized), a potion of hide from undead, and a potion of remove paralysis.


The stronghold of Nobrun of the Glassy Eyes appears to be a cave set in a doughty granite hill topped by long, green grasses with a base surrounded by huckleberry bushes. The cave mouth is shaped like the maw of a demon, and there is the notable scent of sulfur surrounding the place.

If one approaches the cave mouth, a vrock demon is conjured. The vrock, Xerial, is Nobrun’s major domo. He will inquire as to the nature of the visit and peruse his scroll to see if the visitors are expected. If they are, he will permit them to enter the cave, at which point they will see a stone stair leading up to the top of the hill and a simple wooden door painted dull green. The door is wizard locked. Beyond the door, which appears to be attached to nothing, is the invisible tower of Nobrun.

Nobrun is a necromancer. He is inhumanly tall and thin, with long, bony fingers absolutely covered in rings. Some of the rings look valuable, others are made from human hair or meteoric iron and engraved with runes. The necromancer dresses in purple silk and black velvet, in the manner of a Spanish grandee. Nobrun is always heavily perfumed (usually lavender), and he has a long, black beard (he colors it) and strange, glassy eyes. One of his eyes has a permanent x-ray vision spell cast on it, while the other always sees with a faerie fire effect. He normally wears a patch lined with lead over the x-ray eye.

Nobrun lives alone, except for his army of zombies. All of them are shaved smooth and dyed purple, and dressed in black velvet doublets and leggings of silver maille. Nobrun is currently between apprentices.


A well in this hex produces great gouts of steam from the water, which nearly boils with magical energy. The water is about 20 feet below the surface, the well being constructed of grey stones that are slick with green slime that must be cleared before one can safely enter the well.

By bathing in the water for one minute (suffering 1d6 points of Constitution damage in the process), a magic-user or sorcerer gains the knowledge of a single weird spell. The spell remains lodged in a person’s mind for 24 hours. A sorcerer can add the spell to her natural repertoire if she has a spare spell slot, while a magic-user can scribe the spell on a scroll or in his spell book. Of course, they can also just cast the spell and discharge it from their mind permanently.

The second time a magic-user bathes in the well, the Constitution damage becomes Constitution drain. The third time, it becomes 1d6 points of energy drain. A fourth dip is fatal, turning the magician into a rampaging chaos beast.

The random spells learned from the well are:

1 Accursed Archer
2 Blasphemous Shield
3 Golden Torch
4 Hex of Diminution
5 Invocation of Righteous Anger
6 Unknowable Incantation of the Yellow Doors

Level: Magic-User 1
Range: Medium (150 ft.)
Duration: Concentration + 1 round

This spell forces a single opponent within range that is shooting or throwing missiles to automatically target one of his own allies. If he has no allies, the spell simply applies a -1 penalty to his attacks on non-allies.

Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 minute

This spell conjures a shield (much like the shield spell) before the spellcaster. The shield bears an image blasphemous to a single chosen cleric within sight of the magic-user.

The cleric must pass a Will saving throw each round he or she attempts to do anything but attack the bearer of the shield. The shield bearer enjoys AC 18 against the cleric’s attacks, and a +1 bonus to saving throws against the cleric’s spells. Spell that are saved against have a 25% chance of turning back on the spellcasting cleric.

Level: Magic-User 2 (Lawful (Good))
Range: See below
Duration: 1 hour

A golden torch appears in the magician’s right hand (always the right hand, and there it must stay). It emits a golden glow with double the illumination of a normal torch, and emits positive energy in a 30-foot radius. This positive energy doubles the normal healing rate of living creatures and grants them a +1 bonus to save vs. poison, disease and death effects, forces undead creatures to pass a Will saving throw to enter the positive energy and imposes a -2 penalty to their Fortitude saving throws.

Level: Magic-User 4
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous

This hex slowly shrinks a creature down to tiny size. Each hour, the creature’s size category is reduced by one. The spell is permanent, though it can be reversed with one or several permanent enlarge person spells, dispel magic or wish. The creature’s equipment does not shrink with him or her.

Level: Magic-User 5
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 minute

As the cleric spell righteous might, save that the magic-user is unable to cast spells while enlarged.

Level: Magic-User 6
Range: Personal
Duration: See below

Often used as a last ditch effort to escape certain doom, the unknowable incantation is a dangerous spell. When cast, the magic-user is surrounded by walls of black energy (negative energy, in fact) with four yellow portals placed to the north, south, east and west. The black walls form a circle with a 20-ft diameter, and they rise 20 feet before ending in a ceiling.

Touching the walls causes 1d6 points of energy drain. Each round, the walls and ceiling contract, moving inward by 5 feet (the movement is actually fluid, not all at once). If they close in on a creature, it is killed unless it is immune to energy drain, in which case it left unharmed.

The walls can be avoided by entering one of the yellow portals. Each portal leads to a random plane, elemental or outer. The magic-user has no control over where the doors lead, nor has he any knowledge of where they lead. Once a door is touched, a person is transported to that plane. There is a 5% chance that the door deposits the person before a power of that plane.


Bonus XP if you know who this is!

When you write as much as I do, you get used to dealing with typographical errors. Some of them are rather amusing – I remember one blog post in which some room trap involved a wench rather than a winch lifting something heavy. I suppose anybody who has ever visited modern D&D message boards knows about that game’s very mysterious “rouge” class (which I have now decided I am going to write).

One area in which I have made more than a few errors, and repeated errors at that, is with spell names. Sometimes, these screwed up spell names actually make a sort of weird sense, and it occurred to me that errors in spelling on scrolls might lead to some amusement in a game of D&D (et. al.) Grammatically incorrect scrolls could be a new category of cursed magic item – the magic-user thinks they’re casting one thing, but discover their spell has a different effect.

A few ideas follow:

Altar Self: The caster is turned into an altar for the duration of the spell. Note sure if I want to know where the holy water comes from.

Animate Trope: This one takes some work for the GM. Think of a role playing trope and make it come to life (literally) during the game.

Baste: Warm meat juice is squirted on the caster, making them more delicious and stickier.

Blank: The caster’s face disappears for the duration of the spell.

Cane of Cold: A walking stick made of ice appears in your hand. Feel free to shake it angrily at your foes.

Charm Parson: As charm person, but it only works on clerics and druids (and the like).

Dorkness: The lights stay on, but the caster becomes socially awkward (Charisma 5) for duration of the spell.

Find Familiar: More of an incorrect inflection than misspelling, this spell causes they caster to find strangers strangely familiar. He just knows he knows them from somewhere, and it’s maddening that he cannot think of who they are. As a result of this frustration, he suffers a -1 penalty to Will saves for the duration of the spell.

Obscuring Mast: The mast of a ship grows from the ground right in front of somebody, obscuring their vision until they move out of the way.

Slaw: A jar of coleslaw appears.

Spectral Ham: A ghostly swine appears and otherwise acts as the spectral hand spell. This one might be an improvement over the original.

Summon Munster: Roll randomly on a d10: (1-2) Herman (i.e. a goofy flesh golem); (3-4) Grandpa (i.e. a vampire); (5-6) Eddie (i.e. a 1 HD werewolf); (7-8) Lily (not sure here – she’s Dracula’s daughter); (9-10) Marilyn (i.e. human female with high Charisma).

Tireball: A belted radial is launched bouncing towards a target point, and then explodes with a loud noise, sending shreds of rubber out. Basically as a fireball, without the “fire” damage and dealing minimum damage within the blast radius.

Have at it folks – I’m sure these can be improved upon and better versions can be invented.