Mom

A couple years ago, I lost my mother to a brain tumor. It came out of nowhere, and it was shocking and horrible. I spent a couple months after she died knowing I had not fully dealt with the loss, but also not realizing that the knot in my stomach that barely allowed me to eat and sleep was caused by those emotions. It’s funny how one can overlook the obvious. I finally, one day, stopped at the cemetery where she is buried. I was alone, and was finally able to break down and cry. Boy – what a cry. And after the cry, the knot was gone and I was finally on the path to dealing with my loss. I wasn’t done – there have been other cries, and much thinking about my own mortality and how it may affect my loved ones – but I was at least dealing with it.

I know this is technically a day late, but …

Mom – I love you and miss you! You put much good in me with your love and teaching and joking and, yes, your punishing when I needed it. And by golly, when I was a bored and lonely teenage nerd, you even played D&D with me. What more love can any mother have for her son?

Faux Fiends

Illustration by
Arthur H Young

A while back I started a project of converting old monsters for B&T, but changing the names and descriptions so I could just make them open content. I’m not done yet, mostly because I’m planning to illustrate the monsters with nothing but public domain stuff to keep the project “cost effective”, or, as I would put it, cheap.

Since I’m always looking for ways to keep this blog alive, I figured posting a few of these monsters would be a good idea. To keep things interesting, I’ll also post a few old classics from the blog and NOD magazine updated to the new B&T.

Ampe
Type: Monster
Size: Medium
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 16
Attack: Fists (1d4)
Move: 30′
Save: 14
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral (N)
No. Appearing: 1
XP/CL: 600/7

SD—Immune (electricity)

Ampes are annoying dungeon monsters that hook up with parties (whether they like it or not) and follow them around, getting in the way and making an inordinate amount of noise. They fight to defend themselves, but not the party they are following. They are shaggy humanoids with pointed faces. Ampes are always hungry and thirsty, and they have a terrible lust for treasure, being able to detect precious metals and gems up to 100′ away. If fed or given drink, it becomes wonderfully loyal to its benefactor, but this loyalty ends if the ampe is not given at least 30% of any coins and/or gems its benefactor finds.

Ampes store up great amounts of static electricity in their bodies, and can generate 50 points of electricity damage each day through their touch. It need not inflict all 50 points of damage with a single touch. If it drains all of this power, it immediately falls asleep for one hour, during which time is regenerates up to 25 points of static charge; recharging completely requires another 7 hours of sleep.

Ampes can weave their own hair into nets, which they carry around their waists like belts.

Cyborg
Type: Monster
Size: Medium
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 16
Attack: Bite (1d8) and hook (1d6 + trip) or claw (1d6 + constrict) or ray gun (see below)
Move: 30′
Save: 15
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP/CL: 400/5

These cybernetic outlaws know no fear. They are equipped with metal jaws that can bite through nearly anything (+2 to sunder attacks) and mechanical arms with exchangeable attachments: Ray gun, hook or claw. Cyborgs can store unused weapons on their belts; it takes a full round to exchange one attachment for another.

Dune Devil
Type: Elemental (Earth)
Size: Large
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 17 [+1]
Attack: Shriek (60′/2d6 sonic)
Move: 30′
Save: 14; MR 30%
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Chaotic (NE)
No. Appearing: 1
XP/CL: 1,800/8

Dune devils are gangling monsters who stalk blazing deserts at high sun, feasting on the good and letting the wicked alone. Although they are called “devils”, they are no relation to the actual devils of Hell. Dune devils are brought to the material plane by magical summons. They are peerless trackers (90%). The monster attacks with a shriek. By pressing its lips against a creature, it can kill them instantly (save to negate).

 

Support the Illustrated Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures

Got an email yesterday from Casey Sorrow, who is starting a Kickstarter to finance his An Illustrated Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures. Casey produces some amazing art, and the book promises to be game rules-neutral. That being said, it sure has an old school feel to me. Throw some bucks his way, so the mighty Casey doesn’t strike out! (Yes, I deserve whatever punishment the universe summons up for that one.)

You can find the Kickstarter HERE

You can find Casey’s website HERE

Thieves, Giants and She-Devils [Mystery Men!]

In the last article in this series, I laid out the basics of using Mystery Men! for a Swords and Sorcery-style campaign, the likes of which you’ve probably read in Conan or Red Sonja comics.

This article continues this with some thoughts on the idea of thieves.

MM! uses three classes. The adventurer is your standard super hero type, with a set array of powers. The sorcerer can have some set powers, but also devotes their XP into a sorcery pool that allows them to use ad hoc powers during a game (i.e. cast spells). The third class, the scientist, puts XP into a science pool that allows them to invent devices (i.e. powers) at the beginning of a game session, making them more flexible than the adventurer, but less flexible than the sorcerer.

By all rights, sneaky thieves should be portrayed as adventurers in an MM!SS game. They probably won’t spend as many XP on boosting their ability scores as the typical barbarian, and therein lies the problem. Since barbarians and thieves are both adventurers, and thieves will probably be higher in level, it is likely that they’ll end up as better warriors than the barbarians. What to do?

How about we introduce a new class called … The Thief!

The thief (or reaver, pirate, tomb robber, assassin … whatever you like) uses the scientist’s hit dice and attack progression, and can put XP in a “thievery pool”. The thievery pool allows them to apply a +1 bonus to any of the traditional thief tasks (pick pockets, open locks, find/remove traps, climb walls, hear noises, move silently, hide in shadows) by spending 500 XP of their thief pool on the roll. Spend 1,000 XP, get a +2 bonus. Spend 3,000 XP, get a +6 bonus.

In addition, thieves can backstab (after successfully hiding in shadows), adding 1d6 to their damage for every 1,000 XP of their thief pool they spend (up to an extra 10d6, or 6d6 if they’re throwing the dagger into someone’s back). Finally, thieves can spend 5,000 XP to avoid certain death (i.e. no save required, automatically avoid a death trap or a killing blow).

RED SONJA
It’s easy to forget that Red Sonja as we know her was an invention of Roy Thomas and, to a lesser extent, Esteban Maroto, rather than one of REH’s creations. With her chainmail (it always looked like scale mail to me) bikini and powers imbued on her by the goddess Scathach, she was a far cry from the 16th century pistol-packin’ mama REH called Red Sonya of Rogatino. It’s almost like the difference between an old school D&D character and a Mystery Men! Sword and Sorcery character. Thus …

RED SONJA, Adventurer 10 (She-Devil, Swordswoman)
STR 7 (+3) | DEX 11 (+5) | CON 5 (+2) | INT 3 (+1) | WIL 7 (+3) | CHA 12 (+6)
HP 73 | DC 23 | ATK +8 (+11 melee, +13 ranged) | SPD 2 | XP 16,330

Ability Boosts: Str +4, Dex +8, Con +2, Will +4, Cha +9

Powers: Catfall, Invulnerability I, Weapon Master (Longsword)

Gear: Longsword (Potent Attack; 1d8+5, can hit ethereal and incorporeal creatures), chainmail bikini, dagger (1d4 +4)

AGAINST THE GIANTS
I’ve decided to send a few of my regular players “Against the Giants” (i.e. through the classic series of AD&D modules of the same name) on Google+ to test out this little experiment in MM! fantasy gaming. Naturally, that means I need to apply some statistics to those giants.

HILL GIANT
LVL 12 (42 hp) | PH 8 (+4) | MN 3 (+2) | DC 20 | SPD 2 | XP 1200
ATK Club (3d8) or fists (2d4) or rock (3d6)

FIRE GIANT
LVL 15 (53 hp) | PH 9 (+5) | MN 4 (+2) | DC 23 | SPD 2 | XP 1800
ATK Greatsword (4d6) or fists (2d4) or flaming rock (3d6 + 2d6 fire)
POW Darkvision, immune to fire, vulnerable to cold

FROST GIANT
LVL 14 (49 hp) | PH 8 (+4) | MN 4 (+2) | DC 21 | SPD 2 | XP 1700
ATK Greataxe (4d6) or fists (2d4) or rock (3d6)
POW Darkvision, immune to cold, vulnerable to fire

OGRE
LVL 4 (14 hp) | PH 5 (+3) | MN 2 (+1) | DC 16 | SPD 2 | XP 700
ATK Club (2d8) or javelin (1d8)
POW Darkvision

TROLL
LVL 6 (21 hp) | PH 7 (+4) | MN 2 (+1) | DC 16 | SPD 2 | XP 1500
ATK Claws (2d6) and bite (1d6)
POW Darkvision, regenerate

Fantasy Cuisine – Get It While It’s Haute

When the emperor sits down at his table, surrounded by the assembled kings, nobles and merchant princes of his domain, his servants do not serve dishes assembled for their succulence, but rather for their expense. In the world of emperors and kings, one entertains to show his guests just where they stand in relation to the throne – i.e. beneath it. Of course, the table setting is part of the overall effect – plates and utensils of porcelain, silver and gold – but the dishes, composed of rare and wondrous ingredients is just as important if not more so. Thus – the patented Nodian Random Haute Cuisine Generator. With a mere handful of dice, you can cover the tables of nobles, kings and emperor’s alike with meals fit for a gourmet (or gourmand).

The true origin of these tables was in a document I use while stocking my random hex crawls. I call it “The Thesaurus”, and it began as just that – a thesaurus of color words so I didn’t have describe everything red as “red”. It soon expanded to land forms, people and then food and clothing. There are just too many excellent words out there not to attempt to use them all, you know. Having this little storehouse of knowledge, I came up with this as a way to present at least the edible part of it. You can use these tables to concoct strange fantasy recipes (either to serve players as guests, or to send players after on kingly quests) or just use them when trying to stock your own world’s and dungeons.

The process is simple. First, choose a style of dish or roll it randomly on that first table. The style of dish show you how many rolls you must make on the different ingredient tables to discover just what is needed to bring the inventive gourmand’s imagined recipe to fruition.

Once you have determined the style of dish and the ingredients, it is up to you, as Referee, to describe the dish. A few samples are included at the bottom of the page. So grab some dice and get cooking!

Oh – and before I forget, two websites were invaluable in teaching me a bit about medieval cooking: Medieval Cookery and Gode Cookery.

* Indicates that cheese is called for in the recipe, rather than milk

DRINK 

 

EGGS

FRUIT

GRAIN

MEAT

MILK

OIL

SPICES and HERBS



SWEETENER


VEGETABLES

Sample Dishes

The Emperor Norton is hosting a garden party for the luminaries of Brobdinag and Laputa, and his cook has worked up the following dishes to show off. The first is a thick soup of cuttlefish, komatsuna and horse gram spiced with long peppers. This will be preceded by an aspic made with duck eggs with pyrolisk and ackee suspended in it and a chickpea frytour made with cottonseed oil and spiced with Szechuan peppers. Yummy!

Christmas in July?!?!?

Got an email today about a Christmas in July sale on Lulu – 20% off with the code “Santa305”. That would make today and tomorrow great times to pick up any products you’ve had your eye on from the Old School Renaissance. Personally, I’m picking up OSRIC (finally) and Fight On! #9.

A Terrible Idea is Making the Rounds

At A Terrible Idea, they’ve come up with a pretty good idea – a community effort to pay an artist to create 60 character portraits – each about 2.5″ square – that will be released into the Creative Commons, and thus usable by guys like me, who publish game material, and by folks who just want to find a little character portrait for their games. I threw $10 into the ring, and if you would like to give to the cause, see the widget below.

If you do not want to be involved, please see the Gidget below …

And yeah, I went Sandra Dee over Sally Fields – I’m retro like that.

Thoughts on Henchmen

I was reading Al Nofi’s CIC on StrategyPage today, and saw this …

“When the Duke of Alba set out from northern Italy for the Netherlands in 1573, his army consisted of about 9,600 troops and nearly 7,000 camp followers.”

Could be interesting if every henchmen you wanted to bring on an adventure had 0-2 followers with him – wife, kids, whatever – or perhaps the requirements for strongholds (1 armorer for X troops) were carried over to expeditions as well. In truth, the added annoyance would probably guarantee my players would never use henchmen (or henchman – 10,000 gp in their pockets, and the most they would ever hire was one guy, with a few hit points, who always managed to die within an hour of leaving town … Gygax help me, I tried).