Holier Than Thou

I’m currently working on Blood & Treasure Monsters II, which involves fleshing out a few monster notes I’ve accumulated over the years. You know the sort of thing – monster concepts I just haven’t had time to flesh out. Among these concepts are three angels, the cherubim, seraphim and ophanim. These are the kinds of folks you just don’t want to mess with, especially if you’re chaotic. At the end of this article, I’ll talk about what I’ve just released, what I’m about to release, and what I’m going to try to release in 2018.

Image to the right of a cherub in humanoid form by Martin Harris, used under the Creative Commons license

Cherub
Type: Outsider
Size: Large
Hit Dice: 20
Armor Class: 25 [+3]
Attack: 2 kicks (4d6)
Move: 60′ (Fly 120′)
Save: 7; MR 55%
Intelligence: Super
Alignment: Lawful (LG)
No. Appearing: 1
XP/CL: 10,000/23

SA—Magic use (cleric spells, up to 9th level)

SD—Immunity (cold, electricity, fire, energy drain, magic missile, mind effects, petrification, poison, surprise and trap the soul), see invisible creatures, discern lies, protection from evil II and true seeing always active

SP—animate object, blade barrier •••, change self, commune, comprehend languages, control weather •, cure blindness/deafness, cure disease •••, cure serious wounds •••, detect evil, detect magic, dimensional anchor, dispel magic, earthquake •, ego whip •, feeblemind •, fire storm •, flame strike •••, heal, holy word •, insect plague •, intellect fortress •, invisibility II, limited wish •, mental barrier •, mind blank •, mind thrust •, polymorph any object, psionic blast •, psychic crush •, raise dead •••, random action •, read magic, remove curse, remove fear, resist cold, restoration •, shape change •, speak with dead, symbol (any) •, teleport without error, thought shield •, tower of iron will •, wind walk

The cherubim are the second highest in rank among the angels, after the solars. Called great, mighty and blessed, they appear as huge shedu with four wings and four faces, those of an angel, a dragonne, a gorgon and a gold dragon. They guard the passages from the Astral Plane to the upper planes, keeping fiendish beings out.

The dragonne head of a cherub can, four times per day, emit a powerful roar that forces all within 120′ to pass a saving throw or fall unconscious for 1d4 rounds.

The gold dragon head of a cherub can, three times per day, breathe forth a 60′ long cone of fire that deals 6d6 points of damage, or a similar cone of weakening gas that has the same effect as a ray of enfeeblement.

The gorgon head of a cherub can, five times per day, breathe a 60′ long cone of gas that turns creatures that fail a saving throw into salt, even if they astral or ethereal.

If a solar should be destroyed, a cherubim is uplifted into a new solar to take his place in that rank.

Ophan
Type: Outsider
Size: Huge
Hit Dice: 18
Armor Class: 25 [+3]
Attack: Slam (5d6) or trample
Move: 60′ (Fly 150′)
Save: 8; MR 50%
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Lawful (LG)
No. Appearing: 1
XP/CL: 9,000/21

SA—Magic use (cleric spells, up to 9th level, magic-user conjuration spells, up to 6th level)

SD—Immunity (cold, electricity, fire, energy drain, magic missile, mind effects, petrification, poison, sleep and trap the soul), see invisible creatures, discern lies, protection from evil II and true seeing always active

SP—astral projection ••, blade barrier •••, commune, comprehend languages, control weather •, cure blindness/ deafness, cure disease •••, cure serious wounds •••, detect evil, detect magic, disintegrate •, dispel magic, ego whip •, etherealness •••, feeblemind •, fire storm •, flame strike •••, heal, hold monster, holy word •, intellect fortress •, invisibility II, limited wish •, mental barrier •, mind blank •, mind thrust •, polymorph any object, psionic blast •, psychic crush •, raise dead •••, random action •, read magic, remove curse, remove fear, resist cold, restoration •, speak with dead, symbol (any) •, teleport without error, thought shield •, tower of iron will •, wind walk

Ophanim, also called Thrones and Elders, are living symbols of justice and authority (and just authority). They appear as beryl-colored wheels within wheels. The rim of the outer wheel is covered with hundreds of eyes, and the entire angel is wreathed always in divine radiance that heals the good and harms the wicked.

The space within the ophan’s wheels can be occupied by another creature, usually an angel. In this manner, the ophanim are used as chariots, or mounts, by other angels and lawful deities.

The radiance surrounding an ophan grants Lawful creatures the regenerate special ability, and deals 3d6 points of fire damage per round (double to undead) to non-lawful creatures.

An ophanim on the ground can trample a creature by rolling over it, dealing 6d6 points of damage. When flying, they can rotate so rapidly as to cause a whirlwind, like that created by an air elemental, for one minute.

Ophanim can emit up to four rays per round from the eyes on their rim. They can choose from the following:

Amethyst: Command
Silver: Hold monster
Gold: Polymorph
Sapphire: 6d6 cold damage
Emerald: Cure serious wounds
Ruby: 6d6 fire damage
Platinum: Fear
Diamond:6d6 electricity damage

Seraph
Type: Outsider
Size: Huge
Hit Dice: 16 [Regenerate]
Armor Class: 25 [+3]
Attack: Bite (4d6 + constrict)
Move: 40′ (Fly 120′)
Save: 9; MR 75%
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Lawful (CG)
No. Appearing: 1d3
XP/CL: 8,000/19

SA—Magic use (cleric spells, up to 9th level)

SD—Immunity (cold, electricity, fire, energy drain, magic missile, mind effects, petrification, poison and trap the soul), see invisible creatures, discern lies, protection from evil II and true seeing always active

SP—animate object, blade barrier •••, change self, commune, comprehend languages, control weather •, cure blindness/ deafness, cure disease •••, cure serious wounds •••, detect evil, detect magic, dispel magic, earthquake •, ego whip •, feeblemind •, fire storm •, flame strike •••, heal, holy word •••, insect plague •, intellect fortress •, invisibility II, limited wish •, mental barrier •, mind blank •, mind thrust •, polymorph any object, psionic blast •, psychic crush •, raise dead •••, random action •, read magic, remove curse, remove fear, resist cold, restoration •, shape change •, speak with dead, symbol (any) •, teleport without error, thought shield •, tower of iron will •, wind walk

The seraphim are burning serpents with burnished gold scales and six copper wings. They are messengers from the upper planes and foot soldiers of virtue.

Creatures within 30′ of a seraph suffer 2d6 points of fire damage from the intense heat unless they are lawful in alignment, in which case they are unaffected.

A chaotic creature constricted in its coils must roll 1d20 under their Wisdom score or have their alignment shifted to neutral for 3d6 days. This power does not work on chaotic outsiders, but it does leave them confused for 1d6 rounds.

A seraph can breathe a cone of divine fire that is 120′ long and deals 6d6 points of fire damage to most creatures, but 9d6 to chaotic creatures and 12d6 to the undead.

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR …

A week ago I published the e-book for Blood & Treasure Esoterica Exhumed, an expansion to the game with numerous new races, classes, weapons, armor, spells and magic items, as well as optional rules for psionics, 0-level characters and proficiencies. The e-book is $7.99 cheap.

Later today (I hope), I’m putting NOD 33 up for sale. It features an Africa-inspired hex crawl, a continuation of the one first published in NOD 16. It has a pantheon of African deities, mostly drawn from West Africa, a new hero, villain and plot outline for Mystery Men! and a dungeon for OSR games.

In 2018, I’m aiming for three hard covers (and will probably finish two).

Blood & Treasure Monsters II is a sure thing, as I’m about 75% done with it right now. I’m waiting for a cover by Russ Nicholson (you can see a mock-up below).

Myths & Legends will collect numerous pantheons I’ve published in issues of NOD, as well as many as yet unpublished. I’m probably 35% done with this baby.

Outre Dark is a guide to the planes in the NOD cosmos. I’m maybe 15% done with this one, but it should be pretty fun to write.

Of course, I’ll still be making issues of NOD and expanding the NOD campaign setting, and I should get the Pars Fortuna revision out, which will also serve as a preview of the revisions I’d like to do on Bloody Basic in 2019.

Baluchor, Prince of Astral Evil

I found a great old illustration of “Baluchor” from an old Halloween advertisement via James Lileks’ Bleat and thought it would make a great demon prince.

Baluchor, Demon Prince of Evil Astral Monsters

Type: Outsider
Size: Large
Hit Dice: 15 (90 hp)
Armor Class: 22 [+3]
Attack: 2 claws (2d8 + Poison I)
Movement: 40′ (Fly 60′)
Save: 9; MR 65%
Intelligence: Super
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)
XP/CL: 7,500/18

SD—Immunity (electricity, poison)

SP—Astral projection, confusion •••, darkness II, desecrate, detect good, dimension door, dispel magic, ego whip •••, fear, intellect fortress •••, magic missile, mental barrier •••, mind blank •, mind thrust •••, nightmare •, phantasmal killer •, psionic blast •••, psychic crush •, read magic, shield, suggestion, symbol (any), telekinesis (2000 lb.), teleport without error (self + 50 lbs.), thought shield •••, tongues, tower of iron will •, unhallow, unholy aura, unholy word, wall of force

Baluchor is the demon prince of evil Astral creatures, paid fearful obeisance to by the kith-yin, mind blasters, night hags and nightmares.

Baluchor’s antennae can pick up mystic vibrations (detect good, detect magic) and thought waves (E.S.P.) in a 60′ radius (always active).

When Baluchor rolls a natural ‘20’ on a claw attack while on the Astral Plane, he automatically severs a creature’s astral thread (if applicable).

Three times per day he can open a portal to the Astral Plane or a portal from the Astral Plane to another plane and, in the same round, use his telekinesis ability to attempt to push a creature through it.

Baluchor’s hairy body is host to numerous pests and parasites, so those in melee contact with him for more than 3 rounds must pass a saving throw or contract a disease.

Three times per day, Baluchor can summon 1 nalfeshnee or 1d2 marilith demons. Once per day, he can summon 2d8 kith-yin, 2d6 nightmares, 2d4 mind blasters or 1d4 night hags.

 

Nodian Grimoire II

Thought up a few new spells – probably more weird than useful, but who knows?

Belch Bile (Conjuration)
Level: Magic-User 3
Range: 20′ cone
Duration: Instantaneous

The magician conjures acid from their guts, belching it in a cone 20′ long and 10′ wide. All in the path of the acid suffer 1d4 points of damage per magic-user level (save for half damage). The magic-user loses their voice for one hour after casting the spell due to throat burn.

Body of Rubber (Transmutation)
Level: Magic-User 3
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 hour

The spell caster’s flesh becomes as rubber. They are immune to falling damage, and in fact bounce back half as high as they fell with no effort, or as high as they fell with some effort. Bludgeoning weapons do no damage to them, and their Armor Class against all other attacks is increased by +2.

Cocoon (Abjuration)
Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 hour

A piece of cloth large enough to cover the target becomes a metal cocoon, protecting them from harm. The cocoon holds enough air to allow the protected individual to breathe comfortably for the duration of the spell. The quality of the metal depends on the level of the spell caster: Steel for levels 3rd to 7th and adamantine for 8th and 9th level casters. The metal is one inch thick. The cocoon weighs approximately 1,400 lb.

Freeze Ray (Evocation)
Level: Magic-User 3
Range: 120′
Duration: Instantaneous

The target of this ray suffers 1d6 points of cold damage per level and must pass a saving throw or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds.

Lifting Hand (Evocation)
Level: Magic-User 4
Range: See below
Duration: 1 minute

An invisible hand of force appears beneath the spell caster and comrades within 5 feet of him and lifts them up or down up to 20 feet per level. The hand can move laterally no more than 2 feet per level. If the magic-user and friends are still on the hand when the spell’s duration runs out, it simply disappears.

Mutation Ray (Transmutation)
Level: Magic-User 4
Range: 60′
Duration: 1 hour

A glowing green ray erupts from the palm of the magic-user’s left hand. A creature struck suffers a random mutation (see mutagen capsule in Blood & Treasure Rulebook). There is a percentage chance that the mutation is permanent equal to 20 minus the target’s constitution score, or 10 minus their Hit Dice for monsters. Constructs, oozes, outsiders and elementals are unaffected by the ray and fey creatures receive a +2 bonus to save against it.

Ricochet (School)
Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 minute

A sword blade touched by the magic-user gains the ability to block unerringly rays and magic missiles.

Spiraling Failure (Enchantment)
Level: Magic-User 3
Range: 30′
Duration: 24 hours

The magic-user curses one dice-rolling aspect of her target – attack rolls, saving throws against a general class of threat, a particular task check, etc. For 24 hours, every time the target fails one of those dice rolls, they suffer a cumulative -1 penalty one subsequent dice rolls of that type.

Transmute Flesh to Robot (Transmutation)
Level: Magic-User 6
Range: 30′
Duration: 10 minutes

The target of this spell has their flesh and innards changed to metal and mechanisms for 10 minutes. This gives them the abilities of a construct and a natural AC of 15, but removes their emotions (and alignment becomes true neutral).

Transmute Food to Ash (Necromancy)
Level: Anti-Cleric 2, Druid 2, Magic-User 2
Range: 10′
Duration: Instantaneous

Up to 1 lb of food per level within view and no more than 10 feet away is turned to ashes.

Transmute Water to Poison (Necromancy)
Level: Anti-Cleric 2, Druid 2, Magic-User 2
Range: Touch
Duration: Permanent

The magic-user transmutes up to one gallon of water per level into Poison I or one quart of water per level to Poison II, one pint of water per level to Poison III and fluid ounce of water per level to Poison IV. If the magic-user attempts to transmute a larger portion of water than allowed by their level, the spell fails. The reverse of this spell changes poisons (in like quantities to above) to pure water.

Illustration by Jon Kaufman

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A Vintage Blacker than a Necromancer’s Soul

I knocked together a draft for an adventure tonight, inspired by a map made by the inimitable Dyson Logos – support his Patreon if you dig awesome maps.

Quick Note – the patchwork woman and belle dame sans merci monsters are from the Tome of Monsters (for first edition Blood & Treasure) and the forthcoming Monsters II (for second edition Blood & Treasure).

When a war has ravaged a land, a once thriving community can become overgrown and wild. Such was the case with a little village of men in a broad and shadowy woodland. Outside that village there was once a fine temple that was abandoned when its village was abandoned. This became the home of the necromancer Joachim, who slowly broke down the protections on the bodies interred in the catacombs and graveyard and used them for his experiments.

Joachim was an odd necromancer, seeking to understand and thus cheat death, maybe even seduce it (he had a belief that Death was a woman, perhaps due to severe psychological trauma brought on by a cold and abusive mother) rather than wedding it as does a lich – a sensuous immortality rather than a bleak non-existence.

The tortured little necromancer hatched a plan that involved the conjuration of an angel. He then killed this angel with a jagged claw plucked from a demon’s severed hand and used the celestial’s ichor to brew a potion of immortality. The potion, once imbibed, did not work as he had planned, and the crime he committed against nature with the killing of an angel warped the catacombs beneath the temple. The forgotten temple was forgotten yet again, and lay dormant, its riddle waiting patiently to be unraveled.

Enter the adventurers …

The Catacombs

Beneath the aforementioned temple are catacombs, and these catacombs have been dimensionally twisted. The map included was drawn by the great Dyson Logos, and present a very interesting dungeon to explore. The arrows and letters on the map indicate where passages lead, but I’m introducing yet another wrinkle – a wrinkle in time.

Whenever the characters move from along an arrow or through a letter, they also travel in time. For our purposes, there are three time frames – Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow.

D6    Time Frame
1        Yesterday
2-4   Today
5-6   Tomorrow

You see, once the adventurers enter the catacombs, they alert the remnants of Joachim of their presence. The potion turned Joachim into a sort of ooze – a sentient ichor that seeped into the cracks of the floor. It is now bubbling up, appearing to adventurers as jellied tendrils of a deep burgundy color. In the present – Today – these investigations are tentative. In the future – Tomorrow – they will be more fervent, frequent and dangerous. In the past – Yesterday – there are no tendrils, but the catacombs are still dangerous.

Leaving the catacombs snaps people back through space and time. They awaken many hours later scattered around the woods that surround the church (1d6 x 100 yards away, random direction). They suffer complete memory loss about the catacombs if they leave without solving the adventure, but their memories return if they enter the catacombs again.

Random encounters in the catacombs vary based on the time frame. Roll 2d6 whenever somebody turns a corner, opens a door onto a corridor, makes a loud noise or casts a cleric or druid spell.

Encounters for Today

2. Tendrils (1d3)*
3. Giant Rat (1d4)
4-12. No encounter

Encounters for Yesterday

2. Patchwork Woman (1)**
3. Skeleton (1d4)
4. Giant Rat (1d6)
5-12. No encounter

Encounters for Tomorrow

2. Tendrils (2d6)***
3. Patchwork Woman (1)**
4. Jelly Ghoul (1d3)****
5. Skeleton (1d6)
6-12. No encounter

* Tendrils in Today come from the floor or walls. Each is 10 feet long, has AC 12 and dissipates if it suffers 5 points of damage. They attack as 2 HD monsters and deal 1d6 damage.

** The patchwork woman is a unique creature – she is the animated corpse of Joachim’s mother. If she is destroyed as a random encounter she does not appear elsewhere in the dungeon.

*** Tendrils in Tomorrow come from the floors or walls. Each is up to 30 feet long, has AC 15 and dissipates if it suffers 10 points of damage. They attack as 2 HD monsters and deal 1d6 damage. If they grapple an opponent, they suffer 1 point of Constitution damage each round until freed.

**** Normal ghoul stats, but they are composed of thick ooze. They suffer half normal damage from non-magical bludgeoning weapons and must engulf people (with a grapple attack) to paralyze people.

In addition, in Today there is always a 1 in 6 chance of a tendril encounter in each chamber. In Tomorrow, there is a 4 in 6 chance of a tendril encounter in each chamber.

Today Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. Nothing much – we start here. Dusty chamber, alcoves hold slabs with bones of dead high priests that remain protected from the evil of the catacombs; the tendrils and undead cannot enter the alcoves.

2. Small necromantic study. Owlbear rug, creaky mahogany chair, shelves with a few books.

3. Joachim’s living quarters. Sparse, bed with feather mattress with a zombie inside, painting of Mother on one wall, wooden chest (poisoned lock) holding three changes of clothes, a silver locket with a picture of Mother inside, a vial of blood and a silver dagger.

4. Empty.

5. Old temple. Dusty, evidence of blood spatters and bloody footprints, remnants of a marble idol – just the sandaled feet left.

6. Twelve casks of old, excellent wine. One cask is poisoned.

7. Workroom – flesh golem here is complete other than head, which is unattached and lying on a table.

8. Library of necromantic tomes.

9. Crypt – holds caskets for Mother and Father. Mother’s casket is empty save for her clothes and a locket holding a lock of Joachim’s hair. Father’s casket holds his cracked and trampled bones. When presented with the locket, the patchwork woman is treated as though affected by the hold monster spell.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. Bones of Saint Hypatia in an iron-bound casket.

13. Bones of the Brother Umphal, a trio of crusader knights.

14. Ossuary of old priestly skulls.

15. A chapel of the Lawful faith turned into a chapel of Chaos. 1d4 ooze tendrils are always encountered here cradling a small wooden bust of Mother’s head.

16. Necromantic supplies such as weird solutions in vials and jars, bandages, embalming tools, hard chunks of wax and fresh smocks.

17. Bodies were once prepared here for internment and was used as a workroom for Joachim.

18. Room holds three vats, sealed. Inside are zombies with swollen heads.

19. Bodies of two women wrapped in leather straps and the patchwork woman – all three are in alcoves.

20. A casket in chains; inside is a vampire that is held in place by a silver sword of salvation. If the sword (+1 longsword, +3 vs. undead) is removed, the vampire can attack. It looks like a corpse until re-animated.

21. A dagger stained with burgundy ichor and a magic circle of silver dust that has been breached (probably by a human foot) and five white candles. The angel’s body has disappeared. 2d4 tendrils will always appear in this room from a crack in the floor.

22. Dancing dead (7 skeletons with iron crowns with a small sapphire that can fire a single blue ray that deals 1d6 points of cold damage) and three large ooze tendrils, one bearing Joachim’s face with crazy eyes. The goblet stained with ichor lies on the floor and radiates intense magic and good.

Tomorrow Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. As above plus three skeletons with jagged broken swords (save vs. disease).

2. As above, but trashed beyond all utility.

3. As above.

4. Two sallow zombies vomiting green slime.

5. As above, but swathed in magical darkness and guarded by two jelly ghouls.

6. As above.

7. As above, but the flesh golem’s head is alive and active, and can mess with people’s minds via telepathy; 1d6 tendrils will appear three rounds after people enter the room.

8. As above, but the books scream when opened.

9. As above.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. Bones of Saint Hypatia in an iron-bound casket with two jelly ghouls pounding on it.

13. Bones of the Brother Umphal, a trio of crusader knights now animated as 3 HD skeletons with greatswords and burning eyes that can blind once per day – their chainmail armor is now gleaming black and +1 in enchantment. This enchantment does not last outside the catacombs, where the armor turns rusty and useless.

14. As above, plus the skulls weep with poisonous (Poison III) tears.

15. As above.

16. As above, but three zombies are here.

17. As above, but three skeletons are here.

18. Room holds three zombies with massive heads – so massive they must hold them up with their hands. They only attack by biting, and they can swallow small creatures.

19. Two belle dames sans merci and the patchwork woman.

20. As above.

21. As above, but the angel’s body has disappeared. 3d4 tendrils will always appear in this room from a crack in the floor.

22. As above.

Yesterday Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. As above, but four skeleton guards with shields and swords.

2. As above. A small table next to the chair holds a goblet of wine.

3. As above.

4. Empty.

5. As above.

6. As above.

7. Workroom – scraps of human flesh – a flesh golem that has not yet been sewn up. A head is in a jar of chemicals.

8. As above.

9. As above.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. As above, but evil cannot enter this chamber.

13. As above, but evil cannot enter this chamber.

14. As above.

15. A chapel of the Lawful faith turned into a chapel of Chaos with a wooden bust of Mother on the altar with several candles.

16. As above.

17. As above; three corpses are on the slab prepped for animation.

18. Room holds three vats filled with bubbling chemicals that put off a foul-smelling cloud.

19. Two corpses of women who were beautiful in life and are preserved with only minor rotting with dark magic, plus the patchwork woman.

20. As above.

21. A smallish man with curly auburn hair and a pallid complexion is here, holding a +2 dagger and looking at a brilliantly illuminated humanoid with wings who is within a magic circle of silver dust. A golden goblet (200 gp) is on the floor near the magic circle. The angel appears concerned, but resigned to being a sacrifice – it is forgiving the man, who appears to be at least half-mad. If the angel can be saved from the necromancer (8th level), who is guarded by three zombies, the catacombs return to normal and the curse on the place is removed.

22. A simple tomb.

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The Antiquarian – Thumbnail Class Sketch

When I forget my phone at home, I usually spend lunch writing in a little notebook rather than reading. Today I had a few ideas for a class, which I present before in “thumbnail sketch” format, rather than fully realized.

This fellow will probably find his way into Esoterica Exhumed in a more fleshed-out form.

The Antiquarian …

– Rolls d4 for hit points

– Fights and saves like a magic-user

– Can read obscure languages

– Collects dusty tomes, books, scrolls – carries them on his back, so he’s hunched over – provides protection from back stabs

– Can call up the ghosts of the past to help him (knowledge, fighting, etc. – “Julius Caesar, I choose you”) – I figure this will work a little like an illusionist’s shadow conjuration spells

– Legend lore, as a bard (or more so)

– Use magic scrolls to cast spells; can always identify potions and scrolls

– Can recall ways to fight monsters (“Egad, I nearly forgot that ogres are allergic to dust mites”) – while fighting a monster, but only if the group doesn’t have what they need – they can use the method in future fights, though, and get a +1 to hit the monster

– Has bad eyesight from all the reading – easier to surprise

– Resistance to magic – 3% per level to divination, enchantment and illusion; 1% per level to necromancy, transmutation, etc.

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