Thar She Blows

Here’s a little beastie that popped into my head today while I was walking the dog. Strangely enough, there was a cloud-filled sky …

Cloud Whale
Type: Elemental (Air)
Size: Huge
Hit Dice: 36
Armor Class: 16 [+1]
Attack: Bite (6d6 + 1d6 electricity), slam (3d6 + 1d6 electricity)
Move: Fly 100′
Save: 7
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral (N)
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP/CL: 3,600/37

SA—Resistance to cold and electricity, immune to fire

SP—Gaseous form, gust of wind •••

Cloud whales look just as you might expect, as masses of clouds in the shape of whales. They swim through the sky, only rarely descending near the ground, feeding on incendiary vapors and smoke. These vapors are spouted from the cloud whale every so often as a gout of flame, and coagulate within them as “flambergris”, a waxy, reddish mass about the size of a human fist, that can be used by magic-users in fire-oriented magic. A ball of flambergris is worth 500 gp. A ball can be set ablaze and thrown in the manner of alchemist’s fire.

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.

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.

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).


Dragon by Dragon – March 1981 (47)

It’s been a little while since I had the time to review a Dragon Magazine, but today is the day!

I’m going to kick it right off with a letter to the editor …

‘The height of absurdity’

Dear Editor:

I finished reading my December issue of DRAGON magazine in a rage. I refer to the letter from the player (“Lowly Players”) who says his DM won’t let his group subscribe to DRAGON magazine because therein are things meant only for the DM.

The height of absurdity indeed.

Aside from overwrought readers, what else does #47 offer?

Up first is the AD&D exam, which might be fun to put on Google+ for a prize … something to think about. It looks like it’s mostly True or False, which suggests starting with contestants in brackets like the NCAA basketball tournament.

A letter about the elemental planes by Steven Kienle brought up a couple neat ideas, to whit:

“Play on other planes gives the DM a chance to introduce new magic items into the campaign without “overloading” the prime material world, perhaps altering their characteristics or their effects to conform with how they would operate in the alien environment.”

Nice idea – offer up some magic items to help survive on the plane, but make them useless elsewhere.

“Because of the strangeness of our appearance to natives of other planes, a character’s Charisma would be reduced by from 1-3 points in attempts to communicate or deal with the creature (but never going below 3). The amount of the reduction depends on how dissimilar the two creature types are; for instance, it might be -1 on the elemental plane of earth, because both life forms have solid bodies, but it would be greater on the elemental plane of air, where the native life form does not have a solid body.”

Air elementals do not favor the “flesh time”.

“Natives of the elemental planes need not be entirely alien and original; but might be adaptations of creatures found on the prime material. For example, a spider native to the plane of fire would appear as a ball of fire with eight tongues of flame sticking out of it. Most undead creatures would appear different on an elemental plane, since they would be the undead form of a creature native to that plane. For instance, a skeleton on the plane of fire would appear as a network of flames instead of a structure of bones.”

Neat ideas for fire plane monsters!

The letter reminds me of the old Dragon material, where it was people throwing around clever ideas without “ruling” them to death.

It is followed by a complicated thing about using search patterns while traveling astrally, yadda yadda yadda …

Dig this awesome art …

It’s a collection of weird planar monsters by Patrick Amory (this guy?), including the wirchler (seen above), the aruchai (blobs of flesh from Limbo), the phoenix from Elysium, the furies from Tartarus, the mapmakers from Pandemonium, the flards of Nirvana and the sugo from Acheron.

Here’s a slick excerpt:

“The Wirchler originates from the plane of Gehenna, the Valley of Flame. Fire is their natural habitat, much as air is ours. They are, however, known to leave their dreadful home in groups to search for new prey. At present they pay precious Fire-gems to the Night Hags in Hades in return for Larvae to torture.”

Fire-gems for night hags. Nice.

Leonard Lakofka then takes a special look at the thief. It’s a nice article, covering some things he thinks players miss about playing a thief – picking more pockets, sneaking into camps to steal things or make maps, etc. He also adds a percent chance to set traps, beginning at 26% at first level and topping out at 80% at 15th level. Makes sense to me. He includes a modifier for high or low dexterity, and the following racial adjustments: Dwarves +15%, gnomes +10%, halflings +8%, half-orcs +4% and elves -5%.

Lakofka also adds this tidbit: Multiply Intelligence by 12 to discover the percentage chance that a character can read and write in a language he speaks. This would only impact characters with an intelligence of 8 or lower.

Giants in the Earth presents stats by Katharine Brahtin Kerr for P. Vergilius Maro’s Camilla (a Chaotic Good 10th level fighter) and Medea, Tamer of Dragons (a Chaotic Neutral 18th level magic-user with sage abilities).

Here’s a quick bit from Top Secret by Merle M. Rasmussen – determining handedness of agents:

01-89: Character is right-handed
90-99: Character is left-handed
00: Character is ambidextrous

In case you needed such a table.

Here’s the good stuff – a game by David Cook called Crimefighters, for simulating the heroes of pulp fiction. I wonder if anyone has done a retro-clone of this game?

Here’s the “mysterious power table” for making Shadow-esque characters:

1 – Command
2 – Confusion
3 – ESP
4 – Fear
5 – Foresight
6 – Hypnotism
7 – Invisibility
8 – Luck
9 – Shadow Control
10 – Sight

Combat is measured in seconds in a clever system that requires one to state their actions and then roll initiative. Changing one’s actions mid-stream introduces a 1 second penalty.

It comes with an adventure – “The Case of the Editor’s Envelope”. The set up isn’t unlike what I did with Mystery Men!

It looks like a very playable system, with plenty that can be used by folks playing other games.

It’s times like these I wish I had the time to whip up a quick game on Google+ – would probably be a blast.

Boy, some of those alien ships in Cluster look familiar:

Also a nice little Otus sketch:

And then there’s Jim Holloway’s illustration for Tony Watson‘s review of Task Force Games’ Robots!.

You can pick up a used copy at Amazon.

I leave you, as always, with a bit of Tramp

Very Disney-esque, this one.

Have fun on the internet, and don’t give into rage if you discover somebody won’t let their players read the Dragon.

Freeform Fantasy Races

Before I started writing this blog or publishing, I did a fair amount of writing for myself and the people with whom I gamed. I recently came across some files I’d stashed away, including the “original” NOD RPG, which was really just a mash-up of Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades, with art from Wayne Reynolds, and this little ditty about racial archetypes.

The idea was to swap out the common fantasy races for these archetypes, with options chosen by the players so that they could, in essence, build their own “race” for their character. I used some of these idea later in Space Princess for those races, and a few ideas have probably filtered into Blood & Treasure, but I thought people might enjoy seeing the original, with only a little editing for spelling. Again – assume these were for some unholy mash-up of S&W, C&C and 3rd edition.

These rules are designed to let you model races not found in the Player’s Handbook.

Attribute Modifiers
All of the archetypes in this document except Aliens, Dynamics, and Natives are allowed one attribute modifier from the following list.

• +1 Cha, -1 Wis.
• +1 Dex, -1 Con.
• +1 Int, -1 Str.
• +1 Str, -1 Int and -1 penalty to one ability score of your choice.
• +1 Con, -1 Dex.
• +1 Wis, -1 Cha.

Dynamic Characters
Dynamics are the most common form of adventurer. They rely on training and luck to win the day, not innate powers.

Senses: Normal.

Prime Attributes: Dynamic characters may choose three prime attributes instead of the usual two.

Alien Characters
Aliens are defined by strange physical and mental powers. They are probably the most versatile type of hero, after the dynamic. Virtually any kind of “super powered” hero can be realized with the alien type.

Senses: Normal – but see below.

Powers: Aliens can choose three powers from the following list.

Mental Powers
All mental powers that are derived from Jason Vey’s psionics rules follow those rules normally. The alien should be treated as a 1st level psionicist for the purpose of using the ability. If an alien takes a psionic mental power multiple times, he increases his effective level for using that power by 1. Thus, an alien that took metabolic control three times would use the power as a 3rd level psionicist.

  • Alien Mind: Creatures that try to read or control your mind must make an Intelligence save or be confused for 1 round.
  • Clairaudience: See psionics rules.
  • Clairvoyance: See psionics rules.
  • Dual-Mind: You are capable of engaging in two mental tasks at once, making an attribute check for each at -2. You cannot cast two spells or use to psionic powers simultaneously with this power. In addition, you also get to make two saving throws against mental effects. As long as one mind makes it save, you can ignore the effect, though you suffer a -2 penalty to all actions.
  • Empathy: See psionics rules.
  • Heightened Mentality: Increase one of your mental attributes (Int, Wis, or Cha) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Metabolic Control: See psionics rules.
  • Obfuscation: See psionics rules.
  • Psionically Gifted: You gain a +1 bonus to all psionic power checks.
  • Psychic Defense: See psionics rules.
  • Spell Resistance: You gain spell resistance 1. Each additional time you take this ability you increase your spell resistance by +1.
  • Telepathic Communication (Wisdom): See psionics rules.

Physical Powers

  • Chameleon: This is the ability to change the body’s colors (though not the color of items worn or carried) to match the environment. Generally it should give a bonus of +1 to +5 on hide checks.
  • Energy Resistance: You gain resistance to one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This can be power can taken more than once, but it applies to a different energy form each time you take it.
  • Extra Arms: When using two-weapon fighting, you may make two off-hand attacks instead of one. Alternatively, you may wield an additional shield in combat.
  • Extra Legs: You are a quadruped – you gain a +4 bonus to avoid being knocked over. In addition, your carrying capacity is increased by 10%.
  • Heightened Physique: Increase one of your physical attributes (Str, Con, or Dex) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Heightened Senses: You gain twilight vision, an enhanced sense of smell, and a +2 bonus to all listen checks.
  • Improved Speed: Your base land movement is increased by +5 ft. This can be taken more than once, and its benefits stack.
  • Natural Armor: You have scales, thick fur, or thick skin of some kind that give you a natural AC 12. Each additional time that you take this power you increase your natural armor by +2.
  • Natural Weapons: You either gain a bite, claw, gore, slam, slap, sting, talon, or tentacle attack that deals 1d4 damage. This attack can be used in addition to weapon attacks at no penalty. Each additional time you take this power you can either gain an additional attack form, or increase the damage of an existing attack form by one dice size.
  • Poison: You are poisonous – either through bite, skin contact, or writhing snakes on your head. Opponents who are stricken must succeed at a Constitution save or suffer 1d6 points of damage.
  • Quills/Spikes: Your outer arms, back, head, legs, etc are covered in quills or spikes. You gain a +1 bonus to AC, and can inflict 1d4 points of bonus damage when grappling or grappled. Opponents that strike you without using weapons suffer this damage automatically.
  • Regeneration: Gains fast healing 1.
  • Spider Climb: You can use spider climb, as the spell, at will.
  • Stretch: You can increase your reach by 5 ft (at the cost of 2 points of strength), and squeeze into small spaces with a dexterity check.
  • Tentacles: Tentacles emerge from some portion of your body – they may replace your arms or legs, or jut out from your chin. They grant you a slam attack that deals 1d4 damage, and grant you a +2 bonus to grappling attacks and climbing.

Sample Alien: Githyanki

The githyanki are descended from human slaves kept by the mind flayers. Ages ago they rebelled and escaped to the Astral Plane, where they now dwell. Githyankis have three mental powers: Alien mind, heightened mentality (+1 Int), and psionically gifted.

Beaste Characters
A concept drawn from folklore, beastes are shape shifting magical animals.

Senses: Twilight vision, enhanced sense of smell.

Alternate Form: Beastes can alternate their form between that of an animal, a humanoid, and a hybrid form. Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the beaste. In each form the character’s level and attribute scores are unchanged.

Animal Form: When in animal form the beaste is virtually undetectable from a normal animal. Beastes gain the ability to speak with normal animals when in their animal form. While in animal form, a beaste cannot use any weapons, armor, or equipment, nor can they cast spells. They can understand any language they know, but may not be able to reply.

Humanoid Form: When in humanoid form, beastes looks like a normal humanoid of a type chosen during character creation (i.e. elf, dwarf, human, orc, etc). Whatever their chosen humanoid guise, they always retain some distinctive feature of their beaste form. The choice is up to the player. In humanoid form, the beaste loses its twilight vision and enhanced sense of smell.

Hybrid Form: A beaste in hybrid form appears as a combination of animal and humanoid – their exact appearance is up to the player. In this form, they retain the special attacks and qualities of their animal form, but also have working humanoid hands, and can speak humanoid languages.

Speak To Animals: In all forms, a beaste can speak to animals at will.

Sample Beaste: Kitsune

Kitsune are fox beastes of Japanese folklore. They are capable of taking the form of a human, fox, or human-fox hybrid. They gain a +1 bonus to charisma and a -1 penalty to wisdom.

Elemental Characters
Elementals carry the blood of elementals in their veins. All elementals show this heritage in their physical appearance.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Energy Resistance: All elementals have 50% resistance to one energy type based on their elemental heritage:

Air 50% resistance to electricity
Earth 50% resistance to acid
Fire 50% resistance to fire
Water 50% resistance to cold

Elemental Power: Elementals have special abilities based on their elemental heritage.

Air: Reduce falling damage by 50%, double jump distance.
Earth: +2 AC vs. overbearing attacks, +1 natural AC
Fire: Deal 1 point of fire damage with all melee attacks.
Water: Breathe underwater, gain swim speed equal to land speed.

Sample Elemental: Fire Gnome
The fire gnomes are gnomes that dwell near volcanoes. They have 50% resistance to fire and can deal 1 extra point of damage with their melee attacks. In addition, they have the small subtype, giving them a +2 bonus to dexterity and a -2 penalty to strength. They have a +1 bonus to intelligence and a -1 penalty to strength (making a total -3 penalty to strength).

Macabre Characters
Macabres are either born from the undead (i.e. their parents were made undead while they were in the womb, or they were sired by a vampire, or there was a strange ritual involved), the result of botched resurrections on their pregnant mothers, or maybe they are actually sentient undead. Macabres can choose to be intangibles (like ghosts, shadows, or wraiths) or corporeals (like zombies, ghouls or vampires). They can be small, medium, or large.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Macabres are damaged by positive energy and healed by negative energy. Thus cure light wounds will inflict 1d8 points of damage on a macabre, while inflict light wounds will cure 1d8 points of damage.

Stunning Touch: Macabres have a touch attack that stuns living creatures for 1d4 rounds if they fail a constitution saving throw. They can use this once per day.

Intangibles: Intangible macabres can use ethereal jaunt once per day.

Corporeals: Corporeal macabres have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits.

Sample Macabre: True Ghoul
The true ghouls are a race of undead that haunts the deepest reaches of the Underworld. Unlike normal ghouls ,they are intelligent and more-or-less civilized. A true ghoul has the normal resistance to positive and negative energy and stunning touch of a macabre. As corporeal macabres, they have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits. They have a +1 bonus to constitution and a -1 penalty to dexterity.

Magical Characters
Magical characters have magical power flowing through their veins. This is usually due to a fey, planar, or draconic heritage.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Magicals can choose to have 25% resistance to any three energy types of their choice, 90% resistance to sleep and charm effects, or a flat magic resistance of 10%.

Spells: Magicals can choose four 0-level spells, two 1st level spells, or one 2nd level spell to cast as spell-like abilities once per day. The magical character has a caster level of 1 with his spell-like abilities.

The list a magical character chooses his spell-like abilities from often corresponds to his heritage: wizard for draconics, illusionist or druid for feys, and cleric for planars.

The spells chosen must be approved by the CK.

Sample Magical: Tiefling
Tieflings have fiendish blood in their veins. They have 25% resistance to cold, fire and poison damage, and can cast darkness once per day. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Native Characters
The native is tied to where he has grown to adulthood, whether he is a barbarian of the forests or a city slicker.

Senses: Normal.

Native Environment: Natives must designate one “environment” as their native environment. A native can choose from the following environments: Aquatic, Arctic, Desert, Forest, Jungle, Hills, Marsh, Mountains, Plains, Underground, and Urban. Man-made dungeons do not count as an urban or underground environment.

All natives receive a +1 bonus to initiative, attribute checks that would benefit from familiarity with an area, and +10 ft to movement when in their native environment.

In addition, natives can choose to get either a +1 bonus to hit three traditional enemies of their people (chosen with CK’s approval), or a +1 bonus to hit with a traditional weapon of their people.

Finally, natives get a +2 bonus to AC when fighting large creatures native to their native environment.

Sample Native: Cimmerian
The Cimmerians of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian tales are native to a land of steep, rugged hills. In such environments they gain a +1 bonus to initiative and attribute checks, a +10’ to their movement. Their traditional enemies are the Picts, Vanir, and Hyperboreans, against whom they are +1 to hit. Against large creatures native to Cimmeria they have a +2 bonus to AC.

Promethean Characters

Monkbot, from HERE

Note: I think I snagged this from somewhere else – maybe Jason Vey – if anyone knows, let me know

Prometheans are creatures that are manufactured by other creatures. They are sentient, and as capable of emotion as their player wishes them to be. Prometheans can be built from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, stone, clay, porcelain, or even unliving flesh.

Constructed: Prometheans are immune to any effect that requires a constitution save that doesn’t normally affect objects. They do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, although they can benefit from imbibing a magical potion.

Outer Shell: Prometheans gains special abilities based on the composition of their outer shell. Choose one.

Ceramic: +2 to charisma checks
Cloth: +2 to dexterity checks
Metal: Natural AC 12
Wax: Change self once per day, vulnerable to fire
Wood: Natural AC 11, swim speed equal to half their land speed

Innards: Prometheans gain special abilities based on their innards. Choose one.

Clockwork: +2 to grapple attacks and to disarm AC due to the ability to lock their grasp
Cotton: Cold resistance equal to 25%
Hollow: Conceal objects one size category smaller within its body
Sand: Fire resistance equal to 25%
Sawdust: Acid resistance equal to 25%
Solid: 25% chance to negate extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits

Sample Promethean: Karakuri
In real life, karakuri are primitive Japanese clockwork automatons. In a fantasy game they can be prometheans of ceramic composition and clockwork innards. This gives them a +2 to charisma checks, a +2 bonus to grapple attacks, and a +2 bonus to AC vs. disarming attacks. Since they are constructs, they need not eat, sleep, or breath. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Racial Subtypes
The following subtypes can be added to any racial type.

Aquatic: Aquatic creatures can breath underwater and gain a swim speed equal to their land speed. They must immerse their bodies in water at least once per day or lose 1 point of Constitution to dehydration.

Avian: Avian creatures have working wings; they gain a fly speed equal to their land speed, but suffer a -2 penalty to Constitution due to their hollow bones.

Insectoid: An insectoid’s antenna give it the ability to fight without the benefit of sight. They suffer half the normal penalty when fighting blind.

Subterranean: Subterranean creatures have darkvision to 60 feet, but are -1 to hit in bright light. Alternatively, they can have deepvision to 120 feet, but suffer a -3 penalty to hit in bright light.

Size: A creature’s size is assumed to be Medium, i.e. between 5 and 7 feet in height. Optionally, it can be Tiny, Small, or Large.

  • Tiny (1-2 ft): +4 Dex, -4 Str, 50% reduced carrying capacity
  • Small (3-4 ft): +2 Dex, -2 Str, 25% reduced carrying capacity
  • Large (8-12 ft): +2 Str, -2 Dex, 25% increased carrying capacity

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

Dragon by Dragon – July 1979 (27)

I just drove in from Cedar City, and boy is my car tired.

Vaughn and Pfundstein – Go watch their play – it is excellent

I use that by way of an explanation for why this post is showing up now, rather than this morning. My daughter and I traveled to the Utah Shakespeare Festival to watch The Taming of the Shrew, starring Brian Vaughn as Petruchio and Melinda Pfundstein as Katherine. It was fabulous. If you get the chance, visit the festival. Now I want to do a Shakespeare edition of Bloody Basic in iambic pentameter. I’m not sure that’s possible, but boy would it be a fun challenge.

And now that I’ve given some love to the USF, it’s time for a review of The Dragon #27, published 36 years ago this month – time for a baby to be born, grow up, and begin yelling at kids born when 4th edition was published to get off his lawn. As he should, the grubby little beggars.

The ads the issue opens up with aren’t new, but I did notice this bit:

Great artifact of the size of the hobby 36 years ago.

The first article in this issue is “Agincourt: The Destruction of French Chivalry”, a game review by Tim Kask. As he writes, “Ah yes, that’s a Dunnigan game.” As in James Dunnigan. As an avid reader of his excellent books How to Make War and The Quick and Dirty Guide to War, this piqued my interest in the game review (I also note that Al Nofi did the historical research – I love his CIC articles at Strategy Page). Kask praises how he makes the game feel like the period, reflecting the fact that the French mostly defeated themselves at Agincourt. He finds it both a very complex game, and a very playable game.

To my delight, the review was followed by an article from Dunnigan himself – “Agincourt: Designer’s Notes”. One extract:

“I would say the single most difficult aspect that I had to incorporate into the design of Agincourt, were the combined arms and doctrine factors that were critical to the outcome of the battle, This is best shown by looking at the rules covering crowding and fugitives and their effect upon morale.”

I note this, because it’s similar to what I try to do with Bloody Basic and articles on fantasy campaigns in NOD (and not always successfully) – how do you interject the feel of the subject you’re covering without making the game needlessly complicated. It brings to my mind the idea of first principals.

Keeping the theme alive, Steve Alvin now writes “The Political and Military Effects of Agincourt on the Hundred Years War”. I love history – majored in it in college – and I know most war game buffs have at least some regard for it, but I wonder how popular articles like this were back in the day. I hope very. I wonder how they would play now?

Get your scissors out, because Jeff Swycaffer‘s article “Elementals and the Philosopher’s Stone” has a full-color cutout. In the article he mentions the four elements of Greek philosophy and the elementals they inspired … and then remarks on the twelve new types of elementals discovered by “a mad philosopher”. These would be the quasi-elementals and/or para-elementals. I can never keep them straight. Swycaffer visualizes the placement of the elementals thus:

“To visualize the placement of the elementals in the scheme of reality, imagine a globe. The equator is divided into eight segments: air, cold, water, moisture, earth, heat, fire, and dry. Thus the circle is complete, with dryness adjacent to air. This is reasonable, as the alchemists of the 1200s depicted the elements in this fashion. Here water is both cold and moist, and both air and fire are dry.

This is merely the plane of the equator, however. At the south pole, evil. Good and evil are the poles of the physical world, and no one element is more evil than good, or vice versa.”

He then goes on to explain how the elements interact with good and evil – these are the qualities, which include pleasure, fertility, beginning, light, ending, darkness, pain and barren. He explains that the “elementals of good and evil” are the demons of Eldritch Wizardry, D&D Supplement III and the angels of Stephen H. Domeman that appears in The Dragon #17. He then goes on to describe, in basic terms, the elementals of qualities. For example:

“ENDING: Appears as a normal human. Closes doors (as a wizard lock), dispels good magic, and curses as an Evil High Priest.”

For those who need to know, the Ending Elemental has 2 HD, movement of 9, does 1d6 damage per hit, has AC 9 (remember, this is old “lower is better” AC), and is friends with air, water and cold elementals.

“From the Sorcerer’s Scroll” this month is by a guest writer – Bob Bledsaw. He created a little something called Judge’s Guild, which produced some of the great little gems of the OD&D era. He covers all the things JG had done at that time for D&D – a nice little bit of horn blowing, but well deserved I think. I liked this quote:

“Ya don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and ya don’t mess around with the play balance …”

Truer words were never spoken.

Next up is an “Out on a Limb”. God, this is classic geek-fight material, and it should surprise nobody that these are the folks that invented the internet. An example, from an extremely long letter to the editor by Ray Rahman of Minnesota. The first paragraph of his letter:

“Upon reading Mark Cummings’ review of Ralph Bakshi’s film THE LORD OF THE RINGS, I became as concerned about Mr. Cummings’ ethics as he was of Mr. Bakshi’s morals. His review of the film begins dramatically with the statement: “Your film is a ripoff! Yes, rip off! I know that the expression has moral connotations, and that you haven’t done anything wrong legally; but I happen to believe that moral obligations often make demands that go beyond the demands of laws. So stay with me for a few paragraphs, and I’ll explain why your film is immoral … Let me start by saying that I’M not an outraged purist.”


Next up is an ad for Boot Hill, a game I know little about but would love to explore. I’ve been hankering to do a sort of Old West Bloody Basic, but I’m waiting until Grit & Vigor is finished so I can base it on those rules.

Gary Jordan now presents a variant that might delight fans of the recent Marvel movies, “Tesseracts: A Traveller Artifact”. The idea is using these not as a way to confuse mappers (as they had previously been presented to DM’s), but as a boon to the players of Traveller. Really, it comes down to using matter transmitters to move folks around a ship.

Up next is a new cartoon to The Dragon called “The Voyages of Exploration Ship Znutar, A Starship on a Mission of Empire”. I don’t remember this from the era of Dragon magazines I grew up in, so I wonder how long it survived.

Gary Jordan now chimes in with another Traveller article on Star System Generation. This is a scheme for filling hex maps, filling in the presence of planets, star ports, etc.

In the Designer’s Forum, “Divine Right” is covered again (it was TSR’s newest game), by Glenn and Kenneth Rahman (there’s that name again – can’t be a coincidence, can it?).

Lance Harrop now presents “A Quick Look at Dwarves”. This is a long article on how dwarf armies are organized, with an accompanying chart.

Wow – they got into it in the old days, didn’t they. Still, there are lots of great ideas – the dwarven engineers, miners, masons, etc. forming divisions of the army. He adds the following at the end of the article:

On Painting Dwarves: Elite units of dwarves should have white beards (reminds me of the Graybeards units in Warhammer), dwarf armor should be shiny and a mix of metals, dwarves don’t seem to have national colors (“don’t seem” – well, they aren’t real, so I suppose they don’t) but use colors to designate individuals, and whatever you do, don’t make your dwarves too gaudy.

On Dwarvish Tactics: Vanguards always drive towards the dwarf commander, dwarves love to tear into orcs, dwarf morale is very slow to break and dwarves are known to leave the field of battle after their leader is killed, but they do not rout – they just walk off slowly, carrying his body.

The Design Forum continues now with Jay Facciolo writing about “The Emerald Tablet”. This is a miniatures war game published by Creative Wargames Workshop (side note – imagine how many games there are out there that have never been cloned, for good or ill). I love the name. The game was an attempt to make something that was neither too specific or vague, and which incorporated magic into the rules, rather than just overlaying magic atop ancient or medieval warfare. If nothing else, you have to appreciate the cover I found at BoardGameGeek.

It sounds like an interesting take, with each unit in the game begin given one of four orders before the game begins – attack, skirmish, hold or support (another unit). These orders can only be changed during the game by one of the figures representing the players. Interesting idea, and requires a great deal of thought before the game starts. The magic segment of the game requires quite a lot of explanation, and appears to be, if not complicated, then at least engrossing. It even comes with a bibiolography (and a bit of cheesecake)

“Giants in the Earth”, one of my favorite features, comes next. I really need to do something like this myself in NOD – maybe I should let people vote on G+.

This edition includes the following literary giants:

Alan Garner’s DURATHROR (13th level fighter/Dwarvish paladin)

Fritz Leiber’s FAFHRD (20th level fighter/8th level thief) and THE GRAY MOUSER (18th level fighter-thief)

Edgar Rice Burrough’s JOHN CARTER OF MARS (30th level fighter)

Eh – never heard of ’em.

Robert Camino writes “Go Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before: Expanding Imperium. This is a variant which requires two sets of the game, the boards being connected by eight jump routes which are always charted by the players (whatever that refers to). Love the art!

Great advert comes next, for Tome of Treasures, published by GRP Enterprises of Arlington, VA. The tagline got me “Plumb the depths of the Cube of Time and the Bow of Precognition. Explore the effects on hapless orcs of the Sword of Rout. Gems, jewelry, and 172 brand new, quality magic items are described …”

Jerome Arkenberg now presents “The Mythos of Africa in Dungeons & Dragons. This is one heck of a tricky subject, as treating Africa as though it a single culture is ridiculous. The article presents many gods. For creatures, we get:

“In this category fall: witches, ghosts, were-lions, were-hyenas, and fairies. These are all the same as in the D&D Monster Manual.”

Turns out, we had all the African monsters we ever needed. I have a feeling that either the article was too long and something had to be cut, or the research was just too difficult back in the 1970’s. The article also includes many heroes.

The “Dragon’s Bestiary” presents the Horast, created by Mary Lynn Skirvin. Also known as a “whipper beast”, a very rare creature with a whip-like tail that deals 4d6 damage. This one didn’t make it into the MM, but fear not, for the article ends with this:

“By gracious arrangement with the author of AD&D, Gary Gygax, monsters appearing in this column are to be considered OFFICIAL AD&D MONSTERS.”

So, if you need a monster with a whip tail, D&D has you covered. Officially.

Comic strip time. We have Finieous Fingers (their spelling, not mine), which again includes some nudity of the female variety – D&D was a game for grown-ups, after all.

No, I’m not going to show it this time. Finieous’ butt from the last post will have to suffice.

In “Bazaar of the Bizarre” (the elements are all coming together, aren’t they), Gygax presents the Bag of Wind. Write your own jokes, folks.

Dig the back cover, kids:

Looks like I need to up my game with NOD.

Fun issue, with plenty for D&D’ers and war gamers. Check it out if you can find a copy.

Elemental Racial Variations

I’ve always enjoyed coming with variations on a theme, or variations on existing things in games. Of late, I’ve thought about doing themed variations on some of the existing races in Blood & Treasure – themes like the elements, or insects or animals.

For my first theme, I choose elemental earth. These races could work well in a specialty campaign, especially one set underground or on the elemental plane of earth, or can be used in an exotic section of an existing campaign world.

I’m not sure how well balanced these races would be, but you know – sometimes it just doesn’t matter. If they look like fun, use them!

Coal gnomes look generally like normal gnomes, save their flesh is composed of a substance not unlike coal. They have pitch black skin and beady eyes that glow like embers. These eyes give them darkvision to a range of 120 feet. Coal gnomes are not immune to fire, but they do have a strange resistance to it.

When a coal gnome is struck by fire, it ignites and smolders. The coal gnome suffers one point of fire damage per round, and no more. While they smolder, they can score +1 point of fire damage with each successful melee attack.

Coal gnomes have the same alterations to their ability scores as normal gnomes, the same knacks and the same ability to multi-class. They do not have any Spellcasting ability.

Granite dwarves are stoic and seemingly emotionless; at least, they do not often show emotion. Logical and resolute, they look like dwarves carved from granite.

Granite dwarves have the same ability score modifications as normal dwarves, and the same knacks. Their skin gives them a natural AC of 12, and they have the ability to freeze as do gargoyles, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Granite dwarves have darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Granite dwarves cannot multi-class, for their minds are too focused.

Crystal elves are as graceful and lithe as normal elves. Their bodies are seemingly composed of living crystal, in various colors and hues. They rarely wear clothing, but do adorn themselves with jewelry and sometimes capes or cloaks.

A crystal elf’s skin reflects and refracts light, depending on the angle at which it is struck. When fighting in moderate illumination, all opponents engaged in melee combat with the crystal elf must pass a Reflex saving throw when they miss the elf in combat by more than 3 points, or be blinded for one round. In strong illumination, creatures locked in melee combat must pass this save each round, and creatures within 20 feet must do so when they miss the elf in ranged combat as above.

The crystal elf’s body gives them a +2 bonus to save vs. rays. They suffer double damage from sonic attacks.

Crystal elves have the normal ability score modifications and knacks, darkvision to a range of 30 feet, and they cannot multi-class.

Sandlings look like normal halflings composed of sand. They are quick and curious and have more abrasive personalities than normal halflings.

Sandlings ignore one point of damage per hit from physical damage, but water and wind deals +1 point of damage per dice (or 1 point of damage if the attack doesn’t normally deal damage) to them. They have the same ability score modifications as normal halflings, the same knacks, and they gain a knack at escape attempts.

When a sandling is struck for full damage by a physical blow (minimum 5 points of damage), they split into two tiny versions of themselves, splitting the damage as well. They must also split their equipment when they split, and their hit point total, but each of these twins retains its normal level, ability scores and special abilities. The personalities of each twin can vary, based on the original’s alignment:

Lawful = Lawful and Neutral
Chaotic = Chaotic and Neutral
Neutral = Chaotic and Lawful

Lawful Good = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Good
Lawful Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Neutral
Lawful Evil = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Evil

Neutral Good = Neutral Good and Neutral
Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral
Neutral Evil = Neutral Evil and Neutral

Chaotic Good = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Good
Chaotic Neutral = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral
Chaotic Evil = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Evil

The twins cannot re-merge until they get a full night’s sleep. If that sleep is interrupted, they split apart and must remain apart until they get another chance at 8 hours of rest.

The Queens of Elemental Earth

This idea popped into my head today, so I explored it a bit.

The primal earth has produced many wonders, but none so lovely (and few so powerful) as the so-called Queens of Elemental Earth. These five sisters are worshipped as goddesses by many of the folk who dwell beneath the earth and are honored by all elemental earth creatures.

The queens look like astoundingly beautiful statues of women in their natural state. They are translucent and gleam with an inner light that produces a magical aura. Within their eyes dance shimmering motes of light that affect all upon which they train their gaze. They dwell in luxurious palaces beneath the ground, served by lesser elementals and fey creatures.

While the queens are ground in neutrality, with some preference for order (i.e. Law), they are, as one might expect, possessed of a very keen appreciation for the wonder that is them. They do not like to be disobeyed or their intentions and desires frustrated, and they have no qualms about destroying lesser creatures that get in their way.

All of the queens can move through rock, stone and soil as easily as a human moves through the air. They suffer half damage from all attacks from manufactured and natural weapons.

Adamantia is Queen Diamond. She has a smooth body of translucent crystal with inner reflections of pink. Adamantia is the strongest and most durable of the five sisters, and she is unforgiving in her disdain of imperfection and muddled thinking. She is always under the effect of a true seeing spell and a zone of truth. She is worshipped as a goddess of clarity, truth and perfection. Her stronghold is a fortress of gleaming adamant, with every surface stark white and lit by a soft, pinkish-white glow. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as entities of Law and a host of human paladins that have declared her the focus of their courtly, chaste love.

Adamantia produces an aura of truth (see zone of truth above) that also acts a protection aura against chaotic creatures (per protection from evil, 10-ft. radius). Her gaze acts as a hold monster spell.

Adamantia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – charm person; 3/day – break enchantment, charm monster, cure disease, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, ray of enfeeblement, strength, suggestion, wave of exhaustion. She can also cast spells as a 10th level cleric.

Adamantia: HD 21; AC -7 [26]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Queen Ruby, Rubinia, is composed of a translucent red substance. Her hair (though it is merely sculpted on her head) appears wild and unkempt and her eyes gleam with power. She is worshipped as a goddess of fire and passion and strength. Her court includes elemental earth creatures as well as exiled or rebellious elemental fire creatures. Her stronghold is enclosed in a ruby sphere with spherical chambers that look like bubbles within the sphere and connected by curving tunnels that radiate out from her central court. Gravity is completely relative within the sphere, with people able to walk on all surfaces.

Rubinia produces an aura of weakness (10-ft. radius) that forces people to pass a saving throw or be affected per a ray of enfeeblement. Her gaze forces people to pass a saving throw or be enraged (per the emotion or rage spell, depending on which version of the grand old game you play). Enraged folk never turn their anger upon Rubinia or her servants. Her touch ages people as the touch of a ghost.

Rubinia can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – augury; 3/day – charm person, divination, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, flame strike, heal, heat metal. She can also cast spells as a 10th level magic-user.

Rubinia: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, immune to fire, resistance to cold (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Esmeraude, Queen Emerald, is the most sensuous and beautiful of the sisters, possessed of a green, healthy glow and a warm, though unyielding, touch. Her stronghold is a paen to love and romance, being a series of limestone caverns with jade pools, rushing streams, laughing waterfalls and gardens of flowering trees, ferns and flowers. Her court consists of elemental earth creatures, nymphs and dryads.

Esmeraude radiates an aura of blinding beauty (per a nymph) and her gaze stuns creatures for 2d4 rounds. Her kiss can grant magic-user’s the effects of a mnemonic enhancement for 24 hours, but also imbues upon them a geas that they must visit her once per year and serve her faithfully for one week.

Esmeraude can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – cause blindness; 3/day – cure blindness, cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – charm monster, dimension door, entangle, plant growth, suggestion. She can also cast spells as a 12th level druid.

Esmeraude: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 30/7400; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (55%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Queen Amethyst appears as a woman of translucent purple crystal accompanied always by three legendary panthers with purple-black fur. She is a queen of dreams who commands a court of elemental earth creatures, succubi and illusionists. Her court is held in a palace of mottled purple walls set in a maze-like layout, with many secret chambers where visitors can rest themselves on comfortable beds stuffed with celestial goose down and sleep under silk and satin, perhaps never to wake again.

Amethysta produces a purple aura of slumber (as the daze spell) and her gaze causes confusion. Those struck by her, even lightly, must pass a saving throw or fall into a deep sleep. She can deliver a kiss that drains levels per a succubus.

Amethysta can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – sleep; 3/day – cause fear, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – dimension door, dream, nightmare, phantasmal killer, poison. She also casts spells as a 10th level illusionist.

Amethysta: HD 21; AC -5 [24]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 31/7700; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to cold and fire (50%), magic resistance (45%), regenerate 3 hp/round, life drain.

Zaffira is a bubbly, almost giddy queen of sapphires. She appears as a beautiful, young woman with translucent blue skin, her eyes like star sapphires and her hair tumbling like cascades of water down her back to her ankles. She dwells in a floating palace of sapphire walls and misty, damp halls occupied by elemental earth creatures as well as sylphs and other exiled air creatures and giant eagles. Zaffira is worshipped as a goddess of innocence, truth and courage.

Zaffira produces an aura of euphoria. Folk who enter it must pass a saving throw or be calmed, losing all desire to commit violence or even engage in argument. Her gaze causes people to break into uncontrollable laughter (per the spell).

Zaffira can cast the following spells as innate abilities: At will – hold person; 3/day – cause fear, discern lies, dispel magic, haste (self), invisibility; 1/day – globe of invulnerability, mark of justice, ray of enfeeblement, resilient sphere, strength. She also casts spells as a 12th level cleric.

Zaffira: HD 21; AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 strikes (4d6); Move 36; Save 3; CL/XP 23/5300; Special: +2 or better weapon to hit, aura, gaze, earth glide, half damage from all weapons, suffers double damage from sonic attacks, resistance to fire and cold (50%), magic resistance (65%), regenerate 3 hp/round.

Image found HERE. Painted by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1786).

Two Bad Brothers That We Know So Well

One of my favorite game mechanicians of the d20 era was Erica Balsley. She was a monster gal – did some great stuff for the Tome of Horrors and Creature Catalog and did some neat conversions for Bard Games’ old Atlantis setting. Years ago, I came across a template she wrote for the “Mephit Lord”. The mephit lord template was applied to mephits to make high-powered elemental baddies like the Steam Lord, Smoke Lord, etc. All mephit lords had an attack called a “clutch”, which tipped off their origins …

Now, I’ve long since lost track of that original template – it was on some message board somewhere – but it eventually showed up in the Book of Templates Deluxe Edition. I still have the stats for Heat Lord and Snow Lord, though, and here they are in Swords & Wizardry format.

Fire Lord: HD 12; AC -3 [22]; Atk 2 claw (1d6+4) or 1 clutch (4d6); Move 15 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 18/3800; Special: Fire mephit abilities + breath weapon (4d4), clutch, regenerate 4 hp/round, only harmed by +2 or better magic weapons.


The clutch of the Heat Lord deals 4d6 points of fire damage to living opponents, and instantly melts or incinerates any non-living, non-magical matter of man-size or smaller. Magic items are allowed a saving throw to resist this effect.
Ice Lord: HD 12; AC -3 [22]; Atk 2 claw (1d6+4) or 1 clutch (4d6); Move 15 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 18/3800; Special: Ice mephit abilities + breath weapon (4d4), clutch, regenerate 4 hp/round, only harmed by +2 or better magic weapons.
The clutch of the Snow Lord deals 4d6 points of cold damage to living opponents and instantly freezes and shatters any non-living, non-magical matter of man-size or smaller. Magic items are allowed a saving throw to resist this effect.
Mephit Lords are always accompanied by 2d6 mephits of the appropriate type. They can summon 1d6 mephits with a 75% chance of success.
The relevant mephit stats are:
Fire Mephit

A fire mephit breathes a 15-foot cone of fire that deals 1d8 damage (saving throw for half). Once per hour it can cast burning hands, and once per day it can heat metal. A fire mephit regenerates if it is touching a flame at least as large as a torch.

• Fire Mephit: HD 3; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claw (1d6); Move 12 (Fly 21); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Harmed by magic weapons, breath weapon, burning hands, heat metal, regenerate, summoning.

Ice Mephit

Ice mephits breathe a 10-foot cone of ice shards that deals 1d4 damage (saving throw for half) and imposes a -2 penalty to AC and attack rolls. Once per hour an ice mephit can cast magic missile and once per day they can chill metal. An ice mephit regenerates if touching a piece of ice of or if the ambient temperature is 32°F. or below.

• Ice Mephit: HD 3; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claw (1d6); Move 12 (Fly 21); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Harmed by magic weapons, breath weapon, chill metal, magic missile, regenerate, summoning.

And if you use these guys against your players, make sure you have them do the song and dance first – it will make the TPK that much more satisfying. Nobody likes to get their butt kicked by a song and dance man.

Image from Patrick Owlsley – check out his blog if you love old cartoons!

On the Classic Elements and Their Masters

So, I was pondering doing an elementalist class a couple weeks ago, and today jotted down some ideas. Here’s the class “in progress” – I’d love to know what people think …

Command elemental spirits to perform tasks – the effect is the equivalent of casting spells. An elementalist can attempt to command these spirits a number of time each day equal to his Charisma score divided by 3, rounding down. [maybe at 6th level, this increases to Charisma divided by 2, rounding down?]

Elementalists must own and carry a grimoire of the true names of known spirits – they add to this as they adventure, but not in the manner that magic-users add spells to their spell books

An elementalist is a ritual caster; each day he chooses to focus himself on a particular element and in turn must wear an appropriately colored robe (red, blue, yellow or white) and carry a ritual tool – athame, goblet, censer or wand. Without the robe and the tool, he cannot command elemental spirits.

Elementalists cannot command spirits opposed to their chosen element for the day, but they can command all spirits that are not opposed to them. When commanding elementals spirits that match their daily focus, they receive a +1 bonus to their command checks (see below).

Command checks are the equivalent of a cleric’s ability to turn undead, and use the same table substituting the spell level for the undead’s Hit Dice. Elementalists can also turn elementals opposed to him and command elementals favorable to him. Elements refers to elementals, genies (efreet, djinn, janni), sylphs, salamanders and other creatures composed entirely or mostly of elemental stuff.

The elementalist has four spell lists, each tied to a different element (with a few spells appearing on all four lists). Spells marked with an asterisk (*) are new and described below.

[Maybe his communications with spirits helps him avoid surprise (i.e. surprised on 1 in 1d8 instead of 1 in 1d6), avoid pit traps, find secret doors – essentially, he’s in communication with the landscape/dungeon and maybe gets some forewarning]

Level One
1 Burning Hands (F)
2 Feather Fall (A)
3 Magic Stone (E)
4 Produce Flame (F)
5 Purify Food & Drink (W)
6 Ray of Frost (W)

Level Two
1 Fog Cloud (W)
2 Heat Metal (F)
3 Levitate (A)
4 Pyrotechnics (F)
5 Stinking Cloud (A)
6 Strength (E)

Level Three
1 Fireball (F)
2 Fly (A)
3 Lightning Bolt (A)
4 Protection from Normal Missiles (A)
5 Stone Shape (E)
6 Water Breathing (W)

Level Four
1 Create Water (W)
2 Ice Storm (W)
3 Solid Fog (A)
4 Spike Stones (E)
5 Wall of Fire (F)
6 Wall of Ice (W)

Level Five
1 Cloudkill (A)
2 Cone of Cold (W)
3 Conjure Elemental (U)
4 Passwall (E)
5 Transmute Rock to Mud (E)
6 Wall of Stone (E)

Level Six
1 Find the Path (E)
2 Invisible Stalker (A)
3 Lower Water (W)
4 Move Earth (E)
5 Part Water (W)
6 Stone to Flesh (E)

Level Seven
1 Aerial Servant (A)
2 Control Weather (A)
3 Delayed Blast Fireball (F)
4 Earthquake (E)
5 Reverse Gravity (E)
6 Wind Walk (A)

Level Eight
1 Horrid Wilting (W)
2 Incendiary Cloud (F)
3 Repel Metal or Stone (E)
4 Whirlwind (A)

Level Nine
1 Imprisonment (E)
2 Meteo Swarm (F)

Prime Req: Charisma
Fights As: Magic-User
Hit Dice: Magic-User
Saving Throws: Magic-User
Armor & Weapons: Leather, magic-user weapons

Level Titles
1. Grammarian
2. Reciter
3. Incantator
4. Lector
5. Elementalist
6. Dracunculus
7. Draco
8. Pentalpha
9. Solomon

Thoughts –

1. I might need to invent a few spells to fill in the gaps. I wanted about three spells per level per element up to level 5, and then one or two from 6-9.

2. The big question is the use of the Turn Undead table for casting spells. As written, a 1st level elementalist would be able to make, on average, three or four attempts at casting a spell each day. They could attempt to cast 5th level spells (5% chance of success), 4th level spells (10% cos), 3rd level spells (25% cos), 2nd level spells (40% cos) and 1st level spells (55% cos). Limited number of tries, limited chance of success – but is it too limited? Not limited enough?

A 1st level elementalist that sticks to 1st level spells can, on average, cast about 2 spells per day, so double that of most magic-users. If that elementalist tries to get off a fireball, he only has a 25% chance to do it, and even if he does it, it will only do 1d6 damage. This is probably okay.

At higher levels, the elementalist is still limited to just a few attempts per day, meaning he falls behind the magic-user as a spell caster – fewer spells and less variety. In exchange, I’m giving him leather armor and the ability to turn (and command) elemental creatures – not bad, but maybe not good enough. He might still be worth it if he advances in level faster than the magic-user, but advancing quickly in a crappy character class is little compensation.

So, still some work to be done here. If you have any suggestions, let me know.