The 90s Syndicate

It was 1987, and I was super excited in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. This was not uncommon in childhood, of course – it just took an awesome prize in a box of sugar goodness – but I was a teenager in ’87 and the excitement was due to an ad for something called Star Trek: The Next Generation on the back of a cereal box. This was my introduction to the show, and I remember telling my dad – the source of my Star Trek love – about how cool it looked, with a new ship, new crew … and that there was going to be a klingon on the Enterprise!

Back in the 80’s, syndicated TV was mostly the domain of game shows like Wheel of Fortune until Star Trek: The Next Generation showed up. I remember that it was a big story when The Next Generation managed to beat Wheel of Fortune’s ratings. Fast forward 30+ years, and though I’m sorry to say the show doesn’t do much for me these days, I am thankful for the syndicated TV goodness it helped spawn.

The syndicated shows of the 90’s almost never had as much budget as they needed, but they were all cool and creative. Because of the time in which they were made, they have a distinct look that I suspect really triggers good vibes for many Gen-X’ers.

Here are a few of my favorites – check them out if they’re new to you, or renew an old friendship if you remember them from way back when:

The Flash (1990-1991)

Not syndicated, but I sorta wish it had been after it was cancelled. We’ve been watching these lately, having scored a super cheap DVD set of the complete series at Zia Records, and I must say I’m enjoying them. The show was far from perfect, but it had some great moments and I genuinely like the people in it. The sad thing about Flash is that it only made it to TV because of the success of 1989’s Batman, and as a result ended up with a Danny Elfwood score and an awkward aesthetic borrowed from Batman and Dick Tracy. The style just seems out of place to me, and though it doesn’t ruin the shows, it doesn’t help them either. On the other hand, it’s full of absolutely beautiful mid-century cars, so that’s pretty cool. The Flash costume was a little jarring as well, but c’est la vie.

We were watching some of the new Flash episodes, but gradually got out of them when they did the stupid time travel bit for the umpteenth time. I really loved see Shipp reprise his role in the series, though.

Oh – and who doesn’t love Amanda Pays? So smart and cool – on Flash as well as Max Headroom. She did a fun guest appearance on Psych as a date for Corbin Bernsen’s character on the series, which is another family favorite.

I think my favorite Flash episode is “Beat the Clock”, which has a pre-What’s Love Got to Do With It Angela Bassett, and good performances by Ken Foree and Thomas Mikal Ford.

Highlander: The Series (1992-1997)

In my normal backwards way, I discovered this show way before I saw the movie … and if I’m honest, when I finally saw the movie I preferred Adrian Paul to Christopher Lambert as the immortal. I think it was that darn overcoat they had him wearing in the movie – looked like it belonged on Harpo Marx. I did enjoy introducing my daughter to the Kurgan, though, and then revealing he was the voice of Mr. Krabs.

Being a history-buff, I loved all the past lives of Duncan McLeod. I think I enjoyed the stuff set in the past more than that set in the modern day. I remember being super-jazzed to see Roland Gift from Fine Young Cannibals and Roger Daltry in some episodes. Highlander really had some legs, but I didn’t stick with it all the way to the end … by 1997 I was married and about a year away from having a kid, so life sort of got in the way. Still, the awesome opening will always stick with me. God bless Freddie Mercury!

Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990)

Okay – this series sort of screws up my premise that Next Generation led the way with cool syndicated shows, since it was also first-run syndication and showed up at about the same time. Oh well – it’s my story and I’m sticking to it, facts or no facts!

I don’t have a long-term relationship with the horror genre. I was never into the Friday the 13th movies, or really any contemporary horror movies in my youth. I didn’t grow up with that stuff, so all the blood and guts and shock horror really freaked me out. Classic Universal horror movies I could do … but Leatherface, Jason, Freddie, Michael Myers, flesh-eating zombies, etc. – no sir. Not my cup of tea.

That’s why I don’t know how I ended up watching Friday the 13th: The Series. It has almost nothing to do with the movies – I might remember there being some tiny thread connecting them, but I’m not sure. The premise – which would work beautifully for a horror RPG campaign, is as follows:

Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.

It now occurs to me why I started watching it – Louise Robey as Micki. She was pretty darn cute. Still, it was the show’s concept that got me to stick with the show. Each week, a new evil artifact was introduced and off the two leads went, trying to bring it back to the shop to end the curse. It was much more in the vein of Outer Limits than gory 80’s horror movies. I remember it fondly, and should really check back into it.

She-Wolf of London / Love & Curses (1990-1991)

Originally titled She Wolf of London, I caught one or two of the later episodes when it was renamed Love & Curses , and always wanted to see more. A bunch of them are posted on YouTube (how do they not get fined a billion bucks a year for aiding and abetting copyright violations?), but I’m happy to say I picked up the entire series on DVD last week for $12 – sweet price, even I end up not liking them much.

In this series, a woman named Randi Wallace (played by Kate Hodge) who travels to England to study the occult is attacked by a werewolf on the moors and becomes a lycanthrope. Her companion, Professor Ian Matheson (played by Neil Dickson), helps her deal with her curse while they run around encountering all sorts of supernatural evils and stuff. I love good, old fashioned episodic TV with fun characters.

Love & Curses could be a good set-up for a campaign as well, with one PC having a werewolf curse (or something similar) and the others having to survive dangerous adventures AND their dangerous friend.

And yeah, I had a thing for Kate Hodge as well …

So what 80’s/90’s syndicated stuff do you remember loving? Let me know in the comments – remember, sharing is caring!

Dragon by Dragon – August 1980 (40)

It’s chilly outside, but this edition of Dragon by Dragon goes back to the balmy summer days of 1980, with the August issue of Dragon! Fantasy and sci-fi films were all the rage in August 1980, from Smokey & the Bandit II to Xanadu to Final Countdown. Well, the last two are fantasy/sci-fi. The first is sort of fantastic.

Let’s see what fantasy & sci-fi offerings the good folks at TSR were serving up …

AUGUST 1980 DRAGON TOP TEN

#1 – PEOPLE CAN COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING

A letter to the editor:

“Dear Editor:
I must get it off my chest: Why do you print so many modules? I agree that it’s a nice concept, a magazine and a module for only $3.00, but there are some people who could do without them and be able to afford this almost perfect magazine. If you must put a filler of some sort in here, why not. make it a game?”

Apparently, the modules were “filler”.

AD BREAK

I’ve seen some interest in Boot Hill and western RPGs recently on Google+, so I thought this ad might be of interest:

I’ve seen many Boot Hill articles, but this is the first ad I remember seeing.

#2 – THE DUELING ROOM

This will sound odd to some readers, but one of the things I like about early D&D was the lack of desire to make it immersive and real. There was already that strain in some players and game masters, but the early breed seemed content to play it as a game that didn’t have to make much sense. Characters had crazy names and did crazy things.

Thus my appreciation for “The Dueling Room” article by Jeff Swycaffer. It’s a place for two players to pit their characters against one another. Why? Because it sounds like fun. Because my character can beat up your character – no he can’t – yes he can – prove it!

Naturally, the dueling room has some random tables attached to it, because the room changes as the duel proceeds, including some “odd events” like fireballs bursting into the room and absolute, unalterable darkness for 6-11 turns. Sounds like fun.

I seem to remember some folks on G+ doing a D&D fight club – this would be the perfect arena for fights like that.

I think I’ll put designing something similar on my list of articles I need to finish for this poor, neglected blog.

SIDE TREK

“Digging the burial mound or building the funeral pyre requires 1-6 hours of labor, depending on the softness of the soil and the availability of firewood. Another 1-3 hours is required for preparation of the body, final rites and actual interment or cremation.” – George Laking

Now you know.

#3 – FLAMING OIL

Flaming oil (and it’s modern cousin alchemist’s fire) have long been popular because they seem like a way to break the melee rules and kill things that would otherwise be difficult to kill. My players have hurled or prepared to hurl flaming oil quite a few times.

“Don’t Drink This Cocktail – Throw It!” by Robert Plamondon is an examination of the stuff. This is one of those articles that deeply explored a D&D concept … to death one might say. The desire to make gaming very complex was there from the start, and the cycle of “more complexity” to “more simplicity” is ongoing. I’m old and crusty enough now that I’m pretty thoroughly stuck in the “keep it simple” camp.

Still, as long as this article is, the rules are pretty easy to boil down:

Only you can prevent fire damage

1 – Make attack roll. If you miss, roll d12 to determine which direction (1 = “1 o’clock”) it goes.

2 – Roll d20 – on a “1” it didn’t break, on a “2” it didn’t light.

3 – If you hit, you score 2d6 damage in round one, and 1d6 in round two.

4 – Splash is3′, creatures get a saving throw (vs. poison) or take 3 damage. Armor doesn’t help.

The article touches upon the flammability of dungeons, and then includes this gem:

“Additionally, rumor has it that pyromaniac players are sometimes attacked by a huge bear in a flat-brim hat who fights with a +6 shovel.”

#4 – THE OTHER WERE

Roger E. Moore presents a number of additional were creatures in this article: Werelions, wereleopards, werejaguars, weresabres (as in sabre-tooth tigers), weredires (as in dire wolves), wererams, wereweasels, weresloths (yep), werebadgers and werebisons.

Not a bad collection. I often just hand wave alternate were creatures and use the existing were creature stats I think are closest – such as using the werewolf for a wereleopard, but why not use this quick and easy chart of monster stats instead:

And dig that werejaguar illustration that accompanied the article.

AD BREAK

I thought this ad was unique:

I’m guessing the art for Spellbinder was late …

#5 – GIVING THE UNDEAD THEIR DUE

The article “Giving the Undead an Even Break” by Steve Melancon starts as follows:

“A 22nd-level Mage Lich approaches a band of adventurers. Suddenly, an 8th-level Cleric presents himself forcefully. The DM rolls 19 on a 20-sided die, and the Lich runs in terror.

Such a scene is ridiculous.”

Is it? If the game is meant to be “realistic” to you, or you’re looking for high drama, I suppose it is. If you’re playing a game, then it’s not so bad. Clerics turn undead. The lich is undead. So be it. Monopoly is equally ridiculous, but it’s just a game. So what?

If this does bother you, though, this article might help. It uses a percentile roll for turning undead, to make the tough undead harder to turn. There’s some cross referencing involved as well.

Personally, I’d just allow “name-level” undead a saving throw against the turning effect, giving them another chance to resist. Simpler, probably just as effective.

#6 – INTERNATIONAL MEN OF MYSTERY

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh wrote a nice little article on globe hopping for international spies, for the Top Secret game. It’s nothing fancy, just a d% table of 100 “fun” places to visit on a spy adventure. The game master can use it to help design a convoluted plot – roll for a starting point, then roll three or four more times for where clues might lead … with a few false clues thrown in to make it tough. I won’t reproduce the table here, but check out the issue and the article, especially if you’re doing a Cold War spy game.

SIDE TREK

There’s a long article in this issue about how fantasy worlds should operate, which is interesting but, really, “say’s who?” It is a worthwhile article to read, though, with some neat concepts and tables – again, I suggest one find a copy of the magazine – but what I wanted to point out was an early piece by Jim Holloway for TSR.

If I had the money, and the interest was out there, I’d love to do an expanded Sinew & Steel with art like this in it.

AD BREAK

Read more about it

#7 – MONSTERS

Josh Susser created a pretty cool monster for this issue. The fire-eye lizard is something like a tiny dragon (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo or violet) with blazing, luminescent eyes it can use to blind creatures. It can also make a prismatic sphere of its own color that lasts for 3

turns. Lizards of different colors can cooperate to add layers to the sphere or lizards of the same color can make larger spheres with a longer duration.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats:

Fire-Eye Lizard, Tiny Magical Beast: HD 1+2 (females 1+3); AC 16; ATK 1 bite (1d4 for males or 1d4+1 for females); MV 5 (F120, S30); F16 R13 W16; XP 100; Special-Blind, prismatic sphere.

I also dig Ed Greenwood’s wingless wonder (illustration to the right), but would mostly love to play one in a game. Here are the quick stats:

Wingless Wonder, Small Aberration: HD 2+2; AC 12; ATK 9 or 12 tentacles (1 + constrict); MV 20; F16 R15 W13; XP 200; Special-Radiate continuous anti-magic shell, immune to fire, eats gems (cannot digest them, 1d4+4 in stomach), psionic blast when killed (-4 to save).

The issue also has stats for Pat Rankin’s flitte and Lewis Pulsipher’s huntsmen.

#8 through #10 … well, nothing. Not as much caught my interest this issue. There were some magic items for Runequest, and some D&D magic items folks might like, and the aforementioned very long article about making faerie “real” in your campaign worlds. Tom Wham also wrote some additions for The Awful Green Things from Outer Space.

See you next time, hopefully with some new content for your game.

A Gaggle of Gobblers

To celebrate Thanksgiving, when we give thanks to God by feasting on a slain dinosaur, I present a multitude of monsters based on the humble turkey.

We begin with the original:

Turkey, Wild Forest

Size: Small (30 lb., 4’ tall)
Type: Animal
Hit Dice: 0 (1d4 hp)
Armor Class: 12
Attack: 1 scratch (1d2)
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F14 R12 W19
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d2
XP: 25 (CL 0)

Wild forest turkeys have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They dwell in meadows in woodlands.

Turkey, Giant Wild Forest

Size: Medium (60 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Animal
Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 13
Attack: 1 scratch (1d4)
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F13 R12 W18
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d2
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Giant wild forest turkeys are known to prey on small creatures, like gnomes, when they are particularly hungry. Like their smaller kin, they have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They dwell in meadows in woodlands.

Turkey-Men

Size: Medium (200 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 13
Attack: 1 scratch (1d4) or by weapon
Movement: 30
Saves: F13 R15 W16
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1 male + 2d6 females
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Turkey-men are somewhat dull-witted woodland humanoids. Males live alone, and are quite territorial. They keep harems of 2d6 females, who make up the fabric of turkey-man society. Males maintain alliances with their brothers, and with them control a larger territory against other brotherhoods.

Turkey-men are tall and gangling, with the heads of turkeys and tufts of feathers around their necks. Their feet resemble those of turkeys, and their fingers are talons as well. They often wear cloaks of wild turkey feathers, and usually carry simple spears or war clubs and hide shields in combat.

Like wild turkeys, they have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They dwell in hide lodges on woodland meadows.

Draco-Turkey

Size: Medium (300 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Dragon
Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 15
Attack: 2 claws (1d4) and bite (1d6)
Special: Gobble (30’ cone, sonic damage)
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F11 R10 W11
Immune: Sleep and paralysis
Alignment: Chaotic (NE)
Intelligence: Average
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 500 (CL 6)

Listen, the woodlands can get a bit boring. Sometimes a green dragon finds a cask of wine, drinks it, gets a little crazy and, well, draco-turkeys happen. Like their normal turkeys, they have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They make their lairs in wooded hollows, felling trees into something resembling a crude lodge.

Galliraptor

Size: Medium (330 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Animal
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 15
Attack: 1 talon (1d6) and bite (1d4)
Movement: 45 (Fly 60)
Saves: F12 R11 W17
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 150 (CL 3)

These creatures are hybrids of giant wild forest turkeys and deinonychuses. They are leaner than giant turkeys, and faster. Like their smaller kin, they have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They dwell in meadows in woodlands.

Gruesome Gobbler

Size: Medium (330 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Magical Beasts
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 15 [+1]
Attack: 1 talon (1d6) and bite (1d4)
Movement: 45 (Fly 60)
Saves: F11 R10 W15
Resistance: Fire, magic 10%
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)
Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 150 (CL 3)

Gruesome gobblers are galliraptors infused with demonic power. They are sometimes summoned and bound by shamans to keep people away from evil places. Like their smaller kin, they have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. They are +2 to hit and damage Lawful (Good) creatures.

Were-Turkey

Size: Medium (60 lb., 8’ tall)
Type: Monstrous Humanoid
Hit Dice: 2 [Silver]
Armor Class: 15
Attack: 1 scratch (1d4) or bite (1d4) or by weapon
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F15 R12 W12
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Average
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 200 (CL 3)

When the full moon is rising, you can find the were-turkeys scrambling for the woodlands, mostly to avoid the embarrassment of turning into a turkey in front of their friends. “Why”, they ask, “why couldn’t I have been bitten by a werewolf?” They have excellent daytime vision, and are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. At night, their vision is far worse, and they are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6. Were-turkeys can communicate with turkeys.

By the way – I put my five latest print titles at Lulu on sale at 25% off – today only. Pick one up if you’ve a mind to.

Dragon by Dragon – April 1979 (24)

April of 1979 – those heady days of stuff that was happening and things and stuff. Okay, I’m too lazy at the moment to look up what was happening back then, but hey – who cares, right? We know the Dragon was happening, so let’s focus on that.

What did the Dragon have to offer in 1979? More importantly, can we use any of this stuff now?

Lost Civilizations (A Fantasy Supplement for Source of the Nile) by J. Eric Holmes

When you see Dr. Holmes as the author, you know you’ve got some quality material in your hands. Hell, I’ve never even played Source of the Nile and I know this article has to have something useful in it. The article is all about adding some fantasy to the more realistic game of African exploration, specifically of the sort you might get in an H. Rider Haggard or E. R. Burroughs novel.

First up, I love the list of explorer types used in Source of the Nile: Missionaries, Doctors, Zoologists, Geologists and Adventurers. If you were doing an RPG of Victorian exploration, you have your class list right there.

His idea is that when you enter a completely uninhabited hex, there is a chance of it containing a lost city (a roll of 2-3 on 2d6). If in a desert, the city is uninhabited. Otherwise, it is inhabited by survivors of lost Atlantis. The people use bronze weapons and wear ornaments of gold and gemstones, and then you roll dice to determine the city’s organization. Roll 1d6; on a 1-3 the city is ruled by a warrior-king with 1d6 x 1d6 x 1d6 + 10 warriors; if the roll is 4-6 it is ruled by an evil high priest and a white goddess who command 1d6 x 1d6 x 1d6 + 5 warriors. I include this bit because it could be adapted to almost any hex exploration style fantasy game.

When exploring an uninhabited desert city for treasure, you roll 1d6: 1-2 he discovers that the ancient gods still live, his expedition is destroyed and he escapes completely mad; 3-4 traps kill half his askaris and bearers, but he escapes with a bag of diamonds and rubies worth $500 and the secret passages are closed off forever; 5-6 he loots the city for $1000 worth of gems and $200 worth of gold.

This brings to mind something I once did for a game. I was starting with characters above 1st level, and they were from various places in my campaign world (Nod – you might have heard of it). For each character, I came up with one past adventure for each level, each adventure leading them from where they were born to where the adventure was to start. In this way, I gave each player a bit of knowledge about the campaign world and some cool tidbits about their characters. Something to consider.

Keeping the Magic-User In His Place by Ronald Pehr

A classic of old Dragon (hell, a classic of modern articles as well, in as much as it addresses the idea of “balance” between characters). Ronald includes a few ideas of controlling these damn wizards so they don’t mess up the game. Interesting, because it introduces the idea of forced fairness to the game – i.e. I want the game to go one way, but the rules aren’t allowing that to happen. Think of the article previous – the explorer explores a lost city and you roll a dice and that determines what happens – amazing wealth or complete insanity. That’s it. Why? It’s a game, and those are the rules, and playing the game is more important than winning. Or, to state it another way, winning or losing should be a product of the game experience, not a preconceived idea that the game play must support. Why not have wizards who “ruin” the game with fireballs and charm spells? Let everybody have their time to shine, and play it smart. A fireball is a tricky thing, and over reliance on them might be a wizard’s undoing.

Chinese Dragons by David Sweet

One day, these fine monsters will appear in the Fiend Folio, and they were always pretty cool. In fact, it might be fun to do something similar with occidental dragons, replacing the red-blue-green-etc. dragons with ones based on the famous dragons of European myth.

Another Look at LYCANTHROPY by Jon Mattson

This article throws in the idea of different types of lycanthropes that a bitten character might turn into. They are as follows (in summary):

A. Turns completely into the lycanthrope that bit him; i.e. new alignment, etc.
B. Remains in human form, but takes on the mentality of the lycanthrope.
C. Character takes lycanthrope form, but retains his own mentality.
D. As A, but only changes under a full moon or great stress.
E. As B, but only changes under a full moon or great stress.
F. As C, but only … well, you know.
G. Under full moon or great stress, changes into a hybrid of beast and man.

Under option G, he actually writes, “This may sound something like the “Incredible Hulk,” but that is the general idea.” Love it.

There is also a percentage chance for figuring out the character’s new alignment. The new lycanthrope has half the character’s spells and abilities while in lycanthrope form and some modifiers to his ability scores.

Another great quote:

Note: To many people it may seem strange that a wolfs constitution would be better than that of say a bear, but remember that wolves often survive through incredible hardships such as hunger and cold, and I’ve yet to see a bear do as well.

What the?

Ultimately, this is a pretty cool article as it allows the chance that a PC can remain a PC and an interesting party member even after succumbing to lycanthropy.

Roman Military Organization, A Classic Warfare Update by Gary Gygax

An interesting article on the organization of the Roman army.

A Viking Campaign in the Caspian Sea by James E. Brunner

This is a nice history of an actual (well, I assume actual) Viking foray into the Caspian Sea for plunder. A sample:

“In the tenth century the Caspian Sea lay like a great pearl in an ocean of endless steppes and towering mountains. The prows that cut its placid waters belonged to poor fishermen and merchants from every land. Unlike the Black Sea that lay to the west, no northern pirate fleets had ravaged its shores and carried off its great wealth. To the north and the east lay the powerful Khazar Khanate whose capital, Itil, on the Volga Delta, controlled the major trade route to the north. Any merchant or pirate that sought wealth in the Muslim lands to the south had first to deal with the Khazar Khan, whose greed was legendary.”

Primarily interesting to me as it reminds me of Howard’s Vilayet Sea and the adventures had in and around it. When you find fantasy that interests you, take the time to find the reality that underlies it. You might find it even more inspirational.

The article also includes rules for fighting the Battle of Barda’a using Classic Warfare.

The Melee in D&D by Gary Gygax

Here, Mr. Gygax offers up some thoughts on how melee combat is supposed to work in D&D, specifically it seems to answer the complaints of folks who would like more realism in the system. A few important points:

– The game is mostly about creating fantasy personas and their adventures, and that means more than just fighting

– Hack and slash shouldn’t be the first resort of characters

– The system isn’t too unrealistic – it’s built to ensure relative speed of resolution without bogging the ref down in paperwork or creating a high probability of character death

Here’s a bit I found interesting:

“Don Turnbull stated that he envisioned that three sorts of attacks were continually taking place during melee:

1) attacks which had no chance of hitting, including feints, parries, and the like;

2) attacks which had a chance of doing damage but which missed as indicated by the die roll; and

3) attacks which were telling as indicated by the dice roll and subsequent damage determination.

This is a correct summation of what the D&D melee procedure subsumes. Note that the skill factor of higher level of higher level fighters — as well as natural abilities and/or speed of some monsters — allows more than one opportunity per melee round of scoring a telling attack as they are more able to take advantage of openings left by adversaries during the course of sparring. Similarly, zero level men, and monsters under one full hit die, are considered as being less able to defend; thus, opponents of two of more levels of hit dice are able to get in one telling blow for each such level or hit die.”

An article well worth the read.

DUNGEON – More Variations on the Theme by George Laking

This is a collection of extra rules for the DUNGEON game. Since it’s being published again, this might be a good article for folks who love it.

Armies of the Renaissance by Nick Nascati

This is the second part of an article from last issue (I think – too lazy to look at the moment). It covers The Swiss. I’ve long thought the Swiss would be an excellent folk on which to model dwarf armies.

Narcisstics by Darrel Plant and Jon Pitchford

Some monster humor of the disgruntled geek variety, statting up jocks and their female groupies as monsters. I’d convert them to B&T format, but the format in the article is hard to make out, and frankly they’re not just worth it.

Psionics Revisited by Ronald Pehr

This variant takes some of the random chance out of the powers psychic characters receive, tying them more closely to their professions (or so the article says). It appears to divide the powers into two categories: Cognitive Powers and Kinetic Powers, adding a few new powers to the game.

Disease by Lenny Buettuer

This is a set of tables for determining how long it takes a disease to kill a person, and what symptoms are suffered in the meantime. The fatality interval goes from immediate to 10 months, based on a percentile dice roll. Another table determines how many symptoms are suffered and a third what those symptoms are. Honestly – a great idea and one I wish I’d thought of. After all, why do I care what the disease is called? All I want to know is how long the adventurer has to live (more on this below) and what happens to him until he can receive healing.

The other thing I got from this article is the point of diseases in the game. There are many ways to die in D&D, and each should offer up different challenges to the players. Disease in this case becomes a race to be cured.

Bergenhome ’77: the CAT’s Test of American Armor by Stanley Schriefer

If nothing else, this article presents an interesting moment in the history of the magazine. The article is about how well American armor (as in tanks) did in a NATO competition. No stats here. None. Not tied to any game. Just military news that might be interesting to wargamers.

The Return of Conan Maol by Paul Karlsson Johnstone

Weird little article about bagpipers and such.

Choir Practice at the First Church of Lawful Evil (Orthodox): The Ramifications of Alignment by Lawrence Schick

Another interesting article about the three-tier alignment system and their relationship to gods and the powers of those gods. It also divides the three alignments into several “sects” or versions of each alignment. Lawful, for example, is divided into the following:

(A) Absolute Order (High Law)
(B) Harmony/Goodness
(C) Justice/Vengeance
(D) Knowledge
(E) Evolution (Social Darwinism )
(F) War

It then gives information on each of these versions of alignment – its tenets, its practitioners, it’s prime deity. Here’s one example:

Law: JUSTICE/VENGEANCE (Monks, Paladins, Assassins)

Tenets: Good (Law) must be rewarded and Evil (Chaos) must be punished. All creatures are judged impartially by weighing their “good’ and “evil” deeds. Transgressors will be punished according to the depth of their depravity. Criminals must be diligently pursued until brought to justice. (Examples of this alignment’s enforcers might include Solomon Kane, The Shadow, Mr. A., and Javert.)

Prime Deity: MARLY
AC: -4 HP: 300 MOVE:24”
MAGIC: Standard plus See Past plus Detect Truth/Lie.

Honestly – one of the most usable alignment articles I’ve yet read. A great take on the subject, and quite usable. Bonus: Nice piece of art!

Naming People, Places and Things in Petal Throne by G. Arthur Rahman

This article provides a random table for generating the rather non-European names common to MAR Barker’s campaign world.

Monty Haul and the Best of Freddie by James M. Ward

Another adventure in the annals of Monty Haul. A sample:

“The Bronze Dragon was of tremendous size for its breed, measuring over 80 hands long and able to rear to a height of more than half that. The creature had gleaming claws as sharp and damaging as scimitars; buffed with gold dust. Its fanged jaws were kept sharp by biting heavy platemail vests that were a part of its horde. Its massive scaled body rested regally on an altar made of its own gold and silver. Chalices of platinum and coffers of gems and jewels were all about, arranged to please the delicate sensibilities of the dragon. Its giant eyes, that had been but a moment before closed in dragonslumber, opened, aware of the tread of footsteps down the echoing marble corridor, designed for just that echoing effect.”

In Defense of Extraordinary Characters by Rodford E. Smith

A very quick bit about why high level characters make sense, giving as examples from literature Odysseus, Daedalus, Hercules, John Carter, Conan and “everyone’s favorite Kryptonian.” So there you go.

The Society for Creative Anachronism by Allen Hammack

An overview of the society and their doings. These days, this would be what we term a “web page”.

And there you have the April 1979 issue of The Dragon. Not a bad issue all told, with at least two or three articles that I think most folks would find useful.

Dragon by Dragon – May 1978 (14)

I would have been 6 years old for this one, and 6 years away from discovery D&D. Let’s see what it has to offer …

First up, winners on that “Name the Monster” contest. Conrad Froelich of Wyoming, OH was the winner with “The Creature Some Call Jarnkung”. Runner’s up were Cursed Crimson Crawler by Thomas & Edward McCloud and The Ulik by Ann Corlon (who sez women didn’t play D&D back in the day). The winning stats were as follows:

Jarnkung, Large Magical Beast, Chaotic (NE), High Intelligent: HD 5; AC 3; Atk 1 tail (2d6) and 1 or 2 weapons; Move 20 (or 9 for S&W); Save F10 R11 W12 (or 12 for S&W); XP 500 (CL 6); Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance 20%, detect thoughts (ESP) at will, may have psionic powers.

A. Mark Ratner now gives a review of Space Marines (not the later effort by Games Workshop), a game which he designed. Apparently it is a modified Tractics which owes something to Starguard. I wish that meant something to me. What did I learn about Space Marines from this article? Well, it has things like Nuclear Damper Fields, Mekpurrs (inspired by the killer herbivores from Satan’s World by Anderson), canineoid, rauwoofs, hissss*st (based on The Time Mercenaries by Philip High) and Klackons. The article has many rules ideas and additions for the game – mostly involving air combat and underwater combat. Makes it sound like a cool game.

J. Ward offers up a review of Nomad Gods. Unfortunately, this is another game I haven’t played or read, so I can’t comment much about it. Likewise with Tony Watson’s review of Cosmic Encounter.

Barton Stano and Jim Ward present Robots as Players in Metamorphosis Alpha. This one gets down into it, giving players structure points (115) and power points (100) to spend on propulsion, computer units, armor and various physical devices like quills, lead shielding and grasping claws. While this seems like a logical way to handle robots, it also stands as a preview of where RPG’s were going in terms of character building.

Michael McCrery now presents Excerpt From an Interview With a Rust Monster. Apparently this hinges on an NPC who was polymorphed into a rust monster, and now sometimes shows up as a wandering monster in McCrery’s dungeon.

Cool miniatures ad for spaceships …

Five sizes for each, which brings to my mind the ship sizes I used in Space Princess – starfighter, shuttle, corvette, star cruiser and dreadnaught. For their part, the ships are Galactic Dreadnaughts, Galactic Attack Carriers, Galactic Battlecruisers, Stellar Cruisers and Stellar Destroyers. OK – their names are better – I’ll give them that.

Gygax writes From the Sorcerer’s Scroll on D&D Relationships, the Parts and the Whole. This one gets into the edition mess that was forthcoming for TSR – i.e. what is the “Basic Set”, will the Original game be around much longer and what is Advanced D&D.

James Ward pops in now with Monty Haul and His Friends at Play. This appears to be a satirical piece about the folks at TSR. I dug the accompanying art:

And now, a peeved letter to the editor about the Cthulhu Mythos from the February issue. This is classic geek one-ups-manship at its finest, for example:

“First, the Elder Gods, after they defeated the Great Old Ones, stripped Azathoth of a lot of his power, so his hits should be lowered to 200 to 225.”

“If you’re wondering who is number one — YOG-SHOTHOTH his hits should be raised to 400. You can say that is rather powerful; you’re damn right. The Great Old Ones are so powerful, that the total power of the Elder Gods could not destroy them; only imprison them.”

“These may seem trivial, but if Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Augest Derleth, or Robert Howard saw your use, they’d roll over in their graves not once but at least ten times.”

Another one from James WardThe Total Person in Metamorphosis Alpha. This is a set of random tables for determining a character’s background. I always think these are most useful for Referees working out NPC’s.

Next we have an ogre fight in Wormy and Fineous Fingers being offered up as a sacrifice for a dark knight.

Gregory Rihn writes Lycanthropy – The Progress of the Disease. You can tell D&D is getting more advanced now and a little less free-wheeling for some folks in 1978. I dig this paragraph:

“A low-level werebear who takes six rounds to change fully would fight as follows: round one, normal level; round two, level minus two; round three, level minus four; round four, bear minus four; (claws and teeth have reached minimal offensive effectiveness) round five, bear minus two; round six, normal bear ability. Of course somewhere in here he has to shed his clothes.”

I like the idea of a lycanthrope changing during the course of a battle. The article includes a level table, which I would think was for adjudicating lycanthropes with class levels in the game – it has columns for “Changes Per Day”, “Chance of Involuntary Changes”, “Time Required for Change” and such – except it also has XP for each level. I guess it makes sense – XP determine one’s “lycanthrope level” separately from one’s normal class level.

And that’s it for #14. A few good bits in this one, but not my favorite issue. Even though I don’t always get much use for the articles in these issues, I still find the environment of gaming inspiration in these magazines. Well worth reading, especially for folks who have no grounding in the history of the game.

It Came from the SRD – Part Four

This post is the fourth of four posts converting the unconverted monsters from the SRD to S&W. There is, naturally, a part one, part two and part three. This post is open game content.

Sahuagin Mutant
About one in two hundred sahuagin has four arms. Such creatures can make four claw attacks or use extra weapons, in addition to the claw and bite attacks. A Referee in possession of a game that utilizes random mutations may want to add other mutations to the sahuagin mutant (laser eyes, a winning personality, etc).

  • Sahuagin Mutant: HD 2+1; AC 5 [14]; Atk 4 claws (1d4) or 2 weapons (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None.

Scrag (Sea Troll)
These cousins of the troll dwell in any body of water in any climate. They regenerate only if mostly immersed in water.

  • Scrag: HD 6+3; AC 4 [15]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 18); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Regenerate 3 hp/round.

Shadow, Greater
Although no more intelligent than an average shadow, a greater shadow is more loathesome and dangerous because it can spawn. Creatures drained of all their strength by a greater shadow become shadows under the control of their killer.

  • Greater Shadow: HD 9+3; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 touch (1d6 + strength drain); Move 12; Save 6; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Drain 1d4 points of strength with hit, hit only by magic weapons.

Shield Guardian
Shield guardians are magical constructs created to protect whoever wears a certain amulet. They obey verbal commands, but are fairly stupid. All attacks against the amulet wearer in the presence of a shield guardian suffer a –2 penalty to hit. A shield guardian can store one spell of level 4 or lower that is cast into it by another creature. It “casts” this spell when commanded to do so. If a shield guardian’s amulet is destroyed, the guardian ceases to function until a new one is created. If the wearer dies but the amulet is intact, the shield guardian carries out the last command it was given.

  • Shield Guardian: HD 15; AC 0 [19]; Atk 2 slam (2d6); Move 12; Save 3; CL/XP 16/3200; Special: Shield other, spell storing.

Skum
Skum are humanoid algae that serve aboleths and other aquatic dark lords. They are amphibious and have raking claws.

  • Skum: HD 2; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 bite (2d6), 2 claws (1d4); Move 9 (Swim 15); Save 16; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

Spider Eater
A spider eater is 10 feet long and 4 feet high, and has a wingspan of about 20 feet. A spider eater attacks with its venomous sting and powerful mandibles. Female spider eaters lay their eggs inside large, paralyzed creatures. The young emerge about six weeks later, literally devouring the host from inside. Creatures stung by a spider eater must pass a saving throw or be paralyzed for 1d8+5 weeks. Spider eaters have a continuous freedom of movement ability as the spell. They can be trained as mounts.

  • Spider Eater: HD 4+1; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 sting (2d4) and 1 bite (1d8); Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Implant eggs, poison.

Thoqqua
The thoqqua is a 5’ long, reddish-silver worm-like creature that radiates intense heat. When it burrows through rock it leaves a 3-ft diameter tunnel glowing red with heat; anyone touching this tunnel within 1 minute of it being made will suffer 2d6 points of damage. It can charge 120’ in one round, dealing 5d6 damage to whomever it hits. Creatures struck must make a saving throw or lose a prominent item worn to the creature’s intense heat. A thoqqua is healed by fire damage. It suffers double damage from cold.

  • Thoqqua: HD 3; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 touch (2d6); Move 12 (Burrow 3); Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Healed by fire, double damage from cold.

Troll Hunter
Some trolls, more cunning than most, are not satisfied with merely eating civilized beings but train to hunt them relentlessly. These troll hunters are fearsome creatures who focus on slaying and devouring humanoid prey.

  • Troll Hunter: HD 12+6; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d8) or battle axe (2d6) or javelin (1d8); Move 12; Save 3; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: Regenerate 3 hp/round, +2 bonus to hit humans and elfs, speak with animals at will, cast resist fire once per day.

Vampire Spawn
Vampire spawn are undead creatures that come into being when vampires slay mortals. Like their creators, spawn remain bound to their coffins and to the soil of their graves. Vampire spawn appear much as they did in life, although their features are often hardened, with a predatory look. Like vampires, vampire spawn have a variety of special abilities. They can only be harmed by magic or silver weapons, regenerate 1 hp per round, can turn into gaseous form at will and can drain one level with their bite. Looking into a vampire spawn’s eyes forces one to make a saving throw or be charmed (as the charm person spell). Vampire spawn have the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities as true vampires.

  • Vampire Spawn: HD 4; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 bite (1d6 + level drain); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 7/600; Special: See description.

Xill
Xill are four-armed, red-skinned hooligans. Xill are asexual. They reproduce by laying eggs in the stomachs of living humanoids. They can shift from the ethereal to the material plane instantly, or the reverse in 2 rounds during which it loses its magic resistance. Despite their magic resistance, xill can be warded with protection from evil. The xill’s claws can inject a paralyzing venom into grappled opponents (a saving throw applies). Once a victim is secured and subdued, the xill will take its victim to the ethereal plane for egg laying. If attacked in its lair, the xill will first save its eggs and any egg-bound victims. Xill eggs hatch in 1d4 days; over the next 2d4 days they will inflict 3d6 damage per day as they mature. Once they emerge they kill the victim instantly. The eggs will produce 2d8 small xill that mature to adulthood in only 1d4 hours.

  • Xill: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 4 claws (1d4) weapons (1d8); Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Attack as 8 HD creatures, only harmed by magic weapons, magic resistance 70%, ethereal shift.

Yrthak
A yrthak is a large, blind avian. It senses sound and movement by means of a special organ on its long tongue. It emits powerfully focused beams of sound from the protrusion on its head. The creature is a yellowish-green color, with the wings and fin being more yellow and the head and body more green. The teeth are yellow. A yrthak is about 20 feet long, with a wingspan of 40 feet. Despite their intelligence, yrthaks do not speak. They can focus sonic energy into a ray every 2 rounds. The ray inflicts 6d6 damage. It can also focus the ray on stone, causing an explosion that deals 2d6 damage to all within 10 feet of the impact.

  • Yrthak: HD 12; AC 3 [16]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d8); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Sonic attacks.

Templates
Templates are, in my opinion, a sound idea. Why have separate stats for skeletons and monster skeletons and dragon skeletons, when you can instead apply a simple template to any monster and turn it into a skeleton. Nice and simple. Unfortunately, here is where the idea runs smack-dab into one of my least favorite parts of the d20 experience – monster stats. When I used to run a d20 game, I would dutifully go about the business of template-ing a monster to throw a twist to my players. I would go down the list, make the changes, do the calculations, and in the end come up with a slightly new monster that would probably still bite the dust in the course of three or four rounds of combat. For me, not enough bang for the buck. Enter the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules and the sheer joy that is monsters with only SEVEN stats. Compare that to the 23 to 25 statistics for a d20 monster that is going to last just about as long and do just about the same things in combat. Of course, templates often are used to create fairly bizarre, tongue-in-cheek creatures, but I have room for a little comedy in my games. So, here is an attempt at converting some d20 templates into an old school format.

Celestial Creature
The celestial creature template can be applied to any kind of creature.

  • Celestial creatures are subject to spells that repulse conjured creatures.
  • Once per day a celestial creature can “smite evil”, dealing bonus damage equal to its own hit dice on a successful attack against a evil creature.
  • Celestial creatures take half damage from acid, cold and lightning and have 10% magic resistance. A celestial creature with four or more hit dice can only be harmed by magic weapons.
  • Celestial creaures have challenge levels 3 or 4 points higher than normal creatures of the same type.

Sample Celestial Creature

  • Celestial Polar Bear: HD 7; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 claws (1d6+1), 1 bite (1d10+1); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Hug, smite evil, half damage from acid, cold and lightning, magic resistance 10%, only harmed by magic weapons.

Fiendish Creature
The fiendish creature template can be applied to any kind of creature.

  • Fiendish creatures are subject to spells that repulse conjured creatures.
  • Once per day a fiendish creature can “smite good”, dealing bonus damage equal to its own hit dice on a successful attack against a good creature.
  • Fiendish creatures take half damage from cold and fire and have 10% magic resistance. A fiendish creature with four or more hit dice can only be harmed by magic weapons.
  • Fiendish creaures have challenge levels 3 or 4 points higher than normal creatures of the same type.

Sample Fiendish Creature

  • Fiendish Giant Viper: HD 4; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d3 + poison); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Lethal poison, only harmed by magic weapons, half damage from fire and cold, magic resistance 10%, smite good.

Half-Celestial
The haf-celestial template can be applied to any humanoid creature. No matter the form, half-celestials are always comely and delightful to the senses, having golden skin, sparkling eyes, angelic wings, or some other sign of their higher nature.

  • Half-celestials have feathered wings, giving them a fly speed equal to twice their land speed.
  • A half-celestial’s armor class improves by one.
  • Once per day a half-celestial can “smite evil”, dealing bonus damage equal to its own hit dice on a successful attack against an evil creature.
  • Half-celestials can use the spell light at will, and can always counter magical darkness.
  • Half-celestials can cast cleric spells. They can cast one spell of each cleric spell level, with the maximum level of cleric spells equal to their hit dice.
  • Half-celestials are immune to disease, suffer only half damage from acid, cold and lightning, are only harmed by magic weapons, have 25% magic resistance and are +2 to save vs. poison.
  • A half-celestial’s challenge level is 5 points higher than a normal creature of its type.

Sample Half-Celestial

  • Half-Celestial Elf: HD 1+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 sword (1d8) or 2 arrows (1d6); Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 17 (15 vs. poison); CL/XP 6/400; Special: Smite evil (+1 damage), bless once per day, light at will, immune to disease, half damage from acid, cold and lightning, only harmed by magic weapons, magic resistance 25%.

Half-Dragon
The haf-dragon template can be applied to any living creature. Half-dragon creatures are always more formidable than others of their kind that do not have dragon blood, and their appearance betrays their nature; scales, elongated features, reptilian eyes, and exaggerated teeth and claws. Sometimes half-dragons have wings.

  • Half-dragons have +1 hit point per hit dice.
  • A half-dragon that is larger than man-size gains leathery wings and a fly speed equal to twice its land speed.
  • A half-dragon’s armor class improves by two.
  • Half-dragons have one bite attack for 1d6 damage and two claw attacks for 1d4 damage. Damage can be increased for creatures larger than man-sized, or decreased for smaller creatures.
  • Half-dragons gain one breath weapon of the breed of their dragon parent (i.e. frost if a half-white dragon, fire if a half-red dragon). A half-dragon’s breath weapon deals 5d6 points of damage and is usable once per day.
  • Half-dragons are immune to sleep and paralysis.
  • A half-dragon’s challenge level is 2 or 3 points higher than a normal creature of its type, depending on whether or not it can fly.

Sample Half-Dragon

  • Half-White Dragon Mammoth: HD 12+12; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 trunk (1d10), 2 gore (1d10+4), 2 trample (2d6+4) or 2 claw (1d8), 1 bite (1d10); Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 16/3200; Special: Breath cone of frost (5d6 damage) once per day, immune to sleep and paralysis.

Half-Fiend
The haf-fiend template can be applied to any humanoid creature. No matter its form, a half-fiend is always hideous to behold, having dark scales, horns, glowing red eyes, bat wings, a fetid odor, or some other obvious sign that it is tainted with evil.

  • Half-fiends have bat-like wings, giving them a fly speed equal to their land speed.
  • A half-fiend’s armor class improves by one.
  • Half-fiends have one bite attack for 1d6 damage and two claw attacks for 1d4 damage. Damage can be increased for creatures larger than man-sized, or decreased for smaller creatures.
  • Once per day a half-fiend can “smite good”, dealing bonus damage equal to its own hit dice on a successful attack against a good creature.
  • Half-fiends can cast the reverse versions of cleric spells. They can cast one spell of each cleric spell level, with the maximum level of cleric spells equal to their hit dice.
  • Half-fiends are immune to poison, suffer only half damage from acid, cold, fire and lightning, are only harmed by magic weapons, and have 25% magic resistance.
  • A half-fiend’s challenge level is 5 points higher than a normal creature of its type.

Sample Half-Fiend

  • Half-Fiend Berserker: HD 1; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8) or 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d6); Move 12 (Fly 12); Save 17; CL/XP 7/600; Special: +2 to hit in berserk state, smite good (+1 damage), cast inflict light wound once per day, immune to poison, half damage from acid, cold, fire and lightning, only harmed by magic weapons, magic resistance 25%.

Lycanthrope
The lycanthrope creature template can combine any humanoid creature with any beast.

  • A lycanthrope’s hit dice are equal to the hit dice of his humanoid form plus the hit dice of his animal form.
  • Lycanthropes can shift between their humanoid form, their animal form, and a hybrid form.
  • A lycanthrope’s armor class improves by two.
  • Lycanthropes gain special movement types of their animal form while in hybrid form.
  • A lycanthrope in hybrid form gains two claw attacks that deal 1d4 damage and one bite attack that deals 1d6 damage. Damage can be increased or decreased as the Referee deems appropriate.
  • A lycanthrope spreads its curse to other creatures through its bite attack. Creatures bitten by the lycanthrope must pass a saving throw to avoid the curse.
  • Lycanthropes can only be harmed by silver or magic weapons.
  • Lycanthropes can communicate with animals of their kind in any form.

Sample Lycanthrope

  • Hill Giant Were-Orca: HD 20+2; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 weapon (2d6) or 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (1d8); Move 12 (Swim 24); Save 3; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Throw boulders, only harmed by silver or magic weapons, communicate with orcas, curse of lycanthropy.

Vampire
The vampire template can be applied to any humanoid creature.

  • If the creature has fewer than seven hit dice, increase their hit dice to seven.
  • Improve the creatures armor class by two.
  • The creature gains a bite attack that deals 1d10 points of damage and drains one level.
  • As a vampire, the creature gains the following special abilities: Can only be hit by magic weapons, regenerate 3 hp each round, turn into gaseous form or giant bat at will, summon a swarm of bats or 3d6 wolves from the night, eyes that charm (as the charm person spell, save at -2 to negate), and the ability to turn humanoids into vampires by killing them.
  • As a vampire, the creature gains the following vulnerabilities: They can be killed by immersion in running water (unless they are natural swimmers), exposure to sunlight, or having a stake driven through their hearts (which, to be honest, kills non-vampires as well); they retreat from the smell of garlic, the sight of a mirror and the sight of “good” holy symbols.
  • Vampiric creatures have challenge levels 3 points higher than normal creatures of the same type, plus any additions due to extra hit dice.

Sample Vampire

  • Vampiric Lizardman: HD 7+1; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 claws (1d3), 1 bite (1d10 + level drain); Move 6 (Swim 12); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: See description above.

Art by Theodor Kittelsen – Sjøtrollet 1887 (The Sea Troll)