They Sup on Your Dreams

Hummingbird Men

Type: Tiny monstrous humanoid
Hit Dice: 0 (1d4 hp)
Armor Class: 13 [Silver]
Attacks: None
Move: 10 (Fly 100)
Saves: F19 R10 W14; +2 save vs. mind-affecting effects
Resistance: Magic 35%
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 50 (CL 1)

They are tiny, with long, beak-like snouts and beady eyes that sometimes strike you as cruel or callous, other times as curious. They have hummingbird wings where a man’s arms would be, and lithe bodies in pleasant, subdued colors – dusky rose, marmalade, the blue-grey of a threatening storm.

They appear at night, and settle down on a person to sup on the nectar of their fitful dreams. Dreams of isolation or rejection please them most; night terrors sate them quickly, but leave them unsatisfied. They hover and stare, and touch their snouts to the person’s temples or forehead, remaining for a few minutes. The dreamer has the best rest of his life; if he was nursing a psychic wound (such as damage to a mental ability score), he heals at twice the normal rate for the hummingbird man’s presence.

If the hummingbird man is threatened by one who knows not what it is or by one who cherishes his dreams, fair or foul, the beast flits back and disgorges nightmares from its snout. These nightmares are illusions, but hard to disbelieve (-2 to save). They usually take one of the following forms:

1 Black tentacles (solidifying from black mists)
2 Phantasmal killer (often a wild-eyed version of one’s close relatives/lovers/self)
3 Shapechange (into something one would not want to be)
4 Flesh to stone (usually a slow transitions, from feet to head)
5 Insect plague (but not always insects)

The victim has a chance to disbelieve each round, but only if the player says they disbelieve. The saving throw begins at -2, but the penalty increases by -1 each round as they are drawn further into the nightmare. The nightmare, thankfully, ends after 6 rounds, by which time the hummingbird man has fled to dine on blacker psyches.

The Incarnator

It’s been way too long since the last post, so hopefully this one will make it up. This is admittedly not an “old school” sort of class, but rather more of a “high fantasy” concept.


The incarnator is a mystic character class that can make the power of the stars incarnate on and within his person. These stellar incarnations appear in many shapes, but are always composed of light of a different color, based upon the star sign being invoked.

Incarnators train in much the same way as monks, psychics, and soulknives. They operate in training houses as tight-knit brotherhoods under the tutelage of a master.

In your campaign, incarnators might be the equivalent of magicians or psychics who specialize in star magic, or they might even have the blood of star gods and goddesses (the Pleiades) running through their veins.

REQUIREMENTS: Wisdom and Charisma 13+

ARMOR ALLOWED: Padded, leather, studded leather, and ring mail

WEAPONS ALLOWED: Club, dagger, dart, light crossbow, light mace, quarterstaff, short sword

SKILLS: Communicate, Decipher Codes, Navigation


1. Incarnators call upon the mystic power of the stars, in the form of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Obviously, different fantasy worlds might have different star signs, but the rules here use the traditional zodiac – adjustments may need to be made for other worlds.

Because an incarnator calls upon the zodiac, they must first have their own star sign rolled randomly, with a 12-sided dice, of course.

2. Incarnators are skilled at drawing astrological charts. The action takes one hour, and not only reveals a person’s star sign, but also acts as an augury spell for the person in question.

3. To manifest an incarnation they must make a task check (a Will save) modified by their Wisdom score. Manifesting from one’s own birth sign is at a +2 bonus, from one’s own element at no penalty, from other elements at a -2 penalty, and from an opposing element at a -4 penalty. It is impossible for an incarnator to manifest from his opposing sign.

There are three types of incarnations an incarnator can manifest:

Artifacts are objects of solidified starlight. Manifesting an artifact requires a Will saving throw made with no additional penalty (see above).

Summonings are creatures composed entirely of solidified starlight. A summoning requires a Will saving throw with a penalty equal to the monster’s Hit Dice.

Aspects are internal or external modifications of the body. Aspects require a Will saving throw with a -10 penalty.

An incarnator can attempt a set number of manifestations per day (see table below). These numbers represent attempts, not successes. It’s possible for an incarnator to fail on all their attempted manifestations during a day. An incarnator can attempt the same manifestation multiple times per day if they choose.

Fire signs produce red light, earth green, air white and water blue.

If an incarnator is manifesting three incarnations from the same element, he gains resistance to that element’s related energy (fire, acid, electricity, cold) so long as his incarnations are manifested.

The artifacts, summonings and aspects associated with the signs are as follows:

Weapons: All incarnator weapons, including natural weapons, appear as solidified light of the appropriate color. The weapon acts in all ways as a +1 magic weapon of its type. A 6th level incarnator’s weapons also deal +1d6 points of energy damage based upon its element (i.e. Aries is a fire sign, so a warhammer of Aries deals +1d6 fire damage). A 12th level incarnator’s weapon acts as a +1 brilliant light weapon of its type. Weapons last for one turn (10 minutes). Manifested natural weapons permit an attack by the incarnator in addition to a held weapon.

Armor: Incarnator armor acts as +1 magic armor of its type. A 6th level incarnator’s armor also provides resistance against the appropriate energy (fire for fire signs, acid for earth signs, electricity for air signs and cold for water signs). Armor lasts for one hour.

Potion Bottle: The potion bottle of Aquarius contains a potion that duplicates a single spell of a level equal to the incarnator’s level divided by four, rounding down. Thus, a 1st level incarnator can manifest a potion that duplicates a 0-level spell, a 2nd to 5th level incarnator a first level spell, a 6th to 9th level incarnator a second level spell, and so on. The potion bottle and the liquid starlight is contains last for one turn, though the effects of the spell within have the normal duration.

Scales: The scales of Libra can take a measure of creatures, determining their alignment leanings (chaos vs. law, good vs. evil) and also the wisdom of an action (per the augury spell). The scales manifest for 1 turn.

Monsters: Monsters are energy constructs that fight as their normal type, but enjoy resistance to the energy associated with their sign. They last for 6 rounds.

Split: When a character splits, they become two incarnators of half their normal level and half their current hit points. If one is killed while split, the incarnator absorbs his former half, but suffers one level of energy damage (not drain). A split lasts for one round + one round per level of the incarnator.

Mighty Roar: The mighty roar works as the special ability of the dragonne. While manifesting the mighty roar, the incarnator’s eyes glow red, and a mane of reddish light filaments sprouts from his or her head. The mighty roar ability lasts for one round + one round per level of the incarnator.

Magic Circle: Per the magic circle spell, affecting either good or evil. The magic circle actually appears as a glowing green aura around the incarnator’s body, and lasts for one round + one round per level of the incarnator.

Blinding Beauty: Per the nymph ability, this ability causes the incarnator’s body to glow with luminous, white light. Blinding beauty lasts for one round + one round per level of the incarnator.

Horse Body: The incarnator manifests a centaur like horse body of red light. He gains the movement rate and natural hoof attacks of a centaur.

Steam Body: Per the gaseous form spell, but the incarnator can choose to expand into the equivalent of the fog cloud spell. Lasts for one round + one round per level.

Scales and Gills: The incarnator gains a swim speed of 60 and water breathing (per the spell). Lasts for one round + one round per incarnator level.



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 – March 1979 (23)

I haven’t delved into an old Dragon for a while, so I thought tonight was as good a night as any to do a new “Dragon by Dragon”. What does March 1979 have in store for us?

I often like to start with an ad, and this one has a dandy for Fourth Dimension, the game of Time and Space. You get to play a Time Lord in this one, with an army of Guardians, Rangers and Warriors. No dice in this game – all about the strategy.

In terms of articles, the first one up is about playing EN GARDE! (love the days of capitalized game names) as a solitaire game. Folks might find a use in the Critical Hits table.

Die Roll. Result (Damage Points)
1-10. Light Leg Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
11-20. Light Left Arm Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
21-30. Light Right Arm Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
31-40. Light Head Wound (Base 20 + 16-sided die roll)
41-50. Light Body Wound (Base 25 + 16-sided die roll)
51-60. Serious Leg Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
61-70. Serious Left Arm Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
71-80. Serious Right Arm Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
81-90. Serious Head Wound (Base 50 + 120-sided die roll)
91-99. Serious Body Wound (Base 100 + 120-sided die roll)
00. DEAD

Love the 16-sided dice and 120-sided dice – not sure how that was accomplished, though I’m sure a dice whiz can inform us in the comments. If modifying for use in “traditional fantasy games”, you could maybe replace “Base 20 + 16-sided die roll” with 6 + 1d6 or something like that.

Next is some fantasy fiction by Gardner F. Fox – “The Thing from the Tomb”. The first paragraph goes thus …

“Niall of the Far Travels reined in his big grey stallion, lifting his right hand to halt the long column of riders who followed him across this corner of the Baklakanian Desert. In front of him, and far away, he could make out a dark blotch on the golden sands toward which he was

Jeff P. Swycaffer presents “Mind Wrestling”, a variation on psionic combat. To be honest, I still regret not throwing in a psionics appendix into Blood & Treasure. The idea here is that two people are attempting to push a cloud of power suspended between them into their opponent’s mind. The system uses a double track to represent the “field” of combat. Attackers secretly declare an outside or center attack, defenders secretly divide their Psionic Strength between outside and center defense, and then the attacker’s Psionic Strength (+40 or doubled, whichever is less) is compared to the defender’s strength. If a ratio of 2:1 is achieved, the marker is moved one space. If a ratio of 3:1 is achieved, it is moved two spaces. The attacker then has his psionic strength returned to normal and loses 3 points, and the defender loses twice as many points as his marker was pushed back. Simple system, and would probably be a fun game-within-a-game, especially for psionics-heavy campaigns.

Carl Hursh has rules and guidelines for water adventures on the Starship Warden. Lots of monster stats, including craboids and gupoids.

Michael Mornard presents notes on armor for fantasy games, maybe the first article to talk about how D&D armor and weapons is heavier than real armor and weapons.

Gygax’s Sorcerer’s Scroll presents the random generation of creatures from the lower planes – always a fun one, and I highly suggest people use it when sicing demons of various types on their players. You can either use it to generate additional “types” of demons, or use it to alter the appearance of existing types.

James M. Ward presents an article I’m excited about – Damage Permanency (or How Hrothgar One-Ear Got His Name). This system is used when a person is reduced to 1 or 2 hit points. When this happens, there is a 50% chance of no permanent damage, a 20% chance of needing magical healing to heal properly, and a 10% chance of being maimed unless wish or a 5th level or better clerical healing spell or device is used.

What follows are a number of tables – one to determine the area of the body damaged, and tables for each body location to determine what happens. Head damage, for example, is as follows:

1-12 Hearing Loss
13-24 Sight Loss
25-36 Speech Impaired
37-48 Charisma Impaired
49-60 Intelligence Impaired
61-72 Wisdom Impaired
73-88 Fighting Ability Impaired
89-100 Spell Ability Impaired

Of course, more detail follows. “Spell Ability Impaired” mean that the person loses one level of spell ability – i.e. a 3rd level magic-user would have the spells of a 2nd level magic-user.

The Design Forum features “Dungeons and Prisons” by Mark S. Day. Essentially, it covers the idea that dungeons should have some prison cells, and gives a few notions about how one might use them.

And that does it for Dragon in March 1979 – a useful little issue. One parting shot …

Ah – the good old days were just getting started in 1979!

Soon, I’ll review the latest adventure offering from Tim Shorts – Knowledge Illuminates!

Dragon by Dragon … April 1977 (6)

Ah – spring of 1977. I’m sure after the big Bucharest earthquake and the discovery of rings around Uranus, people were almost too worn out to delve into another issue of The Dragon, but delve they did!

The cover for this issue was by “Morno”, AKA Brad Schenck, who you can find at deviantART. He’s mostly known for his contributions to Arduin and computer gaming, and he has lots of nice retro sci-fi material in his gallery. Check it out.

First article is by Guy W. McLimore, Jr.An Alternate Beginning Sequence For Metamorphosis: Alpha. Article begins with a neat little graphic of old pseudo-computer code … takes me back to programming BASIC on my old Vic-20. Good times. The article takes a while to get to the point, describing a clone bank on the Warden. [Hey – just got it – James Ward – Warden – damn I’m slow]. The meat of the article is a little d% table to determine whether you are human, a latent mutant or a true mutant and how many mutations and defects you have. Do the new versions of WOTC Gamma World delve into defects at all? I dig that defects are just part of character creation back in the day … you play the cards the dice deal you.

The article continues with many more tables, including more detail for latent mutants and the number of programmed ship skills one might have, including some special psychic skills for humans only.

The author would go on to be a part of the Doctor Who RPG, Mekton Empires and a host of products for Star Trek and Starfleet Command.

Ronald C. Spencer, Jr. (another junior … I smell conspiracy) presents Sea Trade in D&D Campaigns. This one springs from a campaign being played on the ballistic missile sub USS Benjamin Franklin … I love the stuff that comes from actual play. In this case, a fighting-man wanted to set up a shipping business on the side – smart guy!

D&D produces two wonderful sorts of rules. On the one hand, you have the super simple, elegant rule – like shields will be splintered – and on the other hand, the baroque set of charts that put a warm glow into the hearts of people like me, even if we never plan on actually using them. This one has a single chart and a few assumptions – one page to cover the whole concept. I like it.

The basics of the system are set up as a number of assumptions. To be brief … (1) Cargo is not specified; (2) small merchant ships can carry a max value of 10,000 gp, large merchants 50,000 gp; (3) ships have to pay a pilot fee of 500 gp for small ships, 2,500 gp for large ships and a 5% import tax based on the value of the cargo; (4) profit/loss is determined with a dice roll (i.e. the neat little chart) and is based on the number of ports the ship bypasses (i.e. the further you go, the more you make, but the more likely you are to lose a ship to storms or pirates).

The ship owner invests in a cargo and then gives sailing orders to hit ship – where to go, which ports to bypass, how much profit/loss to accept (if a port is bypassed to avoid a loss, it counts as a bypassed port – I suppose this involves ignoring a bad roll and trying again). Ultimately, the DM (or D/M as he writes it – love this period when things were not yet settled and official) makes the percentile roll and money is either lost or made.

Ships are delayed 1d4 weeks at ports other than their home port, and when ships are lost at sea the owner is notified 1d6+2 weeks later. Neat system, which I’ll happily use in my Blood & Treasure campaign, assuming anyone goes to the trouble of buying a ship or investing in one.

M.A.R. Barker now chimes in with a painting guide for Legions of the Petal Throne. I can’t imagine how anyone in the hobby back in the day could have resisted buying the Tekumel material … very evocative. Love the art.

Morno (Brad Schenck) now provides some fiction in the form of The Forest of Flame. From now on, I will present one random paragraph from each bit of fiction …

Some obsure glory, had thought Visaque, must belong to one who unlocked the musty secrets of the tome; the dream was even now fresh on him. Weeks, then months of spare hours were spent in the attempt of understanding the mysterious text. By the time its crabbed script was half-deciphered the task became somewhat simpler, and often he read in the small hours its forgotten tales by candlelight. He read of the Elder Days and the Days To Come: of heroes, mages, and of strange devices . . . of Crowyn the Worme’s Bane and of his star-crossed blade; Of the strange curse of Vyckar the Grim; Akor the Valkrian, Nokra Negreth, the Red Branch heroes . . . all the warriors and their impeccable deeds. And then, the mages: Bran-Herla whose soul was lost by the wide waters; Vergil Magus; Garanyr the Heart-Misled; of Myrddin, of Verbius, Therion, and the loremaster Isaac Decapole D’alsace . . . and in an indefinite reference on a faded page, was inscribed the name of Vishre Vishran. When Visaque first read that name it struck an eerie chord within him, as if of a misplaced memory. Even now the name was uncomfortably close to an identity. Yet for contemplation there was, today, no time. That the mage was called an Ipsissimus, he knew, but knew not the rank so named. For all his study (so unclear in the remembering . . .) all Visaque had learned was that Vishran dwelt in the Castle Arestel, atop the mountains eastward. (Arestel . . .)

In the Designer’s Forum (that’s a neat idea … a place where game designers can just add a few bits and pieces and corrections to their games – if any designers out there want to talk about their stuff in NOD, let me know).

This forum is by James Ward, with Further Rules, Modifications and Clarifications for Metamorphosis Alpha. He goes into mutations for taller mutants (roll 1d20 for additional height, add one “striking die” for each four feet above normal height – you can get some tall freaking mutants in MA!), shorter mutants, additional body parts, wings and some psychic powers.

Next, there’s an add for D&D miniatures. They guarantee satisfaction. Fantasy Forge has some neat Tekumel miniatures (I wonder how many are still out there, painted and waiting to be used), followed by an ad for Space Gamer out of Austin, TX.

After the adverts, we get chapter 6 of the Gnome Cache. I quote from the summary …

Unable to resist the wanderlust any longer, Dunstan has robbed his father’s strongbox and set forth on his quest for adventure and glory.

In his naivete, Dunstan casts his lot in with a band of scurrilous cutthroats, believing them to be adventurers sharing his noble pursuits.

Our hero learns the true nature of his erstwhile companions, and his pockets are the poorer for it. Dunstan parts company from the band, narrowly escaping apprehension by the Warders. In the confusion, he ‘liberates’ a horse, and sets off for Huddlefoot, there to spend the night in the stables.

Our would-be knight acquires a would-be squire, and strikes a bargain with Evan to travel with his caravan to Rheyton and Nehron. This arranged, he takes care of the incriminating horse, spinning a tall tale of being on official business. This done, they await departure . . .

David W. Miller presents: D&D Option: Determination of Psionic Abilities, giving some additional ways people could pick up psionics in the game. I kinda dig the baroque nature of psionics in old D&D, though I don’t remember if we ever used them or not. Maybe one or two characters were lucky enough to develop them.

Jim Hayes and Bill Gilbert cover Morale in D&D – an important system when you consider the game’s wargaming roots and the importance of wandering dungeons with large bodies of men-at-arms and torch bearers. This one has a couple charts, lots of modifiers and … honestly, I’d rather just roll 2d6 and be done with it.

In Fineous Fingers, we get a visit from Bored-Flak, the Bolt Lobber, who has a firing sight on his finger. He saves the party’s bacon and then disappears into the dungeon.

The Featured Creature is the Death Angel by John Sullivan. Not the toughest monster in the world – 7 Hit Dice (d8’s, it notes) and AC 4 (or 15, in modern games), but it does a death scythe that forces people to make a save vs. death at -3 (and you lose a point of constitution if you fail). If you can take this sucker on at range, you’re okay … except it can teleport at will. They also have 95% magic resistance. Fortunately, they only attack their intended victim – essentially somebody who has pissed off a god or demi-god. The take away here … leave those gemstone eyes in the idol alone!

Next (and final) add is for the old dungeon geomorphs – only $2.99.

All in all, a decent issue, but not spectacular.

Stabbing You With Their Minds

The last of the three “lost classes” of Blood & Treasure is the soulknife. The soulknife is certainly more gonzo than the classic fantasy archetypes, but they have some cool precedents in sci-fi entertainment, specifically in the form of the ubiquitous light saber and in the redesigned Psylocke (kinda miss the old one, to be honest) and her mind blades. The overall concept is pretty decent, and it was a close one to make it into the final game. I especially liked the idea of illustrating it (or having it illustrated for me, to be precise) as an Indian warrior with glowing katars. So … the soulknife for Blood & Treasure (which is about a month away from being finished, FYI).


Soulknives are men and women with a natural surplus of psychic energy but no ability to manifest it in the form of psychic powers. Instead, they learn, through rigorous training and meditation, to unlock their chakras and focus their psychic energy into a blade-shaped construct. Soulknives follow a strict warrior code – the Kshatriya Dharma. This states, “Stand straight and never bow down, for this alone is manliness. Rather break at the knots than bend!”

Requirements: Soulknives must have a dexterity and wisdom score of 13 or higher.

Hit Dice: d8 (+3 hit points per level from 10th to 20th).

Armor: Padded, leather, ring mail, studded leather and all shields.

Weapons: Club, crossbows (any), dagger, dart, javelin, mace, morningstar, punching dagger, quarterstaff, rapier, sap, shortbow, short sword, sickle, sling and spear.

Skills: Climb, Find Secret Doors, Hide, Jump, Listen at Doors and Move Silently.


A soulknife can create a semisolid blade composed of psychic energy distilled from his own mind. The blade is identical in all ways (except visually) to a short sword (for medium-sized soulknives), dagger (for small-sized soulknives) or longsword (for large soulknives). The wielder of a mind blade gains the usual modifiers to his attack roll and damage roll from their strength score.

The blade can be broken (it has an AC 15 and 10 hit points); however, a soulknife can simply create another on his next turn. The moment he relinquishes his grip on his blade, it dissipates (unless he intends to throw it; see below). A mind blade is considered a magic weapon for the purpose of hitting monsters only hit by magic weapons.
A soulknife’s mind blade improves as the character gains higher levels.

A soul knife of 2nd level or higher can throw his mind blade as a ranged weapon with a range increment of 30 feet. Whether or not the attack hits, a thrown mind blade then dissipates. A soulknife of 3rd level or higher can make a psychic strike (see below) with a thrown mind blade and can use the blade in conjunction with other special abilities.

A soulknife of 3rd level or higher can spend one round of combat to imbue his mind blade with destructive psychic energy. This effect deals an extra 1d6 points of damage to the next living, non-mindless target he successfully hits with a melee attack (or ranged attack, if he is using the throw mind blade ability). Creatures immune to mind-affecting effects are immune to psychic strike damage.

A mind blade deals this extra damage only once when this ability is called upon, but a soulknife can imbue his mind blade with psychic energy again by taking another round to imbue it with destructive psychic energy.

Once a soulknife has prepared his blade for a psychic strike, it holds the extra energy until it is used. Even if the soulknife drops the mind blade (or it otherwise dissipates, such as when it is thrown and misses), it is still imbued with psychic energy when the soulknife next materializes it.

At every four levels beyond 3rd (7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th), the extra damage from a soulknife’s psychic strike increases by 1d6.

At 5th level, a soulknife gains the ability to change the form of his mind blade. This one full round; he can change his mind blade to replicate a blade one size larger (i.e. dagger to short sword, short sword to longsword or longsword to bastard sword) or smaller. Alternatively, a soulknife can split his mind blade into two identical blades, suitable for fighting with a weapon in each hand.

At 6th level, a soulknife gains the ability to enhance his mind blade. He can add any one of the Class A weapon special abilities on the table below. At 10th level the soulknife can add a Class B ability to his mindblade. At 14th level, the soulknife can add Class C abilities to his mindblade. At 18th level, the soulknife can add two Class B abilities or three Class A abilities to hit mindblade.

Special Abilities
Class A: Defending, keen, lucky, mighty cleaving, psychokinetic, sundering, vicious
Class B: Collision, mindcrusher, psychokinetic burst, suppression, wounding
Class C: Bodyfeeder, soulbreaker

Bodyfeeder: Weapon grants the wielder temporary hit points equal to the damage inflicted on a natural attack roll of ‘20’.

Collision: Weapon increases own mass at end of swing, dealing 5 extra points of damage.

Lucky: Once per day, the wielder can re-roll a missed attack.

Mindcrusher: Spellcasting or spell-using creatures hit by this weapon lose a random ability or spell slot. They must also pass a Will saving throw or lose 1d2 points of wisdom.

Psychokinetic: Weapon deals +1d4 points of ectoplasmic damage to those it hits.

Psychokinetic Burst: As psychokinetic, plus, on a natural attack roll of ‘20’ it deals an additional 1d6 points of damage.

Soulbreaker: On a natural attack roll of ‘20’, the victim loses one level (per a life drain). One day after losing the level, the victim can attempt a Fortitude saving throw to regain the lost level.

Sundering: Weapon provides a +2 bonus to sundering attacks.

Suppression: Creatures hit by this weapon suffer from a targeted dispel magic effect. The wielder makes a dispel check (i.e. Will save with a penalty equal to the level of the spell to be dispelled).

The weapon ability or abilities remain the same every time the soulknife materializes his mind blade (unless he decides to reassign its abilities; see below). The ability or abilities apply to any form the mind blade takes, including the use of the shape mind blade or bladewind class abilities. A soulknife can reassign the ability or abilities he has added to his mind blade. To do so, he must first spend 8 hours in concentration. After that period, the mind blade materializes with the new ability or abilities selected by the soulknife.

Beginning at 13th level, when a soulknife executes a psychic strike, he can choose to substitute intelligence, wisdom or charisma damage for extra dice of damage. For each die of extra damage he gives up, he deals 1 point of damage to the ability score he chooses.

The Esper – A New Class for Space Princess

And so it begins …


Illustration by John Schoenherr

It’s a well known fact that approximately 0.000056% of sentient beings in the galaxy have latent psionic powers that can, with training, be fully realized.

One path of training goes through the monasteries of the psychics, who combine their psionic training with physical exercise and the art of laser swordsmanship. The other path of training is through the academies of the espers, who ignore the physical to attain mental perfection.

Many espers wear the saffron uniforms of Star Patrol’s Science Section (Psi Division), while others work for governments and private companies, giving them an edge in negotiations and helping them explore strange new worlds for resources. Still others operate independently of organizations as freelance troubleshooters, criminal masterminds or cult leaders.

HIT DICE: Espers roll d6 to determine hit points

REQUIREMENT: STR score of 4 or lower, MEN score of 5 or higher

SKILLS: Espers add their SKILL to the following tests: Activate Psychic Power (MEN)

STARTING GEAR: Ray gun, crystal pendant (for meditation and focus)

.nobrtable br { display: none }

Level Hit Dice Skill Powers Luck
Mentalist 2 4 3 3
Savant 4 8 6 1
Guru 6 12 9 0

The esper has a number of psychic powers depending on his level, plus ESP as a bonus power. Espers can also spend their starting luck points to buy additional powers. To use a power, an esper must make an activation test – essentially a MEN test against a Difficulty Class (DC) determined by the power to be activated. No power can be used more than once per hour. The player can choose these powers from the psychic’s power list in the main rulebook.

Espers can also attempt to activate powers that are not in their repertoire, but suffer a -10 penalty on their activation test to do so. Powers not in an esper’s repertoire can only be activated once per day.

Shades of Black

The last color dragon to be given the shade treatment, though not the last article in this series. Shades of black really turned into shades of dark gray, but hopefully you’ll find these reptilian horrors useful.

ARSENIC DRAGON: The arsenic dragon is small and serpentine, with small, clawed legs that allow it to scamper and climb. Frills run along its sides that allow it to glide at a speed of 18 for a distance equal to 3 x the height at which is begins its flight. Arsenic dragons can always speak, and are quite talkative. They never cast spells because they are immune to magic. They dwell in small places, being able to curl up into a surprising small ball (3-ft in diameter) and stash their treasure all over their territory in tiny parcels usually wrapped in animal skins. An arsenic dragon’s bite is poisonous, forcing folk to pass a save or suffer one of the following effects: Fail by 1 to 3 points – fall asleep for 1d3 turns; fail by 4-6 points – paralyzed for 1d3 rounds; fail by 7+ points – suffer damage equal to normal breath weapon damage.

ARSENIC DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6 + poison); Move 9 (F18); Save 11; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Poisonous bite, immune to magic.

BISTRE DRAGON: These large dragons dwell in large rivers and occupy a niche similar to whales. They are quite graceful when swimming, but become lumbering brutes on land. One often finds them floating on their backs in the midst of a river, seemingly immune to the current and snoozing or daydreaming. Bistre dragons are sagacious and have acerbic personalities – they are not as thoroughly evil as black dragons, but have a general disdain for others only overcome by their need to dominate them intellectually. Bistre dragons have a 90% chance to speak, and those who can speak have a 25% chance to cast 1d4 first level magic-user spells and 1d3 second level magic-user spells. A bistre dragon’s acidic spit does not affect flesh, but corrodes, tarnishes and rusts all forms of metal as the touch of a rust monster destroys iron. Creatures that are spat at must pass a saving throw or lose one random piece of metal equipment.

BISTRE DRAGON: HD 8; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 6 (S24); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Corrosive breath.

CHARCOAL DRAGON: These medium-sized dragons despise life. They dwell alone, rarely interacting with other dragons and often turning chance meetings into fights to the death. They are surrounded by a miasma of fumes that burn the eyes and throat and can vomit an acidic tar that sticks to flesh, clothes, etc and deals 1d6 points of damage until it can be scraped or peeled away (one can do nothing else, and must pass an open doors check to rid themselves of the tar). Charcoal dragons have the normal chance to speak and cast spells. They dwell in burrows.

CHARCOAL DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 9 (B6, F24); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Acidic tar.

LIVER DRAGON: Liver dragons are tall beasts with a body shaped reminiscent of a reptilian, winged giraffe. They are quick runners, with over-large heads, downward curving horns and saucer-like eyes that never seem to close. Liver dragons despise pretense and have a puritanical love of severity and honesty. They can see through all illusions and have the normal chance for a black dragon to speak and use magic. Their breath weapon is a cone of black energy that strips people of their lies and pretenses. Those struck are incapable of lying and deceiving in any way for 24 hours; they must also pass a saving throw or have their appearance altered to represent their inner selves (up to the player and Referee how this works out). This change in appearance is permanent unless one can be polymorphed or otherwise magically altered.

LIVER DRAGON: HD 8; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 12 (F18); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Immune to illusions, strip away pretense.

TAUPE DRAGON: Taupe dragons are small, quick and persistent dragons. They ooze acid from their teeth, claws and scales and are thus a blight on any landscape. Taupe dragons are territorial, marking their territory by rubbing their acidic bodies against trees and eating away the bark. Pools they visit frequently are often mildly acidic. Taupe dragons are more obsessed with treasure than most black dragons, using the precious metals as bedding, for precious metals are immune to their acidic bodies. Victims of the dragon’s claw and bite attacks may make a saving throw to avoid the extra acid damage. Touching a taupe dragon’s body causes 1d4 points of acid damage, and normal weapons used against a taupe dragon might be eaten away. Each time a hit is scored on a taupe dragon, a saving throw must be made. If failed, the weapon’s damage dice is reduced by one dice size (i.e. 1d6 to 1d4 or 1d4 to 1d3). A weapon reduced to 0 damage is useless. Weapons can be repaired, but will only regain one dice size at a maximum. Magical weapons need not make this saving throw. Each time a victim suffers acid damage from a taupe dragon, their armor’s armor bonus is reduced by one (no save). Again, magical armor is unaffected. Taupe dragons have a 25% chance of speech and the normal chance for black dragons for casting spells.

TAUPE DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4 + 1d4 acid), bite (3d6 + 1d6 acid); Move 12 (F24); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Acidic body and bite.

ONYX DRAGON: Onyx dragons have glistening black scales, short, thick necks, faces reminiscent of pit bulls with a double pair of horns, one curving upward, the other downward. They are stocky, with long, powerful tails that they make use of in combat to knock their opponents off balance. Each round in melee combat, those who fail to hit the dragon must pass a saving throw or be knocked off balance, suffering a 1d4 point penalty to AC for that round. Onyx dragons are lazy, physically and mentally, but no less arrogant for it. They consider themselves the most intelligent of creatures, when in fact their ignorance is monumental. When forced into discourse, they prattle on about this and that, vomiting streams of jargon and referencing obscure texts but never really proving anything. The acidic breath of an onyx dragon seeps into one’s bloodstream and affects the mind. Those hit by the breath must pass a saving throw or suffer one of the following hallucinogenic effects: Fail save by 1-3 = confusion for 1d6 turns; fail save by 4-6 = waking nightmare (per the spell); fail save by 7-9 = phantasmal killer effect (as the spell). Onyx dragons have a 65% chance of speaking, and those with speech can use telepathy out to 120 feet. They have a 15% chance of using 1d6 first level magic-user spells as psychic powers (i.e. they need not speak or move to engage them).

ONYX DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (3d6); Move 9 (F24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Hallucinogenic breath, tail slap.

Illustration from Karen’s Whimsey

Shades of White

And so we come to the trickier dragons – black and white. That means, to some extent, shades of light gray and shades of dark gray. Still – let’s see what we come up with for the white dragon’s kin.

Achromatic Dragon: The small, feral cousins of the white dragon are covered in spiked hide reminiscent of a rhinoceros’, with swept back antlers on its head and cruel, gnashing teeth in its long snout. Achromatic dragons hunt in the manner of crocodiles, lurking beneath the snow and then lunging out at victims. Achromatic dragons never speak or use spells, but they are capable of breathing a swirling vortex of snow that acts as an 8 HD air elemental’s whirlwind ability and inflicts 1d6 points of cold damage each round for ten rounds.

ACHROMATIC DRAGON: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 12; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Breathes blizzards.

Cinereous Dragon: Also called the ashen dragon, the cinereous is a small white dragon with an especially vicious streak. More intelligent than most white dragons, they have a 65% chance of speaking, and those who speak have a 15% chance of casting spells. Cinereous dragons cast spells as an anti-cleric and have three 1st level spells, two 2nd level spells and one 3rd level spell. A  cinereous dragon has an ash gray hide, black eyes, a purple tongue and mouth and hundreds of jagged teeth in its long snout. Atop its head are two long, black horns – like those of a Texas longhorn – and a cluster of black, horn-like spikes tips its thick tail. Cinereous dragons have no breath weapon. Rather, their presence seems to steal all the warmth and kindness from the area. All creatures within 20 feet of the beast must save each round or suffer 1d6 points of cold damage. All creatures within 50 feet of the beast must pass a saving throw any time they wish to do something unselfish or kind – i.e. a cleric using a cure spell on someone other than themselves.

CINEREOUS DRAGON: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4), bite (2d8), gore (1d6), tail spikes (1d4); Move 9 (F24); Save 12; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Steal warmth and kindness, anti-cleric spells.

Ghastly Dragon: The ghastly dragon dwells on abandoned battlefields of the frozen north, where man has spilled the blood of man. It feeds on corpses, like a raven and can whip up the echoes of the spiritual agony of men who have died in battle. These echoes appear as swirling maelstroms of screaming spirits that cover an area 60-ft in diameter around the dragon and force people within the maelstrom to save (once) or lose 1d6 points of wisdom. Ghastly dragons have scales the color of dead, human flesh, with blotches reminiscent of decay. They have stubby spikes that run from their heads to their tails and bloated bodies that waddle about on four stubby legs. Ghastly dragons have a 15% chance of speech, and those who speak have a 15% chance of casting the following spells: Phantasmal force, cause fear and animate dead.

GHASTLY DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 6 (F18); Save 11; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Maelstrom of agonized spirits, spells.

Isabelline Dragon: Isabelline dragons are large and regal, with dull, delicate scales and long, swan-like neck. Isabelline dragons have petite heads, large, sapphire eyes and swirling horns reminiscent of unicorns. Isabelline dragons dwell in vaults beneath snowy mountains. They are capable, while holding their breaths, of passing through earth as easily as air, giving them an effective burrowing speed equal to their flying speed for up to 5 rounds. Their palaces are wondrous and luxurious, with all of the dragon’s riches being spent on creature comforts and art – isabelline dragons have one-tenth the normal coins in their horde and triple the art objects/jewelry. Isabelline dragons always speak and have a 45% chance of casting 1d4 first level and 1d3 2nd level magic-user spells. In place of a breath weapon (how crude and vulgar!) they can sap the color from themselves and their surroundings (but not living creatures) in a diameter of 300 feet. Everything becomes stark white, granting the dragon the equivalent of improved invisibility and forcing those who linger in this area for more than 3 rounds to pass a saving throw or suffer from the equivalent of snow blindness (lasts for 1d3 hours).

ISABELLINE DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (2d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Drain color, spells.

Ivory Dragon: Ivory dragons dwell in cold woodlands in icy caves obscured by the boughs of pine trees. It is said they even smell like pine, making detecting them difficult even for creatures with a powerful sense of smell. They have ivory colored scales of varying sizes, with two ridges of bony, fan-shaped protrusions running down their backs (in the style of a stegosaurus), long necks, small, quick heads (they enjoy a +1 bonus to initiative rolls) and whip-like tails. Two long, ivory tusks jut out of their mouths, giving them a powerful bite attack. Ivory dragons are collectors, eschewing treasure for collections of books, armor, weapons, jewels, hour glasses or some other such nonsense. Their ill-tempers often drive them to scatter treasures of coins atop mountains just to keep them from the hands of folk who do value such objects. An ivory dragon’s breath weapon is a cone, like that of a typical white dragon, but instead of cold damage, it has a hold monster effect (save negates) that lasts for 1 hour, as the spell. While held, a creature’s skin takes on an ivory sheen, making them look like a statue. Ivory dragons have a 20% chance of speech, but never cast spells.

IVORY DRAGON: HD 6; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d4) and bite (3d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Breath weapon (hold monster).

Pearl Dragon: Pearl dragons dwell in arctic oceans, swimming with the monsters of the deep and surfacing only to torment humanoids and demand tribute from them. Pearl dragons have bodies like elasmosauruses, with sleek heads. Their hemispherical scales gleam like pearls and their eyes shine with malevolence. Pearl dragons never speak, but can communicate telepathically up to 1 mile. They can use this telepathy to summon a pod of 1d6 orcas with a 50% chance of success once per day. Pearl dragons can cast spells as psychic powers, having 1d6 first level, 1d4 second level and 1d2 third level magic-user spells at their disposal. In place of a breath weapon, they can implant a phobia inside a person’s mind. People fighting a pearl dragon must pass a saving throw or suffer from one of the following fears:

1. Fear of boats or ships
2. Fear of pain
3. Fear of open spaces
4. Fear of wind
5. Fear of water
6. Fear of magic

The fear lasts for 1 hour, with a 1% chance of it becoming permanent. When presented with the phobia, a character must pass a saving throw or go into a panic attack, losing their turn, breathing heavily and attempting to flee from the source of the phobia. If they cannot flee from the source of the phobia, they become catatonic until the phobia disappears from their mind.

PEARL DRAGON: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (3d6); Move 6 (S30); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Summon orcas, spells, zone of fear.

Image from CLKER

Shades of Red

Yeah, yeah – the mighty red dragon, paragon of scaled evil and terror in the game. But where’s the subtlety, the range? Leave your players guessing with the following six sub-species of the venerable red dragon. The remainder of this post is declared Open Game Content.

Carnelian Dragon: The carnelian dragon is medium-sized for a red dragon (i.e. 10 HD) and always intelligent, though never capable of speech. Carnelian dragons always possess the following spells: Detect evil (3/day), ESP (3/day), Legend Lore (1/day), Suggestion (1/day). They communicate telepathically in a screeching voice that raises the hairs on the nape of the neck. A carnelian dragon replaces the red dragon’s cone of fire breath with a psychic pulse that disrupts the synapses of the brain. All within 30 feet must pass a saving throw or be affected. For the next 6 rounds, the person must pass a saving throw whenever they want to perform an action other than running away or dodging blows (but without the benefit of a shield, which requires active thinking). Any other act – attacking, spell casting, talking, tap dancing, playing checkers – requires a successful save.

| Carnelian Dragon: HD 10; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 5; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Spells, psychic pulse.

Crimson Dragon: The crimson dragon is a large, ponderous beast with a shortened snout and heavy eyes. Crimson dragon’s never speak and are relatively un-intelligent. They relish the infliction of distress and pain, and are as often on the move as in their lairs. In place of fire breath, a crimson dragon can breath a blast of wind – hot as a desert wind – that destroys water (reduces all water stores by half), withers plant life (normal dragon breath weapon damage to plant creatures) and sucks the moisture from other living creatures (half normal dragon breath weapon damage to non-plant creatures of flesh and blood).

| Crimson Dragon: HD 11; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 6 (F15); Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Drought breath.

Florid Dragon: The florid dragon is an ill-tempered brute of medium size (i.e. 10 HD). They have shinier scales than most red dragons, and smaller, saw-like teeth in their mouths. A florid dragon has the normal chances for speech and magic use. In place of fire breath, it simply radiates a wave of punishing heat from its body. The heat causes 1d6 points of damage per round to creatures within 10-ft of the dragon, 1d4 points to creatures from 10 to 20 feet away from the dragon and 1 point of damage per round to creatures within 20 to 40 feet of the dragon. Wearing metal armor increases this damage to 1d8/1d6/1d4 respectively. The florid dragon can maintain this heat for 10 minutes per day.

| Florid Dragon: HD 10; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (2d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 5; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Radiate heat.

Ginger Dragon: The ginger dragon is a smaller, less wicked cousin of the red dragon. Lonely and somewhat sensitive, its evil nature usually manifests in flashes of murderous rage when rejected or criticized. When not murderously angry, though, it is a welcoming companion, even generous to adventurers. Where the florid dragon radiates intense heat, the ginger dragon absorbs heat, making the area around him very cool, and thus his warm presence (think of him as a radiator with a 5-ft radius range) all the more pleasant. Within 100 feet of the dragon, the air is absolutely frigid, and people unprotected from the cold suffer 1d6 points of damage per turn from the frost. Within 1 mile of the dragon, things are notably cold, though not damaging. Ginger dragons are always capable of speech and have the normal chance for magic use. Their claws are overly long and razor sharp.

| Ginger Dragon: HD 9; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8+1), 1 bite (3d10); Move 12 (F24); Save 6; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Absorb heat, immune to fire.

Sanguine Dragon: These infernal brutes are ever in league with the dark powers of Hell, acting as their messengers and assassins in the world of mortals. They are small for red dragons and possessed of black, branching antlers that are lovely to behold if they aren’t gouging out your eye or spleen. Sanguine dragons can always speak and cast spells, and choose their spells from the anti-cleric’s spell list. They replace the red dragon’s cone of fire with a cone of spiritual hellfire, which numbs the soul and robs one of their common decency. Those hit must pass a save or be drained of one level. Those drained of a level must pass a second saving throw or have their alignment move from Lawful to Neutral or Neutral to Chaotic for the span of one month.

| Sanguine Dragon: HD 9; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10), 1 gore (1d8); Move 9 (F24); Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Hellfire, anti-cleric spells.

Vermilion Dragon: The noble vermilion dragon replaces the fury of the red dragon with a sense of superiority and mild disdain for lesser creatures. Nevertheless, they are as close as a red dragon can get to benevolence, and officially have a Neutral alignment (with benevolent tendencies). Vermilion dragons, like actors, love nothing more than to talk about themselves and hear others talk about them, especially in glowing terms. They are large, with refined features and have a lust for gold (especially in the form of crowns and other regalia) that borders on the obsessive. A vermilion dragon’s cone of fire causes full damage on neutral creatures, 150% normal damage on chaotic creatures, and only half damage on Lawful creatures. Lawful creatures struck by the breath also have all curses and diseases removed from their person and any drained level has a 50% chance of being restored if drained in the last year. Vermilion dragons can always speak, and have the normal chance for magic use.

| Vermilion Dragon: HD 11; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (3d10); Move 9 (F24); Save 4; CL/XP 13/2300; Special: Cleansing fire.