Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween Treat: Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler


I was looking for a haunting read for the season of the witch and I'm a fan of +Rafael Chandler's RPG work so I downloaded his new eBook.

Mr. Chandler took me back to the late 80s, when I was teenager. He made me remember all the movies featuring Freddy, Jason, Michael, and Chucky. He introduced me to several broken characters whose fates are twisting labyrinths of shock and fear. He spawned some memorable slashers who are, in my opinion, much cooler than what we've seen since. And then he cranked it up to 13 and brings the 21st century fully into the slasher genre. As the end approaches the hits just keep coming and you turn the page needing to finish the book, but not knowing what to read when you do.

This book got into my dreams, it is macabre and nostalgic. The ending was perfect for horrror.

Rafael, you need to make this into a movie or a video game one day, but before that you need to make it into an RPG.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

Thank you, Raf.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Halloween Treat: Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath for Shadow of the Demon Lord

"E hu shub niggur ath n gaa ryula neb shoggoth."That's as close as I can come. The mouths was like leaves and the whole thing was like a tree in the wind, a black tree with lots of branches trailing to the ground, and a whole lot of roots ending in hoofs. And that green slime dribbling out of the mouths and down the legs was like sap!...It came crawling up the hillside to the alter and the sacrefice, and it was the black thing of my dreams-that black ropy, slimy, jelly tree-thing out of the woods. It crawled up and it flowed up on its hoofs and mouths and snaky arms. And the men bowed and stood back and then it got to the alter where they was something squirmin on top, squirming and screaming.-Robert Bloch, "Notebook Found In a Deserted House."








DARK YOUNG OF SHUB-NIGGURATH     DIFFICULTY 100
Size 3 horrific monster
Perception 10 (+0)
Defense 15; Health 100
Strength 16 (+6)   Agility 12 (+2)   Intellect 8 (-2)   Will 10 (+0)
Speed 12

Immune damage from disease or poison; gaining Insanity; charmed, compelled, frightened
Trampled When a dark young moves into a space
   occupied by a creature on the ground, the creature must make an
   Agility challenge roll. On a failure, it takes 3d6 damage and falls 
   prone. If it’s already prone, it takes 1d6 extra damage. A creature 
   makes this roll once per round per giant regardless of how many 
   times the giant moves through its space.


ATTACK OPTIONS
Tentacle (melee; reach +2) +3 with 2 boons (1d6 plus Too Many 
   Mouths on a 20+) 
Too Many Mouths The target is grabbed and takes 1d3 damage.

SPECIAL ATTACKS

Tentacle Flurry The dark young flails at everything in a 3-yard-
   long cone originating from a point it can reach. Each creature in
   the area must make an Agility challenge roll with 1 bane. On a 
   failure, the creature takes 3d6 damage.

END OF THE ROUND
Eaten Alive Any creature that is grabbed by the dark young takes 
   1d3 damage.


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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

1,000 Faces: Dodd Werner

Dodd Werner is about to turn 30 and has spent his life as a "hireling" for various adventurers. He has a reputation for loyalty and intelligence and has been an extra hand in over two dozen expeditions into the world's most dangerous places. However, he's been smart with his coin and is contemplating retirement.




Dodd's (0 level human male fighter) time as an extra hand has earned him bad knees a white streak down the middle of his thick raven-black hair and an eye twitch. 

However, he's made several powerful allies, including the Princess Ravon Malastraud, Erik de Rune, and The Ultracarnist. 

While Dodd is trying to talk himself out of any further expeditions, his reputation proceeds him and at least twice a month brave or foolhardy dungeoneers hope to hire Dodd for his vast experience. He's fairly easy  to find, since he has his own booth at the Yawning Portal in Waterdeep.

Dodd, is 5'11", in fair shape, has an enchanted breast plate (+1/-1 AC), a mace he's named Aggie, and mule named Cotton.  He's recently began courting a schoolmarm, named Rebecca Monroe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

OSR: Optional Spellcasting System [UPDATED]

While I've only played the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG once, I keep hoping to find time to try it out someday. One of the reason is the method that wizards and clerics cast spells: by rolling on a chart for each spell.

It's inspired me to develop a more general chart for other DnD/OSR games.




Whenever a spell is cast, arcane or divine, the caster has the option to roll a d20:

On a roll of 1, the spell fails and the spell slot is lost, additionally the caster gains a cumulative -1 to all d20 rolls when making a Saving throw vs Spells.

On a roll of 2 through 4, the spell fails and the spell slot is lost.

On a roll of 5 through 16, the spell succeeds, but the spell slot is lost.

On a roll of 17 through 19, the spell succeeds and the spell slot is not lost.

On a roll of 20, the target(s) of the spell have a -3 to their d20 rolls when making a Saving throw for that spell.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Halloween Treat: The Headman for Shadow of the Demon Lord

Over the last several years, the legend of the Headman has grown throughout the city. When the decapitated heads of victims were being found in the poorest parts of town with no corpse to be found, many gossiped with morbid glee over the murders. But as the number of victims grew and bodiless heads were found in the Merchant district and even the Banking District, the gossip turned to angry concerns and cries for justice!

 The Council of Burghers has recently created a task force to search out the monstrous killer. The few witnesses that have been found claim to have seen a tall, masked monster with a bloody axe and strange gurgling mutter. A being born of iron and shadow who weapon slices through a full-grown man's neck as if it were wheat.





THE HEADMAN     DIFFICULTY 50
Size 2 frightening human
Perception 12 (+2)
Defense 14; Health 60
Strength 15 (+5)   Agility 13 (+3)   Intellect 8 (-2)   Will 9 (-1)
Speed 12

ATTACK OPTIONS
Axe (melee) +5 with 2 boons (2d6+2 plus gory 
   blow on attack roll 20+)
Gory Blow The target is impaired until completes a 
   rest.

SPECIAL ATTACKS
Frenzied Attack The headman attacks two different targets with its axe, making each attack roll with 1 bane. 


The Headman is Job Karakas, a former marine and lumberjack, whose mental illness has been used by his cousin, Phineas Blofeld, to gain organs for the black market for wealthy and royal customers. Job was a capable and decorated marine through three campaigns, but he had trouble transitioning to civilian life when peace finally came. He found some peace as a lumberjack, living with Mother until her death. Then lost he sought out his cousin, Phineas, tormented by his Mother's death and his violent past in service to the Marines.

Phineas, who had toiled as a graverobber for several decades, saw the trauma that the war had inflict on Job and convinced his cousin to aid him in his organ harvesting business, claiming their operation would punishing "those in charge" for ignoring his pain and others like him.
  While several of his clients have made the connection between the Headman legend and Blofeld, none have been willing to lose what to them is both a valuable contact and a fearsome opponent.

PHINEAS BLOFELD     DIFFICULTY 10
Size 1 human
Perception 14 (+4)
Defense 12; Health 15
Strength 9 (-1)   Agility 12 (+2)   Intellect 14 (+4)   Will 12 (+2)
Speed 10


ATTACK OPTIONS
Scalpel (melee) +2 with 1 boons (1d3)





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Friday, October 13, 2017

Halloween Treat: Dead Until Dawn Actual Play

Last night, we took a break from my Tamoachan DnD 5E game so that I could run a Halloween game. I chose to run Schwalb Entertainment's Dead By Dawn adventure written by Rob Wieland for Shadow of the Demon Lord.



The adventure comes in at 6 pages and I spent about 20 minutes reading it the night before, making some notes for about 15 minutes the next day, and then a final pass about 5 mintues before we started playing later the same night.

The set up is that the Players (all starting characters or 0 level in DnD) are staying at the Goathorne Inn (The two owners pronounce it differenty, by the way) close to a road winding through a foreboding forest.

My opening scene was set a bit before dinner and gave the Players, an orc, a human ex-marine, a human student of religion and magic, and an inquisitive human healer, time to meet each other and introduce them to Gelda and Ananda, dwarven adventurers who have settled down to run the Inn and their empolyee, Bester, a fair-haired kid.

Soon, dinner was ready and Ananada asked David, the magician, to go fetch Horvath, a local staying with them, from upstairs. Horvath's door was locked and David called for help, Ananda sent the keys to the room up with Matt, the healer. After they got the door open open, they found Horvath, naked upon his bed and dead for at least 24 hours. Amongst his belongings was a fur pouch with mystical symbols, identifying it as a blood ritual to David. At that moment, Horvath rose and began uttering a curse, but Matt used his dagger to stab the corpse in the head. The pair called up the rest of the group and as they spoke about him rising as a zombie they began to hear moaning and beating upon doors and the shattering of first floor windows. 

The group sprang into action and began beating back zombies in the kitchen and then fortified the rest of the house.

David learned that the ritual was a protection from an evil tree that grew in the forest and that Horvath was to complete it. He explained that if they could survive until dawn, the tree's power would collapse under the daylight and they would be safe until the next nightfall.

Dead Until Dawn presents a system for a five part siege, with each part lasting 2 hours. During each part a player can attempt to fortify, rest from fatigue, heal, work the ritual, or run for supplies. If the ritual is worked, it requires blood and the more blood offered the fewer zombies might appear for that part, however it is best to use the caster's own blood, as another's blood adds Banes (my Player's did this for 2 parts before they caught on). Fortifying can also help reduce the number of zombies that appear for that part.

After actions are declared, there a d20 table for Unusual Events which affects, often negatively, that part. Finally, there is a Threat rating for the zombies for that part, if the ritual succeeds, the number of blood spent allows the players to remove specific undead (comprised of Animated Corpses and Zombies from the SotDL rule book). The number of successful fortification roles for that part also can lower the Threat rating (which defaults to 2). Additionally, if Gelda, Ananda, or Bester help to a Player, they add Boons to the roll.

It's a well done way to organize the chaos of a zombie siege and my Players and I loved it.

My group managed to make it until dawn, as David, their magician ran very low on blood, but the Orc, Benth, spent most of the night learning the ritual so he could finish it for the last 2 hour part. Sadly, Bester died (due to a roll on the Unusual Events table that would have required someone to go outside after him).

When dawn broke, the Orc (who had suffered an insanity) and Ananda (who was already a bit unstable) left the area together. Gelda, however agreed to accompany the other into the forest to take care of the evil tree.

My one-shot has turned into a (at least) a two-parter.

I can't recommend Dead Until Dawn enough!

Great game for a great Halloween Adventure.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shameless Self-Promotion



I just wanted to take a minute and spotlight Cross Plane's Products on the DMsGuild.com and RPGNow.com.

I released a new product for the first time in over a year last week and I'm developing some other projects at the moment.

Products on RPGNow.com for the Black Hack and the Cypher System.

Products on the DMsGuild.com for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

Halloween Treat: Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler

I was looking for a haunting read for the season of the witch and I'm a fan of  +Rafael Chandler 's RPG work so I downloaded his ...