Saturday, December 30, 2017

12 Days of OSR Christmas Winners

+Erik Tenkar of the esteemed Tenkar's Tavern once again hosted the 12 Days of OSR Christmas and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm running behind on getting people their gifts out.

Sadly, I even had one winner contact me via e-mail I've LOST that exchange :(

If the following winners would contact me at mark at crossplanes dot com, I would gladly mail them their PDF copies of Wizardry Unearthed:

Mike Bauer

Denis McCarthy


Evan Lindsey

Wolfgang Coe.

I'm sorry for being behind and losing track of stuff.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

D&D: Spawning Grounds

As the Blood War reignites throughout the Multiverse, the Archdevil Bel, has sponsored the creation of a new method for devils to return to the Prime Material Plane. Since fiends are unable to be summoned for 100 years after being destroyed on the Prime Material Plane, a hellbound Wizard named Karza has created a method to circumvent that limitation. 

Karza has been able to utilize the malignance of unhallowed places to physically birth a fiend into the Prime Material Plane, even if they are unable to be summoned. The process involves sewing Malediction Crystals in the selected area, where the fiend begins to physically grow over the course of 13 days. During the growth cycle, the Crystals not only allow the process to occur, but each crystal can transform into a Shard Devil to protect the fiend growing within the Spawning Ground.

While only one fiend may be "born" in a Spawning Ground at one time, the area may be used more than once (2d6 times before it ceases to become unhallowed ground).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017: The Journey

I won't lie to anyone, 2016 was a low point for me as an American citizen, I'm not taking sides here, for me the whole system let me down.  That's just my 2 cents and I don't care to discuss it further.

I had actually hoped we would move on from 2016 into something better...well, we all have our opinions on that too.

On a personal level, I am extremely blessed. I work with my wife, selling comics and games and am able to take my kids to work. Heck, in May 2017, my oldest daughter became the manager of our Louisville, KY store. It's bittersweet, because I loved her living at home, but I'm proud to see how good she is at the Family Business.

Additionally, my parents and my in-laws are still with us. My oldest son, at 16 and a Junior in High School, took his first College class and got a 96. I have two other amazing daughters and the best wife in the world (and yeah, I'll fight you over that title).

But back around Easter, my parents (both 77) came back from a few months in Florida and my Dad's shoulder hurt. He'd had shoulder surgery a few years back and just assumed he might need it again. In fact, his Doctor concurred.

Unfortunately, in June, we found out he had Stage 4 Cancer of the spine, neck, hip, shoulder, lymphnodes, and liver. Stage 4 meant he probably has about 18 months left (then) and he'd be on Chemotherapy and Radiation as long as they were effective.

My whole family was a mess, but not Dad. No, Dad was more worried about us. He didn't want to leave us behind, he was ready, but he knew we weren't.

I'm going to take a minute to share that I've thought of writing about this before, but I couldn't yet. Part of it is that when someone doesn't know, and this is selfish of me and I'm sorry for it, but I don't have to face it. It's cowardly, but it's nice to talk to people for a moment and not think about it. But it has affected the Blog and I felt it was time to explain where I've been.

So my Dad, after a round of Radiation and two rounds of Chemotherapy is still more worried about us than himself. In fact, his spirit is amazing, he's up, he's in a good mood, he always has a kind word, and he's always more worried about others than himself. He's in constant pain and take morphine twice a day and he asks about others long before he will utter any complaint.

I'm blessed because that is the Man who raised me. That is the Man who made me who I am. He taught me about doing the right thing, about treating people fairly and not being prejudiced, about remembering I had no idea what their troubles were, about loving people and respecting them, about how to raise a family and treat women and your wife. The Man I am, and I pale in comparison to him, is due to everything he did for me. I marvel at what my parents could achieve for us. I don't know how they did it. I marvel at all that he game to me.

I've watched him physically dwindle, I knew what the treatments would do, so I took some "before" pictures, but I keep taking them because the Man in the "after" pictures seems to get more heroic each time I see him. His love for the world and others continues to grow.

I don't know how much time I have left with my Dad or anyone, but I'm on here less because right now it's what is best for my family.

The Blog isn't going away, it's just a little less important right now.

I will share this with you and it's an old and trite saying, but cherish each moment, you never know when it will end.

Merry Christmas if you celebrate it and have a Great Day if you don't. And I wish all of you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 15, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Shard Devil

Shard Devils are summoned to the Prime Material Plane that requires unhallowed ground and a ritual requiring at least three sacrifices to an Archdevil.  Once the ritual is completed, the profane ground is surrounded by crystaline growths, close to 10 feet tall, that erupt from the earth. Finally, within in the next 24 hours the growths transform into 3d6 shard devils.

Medium fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 142 (15d10 + 90) 
Speed 50 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
16 (+3)        12 (+1)        19 (+4)        11 (+0)      12 (+1)      11 (+0)

Saving Throws CON +8, WIS +5
Damage Resistances Fire; Force; Lightning; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks

Damage Immunities Poison
Condition Immunities Poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common, Infernal
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Devil's Sight. Magical darkness doesn't impede the devil's darkvision.

Magic Resistance. The devil has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Multiattack. The devil makes three attacks.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) piercing damage.

Shard. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) slashing damage.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Oakhurst: Rangers of Roan

The Rangers of Roan were founded 587 years ago in the Monarchy of Sumter when Princess Roan was visited by the goddess Melora who wanted to aid in the building of alliance between her Father, Monarch Thurston and the wood elves of the nearby forest of Holt. Roan's visitation occurred during the Troll Plague, when the wood elves and the Monarchy were losing ground to the monsters. Unfortunately as the Plague prolonged, communication between the wood elves and the Monarchy began to deteriorate.

Melora taught Roan new techniques to destroy the trolls and she set off on her own to begin her work. After single-handedly slaying four trolls, she came upon a group of wood elves being attacked by a two-headed ferocity. She was able to slay this fifth monstrosity and, as it turned out, save the lives of the children of the wood elf sorcerer, Matese.

As word spread of Roan's deeds, the wood elves and humans of the Monarchy came together to learn from the Princess and the Rangers were created. Soon, Fort Elm was constructed and the Rangers role as protectors of the forests and frontier began in earnest. Roan even abdicated her claim to the throne.

The Rangers fulfilled their duties for four centuries, serving the Monarchy, the wood elves, and anyone in need within their domain. However, during the War of the Queens, both claimants to the Monarchy sought the aid of the Rangers, who steadfastly refused to enter into a civil war in Sumter. When Queen Nory won, she slowly began to favor the worship of Erathis over Melora and cut the budget of the Rangers.

Frustrated that their role as protectors was at the whim of petty politicians, the Rangers began spreading outside of Sumter, building Forts in Odessa, Qent, Mer, and Fent. They also brought the worship of Melora with them and found a warm welcome in the wilderlands of each nation.

Today, the Rangers take recruits from any race and piously work to protect their charges and spread the word of Melora. Each Fort maintains a shrine to their patron goddess and a carving or sculpture of their founder, Roan.

Recently, rumors have circulated that Fort Ash, in Qent and within two days ride of Oakhurst, fell on the final night of the Red Moon. If the story is true, a sinkhole or magical earthquake literally swallowed the Fort and all of it's inhabitants full.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Osseous Hound

Osseous hounds were created by the Demon Lord Ahazu as hunters to abduct his prey. They have become popular amongst other demons for the usefulness outside the abyss and their staunch training.

Medium fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 110 (13d10 + 39) 
Speed 50 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
17 (+3)        19 (+4)        16 (+3)        9 (-1)      14 (+2)      7 (-2)

Skills Perception +5, Stealth +7, Survival +5
Damage Resistances Fire, Slashing

Damage Immunities Poison

Condition Immunities Poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Abyssal
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Harrier. Hounds's have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks and can pick up a trail up to seven days later.

Jagged Bones. Any creature that hits a hound with a melee attack takes 2d10 piercing damage.

Multiattack. The osseous Hound makes three attacks: one with it's bite and two with it's claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. 
Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) slashing damage.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: Brother of Blood, a Servant of Khorne

Khorne is the Ruinous Power of Warriors and the Blood God. He despises magic and will not tolerate  any of his devotees to practice it. For his faithful, he grants supernatural toughness and a a dedication to battle bordering on insanity. A brother of blood is one of his cultists, who can call upon the Blood God's fury and battle when he is required to slay his foes, and his foes are many.

Medium humanoid, chaotic evil

Armor Class 14 
Hit Points 50 (8d8 + 14) 
Speed 35 ft.
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
16 (+3)        14 (+2)        15 (+2)        9 (-1)      10 (+0)      8 (-1)

Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing
Senses passive Perception 10

Languages Common, Abyssal
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Reckless. At the start of its turn, the berserker can gain advantage on all melee weapon attack rolls during that turn, but attack rolls against it have advantage until the start of its next turn.

Multiattack. The Brother of Blood makes two long sword attacks.

Long Sword. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: A Fighter House Rule

My buddy Matt and I were talking and he mentioned the idea that Fighters should be able to choose Strength or Dexterity and Constitution as Saving Throws.  We then talked about how that would allow a Fighter two Primary Saves (not a deal-breaker in our opinion).

However, something else occurred to me as an option.

A Fighter at 1st Level chooses their Saves from the following options:
• Strength and Dexterity
• Dexterity and Intelligence
• Wisdom and Charisma
Once the decision has been made it cannot be changed.

I like this as an option to reflect the diversity and utilitarianism of the Fighter class.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

1,000 Faces: Augustus Candlecake

Augustus Candlecake is a very gifted Diviner who sponsors adventurers operating in Waterdeep and the Sword Coast.

Augustus's family own a successful caravan operation that operates between the Sword Coast and Cormyr, but even though he is the oldest, he's never held any interest in taking it over. For years, this cause him to butt heads with his father, Julius. However, his talent at arcane magic allowed him to become an apprentice for Edweena Thwent, a gnome Diviner of great renown who has a tower in the City of Splendors. Julius agreed to pay for his son's education in exchange for lending his skills in the operation of the caravan business.

Augustus voraciously learned from Edweena and within six years he moved on as her apprentice. His desire for praise and acceptance motivated his success, but know matter how much he received it was never enough. Deep inside,  he longed to be an adventurer and plunder dungeons, he face several obstacles: most people he interacted found him overconfident and obnoxious, he was squeamish, and he had a terrible case of asthma.

While he expected to hate working for his father, his divination gifts prevented their caravans from experiencing several prominent disasters that that competitors did not escape. He grew to enjoy the intricacies of detecting any obstacles and he and his father began to grow closer.

After several years, Augustus began researching the Cairn of Remin-Kar, a burial chamber reputed to hold a good deal of treasure but that was supposed to haunted by the Priest-King buried there. While Augustus had no interest in endangering himself, he began using his skills first to detect the Cairn and then to gain knowledge of it. After feeling confident that this was no more dangerous than a caravan route, he assemble a team of adventurers.
And his plans and warnings allowed them to easily to defeat the mummy and gain the treasure.

Soon, Augustus had another reputation, as a good lead to gain fame and riches plumbing dungeons, two of his first team, Egana Maramark and Stu Sugarhawk even took up membership in the elite Force Grey.

Today, Augustus is a very rich man and has little need for his role in the caravan business, which has infuriated his father and reignited old feauds between them. Generally, the adventurers who work with him don't last more than a few expeditions because of his personality, but his reputation assures those who work for him a very good chance at succes. Additionally, at this point he only charges 20% commission for his role. Thus far, only two expeditions have attempted to cut him out of their deal. In both instances he called in favors from previous adventurers to deal with them, splitting the cut 50/50 with them and leaving those who cheated very badly beaten and essentially blackballed from the Waterdeep adventuring scene.

Augustus is nervous, dresses extravagantly and has a large trophy room with items from each the expeditions he has sponsored. He is constantly explaining to people his mastery at divination and seems to delight at hinting about his awareness of things from their past that those who work for him don't want revealed. Due to asthma, he sneezes quite a bit.

Despite his talent and success he has an inferiority complex and will often create conflict when none is necessary and takes offense and innocent comments. This has led him to begin using a drug known as Shadow to calm himself, unfortunately, his supplier of Shadow is a member of the Xanthar's gang and he is actively ignoring the risks that brings to his life.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Gloamingwald

The Gloamingwald is several hundred acres of ancient elms, pine, oak, and beech. The trees are so close and the canopy so thick that the forest itself appears gloomy and ominous. Recently, the Merchant Road was extended past the Gloamingwald's western edge, heading south toward Ironstar, Huron, and the Borderlands.

Rumors abound about an order of druids that the locals call the Gray Owls. The Owls protect certain sacred areas within the Gloamingwald and have been linked to several disappearances over the years.

The Merchant Road's expansion has allowed several groups of bandits to use the forest as their headquarters causing Ironstar, the village closest to the Gloamingwald on it's southern border has been seeking help in defending the Road from Huron to the south and Jarlsburg to the north.

Evana Thunderstone has become the most notorious bandit leader of late with those who have survived her cadre's attacks speaking of her knowledge of sorcery and ability of her and her comrades to disappear at will.

Eustace Pauley, a retired Warden of Huron, has unofficially become the commander of the local efforts to make the Road safe. It's his contacts that have allowed negotiations with the southern city to get a few experienced Wardens and some much needed equipment.

About two miles before Ironstar is Buford's Brige which crosses the Poke River. For several generations the legend of Shipman's ghost has been told by locals in the Jackdaw Public House within the village. Locals claim that Isaak Shipman's wife and her lover lured the cobbler there one night and murdered him. They claim that he lurks upon the bridge luring unsuspecting travelers to their doom.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hackable: New Skill System for the Palladium Megaverse

Not long after starting to play Battletech and Champions 4E, my first miniature rules and RPG, I stumbled across one of Palladium's Magic of Palladium Books and it immediately hooked me. Soon after that, I bought Heroes Unlimited and realized, like so many others, that the system was a mess. 

As a novice gamer, especially after Champions' implicit rule for everything and how to build it, I was lost. Perhaps, if I'd had more exposure to games that empowered the GM I'd have realized that the gaps that were in place were there to be filled by your decisions.

While the system still bothers me, Palladium's Megaverse still fires my imagination. From my point of view, the designer feels the system is balanced through the skill system. A dragon, a thief, and mecha pilot all have very similar chances to succeed on what they are best at.

To that end, I've worked up an idea to adjust the skill system:
Instead of each Skill having a flat percentage chance and rate of improvement, the GM sets the percentage chance for the task at hand. Essentially, it's similar to D20 games, but instead of setting a DC of 15, you decide that there is a base 30% of success.

On the player side, you only look at the Skill bonuses at character creation and that bonus is added to the percentage chance to succeed. So if I had a bonus of 10% because of my OCC/RCC in a Skill and I had a 30% chance of success set by the GM, my total chance would be 40% or less.

As your character improves, starting at 2nd level you get an additional 5% at each even level in Primary Skills. Additionally, starting at 3rd level you get an additional 5% at each odd level in Secondary and all other Skills.

That's it.

Monday, November 13, 2017

D&D: November's Unearthed Arcana

This month's Unearthed Arcana for DnD 5E just went live. It features 4 Elven sub-races which includes Grugach from Greyhawk and Shadar-Kar!

Check it out here.

PS I'm on vacation this week, so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Xanathar's Guide to Everything First Impressions

My groups use Unearthed Arcana stuff extensively and as we approached the release I was growing a bit dubious about Xanathar's Guide to Everything. I was concerned about the following: that the page count was low, why only certain sub-classes from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide were included, and why there were twenty pages of names. I'll also admit about some boredom with 5E, I've been playing it and running it for quite some time and grown a bit burnt out as a DM (thought I've been taking a few weeks off to help with that).

I am glad that the book exceeded my original expectations and has excited me in unexpected ways.

The book opens with ten rules to remember about 5E and all of them are clear reminders of some basic tenets of the game. It cover exceptions to the rules, rounding down, advantage and disadvantage, combining effects, reactions, resistance and vulnerability, proficiency bonus, bonus action spells, concentrations, and temporary hit points.

While I had been looking forward to the Sub-classes most (and fretting over omitting some of the SCAG Sub-classes), that is the area that I've read the least. I know most of them from UA and Mike Mearls has insinuated they omitted Sub-classes directly tied to the Forgotten Realms.

Honestly, I think I'm enjoying it so much because there is quite a bit for the DM. I prefer the CR system in the book over what we have had. Mearls admitted on Twitter that he wishes they had not called it CR and I have found the system...unpredictable. What I'm reading in here intrigues me.

I really enjoy the sections on common magic items and the charts breaking down magic items by rarity which also shows if they require attunement. The section on making, buying, and selling magic items is also greatly appreciated.

The random encounter tables are a godsend for me and I plan on using them soon. It know it's a little thing, but it's good to have them by environment and level.

And the names, well they are actually pretty useful for a DM and I hadn't thought of that until I saw them. The names for non-humans are truly appreciated as I build cultures in my worlds.

I was surprised to see that only the racial Feats were used and not the skill Feats from UA. I think the halfling Feats are bit overpowered, but we will test them out, though we have no halfling players (so maybe that was the point).

I do wish we got more spells, there aren't as many new ones as I'd like when you factor the SCAG spells being reprinted.

In the end, I'm glad we got this instead of DnD 5.5 and I think the game is in good hands.

To me, this book is the fourth core book and I view it as ADnD's Unearthed Arcana, which I'm guessing was the point.

And if you are always the DM, fear not, there is some cool toys for you in here.

And if you are dying for the Hobby Cover, send me an e-mail, I have them at the stores I run!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

1,000 Faces: Lubbick the Butcher

Lubbick Dren took over his family's butcher business close to two years ago. Lubbick is a half-orc, his mother Nora had a brief but passionate affair with Logrick of the Stone-Eaters Clan. Logrick was killed in a duel after a mercenary called Nora some unpleasant names. Nora's brother, Harvard and his wife, Liin took her and Lubbick in and gave Nora a job and when he was old enough, taught Lubbick to be a butcher. While Liin was aware of the prejudice against Lubbick and distant with him, Harvard was glad to have a child in their home and truly loved his nephew.

Art by michaelkutshe

Unfortunately, Harvard had some gambling debts with Boss Heronymous and after getting behind, lost his right hand as a tax for being late on his debt. Lubbick was forced to step in at the young age of 12 to take over the major duties of his uncle. He was big and strong for his age and was good with a clever. He eventually worked out a deal with Boss Heronymous to dispose of victims through his shop. He did all of this unbeknownst to the rest of his family.

These days, even though the day to day business is slightly down due to prejudice, the store is thriving and Lubbick is even working with his beloved uncle to learn to butcher using his off-hand.

In fact, Lubbick has met a young half-orc woman, Tressy, and he intends to propose. However, Lubbick wants to cut his ties with Boss Heronymous now that his Uncle's debt is paid, but whenever he tries to bring it up, Heronymous simply grins and pats his shoulder while laughing.

Lubbick is smart and hardworking, he loves his Mother and Uncle and care about his Aunt even though he is aware of her shame. He is tired of disposing of bodies for Boss Heronymous and wants to make an honest life for himself and the woman he loves.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Shadow of the Demon Lord: Ol' Krusty

You can't find a bar in Freeport where a drunken sailor doesn't warn his mates, generally after he's been bought a pint or three, about how dangerous it is to prowl the shore on moonless nights. They are glad to tell you the tale of Ol' Krusty, the Sea God's very own pet, who comes ashore when the Moon is distracted looking for the flesh of men.

Size 3 frightening animal (aquatic)
Perception 10 (+0); darksight
Defense 14; Health 60
Strength 16 (+6)   Agility 10 (+0)   Intellect 7 (-3)   Will 12 (+2)
Speed 10

Claw (melee) +6 with 1 boon (2d6 plus caught on attack roll 
Caught The target is grabbed.

Clawful Any creature grabbed by Ol' Krusty takes 2d6 damage.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

D&D 5th Edition: The Fathomdiver Scrolls

Mera of Xebel penned these spell scrolls on stained white parchment during her tenure teaching Advanced Hydromancy at the legendary magical academy of Fathomcrest, located on the island of Qurry. The scroll is kept in a case made from the spine of an orca and Mara chose to write her work in Undercommon, a language she learned from her mentor, Grim Naomi of Belgrandia. There are seven scrolls altogether, with each being over 3 feet long and all of them completely filled with her small, cramped text of waterproof green ink, milked from one of Grim Naomi's pet verge rays.


Wondrous item, legendary

• You may cast the water breathing spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the control water spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the watery sphere spell. Once you cast it you must finish a short or long rest before you may do so again.

• You may cast the create or destroy water spell at will.

• As a bonus action, before casting a cantrip or a spell, you may change it's damage type to acid damage.

• You gain resistance to acid damage.

• You may create a long whip made from water that lashes out at your command toward a creature within 30 feet. Make a melee attack, with the finesse property, against the target. If the attack hits, the creature takes 4d8 bludgeoning damage, and if the creature is large or smaller, you may pull the creature up to 10 feet closer to you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

GameStorming: Western Frontier

The set-up is the frontier of a massive Empire, possibly at the technology of the American Old West or possibly not. The Frontier has become alluring for the the large amounts of untitled lands, the freedom from the Inquisitors of the God of Light, and the "gold rush": rumors of bold explorers looting ancient ziggurats, cliffside cities, and strange underground dungeons of the mysterious and long vanished Osazi, Enqa, and Ulmex. Who were these masters of strange magic and architects of such grand abodes? What happened to them? And does Sol Morado, the city of mithril really exist?

But aside from the deadly puzzles and traps that guard last remnants of once mighty peoples, there are the orcs, lizard men, minotaurs, rocs, and many other dangers that the citizens of the Empire have not faced in decades.

Finally, will the settlers of the frontier be able to defend themselves from marauding orcs? Will the boomtowns that spring up around strange ziggurats flourish or become the "subjects" of a petty warlord who has might on their side? And will the spirits that seem bound to these lands, spirits that druids and rangers have come here seeking, welcome the newcomers or are they responsible for the vanished elders who dwelt here long ago?

Welcome to the Western Frontier, the Land of the Setting Sun.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween: Samhain for 13th Age

Samhain is the Ghost of Halloween and one of the few villains to face the Ghostbusters on more than one occasion. He is a strategic ghost with the ability to manipulate time in order to cause eternal night. Samhain also has the ability to control legions of ghosts at his command, however certain ghosts such as Slimer seem able to resist him to a certain extent.

13th level [SPIRIT]
Initiative: +4

Black Lightning +18 vs. PD
 – 220 damage
   Natural Roll of 16+: The attack hits 1 enemy close to the target for 110 damage.

Slow Time: Samhain controls temporal forces and the escalation die only gains +1 every other round.

God of the Dead:  At the beginning of Samhain's turn, he summons 1d3 wraiths.

Nastier Specials
Creature of the Night:  Samhain blots out the sun and ranged attacks are at -4 to hit.

AC 29

PD 23           HP 864

MD 27

Fear Threshold: 144

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Product: Wizardry Unearthed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Last week, +Erik Tenkar and crew released Swords and Wizardry Continual Light and I was blown away by how cool it is, if you haven't checked it out it's PWYW on RPGNow (though you should throw some sheckles Tenkar's way, it's worth it).

I decided to work up some additional Classes, Races, Monsters, and an optional Thief Ability system that uses the Save mechanic.

Wizardry Unearthed just went live and it's on sale for $1.25.

I hope you check it out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

GameStorming: Shadow of the Demon Lord + Middle-Earth

I recently ran Dead By Dawn and I've been working up some side plots to go with it. 

In the adventure, we are introduced to two female dwarves who were once adventurers. That has led me to look at mixing the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings with Shadow of the Demon Lord.

In their past, the dwarfen women Gelda and Ananda were a part of eleven other dwarfs: Princess Arta, Tearri, Ronda, Tephanie, Deb, Seera, Lorraine, Netta, Zana, Cloey, and Hannah, all who were seeking the Savage Ornament so that they could reclaim their city from the demon Chernobog. They sought the Ornament because Morrigan, a wizard, told them it was only weapon that could slay the demon. Arta had known Morrigan since she was a child, and she knew that Morrigan was not truly human, but one of the Gregori*. Morrigan also recruited a a halfling scout named Belladonna.  

Morrigan was leading them to Valderhalen Hollow to slay the Beast guarding the Ornament, when Belladonna stumbled upon the Dragon's Circlet and placing it on her finger, caused the Demon Lord's shadow to begin to fall upon the Underworld's Gate.

In her panic to retrieve the Circlet, Morrigan slaughtered most of the dwarfs, but could not locate the halfling, who fled.

It's now three years later and the Underworld's gate is completely occluded and the dead will no longer stay dead.

*The Gregori are Incarnations whose purpose is to watch over humanity. They are Zir the Yellow, Morrigan the Red, and Kaslov the Blue. They are aware that Urth is the Demon Lord's final meal and that His hunger will be only be sated when he consumes it. All of them felt the Circlet's awakening and realize they will be forced to Watch humanity fall.

Currently, Morrigan is desperately seeking the Circlet and will not let anything or anyone stand between her and it.

Zir, is seeking Morrigan for answers to whom uncovered it and where it is, since he can no longer sense it. He believes he has found a way to destroy the Circlet and perhaps deny the Demon Lord it's final meal.

Kaslov, facing an existential crisis at the Circlet's awakening, has turned to drink and debauchery at the Wellspring, a tavern in the Grand Duchy.

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."

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.

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 2d6 damage.


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.

Eaten Alive Any creature that is grabbed by the dark young takes 
   1d6 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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

State of the Planes April 2024

It's been awhile. I've been good and hope all of you have as well. I've spend a lot of time thinking about what this hobby and i...