Monday, December 31, 2018

My 2018 Year in Review



I won't lie, I'll be glad to put 2018 behind me. It was a long, tough year.

We lost my Dad in February, my wife's Grandmother in March, and and two very dear friends in May.

I spent much of my year simply trying to mourn my friends and loved ones and make sense of how to move forward.

Due to my Dad's passing, my Mom moved in with us and like any change, there have been some bumps along the way, but things have settled down. Our new normal has gotten sorted out and the growing pains are mostly in the rearview mirror. Obviously, she's had at least as much grief to work through as I have.

My son is a senior in high school and we're in the college shopping experience. He's already been accepted in the Engineering department of one of his two choices, so we'll see what he decides.

My wife and I are Home Schoolers and seeing all of our hard work pay off with my son heading to college has filled me with a sense of pride in who my son is and how wonderful my wife has taught him.

I got back into publishing in the last few months of this year as a surge of creativity washed over me. I hope to continue to publish into 2019, but I'm trying to figure out what I want to do and what sells. I get intimidated in this realm as so many people I admire do such a good job. However, I feel the same way about blogging and I'm still here, so I think its simply a case of ignoring my own negativity and just doing it. 

I hope 2019 is a good year. I think we could all use a break. I tune out of the media most of the time because I feel that they are simply selling biased fear. I don't think its really that bad out there and I think we all need to turn off and tune out, while hanging out with each other and talking more.

Finally, I'm going to be sad to see G+ disappear, but I've taken to MeWe pretty well and recommend it.

See you next year!


Monday, December 24, 2018

Flashback to the Forgotten Realms: Phlan's Leviathan

Phlan has been destroyed and rebuilt dozens of times in its long history, which created haphazard catacombs below it.  However, when Abeir Returned over a century ago, those tunnels were replaced by the dragonborn city of Zolgotha.  Weirdly though, when Abeir and Toril were finally freed of each other during the Sundering, Zolgotha did not retreat from the Realms.

Today, those catacombs below Phlan are known as Leviathan.  Those aware of the network of tunnels just below the city's streets wisely avoid them. They warn that only the truly foolish would brave those darkened hallways of peril and pain.  Leviathan is filled with monstrous creatures and wicked defenses that have protected most of it's secrets for over a century.

However, in the last year, the catacombs has been invaded by the Cult of the Dragon, hoping to find treasure and weapons in their newfound goal of freeing the Mother of Dragons, Tiamat.

There are even rumors that the Harpers have have lost agents in the bowels of Leviathan.

The monstrosity that resides below Phlan is a lasting and deadly menace, indeed.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Worldbuilding: Weird West for Shadow of the Demon Lord

At the moment I have my hands full with Undermountain for DnD 5E and a second 5E game I'm running for my son, daughter, and their friends.

But I really miss running Shadow of the Demon Lord. Its on my brain quite a bit and possibly because of the success of Red Dead Redemption 2 (not that I've played it), I've been thinking about running it in a Wild West setting.

First, I'm not sure this game will be set on Urth, SotDL's default setting. I'm still working that out.




Fort Khopesh is the westernmost military outpost. Its there to guard the railroads, government interests, and the pilgrims who have found their way there. 

The Fort is run by Major Helena Hunt, a rough and tumble veteran who has problems with pissants who have never been out on the Range and try to tell her how to handle the everyday threats from all the way back East. She's a good leader and her men respect her. She tolerates the local sheriffs and mayors and had been able to intimidate Governor Lonnie Hoke with ease. Hoke however passed away about four months ago from a heart attack (while on top of a whore). Hunt is uncertain what the new Governor, Diggory Spruce, will be like. Uncertainty puts her in a bad mood. She's organized and likes to have back-up plans for her back-up plans. Helena was instrumental in brokering peace between the Shawsook and Kewoenotay tribal war several years ago. She knows the peace is tenuous and also knows that many of the pilgrims endanger it as much as anything else. Because of her relationship with Chief Loping Fox and Chief Womac, she is aware of the Blackfeathers, a tribe who have been attacking both tribe's hunting parties. She knows its a rare threat indeed that would make both Chiefs contemplate working together and that has her very worried. On top of everything else, Loping Fox has privately shared concerns with Hunt that a skinwalker, a shapechanging sorcerer, made lead the Blackfeathers.

There are several small towns within a day's ride of the Fort. The largest is Enoch. Its run by an elected Sheriff, Matteo Gonzaga, and has about 200 souls within its borders. The town square is an ancient circle of standing stones that local tribes of natives shunned, making it, initially, a safe haven for the pilgrims who settled here. Matteo's mother, Margarita was the leader of their group of settlers and she recently died of consumption. Matteo was very close to Margarita, his father having passed when he was only two. She was a competent, patient, and strong woman who provided him good counsel. His fiancee is Polly Morganstern. Margarita didn't like her and she has a desire for status and power. She also has a strong dislike for the local native tribes, viewing them as souless savages. Her counsel is starting to affect Matteo's policies and he has enacted an extra tariff on trading with both the Shawsook and Kewoenotay tribes. 

The tariff is not popular with Enochians and they have been outspoken about their disafavor of it. They already have to trade outside of the town, due to the standing stones, known as locally as the Devil's Square.

Flashback: Hyperborean Mummy for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edtion

It is a rare and dedicated devotee of the Prince of Elemental Ice that will attempt the foul rite required to serve frigid Cryonax as a hyperborean mummy.  But those who succeed, become vicious and haunting tools of bitter and icy death.






Hyperborean Mummy                                              
Medium undead, neutral evil                                        ________________________________________________

Armor Class 13 
Hit Points 68 (9d8+27) 
Speed 20 ft.
_________________________________
   Str            Dex         Con           Int         Wis         Cha
17 (+3)     8 (-1)     17 (+3)     10 (+0)    11 (+0)     14 (+2)
_________________________________

Saving Throws Wis+2
Damage Resistances cold and bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunity charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft.; passive Perception 10
Languages Primordial 
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

__________________________________


ACTIONS

__________________________________

Multiattack. The hyperborean mummy can use its Icy Glare and makes one attack with its bleak touch.

Bleak Touch. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft ., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 10 (3d6) cold damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or have disadvantage on its next ability check, saving throw or attack roll.

Icy Glare. The mummy targets one creature it can see within 60 feet of it. If the target can see the hyperborean mummy, it must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or have it's speed reduced by 20 feet until the end of the hyperborean mummy's next turn . A target that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to the Icy Glare of all hyperborean mummies for the next 24 hours.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Flashback: Jenny Balefire for Shadow of the Demon Lord


JENNY BALEFIRE
"Git to bed and say yer prayers or Jenny Balefire will come knockin' at yer window!"

Jennifer Bolliver had just turned seventeen, when Enoch Wilcox, a respected Elder of the Village of Proper and the owner of the Absolom Vineyard, made an inappropriate proposition to her that no married  man with a son only two years her junior should make.  Jenny's response was to slap Enoch and leave three scratch marks across his face.  Enoch's response was to accuse her of witchcraft and get the village to lynch her.

Unfortunately for the Village of Proper, young Jenny truly was a witch fully devoted to and corrupted by the Demon Lord himself. Her murder was the last bit of a terrible ritual that allows her to bedevil this world from the grave.





JENNY BALEFIRE          DIFFICULTY 15
Size 1 horrifying spirit
Perception 12 (+2); darksight
Defense 13 ; Health 20
Strength  -             Agility 11 (+1)   
Intellect 11 (+1)   Will 13 (+3)
Speed 10; flier
Immune damage from cold, disease, fire, and poison.
Insubstantial Jenny Balefire takes half damage from weapons, 
can move through solid objects and other creatures, and ignores the effects of moving across difficult terrain. 

ATTACK OPTIONSBalefire (medium range) +3 with 1 boon (2d6 fire)
Hex (2 creatures within medium range) +3 with 1 boon (the creatures are impaired for 1 minute or until they take damage and Jenny may make attack rolls against them with a boon)
Spectral Grasp (medium range) +3 with 1 boon (1d3 damage and the target makes attack rolls with 1 bane for 1 round)
Harvest Soul (short range) As a slow action, Jenny can steal the soul from a body that has been dead no longer than 1 round to heal 5 damage.


SPECIAL ACTIONS 
Ethereal Wind Jenny uses an action or a triggered action on its turn to move up to its Speed. This movement does not trigger free attacks. 


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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Moloids






Init +0; Atk Fist +2 melee (1d4);
AC 11; HD 1d8; MV 30’; SP Action die is 1d16 in daylight; Act 1d20; SV Fort +1, Ref +1,
Will -1; AL N. 

Moloids are cautious scavengers who live beneath the earth, often serving an aggressive ruler.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pixie Class for B/X Essentials


Pixie
Requirements: Minimum DEX 9
Prime Requisite: DEX and INT
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 8
Allowed Armor: None 
Allowed Weapons: Small sized weapons (see below)
Languages: Alignment language, 
Common, dwarvish, gnome, goblin, kobold 

Pixies are small of stature, less than 2’ tall and can fly.

Prime Requisites: A pixie must have at least 13 in both prime requisites in order to get the +5% bonus to experience. A pixie with an DEX of at least 16 and a INT of at least 13 receives a +10% XP bonus.

Abilities 
Combat: Pixies may use any weapon which is appropriate to their stature and any weapon they choose does only does 1d4 damage.
Defensive Bonus: Because they are so small, pixies have a lower Armour Class (-4 bonus) when attacked by creatures great- er than human sized. 
Flight: Pixies can fly at 120’ (40’).
Initiative Bonus (optional rule): If using the optional rule for individual initiative (see Basic Combat Procedure in B/X Essentials: Core Rules, p22), pixies get a bonus of +2 to initiative rolls. 
Thief Skills: Pixies have the following skills, which improve as the character gains levels (see the chart opposite). Note that dice rolls for these abilities are usually made by the referee, because a pixie is not always aware that he or she has failed! 
Hide in Shadows: A pixie will always think he or she is successful in this skill and will not know otherwise until others react to his or her presence. A pixie must remain motionless when hiding.
• Move Silently: When successful, others will not hear the movements of a pixie. However, the pixie always thinks he or she is moving silently and will only know otherwise by others’ reaction. 


Level Advancement

Level
XP
HD
AC0
D
W
P
B
S
T
U
1
0
1d4
19
9
10
9
14
11
9
14
2
1,200
2d4
19
9
10
9
14
11
9
14
3
2,400
3d4
19
9
10
9
14
11
9
14
4
4,800
4d4
19
9
10
9
14
11
9
14
5
9,600
5d4
17
8
9
8
12
9
8
12
6
20,000
6d4
17
8
9
8
12
9
8
12
7
40,000
7d4
17
8
9
8
12
9
8
12
8
80,000
8d4
17
8
9
8
12
9
8
12


Thief Skill Progression

Level
Hide In Shadows
Move Silently
1
15%
20%
2
20%
25%
3
25%
30%
4
30%
35%
5
35%
40%
6
41%
45%
7
50%
55%
8
60%
65%

Monday, December 17, 2018

Flashback: Saurus for Shadow of the Demon Lord





SAURUS          DIFFICULTY 25
Size 1 lizardman
Perception 12 (+2); shadowsight
Defense 14 (large shield); Health 35
Strength 15 (+5)   Agility 10 (+0)   
Intellect  11 (+1)   Will 10 (+0)
Speed 8; swimmer
Immune frightened
Cold Blooded A lizardman has a bane if they take a fast turn.

Attack OptionsSword (melee) +5 with 1 boon (1d6+2)

Special Attacks
Snapping Fangs The saurus can use a triggered action on its turn to bite one creature within its reach, making a Strength attack against the target’s Defense. On a success, the target takes 1d6 damage.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Duergar Part 2



The Duergar or gray dwarves were physically separated from their people around 4,000 years ago, when Pel Thorin, the greatest underground fortress in dwarven history fell to an illithid incursion. 

Queen Nori Ironhearth had just fallen and her sons, Dwaren and Dueren were arguing about how to proceed. Dwaren thought they should lead the survivors away, to retreat from Pel Thorin. Dueren, calling his brother a coward, felt they should live or die there in the great fortress. Finally, their uncle, Nagar Stonefist separated the two and chastised them for in-fighting.

It was then the brothers said their farewells as Dwaren led his followers to safety and Dueren led a final charge against the mind flayers. A doomed and desperate act that saw most of Duren's followers die and the rest wished they had.

The illithid experimented on the survivors and used them as slave stock. For decades they toiled, were bred, and were experimented upon. However, the duergar, as they came to call themselves, had a talent for psionic abilities and soon, two gifts were bred into them. The ability to grow to double their size and invisibility. Within three generations this trait bred true and it proved to be the key to their freedom. For whatever reason, the illithid underestimated the tenacity of the duergar and they rose up and fled from the ruins of Pel Thorin, now known as Illithome.

They were led by Anga Smokestone and she talked to her kin about finding their departed brethren and reuniting the with the children of Dwaren.

However, there was still too much resentment there. Too much pain had endured and they viewed their cousins as cowards. Plus, their people had changed with the breeding programs. They were gray of skin and hair and many among them had psychic talents now.

They decided that the Underdark was their home now, that they would live with their decision to stay in the deep and they would rule it one day. And then, maybe they would return to their cousins to conquor them too.

Soon, they found and took a small drow outpost. From there they trained physically and mentally and began an annexation of the Underdark. The only areas they avoided moving toward was Illithome, they were not ready to face their former masters or their past.

Eventually, they came upon New Thorin, a new fortress that was home to the Dwarves as they began to expand their territory after the humiliation by the illithids. 

When the Duergar came upon it, a blood madness overtook them and they made siege upon it, slaughtering every male, female, and child within its halls. They even sent an envoy to deliver the news and a warning. The Dwarves had forfeited their rights to the Underdark when they fled Pel Thorin and the Duergar would always remind them of their cowardice and make them pay for it. To this day they uphold that vow.

In the last 50 years, a smallish cult of devil worshippers has sprung up. Their cult, known as the Hellfire Path, teaches that now is time for the Duergar to explore the surface and seek out allies so that the can commit full time to the genocide of the hated Dwarves. Many who have joined the cult have willingly left their places in the Underdark and found ancient and sometimes abandoned places to begin reaching out to new allies. While the Duergar have little respect for gnolls or orcs, they have found kinship amongst hobgoblins and those walk the Path are willing to set aside their natural dislike for such lesser races in exchange for the end of the Dwarves.

In the Hells, Mephistopholes laughs as his plans unfold. He knows in this old bones that the Duergar have not yet realized that they have simply found a new master to replace the illithid and he yearns for the day that those that have damned themselves will look upon him with fear, knowing that he tricked and ruined them. He wonders if on that day, the gray dwarves will cast a tear as they stand upon the skulls of the Dwarven race that fell to them.

Vigilante City: MODOK

MODOK for Vigilatne City STR:  20  INT: 24  WIS:  11 DEX:  9 CON:  16  CHR:  14 Armor Class: 16 Hit Dice: 8 (...