Monday, March 20, 2023

Manitou Monday: The Cordon Bruja for Deadlands & SWADE

The Cordon Bruja or Witch in Lace, haunts the boomtowns of the West, a shadowy guardian of women who have been the prey of black-hearted and abusive men. The legend holds that a new Bride witnessed her husband's murder by three men looking to lie low from the law and fate made them choose their homestead on the day of their wedding. After killing her husband they savagely attacked, tortured, and hung the Bride on their properties lone tree. 

As the breath left the Bride, who still wore the tattered remains of her bridal gown, her terror and rage caught the attention of a sinister manitou known as Vengaza. The manitou promised a slow and agonizing death to the three men who destroyed her life and the Bride's answer was swift and certain. However, Vengaza was stunned by the Bride's will as the manitou had planned a long and brutal run of atrocities using her corpse, but it could not gain control of the new Harrowed. Vegnaza had taken notice of the woman because of her magical talent for witchcraft but it realized too late that it had vastly underestimated the woman' power.

It wasn't Vengaza but the Witch in Lace, who spent the next 13 days slowly torturing the three men who took everything from her and so many others as they each confessed their crimes while begging for death. 

Vengaza is now trapped by the Witch, who has begun hunting for other such predators, a vigilant and brutal angel of grim retribution, but for some the only ally they have left.


Wild Card

Parry 6 Tough Pace 10 (d10) 

Athletics d6 Fighting d10 

(claws d6 + d4) Shooting d6 | 

Spellcasting d10 Intimidation d8,

Notice d8, Stealth d8 Ag d8, Sm d10, 

Sp d10, St d6, Vi d6 | Edges Arcane 

Background (Magic), Improved 

Arcane Resistance, Level Headed | 

Special Abilities Undead, Wall Walker | 

Power Points 20 | Powers Arcane Protection, 

Blind, Bolt, Confusion, Dispel, 

Drain Power Points, Havoc, Fear, Fly, 

Mirror Self, Protection, Shape Change 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Spotlight on City Guard Chronicles: The Case of the Misguided Lover for Savage Worlds

I have always had a soft spot for fantasy city settings like LankhmarSanctuary, Ankh-Morpork, and the City-State of the Invisible Overlord and in the early days of this blog I created Jarlsburg, my ode to each of them.

Recently, the City Guard Chronicles: The Case of the Misguided Lover was released by Jan Jetmar and Cyril Ronseaux for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition and I purchased it immediately. It was an easy decision as both have done excellent fantasy supplements for SWADE such as Tomes and Prayers, Wand Magic,  and Wizards and Mystics.

The product comes in at 37 pages and gives you an overview of The City and ideas on which cities it would be in settings like Golarion, Eberron, and Hellfrost.

What follows is a tale of murder, betrayal, demonic pacts, and vengeance that is clearly laid out on a timeline starting 9 days before the adventure begins (what a great tool). The organization and lay-out are great for an over-busy Game Master and the scenes it shares leave plenty of room for any improvisation that might be necessary.

I don't want to give the plot away but I think it nails an investigative approach that paints those involved with enough complexity that their varies crimes are relatable and and layered.

I've been looking for a Savage Worlds setting I can run on nights our primary GM is unavailable and this is a great way to kick off a return to Jarlsburg for me and I can't wait for more City Guard Chronicles.

You can purchase it here.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Death's Head Keep: Level 3, Room 1 for the ShadowDark RPG #Dungeon23

Welcome to Level 3 of Death's Head Keep. I'm switching things up as I'm going to use the ShadowDark RPG, whose Kickstarter launched today, for this level. 

If you want to check it out here is a link to its Free Quickstart.

Level 1 starts here and Level 2 starts here and both used Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

A hexagonal room opens before you with ceilings at least 20' high. There is a large well in the middle of the room and two doors, made of a white wood, to the Northeast and the Southwest.

  • The well is more than large enough for a grown human to fit in. There is small orangish light at its bottom far below. A DC 12 Wisdom Check reveals it is 120' deep and what you are seeing is a Glow Stone whose enchantments typically last 3 to 4 months. If your Check is an 18 or higher you detect a strong smell of copper.
         Climbing down without a rope is a DC 15 Dexterity or Strength Check as the walls are very slick and it takes about 20 minutes. Three failed climbing rolls results in 10d6 damage.With a rope no check is required and it takes about 5 minutes.
         At 40’ deep the walls flares out to reveal more of the cavern below. A DC 12 Wisdom check reveals that the smell of copper is coming from a small lake of blood at the bottomd and the Glow Stone is resting on a high spot out of it. A DC 18 Intelligence check reveals this is the lair of a minor demon known as a Thewgorger and the Glow Stone is merely the top of its head. These demons consume every part of their meal accept the blood. It cannot climb the walls, but will pursue on the rope.

    Nightmarish and sleek predator with a huge mouth of razor sharp fangs.
    AC 14, HP 24, ATK 1 bite +4 (2d6), MV near,
    S +4, D +2, C +3, I -2, W +0, Ch -3, AL C, LV 3
  • The door to the Northeast is locked. A DC 15 Intelligence Check identifies the white wood of the door as Cloud Oak or Cotton Oak. It is rare and mostly found in the Summerlands to the South where it is considered sacred to the their druids. If the check is 20 or higher you know that the they follow the Ivory Path and they flay trespassers then display their bones at the edges of their territory.
        A DC 15 Dexterity Check will open the door’ lock, which is not trapped, and reveals a 10' x 10' armory whose shelves are nearly empty. There are 17 crossbow bolts, 1 hand crossbow, 1 maul, 1 morning star, 1 rapier, and 2 short swords.
         A DC 18 Wisdom check reveals a hidden shelf at the far end of the room that has a Potion of Invisibility (turn invisible for 10 minutes, 2 doses) and a black Pearl of Power (once per day, you may regain the ability to cast a spell you have lost; this cannot restore a spell lost due to a Critical Spellcasting failure).
  • The door to the Southwest is made of the same wood as above and is not locked. It leads to Room 2 on this Level.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Back This: The ShadowDark the RPG

I discovered the ShadowDark RPG several months ago and I was hooked right away. It's an Old School approach to adventuring with New School mechanics that are streamlined and easy to teach and learn. It captures the heart of early Dungeons and Dragons while embracing a modern approach separate from the wargaming roots of the OSR. The Arcane Library publishes well-designed adventures that help a busy DM focus on the game at the table in a very elegant and clear manner.  Kelsey Dionne, the owner and designer, has created a wonderful community to interact with. The game funded in 12 minutes and I am so excited to be able to finally back it.

I've already purchased the Quickstart rules and the Cursed Scroll Vol 1 Diablerie! as physical products, something I rarely do these days. I urge you to take a look for yourself.

You can back it here. 

Full disclosure: I have gotten access  a beta PDF of the rules.

I have produced a supplement with new Races for it here and material on the blog here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Serpent Folk, a Racial Class for Gargoyle 74, White Box Games, & the OSR

I really enjoyed Stellagama Publishing's Gargoyle 74, a neat riff on White Box DnD, specifically their Racial Classes which had a weird Sword and Sorcery vibe to them. It led me to think about Conan's Serpent Men as much from the Marvel Comics as anything else. They are based off the G74 Rogue and I had a lot of fun with it. I presented them with a single Saving Throw and the Old School Essential's Saving Throw Categories as optional rules.

I hope people enjoy it and would love feedback either way.

You can purchase it here.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Spotlight on Gargoyle 74 by Stellagama Publishing

Gargoyle 74 is a retroclone of the 1974 White Box of Dungeons and Dragons by Tammiro Levi and Omer Golan-Joel and published by Stellagama Publishing. I'm a big fan of Stellagama and Omer and have purchased many of their products such as Sword of Cepheus and the Quantum Engine games such as Barbaric! and I received this PDF for free as a review copy.

Ability Scores grant a -1 with a 6 or less, +0 with a 7-14, and +1 with a 15-18. I'm a fan of this spread. It allows customization but it's not overly fiddly. Only Fighters add their Strength mod to their attack rolls.

Wisdom has been replaced by Intuition and I like that decision. I think Wisdom might have a different meaning than it did in the '70s so I'm cool with it.

You have the big 4 classes in the Cleric, Fighter, Mage, and Rogue. Fighters get a 2nd attack at 5t level and Rogues have a Subterfuge skill that is an X chance on a d6 roll. All classes use the same XP table and there is one Saving Throw stat but classes gain specific +2 bonuses for certain types.

Ascending AC is used.

There are roles for 1 GM and 1 Player included, as well.

We get full rules for magic items and monsters all in just this single book of 114 pages.

There are 3 Appendices and the first features the Non-Human Race-as-Classes.

Antediluvans are inspired by Elric's Melniboeans and are your Fighter-Mage class. I love this choice and it's a testament to both authors that a clone of this version of DnD can still surprise me.

Dwarves are next but their skin is copper, their beards bronze, and "If one listens closely, it is possible to hear a faint ticking sound coming from each dwarf. This is the sound of the gears turning and grinding inside each dwarf." Another neat surprise that is just cherry on top. Their metal bodies given them a bonus to AC, they have an innate bonus to Hit Points, healing spells don't work on them, and there is a very specific way to bring them back from the dead.

The third and final Non-Human are Lizard-Kin who can hold their breath for long periods of time, their AC improves as they level, and they have natural attacks with their claws.

Appendix B features Treasure and Appendix C features numerous random tables including building a dungeon.

I'm really happy with this product and I think it jumps to the head of the class as my favorite White Box clone. The rules have a nice Sword and Sorcery feel that I've also enjoyed with Barbaric!.

I'll probably start running this with my 9 year old to induct her into our OSR fellowship in the next few months.

I cannot recommend this product enough. In fact, I cannot recommend any Stellagama product enough. All of my purchases have been extremely satisfactory and you should check out what they have to offer.


Death's Head Keep Level 2, Room 18. #Dungeon23

   The door from Room 17 leads here. 

You walk into a kitchen that is dimly lit by an enchantment worked into the stones of a huge hearth. A cast-iron cauldron, shaped into the smiling face of the Godmother, dominates the entire room.

  • It is 15’ x 30’.
  • A narrow table runs most of the length of the left-hand wall and a lonely rolling pin sits cockeyed upon it.
  • Just after this table is a wide blue door.
  • A long table cuts through the middle of the room and it has the word "Frae" carved roughly into it.
  • Shelves and larders are bare and there is a slight echo to the room.
  • A faint smell of warm cookies lingers greeting you.
  • The ceiling is 14' high with thicken wooden rafters.
  • There are no webs of any kind within this kitchen.

Manitou Monday: The Cordon Bruja for Deadlands & SWADE

The Cordon Bruja or Witch in Lace, haunts the boomtowns of the West, a shadowy guardian of women who have been the prey of black-hearted and...