Tuesday, September 9, 2014

JMG on Hiatus

Friends, as some of you know, my wife Jodi has, for most of the last three years, suffered from a ruptured ACL. Tomorrow, she is finally going to get the ACL reconstructive surgery she's needed to get back into shape... late always being better than never. While it is a simple outpatient procedure, any and all thoughts, prayers, and good vibes would be most welcome.

So for the next several weeks at least, possibly two or more months, we will be concentrating on her recovery. If I am slow in responding to e-mails and posts, this is why; also, we won't be working on anything for JMG during this time, and I won't be doing much blogging or any gaming, either. We're not avoiding anyone, we are just busy, between my job and her therapy. We'll be back with bells on once she's up and kicking... hopefully much sooner than later!

Monday, July 28, 2014

[Charts and Tables] Instant Rumor/Event Table

Eh, it's Monday, but here's an old table, anyway. I whipped this up some years back to generate instant rumors and campaign events. I threw it together from various sources, mostly the Dominion Events tables from the old Companion Dungeons & Dragons set.

D100   Rumor/Event
01-02   Assassination (d6): 1 Adventurer, 2 Merchant, 3 Guild, 4 Military, 5 Religious, 6 Gentry, 7 Noble, 8 Royal
03-05   Assault/Raid on (d10): 1 Citadel, 2 City, 3 Enemy Leader, 4 Fort, 5 Keep, 6 Ship, 7 Tower, 8 Town, 9 Village, 10 Demihuman Settlement
06-08   Banditry (d4): 1 Caravans/Convoy, 2 Gang Establishment/Hideout, 3 Highwaymen, 4 Muggers
09        Birth in (d6): 1 Adventurer's Family, 2 Ally's Family, 3 Enemy’s Family, 4 Gentry Family, 5 Noble Family, 6 Royal Family
10-11   Bounty Hunt/Posse
12-14   Brawling
15-17   Breakout (d4): 1 Constable’s Barracks, 2 Jail, 3 Prison Camp, 4 Private Prison
18-19   Caravan Escort
20-21   Cattle Drive
22        Comet
23        Coup d'état
24        Courier/Messenger
25        Crusade
26-28   Death [Natural] (d6): 1 Adventurer, 2 Merchant, 3 Guild, 4 Military, 5 Religious, 6 Gentry, 7 Noble, 8 Royal
29-30   Duel (d4): 1 One-on-One, 2 Gang vs. Gang, 3 Gentry Clan vs. Gentry Clan, 4 Noble House vs. Noble House
31-35   Dungeon Rumors
36        Earthquake
37-38   Execution (d8) 1 Bandit, 2 Brigand, 3 Thief, 4 Noble, 5 Traitor, 6 Murderer, 7 Witch Burning, 8 Mistress
39        Exploration (d6): 1 Local, 2 Regional, 3 Neighboring State, 4 Distant State, 5 Distant Continent, 6 Nexus Gate/Portal/New World
40        Explosion
41        Fanatic Cult
42-44   Feud (d6 vs. d6): 1 Gang, 2 Merchant, 3 Guild, 4 Military, 5 Religious, 6 Gentry, 7 Noble, 8 Royal
45-47   Fire/Arson
48        Flood
49        Hunt (d3): 1 Commercial, 2 Big-Game, 3 Monster
50        Insurrection
51-52   Intrigue (d4): 1 Personal, 2 Guild, 3 Religious, 4 Political
53-55   Kidnapping (d6): 1 Adventurer, 2 Merchant, 3 Guild, 4 Military, 5 Religious, 6 Gentry, 7 Noble, 8 Royal
56        Lycanthropic Outbreak
57        Madman/Madmen
58        Magical Happening
59-61   Market: Glut, Shortage
62        Meteor Shower
63        Meteor Strike: Major, Minor
64        New Celebrity Adventurer/Sage
65-67   Personal Escort
68        Pilgrimage
69        Piracy
70        Plague/Pestilence
71        Population Migration (d3): 1 In, 2 Out, 3 Around
72        Pretender/Usurper
73        Religious Schism
74        Rescue
75        Resource: Found, Lost
76-78   Riot
79        Sabotage
80        Salvage
81        Sinkhole
82        Smuggling
83        Spy/Spy Ring
84        Storm/Tornado
85        Swindle/Scam
86-87   Tournament
88-89   Trade Route: Discovered, Lost
90-91   Trailblazing
92-93   Traitor
94        Volcano
95-97   Wandering Monsters: Major, Minor
98-99   War (d8): 1 Internal Border Ambush, 2 Internal Skirmish, 3 Migrating Barbarian/Humanoid Band(s), 4 Migrating Barbarian/Humanoid Clan(s), 5 Migrating Barbarian/Humanoid Tribe(s), 6 Neighboring Border Incursion, 7 Neighboring Border Invasion, 8 Neighboring Border Skirmish

100      Waterspout/Whirlpool

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Sale] JMG Super-Holiday Sale Ends Friday, July 25th at Midnight!

Yep, the Super-Holiday Sale ends Friday, July 25th at Midnight! So get it while the getting is good!

And now a snippet from a Work in Progress, a Slice of Hell:

The greater portion of the population of the Hells consists of the Damned. The Damned are those who sinned against the tenets of their Gods or possessed an Infernal Patron. In Hell they are transformed into Least Demons. So plentiful are these that the Hells are all but overrun with them, condemned to wander the plains, wastes, deserts, and hills of the Hells until either they are destroyed utterly by being consumed to Negation or Transformed into something greater and more terrible.

When the Fallen Soul makes its way to the Hells, it is transformed into a Least Demon, of a rank in power depending on the depth and might of its evil. Check on the following table to determine the fate of a PC or important NPC. First add together the Fallen Soul’s level and Charisma modifier, then roll a die depending on the Fallen Soul’s alignment: LG, LN, NG, TN, or CG +0; LE, CN +1d6; NE +2d6; CE +3d6.

Forms of the Damned
Roll     Form
1-10     Larva (1/2 HD Least Demon)
11-15   Nupperibo (1 HD Least Demon)
16-20   Manes (2 HD Least Demon)
21-25   Lemure (3 HD Least Demon)
26-30   Dretch (4 HD Least Demon)
31+      Unique Demon (1/2 Level HD)

Naturally, if the Fallen Soul had a Pact with an Infernal Patron, and a part of that Pact specified an exacting disposition in the afterlife, then such would apply… to the letter of the agreement, and no more.

LEAST DEMONS: Larvae, Nupperibo, Manes, Lemures, and Dretch are Least Demons, below even Lower-Order Demons in rank and power. They possess few if any powers save that they are immune to any form of Mortal mind-affecting enchantments (sleep, charm, and similar spells); such spells wielded by Demons affect them just fine. They are also resistant to Cold, Electricity, Fire, and Gas, suffering no damage with a successful save and half damage with a failed save. Finally, while in the Hells, they regenerate one hit point per round.

Unlike Living Souls and Lost Souls, the Damned are partially immune to the memory-draining features of food and drink in the Hells; they can never forget their failures and sins, but soon forget all the joys they had in life and lose all hope for any future.

Though they possess no true life-levels, their Dark Energy is measured by the life-levels they possessed in their Mortal Life. Demons and Devils feast upon this power; this power can be temporarily tapped or permanently drained; drained Dark Energy is much more potent than that which is merely tapped. Provided their entire Dark Energy has not been drained entirely, Least Demons re-spawn in Demon Pits when they are slain. Each time they are slain they lose one hit die, until they are re-spawned as Larvae. If they are permanently drained of all their Dark Energy they cease to exist; this is known as Negation. Once a soul has been drained to Negation it ceases to exist, and cannot be brought back, even with the most potent wish.

Least Demons who were of some importance, possessed magical talent, or other special abilities in their Mortal days can possess a Dark Energy, especially those born of noble blood, as such can be important in the casting of spells… or for holding their Immortal Soul ransom against their Mortal family and followers.

LARVAE the lowliest form of Least Demon, possessing merely ½ HD. Larvae are wretches beyond compare, being sickly yellow maggots 1 to 3 feet in length with the distorted faces the Damned possessed in life. They can only speak in screams and hisses, gibbering and babbling, as they inch along at merely 60’ (20’), and can only bite for 1d3 points of damage.
They manifest in great, writhing masses on the various plains of Hell, where they are gathered by the Night Hags; by ancient traditions and treaties, only Night Hags may harvest the Larvae, though foolish Demons, Devils, and visiting fools sometimes try to muscle in on the Hag’s business. Larvae are used as currency by the Night Hags; they are worth 100 gp per point of Dark Energy.

NUPPERIBO are 1 HD Least Demons. They are very nearly blind and deaf, managing only to mew, gibber, blubber, and drool. They are able to bite once per round for 1d3 points of damage. They have the appearance they did in life, but they stand only 2 to 3 feet tall, with rugose graying flesh, wormy tail, emaciated frame, and 1d3 Demonic Features (treat any Extraordinary Power, Weakness, or Oddity roll as “Nothing Unusual”).

MANES are 2 HD Least Demons. They are able to bite and claw one each per round, each dealing 1d3 points of damage. They have the appearance they did in life, but they stand only 3 to 4 feet tall, with rugose graying wormy flesh, and 1d3+1 Demonic Features (treat any Extraordinary Power, Weakness, or Oddity roll as “Nothing Unusual”).

LEMURES are 3 HD Least Demons. They are able to claw twice per round for 1d3 points of damage and bite once per round for 1d4 points of damage. They have the appearance they did in life, but they stand only 4 to 5 feet tall, are fat with a sagging, blobby body, graying skin, and 1d3+2 Demonic Features (treat any Extraordinary Power, Weakness, or Oddity roll as “Nothing Unusual”).

DRETCH are 4 HD Least Demons. They are able to claw twice per round for 1d4 points of damage and bite once per round for 1d4+1 points of damage. They have the appearance they did in life, but they stand only 5 to 6 feet tall, with round, rubbery bodies, thin arms, and spindly legs. They possess 1d3+3 Demonic Features. They possess the following abilities, each of which they can use once per round: darkness (5’ radius), scare, telekinesis (50#); and once per day they can create a stinking cloud.

UNIQUE DEMON: Villains of amazing and potent Evil are transformed upon arriving into the Hells as a reward for their evil deeds. They manifest as Demons with base hit dice equal to half their level in Mortal life, rounded up. Warrior-types will be Demons of Battle; spell-casters usually Demons of Power; those of seductive sort with high Charisma may well end up Demons of Lust; and all others end up Demons of Service. If properly buried with magic items, these manifest in the Hells as Demonic items (though if the original item is looted from their grave, these are lost instantly).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[Reviews] Tim Brannan reviews six JMG Products

ENnie-Award Nominee and author of The Witch and Eldritch Witchery Tim Brannan of The Other Side blog has reviewed six James Mishler Games products: Castle Adlerstein and Environs, Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map Pack, Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants, Hercynian Grimoire #1, Ogres of the Olden Lands, and Vampires of the Olden Lands

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Sale] Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Your Birthday in July!

Don't forget, James Mishler Games is still holding a sale. I know, there are other sales going on right now... but last time I checked, 60% off is way better than 25% off.

And we have a 60% Off Sale running now on most JMG products.

That's like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Your Birthday in July!

Obviously, the Pay What You Want stuff is still, well, Pay What You Want.

The new Barbarian Class, at $1, is already a steal.

So here's the list of stuff that is on sale:

Hercynian Grimoire #1, normally $7.95, merely $3.18.

Vampires of the Olden Lands, normally $3.95, merely $1.58.

Ogres of the Olden Lands, normally $2.95, merely $1.18.

Chaos Queen of Ants, normally $2.95, merely $1.18.

So if you've been waiting, take advantage of the sale now, because this isn't going to last... it can end any time.

And a sale like this isn't likely to happen again!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

JMG Gotta Get to GenCon Sale!

James Mishler Games is holding a sale.

I don't normally do this, except on very special occasions, but it is for a good cause. To get me to Gen Con!

Gen Con had been my annual pilgrimage for years, and I could count on less than one hand the number of Gen Cons I'd missed between 1983 and 2008. But then, no more... so I've missed the last five Gen Cons, which is more than I'd missed in the prior 25 years. This year, I've got a shot to go; I've got a badge, I've got crash space...

I just need a bit more cash; sadly, James cannot live on Games alone (eating my games, how sad would that be... but they would be high in fiber), and my car needs unleaded gasoline, not unleaded tin figurines (oh, if only). And, of course, I've got to stop at the Chessex and Gamescience booths and pick up a set of dice from each... it's tradition!

So I'm breaking my rule on having sales, and am now holding a 60% Off Sale on most JMG products. 

Obviously, the Pay What You Want stuff is still, well, Pay What You Want.

The new Barbarian Class, at $1, is already a steal.

So here's the list of stuff that is on sale:

Hercynian Grimoire #1, normally $7.95, merely $3.18.

Vampires of the Olden Lands, normally $3.95, merely $1.58.

Ogres of the Olden Lands, normally $2.95, merely $1.18.

Chaos Queen of Ants, normally $2.95, merely $1.18.

So if you've been waiting, take advantage of the sale now, because this isn't going to last... if I hit my goal, the sale ends. If I don't hit target sales each day... the sale ends, as it won't work.

And a sale like this isn't likely to happen again!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Now Available] Barbarian Class for Labyrinth Lord

Well, I finally got around to fixing up that barbarian class I had worked up for Labyrinth Lord... and it isn't even Wondrous Wednesday yet! Will wonders never cease?

Here's the sales blurb:

Barbarian Class
By James Mishler and Jodi Moran-Mishler

This class is designed for use with Labyrinth Lord. The barbarian presented herein is designed to emulate the classic barbarian from Sword & Sorcery literature. To that end the class includes the following abilities:

Proficient Weapons
Battle Rage
Berserk Rage
Fast Movement
Impressive Physique
Tribal Skills
   Desert Tribe
   Hill Tribe
   Forest Tribe
   Jungle Tribe
   Plains Tribe
   Seafaring Tribe
   Steppe Tribe
Uncanny Senses
Wilderness Survival Skills
Battle Cry
Barbarian Horde

The class is designed to be used with the forthcoming Barbarians of the Olden Lands supplement, detailing the barbarian peoples of the Olden Lands of the Chronicles of Mhoriedh. However, they can readily be used in any Labyrinth Lord campaign.

9 Pages
MSRP $1.00

Monday, July 14, 2014

[Barbarians of the Olden Lands] Kholmyks, the Witch-Folk of the Mountains

Shortly after the Doom of Elysion, the Mhordlakhy poured forth out of the West, into the lands that now hold their name. There they found a patchwork of petty Guidhel and Kartaghan tribes, descended from wanderers from the East and the South. Most of these they conquered and absorbed, though it was a centuries-long process. One of the tribes that resulted from the merger of Mhordlakhy and Kartaghan clans, the Kholmyks, furiously fought their further conquest and assimilation by the greater Mhordlakh tribes, and thus migrated East, into and across the Mordhlagh Mountains.

There the clans, once home to forest and plain, settled into the forested hills and mountain valleys, and there slowly bred their plains ponies into hill ponies. To this day they are masters of raising, training, and riding their sturdy hill ponies and donkeys; they make a good trade selling geldings and mules to the merchants of Paúkgrad and Szmaüdjypol. Never conquered for any lengthy time by any of the petty princes and kings of their lands, the Kholmyks continue their atavistic clan-based lifestyle in the craggy hills and valleys, from which they debouch in times of war, chaos, and plague to ravage, pillage, loot, and enslave all they can before order re-establishes itself.

However in turn, these cruel and savage slavers often find themselves on the other end of the slave whip. Kholmyk women, often of rare and exotic beauty, are regular targets for kidnappers seeking to sell the beauties in the slave market; thus the universal distrust of men of other races held by Kholmyk men.

RANGE: Primarily Lower Bagaudia and Eastern Mhordlakh, in the hills and valleys of the Mordhlagh Mountains. Some clans have wandered further afield, and can be found in the hill country of the Southern Verdhulann north of the Vale of Lamentation; across the Black River in the western foothills and valleys of the Mountains of Blood; in the forested hills of the Wicked Wood in Strigoria; and in the Black River Hills in the Western Marches.

APPEARANCE: Kholmyk men usually stand 5’2” to 5’8” and are of medium to stocky build; women are slightly shorter and tend to be medium to svelte build in youth, growing stockier with age and child-bearing. Being of mixed Mhordlakhy and Kartaghan descent, they have shimmering, pale, almost translucent light blue skin, reddish-gold eyes, and raven-black hair. Their lips, mouth, and tongue are deep purple rather than reddish-pink.

RELIGION: The Kholmyks, like their Kartaghan ancestors, are usually dedicated to the King of Hell, whom they know by the name Zuulchovek or, commonly, as Pop Bog, “Devil God.” Kholmyks are not so much zealous as they are fatalistic; they figure Pop Bog will get their souls no matter what they do, so they don’t much worry about pleasing him; but then, too, they do not go out of their way to anger him. Thus the Kholmyks are a very superstitious lot, as over the ages various things that apparently please or displease Pop Bog pass into and out of vogue. Currently, Kholmyks fear black cats, adore white dogs, do not trust anyone wearing cloth-of-gold, always wear something red, cannot cross water when a dead body is visible in it, believe blue-eyed women possess the Evil Eye, and grimace and snap their fingers three times each when the God of Law is mentioned.

Kholmyks do not have priests or clergy; their religious needs, such as they are, are served by female witches and male shamans. Kholmyk witches are practitioners of black magic, sourced through the King of Devils as their patron in a quid-pro-quo relationship rather than abject reverence. The magiya, as they are known, do not serve the clan so much as answer to Zuulchovek; they have their own secretive rites and ceremonies, unseen by their own men let alone outsiders. They usually hold their sabbats on the nearest and highest cave-ridden pinnacle, near an entrance to the Underworld, on nights of the New Moon. Together their covens defend the clan and prepare their men-folk for war; otherwise, each witch tends to the needs of her own extended family. Families without a witch tend to be poor and looked-down upon.

Shamans among the Kholmyks are invariably male, and usually few and far-between; perhaps one to three per clan. As a requirement of service as a shaman they must remain celibate; additionally, as magic is believed to be woman’s work, they must also dress and act in all ways as women. Thus they are known as the baba dukhs, or “spirit women.” Their magic is different from the fiendish witchcraft of the Kholmyk women, however. The shamans retain a more ancient form of magic that supplicates and commands spirits, including nature spirits, elemental spirits, and undead spirits, and thus like true witchcraft combines elements of divine and arcane magic. Their assistance is sought only by those who have no family witch or who wish not to seek the help of the family witch.

Neither the witches nor the shamans are overly zealous or forceful about their faith; they are usually a laid-back lot, as they know they won’t get much out of their people, so they don’t push much. They are happy to keep their people safe from the other evils of the world and enable them to engage in their raiding, pillaging, slaving, and slaying, so long as Zuulchovek gets his cut. They are not even overly concerned with their people paying lip service to some other Pagan god; they know that their King of Devils has a greater hold on their people’s soul than any other. The only thing they won’t stand is any interference from the Gregorian Church or the followers of the Dungeon God; such proselytizing clergy as pass through Kholmyk lands are favored subjects for torture and sacrifice.

TRIBAL STRUCTURE: While to the outside world it appears that men rule the clans, as outsiders only ever deal with Kholmyk men – rarely even seeing their women – it is actually the women of the clans who rule. The clan boyan, or lord, acts merely at the pleasure and the orders of the baba magiya, the council of crones, which is made up of all the witches who are also grandmothers. The council of crones makes all long-term decisions of the clan, including when to raid and when to trade. In the extended household, the woman with the most living children is considered the family matron, regardless of age or other ability, though she must take the advice of any magiya in her family.

Once a decision has been made, however, the men must go out to enforce the will of the women. And there they have much discretion, and usually use it as much as they dare. Older men have much respect from the younger, as to live to be a greybeard means one is mighty and wise indeed.

At the top of the clan hierarchy are the baba magiya, all old witches steeped in wisdom and evil. They are served by the other magiya, who lord over not only their own families but also witch-less families. Then there is the boyan and his family (always from a family with a witch), who have a degree of respect, as do the clan champions (boyets). Beneath them are all the rest of the Kholmyks, with those who are olboyani (families that have a living, former boyan with them) being given a further degree of respect. Beneath all are the slaves, usually female concubines and servants, but also sometimes including strong males; any slave can end up being made a sacrifice if need exists, so most are taciturn and terrified. No few are simply enchanted into submission by the clan witches. Note that the children of the concubines are not considered the children of the father; they are often sold off as slaves or even sacrificed.

A clan usually has 10d10 able-bodied 1st level men (usually barbarians, fighters, rangers, or animal trainers), an equal or slightly greater number of women (with perhaps 25 to 40% being equivalent to 1st level thieves, scouts, or doxies), and a number of youths and children equal to the number of men and women combined. For every 10 men there will be an additional 2nd level leader; for every 20 an additional 3rd level; and the clan will be led by a boyan of 5th to 7th level with a cadre of 1d4 4th level boyets. For every five women there will be an additional 1st level witch; for every 10 a 2nd level witch; for every 20 a 3rd level witch; and the council of crones consists of 2d4+1 4th to 7th level witches. In addition there will be 1d3 shamans of 1st to 6th level; one slave concubine per 10 men plus one for each level of each male leader type; and a number of male slaves equal to the total number of witches. There is also a 50% chance of 2d6 recent captives, either being held for ransom, waiting to be sold into slavery, or being readied for sacrifice.

TERRAIN/CLIMATE: Kholmyks are native to temperate forested hills and mountains.

TRIBAL WEAPONS: Battle axe, hand/throwing axe, composite short bow, club, dagger, javelin, throwing knife, lariat, sling, spear, short sword (cutlass-like saber), and staff.

TRIBAL ARMOR: Leather coat, leather armor, studded leather armor, lamellar, scale mail, brigandine; leather coif, pot helm, and spangenhelm (i.e., “normal helm”); small, medium, and large wooden shields.

TRIBAL ABILITIES [LL]: Kholmyks can climb trees, cliffs, and mountains; train and ride hill ponies, donkeys, and mules; herd sheep, goats, and pigs; leap and jump; and imitate animal calls. They are considered native to forests, hills, and mountains.

TRIBAL ABILITIES [C&C]: Animal handling (ponies, donkeys), armor maker, battle cry, bowyer, first aid, horsemanship, horse warrior, scale, sound imitation, all wilderness abilities.

LANGUAGE: The Kholmyk tongue, like the people, is a thorough mix between Mhordlakhy and Kartaghan, with centuries of its own side-development; thus it sounds familiar to speakers of Mhordlakhy or Kartaghan, but is not understandable. It is usually written, when written at all, using a variant of Mhordlakhy script. Usually only the witches and shamans are literate.

MALE NAMES: Altzek, Balamber, Bezmer, Bleda, Chok, Ditzeng, Drogo, Dukum, Ellak, Ernak, Gostun, Grod, Hudbaad, Kardam, Kotrag, Krum, Kuber, Kubrat, Malamir, Mugel, Mundjuk, Ruga, Sevar, Telerig, Teletz, Tervel, Uldin, Vinekh, Vund, Zabergan.

FEMALE NAMES: Arzu, Asli, Ayla, Aylin, Aysel, Aysun, Basak, Belgin, Berna, Bilge, Deniz, Derya, Dilara, Dilek, Ebru, Elmas, Emel, Emine, Esen, Eser, Esin, Evren, Fidan, Gizem, Gonca, Gozde, Hande, Havva, Hazan, Muge, Nergis, Nesrin, Nuray, Ozge, Ozgur, Ozlem, Simge, Su, Tulay, Yildiz, Yonca.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

[Midweek Mash-Up] Apes, Belkers, Carbuncles, and Dragonnels, Oh My!

It’s been a couple of busy days, so this is a bit of a delayed article. Fortunately, it has a bit of everything… monsters and magic from around the Olden Land… it even has a few small charts. So here are the ABC and D’s of a few monsters of the Olden Lands.

The Olden Lands Map Pack includes a complete listing of major (and many minor) monsters encounter in the Olden Lands and where they are generally located, so you can find out more about the monsters of the Olden Lands in that PDF.

First up, we have the Great Apes found in the Olden Land – the Chimpanzees and Gorillas; their close relatives the Man-Eating Apes, the Dakon, and the Giant Apes; and Albino Apes and White Apes. Orangutans are not found in the Olden Lands; they are native to the islands of the Far West, beyond the Purple Plains and Deshret, and are only rarely encountered in the Olden Lands, usually in menageries or in service to a Western sorcerer. Also, Albino Apes and White Apes will be dealt with another time, as they have little in common with the other Ape groups. And of course, Humans and the Demihuman and Humanoid races all, according to various sages and sorcerers, are distant relatives of these creatures, as the common theory is that the Elder Titans adopted the more successful and widespread proto-Human Ape-like ancestors of these races as their servants.

Most Great Apes are found exclusively in the South; Chimpanzees and Gorillas are native to the Isle of Apes and Mandayan, though a few are found on the various other islands of the Sea of Steam. Once their range was far greater, into Eosha, Kryx, and even Deshret, but in the last few ages these populations were crowded out and exterminated by encroaching Human and Humanoid groups. Chimpanzees and Gorillas of the Olden Lands are more intelligent than their real-world counterparts (Intelligence 8), likely due to evolutionary stress and the direct intervention of deific powers. The Isle of Apes, quite naturally, is their remaining heartland; here it is said that they are protected by their very own deity, the Ape God, though no living man has ever claimed to have seen him with his own eyes. It is on this island that the Dakon, an intelligent race of Apes, can be found, serving the Ape God as acolytes.

Man-Eating Apes, distant cousins of the Chimpanzees, are aberrations of evolution or magic, though not Chaos-magic, as such. Their great size and ferocity is often due to long generations of isolation and inbreeding, combined with being hunted or abused by nearby Human or Humanoid groups. As the common Chimpanzees are more intelligent than real-world counterparts, so the Man-Eating Apes are usually (though not always) also more intelligent, up to and including Human levels of intelligence, including the ability to speak or at least sign. Some of the more isolated groups have developed a full culture, complete with tools, weapons, armor, and architecture, or borrowed such from the nearby Human and Humanoid peoples. Those found in the Yasdunn Jungles of Eosha have been known to fall under the influence of the White Apes of that land.

Giant Apes are rarest of all. These distant cousins of the gorillas, like the Man-Eating Apes, are aberrations, descended from isolated groups of Gorillas cast ashore on distant islands or trapped in rugged interior jungles. Towering creatures capable of fighting giants hand-to-hand, these beasts are, like their Gorilla cousins, usually peaceful, though quick to rage when they are troubled. They are often the objects of veneration and worship by the primitive tribes of Humans and Humanoids that live on their island homes.

These strange beasts are not native to the Olden Lands; they are not, in fact, native to this world at all. They fall under the wide and far-reaching rubric of “Cosmic” entities, being not of this world or the elemental fundamentals of this world, nor even of Chaos, but of something else entirely. Sages believe these creatures, made of pure ash and willpower, originate in the great clouds of depleted Stardust that surround the Stars Above. They are created by the passing thoughts of an Elder Titan or similar creature, which gives life and animation to the depleted Stardust.

These creatures must exist in great numbers in the Void Between the Stars, as there have been numerous reports of their falling from the Skies Above down to the World. There they are usually captured and grossly abused by wizards and sorcerers, or flee to some hidden place, where they live out their immortal lives in a pitiable fashion, alone and never able to return to their starry abode in the Void Above. Thus, though not of Chaos, they are hateful of all living things of this World, and though by preference would flee any encounter, of necessity often attack interlopers, seeking a surcease to their bebotherment.

If a belker is slain, its ashes can be used in scribing arcane spells in spell books and on scrolls, being used to create the ink. Every hit point worth of ash of a belker counts as 50 gp in value toward the cost of the scribing of a spell in a spell book or scroll.

The origins of these strange creatures are lost in the mists of time; sages speculate they may be descended from some sort of pet kept by the Titans in the Dawn Ages, while the clergy of the Gregorian Church believe them to be heralds of Chaos. Carbuncles are found on the islands of the Serene Sea and the Sunrise Isles; they can also be found from time to time along the shores of the Sunrise Sea, as they enjoy sneaking on ships to go exploring in the wider world.

Carbuncles of the Olden Lands can range from Small to Large size, with the rarer larger breeds having commensurately larger and more valuable gems; some are even magical in nature, though the creature has no ability to command the magic. Their gems are also variable in color and form; most are like rubies, but some are like sapphires, or emeralds, or opals, or other, rarer sorts. The carbuncle’s rugose skin is colored similarly, with gray or brown stripes, fading to grayish-white shades on the belly.

Though they are not innately Chaotic in nature, their one joy is causing chaos and confusion, sowing distrust and discord, and causing horrible tragic bloody battles and feuds. Though there is no evidence to suggest such, the superstitious believe that their gemstones are as dangerous as the creatures themselves, and bring with them a curse of chaos and discord. Thus the saying among common folk along the Serene Sea, that a person or thing “isn’t worth a carbuncle.” Superstitious peasants avoid those who openly possess or especially wear a gemstone known to be taken from a carbuncle.

* The gem, when soaked in a glass of wine for a day and a night, transforms the wine into a random potion. The potion is determined once when first acquired.
** D8: 1-3 Wizard, 4-5 Illusionist, 6-7 Clerical, 8 Druidic. Divide the carbuncle’s HD by the spell level and round up to determine how many times per day the spell can be used.

Dragonnels are found in great numbers on the Dragon Isles, and in lesser numbers in the Starcrag Peaks, the Dragon Hills in Aurlandia, and the Drachenfels in Gyrax. Dragonnels of the Olden Lands are little different in appearance than their more potent great dragon relations, save that they are smaller in general, more gracile of form, with smaller heads and longer snouts in proportion, and longer legs with smaller claws (note that dragons in the Olden Lands have four legs and two wings). Unlike true dragons, which favor a build more like that of the lizard crossed with the feline or canine, the build of the dragonnel is more along the lines of the lizard crossed with the horse; they stand tall rather than crouch near the ground. They are compared favorably in form as draconic pegasi, though there is no relation between the two creatures.

One in 36 are of superior sort, and possess a fiery breath attack, like but lesser than that of Draco Conflagratio Horriblis (the red dragon). Most are of animal intellect, though some of the greater sort can approach a human level of cunning. None has ever mastered spell-casting, though most have a dim intelligence and can understand complex commands, moreso than a horse, and the more intelligent can actually understand various languages and pantomime conversation. Unlike their chromatic dragon cousins, these creatures are not by nature of Chaotic sort, though most of the wild variety are inimical to Humans and Demihumans, having in the past been trained by or allied with various Humanoid races; plus, most humans cannot tell the difference between a dragon and a dragonnel, and thus they are more often hunted than sought as steeds.

Dragonnels come in a variety of chromatic colors, including not only the usual red, blue, green, black, and white, but also purple, yellow, orange, gray, and brown. Dragonnels born from a single clutch are all of the same color, or a mix of brown, gray, and one other color. There is also a breed, derived from the orange, which has a golden sheen; these were bred by the knights of Aurlandia for use as steeds by the Knights of the Golden Dragon; all such possess fiery breath. The gold dragon allies of the knights are not friendly with these, considering them to be little more than brutish beasts.

Dragonnel eggs can be sold at the appropriate markets for anywhere between 800 and 3,200 gp; hatchlings can be sold for twice as much. Most civilized lands and even many semi-barbarous ones severely restrict the sale and possession of live dragonnels; attempting to sell eggs or hatchlings on the open market can easily earn the wrath of the local authorities.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

[Saturday Night Special] So I've been running this Mutants & Mazes Campaign

Well, last night was a wash. Between running errands, work, and a bout of food poisoning that kept me up till 5 am this morning (and thus caused me to call off at work and finally get some sleep this morning and afternoon), I've gotten nothing done. Missed out on Freeform Friday, and still haven't gotten around to writing a review, so I figure I'll write about my ongoing, irregular Mutants & Mazes campaign I am running.

It is set in the Realms of Murikah, in the Midzee Lands, specifically, in the hilly borderlands between Awbash, Free Ohyo, and the Great Ohyo Forest (starting in Hex 1028, for those keeping track). Here is found a small independent village known as Sanktree; whether the name is derived from Sanctuary or from Saint Tree, no one knows, but the great millennia-old Kwerkus (intelligent and psychically-powerful mutant Oak) that is the leader and heart of the village might mean it is a bit of both. The villagers have always welcomed those who are friendly and seeking shelter, regardless of the reason, provided they were willing to provide for the common defense and work for their own keep.

Near the village is an ancient ruin of stone and glass; there the Professor resides, a pure strain human who has deep knowledge of the artifacts of the Ancients. Some say he is also powerful in the ways of wizardry; but as he is both mostly sane and usually harmless, he is at least not a Sorcerer-Scientist.

The Professor, together with his friends and allies, are the protectors of Sanktree. As such, he recently sent out several young, footloose, and perhaps dangerously bored adventurers on a mission. His "instruments" he said, had been picking up strange signals on the "radio-band frequencies," in a code he believes is used by the pirates of the Midzee. So he sent a group of young adventuresome-types off to check and make sure everything was OK to the north...

Till Millstone (1st level Hobbit Magic-User/Thief) and Killniss (1st level Elf Ranger): Till and Kill were adventurers in 4th Age Middle-earth who went down the wrong tunnels in the ancient ruins of Angband, emerging in this strange new world of weird magic and super-science.

Jesika (1st level Pure Human Cleric of Apollo) and Sol-Re (1st level Mutant Human Fighter/Mutant Master): Jesika is an outcast from the Temple of Apollo in New Manpoor, where her faction (the Greek pro-Mutant faction) recently lost out in an internecine struggle with the Roman anti-Mutant faction (sponsored by the temples in the Empire of Man). Sol-Re, a weak-willed kind of fellow, has been her personal bodyguard ever since he accidentally slew her brother in a battle.

Tinman (1st level Basic Android Fighter) and Lizzardo (1st level Mutant Lizard Mutant Master) are the Professor's adoptive sons; the one found bereft of programming on a battlefield, the other found half-dead alongside a river bank.

Feu (1st level Pure Human Fighter/Magic-user) and Skweeker (1st level Mutant Rat Thief) were also exiles from New Manpoor, Feu having sought shelter from the guild of wizards from which he stole, Skweeker from the band of thieves to which he formerly belonged.

They ran into trouble almost immediately as they traveled north, for at a local crossroad in the trail they encountered a band of Pig-Man; fortunately, they caught them by surprise, and made short work of them. However, now warned that danger was far nearer than they ever expected, they kept on toward Bobburg, the next nearest settlement to the north, with much more caution.

When they reached Bobburg, they discovered that it had recently been attacked; the wooden palisade was still burning. They went in to investigate, and found that everyone was gone... all the bodies, villagers and attackers, had disappeared. When Lizzardo went and checked the tavern/inn on the village green, he found the remnants of the villagers... they had been re-animated as Zombies

Thus began a furious battle between adventurers and zombies, during which the necromancer, Walpurgo, challenged the adventurers from his window in the great suite of the inn. Arrows and even bullets bounced away, for he had some sort of protection against common missiles. Black lightning shot forth from his staff and blasted Lizzardo, who, then flying and shooting wildly, fell to the ground and was quickly consumed by the ravenous zombies. 

But even as he was laughing at this victory, Tinman lifted and aimed his plasma rifle (40 watt range); the magic shell around the necromancer glowed briefly, then faded quickly as its creator was all but disintegrated in the blast.

The adventurers lamented their lost friend, and after deciding that not enough was left for a funeral, went into the tavern/inn to loot the place. There they discovered a slug-like being, cowering and hiding; a Sloogah accountant, the assistant/apprentice of the necromancer. He warned them that if anything happened to him, "they" would be very angry. Then after attempting to get one over on the adventurers with a sleep spell, he was cut down by Tinman.

Up in the grand suite they discovered the ashen remnants of the necromancer, alongside his staff and a pair of night-vision goggles. When they picked up the staff, it whispered dark things to them, so they immediately threw it down and rolled it into a bag. When they tried to get into the chest against the wall, Feu discovered much to his chagrin that the runes he found upon it weren't simply warnings, they were an actual curse! One failed saving throw later, Feu is possessed by a fiend, and cackling "I'll swallow your souls" at his friends.

Sadly, they were forced to kill him, as they had no way of driving the spirit forth. After giving the chest wide berth and throwing Feu's bullet-ridden corpse out the window, they slept for the night. The next day they were awakened by a great horn sounding from the distance. When they went to investigate they discovered that a group of Hwiska vikings, foot and horse, had arrived at the gates, and were calling for Walpurgo. The group thought to bluff their way through things, though they had the halfling (invisible through use of his magic ring of invisibility), behind the leader of the vikings just in case.

Things went down pretty well as expected, and as the leader was giving the order to attack, a halfling appeared on his back, for with a roll of "Natural 20" and an "Instant Kill" roll on the critical hit table, the halfling took out the big-bad in one shot. Sadly, the viking's morale held, and they still pressed the fight. Killniss used his one-shot bazooka device to take out half the vikings in one fell swoop. Then during the battle it became apparent that the herald of the leader was also a Basic Android, much like Tinman, with whom he went toe-to-toe. When Tinman's two-handed sword skewered the herald, it grinned, then clicked, and started counting down... "10... 9... 8..." and everyone, vikings and adventurers alike, ran like hell.

So few were caught in the blast, impressive as it was. The surviving vikings fled, and the party retreated to lick its wounds. They then decided to investigate the rest of the tavern/inn, and were rewarded with finding a secret tunnel in the cellar. The tunnel, it turned out, went to the Bobburg Tower, a great standing stone of glassy black stone that the mysterious, reclusive, and never-seen Bob apparently lived in, or did at one time, for no one in living memory could remember having seen Bob.

The party then discovers why, as the tunnel leads, after some trouble (a big metal gate with push-button lock; "666" being the proper code, of course), to an Ancient underground shelter, where they discover a run-down metal-skinned android. This they give some power, by jury-rigging a power bypass from Tinman. The android Bob greets them merrily, and says he will help them however he can; it turns out that he was the founded of the village, helping refugees after his owners in the complex died of unknown causes. They then use his guidance, fractured as it is, to check out the rest of the complex; all is abandoned, powered-down, the hydroponics section overtaken by living, angry fungi (avoided), and the nuclear power station, after opening the door, obviously irradiated (I warned 'em, I did). All the treasures were long ago looted by Bob to help the people of Bobburg.

Then they have Bob show them the way up, into the tower. There they discover that there are many rooms pristine and un-spoiled, save by time, most with some sort of government-style shield on the wall or official-looking desks. They find several security-bots, most of which seem to be out of power or shut off; one of these, however, comes to life and shoots at them when they try to open a certain door. With a quickness none thought possible of her, Jesika takes out her needler and blasts it, even as with the other hand she takes its slug-thrower from its hand...

And that was where the last session (third session thus far) ended... and we pick up again tonight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[Midweek Roundup] First week of the Dailies is in!

So far the experiment in trying to write a post a day is working. Just in case you've missed them, here's a run-down of all the posts I've made on the this blog in the last week:

Wednesday June 18th: The Dailies!
Wednesday June 18th: [Wondrous Wednesday] Mageglobe, Magewand, and Ring of Defense
Thursday June 19th: [Throwback Thursday] Tharbrian Horse-Lords or Up Harzburk! A Morguhn!
Friday June 20th: [Freeform Friday] Stone Heads, Talking Paintings, and Spoon Goddesses
Saturday June 21st: [Free RPG Day] Remember, Olden Lands, Midzee and Adlerstein are PWYW
Saturday June 21st: [Saturday-Night Special] So I ran some v3.5 tonight...
Sunday June 22nd: [Sunday Driver] Touring the Olden Lands
Monday June 23rd: [Monstrous Mondays] Gyflegyr
Tuesday June 24th: [Chart and Table Tuesday] Bandit Clerics of the Olden Lands
Wednesday June 25th: [Wondrous Wednesday] Devil's Leap, Pit of Ghouls, and Throne of Thunder

Here's hoping I can keep this up... regular writing keeps the ol' mind going, and the more I write, the more I can write...

[Wondrous Wednesday] Devil's Leap, Pit of Ghouls, and Throne of Thunder

For today’s Wondrous Wednesday entry, I am providing three of the many interesting magical and wondrous locations found in the Olden Lands:

This hill is found in the Adlerbergen in eastern Gyrax, upon the shoulders of the Wunderspitze, or Wonder Peak, at the southeastern verge of the Central Adlerbergen. One of many storied and legendary locations in that region, the Devil’s Leap is a tall conical hill; it is barren, a boil amidst the green pastures of the high vales, and though well below the snow line, it is still always chilly upon the hill, even in deepest summer.

At the peak of the hill is a pentagonal cracked black stone, the size of a large altar and just large enough for one person to stand upon easily. If one does so normally, it affords a lovely view of the surrounding region. If one does so during the Witching Hour (3 am to 4 am), one can magically leap from the altar to any other point in the World Above. Legends say that one must call upon the King of Hell to do so, but in fact, no such invocation is necessary. One merely needs to visualize the destination, even if he has never been there, and leap from the altar. If the location is merely a fable or a false rumor, the leaper ends up in the place that most resembles that location.

The leap is automatic, but not instantaneous. One flies through the air at 666 miles per hour. The trip can thus be quite long and cold, with the only companions being the stars and perhaps the moon. While the leap is automatic, the landing is where the difficulty lies. At the landing, the leaper must make a saving throw versus Magic; if the save succeeds, the leaper successfully lands unharmed. If the leaper fails his saving throw, he suffers 1d6 points of damage per point by which he failed the saving throw.

Use of the Devil’s Leap is considered a Chaotic act, and permanently stains the soul, as it is an aspect of the Underworld, an extrusion of Chaos into the World Above.

Upon the southern shores of the Serene Sea, between the Titan’s Gulf and the Eoshan Deep, along the northern shore of Kryx there stands the Desolation of Makkarash, a terrible wasteland of rock and sand, accursed of old by the Titans themselves. At the heart of the wastes and along the shoreline of those fearsome waters, within sight of the Isles of Ghouls, is the ruined city of Makkarash. A place of strange towers, worn black temples, ramps to nowhere, and non-Euclidean structures, one of the most prominent ruins is an ancient temple complex.

At the heart of this complex, deep beneath the earth, lies the Pit of Ghouls, said to connect to all the tunnels of all the ghouls everywhere they may dig in the Underworld. And of course, even hedge wizards know that ghouls have access to every crypt, necropolis, and catacomb ever dug by man, and have even found their way to every corner of the Numberless Hells. Thus, this site is a true nexus point of the Underworld, from which virtually any other location in the Underworld can be accessed.

Of course, that access would come with a steep price, for the Pit is, after all, the heart of ghoul activities in the Olden Lands. The nearer caverns are a virtual ghoul metropolis, where the flesh of the dead is sold in bazaars side by side with the living flesh of slaves; such is often the end of those captured from the World Above by other races of the Underworld, sold on down the line from slaver to slaver, to end up on the block only to be added to the larder of the ghouls, fleshed up only to be slaughtered and buried for proper fermentation…

But too, other things, lost things found and things better lost, can be found for sale in the lich-light glow of the lamps of the markets of the ghouls. Here necromancers and sorcerers abound; dark-order witches congregate and revel; and the other denizens of the Underworld feast and fete, trade and talk, for the Pit of the Ghouls is neutral ground, held sacrosanct by all, for the penalties exacted by the ghouls for breaking their peace are unspeakable.

Deep in the heart of the Thunder Peaks of eastern Elysion, in a vast bowl formed by the tallest mountains of the range, stands a vast, crumbled ruin. Here it is said that long ere the Elysians arrived out of the Dawn Lands, the Storm Giants possessed a great kingdom, with the ruins being their great capital city. At the heart of the ruins, high atop a central peak at the heart of the bowl is a huge throne made of shimmering blue stone.

Long ages of rain and weather have beaten the stone down, but even today, countless millennia after the last of the Giant Kings sat upon it, it still possesses a magnificence beyond that of any mortal throne. Standing a total of 36 feet tall, the blue stone shimmers with power; a distinct smell of ozone permeates the air, which crackles and pops randomly. Those who stand within 100 feet of the throne feel distinctly uncomfortable; those wearing metal armor must make saving throws against Magic every round or suffer 1d6 points of damage from small arcs of lightning that strike from the throne.

Any intelligent mortal being that clambers up the throne and sits upon it must make a saving throw versus Magic or suffer 6d6 points of lightning damage; those who save suffer only half damage. The save only ever need be made once, as thereafter the throne has taken its price. After the initial round of shock, the one sitting upon the throne can call upon the throne’s powers:
  • He may concentrate and view any location within the Thunder Peaks as though he were an eagle high in the skies; this does not include the ability to hear sound.
  • Any spot he can see in the Thunder Peaks using the above ability can be made a target for lightning bolts from the blue, one per minute, each dealing 8d6 points of damage. The bolt is as though cast by a 20th level wizard. If the target is within physical line of sight from the Throne (i.e. within a 270-degree arc facing the front of the throne) the bolts deal 12d6 points of damage and can be flung once per round.
  • While seated upon the throne the one so seated may speak Gygantos, the tongue of giants. After each time the user speaks with giants thusly, the one so seated may make an Intelligence check; if successful, he has permanently learned how to speak Gygantos (Giantish).
  • One who is seated upon the Throne, and who speaks Gygantos, may meditate upon the throne for one week (seven straight days), seeking insight into the Thyrsar Runes used in ancient Giant Magic. If after one uninterrupted week he makes a successful Intelligence check, he has gained insight into a single rune, and masters its magic.
  • If the person seated on the throne is a wizard, he may meditate upon the throne and thereby gain wisdom into spells that are lightning based. Such counts as magical spell research, with each day seated upon the throne in meditation counting as a day spent in research. No cost in gold or other materials is required for this research. At the end of the needful time to research the spell desired, the wizard merely checks to see if he has learned the spell, then if successful may write it down in his spell book (at the usual cost for scribing a spell).

Every time the user masters a new rune or learns a new lightning-based spell there is a chance that he is polymorphed into a storm giant. The chance is 1% per level of spell learned and 1d3% per rune learned, cumulative over time. There is no saving throw against this effect; however, the new storm giant must make a saving throw against Magic or go insane, homicidally and maniacally so, being transformed into a being of pure rage and hatred. In the case of a player-character who makes his save, the character is retired and turned over to the Judge for use as an NPC.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

[Chart and Table Tuesday] Bandit Clerics of the Olden Lands

In the classic Monster Manual, there is a 15% chance per 50 bandits in a bandit gang that there is a 5th or 6th level cleric that is a member of the band; if so, he has a 3rd or 4th level assistant. This seems a mighty powerful cleric for a potentially small band of thieves. Here’s a little chart to smooth that out:

First find the line with the number of members in the bandit gang. Check there first to see if a cleric is present; if a cleric is present, roll for the chance that the cleric has an assistant present. If the roll fails on the first line when checking for a cleric, check on the line above (based on the lower level of cleric) and roll again, and continue until either a cleric is present or all chances have been checked. Roll only once to see if an assistant is present.

Thus a band with 175 members has four chances, in declining likelihood, of having a cleric present.

If a cleric is present, the question one must ask is…

3. The cleric is a Chaos Priest of the Crimson God (CE), using the bandits as spies and assassins in the temple’s interminable war against all other gods.
4. The cleric is a Chaos Priest of the Blood God (CE), exhorting the bandits to further acts of berserker bloodshed and black-hearted villainy.
5. The cleric is a Chaos Priest of the Lord of Change (CN), hanging out with the bandits for the fun of it, as long as there is action, loot, and merry-making.
6. The cleric is a Chaos Priest of the King of Hell (CE), and provides his services in exchange for cash and other considerations, especially seeking to convert the bandits to the ways of the King of Hell.
7. The cleric is a Chaos Priest of the Dungeon God (CE), and provides his services in exchange for cash and other considerations, especially seeking to convert the bandits to the ways of the Dungeon God.
8. The cleric is a member of the Clergy Armigerous of the Gregorian Church (LG or NG) and is seeking to either convert the lot or at least turn them from their thieving ways and back to the straight and narrow. If the bandits are fighting against a Chaotic or Evil lord, the cleric is a very proactive member of their activities.
9. The cleric is a Black Friar of the Gregorian Church (LN) and is making sure that no witchcraft or sorcery infiltrates the gang, for such is the way of the Black Friars. If a wizard is present among the gang, they are not on the best of terms, especially if the wizard is female.
10+11. The cleric is a Brown Friar of the Gregorian Church (NG) and is tending to the physical as well as spiritual needs of the common man, as is the way of the Brown Friars.
12. The cleric is a Grey Friar of the Gregorian Church (LG) and is making sure that the deceased among the bandits, as well as their victims, are properly tended to, lest they rise as the Unquiet Dead, for such is the way of the Grey Friars.
13. The cleric is a member of the Cloistered Clergy of the Gregorian Church (LG, LN, or NG, N) and was once upon a time a victim of the band’s ransom schemes, however, he joined the band after his ransom was paid for personal reasons.
14. The cleric is apparently a member of the Clergy Armigerous of the Gregorian Church (seemingly LG or LN) and acts as per as 8, above, however, he is secretly an Apostate, and a Chaos Priest (D6: 1-3 Dungeon God, 4+5 Lord of Change, 6 King of Hell), usually in cahoots with any wizard present with the gang (50% chance of being either a sorcerer or witch).
15. The cleric is a Pagan Priest of the Laughing God (N), making sure the bandits pay proper respect to the local Fey, and ensuring that their victory feats are most merry, indeed. If present, there is a 50% chance any wizard present is actually a witch.
16. The cleric is a Pagan Priest of the Reaper (N), simply making sure that the Reaper gets his due with every battle.
17. The cleric is a Pagan Priest of the Storm Lord (N, NE, NG), seeking to embolden the bandits and turn them from rogues and thieves into a true band of warriors.
18. The cleric is a Druid (N), tending to this wayward flock as he would to a herd of sheep or a murder of crows.

Monday, June 23, 2014

[Monstrous Mondays] Gyflegyr

No. Enc:  1 (1d6 in lair)
Size:   L (12’ long)
HD:   6 (d10)
Move:   20’
    Climb: 10’
AC:  16
Attacks:   Bite (2d6)
Special:   Darkvision 120 ft., Projectile Attack, Projectile Immunity, Twilight Vision
Saves:   P
Int:   Inferior
Alignment:  Chaotic Evil
Type:   Magical Beast
Treasure:  Nil
XP:   210 + 6/hp

No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
    Climb:  60’ (20’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice:  6
Attacks:  1 Bite or Projectile Attack
Damage:  2d6 or Special
Save:  F6
Morale:  9 (11 with handler)
Hoard Class: None
XP:  570

The gyflegyr is a strange beast born of Chaos, or, perhaps, created specifically by it as a weapon to be used by its favorite sons. It resembles nothing less than a large living cannon with draconic legs. The walls of the cannon are made of strong muscular flesh over a heavy bone structure, the whole covered in plate-like dragon scales. The legs are also thick and muscular, each with four stubby talons designed for gripping the ground. The mouth of the beast possesses sharp retractile teeth, and can bite down swiftly as its teeth emerge in the same round. It has two long eye stalks on either side at the nether end, each possessing several eyes, the better to aim its projectile attack. A small, vestigial tail is found at the far end; this is pulled by the gyflegyr handler to tell the beast to loose its projectile when he has (hopefully) properly aimed the gyflegyr at his enemies.

There are numerous sub-breeds of gyflegyr beasts. The five primary beasts are dragon based: red beasts project flame, green beasts vomit chlorine gas, black beasts spit acid, white beasts shoot ice, and blue beasts emit lightning. These beasts also have vestigial wings on the sides of their long bodies. The sub-breed known as the serpentine spits poison, while a variant of this sort instead actually spits out dozens of asps with each shot! The iron beast shoots large balls of iron that explode like a fireball, while the slime beast shoots out a line of green slime (or some other form of slime or jelly). Of the rarer sort, there is the leech beast that shoots out leeches, the bee beast that shoots out a swarm of giant killer bees, a spider beast that looses large giant spiders, and even according to one report a weasel beast (though this last might be a tall tale told by a scurrilous bard).

ORGANIZATION: Not being natural creatures, gyflegyr beasts are usually found with creatures born of Chaos, such as goblins, orcs, ogres, and other such ilk. They are very rarely encountered on the surface, save near a large Underworld lair or in an area strong in the power of Chaos. Each tribe usually has one to six such beasts, when they are present, and zero to five (d8-3) immature beasts of 1 to 5 HD per mature beast. Each mature beast and its spawn are cared for by a single small clan dedicated to the purpose. As the spawn of a gyflegyr beast might be of a completely different sort than the “parent” beast, no two batteries of gyflegyr beasts are ever alike.

ECOLOGY: Born or created by Chaos, it is believed that some such beasts are hatched of corrupted dragon’s eggs, using terrible rites and rituals cast by tribal witch doctors. Others are born of a mature gyflegyr beast. When a beast is fed between 30 and 60 hit dice of living intelligent creatures is produces an egg. The egg must be bathed in the blood of the innocent every day for 10 to 30 days; if ever even one day the bath fails, the egg dies. When the egg hatches, it is in the form of a two-foot long 1 HD gyflegyr beast, a tiny two-legged bombard. Every 20 to 40 hit dice of living intelligent creatures it consumes, it grows 1 HD and thus more powerful. At 4 HD it grows its second pair of legs. Note that a tribe only rarely brings an immature gyflegyr to battle, but does not hesitate to use them in the defense of their lair.

In addition to its living, intelligent feed, it must daily feed upon materials that help it generate its projectile materials – sulfur and coal for reds, rock salt and brine for greens, crystals and copper for reds, etc. Failure to provide the needful materials means that the gyflegyr cannot use its projectile attacks, and over time, may die of starvation.

TREASURE: Generally gyflegyr do not collect treasure, being only of inferior intelligence and not holding material wealth to be of any value. However, clans and tribes might decorate their favorite war beast with jewelry, and so parts of their treasure may be found draped on the war beast.

RANGE: See organization, above. Wild gyflegyr are quite rare, due to the needs of their special diets. They are usually only found without a clan of humanoids in the ruins of a recently ruined humanoid lair or near humanoid battles; in such cases they are often starving and unable to use their projectile attack under such conditions.

COMBAT: When forced into melee the gyflegyr beast attacks with its vicious bite. However, its greatest use is in ranged combat using its Projectile Attack.

PROJECTILE ATTACK: A gyflegyr beast can project an attack in a conic form 20’ long per HD (10’ per HD for 1-3 HD), half that width at the furthest end of the cone. All within the area suffer 1d8 points of damage of the appropriate type per HD of the beast; victims may make a CL HD Dexterity saving throw [LL: Breath Attacks] to suffer only half damage.

With serpentine asp attacks a failed save indicates the victim is struck by an asp, which immediately attacks the target with a +4 to hit.

An iron beast fires an iron ball that explodes like a 6d8 fireball; the range on this is as per a line, 40’ per HD of the beast (20’ per HD for 1-3 HD), which must make an attack against either a specific location AC 10 [LL: AC 9] or against a specific individual at their AC. If the specific individual is hit, he gets no save against the damage, and suffers an additional +1 damage per die of damage. Others in the area of effect get a save for half damage. If the target is missed, determine where the missile lands using the normal grenade deviation rules; it still explodes wherever it hits.

The effects of green slime, giant killer bees, spiders, leeches, weasels, and other exotic materials and creatures fired from a gyflegyr beast are at the discretion of the judge.

If the gyflegyr beast is currently being handled and aimed for one full round by a trained handler, and the handler makes an Intelligence saving throw [LL: Morale check], the targets caught in the gyflegyr beast’s area of effect suffer a -2 penalty to their saving throws (or the beast gets +2 to hit with iron ball or asps, etc.).

A gyflegyr beast internally stores 1d4-1 attacks plus one per HD, and requires 2d4 rounds after an attack to reload from the stored attacks (1d6 if egged on by a trained handler who makes an Intelligence [LL: Morale] check]. It requires 24 hours to generate one stored attack, during which it must rest and be fed.

PROJECTILE IMMUNITY: A gyflegyr is immune to attacks of the same type of attack it can perform.

Gyflegyr beasts are a thing of ancient myth, legend, and tall tales in most realms of the Olden Lands, for they are usually encountered only by foolish adventurers who delve too deeply into the Underworld. In regions such as Kryx, Nhorr, and Ogroth, and areas bordering on these darkling regions, the gyflegyr beasts are all too real, and have been encountered in ever greater numbers in recent battles and incursions. They are considered unholy abominations against nature by the Gregorian Church, and when even rumors of such things are heard, agents are sent to extinguish the blasphemous creatures.

In the Olden Lands, holy water created by a cleric of the Gregorian Church or other Temple of Law affects a gyflegyr beast as though it were an undead creature. If a vial is successfully tossed down its gullet (from the front only, and at a -4 to hit), it must make a saving throw [LL: Poison] or die, taking normal damage with a successful save. Clergy of Law can also turn/destroy these creatures as though they were undead of the same hit dice.