Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oddly Alone

I was in the mood to run some Into the Odd. But lacking a group at the moment I decided to play Solo! So, using the Wilderness Sheets from Scarlet Heroes, the 'Getting Lost' table from the D30 Sandbox Companion and my own Odd Encounters, I set forth!


First, let's meet our unfortunate victim hero of the story, Holnrich.

Holnrich (HP   6   Armour   0)
STR   7   DEX   15   WIL   4
Pistol (d6)
Knife (d6)
Bomb (d12)*

Day 1

Holnrich... wants to get home. At first, signing on with the private militia seemed like a grand idea! Escape mother's basement, see the world, shoot and/or eat strange creatures! A pity no one ever told him that the army life required dedication, nerves of steel and a work ethic somewhat akin to that of a bonobo. And so he snuck away from camp... In the middle of a swamp. Never fear! the labyrinthine streets of Bastion are far more complex than some wilderness! With some idea of where Bastion lies, Holnrich skulks out of camp on a morning thick with fog.

Most of the morning is eaten up with wandering, but luckily for Holnrich, the swamp eventually gives way to plains. Not entirely sure he's heading the right direction, (off by a few degrees, still in the right hex though) Holnrich still feels better without the leeches and the mosquitoes. 

Encounter Check: No wandering monsters,
Event Check: Venomous bite, no more exploring for the day.

Holnrich always was possessed of a certain sort of luck, his granduncle said. But then Granduncle was eaten by feral orphans from the Underground, so what did Granduncle Carlos know, really? Quite a bit, it seems, for one of the myriad pests from the swamp was carrying the White Shakes. A painful, if not lethal disease, by mid-afternoon Holnrich is shivering and groaning with pain. A small copse of trees and some tall grass make for shelter, and his threadbare militia coat serves for a blanket while Holnrich ponders his own mortality.

Day 2

With the dawn comes a new day... And new weather! Creeping from his make-shift shelter, Holnrich shakes a rat from his boot and creaks off.Light fog and the residue of illness combine to lead Holnrich off course, sadly, the ever-lucky Holnrich wandering in a Westerly direction until Holnrich's lost  wandering lost, deposits him in thick, black-barked forest.  This isn't right, the forest is NORTH of Bastion, while he Holnrich wants to go south!

As if things couldn't become any more distressing, through the boughs comes flickering torchlight. A friend or foe? Unsure, Holnrich draws his trusty pistol. Father always did warn Holnrich about trees and the clever Wywulfs that made their homes there. The light stops overhead, and whatever-it-is drops down before Holnrich. T'is one of the intelligent apes!

Augustus (HP   2   Armour   0)
STR   16   DEX   14   WIL   7

Musket, Pistol, Incredible Hat

Holnrich's father always said you could trust an ape with a hat! Stepping forward, Holnrich hales the primate, but is he a friendly sort of beast?

(Scarlet Heroes Oracle check: No, But (using the Oracular adjectives chart, I get "Abuse") )

This poor beast, having suffered the slings and arrows of his hairless cousins, is none too happy to see Holnrich. In fact, he's rather put out as Holnrich's stomping around scared off the truffle-hares that Augustus was trying to harvest the earcaps from. Oblivious to his new-found acquaintance's grievances, Holnrich asks for directions to Bastion. Or perhaps a map? Just some food or wine?

Will there be monkey business? Once more to the oracle!

Yes. Yes there will be monkey business.  The great ape points north, to a village of the Quiet Folk that he's been harrying in recent days. Serves Holnrich right, being born hairless and feeble unlike a proper member of the Primate court.

Grateful, Holnrich wishes the ape well and trots off to the north. He'd really have to buy an atlas when he returned to Bastion and learn his directions proper. Unfortunately, Holnrich's lacking sense of direction leads him astray... right onto path with a quiet Folk deadfall. The sharp crack as the log swings down catches Holnrich's attention. He tries to dodge but oh cruel fate, he is too slow.  The log sends Holnrich flying, inflicting 2HP damage!

Landing in a brambleberry thicket, Holnrich groans, laying there while he gathers his wits. No water, no wine, and is that blood on his jacket?! No... Just Brambleberry juice. Sighing at his misfortunre, Holnrich gathers himself up. Shame that the ape didn't warn him about the deadfall! He must not have known, poor fellow. Making a note to warn Augustus should he encounter the once again, slightly-limpy Holnrich toddles on his way, wobbling slightly from the blow he took.

But does he get lost from being dazed? Yes he does! And kind fates! He's pointed the right direction. Forest eventually gives way to plains, and to a rutted wagon road used by the Quiet Folk when forced to deal with outsiders. Ah, if only he could espy the smoke choked skies over Bastion once more...

Encounter check: none (lucky Holnrich)
Event check: none
Feature check: Road Inn!

Wandering in a daze, Holnrich at first thinks he's hallucinating when a caravansarai appears. He knows that inn! He relieved himself at its latrine before setting off with his mercenary group!

Sadly, Holnrich is void of cash. Perhaps he can sell his bomb? Into the caravansarai he slinks, carefully keeping watch for his recruiting officer. The man stayed over to enjoy the on-site brothel and buffet, after all.

Not spying the man, Holnrich heads for the innmaster's counter, and plops down his standard issue bomb, for surely it must be worth at least a portion of his recruitment dues?

Not the wisest move for Holnrich.

A look of alarm, and the innmaster goes for his gun... As do several of the patrons in the commons room. Does Holnrich get a chance to explain himself? To the Oracle!

No, But...  Holnrich's luck holds true. At the sight of all the iron pointed his way, he does what comes naturally... he runs. Bullets whizzing past his ear, Holnrich barrels down the Taxmaster's Road towards Bastion. Eventually running turns to jogging, jogging turns to limping, and as the sun dips below the horizon, Holnrich finds himself in the necropoli which skirt the Taxmaster's road, vestiges of whatever great empire flourished here before Bastion.

Well familiar with the threat of Ghoul and Spectre,  Holnrich draws his pistol, whispering half remembered prayers to some god or another as he stalks along.

Encounter check: Ghost, amorous (really? I wrote that encounter entry as a joke, dice...)

And as he skulks along, Holnrich catches sight of a tell-tale flicker of white amongst the tombs. A ghost? A corpse eater? The light draws closer, revealing itself to be... (random generation time!)

Quick and Random Amorous Ghost Generation!
1-2 M
3-4 F
5-6 Eldritch
Prefers: Even- Men,  Odd- Women.
Understands no means no? Evens- Yes, Odds- No.
Appearance: Evens: 1: Hideous 2: Homely. 3-4: Handsome 5: Stunningly beautiful 6: Uncanny valley

Results: Male, prefers men, does not understand no means no. Lovely as the Uncanny Valley (sigh. Poor Holnrich).

Doll-like, the ghost drifts closer, cooing to Holnrich as it opens its lithe and jointed arms. Common sense says to run, but Holnrich isn't the most sensible individual... and fails his WIL save. The night (and scene) fades to black


The next morning Holnrich awakens, clothes scattered around the graves, dignity somewhere miles behind. Gathering his belongings, he limps towards Bastion. Holnrich will be walking tender for a few days, but at least he has an impressive story to tell at the beer-stand!

My Playspace.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Odd Encounters

A random encounter table for some solo Deep Country play. Using Christopher McDowall's Into The Odd.

1   1-3 Boggles
2   Unhuman Adventurer
3   1-2 Quiet Folk + 1-4 children
4   Bull Tusker Ox
5   Wywulf
6   Mad King John

Boggle (HP 1 Armour 1)
STR 11 DEX 13 WIL 6
WANTS TO EAT EVERYTHING. Hunger given form, Boggles are obscene caricatures of fat children with too-wide mouths. A Boggle's belly is as flexible as a toad's throat.  When biting for Critical Damage, the Boggle swallows their target whole.  The victim loses 1 HP per round until a successful STR check is made. Then, the Boggle explodes, freeing its victim. Everyone (including boggles) must make a successful WIL save or be impaired on attaks for the rest of combat.

Quiet Folk (HP Armour 1)
STR 13 DEX  15 WIL 12 
WANTS TO GNAW THE DEAD. Quiet Folk are a strange, unsettling lot. Driven to eat the dead, they acquire a taste for the strange fare. Dwelling apart from other folk, the Quiet Ones tend to their own, robbing fresh graves and scavenging carrion. They are not, however, above hunting.  Bow (d6) Club (d4). Treat Children lack any combat skills, but will swarm potential meals, impairing their attacks.

Bull Tusker Ox (HP 8 Armour 2)
STR 20 DEX 10 WIL 2
WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE TO EAT GRASS AND RUT FEMALES. Not much to see here. Big, angry. Will chase anyone wearing the colors red, puce or orange. Bull Tuskers will gore with their broad, sharp tusks (d10).

Wywulf (HP  9 Armour 2)
STR 19 DEX 15 WIL 12
WANTS TO TAUNT ITS PREY. Twisted hybrid of lizard and wolf, the Wywulf stalks the forests and ruins of the deep country. Against its armored hide, slashing weapons are impaired  while blunt attacks are enhanced. The Wywulf likes to taunt its prey, and is capable of mimicking human speech with eerie accuracy. Specific voices, inflection etc are all tools which this natural mimic puts to use.  Attacks with claws (d8)

Mad King John (Special)
STR 10 DEX 20 WIL 20
WANTS TO GIVE YOU SHINY THINGS. The ghost of a beggar. Mad King John appears... at strange times. Singing a Winterfest dirge, he presents a random piece of junk to each party member before vanishing.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Men call it a gift, a talent.  I'll tell you what it is. It's a thrice-named curse, Magic is. A hole, a rip in a man's soul. And out pours the stuff of creation. 

Man wasn't made for it, not that. He was never meant to take the smoke and the fire that the gods wove to make this world and all its sisters. Never meant to make the world's lifeblood his own.

But you can feel it. Can't you? That rippling itch, that... pull, that siren song demanding you reach deep down into yourself and draw the magic out, shape it, weave great spells. I know you do, I can see it in your eyes. And I can see the fear. That's good, fear. Healthy. Fear keeps a man alive.

Well get you up, my friend, up into the mountains yonder. Get you up to where the ice cleaves the peaks. If you're lucky... She'll find you. If you're luckier, she'll give you her knife. If not... Well.

Will we meet again? I'd say we will. As friends, perhaps, but we'll meet. Now get you up, time's wasting.

--Kalrathi Huntsman Orick Tar, to a potential recruit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Titan Koriiae toiled over the forge at the heart of the world, brazing mountain to bedrock. In the titan's work, sweat fell from furrowed brow, dancing across its work. From these droplets were the Dwarves of Charos born. And from their creator they inherited a love of things well made.
Weavers of steel and fire, the Charos' dwarves  ever quest after perfection. Believing all things to be base reflections of ideal forms, the Dwarves strive to bring that perfection to reality. The Dwarves swear to no patron deity, claiming Koriae as their creator and inspiration.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Setting Zero

I've taken to playing a bit of a mini-game with myself lately, using Tangent Zero's "Zero Dice" to inspire ideas. Much like Rory's Story Cubes, but geared more towards fantasy/sci-fi elements, the Zero Dice have been great.  That said, I decided to create a basic framework of a campaign, using its history to inform me of things like player races, potential plothooks, etc.  So here's that history, along with links to the dice sets so you can see the images I interpreted.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Smashbuckler

For Bethmonster, wherever her whimsy takes her.

The Smashbuckler
A Fighter Subclass for Swords and Wizardry, Blueholme, OSRIC and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Among the surface-dwelling "Thunder Fist" Dwarves, there are armored warriors... And there are smashbucklers. Refusing the heavy chain and plate armor of their brothers, the Smashbucklers instead take up twin shields. Clad in night-shirts  and bucklers, they stomp about the battlefield, raining doom upon their foes.

Weapon Restrictions: Shields Only.
Armor Restrictions: Shields Only
Class Abilities:

The Mountain Does Not Fall - Masters of the shield, Smashbucklers have trained themselves to dig in and weather any blow.  Smashbucklers therefore start at base armor class 7, stacking any armor class bonuses from shields. More stubborn than other dwarves, they must prepare themselves for combat and so suffer a -2 penalty to initiative.

Smashbuckler... SMASH! - With their weapons of choice, Smashbucklers may make a strength check (Roll under Strength stat on 3d6) after a succesful attack roll from their sturdy shields. Success stuns their target, causing them to lose all actions for a number of rounds equal to the Smashbuckler's strength modifier.

School of Hard Knocks - At Name level, Smashbucklers may start a school, drawing in the bold (some say mad) to learn their mighty ways. Treat this as a Fighter's Castle.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spell Garden of the Verdant Manse

     I'm currently in the process of tidying up a module written to help my nephew GM Scarlet Heroes. At the moment, I'm refining and expanding one of the key areas of the module, a mystic garden that served as retreat, laboratory, and spell book. Though I'd share that bit with you, gentle readers. And as always, critiques and criticisms, as well as suggestions, are welcomed.

Area 05: Spell Garden

     Exotic blooms and heady blossoms decorate the spell garden. The artfully arranged eds are not merely for pleasing the ye, however.  Any spell caster deciphering the layout, scent and organization of the flower beds can, after a wandering sojourn, discern 1d6 random spells from those presented in the Magic User spell list from the Scarlet Heroes rulebook.

     Further research, under the tutelage of the Green Mage himself (or using notes retrieved from area 04f: The Study) will reveal one of the following randomly rolled secrets:

1D3 Secrets of the Spell Garden
  1. New Spells
  2. Enchanted Fruit
  3. Construction of Plantwrought Items

1.)     New Spells

Level 1    Donning the Chameleon's Humble Mantle   
Duration: 5 minutes/level      Range: Touch

     The Chameleon's robes are unassuming, allowing it to pass unnoticed throughout its domain. The flesh and garb of the spell caster or target to blend into the background. While movement renders the mantle ineffective, a stationary individual receives a +2 bonus to avoiding a searcher's notice.

Level 3    Damson Mists of the Bacchanal
Duration: Instant      Range: 100'

     Cloying, wine-hued mists are conjured forth by this spell, affecting an area within 100' of the caster some 20' diameter. Those caught in the mists must pass a successful saving throw of difficulty 10 or suffer a -1 to all rolls for 1d6 rounds, drunk on the delirium inducing mists.

Level 2    Golden Physician's Healing Touch
Duration: Instant      Range: Touch

     With buzzing tongue and dancing fingers the magic user enchants a dram of wild bee's honey, converting it to an ointment that will heal any wound it touches. With this spell, the target heals 2 hit point per level of the magic user casting the spell.

Level 1     Stallion's Feast
Duration: Instant      Range: Special

     Per casting, the magic user conjures up a blend of wholesome grains, enough to feed a horse for a single day. Feedbag not included.

2.)     Enchanted Fruit
     The enchanted fruit of the Spell Garden are strange and fabled things. Golden-skinned apples, bunches of grapes the height of a tall man, nameless wonders with tangy meat and heady juice. Consumption of a single fruit will allow the consumer to cast one random spell selected from either the Cleric or Magic User Spell list once per day. Each additional fruit  to a maximum of four consumed grants an additional ability (or, by fortune, a second use of an already established spell should it be rolled). However, with the first fruit's consumption, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the magic of the fruit will react with the consumer's body, resulting in a random mutation (see below). This chance increases by 1 with each fruit consumed thereafter, ultimately resulting in each fruit inducing another painful change.

3.)     Plantwrought Gear

Armor of the Hungry Folk

     Crafted from the leathery caps of the Hungry Folk (stats forthcoming), this strange armor is treated as AC 4 when donned. Due to the resilient, absorbent caps the armor is constructed from, blunt trauma (such as that inflicted by falling, cudgels, etc) is halved.

     For all its use, the Armor of the Hungry Folk comes at a cost: the armor extrudes hairlike cilia, bonding with the wearer after a week's wear. From this point on the two are intertwined, the armor taking nourishment from its host, to continue granting its abilities. Separation of host and armor inflicts a -2 penalty to Hit Point total, which may only be recovered after several days rest. There is a 1 in 10 chance that some bits of cilia remain from the separation, allowing the armor to regrow.

Construction: Requires a number of Hungry Folk and various herbs costing 7,000 Gold Pieces And a month's careful care and cultivation.

Hearthwood Staff 

      A flowering staff rigid and stout (treat as a two handed weapon), the Hearthwood Staff provides shelter in times of need. From the many small branches at the head of the staff, small blue and red berries blossom. These berries are enough to sustain a man for a day, their bounty regrowing with each dawn.  Additionally, the staff may be planted in a clear area measuring 12 feet in diameter. Within minutes, the staff will take root and grow,  creating a secure shelter large enough to sleep two people in relative comfort. While no amenities such as furniture or meal are provided, the shelter will resist the elements, providing safe haven for three days before withering and sprouting a tender sapling that will, within a week, grow into a fresh Hearthwood Staff

Construction: Use the guidelines in Scarlet Heroes, my nephew. Guesstimate until you're happy(must fix this part)

1d8 Magical Mutations
01     The individual develops scaley, barklike skin (Natural AC as scale armor, cannot wear normal armor, loses sense of touch. 1-in-6 chance of termites setting up shop)
02     The individual's hair is replaced with plant matter: (1-2: Autumn leaves, 3: Moss, 4-5: Ivy, 6: Bamboo Shoots)
03     Fingers become thorny claws. Unarmed attacks become light weapons. Good for knitting.
04     Attractive to honey bees. Gain a hive that produces delicious honey, protective swarm.
05     Hallucinogenic spores (Save vs Poison or everyone, including individual loses their actions for 1d4 turns).
09     The individual's limbs are replaced with vine-like creepers. Reduce carrying weight by 20lb     
07     Cacophonous, Mango scented flatulence for the rest of their days.
08     The individual puts down roots, their adventuring life is over as they begin to sprout enchanted fruit of their own.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Things Found in the Grand Bazaar

I like random tables. They’re great for sparking the imagination, and they’re good for when a body is feeling lazy. Having had trouble lately with my solo Scarlet Heroes game, I came to the realization that I know too little about the setting I knocked together.  To help fill those gaps, I’ve decided to knock together the following random table.  While I’m no Dungeon Dozen, I hope folks enjoy.

1d6 Things Found in the Grand Bazaar

1    A Shou-blooded urchin pickpocketing random targets.
2    1d4 Tchul debating self-awareness, and whether it is truly possible. *
   A Ghoul, the necrophage skulking along on some errand or another.
4    A brawl breaks out in the marketplace!
5    A vendor of strange wares. What’s that moving under its hood?
6    The spellbook of an apprentice magi of the Celestial Path. Contains complete
      notes on one constellation (and several crude drawings of his instructors, hopefully his magical 
      prowess is greater than his artistic ability).
*A lone Tchul will debate with itself, while any number will attempt to engage others in debate.

The Scarlet Horde: Tchul

"I know nothing!"
"But how do you know that you know nothing?"
-- Debate overheard in the Grand Bazaar

The Azure-skinned Tchul are philosophers of the highest order, wandering the many worlds that crisscross the planes in search of the ultimate truth. What this truth is, no two Tchul can agree. To this day, such a fact has not stopped their ceaseless hunger.

The azure skinned Tchul are mostly human in appearance, the hue of their hides and heads with sweep back, ending in a conical point. Most of their days are spent in debate with other learned men and women (willing or otherwise) and what is true.

No closer to their answer than the day the first Tchul set out on a quest of discovery, the Tchul have learned one thing: What is not truth. As such, they receive a bonus point in the "Truthseeker" trait, all Tchul being learned in the discerning of lies, piercing illusions, and by happy coincidence, discovering secret portals.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Scarlet Horde: Bearfolk

More goodies for Scarlet Heroes! Will one show up in my solo game? Only time will tell!


 "Five day march on a loaf of bread
The last of winter's fat we shed
Blades bright shining in the sun
We war until our duty's done"
-- Bearfolk marching song

The origin of the Bearfolk is a mystery to all, even the ursine warriors themselves. Never questioning their existence, the Bearfolk roam the world, selling their skills as mercenaries. Each fall, those Bearfolk not engaged in war gather together for a great feast and telling of tales, before settling into small, secluded communities to weather the colder months.

Bearfolk, much like humans, may be any class. In addition, they receive the following traits and benefits:

Trait Points: Bearfolk receive a single point in the trait "Ursine Senses", used to sniff out friend or foe, find a trail, or decide if the jam has gone off.

Southpaw: Fantastically strong, even a lazy swat from a Bearfolk can stun a stout man. When the full force of their strength is put into a swing, a Bearfolk's unarmed attacked do 1d6 damage.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Scarlet Tales of Zellsa the Indecipherable.

Know, oh thou assembled! In the third reign of the Childlike Empress, but before the sacking of golden Jhadur was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms stretched across the world like bright gems in a cloth of emerald and sapphire, cinnabar and gold. Hither came Zellsa the rogue, of greedy eye and hungry hands, to plunder the wealth of the earth with soft tread of his sandaled feet…

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A New Beginning

Well, the unfortunate has happened. The folder containing my oracles and character sheet for Scarlet Heroes has vanished. Fearing it to be a victim of the Great Tidying Up of Wednesday, I’ve printed a new set of Oracles, and have opted, since this is the unfortunate season of new beginnings, to roll a new character!

First and foremost, we’ll generate his attributes. I’ll take the time honored method of going straight down the line and just seeing how the dice fall.

STR   13   +1
INT    15   +1
DEX   17   +2
WIS    08   - 1
CON   14   +1
CHA    09    --

Strong, agile, healthy as an ox and with all the sense that nature gave a stump! Unable to really decide on a race or class, I turn to the Quick Character Creation section of the book and grab my faithful D20…

11! A Human he shall be! With a Dex like that, I think I’ll make him a thief. Compulsive, a bit gullible, he’s able to get the job done but falls victim to his own shortcomings more often than not! I note down starting Hit Points, Fray Dice and Attack Bonus. For his initial trait we’ll go with the tried and true “Stealthy Burglar”. A Baggins he is! On that note, let’s work up a name. For this I’ll be using Zenopus Archives’ “Holmesian Random Names” chart. A toss of the dice gives me two syllables to work with, while further rolling produces “Zell” and “Sa”. Zellsa the thief is born!

Next comes his three free trait points. Stymied, I turn once more to the quick character creation chart, and trust to fate!

30: Charlatan
92: Tireless Endurance
52: Knows Many Harlots

Who-boy! I’m starting to get a better picture of Zellsa now. A thief, a paramour, and an oft-unsuccessful charlatan. How he’s stayed out of prison this long is anyone’s guess. All I’m left with is gear. Once again we go to the dice, and I get… 110GP. Zellsa is not a poor man, but he could do better.

A bit of shopping and scratchwork, and Zellsa is done!

Zellsa, Thief 1 (0/2XP)
HP: 4/4
AC:   7
AB: +1

STR   13   +1
INT    15   +1
DEX   17   +2
WIS    08   - 1
CON   14   +1
CHA    09    --

Stealthy Burglar           3
Charlatan                     2
Timeless Endurance     2
Knows Many Harlots   1

GP—45     SP—4     CP—
Enc— 28/100

Short Sword (+3 [1d6+2])
Dagger (+3[1d4+2] 15’/30’ (-2)) 
Leather Armor (AC 7)
Silk Rope (50’)
Iron Spike (3)
Flask of Oil

Armed and educated, now Zellsa’s adventure can begin!

In the mood to cover that classic trope of Dungeons and Dragons, the Dungeon, I flip back to the solo play dungeon section of the rulebook, and determine its type.  Tossing a D10 and D12 for type gives me…

08: Temple
11: Sacred Tomb

Next up, we roll a D12 to determine dungeon size…

5: 1D10+5 for a grand total of 9 locations!

Zellsa, fool that he is, has decided sneaking into the necropolis and looting the resting place of some religious order sounds far superior to honest work! But what sort of things might one find in the tomb? Luckily, we have a chart for that! Nine tosses of the faithful giant D20 renders…

03: Bathing Room
19: Vestry
10: Minor Shrine
07: Kitchen
11: Pilgrim Quarters
01: Acolyte’s Cells
05: Garden
10: Minor Shrine
02: Altar Hall

Not exactly what I think when I picture a sacred tomb.  Obviously, this is a place within the necropolis that’s important to its religion, so much so that pilgrims sojourn here.  Hm… What sort of religious order am I dealing with? First off, let’s see what color hat they wear! For this, I’ll roll a D6, with 1-2 being Lawful, 3-4 being Neutral and 5-6 being Chaotic. A quick roll and I get…

1, A lawful order!

But what manner of lawful order, gentle reader? A lawful order whose tomb is a site of pilgrimage. We’ll go with the tomb being attached to a small chapel, then! But to which god is the tomb sanctified? Chaotic Shiny to the rescue!

Navra, the Goddess of Victory, Archery and Creation, is surprisingly plain, with tanned skin, waist length, rippling black hair, and eyes the color of jade. She is average height and slender, and almost never frowns. She usually wears armor and a helmet dyed grey-blue and pale orange. She is also associated with solstices and sacrifice. She is often worshipped by commoners. Her surprisingly numerous followers can be primarily distinguished by their daily prayers. There are a small number of temples to her at crossroads. There are many myths involving her unhealthy relationship with certain mortals. She is the sister of Ineandon. She is known to sometimes place obstacles in the way of virtuous mortals.

And why, gentle readers, is this tomb so special? Well, considering that Navra’s portfolios are Victory, Archery, and Creation, we’ll say that this is the resting place of a great hero of Navra, a woodsman bearing a bow crafted by Navra herself.  It’s this bow that’s caught Zellsa’s eye. Why? For that I’ll turn to the Diablo II supplement forAD&D. We’ll call the item level 3 of 20, and a roll to determine its powers gives… 21! A Prefix and Suffix!

Normally, I’d roll for base item type, but since it’s a bow, we’ll just roll to find out what kind of bow it is. Rollin’ the bones!

19: Composite Bow.

Next I roll Prefix and Suffix. Each is a D60+30. A quick pair of rolls and I get…

Prefix: 85— Fine (+1 to Hit; Doubles damage on a natural roll of 19-20)
Suffix: 78— of Lightning (+2d6 Electrical Damage)

Fitting for a weapon crafted by a divine bowyer.

So! We’ve got ourselves a new character, a dungeon and loot for the end, should Zellsa be brave and lucky enough to claim it!

Will he be that lucky? Tune in later this evening to find out!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Devil's Armory: Diablo II Style Weapons

I collect an odd range of RPG products. If something catches my eye, I'll pick it up even if I don't have the proper system. One thing I acquired early in my gaming career is a copy of Diablo II: The Awakening. This sourcebook/adventure module, for the 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, included kits based on the classes from the Diablo II PC game, along with spells, monsters, and an adventure to whip the tar out of the titular antagonist himself.

Most importantly, however, a series of tables to generate gear after the fashion of Diablo II's random items was included. Prefixes and Suffixes are stacked with various types of gear to generate artifats obscene or profound While you can still find an HTML version of the generator over this way, I thought it'd be fun to roll up a few items and convert them over to my current fascination, Scarlet Heroes. Ready? Read on after the break!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Painted in Scarlet: The Patchwork World

So my nephew, fine lad that he is, has shown an interest in tabletop RPGs.  And I, being the cool uncle that I am (no, really, I swear!), offered to run Scarlet Heroes for him to get a taste of D&D. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am a lazy, lazy man. So rather than come up with a custom world, I decided to save time partake in an experiment: Create a setting as someone his age might have in the early nineties, using those books and boxed sets an older brother (or cool uncle) might have on their shelf.  Here's what I've come up with so far...

Play begins in Thunder Rift, I've lifted a few modules from elsewhere to fill in some gaps (B7: Rahasia, for example, B3: Palace of the Silver Princess for another), bu Thunder Rift forms a nicely contained playground for the nephew to get used to the system with. Eventually, I'm sure, the brave and noble nephew will grow tired of the Thunder Rift, or he'll sneak through one of the many Ningaublin rifts to the world outside. What will he find there? Well...

The Gray Box. Enough of a setting to hang my hat on, open enough to do what I want and not worry about stepping on anyone's canon. Out in the Trackless Sea, one might find X1: The Isle of Dread,  And beyond that, people speak of a strange coast, upon which rests a strange city:

A bit closer to home, beyond the eastern edge of the map rests many a strange kingdom, an excuse to break out my Gazetteers (especially Principalities of Glantri).

Adventuring on the surface world is all well and good, of course, but everyone knows that the best adventure awaits the deeper you go, and if you go deep enough, well....

Many a strange and fanciful sight to be seen here in the Hollow World, and wouldn't you know it? The Immortals have replaced the Faerunian pantheon. Oh dear...

So there you have it. A cluttered world that makes a certain sort of sense when you step back, stick out your tongue, and cross your eyes. Adventure Modules, with a bit of tweaking, supply many a quest, and when the nephew has exhausted those, well... There's always a rumor and a whim, or perhaps a friendly Ningauble to show him the way to other settings. For extra monsters, there's always the Monstrous Compendium Annuals.

Now, I wonder where I put my Dark Sun boxed set...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Painted in Scarlet: Mhengyon

No. Appear: 1 Morale: 10
Armor Class: -1 Hit Dice: 20
Attacks: 2 Claws OR Breath Weapon
Damage 1d8/1d8/special      Skill Bonus:  +6
Move: Fly 120', Special Treasure: Special

To ask Mehngyon of his people, the great serpent will claim there is only Mehngyon. Multiple sightings, all within the same day, lead to claims that there are several such entities in existince, or, more worrisome, there is only one, possessing great powers.

Scholar by vocation, Mehngyon swims the Boundless Mists, that murky sea of dreams linking all humanity. By delving in to one sleeper's dreams, the great dragon is capable of emerging elsewhere in the world, giving rise to the rumors there are many of his kind.

Collector by nature, Mehngyon prowls the Boundless Mists, gathering up dreams both interesting and profane. Such dreams are the only sustenance Mehngyon requires, though he delights in cakes of honey.

Within Mehnyon's mouth lies a portal to the Boundless Mists, and when threatened, the great serpent will spew forth a cloying cloud of iridescent, abalone mist. This mist occupies an area 20 feet on a side.  A number of creatures whose total Hit Die equal  Mehngyon's caught in this mist are placed into a magical slumber lasting a day and a night.  Gentleman that he is, Mehngyon will oft remain to ensure no harm befalls the sleepers.

Thriving on the dreams of others, Mehngyon has no need for treasure. However, his scales are studded with numerous pearls, the precious baubles often shed after a good scratch. These gems range in value from 4 to 100GP, depending on size, and are well prized by practitioners of the arcane arts for their use in various occult rituals.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I am, by most standards, not that old. Reasonably an adult, I grew up well into the twilight years of my preferred gaming systems' lifespan. I missed several of the seminal icons that framed most members of the OSR's opinions on what D&D should be.  But, I also had several of my own. So, in an attempt to balm my ego after a recent birthday, here's some notable examples of what molded my views on what fantasy should be:

Rankin/Bass' "The Hobbit" (1977): We had a VHS of this when I was growing up, and I've watched it dozens of times. Well before I read the book, I had committed the basic story to heart, and it influenced my childhood doodles and writings.
Lesson Learned: Each adventure should feel grand. Dragons should be terrifying. Elves should be alien.

Rankin/Bass' "Flight of Dragons" (1982): Yet another VHS staple (notice a trend here?). The mundane and the magical, an explanation of fantasy, even if the science is a bit silly.
Lesson Learned: Talking animals are cool. Wizards should be mysterious, powerful, and colorful. (This dovetailed with The Hobbit, as I settled on Gandalf the Gray meaning he was a wandering wizard, unlike the four brothers from Flight of Dragons. Silly me).

Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" books: I was a voracious reader as a child, and my parents were yardsaling pros, so I always tagged along to rummage through stacks of books. Burroughs' showed me a vast, exotic vista, painting pictures I can still see clearly. I have a soft spot for tales of heroes and daring-do thanks to this.
Lesson Learned: An appreciation for exotic vistas and strange peoples.

Karl Edgar Wagner's "Night Winds": Wagner's Kane... A grim counterpart to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian.  I started with yet another yardsale find, the short story collection "Night Winds". No single lesson learned from this, but it influenced how I view giants, dark magic, and impressed on me just how miserable it is to be immortal.  (On a side note, my father would later give me a box of his own books, Conan the Barbarian for the most part. Hard to explain

Fred Saberhagen's "Book of Swords": Sci-fantasy at its best, in my opinion. Set in the future, where man has regressed to a feudal society and magic runs rampant, the gods vie for power in a game of chance using 12 magical swords.
Lesson Learned: Make your magic items unique.

Pirates of Dark Water: A cartoon, about the alien world of Mer and the young pirate-prince questing to save it. The series was never finished, but it reeked of the sort of sci-fantasy trappings I'd come to love.

Stephen R. Donaldson's "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Ur-Lord and Unbeliever": Wow, where to start... A cynical spin on the fantasy genre, with a protagonist that was more antagonizing than the villains.  I read the first trilogy in the early nineties, and recently read the second. Tragedy, doubt, melancholy, Donaldson showed me a world and was the first author to really give a sense of looming melancholy in a story I'd read.  I wouldn't feel that same sort of melancholy until years later, when I watched Ralph Bakshi's "Wizards".
Lesson Learned: Further influencing my view on Giants. The general feel of the world.

The Legend of Zelda / Crystalis: Two Nintendo Entertainment System titles that I played through a dozen times. Adventure games, drawing you on through a fantastic world (in Crystalis' sense), that sprawled out, just waiting for you to explore its nooks and crannies (Zelda). Again, no lessons learned here, just impressions and feelings.

Krull/Beastmaster/Gandahar/The Dark Crystal/Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics: No single lesson gleaned from any of these. They just melded together into a sense of tone and scenery.

EDIT: A good friend reminded me of another bit of trivia I'd forgotten.  Choose Your Own Adventure books. The paperback ones with the white binding.

There's several more bits of media that influence a young me (HG Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, more video games than I can shake a stick at.), but those are the ones that stand out the clearest in my mind. It wasn't until recent years that I fell into the influences other people so often claim (Bakshi's Wizards, Heavy Metal Magazine, Moebius, etc.). So, all one of you that reads this blog, what was YOUR formative media?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Rain

Malone was dying. They had done their best to
beat the infection, but with nothing but rainwater too
brackish to drink, and no shelter to be had in the
soggy, miserable trench, the infection had spread.
For Malone, it was a blessing, the fever dreams taking
him from the hellish reality; for the others, a grim
herald of what was to come.

 They had been bright, once, Sarge Rogers and
her fighting men. Bright and proud in their gleaming
Einherjar. The band had played and the great guns
had saluted as they marched off to war, to win the
battle and bring peace to the country once again.

 Malone was dying.

They had fought, these brave young soldiers
in their fighting machines. Fought and raged against
an enemy that gave no quarter, spoke no threats. How
could they name such an army? Their warbeasts blindly
creeping ever onward, groping with hands the size of
half-tracks. And still Sarge Rogers and her shining men fought on.

When the supply ship was brought down by the skate-like flyers
they fought. They fought and they raged against their foe;
when the ammunition ran dry, the Einherjar had charged,
bellowing death chants in their booming, thrumming tongues.
They had fought... and they had lost.

 The rain fell, splattering off the wearied
squad. The rain fell, Malone was dying.

 "Soon, Sarge." Jameson the medic confirmed,
removing the scanner from about Malone's wrist, "He's

 Nodding, Rogers continued to stroke Malone's hair,
pillowing his head on her lap. "Jameson... see if Balteus
will let you get on the horn. Try to contact the Capital. I'll
sit with him."

 Jameson saluted, slogging his way towards Malone's
Einherjar, the great beast Balteus. It loomed above,
providing what cover it could from the driving rain. Malone
lay dying, and the great war machine could do nothing to stop it.
Approaching the Einherjar, Jameson sang the supplication of the
warrior,  straining to be heard above the rain. Balteus rumbled,
a low mourning note that carried to the other Einherjar, and with
a groan, the communications unit extruded the access ladder, its cockpit sliding

 While Jameson climbed, Rogers continued to stroke
Malone's hair, humming to the feverish communications tech.
He panted, breath drawn in short barking gasps. No rag to soak,
no cloth to place on his burning brow, Rogers instead scooped
up fistfuls of the cold, clinging mud. "Shh... easy Johnny,
easy." she smoothed the mud on his face and throat, the falling
rain washing it away almost as quickly as she applied the sticky earth.

 The rain fell, Malone was dying. Two truths, two
constancies that gnawed at Rogers. She could change neither,
stop neither, do nothing but sit and observe. This drove a spike
of anger into the woman, this soldier who had her entire
life been a doer, a changer of ways. "Damnit Johnny..." she
turned her head, looking to the south. South, where the nameless
army inched closer each day, guided by their groping hands
and the shrieking of their flyers. "We're not going to win this
one." Johnny Malone's breathing quickened; a shuddering cough
ripped through him, leaving his lips flecked with blood.

 Looking down in alarm, Rogers grimaced. Wiping her hands
on her dirty, ragged tunic, Rogers wiped the blood from her
squadman's lips, "Goodbye, Johnny. You were a damn fine soldier."
She bowed her head, kissing his brow.

 The rain fell, pattering off sightless eyes. It soaked
to the bone and stole the heat from the flesh. The rain fell,
and Malone was no more.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Scarlet Horde: Lokpa

Dusting off Ye Olde Blog. I haven't been playing RPGs at all lately, and have been thinking about them less.  So here's something I've been tinkering on for the wonderful Scarlet Heroes RPG.


Flesh and bone of earth and root, spirit born of a plea for safety, the Lokpa are a race of living constructs, formed when a village is threatened beyond its means of defense. Those unfortunate Lokpa unable to defend their village are set adrift, left to find their own purpose in the world.


In lieu of a bonus to a racial trait, Lokpa instead
begin play with the following bonuses and penalties-

Earthen Skin: The tangled masses of root and earth composing the Lokpa's body provide it a natural form of protection. Lokpa are treated as wearing leather armor at all times, and regular armor may not be worn. Through processes known by a select few wise men, fetishes may be inscribed into the Lokpa's body, granting it further defenses. Fetishes are equivalent to the
armors provided in the equipment section of Scarlet Heroes, and cost double the price of their mundane equivalents.

Boundless Guardian: Lokpa, due to their magical nature, do not eat, sleep, or breathe. While unable to drink or eat, Lokpa are able to enjoy the benefits of magical potions, absorbing the potent magical energies bound into the liquid. Immune to poison and disease, they are capable of soldiering on under the harshest conditions. Unfortunately, this resilience does not extend to flame. Against fire both mundane and magical, Lokpa suffer double damage.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Odd Item

So, I love Into the Odd, as I've mentioned before.  I also love Fred Saberhagen's Sci-Fantasy Book of Swords. The Twelve Swords of Power have always been the stick by which I measure my own magical items.

Below I present one of the Twelve Swords, if folks like it (all four of you who read this silly blog), I'll port the others over.

Mindsword (Legendary Arcana)
The Sword of Glory, Skulltwister,
The Mindsword spun in the dawn's gray light
And men and demons knelt down before.
The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright
Gods joined the dance, and the march to war.
It spun in the twilight dim as well
And gods and men marched off to hell.

A legendary Arcanum once used as part of a Game of Power, The Mindsword resembles a functional weapon of war. Its black grip embossed with a white banner, the meter long blade flashes as if catching bright sunlight, and when drawn, roars faintly with the roar of a cheering mob.

When drawn, all within visual range of the Skulltwister take 1D4 WIL damage and must make a WIL save or fall under the sway of Mindsword's owner. This devotion is fanatical to the extreme, causing the brainwashed to throw their life into any cause the wielder specifies.

Legends speak of other swords, similar pawns in the Game of Power. Some, it is said, are able to counteract the Mindsword's sway. As of this time, the locations of any of the blades is pure conjecture, though some scholars mutter about the table of Rand-om-Lut, the mad god.