Friday, February 5, 2016

Hell is for Geniuses

In working on my Blood & Treasure revision, I started thinking today about one of the aspects of monsters that often gets overlooked - intelligence. Starting in AD&D, monsters started getting intelligence ratings, and I think most referees note them and use them to help play a monster encounter, but I wonder whether they really take them into consideration.

Let's take Hell for an example.

Illustration by Thomas Theodor Heine
Many devils have a high intelligence rating, making them the equivalent of college graduates or even geniuses. A few are super geniuses - and we're not talking Wile E. Coyote super geniuses, but the real deal - folks smarter than Einstein, Elon Musk and Tony Stark put together. They're also lawful (evil, but lawful), which means they can work together. Imagine it - thousands of super geniuses working together to create a tech boom in the depths of Hell.

There is some literary precedence for this idea. Milton, in Paradise Lost, noted that the rebel angels used engines of war - possible cannon - in their battle against the Heavenly Host. This was probably an early version of casting "modern" warfare, with its noise and smoke and fire, to our typical vision of Hell, or a Hellish landscape.

We could go a step further, and let the devils in a campaign go full steampunk. What a surprise for high level adventurers, who are expecting the cover to a heavy metal album, and instead enter a nightmarish "World of Tomorrow" when they visit Hell - something more Kirby-esque than classical art. This would also mean that the allies of Hell on the Material Plane would have access to some interesting "magic items" - cannons of course, but also rocket packs, difference engines, steam-powered tanks, etc.

This could make for an interesting campaign, as Hell embraces sorcery and super-science and begins equipping mad wizards and anti-clerics with steam-era technology to conquer the Material Plane, with the adventurers left to discover what this stuff is, how it works, where it comes from and, ultimately, how to stop it. Maybe they'll need to engineer a rebellion in Hell - the low-order devils against their masters, like something from Metropolis. Or maybe they'll need to ascend the Seven Heavens and petition the solars and planetars for help in storming the Hellmouth - thousands of aasimars and elves and dwarves brightly arrayed against an undead army that looks like it might have crawled out of the trenches of the First World War!

It could be epic.

Illustration by Thomas Theodor Heine

Monday, February 1, 2016

NOD 28, Revisions and Goodies

It's a bad sign when you start all of your blog posts with "I'm sorry I haven't posted lately ...". Still, I've been a busy boy, so I have a good excuse. Here are my current RPG projects and a glimpse at what I would like to do moving forward, as well as a few RPG odds and ends mixed in to make this more than an advertisement.

NOD 28

First and foremost - I've put NOD 28 out for sale today as a PDF! It's going for $4.99 - 78 pages, with part one of the Trollheim Mountains hex crawl (trolls, pseudo-Russians, elemental folk, a crazed demigod, etc.), a Swiss mercenary character class, new rules for handling disease in RPG's and a campaign idea for a "World of Atlantis" game drawing from Theosophy's notion of "root races". Tons of fun for $4.99. GET IT HERE or HERE.


BLOOD & TREASURE 2nd edition

I'm about 80% complete with editing and laying out the new B&T Player's Tome, and about 35% complete with the Treasure Keeper's Tome. The 2nd edition will not be a major departure from the first, but I've made some adjustments to saving throw values, XP requirements, I've tried to give the sorcerer some personality and make the ranger the cool cat I remember from youth, streamline any rules that could use streamlining, etc. The goal is still RULES LITE - OPTIONS HEAVY. Most of the work I've done is concerned with improving the layout and incorporating the first edition errata. I've also commissioned new covers from David Williams, which are being colored now. Here's a sneak peek - half of this image will be the Player's Tome, the other half will be the TK's Tome.


If anybody has an ingenious old school idea they think would improve fantasy gaming, let me know and I'll see if I can't incorporate it into the rules.

QUICK MONSTER: GOATMAN

Goatmen live in hidden valleys, deep within forbidding mountains. Half mad, chaos flows through their veins. When the moon is full, they descend into the lowlands, seeking out people to torment or torture.

Goatman, Medium Monstrous Humanoid: HD 1; AC 16; ATK 1 slam (1d6); MV 30; SV F15 R13 W14; XP 250 (CL3); Special-Auras.

Goatmen cause fear (as the spell) to all within 10' of them. Each time a person succumbs to this fear, the goatman grows larger, gaining 1 hit dice (and all that goes with it). At 6 HD, they become large creatures and their aura changes to one of madness (save or go temporarily mad). Each person that goes mad causes the goatman to gain another HD. At 12 HD, the goatman becomes huge, and the aura becomes one of death. All within 10' of the beast must save or die. Each creature that dies increases the goatman's hit dice by 1. At 18 HD, the goatman explodes into shadow and ceases to exist. The land where he explodes becomes permanently blighted and haunted by the souls of those who died.


MYSTERY MEN! Revision

I'm further along with the MM! revision than B&T. The book is laid out, the rules tinkered with, and now I just need to give it a thorough editing. This version will still have the sample Shore City setting and the sample adventure, but will also include several write-ups of heroes and villains.



NEW SPELL: UNWITTING ALLY

Magic-User 2
Range 10' radius
Duration 1 minute

One enemy helps you despite himself. When this spell is cast, one enemy within 10' chosen at random must pass a Will save or become your unwitting, unwilling ally. Every move the creature makes has the possibility of helping you. For each action, roll 1d6.

1-2. The creature's action proceeds as normal.
3-5. The creature's action proceeds as normal, but has a side effect useful to you.
6. The creature's action is twisted to your purpose entirely.

Help, in this case, is up to the referee, but would include things like the monster making a move, but also accidentally tripping or running into one his allies, the monster making an attack, but accidentally attacking an ally as well, etc.

BLACK DEATH

The latest Quick and Easy RPG is Black Plague, which really just needs some editing and it's ready to go. This one is set in the era of Europe's religious wars (mostly the Hundred Years War), and is intended to be grim and gritty - more survive than thrive. This Q&E is a bit heftier than past editions, due to containing a bit more setting info and some rules for disease and damnation.



QUICK MONSTER: LEAF SWARM

A leaf swarm is a swarm of vicious green insects. They descend on a tree, strip it of leaves, and then take their place. When a creature nears the tree, the leaf swarm strikes, surprising on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6. The monster's stings cause blindness. The first save a creature fails blurs their vision (-2 to hit and damage), the second failed save blinds them for 1 minute, and the third blinds them permanently.

Leaf Swarm, Tiny Vermin: HD 4; AC 13; ATK 1 swarm (1d3 + special); MV Fly 60; SV F14 R13 W14; XP 400 (CL5); Special-Blindness.

THE FUTURE

What I'd like to start doing next is producing more adventure material for the games I've written. No more games for me - just fun, supplemental material.

For GRIT & VIGOR I want to do setting books that cover different eras - the historical events that lend themselves towards adventure, the equipment, the personalities. Each book would also have an adventure for that era. These would be trade paperbacks, probably 40 to 60 pages.

For MYSTERY MEN! I'd like to do some short books of heroes and villains, also accompanied by an adventure or two. They might be themed, or they might just be whatever tickles my fancy. These would maybe run 20 to 30 pages, trade paperback.

For BLOOD & TREASURE I'd like to do some adventures, with a few new monsters, new spells, etc. Again, trade paperback, probably 30 to 40 pages.

I also want to start writing supplements called THE LAND OF NOD that would provide hex crawls, mini-adventures and other setting material. These would probably also be trade paperbacks, maybe in a landscape format. Page count here would probably be around 120 pages. The first step would be to collect and revise the old NOD hex crawls.

I still have a revision of Space Princess and Pars Fortuna slated for the second half of this year, and I have more Bloody Basics I would like to make.

So - that's what's on my agenda for 2016. We'll see how far I get. Hopefully, as the revisions and editing slows down I'll have more time for blogging. I have tons of ideas that need to be fleshed out, and God willing I'll start that fleshing process as the year wears on.

Cheers!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Weapons Increase Armor Class?

I had a little notion this morning about a different way to run combat in d20-esque games. This is a departure from normal combat, but can be done pretty easily.

Here's the plan:

Damage is not based on the weapon, but on the success at the attack roll. There are a variety of ways you can do this. The most simple would be something like:

  Roll < AC = no damage (obviously)

  Roll = AC = 1d3 damage ('tis but a scratch)

  Roll = AC +1 = 1d4 damage

  Roll = AC +2 to +3 = 1d6 damage

  Roll = AC +4 to +5 = 1d8 damage

  Roll = AC +6 to +7 = 1d10 damage

  Roll = AC +8 to +9 = 2d6 damage

And so on, adding +1d6 to damage each time. You can adjust the ranges and damages to suit yourself, of course.

So what good is a weapon in this system?

Weapons in this system would add to AC based on their length. If your weapon is longer than your opponent's weapon, it is harder for the opponent to get close and strike. We could say for every foot difference in the length of the weapons, you get a +1 to AC, up to a max. of +3. We don't want the weapon's length to completely overshadow actual armor in the AC calculation. We might also want to factor in the size of the combatants, with maybe every 2' of height (or length) equaling a +1 bump to AC, up to +3. The combination of height and weapon length, therefore, would give a max. bump to AC of +6.

Weapons also add to damage based on their stated damage in the rule books, as follows:

  1 to 1d3 damage = +0 to damage
  1d4 damage = +1 to damage
  1d4+1 and 1d6 damage = +2 to damage
  1d6+1, 1d8 and 2d4 damage = +3 to damage
  1d10 damage = +4 to damage
  1d12 and 2d6 damage = +5 to damage

Strength also adds to damage, as normal, and dexterity adds to AC.

Example Combat: Halfling Fighter vs. Ogre
We'll pit two combatants against one another.

The first is a 5th level halfling fighter with a +1 Dex bonus and platemail and a short sword. The halfling (using Blood & Treasure rules) has a total bonus to hit of +5 (for level, no strength bonus). Her armor class is 18 (+7 armor, +1 Dex). She has 28 hit points.

The second is a 4 HD ogre with no armor and a spear. The ogre has a +4 bonus to hit (based on his HD) and AC 16. He has 17 hit points.

We'll impose the following adjustments, based on the above rules:

The ogre is 8 feet tall, vs. the halfling's 3 feet of height. This is a 4' difference, so the ogre gets a +2 bonus to AC. The ogre is also using a 6-foot long spear, vs. the halfling's 3-foot long short sword, which gives the ogre another +3 bonus to AC. This gives the ogre a total AC of 21 in this fight.

The halfling's short sword gives her a +2 bonus to damage. The ogre's spear gives him the same.

We'll give the halfling initiative ... her first attack roll is a 17, +5 for her attack bonus, equals 22. This beats the ogre's AC by 1 point, and thus scores 1d4+2 damage. In this case, 4 points of damage. This reduces the ogre to 13 hit points.

The ogre rolls a 19+4 = 23. This beats the halfling's AC by 5, which translates into 1d8+2 damage. The ogre rolls 5 points of damage, reducing the halfling to 23 hit points.

In the next round, the halfling rolls a 23, beating the ogre's AC by 2, and scoring 1d6+2 damage. The halfling rolls another 4 points of damage, reducing the ogre to 9 hit points.

The ogre responds with an attack roll of 5, missing the halfling.

And so on ... it is likely that the halfling will win the fight, though the ogre has a slightly better chance to score more damage, and he is slightly harder to hit.

Final Thoughts
I don't think this is a better way to run combat, just different. If it has any advantage, it is that it takes into account the reach of a creature and weapon in a way that normal combat rules do not. Further development of the idea might lead to a better system, or might suggest alterations to the existing combat system that might make it better.

Friday, January 15, 2016

THIS JUST IN - GRIT & VIGOR ON SALE NOW

Well, it took 5 years of starting, stopping, and starting over again, but GRIT & VIGOR is now real. I put it up for sale last night on Lulu.com and rpgnow.com. So, what is GRIT & VIGOR? I'm glad you asked ...

GRIT & VIGOR is the game of bold ventures for rugged fellows. Roll up a character, buy some gear, and get down to business. G&V is rules lite and options heavy. In its 200 pages, you'll find everything from monsters to machine guns, with advice on running all sorts of modern campaigns, from gentlemanly mysteries to espionage to explorations into the unknown. It also includes a timeline of adventure, covering the years 1880 to 1939, with important events of those years as well a selection of the firearms, cars, planes and military vehicles of those years. Future supplements will expand that coverage back to the Golden Age of Piracy and forward into the far future.

GRIT & VIGOR is compatible with most old school games, including BLOOD & TREASURE.

What do you get for $10.99? I mean, beside my blood, sweat and tears ...

  • A system you know and know how to run, that is broadly compatible with BLOOD & TREASURE and pretty much every OSR clone and D&D rules set that popped up before 4E - six ability scores, d20 to attack, etc.

  • Lots of classes and sub-classes

  • Random character backgrounds instead of fantasy races - roll d% thrice, ladies and gents, and nail down those formative experiences of your misbegotten youth

d% Youthful Experience
01 Collected trading cards (Appraise Value knack)
02 Won big game at school (Athletics knack)
03 Escaped from jail (Bend Bars knack)
04 Worked as a volunteer fireman (Break Down Doors knack)
05 Ran with a gang of toughs (Cant knack)
06 Received a chemistry set for birthday (Chemistry knack)
07 Climbed the tallest tree in your neighborhood (Climb Sheer Surfaces knack)
08 Grew up in a city with many immigrants (Communicate knack)
09 Invented a cipher for you and your pals (Crack Code knack)
10 Played with firecrackers (Demolitions knack)
11 Burned the midnight oil studying (Display Knowledge knack)
12 Participated in the amateur theatrics (Don Disguise knack)
13 Got first place in the soapbox derby (Drive Car knack)
14 Built your own crystal radio set (Electronics knack)
15 Rowed crew in school (Endure knack)
16 Escaped from kidnappers (Escape Bonds knack)
17 Received a fine home training (Etiquette knack)
18 Forged parents signatures on report card (Forge Documents knack)
19 Played cards with the boys (Gamble knack)
20 Always had an ear cocked for gossip (Gather Intelligence knack)
21 Ran away and joined the circus (Acrobatics knack)
22 Grew up on a farm (Handle Animals knack)
23 Pulled pranks on Halloween or Guy Fawkes Day (Hide in Shadows knack)
24 Ordered a book on hypnosis from the back of a comic magazine (Hypnotize knack)
25 Fleeced the marks at a sideshow (Influence People knack)
26 Jumped over the creek on a dare (Jump knack)
27 Was a nosy little cuss (Listen at Doors knack)
28 Helped out in the garage (Mechanics knack)
29 Sneaked out for beer and girls (Move Silently knack)
30 Learned from an amateur cracksman (Open Locks knack)
31 Spent time in vaudeville or music halls (Perform knack)
32 Befriended pilots at the aerodrome (Pilot Aircraft knack)
33 Had to help support the family (Practice Vocation knack)
34 Raced a bike down Dead Man’s Hill (Ride Bike knack)
35 Hunted with the lads – Tally Ho! (Ride Mount knack)
36 Worked summers on a boat (Seamanship knack)
37 Spied on the girls at summer camp (Search knack)
38 Spent your afternoons in pool halls (Shoot Billiards knack)
39 Wintered in the mountains (Ski knack)
40 Jumped off a roof using a blanket for a parachute … and survived (Sky Dive knack)
41 Worked the crowds as a pick pocket (Sleight of Hand knack)
42 Explored an abandoned mine (Spelunk knack)
43 Summered in California or Hawaii (Surf knack)
44 Spent a week on a deserted island (Survive Outdoors knack)
45 Raised by the water (Swim knack)
46 Got ventriloquist dummy for birthday (Ventriloquism knack)
47 Learned to hunt from an old scout (Track knack)
48 Took care of little cousins and siblings (Treat Injury knack)
49 Helped an older relation in the shop (Woodworking knack)
50 Caught frogs in the black of night (Blindfight feat)
51 Looked out for the little kids (Bodyguard feat)
52 Never said “uncle” (Diehard feat)
53 Interested in everything, never took a rest (Dilettante feat)
54 Shot at while trespassing (Dodge feat)
55 Learned the sweet science (Expertise feat)
56 Worked as a prize fighter (Exploit Weakness feat)
57 Took up archery (Far Shot feat)
58 Stole home base or racked up the runs (Fast feat)
59 Lived off the land for weeks (Great Fortitude feat)
60 Raised in poverty (Improvise feat)
61 Learned to trust your instincts (Intuition feat)
62 Stood up to the class bully (Iron Will feat)
63 Formed a gang as a kid (Leadership feat)
64 Narrowly escaped death (Lightning Reflexes feat)
65 Kept your head on swivel (Look Smart feat)
66 Studied physics (Modern Archimedes feat)
67 Played lots of football (Nip-Up feat)
68 Hunted rabbits as a kid (Point Blank Shot feat)
69 Felled a bully with one blow (Power Attack feat)
70 Had to learn to fight dirty because you were small for your age (Rough & Tumble feat)
71 Made many daring escapes after stealing apples (Run feat)
72 Always had a big mouth (Taunt feat)
73 Scrapped with the fellas (Toughness feat)
74 Took fencing lessons from an old master (Two-Weapon Fighting feat)
75 Worked on the docks (Workhorse feat)
76 Lots of hard labor (+1 to Strength)
77 Studied advanced mathematics (+1 to Intelligence)
78 Spent time hunting in the wilderness (+1 to Wisdom)
79 Was excellent with a slingshot (+1 to Dexterity)
80 Always ate your vegetables and drank your milk (+1 to Constitution)
81 Had to talk yourself out of many scrapes (+1 to Charisma)
82 Raised a stray pup (gain a dog as a free sidekick)
83 Lived with a gypsy family (+5% chance of psychic powers; See Appendix A)
84 Went abroad for the summer (learn one foreign language)
85 Worked hard, lived simply (double normal starting money)
86 Escaped from a burning house (+2 save vs. fire)
87 Never sick a day in your life (+2 save vs. disease)
88 Kept yourself morally straight (+2 save vs. temptation)
89 Wrestled with the big kids (no penalty when grappling with creatures up to one size larger)
90 Spent the night in a real haunted house (+2 save vs. fear)
91 Stood lookout for friends (only surprised on 1 on 1d8)
92 Worked as cowpuncher (+2 save vs. being trappled)
93 Dove for pearls (hold breath for twice as long as normal)
94 Well versed in the classics (+1 reaction with scholars)
95 No stranger to the saloon (+2 save vs. alcohol)
96 Inherited money (bonus $100 to start game)
97 Studied meditation from a master (+2 save vs. psychic powers and magic spells)
98 Trained to run a marathon (+2 save vs. fatigue)
99 Born under a lucky star (re-roll one failed roll per adventure)
100 Roll again, and take bonus roll

  • A simple skill system

  • Firearms and vehicles

  • Rules for intoxicants and radiation sickness

  • Animals, humans and monsters to fight

  • Supernatural stuff in the appendices, so you can ignore it or use it as you like

  • Advice on working in different genres - Crime, Mystery/Suspense, Kung-fu, War, Sieges, Horror, and Explorations into the Unknown

  • A timeline of adventure from 1880 to 1939 - that goes year-by-year presenting major events that might inspire or inform your adventures, and provides stats for firearms and vehicles, such as:

1939 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler introduces Philip Marlowe, Hewlett-Packard founded, Francisco Franco comes to power in Spain, King Faisal II (Iraq), Slovak-Hungarian War ends, Italy invades Albania, New York World’s Fair opens, Batman makes first appearance in comic books, Pan-Am begins transatlantic flights, Tientsin incident, last public guillotining (France), Siam changes name to Thailand, Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed, first turbojet-powered jet Heinkel He 178 takes maiden flight, Germany invades Poland, World War II begins, u-boots sink SS Athenia, HMS Courageous and HMS Royal Oak, Soviet Union invades Poland, Stewart Menzies appointed head of MI6, Soviet Union invades Finland

Arisaka Type 99 LMG (Japan): CAL 30, DMG 2d4, ROF 150, SHOTS 30 (Magazine), RNG 1320 ft, WT 23 lb

BSA Welrod “Assassin’s Pistol” Silenced Pistol (UK): CAL 35, DMG 1d6, ROF 1, SHOTS 9 (Magazine), RNG 40 ft, WT 3 lb

DS-39 MMG (Russia): CAL 30, DMG 1d10, ROF 200, SHOTS 250 (Belt), RNG 3280 ft, WT 32 lb

MP 40 SMG (Germany): CAL 35, DMG 1d6, ROF 80, SHOTS 32 (Magazine), RNG 330 ft, WT 9 lb

Oerlikon 20mm Autocannon (Switzerland): CAL 79, DMG 5d6, ROF 75, SHOTS 100 (Belt), RNG 3000 ft, WT 150 lb | Anti-aircraft

Pistolet Mitrailleur MAS Modele 38 SMG (France): CAL 22, DMG 1d6, ROF 100, SHOTS 32 (Magazine), RNG 300 ft, WT 6 lb

Type 97 20mm Anti-Tank Rifle (Japan): CAL 79, DMG 3d8, ROF 1, SHOTS 7 (Magazine), RNG 900 ft, WT 114 lb


Bedford OB Bus (UK): Huge Construct, HD 22 (77 hp), AC 14 , SPD 40 mph, ACC 10 mph, MVR -5, CP 1/29, WT 7.2 tons

Bentley Mark V Compact (UK): Large Construct, HD 9 (32 hp), AC 15, SPD 97 mph, ACC 35 mph, MVR +0, CP 1/3, WT 1.2 tons

Chevrolet 1/2 Ton Streamliner “Woody” (USA): Large Construct, HD 10 (35 hp), AC 15, SPD 85 mph, ACC 30 mph, MVR +1, CP 1/7, WT 1.5 tons

Ford DeLuxe Coupe Roadster (USA): Large Construct, HD 9 (32 hp), AC 15, SPD 87 mph, ACC 35 mph, MVR +1, CP 1/1, WT 1.4 tons

Lincoln Continental Full-Size (USA): Large Construct, HD 11 (39 hp), AC 15, SPD 115 mph, ACC 40 mph, MVR -1, CP 1/5, WT 2 tons

Royal Enfield WD/RE Scooter (UK): Medium Construct, HD 1 (4 hp), AC 16, SPD 45 mph, ACC 10 mph, MVR +1, CP 1/0, WT 130 lb


Fiat M11/39 Tank (Italy): Huge Construct, HD 30 (105 hp), AC 16 (Steel 1), SPD 20 mph, ACC 4 mph, MVR -4, ATK 1 x 37mm gun, and 2 x light machine guns, CP 3/0, WT 12.3 tons

Kliment Voroshilov Tank (USSR): Gargantuan Construct, HD 59 (207 hp), AC 18 (Steel 3.5), SPD 22 mph, ACC 4 mph, MVR -4, ATK 1 x 76mm gun, and 4 x light machine guns, CP 5/0, WT 49.6 tons

Panzer IV Tank (Germany): Gargantuan Construct, HD 47 (165 hp), AC 20 (Steel 3.5), SPD 26 mph, ACC 5 mph, MVR -4, ATK 1 x 75mm gun, and 2 x light machine guns, CP 5/0, WT 27.6 tons

Sd.Kfz 250 Armored Car (Germany): Huge Construct, HD 20 (70 hp), AC 16 (Steel 0.5), SPD 47 mph, ACC 10 mph, MVR -4, ATK 2 x light machine guns, CP 2/4, WT 6.4 tons


Boeing 314 Clipper Seaplane (USA): Gargantuan Construct, HD 44 (154 hp), AC 13, SPD 210 mph, MVR +1, CEILING 19k ft, CLIMB 250 fpr, CP 11/74, WT 24.2 tons

Brewster F2A Buffalo (USA): Large Construct, HD 12 (42 hp), AC 20, SPD 321 mph, MVR +5, CEILING 33k ft, CLIMB 410 fpr, CP 1/0, WT 2.4 tons

Junkers Ju 88 Bomber (Germany): Huge Construct, HD 18 (63 hp), AC 15, SPD 317 mph, MVR +1, ATK 5 x light machine guns, and bombs (3,100 lb), CEILING 30k ft, CLIMB 130 fpr, CP 4/0, WT 5 tons

Lisunov Li-2 Bomber (USSR): Huge Construct, HD 25 (88 hp), AC 14, SPD 186 mph, MVR +0, ATK 3 x light machine guns, 1 x heavy machine gun, and bombs (4,400 lb), CEILING 25k ft, CLIMB 200 fpr, CP 6/24, WT 8.7 tons


Admiral Hipper-class Cruiser (Germany): Gigantic Construct, HD 120 (420 hp), AC 3 (Steel 3), SPD 37 mph, MVR -2, ATK 8 x 8” guns, 12 x 4.1” guns, 12 x 1.5” guns, 8 x medium machine guns, and 6 x 21” torpedo tubes, AIR 3 x Arado Ar 196A-3, CP 1372/0, WT 15,900 tons

MS St. Louis Passenger Liner (Germany): Titanic Construct, HD 130 (455 hp), AC 2, SPD 18 mph, MVR -6, CP unknown/973, WT 16,700 tons | Undertook the unsuccessful “Voyage of the Damned” to deliver people from persecution by the Nazis

Scharnhorst-class Battleship (Germany): Titanic Construct, HD 130 (455 hp), AC 25 (Steel 14), SPD 35 mph, MVR -5, ATK 9 x 280mm guns, 12 x 150mm guns, 14 x 4.1” guns, 16 x 37mm, 10 x 20mm, and 6 x 21” torpedo tubes, AIR 3 x Arado Ar 196A-3, CP 1669/0, WT 32,100 tons

In the future, I'm going to produce some supplements that will highlight other time periods, or delve into sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and other kinds of play.

I'm also going to try to make Mystery Men! and Space Princess as broadly compatible as possible with G&V, to give people a nice toolbox to work with.

Give it a chance, if it piques your interest. Print versions will be up for sale in a couple weeks.

$10.99 for a 200 page PDF

LULU

RPGNOW

Until then - stay gritty!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Six Dandy Daggers

Nothing fancy today, just six magic daggers you might find useful in your game.

Image found HERE

Koroth's Crippling Blade
This +1 dagger, when it strikes on a critical hit, buries itself in the victim's body, assuming the victim is not killed by the blow. The dagger continues to deal 1 point of damage each round, and the victim is considered to be crippled (per the condition). The dagger can only be removed by its owner, after a remove curse or dispel magic is cast, or by making a Bend Bars/Lift Gates task check. If the dagger is pulled out, it deals a final 1d4 points of damage on the way out.

Image found HERE

The Blade of Avarice
This +1 dagger, when balanced on left pointer finger (requires a Balance task check), will point towards the largest mass of gold (be it coins, ore, etc.) within 500 feet.

Image found HERE

Knife of the Mason
This +2 dagger deals double damage against stone, be it ordinary stone or animated stone, such as a stone golem or caryatid column. Against flesh, wood or metal, it deals half damage.

Image found HERE

The Hungry Blade of Inzo-Khan
This +2 dagger can absorb one spell of up to 6th level cast in the presence of the dagger. When it does, the pommel glows first a tepid pink (as bright as a candle), then 10 minutes later a rosy red (as bright as a torch), then an hour after that a brilliant yellow (as bright as a lantern). The spell energy must be discharged from the blade to make the glow stop. The energy can either be channeled into a free spells (already prepared or known) of 1st to 3rd level if the dagger's wielder is an arcane spell caster, or by making a hit with the dagger that beats an opponent's AC by an amount equal to the level of the spell absorbed.  After 12 hours of glowing yellow, the dagger finally leaps from the wielder's hands and dances, attacking the wielder with an attack bonus equal to 5 + the level of the absorbed spell for 10 rounds.

Image found HERE

The Resurrection Blade
When this +1 dagger is used to make a backstab attack against a humanoid, and that humanoid dies, it is immediately animated as a zombie under the control of the holder of the dagger. The dagger can only control one zombie at a time, and the animation lasts for 24 hours.

Image found HERE

The Crusader's Blade
This +2 dagger practically leaps from one's hands in the presence of Chaotic (Evil) creatures, it is so eager to attack them. The holder, if he or she does not wish to attack, must pass a Will saving throw each round to avoid giving into the dagger's wishes. If the dagger does kill a Chaotic (Evil) creature, the creature is immediately resurrected with a Lawful (Good) alignment. Neutrals just stay dead. Lawful (Good) creatures killed by the dagger are not reborn, but the dagger's owner's alignment immediately changes to Chaotic (CE) and the dagger teleports elsewhere. The owner can only be changed back to their original alignment if they are slain by the Crusader's Blade.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Your Kung-Fu Could be Better ...

When writing GRIT & VIGOR, I wanted to include some martial arts. You can't very well have manly adventures without a few face kicks and quivering palms. To that end, there is a sub-class of fighter called the boxer which is, essentially, the monk class without the supernatural abilities.

Since the game uses feats, I decided to create several feats to simulate different styles of martial arts. All of them have prerequisites, of course, but could probably be taken by 6th level or so. Here's a little preview of the martial arts master feats. You might find them handy in your game if it uses feats or something similar, or perhaps you could adapt them as special abilities for a martial artist class in your game.

Aikido Master

Prerequisites: Int 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer), Dodge, Expertise

An aikido master can sacrifice his own attacks against a grappled opponent to lock them into combat. Each round, the aikido master makes an attack roll, noting the total. To break the lock, the aikido master’s opponent must make an attack roll with a result higher than the aikido master’s Armor Class and higher than the aikido master’s attack roll. If he fails, he may not move or attack anyone else. If he succeeds, he may either count the attack towards the aikido master and deal damage as normal, or instead move or attack another.

Bagyazhang Master

Prerequisites: Con 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Great Fortitude, Iron Will

The baguazhang master adds his Constitution bonus to his Armor Class and to Reflex saving throws. This is in addition to his Dexterity modifier, not in place of it.

Bartitsu Master

Prerequisites: 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer), Dodge, Look Smart

When the bartitsu master gets his opponent into a grapple, the opponent must pass an Endure task check each round the grapple is maintained or succumb to pain and fall unconscious for 1d4 rounds.

Capoeira Master

Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Brawler, Lightning Reflexes

When fighting three or more opponents, a capoeira master may make one free trip attack per round, in addition to his normal attack, against one of those opponents.

Jujutsu Master

Prerequisites: Int 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer), Expertise, Trip

When using the throw or trip combat maneuvers, a jujutsu master adds his opponent’s strength bonus to his own strength bonus when rolling his attack roll.

Karate Master

Prerequisites: Str 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Cleave, Power Attack

Karate masters deal triple damage with critical hits when making an unarmed attack. Items rolling a saving throw to avoid being destroyed by a karate master do so at a -2 penalty.

Savate Master

Prerequisites: Str 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Brawler, Power Attack

When a savate master makes a successful unarmed attack against an opponent and rolls a critical hit, the opponent is stunned for one round or knocked prone (player’s choice) in addition to suffering damage.

Taekwondo Master

Prerequisites: Attack bonus +2 or higher, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Flying Kick

You can make an unarmed attack against an opponent that is behind you at no penalty, or strike two flanking opponents by rolling an attack against each and splitting your attack bonus between them.

T’ai Chi Ch’uan Master

Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer), Dodge, Iron Will

When a t’ai chi ch’uan master is attacked in combat and missed, he may force his opponent to pass a Reflex saving throw or be grappled, or a Fortitude saving throw or be pushed back 5 feet.

Wing Chun Master

Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Dodge, Great Fortitude

Wing chun masters may re-roll failed saving throws made to resist combat maneuvers.

Xing Yi Quan Master

Prerequisites: Str 13+, Pugilist (or Boxer Class), Look Smart, Power Attack

When a xing yi quan master uses his power attack feat against an opponent at +3 to damage and -3 to hit and successfully attacks, he stuns his opponent for 1 round.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Grit & Vigor - Sample Characters

I'm finishing up on the final editing of Grit & Vigor this week (and maybe next), and thought folks might be interested in seeing a few randomly rolled up characters for the game.

The four characters below were created using the normal character generation rules - nothing special, no cheating - and should give you an idea of what 1st level characters might look like in the game.

For the first character, I'll include a few notes in italics. Keep in mind I'm still editing and testing a bit, so there could be some changes between these fellows and the final product.

Emerson McLeod

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 13 (+1 bonus)
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 17 (+2 bonus)
Charisma: 16 (+2 bonus)

Ability scores are rolled in the "traditional way" (whichever traditional way you like). The bonuses and penalties are as in Blood & Treasure. In this case, I rolled 3d6 in order for the first two characters, and then 4d6 drop the lowest in order for the second two. Honestly - roll the dice however you want!

Alignment: Chaotic Good
Class: Rogue (Private Eye)
Level: 1
Hit Points: 5
Attack Bonus: +0
Saves: F15 R13 W14

Again, nothing too foreign here. Alignment has much less meaning in this game, since it isn't bound up on lots of spells and special abilities. The game has four main classes - fighter, scholar, rogue and daredevil, and multiple sub-classes. Private eye is a sub-class of rogue.

Background: Won the big game at school, got chemistry set as kid, talked way out of many scrapes
Knacks: Athletics (Str), Chemistry (Int)
Skills: Cant (Cha), Crack Code (Int), Gather Intelligence (Cha), Hide in Shadows (Dex), Listen at Doors (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Track (humans only) (Wis)
Feats: Dodge, Improvise
Weapons: Brass Knuckles, Switchblade, Pistol, Revolver
Abilities: Backstab (x2 damage), notice concealed items (1 in 6), notice clues (2 in 6), note deception (4 in 6), get a hint (Will save, mod by Int)
Drive/Hunger: Tobacco

Backgrounds are rolled randomly, usually three rolls, and replace the concept of "racial abilities", giving starting characters bonus knacks, feats and ability score adjustments. The game uses the same task system as B&T, and feats in this one are not optional. Drives and hungers help flesh out a character - this guy has a tobacco addiction, so he's probably a heavy smoker.

Starting Money: $80
Spent: $73.85
Gear: Revolver, 20 bullets, lock pick set, switchblade, brass knuckles, business clothes, overcoat, concealed carry holster, standard flashlight, binoculars, fake identification, camera, camera film

The money system uses dollars as a catch-all. I'm still playing with the values, but this gives an idea of a starting character's equipment. Characters start with $5 to spend per point of Charisma (to keep it from being a dump stat).

Alvin “Doc” Bailey

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 6 (-1 penalty)
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 14 (+1 bonus)
Wisdom: 7 (-1 penalty)
Charisma: 10

Alignment: Neutral
Class: Scholar
Level: 1
Hit Points: 5
Attack Bonus: +0
Saves: F15 R14 W13

Background: Sneaked out for beer and girls, raised in poverty, worked on a farm
Knacks: Move Silently (Dex)
Skills: Chemistry (Int), Communicate (Cha), Crack Codes (Int), Display Knowledge (Int), Electronics (Int), Mechanics (Int) and Search (Wis)
Feats: Improvise, Toughness
Weapons: Dagger, Revolver
Abilities: Special focus (engineering), jury-rig devices, maximize performance
Drives/Hungers: Danger, Superstition

Starting Money: $50.00
Spent: $41.16
Gear: Dagger, revolver, 12 bullets, smoke grenade, tear gas grenade, gelatine, acid vial, electronics kit, chemistry set, travel bag, casual clothes, hip holster

John Harrow

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 14 (+1 bonus)
Constitution: 9
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 14 (+1 bonus)

Alignment: Neutral Evil
Class: Fighter (Duelist)
Level: 1
Hit Points: 8
Attack Bonus: +1
Saves: F13 R14 W15

Background: Worked as prize fighter, worked summers on a boat, took fencing lessons from an old master
Knacks: Seafaring
Skills: Bend Bars & Lift Gates (Str), Break Down Doors (Str), Gymnastics (Dex), Jump (Str)
Feats: Dodge, Exploit Weakness, Two-Weapon Fighting
Weapons: Cavalry Saber, Foil, Dagger, Pistol, Rapier
Abilities: Dominate foes, specialist weapon (x2 damage with rapier)
Drive/Hunger: Superstition, Vanity, Women

Starting Money: $70
Spent: $60.65
Gear: Pistol, 50 bullets, 2 daggers, business clothes

Sally Rae Stewart

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 14 (+1 bonus)
Constitution: 9
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 14 (+1 bonus)
Charisma: 14 (+1 bonus)

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Class: Daredevil (Grease Monkey)
Level: 1
Hit Points: 7
Attack Bonus: +0
Saves: F13 R13 W14

Background: Studied physics, raised in poverty, helped out in the garage
Knacks: Mechanics
Skills: Appraise Value (Motor Vehicles) (Int), Drive Car (Dex), Mechanics (Int), Ride Bike (Dex), Search (Wis)
Feats: Improvise, Modern Archimedes, Stuntman
Weapons: Club, Dagger, Revolver
Abilities: Treat wrenches as maces, maximize performance (motorcycles, cars), increase top speed by 10%, can apply combat feats to vehicles, +1 to hit vehicles, + level in damage to vehicles
Drive/Hunger: Money, Tobacco

Starting Money: $70.00
Spent: $38.50
Equipment: Monkey wrench, revolver, 10 bullets, casual clothes, tool belt, CB radio, mechanical tool kit, duct tape (2 rolls), car opening kit, road flares (3), rope (150’)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Laser Mage, Because Why Not? [New Class]

Image found HERE
Sometimes, you need a weird class to shake things up. The laser mage is one of those classes that starts as a phrase that pops into your head, and then begins to take shape as you let your mind wander and explore. I saw a guy with a wand covered in crystals who could do interesting things with light – something like a combination of illusionist and evoker, but more focused. I pictured something of a magical duelist, a class for people who had played everything and were ready to figure out how to make something new work for them, or people who didn't want their class abilities to lock them into a particular role.

LASER MAGE

Laser mages are arcane wash-outs. They never quite got the hang of magic in general, but showed a weird interest in, and ability with, the light spell. Light is to the laser mage what read magic is to normal magic-users – the key spell without which they cannot operate. They know it so well, they can cast it from memory.

To produce multiple effects with this single spell, the laser mage needs a light projector. The projector looks like a rod or thick wand. It is a hollow metal tube about one foot long and tipped with a faceted rock crystal. The crystal is cut by the laser mage, so as they progress in level their skill as a gem cutter increases as well. They also learn how to use other translucent gemstones, faceted or curved, to increase the effectiveness of their spell, or produce additional effects.

Requirements
Intelligence and Dexterity of 13 or higher

Armor & Weapons
As magic-user

A 1st level laser mage can cast the light spell at will. Casting this spell through his light projector is how he manifests all of his other abilities, not including his skill as a gem cutter and his ability to appraise the value and quality of precious stones.

The first thing a laser mage learns to do is project rays of light through the crystal at the end of his light projector. These rays have a range of 20’ and require a ranged attack roll to hit. The ray’s effect depends on the laser mage’s level and, of course, how intense they want it to be.


These improved rays, and the other special light effects gained by the laser mage are dependent on the laser mage improving the main gemstone in his light projector. This must be done at the following levels, with a gem of a stated value (or higher): 4th level, 100 gp, 6th level 500 gp, 8th level 1,000 gp, 10th level 2,500 gp and 12th level, 5,000 gp. The gem must be polished and cut by the laser mage himself, requiring a gem cutting task check (Reflex task, modified by dexterity, skilled).

At 3rd level, a laser mage can project a beam of light from the projector that can be used as a sword. The beam deals damage as the ray would, and requires a melee attack to hit.

By adding additional colored gemstones to the light projector, the laser mage can project 10’ cones that influence emotions (Will save to resist) as follows: Red gems cause rage or dispel fear effects, blue gems calm emotions or dispel charm effects, yellow gems cause crushing despair or grant a +1 bonus to reaction checks, and green gems cause fatigue (for 1 turn) or inspire good hope.

Finally, the 1st level laser mage can use his light projector to analyze materials, gases and liquids. A knowledge task check is required to interpret the results (Will task, modified by Wisdom, skilled), which determine the material’s content, and which can detect magic.

At 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th level, the laser mage can add a gemstone worth at least 50 gp to the handle of his light projector to improve the projector's function. The laser mage determines the improvement gained at each level. Only one improvement can be applied to any given light effect. The potential improvements are: Double range, double duration, impose -2 penalty to saves against the effect and add +1 to hit on ray attacks.

Laser mage’s can create the following additional effects with their light projectors, based on their level and provided they have added the proper stone’s to their light projector:


A 9th level laser mage may open an academy. He attracts 1d6 gem cutters (0-level), 1d6 men-at-arms, 1d6 1st level laser mage students and a 3rd level laser mage to act as his lieutenant.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dragon by Dragon - August 1980

It's chilly outside, but this edition of Dragon by Dragon goes back to the balmy summer days of 1980, with the August issue of Dragon! Fantasy and sci-fi films were all the rage in August 1980, from Smokey & the Bandit II to Xanadu to Final Countdown. Well, the last two are fantasy/sci-fi. The first is sort of fantastic.

Let's see what fantasy & sci-fi offerings the good folks at TSR were serving up ...


AUGUST 1980 DRAGON TOP TEN

#1 - PEOPLE CAN COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING

A letter to the editor:

"Dear Editor:
I must get it off my chest: Why do you print so many modules? I agree that it’s a nice concept, a magazine and a module for only $3.00, but there are some people who could do without them and be able to afford this almost perfect magazine. If you must put a filler of some sort in here, why not. make it a game?"

Apparently, the modules were "filler".

AD BREAK

I've seen some interest in Boot Hill and western RPGs recently on Google+, so I thought this ad might be of interest:


It's the first Boot Hill ad I remember seeing in the Dragon's I've reviewed.

#2 - THE DUELING ROOM

This will sound odd to some readers, but one of the things I like about early D&D was the lack of desire to make it immersive and real. There was already that strain in some players and game masters, but the early breed seemed content to play it as a game that didn't have to make much sense. Characters had crazy names and did crazy things.

Thus my appreciation for "The Dueling Room" article by Jeff Swycaffer. It's a place for two players to pit their characters against one another. Why? Because it sounds like fun. Because my character can beat up your character - no he can't - yes he can - prove it!


Naturally, the dueling room has some random tables attached to it, because the room changes as the duel proceeds, including some "odd events" like fireballs bursting into the room and absolute, unalterable darkness for 6-11 turns. Sounds like fun.

I seem to remember some folks on G+ doing a D&D fight club - this would be the perfect arena for fights like that.

I think I'll put designing something similar on my list of articles I need to finish for this poor, neglected blog.

SIDE TREK

"Digging the burial mound or building the funeral pyre requires 1-6 hours of labor, depending on the softness of the soil and the availability of firewood. Another 1-3 hours is required for preparation of the body, final rites and actual interment or cremation." - George Laking

Now you know.

#3 - FLAMING OIL

Flaming oil (and it's modern cousin alchemist's fire) have long been popular because they seem like a way to break the melee rules and kill things that would otherwise be difficult to kill. My players have hurled or prepared to hurl flaming oil quite a few times.

"Don't Drink This Cocktail - Throw It!" by Robert Plamondon is an examination of the stuff. This is one of those articles that deeply explored a D&D concept ... to death one might say. The desire to make gaming very complex was there from the start, and the cycle of "more complexity" to "more simplicity" is ongoing. I'm old and crusty enough now that I'm pretty thoroughly stuck in the "keep it simple" camp.

Still, as long as this article is, the rules are pretty easy to boil down:

Only you can prevent fire damage
1 - Make attack roll. If you miss, roll d12 to determine which direction (1 = "1 o'clock") it goes.

2 - Roll d20 - on a "1" it didn't break, on a "2" it didn't light.

3 - If you hit, you score 2d6 damage in round one, and 1d6 in round two.

4 - Splash is3', creatures get a saving throw (vs. poison) or take 3 damage. Armor doesn't help.

The article touches upon the flammability of dungeons, and then includes this gem:

"Additionally, rumor has it that pyromaniac players are sometimes attacked by a huge bear in a flat-brim hat who fights with a +6 shovel."

#4 - THE OTHER WERE

Roger E. Moore presents a number of additional were creatures in this article: Werelions, wereleopards, werejaguars, weresabres (as in sabre-tooth tigers), weredires (as in dire wolves), wererams, wereweasels, weresloths (yep), werebadgers and werebisons.

Not a bad collection. I often just hand wave alternate were creatures and use the existing were creature stats I think are closest - such as using the werewolf for a wereleopard, but why not use this quick and easy chart of monster stats instead:


And dig that werejaguar illustration that accompanied the article.

AD BREAK

I thought this ad was unique:


I'm guessing the art for Spellbinder was late ...

#5 - GIVING THE UNDEAD THEIR DUE

The article "Giving the Undead an Even Break" by Steve Melancon starts as follows:

"A 22nd-level Mage Lich approaches a band of adventurers. Suddenly, an 8th-level Cleric presents himself forcefully. The DM rolls 19 on a 20-sided die, and the Lich runs in terror.

Such a scene is ridiculous."
Is it? If the game is meant to be "realistic" to you, or you're looking for high drama, I suppose it is. If you're playing a game, then it's not so bad. Clerics turn undead. The lich is undead. So be it. Monopoly is equally ridiculous, but it's just a game. So what?

If this does bother you, though, this article might help. It uses a percentile roll for turning undead, to make the tough undead harder to turn. There's some cross referencing involved as well.

Personally, I'd just allow "name-level" undead a saving throw against the turning effect, giving them another chance to resist. Simpler, probably just as effective.

#6 - INTERNATIONAL MEN OF MYSTERY

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh wrote a nice little article on globe hopping for international spies, for the Top Secret game. It's nothing fancy, just a d% table of 100 "fun" places to visit on a spy adventure. The game master can use it to help design a convoluted plot - roll for a starting point, then roll three or four more times for where clues might lead ... with a few false clues thrown in to make it tough. I won't reproduce the table here, but check out the issue and the article, especially if you're doing a Cold War spy game.

SIDE TREK

There's a long article in this issue about how fantasy worlds should operate, which is interesting but, really, "say's who?" It is a worthwhile article to read, though, with some neat concepts and tables - again, I suggest one find a copy of the magazine - but what I wanted to point out was an early piece by Jim Holloway for TSR.


If I had the money, and the interest was out there, I'd love to do an expanded Sinew & Steel with art like this in it.

AD BREAK

Read more about it
#7 - MONSTERS

Josh Susser created a pretty cool monster for this issue. The fire-eye lizard is something like a tiny dragon (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo or violet) with blazing, luminescent eyes it can use to blind creatures. It can also make a prismatic sphere of its own color that lasts for 3
turns. Lizards of different colors can cooperate to add layers to the sphere or lizards of the same color can make larger spheres with a longer duration.

Here are the Blood & Treasure stats:

Fire-Eye Lizard, Tiny Magical Beast: HD 1+2 (females 1+3); AC 16; ATK 1 bite (1d4 for males or 1d4+1 for females); MV 5 (F120, S30); F16 R13 W16; XP 100; Special-Blind, prismatic sphere.

I also dig Ed Greenwood's wingless wonder (illustration to the right), but would mostly love to play one in a game. Here are the quick stats:

Wingless Wonder, Small Aberration: HD 2+2; AC 12; ATK 9 or 12 tentacles (1 + constrict); MV 20; F16 R15 W13; XP 200; Special-Radiate continuous anti-magic shell, immune to fire, eats gems (cannot digest them, 1d4+4 in stomach), psionic blast when killed (-4 to save).

The issue also has stats for Pat Rankin's flitte and Lewis Pulsipher's huntsmen.

#8 through #10 ... well, nothing. Not as much caught my interest this issue. There were some magic items for Runequest, and some D&D magic items folks might like, and the aforementioned very long article about making faerie "real" in your campaign worlds. Tom Wham also wrote some additions for The Awful Green Things from Outer Space.

See you next time, hopefully with some new content for your game.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Og and the Trollheims

The southwest corner of Og
No, not an ogre garage band. Og is the northeastern potion of the Land of Nod, where the fake vikings and such live. The Trollheims are a range of mountains, just south of the larger White Mountains, that divide Og from the Motherlands.

I'm in the middle of writing a hex crawl set in a small corner of Og which includes the northern chunk of the Trollheims and a sliver of the Golden Steppe. This particular portion contains the city-state of Azsor, where King Mogg rules. The first campaign I ran in Nod was set in and around Og, stretching from the far eastern city-state of Azdak (where a mysterious murder was committed), and covering the halfling land of Yore (where a town was burned down), Azsor (where a human ranger raised by dwarves Frank and Estelle joined the party), the White Mountains (where a cloud giant was assaulted and insulted), Isithul (where something happened that I don't entirely remember) and back to Azdak, where the murder was solved through no work of the party (don't run murder mystery campaigns with people who don't care about murder mysteries) and the next campaign was set up for Mu-Pan.

Anyhow - here's some setting information I've written for Og, with more to come!

Og
The northern lands of Thule are also known as Og, after the great river which drains them into the sea. The Og looms large in the lives of the people, and most treat it as a god.
South of the river is the Golden Steppe. North of the river are forests, marshes and chill grasslands. The lands are ringed by mountains. The Trollheims and White Moun-tains border it on the west, and the shadowy, ill-famed Black Mountains on the north.

Within those mountains, forests and marshes live humans, dwarves, elves, halflings and humanoids. This hex crawl only covers the extreme southwest corner of Thule, which include the northern portion of the Trollheim Mountains and the extreme western fringe of the Golden Steppe. Within these confines is the great city of Azsor, a city-state of humans and dwarves ruled by the legendary King Mogg.

History of Og
In days best left forgotten, much of Og was covered by a great sheet of ice that spread from the Sea of Stars to what is now the country of Mab. At the edge of the ice sheet, a simple human people scraped out a stone-age existence. The land was rough and wild. Nod was much drier then, and the great desert of the south all but en-compassed what is now steppe-land. The greatest re-source of Og was its herds of mammoth.

As that age of ice passed, a shallow sea was formed, attracting strange denizens of the deep to build cities be-neath the waves. Great forests sprang up in the wake of the retreating glaciers. The trees grew unnaturally tall, attracting the attention of the ancient elves.

At this point in time the elves already ruled the human civilizations of the Motherlands. They now resolved to settle the great forests of Og. All that stood in their way was the shallow sea and its inhabitants. These creatures were older than the elves, but technologically backwards. The elves were at the height of their powers and arrogance, and a cabal of elven wizards decided the easiest way to eliminate the fish folk was to drain their shallow sea. Through unknown means (well, I know them … if you read the hex crawl, you might discover the secret as well), they accomplished this task, leaving in the sea’s place a great river that flowed from the White Mountains to the Sea of Stars.

The elves and their human subjects now surged into Og. They besieged the citadels of the firbolg giants and drove them into hiding. The goblin folk were driven into the mountains, and the primitive humans they found were enslaved and carried away. These slaves toiled endlessly on the elven walls and towers of their now mythic city of Isithul. Isithul’s location is now a mystery. Its walls were built of green stone, it is said, and within its halls walked the greatest wizards the elves ever produced. They had come for a grand project – a way to travel between worlds.

When the grand project was finally completed, it rivaled the ancient Crown Stone in power and achievement. Although it appeared as nothing more than a giant vessel covered in beaten gold, at its heart lie an engine powered by mysterious crystals that could bend space and time. It was the height of elven achievement, but it displeased the Kabir, the ancient gods of the elves. Asur, chief amongst the gods, instructed Nudd to destroy this vessel before it could do any harm. Although his quest was long, and fraught with peril, Nudd eventually succeeded in destroying the elven starship, scattering its mysterious crystal shards in the process.

When the Great Rebellion of Dwarves and Men occurred, and the Crown Stone was destroyed, the great network of standing stones went with it and the elves lost their ability to maintain the magical civilization they had created. The ethereal winds swept over the landscape, spawning monstrous beasts and aberrations and destroying the elven aristocracy’s monopoly on power.

Some five hundred years ago, humans led by a spellcaster called Louhi battered down the gates of Isithul and formally ended the reign of the elves in Og.

Four hundred years ago, the red-skinned Qum’al of the steppe sacked the encampment of Ulu-Than, Imperator of Harady. Drunk on plunder, they then turned their attentions to the verdant lands to the north of the River Og. In short order they conquered the small stone forts of the Isithul (the name now given to the people of Louhi). The Isithul were soon overrun from the White Mountains to the Sea of Stars. By three hundred years ago, the Qum’al had established hill forts from Azsor to Luhan, and cause-way villages on the lakes of Mab. Only in the Valley of Yore did they meet strong resistance from the better organized and more technologically advanced Feafolc (halflings). Yore would be sorely pressed in those days, but it never fell.

Throughout the lands of the Qum’al, every hill fort be-came a tribal state, and raids and war were common. The clan elder system of the steppe Qum’al was gradually re-placed by the strong leadership of war chiefs. Gradually, the greatest of these war chieftains carved kingdoms out of this chaos. Such ancient Qum’al kingdoms as Luhan, Mab, Irith, Zhuul, and Krakon were forged, only to fall and then rise again as life degenerated into a circle of blood feuds and ill-conceived wars of conquest.

Two hundred years ago, seafaring invaders from Yama hit the Amber Coast of modern Luhan. The Nakdani, fleeing their sinking homeland, drove their war galleys to Luhan and began colonizing. The petty Qum’al kingdoms united in a war against the invaders, led by the mighty lords of Azdak, the Luors. The war raged intermittently for 100 years before ending in a draw, the invaders holding the coast, the Qum’al the hinterlands. Nakdani kingdoms such as Ozid, Morr, Ellik, Vac, and Gyora were founded.

By one hundred years ago, through marriage and trade, the great kingdom of Luhan was formed under a high king, the self-same lords of Azdak. The Qum’al and Nakdani had become one folk, now called the Luhano. High king after high king undertook great public works, such as repairing the ancient trade roads of the elves. Wooden forts were constructed to keep the rampaging Vadda under control, mines were established in the hills and mountains, and an iron industry was firmly established.

When a high king fell out of favor, the magnates of Luhan would withdraw their support and challengers would march with their supporters to the gates of Azdak. The fields to the north of Azdak drank much blood over the centuries, as royal dynasties rose and fell.

To the west, the country of Mab led a quiet, contemplative existence. The people lived in small lake settlements. Peace was made with the elves, though contact between them and humanity remained quite rare. Fortunately, there was enough contact to produce the present White Queen of Mab. She, like her fathers and mothers before her, is a sorceress of great power.

In the foothills of the White Mountains, life remained simple and unorganized until the war chieftain Mogg forged an alliance with a dwarf lord and founded the Golden City of Azsor about 50 years ago.

The present day finds Azsor’s king merry, Azdak’s asleep on his throne, the Isithul dreaming of a new golden age, and the White Queen alone in her tower, reading the stars and beginning to fret over things yet to come.

An early map I made of Og when I was still calling it Thule - note the "Barrier Peaks"
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