Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Sales Report

How did I do in September?

Wow - September is done! For me, this has been hell-month for writing, and I've just about completed everything I hoped to complete. Over the next week to 10 days I'm going to put together NOD #5 and get it out there for sale, I'll have my play test session of PARS FORTUNA and then work hard on releasing it in November (free basic book, non-free advanced book), and I'll continue to putter around with Mystery Men!, still aiming to release it in January or February of 2011.

So, how did the Land o' Nod do in September ...

NOD #1 (e-book) - FREE - 649 downloads (+73 in Sept)
NOD #1 (print) - $9.00 - 21 sales (+4 in Sept)

NOD #2 (e-book) - $3.50 - 21 sales (+6 in Sept)
NOD #2 (print) - $9.00 - 17 sales (+3 in Sept)

NOD #3 (e-book) - $3.50 - 18 sales (+6 in Sept)
NOD #3 (print) - $10.00 - 11 sale (+4 in Sept)

NOD #4 (e-book) - $3.50 - 13 sales (+13 in Sept)
NOD #4 (print) - $10.00 - 6 sale (+6 in Sept)

NOD Calendar (e-book) - FREE - 27 downloads (+4 in Sept)

Total Sales - 107 (+42 in Sept)

How about the blog?

Pageviews in September: 6,007

Top Five Posts in September

1. Deviant Friday Five - Aug 13 (375) - Dejah Thoris is still packing them in
2. Have You Seen the Picture of the Wizard ... (210) - if the wizard had Dejah Thoris on that rocket ...
3. A Sword by Any Other Name (207) - smartest post I ever made - brings in tons of traffic from google image searches
4. The Unpublishables (129) - The post that helps answer the question - could Rom and a dozen sand people take out a dalek?
5. Pars Fortuna Monster Preview (102) - can't wait to publish this baby

Top Five Traffic Sources in September

1. Google (626)
2. RPG Bloggers Network (218)
3. Jeff Rients (200)
3. Underdark Gazette (120)
5. Google UK (53)

Top Five Audiences

1. United States (3,847)
2. United Kingdom (518)
3. Canada (350)
4. Germany (117)
5. Australia (101)


Art by Peter Hurd

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pars Fortuna Preview - 12 Magic Armors

For PARS FORTUNATM, I wanted to do something slightly different with magic items. To that end, I kept the concept of potions and scrolls (in a slightly tweaked format), but I decided to make all other magic items unique. I've used the treasure system in Swords and Wizardry quite a bit in producing my NODTM sandboxes, and so I knew that magic items in Swords and Wizardry are, by the rules, rare enough that unique magic items should work. After all, if the magic items in PARS FORTUNATM were not unique, it would have been pretty tricky to randomize them. Here, then, is the master magic item table, and the items in the Armor category.


1 Armor
2 Bauble
3 Cube
4 Raiment
5 Shield
6 Staff
7 Sword
8 Weapon – Melee
9 Weapon – Missile
10 Miscellaneous

Most magical armor carries an enchantment of +1 to +3. This bonus applies to the wearer’s AC, thus +1 light armor would give one a +3 bonus to AC rather than the usual +2 bonus. Magical armor resizes itself to fit its owner perfectly.


1 Hospitaler’s Helm
2 Ymbrym’s Bulwark
3 Champion’s Cuirass
4 Armor of Orth
5 Sollerets of ESP
6 Scales of Faduz
7 Hoden’s Mail
8 Crusader’s Breastplate
9 Gauntlets of Kriusaichon
10 Ruby Scales
11 Zena’s Robe of Spells
12 Emperor’s Armor

Armor of Orth: Orth was a kyssai scoundrel who have his life protecting a village from raiders. His armor was blessed by his heroism, and has long been lost by the champion of that forgotten village. Orth’s armor is a suit of leather armor (+1 light armor), the breastplate being stamped with a cornucopia. When the right fist is held aloft, the armor glows with light as bright as a torch. When the left fist is held aloft, the wearer and his comrades are immune to mind effects.

Champion’s Cuirass: Forged by the ilel and then lost during one of their many wars, this blue-steel cuirass is +1 medium armor and creates a 10-ft radius zone of magic resistance (10%) around the wearer.

Crusader’s Breastplate: This breastplate is washed in gold and has crimson leather straps. It counts as +2 medium armor and allows the wearer to control flames, making them brighter, snuffing them out, or causing them to leap at targets (treat as missile attack, 1d6 damage). The wearer gains a +2 bonus to save vs. fire.

Emperor’s Armor: This suit of plate armor is made of silvered steel, and the breastplate is marked with a noble crest of a hhai rampant. Owned by an ancient emperor of Vex, it was lost during the coup of the ilel, and it is prophesied that the person who will overthrow the ilel will come wearing this armor. Volzaar’s armor allows the wearer to fly (movement of 12), and the owner of the armor does not age. In daylight, it can be commanded to dazzle all in sight (saving throw allowed to negate the effect) once per day.

Gauntlets of Kriusaichon: These black boiled leather gauntlets allow the wearer to make a level drain attack with their touch. Treat this as a normal melee attack. Each time a level (or Hit Dice) is drained, the wearer permanently loses 1 point of charisma, their appearance becoming more ghoulish and unwholesome.

Hoden’s Mail: The famed olvugai adventurer Hoden wore this expansive coat of mail. The mail acts as +2 heavy armor and, on the wearer’s command, casts the spell Invulnerability.

Hospitaler’s Helm: This conical steel helm gives its wearer the ability to heal 2d6 points of damage with a touch once per day. The wearer, unfortunately, is struck with deafness while wearing the helm.

Mail of Ymbrym: Ymbrym was an olvugai smith of the highest order and arrogance. The coat of mail that reaches to the ankles and shines with an inner fire. It is +1 heavy armor and grants the wearer immunity to magical ranged attacks of level 1 to 3 (i.e. cantraps). Unfortunately, the wearer becomes an overbearing know-it-all while in the mail.

Ruby Scales: This +3 medium armor is composed of crimson-tinged scales of metal on a leather backing. On the chest, the armor is bejeweled with three perfect rubies that blaze with an inner fire. These rubies enable the wearer of the armor to cast three Maledictions. As Malediction is cast, a ruby loses its sheen. When all three have been cast, the armor disappears.

Scales of Faduz: Forged by the infamous osk smith Faduz, this +2 medium armor of lacquered black metal with gilded edges allows the owner to shape shift into the form of a beast. The chosen form cannot have more Hit Dice than the wearer of the armor. It has the side effect of making the wearer look more bestial.

Sollerets of ESP: Sollerets are, basically, armored shoes. This pair is made of steel and has long, pointed toes. The wearer of the sollerets gains the ability to read people’s minds, but each time this power is invoked, they develop a painful, ugly boil on their face. These boils effectively lower the wearer’s charisma by 2, and last for 1d6 days.

Zena’s Robe of Spells: Zena was a magician of olden times, claimed by all the magical races as one of their own. Her robe is made of thick leather, and acts as +3 light armor. Once per day, the wearer can cast any spell of a level equal to or lower than their Hit Dice.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On Western Venatia - Part Four

Six more encounters from Western Venatia.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

0432. The river here meets strong, ancient rocks and divides into hundreds of little waterfalls, playful streams and pleasant pools before re-combining into the river that flows into [0333]. Ample evidence around these pools suggests that the area was once visited often by the ancient elves and gnomes – wooden gazebos so delicately carved that they could only have come from a fey hand, discarded goblets, tattered scarves of spider silk, etc. The area is now infested by giant water wasps, who perhaps caused the olden folk to quit the area in the first place. Encounters with water wasps occur with groups of 1d6 insects on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6.

| Giant Wasp: HD 4; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 sting (1d4 + poison), bite (1d6); Move 1 (Swim 12, Fly 20); Save 13; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Paralyzing poison, larvae.

0433. Seaxel is a small farming village on the banks of the river. Its sister village and rival, Nimroth, is on the other bank in [0434]. The Seaxels and Nimroths are descended from the serfs who served the elven families of the same names, families that despised one another and competed in all things for the attention of the Emperor Finrix. Whether hunting, racing, poetry or war, the Seaxels and Nimroths were always out to best one another. The lords of the manors, who only took residence in them when the Emperor was summering in Amvianda, accompanied Finrix to his war in the west and were never heard from again. With the emperor gone and the great families gradually dispossessed, the serfs eventually came to rule them-selves, putting decisions to a vote or following the wise counsel of one or another elder. But even though they were rid of their masters, the old enmity has gone on unabated. The Seaxels raise gourds, grapes and fields of barley. The 15 soldiers of the village dress in old-fashioned mail hauberks and carry the tall, Norman-style shields of the old elven legions. They arm themselves with spears and thick daggers.

0439. Nimroth is a small village of woodsmen, lusty rascals with a mean streak when gold and silver are up for grabs. They loath the people of Seaxel (see 0433 above). Nimroth’s warriors wear leather armor and carry long bows and battle axes. They have the services of a healing woman called Hallya, a freckled woman of thirty-three summers.

0502. A misplaced foot might send a character (1 in 6 chance) through a 20-ft deep hole into ancient elfen catacombs. The catacombs are crudely fashioned, and in fact any dwarf will declare them to be the work of goblins, the usage by elfs coming sometime after they were first dug. Within the maze-like catacombs are dozens of bricked up alcoves containing the remains of elf and human legionnaires from Nomo. While three of the alcoves contain but a single elf corpse, the others are stacked high with human skulls. Apparently, the catacombs were a goblin redoubt taken with much loss of life. The three elf burials are as follows:

Walgirth, an elf baronet interred with his family armor (mail hauberk, winged nasal helm, Norman-style shield) and his long sword (+1 weapon, growls in the presence of goblins and forces the owner to pass a saving throw in the presence of goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears or attack until he or the goblins all lie dead). Walgirth’s alcove is trapped with a flurry of darts (2d6 damage, save for half).

Inidubrid, a warrior-maiden (possibly a paladin) interred in her gleaming plate armor (un-rusted) and her crescent shield bearing intertwined doves. Her spear is a +2 weapon and is lodged through her rib cage and can only be drawn from the stone by a chivalrous character. The spear is haunted by her spirit, and will scold the bearer of the spear with electrical shocks (1d6 damage) when they behave un-chivalrously. Despoilers of this tomb will be marked for destruction by servants of Law until they make penance at the temple of a high priest of Law.

Galaddus, captain of archers. Galaddus was a drinking man in life, and in death he still holds court with a dozen shades of his former comrades. Galaddus’ mouldering corpse, still wearing the remains of his ring armor, his yew longbow close at hand, sits atop a barrel of spirits, shadows flitting about him, their umbral goblets raised to receive a splash of “the wine of ages” from a dusty bottle. Visitors are invited to have a drink, or chased away if troublesome.

0531. The burnt remnants of a stockade lie here, about one mile east of the river. Broken hobgoblin arrows are plentiful, but not a single body remains in the place. The walls of the stockade are in good enough shape that, if the gate is repaired, it can provide a fairly safe camp.

0539. A tiny cave overlooking the river serves as the sepulcher of a small gnome child, perhaps a prince. The cave is natural save for a single circle on one wall that has been ground smooth and painted with loving portrait of the large-eyed child. A small, soapstone altar rests beneath this portrait, covered by the stubs of candles and dried flowers. There is no treasure here, and the body is well buried, but the sepulcher remains a holy spot and a refuge from evil. Characters of a wicked bent find themselves unwilling to enter into the place without first throwing themselves to their knees and shedding a tear of remorse.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mystery Men! Update - The Occultists

Ladies and gentlemen, we have backing. The project is now 109% funded with the addition of three more backers (for a total of 11): Jonathan Davis, Matthew Schmeer of Rended Press (who put us over the top!) and Andrew Kane. Thanks to everybody who has become a backer, and to everyone else thinking about it - dive right in. We have 15 days left, and the more funding the project gets, the more art I can commission for it. Don't forget to check out the alpha document every so often to see my progress on the rules and setting - and feel free to chime in with your thoughts and suggestions.

Last update, I previewed the elementals who were up for a vote on who gets illustrated by our artist, Joel Carroll (that's a sample of his work above) and included in the book as sample heroes. This time, we'll wander into the world of the occult.

Danny "Paddy" Sullivan (yes, an Irish cop - they were breaking new ground with this strip), upon being killed in the line of duty, discovers that he is now an "earth-bound spirit". Instead of sneaking into girls' locker rooms, he takes the high road and fights evil (Prof. Evil, in fact).

What kind of internet nerd would I be without including at least one of Fletcher Hanks' creations. Fantomah is a god-like being who protects the jungles of Africa. When she "gods-up" she turns blue and her face becomes a skull - nothing strange about that.

John Force has a magic coin that he uses as the Magic Agent to fight communism. Without his coin, he's still a trained secret agent, with all the butt-kickery that involves.

An egyptian generald named Amron, he is accidentally revived by an incantation read by a bandit leader. Amron now fights injustice as the Phantom Sphinx with the help of sorcerous powers and a magic carpet.

A police scientist killed in an explosion, he discovers that as a ghost he can continue to fight crime. He eventually discovers Ghost Town and its famous residents like Captain Kidd, Robin Hood and Johnny Appleseed. The only person who can see or hear Sgt Spook is a teenage kid named Jerry. And yes, I know, not that different from the Duke of Darkness above, but I loved the art and the name and just had to include him in the competition.

Remember - no need to vote your favorite now, as the official ballot will be sent out when the project finally ends in October.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On Western Venatia - Part Three

Six more encounters from Western Venatia.

Part One | Part Two

0303. A clan of fourteen ubue dwell here herding ill-tempered sheep with onyx horns. The ubue dwell in a large, dry cavern, trapping the entrance with falling stones (save or 3d6 damage). The ubue sleep with their sheep in the main cavern, with a smaller, higher cavern serving as the lair of their chief, a robust figure of abject savagery called Kin-Toka-Rok. The ubue have visited the Gallery of Bones in [0308], losing two of their number there and re-sealing the cave.

Treasure: 1,600 sp, 1,350 gp, a brass locket worth 100 gp (hold a rolled up piece of paper with the word “ZAMAX” written in elven) and 2 casks of olive oil (12 gal., 100 lb each, worth 60 gp each).

| Ubue: HD 3; AC 6 [13]; Atk 3 slams (1d6); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Argue.

| Kin-Toka-Rok: HD 5; AC 5 [14]; Atk 3 slams (1d8); Move 9; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Argue.

0308. The Gallery of Bones is a large, low-ceilinged cavern sealed by massive boulders. Centuries ago, when the legions of Nomo were marching into the Rooky Wood, they encountered a plague that there physics and priests could not counter. As company after company of men succumbed, their commander, Valbestos, made a decision. He gathered the afflicted in this cavern and sealed it with a landslide as he listened to the dying men screaming for mercy. The cavern is now filled with bones, old military equipment (shorts swords, darts, spears, shields, chainmail and leather armor) and four allips, the tormented, undead souls of the lead legionnaires.

| Allip: HD 4 (20, 20, 18, 16 hp); AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 strike (no damage, 1d4 points of wisdom lost); Move Fly 6; Save 13; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Drains wisdom, hypnosis.

0313. Ystam is a tiny village of trappers constructed atop a granite dun at the intersection of two rushing streams flanked by wolfberry bushes. The trappers have carved a rugged little stair from their village to the canyons below. The village is surrounded by a little stone wall patrolled by a garrison of elves from the tower of Elbernulph [0113]. The garrison numbers 20 elf warriors in chainmail and armed with claymores. The village is ruled by Elbernulph’s reeve Cirioch. The villagers are supported by a blue eyed armorer named Arthaa. Cirioch dwells in a short, stone tower attached to a more traditional wattle-and-daub, two-story cottage. His house is protected by ten skeletons that he controls using a gold medallion. The villagers live in little huts and are often visited by a druid called Talotam, who leads them in secret worship of Diana. The Chimereans demand the worship of Vulcanus of the Mailed Fist, the patron deity of Galardis. A work gang of Azer are presently constructing a fortified chapel of Vulcanus. The villagers resent the elves and the arrival of their “foreign” deity.

| Cirioch, Elf Lvl 2: HP 12/7; AC 4 [15]; Save 13/14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Elven chainmail, two-handed sword, dagger, spellbook, medallion allows him to command undead.

0326. A carcolh dwells in a lofty cave in this hex, sending its tendrils far into the countryside in search of prey. The carcohl is described in more detail in NOD #4 or on the Land of Nod blog. Treasure is pushed to the fringes of the cave, the refuse of past meals.

Treasure: 310 ep, 430 gp, a little limestone idol of the arch-demon Furfur worth 165 gp, a brass urn worth 1,000 gp and dust of sneezing and choking in a leather pouch.

| Carcolh: HD 9 (49 hp); AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 or more tentacles (1d4 + grapple) or 1 bite (2d6); Move 9; Save 6; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Tentacles, swallow whole.

0335. A waterfall of reddish water pours from a cliff into a wide, shallow pool. The pool is inhabited by a fossergrim, the spirit of the waterfall. Behind the waterfall is a large, conical cave that leads into a damp, slimy tunnel (saving throw to avoid falling and sliding down the tunnel). This tunnel empties into a muddy cave with two exits. The left-hand exit leads upward to a series of caverns that eventually open to the top of the cliff above, and show signs of having once been well traveled by animal caravans. The right-hand exit leads to a winding tunnel and the cavern of Harzh, a youngish green dragon just beginning to build her horde and roosting on three large, beryl eggs. Harzh can neither speak or cast spells.

Treasure: 2,820 gp, a large rock crystal worth 900 gp and 3 pounds of zedoary in a wooden box (worth 320 gp per pound).

| Harzh: HD 8 (32 hp); AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), bite (2d10); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 8; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Breathes poison.

0346. A cove here holds a pool of water. A rusty iron door blocks access to another cavern holding the remains of Grindir, a pirate lord from Tremayne who passed away almost 80 years ago. The door is trapped but not locked, and is cold to the touch. If opened, three spears in a triangular formation springing up from the ground to skewer thieves. The skeleton of a thief lies before the door. The actual tomb holds the body of Grindir in a black, silk coat and still adorned with jewelry. The corpse and most of the cavern are covered in yellow mold. A moonstone worth 35 gp is lodged in the corpse’s eye socket.

Treasure: 2,000 sp, 640 ep, 640 gp and a turquoise worth 155 gp.

| Yellow Mold: HD n/a; AC n/a; Atk 1d6 damage + spore cloud; Move 0; Save n/a; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Poisonous spore cloud, killed by fire.

PARS FORTUNA Election '10 Results

A week ago I announced that I was going to commission a piece of monster art from Russ Nicholson. The question, of course, was which monster. I introduced these five candidates ...

1. Fiend: A scaly demon carrying a barbed spear and sticking out a long, wavy tongue.

2. Meagle: Stunted piskie, looks like a cross between a hedgehog and gnome with bat wings; carry nets woven from human hair.

3. Nine: Humanoid otter with four beady eyes; carries a long knife and/or sling; quaff mystic beer; extremely quick.

4. Eight-Headed Creeper: Weird creatures with eight jabberwocky-ish heads on long necks, clawed feet, long arms with long, nimble fingers and large, bat-like wings.

5. Bounder: Giant bipedal grasshoppers wielding military forks and chakram.

And in the best democratic tradition put it up to a vote. It was a hard-fought contests, with two candidates, Eight-Headed Creeper and Meagle, leaping ahead in the polls and Bounder playing the role of third party spoiler. Well, the votes from comments and e-mails are in and tallied and the contest went to Eight-Headed Creeper. And to be honest, I'm kinda happy about that. The Creeper and me, we have a little history.

It had to be six or seven years ago. I was sitting in front of the computer, tapping away at the keys working on something RPG related, when my daughter scurried in to see what dad was up to. She had to be four or five at the time. I think at the time I was probably fooling around with converting lots of old monsters to a Castles and Crusades format (my system at the time), because she announced that she wanted to make up a monster. I suggested she start out with a drawing and she went to it, producing this little gem.

"Well, what is this monster called?", I asked, and she thought about it for a minute and came back with "Eight Headed Creeper".

"What does it do?", I asked.

"It sneaks around and steals gold from people"

"What is is like? How does it behave?"

"It is scary, but it usually runs away from fights."

So, I kept asking questions, and did my best to translate her Creeper into a monster, which is now going to show up in my own little RPG and is going to be illustrated by my favorite monster artist. Neat how things work out, isn't it?

Oh, and my daughter thanks those who voted for her Creeper. If PARS FORTUNA sells well enough, the Meagle is next on my list for a monster commission.


Today I'm putting a little more work into Western Venatia, but I'm mostly working on the PARS FORTUNA dungeon I'm going to play test next weekend with friends. I'm about 50 magic items away from finishing the PAR-FOR rules, and I also just realized that I need to make a PAR-FOR character sheet. The Mystery Men! project has achieved funding (!!!) and I'll post an update about that tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deviant Friday Five - Larry MacDougall Edition

Today, it's bridge-troll AKA Larry MacDougall of Underhill Studio. When I'm writing, MacDougall's art is rolling around in my head at least as much as Frazetta or Buscema. He has the kind of art that makes me wish I could step in and wander around, drinking it all in.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Western Venatia - Part Two

Here are six encounters for Western Venatia - hot off the presses - and the accompanying map.

0110. A crooked little stream flows from a high cave, forming a noisy little waterfall. The banks of the stream are bare of life because the stream is quite poisonous. The stream flows from a grotto, the walls and ceilings of which drip with poison. Well worn steps in the living stone protected by a large cave eel lead from the grotto to a little cavern, wherein dwells Eiois. Eiois is a bitter elven woman with eyes that stare like death and a once-pretty mouth whose corners have become down-turned. Eiois is a priestess of Eris, goddess of discord. Eiois worships at a jade altar that holds a crystal ball, through which she randomly curses powerful men in the region. She recently became infatuated with Fortunato, the Prince of Antigoon, and her fascination has caused her to plot against his enemies. She is now in a rage since the ball was stolen by a sneak thief (now deceased), who dropped his treasure in [0122].

Treasure: 2,000 sp, 230 gp, banded agate worth 900 gp and jasper worth 800 gp.

| Eiois, Cleric Lvl 6. HP 21; AC 9 [10]; Save 10 (8); CL/XP 8/800; Special: Spells (4th), rebuke undead. Threadbare silk gown, silver dagger, crooked wand that poisons with a touch. Eiois has an aquiline nose and noble bearing, deepy bitter.

0138. Vhalla is a small village of common farmers living in wattle & daub cottages surrounded by a bulwark of packed earth. Four wooden watch towers overlook the fields as far as the woods. The farmers are thickset, with nut-brown skin and aquiline noses. The men of Vhalla keep nimble forest cattle and grow cabbages and chanterelle mushrooms. They are an athletic people, holding games each summer to honor the gods, and are fine archers. Vhalla is ruled by the Lady Reana, who traces her line back to the elfs of old. Vhalla has the services of Ancho the Bowyer. The villages militia are armed with farm implements, and Reana employs four ogres from the mountains as her personal guard. In their off hours, the ogres challenge all comers to fights in a deep, brick pit near the village square and in sight of the gallows.
| Reana: HD 5 (19 hp); AC 3 [16] armored; Atk 1 sword (1d8); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 5/240. Elven chainmail, shield, longsword. Sharp featured but less so due to her girth, pallid skin, black hair and amber eyes. Precise mind, but a tad eccentric. Fancies herself a natural philosopher.

0147. A herd of 20 hippocampi graze the seaweed here. The leader of the herd is a stallion that once served as a paladin’s steed. Though his master is dead, the stallion still serves the cause of chivalry.

0233. One might find an ancient plaza here, now overgrown with saplings and ferns. In the center if the plaza is a large, malachite fountain decorated with tarnished brass hinds. The fountain is cracked and dry, and all that remains of the ruined town surrounding the fountain and plaza are crumbling foundations, a few shards of pottery and rusted utensils and tools. Should someone polish the brass sculptures and whisper a prayer to Diana, the fountain will come alive and a large falcon will soon appear in the sky, spiraling down until it lands on the edge of the fountain. This wise bird will answer a three questions (per Contact Other Plane) for the person who prayed.

0301. Cavemen of the lion clan live here in a large complex of caves. The 70 cavemen and their families are exceedingly primitive, arming themselves with clubs. Their lair contains a crude idol of a cave lion adorned with a cave lion pelt worth 150 gp. The cavemen are led by a boisterous man called Yok and his four brothers, Pudo, Kord, Gontor and Joro.

| Yok, Barbarian Lvl 5: HP 30; AC 7 [12]; Save 11; CL/XP 5/240; Wears a gold ring worth 1,000 gp given to him by Cadfani to seal a pact of friendship.

| Yok’s Brothers: HD 3 (17, 12, 8, 5); AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 club (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60.

0339. A pack of 10 blink dogs hunts these woods. They detect the presence of intruders into their territory on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6, and will track intruders to make sure they mean no harm.

Update on All Things Nodian

What a busy month! Here's a quick update on what I'm up to ...

First - I'm going to spend some time on Western Venatia tonight and should have a post - I've neglected this one the last couple of weeks because it won't be published until December, but it's high time I get some work done on it.

Second - NOD #5 looks to be on schedule for early October. Ibis, City of Sorcerers is 95% finished, and there will be the Illusionist, the Mystery Men article, Mines & Minerals and another level of the mega-ish-dungeon I started in NOD #4.

Third - Sales are pretty good this month (thank you everyone who purchased a magazine!), though I doubt they are good enough to win Lulu's September sales contest. Apparently, you can now get 15% off your purchase with the code "FALLREAD305". Check out the Lulu storefront or the Old School Renaissance storefront. I also have a CafePress storefront with a few t-shirts for sale.

Four - The Mystery Men! patronage project is proceeding along pretty well. It is now 80% funded with 19 days left to go. Two more Golden Age patrons or four more Silver Age patrons will do it, so if you'd like to be a backer go visit Kickstarter and sign up. If we can gather more than $210 dollars, we can order more art for the project, which will be distributed as a free PDF (and open game content) and as a low-cost softcover book via Lulu. You can view the alpha document to watch the progress on writing the rules (and feel free to send me suggestions).

Five - PARS FORTUNA is about 90% complete - I just need to finish up some magic item descriptions. I'm playtesting it next week and hope to publish it in November. If you haven't voted for the monster you'd like to see Nicholas Russ illustrate for the book, visit this post and let your voice be heard.

And that's all folks. One RPG and two more NODs for 2010, and then I can rest a bit.

Art is from Steve Bialik's Samurai Wars, found via Super Punch. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have You Seen the Picture of the Wizard Fighting Metal Sharks in Space with his Monkey Apprentice?

No? Well, then, feast your eyes ...

By Michael Bukowski, who is also working on an art show inspired by the monsters of Dungeons and Dragons and he's been drawing Lovecraftian beasties.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mystery Men! Update - The Elementals

The project now has eight backers, with Sean Wills of Bite the Bulette, Lou Goncey of the Purple Wurm and Scott Morrison of - well, I don't know actually - Scott, if you have blog, let me know - throwing their hats into the ring as Golden Age patrons (well, Mr. Goncey actually pledged for no reward, but he still pledged at the Golden Age level. If that was a mistake and you want your reward Lou, let me know!)

The project is now 76% funded with 22 days to go - if you're considering becoming a backer, check out the Kickstarter page HERE. Remember, the more money we gather, the more art we can afford and the better this project will look. I've also put some more work into the alpha document if you want to check it out.

Last update, I previewed the tough guys who were up for a vote on who gets illustrated by our artist, Joel Carroll (that's a sample of his work above) and included in the book as sample heroes. This time, we'll look at the elementals, heroes whose powers are based on natural forces - electricity, fire, water, etc.

Ray O'Light (a grand old Irish name if ever I heard one) is an electrical worker who gets zapped on the job. Luckily, a passing scientist saves his life and in the process endows him with electrical powers. Dig the translucent helmet!

Bob Blake discovers that being friends with a brilliant chemist can cause problems, as he is accidentally doused in a formula that Harry Thurston accidentally discovers (hmm - lots of accidents here). Donning aviator goggles and a handy pair of tights, Blake turns lemons into lemonade and becomes Hydroman.

Young Bob Sanders gets caught in a cyclone in his home town of Windy Gap and, obviously, comes out of the experience with super powers.

No, his powers don't come from being smeared with radioactive vapo-rub. Vapo-Man is scientist Bradford Cole and was caught in a lab explosion caused by Nazi saboteurs (I hate those guys).

Carol Vance is orphaned by a forest fire, but given powers by the god of fire after he rescues her (so he's not such a bad guy after all). Adopted by the Martin family, she puts her divine powers to work smashing Nazi spy rings and generally making the lives of criminals more interesting. Also - girl in a bathing suit with a flaming battleaxe!

Remember - no need to vote your favorite now, as the official ballot will be sent out when the project is funded. Thanks to everyone who has put money into the project so far!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

PARS FORTUNA Monster Vote!

I'm going to commission a monster piece from Russ Nicholson, my favorite monster illustrator ever (yeah, I'm one of those Fiend Folio fans - I even like the flumph). The question is - what monster should I request? I've decided to let the readers of this blog make the decision for me. You will see below a description of five monsters - just leave a comment on this post with your choice or shoot me an email and in a week I'll tally the results and see about making the commission.

1. Fiend: A scaly demon carrying a barbed spear and sticking out a long, wavy tongue.

2. Meagle: Stunted piskie, looks like a cross between a hedgehog and gnome with bat wings; carry nets woven from human hair.

3. Nine: Humanoid otter with four beady eyes; carries a long knife and/or sling; quaff mystic beer; extremely quick.

4. Eight-Headed Creeper: Weird creatures with eight jabberwocky-ish heads on long necks, clawed feet, long arms with long, nimble fingers and large, bat-like wings.

5. Bounder: Giant bipedal grasshoppers wielding military forks and chakram.


UPDATE - Interesting! After a day of voting, people have pretty much divided into the Meagle party and the 8-Headed Creeper party, with the Bounder showing up in the roll of the Libertarians. Keep the votes coming - I'll collect them until next Sunday and then reveal the winner and request the commission.

Observing Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrr, why would I make the like of ye listen to an old landlubber like me-self talk like a salty old buccaneer, when you can listen to a master?

So grab yer-self a bottle o' rum and a winsome wench and party like its 1699!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Introducing Nodwear

I put a few images from Pars Fortuna on t-shirts on Cafe Press, in case anyone felt the need to have an amazon or sweet metallic gorilla on their chests. If you have a special request for some art you've seen on this blog (that I either own, or in the public domain), let me know and I'll see what I can do.

On the Gods of the Motherlands - Part Three

Lawful god of valor, honor, chivalry and soldiers
Wields a lance
Served by angels
Symbolized by a bull or cross
Mithras' clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to hit and damage the undead

Mithras is a demigod associated with Minerva. His cult originated with the dervishes, who cast him as the prophesied slayer of Tiamat. Mithras is a patron of chivalry and is worshiped by soldiers and the nobility.

Mithras is depicted as a handsome young warrior wearing a Phyrigian cap and a crimson cape. His temples, called mithraeum, are constructed in caves and kept secret, for his is a mystery cult that is spread from initiate to initiate. A place of honor in his temples is reserved for an idol of the god slaying a bull, a serpent and dog drinking from the animal’s bleeding wound. Other symbols that may appear with the idol are a goblet, small lion, raven and scorpion. Twin celestial torchbearers stand on either side of the idol with their legs crossed. Above Mithras, the symbols for Sol Invictus and Luna are present in the starry night sky. New initiates to the cult are brought to such a temple where a mystagogue explains the symbolism and theology. A rite is then performed to re-enact the Water Miracle, in which a bolt is fired into a rock, causing water to spout from it.

The Mithras cult has seven ranks, which are in order: Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun-Courier and Father.

Mithras is celebrated September 29.

Nethuns, Poseidon
Neutral god of the sea, storms and earthquakes
Wields a trident
Patron deity of Dominions
Served by fey, water elementals
Symbolized by a trident or dolphin
Sacred animals are the dolphin, horse and bull
Neptunus' druids can cast Water Breathing as a 2nd level spell

Neptunus is the god of the seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, and earthquakes. He has the power to create new life forms and is the creator of bulls and horses. He can also summon and control non-divine forms of sea life and change his own shape into that of any living being at will. In his true form, he is a man standing a hundred feet tall holding a trident and wearing a crown.

Neptunus is capable of raising islands up from the sea or shattering them with earthquakes. He can bring fair weather to sailors or strike them with a terrible storm, necessitating sacrifices in the form of drowning horses.

Neptunus is the son of Saturnus and Rhea, and the brother of Jove, Juno, Pluto and Vesta. His consort is Amphitrite. He has fathered many heroes, including Theseus and Orion. He is the father of Arion the talking horse by Ceres and the father of Pegasus by Medusa. Other monstrous children are the tritons, mermaids, cyclops and giants.

Neptunalia (July 23-24): Games are held during this festival, including a knightly tournament and boat races. People erect colorful pavilions and use them for feasting and entertaining friends.

Aidoneus, Dispater, Hades, the Silent One
Neutral god of the underworld and its treasures
Wields a mace
Served by earth elementals and the undead
Symbolized by a ram’s head
Sacred animals are the ram, raven and serpent
Pluto's druids can rebuke undead as a cleric 3 levels lower

Pluto is the King of the Underworld and lord over all it contains, from the souls of the dead to the precious metals and gems locked inside it. Pluto is also the god of wine under the name Dionysus Cthonios. He also has a measure of control over the creatures that dwell underground, especially the treasure hording dragons. Although not evil, Pluto is grim and morbid, and thus not popular among gods or mortals. In fact, mortals fear him enough that they rarely utter his name, lest they draw his attention. Although Pluto rules the Underworld, he is not death itself. That entity is called Thanatos.

Pluto’s kingdom is called Erebus and contains such places as the Asphodel Meadows, Elysium and Tarterus, the abode of the Titans and devils. The five rivers of Erebus are Acheron (Woe), Cocytus (Lamentation), Phlegethon (Fire), Lethe (Oblivion) and Styx (Hate).

Pluto is the brother of Neptunus and Jove, and with them defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the cosmos. His wife is Persephone, daughter of Ceres.

Secular Games (May 31 – June 3): Every hundred years (a saeculum) the Secular Games are held in Pluto’s honor. The games include all manner of athletic endeavors, with nightly sacrifices of lambs, she-goats, bulls, sacrificial cakes, cows and sows.

Lawful god of learning, writing and magic
Wields a staff
Patron deity of Ibis (as Thoth)
Served by elohim
Symbolized by a quill or book
Prometheus' clerics can learn one 1st level magic-user spell at each odd level, and cast them in place of cleric spells

Prometheus is the god of magic, philosophy, science and learning. He is the patron of scholars, illusionists, scientists, wizards and potters (since he created man from clay). Prometheus’ temples are gathering places for philosophers and scholars to debate and learn; they are often connected to universities and colleges. Promethean clerics are dedicated to the protection of their deity’s worshipers, and the enlightenment of human and demi-humankind.

Prometheus is the brother of Epimetheus (“Afterthought”), Atlas (“Enduring”) and Menoetius (“Ruined Strength”). His parents are the titans Japetus and Clymene. Prometheus’ gift of fire to mortals earned him the enmity of Jove, who had him bound to a rock while an eagle ate his liver every day, only for it to grow back. Prometheus was eventually freed by Hercules.

Aphrodite, Astarte, Turan
Lawful goddess of love and beauty
Wields a mace
Patron deity of Ishkabibel
Served by elohim and nymphs
Symbolized by a mirror or crown
Venus' clerics enjoy a +1 bonus to reaction checks

Venus is the goddess of beauty, love and gardens. As befits her position, she is an enthusiastic companion of the male gods. She is married to Vulcanus, but this did not stop her from consorting with Mars, Neptunus, Pluto and others. Venus can charm any male, god or mortal, and can generate strong emotions (love, hate, anger, sorrow, etc.) in any intelligent being. The myrtle, dove, sparrow and swan are sacred to her.

Although she can assume any form (all of them beautiful), in her true form she is a woman of astonishing beauty with golden hair. She also has a more martial aspect, sometimes appearing armored and carrying a mace.

Venus was created when Cronus castrated his father, Saturnus, and cast his testicles into the sea. She is married to Vulcanus, but has had notable affairs with Mars, Mercurius, Pluto and Adonis. Her children include Cupid, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia and Fortuna.

May Day (May 1): The day is celebrated by the gathering of herbs and wild water (from which holy water is made), the blessing of houses, ‘beating the bounds’, greenwood marriages, and dancing around May Poles.

Hephaestos, Mulciber, Weyland
Neutral god of fire, volcanos, smiths and invention
Wields a battle axe
Patron deity of Galardis
Served by fire elementals
Symbolized by a hammer and anvil
Druid totems are the bull, boar and serpent
Volcanus' druids enjoy a +1 bonus to save vs. fire and heat

Volcanus is the god of fire, earth, and the forge. He is the smith of the gods, creating their weapons, armor and thrones. Volcanus is also a patron of engineers and an expert trap maker. Temples of Volcanus are decorated with precious stones and metals and are usually supported by the local guild of smiths.

Volcanus is depicted as a dour, ugly man with a twisted leg. He carries the tools of a smith and his skin is blackened from soot and exposure to fire.

Volcanus is the son of Juno, created by her alone as Jove created Minerva. Hurled from heaven for his ugliness, he was found by the sea nymph Thetis and raised as her son. His wife is Venus, though they are estranged due to her indiscretions. He is the creator of Pandora from clay and the father of Periphetes, the demi-god of bandits.

Vulcanalia (August 23): Bonfires are created in honor of the god. The bonfires are used to roast fish and small animals and a red bull-calf and a red boar are sacrificed at the god’s temple to ward away destructive fires.

Mystery Men! Update - The Tough Guys

The project now has six backers, with Mike Davison of Swords of Abandon joining the project as a Golden Age patron. The project is now 57% funded with 24 days to go - if you're considering becoming a backer, check out the Kickstarter page HERE. Remember, the more money we gather, the more art we can afford and the better this project will look.

I've put some work into the alpha document, and I am now about 25% finished with character creation. I still need to do some work on the classes (adventurer, sorcerer and scientist - only minor differences between the three, mostly in how powers are purchased) and then work on all of the powers - that will likely be the lion's share of the project.

Last update, I previewed the ubermenschen who were up for a vote on who gets illustrated by our artist, Joel Carroll (that's a sample of his work in the upper right corner) and included in the book as sample heroes. This time, we'll look at the "tough guys".

Tough guys are mostly non-powered heroes who rely on their fists, guns and wits to stop crime and punish evil-doers. The category includes "dark avengers" as well as the archers that loom large in comic books even to this day.

Tony Quinn was a district attorney scarred by acid thrown at him by an angry criminal. Blinded in the attack, he gets a new set of eyes in a transplant that allow him to see in the dark. A true dark avenger type, he carries twin .45s and leaves a bat-shaped scar on his victims.

John Perry is a gossip columnist who puts on tights, cape and cowl to, surprisingly, wage war on crime. He is assisted by his ward, Chuck - AKA Kid Fury. Wonder where they got that idea?

Wrestler Bob White and this teen-aged manager Terry Wake enjoy pounding criminals in their off hours. Nothing weird about that. He later got a less frightening costume - a move you just know has "angry moms" written all over it.

Rick Raleigh is an assistant district attorney who fights crime with athleticism, fighting skill, a keen red gun and trained bees, one of whom is named Michael. How can you not get behind a trained bee named Michael?

Dianne Grayton is a millionaire playgirl who dresses up like a witch to fight criminals. She has a thing for another hero called The Raven, and uses trained spiders in her crusade against villainy.

Golden Age patrons don't need to vote now - if the project gets funded I'll email you a "ballot" to handle all that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Unpublishables

Just about every GM / DM / Referee, over the course of their "career" stats up monsters inspired by sources protected by that pesky little thing called copyright - monsters you can feel free to use in your home campaign, but that you couldn't otherwise put in print. Well, instead of throwing out the next installment of the Gods of the Motherlands (which I will do tomorrow), I'm presenting my thinly veiled (one so thinly veiled that its positively indecent, and a couple others working entirely in the raw) unpublishables. Since I can't publish them, I didn't go to the trouble of making them particularly compliant with any set of rules.

Astral Knight
Astral knights patrol the dimensions fighting evil, particularly the undead. Their armor increases their strength and gives them the ability to fly. It can seal itself from the depredations of hostile environments, allowing the astral knight to ignore extreme heat and cold and the absence of air. An astral knight can seal its systems for a full day, after which they must resupply their air supply.

Astral knights have three special items they can employ, all of them being stored in a pocket dimension (per a bag of holding). All of an astral knight's weapons resemble guns. The "neutralizer" fires a ray that acts as a dismissal spell against extra-planar and undead creatures or deals 2d6 points of energy damage against normal corporeal creatures. The analyzer fires a ray that acts as both a true seeing and know alignment spell. The universal translator acts as a tongues spell when held by an astral knight and pointed at a speaking creature. Astral knights speak the cosmic tongue and their alignment language.

If stripped of their armor, they lose all access to their abilities and are merely humanoid warriors with 2 hit dice.

| Astral Knight: HD 4+1; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 slam (1d6) or 1 weapon; Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Sealed system, special items.

Astral Ninja
Astral ninjas are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral pirates, with whom they war constantly. The astral ninjas are governed by an undying wizard-king. Being monastic creatures, the astral ninjas use very plain weapons and equipment. They maintain a few strongholds in the material plane. These squat towers are quite strong, being constructed of adamantine and housing 500 ninja. Astral ninjas are rarely encountered outside their strongholds.

Outside of their strongholds, most astral ninjas are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral ninjas, a warlock and a sensei.

Temporary lairs will contain 1d10+10 astral ninjas, 8 warlocks, and 2 sensei. Astral ninja lairs will contain 2d8 magic items.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord (does not affect psionicists using psychic defense). The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal, and can cut the silver cords of psychics using psychic defense.

| Astral Ninja: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 50% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis).

| Warlock: HD 5; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 13; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 5th level magic-user.

| Sensei: HD 7; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (2d6+3); Move 15; Save 9; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 7th level magic-user.

| Wizard-King: HD 16 (120 hp); AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 vorpal sword (4d6); Move 15; Save 3; CL/XP 24/5600; Special: 75% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 16th level magic-user.

Astral Pirate
Astral pirates are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral ninjas, with whom they war constantly. Astral pirates have levels in fighter, wizard or fighter/wizard. They are led by a lich-queen. Astral pirates use baroque armor (splint mail +4) and weapons. They dwell in mighty castles on the astral plane or aboard astral pirate ships. All astral pirates are capable of manifesting themselves in the material plane at will.

Outside of their castles, most astral pirates are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral pirates, one sergeant, and a knight.

Temporary lairs and astral pirate ships will contain 1d10+9 astral pirates, 10 mates and 5 captains. Material plane lairs will contains 1d6+4 magic items.

Astral pirates have a special pact with a group of large red dragons. In return for food and shelter, the dragons allow the astral pirates to use them as mounts; each can carry anywhere from 5 to 11 pirates depending on their size.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord. The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal.

| Astral Pirate: HD 2; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Mate: HD 5; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword +1 (2d6+2); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Captain: HD 8; AC -3 [22]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), protection from good, cause disease 1/week.

| Lich-Queen: HD 12; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 vorpal sword +5 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 3; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), 12th level magic-user.

The daleks are a race of aberrations dedicated to the destruction of all life. Outside of their vehicles they look like anemic little squids and can be destroyed easily with a single weapon blow. Inside their vehicles, however, they are quite formidable. Daleks will instantly attack any living creature that crosses their path, shouting endlessly “destroy, destroy” in their high, metallic voices. They attack by firing a disintegration ray from their forward cannons. This ray works like the spell disintegrate. Daleks are immune to fear and other mind-affecting effects. Daleks can be encountered on the astral plane.

| Dalek: HD 6; AC -6 [25]; Atk 1 ray (disintegration); Move 6 (Fly 9); Save 11; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Disintegrate ray, fearless.

Dune Raider
Beyond the shallow, black seas of the moon and the fungus forests that crowd those shores are the windswept lunar deserts. These deserts are frightening places; broiling hot in the daytime and freezing cold in the night, with fine, choking gray dust. The beasts who dwell in these deserts are fierce survivors, and the barbarians who hunt them are doubly fierce.

The dune raiders live in small hunting tribes. They live their entire lives wrapped in silk scarves and thick, woolen cloaks meant to protect their skin from the elements and their lungs from the lunar dust. They are built as humans, but have deep, croaking voices that betray their alien nature.

Dune raiders use massive woolly lunar caterpillars (10 HD, AC 18, MV 30, SV P, slam for 2d6 damage) as their mounts. These creatures are larger than elephants and exist in their caterpillar stage for over one hundred years before burrowing in the sand and emerging a century later as a lunar moth. The caterpillars are mostly inoffensive creatures capable of sustaining themselves on nutrients sifted from the sand. The raiders use their silk to weave their scarves and their hair to weave robes and cloaks.

Dune raiders use morningstars made of petrified seedpods found beneath the lunar sand. They are as effective as metal weapons and affect lycanthropes as though they were silver. The light weight of the seeds allow their wielders a +1 bonus to initiative.

They also arm themselves with ancient jezzails (rifles), the origin of which are unknown. An explosive powder and metallic balls are procured somewhere in the desert. These weapons have a range of 200 ft and deal 2-16 damage with a successful hit. They jam about one time in ten, and have such an explosive recoil that their firers must succeed at a CC 15 strength check to avoid being knocked prone.

The most important device the dune raiders have at their disposal, and another mystery for wizards, is their breathing tube. Anchored beneath their necks, these copper tubes sneak beneath their scarves and provide them with cool, dust-free air.

All dune raiders have the abilities of 3rd level rangers. If the dune raiders have a religion it is unknown, and spell casters have never been encountered among their kind. They make their way hunting the sands and raiding small settlements. On rare occasions they will seek to trade their silk and wool for seemingly worthless baubles; they are especially fond of glass and copper.

| Dune Raider: HD 3; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 3rd level rangers.

Jeeps are rare, dog-like creatures that live in Africa. They originate in the 4th dimension, and their extraplanar origin gives them the ability to use the following spells at will: dimension door, ethereal jaunt and spider climb. Jeeps eat only orchids, making them expensive pets to keep. They never tell lies and are loyal to the end.

“A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world-in this case our world- but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here's what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are to some extent are relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal.”

| Jeep: HD 2; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Dimension door, ethereal jaunt, spider climb.

Klingens are a race of humanoids with swarthy skin and black hair. Both males and females have hard features and thick eyebrows. Male klingens usually cultivate beards and mustachios. Although klingens live in a highly regimented society, one should not come to the conclusion that they are lawful. Advancement in their society is through murder of those of higher rank, and klingen groups are rife with factions and double-dealing. All klingen warriors (and most civilians) can back attack for double damage.

Klingen warriors wear mail shirts and wield ray guns and daggers. Their ray guns fire a beam that can either inflict 2-12 points of subdual damage or 2-12 points of lethal damage. For every 10 klingen warriors there is a commander with 2 HD and the ability to back attack for triple damage. For every 5 commanders there is a 3 HD lieutenant with the death attack ability of a 2nd level assassin. For every 5 lieutenants there is a 5 HD captain with the death attack ability of a 4th level assassin.

Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to wisdom and a -1 penalty to charisma. Typical classes are assassin, fighter and rogue. Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to making rear and flank attacks, over and above normal bonuses. Their thick skin and unique physiology gives them a +1 bonus to armor class.

| Klingen: HD 1+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Backstab x2.

| Commander: HD 2+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Backstab x3.

| Lieutenant: HD 3+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Death attack as assassin.

| Captain: HD 5+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Death attack as assassin.

Deviant Friday Five - Alice Picard Edition

The same way I like many different varieties of adventure in my games (sci-fantasy, pulp fantasy, etc), I like many different styles of art. Todays deviant is Alice Picard, Bobbaji on DeviantArt. Her work has a more romantic style than most of the previous deviants I've featured, and I think it would work especially well with epic fantasy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mystery Men! Update

The project now has five backers - with Wendy Stater (who may or may not be my wife - Hi honey!) and old friend and fellow blogger Tom Feeney joining the project as Golden Age patrons and Trey Causey, architect of the The City, becoming a Silver Age patron. The project is now 47% funded with 26 days to go - if you're considering becoming a backer, check out the Kickstarter page HERE.

I've made a minor update to the google doc - taking a few spare minutes this morning to write about ability score generation. Nothing too exciting yet, as this month is dedicated to producing NOD #5, PARS FORTUNA and a secret project I'm working on.

Now, part of the community involvement in this project concerns which heroes are going to get the nod and be drawn by our artist, Joel Carroll (that's a sample of his work in the upper right corner), and included in the book as sample heroes. I've gone through about 300 golden age, public domain heroes and whittled it down to 35 heroes in seven different categories - Golden Age patrons are going to get to vote on which hero from each category makes the cut. Today, I'm featuring the five heroes competing in the Ubermensch category.

An ubermensch is a hero based on the prototypical hero - flight, super strength, invulnerability and a few extra powers stuck in to avoid a copyright violation. Our ubermenschen are ...

A seaman named Willy with the power of the atom in his hands - is there anything radiation can't do?

His name is Lance Gallant, and he has a magic birthmark that joins him with his dead twin - not for nothing did he appear in Crack comics

Black-clad avenger of injustice - imagine if Supes went around torturing people - now imagine he lived under the 1939 World's Fair

Cantankerous alien defender of Earth - I needed an alien in this category for obvious reasons, and I liked that this one seemed to have a crappy attitude toward the people he was saving, probably because of the name they gave him - and check out those eyebrows!

Demi-goddess defender of the great white north. Her enemies include the Queen of Statica (too clingy), Dr. Electra (has a complex) and Adolf Hitler (yeah, that guy).

Golden Age patrons don't need to vote now - if the project gets funded I'll email you a "ballot" to handle all that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Combat Notions for Pars Fortuna

While PARS FORTUNA started out as an experiment in randomly generated material for an RPG, I soon decided to add in optional rules for Old School games to make it a true tool box. To that end, I have an easy rule for encumbrance, a unique (I think) method of spell casting, a slightly different take on armor and weapons and an easy system for special combat maneuvers. Nothing necessarily ground breaking, but maybe bits and pieces that Referees will find useful for their own games.

Movement & Combat
Today, I'm thinking about movement and the fact that it is virtually useless in most games. My guy has a movement of 12 (or 30' or whatever your system uses) and you have a movement of 9 and, let's be honest, how often does this really come up. Maybe if we're being chased, but usually movement in the dungeon comes down to "we walk down the hall" or "we walk into the room, carefully". Movement might come into things in outdoor adventures where the spaces are larger, but it's a rare dungeon chamber indeed in which movement (and missile ranges - more on that later) make much difference. So, what's to be done?

One idea is to mark off movement on a grid, but in all my years of playing 3rd edition, I don't think movement rates ever had much effect within the dungeon - again, the rooms are rarely large enough to make a movement of 30' that much better than a movement of 20' - and we all know how much grid movement can slow down a combat.

My idea is to link initiative to movement rates, as follows:

Combat Speed
Quick = a movement rate of 15 or higher (note, I'm using Swords and Wizardry's movement rates here; in 3rd edition think 40' or higher)

Slow = a movement rate of 9 or below (20' in 3rd edition)

Everything else is considered "normal speed"

When combat rolls around, I use the following order of events:

1. Missile Fire: Ranged weapons are valuable because they attack first, and thrown weapons are included here. Determine first strike in this phase by casting dice. You can either let every person and monster (or monster group) throw a D6 and go high to low, or have each side throw a D6 to determine which side attacks first. If your character has a higher rate of fire than 1 shot per round, just make the first shot during this round.

2. Quick Creatures: Quick creatures move and attack - again, to determine first strike just throw dice, giving creatures/characters a bonus of +1 to their role if they have a longer weapon or reach than their opponent. You could also break up the movement and the attack - everyone moves, and then anyone within 10' of an opponent is considered in melee and may attack, rolling to determine who strikes first.

3. Normal Creatures: Normal creatures move and attack - as above

4. Slow Creatures: Slow creatures move and attack - as above

5. Spells: Spells are fired/cast - I'm assuming that chanting a spell takes longer than knocking and firing a bow; also gives the side without a spell caster time to disrupt the spell casting with a well placed attack.

6. More Missiles: For those with high rates of fire (see above).

In essence, creatures with higher movement rate always win initiative, though their counterparts with the same combat speed might beat them to the first strike. This way, movement rates have a very tangible effect on character survival, and those who choose to stay light and mobile get some advantage over those who are burdened with gear, armor, etc. Weight management becomes a tactical decision.

Missiles & Ranges
We all know that in most fantasy games, ranged weapons are given a range or range categories, and these ranges impose penalties on ranged attacks. Much in the same way as movement, though, how often do these ranges come into play when most combats occur in rooms that are 10' or 20' or 30' square. Outdoors, of course, ranges matter. This makes perfect sense, since the game was designed as a war game and then modified to support dungeon delving. My suggested optional rule for PARS FORTUNA is to give each creature an effective range, in feet, based on his Dexterity score. For monsters, you can just assume an effective range of 10'. Within this effective range you suffer no penalties. Outside of this effective range, you suffer a -1 penalty to hit for each increment beyond effective you go. Thus, a fighting-man with an effective range of 10' would have the following modifications based on range:

0-10 feet: No penalty
11-20 feet: -1 penalty to hit
21-30 feet: -2 penalty to hit
31-40 feet: -3 penalty to hit

For a poor slob with a dexterity of 6, the ranges would be:

0-6 feet: No penalty
7-12 feet: -1 to hit
13-24 feet: -2 to hit
25-36 feet: -3 penalty

This gives the high-dexterity character a nice benefit in missile combat, and makes "short passes" easier than "long bombs" even within the confines of a dungeon.
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