Sunday, December 29, 2013

The NOD Companion Released (About Damn Time)

So I finally went and done it - I finished The NOD Companion for Blood & Treasure. What is it?

This supplement for the Blood & Treasure RPG collects in one place articles that players will find useful from NOD Magazine, including more than a dozen new character classes, new character races, new spells, new equipment and several optional rules to help customize your game experience. You’ll also learn the history of the NOD campaign setting and get a glimpse at just how large that setting is!

In more detail, the following is included in the game:

* An overview of the NOD campaign setting

* The History of NOD and its races

* Racial Class Variants - Half-Orc Thug (Barbarian), Elven Gallant (Paladin), Dwarf Prospector (Thief), Gnome Prankster (Thief), Halfling Gypsy (Thief),

* New Races - The Macabre, Notac-Ichat and Utu (the fellows on the cover)

* New Classes - Anarchist, Beastmaster, Charlatan, Chevalier, Curmudgeon, Demoniac, Demonologist, Diablo, Elementalist, Gourmand, Jack-of-all-Trades, Leech, Psychic, Puritan, Scientist, Shadowdancer, She-Devil, Slave Girl, Soulknife, Tomb Raider, Valkyrie, Vampyre, Venturer, Vigilante, Wushen

* New Weapons and Weapon Variations

* New Armor

* Partial Armor

* Used Armor

* New Henchmen and Hirelings

* Clothes Make the Adventurer

* New Spells - for the Charlatan and Elementalist, but most are available to other classes as well

* Optional Rules -

* Proficiency System for Weapons, Tasks and Spells

* Psionic Powers for All (including psychic duels)

* New Heroic Tasks (Appraise Value, Attend Court, Communicate, Disguise, Drive Wagon, Gather Rumors, Identify Specimen, Note Unusual Stonework, Seafaring, Spelunking, Tumble)

* Zero-Level Characters

All packed into 102 pages

So, if you like extras for role playing games and you like Blood & Treasure, you might want to look into grabbing this book.

E-Book is $5.99

Soft Cover is $9.99

Hard Cover is $19.99

AND - if you buy the hard cover, I'll throw in the PDF for free. Just send me an email (check the right-hand column) with a copy of the receipt. That deal's so good, I must be CRAZY!

A good way to end 2013, now I need to get busy writing for 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Where Should NOD Go In 2014?

NOD Companion cover by Jon Kaufman
Hey all - I'm finishing up NOD Companion and NOD 22, and I need to start thinking about NOD 23. NOD 22 will be the first issue of NOD without a hex crawl - instead I'm doing a couple adventures, one being Dungeon of the Apes and the other a zombie plague adventure for Mystery Men!. NOD 23, however, will return with a brand spanking-new hex crawl, and I want you folks to decide what I'm writing.

Below, you shall find a world map of the Land of Nod. Previous hex crawls are indicated by the yellow boxes, the numbers corresponding to the issues in which the hex crawl appeared. The red boxes with the letters are the possibilities for the next hex crawl. These boxes correspond to the following locations in Nod ...

A - Sea of Divils - A little slice of Hell on Nod - a shallow sea controlled by devils and their followers and flanked by the cities of the strange people of the Pearl Coast.

B - Azsor - When a dwarven messenger stumbled into the camp of a hill chief called Mogg, little did he know he was helping to found the kingdom of Azsor, a kingdom where dwarves and human live together and a kingdom threatened by giants, trolls and the wild men of the steppe.

C - Klarkash Mountains - The Klarkash Mountain are not only home to the kingdoms of the hobgoblins and the human city-state of Guelph, but also to an underworld where the drow are the least of one's worries.

D - Amazonia - A fetid jungle basin inhabited by the former slaves of the ancient elves, human and otherwise. In its midst is the secret city of Tara-Tilal, the last stronghold of the ancient elves.

E - Ende - The dusty plateau of Ende holds four warring city-states, each ruled by a monster in search of the ultimate power that lies at the center of the plateau.

So, one and all, if you have a preference, vote below. Whatever gets the most votes determines the next stop I'll be taking in the Land of Nod.

Oh, and if you want to see the map sans boxes, here it is.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Support the Illustrated Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures

Got an email yesterday from Casey Sorrow, who is starting a Kickstarter to finance his An Illustrated Bestiary of Fantastic Creatures. Casey produces some amazing art, and the book promises to be game rules-neutral. That being said, it sure has an old school feel to me. Throw some bucks his way, so the mighty Casey doesn't strike out! (Yes, I deserve whatever punishment the universe summons up for that one.)

You can find the Kickstarter HERE

You can find Casey's website HERE

Friday, December 20, 2013

ACTION X is dead ... Long live GRIT & VIGOR

Cover art by George Bellows
I tried. So help me I tried. But I just couldn't get into the thing.

The idea was to do to the Modern SRD what I did with the fantasy SRD - i.e. turn it into a modern version of Blood & Treasure. The problem - I just couldn't find the hook, the energy, the right feel that would make the thing gel. It's tough to make something good if you don't love it, you know.

And then the revelation.

I was musing on what kind of RPG Ron Swanson would play. I know - ridiculous - but an hour on a treadmill can send the mind into all sorts of odd places. Of course, the answer is that Ron Swanson wouldn't play an RPG. He is, however, the closest thing modern America has to a folk hero, and symbolic of a movement by modern men to get in touch with their roots. I needed a subject that I found interesting, fun and inspirational - and by Ron Swanson's mustache, the manly adventure of yesteryear was going to be it. Surviving in the wilds, steering tall ships, plunging into the mysterious corners of the globe in search of loot, hunkering down in a trench, preparing to dash into the oncoming bullets of the hun! - that was the ticket.

So, Action X is dead, may it rest in peace. I'm replacing it with GRIT & VIGOR - BOLD VENTURES FOR RUGGED FELLOWS. I've been writing the crap out of it for the last week, and think I can begin play-testing it on Google + in January and publishing it sometime in the Spring or Summer.

GRIT & VIGOR draws on the literature of Kipling, Conan-Doyle, Conrad, Hemingway, REH, London, Burroughs and their ilk. It's about larger than life men going on adventures in search of money, power and freedom. Yes, women can play G&V - either as male characters (it is role playing, after all), or by flipping all the pronouns in the book from masculine to feminine - any woman worth her salt will do anything she likes with my game rules - she doesn't need me to give her permission or molly-coddle her.


Characters, also called "rugged individualists" in G&V, do not belong to a permanent "class". Special abilities, skills and weapon proficiencies are handled with feats. You get several at first level, many of them are rolled randomly on one of four tables meant to represent your character's background (you can Go Rogue, Go to School, Go to Work or Go to war), though the referee could allow players to simply choose them if they preferred. All of the feats are given one of four classifications - Mental, Martial, Red-Blooded and Underhanded.

Whichever of those categories the majority of your character's feats fall into determines your character's "class" at that level, with their class determining what dice they roll for hit points, and what ability scores they can boost at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, etc. So, at 1st level, a character with mostly Martial feats is classed as a Fighter, and rolls 1d10 for hit points. By level 3, he may have more Red-Blooded feats than any other, so now he's classed as a Daredevil that rolls d8 for hit points. Other than that, attack bonuses and saving throws are the same for everyone, though they are modified by ability scores and feats.

Combat, saving throws and task checks work as they do in Blood & Treasure, as do hit points, Armor Class, ability scores, etc. Aerial combat and vehicle rules will be included, of course. Psychic powers are included in the game, but are optional. For opponents, the game primarily uses animals and human beings, but a few monsters (vampires, werewolves, morlocks) are included as well for those who want a paranormal or science-fiction element in their game.

The game will also include what I'm calling an Almanac of Adventure. This will be a series of articles covering different time periods and genres that referees (Venture Masters) can use to build their campaigns. One might be "Wild West", and will provide some tips and information relevant to that era, as well as any additional rules or equipment to run that setting. Another might be "Mystery", and will discuss running mystery-oriented games. Hopefully you get the idea. There will also be "Steampunk", "Atomic Super-Science", "The Jazz Age", etc.

I'd also like to include an element of taking the manly virtues expounded on in the game and applying them to one's real life. Maybe XP awards for overcoming real life challenges that players can apply to their characters - a good chance for members of a gaming group to support one another outside the gaming table. Sounds corny, I guess, but I am corny so I don't give a damn!

That's the plan, ladies and gents. I'll let you know when the playtesting is about to begin, in case you'd like to join in.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

History of NOD Part III ... and Racial Class Variants

Wow - so I let myself get lax on updating the blog again. In my defense, I've been super busy at work (real work, that one that plays for my mansion and gold-plated yacht) and super busy at home (NOD Companion just needs a little editing and layout work, NOD 22 is coming along nicely, Mystery Men! got a small revision and ACTION X has been reborn as GRIT & VIGOR and is also coming along nicely). So, there's my excuse. Here's my post ...


With the power of the elves and dwarves broken, the world was left to the humans and their ilk. We now reach a time a scant five thousand years ago.

As the dragons of Mu-Pan slowly retired into secret places, they left their scions in charge of their warring kingdoms. In time, they would be united in an empire that would have to tolerate numerous dynastic changes and revolutions and stand up to the machinations of the weird lords of Tsanjan.

Thule harbored a rogue elven land called Pohiola. This nightmare kingdom would slowly give way to the invasions of the horsemen of the steppe, as they laid the foundations for such kingdoms as Mab, Luhan and Azsor.

Antilia and Hybresail would remain largely wild places, home as they were to the shattered homeland of elves and dwarves, its human and demi-human populations reduced to barbarism.

In the Motherlands and Lemuria, the human populations learned well from their former elven masters, and founded sorcerous empires founded on demon worship. In time, such empires as Irem, Nabu and Kolos would fall in spectacular eldritch fashion. In their ashes, a new empire was born that would rule much of the Motherlands – Nomo. Nomo was founded when a band of elven adventurers led by Prince Partholon left the shores of Antilia in a dozen longships and make their way to the Motherlands. Finding themselves among a tribe of human barbarians, they soon asserted themselves as their masters, founding the city-state of Nomo and eventually extending their control over much of the sub-continent. Under Nomo’s emperors and empresses a 2,000 year empire was begun which would end only with the disappearance of the Emperor during adventures in the mysterious West.

With the emperor’s disappearance, Nomo fell into factional fighting, with each faction supporting its own candidate for emperor. The former tributary kings and queens in the empire also staked their claims on the throne.

Thus it is in today’s land of NOD. City-states built on the ruins of kingdoms built on the ruins of empires, all threatened by encroaching chaos.

In Blood & Treasure, I introduced the notion of variant classes. These were meant to illustrate the way one might create new classes using old classes as a base, with fairly minor changes.


Half-orcs often grow up on the mean streets, learning to excel not as trained fighters but as street brawlers. These half-orc thugs advance as barbarians, save for as follows: They may only use padded or leather armor and bucklers, they have the following skills: Bend Bars, Break Down Doors, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Gather Rumors, Hide in Shadows, Jump, Move Silently and Pick Pockets.


Gallants are elven paladins as dedicated to romance and wooing women as they are to righting wrongs and protecting the weak. While most paladins can be a bit stodgy, elven gallants are rather dashing and devil-may-care.

In a three-fold alignment system, gallants must be Lawful. In a nine-fold system, though, they need only be Good. Gallants cast spells from the bard spell list rather than the paladin spell list.


As adventurous as dwarves can be, their first loves are always gold, gems and silver. Many, if not most, get their first taste of adventure as prospectors, heading into the hills or depths in search of metals or stones to mine.

Dwarf prospectors have the following skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces, Find Traps, Hide in Shadows, Listen at Doors, Move Silently, Notice Unusual Stonework, Open Locks, Remove Traps and Spelunking. In addition, they can wield picks and hammers.


Gnomes are innately magical folk, and some learn from a young age to tailor their magical abilities to the profession of thievery. These gnome thieves are noted for their enjoyment of taunting their victims with pranks and riddles, leaving calling cards and boasting of their thefts before they happen.

In place of a gnome’s normal innate spells, a prankster can cast the following spells: Mage hand, open/closer and ventriloquism.


Many of the halflings that people meet are of a breed known as the pikey – wanderers from the east who live a semi-nomadic life among the larger races, making a living telling fortunes, picking pockets, stealing pies (they love pies) and bilking the naive.

Gypsies have the abilities of thieves, save they replace the backstab ability with the bard’s ability to fascinate. Their skills are as follows: Balance, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Escape Bonds, Gather Rumors, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pick Pockets, Train Animals and Trickery.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Return of the Mystery Men!

It was a couple weeks ago that I received a very kind email from Rick Hershey at Fat Goblin Games. He informed me that he would love to have a go at publishing Mystery Men!, with new art and new layout, and a bit more punch in its marketing. Since I was planning to do a small revision of the game in 2014 anyways, I figured what-the-hey - why not have a go at it.

So, revise I did - nothing major. Tidied up the super powers a bit, made the feat system a little easier to use (I hope) and fixed a few typographical errors. Today, I got a glimpse of the new layout ...

I dig it!

The plan is to spin the monsters into a separate book with a gaggle of super villains. I'm pretty excited about the project, and hopefully it will put the game in front a few more eyes. In the meantime, you'll find it absent from my Lulu spotlight. If your interest has been piqued, stay tuned ...

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Canting Crew [New Class ... No, Seriously]

Before we get on with the new class (which may or may not work, but it's a fun experiment), I want to announce that all my hard copy books are 10% off right now at Go check 'em out if you've been waiting, and keep your eyes open for sales to make the deals even sweeter.



In my quest to create yet another odd character class, I have dreamed up the canting crew. Actually, the inspiration for the class was a small band of robbers cutting a swathe through time after stealing a map of creation. You’ve probably heard of them. Watching Time Bandits made me think of a band of halflings causing trouble, and that made me think of the swarm rules in d20 and one thing led to another and … the canting crew. Obviously, this is not a traditional character class, so it’s not only not for every player, but not for every campaign. Truth be told – I have no idea if this will even work.

Dexterity 9+, Charisma 13+
Non-lawful, non-good; robber gangs are not necessarily evil, but they are certainly not good
Halfling or gnome (or other small races, if allowed in your games)

Padded and leather armor; no shields

Club, dagger, dart, hammer, light mace and sling

Hide in Shadows, Move Silently


A canting crew starts out as a single rogue, the boss. As the crew gains levels, it also gains members, with each member representing one hit dice, or level, of the crew. Each time a new member is added to the crew, that member should be named, and a dice should be rolled on the following table to get an idea of what that new member brings to the crew.

When a member of the crew brings a competence in a task, that particular member is skilled in that task, and his presence and tutelage makes Gives rest of the members a knack in that task. If a canting crew is divided, this distinction might be important.

The canting crew attacks as a swarm. Attacks against the crew deal damage to the band’s collective hit points. The crew can split up to make attacks, or even choose not to throw all their weight against a single opponent. For however many members of the crew are attacking a single foe (usually no more than eight against a medium-sized creature), treat the attacks as coming from a robber crew of that level. Thus, three robbers attacking a creature attack as a 3rd level crew, i.e. with a +2 attack bonus. The crew, no matter how they are split up, uses saving throw values for their crew’s full level. Any feat taken by the robber crew is assumed to be held by all members of the crew. Feats or abilities that come with individual members are possessed only by that member.

On the downside, robber crews are composed of multiple halflings or gnomes, and each member requires his or her own equipment and rations. This makes running a robber crew a bit expensive, so make sure you don’t pass up a chance for treasure or theft!

Damage against a robber crew must also be addressed. When a robber crew’s hit points are reduced to 0, it is assumed that all of the members have been killed, the boss being the last to fall. For every three points of damage a crew suffers, there is a 10% chance that one member, chosen at random, is killed and must be replaced when the crew next reaches civilization. While the crew is short a member, they are also short that member’s skills or abilities and their help in a fight. When the crew does reach civilization, a new random member is added to the crew.

A 3rd level canting crew learns how to cover one another’s retreats. Members of the crew can retreat at a full run without drawing an attack from their foes.

A 5th level canting crew’s chattering and dodging about has a chance of confusing their opponents. Each round a crew decides to caper instead of actually attacking, their foe must pass a Will saving throw or be stunned for that round. To confuse an opponent, at least three members of the crew must be engaged in combat with that opponent.

A 7th level canting crew learns how to look out for each other. They roll their chance of being surprised on 1d8 instead of 1d6. In addition, when they fight, each member of the canting crew engaged with a single creature over the first member increases the Armor Class of the group fighting that creature by one.

A 9th level canting crew can establish a hideout for themselves, per the thief class. The canting crew does not attract a lieutenant, but they do attract a number of lesser rogues and thieves, with the members of the canting crew each taking on a small gang of their own to tutor and control.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

History of Nod, Part III - The Dwarves

Today, we cover the ancient history of the dwarves of NOD, with a special bonus at the end covering the identities of the major Kabir and Igigi.


Image by Jon Kaufman (pachycrocuta at DA - check him out for commissions!)
The ancient elves, being fey creatures, were physically malleable. Not to the extent of the Kabir, of course, who could assume any shape they pleased. The elves were humanoid in shape, and humanoid they would stay. But when they were angry, their faces twisted and their bodies distorted (sometimes called a warp spasm), and when they were happy, they almost glowed with joy. An elf’s children were physical duplicates of their parent’s emotional and spiritual selves.

As the ancient elves grew darker, their children grew uglier. Thus were born the orcs, goblins, bugbears, hobgoblins and dwarves. These waifs were turned out into the wilderness by their disgusted parents to die, but many were rescued by entities who saw them either as useful pawns in their own sinister games, or in the case of the dwarves, who were born of greed, by the compassion of Ys, who believed they might be brought up to do good in the world despite their parentage.

Ys was correct about the dwarves, hiding them in the mountains and under the hills, and shepherding their development until they were honorable men and women, industrious, clever and just. Of course, they were still greedy and stubborn as all get out, but nobody is perfect.

As was mentioned before, the dwarves were no match for the ancient elves, and were forced to pay tribute to them. A dwarf loves his gold, and being cheated of it brought a terrible hatred for the elves among the dwarves, and they bent their minds to one day throwing off this indignity. They were a patient folk, the dwarves, and they had much time to plan and scheme. They forged weapons of power and hid them away, and watched as the debauched elves grew insular and petty. They had long ago stopped having children with one another, choosing instead to produce children with their more handsome human slaves, that they might escape the aforementioned curse of "ugly children". In time, there were many more humans and half-elves in their kingdoms and empires than true elves. The time the dwarves had waited for had finally arrived.

In this time, the disparate elven kingdoms had come under the control of a queen-of-queens, an elf called Vinrix. Vinrix was the most powerful elf of her age, and nothing to be trifled with. When her people came to the high king of the dwarves, Dvalinn, with demands that a hundred-thousand of his people be delivered into slavery to build her monuments, he declined, and sent back from his halls a few bloodied and blinded survivors carrying the heads of their comrades. This, of course, meant war.

War between the elves and dwarves centered around the dwarven holds in the Bleeding Mountains, which in those days were known as Golden Mountains. The elves besieged the dwarves in their mountain holds, as Dvalinn had desired, and slowly but surely the dwarves chipped away at the strength of the elven armies, slaying their great wizard-lords with such mundane things as rockets and cannon. More importantly, they undermined the positions of the elves, and bypassing their enemy’s lines worked their wiles on the human slaves that formed the bulk of the elves’ strength. Before the elves knew it, their human subjects were in open revolt, and they were forced to divide their armies again and again until they were spread thin across the globe.

It finally came about that the dwarves left their strongholds to challenge the army of Vinrix in the field. The elves had made camp around the base of the Crown Stone, the keystone their magical network of standing stones, which augmented their eldritch power and denied it to most other folk. There the dwarves went with humans and others in tow, and joined battle with their ancient enemies. Eventually, it was a matter of High King against Empress, and finally, her back pressed against the Crown Stone itself, the dwarf made a last mighty swing with his hammer and missed. The hammer, forged in the raging elemental fires beneath the earth, tempered in the immaculate grudges of the dwarves, cracked the great stone his people had raised, and everything was cast in a brilliant white light.

Those who were far enough away to have seen the event and survived tell of a great white light that lasted but an instant and then disappeared, followed by a great rush of wind. Vinrix and Dvalinn and their armies were gone, as was the Crown Stone and, with it, the network of standing stones. Some toppled physically, others remained standing, but the great network that channeled magical energy was gone. Where once there stood the Crown Stone on a lush prairie, there was now a great, gaping gulf – a piece torn from the Material Plane. A few bits of land floated in this black gulf, this void-scar on the landscape, but the rest was gone.
With the magic dissipated across the globe, the impossible cities of the elves toppled and those who were left found themselves the inheritors of wrack and ruin.

Needless to say, the elves were none too happy about this. To be sure, the greatest of their cities still stood, fabled Tara Tilal, but most of the others were gone. The elves were now weakened, and they were forced into the wilderness by their former slaves. While some repented and turned back to their ancient gods, many others had revenge on their minds, and magical communications sent a great many (perhaps two-thirds) of the surviving warriors and wizards marching to the wondrous western mountains known as the Pillars of Asur, where that grand old kabir’s great temple stood. They gathered in the foothills and swore oaths and forged weapons and summoned demons, and then started up those slopes to topple their ancestor-god’s house of worship.

They did not get far, though, before the old god himself did appear and whisper a single curse. The sun would be denied these elves for all eternity; it would become to them a hateful thing of pain, burning eyes and flesh, an eternal reminder of their fall from grace and final punishment. These elves turned and fled from their god and the sun, which burned their skin black, and hid themselves in dark places under the earth, and would come to be known in future centuries as the drow. They would eventually have their revenge on the dwarves, though, as they excited the fires that burned beneath the Golden Mountains and gathered the foul goblin folk who dwelled near them and finally freed the last of the elder things that were chained therein. As hundreds of volcanoes exploded simultaneously, the skies were blackened and the holds of the dwarves were cracked and destroyed. The goblins swarmed these strongholds and the dwarves were forced to flee. The Golden Mountains had become the Bleeding Mountains, so named for the red rivers of lava that now flowed there and for the copious amounts of dwarf blood spilled by the goblins. The dwarven diaspora had begun.



ASUR: Kabir of the Sun; ruler of The Noble Procession (the aristocratic and beautiful, chivalrous and vain fey, especially the ancient elves and even the rebellious drow who are their closest relatives)

BEL: Kabir of death and rebirth; rules the Mourners (fey concerned with the dead, such as banshees)

GHOBB: Kabir of geology; rules the Keepers of Kitchen and Pantry (the household fairies, as well as the useful folk of the fairy world such as leprechauns and brownies)

KARN: Kabir of the hunt; rules the Bloody-Minded Lot (mean-spirited killers and torturers, such as red caps and trolls)

NUDD: Kabir of the oceans, the “ancient mariner”, who went to sea and never again set foot on land; he might be said to rule the fey of the water, though he shows little interest in doing so and generally leaves them to their own devices

TUT: Kabir of mischief; rules the Merrie-Met (tricksters, dancers, and makers of mischief like satyrs and sprites)

YS: Kabir of fertility; rules the Painters of Flowers and Dapplers of Dew (the fey that make the world go ‘round, the nature-workers of Nod such as the flower fairies, nymphs and dryads, as well as the storm giants - though nobody really rules those folks)


ALAD: Igigi of Benevolence (NG)

AZAG: Igigi of Morbidity (NE)

AZUR: Igigi of Virtue (LG); After Azur's destruction by Zid during its crusade in the Material Plane against evil, when it stretched itself too thin and made itself vulnerable, Azur was shattered into seven archangels (solars), generally known as the Seven Virtues.

GUZU: Igigi of Rage (CE)

NIM: Igigi of Love (CG)

SUUL: Igigi of Madness (CN)

ZID: Igigi of Logic (LN)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Toxicons [New Monsters]

Lately, I've been thinking about useful replacements for some of the traditional low-level monsters - the kobold-goblin-orc-hobgoblin-gnoll-bugbear "chain of fiends". After all, lots of us have played in quite a few of these here dungeons and have faced more than our fair share of these 0 to 3 HD creeps. Something new might be fun. Additionally, that chain of beings may not be as useful for campaigns that are not Tolkien-fantasy based. With that in mind, I offer up these fearsome fellows - The Toxicons!

The Toxicons are for slightly higher than 1st/2nd level parties, owing to the fact that all of them bring poison to the table, and most low-level parties will find poison a very difficult challenge to surmount. They were actually inspired by an episode of Adventure Time, maybe the most inspirational show in history for gonzo role playing.

Small Humanoid, Chaotic (NE), Low Intelligence; Gang (1d8)

HD 0
AC 13 (leather armor and buckler)
ATK By weapon
MV 20
SV F14 R16 W17
XP 50 (CL 1)

Creepers are gaunt creatures that stand about 3 to 4 feet in height, though their hunched backs make them look shorter. They have dog-like faces, with downward-pointing teeth jutting from their muzzles, brilliant green eyes, greyish skin that looks warty and wrinkled in places, and a single row of bony nodules running from their forehead to the back of their skulls.

Once per day, a creeper can cough up a bluish mist in the face of an opponent. This mist consists of Poison I and forces the adventurer to either hold their breath (treat them as fatigued while holding their breath, which they can do for a number of rounds equal to 3 + their Constitution bonus) or succeed at a Fortitude saving throw to avoid falling asleep.

Creepers generally wear scanty bits of armor, and rarely more than leather. They arm themselves with small weapons and bucklers.

Medium Humanoid, Chaotic (NE), Average Intelligence; Gang (1d6)

AC 14 (studded leather armor and buckler)
ATK By weapon
MV 30
SV F13 R15 W15
XP 100 (CL 2)

Grapplers are the larger cousins of the creepers. They look like taller creepers, with smaller muzzles, two rows of nodules on their heads, and longer arms that look like a cross between a humanoid arm and a tentacle. Male grapplers have manes of short, brownish fur covering their necks and shoulders.
Grapplers are covered in a thin sheen on contact poison (Poison II). Any creature coming into direct contact with a grappler must pass a Fortitude save to avoid the poison, adding their armor bonus to their saving throw.

Medium Humanoid, Chaotic (NE), Low Intelligence; Gang (1d6)*

HD 1+1
AC 16 (chainmail and shield)
ATK By weapon
MV 30
SV F13 R15 W16
XP 100 (CL 2)

Crushers are the largest of the Toxicons, standing a bit taller than a human being. They are rugged and muscular. Their faces have weak chins and down-turned mouths that usually hang open, revealing their sharp teeth. They are hairier than the smaller toxicons, being entirely covered with brownish fur of varying lengths.

Crushers emit a cloud of toxins in a 5-ft radius. Any creature coming into this cloud must hold their breath (see above) or pass a Fortitude save against a weak form of Poison III (1d4 damage). As the shock troops of the Toxicon species, crushers usually wear heavier armor (up to chainmail) and wield heavy bludgeoning weapons and shields.

LORDSMedium Humanoid, Chaotic (NE), High Intelligence; Gang (1d4)*

HD 2
AC 15 (chainmail and buckler)
ATK By weapon
MV 30
SV F12 R15 W14
XP 200 (CL 3)

The lords of the toxicons are notably smarter than their fellows. They look like grapplers with prominent foreheads and bluish skin and black manes that cover their knobby heads (save for their foreheads) and backs. They are known for the magical powers. Most lords wear chainmail or heavier armor and carry bucklers and piercing weapons (like spears).

Spells: 3/day -- poison

Special: Immune to poison

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The History of Nod, Part II - Elves and Gnomes

Another chunk of Nodian history ...


The gnomes and elves are offshoots of the fey, the elves being descended from the fey and dragons and the gnomes descending from the brownies, pixies and sprites, probably from congress with more mundane humanoids.

Though the elves are actually a younger race than human beings, they are longer lived, and they fancy themselves the senior partners in the firm – wiser, more beautiful, more graceful, etc. The ancient elves, being only a few generations removed from the Kabir, were virtual demi-gods and terribly powerful. In no time, they spread their influence and their kingdoms across the face of the world, and their general lack of morality and compassion for lesser creatures drove them to enslave other folk. True, their influence did not spread to Mu-Pan, where their dragon sires held sway, but the rest of NOD was theirs to do with as they pleased.

The elves demanded tribute from the dwarves (more on them later) and drove them to construct a network of towering standing stones that formed the natural flow of magic on NOD into a network they could tap to work wonders. This network also denied magical access to most other folks. With this magical power, the elves constructed impossible cities and walked the planes of reality. They were the greatest explorers of their age, mapping the cosmos and making enemies far and wide.

The power of the ancient elves was staggering, but not without limits. Their magic flowed from the Kabir via elven druids, and the dictates of the Kabir irritated the arrogant elves. They raged against their ancestor gods, and in time they were heard by the demons, that still haunted NOD, and the fallen angels who now inhabited Hell at the center of NOD. These agents of Chaos and Evil reached out to the ancient elves with promises of power unlimited, asking nothing in return, for they knew the elves, unhampered by compassion or morality, would do exactly what their new tutors would like to be done to the world.

Tune in next time for the dwarves and the destruction of everything the elves held dear (i.e. their power)

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Alignment is the Universe?

More "History of NOD" coming very soon, but a brief thought on alignment in games today.

Is there a God (or gods) and how does He/She/It/Them want people to behave?

This is the big religious question, of course, and one I don't want to answer here (or have answered in the comments - hint hint). But it got me thinking about religion/mythology/alignment in game worlds.

In many game worlds, the presence, identity and even ultimate aims of the divine powers is rarely in question. In most campaigns, a list of gods and goddesses is provided, each with a portfolio and an alignment, and players with a cleric pick their favorite and off they go.

What, though, would be result if nobody (no players, anyhow) really knew anything about who ran the universe?

Sure, there might still be pantheons that people worship, but what if those pantheons were just collections of names and mythological stories. What if what actually lay beyond the Material Plane was unknown to 99.9999% of the population, and those who did have some knowledge of it were super high level and thus generally unavailable for consultation? To put it in other terms, what if nobody knew what the universe's alignment was? Clerics and players would have to creep along, wary of breaking an unwritten divine law and suffering the consequences if they did - loss of spell access, no healing, no resurrection, visits from divine enforcers, general bad luck, etc.

You could still have the different angels/demons/devils/demodands/modrons/etc. - you just don't know which faction is in charge of the universe and which faction is just pretending to be control of the universe. Imagine too the excitement of stepping into the Outer Planes not knowing what you would find or who's religion (i.e. alignment) was the One True Alignment. Maybe the Universe is Lawful Neutral, maybe its Neutral Good, maybe its Chaotic Evil, maybe it is completely unaligned. You won't know unless you ascend to the Outer Planes and knock on some doors. In the meantime, players collect clues and interpret portents in-game and do their best to figure it all out, just as folks do in the real world.

However you structure such a game world, it could be for an interesting place to adventure.

Friday, November 15, 2013

History of Nod, Part I

It's good to be the God of Nod ...
There have been requests, so here it is. It will also appear in the NOD Companion (coming soon ... I swear!) I have generally hesitated to get too much into this, since, in my opinion, this is just stuff from my personal campaign. I'd like others to feel free to concoct their own history of NOD if they use it in a campaign. Still, some folks like to get the "official" word on a campaign setting, so I guess this is it.

We begin with the Primordial History of NOD ...

I first conceived of NOD as a campaign setting about 5 years ago. It had two key sources of inspiration. The first was a map that depicted what some folks believed would be the layout of the continents on Earth millions of years from now. Is NOD meant to be the future of Earth? No. Just liked the map.

The second bit of inspiration came from the fiction of Dunsany and Lovecraft, specifically the Dreamlands. Having grown up on more Tolkienesque fantasy, they were both a revelation and a welcome “shot in the arm” to my imagination. I had created worlds that were little more than fantasy versions of the CIA’s factbook – collections of make-believe countries (mostly based on real world countries) and currencies and languages, etc. Tons of background that would rarely come up when a motley band of tomb robbers, religious zealots, scoundrels and necromancers were descending into the unlit depths of the world in search of fame, fortune and experience points.

NOD, therefore, would be a dream world, one conjured by the dreams, fantasies and mythologies of everyone who ever lived (but mostly dreams, fantasies and mythologies that I made up myself, or that were in the public domain – after all, I live in the real world and don’t fancy getting hit with a lawsuit!)

NOD is composed of dreams. In that regard, it has no geological or cosmological history. It wasn’t, and then it was, and slowly, it got itself crammed with all sorts of fantasy nonsense to entertain and annoy people who like to play fantasy games.

The LAND OF NOD once floated in a great sea of undiluted Chaos. Beset by demons and their ilk, and other things born in nightmares, those organisms that tried to eke out a life on the little planet had a tough time of it. Fortunately, what exists in the Material World has a soul in the Ethereal Plane. Like souls tend to flock together in great eddies in the Ethereal Plane, and these collections of souls, united by common purpose, gain a sort of divine sentience. It was thus that Ka, the first deity, was born.

Ka was composed of the souls or spirits of everything alive, and in fact still is. In those primordial days, though, Ka was mostly composed of the spirits of simple organisms and beasts (as they outnumbered sentient beings by a significant margin), and thus embodied (so to speak) the desire to survive.

Seeing its subjects beset by the creatures of Chaos, Ka injected bits of itself into the Material Plane – like sticking one’s fingers into the bowl of jelly. These protrusions of Ka took material form in the Material Plane, and they are called the Kabir. The Kabir might be considered the first of the fey, though in game terms they would be considered outsiders. Their shapes were variable, but primarily humanoid, for humans, the most advanced animals on NOD, gave them the benefit of their own advanced minds.

The Kabir went to war with the demons and other chaos creatures. In this war, they created soldiers from the stock of creatures already living on NOD, and in this way gave birth to the fey, the giants and the dragons. In time, they achieved a sort of victory, and life flourished on NOD. In time, Ka was shattered, or at least smaller eddies formed within Ka. These were the animal lords, each a collection of animal souls united by the drives of their component species, and more alignment-oriented entities, composed of the souls of sentient beings based on their own dedication to philosophical concepts like Law, Chaos, Good and Evil. These entities could also project pieces of themselves into the Material Plane, appearing not only as the planets that orbit around NOD, but also as the various outsiders (devils, angels, etc.) that plague and aid humans and demi-humans.

The structure of the Nodian cosmos was the product of ZID, the “god” of Reason and the Need for Order and Organization, through the workings of the polyhedroids, who are its manifestations in the Material Plane. They derived the crystal spheres that guide the movement of the planets and constructed from raw chaos the Firmament, which holds the undiluted chaos of the cosmos at bay, the churning of this chaos serving as the motivating force that keeps the Nodian cosmos in motion.

The Kabir eventually retired from the Material Plane to the pocket dimension of Fairyland, leaving their fey children behind to serve as nature’s agents on NOD. Since NOD has no innate physical laws to govern it, all that happens in NOD must happen through an intelligent agent. The polyhedroids are in charge of the big things, like gravity and the conservation of matter and energy, while the natural flourishes like the seasons are overseen by the various fey courts.

Next up ... a brief history of the elves and gnomes

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Warriors for Hire

Sometimes, you need to hire some muscle to dig into that dungeon. Sometimes, you need a quick, easy blog post that can be written off of a simple illustration. This is that time!

The following warriors correspond to the images above, in order from left to right.

STR 14 INT 10 WIS 5 DEX 11 CON 13 CHA 11
HP 17 AC 15 ATK +1 FORT 11 REF 14 WILL 16
Dominate 0 HD foes
Bull Rush
Chainmail, Quarterstaff (1d6+1), Short Bow (1d6)

Barl cut his teeth on the field of battle, and fancies himself quite the tactician. Of course, his tactics usually involve rushing the enemy and hacking them to pieces …

STR 13 INT 6 WIS 16 DEX 13 CON 10 CHA 5
HP 7 AC 15 ATK +2 FORT 12 REF 11 WILL 13
Sworn enemy (orcs)
Chainmail, Short Sword (1d6+1), Longbow (1d8)

Avomir prefers the woodlands and the small villages on its borders to town and city. A lusty rascal, his exploits with the fairer sex are known far and wide.

STR 13 INT 8 WIS 11 DEX 11 CON 11 CHA 10
HP 12 AC 00 ATK +4 FORT 11 REF 14 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes
Iron Will, Knack (Hide in Shadows)
Chainmail, Halberd (1d10), Short Sword (1d6)

Astley comes from a far-away kingdom that was laid low by the fires of a red dragon. Speaking little, he prefers to keep to the shadows when not fighting. Astley is a suspicious man, believing there was a traitor involved in the death of his homeland and family.

STR 14 INT 5 WIS 15 DEX 13 CON 13 CHA 15
HP 20 AC 19 ATK +4 FORT 9 REF 11 WILL 9
Detect evil, smite chaos (evil) 3/day, lay on hands, immune to fear, turn undead, quest for warhorse
Dodge, Iron Will
Banded Mail, Shield, Spear +1 (1d6+1), Silver Dagger (1d4)

Ormsby is everything a paladin should be, save for his rather conservative approach to fighting evil. Ormsby is a plodding planner, who often takes his comrades to the brink of madness with his hesitancy to move.

STR 15 INT 9 WIS 10 DEX 10 CON 16 CHA 11
HP 20 AC 14 ATK +3 FORT 10 REF 14 WILL 14
Land speed +10, rage 1/day, sixth sense
Cleave, Two Weapon Fighting
Scale Armor, Short Sword (1d6), Hand Axe (1d6)

Despite his prickly exterior, Carlovan is a rather decent man, though with admittedly little patience for the ways of “civilized folk”. If it were not for taverns, he would have no use at all for entering towns and cities.

STR 14 INT 8 WIS 9 DEX 12 CON 13 CHA 12
HP 31 AC 19 ATK +6 FORT 9 REF 13 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes, two attacks per round
Alertness, Weapon Focus (Longsword)
Platemail, Shield, Longsword +1/+3 vs. Dragons (1d8+1)

Zybolt doesn’t speak much of his history, but he has the acid scars on his back to prove that he once did battle with a green dragon. He offers no proof that he slayed the beast. He is a cunning warrior with a boundless, though wry, wit and a particular love of hard cider.

STR 17 INT 6 WIS 7 DEX 14 CON 10 CHA 10
HP 6 AC 13 ATK +1 FORT 13 REF 14 WILL 16
Leather Armor, Pole Axe (1d8+1), Dagger (1d4)

Geoff is a big country boy, earning his armor by fighting orcs on the frontier. A bit naïve, he is nonetheless a brave and patient warrior with a desire to become better.

STR 14 INT 10 WIS 12 DEX 13 CON 12 CHA 6
HP 21 AC 16 ATK +5 FORT 10 REF 12 WILL 13
Dominate 0 HD foes, two attacks per round
Cleave, Sunder
Chainmail, Short Sword (1d6), Heavy Crossbow (1d6+1)

Even dwarves find Hafnar unpleasant company. He is unrelentingly bleak in his outlook on life, though fortunately he speaks only rarely, preferring instead to spend his downtime smoking his pipe and staring into the fire. Despite his pessimism, he looks forward to one day building a stronghold and governing a barony.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Demigods, the First Adventurers [New Class]

It would be hard to tell who the first adventurer in literature ever was, but I suppose Gilgamesh might fit the bill. Gilgamesh is the son a human king and the goddess Ninsun, making him a demi-god. In the annals of adventuring, he has good company – Heracles, Achilles, Cuchulainn, Hanuman, Māui, Perseus, Theseus, and many more.

So if demigods can be adventurers in myth and literature, why not in Blood & Treasure?

First things first – we need to define our demigods. If one has some experience in fantasy role playing games, they’ll know that demi-gods are usually depicted as extraordinarily powerful entities. Obviously, characters that powerful would not work well as adventurers, unless one was doing some pretty epic adventuring.

Our demigods are going to be a bit more human (or demi-human), and like other adventurers, are going to become more powerful as they advance in levels. In other words, they’re going to be on par with the other characters – don’t expect them to eclipse the magic-users, thieves and fighters in the party.

No ability score lower than 10, one ability score higher than 15

Padded, leather, studded leather; bucklers and shields

Any weapon

Bend Bars, Break Down Doors, Find Secret Doors, Ignore Pain, Jump, Monster Lore

At 1st level, a demigod’s player must choose their character’s divine ancestry. Whether a god or goddess, they must choose one of the following domains for their character’s divine parent based on their character’s highest ability score.

  • STR Destruction, Strength, War, Water
  • INT Knowledge, Magic
  • WIS Death, Healing, Sun
  • DEX Air, Fire, Travel
  • CON Animal, Earth, Plant, Protection
  • CHA Love, Luck, Trickery

The demigod gains one power based on his or her parentage, as follows:

  • AIR: Resistance to electricity damage, feather fall at will
  • ANIMAL: Speak with animals at will, charm animal three times per day
  • DEATH: Command undead three times per day
  • DESTRUCTION: Smite opponent once per day (+2 to hit and double damage if you hit)
  • EARTH: Resistance to acid damage, +1 bonus to saving throws while standing on bare earth
  • FIRE: Immune to fire damage
  • HEALING: Laying on of hands ability, per the paladin
  • KNOWLEDGE: Legend lore ability, per the bard
  • LOVE: Charm person once per day, three times per day at 4th level
  • LUCK: Re-roll one saving throw once per day
  • MAGIC: Save vs. magic at +2
  • PLANT: Speak with plants at will, command plants once per day
  • PROTECTION: Barkskin three times per day
  • STRENGTH: Can wield two-handed weapons with one hand
  • SUN: Use light at will, daylight once per day
  • TRAVEL: Haste once per day for one round per level
  • TRICKERY: Trickery as class skill, spell abilities of a gnome
  • WAR: Deals double damage on a charge (if birthed by a war god like Ares) or command double the normal numbers of henchmen (if birthed by a war goddess like Athena)
  • WATER: Resistance to cold damage; cannot sink in water (though can be held under and drowned)

Demigods are supernaturally tough, and gain the Armor Class bonuses as a monk.

Demigods are born to greatness, and are expected to do great things. A 1st level demigod is given an ordained labor by his divine parent. This works as a geas, and requires the demigod to do one of the following by the time he or she reaches 4th level.

  1. Capture a monster* with twice as many Hit Dice (minimum 2 Hit Dice more) as the demigod
  2. Complete a heroic task that would be considered very difficult for the character (the Treasure Keeper has to use his or her best judgment on this one)
  3. Slay a monster* with twice as many Hit Dice (minimum 3 Hit Dice more) as the demigod
  4. Steal a relic (must be worth as many gp as the demigod as XP or be magical)

* Monster in this connotation refers to magical beasts, monstrous humanoids, dragons, prehistoric animals, giants and outsiders

Until the labor is completed, the demigod cannot advance beyond 4th level. A new labor is ordained when the hero reaches 5th level, and must be completed by the time the demigod reaches 8th level. Additional labors must be completed by 12th and 16th level.

  • The first labor completed earns the demigod a one-time use of the restoration spell on him or herself.
  • The second labor completed earns the demigod a one-time use of the raise dead spell on him or herself.
  • The third labor completed earns the demigod a one-time use of the resurrection spell on him or herself.
  • The fourth labor completed earns the demigod the right to ascend into Heaven (or wherever mom or dad are from) when they die.

Demigods are renowned for one of their physical or mental abilities, and this ability grows as their fame grows. A demigod increases his or her highest ability score by one point at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th level.

A 3rd level demigod can make pleas for assistance to his divine parent. Demigods can appeal for 0 to 2nd level spells by passing a Charisma task check with a penalty equal to the level of the spell. At 7th level, the demigod can begin appealing for 3rd to 4th level spells. At 11th level, the demigod can begin appealing for 5th to 6th level spells. Each time an appeal is answered, the demigod must pledge 10% of their earned treasure to the cult of their divine parent (a minimum of 50 gp per spell level).

A 5th level demigod gains magic resistance equal to 1% per level, to a maximum of 10%.

A 9th level demigod may establish a hero cult for themselves. The demigod must construct a temple in his own honor and in the honor of his divine parent. The demigod then attracts 1d6 men-at-arms per level, 1d6 first level clerics or druids and a 4th level cleric or druid to serve as his high priest.


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