Thursday, January 31, 2013

Star Fish from Outer Space - The Asterions

I promised stats (well, I promised to have them yesterday, so bad on me) for these ladies and gents, so here they are!

Star Mother
Huge Aberration, Neutral, Average Intelligence; Solitary

HD 12
AC 16
ATK 2 slams (2d6 + poison II)
MV 20, Climb 20
SV F 6, R 9, W 7
XP 1200 (CL 13)

Star mothers are huge, 5-armed starfish-like creatures. They are capable of planeshifting once per week, and use this ability to invade new domains. A star mother is surrounded by a 60-ft. radius aura that has the same effect as the eyebite spell.

Special Qualities: Magic resistance 25%

Tiny Aberration, Neutral, Average Intelligence; Clutch (2d6)

HD 0
AC 14
ATK 1 bite (1 + poison I)
MV 10, Climb 10, Fly 40
SV F 19, R 16, W 13
XP 50 (CL 1)

Starlings are the tiny offspring of the star mother. They look like 5-armed starfish with transparent flesh (acts as natural improved invisibility). They rarely enter combat, preferring instead to sneak up on victims while they are sleeping. They then attach themselves to a spot just beneath the base of the neck, and easily hidden by clothing, and use their magical powers to dominate their victims (per dominate person as a 6th level spellcaster). The dominate ability requires the monster to be in contact with its target.

Star Warrior
Medium Aberration, Neutral, Average Intelligence; Gang (1d8)

HD 4
AC 15
ATK 2 slams (1d4 + poison II) and bite (1d6)
MV 20, Climb 20
SV F 14, R 14, W 11
XP 400 (CL 5)

The star warriors are the 7-armed rank and file of the asterion armies, bred from humanoids that have been altered by the weird chemistries of the starlings. Each star warrior has a large, central eye that can, once per day, emit a ray 120 feet in length (Reflex save to avoid). The eye's color corresponds to the type of ray, which you can roll randomly for each gang of star warriors:

1. Color spray (as the spell) - golden-brown eye
2. Energy missile - cold (as the spell) - violet eye
3. Hold person (as the spell) - emerald green eye
4. Magic missile (as the spell, 1 missile) - icy blue eye
5. Sleep (as the spell, 1 target) - deep maroon eye
6. Slow (as the spell) - vibrant crimson eye

Star Lord
Large Aberration, Neutral, High Intelligence; Command (1d4)

HD 8
AC 16
ATK 2 slams (1d6 + poison II) and bite (1d8)
MV 20, Climb 20
SV F 10, R 11, W 8
XP 800 (CL 9)

Star lords are 11-armed asterions who serve as the commanders of the star warriors. Their multifaceted central eyes can fire off all the various rays common to the star warriors, each once per day. They can levitate at will.

Special Qualities: Magic resistance 15%, levitation

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Star Lords [New Monster]

The cosmos of Nod hides many dangers, none greater than the Star Lords, a race of star-shaped creatures who roam from planet to planet in search of slaves and survival. The Star Lords, or Astarions, have no conception of danger, and thus fear nothing. It is said they once attempted to conquer Hell, seeing its demons and devils as no more fearsome than one might a peasant or fat merchant.

Of the astarions, there are four sorts which share a deep kinship and which always work in concert to achieve their aims. When they enter a new dimension, the first to be seen is the Star Mother. Her brood, the Starlings, soon appear and carry out their purpose of conquering the minds of whatever creature calls the dimension home. Some of these starlings manage to pervert the chemistries of their hosts, turning them into the dread Star Warriors, and a few of these Star Warriors manage to morph into the dreaded Star Lords, who rule dimensions until they are drained of resources.

[I'm putting this material down before I forget it - expect stats in the next post]

Star Mothers
A star mother is a huge being that looks like a massive sea star, with black, coarse flesh and a pink underbelly. It lies, splayed out in a cool cavern, it's great bulging eye atop its body, its legs flexed that it might deposit hundreds of small, translucent eggs on the ground. These eggs hatch in a few days, producing starlings. Star mothers are powerful combatants due to their size and flexibility.

Starlings are tiny creatures that resemble transparent sea stars. They are, of course, quite sneaky and stealthy, and it is their purpose to leave their mother's nest and seek out sentient beings. Waiting until they sleep (usually), they attach themselves to their chosen victim's back, at the base of their neck. From this point, they use their powers to bend the person to their will, pressing them to visit the cave, gather other starlings, and distribute them among other folk, especially folk known to be powerful, influential or capable of entering places in secret (i.e. thieves and assassins).

Star Warriors
About 1 in 6 starlings is capable of slowly changing their hosts into star warriors. Star warriors are medium-sized creatures that appear as sea stars with coral flesh and large eyes in their center. These eyes are various colors, each corresponding to a different type of ray which the monster can use a limited number of times per day. Star warriors are covered in a sort of chitin, and they are capable of flight.

Star Lord
A rare star warrior is destined to grow to large size. Its flesh becomes a deep crimson, and its eye becomes multifaceted, allowing it to use a variety of rays. Star Lords are the rulers of their people, and gain mental control over any humanoid controlled by one of its brother starlings. Star lords command their slaves (whether controlled or merely cowed) to offer up all manner of resources, ceasing the raising of new crops or mining of new materials, and instead directing all effort towards the aggrandizement of the Astarions. When the resources are depleted, the Astarions move on, their star mother shifting into a new dimension / planet / world while its old children simply cease to be, drying into dust and blowing away.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

An (Un-) Common Dungeon

A little experiment tonight - I'm going to work up the skeleton of an adventure using the "random file" function at Wikimedia Commons. Now, you can't do anything with some of these random files, so I'm going to take every single one in turn, but I'll do my best with most of them to fit them into the scheme of the thing.

Every good dungeon needs an entrance. My first image is actually a cheat - I'm using the picture of the day, the Temple of the God Wind in a Mayan ruin.

There's the entrance to our adventure site - a ruined temple. Even though "God Wind" sounds like it has something to do with divine flatulence, we'll assume we're talking about a wind deity. Let's work out some wandering monsters:

1. Wind Priests - half-naked blokes with censors of poisoned gas (sleep gas; they're immune) and light maces

2. Small Air Elemental

3. Fusillade of poisoned darts (save vs. paralysis)

4. Giant Constrictor (wandered into the place from the jungle)

5. Pirates (exploring the ruin; their ship is anchored off the coast)

6. Albino Apes (just because they have a place in any ruined temple)

Since I'm thinking more in terms of a short adventure than a mega-dungeon, it's nice to have some monster or NPC sitting on top of the food chain. Not only is he/she/it the ultimate challenge of the place, knowing their identity in advance let's you weave their presence throughout the place.

My random file - Barack Obama. I'd love to expand on this, but I like to keep politics out of this site, so I'll try again. The next file is EZ Tondo - some sort of German store I suppose. The image doesn't help, but how about an exiled Teutonic Knight who dabbled in black magic and has now taken up residence in the bowels of this pagan temple, adopting the identity of Tondo, Son of the God Wind, and cowing the locals into serving him.

Tondo will be a 4th level fighter and 6th level anti-cleric (dual-classing, dontcha know), and always accompanied by four of the aforementioned wind priests (2 HD each).

Now we need a reason for the adventurers to delve in the place, beyond simple loot. I get "Cathagenian ruins in Tunisia", which brings Hannibal to mind, of course, and elephants, and thus a figurine of wondrous power, a pretty spiffy relic to delve for.

 Just within the entrance, we need some wondrous challenge to whet the players' appetites. I randomly get an image of an altar in a church. Our first great challenge, then, is a trapped altar dedicated to the God Wind. Maybe it looks like a pipe organ. You have to play the proper tune to open the doors into the dungeon, with each mistake summoning a monster or bolt of lightning or gust of razor-wind - something like that. The notes are secreted within a bas-relief of a gaggle of sylphs with open mouths, as though singing or shrieking, the mouths being at different heights and thus corresponding to musical notes. No, the ancient Mayans did not use this sort of musical notation, but since the players probably are not ancient Mayans, the concept works for them.

We need a good (or evil) guardian of the first level - a monster or trap who keeps people from getting to the lower level, where the MacGuffin and Big Bad Guy are hiding. I get this ...

Honestly, I have no idea. But it does give me some inspiration - I'm picturing a person grabbed by legs and arms and pulled in a most inconvenient way. But how?

Perhaps a well lined with hundreds of manacles embedded in the walls. The way to descend would be to either climb down a rope or climb down using the manacles as hand- and footholds. Naturally, the things are animated, and at some point attempt to clamp down on people's wrists and ankles (Reflex save to avoid). Maybe they then pull the person, or maybe they just hold them while some winged goblins fly up from the darkness and attack. Either way, it would make for an interesting and challenging combat.

We need a mystery on the lower level to keep the player's guessing. I now get the image of a statue holding a sword and a torch or oil lamp of some kind. This we'll place in a circular room at the meeting of four passages. The passages lead to outer portions of the lower level - your basic rooms with monsters and traps and scant treasure. By lighting the statue's lamp, though, and rotating it so that the light falls on bare walls in the rotunda, it also reveals extra-dimensional passages to four sub-levels, each dangerous. Once one walks through one of these openings, they see a wall behind them, so escaping from the sub-levels will be one of the challenges of the dungeon. One of the sub-levels hides a tiger's eye gemstone that, when affixed to one of the the statue's eye sockets (the empty one), animates it. It retains its perch and fights like a devil, but if defeated, the pedestal it stands on fades away, revealing a spiral stair that leads to the inner sanctum of Tondo.

So, six images gives us the framework for a (hopefully) entertaining dungeon. We would now need to draw up the levels and sub-levels and stock the chambers with monsters, traps and treasure. Remember, random isn't just good in a game, it's also good for creating a game - random inspirations to set your little grey cells to firing and creating things even you could never have known were lurking in you campaign world.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Humans in the Virgin Woode

Today, I thought I'd throw out some of my notions on the colonists who are settling in the Virgin Woode. I like, if possible, to relate things back to classic D&D tropes and concepts - in the vein of "D&D is always right" - and thus pair a bit of historic fact or fancy with the reality suggested by the rules. Recently, I've been reading Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America to get some ideas, and it's certainly been a great help. Currently, the three main groups of colonists are the Pilgrims, Cavaliers and Traders, with a sub-group of Agitators.

The Traders: You'll recall "trader" as a monster type in Basic D&D (or Expert - one of them). Here, it refers to venturers (a' la the class I worked up in an early issue of NOD), rangers and their ilk who settled the Dweomer Bay seeking riches in the Virgin Woode. The "traders" are made up of folks from Antigoon (i.e. Holland), Tremayne (i.e. Elizabethan England), Lyonesse (medieval France), Blackpoort (Dickensian London) and, well, just about anywhere there are men and women who want it all and want it now. The patron deity of Dweomer Bay is Atlas, the "god of exploration", who has a pretty level-headed and casual cult in the city. The other gods and goddesses of the Motherlands pantheon are here as well, of course. I want Dweomer Bay to be a sort of melting pot of alignments, nationalities, classes, races, etc - like a D&D tavern writ large. Ultimately, an easy place to start a band of adventurers out. A peg-legged old fighting-man will probably serve as the city-state's elected prince.

The Pilgrims: Inspired by the "monster" in the AD&D Monster Manual, the pilgrims in this case refer to religious exiles from Tremayne. Tremayne is ruled by the Faerie Queen, Gloriana, and has as its patron deity Diana. I wanted Tremayne to have a druidic religion that was very formal and, well, "Church of England", I suppose. The pilgrims are the religious folks who want a return to the more "primitive church", and they've settled to the north of Dweomer Bay in a town called Trinity after the notion of the triple goddess. For all intents and purposes, these folks are pagan puritans, witches who hunt clerics (and demons and such - hey, even if you're neutral, you know that Chaotic Evil represents more of a threat than Lawful Good). They dress like the puritans in russets, browns and other "sadd" colors, wear steeple hats, venerate their elders - the big change being that these pilgrims are ruled by their women rather than men.

The Cavaliers: Inspired by the name of the class from Unearthed Arcana and by the identity of the Anglican settlers of Virginia and the Chesapeake, the cavaliers are dandies and monarchists loyal to Gloriana that are seeking to recreate Camelot in the Virgin Woode. Their names are based on the knights of Arthurian romance and the Faerie Queen and they adhere pretty closely to the feudal concept so common in fantasy games. Like the real cavalier settlers of North America, they speak with a drawl (which originates in SW England - the Southerners of America didn't make it up) and are all about gallantry, nobility, power, lust and a love of gambling.

The Agitators: The agitators are the Son of Liberty in Dweomer Bay, determined to found a true republic and cast off the chains of monarchy. They're devout worshipers of William Blake's pantheon, especially of the Sons of Los, the gods of revolution. They've founded their own version of Penn's Philadelphia, called Golgonooza. They're recruiting an army and plan to cause trouble!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Stroll Through the Virgin Woode - Oil Slicks, Swamp Apes, Burial Mounds and Fountains

0418. Oil Slick | Trap
A portion of the woods here is covered in an oil slick. The slick covers about three acres; only thick, rugged grasses grow from beneath the slick, making the area it has blighted look like some sort of a unwholesome meadow. Those who touch the oil with their bare skin must pass a Fortitude save or be affected by a random magic oil.

0527. Skunk Ape | Monster Lair
The remains of a walled city can be found in the swamp here. The ruins consist of nothing but crumbled walls and a few towers covered with slimes, verdigris or other forms of corruption. The ruins are haunted by an especially fierce skunk ape, who brooks no intrusions on his domain, and who is clever enough to pick off intruders one at a time. A flooded vault in the ruins holds a +2 scimitar that can slice through air. This has the effect of dealing double damage on gaseous and air elemental creatures, as well as allowing one to create small sonic booms by making a special attack against an Armor Class of 20.

0624. Burial Mound | Monster Lair
An ancient skraeling burial mound can be found here. The mound is about 200 feet in diameter and 22 feet tall. One side of the hill hides an entance veiled in illusion. Beyond this entrance there is a 80-ft. long passage lined by megaliths. At the end of this passage there is a teardrop-shaped shield painted a brilliant sapphire blue. This +1 shield is Lawful (CG) in alignment, and if touched by a member of any other alignment, sparks and causes 1d6 points of electricity damage (per round, if one keeps ahold of it).

The shield is actually a door of sorts, a small passage being hidden behind it. The shield is wizard locked to the wall (by a 10th level magic-user). Beyond the shield and the small hole in the wall, there is a narrow set of stairs that lead downward through a brackish, powerful wind. At the bottom of the stairs (about 400 feet long, and sensitive folk might get the feeling they’re “not in Kansas anymore”) there is a crimson sea stretching out into a black expanse. Beyond the sea (how one crosses it is up to the players – perhaps canoes would work) there is a grey shore, a long strand of beach behind which there is a noisome jungle of scarlet foliage. A treasure has been buried on this beach by pirates of this strange dimension, a treasure of two golden tablets containing the location of the tomb of the Thief of Dreams.

What monsters might dwell in this dimension, other than the pirates, is up to the TK – have fun and use it as a chance to surprise the players and introduce some new menaces.

0716. Empty Fountain | Curiosity
A clearing in the woods here holds an empty fountain made of red granite and topped with a coiled dragon made of tarnished copper. The dragon’s head is held aloft, such that one would assume that the water of the fountain would emerge from its snout. The pipe in the snout from which the water would emerge is currently blocked by the handle of a +1 light mace.

The fountain is guarded by an astral deva called Morviel, placed here at the behest of a wizard of the ancient elves to keep the curious or wicked away from this Fountain of Holocausts. Should the magic mace be removed, the fountain would explode in a gout of blazing flame, one that would send white hot cinders flying through the air to land in the woods beyond.

Anyone within 30 feet of the fountain, if active, would suffer 3d6 points of fire damage per round. Beyond 30 feet, and up to 1 mile, one suffers 1d6 points of damage per round. Naturally, within a short time the woods will be burning, causing other problems.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Make a New Class - The Land of Nod Way

I got an email recently asking about whether I used a formula of some sort when creating a new class. I figured the answer might make a good (and easy) post for the blog, so my process is as follows:

1) I read something and think that a particular character would make a good class. I usually look for something from classic fantasy literature, folklore or fairy tales, and a character type which spans a few different sources, even though one in particular might be the original or best known (i.e. there are lots of barbarians in fantasy stories, but Conan is the best known).

It's quite fun and old school appropriate to base a character class on a particular character from fantasy, including adding in quirks about that character - i.e. the AD&D ranger being able to specifically use crystal balls because Aragorn could use a palantir. If you want to do a "mystic knight" class, go ahead and make it the Luke Skywalker class and include a whining ability - inside jokes like that are integral to the origins of the hobby.

2) I come up with level titles. Seems weird to do that second, but if I can't come up with eight or nine synonyms for the class, it probably isn't based on a broad enough concept.

3) I think up one or two specific abilities that not only fit the character, but which set it apart from existing classes. I try not to just make a new class with a mix of abilities from older classes, though sometimes an existing ability is appropriate.

4) I next look for a similar existing class and use it as my base in terms of attack bonus, save bonuses, etc. I throw in the special abilities and then try to figure out how comparable it is to the existing class in terms of power to help me decide which XP chart to use.

And that's pretty much it. I try to keep in mind that I'm making up a bit of make believe nonsense for a game - i.e. I don't take the process to seriously. Have fun. Be a little silly.


By the way - Tanner Yea's Races of Lore now joins his Heroes of Lore as a download on the Blood & Treasure page.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mythic Races IV - The Primordials

The primordials are an ancient collection of dinosauroid species native to the jungles of Hybrasil. All are based on a pairing of an Aztec deity with a dinosaur, with a little magic thrown in.

The quetzal are high-flying, arrogant pteranodons, the size of humans, who consider themselves the natural ruling class of the primordials. The others do not share this belief, but they are often content to ignore the quetzals rather than argue the point. They look like flying reptiles with rainbow-colored plumage. They have thin, long faces and rather impressive azure eyes.

Quetzals are medium creatures with a movement rate of 30 feet per round on land and a fly speed of 30 feet per round. Because their bones are hollow, they count as small creatures in combat, in regards to tactical advantage and their ability to wield weapons. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Quetzals fragile bodies impose a 2 point penalty to their starting constitution scores, but they enjoy a 1 point bonus to starting intelligence and wisdom. It’s not for nothing that they believe themselves the most fit for leadership among the primordials. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Quetzals are as magically inclined as the other primordials. A quetzal with an intelligence of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: dancing lights, flare and color spray.

Quetzals speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Couatl, Dragon, Lizardman, Sylvan, Troglodyte or Celestial.

Quetzals may multi-class as cleric/fighters, cleric/sorcerers and cleric/thieves.

The coyol are fearsome and frightening primordials. They have the appearance of velociraptors with milky white scales and pitch black feathers on their arms and tails. They have toothy grins and unwavering eyes that can bore a hole through a person’s skull (not literally).

Coyols are small creatures with a movement rate of 40 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 120 feet. They have a bite attack that deals 1d4 points of damage.

The coyols are like forces of nature, with boundless personalities. Their natural propensity to lead and their constant drive to get what they want gives them a +1 bonus to starting charisma, but this focus on ego also gives them a -1 penalty to starting wisdom. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Coyols have magic in their blood, though this magic changes with the phases of the moon. When the moon is waxing and when it is full, a coyol with a charisma of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: daze, light and hypnotism. When the moon is waning or new, they can cast darkness once per day.

Coyols speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Kobold, Lizardman, Sylvan, Troglodyte or Fiendish.

Coyols may multi-class as druid/sorcerers, fighter/sorcerers and sorcerer/thieves.

Tezcats are large primordials, with scaly skin that forms a sort of armor plating on their backs, chests, faces and arms. They have squat legs, thick, armored tails and are almost as wide as they are tall. Their scales are turquoise in color and their faces have the appearance of turquoise skulls. Tezcats are warriors born, and relish taking the front line in any fight.

Tezcats are large creatures with a movement rate of 20 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for breaking down doors. A tlaloc can make a tail attack in combat for 1d4 points of damage. Their armor plating gives them a natural AC 12.

Tezcats are brutes, adding one point to their starting strength score. Their tiny heads and brains, however, don’t lend themselves to brilliance, so they lose one point from their starting intelligence score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Once per day, a tezcat can unleash a deep, long bellow that acts as a gust of wind spell.

Tezcats speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Lizardman, Troglodyte, Troll or Air Elemental

Tezcats may multi-class as cleric/fighters, fighter/sorcerers and fighter/thieves.

Tlalocs look like humanoid toads with glistening, bright green hides and needle-like spikes running up their arms and down their backs. They have large, golden eyes that can show an incredible cunning when their owner wishes them to, but otherwise look blank and inscrutable. Two long fangs jut from their thin, crooked lips. Tlalocs stand about as tall as dwarves, though this is partially because of their hunched postures.

Tlalocs are medium creatures with a movement rate of 30 feet per round on land and a swim speed of 20 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for jumping and leaping. Tlalocs can hold their breath for a full minute before needing to breath. A tlaloc can make a bite attack in combat for 1d4 points of damage.

Tlalocs are quick and cunning, adding one point to their starting dexterity score. Their foul personal habits and monstrous appearance gives them a one point penalty to their starting charisma score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

As a primordial species, Tlalocs have a natural affinity for and control over water. A tlaloc with a wisdom score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: acid splash, ray of frost and obscuring mist.

Tlalocs speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Fiendish, Lizardman, Mugwump, Troglodyte, or Water Elemental

Tlalocs may multi-class as cleric/thieves, fighter/thieves and sorcerer/thieves.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Anarchist Class [Blood & Treasure]

In case anyone is unaware, the following class is based on my reading of the first few chapters of The Man Who Was Thursday, a “surreal” little volume by G. K. Chesterton about the fight between the Central Council of Anarchists and the poets who form the New Police Force.

The Anarchist

There are anarchists – the garden variety of folks who talk about toppling governments in the name of ultimate freedom, and back it up with a bomb or two, and there are the true anarchists, who look to a higher form of anarchy that cannot exist within the human (or, in fantasy terms, the humanoid) community. These fellows seek not the toppling of governments, but the toppling of humanity (or humanoidity – weird word, have no idea if it’s correct) itself.

As this would be an unpopular tack to take among the living, the true anarchists face a great deal of opposition, and therefore must organize themselves, ruthlessly and efficiently, to achieve their goals. To this end, there exists a great organization of anarchists governed by a council of seven, each member of this inner council being named for a day of the week. All anarchists seek to rise to this council, but all anarchists must first start on the ground floor, advancing the byzantine aims of the central council in the world. Just as the forces of Law delve underground in search of treasure and magic to fuel their fight against chaos, so chaos must delve to match them.


True anarchists are artists and intellectuals; they must have a Int of 11+ and a Cha of 11+

Armor Allowed

Padded (under their expansive black cloaks), no shields

Weapons Allowed

Bomb, dagger, hand crossbow, pistol, sword-cane (treat as rapier)


Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Trickery

Advance As


Special Abilities

Anarchists bring many special abilities to the table in their fight against Law (especially the likes of vigilantes and paladins – yuck!), but among the most important is their ability to concoct explosives. A 1st level anarchist can concoct normal explosives that become more powerful as they advance in level. In addition, they gradually learn to concoct different forms of explosives, per the following table:

1 Grenade (1d6 damage) 10 gp
3 Smoke grenade (per fog cloud spell) 200 gp
5 Grenade (2d6 damage) 50 gp
7 Gas grenade (per stinking cloud spell) 300 gp
9 Grenade (3d6 damage) 100 gp
11 Death Grenade (spews a black fog, per the cloudkill spell) 500 gp
13 Grenade (4d6 damage) 200 gp
15 Incendiary Grenade (per incendiary cloud spell) 800 gp

All of these bombs have a blast radius of 5 feet. An anarchist of higher than 1st level can choose to sacrifice one dice of damage to increase the radius by 10 feet.

Anarchists have their own secret language, in the manner of the thieves’ cant. Called the “black tongue”, it is, more than anything else, a gobbledygook of quotations and dialectics.

With their bombs and their secret tongue, anarchists are sent into the world to work the will of their shadowy masters. To this end, they are given instructions that must be carried out – instructions they will rarely understand, so dark and brilliant are the workings of their president. Before each adventure begins, an anarchist receives a random instruction. If it is carried out, the anarchist earns an additional +10% earned XP. If the anarchist fails at his mission, he loses 10% of his earned XP.

1 Must befriend and protect the first to third (1d3) NPC he meets
2 Must kill the first to third (1d3) NPC he meets
3 Must pilfer the first to third (1d3) magic item he encounters
4 Must dispose of the first to third (1d3) magic item he encounters (i.e. get rid of it)
5 Must betray (at all costs) a random comrade
6 Must support (at all costs) a random comrade

A 3rd level anarchist is capable of unleashing a raging oratory that works in some ways as a bard’s ability to fascinate sentient creatures with his music. Those within the sound of the anarchist’s voice must pass a Will saving throw or suffer under the effects of the rage spell and vent their spleen upon the nearby symbols and agents of authority. Lawful individuals enjoy a +6 bonus to save vs. this effect, while chaotic creatures suffer a -3 penalty to save against it.

A 5th level anarchist possesses a madman’s sense of purpose and certainty. By taking a swig from their ever-present flask of brandy, they become immune to fear and magical persuasion for 1 round per level.

A 9th level anarchist may build a hideout beneath the streets of a major city, hiding within it a vast armory of weapons and bombs, and attracting to him or her 1d6 rogues per level, 1d6 first level anarchists who wish to learn from the master and a 3rd level anarchist to serve as his or her lieutenant.

Once an anarchist has a hideout, he or she is eligible to be elected to the central council, gaining a random name from Monday to Saturday. Each game month, there is a 1 in 20 chance that a sitting member will die and must be replaced, and the anarchist has a percentage chance equal to his level of being named to the position (with bonuses for any clever campaigning the anarchist does).

A similar chance exists for anarchists already on the council to assuming the presidency of the council and taking the name Sunday.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Man Who Was Thursday - Quick Review

Read it.

Longer review ...

I'm three chapters into G. K. Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday, and I'm loving it. I was wavering through the first chapter until the last few lines. Now I'm completely hooked. Imagine if you will the turn-of-the-century struggle between the Central Council of Anarchists and the poets-turned-police officers assembled to stop them from destroying the world. If you're into the weird and absurd, you will probably dig The Man Who Was Thursday.

And since the inspiration has struck, I will be presenting, tomorrow, the anarchist class.

That's all for today kiddies!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Stroll Through the Virgin Woode - Magic Cloaks, Malevolent Maidens and Dimension X

Yes, ladies and germs, it's the first preview of the Virgin Woode hexcrawl. Since we always begin in the west of the map, these next few previews will be set in the hinterlands. Let's see what I have in store ...

0105. Forgotten Urns | Treasure
Several ceramic urns, glazed bright red, have been buried here in a shallow hole; a glint of the sun might reveal them as folk pass by (1 in 6 chance). Most of the urns hold nothing but ashes, likely the remains of living creatures. One contains eleven agates of various hues (worth 1d4 x 10 gp each) wrapped in an ocherous cloak. The cloak is magical and cursed, steeped in the blood of a pyrohydra and spat upon by a woman scorned. When worn too near a large fire (campfire size or larger, and yeah, fireballs count), it bursts into flames, burning for one minute and dealing 1d6 points of damage per round. Only after a person has burned in it can they attempt to remove it, the effort still requiring a Will saving throw.

0223. Dimension X | Monster Lair
A cavern in the mountains here is serving as the temporary base of operations for a band of scouts from the shadowy Dimension X. The scouts are humanoid, but their features are obscured by their protective suits, which are formed of a silvery cloth. These jump-suits are loose fitting, and cover the entire body. Over their heads, they wear globes of silvery metal with dark visors. These helms and suits cannot be removed save by the most dire force. If removed, they reveal the humanoids within look like normal humans, save for their eyes, which are entirely black.

The ten scouts are usually found hovering around a column of black metal decorated with dials, knobs and blinking lights of many colors. This device not only opens a portal into their home dimension, it also collects information about the surrounding lands and can project a wall of force for up to 10 minutes.

The scouts carry ray guns (6 charges each; they can be recharged by placing them on the column for 1 hour) that fire beams of negative energy that deal 1d6+1 points of damage per hit.

The presence of the scouts and their weird device are causing the weather in this hex to behave oddly; each hour, there is a 1 in 6 chance of severe weather (lightning storm, hail, high winds).

0321. Cathron’s Hold | Stronghold
Cathron is an ancient elf, a victim of Asur’s curse who was turned into a drow. She did not leave her stronghold, but rather enmeshed it in demonic energies. The stronghold appears as a 200-ft. tall tower of smooth, scarlet stone that writhes with black, choking smoke and drips with demonic ichor. One only enters the place by teleportation.

Cathron is a lithe, athletic drow with silvery hair and tempting eyes. She is a born deceiver, and is quite incapable of love, though that has not disuaded Finnard [0231] or Lowellon [0246] from attempting it.

Within the tower, Cathron is served by a company of fiendish lizard men with glistening black scales and blazing eyes. Her treasure trove is guarded by a young red dragon, Thartwalla, who also serves as her mount when she leaves her tower.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mythic Races III - The Vedans

From the jungles and deserts of the south come four new mythic races, collectively the vedans.

While the vedans share many traits, the most important is the unique way they multi-class. All vedans are capable of advancing in three classes simultaneously. Unlike most races, though, they only operate under the rules of a single class at a time. A fighter/magic-user/thief, for example, can choose to be a fighter one day, a magic-user the next, and a thief on another day. The choice must be made that night before the vedan sleeps, and it is the vedans heroic dreams that night that align their thinking that they may be born the next morning in their chosen class. Because they act in only one class at a time, they advance using the XP chart of their most expensive class.

Yamarans are green-skinned humanoids associated by other vedans with death. While they have their morbid sides, most cultivate an image of decadent lethargy, lounging about, taking it all in and only acting when it is most advantageous to do so. Yamarans have grim senses of humor, and some hide rather potent tempers beneath their disinterested facades. Yamarans are never Lawful (Good), but they need not be Chaotic (Evil).

Yamarans stand about as tall as human beings. Other than their green skin (and sometimes oversized canine teeth), they generally look like human beings save that their arms fork at the elbow into two separate forearms – they have four hands, but only two arms emerging from their shoulders. Because of this anatomical oddity, armor costs are 10% greater for yamarans than for other humanoids. Because of their multiple hands, they can wield two bucklers in addition to wielding one or two weapons. Generally, their multiple hands are two closely spaced to allow them to wield more than two weapons at a time effectively.

Yamarans may multi-class as assassin/barbarian/cleric, using the rules mentioned above, or as assassin/clerics, assassin/magic-users or assassin/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules. A yamaran that awakens as an assassin finds that his skin has turned a deep blue color, giving him a +2 bonus to hide in shadows. A yamaran that awakens as a barbarian, he finds his skin as become blood red, and his lower canines have grown into tusks, giving him a bite attack that deals 1d3 points of damage. A yamaran who awakens as a cleric retains his green skin, and gains the ability to cast deathwatch once per day as a bonus spell.

Yamarans speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Goblin, Ogre, Ogre Mage, Sylvan or Fiendish.

Rudrana are vedans of the mountains, storm chasers who thrill to the crack of thunder and flash of lightning. They are outdoorsmen with fiery tempers and an enormous hunger for life and experience. The rudrana become bored easily, and they delight in all the new fads and fashions.

Rudrana stand slightly taller than human beings. They have ruddy skin, three heads and four arms, all based on the human pattern. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for rudrana than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

Rudrana enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. electricity damage, so in tune are they with lightning. Once per day, they can use the spell shout. Because of their multiple heads, rudrana are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. Unfortunately, three minds are often distracting, and rudrana suffer a -1 penalty to initiative rolls.

Rudrana may multi-class as druid/ranger/magic-users, using the rules mentioned above, or as ranger/druids or ranger/magic-users using the normal multi-classing rules.

Rudrana speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Dwarf, Hobgoblin, Storm Giant or Sylvan.

Vishnaru are the holy vedans, wise and philosophical preservers of cosmic order. They are intellectual and tend to be very beautiful. Vishnaru are often Lawful (Good), but are never Chaotic (Evil).

Vishnaru stand slightly taller than human beings. They have light blue skin and four arms. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for vishnaru than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

All Vishnaru are surrounded by a halo of light as bright as a torch. They can willingly suppress this halo.

Vishnaru may multi-class as cleric/magic-user/fighters, using the rules mentioned above, or as cleric/magic-users or cleric/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules. Vishnaru that multi-class using the special rules gain the following benefits: In the cleric form, a vishnaru’s halo acts as a paladin’s protection from evil aura. In the fighter form, the vishnaru’s halo grants him extra-sensory powers, denying his opponent’s any bonuses from outnumbering him or attacking from behind. In the magic-user form, the vishnaru’s halo grants him a +2 bonus to Will saving throws vs. spells and spell-like effects.

Vishnaru speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Elf, Gnome, Celestial, Dragon or Sylvan.

Agniri are born of flame, and enjoy deep passions and a preternatural ability to communicate with others. They are bright and engaging folk, rarely materialistic, who enjoy visiting and experiencing strange cultures. Despite their propensity for travel, agniri always seem to be at home, and they have a knack for making others feel at home.

Agniri stand as tall as human beings. They have bright red skin, two heads and four arms. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for agniri than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

Agniri enjoy resistance to fire and a +2 bonus to save vs. non-damaging fire effects. They have a knack for communicating (treat this as a task roll modified by charisma, allowing them to communicate in very simple terms in languages they do not already know).

Agniri may multi-class as bard/magic-user/fighters, using the rules mentioned above, or as bard/clerics, bard/magic-users or bard/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules.

Agniri speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak any other language they wish, though most learn Dragon, Fire Giant and/or Fire Elemental.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Virgin Woode - The Next Nod Hexcrawl

My original map of the region*
The Virgin Woode is a narrow coastal plain backed by a wide swathe of wooded hills. The woodland is composed of such trees as oak, hawthorn, elm, birch and magnolia. It runs along the eastern coast of Antilia, from the Bloody Mountains in the south to the Trow Hills in the north. To the west it is bordered by the Purple Mountains.

Upon the disappearance of the Emperor of Nomo and the subsequent decline and fall of that empire, the tributary city-states of the Motherlands sought to claim a portion of their old master’s power. This was first attempted in a series of ineffective wars, as no one city-state was powerful enough that it could best its rivals, separated as they were by vast tracts of wilderness.

Begrudgingly, the aristocracy was forced to turn to “vulgar commerce” to rake in the gold, chartering adventurers to delve into the underworld and merchants to ply the seas or take caravans through the wilderness. The city-state of Guelph really got the ball rolling by their establishment of Port Janus at the midway point in Mother Ocean between the eastern landmass and western landmass. From there, they skirted the Blustering Main and founded the colony of Argentum in Hybrasil, discovering rich veins of silver, gold and electrum.

As the Guelphlings moved this metal back home, the filibusters of Tremayne began sallying forth from their normal haunt, the Tepid Sea, and conducting piracy on the high seas. With the galleons of Guelph so harried on Mother Ocean, the merchants of Antigoon were able to move through Mother Ocean and through the stormwracked Blustering Main to found their own trading post in what came to be called Dweomer Bay, after the strange magical radiations of that landscape.

Eventually, Port Janus fell to the pirates of Tremayne, cutting Argentum off from its metropolis (confusing, I know, but I’m actually using the word “metropolis” properly here). Dweomer Bay continued to thrive, though, as the Virgin Woode beyond produced cargo ships more often than treasure ships, and because the Antigooners and their ilk proved a seafaring match for pirates, where the landlubber Guelphings did not. The wars between the colonists and the pirates continue to this day, of course, but Dweomer Bay’s libertine attitudes and focus on commerce has been an attractive lure to adventurers in search of lucre, merchants desperate to escape overbearing nobles and every weirdo in the world yearning to let his or her freak flag fly has kept brave, hearty souls traversing the pirate haunted waters of the Blustering Main to Dweomer Bay or one of the many village and towns that now dot the shore of the Virgin Woode.

These colonists, scalawags, adventurers, roustabouts and ne'er-do-wells have much to fear, though. By land, the fey and the wild elves harry them at every turn; many a trapper has survived a bear attack only to perish under the gnarled foot of a treant, who marks the occasion with no more than a casual shrug of its woody shoulders and a scrape of the foot on a handy boulder. By sea, an ancient empire has arisen "from the silt" - the aquatic elves of Atlantis desire to expand their empire on land, and seek to choke off the commerce that is Dweomer Bay's lifeblood.

Wild elves, cunning fey, avaricious Atlanteans, dangerous elven ruins ... there's plenty to see and do in the Virgin Woode.

* I just recently resurrected an external hard drive that had a ton of my original work on the Land of Nod! So excited!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mythic Races II - The Olympians

Continuing with the mythic races, today we have the Olympians. In this case, I imagined them as looking like metallic statues of the gods they are named for - enjoy.

Herculoids are large, robust mechanical men with bronze skin. They were built for strength and battle, primarily in arenas, and relish taking on large and huge monsters in front of a crowd. Herculoids like to stay well-oiled and polished. They tend to be arrogant and brash, but more often than not they can back up their bravado with their deeds.

Herculoids stand about 8 feet tall and count as medium-sized creatures. However, when their ire is raised (or when they want to show off for a crowd), they can “flex” their “muscles”, increasing their size to large and gaining the bonuses and penalties associated with that size. They have a movement rate of 30 feet per round and can see up to 60 feet in the dark. Their metallic skin gives them a natural AC of 13. Their construction makes it impossible for them to wear platemail and plate armor.

Herculoids are quite strong, adding two points to their starting strength score. They are not built for brain power, though, and thus lose two points from their starting intelligence score. A herculoid’s starting ability scores cannot be altered above 19 or below 3.

A herculoid’s braggadocio makes them stubborn foes; they enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. fear and fatigue, and have a knack for bending bars and breaking down doors. They are, however, easily goaded into fights, suffering a -2 penalty to save vs. such mind-affecting effects.

Herculoids are +1 to hit huge monsters, and increase their AC by +4 against dragons and hydras.

Herculoids speak Common and Olympian. They might also speak Earth and Fire Elemental, Cyclopes, Harpy, Sylvan and Dwarf.

Herculoids cannot multi-class, as they have one track minds.

Apolloids look like peerless sculptures of male humans. Their skin is made of gilded steel and dazzles the eyes when struck with sunlight (or magical light). Beautiful and conscious of their beauty, apolloids have a penchant for waxing poetic and commanding the stage. They are generally narcissists with the beauty and charm to get away with it – at least for a while.

Apolloids are medium-sized creatures with a base speed of 30 feet. Their metallic skin gives them a natural AC of 12. Their construction makes it impossible for them to wear platemail and plate armor.

Apolloids are graceful and charming, increasing their starting dexterity and charisma scores by one point. Their egotism and delicate construction mean they suffer the loss of one point to their starting wisdom and constitution scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it a score below 3.

Apolloids are creatures of light, and can see up to 120 feet in complete darkness. Their honeyed words give them a knack for trickery and a +1 bonus to reaction rolls with all creatures but those who hate the Sun. Apolloids receive a +1 bonus to hit with all bows.

Apolloids can shed light (per the spell) for up to 10 minutes per day. These minutes need not be consecutive. Once per day they can cast daylight.

Apolloids speak Common and Olympian. They might also speak Elf, Sylvan, Air Elemental, Fire Elemental and Dragon.

Apolloids may multi-class as bard/magic-users, bard/clerics and bard/fighters.

Athenoids are warriors born, statuesque fem-bots with steel skin and the minds of tacticians. Athenoids do not look for battle, but never shy from it. They enjoy taking the lead in any situation, but have a tendency to think things through before jumping into battle, unlike the herculoids. They are never Chaotic (Evil) in alignment.

Athenoids are medium-sized creatures with a base movement of 30 feet per round. They can see up to 60 feet in the dark. Their metallic skin gives them a natural AC of 14. Their construction makes it impossible for them to wear platemail and plate armor.

Athenoids are wise and steadfast, enjoying a +1 bonus to their starting wisdom and constitution scores. Their deep thinking, however, makes them slow to act and hard to communicate with, meaning they lose one point from their starting dexterity and charisma scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Athenoids have a natural affinity for divine spells. An athenoid with a wisdom score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: Virtue, resistance and bless. Athenoids receive a +2 bonus on Will saving throws against chaotic (evil) cleric spells.

Athenoids speak Common and Olympian. They might also speak Celestial, Dwarf, Sylvan, Earth and Air Elemental and Dragon.

Athenoids can multi-class as fighter/war priests (a specialty cleric), fighter/warlocks (a variant of sorcerer) or fighter/scouts (a variant of thief).

The plutoids are grim mechanical men with skin of black bronze. Cthonic folk, they take to darkness and dim deeds like a fish takes to water. Plutoids favor gravity, brevity and dignity; they are not popular at parties. Plutoids are never Lawful (Good), but they need not be Chaotic (Evil).

Plutoids are imposing creatures, always 6 to 7 feet tall, with unsympathetic eyes that can see up to 120 feet in complete darkness. They are medium-sized creatures with a base movement of 30 feet per round. Their metallic skin gives them a natural AC of 13. Their construction makes it impossible for them to wear platemail and plate armor.

Plutoids increase their starting intelligence and wisdom scores by one point, but must deduct two points from their starting charisma scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it a score below 3.

As creatures of the underworld, they can detect treasures of precious metals and gemstones worth at least 20 gp as though detecting evil or magic (per the spells). In addition, a plutoid with a wisdom score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: Deathwatch, detect undead and detect poison.

Plutoids speak Common and Olympian. They might also speak Goblin, Sylvan, Earth Elemental, Fiendish and Dragon.

Plutoids may multi-class as assassin/cleric, assassin/magic-user or assassin/fighters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In My Day ... The Curmudgeon Class

Not every adventuring warrior is a young pup, fresh out of learning the ropes as a caravan guard. A few of those men-at-arms stay on the job until they become sergeants-at-arms and then stay on a bit longer until, old and grey, they finally decide to go out with a bang. Thus, we have the curmudgeon.

Curmudgeons are a bit different than most starting PC’s. For one thing, they begin the game mired in old age, and suffering whatever penalties you decide to a lot to the elderly in your game. For another, while they’re not any more experienced as adventurers than the young folks, they are a bit more experienced than the young ones in other ways.



A curmudgeon must be old (and suffer all penalties that go with being old), and must have a Strength score of 9 or higher and a Wisdom score of 13 or higher. It also helps if they’re grumpy.


Any armor, all shields.


Any weapon.


Bend bars, break down doors, find secret doors, riding, trickery.


Curmudgeons are men and women who have done years and years of service as men-at-arms, sergeants-at-arms, caravan guards, town guards, etc. In essence, they’ve been NPC’s all their life, and only when their hair turned silver did they finally decide to become adventurers. As such, they aren’t as green as the average 1st level character, and therefore begin the game with 2 Hit Dice.

Curmudgeons tend to be a bit on the grumpy side, and thus suffer a -1 penalty on reaction checks. They don’t scare easily, and enjoy a +1 bonus on saves vs. fear, but they also suffer a -1 penalty on saves vs. fatigue.

Curmudgeons have been around the block a few times, and have probably forgotten more stories and legends than they remember. As such, they can use the legend lore ability of a bard of equal level.

Curmudgeons are famous for their stubbornness and their so-called “old man strength”. Curmudgeons can continue fighting until they have reached -5 hit points, provided they have something worth fighting for. Once per day, they can boost their strength score by 1d6 points for 1 round per level (max. 6 rounds).

Curmudgeons have long experience in mentoring young whippersnappers. When adventuring with characters of 1st to 3rd level, they can, once per day, lend them a bonus equal to the curmudgeon’s own Wisdom bonus on a single attack roll or saving throw.

At 9th level, a curmudgeon can retire to a favorite tavern, attracting a retinue of 1d4 men-at-arms per level as flunkies and admirers. The curmudgeon gets free room and board at the tavern, and also receives 1d3 free rumors each month concerning possible adventures or opportunities.

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