Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spreading the Witch

Tim of the Other Side Blog wrote a book about witches for fantasy RPGs called The Witch.

He's looking for people to spread the word, so I am.

This also gives me an excuse to show off an old diorama I made some years back.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

New Monster: Mongolian Death Worms

“Dzo, come quickly. It is time.” The young calf said as he stuck his head through the yurt door frame.

The bulky shape lifted itself from the carpets and pillows, its long fur was streaked with gray, and its horns showed the marks of many years, and many battles. The calf held the door flap for the elder. The chill wind cut across the land, blowing the scrub grass and stunted trees decidedly to the east. Just to the north of the yurt stood the low round ovoo.

Crouching low, Dzo descended the stone stairs and stooped under the overhanging lintel. Within the ovoo the round wall was lit by candles placed haphazardly stuck to the irregular stones that made the wall. In the center of the dirt floor was a round stone lined pit. The stones were stained an unnatural yellow with streaks of brownish red. At the bottom of the pit were three red worms, each about 3 feet long, and thicker around than the haft of an ax.

The calf passed Dzo a hooked pole, and he used it to catch one of the worms and lift it from the pit. As he removed it from the hook, the worm hissed, and Dzo’s hand began to smoke. In a rumbling low voice, Dzo called out to the gods of the land. Turning he walked to the far side of the pit, the worm hissing the whole way.

Lifting the worm up, Dzo twisted it in his hands. The hissing grew louder, and the worm spat a coy smelling glob at the wall. Dzo twisted, and with a snap the worm broke, ichor falling into the pit, covering the remaining two worms.

“Extinguish the candles.” Dzo ordered.

Mongolian Death Worms
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1-4 (S-M)
Move: 90’ (30’)
burrow: 30’ (10’)
Attacks: poison spit or bite
Damage: 1d4 + ongoing or 1d6+1/HD
No. Appearing: ()
Save As: F (level =1/2 HD)
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: nil
Intelligence: 2
Alignment: Neutral

Death Worms are greatly feared among the peoples of the high grasslands. When found, they are usually killed immediately. It is said the very touch of them is instant death, and the strange yellow stains the creatures leave in their wake is merely another indication of the ill wind that follows them.

Death Worms are indeed poisonous. Their spit (30’ range) causes 1d4 damage plus an additional point per round for as many rounds as the worm has hit dice. Touching a death worm causes 1 point of damage for every round of contact, and their nasty bite causes 1d6 damage plus the creature’s hit dice.

Today is the final Monday of October, and this is my The Monstrous Monday Blogfest entry!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Starport: Trage's Starship Triage

Today's Saturday Starport is brought to you by Shortymonster who upon hitting 10,000 page views offered his readers a free NPC. In fact, the offer is good until 11/17, so you still have time to go get yours!

DB4 Trage's Starship Triage 

Like all Chadra-Fan, Trage was covered in a rich dark fur from head to foot. Very few of her kind took the time to style the fur on their heads as she did. It was lifted into a long Mohawk and interwoven with fine gems and precious metals. She was very proud of her ‘hair’, and when dealing with her customers could often be seen to stroke it and make minute adjustments to the crest. Some think that she’s compensating for her small stature, small even for the bat-like species she is part off, but the few her know her well, understand it as pure vanity.

She has done well for herself has Trage. using her natural gifts of salvage, and then hiring others to do the dirty work, she runs a successful business on an affluent star-port. Buying damaged components, and sometimes whole space faring vessels that are beyond repair, and stripping them down to the component parts. these are then refurbished and sold on at a higher price as replacements. Although she knows how to make a fast turn-around on a small investment, Trage is always honest with her clients and customers.

In her world it is too easy to make the wrong kind of enemies if a business deal goes south, so she makes sure she is beyond reproach. This has helped her in her successes, but has recently started to cause her an unexpected problem. A criminal Cartel, the Umbruc, have seen her success, and her reputation as straight shooter, and have started to threaten her business. They see her as a perfect front for their smuggling operations, but she knows it will mean saying good-bye to her integrity. For now, no one else knows what is troubling her, but if the threats become too much, she has very few options open to her…

As an ongoing project I’m stocking the map above with shops and characters, making it something of a mini-campaign setting. However, it’s also want to open to you. This is your chance to be a guest blogger here at Tower of the Archmage! All you need to do is to pick one (or more) of the different stores, and write up a description of what type of store it is!

How to get involved: Leave me a comment or an e-mail letting me know you want to join in, and pick a space. Write your post (or posts if you’re feeling ambitious). Send me your post via e-mail, and I’ll get it up, probably on a Saturday.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Monster: Wesker

Thus it came to pass that the followers of P’Orcus
did corrupt and debase the greatest gift to the carnies.
They assembled in the great hall, each bringing a component;
flesh and guts ground together, each hand forming the shape.
Their perversion was then given the breath of life,
and the creature did rise and slay those who brought it forth.
Anger made flesh, hate that bleeds, death that walks.

Book of Roomba, BACN, 001-26 - 007-42

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Move: 120’
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 8+2
Attacks: 2 fists
Damage: 2d8+2/2d8+2
Save: L10
Morale: 11 (2)
Hoard Class: -

The Wesker is a humanoid that appears to be a completely skinned creature with pure white globes for eyes. They are highly destructive creatures, attacking any type of intelligent life they encounter. The Wesker is vulnerable to fire, but it will release a bacon scented spray which will cause 8HD worth of creatures within 15 feet to stand and drool for 2d4 rounds when damaged by flame.

Mutations: Fragrant Development, Natural Armor, Bizarre Appearance, Epidermal Susceptibility

Happy Monday, and welcome to today's entry in the Savage Afterworld’s Mutated Monday blogfest.

Don't forget that next Monday, October 29, the final Monday of October, is The Monstrous Monday Blogfest!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why Flailsnails is Awesome

I'm playing in a large play by post flailsnails game based in The Bleaklands. My character, Boarface was a simple fighter with one adventure under his belt as a PC. Originally he was the hireling of Nick the Pike, but struck out on his own after Nick failed to keep his morale up.

Well, Boarface died fighting some ghouls. Not a shock given the fact that he was just level one. What is shocking is that more people didn't die.

Death has not been the end of his story though, because one of the other players had bought a magic bean, and planted it. The resulting growth looked "like two toddlers smashed together and wrapped in bacon. He looks happy as a clam though, all feet covered in soil with leaves growing out of his head. Every once in a while it sort of squirms a little bit, but it doesn't wake up."

Someone suggested putting Boarface's body next to the thing. After about a day's worth of debate, it was decided, and my poor character was thrown to this strange plant thing. This is what happened:

Boarface's boneless corpse is draped around the base of the hideous wooden boy. By morning, shoots and leaves cover the body and the leaves have turned a dull red color. The awful little moppet finally stirs, twisting this way and that, snapping off small branches and roots, and dislodging most of the leaves, except for a, now bright red, shock of leaf hair on top of its head. It topples out of the pot onto the ground with a dull thud, before brushing itself off and standing up, and looking around confused.

Congratulations +David Brawley! Boarface is alive again, although now he is a hideously ugly wooden boy. Corpulent and squat, neo-Boarface retains his previous stats with the following modifications: STR 12 DEX 10 CON 16 CHA 5, AC is naturally 5, but you can no longer wear armor except for helmets and shields, your woody hands count as clubs (1-6B), immunity to poisons (unless designed to effect plants, in which case normal effects) and half damage from electricity and bludgeon weapons, but double damage from fire. You lose all previous racial abilities, but you were a human so that shouldn't matter. You need water and sunlight instead of food, and your foul tasting but nourishing leaves can provide three meals per week for others.
I'm quite excited to hear about Boarface running around the FLAILSNAILverse now!

This is why flailsnails is awesome!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Magic Item: Goblin Jug

"No! Give it back!" the loud high pitched voice screamed.

"Mine!" replied a voice that sounded like it came from a mouth full of gravel.

"What's going on?" Feris whispered, as the sound of something being tossed across a room came through the door.

"I'm not sure" Allianora replied. "It sounds like the old guy took something from the girl."

"Ha!" The first voice squeaked. "Mine again! And you can't have it!"

"What language are they speaking?"

"Some sort of goblin." Allianora's brow creased as the first voice screamed.

"Let go!"

"I want to drink it next!"

"You can't! It's mine" The sound of a stopper being pulled seemed oddly loud, as was the gulping that followed.

"I never get to drink from it first." the second voice complained.

"Thathhh's bekoz uuurrrr big buuuu dub." the first voice slurred. "Heeeere."

"Let me guess, you want the jug."

"No... My master had one. I'll be happy never to see another one ever again."

Goblin Jug

These jugs are always made in image of the face of a goblin, usually looking drunk. The enchantment upon them is unique to goblin-kin, and it causes any liquid poured into it to ferment in a single hour. The resulting brew is highly intoxicating, and vile to non-goblins. Rarely, a goblin jug will produce a magical brew that retains the same taste and intoxicating effects, but also functions as a magical potion (roll randomly). Each jug contains enough liquid to get 10 goblins rip-roaring drunk.

Image Source: Handmade Growlers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bits and Bobs VII

Humanoids and their role in the game world seems to be the main theme of this round of Bits and Bobs.

Talysman of The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms offers up a very fairy take on goblins, and one that cleaves closely to how they are in my gameworld.

Peter of Dungeon Fantastic addresses the same issue in his post on the problem of orc kids.

And Paul over at Blog of Holding takes on kobold ecology.

Brock Cusick from The Tombs of Akrasia discusses the Orcs of his world. They're cauldron born!

The New Big Dragon over at Save Vs. Dragon has put together what I think is a really useful PDF with all the treasure types from the different early editions of D&D (Oe, 1e, BX or HB).

And speaking of PDFs, ever wonder what to do with them? If you're like me, you like having the dead tree version of your books. You don't have to go through Lulu to get it done, you can do it yourself in softcover or hardcover.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My 2,000cp on Empty Rooms & Hallways

Over the years much blood has been spilled in megadungeons. Yet that flow can not match the ink spent writing, drawing, and talking about them. This past week a significant amount was spurred by a post in which Tenkar discusses the lack of enjoyment he and his group had playing Dwimmermount, stemming from empty (aka boring) rooms and other rooms with such ridiculous things as 9 rats with 2,000cp.

Now, I haven’t read Dwimmermount, but I have read Joseph Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage, Michael Curtis’ Stonehell (anxiously awaiting part 2), Greg Gillespie’s Barrowmaze I & II, and Castle Zagyg, and I’ve played in Castle Zagyg and Stonehell.

Truly empty rooms are rare. There’s usually something in it. Yet at the same time there are empty places in megadungeons... and even regular sized dungeons! Most of the truly empty spaces in dungeons are the hallways, and that’s something that I don’t see getting talked about much.

Is a hallway really very different from a room? In most places I go, hallways are just as likely to have a piece of furniture, some sort of decorative flourish, and sometimes even utilitarian feature like a telephone. Posters, pictures, murals, sculptures, tables, chairs, etc. Why shouldn’t there be just as great a chance for there to be a trap, monster, special, or empty in a corridor?

I know I like putting things in hallways. Sometimes a statue, or a tapestry. Even a pile of burnt torches and a shattered shield. A lot of time it works best as an indicator of what’s in the room. Rat droppings, graffiti, scorch marks, funky smells, etc. can all be big clues about what’s to come. Also, there are some monsters that would benefit from having confined spaces to work in to reduce their target’s ability to maneuver - I’m thinking stirges, swarms, and things that drop from the ceiling or fly.

So I suggest the next time you're designing a dungeon, or other interior location, spend a moment and think about those empty areas linking the "interesting" bits together.

1d12 Hallway Features
  1. Decorative architectural feature (columns, arches, domes, etc.)
  2. Fountain
  3. Mosaic
  4. Mounted head (1-3 Animal, 4-5 Monster, 6 Humanoid)
  5. Mural
  6. Privy/closet
  7. Seat/bench
  8. Shelves
  9. Shrine
  10. Statue
  11. Tapestry
  12. Weapon/Armor (decorative 95%, real 4%, magic 1%)

1d20 Additional Hallway Features

  1. Bloody smears
  2. Bottle of Booze (5% chance still has some in it)
  3. Broken weapon
  4. Burnt out torch/dented lamp
  5. Chatty inchworm
  6. Cigar stubs
  7. Eyeball fungus
  8. Feces
  9. Flickering continual light gem embedded in ceiling (half pried out)
  10. Gnawed bones
  11. Graffiti
  12. Humanoid body, completely covered with mold (harmless, smells bad)
  13. Loose stone (1cp under it)
  14. Magic Mouth/Programed Illusion
  15. Phosphorescent fungus (harmless)
  16. Scorch Marks
  17. Scrap of cloth (silk, wool, cotton, gold, fur, leather)
  18. Severed appendage (25% fresh)
  19. Trail marks
  20. Vermin (rat, bug, etc.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Monster: One-Eyed Snake

And when the mighty Lord Pron revealed the
Trojan Bot to them, he called out
Thus the Trojan Bot did open, and from the dark
Slithered the One-Eyed Snakes, red with anger
and spitting mad

Book of Roomba, TXXX, 069-86 - 080-86

Source: Google Image Search for "Completely Wrong"

One Eyed Snake
No. Enc.: 1 or 1d8+1
Alignment: Chaotic
Move: 120’
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1+1 to 2+1
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 spit
Damage: 1d6 or 1d4 + special
Save: L2
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: II + 50% III

One-Eyed Snakes are, as their name suggests, serpents with a single central eye. While stories claim that they can reach monstrous lengths, they are usually between 3-6’ long. Their primary attack is a milky spit (15’ range) that can cause blindness for 1d6 rounds when max damage is rolled (save to reduce duration to 1 round).

Generally solitary, they can sometimes (20%) be found in a gang of 1d8+1. One-Eyed Snakes are extremely vulnerable to sleep and charm effects, and will automatically fail any saving throw against such effects.

Happy Monday, and welcome to today's entry in the Savage Afterworld’s Mutated Monday blogfest.

Don't forget that on October 29, the final Monday of October it's The Monstrous Monday Blogfest!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How to Steal the Space Shuttle: A Step by Step Guide

It's a little late, but in case you wanted to steal a space shuttle, there is a detailed plan on how to do it over on Jalopnik.

How to Steal the Space Shuttle: A Step by Step Guide

A perfect little scenario for a modern James Bond/GI Joe style game.

Friday, October 12, 2012


If you didn't know, there is a thing over on Google+ where a bunch of people make a 5 minute map, and post it up with the hash tag #fridayfiveminutemap. It started back in the beginning of the year, and went strong for a while. Lately there have only been a couple or even just one participant every week. There was a push earlier this week to bring it back to life, and because of that I'm sharing some of my previous Friday five minute maps.

The styles and creativity go way beyond my doodles, so it's well worth checking out, and even better would be participating!

There is also a tumbler account Five Minute Maps which collects them and shares the maps outside of G+.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Magic Item: Friend's Aid

The ancient skeleton pushed itself from the chair, the old sword that once pinned it down slid easily between the broken ribs. Dust and cobwebs billowed up and it reached for the heavy headed mace on the floor.

"Crap" Nimble hissed. "Rathgar! Behind you!"

The fighter turned just as the mace came swinging up, catching the underside of his shield. The shield jerked up and back, slamming the edge into Rathgar's brow. He stumbled, and Nimble sprinted toward them.

As Nimble approached, the skeleton turned to face the thief, a red spark in its empty eyes. Nimble leaped back as the mace swung his way. He darted in, slamming his dagger into the skull. It stuck, and the skeleton jerked off balance slightly when Nimble tried to pull it out. Its bony hand reached for Nimble's face, and he shoved on the grip of the dagger, shoving the skeleton back.

Ignoring the blade sticking out of the side of its skull, the skeleton brought the mace back, ready to swing at Nimble if he closed.

Rathgar wiped the blood from his eyes, his head pounding, and fixed his sight on the skeleton. He stepped toward it, bringing his blade down upon it, lopping one arm off, and cutting through several dry ribs before catching on the spine.

Nimble put his foot on the old chair, grabbed the ancient blade wedged into its back, and pulled it free in a shower of crumbling wood as the chair collapsed. Rathgar and the skeleton were both holding his blade, trying to wrest it from the other. Nimble shifted the old blade in his hand, and struck with a speed worthy of his name.

Friend's Aid
This bronze leaf shaped short sword is inscribed with ancient human runes on one side and dwarven runes on the other. It was a gift from an ancient human king to a dwarf thane to cement an alliance between the two. The enchantment laid upon grants a base +1 bonus, and it grants the wielder an additional +2 to damage when used against a foe attacking an ally.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Plastic Crack

I have a friend, Yann, who is a wargamer, and his game of choice is Warmachine/Hordes. Now, I’ve been impressed by Privateer Press’ sculpts for a long time, and I dabbled in Warmachine with a small Cygnar force way back when it first came out. At the time I opted to stick with 40k, but now I've given up on GW entirely, and in that perceived void he’s trying to suck me in.


By handing me half of this box...

and then inviting me over to his house on my day off to work on minis.

With that, I now have a small assembled force for the Circle of Orboros, and conveniently enough there is a journeyman’s league starting up at Dropzone Games. You should probably expect updates about the games and the painting.

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Monster: Mud Skeletons

And it came to pass that in their hubris
that the land itself became soft below their feet.
The walls of the great collegium tumbled
and the might labs broke open, exposing their wickedness
and spilling it out upon the squints.
They sank into the slurry, but the earth rejected them.
Beware the bones of the seekers of false knowledge,
for their taint us unredeemed and unforgiven. 

Book of Roomba, TQVI, 131-34 - 131-41

Mud Skeletons
No. Enc.: 2d12
Alignment: Chaotic
Move: 90 (30’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8+Special
Save: L5
Morale: 2
Hoard Class: XVII

These beings are found only in the worst areas of contaminated wet lands - bogs, swamps, mudflats, etc. They are slow, but can toss tainted mud up to 40' away. Those hit by the mud skeleton's attack must make a stun attack saving throw or become encased in mud. Those encased will need to spend 1d3 rounds scraping the mud away from their breathing orifices or take a -2 to all rolls, and 1d2 damage every round.

While the hoard of the mud skeletons is impressive, it is very difficult to find, as it it always hidden in deep pits of mud.

Image Source: Bryan Baugh @ Deviant Art

Happy Monday, and welcome to today's entry in the Savage Afterworld’s Mutated Monday blogfest.

Don't forget that on October 29, the final Monday of October it's The Monstrous Monday Blogfest!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Masque of Clavicus Vile

The voice’s melodious quality was not dimmed by the silver mask that hid the foreigner’s face, and Alicia found herself listening intently to the stranger’s words. “Beauty like yours should, no, must not be allowed to fade.”

“All beauty fades m’lord.” she replied, wishing it weren’t true.

“If you come with me, I can make your beauty immortal”

“Would you have me painted?” She shifted into a more stiff position, her face glowing in the afternoon sun. “Or would you hire sculptors to make my likeness?” Her laugh rang like bells in the garden.

“No, I would make you immortal.”

Masque of Clavicus Vile

This silver mask was created to allow corporeal undead to walk amongst the living. It hides their appearance and smell, and even allows creatures who are harmed by sunlight to move safely during the day. It also dampens their supernatural abilities. Gaze and bite attacks are obviously blocked, and paralytic touches and energy drain attacks do not function while the mask is worn. The mask also confers an effective charisma of 14 on anyone who wears it.

Source: Daniel O'Keefe based on an item from Skyrim.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bits and Bobs VI

It’s been awhile since I shared some of the cool things out there, and the longer I wait, the longer the list grows!

Erik of Tenkar's Tavern came up with a way to make failure (rolling a 1) a learning experience for PCs - Attacking the Darkness. Then he had some more thoughts.

Robert Morris of Back to the Keep gives a fantastic overview of paint options for painting minis and terrain. Everything from GW to cheap craft paints and beyond.

Stuart’s Strange Magic revised his Bene Gesserit Cleric Sub-Class for the 3rd time, and as before, it’s worth taking a look at!

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque by Jack offers up table with 50 items appropriate for gothic room dressing.

Kicking down doors is a natural activity for adventurers, and The Riders of Lohan by koboldstyle has some wonderfully evocative Axe-boots.

And to wrap things up here are a couple of links on dungeon building.
Tim of Gothridge Manor has a simple d12 dungeon stocking chart, and an example of how it worked out.

On the same note, Delta did a broad examination of the different random dungeon stocking methods across classic D&D, from ODD to ADD to Holmes and Moldvay basic.

And saving what I feel is the best for last: Keith Davies put together a nice article on doing a node based megadungeon. While it isn’t the first time the topics been discussed, it’s very well written, and he's even expanded it into a whole series.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

XP for Magic Items

The way I’ve always played it, characters in my games never got XP for getting a magic item. In my Rules Cyclopedia games, players can sell it for gold, if they can find a buyer, and gain the XP from that, but only if they sell it right away.

In my 3e days XP came from defeating monsters and completing quests. Gold was just used to buy stuff. My 4e game is pretty much exactly the same way.

But Nick the Pike has played in a several different 1e games, and in those games he has acquired magical items, and XP for retaining them! This has been backed up by the AD&D Players Handbook which states:
“Magic items gained and retained have only a low experience point value, for they benefit the character through their use.” AD&D PHB pg. 106

This is further reinforced explicitly in the random determination of treasure section of the DMG, pg 121.
The suggested experience point values are for characters who keep the items.

Immediately following this are the magic item lists that contain the XP value of items kept, and the GP value of items sold.

The first time a character of mine was handed XP for getting a magic item my mind was blown. I’m pretty sure I questioned the DM about it, and his response was “This is AD&D.” It was this that caused me to hunt down a copy of the 1st edition DMG. I’d read a copy of it many years ago, and hadn’t really thought I was missing anything not having it in my collection. Well, it seems I was wrong!

I do find it curious that XP for magic items seems to appear in AD&D, and then disappears. I certainly don’t remember it from 2nd edition. So I’m curious how many of you give XP for magic items. Poll is off to the right!

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Monster: Silver Tongued Devil

The leaves on the trees are beginning to show their color. Mornings are dark, crisp, and cool. The faint sweet smell of rot and death begin to tinge the air, and people begin to light candles and fires to ward off the things they know aren’t real, and still fear...

In honor of this spooky time of year I am joining Tim from The Other Side Blog in the Monstrous Monday Blogfest, posting a monster on the last Monday of the month.

However, as I tend to share a new monster just about every Monday anyway, I’m also going to join in with Tim from the Savage Afterworld’s Mutated Monday blogfest, and share a nasty mutant creature on the other Mondays in October...

Including today!

A devil will come amongst you, but you shall not know him.
Its will shall overcome your own.
With a silver tongue you will speak its words.
Discord and chaos will you sow,
And it shall feast up all.

Book of Roomba, TXIX, 056-23 - 060-23

Silver Tongued Devil
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Move: 90 (30’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4+Special
Save: L5
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: V + IX

Standing a mere yard tall, the Silver Tongued Devil (STD) is a stooped bloated thing that moves with deliberation. While it’s hide is tougher than it looks, it will avoid combat under most circumstances. In general it prefers to ambush lone individuals. Its touch causes paralysis (1d6 turns, save to negate) and once its victim is immobilized, it will insert a tentacle into the victim’s mouth. The victim will bite off the tip of the tentacle, which will then attach to the victim’s tongue and begin to eat it. The victim is now charmed (no save). Over the next week the victim will avoid letting anyone see the parasite as it consumes the victim’s tongue. At the end of the week, the victim will begin to spread lies, gossip, and taboo truths to cause as much discord as possible until someone is killed in anger.

The STD will then consume the organs of the murder victim and the parasite will die, causing the victim to make a saving throw or die. Either way, they will be mute. The STD will then move on to another community.