Saturday, February 22, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop (post 4/4)

Day 22: First D&D-based novel you ever read (Dragonlance trilogy, Realms novels, etc.)
One of the Dragonlance short story compilations - Kender, Gully Dwarves, and Gnomes:Tales volume 2. The one with the three women in fur bikinis on the cover. I have no idea what story the cover referenced, but I do remember one about a dagger, which I thought was really cool.

Day 23: First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D . Why?
Roll a D6, for obvious reasons.

Day 24: First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?
The Sinbad movies. A crew of adventurers on quests is pretty much exactly how I imagine it.

Day 25: Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in.
My high school group ran for 4 years, but lots and lots of campaigns. My longest campaign was probably my first 3.0 campaign.

Day 26: Do you still game with the group that introduced you to the hobby?
No, I’m not in touch with anyone from elementary school anymore.

Day 27: If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first
started gaming?
I’d take it less seriously, and remember that it’s a game, and that it’s ok just to have fun. It doesn’t all have to be epic adventures.

Day 28: What's the single most important lesson you've learned from playing D&D?
Players will screw with their DMs in any game. Learning how to roll with it is the only thing you can do.

Big thanks to Stelios V. Perdios of d20 Dark Ages for hosting!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Nest of Ferar Etmek

I drew this map a while ago, and it looks like I never shared it.

I also went and keyed it up. I call it the Nest of Ferar Etmek for the blue dragon that lives in the lowest level. If you click on the link, you can download the PDF. I figure it'd be good for characters level 4-6 but it might be a bit tougher than that.

When I started working on it I was thinking it'd be good for the 1 page dungeon contest, but 53 keyed locations is a bit much for just one page.

Anyway, take a look, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Monster: Howlerbat

Norman over at Troll and Flame posted this most awesome picture of a Howlerbat and asked for stats.  Here's my attempt.

Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2
Move: 9' (3')
      Fly 180' (60')
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 howl
Damage: 1d4 or stunned (see below)
No. Appearing: 2d12
Save As: F2
Morale: 10
Treasure Type:  J
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 50

A howlerbat has a vicious howl attack.  It can target a single creature, and if that creature fails it's saving throw vs. paralysis it is paralyzed for 1d3 rounds.  If targeted by multiple howls, the effects are cumulative, however any successful save negates all previous failed saves.  

This post was originally published on 1/27/10.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fairy Tale Spell Names - I Know What I Have Learned

"I'm okay."

"You're not Feris, and I'm worried." The small fire cracked, it's dancing flames providing scant light, and little heat in the rapidly cooling desert.

"Once I get a couple of nights rest I'll be back to normal."

"We've had rest-"

"Yes, but not enough!" Feris snapped "There's been too much going on!"

Rathgar snorted as he sat up in his bedroll. "What?"

"Nothing. Go back to sleep."

"Feris I can see the strain this is putting on you. You haven't slept, you aren't eating... You're casting more than usual...

"I promise, I'm fine. I know what I'm doing."

Magic-User Spell
Level 3
I Know What I Have Learned
Range: 0 (caster only)
Duration: Instantanious
Effect: Allows magic-user to prepare spells

This spell allows a magic-user to prepare spells as if she had just had a full 8 hours of rest. This does not provide any other benefits of a normal nights rest. For every use of this spell, the magic-user will have to rest for 2 night normally before being able to successfully prepare new spells.

Telecanter posted a list of Fairytale Spell Names about 2 years ago. I meant to finish writing this up a while ago, but life, as it is wont to do, happened, and this has languished in draft format. The list this one came from was actually the second list. The first resulted in some very inventive spells.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Dungeon of Lost Coppers

Dyson is holding a contest. It's a map making contest, of course, and this is my entry.

A pirates hideout in a hollowed out rock. I actually think I did an ok job with the dyson style hash marks.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop (post 3/4)

Day 15: What was the first edition of D&D you didn't enjoy? Why?
2nd edition was the second version of D&D that I played, and for a long time I loved it, but by the end it was just so bloated that I stopped enjoying it, and didn’t pick up dice again till 3.0.

Day 16: Did you remember your first Edition War? Did you win? ;)
From nearly the beginning I was a big proponent of 3.0, and got into many a conversation about its merits over 2e. I sold lots of copies, so I’d say, yes, I think I did win.

Day 17: First time you heard that D&D was somehow "evil."
It was never a thing that I really ran into, just something that happened during the “dark times” that I managed to miss.

Day 18: First gaming convention you ever attended.
I have yet to attend a gaming convention, though I’ve been to a number of cons that included gaming. The first one was probably CastleCon (which doesn’t exist anymore).

Day 19: First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you.
The first? No idea. After working for years at a comic shop there were too many to count in so many different ways.

Day 20: First non-D&D RPG you played.
West End Games’ Star Wars. Only got to play it a few times, and then it was the White Wolf games all the way.

Day 21 : First time you sold some of your D&D books--for whatever reason.
I got rid of a bunch of 2e stuff a few years ago. Aside from that, I’ve held on to everything else.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Player's Secrets of Medoere

"Ranging from the Spiderfell in the north to the Straits of Aerele in the south, Medoere was born of faith and the blood of revolution. As regent, you fulfill the duties of Archpriest of the Church of the Celestial Spell, leading the theocracy to greater heights of glory. The domain is yours to command - if you have the courage, the conviction, and the blood of kings in your veins."

Medoere is a small (3 province) theocracy ruled by the Archpriest of the Celestial Spell. Like Roesone, Medeore is a new nation, recently split from Diemed to the west. To the north is the Spiderfell (a constant threat), to the south the Straits of Aerele, and to the east Roesone and Illien, Medeore's closest allies.

While Medeore is full of pious individuals, it's also a realm that just recently won a civil war, and there are scars that have barely begun to heal. Adventuring in Medoere is going to be a somewhat different experience from Roesone. Dealing with boarder actions with Diemed and raiding parties from the Spiderfell are most likely, either as independent adventurers, or sponsored by the church/crown.

Guilder Kalien of Endier and the Heartland Outfitters controls both the law and the guilds of the northern province, a situation that the Archpriest would like to correct. Kalien could hire adventurers to protect his interests in the province, or to act against Orthien Tane and El-Hadid, the rival guild leaders in Medoere. Alternately the archpriest could use adventurers to weaken Kalien's hold on the law of the province, and bring it under her control.

The court wizard of Medoere is Hermedhie, who also holds significant source holdings in Diemed, much to the Baron's dismay. Like all wizards of Cirelia, Hermedhie is both powerful and secretive. For example, she doesn't talk about the three parallel scars running down the left side of her face. Yet there are things even a wizard can't or won't do, at least in person.

As with Roesone's baron, the young Archpriest is also new to her crown, and it doesn't sit securely. In addition to Guilder Kalien controlling the law of one of her three provinces, there are priests within the temple who feel that the crown should have gone to another. Either rooting them out, or helping them see the current Archpriest into retirement could be a lucrative business. Then of course there's Medoere's friends Roesone and Ilien... a more formal alliance might be in the works.

The rumors, plots, and secrets section has a number of wonderfully juicy adventuring options, including a possible swamp monster near Mills Landing, a magical sword for a champion, and an ancient elven cache of treasure.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A to Z Challenge 2014

Once again I’ve signed up for the A to Z Challenge in April. Already I can hear the gnashing of teeth from one corner of the blog-o-sphere… However, like last year, my goal is to make it as seamless as possible. I even got a comment last year to the effect that they didn’t even notice that I was doing the A to Z Challenge, I was just pumping out a whole lot of monsters.

The monster theme worked really well. It gave me enough focus to limit my gamer-ADD, while still allowing me to be creative. The question is, what do I do this year? More monsters? Back in 2012 I did magic items. 2011 was a mixed bag of posts without any real focus… Locations maybe? NPCs? A fantasy carnival? Whatever I go with, I want it to be useable and interesting.

If you’ve never participated in the A to Z challenge, I’d suggest that you give it a try. It’s an interesting writing exercise that can really push and stretch you in ways you might not have gone before. I do really recommend that if you do decide to participate that you pick a theme, and pre-plan (or even pre-write) your posts. It makes a big difference both in the quality of your writing, and in your own stress level as the month goes on.

Tim of the Other Side Blog did a guest post on the A to Z page yesterday about how he uses the A to Z challenge. Definitely worth a read if you aren't convinced.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Room of Keys

This small narrow chamber has 2 doors: the one you entered, and the one directly across from you. Its stone, with a bench running the length of the room. The far wall with the door sparkles in the light. Hundreds of keys hang from individual hooks. When one key is taken from the wall, the rest disappear. All keys will open the locked door, but they will all open it to a different location. When used the key will disappear and the door will re-lock. The next day the keys will reappear.

1. Beach house on the moon
2. Dungeon entrance
3. Barsoom
4. Random room in the dungeon
5. Feywild
6. Shadowfell
7. Sigil
8. Dragon’s den
9. Random room in the dungeon
10. Roman Bathhouse
11. Home of the gods (olympus?)
12. Court of the Goblin King
13. Random room in another dungeon
14. Baba Yaga’s hut
15. Random room in the dungeon
16. Dreamland
17. Ankh-Morpork
18. Random room in the dungeon
19. Janitor’s closet
20. Space station (DS9, Death Star, ISS, etc.)

Inspired by a wall in Sofi's Crepes in Baltimore.

Monday, February 10, 2014

From the Journal of Maz-kal Rhazam

Crookneck’s finally figured out how he’s going to get me out from under the noses of his peers so they don’t find out about my “nocturnal activities” as he puts it.

Apparently one of the wandering bands of barbarians… excuse me, “adventurers” is in need of some arcane assistance, and apparently these paragons of virtue are to be my role models while we go kill some ratmen in the sewers.

Well that was a chaotic mess… literally.

Upon entering the undercity, we captured a ratman, and forced him to lead us through the maze of twists and turns to his leader. Battle was joined.

I attempted to catch the ratmen in a giant web, but the chaotic forces of the area twisted my magic and I ended up entangling some of my companions, and draining away all of my day’s magical power.

While this was a setback for my companions, they showed themselves to be quite proficient at their work, and the ratman king was soon dead. Hoping to find some loot, a door was opened revealing 2 more ratmen and a rat-ogre.

This is where things got really messy. It did provide an excellent way to learn about my new companions...

Brasin is not a typical sword swinger. While he is both big and strong, he has an unusual interest in things arcane. This doesn’t mean he’s wise. While we were fighting a ratman the size of an ogre he attacked the big chunk of warpstone that was in the room with his magic sword. It broke, sending ripples of energy that knocked us about, and released a thick green goo. After the ratmen were slain, Braslin and Lycosa started poking the green goo with their magic swords… swords specifically designed to fight chaos apparently. Brasin’s sword got stuck, and sucked into the goo.

Lycosa is an elven ranger. Little about that last statement is true. Lycosa appeared to be an elven ranger, but is in fact blue, with a tail. He can swing a sword as well as Braslin, so maybe he’s a ranger. However, in an act of supreme stupidity he not only shoved his magical sword into the glowing ichor of pure chaos that was leaking from a warpstone that sucked up Braslin’s sword, but then, when his sword was drawn further into the goo, shoved his arm in after it.

Aside from these two there’s Vicster, a dwarven mage like crookneck, Karue the druid, and Gwachon an elven priest. More on them later, as we’re now off to find a way to heal Lycosa.

Not that any of this has gotten me out from under Crookneck’s oversight. He’s coming with us, at least for part of the journey...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop (post 2/4)

Day 8: First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?
Maybe? if so, they’re mixed in with all my other ugly dice.

Day 9: First campaign setting (published or homebrew) you played in.
Thunder Rift with it’s german names, japanese catmen, and skaven hanging out with wererats.

Day 10: First gaming magazine you ever bought (Dragon, Dungeon, White Dwarf, etc.)
Dragon. It was a long time before I ever picked up Dungeon, and by the time I got around to White Dwarf it was just a giant advert for Games Workshop.

Day 11: First splatbook you begged your DM to approve.
The complete book of elves.

Day 12: First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?
The Comic Store in Lancaster PA. It’s still there, and still not much of a game store.

Day 13: First miniature(s) you used for D&D.
A combination of the paper fold up minis from the intro box and the minis from HeroQuest.

Day 14: Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D? Does he or she still play?
(Or just post a randomly generated monster in protest of Valentine's Day.)
No. Yes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What to review next?

I have a ton of RPG stuff that I’ve been reading (or in my to read pile) and planning on reviewing here that I just haven’t gotten around to. This is in part because so many people are so prolific, even in our little corner of the RPG-verse. And for the most part I’m talking about free things! It’s truly an embarrassment of riches from campaign settings, to splat books, adventures, and zines.

While I want to get to all of them, I’d like to know what you want to see first. Your options are:
Blue Rose RPG
Cyclopian Depths vol 1.
Emirikol Was Framed! DCC adventure
Better than any man LotFP Free RPG Day giveaway
Secret Santicore vol 1
Isle of Dread (D&D Next)
Dreaded Island by J.D. Neal
Scarlet Heroes
Return to the Keep on the Boarderlands
Phonomicon Ex Cultis
The Lost Keys of Solitude
The Monolith Beyond Space and Time
Hack! Firearms
Back to the Dungeon Vol 1 Issue IV
Demonspore: The secret of the shrooms
The Maze of Nuromen
Eldritch Weirdness Compilation
Space Age Sorcery
The Tower of Azal'Lan

Let me know what you're interested in!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Monster: Skulltula

Feris swatted away the swarm of gnats that had again reformed around his head. “Are you sure we’re going the right direction?”

All around them was the dark greens of the jungle, the thick sticky sweet smell of wet rot, and the ever present drone of bugs and calls of birds.

Rathgar stopped and sighed. “I think so” he said over his shoulder.

“Don’t think” Nimble whined “Ask our guide.”

Rathgar mapped his forehead, and turned to the frogman. A series of croaking between them, and Rathgar looked back at Feris and Nimble. “He says we’re going in the right direction. That we’ll reach the pyramid before sunset.”

“Not that you can see the sun in here.” Allianora muttered. She dropped her pack, flexed her back, and said “Let’s take a breather. I’ll be right back.” She stepped away from the group for a bit of privacy.

The rest of the companions dropped their packs, and took long swallows from their waterskins. Allianora’s scream cut through the droning of the jungle. The companions drew their weapons and rushed in.

Allianora’s squirming form was already bundled in webbing, and being hoisted aloft by a trio of spiders. As the companions adjusted to the new threat, the spiders released Allanora, and shot webbing at their new prey.

aka Deathshead Spider

Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3** (M)
Move: 150’ (50’)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d4 + Poison
No. Appearing: 1d8
Save As: F6
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: E
Intelligence: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 65

Deathshead Spiders are mutated versions of common spiders caused by exposure to strong chaotic magics, often freestanding portals and other places where evil has a palpable force. When on the ground they stand about 3’ tall, and about 5’ around (including legs) but they’re usually found hanging from above on incredibly strong webs.

In combat they prefer to immobilize their prey with their webbing (count as a single target web spell every other round). If forced into melee combat they can bite for 1d4 damage. Anyone bit must make a saving throw vs poison or suffer 1d4 rounds of 1d8 damage, as well as an ongoing -2 to hit from the hallucinations and vertigo the poison causes. The hallucinations will end after a day or rest, or with the application of 2nd level or better clerical magic.

Source: Skulltula Ambush!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Never-ending stairs

Following up on my last post about stairs in the dungeon, here’s something you can add to your next dungeon.

Never-ending stairs
This staircase spirals or switchbacks over and over without ever coming to an end or another door. The longer anyone spends on the stairs, the greater the chance of encountering the following:

1. Dead body obviously violently killed (ancient bones, fresh, self)
2. Non-sequential chalk numbers written on the wall
3. Stair Stalker
4. Demon (mad, scared, desperate to escape?)
5. Vampiric Mist
6. Insect Swarm
7. Doorway (Illusionary, painted on, fake)
8. Magic Mouth (doom, hopeful beckoning, mad rambling, cries for help)
9. Light/hot air/sulfur smell/ from the depths
10. Hastily dropped and spilled pack
11. Mad/catatonic individual
12. Mummified fairy pinned to the wall
13. Voices from below
14. Sound of running footsteps coming up the stairs
15. A single organ, removed with surgical precision
16. Journal detailing the mad ramblings of someone stuck on the stairs.
17. Perfectly normal kitten/puppy
18. Broken circle of salt
19. Circle of black glass, reflective on one side, dull on the other
20. Lightless void, stairs continue on...

Inspired by SCP-087

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stairs in the dungeon

A while back I was running a dungeon crawl on G+, and at one point a set of stairs was reached. It wasn’t a tall stairway, maybe 10’. But one of the players was worried about moving to a different level of the dungeon.

This actually led to a short side conversation on player assumptions about dungeon levels. Personally I’m a big fan of staircases within dungeon levels. Unless we’re in an office tower (and even then…) a level isn’t necessarily a flat space. A level could easily span a 3 or 4 story volume, with numerous sets of stairs within. I always think about those great big rooms with balconies and windows into them. Sure, that could span a couple of levels, but it doesn’t have to.

Which brings up another thought… do you tell your players they’ve entered another level? Either explicitly (a big number on the wall, like in an underground garage?) or through other clues in the environment?

I don’t think I’ve ever said explicitly, though it would be interesting to do a dungeon that was built in a modern building with clearly numbered rooms and floors. I usually make levels in the dungeon separated by significantly longer stairs than would be found within a level, but that’s only generally, and even then there might be a small complex of rooms off the stairs between the levels that could be a part of either level, or something else entirely.

Other clues that I use are to show monster boundaries. They all control different territory, so the orc level will have a lot of spiked heads at their border while the mushroom forest… well, there’ll be mushrooms, and unworked stone. The goblin market may have actual signs in various languages. The crypt maybe a different style of worked stone from the surrounding areas. Given that my megadungeon is a part of the mythic underworld, it’s shaped by who exists in it.

How do you handle stairs and level breaks in your dungeons?

Dork Tower on Edition Wars

I think John Kovalik sums it up nicely.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Magic Item: “Demonfall” Gunhammer

“Defilers!” Allianora yelled as she swung her mace into the masked cultist before her, and followed through with the edge of her shield into his rapidly falling back. .

Nimble slipped his knives in and out of the robed madmen, avoiding their grasping hands as he made his way toward Rathgar’s prone form.

Feris walked above the fray on the crypts peaked ceiling, directing his staff as it weaved among the cultists hitting, tripping, and blocking them.

The cultist next to the alter where Rathgar had fallen from the his curse, glanced frustratedly at Feris before chanting in a dark tongue. His words became more bestial as the companions approached the defaced alter. He stooped in pain, his words faltering before his newly demonic form burst from his robes. With bulging muscles the demon grasped the altar top and flung it at Feris.

Feris fell from the ceiling just as the marble slab smashed the spot he’d been standing, and chunks of rubble dropped down on him and the massed cultists below.

Allianora pushed passed the cultists dodging the falling rocks, and swung at the demon. With preternatural speed it snapped the mace from her grip with one claw, and knocked her into the open altar with the other.

The demon then turned to Nimble who had just reached Rathgar. “Orcus will be pleased to see you and your friends sent to his underworld” it snarled through bestial lips. “Three down-”

The demon was interrupted by a cacophonous explosion that reverberated through the stone chamber. Allianora stood in the hollow of the altar, a clearly magical hammer smoking in her hand. “Count again”

“Demonfall” Gunhammer

This holy relic is a strongly lawful weapon. In the hands of a neutral character it will function as a nonmagical warhammer. In the hands of a chaotic individual, it will seem strongly magical, but any time it is used will cause damage to the wielder, rather than the target. In the hands of a lawful character the hammer will strike with a +2 bonus, +3 vs demons. In the hands of a lawful cleric or paladin, it will increase it’s base damage to 2d4 with a +3 bonus, +5 vs demons. In addition they can call upon the gunhammer’s most unique feature, the demonshot, once per day. This short ranged attack (as a sling) causes 2d6+3 damage against non-demonic opponents, and 4d8+8 against demons.

If the hammer is ever wielded by a demon against another demon it will explode, killing both demons, and causing 4d8+8 points of damage to everyone within 45’.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop (post 1/4)

I know this D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop, hosted by d20 Dark Ages, is supposed to be a daily thing, but I'm going to split it into a mere 4 posts, which will go up every Saturday in February. Enjoy!

Day 1: First person who introduced you to D&D . Which edition? Your first character? My mom played D&D with a group when I was little. I didn’t play with them, but I remember looking at the books, and being enthralled. She later got me HeroQuest, and then the black box D&D starter set. My first character was a fighter from the intro adventure.

Day 2: First person who you introduced to D&D. Which edition? Their first character?
I introduced D&D to Mike, who I played the intro adventures with. I think his first character was the same intro fighter I played.

Day 3: First dungeon you explored as a player-character or ran as a DM.
The intro dungeon from the black box.

Day 4: First dragon your character slew (or some other powerful monster).
The first big bad that I slew was a vampire. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually gone up against a dragon…

Day 5: First character to go from 1st level to the highest level possible in a given edition. (Or what's the highest level character you've ever ran?)
Greywolf the Archmage. Total monty haul character.

Day 6: First character death. How did you handle it?
That same intro adventure set I’m sure killed off a character or two. I’m pretty sure we just rewound the clock, and kept going.

Day 7: First D&D product you ever bought. Do you still have it?
The first D&D product I ever bought was a dragon magazine. I don’t have it anymore, at least not physically. I do have a PDF of it.