Saturday, 27 February 2021
How the West was...Weird!
Yes -- It's Bitner, Your Dead Partner
You Look Perfectly Normal to Us!
Friday, 26 February 2021
Good Heavens! It's Raining Tiny Dead Monsters!
Anyone caught in such a rain must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save each round or take 1d3 damage from the pummelling of tiny, water-shrouded corpses. The rain lasts 1d6 turns, so anyone not able to find shelter will surely perish.
But the worst is yet to come!
Tiny dead monsters seep into the water supply over a 1d30 mile radius. Anyone (and anything) consuming water in this area over the next 1d7 days begins to change....
Roll 1d20, modified by Luck:
0 or Less: The body shrivels, permanently losing 1d8 points of Strength, Agility, and Stamina.
1: The brain swells painfully, but unfortunately not helpfully. Take a permanent loss of 1d3 Intelligence and Personality.
2-3: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Defect.
4-5: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Greater Corruption.
6-8: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Major Corruption.
9-12: Pull out your Dungeon Crawl Classics book and roll up a Minor Corruption.
13-16: You are miraculously unscathed!
17-18: Gain 1d3 points to a random attribute.
19: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Physical Mutation.
20: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Mental Mutation.
21: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Physical Mutation.
22: Pull out your Mutant Crawl Classics book and roll up a Mega Mutation (equal chance of it being Physical or Mental).
23 or More: A paragon! All of your attributes are raised to 18, you gain a permanent 1d12 hit points, and you gain a permanent +2 bonus to all saves!
Minor creatures (insects, birds, etc.) undergo only minor cosmetic changes unless the judge rules otherwise. This is a great opportunity to introduce new (and sometimes tragic) monsters to a previously-explored area! Or bring some DCC monsters into MCC! Or MCC monsters into DCC! Go wild!
When creatures who have been changed by consuming the tiny dead monsters die, their bodies evaporate after one hour, eventually forming together into clouds that allow the next rain of tiny monsters to fall, millenia hence!
Aieeeeee! The Teeth!
The Flaming Head Again!!
Who can say what the flaming head wants? All that we know for sure is that Robert keeps missing it...perhaps Robert's head goes wandering at night?
Thursday, 25 February 2021
Then a Huge Croco-Tiger Charges Up....
Huge Croco-Tiger: Init +4; Atk claw +2 melee (1d4+3) or bite +5 melee (1d8+3); AC 15; HD 5d8+10; MV 40’ or swim 50'; Act 2d20; SP can use an Action Die to charge up to 80' (+4 bonus to bite attack and damage, -4 penalty to AC until next action); SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.
Monday, 22 February 2021
Gary Con Events I'm Hosting
Characters for Spawn of Cyclops Con will go out this Wednesday. In other news, here are the events I am running for Virtual Gary Con. I have the Thursday and Friday off as well, so with luck I will also get to play in some games!
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
The Inn in the Forest!
From the mind of Daniel J. Bishop comes a dangerous adventure that pits players against monsters, nature, and even time itself.
You spy a semi-ruined inn on the road ahead, promising shelter from the dark woods that close in around you. But the inn is not deserted. Haunted by phantoms of the past, creatures of the present, and a malignant entity with dark designs for the future, you slip between all three timelines. As these timelines merge and horrors from the past slip into the present, you find yourself confronted by a dark and wild future that you may not be able to avoid. Worse, a future you may have helped to create!
The Kickstarter has now officially launched!
What is The Inn in the Forest?
The Inn in the Forest is a DCC RPG long-format, time-traveling, horror adventure by Daniel J. Bishop heavily influenced by the darker side of the Brothers Grimm, the moody ghost tales of M.R. James and William Hope Hodgson, and the horror stories of Robert E. Howard.
Providing multiple nights of eerie entertainment as a stand-alone adventure or as a persistent part of a larger campaign, The Inn in the Forest is perfect for any medieval or modern DCC or OSR setting, including Weird Frontiers, Shudder Mountains, Crawlthulu, OSRIC, and Labyrinth Lord.
As a player, you take the part of an unwitting traveler seeking shelter for the night. Whether drawn this direction to search for the lost magic of Zauberer the Hexmaster or following up on rumors of the innkeeper’s dark practices, what you encounter is so much worse. Sometimes making it to dawn means success, other times it may just mean trading your companions’ souls to gain the power the Waldgeist grants!
As a Judge, you will be running a unique adventure, where time is not static. Phantom shifts allow you to tell the story of the inn during its heyday as well its current state. As the PCs interact with the haunting of the inn’s past, the very real threats of its present seek to destroy them. Rules on phantom shifts, as well as new monsters, items, artifacts, and rituals, are included to bring new dimensions of gameplay to your ttrpg.
Saturday, 13 February 2021
Mystery of Ilusion
Or, at least, that is how I read it. And, given that reading, this album cover will not be a snapshot of just the image, but a progression from one state to another. Yes, that means that the characters will level up and change over the course of the album, and it means that judges looking to get the most use from this material will have to use it over the course of campaign years.
Thursday, 11 February 2021
Home at Last
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
The Giant Hand
The Giant Hand: Init +0; Atk flick +3 melee (1d6 plus toss) or grab +2 melee (1d8+2 plus constrict); AC 12; HD 4d8+8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP toss, constrict; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.
The Giant Hand can flick an opponent, and unless the opponent succeeds in a Reflex save (DC equal to attack roll), they are tossed 5' away from the Hand per point of damage taken. Falling damage applies to tossed opponents on the basis of 1d6 per full 10' tossed (Reflex save for half, DC 10 + 5' increment tossed). The Hand cannot toss creatures larger than an ogre.
It can also attempt to grab an opponent. A grabbed opponent takes automatic damage each round, until it escapes with a DC 20 Strength check. If the Hand has an opponent in its grasp, it can make no other attacks and can only move 5' per round (using its little finger) on a 1 in 3 chance.
Monday, 8 February 2021
Sunday, 7 February 2021
Journey to the Sandsea
In remote places, as well as in the dark bowels of great cities, the Lungsmen ply their trade in illicit substances, including the Covenant Weed whose powerful fumes transcend space and time. Those who partake overmuch of the Covenant Weed find themselves in the deep sandscape of the Sandsea - an alternate plane where twin moons share the sky with unending sunlight. The desert stretches on forever, cut by oases and fertile river-washed plains whose waters come from some unknown birthplace and to some unknown end.
Crossing the Sandsea forever are the Creedsmen of the Covenant, carrying tightly-bound bundles of the Covenant Weed across the desert sands, making forever for the Holy City where they will find smoke-induced rest.
Lungsmen: Init +4; Atk breath drug powder or smoke (special); AC 14; HD 2d6; MV 40’ or climb 20'; Act 1d20; SP drugs, immunity to drugs, death throes; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +4; AL N.
This stuff isn't going to sell itself.
The Lungsmen may look human - if a bit thin and unkempt - but they are not. They creep into our worlds from the Sandsea, bringing with them the Covenant Weed and other drugs. If the judge has access to Narcosa, she may wish to convert some of the illicit substances described therein, and allow the Lungmen to travel to and from that plane as well.
The Lungmen spread the Covenant Weed as part of their religion. Although they demand payment for their wares, this is only because they have learned that humans (and their ilk) are less suspicious of those pleasures which are dearly bought.
If forced into combat, a Lungsman can throw or breath drug powders or smokes in an attempt to confound its enemies. When a Lungsman uses this ability, roll 1d7 and consult the following table:
1: The Lungsman tosses a handful of black powder at a single target within 10'. Target must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or lapse into pleasant unconsciousness for 1d3 turns.
2: The Lunsman breathes out a pale green smoke in a 15' radius centered on the Lungsman. All within the cloud must succeed in a DC 10 Will save or be numbed and unable to act for the next 1d3 rounds.
3: The Lungsman throws a pale yellow powder in the air, affecting up to three adjacent targets within 10'. Targets experience indescribably ecstasy for the next 1d6 minutes, and make all rolls at a -3d shift on the dice chain during this time. There is no save.
4: The Lungsman blows a line of thick grey smoke at a single target within 30'. Target must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or take a -1d shift on the dice chain for all rolls until they have spent at least three rounds eating.
5: The Lungsman tosses an amber-and-orange colored power onto a target within 5'. Target must succeed in a DC 20 Fort save or be effectively blinded by hallucinations of strobing psychedelic colors lasting 1d30 minutes.
6: The Lungsman breaths a cone of mauve-hued smoke 15' long with a 10' base. All caught within it must make a DC 10 Will save or be so overcome with peaceful goodwill that they cannot make an effective attack for the next 1d5 minutes.
7: The Lungsman throws an emerald powder at one target within 10'. Target must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or take 1d5 points of Strength, Agility, and Stamina damage. This damage is recovered at 1 point per minute, and cannot reduce a character to 0 in any ability score.
A Lungsman itself is effectively immune to all drugs. If slain, there is a strong odor of potent smoke as the creature passes out of existence, disappearing entirely. Roll 1d7 on the table above; all targets within 30' are affected.
Note that Lungsmen do not harm or molest those who fall to their drug-induced stupors. They are not violent as a rule.
The Lungsmen usually charge 5 gp per dose of this substance, although it is possible to acquire cheaper doses cut with impurities that may remove its potency or even endanger the user. Covenant Weed is smoked, requiring about 5 minutes to fully partake of a dose. It has the following properties:
- Each dose can be used to add +5 to a single spell check made within the next turn.
- Each dose adds 2 temporary hit points to the partaker; all damage comes from these hit points first, which fade after 1d3 x 10 minutes if not used.
- Each dose cause 1d3 temporary Agility damage, which recovers at the rate of 1 point per turn.
- Each dose requires a DC 5 Fort save to avoid the permanent loss of 1 hp.
- Each dose requires a DC 10 Will save to avoid a permanent -2 penalty to spell checks.
- Each dose gives a cumulative 2% chance of falling into a dream in which the character's spirit is transported to the Sandsea.
There is endless sand everywhere. The sun is hot. Characters not equipped for the desert take 1d3 damage from exposure each hour. Wandering or standing still, it takes a full hour before a Creedsman caravan finds the character.
The judge may rule that other creatures - giant scorpions, serpents, or giant sandworms - might pose threats when characters are not travelling with the Creedsmen.
Creedsmen: Init +2; Atk hookah pipe +0 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP immune to drugs and the Sandsea, death throes; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.
The Creedsmen are humanoids whose features are never seen. Their creaky rasping voices suggest that they are some form of insectkind or arachnids, but if slain they simply fade away, with only their robes and their hookahs remaining. They spend their time marching toward the Holy City, refreshing their hookahs, repacking their beasts, and preaching the pleasures of the Covenant Weed and the glories of the Holy City.
Each hour spent in the company of the Creedsmen caravan grants a wizard or elf a +1 bonus when attempting to learn a new spell within the next 30 days.
Beasts of the Caravan: Init +0; Atk butt +4 melee (1d4+2) or kick +0 melee (1d5+2); AC 12; HD 3d8; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP immune to the Sandsea; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +1; AL N.
There may be some strange circumstance that brings these beasts into the deserts of the mundane world, or where creatures from the Sandsea attack a caravan - but such circumstances would be unusual indeed. It should be noted that these creatures have human intelligence and speech, and wax poetic of their service to the Creedsmen and the Green Herbsmen (who- or whatever they might be). They too dream of the Holy City, where, according to the Beasts, night will finally fall and they can rest.
Ending the Dream
Time continues, hour after hour, in the Sandsea, and little changes. Each hour, the damage from the Sandsea continues unabated. The Creedsmen of the Covenant do not tire, nor do their beasts, but every three hours the damage taken by PCs travelling with them (unless they have protection from bowing sand, heat, and dehydration) increases the damage per hour by another die. PCs traveling with the caravan for more than 6 hours must make a Fort save (DC 10 +2 per additional hour) to keep up. Those left adrift on the sands may become prey for other creatures, at the judge's discretion. Usually, the drugged travelers only awaken when their hit points reach 0, or they would otherwise die within the Sandsea. The judge may also allow the trip to end when it becomes boring for the participants invovled.
The judge may also allow the PCs to meet other strange creatures from other worlds travelling with a caravan before the PCs awake, although these events should not occur on more than a 1 in 7 chance. The Sandsea is vast, the caravans many, and the visitors at any given moment are few.
Visitors to the Sandsea slumber in a drug-induced haze within their own worlds. During this time, their bodies are untenanted and vulnerable. The dream lasts a little longer than an hour in the mundane world, no matter how long the dreamer's spirit spent in the Sandsea.
When a traveler to the Sandsea awakens, they have the benefits of having slept a full night - including restoration of lost spells, healing, and Luck (if applicable). Clerics find their disapproval ratings reset. Any damage taken within the Sandsea
However, not all voyagers survive the experience. The dreamer must succeed in a Will save (DC 2, increased by a cumulative +2 for each subsequent trip to the Sandsea). Failure means that the slumberer never arises. Their body dies and, if the Lungsmen are to be believed, their souls complete the journey to the Holy City where they may rest in smoke-shrouded temples.
Finding Magic Items in this Blog
Last Updated 7 May 2023
Cursed Half-Plate of the Death Dealer
Draugmere, the Demonglass Blade
Healing Potions (Various)
Libations of McBones, the Skeletal Bartender
Mårtenson's Ring of the Eagle's Shape
Tuesday, 2 February 2021
Designing Magic Items
The following ideas are completely appropriate for the Dungeon Crawl Classics game and were written with that lens in mind, but are similar to my approach with magic items in earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons and their simulacra. You can find similar ideas in my work in Dragon Roots Magazine for 3rd Edition, and in Petty Gods or The Dungeon of Crows for other OSR-type games. D120 Treasures also contains (unsurprisingly) some items with a similar philosophy of design.
Design Principle 1: Magic can do anything. It doesn’t matter what your system of choice allows or does not allow. Magic can break the rules. In fact, arguably, that is the thing that makes it magic. Now, you know and I know that there are games where, when a magic item is introduced, the GM is expected to know what the PCs would need to recreate it. Perhaps a combination of feats and spells. Perhaps something different. This is a straight jacket on what magic can be, and you should ignore it. If you want to include a magic bird bath that attracts avian creatures, go for it! Likewise, if you want to include a ring with a weird power no spell can match, you do not need to know what was required to create it. Perhaps the gods don’t even know. Or, if they do know, perhaps the gods work to keep that knowledge from mortals. You don’t have to justify it.
Design Principle 2: Follow a theme. Even though magic can do anything, it is all the better if the item in question follows some form of theme both in form and function. My answer to the wand of wonder, for instance, not only creates random affects, but has a random appearance whenever you look at it. If you decide to make a powerful necromantic item look like a child’s stuffed bear, you may wish to make its powers linked to children or childhood in some significant way. The players should experience a frisson with your item; it should feel right. A wish from an angel should not feel like a wish granted by a demon.
Design Principle 3: Use the mechanics. Expressing a magic item into game terms requires engaging with the mechanics of the game, however obliquely. Consider how to put whatever it is into game terms, even if it is to say “the angel will not grant selfish wishes, but will grant selfish wishes in the best possible way”, you need to know how it will play out at the table. If your game has Luck checks, corruption, patron taint, mercurial magic, or similar effects, feel free to use them when designing magic items. For that matter, consider designing items that affect those systems. A ring that changes your mercurial magic effects to one of 20 frost-themed effects would be cool. So would a portrait that assumes your corruption for you until, one day, it has had too much and comes out of the frame….
Design Principle 4: You can steal mechanics from other games. If your game doesn’t have feats, for instance, you can have an enchanted earring that allows its wearer to gain the effects of a feat. You can be blatant about that or disguise that as you wish. And you don’t need to limit this to other d20-based fantasy games, either. The item might offer a Gamma World mutation, so long as you can express that mutation in the mechanics of the game you are playing.
Design Principle 5: Limited Use Items are Cool. Potions, scrolls, a hunk of magic cheese, a globe that must be broken to release its power, a glass sword that shatters on a fumble. All of these can have cool powers, with the interesting choice for the players being “When do I use this?” If you want the choice to actually be interesting, make sure there is some way that the players can figure out what the item does before using it! Which leads to….
Design Principle 6: Magic cannot solve all of your problems. No matter how powerful an item is, it has limitations. Those limitations might be that they are single-use or have a set (or random, as for instance with the glass sword example) number of uses available. It may be because the item is only usable under specific conditions (at night, under the full moon, when the user is undressed, on a beach, etc.) – avoid easily met conditions like “in a dungeon” here! It could be because the item weighs several hundred pounds and is difficult to carry around. It could also be because using the item offers a significant drawback. This in turn leads to....
Design Principle 7: With Great Power Comes Massive Drawbacks. You can do this wonderful thing, but every time you do, you suffer corruption. At first it is minor corruption, but the type of corruption has a chance to grow with each use. The sword offers you power, but it offers the same to everyone around you, on the off chance that one of them might take it off of your corpse. The ring does some neat things, but if you die while wearing it you will return as a vampire to plague your friends. Every time you use the staff it permanently removes one (or more!) of your hit points. The item demands sacrifice to operate; the greater the powers, the larger the sacrifice. Suddenly the question is not “How do I use this?” but “When should I use this?” or even “Should I use this at all?” If you get the balance right, the temptation to use the item, and the reluctance to use it, should almost balance out, so that the players are always faced with an interesting dilemma.
That isn’t all that goes into designing a magic item, of course, but 7 is a thematically potent number when discussing magic. I hope that these principles are of some help!