Saturday, 27 February 2021

Thirsty?

It seems to be normal enough booze, but do you drink what McBones, the Skeletal Bartender, is offering you?

Roll 1d7, modified by Luck!

1 or Less: Rot Gut literally rots your gut. Take 1d3 damage immediately, plus 1d3 damage each turn that you fail a DC 15 Fort save. Once you have saved once, the danger has passed.

2: Crypt Tequila forces a DC 15 Fort save. Failure means you drop like a stone, helpless and apparently dead for 1d6 hours. Your comrades probably loot your body.

3: Ghost Rum is tasty stuff! Succeed in a DC 15 Will save or take another drink - and roll 1d7 + Luck modifier again!

4: Manna Gin! Good for a +1d10 bonus on your next spell check, if you make it during the next 1d3 hours. After that, the buzz fades. Yes, multiple drinks can stack (if you are lucky enough). Yes, any class can make a spell check, so this might even help a warrior. Yes, McBones sometimes tends bar in dungeons!

5: Bone Brandy puts a stiffener in your skeleton. Your bones cannot be broken (for example, as the result of a fall or a critical hit) for the next 1d5 days.

6: Burial Bourbon heals 1d5 damage. Better, no matter how badly you are injured over the next 24 hours, you always survive (recover the body checks are always successful without a roll...of either type; if no one rolls the body, you awaken groggy with 1 hp after 1 hour). Even if swallowed whole, you are not slain, but receive a "free pass"!

7 or Better: Super-Whisky not only brings on a warm feeling in your gut, but heals 2d12 damage and all diseases! 50% chance of it being a double-malt that also neutralizes poisons!

McBones, Skeletal Bartender: Init +0; Atk claw +0 ranged (1d4); AC 9; HD 4d6; hp 13; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP death throes; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +6; AL N.

Death Throes: It is uncertain that McBones can be truly slain. Yes, if he reaches 0 hp, his bones are shattered, but as soon as that happens the house goes dry. Even water skins within 500' are mysteriously emptied. At the same time, somewhere else, a skeleton calling itself McBones opens the bar somewhere in the multiverse. Is it the same McBones? A successor? No one knows. McBones doesn't care to discuss the matter, and he never holds a grudge.

How the West was...Weird!

Agamas Ringo, the Saturn Kid (alien gunslinger): Init +3; Atk claw +2 melee (1d4) or ray gun +4 ranged (1d12); AC 15; HD 3d10+6; hp 30; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +2; AL POD +3. Crit Die d8; Fumble Die d12.

Be glad the frame only shows Ringo's hand. The Kid is about as pretty as a skunk with the mange dressed up like a saloon girl, and smells near as good to boot!

That Ray Run gets 100 shots before it runs out of juice, and the judge should roll 1d100 to determine how many shots are left when the Saturn Kid is encountered.

Yes -- It's Bitner, Your Dead Partner

Brain-Bat: Init +4; Atk claw +0 melee or bite +2 melee (1d3) or psychic blast +3 ranged (1d6); AC 10; HD 1d7+1; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP control corpse, psychic death throes; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +15; AL C.

A Brain-Bat can slip onto a corpse and wear it like a zombie. Treat the corspe as a Zombie (DCC core rulebook, page 431), except that it attacks with a claw (1d4) or a weapon (by weapon type).

When a Brain-Bat is slain, its wail of psychic distress affects all living creatures within 100'. These must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or take 1d3 points of temporary damage to both Intelligence and Personality. On a natural "1", one of these points is permanent (player may choose which).

Brain-Bats are extremely intelligent. They can use corpses to speak when riding on one, and use both the living and the dead to further their schemes. 

You Look Perfectly Normal to Us!

Lobsterfication: A victim of this foul magical disease has their body slowly turn into that of a crustacean over the course of several days.

When a character first encounters a vector, they must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save to avoid infection. While victims of lobsterficiation carry the disease, other vectors might include curses, magical creatures, or even tainted food and drink (such as water consumed after a rain of tiny dead monsters).

If a character is infected, each day after the first they must roll a DC 15 Fort save. Failure indicates a bodily change, which occurs in the order below:

1. Body grows shell-like carapace. +4 to AC, armor cannot be worn.

2. Left hand becomes pincer-like claw. 1d8 damage. Can transmit lobsterfication.

3. Body becomes hunched. Permanent loss of 1d4 Agility and 10' of speed.

4. Right hand becomes pincer-like claw. 1d8 damage. Most spellcasting is now impossible. Can transmit lobsterfication.

5. Body grows extra pair of legs and victim can no longer stand upright. Head is unchanged. Lobsterfication is complete. 

The process of lobsterfication can be halted with a Lay on Hands check sufficient to do 3 HD or more of healing, but more powerful magic is needed to undo effects that have already taken place.

Average Lobsterman: Init -1; Atk claw +0 melee (1d8 + lobsterfication); AC 13; HD 1d4; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP lobsetrfication (Fort DC 15 avoids); SV Fort +0, Ref -1, Will +0; AL N.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Good Heavens! It's Raining Tiny Dead Monsters!

It doesn't often happen, but every once in a while - maybe only once in a million years - there is a tiny dead monster in ever raindrop. These are larger-than-normal raindrops - each being a good 2 feet long - but the number of dead monsters dropping from the sky is beyond count.

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!

Swarm of Teeth: Init +5; Atk swarming bite +0 melee (1d5); AC 14; HD 4d8; MV fly 30’; Act special; SP swarm (attacks all in a 20' x 20' area with 1d20, half damage from non-area attacks); SV Fort +0, Ref +5, Will +0; AL C.
 

The Flaming Head Again!!

Flaming Head: Init +2; Atk ray of flame +3 ranged (1d6 + fire); AC 18; HD 1d6; MV fly 60’; Act 1d20; SP flame (Ref DC 10 or catch fire, 1d6/round until save succeeds), immune to fire, mundane weapons that strike it are destroyed; SV Fort -2, Ref +8, Will +5; AL C.

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

The next album cover on my queue is Chastain's Mystery of Illusion. And, yes, that last link will take you to the full album. 

Although released in 1985, that cover looks like something from the 1970s Heavy Metal Magazine. Nude woman. Evil looking dude on an evil looking horse. Hazy background like something from a Ralph Bakshi film. You would have, at most, three statblocks of material here, and the woman looks more like victim than active entity.

Luckily, when I stat out these album covers, I also like to take the lyrics into account if I can. 

Herein, we have the tale of a sorceress queen, who seeks to kill the king and take his place. She sees a soldier of fortune, the black knight, as the tool she needs to accomplish this end, and sets him against the king.

In return, the queen becomes his consort. The knight, believing that she will be loyal to him, allows her to cloak him in illusion, freeing him to become the tyrant through which she acts. In the end, though, the soldier of fortune escapes, leaving the queen desolate in the ruins of her kingdom.

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. 

I am not sure how you feel about that, but it pleases me!

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Home at Last

This album cover clearly references The Odyssey - but a version of The Odyssey that has gone severely wrong. As a result, the image would fit pretty well into a Pax Lexque campaign, which is how I am going to frame this. It should be fairly easy for a judge to modify the history to fit their own campaign!

Hellena in Pax Lexque is an elven nation, so our un-dead argonauts will come from Thracia. According the the Pax Lexque Campaign Guide

"Thracia and Macedonia had been at each others’ throats for centuries before they were absorbed by the Roman Empire. After that, they were perpetually Rome’s problem children, frequently needing to be brought to heel. It was no surprise that they both tried to get the upper hand by the use of magic in the wake of the War of Fire. As the years marched on, both kingdoms pushed the envelope with magical research, actively trying to outpace each other in the magical arms race. From time to time, the tension would break out into cross­border skirmishes, which they would try to resolve before Rome would yank the leash. The tension was reaching a boiling point when the Wars of Darkness began."

History and Legend

Long before the War of Fire, Odysseus fought in the siege of Troy, a city now ruined and lost to the sands of time (unless the judge arranges for it to be found - this might be a good opportunity to rework B4: The Lost City or its OAR version). After over a decade of strife, Odysseus and his crew sailed homeward, toward the city of Enez.

Odysseus had many adventures on his journey home, after offending the sea-goddess Procella by dallying with her daughter, the cyclops-nymph Circulla, before blinding her and escaping. In the defense of Odysseus, it is said that Circulla caused men to take the form of animals, and in that form she devoured them.

Judges wishing to expand on these adventures should consider riffing off of Homer's original work, combining and reworking the material to match the aesthetic of whatever campaign milieu they are using. The final adventure of Odysseus and his crew, in life, is known - sailing between the many-armed sea monster Charybdis and six-headed Scylla, the red-painted war galley entered a portal to the domain of Mordines, god of death, where it was said to sail forever on blood-dark seas.

So much for history and legend. Centuries passed, and scholars began to doubt the very existence of Odysseus, of Troy, or even of the elven Gilmar, who had chronicled Odysseus' adventures until thrown from the vessel on that final, fateful voyage. 

But these things actually did happen. Death itself kept Odysseus and his crew hostage, and the perils they faced in death were greater even than those they had overcome in life. Odysseus was famed for his prowess, his cleverness, and his eloquence. Although it took centuries to do, he was able to outwit Mordines himself, deliver to that dread god something that bought back access to the sunlit realms, and sailed again upon the Pisconian Sea for Enez.

Odysseus, Un-dead Lord of Enez: Init +5; Atk claw +5 melee (1d3+3) or short sword +7 melee (1d6+3) or long bow +5 ranged (1d6+3); AC 15; HD 10d12; hp 66; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP un-dead, half damage from piercing and slashing weapons, immune to cold, regenerate 3/round until slain, d7 Deed Die; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +7; AL L.

Mighty Odysseus knows nothing of Rome when he first reaches Enez, and contests the mastery of others now as he did in life. He has become no less clever for being un-dead, and continues to use his wits to outmaneuver his foes. The coalition he seeks to build in Thracia upon his return may be directed at Macedonia initially, but it will not take long for Odysseus to deem Rome the greater threat. Eventually, Rome will have to send the Hand of the Law to deal with him.

Odysseus regenerates 3 hit points each round, so long as he has even one hit point remaining. He can perform Mighty Deeds with a d7 Deed Die, but this does not add to either his attack rolls or damage. Odysseus has a long bow that can only be strung or drawn by creatures with a 18 or better Strength, but it increases damage by +3.

Skeleton Crew: Init +2; Atk claw +2 melee (1d3+1) or short sword +3 melee (1d6+1) or spear +3 melee (1d8+1); AC 13; HD 2d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead, half damage from piercing and slashing weapons, immune to cold, regenerate 1/round until slain, absolute loyalty; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

Other skeletons may be "brittle bones held together by eldritch energies", but the skeletal crew that follows Odysseus are more hardy. By the end of his voyage, 72 of these creatures passed from the dark seas in the land of Mordines. None of them began the voyage with him, but where picked from among the shades on islands beyond the knowledge of the living. None can be turned from Odysseus; all owe him absolute loyalty.

Gilmar's Ghost: Init +2; Atk incorporeal touch +2 melee (1d4 XP); AC 10; HD 2d12; hp 9; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, immune to non-magical weapons, bless weapon; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +6; AL C.

There have been those who have claimed to see the ghost of an ancient elf haunting the shores of Thracia near to Enez. These stories go back for centuries. Indeed, such a spirit does exist, all that remains of the elf Gilmar, who chronicled the adventures of Odysseus in life and now seeks to prevent his return and ascendency in death. As such, Gilmar can only be put to rest by the destruction of Odysseus. The ghost may thus be a boon to those who would act as agents of Rome, or a bane to others who might wish to see Thracia rise.

The ghost can fade into the ether at will, and will usually avoid combat. Its touch, however, bypasses all armor, and permanently drains living victims of 1d4 experience points. In the case of non-classed NPCs, the judge should assume that the target has 4 XP per Hit Die, and when XP reaches 0, the target dies.

For those characters who seek the downfall of Odysseus, Gilmar's ghost may bless their weapon, a condition that lasts for seven days and seven nights. A weapon blessed by Gilmar causes damage that Odysseus and his crew cannot regenerate. As they cannot heal naturally, this damage is permanent unless magically removed.

You can listen to/watch the music video for Home at Last here.

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

Crimson Renegade

In honor of Weird Frontiers, I have selected Redwest's Crimson Renegade as the next album cover to give the "Raven Crowking DCC" treatment to.

In this case, we have the titular gunman, those goggles, and that machine pistol to stat out. Also, why has the sky turned completely red? I am sure we can come up with some sort of half-baked but fun answer!

The Crimson Renegade

A legend along the Weird Frontiers of the West, the Crimson Renegade is said to be a fallen angel, a demon from the dark side of Paradise, walking the world in mortal form. Some say that the Crimson Renegade, sickened by the horrors of the Seven Days of Night, tried to leave the Path of the Damned and walk the Path of the Righteous. 

How successful that change of paths has been depends greatly upon who you ask. Violence follows the Crimson Renegade wherever he goes. Behind his angelic features is a soul drenched in whiskey, gambling, the pleasures of the flesh, and a river of spilled blood. If your hombres meet him, prepare for Hell itself to join in the dance.

The Crimson Renegade: Init +7; Atk bowie knife +4 melee (1d6) or machine pistol +6 ranged (1d8); AC 19; HD 5d10+10; hp 55; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP immune to fear/madness, healing, dead speak, side-step, death throes; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +4; AL POD +2. Crit Die d12; Fumble Die d8.

The Crimson Renegade is immune to all fear and madness effects, and never needs to make a Grit Check. 

He can heal others with a touch, but only by taking their wounds upon himself. Each round he can heal 1d8 damage to a single living creature, but then takes that damage (and identical wounds) upon himself. He can cure poisons, diseases, broken bones, and paralysis by remaining in contact for a longer period, but likewise takes those conditions on himself by doing so.

The Crimson Renegade can speak to the dead as can a Calavera.

He can also side-step in a manner similar to that of a Sin Eater but at much higher cost. Instead of Personality damage, attempting to enter the spirit world causes the Crimson Renegade to weep blood. The Crimson Renegade makes his attempt with a +8 bonus to his d20, but takes damage equal to the total of the roll, whether it succeeds or not.

When the Crimson Renegade dies, his death throes depend upon what he was doing at the time. Either a shaft of light pierces the clouds, giving him a look of peace as he fades away, or the earth swallows him to the sounds of malicious laughter and cries of pain coming up from below. The judge should decide depending upon circumstances, or just determine randomly. What do you believe in more, Redemption or Punishment?

McTinker's Goggles

Let's say you catch the Crimson Renegade in a talkative mood, and you ask him where he got those fancy spectacles from. He might just tell you about a Bedlamite called McTinker. Or he might tell you some other tall tale because, truth be told, McTinker sounds like a lie, doesn't it?

Either way, the wearer of the Goggles can stare at the sun unblinking, or count the spots on a bluebottle's arse across a smoky saloon. By which I mean to say, nothing stays hidden from the wearer  of these Goggles and trying to hide will do you little good. If you're lucky, they might even stick around when the Renegade dies, instead of being caught up in his death throes.

The Machine Pistol

This beauty isn't even magical, just a thing stuck in this world way before its time. The machine pistol takes .36 ammo with a 20 shot load and a 6 shot rate of fire. It does 1d8 damage with a range of 15/50/80. There is a -1d penalty to concealment, and the weapon is beyond price. Although you can't fan the hammer with this weapon, for some reason the Crimson Renegade likes to pretend that you can. I mean, look at him in that picture; that ain't no single-action weapon!

The machine pistol takes 5 full rounds to reload. If damaged, a Bedlamite might be able to repair it. Hell, a Bedlamite might even be able to reproduce it, or something near enough, but the judge should set the cost and complexity DC high.

The Red Sky

There's an old rhyme that says

Red sky at night, sailors delight
Red sky in morning, sailors take warning

A little less well known is the third line

Red sky at noon, Death coming soon

When the sky looks like it is awash with blood, even under the noonday sun, that is a sure sign that something unnatural is walking the earth. The judge can feel free to introduce any adventure they want, and maybe this is the time for something especially wicked.

Saddle up.

You can listen to the full album here.


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.

Covenant Weed

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.

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

 This is an attempt to help judges locate magical items that I have created for the blog or similar sites.

Last Updated 24 April 2021

Altar of Woeful Consumption

Buckle of Pesh Joomang

Control Ring

Covenant Weed

Cursed Half-Plate of the Death Dealer

Draugmere, the Demonglass Blade

Elf-flenser

Enchanted Mistletoe

Fairy Stone

Gold Ring of Protection +2

Healing Potions (Various)

Helm of Darkness

Libations of McBones, the Skeletal Bartender

Mårtenson's Ring of the Eagle's Shape

Mask of Terror

McTinker's Goggles

Obsidian Dagger

Orb of Temptation

Potion of Extra-Healing

Potion of Super-Heroism

Ring of the Silicon Minds

Rod of Striking

Sanguine Hourglasses

Seven Keys

SilverSwords

Sodoutym’s Bracers

Sphere of Time

Stargates            

Time Destructor

Tunic of Pesh Joomang

Wormstriker


Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Designing Magic Items

Let’s talk about 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!