Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monster Mania

Hordes of monsters!!!
So one of the things I'm doing to prepare for eventually running a Pathfinder game is something I've wanted to do for years, and that's collect all my Pathfinder and compatible monsters, print them out, and collect them into binders.  PF makes this easier, as long as whoever has developed the supplement keeps it to one monster per page, as the main PF books do.  This has led me to print massive stacks of monsters, and collating them is taking a long time, and I'm now 11 binders into the project (read that as "thousands of monster entries"), and when I get everything finally done, it will probably be about 20 binders (we're talking approximately 4" d-ring, so just imagine how many thousands of monsters that really is).  It's a really satisfying thing to do.  Everything is alphabetized as much as possible, and everything is neat.  There's a certain perverse lust in my heart for monsters, as this blog will attest, and it's obvious in my own creations here on the site.  Sometime, when I get an actual camera, I'll have to post a picture of what I've done. 

How do you feel about having a zillion monsters for your games?  For me, it's less that I'll use them, and more the wonder of collecting new and interesting things that spark the imagination. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Monster: Nephiggian Flesh-Ghoul

Nephiggian Flesh-Ghoul
Hit Dice: 3+3
Armor Class: 15
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4), 1 bite (1d6)
Saving Throw: 14
Special:  Hypnotism, charnel odor, cannibalistic fury, see in darkness 120', see perfectly in low light, move silently (in jungle/forest only) 75%, hide in shadows (in jungle/forest only) 75%
Movement: 12
CL/XP: 6/400

The Jungles of Nephigo are dangerous, dark, and teeming with life.  The flesh-ghouls were once men, a cannibal tribe who claimed heads as trophies of war and pillage.  Over time, they became corrupt, ever more ravenous, even eating their own dead.  They now live throughout the Jungles of Nephigo, scuttled away in caves, ruins, or remnants of their old villages, their only culture one of cannibalistic desire and the hunger for the flesh of humans.

The first thing player characters will notice about the Nephiggian flesh-ghoul is its odor, which is repulsive and smells of the recently deceased.  This odor surrounds the flesh-ghoul in a 60 ft. radius and upon breaching this radius, a character must make a saving throw or be nauseated for 1d3 rounds.  If a PC is nauseated by the charnel odor of the flesh-ghoul, he cannot be affected by it for the next 24 hours.

Flesh-ghouls most often begin an attack by attempting to hypnotize their victims, who must be within 30 feet for the ghoul to make an attempt.  They must concentrate for the entire round on the victim to achieve this affect, and their concentration can be broken by taking damage or being disrupted otherwise.  At the end of the round, the victims the ghoul targeted with its ability (a single ghoul can target up to 3 individuals) make a saving throw.  If it is failed, they become fascinated for 1d6 rounds.  The victims of the ghoul's hypnotism need not be paying active attention to the ghoul.  This is considered to be a mind-affecting attack.

Nephiggian flesh-ghouls can also enter a cannibalistic fury once per combat that grants them a +2 to damage for 1d6 rounds.  At the end of their blood-frenzy, they are tired and suffer a -1 to attack.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

D30 Days: Day 5 Your Favorite Set of Dice/Individual Die

I've got a few favorites in my dice collection, including individual pieces and sets.  I would like to say that any of my Gamescience dice made the cut, but, alas, they did not.  I don't have any pictures of these to share with you, but since we're all good at using our imagination, let's do that.

My most recent find is this off-white 20-sided D5 that I have.  It came in the ubiquitous Pound-O-Dice product that we are no doubt all familiar with.  I've been looking for something like that for a long time.  Now I just need a 20-sided D10 and I'm a happy camper.

My other favorite is a set of mini Dwarven Stones made from some sort of green semi-precious stone, and I forget the name of said stone.  They're a far cry from precise, but they're fun.  I also have a set of small Koplow gray/black dice with a silvery finish that a pretty awesome.  I like small dice, yes.

I also like big dice.  I have a gigantic D20 that I give people when I think they've had one too many good rolls without my eyes on them.  I have a big ol' D6 and D4 for the same reasons.  That and it unnerves the players when I toss those out on the table for attack and damage rolls!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

D30 Days: Day 4 Favorite Gameworld

This one is also easy - my favorite game world is my own.  Beginning in my freshman year of high school (a lot of guys out there start this sentence referencing college, but I never went), I began work on a world called Helenista.  It was not quite vanilla D&D, and it was based around 2nd Edition.  It had a heavy Greek/Roman influence with the Empire of Thrace at its center (no historical basis - the only similarity would be there was an emperor).  It was fun, and the players pillaged the whole continent for about 8 years of real time, and topped out about 12th level.  In fact, 6-12 was the sweet spot for that campaign. 

Before that I had used the assumed setting that was developed for various modules for BECMI, the Known World.  I like that world just fine, but I like my own much better.  I've never run the Realms, or Dragonlance, or Dark Sun.  I did enjoy playing a Spelljammer scenario one time, but I've never run it.

Now I'm hard at work on my new world, which is heavy on the swords, sorcery, and demon fronts.  There are no elves, no dwarves, and definitely no halflings.  I'm using Swords & Wizardry as the base, with a mongrelization in nearly every subsystem from some other OSR ruleset or official D&D game version.  I like to world-build through mechanics, and I also world-build through monsters.  Now I'm to the point where I'm taking the drawn map and working on transferring it to a numbered hex map so I can plan the hexcrawl aspect of the campaign.  It's going to be a ton of fun.  Especially for me.  I'm blessed with players who don't know the meaning of "run!"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

D30 Days: Day 3 Favorite Playable Class

Easy answer:  wizard.  I am enamored with the way magic bends and often breaks the rules of the various iterations of D&D.  I tend to enjoy the way the older versions of the game work in this regard, especially.  Often, I am able to find an alternative application for a given spell or convince a DM to let me do something a little offbeat.

I haven't played a wizard in a long, long time.  I haven't played in a long, long time.  I'm trying to change that, though.  My ideal next character in any fantasy game would be of the magic-using variety, and he'll not be afraid to traffic with the darker side of magic.  You see, I tend to think along the lines of the old pulp writers, where magic is regarded as something quite otherworldly, certainly anything but ordinary, and often just plain dangerous to use.  Wizards in my upcoming OSR-mashup campaign are going to be people that risk everything for knowledge.  

Since I haven't played in so long, I'm going to stop here with this post, in order to preserve my writing energy for later, but suffice it to say, I get all kinds of insidious enjoyment from magic.  Just ask anyone who has played in one of my campaigns.  Remember when the lich burned down the capital of the Thracian Empire, guys?  And you never even saw it coming....

D30 Days: Day 2 Favorite Playable Race

Well, here I was hoping not to be behind, and I'm already behind by a day.  I have a good excuse, dear readers.  I am in two bands and that requires time and practice.

'Nuff said.

On to my favorite playable race.

This is a preference that has evolved over time for me.  It used to be that I liked playing anything with a ton of interesting powers.  Many of us do this when we first start out.  "Why be a human, something so ordinary, in a fantasy game?" we think.  We want to make it as fantastic as possible, and the lure of special ability after special ability heaped on top of each other still induces drooling in me from time to time, especially when thinking back on The Complete Humanoid's Handbook.  (Here's where I say that if you haven't played a voadkyn before, beware lest you become stuck in a dungeon corridor.)

However, over time, I've become enamored of Humans in D&D.  I never have to remind myself what the character looks like outside of costume or weaponry or coloration, and I don't have to worry about hiding pointed ears.  Plus, the benefits of being human in more recent editions of our game have proven to be highly enticing.  Pathfinder's benefits for being a human are nice, as were v.3.5's.

That said, I want to relate the tale of a character named Relivane that I played in a 2nd Edition campaign long ago, during high school.  He was a human thief, and he couldn't do anything right.  The dice were cursed at every turn for him.  Climbing a wall meant inevitably falling and hurting himself.  Sneaking around meant getting caught.  Finding a trap meant unleashing it on himself.  And it really was just how the dice fell - nothing I did on purpose contributed to this.  But it was the most fun I ever had holding the player's end of the stick, which I admittedly haven't done nearly as much as I'd like to have done (I'm one of those guys that is found running the game most times).  

Why was Relivane so much fun?  Well, I took a sick delight in seeing his every bone crushed as he fell repeatedly from heights of 30 feet or more.  I also enjoyed wading into combat, only to miss my attacks and be spitted on someone's spear.  When the cleric felt he shouldn't heal him any more because he was costing too many resources, I found that a peculiar sort of challenge to see how long Relivane could hold out without being healed.  Turns out, he was never killed in action.  The campaign retired before he could meet his end.

I'm sure by now you're asking why this rambling post has anything to do with humans being my favorite race to play?  Well, let's put it in straightforward terms.  I enjoy the day-to-day foolishness of the human race in the real world.  I like to bring some of that to every human character I play.  I've never played the vicious, merciless fighter.  I've never played the stalwart paladin or cleric.  I've never played the prancing bard.  Those stereotypes don't interest me.  With a human character, I feel as if I have carte blanche in the campaign world, and it's nice.  Relivane was a fool and a charlatan, and he was horrible at his job, but it wasn't his fault.  The dice hated him.  Every time.  But he gained a reputation for being horrible at thieving, and that was the best part about that character.  Through no fault of his own, he was a fool.  I played him seriously, and I often would argue the point that his faults were not his own, that fate had it out for him.  It became a shtick, and it was great.

(My next play goal is to have a linguist character who talks the party out of bad situations instead of carving those situations to pieces with steel.  That might drive some of the other action-oriented guys a bit nuts from time to time, but I'll pick and choose my times.)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

D30 Days: Day 1 How I Got Started

Well, folks, here is the small tale of how I got started with D&D.  When I was about 10 or so, I spent the night at my cousin's house.  He was an avid AD&D player (1st Edition).  Of course, he always ran the game stoned, but that's a topic for another day.  Now, I was never let in on the game, since he was much older and didn't really want to teach me, but after I pored over the rules and became fascinated by them (and it should be mentioned that his rulebooks were jacked - they had all fallen apart and he had everything in folders). 

I had to figure out where to start from scratch.  Well, after some failed attempts at figuring out what to buy, I picked up the pictured "black box" basic set.  This was a current set when I was about 12 (yes, it took some time to get any money when I was young - we were poor),  This box came out about before the (awesome) Haunted Tower and Goblins Lair sets, set in the Thunder Rift world.  I immediately began learning the rules and playing the game with my best friend and my brother.  I only had two players for about three or four years.

Later that year, I picked up the still-unbelievable Rules Cyclopedia, which I still use.  I proceeded immediately to run a Monty Haul campaign replete with +5 swords with special abilities and so many heaps of treasure it would make Donald Trump vomit.  Also, because I just didn't know any better, the characters wound up being Grand Masters of their weapons by about 14th level.  They were unstoppable.  There was no real setting, no real end-game, no goals beyond the acquisition of cool things.  But it was fun!  I could throw any monster at them and it would just sort of work itself out and we all had a blast with it.  We didn't worry about the things we do now, like "Does the story make sense?" or "Are these rules balanced?" or "Is this system broken?" or any number of other things.  It was a simpler time.

I jumped right into 2nd Edition after this, and ran several long campaigns.  I resisted 3rd Edition with the best of them when it came out, but I really grew to like it after the revisions hit the market.  When 4th Edition came out, I bought the books, took a few looks, and quickly traded them for old supplements.  I still don't like that system., and when Pathfinder came out, I instantly bought it.  Let that be a lesson, Wizards:  backward compatibility is very, very useful to many of us.  But then I discovered the OSR movement on the internet, and I was hooked on products like Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and especially Swords & Wizardry.  I love the wildly creative atmosphere the participants in the movement have generated, and it's a brilliant star in a dead RPG sky.

All this said, I am looking forward to getting my next campaign off the ground, and giving some guys who haven't played with old-school rules for decades a surprise.

Friday, August 30, 2013

D30 Days

Well, it looks like my desires to get this blog rolling again brought me this little gem via my blogrolls.  I will be participating.  Hopefully I don't fall behind.


A Fantasy Movie You Gotta See

Ok, so I love Asian cinema.  It's no secret amongst my friends.  Weirdly enough, I really don't like Eastern roleplaying games or settings...  Strange, but true.  I just steal the spells and inject them into a typical game.  I saw the first half of a movie last night that is worth a look:  Woochi.  The CGI is a little, well, CGI, but 90% of the special effects got a wide-eyed "wow" from me when I saw them.  It's got some intense action, and the characters are funny on top of that.  A decent dose of comedy and 1970s-style camera angles interspersed with modern action filmmaking.  It's worth seeing for the demon rabbits alone.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pathfinder - Why I Love It But Why It Hurts

I haven't done a blog post like this in a while.  With life returning to normal after my divorce, I'm beginning to get back on track with game-related activities (and no, I'm still not running my OSR mashup yet - world building takes time, my friends).

I want to talk about Pathfinder for a minute.  Now, as a veteran GM, having run BECMI, AD&D 2E, 3E, and 3.5 (amongst other systems like MERP, GURPS, and more), I will say that Pathfinder is a system built for a tinker like myself.  It's great fun to translate the game world into mechanics - it provides a whole different flavor of play than what I find in the OSR, although the older versions of "our game" are by far my favorite due to their modifiable nature and wheeling-dealing mechanics.  Pathfinder gives me my fill of "let's see what happens if I..." as far as rules go.  I love to fiddle.

That said, I'm delaying running the game for a reason I think others can appreciate:  potential rules overload.  I like to give players the opportunity, with systems such as this, to run either iconic characters or the weirdest damn things they can create with whatever available supplement exists.  I've run some strange parties before, and it's always great fun.  However, I am dreading getting to that higher-level point that exists past 12th level or so, where combat bogs down and a three-hour encounter is common enough to drive me nuts.  But I love that everything makes sense and interrelates.  Everything is handled the same way throughout the system.  I can do so much with it, but it hurts so bad.

I'm not posting this looking for rules solutions.  I'm just blowing off steam and giving you an insight into my mania.  I remember running v.3.5 at 15th level, and it could be a real bitch.  Pathfinder fixes some of the on-the-fly numbers you had to come up with, but I purposely never used and probably still won't use the big bads like dragons or wizards on my end of things because of the amount of crap I have to familiarize myself with.  Too lazy, you say?  Maybe.  But being familiar enough with 30 spells to decide on the fly what I want to do is a pain, not to mention a bazillion feats at higher levels.  In fact, feats are my main problem ahead of spells.  Who the hell can memorize all that?  I sure don't want to look stuff up constantly.

I suppose you're asking why I even wrote this if I love the system anyhow, and will run it eventually?  Well, just something I had to vent about.  Sure, I could keep everything to below level 10, but that ruins the crazy things I want to do on the planes and in sub-dimensions, where shit gets real.  I don't know. I'm perplexed.  We'll see how I move on Pathfinder eventually, and I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, to ramp back up my GM skills, since I haven't run in about 6 or 7 years, and have been preparing a game world for the last 3 months, my OSR mashup with custom everything that is geared utterly toward sword & sorcery play will be what I run.  I'm hard at work on class revisions (they won't be published here since it involves wholesale plagiarism to put together a players' document), spells, and my world's very own bestiary so that I don't have to hunt through supplements.  Yes, it's a book just for me and the players.  All I'll say is it's Swords & Wizardry as the core rules, with a crapload of bolt-ons.  It should be fun!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Monster: Spider of Despair

Spider of Despair

Hit Dice: 5
Armor Class: 15
Attacks:  1 bite (1d8 + suicidal despair) or waking nightmares (special)
Saving Throw: 12
Special: Suicidal despair, waking nightmares, webbing
Movement: 12, Climb 12
Challenge Level/XP:  12 / 2000

These monstrous-looking spiders are the chosen brood of the Elder Spider, and lair throughout Spiderspire.  They dwell in tunnels and alcoves, stringing their webs thickly in areas that may see frequent travel.  Moving through a webbed area reduces movement to 1/4 speed.  It also burns quickly and will instantly ignite.  Anything, including a spider, caught in a flaming area of web takes 1d6 points of damage per round.

When a spider of despair bites a victim, the target must make a saving throw or be affected with suicidal despair, which sets in immediately.  Treat this as if the target is fascinated, with the exception that even direct threats will not break the fascination.  There is a 10% cumulative chance per round that the afflicted character will let the spider bite them again, or willfully do damage to their body with a weapon, for automatic maximum damage - this is up to the spider.  The fascination may be saved against each round, and a successful save breaks the effect of the despair.  A victim may only be re-afflicted with despair after it is lifted through a successful saving throw.

Before entering a conflict a spider of despair usually attempts to disorient its enemies with waking nightmares, vivid hallucinations of something the victim fears.  This attack affects everything except other spiders within a 60-foot radius.  The target is treated as confused for 1d6 rounds.  A saving throw is allowed to avoid this effect.  Once a character has been affected by these waking nightmares, it may not be affected by the same spider's nightmare attack for another 24 hours.  This ability can be used every 1d4 rounds, a roll of 1 indicating the very next round.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Upcoming Articles

Alright, folks, time for an update.  I'll soon be posting workups of different regions of my campaign world of Antediluvia, as well as more monsters in the classic sword & sorcery tradition.  Expect maps as well, as I'll be developing them from the top down as I progress.  And yes, it will include a pirate city!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blog Still On Hold

Guys, the blog is still on hold and life isn't sorted out yet.  Stay posted.  I still have much more to post.

Monday, February 25, 2013

This Blog Is Not Dead

I'm in what you might call a "transitional" living phase right now.  Bear with me.  The blog will not die, but I am still on a temporary hiatus.  Keep posted. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blog On Hold For A Moment

Gentle followers, the blog will be on hold for a moment due to some extenuating life circumstances.  Please bear with me.  More monsters to come, but life must be sorted out first.  Will elaborate in the future.