Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Magical Cat Companions

Any character type can have a magical cat companion; they are not limited to spell casters (magic-users who already have a familiar may still gain a magical cat companion). Elves commonly have cat companions, usually Caitshees; dwarves are unlikely to have cat companions, though some cats consider dwarves to be a good challenge. Generally, a magical cat will be attracted to a character that can benefit from its abilities, as the cat thereby in return gains power and status in the feline world (un-measurable by normal standards).

The process of bonding with a magical cat takes several days. First, the character must be kind to the cat, feeding him or her treats and food, offering water, and spending time petting and playing with the cat. The prospective caretaker must protect the cat and care for him or her as he would any other companion. If, after several days, the character’s behavior has been exemplary, the cat signifies it has adopted the character as its own by placing its paws upon the character’s head and nuzzling him with its nose.

Thereafter the character gains the benefits from the magical cat companion as appropriate to the magical cat companion type. The benefits work irrespective of distance between the cat and companion. In addition to the listed benefits, the cat’s companion gain 1 hit point, suffers only half damage from falling damage, and also gains Infravision out to 30’ or increases the range of his Infravision by 30’.

The cat, which normally has 1 hit point, AC 2 (due to size and speed), no effective attacks, and Infravision 60’, gains a number of hit points equal to the level of the companion; these increase as the level of the companion increases. They make saving throws as per their companion, as though they were three levels higher.

Should the magical cat companion die or be purposefully driven away by the companion, all abilities are lost and the companion permanently loses a number of hit points equal to the hit points of the magical cat companion.

While some magical cat companions can speak, not all do, however, the bonded companion of a magical cat companion can understand the speech of his or her magical cat companion. They also have an empathic link, know each other’s emotions at any distance, and know what direction the other can be found, though not the distance (other than “near” or “far”).

Alley Cat
Alley cats are usually all black or all gray, and are usually small and lean. They are usually of the same gender as their companion. Alley cats make boon companions to thieves. The companion of this cat gains a +20% bonus to all attempts to Move Silently and Hide in Shadows, has a 99% chance of Climbing Walls, and a +1 bonus to Hear Noise; if the companion does not already have these abilities, he gains them as though he were a 1st level thief, with the bonuses..

Battle Cat
Battle cats are small, weak-appearing, and often are quite cowardly, almost sniveling. They can speak Common. Their power is in transforming into a large saber-toothed tiger form, brave and powerful, which is large enough for the companion to ride, should they so choose. They may transform three times per day, from small form to large form and back counting as a single use. In their large form they attack as per a saber-toothed tiger and have a number of hit dice equal to their hit points; roll for current hit points each time the cat transforms from small to large. When transforming from large to small, the cat returns to its small-sized hit point maximum, regardless of current hit points.

Caitshee
Caitshee are usually all black save for a white spot on their chest, and are usually quite large. Caitshees generally only bond with elves or half-elves, or those with elf or fey blood, but some make exceptions for others with promising natures (especially druids). They are usually of the opposite gender of their companions, though this can depend on the proclivities of their companion. Caitshees can speak both Elvish and Common. They can shapechange from cat to elven form at will; in their elven form they wear minimal clothing and fine jewelry, and have spell-casting abilities of a magic-user equal to the level of their companion; they know a mix of random magic-user and druid spells. The downside of the Caitshee is that in order to maintain their shapechanging ability, after every nine shapeshifts (to and from elven form), they must steal the soul of a dead human by passing over the corpse before it is buried.

Cat-o-Nine-Lives
Cats-o-Nine-Lives are usually calicos, and are often quite small. They are usually female. They can speak Common. They are always very sweet and kind, always trying to make friends of even the meanest creatures. The cat provides its companion a -1 bonus to all reaction rolls. The cat can cure light wounds, once per day per creature, by licking the wounds for a number of rounds equal to the number of hit points restored (1d6+1). If the cat’s companion is reduced to 0 hit points, the companion is immediately restored to 1d6+1 hit points and the Cat-o-Nine-Lives loses one of her nine lives. When the ninth life is used up, the cat dies; this does not penalize the companion any hit points, though she does lose all magical cat companion abilities.

Chatty Cat
Chatty cats are usually blue coated, with their own glowing nimbus, and with glowing green eyes; they are usually quite large, and often pudgy. Chatty cats can speak and understand all languages, and provide their companion with the same ability. They are excellent diplomats, tricksters, and often con-men. They can levitate, turn into gaseous form, and turn invisible at will.

Lionheart Cat
Lionheart cats are usually tabbies, orange or grey; they tend to be large, with a sleek build. They can speak Common. They are able to stand on their rear legs and can handle tools and wield weapons with their front paws. They are often quite brave and cut a dashing figure, and leap into fights with aplomb, preferring the use of small, fine rapiers. They have a +4 bonus to hit creatures of ogre-size and larger. They are almost fearless (+4 to save versus fear) and grant this bonus to their companion.

Lucky Cat
Lucky cats are usually torties, and tend to be small. They have a saving throw of 3 for all effects, and an Armor Class of 0. They grant their companion a +2 bonus on all saving throws and a +2 bonus to Armor Class. However, as they are so lucky, they also tend to be unwise, and get themselves and thus their companions into dangerous situations.

Spellcat
Spellcats are often strange and unusual colors, including neon red, lime green, or electric blue, with glowing eyes of the same color. They tend to be small and lean, and often wear wrappings like a mummy. They generally only form bonds with spell-casters. They can speak Common and 1d3 dead languages, usually those associated with eldritch magic. Spellcats sleep on their companion’s heads while their companion sleeps; provided they sleep on their companion’s heads for a full night’s sleep, the companion can memorize one additional spell of each spell level known the next morning. The companion can also concentrate and use the sense of the cat companion at any distance. The companion can also use the cat to deliver touch spells at any distance; however, it cannot be the source of spells with any range other than touch.

Wild Cat
Wild cats are usually grey tabbies, very large, almost as large as dogs. They have an aura of feral wildness about them. They can speak Common, though it is always with a barbaric accent. They love to fight; they attack as though they had a number of hit dice equal to their hit points, and have a claw/claw/bite routine that deals 1d2/1d2/1d4 points of damage. When cooperating against a target with his companion, the Wild cat and the companion each gain a +2 bonus to hit that target. A Wild cat can leap up to 10 feet forward, 3 feet backward, or 5 feet upward from a standing start; with a running start, the forward leap can reach 20 feet, and the upward leap can reach 10 feet.


A character can have only one magical cat companion at a time. Being cruel to a cat companion or ensuring its death merely to enable the character to take on a new companion makes that character ineligible to ever have another cat companion; it also makes him a marked target for all feline creatures he ever encounters (they immediately attack him). There is also a percentage chance equal to the character’s level that the King of the Cats sends a Sending after the offending character.


A Sending is a magical cat assassin. It always knows where its target can be found. It can Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, and Climb Walls with 99.99% efficacy. When it finds its target, it waits until the target is sleeping, then sneaks in and sits on the target’s chest. The target must make a saving throw versus Death each round; each round the target fails, the Sending drains one life level. If the target makes its save, it wakes up and sees the Sending staring down at it. Though the Sending is no larger than a normal cat, it fights as though it were a saber-tooth tiger, complete with hit dice and attack forms appropriate to that creature.

Monday, August 31, 2015

[Found Treasures] World of Snarfquest

Long ago the pages of Dragon Magazine hosted Snarfquest, Larry Elmore's comic series about the adventures of a strange being, Snarf, who was a Zeetvah, an odd humanoid race. The world included all sorts of standard fantasy creatures, in addition to the odd creatures such as the Zeetvahs; while most of these "Exotic Beings" were found in the appropriately-named "Valley of Exotic Beings," a few other such critters could be found elsewhere.

At one point the comic featured the brief depiction of the map of the continent and region upon and in which Snarf adventured. And of course, with my love of maps, I took it and ran with it... end ended up with a series of interesting maps, closely based on the map depicted, but slightly changed up, with a few name and other changes here and there...

I never ran a campaign set in this world; it was only an exercise in map making and world building. Maybe someday... as it seems like a wild and wahoo kind of world suitable for a B/X, BECMI, or Labyrinth Lord campaign. Or maybe that's just because I associate Elmore's work on the Mentzer version of Basic and Expert, and thus could easily see Snarf walking through the art in those pages...

If only Aleena had had Telerie Windyarm at her side instead of some nameless schmuck, she'd still be with us today and Bargle's skull would be a random bit of dungeon dressing...

Here's the map of the geography of the continent...

Here's an map overview of the world's regions...

Here's a map that focuses on the geography of the Westrian Kingdoms, the area where Snarf was from...

Here's a regional map of the kingdoms of Westria...

And here is the regional map for the Tyran Empire... gotta have an Empire of Tyrants. A great place for gladiator games, debauchery, and backstabbing...

And here's a scan of the original map as depicted in the comic series (Dragon #94)...

I found two little notes in the folder where I keep the maps. One indicates that there are 48,000 Whaven, the "Exotic Nomadic Tribes" of the plain of the same name. There are nine tribes, each with a different skin color... Black, Red, Orange, Gray, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and White. The tribesmen ride zebras known as "Kwags."

The other note indicates the ethnic types of the region. Wesmen are red-haired Celts; Whaven are tawny-haired Picts; Elani are black-haired Greeks; Gelts are tawny-haired Germans; Northrons are blond-haired Norse; Martani are black haired Berbers; and the Tyrans are a mix of Elani, Gelts, and Wesmen.

There is also a little random chart to determine the title of the ruler of the village, town, or city that characters pass through. Even the smallest hamlet might be ruled by a king... very points-of-light style...

[Found Treasures] Mystara Miscellany

Found two interesting bits from my Mystara campaigns...

The first is the map of the area around Arbanville, center of a campaign set in the Westerlands of Darokin, in the Malpheggi Swamp. A no-prize to whoever first recognizes the real-world region and era upon which this is based...

And someday I need to revisit that Westerlands region map with Hexographer...

The second piece is the rate sheet for the Evil Minions Guild. This was used during a HackMaster Hackwurld of Mystaros campaign set in the Black Eagle Barony (the BEB). The misadventures of that crew were remarkable...

I have also found a chunk of old Ochalea material, but as I know I have a LOT more of that somewhere else in the boxes, that will wait for another time when I can put together scans of all the material. The big problem will be scanning the massive 8-mile-per-hex hand-drawn map I drew of the whole island and surrounds... its on one of those huge Armory hex maps sheets, so I'll probably just have to take a picture of it and call that good. Maybe Kinkos has an affordable large-scale scanner; I'll have to check...

[Found Treasures] Gangs of Specularum

I'd always loved the premise behind module B6: The Veiled Society, though thought it showed only a fraction of the mob/gang activity that would be present in such a large city. When GAZ1: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos was released in 1987, I combined the material from Veiled Society with inspiration from the gangs of Porta as described in the Powers & Perils: Perilous Lands supplement, Tower of the Dead, to create a full set of gangs for the city of Specularum.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what else survives. I had full write-ups of each gang, but have not found those yet. Probably disappeared with my computer from that day, or they might still be found on a disk somewhere, if the disk hasn't failed...

This first image is a map of the areas controlled by each gang as of 1000 AC.

This second image shows the relationships between each gang.

This third image is a map of the stronghold of the Minstrels.
As usual, click to embiggen any image...

[Found Treasures] Gamma World Map featuring the Yceea Campaign

I went to grad school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa from 1992 to 1994. While there I ran numerous campaigns with many gaming groups. One of these campaign was the Yceea Gamma World Campaign. This Gamma World setting had several influences. The two most prominent were from television and literature.

As one can see, the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV series had a major influence, from the inclusion of a "New Chicago" arcology/mega-city in central Illinois. New Chicago, along with a dozen or more similar locations, were built by the Starmen, the Pure Strain Humans who arrived from interstellar colonies and re-colonized the irradiated Earth. The Starmen were the source of all Pure Strain Humans in this campaign, as all native humans were Mutants. PSH had spread throughout the lands, as the Starmen arrived centuries ago, had a civil war, and those who wished to live free from the kind but stifling benevolent tyranny of the City-State settled their own lands.

The other influence were novels by three authors: Donald Moffat with Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars; the excellent Budayeen Cycle by George Alec Effinger; and of course, the Horseclans series by Robert Adams, notably mentions of the Khaleefate of Zahrtogah. And so most of the Earth, or at least, the campaign area, was dominated by a vaguely Islamic-style culture, with Ahmeers and Sooltahns, Mahleeks and Khaleefs; as with the Khaleefate of Zahrtogah, rulership was usually held by those with the most potent mental mutations...

I haven't yet found any of my notes from the campaign, just this map. I hope something printed remains; all my notes were on the first computer I ever owned, complete with a dot matrix printer. I think I might have even typed up some notes on a typewriter I still owned. But almost 25 years later, it is unlikely that much else remains. I might just rebuild it from the ground up for a Mutant Future or Mutants & Mazes campaign...

Scale is 8 kilometers per hex, or about 5 miles per hex.

As usual click to embiggen...