Sunday, March 31, 2013

Simple Advice from Zak...

Zak over at Playing D&D With Porn Stars has some good, simple advice for running a Sandbox/Hexcrawl game... click here to check it out.

[Vanth] Moth-Man Race and Racial Class

Ability Requirements: Dexterity 9+, [Charisma 12+ (female only)]
R&C Racial Base XP: 1,500

Moth-Men are a race from an altogether different dimension. Even they do not know their ultimate origin, as their race has travelled the worlds, planes, and dimensions since time immemorial. They arrived in Vanth through the use of their Portal Power. They are found in small clan-based settlements (5d4 males, 5d4 females, and a number of children equal to both) in out-of-the-way places, usually in deep forests, jungles, mountains, or wastes, often near ruins, centered on a location where the boundaries in time and space are weak.

Male Moth-Men are regarded by other races as appearing quite hideous, being 6’ to 7’ tall humanoids (though appearing shorter due to their hunched posture) with scrawny, boney builds; hairless, cadaverous, bald skull-like heads with large bulbous eyes that glow like headlights; clawed three-fingered hands and feet; dark grayish powdery skin; and dull grayish-white tattered moth wings.

Female Moth-Men are, on the other hand, quite beautiful by human and elven standards, being 5’ to 6’ tall humanoids with slender but buxom build; possessing beautiful human heads with fair skin and luxurious hair; lovely almond-shaped eyes with glowing red irises; cute feathery antennae; clawed three-fingered hands and feet; and beautiful, colorful, glittering moth wings.

Male Moth-Men fear and loathe other, more handsome races of men, as they fear that their females will prefer them. However, they have little to fear as female Moth-Men find their own males most attractive, and believe “handsome” men of other races are quite ugly. If anything, male Moth-Men only have to fear from ugly men of other races, as they may more resemble male Moth-Men than their own race.

Most Moth-Men are distrustful of other races, as they are usually hunted as an aberrant or mutant species on many of the worlds, planes, and dimensions they have lived; ergo, their continual nomadic way of life. Thus, they tend to live in out-of-the-way places by preference as much as by necessity. Some clans trade or even deal more regularly with other races, but these are few and far between, and usually only found where many different races congregate and thus they are not considered unusual. If attacked, Moth-Men prefer to flee, either elsewhere on their world or to another.

Moth-Men subsist off of nectar, leafy vegetation, and small animals, preferring small insects, lizards, and mammals. They are usually fairly primitive in technology, requiring few tools as their claws are lethal weapons. They prefer to lair in tree-huts, tall ruined buildings, or in caves high on mountain peaks. The only product that they tend to make is silk; they raise silk-worms and the like, and weave fine silks, which are usually reserved for their females to wear. They trade silks for fine jewelry, which again, the females like to wear.

Female Moth-Men lay silky eggs in their lairs, which after six months hatch, opening to reveal a wingless Moth-Man child. The child rarely leaves their home lair for their first six years. At about six years, the child forms a cocoon, and after another six months emerges in a winged form. Moth-Men achieve full adult size and social adulthood at age 12.

Claw Attack: A Moth-Man can make two claw attacks per round, in a combination of hands or feet, each dealing 1d4 points of damage. These attacks may be made “on the fly,” in the midst of the Moth-Man’s full flying movement, though if the Moth-Man misses an attack by less than 4 he must stop and engage the target in melee.

Detect Portal: A Moth-Man can detect any rifts or weakness in the time-space continuum. If it merely passes by one, at a distance depending on the strength of the rift, the LM should make a d6 roll for the character. If the roll is less than or equal to 1 plus the Wisdom bonus of the Moth-Man, the Moth-Man detects it. He can always spend time actively searching for a rift or weakness, in which case discovery is automatic, but this requires one minute of searching for a 10’ by 10’ area.

Flight: A Moth-Man can fly at double its normal ground movement rate.

Hypnotic Eyes: A Moth-Man’s large, glowing red eyes are quite hypnotic to most races. If the Moth-Man has surprise, those within 30’ who look directly at the Moth-Man must make a saving throw versus Spells or become stunned and unable to move for 1d6 rounds. Those who fail the save with a Natural 1 are stunned for 1d6 minutes. The only race immune to this effect is the Klengon race; if they fail their save they become enraged and must attack the Moth-Man with a bonus of +2 to hit for 1d6 rounds.

Infravision: A Moth-Man has 60’ Infravision.

Open Portal: A Moth-Man can open an inactive rift in time and space; however, this requires much time and concentration. Every hour a Moth-Man concentrates on opening the portal it rolls a d6; if the roll is less than or equal to 1 plus the Intelligence bonus of the Moth-Man, the portal opens. Every hour it tries to open a portal, successful or not, the Moth-Man suffers 1d6 points of damage. Once the portal is open, it remains open as long as the Moth-Man concentrates, plus 1d6 rounds thereafter.

Radioactive Eyes: A Moth-Man can loose a pulse of radiation from its glowing red eyes, This burst is instant, the radiation very short lived and such that remains being noted on a Geiger counter but not of any real consequence. However, any being within 10’ of the Moth-Man, within a 90’ arc from its eyes, suffers a Radiation attack; roll the Radiation Class randomly for each attack (d6): 1-3 Class 1, 4+5 Class 2, 6 Class 3. The Moth-Man can perform this attack once per day, plus one time per day per point of Constitution bonus. Moth-Men are immune to their own personal radiation, if it is somehow reflected back on them, but have no immunity to other forms of radiation. 
Racial Class Base XP: 3,000
Hit Dice: d6
Fight As: Rank III
Strong Saving Throws: 5, 6
Weak Saving Throws: 2, 3
Prohibited Multiclass: None

Moth-Men Prophets are the natural-born leaders of the Moth-Men clans. It is they who lead their clans to new worlds, planes, and dimensions, seeking a new home. Both males and females may be Prophets. Other than in time of migrations, Prophets only lead their clans in major, long-term decisions; more martial Moth-Men are usually elected as war chiefs, and more earthly chiefs are elected for day-to-day issues, though both usually defer to their Prophet should he or she choose to intervene. Clan Prophets also train the new, young Prophets who are destined to lead new clans to new lands.

Augury: A Moth-Man Prophet may use the augury spell three times per day, plus once per day per level above 1st.

Charming Eyes: If a victim is stunned by the Moth-Man Prophet’s Hypnotic Eyes, the Moth-Man Prophet may attempt to charm the victim, as per the charm person spell. It may do so no more than once per day, plus once per day per level above 1st.

Contact Other Plane: A 5th level Moth-Man Prophet, if near a rift or weakness in the time-space continuum, may contact other plane as per the spell. Use of this ability more than once a week is dangerous; each use after the first in a 7-day period adds 5% to the Moth-Man Prophet’s chance of going insane.

Exodus: At 9th level and thereafter, a young Moth-Man Prophet has the ability to lead an exodus of his people, gathering followers from his home clan and other nearby clans to travel to and settle in a new world, plane, or dimension. The Prophet attracts 1d4 Moth-Men, equally divided among males and females, to his new clan per point of Charisma. Once the clan is settled in its new land, as long as the clan thrives, a new Prophet shall be born to the clan every few years, to continue the process of migration and colonization anew.

Moth Dust: A Moth-Man Prophet is covered in a fine, glittering dust or powder. It can release this powder by shaking, distributing it in a cloud in a 5’ radius around itself. Those caught in the cloud must make a saving throw versus Poison or become confused, as per the spell, for 1d6 rounds plus one round per level of the Moth-Man Prophet. The Moth-Man Prophet can release this dust once per day, plus one time per day per point of Charisma bonus.

Improved Open Portal: A Moth-Man Prophet can open any local inactive rift or weakness in the time-space continuum after one round of concentration and making a successful saving throw versus Spells. If the attempt fails, he may attempt to do so every round. Once the portal is open, it remains open as long as the Moth-Man Prophet wills it to remain open.

Improved Radioactive Eyes: A Moth-Man Prophet’s radioactive eye attack has a range of 20’ and deals Class 1d6 Radiation damage.

Terrifying Shriek: A Moth-Man Prophet can let loose with a terrifying shriek. All non-Moth-Men within 60’ must make a saving throw versus Spells or be affected as though by a cause fear spell. The Moth-Man Prophet may perform this shriek once per day, plus once per day every three levels (twice at 3rd, three times at 6th, etc.)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

[Vanth] Dwarf Race and Racial Class

Ability Requirements: Strength 9+, Constitution 12+, Charisma 16-
R&C Racial Base XP: 1,250

Dwarfs are stout, short, bearded demi-humans who average a height of approximately 4 feet and weigh about 150 pounds. Their skin, hair, and eye color ranges in all varieties of the Human norm, and they may exhibit physical characteristics of varying human ethnic types. Dwarfs spend much of their time underground, in their mines, singing and mining gems, metals, and minerals. They usually live above ground, often in a cottage or barracks with their brothers and cousins. The Dwarfs of Fantasia have the duty of mining the special diamonds found in that realm in order to provide magic dust for the Faeries.

All dwarfs are male; there are no female Dwarfs. Dwarfs reproduce in one of two ways. Most Dwarfs are hatched from eggs. These eggs are found in rich veins of minerals, metals, and gems; thus, Dwarfs mine not merely for the joy of gathering the metals, but also to find their children! All Dwarf eggs are found in clutches of 2d6 eggs; all Dwarfs from the same clutch are considered to be brothers. All Dwarfs hatched from eggs from the same mine shaft are cousins. Dwarfs can also reproduce, after a fashion, by adopting a human child and raising it on Dwarf food; the child so raised grows up to become a Dwarf. Usually, only outcast Dwarfs raise such children, but it is not unknown for kindly Dwarfs to adopt a lost child or orphan.

Darkvision: Dwarfs have the ability to see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Hardy: Dwarfs are a hardy race, and gain the following bonuses to saving throws:
+2 save versus Breath Attacks
+4 save versus Poison
+4 save versus Petrify or Paralyze
+3 save versus Wands
+4 save versus Spells or Spell-Like Devices

Short: Due to their short height, Dwarfs cannot use two-handed swords or longbows.

Stonecraft: From their experience underground, Dwarfs have a 30% chance of detecting traps, false walls, hidden construction, or noticing if passages are sloped. Dwarfs must be actively searching for these abilities to function.
Racial Class Base XP: 2,250
Hit Dice: d8
Fight As: Rank II
Strong Saving Throws: 2, 4
Weak Saving Throws: 1, 5
Prohibited Multiclass: Fighter

Bossy: A Dwarf Foreman is born, not made; his name naturally reflects his leadership status, and as such, together with his earth-born allure, he has the ability to charm Dwarf once per day per level. This ability operates as per the charm person spell cast at the Dwarf Foreman’s level, though it only works on Dwarfs. At 9th level he gains the ability to mass charm Dwarfs, as per the mass charm spell, once per day, and gains an additional use per day for every two levels above 9th (twice at 11th, three times at 13th, and so forth).

Craftsman: In addition to a random Secondary Skill, a Dwarf Foreman may choose one of the following Secondary Skills as his Primary Profession.  The Dwarf Foreman’s skill in his Primary Profession begins at 50% and increases 5% per level after 1st level. Choose one: Armorer, Blacksmith, Engineer, Jeweler, Miner, Prospector, Stonemason, Tinker, or Tunnel Runner. If he is multi-classed as a Warlock, he can instead choose from Alchemist, Dirge Singer, Lorekeeper, or Runecaster.

Pick Specialist: A Dwarf Foreman gains a bonus to hit and to damage with a club as per the weapon specialization of the Fighter class. The bonuses apply to both light and heavy picks. He does not gain the ability to choose other weapons for specialization at higher levels, and may only improve his ability with the pick.

Improved Stonecraft: From their experience underground, a Dwarf Foreman has a 50% chance of detecting traps, false walls, hidden construction, or noticing if passages are sloped. This ability can also be used to identify raw minerals, metals, and gems, and evaluate them. This chance improves by 5% every level after 1st level. A Dwarf Foreman must be actively searching for these abilities to function.

Thane: At 9th level a Dwarf Foreman is eligible to found his own Dwarf mine and settlement and settled down as Thane (Lord) of that settlement. If it is in lands already inhabited by Dwarfs, he must get the permission of other Dwarf Thanes in the area before he digs his mine and builds his settlement. As long as he has been a successful Foreman and is well-liked by the other Dwarfs of the community, he will be able to attract 5d8 Dwarfs to his banner who will be the founding core of his settlement.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

[Vanth] Tentative Races and Classes List

Alien: Grey
Alien: [Various, including alien races from Starships & Spacemen]
Clonoid: Legionnaire
Clonoid: Lincoln
Cyborg [Robodroid ]
Human: Earthican
Human: Fantasian
Human: Gorean
Human: Horse Tamer
Human: Numerikahn
Human: Pirate
Human: Terran Time Traveler
Human: Tribesman
Human: Vanthian
Human: Viking
Human: Underlander
Magical Animal
Manimal: Fantasian
Manimal: Underlander
Manimal: Wonderlander
Mutant [Mutant ]
Mutoid [Mutant Race from Mutant Future]
Planetary Ape: Chimpanzee
Planetary Ape: Gorilla
Planetary Ape: Orangutan
Zomboid [Zomboid ]

Animal Trainer
Bounty Hunter
Mutant Master
Road Warrior
Space Fleet Officer: Military Branch
Space Fleet Officer: Science Branch
Space Fleet Officer: Technical Branch
Tattoo Mage

Monday, March 25, 2013

[Vanth] The Scraplands

Here's what I've put together so far on the Scraplands...

The Scraplands are a region of scrub-covered hills, bleak mountains, radioactive ruins, and harsh wastelands south of the realm of the Steel Warlords. They are the home of the Numerikahns, an alien human race who settled here almost three centuries ago. They arrived in waves of colony ships of the vast, slow generation type, and brought with them an entire ecosystem and new way of life. They found Vanth already occupied by native life (and no few species of alien life as well), but were able to find a region relatively devoid of effective competition on the eastern shores of the Southern (or Salty) Sea.

The Numerikahn colonists were Neo-Catholic Objectivists exiled from or fleeing from one of the older Earthican colonies. They may have been from Gamma Terra, Gamma Delta, or even Earthica IV itself; after generations on the ships, their history was somewhat garbled and propagandized. They found a primitive robodroid society in the region, which they promptly conquered and enslaved (according to their creed, artificial life forms have no souls and thus no rights). Several decades later colony ships of Planetary Apes arrived in the region; the apes were promptly arrested as illegal immigrants and sentenced to life imprisonment. As their children had no way to gain legitimate citizenship, they too were arrested and sentenced upon birth. The apes formed a mid-level slave caste between the robodroids and the humans.

The colonists built a loosely-unified confederation of independent city-states that ruled the lands today known as the Scraplands, the Steel Warlords, the Mutant Jungles, the Forbidden Wastes, the Ape Sultanate, and the Amazon and Wooky Freeholds.  Each city ruled a large rural “province” filled with villas, plantations, oil fields, and mines worked by apes and robodroids; here and there were small private homesteads of the more independent-minded (and often isolationist) settlers.

Around 150 years ago the robodroids and apes rebelled in what became known as the Great War of Apes and Robodroids. After more than a decade of war, including the extensive use of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the hiring of amazon and wooky mercenaries on the part of the apes and robodroids, the cyborgs won. Most humans retreated to “redoubts” built deep beneath the radioactive, poisoned earth. The more isolationist groups remained on the surface or retreated to the mountains; these are the ancestors of the mutants and the Nuzark mountain-folk of the Hidden Caves.

The cyborgs, today known as the Steel Warlords, founded their own realm in the remaining fertile valley; robodroids were second-class citizens, but as they were able to lord their freedom over the enslaved humans, they remained docile. Over the intervening century and a half they have cleansed and transformed their great valley into a lush paradise where humans labor in the fields and factories under the watchful eye of their robodroid taskmasters, while cyborg lords luxuriate in decadence in their palaces, cities, and towns.  Prior to the return of the humans from the redoubts, they used to mine the minerals of the Scraplands; today they let the Scraplanders do all the work, then simply take what they want in “retributive raids” when they need it.

The planetary apes built their own realm in the jungles to the north under the leadership of the Zensunni Orangutan prophet, Zaiush ibn Zaiush; they, too, enslaved the local humans, while other humans survived in wild bands. Both groups of humans are primitive due to biological agents found in the jungles; the slave class humans are less primitive as the apes feed them fruits that counteract some of the biological agents. The wild, savage bands are of stone-age level and cannot speak, but if taken out of the jungle, they rapidly regain their intelligence, as the agents halting their development are plant-based. The apes rejected most advanced technology on principle, as it was what was used to keep them oppressed, so today their tech level is low, only around that of the late 19th century on Earth, though they have more advanced rifles, pistols, and some other weaponry. The orangutans dominate the faith as imams (teacher/priests) and through the office of the Caliph, the gorillas rule through the military under the rulership of the Sultan, and the chimpanzees serve in pretty much all other capacities.

50 years ago the worst of the poisons and lightest radiation finally faded from the southern lands, and humans once again returned to the surface. Most settlement of the land came from the three major redoubts, Fort Axler, Fort Johnstone, and Fort Matheson. The humans of the Hidden Cave Redoubts of the Nuzarks are considered more primitive, country-bumpkin cousins to the settlers descended from these three redoubts. When they returned to the surface, they discovered that tribes of mutants, descended from humans who remained on the surface, lived in the wastelands above. These, and the various robodroid settlers of the Scraplands, were all shoved onto small reservations within the first decade of settlement; muties and bots can be found elsewhere in small numbers, especially in forts and villes that enslave them, but only on the reservations are they generally free from the depredations and insults of the Numerikahns.

Technology in the Scraplands is highly variable. The inner-workings and heart of the redoubts are all generally very highly advanced, self-contained, and self-repairing (and completely off-limits save to the scientists), but the bulk of the tech used by the humans is techno-modern rather than techno-advanced. That found among the Upworlders or Settlers, which is what the settlers of the Scraplands are known to the residents below, is even more primitive; while the soldiers in the redoubts wield laser rifles, wear plastisteel armor suits, and ride ground effect vehicles, the Scraplanders usually have shotguns, bolt-action rifles, and revolvers (the Nuzark Hill-Folk have muskets), wear fedoras and dusters, and ride gas-powered motorcycles, dune-buggies, or live horses. No one trusts robodroids or any sort of thinking machines or “brain bots,” which severely limits further advancement and coordination. The most advanced robodroids usually found in use among the Scraplanders are steeds and smell-hounds of limited intellect.

Most of the new Scraplander settlements are divided into two basic forms: forts and villes. Both are little bigger than a standard village (400 to 800 souls); the Upland portions of the three big redoubts are the only town-sized settlements in the Scraplands (800 to 2,000 in the Upland portion). Forts are generally older, and are completely walled and even sometimes domed. Villes are open, like the towns of the Wild West of Old Terra. Both are usually associated with an oil field or a mine. The reason the Numerikahns settled this region of Vanth was its extreme richness in common and rare minerals and oil. The mines listed are just those of the more unusual and costly sort; coal, iron, and the common minerals abound, and can be found just about anywhere in the region.

Due to their relatively low technological abilities and the difficulties of travel in the Scraplands, the settlers built a rail system for mass transit of goods and peoples between the three major settlements. Earlier attempts to build the old road system met with disaster, as the Steel Warlords view any such developments as a threat, and the roads and their builders were summarily destroyed. Similarly, any attempt to use flying vehicles on a regular, mass scale was met with fierce resistance and ultimately failed. The Steel Warlords apparently do not view the railroad with the same attitude, as they have left it, and the Conductors, to their own devices (except when they raid certain shipments of minerals and resources they desire). They only bother motorcyclists, buggy riders, and horsemen who come too close to their border.

During the Great War of Apes and Robodroids (or G.W.A.R. as it is known) gravitic bombs decimated the more populated, western region of Numerikah, causing innumerable earthquakes and much fracturing of the earth. Thus, the Scraplands are quite hilly, with many fractured hills and broken ridges. Buggies with tall wheels and motorcycles are the only real way to travel, other than on the train or by horse or other steed. The countless arroyos, gullies, gulches, valleys, dales, and dingles across the landscape make it almost impossible to travel in a straight line. Even the rail system is much more haphazard than it appears on the map; often travelling eight to 10 miles in any five as the crow flies (not to mention the continual up and down amidst the hills and dales). Thus, the fastest one can travel even with gas and coal-powered vehicles is at best around 25 miles per hour, though a straightaway on an old blacktop road or wide flatland might tempt a driver to open it up to 60 or more…

The land is also covered in the ruins of the Numerikahn civilization. The radioactive ruins of El’Ai, Dah’Laz, Oma’Hah, and Dee’Mon are thickest, as many of the bombs used there were neutron bombs that left much of the cities intact… and to this day haunted by heavy radiation. But ruins of small cities, towns, villages, and isolated settlements can be found anywhere in the Scraplands. The similar ruins in the great valley ruled by the Steel Warlords were long ago cleared away and recycled. But one can hardly spit in the Scraplands without hitting an old ruin or relic from the G.W.A.R. or earlier.

Even older ruins are found in the sandy wastes to the south; they consist of tall ziggurats and old ruined cities replete with domes, ramps, and oil pits. These ruins were thought to have been the remnants of the old Robodroid Civilization that predated the arrival of the Numerikahns. By the time the Numerikahns arrived, the robodroids were living a primitive, savage life, divided into semi-nomadic barbarian tribes that followed the brewvelo (a form of bovine that produced alcohol rather than milk). As a way to gain control over the robodroids, the Numerikahns slaughtered and all but exterminated the brewvelo, forcing the robodroids to labor as slaves to get the alcohol they needed to thrive. No brewvelo are known to roam in the Scraplands, but they are said by legend to still be found in the lands beyond the Forbidden Wastes or perhaps in the plains south of the Lanthanide Wastes.

The jungles of the Ape Sultanate are troublesome for human-kind, as the plants there let off a biological agent that reduces the intellect of any human (including amazons, vulkins, remulans, or klengons though not including wookys, elves, dwarfs, or hoblings) within hours of first encountering it. If the victim consumes the proper fruits and vegetables that were designed to counter the effect, he can regain some or all of his intellect. If the victim leaves the jungle, too, the effect fades, though it can take days or weeks to regain full intellectual abilities (and depending on how long they were affected, the effects could be partially or wholly permanent).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

[Vanth] The Steel Warlords and the Scraplands

As promised, here's the 5-mile hex map of the realm of the Steel Warlords and the Scraplands, plus a bit of the Mutant Jungles, the Ape Sultanate, and surrounding areas.

More information will be supplied soon...

Click to embiggen

Again, e-mail me if you want a better, larger version of the file...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Mighty Land of Vanth

Well, we are getting settled in here in Virginia Beach. No luck thus far with finding a job, but at least I have my first interview coming up next week. One interview in three weeks is much better than one interview in six months by any count! And ideally, I'll get a chance to play some Labyrinth Lord tomorrow, God willing and the creek don't rise!

What with settling in and looking around and job hunting, I really haven't had the energy to work on anything for the Olden Lands. That requires craftsmanship... if I'm selling it, I want it to be my best stuff, not just something I slapped together. But the creative urge is strong, and so I've been screwing around with Hexographer, 'cause I love drawing maps.

I decided to put together the map of my version of Vanth, the world from Encounter Critical, which I intend to use with a Labyrinth Critical campaign, someday. I ran a Labyrinth Critical one-shot some time ago, and hope to build a campaign out of the setting. So anyway, here's the continental map for Vanth. Based on the official map (designed with true scientific-realism) the scale would be 12.5 miles per hex, or thereabouts, but I'm using it at 30 miles per hex.

I'm on the last few edits of my campaign area sub-map, which focuses on the Steel Warlords and the lands to the south, which after some work I'm now calling the Scraplands. That map should be up in the next few days, along with some details on what's there...


Click to embiggen

P.S. I now see that Google shrank the map a bit, such that many of the names are illegible. If anyone is interested in a full-size map, just send me an e-mail.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Petty Gods Lives!

Remember the Petty Gods project that James Maliszewski put together? Well, Greg at Gorgonmilk is taking over the project. But he needs our help! So far, only 17 of the 72 original authors from the project have contacted him. So we need to get the word out! Not only does he want to try to put all the original works in, he also would like to add more new petty gods to up the roster to equal the 83 gods included in the original Unknown Gods book from Judges Guild, which inspired the whole thing over on Planet Algol.

So check out Greg's blog and drop him a note if you want your work to go into the book, or if you want to add a new petty god to the roster.