Friday, March 23, 2012

Poison By the Book


The only guidance regarding poisons in the original LBBs is on p. 20 of Men & Magic, where it mentions under saving throws that if you make your save versus poison, you suffer only “one-half of the total possible hit damage.” Perhaps this means that, instead of death, you suffer half your current hit points? Nowhere else does it mention the possibility of poison causing hit point damage, all mentions are of death.


“If a hit is scored by a poisoned weapon, a curare tipped blowgun dart, the poisoned sting of a giant scorpion, etc., the victim must make his saving throw against poison or paralysis and also take the number of damage points indicated by the die roll.” p. 19 [“Die roll” here presumably meaning the damage die of the weapon or attack]

Giant Centipede: +4 to save.
Medusa: Bite of the asps on its head is poisonous.
Purple Worm: Poisonous sting.
Spider: All spiders’ bites are poisonous; save at normal, +1, or +2 depending on size.
Yellow Mold: Save versus poison or die.
Potion of Poison: Allows a saving throw versus Poison.


Ant, Giant: Death on a failed saving throw, 1d4 damage on a successful saving throw.
Centipede, Giant: Poison is weak, +4 saving throw or die.
Couatl: Couatl poison apparently is fatal, as no other effect is mentioned.
Demons and Devils are fully susceptible to poisons.
Frog, Poisonous: Poison is weak, +4 saving throw or die.
Imp: Save or die.
Masher: Save or die.
Medusa: Save or die.
Mold, Yellow: Save or die within 24 hours. It apparently kills as quickly as other poisons. However, subsequently, rather than being treated as a poison, it is otherwise treated as a disease, requiring cure disease and resurrection (not raise dead) to raise a victim from the dead.
Naga: All forms of naga poison are save or die, poorly written relation to the bite damage notwithstanding.
Pseudo-Dragon: Poison causes a death-like state of catalepsy lasting 1-6 days, during which the victim has a 25% chance of actually dying.
Purple Worm: Save or die.
Quasit: Poison drains 1 point of Dexterity for 2d6 rounds if save is failed; no effect if save is successful.
Ray, Pungi: Save or die, with a special note that death is instant [so apparently death is not instant for most other poisons]
Ray, Sting: Save or suffer 5d4 points of damage and paralysis for 5d4 turns. No effect if save is successful.
Roper: Its tentacles are described as “poisonous,” though there is no explicit save versus poison to resist the weakening effect (50% of Strength in 1d3 rounds).
Scorpion, Giant: Like the Pungi ray poison, this poison is noted as causing immediate death.
Snake, Giant Amphisbaena: Poison causes instant death.
Snake, Giant Poisonous: Poison causes death, but even with a  successful save, the victim suffers 3d6 points of damage.
Snake, Giant Sea: Save versus poison or die.
Snake, Giant Spitting: Save versus poison or die.
Spider, Giant, Huge, and Large: Giant spider poisons are venomous, saving at 2 to no modifier depending on size (the larger the spider the stronger the venom, unlike the general rule in the real world).
Spider, Phase: Save at -2 or die.
Spider, Giant Water: Save or die.
Sprite: Arrows have a sleeping poison; save versus poison or sleep for 1d6 hours.
Toad, Giant Poisonous: Save or die immediately.
Wasp, Giant: save versus poison or become permanently paralyzed, with death occurring in 1d4+1 days.
Wyvern: Death if save is failed, 1d6 points of damage is saving throw is successful.


Slow Poison (2nd level cleric spell)

“When this spell is placed upon a poisoned individual it greatly slows the effects of any venom, even causing a supposedly dead individual to have life restored if it is cast within a number of turns less than or equal to the level of experience of the cleric after the poisoning was suffered, i.e. a victim poisoned up to 10 turns previously could be temporarily saved by a 10th or higher level cleric who cast slow poison upon the victim.” PHB p. 45

Neutralize Poison (4th level cleric spell described on PHB p. 48) can produce a poison that can kill a creature if it fails a saving throw versus poison.


“Poison Types:
The poison of monsters, regardless of its pluses or minuses to the victim’s saving throw, is an all-or-nothing affair. That is, either they do no damage, or they kill the victim within a minute or so. Poison potions generally do the same, though you may optionally elect to have any given one be slow-acting, so that the victim will notice nothing for 1-10 hours after quaffing it. Monster poisons are all effective by either ingestion or insinuation into the body and blood stream of the victim. Poison potions must be ingested [though see the poison potion description, below]. If you allow poison use by characters in your campaign, users can purchase ingestive or insinuative poisons only, having to obtain dual-use poisons from monsters.” DMG p. 20

Then are listed types A to E ingestive poisons and types A to D insinuative poisons. Note that only ingestive poisons have any damage if the save is made, while there is no damage dealt if the save is made against insinuative poisons (of which all are inferior to monster venom, dealing 15, 25, or 35 hit points of damage, save type D, which deals death). All these poisons save ingestive E give a +1 to +4 chance to save, not being as potent as most monster venoms.

“Assassins use all forms of poison, other than those listed above, at an efficiency which gives the victim a +1 on the saving throw; all other character types use them at an efficiency level which allows the victim +2 on saves (in all cases). Assassins who have studied poisoning have no penalty. (see ASSASSINS’ USE OF POISONS.)” DMG p. 21

RE: Assassins’ use of poisons (DMG p. 20) has a listing of the costs and times involved for a 9th level+ assassin to specifically study certain aspects of poisoning, and the special abilities gained once all studies are complete (requiring 20 to 32 weeks of study at a cost of 64,000 to 256,000 gp).

“For those who wonder why poison does either killing damage (usually) or no harm whatsoever, recall the justification for character hit points. That is, damage is not actually sustained – at least in proportion to the number of hit points marked off in most cases. The so called damage is the expenditure of favor from deities, luck, skill, and perhaps a scratch, and thus the saving throw. If that mere scratch managed to be venomous, then DEATH. If no such wound was delivered, then NO DAMAGE FROM THE POISON. In cases where some partial damage is indicated, this reflects poisons either placed so that they are ingested or used so as to ensure that some small portion does get in the wound or skin of the opponent.” DMG p. 81

“Poison: A poison potion is simply a highly toxic liquid in a potion flask. Typically, poison potions are odorless and of any color. Ingestion, introduction of the poison through a break in the skin, or possibly just skin contact, will cause death. Poison can be weak (+1 to +4 on saving throw), average, or deadly (-1 to -4 or more on the saving throw). Some poison can be such that an neutralize poison spell will simply lower the toxicity level by 40% – say from a -4 to a +4 on saving throw potion. You might wish to allow characters to hurl poison flasks.” DMG p. 127


“If a poisoned attack hits a creature (such as the sting of a killer bee), the victim must save vs. Poison or die.” p. B26

“Poison: Poison is the bane of all characters. If a character is hit with a poisoned attack and misses his or her saving throw vs. Poison, the character will usually die.” p. B29

Centipede, Giant: Save versus poison or be violently ill for 10 days.
Killer Bee: Save or die.
Medusa: Save or die in one turn.
Snake, Spitting Cobra: Venom spit into an eye will cause blindness if the save is failed. A failed saving throw against a bite causes death in 1d10 turns.
Snake, Pit Viper: Save or die.
Snake, Sea: Save or die after 3 to 6 turns; no effect until death, only 25% chance neutralize poison will work.
Snake, Giant Rattlesnake: Save or die in 1d6 turns.
Spider, Giant Crab: Save or die in 1d4 turns.
Spider, Giant Black Widow: Save or die in 1 turn.
Spider, Giant Tarantella: Save or dance a magical dance to exhaustion.
Yellow Mold: In Basic it is a save versus Death Ray, not Poison.


Fish, Giant Rockfish: Save or die.
Purple Worm: Save or die.
Scorpion, Giant: Save or die.
Sea Dragon: Breathe poison, but the save is versus Dragon Breath or die.
Wyvern: Save or die.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hit Points as Wounds and Fatigue

Here's a little system I've worked up, being inspired by the FightingFantasist's post:

Wound Points and Fatigue

Hit points are now kept track of in two ways:

First, you have your Wound Points (WP). This is your normal Maximum HP minus any Wound Points you have suffered from damage. Wound Points are the minimal amount of damage dealt by an attack. If an attack deals 1d4+1 damage, it deals 2 Wound Points. Critical Hits deal their maximum damage as full WP damage (thus dealing a like number of FP).

When you reach 0 WP, you must make a saving throw versus Death, or you die. If you succeed, you are at 1 WP and 0 FP and are unconscious. Every time you reach 0 WP, you lose 1d3* points (d6: 1-3= 1, 4+5= 2, 6= 3) from a randomly-determined attribute (d12: 1-5= Con, 6= Str, 7= Dex, 8= Int, 9= Wis, 10-12= Cha).

Second, you have Fatigue Points (FP). Your maximum FP is equal to your current WP. When damage is dealt from an attack, your FP takes the full damage rolled; thus, that 1d4+1 damage, when rolled as a total of 4 points damage, does 4 points to your FP and 2 points to your WP.

When you reach 0 FP, you fall unconscious. If you are left alone without first aid, every turn you must roll a saving throw versus Death. If you fail, you remain unconscious; if you succeed you wake up with 1 FP. If you roll a natural 1 or miss the save by 10 or more, you suffer 1 WP.

After a battle is over, you may take a full turn (10 minutes) to bandage your wounds and rest. If you do so, your FP are restored to their maximum level (your current WP).

Traps also deal their damage in FP and WP; like damage suffered in battle, you must bandage and rest immediately to regain all FP.

If you do not bandage and rest immediately after suffering damage, you may still regain FP by subsequently resting for one turn. Each turn you rest you regain 1 FP or a number of FP equal to your Constitution bonus to HP, whichever is greater.

WP are regained through the standard HP healing process.

Spells such as cure light wounds, cure serious wounds, cure critical wounds, heal, and potions of healing and extra-healing cure both WP and FP; both rise by a like number equal to the number rolled.

Other Uses of Fatigue Points

Clerics may expend FP to restore FP in other characters and to empower his turn undead ability. A cleric may expend a total number of FP in this way equal to his level. To restore FP the cleric must touch the target; he may channel a number of FP per round to the target equal to his level. He may improve his chance of turning by +1 for every 2 FP expended in this way. He may also increase the number of HD affected by expending 1 FP per HD to be increased. These last two must be expended BEFORE the turn check is made. Thus, a 3rd level cleric can channel 3 FP to a target each round, or increase his turn roll chance by +1, or increase the number of HD affected by 3.

Fighters may expend FP to improve their chances to hit and deal damage. A fighter may expend a total number of FP in an attack equal to his level. He may divide this into a bonus to hit and a bonus to damage. For every 2 FP he gets a +1 to hit, for every FP he gets a +1 to damage. FP for either bonus must be expended before the roll to hit! Thus, a 7th level fighter may expend 7 FP in an attack, spending 4 on a bonus to hit and 3 on a bonus to damage, for a total of +2 to hit and +3 damage.

Magic-users may expend FP to power their spells. A magic-user may expend a total number of FP in casting a spell equal to his level. He can use FP to increase his effective casting level with the spell; every increment of FP equal to the spell level increases his effective casting level by one. He can also expend FP to give a target of a spell a penalty to his saving throw; for every 2 FP expended this way the target suffers a -1 penalty to save (1 target per 2 FP). He can use his own fatigue to completely empower a memorized spell, such that the memorized spell is not lost when cast; this costs 3 FP per spell level. Finally, he can use FP to attempt to counter an opponent’s spell as it is cast. Counter-spelling costs 1 FP per level of the spell to be countered. Use of this ability must be declared before initiative is rolled; even if the magic-user’s side loses initiative, he still gets the chance to try to counter-spell. If the spell being cast is one he knows, he will automatically know the spell level being cast; if he does not know the spell, he may make a saving throw against Spells to correctly identify the spell being cast. He must make a Chance to Learn Spell check, with a penalty of 5% per level of the spell being cast, to successfully counter the spell. If he does not expend enough FP to match the level of the spell, the attempt automatically fails (he gains no benefit from expending too much FP).

Thieves may expend FP to increase their chances of success with their thieving abilities. A thief may expend a total number of FP to improve an attempt to use a thieving ability equal to his level. For every FP expended before attempting the ability, the thief adds 1d6% to his chances of success. Note that after all modifiers are accounted for, no ability can ever be greater than 99%. Thus, a 3rd level thief can expend 3 FP to improve his chance to Pick Pockets by 3d6%.

Friday, March 2, 2012

[Varyonde] The Church Most Holy and True

AKA The White Temple
Symbols: Ankh
Colors: White
Worshippers Alignments: Neutral Good, Neutral, Chaotic Good, Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral
Clerical Alignment: Lawful Good, Neutral Good, or Chaotic Good

Twelve centuries ago, following the War of Gods and Demons, the Seven Prophets proselytized the peoples of the Elysian and Bharata Varsha Empires, initiating the Rectification of Gathos (Gathos being the Southron city from which four of the seven prophets originated). The Seven Prophets revealed the Source of All Things unto Gods and Men, showing them the error of their ways in reverence of the Gods of their ancestors, and bringing unto them the True Way of the Source.

Bowing to the Will of the Source, many of the goodly and lawful Small Gods bended their knee to the Prophets, and so became the Intercessors of Men. Known also as the Immortal Gods, for the Source greatly increased their power for their loyalty and ensured their eternal salvation, as opposed to the Small Gods or the Rebel Gods, whose power would with time, fade, and as with all things not of the Source, die altogether.

Unfortunately, not all Gods or Men approved of the message of the Prophets, and within a decade, three of the Seven Prophets had been martyred and their Message had been splintered in the Unholy Schism. For in Men’s misunderstanding of the Prophet’s teaching that all things were by and were of the Source, Dissent crept in concerning the true nature of the Force of Evil and the Power of Chaos; thus were the Convocation of Evil and the Temple of Chaos founded by the Fallen Disciples of the Lost Prophets.

The Four remained faithful, however, to their original cause, and rightly ordered the Church Most Holy and True (also known simply as the Holy Church) upon its foundation. Gathos being caught at the heart of the Unholy Schism, the Four settled each in one of four cities at the four corners of the Great Inner Sea: Elysion on the north shore, Alphaias in the east, Kardhanova in the west, and Rhakotesh on the south shore. The Four remained equal in all things, and so peace reigned between their followers… so long as they lived.

In time, however, as with all such things, the workings of Men turned from thoughts and deeds holy and fell into the secular and mortal. Several generations after the passing of the last of the Four, during the height of the collapse of the Elysian Empire, discord ruled the day between the Four Patriarchs. The Patriarch of Rhakotesh sought primacy among the Four, as he held the seat of the city from whence the other three had sailed to their own cities. The Patriarch of Elysion thought that he, as the patriarch of the Imperial City, should have primacy. Neither of the other patriarchs though either of the two had precedence over the others. For the most part, the division of the Church was peaceful, though the followers along the borders of the four patriarchates often turned to the division for reasons to attack and plunder their brothers across princely boundaries.

Since that time, each of the patriarchates has generally sought converts in their own regions. Each ahs developed its own books of canon, though all four have much in common. Now and again, each has had cause to deal with its own heretical offshoots; sometimes one patriarch supports the heresies found in another’s domain, but this is rare. In the past, the patriarchs have cooperated against common enemies, though in the case of the Fall of the Warring Kingdoms of the New Elysian Empire, the hubris of the Patriarch of Elysion was the undoing of the faithful in the north, as he turned away all assistance offered against the barbarians by his brother patriarchs as well as by the Order of the New Rectification.

Thus, in the eight decades since the fall of the Warring Kingdoms, the various northern churches of the Holy Temple have often had to go their own way. First they did so out of necessity, as wide swaths of monster and barbarian-haunted wilderness separated them from Elysion. Sometimes early and often of late, they did so due to the less-than-pious directives and demands of the Patriarch of Elysion. In the last decade in the north especially, various bishops, more or less independent by default, have declared their sovereignty from the Holy Church of Elysion. Some of these independent churches band together to form their own larger communities; others remain wholly independent, if remaining in communion with neighboring churches and sometimes with Elysion.

Rumors abound of the reaction of the Patriarch in Elysion to the largest and most recent “defection,” that of the Archbishop of Varyonde, who oversees a large if scattered community of like-minded temples who seek a return to the simple holiness of the Four, rather than the more worldly, sumptuous, and some dare say, blasphemous activities of the Holy Church of Elysion. Most rumors say that Patriarch Palladius VII fell to the floor, frothing at the mouth, spitting blood and curses upon the head of the Archbishop. Writs of excommunication were sent to every signatory of the letter sent to the Patriarch, but not a single one has been known to lose access to the miracles granted by the Holy Gods… this, while the streets of Elysion itself were filled with those dying of the plague. Or so it is said…

The Immortal Gods of the Holy Church are represented in form as men and women of Human sort, for they were all of the Gods of Men, as none of the gods of the other races were persuaded as to the Truth of the Source. Holy Church temples are decorated with at least one statue or icon of each of the Immortal Gods. In temples of the Holy Church of Elysion, these are usually placed in a specific order, from the apse to the narthex:
·         At the center of the apse, before the altar, is found the Throne Inviolable; above the Throne (which represents the Source) hovers the temple ankh;
·         To the right of the Throne in the apse, the statue of Orusar (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Verus), to the left, the statue of Nysinia (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Capella);
·         In the chancel, to the left of Nysinia the statute of Ansar (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Matho), to the right of Orusar the statue of Kyrisia (holding a statuette or icon of the Prophet Crispus);
·         The transept, each end of which usually terminates in a chapel dedicated to the local saints;
·         Along the nave, to the left of Ansar the statue of Narysa, to the right of Kyrisia the statue of Nuvar;
·         Further along the nave, to the right of Nuvar the statue of Nylvaria, to the left of Narysa the statue of Serek;
·         Further along the nave, to the left of Serek the statue of Athyra, to the right of Nylvaria the statue of Qonash-Gar;
·         Further along the nave, to the right of Qonash-Gar the statue of Oryma, to the left of Serek the statue of Aeson;
·         Finally, at the convergence of the nave and the narthex, to the left of Aeson the statue of Tyanka, and to the right of Oryma the statue of Rughar.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

[Varyonde] The Campaign Sales Pitch

The world is known in the common tongue as Yandro. The continent upon which the campaign starts is called Yandiir; it is a rough analogue of Europe. The campaign begins in the heart of the continent, a debatable territory sandwiched between the Iron Dukes of the north, the Elysian City-States of the south, the Draconian Empire of the west, and the Savage Steppes of the east.

Civilization is in flux, as three generations ago (as such things are measured by Men) migrations of human and humanoid tribes broke pell-mell into the Warring Kingdoms, the squabbling successor-states of the New Elysian Empire. Between the migrant tribes of barbarians and the plagues they brought, and the already war-torn society they found, all order broke down. The Warring Kingdoms broke up into petty principalities; the principalities thence into doddering duchies; and these last flew apart into bedraggled baronies, cities, towns, and tribes. Only in the last generation have larger kingdoms arose again, most notably in the west, where the Order of the Dragon (aka the Chromatic Temple) founded a new empire in the ruins of the old western kingdom.

Your adventures begin in the city of Varyonde, a cosmopolitan Free City of men and elves, dwarves and halflings, gnomes and others even more esoteric. Ruled by a dynasty of half-elven princes, Varyonde is a point of light in the darkness of the New Dark Age. To the south and west stands Castle Hexpools, a vasty ruin and depthless dungeon dating back to before the founding of the Great Wizarding Empire of Tarquinax. It was the Wizard-Kings of Tarquinax that nearly sundered the world in the Great Wizard War ere the founding of the First Elysian Empire; the damage they wrought can still be seen today in the great ruins and vast wastelands that dot the continent of Yandiir and beyond.

Gold and glory or death ignominious and unmarked awaits you in Castle Hexpools!