Thursday, November 21, 2013

[ASOIAF/AGOT] The Solar Orrery

So I've been re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire (about a quarter through Dance of Dragons) and finally watched the first season of A Game of Thrones.

My Google-Fu must have failed me, as I've yet to find any reference to the implications of the solar orrery in the opening of the series and the nature of seasons in the books and series. Martin says that the explanation of the nature of the years-long seasons will be magical. Well, right there in the opening of the series is a magical, non-heliocentric explanation: the world is a flat world (or flattish, perhaps a bowl world), and the sun, a small sun in a vast magical orrery, revolves around the world. Most importantly, it is a flat sun, almost like a lens.

During the summers, the sun faces the world, shedding all its light directly on the world; during the winter, the lens is perpendicular to the world. The nature of the spin of the sun is determined by the bands around it, in a long, long cycle of mystical importance. During the longest winters, the bands block what little sunlight strikes the world, making the winter even darker and longer; during the longest summers, the bands help focus the light of the sun on the world. Perhaps, too, the orrery-sun travels in a strange, non-ordinary orbit around the world, drawing closer in summer and drifting away further in winter. And if the magic of the White Walkers/Others is victorious, the sun drifts away forever.

A bowl-shaped world with a lens-like orrery-sun (with seven bands in the orrery) would fit in with the myth of the world being the inside of a giant's eye. And too, there is the legend that dragons came from a cracked second moon that was naught but an egg... hmmm...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kothar and Kyrik: An additional blog...

I've started a new, irregular blog to cover the Kothar and Kyrik stories from Gardner Fox, their influence on Dungeons & Dragons, and how the materials within can be used to develop or build upon a classic fantasy campaign. This is in addition to stuff here and elsewhere. Check it out here...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

[Pacesetter System] New Google+ Community: Pacesetter RPG

Okay, so Goblinoid Game's new RPG, Cryptworld, has me more excited about a new RPG than I've been in a while... even though, of course, it is somewhat of an old RPG...

But, anyhoo, so I started a Google+ community, where those who enjoy Cryptworld, Majus, Rotworld, Sandman, and Timemaster can discuss their campaigns and characters and find a place where questions can be answered... or at least, where answers can be bandied about.

Click here to check it out!

Friday, September 13, 2013

[Goblinoid Games] Cryptworld Now Available!

INVESTIGATE strange occurrences and supernatural sightings.
HUNT irredeemably evil things that torment humanity.
DESTROY malicious forces of the unexplained.

There is a palpable sense of foreboding in the late fall night. You approach the decrepit manor house; a faint glow in an upper window tells you more stirs here than just the rats. Your tentative steps make the rotten wood floor creak as you enter the broken door of the house. A growl greets you from within; that's when you see the flash of fang in the lamp light.

CRYPTWORLD is a horror role-playing game in which you investigate and hunt the forces of the unexplained. The Crypt Master may design any world of horror he desires. Classic horror, slasher horror, alien menaces from the stars and inter-dimensional monsters. These horrors and more may greet you in CRYPTWORLD!

CRYPTWORLD is a role-playing game complete in one volume.

In this book you will find:
  • Rules for character generation
  • Optional paranormal talents
  • Creatures covering multiple horror genres
  • Advice for running horror games
  • An introductory adventure
  • ...and more!
CRYPTWORLD is the new official Pacesetter brand horror RPG, the Pacesetter brand successor to CHILL, and is fully compatible with other Pacesetter System titles such as MAJUS, TIMEMASTER, and ROTWORLD

CHILL is a trademark of Mayfair Games and is used without permission.

A POD Print version will soon be available from RPGNow

Monday, August 19, 2013

[James Mishler Games] We Have Winners!

We have winners! Congratulations to Boris Worm, Brett Slocum, Brian Johnson, Dan Cross, Doug Rector, Fumblefail, Giles Kiser, Gus Badnell, Joel Watkins, Joshua Smith, Nathan Meyer, Paul, and Stacy Forsythe. These are the 13 winners of our I Couldn't Go to Gen Con So Here Are Some Games Contest!

Yes, you read that right, 13 winners. I ended up with 68 total entries from 43 people, so I had Jodi roll on a d80 table with a wide “Roll Again” section and a single “Roll Twice” entry… so there are now a baker’s dozen winners!

Winners, shortly, you will find a congratulatory e-mail in your inbox, along with coupons for your prizes from DriveThruRPG. Check your spam filter to make sure your coupons do not go right into the spam box.

Thanks to all for playing!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

[Gondwane] Map of Lin Carter's Northern YamaYamaLand

One of my favorite series by Lin Carter is his exploration of the Dying Earth genre, the Gondwane Epic featuring the tales of Ganelon Silvermane. Gary thought enough of them to include them in Appendix N. They read like the adventures of a gaming group, and the world seems designed for a science-fantasy campaign, with its odd mix of magic and technology.

Being on a map-making binge, I was overjoyed when I discovered that I had thrown an early, hand-drawn study of Northern YamaYamaLand, the main region featured in the adventures of the first two books, in my box of papers and stuff before heading out for Virginia. So over the last couple days I've been futzing around with another Hexographer map. 

The general form of the setting is as per the book; I've added in additional details such as villages, more ruins, lairs, and the like, and filled in a few holes in the northeastern and northwestern corners of the map. The most unusual features, for the uninitiated, are those found in Dwarfland. These are not Tolkien dwarves; they are the Death Dwarfs, a form of Unlife, inimical to the more common like of Gondwane. They are more like poisonous goblins than dwarves, and the life and lands they rule are similarly unpleasant...

The scale is arbitrarily set to five miles per. It could as readily be six or 10, as during the story the distances traveled seem not to jibe with one another, essentially traveling at the speed of plot...

Anyhoo, one of these days I might get around to trying a Mutants & Mazes (Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future) or Labyrinth Critical campaign in the setting... that would be sweet. As usual, if you want a bigger map or the original Hexographer files, just let me know.

Click to embiggen

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm Stuck At Home, So Have Some Free Games!

Much like Tim Snider at The Savage Afterworld, I too am stuck at home this year instead of gaming at Gen Con, so inspired by his example, I've decided to give away some stuff... games!

Well, PDFs of games. Like Tim, I'm going to give away 12 games... in this case, 12 sets of every PDF currently available through James Mishler Games. If you already own all the JMG products, you will win a copy of the next PDF we publish.

All you have to do to have a chance at winning a set of the PDFs is post a reply with your e-mail address on this blog post, the JMG blog post, my Facebook post, or my various Google+ posts. Feel free to "de-Spambot" it however you wish.

On Monday August 19th, I will randomly choose 12 winners from among all the posters on all the boards and blogs. Replying on multiple different posts will increase your chances of being randomly picked, but you can only win once regardless of number of replies. So for once, stalking me can pay off!

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

[Antares] Mapping Imirrhos

A while back Jeff Rients posted about having fun with Imirrhos, the planet otherwise known as Antares IX from the classic TSR minigame, Revolt on Antares. Recently on Google+ he posted more on his developing science-fantasy campaign. And as I've been casting about for random cool stuff to doodle with using Hexographer, I figured, what the hell... so here are three maps of Imirrhos. As the planet is about the size of Mercury, I've set each hex at 72 miles, easily divisible into 24-mile hexes, and thus into 8-mile hexes. YMMV, literally...

As usual, click to embiggen; and if anyone wants the original Hexographer maps or larger PNG files, let me know...

Imirrhos Plain Geographical

Imirrhos Gameboard Reproduction
(With added numbers, because numbers are cool)

Imirrhos Rients Campaign

Friday, July 5, 2013

[Gamma World/Mutant Future] New Map of Central Gamma World

So as is pretty obvious, I've been in a slump lately, creatively speaking. Other than that Outdoor Survival map I worked up two months ago, it's been... a while, since I've done anything. I'm trying to get the mind working again by futzing around with Hexographer once again. This time I've put together a Gamma World/Mutant Future/Mutants & Mazes map.

The map is loosely based on the second version of the Gamma World map included with the 2nd and 3rd edition of that game. I took the map, tilted it 30 degrees ("The war blew the world off its axis!"), and cut out the central lands to give me a base for a 30 hex tall by 50 hex wide region (with wide, wide interpretation). Then I just added bits here and there, slapped on some names, and Bob's your mutant uncle!

I have no plans on doing anything more with this map, so feel free to run with it if you want for your own campaigns. The names provided are either names of the ruined cities or of the regions; there are no names for any of the modern towns or tribal locations. Much of the West is nameless, as the tribes there are few and far between. The scale, by the way, is 30 miles per hex (more or less).

If you want the original Hexographer file or a larger PNG, just email me...

As usual, click to embiggen...

Friday, June 28, 2013

[C&C] Return to the Haunted Highlands Kickstarter

The Troll Lords have a new Kickstarter up, this time for Casey W Christofferson's Return to the Haunted Highlands. It is a complete campaign setting designed for use with Castles & Crusades. Casey does some great work, and this builds upon a long series of excellent adventures placed in the Haunted Highlands. You should definitely check this out if you like Castles & Crusades or classic fantasy campaign settings! 

Here are the details:

The Castles & Crusades Return to the Haunted Highlands includes everything you need to start a game in the Haunted Highlands. Return to the Haunted Highlands Kickstarter includes two books (and possibly more) and a Map.

The Castle Keeper's Guide to the Highlands, 200+ pages: Includes all relevant setting material, adventures (DB1-DB6 expanded and updated), new monsters and more.

A Players Guide to the Highlands, 76+:  includes racial variants, class specializations, new spells, magic and more (also includes expanded and updated material from the Black Libram).

Maps: 12 x 18 full color Map of the Haunted Highlands.

The Haunted Highlands
Upon the bloody northern marches lies a curious Roadhouse. Here are gathered the flotsam of the world: miscreants, mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, adventurers. Dirty Bowbe's Roadhouse they call it, and it's as rough and safe a sanctuary as any will find in those dark and bloody grounds!

Once, long ago, a Kingdom thrived here and the wealth of its coffers flowed across the lands as honey from a jar. From the deep, blue waters of Lake Veyona to the broken crags that overlook the Northern Steppes the King ruled a realm, both prosperous and contented.

But all things must end. And the wages of war and plague overwhelmed the King and his people and ground all to ruin. And the days of the Highland Kingdom are long past so that now nothing but memories remain . . . memories and their shadows.

Or so such tales are spun by the hearth fire at Dirty Bowbe's Roadhouse to any and all who pass through, for that legendary tavern lies at the center of the world.

To the northeast of Dirty Bowbe's lie the ruins of Bortenski and the hazardous wastes known as the Witch Moor. Beyond that, the village of the Ugashtan and further still lay the broken crags of the Mythnoc Cairns where the proud barbarian people once buried their cherished dead. More, there are the trees of the Grove of the Green Man, the Crater of Umeshti, the Fey Wood and Troll Downs, the Free City of Eskadia, land ripe with the forgotten or lost treasures of a realm long passed.

These are the Haunted Highlands

Industry nominated, award winning author Casey Christofferson has long been a part of the Castles & Crusades experience. With over 30 RPG books to his credit he knows the genre and craft well. Crusaders have enjoyed the Haunted Highlands for years, wanting only for more. Now with Return to the Haunted Highlands, Casey delivers that with a punch.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[In Memoriam] Vancian Adventurer

In honor of the inestimable Jack Vance, who we sadly lost this last week, I am re-posting my Adventurer class for use with Labyrinth Lord.

The adventurer class is an alternative to most other human classes (it is suggested that only the fighter and thief be used otherwise, and if using other races, use only racial classes for those races). It enables players to play a character that can do a little bit of everything. This class is inspired by the adventuring, sneaky, sword-wielding dilettante rogue spell casters of Smith’s Hyperborea and Vance’s Dying Earth. Examples include Turjan of Miir, Cugel the Clever, and Rhialto the Marvellous.

Prime Requisite: None.
Minimum Ability Scores: None.
Racial Level Limits: Human Unlimited.

Hit Dice: Adventurers use eight-sided dice (d8) to determine hit points. Adventurers gain one hit die per level up to and including 9th level. Two hit points are gained per level after 9th, with Constitution modifiers no longer applicable

Armor: Any, however, armor use can cause issues when using magic spells or thieving abilities.

Fight As: Thief
Proficient Weapons: Choose any four
Non-Proficiency Penalty: -2

Adventuring Abilities: An adventurer begins play at 1st level with the following abilities:
  • 1st rank of weapon mastery in one weapon of proficiency;
  • 1st rank of skill in all eight thieves abilities;
  • The ability to cast spells, along with four spell books, each containing one spell.
Saving Throws: An adventurer begins at 1st level with a base saving throw of 16 in all five categories. At 1st level he divides 10 points among the five to lower the scores; he may spend no more than 5 points on any one saving throw in this fashion. Every level thereafter the adventurer lowers two saving throw scores by 1 point each. Once a saving throw reaches 7, it can only be improved 1 point by applying both points for that level to that saving throw. No saving throw may be improved to better than 3. Example: Artano the Erudite begins play at 1st level by hedging his bets and divides the 10 points equally by placing 2 points in each saving throw, for saving throw scores of 14 across the board. At 2nd level he decides to put 1 point in Breath Attacks and 1 point in Wands, lowering those scores to 13. At 3rd level he lowers his saves in Poison or Death and Petrify or Paralyze. Then at 4th he lowers Spells or Spell-like Devices and Wands again.

Spell Casting: An adventurer can cast spells. Spells are cast at a level equal to the adventurer’s level.

If an adventurer has a low Intelligence score, he has a base chance of spell failure with each spell based on the “Spell Failure” chance listed under Wisdom modifiers.

If the adventurer casts a spell while wearing armor, there is a chance of spell failure. The chance is equal to any base spell failure chance plus 10% per point of defense the armor provides (not including magical bonuses) plus 5% per level of the spell, less 5% per adventurer level, less 5% per point of Intelligence bonus. If the failed roll is in the lower 10% of the chance to fail (rounded up), Something Bad happens.

Example: Ffaunce the Fair (6th level Adventurer, Intelligence 17, wearing chain mail [AC 5, 4 points of armor]) tries to cast Melf's Third Invocation of the Incandescent Orb (fireball) at a pack of voormis. His chance of failure is 40% (armor) +15% (3rd level spell) -30% (adventurer level) -10% (Intelligence) = 15% chance of failure, with a 2% chance of Something Bad happening.

Spells named as rituals require both hands be free, and additionally the caster suffers double the normal spell failure chance if he is wearing armor. Spells named as spells and formulae require that both hands be free to cast the spell. Spells named as cantrips and charms require at least one hand free; the other may hold a weapon, shield, or other item. Spells named as eyebites and invocations do not require any somatic components, do not require a free hand, and, if the caster makes a saving throw versus Spells, can successfully be cast out of initiative order (though counts as that round’s act). Note that Arturzax’s Invocation of the Roundabout Plummet is of such efficacy that it can always be cast instantly without need to make a saving throw.

The adventurer begins play at 1st level with four spell books, each containing one spell: Murgen’s Primary Arcane Filter Spell (read magic) in one and random spells in the other three. To determine the spells known, roll a d6 and a d20 on the 1st level spell table. On the d6, on a 1 or 2 add nothing to the d20, on a 3 or 4 add 20, and on a 5 or 6 add 40. If you re-roll a spell it means you were stiffed by your master and were taught one less spell.

Note that spell books are quite large and very bulky. Each book contains only one spell, and thus spell books are virtually impossible to carry with on an adventure unless the adventurer carts them in a wagon or carries them in a bag of holding or similar magical item.

The adventurer can only learn spells that are of a spell level equal to half his level rounded up. An adventurer must have a minimum Intelligence of 18 to learn 9th level spells, a minimum Intelligence of 17 to learn 8th level spells, and a minimum Intelligence of 16 to learn 7th level spells.

While Murgen’s Primary is not needed to determine an unknown spell contained within a spell book, its use is required in order to read and attempt to learn the new spell (the spell is required to interpret the arcane ciphers, runes, sigils, and diagrams included in the spell). The adventurer must spend the usual time and gold to learn the spell, roll a Learn Spell check based on his Intelligence score, and if he learns it, he can thereafter memorize it. He can only learn spells by acquiring other spell books or by researching and recreating a spell (i.e., the bonus spell gained by choice at each level).

Scrolls and scroll-like devices cannot be used to learn spells.

If an adventurer fails to learn a spell, he may attempt to learn that spell from another spell book after he has gained a level. Note that the Intelligence-based minimum and maximum spells known is not applicable to adventurers.

The adventurer must memorize spells in order to cast them, just as in the normal rules. The adventurer can memorize a total number of spell levels at any one time equal to his level plus his Intelligence bonus. He cannot memorize the same spell twice. He must have the spell book of the spell to be memorized present in order to memorize the spell. Spell memorization is automatic and requires merely one minute per spell level if the adventurer had at least eight hours of sleep since the last time he memorized spells (singly or as a group of spells memorized immediately after sleep). Otherwise, memorization requires 10 minutes per spell level and the chance to successfully memorize a spell is equal to the adventurer’s chance to learn a spell less 5% per spell level; if the failed roll is in the upper 10% of the chance to fail, Something Bad happens.

As each spell of a type is always the exact same regardless of who owns the spell book containing the spell, an adventurer can memorize a spell he knows from spell books other than his own. Thus, if Artano the Erudite already knows Melf’s Magic Missile Charm he can memorize it normally from another adventurer’s spell book without additional chance of failure.

An adventurer can attempt to cast a known but not memorized spell directly from a spell book. This requires one full round per level of the spell. The chance to successfully cast the spell is equal to the adventurer’s chance to learn a spell, plus 5% per level, less 10% per spell level; if the failed roll is in the upper 10% of the chance to fail, Something Bad happens.

An adventurer can also attempt to cast any spell from a spell book, even one he does not know, providing he is able to apply Murgen’s Primary to read it. The chance to successfully cast the spell is merely 5% per level, less 5% per spell level; if the failed roll is in the upper 10% of the chance to fail, Something Bad happens. And yes, negative percentages increase the critical failure chance accordingly! Note that the Judge should not inform the adventurer the level of the spell before he attempts to cast it!

Adventurers can make one-shot magic items that function as scrolls, though anyone is able to use these items. One-shot items cost 100 gp and one week time per level of the spell, and can usually be sold for two to five times the cost (if a buyer can be found). When the item is used, the wielder checks against a chance equal to the maker’s chance to learn a spell; if the roll fails, the item fails, and if the failed roll is in the upper 10% of the chance to fail, Something Bad happens.

Thieves Abilities: Adventurers possess all the basic thieving abilities at 1st level, and may advance in them as part of their adventure path. No thieving ability may ever be at a higher rank in ability than the level of the adventurer. The backstab ability advances as follows: max plus roll at 1st rank, double maximum plus roll at 5th rank, triple maximum plus roll at 9th rank, and quadruple maximum plus roll at 13th rank.

An adventurer may wear armor while attempting thieving abilities, but suffers the usual penalties for doing so.

Weapon Mastery: At each rank of weapon mastery gained after the 1st rank the adventurer gets 1 hit point permanently. When fighting with the mastered weapon, the adventurer fights as though he were a fighter of the level of his weapon mastery rank or as a thief of his level, whichever is better. At 1st rank of weapon mastery the adventurer gets a +1 bonus to hit and a +1 bonus to damage with that weapon. At 3rd rank of weapon mastery the bonus improves to +1/+2, at 5th to +2/+2, at 7th to +2/+3, at 9th to +3/+3, at 11th to +3/+4, at 13th to +4/+4, at 15th to +4/+5, and at 17th to +5/+5. At 6th rank they may make 3 attacks every 2 rounds with their specialized weapon; at 10th rank they may make 2 attacks every round; at 14th rank they may make 5 attacks every 2 rounds; and at 18th rank they may make 3 attacks every round. Second and third attacks come at the end of the round, after both sides have moved and attacked.

Adventure Path: An adventurer chooses his own path for advancement in his fighting, thieving, and magic skills, though at times his previous adventures may choose his path for him. Every level gained the adventurer may choose one of the following:
  • Advance weapon mastery in one existing weapon mastery by  one rank and advance four thieves abilities each one rank; or
  • Advance weapon mastery in one existing weapon mastery by  one rank and learn one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher); or
  • Gain 1st rank weapon mastery in a proficient weapon (provided he can find and hire a teacher) and advance four thieves abilities each one rank; or
  • Gain 1st rank weapon mastery in a proficient weapon (provided he can find a teacher) and learn one new spell his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher); or
  • Advance in all eight thieves abilities each one rank and gain proficiency in one weapon; or
  • Automatically learn two new spells of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher) and gain proficiency in one weapon; or
  • Learn one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (provided he can find and hire a teacher), advance any two thieves abilities each one rank, and gain proficiency in one weapon; or
  • Gain proficiency in two weapons and advance any three thieves abilities each one rank; or
  • Provided he can find and hire a teacher, gain the ranger’s tracking ability at a base of half that of normal; or
  • Advance his ranger tracking ability base percentages each by 5 points (up to the normal Ranger class level), and gain proficiency in one weapon; or
  • Provided he can join a temple hierarchy (usually requiring training, bribes, and certain spell casting knowledge, if not also adherence to dogma), he can gain the cleric’s turn and/or control creature ability at 1st rank. The ability applies to any one of the creatures or creature types that are considered abominable or congenial to the deific entity (note the broader the group, the more powerful the temple, and thus more difficult and expensive it is to join). Many temples have both an abominable foe (turn) and congenial ally (control); or
  • Advance his clerical turn or control ability one rank and learn one new spell of his choice of any level he can cast (from among those taught by his temple); or
  • Provided he is a member of an appropriate temple, has attained the 5th rank in his control ability, gain the ability to assume a normal animal shape appropriate to the congenial type of the temple once per day; or
  • Gain one additional use per day of his ability to assume normal animal shape; or
  • Provided he has gained three uses per day of his assume normal animal shape, he may gain the ability to assume a giant version of the appropriate animal shape once per day; or
  • Provided he can find and hire a teacher, learn the fighter’s Sword & Board technique; or
  • Provided he can find and hire a teacher, learn the assassin’s Disguise ability; or
  • Provided he can find and hire a teacher, learn the assassin’s Poison Use ability; or
  • Provided he has already gained the Disguise and Poison Use ability and can find and hire a teacher, gain the 1st rank in the assassin’s Assassination ability; or
  • Provided he has already gained the assassin’s Assassination ability, advance one rank in that ability.
1st Level Adventurer Spells
1. Ahlissa's Invocation of Beguiling Amity (1st level Magic-user spell, Charm Person)
2. Ahlissa's Invocation of Dissident Beauty (1st level Magic-user spell, Allure)
3. Al'Akbar's First Apotropaistic Invocation (1st level Magic-user spell, Protection from Evil)
4. Allanon's Cantrip of Covert Perambulation (1st level Druid spell, Pass without Trace)
5. Allanon's Charm of Bindings Verdural (1st level Druid spell, Entangle)
6. Allanon's Charm of Zoomorphic Elucidation (1st level Druid spell, Speak with Animals)
7. Allanon's Invocation of Adenoidal Vellication (1st level Druid spell, Divine Weather)
8. Andoq’s Invocation of Plastic Solitude (1st level Cleric spell, Sanctuary)
9. Arturzax’s Invocation of the Roundabout Plummet (1st level Magic-user spell, Feather Fall)
10. Atsum’s Ritual of Cool Manumission (1st level Cleric spell, Resist Cold)
11. Bakke’s Charm of Small Static (1st level Magic-user spell, Shocking Grasp)
12. Balul’s Invocation of the Discoid Curiosity (1st level Magic-user spell, Shield)
13. Barchier’s Cantrip of Irrepressible Luminosity (1st level Magic-user spell, Dancing Lights)
14. Bigby's Jarring Hand Charm (1st level Magic-user spell, Jarring Hand)
15. Biriga's Bestial Binding Ritual (1st level Druid spell, Animal Companion)
16. Calling Forth and Binding of the Arcane Disjunction Ritual (1st level Magic-user spell, Summon Familiar)
17. Calling Forth of the Silvertine Mists Ritual (1st level Illusionist spell, Wall of Vapor)
18. Chisirion's Charm of Amaranthine Caliginosity (1st level Illusionist spell, Darkness Globe)
19. Chisirion's Invocation of the Scintillated Refulgence (1st level Magic-user spell, Light)
20. Cuthbert's Obdurate Enhancement Formula (1st level Druid spell, Shillelagh)
21. Dostaan's Formula of Aqueous Fabrication (1st level Cleric spell, Create Water)
22. Eddives’s Hungry Essence Eyebite (1st level Cleric spell, Putrefy Food and Drink)
23. Felojun's First Hypnotic Spell (1st level Illusionist spell, Hypnotism)
24. Ferdi’s Invocation of the Bleak Masquerade (1st level Illusionist spell, Refraction)
25. Genneriel’s Invocation of Proportionate Opposition (1st level Magic-user spell, Hold Portal)
26. Harrizang’s Invocation of Parabolic Escape (1st level Magic-user spell, Jump)
27. Immanent Manipulandum of Imix Charm (1st level Magic-user spell, Manipulate Fire)
28. Keoghtum's First Ritual of Revivifying Melioration (1st level Cleric spell, Cure Light Wounds)
29. Llothol's Invocation of Arachnidic Escalation (1st level Magic-user spell, Spider Climb)
30. Lo-Pan's Charm of the Seventh Scarlet Hell (1st level Magic-user spell, Burning Hands)
31. Melf's Magic Missile Charm (1st level Magic-user spell, Magic Missile)
32. Mikelchan’s Unobtrusive Attendant Ritual (1st level Magic-user spell, Unseen Servant)
33. Murgen's Arcane Impressarium Ritual (1st level Magic-user spell, Identify)
34. Murgen's Occultic Penetration Eyebite (1st level Magic-user spell, Detect Magic)
xx. Murgen's Primary Arcane Filter Spell (1st level Magic-user spell, Read Magic)
35. Naroth's Cantrip of the Chromatic Wave (1st level Illusionist spell, Color Spray)
36. Nodrog's Charm of Victual Lustration (1st level Cleric spell, Purify Food and Drink)
37. Nolzur's Efficient Erasure Formula (1st level Magic-user spell, Erase)
38. Nolzur's Invocation of Phantasmal Discernment (1st level Illusionist spell, Detect Illusion)
39. Nolzur's Puissant Ritual of Enscription (1st level Magic-user spell, Scribe)
40. Nystul's Spell of Arcane Aura Enticement (1st level Magic-user spell, Magic Aura)
41. Oberon's Fey Aura Eyebite (1st level Druid spell, Faerie Fire)
42. Oberon's Fey Invocation of Spriggan Aggrandizement (1st level Magic-user spell, Enlarge)
43. Oquilda's Aqueous Annihilation Eyebite (1st level Cleric spell, Destroy Water)
44. Palgora's Facile Reconstruction Ritual (1st level Magic-user spell, Mending)
45. Phargon's Phantasmal Force Charm (1st level Illusionist spell, Phantasmal Force)
46. Phora’s Charm of Somnolent Usurpation (1st level Magic-user spell, Sleep)
47. Quaal's Charm of Pupillary Refraction (1st level Druid spell, Invisibility to Animals)
48. Quaal's Charm of Propitious Revelation (1st level Druid spell, Detect Snares and Pits)
49. Rao's Invocation of Recreant Amelioration (1st level Cleric spell, Remove Fear)
50. Rao's Invocation of Malominious Ascertainment (1st level Cleric spell, Detect Evil)
51. Riggby's Invocation for the Denouncement of the Veil (1st level Illusionist spell, Detect Invisibility)
52. Sargath's Charm of Otic Punctuation (1st level Illusionist spell, Auditory Illusion)
53. Shimrod's Excellent Linguistic Concordance Formula (1st level Magic-user spell, Read Languages)
54. Shimrod's Magical Missive Charm (1st level Magic-user spell, Message)
55. Shimrod's Occulted Utterance Invocation (1st level Magic-user spell, Ventriloquism)
56. Siandor's Invocation of Authority Nonpareil (1st level Cleric spell, Command)
57. Tasha's Desultory Disguise Eyebite (1st level Illusionist spell, Doppelganger)
58. Tasha's Ineluctable Charm of Auric Discernment (1st level Druid spell, Locate Creature)
59. Tenser's Floating Disc Formula (1st level Magic-user spell, Floating Disc)
60. Zulquor's Invocation of Etheric Cerebral Cocatenation (1st level Magic-user spell, Comprehend Languages)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Mystara Monstrous Compendium Has Been Released in PDF!

Being a Mystaraphile, it should come as no surprise to any of my readers that, in my opinion, one of the BEST Monstrous Compendiums to ever come out of the 2nd Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was the Mystara Appendix. Wizards has finally released the PDF on DriveThruRPG. Being designed for 2E, it is readily compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades, so you should definitely check it out if you want a collection of weird and interesting monsters!

I've included the info from the DTRPG listing below. I gotta say that I really enjoy the historical info on all the new PDF releases from Wizards.

Rare dragons, wondrous giants, bizarre humanoids... For years such creatures have filled classic D&D campaigns set in the world of Mystara, along with the exotic hivebrood, rakasta, thoul, and many more.

Now, for the first time ever, more than 100 of Mystara's unique and most popular creatures have been developed and defined in AD&D game terms! This must-have volume will delight and horrify players of the new AD&D Mystara campaign as well as any fan of the all-time favorites within.

Product History
The Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994) was produced by John Nephew, Teeuwynn Woodruff, John Terra, and Skip Williams. It was published in August 1994.

Moving Mystara. In Dragon #197 (September 1993), Bruce A. Heard announced that the Known World of Mystara would "be granted much greater attention and support as a major TSR line." To allow for this, Heard said that the Known World was "graduating" to the AD&D game. According to TSR's original plans, the new line was to kick off with a Monstrous Compendium, a dungeon adventure, a Castle Amberville Gazetteer, an almanac, new novels, and a new accessory about the Savage Coast.

Fans were a bit shocked, and some protested that AD&D didn't need another game world - and they were right there, as TSR's proliferation of game worlds was probably already causing them economic problems. What they didn't realize was that Basic D&D had been losing ground to AD&D for over a decade, and that TSR had been flailing about trying to find some way to support Basic D&D since 1990 - without success. The Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game (1994) would end up being the last release for TSR's introductory gaming system. If Mystara hadn't transferred over to AD&D, the world would have died.

Although TSR supported Mystara for only three years as an AD&D game world, from 1994-96, along the way they produced some handsome boxed sets and largely fulfilled their original plans. It all kicked off in August 1994 with two releases - Karameikos Campaign Setting and Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix.

Sources. The Mystara Monstrous Compendium is a rather impressive collection of almost 15 years of Known World material. It contains numerous monsters from the core sources that you'd expect, including the first four BECMI boxes (1983-84), six B-series Basic adventures, almost every X-series Expert adventure, three CM (Companion) adventures, and two M (or Master) adventures.

It also goes further afield, reprinting monsters that appeared in the DA (Blackmoor), XL (Licensed), XS (Solo), and O (One-on-One) series, as well as monsters from some later releases like Wrath of the Immortals (1992), Champions of Mystara: Heroes of the Princess Ark (1993), and "Rage of the Rakasta" (1993).

Prior to the publication of the Mystara Monstrous Compendium, Known World monsters had largely been collected in three volumes. Monsters from the rulebooks had been compiled in the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991) while monsters from adventures were compiled in AC9: Creature Catalogue (1986), which was later revamped as DMR2: Creature Catalog (1993). The Mystara Monstrous Compendium largely supersedes those previously compilations, though it of course updates everything to AD&D.

Because the Mystara Monstrous Compendium is such a comprehensive sourcebook, it also brings together some previously separated classes of critters, such as the living statues, the spider-kin, and the worms. (Yes, for some reason the Known World has tons of worms.)

Monsters of Note. This compilation is most notable for the deeply Mystaran creatures that it brings over to AD&D, among them the hutaakans of the Hollow World, the tentacular kopru, a variety of lizard-kin and spider-kin (the latter including the popular aranea), the lupin of the Savage Coast, pegataurs, the racoon-like phanaton, and the cat-like rakasta.

The Mystara Monstrous Compendium also includes several interesting typed creatures, most notably the unique drakes and crystalline dragons of Mystara - though the sapphire dragon was sadly misplaced. There are also some new inhabitants for the elemental planes, including Mystara's sentient answer to the quasi-elementals, which mix Law and Chaos with the standard elements, and a set of weaker elemental fundamentals.

The most infamous monster in this book is doubtless the decapus, which caused some problems in its original appearance in B3: "Palace of the Silver Princess" (1983).

Sadly, very few of the monsters from Mystara have influenced more recent editions of D&D. The bhut, the Neh-Tallgu brain collector, the choker, the frost salamander, the athach giant, the mud golem, the kopru, the nightshade, and the aranea spider-kin are the only monsters to appear in major Wizards of the Coast supplements for third edition. Several more iconic monsters like the lupin and the phanton showed up in Dragon or Dungeon magazine thanks to interest at Paizo.

About the Creators. This creatures in this book were originally created by a variety of authors over a 13-year period, then revamped and edited by freelancers and TSR staff alike. No doubt this overhaul was a major internal effort at Wizards!

About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

Thursday, May 2, 2013

[Southland] New Version of Outdoor Survival Map

When I need to get my game on, but can't really concentrate on writing and can't get together with anyone to play, I draw maps. Call it a kind of occupational therapy, if you will.

Once upon a time I did that by hand... but now I mostly use Hexographer. Going through  my "Campaign Setting" folders, I stumbled upon the work done on Southland, the post-Blackmoor setting Dave Arneson used after his group essentially trashed the original campaign. The setting used Avalon Hill Game Company's Outdoor Survival map, as was mentioned in The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures booklet in OD&D. Robert Conley created a fine Judges Guild style version of the map long ago

I decided I wanted to play around with the map, maybe make a few variants, so I put together a base, "original" version of the map. My version does not include the "Encounter Areas" that Rob's does, but is otherwise pretty close. Later variants will develop the region more, and include different climate versions.

If you want a larger PNG or the original Hexographer file, drop me an e-mail...

Click to embiggen...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

[Defiance] An alien cuckoo?

Something bothered me about Alak Tarr from the moment I saw him...

He doesn't look anything like his mother or father. And it is not just the hair (which is likely dyed).

It is his eyes...

Click to embiggen...

Note the description of the Castithans from the Defiance site:

Although they are conservative with regard to tradition and language, Castithans tend to be very liberal with their sexuality. Sex is as much a tool of political agenda as it is an expression of love. Castithans have zero reservations about using sex as a means to an end. That’s not to say that Castithans don’t also enjoy sex to the extreme. Many of their most cherished ceremonies involve expressions of passion and desire.

I get the feeling that along with this goes the cultural reality that, as far as society is concerned, "the children of a man's wife are his children, regardless of their actual genetic parent." How else could it work in a society so worried about caste and social class?

The show very purposefully put together a group of actors who very much looked alike, and "pure" to the Castithan type, especially so in the case of Datak and Stahma... 

So... who is Alak's father? And is he even a Castithan? Could his father be human?

Though Datak very much emphasizes "my son" several times, even when with Stahma... could it be that Stahma is not his mother? Hmmm...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

[Defiance] More thoughts on the Votan...

Now I may be reading even more into this, but... all the the Votan races have some analog in myth, legend, cryptozoology, or ancient astronauts. When, say, the Votan-Atlantis fell, the various races that remained on Earth retreated to their natural haunts or, in the case of the Castithans and Irathients, were eventually assimilated into the broader Human/Votan line...

Click here to check out the descriptions of each race on the Defiance web site...

Castithans = Nordic Aliens/Elves

Indogenes = Grays/Reptoids

Irathients = Firbolg

Liberata = Dwarfs

Sensoth = Sasquatch/Yeti/Woodwoses

Volge = Fomorians

[Defiance] Thoughts on Defiance...

I watched the premiere of the new show the other day, and I have to say that, though it is a relatively derivative mash-up of Star Trek, Mad MaxThundarr, and Shakespeare, it has caught my attention. A few things that come to mind on where the story is coming from are noted below…

Mad Max meets Thundarr...

It must be noted that the Votans cannot be from the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy; the Perseus Arm is no less than 6,000 to 13,000 LY distant from Sol, which is in the Orion Arm (which may be a spur of the Perseus Arm). They have to be from somewhere in the direction of the Perseus Arm. They traveled for 5,000 years on slower-than-light arks. They must have been slower-than-light arks; otherwise, with their ability to Terraform (Votaniform?) planets, there was no reason for them to travel more than a few score light years away from their own system (the Votanis/Sulos binary system). So they must be within, say, 100 light years…

I’d say they were from the Algol system, around 95 LY distant, in the direction of the Perseus Constellation and the Perseus Arm. Algol is (today) a trinary system, linked with “ominous legends” going back into ancient history. Let us say that prior to 5000 years ago, it was a binary system; when the stellar disaster struck, the rogue star remained in-system, transforming it into a trinary system. The Votanis system was not destroyed, though the planets around Votanis (Algol B) were; Casti, around the star Sulos (Algol A) was almost destroyed...

My theory is that Casti, and more than enough of the Votans living on Casti, survived

So now you had two populations of Votans – those on the Ark Fleet, and the survivors on Casti.

The survivors on Casti had every reason to hate those who left them behind…

Those of you familiar with the Wait Calculation may see where this is going…

To sum up, there are many odd things mentioned and seen in the first episode:

First, the St. Louis Arch. It is no coincidence that it resembles the shape of the Votan Ark Ships…

Second, the fact that there is an alien “artifact” buried in the mines in Defiance (St. Louis)…

Third, the fact that humans and Votans can, apparently, interbreed with minimal problems (at least, in the case of the Irathients and Castithans)…

Finally, the Votans did not expect to find *any* civilization on Earth when they arrived. Their observations from 3,000 BC would not have seen much of any sort of civilization, perhaps primitive villages at best. But no real “civilization” as they would have known it…

So what ties all this together?

See, what happened is that the surviving inhabitants of Casti developed some sort of space drive that let them get around the light-speed limit. Not a true FTL drive; more of a worm-hole drive, or a jump drive, that let them get from star to star.

And so, as part of spreading to the stars, they also gained their revenge. They arrived on Earth millennia before the Ark-based Votans (whom they could not interrupt, as their way of getting to the stars required jumping from star to star). Once on Earth, they set about building a civilization to fight against the Ark Fleet. These are the aliens of Erich Von Däniken… it is no coincidence that the Indogenes look not unlike the Grays, nor that the Castithans looks not unlike the Nordics (or elves, for that matter), or that the Sensoth look not unlike the Sasquatch… the Votans already arrived, thousands of years ago. They were Zecharia Sitchin’s Anunnaki of ancient myth and legend. They used their technology to interbreed with and uplift the humans of that era, and started them on the long climb to civilization. Perhaps they even built a high civilization long ago, a Votan-Atlantis, and lost it all in their own hubris…

But even after that disaster, they remained, and have guided Earth in the millennia since. What the artifact found under the Votan-like Arch in Defiance is… I’ve no clue… but there’s a bigger conspiracy wrapped in an enigma going on here… 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Storybrooke, Maine...

My name is James, and I am a fan of Once Upon a Time, the ABC series essentially based on the Disney Princesses...

There, I've said it. Yup, I'm a fan. Grumpy is my favorite character, I should note, followed by the non-wussified version of Charming. Second season has been a bit rocky for me, but that's the way they go...

"Snow White, Cinderella, and Red Riding Hood walk into a bar..." gotta figure out the joke to that one...

Anyhoo, finally got a little job off my list concerning the series. I know the actual town they use for filming is in Canada, on the other side of the continent from Maine, but I knew i the back of my head there was a way to find out where Storybrooke was supposed to be in Maine. It had been whispering into my brain for a while now, and I finally put it all together.

The secret is in the map in the Sheriff's office in the First Season episode, "Skin Deep" (Rumbelle fans, you can view this after you stop screaming in glee at the mention of that episode):

Click to embiggen

Check that map out versus a map of Maine:

Click to embiggen

Now, most Sheriffs are going to have a map centered on their own HQ location, more or less. So I have put a red dot in each about where I figure Storybrooke is supposed to be; on the end of that peninsula.

So anyway, there's my bit of fandom geekery completed for the day... one more check off the list...

Now to figure out why the characters in the series think Boston is the capital of Maine... That's the odd one...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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.)