Friday, January 30, 2015

Expanded Petty Gods Preview Available

The Petty Gods: Expanded and Revised project is nearing completion. James Maliszewski of Grognardia first sought to bring this to completion, then Greg Gorgonmilk shouldered the burden, and now finally Richard LeBlanc of New Big Dragon and the Save Vs. Dragon blog looks to be bringing this one to a final form.

Richard has released a preview, which includes three of my bits of work for the project: Tsathoggua, the Voormis, and the Formless Spawn.

The preview is free, so check it out!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Troll Lord Games 60% Off Sale!

Troll Lord Games is having a 60% off sale on all their PDFs at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. There is a TON of good stuff there; if you don't have it, grab it now, as this is one of their better sales (most don't go to 60% off).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[Kvin Mondöj] Dio Storm-Lord

Dio Storm-Lord is the Father of Storms, the Lord of Rainbows, the Judge of the Dead, the Shield of the Faithful, the Devil-Foe, the Banisher of Demons, the Destroyer of Undead, and the Seneschal of Heaven. He is second in command of the Metal Gods after Ozzymandius God-Father, often taking the throne while the God-Father is “on sabbatical,” i.e., in his divine cups. Devotees turn to him for protection; they wield his Magic Horns in warding against Evil and for protection against Devils, Demons, and the Undead. 

As the Father of Storms and the Lord of Rainbows his followers call upon him for good weather and safety in storms. As Judge of the Dead, it is to him that Percy Golden-God takes the souls of the Dead for judgment; his assistant, Murray, casts the Damned into Hell while those judged to be Righteous are guided up the Stairway to Heaven by Percy Golden-God. Dio is a warrior-god of defensive sort, protecting the faithful against Devils, Demons, and the Undead through his warrior skills and with his magical powers.

He is depicted as and, when he makes an appearance, appears in the form of a human male of wiry build with long curly dark brown hair and blue eyes. He dresses plainly and simply, usually in fashionable white, black, and/or red clothing, though at times needful wears leather armor; when he wears armor, he also wields the Heavy-Metal Blade (+5 vorpal blade) and the Chromium Shield of Kadath (+5 kite shield, bears the Magic Horns as a device etched upon its face that provides the wielder 75% magic resistance against spells cast by Devils, Demons, and Undead). He has been known to loan these to heroes of the faith at needful times.

The Storm-Lord is invariably accompanied by Murray, a (tamed) Shadow Demon of prodigious power who protects the Storm-Lord and also serves has his messenger. Murray can vary his size from as tiny as a pixie to taller than a titan. Murray often appears in dreams and nightmares of the faithful, providing silent guidance or fearful reminders of their failures. He wields a pair of chains that are wrapped around his arms; they can extend to any reasonable length, based on his size, and be used as weapons to harm or be used to grasp and wrap around a target (to capture or save the target). The chains are +5 magical weapons and require the strength of a Storm Giant to have even a chance of breaking them.

Dio is Chaotic Neutral with Good tendencies. His symbols include the Magic Horns, a rainbow, or a black cross. His clergy must be Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Good, or true Neutral; the clergy consists of Clerics, Priests, Anarchs, Bards, and Champions. His Clerics can wield long swords, but can only wear leather armor; they turn Devils, Demons, and Undead as though they were one level higher than their actual level. Clerics and Priests cast all weather magic, protective magic, and defensive magic at one level higher than their actual level, and may memorize and cast one extra weather, protective, or defensive spell per spell level known per day.

He has a separate cult from the Temple of the Metal Gods, a wilder, more nature-oriented cult focused on his portfolio as the Father of Storms and Lord of Rainbows; this cult is Neutral or Chaotic Neutral, and consists of Bards, Druids, and Rangers. Many Elves are followers of his Druidic cult. His Druids cast all weather magic, protective magic, and defensive magic at one level higher than their actual level, and may memorize and cast one extra weather, protective, or defensive spell per spell level known per day. His Druids and Rangers wear horned headdresses and exclusively keep wolves as their animal companions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

[Kvin Mondöj] Percy Golden-God

Percy Golden-God is the Voice of the Metal Gods (i.e., their messenger), the Master of the Stairway to Heaven, the Storyteller and the Lorekeeper, the Font of Lore and Wisdom, and the Patron of Travelers and Wanderers. He is the psychopomp of the devotees of the pantheon of the Metal Gods, guiding their spirits to their Final Judgment, and from there, either to Heaven or Hell. He is rarely worshiped on his own, though he is often called upon by seekers of knowledge and wisdom, those about to go on journeys, and those who seek to send a message or speak clearly. He is one of the few Metal Gods to be popular among Elves and Halflings.

Percy Golden-God is depicted as and usually takes the form of a young, lithe, tanned human or elven male with long, shoulder-length golden curls and, sometimes, a short rakish beard. He has a large pair of white wings, like those of an angel. He rarely wears clothing other than a pair of short, tight cloth-of-gold pants, preferring to appear bare-chested; unlike the other Metal Gods he is not much of one for jewelry, though he sometimes wears a beaded necklace. When he appears to the soul of a dead follower he appears first wearing a cloth-of-gold hooded robe, hiding all his features, and bearing a lantern in the darkness of Death.

Percy is Chaotic Neutral, leaning toward true Neutral. His symbols are a feather in a circle, representing both his concern for lore and his transmission of wisdom and knowledge; and a lantern, representing his shining of light in the darkness. He has no specific enemies other than the broad enmity between the Metal Gods and the forces of Satan and his Devils, the Demon Gods, the Alien Gods, and the Undead; clergy may choose two of the four as targets for their turning abilities. Percy’s clergy consists of Clerics, Priests, Anarchs, Bards, and Rangers, and may be male or female; most of his clergy are multi-classed with the Bard class.

Their duties include acting as messengers for the Temple of the Metal Gods; scribing and illuminating books of lore and knowledge; delivering messages from the gods to their mortal followers; helping mortals interpret the dreams, visions, and omens of the gods; overseeing funerals, delivering Last Rites, and guarding tombs, cemeteries, and catacombs; and guarding roads and crossroads. All clergy are expected to take part in all these functions at some time in their career, so his clergy tend to be jacks-of-all-trades.

[Kvin Mondöj] Ozzymandius God-Father

The God-Father of Metal, the Prince of Darkness, the Great Ozz, the Mad-God, the Ozzman – many are his names and epithets. He is at one and the same time the most popular of the Metal Gods, and yet the most inscrutable. Many would say they have a close, personal relationship with the God-Father, but none would say that they truly know him well. No few claim that they have encountered him and drank with him in a tavern, or walked with him for a while upon a road, or sat and listened to him sing for a time – but what, exactly, any ever gained from these encounters is never quite understood.

The Ozzman, as he prefers to be called casually, was among the first of the Ancient Heroes of Lost Earth to be resurrected from their age-long Sleep of the Dead (though some claim the Metal Queen walked the forests and meadows of Kvin Mondöj for a thousand years ere the return of the other Ancient Heroes). He was already counted among the greatest of their numbers, and the boundless energy, mighty mirth, and deep melancholies he exhibited as their leader helped define their nature, both in the distant past and during the Metal Wars. He only reluctantly took up the mantle of the God-Father, and King of the Metal Gods, after the fall of the Dread Dominion, due to the great need for his leadership; he would have preferred to return to the oblivion of Death, for he believed that there, though he did not remember it, he might find the solace of being in the arms of his long-lost and much beloved wife.

He has never taken another as his companion in all his centuries as a god, though many have been more than willing, mortal and otherwise (the members of his covens of Witches are particularly intent upon being the first to break his, to them, silly oath). It is said that his great melancholies, and his great debauches of deific-quantities of drugs and ambrosia, are due to his great loneliness. During these times the Iron Throne of the Metal Gods is held in trust by Dio Storm-Lord or Geezer Metal-Mage, and messages, dreams, and visions delivered by Percy Golden-God, the Voice of the Metal Gods, can be quite garbled. When he is not deep in his divine cups, the God-Father takes his duties quite seriously, marshaling the Metal Gods in their eternal wars against the Church of Satan, the Demon Gods, and the Alien Gods, as well as visiting his followers as needful in dreams and in mysterious mortal guises.

His favored guise is that of a wandering minstrel, dressed in deep black clothing, accented by a cloak of bat wings or raven feathers, with silver necklaces, bracers, and rings, usually decorated with or including his favored symbol, the silver cross. His skin is pale white, his long flowing hair ebon black and reflecting unseen stars; and his pale blue eyes rimmed with black kohl – though these are rarely seen, as he usually wears tinted glasses. Were it not for the silver and the crosses, he might easily be confused for a vampire (a bad thing to do). Upon occasion he appears wearing only pants, his chest, back, and arms covered in tattoos, the natures of which change with each appearance, the meanings of which must be determined by the viewer.

He is usually encountered alone, and speaks in mysterious, roundabout fashion about many things and yet nothing at all, often seemingly a simple madman encountered randomly until he mysteriously disappears… upon which the devotee suddenly understands he has had an encounter with the divine. From time to time he appears in taverns and inns or at fairs, with a back-up group of minstrels. Then he sings for the gathered folk, a song or three pertinent to prophecy or need, before disappearing in a spectacular pyrotechnic flash. Due to ancient concords reached at the end of the Metal Wars he, like most other greater, intermediate, and lesser gods, cannot interfere directly in the mortal world with his full deific power; he can only guide his followers.

When they need a bit more of a push, stalwart defense, or an assist, he appears in the form of a terrible beast. This avatar is of mortal sort, though still of great power, and usually only appears when his followers face overwhelming odds against a demi-god or being of like power. This monstrous form resembles a green-skinned, very muscular, winged balrog with great clawed hands; it has his normal head, though with pale platinum hair, great fang-filled maw, and forked tongue. Its greatest weapon is its breath weapon, a noxious cloud which is a poisonous mix of gaseous drugs that can strike dead even Demons and Aliens normally immune to poisons. In this capacity Ozzman offers his worthiest Cleric, Priest, Anarch, Bard, Champion, Warlock, or Witch to accompany him as his passenger, acting as a destrier for the chosen one to ride into combat.

Ozzymandius is Chaotic Neutral, leaning toward Chaotic Good (not as much as many, but more so than most). As noted, his preferred holy symbol is a silver cross, an ancient symbol potent across time and space. His especial personal enemies (and thus doubly so for his followers) are Satan and his followers in the Church of Satan (he considers them fascist bastards); the Demon Gods (vile, petty poseurs); the Alien Gods (monstrous destroyers with no taste in music or style); and Undead (due to rivalries and treachery leading to the fall of the Empire of Legend). He demands strict neutrality between the Temple of the Metal Gods and the Temple of Judas the Redeemer, a requirement more honored in the breach than in the observance by his clergy.

Clergy must be Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Good. His clergy wear all black, with a white collar; there is no favored weapon. Favored shield devices include crosses, a stylized “O,” and bats or ravens; metal armors are often enameled in black, with bat- or raven-wings and other bat- or raven-inspired devices. His Clerics and Priests may be male or female, and must remain chaste and celibate to remain in the good graces of the Temple (this is not one of his limitations, but one that his hierarchy has chosen, the better to emulate their patron god). His Anarchs, Bards, Champions, Warlocks, and Witches are not as limited in sumptuary fashion or in chastity and celibacy. Those among his clergy who can manage are often multi-classed with the Bard class. His clergy have the ability to cast both light and darkness spells, as well as both spells of healing and causing wounds. Their turning powers are applicable against Undead (turn only); Devils and Demons (turn only); and Alien creatures (not including Gith, turn only).

Monday, January 19, 2015

[Kvin Mondöj] The Metal Queen

The Metal Queen is one of the major goddesses of the pantheon of the Metal Gods. Though she cooperates with most of the other Metal Gods, she also goes her own way; too many of the temples of the Metal Gods are patriarchal for her liking, and so she maintains her own separate but allied faith.

The Metal Queen usually takes the form of a human female with long flowing blond hair, blue-eyes, and pale skin, of average height though buxom and with a muscular build. She wears black leather with chrome metal studding and many necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings of silver, chrome, and gold. The leather often covers less than it reveals, though her boots usually go up to her thighs, and sometimes she wears battered bits of iron armor. She sometimes wears an iron crown, with tiny swords for tines and set with silver skulls and chrome crosses, but she does so only when emphasizing her deific power.

She often rides a tamed balrog, an iron and chrome chariot drawn by six balrogs, or is otherwise accompanied with enslaved demons that she keeps leashed on iron chains. When she enters combat personally, she wields a silver long sword (when in her warrior aspect) or a crooked rod (in her witch aspect) that combines the effects of a staff of wizardry, a rod of lordly might, and a wand of wonder.

Like the other Metal Gods, she is Chaotic Neutral, though with a stronger streak toward Good than most others of the pantheon (save perhaps Judas the Redeemer). She is a patroness of power, glory, freedom, and love, untamed and wild, believing that people need to be free to enjoy life without boundaries… though darker desires need be held in check, lest one harm others (who are not willing to be harmed). She is often called upon by lovers who are oppressed by their families; women seeking freedom from patriarchy; and warlocks and witches who wish to be free from the oppressive powers-that-be.

She is also known as the Tamer of Demons and the Mother of Witches (and Mother of Warlocks). She is served both by her temples and by covens of warlocks and witches of Goodly and Neutral (though certainly Chaotic) sort. Many of her temples work with Rangers to keep the wilds clear of Evil, but help them remain otherwise wild and untamed. Her temples and shrines are found in wild, beautiful places, even in the crumbling ruins of cities and wastelands.

The Metal Queen is among the few Metal Gods who made inroads among the Grimnyr millennia ago, and her shrines are found there interspersed with those of the Aesir and Vanir. Her worshippers are found wherever the Metal Gods and the Gods of the North are found; she is most popular in Myrkgrav (where hers is the primary faith), Morgart, Galaroth, and Valyria, as well as among the Grimnyr.

Her clergy, warlocks, and witches can only wear leather or studded leather armor, but they can wield swords with full proficiency. Her clergy also have access to one otherwise limited arcane spell of each level, and her warlocks and witches have access to one otherwise limited divine spell of each level, in both cases chosen when they attain the appropriate level.

Her chief enforcer among her covens is said to be a mysterious warlock, known simply as The Warlock, with platinum-blond hair and piercing blue eyes, a Mannish-Gith or a Gith-Blooded Man, who is hidden by shadows and mists, visible only to those who have betrayed her or most pleased her...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

[Ekosia] The Story So Far...

Well, we've now had several sessions of our 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign set in Ekosia, and things have gone quite well, both with the new system and with the campaign.

Most players have had two characters, as we never know who all would be able to make it, and we've had two separate though related parties pursuing different goals.

The first party has been trying to capture Bandit King Heydut Shafee, whose gang lairs in the Lost River Caverns. During the adventure the party -- as yet unnamed -- successfully burned down a goodly portion of Pooftos, a local, innocent village, slaying the village leader and a dozen or more villagers in the process. Seems that though the villagers were in the middle of a festival celebrating the overthrow of Nothos, the Demon-Son of Dionysus, they felt it a good idea to suddenly appear in the midst of the celebrations with the Tiefling sorceress (Charisma 20) -- casting impressive, demon-like spells, no less -- as their speaker. Chaos ensued, the villagers were slaughtered in defense of the sorceress and her companions, and now several of the party members are themselves wanted men (and women).

After resting up at the Pike & Shield Roadhouse, they went on to find the Lost River Caverns, and instead of camping and scouting after a long day's travel, went straight into the caverns, stumbled into the bandit lair exhausted, and ended up in a two-session running battle, slaughtering many of the bandits and nearly losing two of their own members (death saves were lucky). They were then later beaten back by the Bandit King who had brought in some allies, Wretchlings and Bear-Headed Ogres.

Overwhelmed, they fled to the sea-side town of Karkeros, to heal up and find out more information. The paladin of the group, feeling guilty of his involvement in the slaughter in the town (he thought the villagers were the bad guys), ended up speaking with the High Priest of the local Church of the Risen Son (Egyptian pantheon) and got both more information on the bandit and a way to gain absolution for his actions in Pooftos... by bringing the Bandit King to the church rather than to the secular authorities, as they had discovered that the Bandit King -- a Tiefling -- was in league with the Cult of Nothos.

Of course, he also made sure that his companions would get the reward, as he wasn't so foolish as to assume that they would be interested in the state of his soul. So armed with further knowledge, they went back to the caves... and there found, on the other side of the mountains, a camp of barbarians (well, more like local hillbillies, really), who were now allied with the bandits and the cult, and had apparently made a few raids toward Pooftos and Lukopolis (a village to the south). They found the bandit lair abandoned, and figured the bandits had joined the barbarians en mass. Finding only Wretchlings left in the caves, they concocted a plan...

Together with a new ally, Dan the Bard, they bought barrels full of good beer, along with a sufficient amount of drugs and herbs to spike the beer and knock out most of the barbarians and bandits. They also had a "Plan B," which was to go up the mountain and make it look like a dragon was attacking. Fortunately, Plan B wasn't needed, as Dan the Player played up Dan the Bard's part very well, passing himself off as a representative of the Empire of Bael Norradh, a nearby Evil Empire who was allied to the Cult of Nothos. The beer and a chest full of treasure (mostly copper and silver with gold and a few cheap gems on top) were presented as a gift to the Barbarian King. As the leaders, unbeknownst to the players, were actually awaiting a representative from the Empire, this was not surprising, and a stroke of good luck for the players; that it was a Karnusian player of the bagpipes was confusing, but he successfully passed it off as needful use of foreign spies to put off suspicions from the local powers-that-be. He also rolled very well, and I rolled very poorly...

So the bandits and barbarians got stinking drunk and knocked out, though the Barbarian King and the Bandit King were still standing (being good drinkers and of stouter constitutions than their minions). Dan (who had not been drinking) convinced the Bandit King that he had a special treasure for him in his gypsy-style wagon; a bottle of good whisky to start, which finished off the Bandit King, who was then bound and gagged as Dan raced his wagon out of the camp...

As Dan the Bard had not gotten out in a timely fashion, the rest of the group thought things had gone wrong, so started burning the forest at the mountain heights, seeking to draw out the barbarians and bandits so they could go in and get the Bandit King. Only three scouts, not party to the beer-fest, found them, and were slaughtered, Dan rode by laughing like a madman and yelling that he had the Bandit King. And so they raced to town, even though they were exhausted. They holed up half-way there, and were fortunate that there was too much confusion at the camp the next morning for search parties to be sent out. They turned the Bandit King over to the High Priest and were handsomely rewarded (major milestone achieved).

Most of the party has just now squeaked past 3rd level, and everyone spent an hour after the last session picking archetypes, spells, and other specials for their new levels.

They're going to need them, as they've stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

[Kvin Mondöj] Cult of the Homovore

The Cult of the Homovore is a Chaotic Evil cult dedicated to anthropophagy… specifically the eating of humans by non-humans, as opposed to cannibalism (and also distinct from the necrophagy practiced by ghouls and similar beings). The temple is popular among non-human races, especially goblinoids. Each cult is usually small, with each group independent of one another and each shaman or priest in charge of the specific beliefs, trappings, rituals, and liturgy. However, in Radamanthys, the Wilds Forlorn, Ildjarn, Malinvern, and Galiryon, as well as further afield, the influence of the infamous Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned is still strong.

The Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned was founded in the decades of chaos following the fall of the Empire of Legend almost a thousand years ago. In those days, Tyranath was a stronghold of the Minotaurs, who had been brutally oppressed by the Empire of Legend due to their loyalty to the Dread Dominion. When the Empire of Legend fell, the Minotaurs rebelled, overthrew their Mannish lords and masters, and consumed them in a great ritual feast, a ritual that ended with the foundation of the Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned (so named for the form of torture that the Minotaurs performed on their victims). The Great Temple of the Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned was built upon the site of the feast, and became the center of the cult during the height of the Imperium Tenebrarum that succeeded to power in the region shortly thereafter.

The Minotaurs were a small but powerful faction in the Imperium Tenebrarum, as were Goblinoids and other non-Mannish, non-Gith races. Men and Gith were enslaved, though it was only the Men that suffered from the predilections of the Temple, as the Gith were still respected (to an extent), having been the original servitors of the alien masters of the Dread Dominion. For them, mere slavery was their due; but for the races of Men, their lives became as those of cattle. For more than three centuries, the non-Mannish masters of the Imperium Tenebrarum ruled, and among the greatest of their temples was the demon-ridden Temple of Ten Torments of the Damned.

The central deific figure in the Temple, appropriately enough, was Baphomet, the Demon Prince of Minotaurs. He is depicted in temple art and idols as having six arms, each hand of which wields a knife, cleaver, or other butcher weapon. He sits tailor-style; wears a loin-cloth, a necklace of Mannish skulls, and prolific prayer beads; and is accompanied by a Death Bull Viper, usually draped around his neck. Temples are designed to look like abattoirs, complete with meat hooks and blood drains; in fact, most were, as they were used for the ritual slaughter (via the Ten Torments) and processing of humans for consumption by the faithful.

During the height of the Imperium Tenebrarum, the Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned became the stronghold of the Minotaurs, and only Minotaurs were able to advance to the higher ranks of the hierarchy. This led partially to the divisions between the faithful, which together with the other elements tearing apart the Imperium at the time, led to the successful rebellion that allowed the Men of the East to found the Empire Satanicum in 666 AM, which to this day is a humanocentric theocratic state in which non-humans are enslaved and oppressed (though not much more than the non-elite humans, to be sure).

Today the beliefs, trappings, rituals, and liturgy of the Cult of the Homovore in those regions follow those founded by the Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned. These cults have a strong enmity with the Ghoul and Gnoll followers of Yeenoghu; those native to Malinvern often go on raids or even full-on crusades against his followers in the Vault of the Ghouls, though rarely do they dare penetrate as far as the Vale of Pnath. These cults also seek to glorify Minotaurs above all others, and are usually led by a Minotaur priest. Temples are usually underground, with the central idol of Baphomet at the heart of the great grotto that functions as the temple/abattoir. The cults refuse to buy humans for their rituals and feasts; it is part of their faith that the humans must be won in battle. Other races, such as Gith, Dwarves, Elves, and so forth, when taken in battle, are kept as slaves.

A typical cult consists of the Evil High Priest (CE Minotaur 6th to 9th level cleric of Baphomet), his Evil Curate (CE Minotaur 3rd to 5th level cleric of Baphomet), and 2d3 Evil Acolytes (various races, all CE 1st or 2nd level clerics of Baphomet), plus one or more clans of Minotaurs, Satyrs, Goblinoids, Orcs, Demonbloods, Snake-Men, or other inimical humanoids (though rarely Gnolls, who almost universally follow Yeenoghu), each with their own clan shaman (subordinate to the priesthood). Numerous Demons and Mutants are also adherents of the cult, as are no few intelligent monsters.

The Lair of the Minotaur, a vast series of caverns and ancient dungeons that predate the Dread Dominion, is said to be a stronghold of the surviving hierarchy of the Temple of the Ten Torments of the Damned. There it is said that Grand Hierarch Minos XIII still reigns in undead majesty, hidden in the labyrinthine complex since the fall of the Imperium Tenebrarum almost six centuries ago. The treasures of the temple are hidden in his ten-level lair, which is guarded by a legion of Minotaurs, Demons, and Demonbloods. From his Dread Cathedral he plots revenge upon the Empire Satanicum and all of Mankind.

Monday, January 5, 2015

[Games] Artesia: Adventures in the Known World NYNG Bundle

DriveThruRPG/RPGNow is having their New Year New Game (NYNG) sale in which companies offer a bundled set of product for one of their games at the discounted price of merely $15.

One of the bundles is for the Artesia: Adventures in the Known World RPG, based on the Artesia comic book series by Mark Smylie. In this bundle you get not only the RPG, but also the first three trade paper backs, the Compendium of essays and histories, and the Book of Urgrayne that collects three important short comic stories... an almost $50 value for $15.

Even if you don't play the game... which is excellent, by the way... this is an amazing deal just on the three trades. You definitely need to check this out!