Friday, August 15, 2014


So I made a bad pun on Google+ yesterday, suggesting that Rafael Chandler should have called Slaughtergrid by the name "Quimmermount" instead.

But then I stormed a brain and realized — orcs on Rockulon Prime were originally vat-bred by the drow, like Peter Jackson's take on the Uruk-hai.  Being that the drow were sufficiently advanced, it makes perfect sense that birthing pits would somehow be self-regulating (or at least some of them would have been).  Probably some mild artificial intelligence, making the whole thing like a sentient ooze that generates orcs.

So what if one went bad, like cancer?  A cancerous flesh labyrinth, burrowing deeper into the earth, spreading corruption as it goes.  A malign, insane, genius-level intellect guiding the dungeon.

It would still have traps and monsters, but these would be part of its immune system.  There would probably also be mutant orcs as its birthing pit protocol became increasingly corrupted.

It could probably also have treasure — it produces bezoars and pearls and weird mineral deposits that work like gems, and it has probably absorbed precious metals and magic items.  It probably has caches from adventurers who previously attempted to delve it.  Or it created weird, organic devices of its own design, looking like chaositech or Yuuzhan Vong nonsense.

For that matter, what if Quimmermount needs organic material to generate further legions of progeny?  What if it is deliberately attracting adventurers to generate the necessary material, supplementing it with whatever its pseudopods can catch.

So, Quimmermount.  A cancerous orc birthing pit worming its way into the earth.  A living, breathing megadungeon.  It's a thing.

Brainstorm the Second: By the way, if you run a game like Lamentations of the Flame Princess which tones down the fantasy elements and makes creatures unique, perhaps this is the only source of orcs in your campaign setting.  Maybe orcs are relatively rare, only haunting one particular location with Quimmermount at its heart.

So when some baron asks you to look for these greenish, pig-faced monsters haunting, say, the Black Forest, you find the corrupted birthing pit at its heart, no doubt made by some antediluvian civilization for unknown purposes.  Or maybe the original birthing pit seed fell to Earth in a meteor strike, and has only now grown enough to start spewing out its bio-engineered progeny.

Maybe orcs are humanoid because it uses human DNA as the template.

I'm just rambling now, but there you go.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Panderii Skirmishers

The Panderii Skirmishers — also known as the Panders, the Pander Fighting School, or the Dagrayuro in the elves' native tongue — were a fighting unit organized under the Dark Elves of Rockulon Prime.  Well aware of the potency field permeating Rockulon Prime's Crystal Sphere, they developed a fighting and training style to make use of it.

Since the collapse of the drow, some military schools have continued to practice the school while other warriors have learned and developed some of the tenets on their own (or read about them in old tomes, or whatever).

A Panderii Skirmisher advances as a typical member of the fighter class — same base attack/thac0/whatever, same saving throws, same XP chart.  If your game uses prime requisites (such as AD&D), these are also unchanged — for example, AD&D 2e requires a minimum Strength 9, and offers a bonus 10% XP for a Strength of 16+).

Panderii differ from normal fighters in several ways:

  • If your game system assumes fighters automatically attract followers at domain level (or whenever they build a stronghold), Panderii do not automatically gain followers.
  • If your game uses weapon specialization for fighters (as AD&D 2e does), Panderii don't gain that, either.
  • Panderii cannot wear any armor, although they can use shields.
  • Panderii are limited to the following weapons: clubs, daggers, darts, hand crossbows, knives, lassos, short bows, slings, broadswords, long swords, short swords, and staves.

However, in exchange for these limitations, Panderii gain the following benefits:

  • Panderii Skirmishers gain a +2 bonus to AC (so +2 for ascending AC, -2 for descending AC).
  • Panderii move at 1.25× normal speed.  So, for example, Labyrinth Lord assumes 120' as a base movement speed; Panderii would move at 150'.  In AD&D, the base movement for a standard human is 12; the Panderii would move at 15.
  • Panderii Hit Dice move up one step — so, a Labyrinth Lord fighter with d8 HD would step up to a d10 HD; AD&D fighters with d10 HD would step up to d12 HD.
  • Panderii also gain the thief ability to Move Silently, with a base chance equal to the Panderii's Dexterity score + level.  As such, a Level 1 Panderii with Dexterity 14 would have Move Silently 15%, whereas a Level 9 Panderii with Dexterity 16 would have Move Silently 25%.
For obvious reasons, Panderii tend towards high Dexterity to boost AC.  On Rockulon Prime, they also tend towards high Strength or Charisma, as high values in these offer natural AC bonuses, as per the potency field.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Year Three

Tomorrow marks three years of How to Succeed in RPGs or Die Trying (starting with this post), which basically catalogs my transition from a modern occult horror conspiracy game master to a medieval fantasy game master.  I'm sure I'll wind up back among modern horror games before too long.

The past year has been pretty uneven in terms of regular blogging, but gaming has been fairly consistent (for certain values of consistent).  I continue to run Crux of Eternity when I can get the gaming group together, and I started running What Luck Betide Us, which similarly struggles with the tribulations of gaming as an adult.  I even managed to run a session of my woefully neglected solo campaign, True in Some Sense.

I've probably played more than I've run, however.  We continue the Changeling: the Lost game (although next week is supposed to be the last session), and occasionally get to play Rogue Trader with our ghetto fabulous crew.

Despite getting to the starting point I wanted, I've been lax in planning the Carcosa megadungeon; call it a new year's resolution to ensure it is operational and ready for the Google+ FLAILSNAILS crowd.  I am still ruminating on the abandoned Spelljammer game, though — my headspace has refused to let go of it and I hope to resurrect it.  You know, eventually.  (Really, I should bring some form of that to Google+.)

I haven't written anything terribly popular in the past year — a major side effect of not blogging — although my review of The God-Machine Chronicle certainly counts, and it's currently the most popular post on the blog.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Your Next Adventuring Party: The Funny Pages

A Sunday post?  What gives?

As much as I now realize I totally missed an opportunity by making this blog The RPG Reverend and only posting on Sundays, I stormed a brain about a week ago and this is what fell out.

Comic strips.

Your next adventuring party has been sitting in the Sunday comics for years, and I bet you never even noticed.  (I don't read a lot of comic strips, but I have vague recollections of Mark Trail, and when I thought about him being a ranger, this post congealed in my brain.)  Check this out:

Prince Valiant, the fighter

Prince Valiant, pictured here doing his best Conan impression
Prince Valiant is an Arthurian knight with a masterwork weapon, known as Flamberge.  In best Pendragon tradition, he eventually has a wife, five children, and a grandchild.  Very early comic strips include sorcery and pulp monsters, but this quickly becomes an anachronistic fifth century European setting mash-up.  For example, when Vikings capture his wife, he evidently follows her to America.  As the series progresses, he eventually lives up to his title, reinstating his monarch father to the throne of Thule.  In game terms, I guess he hits domain level.

Dennis Mitchell, the rogue

Dennis Mitchell, pictured here committing petty larceny
Dennis Mitchell is a modern-day boy whom, as he epithet "the Menace" suggests, tends to get into mischief.  Although hardly a malicious character, it seems plausible that his talent for mischief will some day give Dennis the tools he needs to become a master thief.  He always seems to have the tool he needs to annoy Mr. Wilson.  Despite his contemporary setting, he could easily be a mischievous boy in some pseudo-fantasy setting, assuming we're sticking with the traditional fantasy structure.  Players wanting a more malicious take on the character could easily use his British namesake instead:

Dennis the Menace, pictured here looking shady as hell

Little Nemo, the cleric

Little Nemo, pictured here awakening
Little Nemo is a dreamer on par with Lovecraft's Randolph Carter, save for the fact that he is roughly nine or ten years old.  As someone who can enter dreams and combat spiritual maladies, it makes sense that Little Nemo might act as the spiritual advisor of the party, particularly as an adult.  (Perhaps we can extrapolate adult Nemo having lost his dreamwalking abilities, but having retained his ability to navigate spiritual perils.)  Players wanting more interactions with the land of dreams could easily modify the cleric into something approximating the dreamwalker shaman kit from The Complete Barbarian's Handbook, making a more primal, shamanistic Nemo.

The Wizard of Id, the wizard

The Wizard, pictured here practicing alchemy with his spirit familiar
The Wizard is the vizier to the King of Id.  A potent magic-user, Wiz's spells still have a tendency to backfire, either due to absent-mindedness, the fact that he's in a comedy comic, or the fact that he's actually a Lamentations of the Flame Princess magic-user.  He is served by a spirit familiar, possibly summoned by use of the Summon spell.

Mark Trail, the ranger

Mark Trail, pictured here committing aggravated assault, possibly for the last time
Another contemporary character, Mark Trail is a wildlife photojournalist, environmentalist, and two-fisted pulp adventurer.  Although Mark is from a modern setting, he could easily be some sort of natural historian attempting to document the creatures of the wild.  And shooting people with arrows or stabbing interlopers with longswords.  Like Prince Valiant, he also develops a family as the comic progresses.  Unlike Prince Valiant, he apparently has an archnemesis named "Catfish."  Perhaps aboleths are his favored enemy?


Readers no doubt have other comic strip inspirations.  If you want to run an entire campaign on the premise, just cull your plots from set pieces introduced in Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Your Random Solicitor

About two-and-a-half weeks ago I ordered a copy of The Undercroft, issue 1 (read about its development at the creator's blog here).  Being particularly taken with the random lawyer tables, I decided to make one for the consumption of the reader.  Enjoy!

Darmorel Chorster, solicitor
Darmorel is a registered solicitor with the Advocacy and Solicitations Guild in Scandshar.  As a girl, Darmorel had an interest in linguistics as well as history.  As she grew older, her scholarly pursuits turned to current events, rankled as she was by the rampant corruption and apparent lack of equality in her home city.  She was sufficiently motivated to enter into the College of Law at Morgrave University in Sorgforge.

Unfortunately, she found that the tendrils of the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks, Scandshar's infamous crime syndicate, are far-reaching, indeed.  Having spent most of her money getting to Sorgforge and gaining admittance to the College of Law, she turned to what she heard was a reputable moneylender.  This moneylender — whom she now knows as a Peacock front — her an offer she couldn't refuse: take the money, and the "interest" on the loan would involve her cooperation with future activities.  Her future legal activities cannot stand against the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks, and they further hold some future as-yet-to-be-named "favor" from her.  At the time, particularly for a somewhat naive college student, the deal seemed acceptable — particularly as it was couched in fairly innocuous terms — but she now recognizes the full extent of the circumstances into which she finds herself.  A potential crusader for social justice has been hamstrung by a poor decision in her youth, a fact which grates on her daily.

Despite her compromised values, Darmorel attempts to be unswervingly loyal to her clients, representing them to the fullest extent of the law (and the Law, as an ideal to which she aspires).  She cannot be bought, which will no doubt lead to an interesting dilemma when the Peacocks inevitably come to collect their due.

Darmorel is known as much for her unflappable demeanor and unshakable integrity as she is known for her unique discourse style.  Having studied history and rhetoric at university, as well as magical theory, Solicitor Chorster mixes cultural elements of Elven and Olman discourse as well as bardic techniques into an abstract, allegorical, meandering style that seems initially long-winded to human ears before the components of the argument synergize correctly at the conclusion.  It is not entirely certain if this style of rhetoric will become popular, although it seems to work for her at the moment.

It is less certain how her deal with the Peacocks will fare in the end, but it is likely that her two drives will someday compete.  Will she abandon her principles, or risk death or worse?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twenty Questions About Rockulon Prime

E. M. Lamb of (the now-defunct) Malleus Blogstrorum keeps telling me that we should do an actual sourcebook for Rockulon Prime.  I don't know if and when such a project would come to pass, but we can always humor the thought exercise.  Having recently happened across the twenty questions for Khorlhossa, I decided to apply Jeff Rients' twenty questions to Rockulon Prime.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

Rockulon Prime is traditionally monotheistic, so you more than likely worship the Space-God.  Encompassing everything, you can be of any alignment and worship any of the dead-but-dreaming Space-God's aspects.  The nearby planet of Llurb Tdunon allegedly worships Lolth, the Princes of Elemental Evil, and two of the Slaadi Lords, so some few heretics might worship those.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

Most towns of decent size have general stores, blacksmiths, etc.  You likely won't find anywhere that sells everything you need, but the market probably encompasses whatever you'd want.  The sample town of V√§sternorr holds the Bizarre Bazaar, and being close to the borderlands, you can probably find any weird equipment item or piece of scavenged drowtech if you look hard enough.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

Any blacksmith worth his salt could probably custom make armor, particularly in a settlement where mutants are welcome.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

He's technically off-world, although still in the planet's orbit, but the demilich known as the Librarian of a Thousand Lunacies probably counts.  Doctor of metalphysics and wizardology Karl Satan is probably one of the best known in academic circles.  Wiss Khan Sin was fairly potent in his time.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Many storied heroes are known to the people of Rockulon Prime, but Midnight Lordzealot allegedly killed Glithuthatu the Putrid, an infamous Hell-Maggot that had long plagued the people of F√≥rnarlamb.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

Again, off-planet, but the Librarian of a Thousand Lunacies certainly counts.  There's a lot of talk that the monarch of the enlightened city-state of Skarpurlofa holds a great deal of wealth in her coffers, but some folks also say the Cosmic Hierophant of Lok Tooran controls a fair amount of cash garnered from tithes.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Any major city probably has a temple with a settled cleric of the Space-God.  Smaller towns and villages may have a doctor or herbalist who can give you some treatment, even if it's not wholly magical.  Some borderlands towns may have access to scavenged drowtech, which might as well be magic.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Again, a temple can probably help you in a major city, although you may also want to check out a drowtech specialist.  Smaller towns have to make do with doctors and herbalists, who very well may not be able to treat any major curses.  The fabulous lost technology of the once-great drow might be able to handle that, but again, that depends on finding a mechanic, scavenger, or Grease Monkey with access to lost drowtech.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

The University of Wiss Khan Sin is probably the best known, but there are no doubt other schools and guilds throughout Rockulon Prime.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Major cities and border towns are your best bet.  Anywhere with a University of Wiss Khan Sin annex is probably safe.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Any major city-state or border town probably has a mercenary company of notable size.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

The whole world is pretty adventure-friendly, although you may have to deal with whatever strange decrees the local leaders have concocted.  The Cosmic Hierophant and his Schizoid Parliament of Lok Tooran have some...rather strange local ordinances.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

The tavern is the heart of the town, so you're likely close to one.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

Hell-Maggots are so grotesque and feared that they likely count, especially for the larger ones.  Individual spots may be plagued by feral mutants, goblins, gnolls, orcs, undead, or whatever local monster is common in the region.  Liches tend to be widely feared enough to count.  Creatures of the Outside — aboleths, beholders, mind flayers, and suchlike — are also widely feared and hated enough to count.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

There's always some pissing contest among city-states.  Lok Tooran's Schizoid Parliament tends to instigate conflict with its neighbors.  The undead warlord and Dread Warrior known as Seraph Sinner-anger is frequently on the march with his warband, and rumor has it that he can only be stopped by the Axes of Evil of Torturion...

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

They're not common, although sizable towns and cities on the frontier likely have them.  Any town lacking gladiatorial bouts will likely have unofficial boxing matches or fights if you want to get in the underground fighting circuit.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Since the Space-God encompasses all alignments, his Evil adherents frequently count (although some rule openly).  Secret societies tend not to range beyond their own city-states, although there are persistent rumors of a widespread conspiracy of jingoist drow who wish to return to the glories of their decadent and fallen civilization.

18. What is there to eat around here?

Depends on where you go.  Prodigious quantities of alcohol are pretty much universal.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Well, the Axes of Evil mentioned above likely count.  The lost technomagical marvels of the drow are renowned as being fairly potent.  Any warlord who could recover an operational Bloodstone Bomb (and not vaporize himself and the surrounding countryside in the process) could probably take any city-state he or she wanted.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

Again, depends on where you are.  The now-dead Lord Vau had a lot of treasure stashed in his tower, and there are some dragons overlooking hordes.  Some of the older Hell-Maggots rest among hoary tombs with archaic treasure hordes, although the legendary Vakothmm the Tumescent Putrescence allegedly lairs in the hallowed halls of a long-dead drow queen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dave Ryder Random Nickname Generator

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, Charm Monster released the East/West Bowl Random Name Generator.  A friend of mine recommended doing one for Dave Ryder (of Space Mutiny fame) according to his list of MST3K nicknames.

So, without further ado, roll 1d46 (go on if you're stuck):

01 Beat PunchBeef
02 Big, Brave Brick of Meat
03 Big McLargeHuge
04 Blast HardCheese
05 Blast ThickNeck
06 Bob Johnson
07 Bold BigFlank
08 Bulk VanderHuge
09 Brick HardMeat
10 Buck PlankChest
11 Buff DrinkLots
12 Buff HardBack
13 Butch DeadLift
14 ChunkHead
15 Chunky
16 Crud BoneMeal
17 Crunch ButtSteak
18 Dirk HardPec
19 Fist RockBone
20 Flink
21 Flint IronStag
22 Fridge LargeMeat
23 Gristle McThornBody
24 Hack BlowFist
25 Hunk
26 Lump BeefBroth
27 Punch RockGroin
28 Punch Side-Iron
29 Punt SpeedChunk
30 Reef BlastBody
31 Roll Fizzlebeef
32 Rip SteakFace
33 Slab BulkHead
34 Slab SquatThrust
35 Slam
36 Slate Fistcrunch
37 Slate SlabRock
38 Smash LampJaw
39 Smoke ManMuscle
40 Splint ChestHair
41 Stump BeefKnob
42 Stump Chunkman
43 Thick McRunFast
44 Touch RustRod
45 Trunk SlamChest
46 Whip SlagCheek

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