Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the Wendigo!

In honor of Thanksgiving in the United States, I offer you a Compendium Class for Dungeon World: The Wendigo!  Based on the D&D 4e monster of the same name (detailed in the Demonomicon), the wendigo is a demon that possesses people who become cannibals.  Willing cannibals can channel the power of the demon such that they retain control of their faculties.

It's my first Compendium Class, so feedback is welcome.

So, without further ado, The Wendigo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Dungeon World

This is probably a little less structured than my other reviews, more properly being "rambled thoughts on Dungeon World," but there you have it.  (The fact that I haven't blogged in two months likely contributes.)

For those not in the know, I have been running a Dungeon World campaign every two weeks for two months; today is session number six.  Having had a few weeks to ruminate on the subject, I've started forming some thoughts on the game.

(Also, if you're interested, you can read the whole thing online.  So you can easily take it for a test drive before purchasing.)

Dungeon World hits a lot of notes I enjoy in gaming.  I enjoy quick task resolution, modular complexity, and modular character ability, and Dungeon World has all those in spades.  Roll 2d6, add your modifier, and compare against a set range of numbers.  Boom, task resolved.  Likewise, you can easily hack it, so it can be as rules-heavy or as rules-lite as you'd like.  Finally, since it's heavily narrative, you can be as gritty or as high fantasy as you'd like with it — maybe each attack roll kills hordes of mooks, or maybe each roll represents a single, desperate struggle against one guy.  It's your call, really.

Coming from a variety of wide-open, traditional RPGs, though, the prescriptive basic/advanced move list is a little different, at least at first.  (I personally prefer the simpler task resolution in World of Dungeons.)  Beginning GMs will likely spend time trying to delineate whether a given action falls under a given type of move; it's a small learning curve, but a notable learning curve nonetheless.  Likewise, it's not as granular as many traditional RPGs.  It can handle the mapping and resource management tasks of classic D&D, as well as that Oregon Trail feel, but it certainly doesn't do it in quite as structured a way — if you're expecting to map a dungeon 120' every ten minutes, this is going to be quite different.  (You're probably just going to manage a rough sketch in vague, narrative time.)

Likewise, it does narrative combat rather than tactical combat.  Since I started with World of Darkness, narrative combat is old hat to me, but it's still a very different animal than D&D's regimented combat system; even classic D&D's abstract combat requires a certain amount of tactical acumen (unsurprising, given D&D's wargaming pedigree).

Overall, Dungeon World is very good at providing a quick, action-movie feel to the somewhat staid world of fantasy role-playing games, but lacks the granular rules that sometimes add a little panache to the affair.  It won't handle resource management and dungeon mapping in a way to which you're accustomed, but that might suit your needs.

For me, I'll certainly use it sometimes — it's great for beginning groups, particularly since it's a little forgiving in terms of combat, and the fast resolution mechanics mean it's also great for one shots — but sometimes I want that complexity to give the rules a little more shape.  Additionally, the emphasis on narrative and intraparty relations does not suit every game, although it certainly covers a wide variety of them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Sorrowfell Plains

I finally made a Hexographer map of the Sorrowfell Plains, the main campaign setting for my Crux of Eternity game.  I haven't yet put the roads on it, but it otherwise includes all locations noted in Crux of Eternity or any of the associated one-shots.

There are, of course, towns, villages, and geographic features not yet noted on the map; they'll get added as they become important.

Bread and Circuses players take note; this is where you live, too.  Scandshar is right in the middle.

And yes, you grognards, one hex is six miles across.  Geographic features are written in Dominican font; settlements are written in Village font (or you can download it from this The Prisoner fansite).

Click to enlarge.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dwimmermount: the Dwimmermountening

As of a week ago, our long national nightmare is over:

There are still some bits and bobs coming, but the bulk of the thing actually exists and is in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dungeon World: Bread and Circuses

Running the first actual session of my new Dungeon World game tonight, so we'll see how that goes.  The characters are all enslaved gladiators.  We did character creation last week, with the following results:

Ashraf Scarscale, The Battlemaster

Evil kobold battlemaster

Croitus, The Necromancer

Evil alligator-man necromancer

Dhavita, The Medic (picture updated 9/14/2014, 5:41 PM)

Good dhampir medic.

Nobody, The Barbarian (picture updated 9/14/2014, 10:45 PM)

Chaotic eladrin barbarian

Resh Burntscale, The Skirmisher

Neutral kobold skirmisher
Southie, The Brute

Chaotic dwarf brute
That's the setup — we'll see how it goes!

Monday, September 8, 2014


Since I didn't get around to it in August, I'm going to do a brief entry for Autocratik's #RPGaDay today.

Click to enlarge.

Without further ado:

1. First RPG Played

I'd be hard-pressed to recall, as I started running first and that's more memorable to me.  I'm sure it was World of Darkness, — maybe Werewolf? — although I might be wrong on that count.

2. First RPG Gamemastered

Vampire: the Masquerade (second edition, if you're curious).  I ran a couple of abortive attempts before finally making The Imperial City, which eventually focused from play-whatever-you-want to Mage: the Ascension.

3. First RPG Purchased

A lot of my first RPGs were gifts, but I actually think the first thing I purchased was several Deadlands sourcebooks.

4. Most recent RPG purchase

I just got the AD&D 1e Manual of the Planes in the mail the other day, so we'll go with that.

5. Most Old School RPG owned

I have the Wizards of the Coast reprint of the 1974 D&D books (books I-III, and supplements I-IV).  In terms of actual age, I have a copy of the Holmes Basic Set.

6. Favourite RPG Never get to play

Unknown Armies.  I've run it once or twice, but people always get bored with it and want to move on.  Perhaps I'm no good at running it?

7. Most "intellectual" RPG owned

Does the Nobilis 2e book count?  If not, Ron Edwards' books are probably pretentious enough to count.

8. Favourite character

Hard to say.  I know "Crazy" Jerry, the Ratkin based on the historical Crazy Jerry, was a fan favorite.  I always seem to revisit Dr. Ebenezer Zirpoli or Paul St. Claire.  I thoroughly enjoyed Ermolai, the heavily-political Nosferatu Red Sign cultist.

9. Favourite Die / Dice Set

I don't tend to fetishize my dice all that much.  I appreciate my Chessex smiley dice and Zocchi dice.  (Doubly so on the latter because I just learned Gamescience is no longer a thing.)

10. Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

Game fiction tends to be of uneven quality, although World of Darkness is usually pretty good.  (Usually.)  I really enjoyed The God-Machine Chronicle anthology.

11. Weirdest RPG owned

Going to go with Noumenon, wherein you play telepathic humanoid cockroaches in a surreal dungeon environment.  And when I say "telepathic," I mean only with the other PCs; you cannot verbally communicate with any other creature you meet.

12. Old RPG you still play / read

Unknown Armies, full stop (second edition is over ten years old, so I'd count it).  I've also been ruminating on AD&D, as I do.

13. Most Memorable Character Death

When playing, mine tend to be standard overwhelmed-and-too-much-damage deaths (although Bart "The Bastard" Mason died when he gazed upon Abhoth, gained psychosomatic blindness, and then stumbled through the dark until the entity ate him).  My players, on the other hand, tend to get decapitated, ripped in half, devoured by eldritch abominations, and unwritten from reality.  A couple of my PCs in The Imperial City were ripped apart in Nephandic Cauls.  A couple of other PCs were punched to death by shadowy vampires — one of them notably post-coitus.  Bezaldooz was ripped in half by umber hulks.

14. Best Convention Purchase

I've obtained a lot of signed game artwork at conventions, so that's pretty cool.

15. Favourite Convention Game

The Continuum game we played probably counts for table-top.  PST Productions always runs good LARPs; the one wherein I played a Nazi occultist always stands out in my mind.

16. Game you wish you owned

A vintage copy of 1974 D&D would be nice.  Some day, perhaps.

17. Funniest Game you've played

Gaming tends to be pretty hilarious in our circles, so that's a hard choice.  Maybe the one Red Dwarf game we played counts?

18. Favourite Game System

Unknown Armies.

19. Favourite Published Adventure

Better Than Any Man is a pretty strong wilderness hexcrawl.  I've always wanted to run Day of the Beast (also known as Fungi from Yuggoth).

20. Will still play in 20 years time...

Any of them, but let's be frank — I will always play Unknown Armies.

21. Favourite Licensed RPG

Since it's the only one I've really played, maybe Firefly?

22. Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

Unknown Armies, of course.  In terms of value, probably Star Wars Saga Edition.

23. Coolest looking RPG product / book

The Lamentations of the Flame Princess books are always gorgeous.  Of course, Nobilis is a pretty coffee table book.

24. Most Complicated RPG Owned

Traveller is infamous for its reams of charts (so much so that HoL parodied the whole shebang), although I might go with Continuum — the rules aren't complicated, but I'm intimidated by the prospect of running it as keeping track of the timestream seems a little daunting.

25. Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

Again, Unknown Armies.

26. Coolest character sheet

Dungeon World and Lamentations of the Flame Princess have both pretty and intensely functional character sheets.  So does Deadlands, for that matter.

27. Game You'd like to see a new / improved edition of...

I liked the rulesets of both, and so wouldn't specifically want any changes there, but I'm glad to hear that both Delta Green and Unknown Armies are getting new editions that will update the metaplot to the modern day.  (The latter is still up in the air — they could always completely change the metaplot of UA and still be totally in-theme, but I would like to see an update for the 2015 occult underground.)

28. Scariest Game you've played

LARPing at Avalon was always good for a panicked flight or pitched battle.  Knowing that I'm playing a Lamentations of the Flame Princess module immediately sets the mood; bad things are going to happen.

29. Most memorable encounter

We still talk about Changeling: the Dreaming prelude I played wherein a unicorn entered my office.  I forget the context, but the line, "Unicorns don't poop," was uttered.

30. Rarest RPG Owned

A fair number of them are out-of-print with limited print runs originally available.  Maybe Nobilis?

31. Favourite RPG of all time

Look out, here it comes again: Unknown Armies.

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 Västernorr 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 Fórnarlamb.

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Faelhen

The Faelhen (Elven for "Neutral Eye") is a planar assassin organization.  Based out of a hidden monastery and training school located in the Outlands, the Faelhen are not organized like most assassin's guilds.  Instead of being available for hire, they are devoted to the concept of Balance (being True Neutral as a whole) and work directly for the rilmani.  In addition to whatever tasks their argenach contacts give them, they are believed to somehow monitor various Prime Material Planes to determine when Balance is threatened, allowing them to dispatch assassins to deal with the situation.

(There is some suspicion that the Red Scale Guild of Nerath [Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow, page 16] has somehow fallen under their influence of the Faelhen, as they have similar goals.  However, it is difficult to say; they are obfuscated, possibly deliberately, by the dichotomy between the Great Wheel and the World Axis cosmologies.)

The Faelhen do not stringently revere any gods, although they do recognize and occasionally invoke Chronepsis, the Furies, and Sirrion in their Neutral aspects.

The Faelhen citadel's location is unknown, but is suspected to be somewhere highly defensible, possibly underground.  The fact that some of their members have displayed shadow magic suggests that they are not so close to the Spire as to lose their magical abilities; otherwise, how would they train?

It may look something like this.
The assassins are led by Kalanna Aleanathem, known as the Maikash Thaltria ("Fateslayer Bladedancer") to her pupils.  Evidently centuries old, Kalanna's longevity comes from her stature as a half-elf, half-dragon of concordant lineage.  Although not a cleric of Chronepsis, she keeps a sandclock by her bedside so that she may contemplate her life slipping away.

Kalanna Aleanathem, the Maikash Thaltria
Referees wishing to run Kalanna as an NPC in old school games should assume she is an elf assassin of the maximum level allowed by the game system at hand (ignore elf level restrictions).  She moves at Movement 15ʹ, flies at Movement 30ʹ.  She has a natural armor as per Scale armor and is immune to poison.  At will, she can Detect Balance as per the Druid spell (in systems without this spell, assume she can determine how far from Neutral a character's alignment is, although she cannot expressly determine the alignment in question).  Three times per day, she can use invisibility, as per the spell.  She can claw twice per round (1d4/1d4), and twice per day, she can use her breath weapon — an eight foot long cone of antithetical energy.  Assume antithetical energy deals no damage to Neutral creatures.  Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, Lawful Neutral, and Chaotic Neutral creatures take 2d4 damage, while all other creatures take 4d4 damage.  In games with only Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic alignments, assume Lawful and Chaotic creatures take the full 4d4 damage.

Referees wanting something in the 3.x paradigm can use Pathfinder statistics for Kalanna (and anybody with more Pathfinder/3.x experience than I should feel free to revamp her statistics and equipment).  And yes, I'm aware she breaks the rules in a couple of spots (Neutral assassin, breath weapon).  Strange things happen out in the planes.

Kalanna Aleanathem (CR 21)
XP 409,600
Half-dragon elf rogue 10
Assassin 10
N Medium dragon (elf, half-dragon)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; low-light vision; Perception +26
AC 27, touch 20, flat-footed 21 (+7 armor, +5 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural)
hp 118 (20d8+20)
Fort +7, Ref +19, Will +7; +2 vs enchantments
Defensive Abilities evasion, improved uncanny dodge, trap sense +3, +5 vs. poison; Immune paralysis, poison, sleep
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
Melee +3 stalking dagger +22/+17/+12 (1d4+6/19–20/×2 plus poison)
Melee claw/claw/bite +18/+18/+18 (1d4+4/1d4+4/1d6+4)
Ranged +1 called dagger +20/+15/+12 (1d4+6/19–20/×2 plus poison)
Special Attacks angel of death 1/day, breath weapon 1/day (30-ft. cone, 6d8 antithetical*, DC 11), death attack (DC 25), quiet death, sneak attack +10d6, swift death 1/day, true death (DC 25)
Before Combat The assassin uses Stealth or Disguise to get close to her prey so she can study and strike with her death attack.
During Combat Using her fast stealth to rush into the fray, the assassin attacks the most threatening target using bleeding strike. Next, she moves out of melee to soften foes with throwing dagger attacks before reentering melee.
Str 18, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +14; CMB +18; CMD +34
Feats Critical Focus, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Shadow Strike, Sickening Critical, Skill Focus (Stealth), Spring Attack, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (dagger)
Skills Acrobatics +28, Bluff +15, Climb +27, Craft (alchemy) +28, Diplomacy +15, Disable Device +18, Disguise +25, Escape Artist +30, Linguistics +18, Perception +26, Sense Motive +14, Sleight of Hand +28, Stealth +36, Swim +17
Languages Abyssal, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Common, Elven, Draconic, Dwarven, Goblin, Ignan, Infernal, Orc, Rilmani, Sylvan, Terran, Undercommon
SQ hidden weapons, hide in plain sight, poison use, rogue talents (bleeding attack +10, combat trick, fast stealth, feat, surprise attack), trapfinding +5
Gear +5 improved shadow leather armor, +3 stalking dagger, +1 called dagger, bag of holding II, ring of feather falling, ring of mind shielding, hat of disguise, minor cloak of displacement, black lotus extract (1 dose), tears of death (2 doses), oil of taggit (2 doses), dust of tracelessness (1 dose), 2,070 gp

* The antithetical energy breath weapon deals the full 6d8 damage to Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, and Chaotic Evil creatures; 3d8 damage to Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, Lawful Neutral, and Chaotic Neutral creatures; and no damage to True Neutral creatures.

Referees wanting a D&D fourth edition version of Kalanna can use the statistics below.  Her vial of poison can represent any poison the DM sees fit to use; assume she is trained in any of them, including the assassin's poisons from Heroes of Shadow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Great Planar Race

I happened to see this video last week, and as it seems to be in theme with this week's blog posts, I felt it was noteworthy enough to share.

Plus, I really like the idea of the plot in question, the so-called "Great Planar Race."  (I particularly enjoy the idea that the Planar Trade Consortium is using it as a form of advertisement — Esteban has already appeared in one of my D&D games to monetize a dungeon, so the idea of the Consortium as shameless money-grubbers is already well established in my Planescape headcanon.)

Watch the video after the jump:

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Word on Cosmology

So when this blog was but a young blog, I wrote a short post about a post that Zak S. wrote inspired by a theoretical science article he read.  The main thrust is that if fantasy worlds are polyhedral worlds rather than spherical worlds, gravity would still pull the atmosphere into a spherical shape, meaning that each face of the polyhedron would be a flat plane with a bubble of air atop it.  The edge of this bubble would form the outer edge of the habitable zone of the world, meaning that one could not cross from plane to plane overland, but one could do so through the megadungeons carving their way through the interior of the earth.

My idea was that all myths are true, and so one can paradoxically reach alternate planes by going deep enough into the earth, or going into the sky via Spelljammer, or accessing planar portals, or getting transferred through the Mists, or whatever.

To elaborate: as previously noted, my background in modern occult conspiracy games informs my current fantasy gaming trend.  As such, my wizards tend to be the weird obsessives Unknown Armies paints its wizards to be, and the world tends to run on belief and consensus the way it does in Mage: the Ascension (which neatly coincides with Planescape, and to a lesser degree, Unknown Armies again).  There are a couple of bits from the Mage book Infinite Tapestry, the sourcebook on the spirit worlds, that really illustrate this.  To wit:

  1. The spiritual realms beyond the Horizon (what we would term outer space but a lot of mages call the Deep Umbra, particularly once you hit the asteroid belt) are full of Ether, which is breathable.  If you're a mage.  And if you believe you can breathe it.  A modern Hermetic, raised on modern science, probably doesn't believe he can breathe it anymore than a Technocrat can, so he doesn't try and suffocates in the "vacuum."  One of the books notes a bit of dissonance that occurs when Technocratic Union astronauts in full space suits arrive on a planet to find a half-naked shaman there beside a campfire.  It doesn't compute, but both things are true.
  2. The High Umbra, the spiritual realm of concepts and ideas, initially appears as a mental landscape called "The River of Language."  (Fans of The Book of Worlds will note that this was originally its own realm; it got transplanted as the near High Umbra as part of Revised Edition.)  The River of Language forms a variety of branches and deltas mirroring a a diagram of linguistic family trees, and emptying into the Great Ocean of the Future — itself containing the potential of languages yet-to-be.  The further up river one goes, the farther back in the zeitgeist of the language one goes, so that the modern cities of modern English will give way to the Elizabethan towns of early modern English which will give way to the walled, medieval cities of Old English, which will pass through locales indicative of its Germanic and Latin roots (incidentally, most American characters will find themselves on the Indo-European branch of the River).  However, scientifically-minded magi (such as Technocrats) may only be able to navigate the River by the avenues posited by modern psychology and linguistics, whereas pseudoscientists and old-school occultists might be able to navigate discounted linguistic relationships — The Infinite Tapestry makes reference to the Technocracy trying to hunt hidden Traditionalist Masters who disappeared into a linguistic region corresponding to Barry Fell's discredited work in New World epigraphy, which the Technocrats cannot find because they don't believe in it!
I run my D&D games the same way (although it rarely comes up).  As noted above, all things are true — you might be able to access Oerth via Toril if you dig deep enough, or you can take a Spelljammer, or you can just get there by way of Sigil.  Or maybe you bypass Sigil, instead accessing planar travel through the city of DisTanelorn (good luck finding it, though), or the World Serpent Inn.

Likewise, an old-school planewalker from Áereth might be familiar with the Great Wheel Cosmology of AD&D and 3.x, whereas a new planewalker from fallen Nerath might be more acquainted with the World Axis Cosmology of 4e.  Of course, that affords them different opportunities — the Nerathi planewalker might be able to lose the Áerethian planewalker by using the Shadow Passage ritual to jaunt into the Shadowfell, where he cannot follow because it's outside of his knowledge and belief structure, whereas the Áerethian can lose the Nerathi via a Plane Shift to the Outlands.

Tricky, eh?

As such, when the Shields of the Sorrowfell go plane-hopping — let's say to Baator because the DM hates them — they do so according to the World Axis (and therefore they'll likely sail across the Astral Sea) because that's what they learned to be true.  But when Dr. Dagger Nazareth tries to track them down (probably to try to score some space-cocaine), he has to take a different path (maybe he goes to the Outlands and travels through the gate-town of Ribcage) because the University of Wiss Khan Sin only teaches Great Wheel Cosmology.  Of course, if either side has an open mind about the experience, or simply finds evidence leading from one place to another, they might be able to backtrack through the alternate cosmology.  After all, if your ranger is tracking someone and finds that they fled to Arcadia, the trail is still evident even if the destination is not.

(And given the differences in cosmology, what might be important to one person has less relevance to another, but may still be reconciled — Dr. Dagger Nazareth realizes that the Outlands and the Spire form the axis around which the Outer Planes turn, whereas the Shields of the Sorrowfell might just assume they're in some weird demiplane that nulls magic the closer they get to the Spire.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition

Based upon the Basic Rules and Starter Set, it's emphatically D&D.  (It even says it on the cover!)

We can all go back to our lives now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unboxing D&D 5e

God damn it, I was going to do a brief unboxing blog post, but then Raggi did a better one:

It's the pout that makes the shot, really.
Anyway, 5e is the first D&D edition I've purchased upon release.  So that's noteworthy.  Although I've not really been following the hype or controversy — I downloaded all the playtest packets, but didn't really have time to do anything with them — it's always neat to see how things have changed and how this edition does things differently than the previous ones.  So I'm on board for that reason, at least.

Without further ado, have some unboxing pictures!  Here is what you get:

Rulebook, adventure, dice, pregenerated characters, advert for the Encounters program.

Also noteworthy: RPGPundit just added me on The Google, and I added Zak S. many moons ago, and I'm taking about Fifth Edition, so feel free to boycott me over on Google+.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Crystal Sphere That Wasn't

Overheard at the Smoldering Corpse Bar in the Hive in Sigil:

I heard a tale from some right barmy berk one time, some spacefaring sailor — you know, those weirdoes who take sailing ships, bolt a magic chair into 'em, and set them off toward the sun or whatever — who claimed he'd been somewhere no one else had ever been.

Yeah, they all say that.

I was intrigued by this Prime's premise, though.  Every planewalker with a bit of age on him knows the Domains of Dread, but this addle-cove claimed that he'd sailed there in one of his rickety space boats.  He said that the Mist was still a problem, but a little easier to navigate than you always hear.

More to the point, he was talking about some world I'd never heard of.  I can't tell if it was supposed to be the world on which the Domains of Dread lay, or another system, but he said this world is called Aryth or Eredane.  I think Eredane is a large continent, the rough equivalent of calling Toril by the name Faerûn instead.  Anyway, he said this whole land labored under the direction of the evil god named Izrador — again, never heard of him — the god of corruption whom the gods cast out for generally being a bad blood.

The thrust of his tale, though, was that the gods made this Crystal Sphere — that's a world and its nearby planets, what some astrologers call a "solar system" — and used it to imprison anyone who seems like they deserve it.  Or maybe the Dark Powers did it.  Or maybe they're one in the same.

And what's more, he says it's in the middle of Known Space, just cut off from all the routes through the Flow — that's the phlogiston, the substance outside the Crystal Spheres — and practically unreachable unless you're willing to go off the path and you have a spell like Phase Door or some such.

Of course, I'm no spacefarer, but I think I heard that most folks suspect the gods can't affect the crystal shell of a world.  Although I've also heard that the Immortals of Mystara might be able to do it, leastwise according to certain tomes.

But if that's true, that suggests the first Darklord of the Domains of Dread isn't a person, but some entity too unwholesome for the rest of the Powers.  Of course, then you'd figure deities like the Chained God would be cast out, but then again who claims to understand the Powers anyway?

Of course, who knows if that sailor berk knows a damn thing.  Seemed like the unhendest leatherheaded sod in all the Planes, that's for sure.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Some Rambling Thoughts on Cortex Plus

If you want anything approaching a review, go check out The Felling Blade post on the subject (he was our GM) as I have not yet read the system.  Furthermore, he hits a lot of the salient points, so you're best served to read that account first, then return here.

I have a passing acquaintance with Cortex Plus — I read the old Serenity book and so learned the Cortex system once upon a time, and I've thumbed through the now-defunct Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, but I've never actually read nor played the system before interacting with the new Firefly RPG.

The system is fast — it's narrative-driven, meaning that a given action tends to last only about as long as you need to thoroughly describe it, and if necessary, roll dice to resolve it.  Coming more from a traditional gaming mindset, and only playing for a one shot, we didn't mess with all of its action economy — taking penalties or conditions to get Plot Points, building Assets, and so forth.  But we started to get the hang of it by the time the game ended, meaning that we'd probably be some free-wheeling mess of complications and temporary bonuses in another game or two.

Being a little more story-game than most, failing and taking penalties means that the story continues even if things have just gone south — one bad roll won't bring the game to a grinding halt, although it might take it in an unexpected direction.

Overall, it seems like a system that does what it sets out to do.  If you like a lot of granularity in your rulesets, or want to micromanage resources in your best Oregon Trail impression, this game doesn't look like it will do it (at least, not without some fiddling).  Also, given the limited exposure, I also don't know if it has anything for teamwork — I was playing a former politician, a social-heavy character, but I had too much overlap with the former companion to do anything too noteworthy.  I don't know if there is some way we could have synergized our actions to overcome that issue.  However, if you want to tell a free-wheeling action story or a gripping drama, you could do it; the rules are fast and don't get in the way if you just want to role-play.  Plus, I'm always in favor of fast combat resolution.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Free RPG Day 2014

I usually try to get my Free RPG Day post up immediately following a Free RPG Day weekend, but this year was so lackluster that I didn't bother.

The morning of June 21, Nicole of A Really Well-Made Buttonhole fame, E. M. Lamb of (the now-defunct) Malleus Blogstrorum fame, and I made the trek to our usual spot, Big Planet Comics, and found that they were limiting the haul to one item per customer this year.  Nicole was prepared for such an event, and had directions to Game On! Comics.  They gave the distinct impression that they were only handing out items to people who were going to run something, so we mumbled something about food and skedaddled.  Finally, we headed to what longtime readers would know to be my last resort — we ended up at The Compleat Strategist, which was similarly limiting to one or two items per customer.

I guess the economy has been hard on everyone.

We didn't get most of the fiddly bits — the adventure cards and the dice, and we missed a couple of the modules for Castles & Crusades and Godsfall — but we did grab a couple of adventures.  They are:

  • 13th Age: the rules-lite, story-game answer to D&D 4e variant from Pelgrane Press, 13th Age features all the classic fantasy tropes amidst the struggles of the Icons — major world powers with whom the PCs have some manner of relationship.  This year's offering is "Make Your Own Luck," in which the PCs' patron has asked them to defend a treasure from any who would attempt to take it.  And then the trolls show up...
  • Cosmic Patrol: long-time sponsor Catalyst Game Labs had Cosmic Patrol back for another round.  (They also had Shadowrun, Battletech, and some new game based on the Valiant Comics universe, but we didn't manage to get any of those.)  A retro-futurist game of science-fantasy — I'm told heavily inspired by the various B-movies shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000 — this year's offering is "The Continuance Contingency," a rescue operation involving the recovery of the captain and crew of Rocketship Supernova following their report that they noted something strange nearby and were going to investigate.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics: long-time sponsor Goodman Games has returned with their 3e/oD&D mash-up.  This year's offering is "Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box," an adventure for Level 1 characters.  The PCs are hired by a wizard, Rhalabhast of Many Eyes, to steal a box in a rival's sanctum.  The catch?  The box contains some manner of prisoner, and the characters need to feed the box the blood of Lawful creatures to maintain the containment.
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess: appearing for the second straight year, small Finnish OSR publisher Lamentations of the Flame Princess brings another adventure.  I backed this one, so I only grabbed it to look at it and then pass it on.  This year's offering is "Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children," a dungeon crawl about exactly what it says on the tin.  As per Raggi, it's weird, anachronistic (as one might expect of the mystical enlightenment of Wiki Dot Pod), and probably offensive.
  • Mage 20: Onyx Path/White Wolf presents Mage: the Ascension, their game about...wait, what year is it?  As they have been doing for their other classic World of Darkness lines, Onyx Path is slowly releasing 20th anniversary editions of their classic games, and Mage: the Ascension is currently on the agenda.  (It looks like they also brought back the "k" in "magick.")  This year's quickstart guide includes the offering "Toll for the Trolls," a sandbox of characters and plot hooks to use with the included Bridge Troll Cabal based out of Seattle, WA.
  • Pathfinder: the D&D 3.5 variant from Paizo Publishing set in their own world of Golarion.  This year's offering is "Risen from the Sands," an Egyptian-themed dungeon crawl featuring pregenerated characters from the upcoming Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide.
  • Xcrawl: Xcrawl, also from Goodman Games, is packaged this year in the Dungeon Crawl Classics book.  Under the title Maximum Xcrawl, it has been updated to the Pathfinder rules.  Xcrawl depicts a modern fantasy world in which dungeons are built and delved for televised sport, like Ninja Warrior with higher casualties.  This year's offering is "Dungeon Detonation," a one-level dungeon being delved for charity.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ill Lithids versus Iron Skalds

When they first arrived on Rockulon Prime, the potent psionic might of the illithids found resistance from the magics of the dying drow and the growing elf subraces.  Naturally, they turned their massive intellects to the problem in the hopes of finding some countermeasure.

The battle of all battles!
Centuries later, with the decline of the elves and the ascent of humanity and the other demihumans, certain illithid enclaves found the answer.  Several mages and bards learn ancient bardic music and are collectively known as the Iron Skalds, descended as they are from the traditions of the Metal Hymns of the Space-God.  However, other musical traditions exist.  One such tradition, hip-hopera, is of unknown pedigree — a mix of metal, drowtech-derived electronica, and tribal rhythms, various sources claim drow, half-orcs, halflings, humans, and others among the style's progenitors.  Whatever the case, the illithids determined its rhythms could act as a possible counter to Heavy Metal Hymns.

These hip-hopera enclaves have become known as Ill Lithids.
To act as a delivery system for these hip-hopera rhythms, Ill Lithids psychics originally relied on subvocalization and certain applications of their innate Mind Blast.  However, some managed to reverse engineer old drowtech to act as an automated delivery system, powered by bloodstone fuel cells.

A boombox; alternately, a "ghetto blaster."  Be careful:, it is said a boombox can change the world.
An alteration of an old drowtech sonic weapon, a boombox or ghetto blaster can play normal music or pump out hip-hopera jams at supernaturally enhanced decibels.  A drowtech boombox works much like a Screamer from Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #9, dealing energy and sonic damage in a cone-like shape.  It is usually good for roughly twenty shots, although it may have more power, depending upon the power source.

Of course, the Iron Skalds are not to be outdone.
Not to be outdone, some traditionalists among the Iron Skalds have organized themselves under the Elvish motto, "Orhaud gyth, telpenc gurthel."  (Literally, "Enemies of metal, your death [is] our reward.")  A fair number of bards and metal wizards take it upon themselves to deal death to Ill Lithids whenever possible.  Some extremists even take it so far as to kill any practitioners of hip-hopera, assuming that they are compromised by Ill Lithid agents.  (Which is sometimes, but not usually, true.)  As such, the bloody culture war continues across the face of Rockulon Prime with little signs of slowing...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


So, I was thumbing through the Chaositech book when I came across statistics for "attack spheres," chaositech spheres that can be used to attack one's enemies.  Unsurprisingly, they sound a lot like Sentinel Spheres from Phantasm, so I was immediately intrigued.

Well, naturally, something like that needs more stats (obviously), so I whipped up a quick D&D 4e stat block.  The things are designed to be quick and dangerous.  Enjoy!

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