Monday, September 30, 2019

Legacy of the Linnorm - Commentary onThe Vikings' Dragons By Jean Rabe- The Linnorm From Dragon Issue# 182

So this morning's visit with DM Raj along with the rug rats was both informative & very much a trip down the nostolgia lane. But it did prompt me to dig out my copy of Dragon issue#182 & refresh my memory about the scourge of dragon kind the Linnorms. Now the article is very well done by writer Jean Rabe & it was meant to highlight the new second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Viking book. "HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by David "Zeb" Cook, is the first book in TSR's ine of Historical Reference books, which describe new, real-world settings for AD&D campaign play. It was released in May 1992" To me these were some of the second edition AD&D books worth getting.

The worms are some of the most dangerous creatures that any adventurer can run across, seriously these are bad ass dragon wyrms;"Among the most feared creatures in the Norse lands are dragons, there called linnorms, as noted in the AD&D® 2nd Edition HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (VCS). These great wingless and legless serpents are among the fiercest of the Norse countries denizens, in some cases even dwarfing the power of the vicious giants. Fortunately for the Vikings and other peoples, linnorms are also very rare. Linnorms, like dragons in traditional AD&D 2nd Edition campaigns, have 12 age categories. Linnorms never stop growing, and the older a linnorm becomes, the more awesome and frightening it gets, gaining more abilities, a thicker hide, and the capability to mete out ever-increasing amounts of damage. Sages speculate that the oldest linnorms are insane; centuries of solitude and a fixation on power and wealth take a toll on their intellects. This has not been proven, however, as the only recorded survivor of a battle with a great wyrm linnorm was the hero, Sigurd, who slew the legendary Fafnir. All linnorms are evil and seek to better themselves and increase their riches at all other creature's  expenses. While some of the craftier linnorms have been known to strike up temporary alliances, they turn on their partners after the great feat they allied to achieve is accomplished. Most linnorms are solitary because of their selfish natures and because they do not trust their peers, much less other races"

Alright so let's dive right into these monsters & speak about the fact I look at 
linnorms completely & utterly evil one off indivdual NPC monsters. These things are the central figures & villains of a campaign setting. They cast a long shadow of evil over a setting, the communities, even many of the dungeons of a campaign. There is a linnorm for each wilderness adventure location from forrest to dread. They're all deadly & would easily overwhelm most mid to even high level adventurers in a heart beat. The linnorms are so good that Paizo did a Viking style setting taliored around them called Lands of the Linnorm Kings for Pathfinder. But what about using them for OSR games?! Well that's not all that hard at all. The linnorm wyrms are OGL these days & can easily be incorporated into a wide variety of settings but I've got two OSR settings in mind for these insane bastards. The first would be Dark Albion where one or two might completely dominate a country or two. There might also be a very large & dangerous chaos cult associated with a linnorm. This is where Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos comes in very handy.

Now let's stick with the cult of chaos for my second pick here & add in a linnorm into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Now before anyone here starts booing there are several reasons for this: 
  1. Second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons works very well with AS&SH 
  2. The linnorm are completely individual & one off monsters. They will completely dominate a landscape. 
  3. linnorm will fill the gaps left by the lack of Hyperboreans & other top teir predators within the Hyperborean landscape. 
  4. These bastards make excellent quests for Viking & Keltic PC's within AS&SH. 
  5. The linnorm are perfect for guarding dangerous artifacts or treasures of the ancients. They also have the added bonus of making excellent guardians of Norse or Keltic barrows in the game. 
  6. Linnorm make excellent representives for the Ashen Wyrm of AS&SH especially for the Outer God's cults.

Linnorm should never be generic dragons, these are monsters straight out of the nightmares of any sane living being. Engines of destruction gleaned from the time of legends & the gods. These horrors could give an immortal of Mystara, the gods of Greyhawk, etc. a hard time & that's exactly the sort of niche that these horrors fill! PC's should never incur the wraith of a linnorm! These are the vilest of dragon kind & royalty among villains of the darkest pitch. They should never be common & always feared in the eyes of mortals. As you can tell I do love me some Linnorm!

Recollections of DM Raj, Dragon magazine issue 183, & The Taking of 'Rathgarus The Skull Taker'

Getting together with friends or family is often something that gets down to time. DM Raj just left my house about five minutes ago. We only see each other when time & schdules allow. Now I've know Raj since middle school. He actually played in my uncle's AD&D/Basic hybrid campaign starting in '86. But Raj's real speciality has been & continues to be his passion for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition Spelljammer campaign setting!
We began talking about two things today while his kids played in the yard and in no short order Spelljammer & Dragon magazine issue 183.

Dragon magazine issue 183 shudder. This is an infamous issue of Dragon magazine from July of '92 for us because our party of PC's died rather badly on the claws of a rather nasty Norse dragon from second edition. Dragon issue 183 was under the editorship of Roger E.Moore. Mr. Moore gets absolutely no recognition in my opinion for his many  contributations  to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition not to mention the helming of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons second edition. But I digress.
My uncle had gotten Spelljammer & dropped our party of adventurers into an asteriod field where a group of pirates was operating. We tracked them for days in our vessel across the skies
We were asked by the local royals to clear the pirates out but they were not alone?! The whole field was the domain of a particularly nasty Norse dragon called  the Corpse Tearer! The pirates were its minions & muscle under the dragon's purview.
So basically my uncle had taken the asteroid field sequence from Empire Strikes Back, mixed in the 'Avast, Ye Swabs, & Heave Too' article by Richard Baker, & then added in one of the The linnorm  worms from the second part of that series of articles from Dragon issue 181 & 182 respectively.

"The linnorm called Corpse Tearer is the most hideous of the Norse drag ons and one of the most feared. The only offspring of the godlike linnorm of the same name, this mottled-brown dragon has long front legs that end in broken but deadly claws. It has no rear legs. The creature’s slime-covered scales are small and weathered, and when the linnorm is at rest it looks more like a fallen, dead tree than a serpent. The linnorm's snakelike head is ringed with matted brown and gray hair. Tufts of the hair appear at random intervals over his body, in places so matted it resembles loose, rotting flesh. Despite its ragged appearance, the linnorm is very much alive, moving and striking quickly. Corpse Tearer is ancient, and because it has traveled greatly it has become fluent in nearly all human and demihuman tongues. Further, it is able to converse will all linnorms and many evil, intelligent monsters."
We were not just killed outright, no our party of eight adventurers were tortured for days, then to add insult to injury our corpses were impaled on pikes outside of the dragon's lair. We mounted another raid using our next characters & then we died again! My uncle cackled like a loon!
To say that we as players were pissed was an understatement! We made phone calls & got together other players from the Litchfield county area! Then we had a dragon slaying party to say the least! Twelve players got together one weekend to end the scourage of 'Rathgarus The Skull Taker'.

The Viking shieldmaiden Lagertha (Lathgertha, Ladgerda),
wife of Ragnar Lodbrok (d. c. 840-65).

There are no ballads sung in kingdom halls of Razeal'll the Field of Stones nor are we remembered in the halls of Vallhala. 'Rathgarus The Skull Taker' was a Corpse Tearer in its pride & this was a major undertaking.  Its weapons were many as my uncle used the worst of em on us;

"Corpse Tearer’s breath weapon is a cone of paralyzation force 10’ wide at his mouth, 300’ long, and 50’ wide at its apex. Creatures of less than 4 HD caught in the cone are automatically paralyzed for 4d4 turns. Creatures of greater than 4 HD are allowed a saving throw vs. breath weapons to avoid the effects. This breath weapon causes no physical damage. Corpse Tearer’s second breath weapon is another matter, however. The disease breath is a cloud 100’ long, 80’ wide, and 80’ thick. All creatures trapped within the cloud suffer 8d12 + 12 hp damage (save vs. breath weapon for half). Further, the creatures are subjected to a magical disease that slowly weakens them. The disease manifests itself within 1d6 rounds by cutting a creature’s strength score in half. Every three turns, the strength score is halved again until the creature’s strength drops to 1. A cure disease will stop the strength loss. However, a wish or limited wish is needed to restore all lost strength points. Corpse Tearer can breathe twice before needing to rest two rounds before it can breathe again. It can breathe as many times as it wishes within this restriction. This linnorm has the following permanent abilities, useable at will: fly water breathing, continual darkness 100' radius, feign death, polymorph self, and speak with dead. In addition, he is able to use the following once a day at will: protection from good, spectral hand, delude, vampiric touch, wraithform, enervation, dimension door, animate dead, and control undead. Corpse Rarer uses all magical abilities at 15th level."

There were many PC's character sheets that were rolled up that day & it was glorious! Raj was the one that came up with the cunning plan to defeat the worm finally after six attempts on my various PC's parts. He lured it into a tunnel & the magic users dropped a giant stone on its head! But we only got a third of the treasure as the royals claimed it in taxes on us! We got the experience but the king quickly came in to claim the credit! Our PC's got the experience points but it was the king whose reputation got the boost he needed. We found a Draupnir Ring of 60,000 gold piece value : "Although not a weapon this artifact produces a similar ring (golden) of 10,000- 60,000 gold piece value every night. Odin often gives these away to his faithful servants, the Einheriar, or those others that please him." We were not to keep that ring however which leads to another blog entry for another time.  The adventure took up a whole weekend from Friday afternoon into late Sunday morning. Pizzas, soda, & an entire AD&D sleep over was the norm for a weekend back then. Parents were thankful that we weren't boozing & causing probelms ( we were but only at the table top). 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Review & Commentary On 'The Rockwell Inn' From THERAGINGBARBARIAN For Your Old School Campaigns

"Faraway, in the greatest battle in this age of the world, the  forces of the Bleak Warlock were undone, but at a dear cost. Lifes' of  many were lost, and the Emperor themself, hero and hope of the Free 
People, fell -for raise never again. In the wake of Worlock's defeat a  mighty storm of snow thunder and hail rose, hammering the fugitives  and the survivors for seven nights and seven days.
As this ordeal of frost seem to rest, after chill and desperation, you  come in sight of a lonely inn, a dim light behind a window.  The tag over the bell says: The Rockwell Inn"."

Sometimes you need a one page adventure location to stick into your OSR or old school Moldvay Dungeons & Dragons games. I was looking around Drivethrurpg & came across 'The Rock Way Inn' adventure location. A nifty little free dungeon adventure location for download.

Its not bad, basically its a nice little adventure location with a bunch of evocative NPC's & some back story. The whole affairs feels like its a location straight outta of a horror film & might be just the thing to get horror Moldvay Dungeons & Dragons game off the ground.

Since its free I can't complain & for a low level horror themed there are several NPC's that could be just the thing to kickstart a game campaign. But there's a number of NPC's who will burn the inn to the ground! 
"Grimbrow, Lost Giant Since the dawn of times, the Frost Giants of Havenpeak have been fighting for Chaos, sheding blood and spreading hate in the name of their Overlords. They were with the Bleak Warlock, Grimbrow having slayed six score and half a dozen ironclad riders, when the stonebolts began to rain. Now the Havenpeak Giants are no more, Grimbow being the last of them. He lost giants clan, he lost his purpose, he lost his legs, soon he'll loose his life. Still he did lose his fury. He's hopeless, and starving, and dying. If nobody stops him, he'll eat everything he can, drink everything he can, kill everyone he can, curse the gods, rest and then die. "
You know for an entree in the 'One Page Dungeon' books this is a very dark little adventure location which I think fits someplace between Lamentations of the Flame Princess & Moldvay '82 D&D. Reading through the various NPC's I couldn't help but think about the dark & twisted humor of early White Dwarf magazines. The twisted fun of the Rock Well Inn  might just suit Glynn Seal's The Midderlands setting easily. There's fun NPC's here but man it would take a bit of work on the player's PC part to try & save them which could branch off in to whole cloth adventures on their own. Not bad but this is a dark but fun adventure location which might suit some games. 

The Rock Well Inn Is Available
 Right Here For Free 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

DM Raj & The Axe of Dwarven Lords For Your Old School Campaigns

So once again I ran into an old friend in the grocery store, this time it was DM  Raj. Raj is an interesting guy whom we went Grammer school with. He's got a group of D&D players who work with him in the local hospital where he works as an anesthesiologist by day & a dungeon master of doom by weekends once a month. He's a huge fan of Spelljammer but he's been running it with first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for years. We were discussing my Cha'alt elevator pitch for Godbound today. But then he started brainstorming about a recent encounter his players had with one of the Axes of the Dwarven Lords. The Axe of the Dwarven Lord first appeared in original Dungeons & Dragons Eldritch Wizardry 1976, Dungeon Master's Guide (1979), Book of Artifacts (1993),[5] Encyclopedia Magica Vol. 1 (1994), & the  Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (module, 1999).
The Drivethrurpg 
 Axe of the Dwarvish Lords'  write up has a pretty consistent history on the items; "The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords is one of D&D's legendary artifacts, first appearing in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976) by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume. There's no record of the artifact's author or his intention. At the time it was simply described as an "axe … forged from the heart of a volcano by a dwarvish king long forgotten."

As with most of D&D's classic artifacts, the Axe reappeared first in the Dungeon Masters Guide (1979), then in the Book of Artifacts (1993). However, the descriptions in these references wasn't particularly consistent. The first said the Axe was lost in the "Invoked Devastation", an early event in the World of Greyhawk. The second instead said it was lost in the civil war that followed when "Brassbeard slew his uncle, King Irontooth of Moradinson". Axe of the Dwarvish Lords uses the latter history (and expands upon it), removing the Axe from the world of Greyhawk … but unlike some of D&D's other primordial artifacts, its links were never that strong.
Both Book of Artifacts and Axe of the Dwarvish Lords claim that the Axe is one of five artifacts. The others are "the Brutal Pick, the Earthheart Forge, the Anvil of Songs, and the Shaping Hammer", while the Axe is actually known as "the Fierce Axe"." 

Back to DM Raj who runs a game of Spell Jammer & his adventurers run across a massive abandoned  Dwarven Citadel ship; "
More than mere vessels, citadels were also bases and homes to the dwarves inhabiting them. They were equipped with a different kind of spelljamming helm known as forges, which were powered by the mining activities of its inhabitants as they explored minerals within the asteroid itself.[1]
Capable of moving citadels up to 700 tons in size, forges provided energy for spelljamming and produced about 10,000 gp worth of dwarven items per month.[3] A typical citadel was capable of providing ores and prime materials for a limited amount of time, depending on its size. A 300-ton citadel, the smallest variant, could last between 6 and 24 years.[1]
After having been depleted of its resources, a citadel was emptied by its inhabitants and the whole clan, along with the forge, was transferred to a new asteroid. Abandoned citadels typically became lairs of monsters or pirates. They also tended to attract adventurers in search of treasure that might have been left behind" The party sneaks aboard to find out why there's a massive Dwarven Citadel ship sitting around a dead star. Inside they find the whole works abandoned except for the usual dungeon dwellers but at the heart of the citadel they find the remains of lots of dead dwarven warriors & a temple with one of the 'Axes of the Dwarven Lords'!

This was a war forge citadel & used for forging weapons for Dwarven warriors, priests, etc. The ship had been abandoned for a long time & there were signs of violence all over the place. Raj's players didn't have long to stick around to get in on the action as the neogi ships   started to show up. And the undead remains of the Dwarven warriors began to animate. The citadel's soul came alive & the party left the citadel barely escaping with their lives. In case your wondering this was a jihad ship. According to the Forgotten Realms wiki entry on Dwarven Citadel ships ; "Most citadels were living ships, home to their inhabitants and dedicated to exploration or trade, according to their populations' wishes. However, some citadels, known as jihad ships, were dedicated to waging war against sworn enemies of the dwarven race. Such crusades were declared by a council of representatives of several dwarven pantheons. Planets and ships belonging to their enemies were attacked on sight relentlessly.[1]
Large citadels were hard and difficult to maintain and for that reason were quite rare. Even larger citadels existed, of over 700 tons. However, those bases could not achieve spelljamming speeds and were most frequently used as stationary or orbiting bases"
Raj & got to talking because of the fact that what was to happen if in the far future of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique all of the Dwarves are extinct?! What would happen if a jihad ship made orbit around an Earth like planet or worse still Earth?! Well that's where the Axe of the Dwarven Lords comes in.. According to Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976) by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume the Axe of the Dwarven Lords; "This axe was forged from the heart of a volcano by a dwarvish king long forgotten. It passed from father to son until it disappeared in battle over a thousand years ago. Since then it has been rumored to have appeared in various places around the world. The axe has all of the fighting qualities of a sword of sharpness. In addition it confers on its user all of the natural abilities of dwarves, i.e., infravisions. the ability to detect sloping passages, traps and new construction. After prolonged use it tends to make its user resemble a dwarf; he becomes shorter, stockier and grows a profuse beard. Also it has One power from TABLE II. one from TABLE III, one from TABLE IV, and one from TABLE V."
Raj was telling me that there were rumors among certain Dwarf  Dungeons & Dragons fans  that the Axe could in fact  not only change the owner into a proto Dwarf like being but others as well! Imagine what might happen if that  citadel jihad ship made planet fall & the owner of the Axe of Dwarven Lords wanted shock troops or others for war that never ended?! Innocents might be turned into the next projentors of the Dwarven race! 

There are mythological precendes for this sort of thing to occur especially in the European mythology;"Norse mythology provides different origins for the beings, as recorded in the Poetic Edda (compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources) and the Prose Edda (written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century). The Poetic Edda poem Völuspá details that the dwarfs were the product of the primordial blood of the being Brimir and the bones of Bláinn (generally considered to be different names for the primordial being Ymir). The Prose Edda, however, describes dwarfs as beings similar to maggots that festered in the flesh of Ymir before being gifted with reason by the gods. The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda contain over 100 dwarf names, while the Prose Edda gives the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (Old Norse 'North, South, East, and West') a cosmological role: they hold up the sky.[1] In addition, scholars have noted that the Svartálfar (Old Norse 'black elves') appear to be the same beings as dwarfs, given that both are described in the Prose Edda as the denizens of Svartálfaheimr.[5]
Very few beings explicitly identifiable as dwarfs appear in the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, and they have quite diverse roles: murderous creators who create the mead of poetry, 'reluctant donors' of important artifacts with magical qualities, or sexual predators who lust after goddesses.[6] They are primarily associated with metalsmithing, and also with death, as in the story of King Sveigðir in Ynglinga saga, the first segment of the Heimskringla—the doorways in the mountains that they guard may be regarded as doors between worlds.[7] One dwarf named Alvíss claimed the hand of Thor's daughter Þrúðr in marriage, but he was kept talking until daybreak and turned to stone, much like some accounts of trolls.[8]
After the Christianization of the Germanic peoples, tales of dwarfs continued to be told in the folklore of areas of Europe where Germanic languages were (and are) spoken.[9] In the late legendary sagas, dwarfs demonstrate skill in healing as well as in smithing.[10] In the early Norse sources, there is no mention of their being short; in the legendary sagas, however, they are "small and usually ugly".[1] Anatoly Liberman suggests that dwarfs may have originally been thought of as lesser supernatural beings, which became literal smallness after Christianization.[11] Old Norse dwarf names include Fullangr ('tall enough') and Hár ('high'), whereas Anglo-Saxon glosses use dweorg to render Latin terms such as nanus and pygmaeus ('pygmy').[12][13]
Dwarfs in folklore are usually described as old men with long beards.[13] Female dwarfs are hardly ever mentioned. Dvalinn the dwarf has daughters, and the 14th-century romantic saga Þjalar Jóns saga gives the feminine form of Old Norse dyrgja, but the few folklore examples cited by Grimm in Teutonic Mythology may be identified as other beings.[14][15] However, in the Swedish ballad "Herr Peder och Dvärgens Dotter" (Swedish 'Sir Peder and the Dwarf's Daughter'), the role of supernatural temptress is played by a dwarf's daughter."
The Dwarves guarded doorways between worlds?! These beings have contact with Drow like Elves & the whole affair reeks of Norse & German mytholog? This is a perfect opporunity to introduce the Axe of the Dwarven Lords. The citadel makes planet fall on modern day Earth & the PC's are called into stop the process of evolutuin. Gods & heroes can handle this sort of thing?! Maybe! 

The encounter with the Dwarven citadel highlights the fact that this is a very high level encounter and there's lots of room for potential wrangling on the part of the players..  

  1. Raj was totally discounting the  adventure module Axe of the Dwarvish Lords[5] involving the Axe and written by long-time Dungeons & Dragons designer Skip Williams 
  2. What other treasures & artifacts does the Dwarven Citadel have aboard. 
  3. Could ththe Axe of the Dwarven Lords be a full blown weapon lost to time? 
  4. What other factions might be after this Axe of the Dwarven Lords?
  5. Could the beholders of Spelljammer be after this artifact?! The chances are highly positive. 
  6. Monsters could be well ahead of the curve & after citadel because of a variety of items 
  7. Avoid using the endless mines of Moria symdrome and instead focus on the urban crawl age. 
  8. The PC's should be well aware that they are on board a very dangerous space dungeon 
  9. The mind of the citadel might be twisted in many ways leading to all kinds of insanity 
  10. Plenty of fun dungeon romps with the potenial for death & mayhem. Dwarves love to create traps & tricks. 

Cha'alt & Breaking The House Campaign Elevator Pitch

Breaking The House campaign basic premise - Interplanar gangsters bring Venger Satanis's Cha'alt mega dungeon comes to Los Vegas Earth! They've seen a rich opportunity for taking over the strip & bringing their madness to Earth for fun & profit! Months ahead the demigods,heroes, & gods of several alien universes have gotten wind of this! And their not taking it! So the gods of Earth have joined their alien breathen (for now) on dealing with this threat!

Vegas Sign artwork by 

Yeah I'm pitching a Godbound rpg campaign here & yeah the alien desert of Cha'alt fits in nicely with the decedence of sin city Los Vegas. So I'm thinking less of the 

Deserts of Desolation & Death & More of Tim Brannan. And more of the Clark Ashton Smith alien vibe that I've spoken so much about before on this blog. The dededence of Zothique mixed with the smatz of Vegas baby.

Yeah I just did something like this about a week ago on the OSR Commentary - Purple Gods & Mega- dungeons of Venger Satanis. But Vegas kinda brings it all together as Cha'alt warps into the sands of the sunset strip. Would anyone even notice?! The second I believe the lasers & whatnot started to fly then things would get very interesting.

I've got a lot of minor work to do on this campaign yet.
  1.  Whose gonna be the gansters in question & I'm thinking of going with hopped up versions of classic Dungeons & Dragons races. 
  2. What are they after in Vegas? 
  3. Who are the patheons of Earth gods trying to stop them & where can I work in the Dieties & Demigods angles? 
  4. I need to turn the Dungeons & Dragons vibe up to eleven & then  snap the knob off this one. 
  5. Where can I work in the The Master and his Temple of Death series of modules?! 
  6. There are lots of Fiend Folio monsters that I can throw in the mix here. Possibly several of the Babylonian angles as well. 
  7. I've got several options for possible cults in the mix as well. 
  8. The technologies of Cha'alt are gonna play a centeral part here. 
  9. More Islands of Purple Putresence & less Alpha Blue infact a lot less Alpha Blue... 
  10. Several hard core & metal Casio dungeons in this coming up. 

Goblins, Goblins, Goblins, In Last Night's Tengel Manor Session Report & Session Notes

Today's there's a lot to unpack here but work kinda kept me on the ropes today. I'm trying to play catch up after getting home at four A.M.. During last night's game a random encounter turned into major plot point in Tegel Manor. The party encountered some goblins & got into combat. They did well but it became a major adventure point. Where did the goblins come from?! Why were they there?! And is the DM planning on using more?! The answer is your PC's don't know, their their because  a FEY invasive species used to cause mayham!

So thinking fast I grabbed my copy of Dark Albion by Rpg Pundit & then used the information within the Goblin Warrens adventure encounter on page 232. I warmed the section to the players by telling them that Templar Knights had heard rumors that the Rumps had been importing in goblin eggs into their former strong hold which was being used as crypt until recently. The encounter has the following; "The ruin is full of rubble in which a couple of goblins might hide if they spot some people coming their way. However, since goblins are chaotic and generally nobody comes there, this only has a 20% chance of happening (night and day alike). "
Needless to say that the PC's are not charging in like mad men (unfortunately). But their being very cautious about the whole affair. While I'm going to be using the encounter I'm pulling forward twith more details on goblins coming from the  Lion & Dragon rpg 

Here we get a much fuller mythological picture of the goblins as a race of playthings of the Elven gods of the ancient planes. These goblins are the occult  biological shock troops of the gods of old. Monsters used to frighten children & they work so well in a Dungeons & Dragons style game. Sure they killed a few goblins but we're just getting started! 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Review & Commentary & Review On The Free Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book By Tim Brannan

“Let us be Diana's foresters, minions of the moon”  - William Shakespeare

Artemis and Diana, Forever Young. Forever Wild.

Time out of mind the symbol of Diana meant freedom. And in freedom there is Power.
This book introduces the Amazon Witch Tradition. Witches from the ancient time of myths and legends."

This is a solid PC's option for a witch class & it can be used with other retroclones besides Blue Holmes. Sure this is a free pdf but the author knows his stuff when it comes to doing witches & witchcraft. The lay out & page count runs about twenty five but the material is useful & playable.
"For this book, Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch Tradition, I wanted to satisfy two goals. 1. To have a witch class that felt like something I would have played in between Holmes and Moldvay. That time between 1979 and 1981 where I didn’t have a clue as to what we were all doing, we were having fun. And 2. To provide something back to the community for free under the same spirit of sharing and love of the game that was so prevalent in those days. While overtly designed for use with the BLUEHOLMETM Prentice rules, I will present a full spread of 20 levels and some spells. All for the same price I paid for my first copy of Holmes. "
So the  Amazon Witch class is built on the foundation that the witch  player wants access to  40 Spells and 8 Rituals then this is the book for you. Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch Tradition is perfectly usable with Holmes Basic Dungeons & Dragons.

The BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules are perfect for using the Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book.  The fact that it goes up twenty levels for the player's PC. The witch class and two new witch covens work well together especially for creating a concentrated occult whole. 

 The BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules has basics are covered, species instead of races, classes, abilities, equipment, spells, monsters, treasure, adventures, encounters, & campaigns.
 Everything in these rules is oriented to dealing with campaign oriented play.

I love the artwork that was used in prentice rules. They are solidly done & they take on the persona of the original Holmes rules without the added BS of Wizards of the Toast ownership on your game. Anyhow the material in  The BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules
Anyhow the 
Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book complements the whole package to form a solid whole. This works as a package deal to work as a solid retroclone.
Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book Here. My recommendation is to download it, use it, & enjoy it. My players weren't thrilled because I could use Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book to create some rather nasty NPC's

Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch book

Review & Commentary On Secrets of the Witchkind by Steve Miller Of NUELOW Games

"Secrets of the Witchkind presents everything you need to bring a new, highly magical player character race to at d20 System campagin setting you enjoy. The Witchkind aren't just spellcasters... everything they are is tied to magic, and they use it more naturally than any other beings in the multiverse."

So I wanted to get back into a bit of OSR kitbashing with Secrets of the Witchkind by Steve Miller. The cover art by Bradley McDermitt convey's a sort of absolutely insane witchkind that might be the perfect NPC villain. Before we go any further this book this is a D20 modern Basics book. The book has a sort of Bewitched quality about it which happens right from the intro; "Every human culture has legends about men and women who bend reality to their will through magic. In the following pages, we reveal the source of those legends, the beings that sorcerers and wizards and demonologists through the ages have aspired to be like— Witchkind! A note about gender language in this product: Throughout this booklet, we refer to "witches" as a general term for witchkind. We do this as a matter of expedience, because we didn't want to type "witches and warlocks" or even "witchkind" over and over. Any reference to a witch applies equally to warlocks, who are their male counterparts. (That should be selfevident, but we have found in the course of the he/she/it wars that it is not.)"

One thing about Secrets of the Witchkind is that this higher quality book then some of Neulow games other offerings. The author has put more work into production & it shows. I was shocked to see that this book was up to Secrets of the Immortals standards. We get racial background on Witchkind their history, events, culture, etc. & it gets pretty indepth; "What is known is that witches and warlocks have existed along side and among humans for tens of thousands of years. The earliest witches seem to have been created via an accident in Atlantis that flooded several thousand people with magical energy during an attempt to study the extra-dimensional Realm of Fairies. When it became clear that there was no reversing the changes they had undergone, the Atlantean leaders isolated them for the rest of their population by restricting them to an extra-dimensional settlement that eventually evolved into a trading and diplomatic post where Atlantis interacted with all the other planes. "
So once again this goes side by side with Secrets of the Immortals history  another hidden race that has existed side by side with humanity. That's not a bad thing & Secrets of Witchkind is lite enough system wise to work with other OSR D20 products out on the market. This includes Troll Lord Games Amazing Adventures! But Witchkind are extremely long lived PC's.

The layout here is good & the material here is higher level then I was sort of expecting but many of the D20 Neulow games supplements could be used with  Light City a supers hack for the outstanding and simplified Swords & Wizardry Light and Swords & Wizardry Continual Light designed by Erik Tenkar. If I was gonna pitch a whole cloth campaign it would be used with Light City: The Assembly! That campaign material has the right mix of supernatural heroics & super villain nastiness to fit the implied material in Secrets of  The Witchkind
Secrets of  The Witchkind a rip off of the Betwitched television show? Kinda but not really at all this product is more of an upsend of the witch in a way where the feats & magic system of the Witchkind convey a much more dynamic & almost Pulp like mystic super heroic figure. They have a complete independent magic system; "The following spell point costs are baselines. There are circumstances that can either increase or decrease the amount of spell points expended. Here are some universal conditions that impact the spell point cost. • Spells in core rulebooks and other supplements: Spell level x3 • Minor spell effects, as created by player: 1 spell point (for example, turning a taco into a burrito) • Medium spell effects, as created by player: 6 spell points (for example, placing an enchantment on an item that causes the person carrying it to always tell the truth for 24 hours) • Elaborate spell effects, as created by player: 12 spell points (for example, causing a room to completely change in appearance) • Major spell effects, as created by player: 24 spell points (causing a fully furnished house to appear in an empty lot for a number days equal to character level) • Epic spell effects, as created by player: 100 spell points (for example, causing one or more structures to appear or disappear on a permanent basis, drawing a historical figure from the past into current time, or sending the witch and a number of other people back or forward in time)."
The layout & fonts are very well done here in  Secrets of  The Witchkind. The feats of the Witchkind reflect their 'otherness' from the run of the mill human; "Empathy [Minor Power] You detect the surface emotions of any creature you can see that is in the power’s area. Benefit: As a full round action, you can focus your attention on a single creature within your line of sight. Roll a Willpower save (DC10). If the roll is successful, you know the target's exact emotional state--afraid, angry, hate-filled, curious, friendly, or any other emotion. The following round, you gain a +4 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Sense Motive checks you make at the target. Special: This feat serves a prerequisite for any talent from Superpower trees."
You get an almost a really horrific  nasty effect with the Talents of the Witchkind;"Invisibility You can become hard to see or totally invisible at will. The invisibility can be activated by a thought (standard action), and remains in effect until he wills himself visible again, or loses consciousness. The character’s clothes and carried objects become invisible as well. Shadowy: By taking a standard attack action, you turn partially invisible. You gain a +4 bonus to all Hide checks. This bonus increases to +10 if you are in a dark area or it is night. Invisible: By taking a standard attack action, you turn invisible. All attacks made against you suffer a -6 penalty. Creatures that can see invisible objects can still see you, and you can be sensed by equipment that detects body heat or movement. Likewise, if you step in a puddle, are submerged in water, stand in heavy rain, or if someone fills the air with dust or flour that clings to you, you essentially become visible. Prerequisite: Shadowy Insubstantial: As Invisible, except the character becomes vaporous and become immune to damage from all damage sources except those that compress or displace air, such as extreme heat and cold. The character suffers normal damage from such attacks. Prerequisite: Invisible"

How is this phamplet different from say the work of Tim Brannan of the Otherside Blog say his 
 The Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition book? Well there are both some major thematic differences & racial ones. The witchkind are their own species, the have their own detailed societal overview, there racial details that differ. In other words the  Secrets of  The Witchkind  is its own product separate from many of the witch books on the market. I'll be doing a review of Tim Brannan's The Children of the Gods The Classical Witch Tradition book coming up but that's its own blog entry. 
Secrets of  The Witchkind is its own book & supplement. Its one that adds a very different take on a very long & almost immortal race unto itself. Is it good? In a word yes! Does it do its job?! Yes it does & perhaps a bit more. Overall I'm glad to have it & will be using it soon. Do I think you should get it? Yes if you want to add in a very different spin witches & witchkind! 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Commentary On The Hydra Cooperative's Chris Kutalik, & Robert Parker's Misty Isles of the Eld & Fever-Dreaming Marlinko In Your Old School Campaigns

I haven't done anything in a very long time with the Hydra Cooperative's OSR material (umm guys if you could you might wanna update your website) & that's a damn shame. Again this is on me & I've been doing a lot of thinking on Chris Kutalik, & Robert Parker's Misty Isles of the Eld. While this is not a new book there are lots of interesting ideas inbetween the covers.  Chris Kutalik & Robert Parker really pull out the stops here as a part of the Hill Canton's OSR setting. But taken on its own Misty Isles of the Eld brings to the table some very interesing & dangerous soft Science Fantasy ideals of their own.

And I've been thinking about the Eld in context to gods of mythology. What if the Eld were hunting gods for use as a power source of occult energies. I had this dream last night about a god of some minor patheon running through a field & suddenly the Jack Kirby like  vehicles of the Eld hunting the poor divine  bastard down. They pin him with several techno occult artifacts & the vatmen come to put a small weird device on his forehead. A royal Eld floats over the scene & decantantly looks on as the mists of the Misty Isle enclose the scene. The hunting party is plane shifted back to the isle. God hunting is the essence of decedance of the Eld. An expression of the superiority of Eld & their optimoized society view. Their cults of spies & slaves are always on the look out for dieties to snatch. The gods that they harvest become nothing more then power sources of occult energies. Copper tops that are drained dry. 

Now because Misty Isles of the Eld is a planar point crawl I can see the Eld basically opening where & when their master's occult mechanisms need to. The Eld have a god that's their prisoner in one of their prisons & this goes back to a major plot point in  Fever-Dreaming Marlinko. 

So would The Hill Cantons be a good addition to a Godbound rpg campaign setting along with its  labyrinth lord rpg underpinnings?! Yes I believe so & the reason why is the comic book mythological styles of Luka Rejec's artwork in Misty Isles of the Eld. The godbound adventurer's might be called in to undo some of the bio sorcery  creations & abominations that they love to use.
I'm really looking into  Fever-Dreaming Marlinko for more setting material because the acid trip that is the Hill Cantons speaks deeply to the acid dream of Slavic mythology.  I love the factions within in the Hill Cantons setting & how they interact verus the point crawl.

Fever-Dreaming Marlinko is one of the best urban supplements ever written. There's lot of potential here to bring the weird Slavic Dungeons & Dragons campaign elements into your own old school or OSR campaign. The amount of mythological material is scary when combined with the sand box elements of the Hill Cantons. This expands the focus for the dungeon master's vision for his players. Overall I think that these books are sources that I'm going to put on the back burner but come back to once the campagin get's going.. For the moment keep it weird folks. 

Review & Commentary On Cha'alt Pre-Generated By Venger Satanis

Sometimes you need some vic erm adventurers for your mega dungeon & Cha'alt's thirteen pages of pre generated victims are waiting to be used & abused by your players. Venger is up to his usual tricks & traps for Cha'alt Pre-Generated. This is a compilation of 27 player-characters who fit into that eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalyptic world setting. And yes they would work very well in such a setting. You get three sets of actual stats & while these adventurers are generic in a sense they fit the vibe that we find in Cha'alt's mega dungeon. 

 Cha'alt Pre-Generated are up to the standards that we find in Cha'alt's megadungeon setting  There are three sets of settings that are working together within this product's setting & adventure location; 

"What is Cha’alt? Cha’alt is my own campaign setting that I use frequently, especially for online games. Specifically, Cha’alt means “greatness by way of suffering.” It’s an eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, and post-apocalyptic world for adventurers, such as yourself, to explore. This PDF contains several 1st level pre-generated player-characters for games on the go. Players and GMs may not have time to sit and think about all the possible options. If you’re playing a quick and dirty virtual session, you want to start immediately. This has helped me, and I believe it will help you, as well. What you see are the essentials – stripped-down, basic, minimalist stat blocks for rules-light D&D. If you enjoy this style, check out the FREE PDF of Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. Additionally, I didn’t include extensive personality or motivations because it’s the players’ job to fill in those gaps. What you see before you are mere words and numbers until a player uses his imagination, bringing the character to life. When coming up with something special or noteworthy about your character, remember that one is the minimum. If you think up several noteworthy details, that’s great! Just don’t go crazy. PC optimization and power-gaming is the antitheses of old school. Remember Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That means if you decide your character is a Prince of the realm and fabulously wealthy, it’s within the GM’s rights to put a price on his head or give him a terrible curse"

These are very miminalist stats right out the gate & can be easily adapted to your own favorite OSR or old school setting. That's part of the strength of Cha'alt is that its easily adaptable to any number of old school & OSR products. The illustrations & such for each of the profiles works very nice especially for both Cha'alt and Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. But com'n we all know how to adapt these to our favorite OSR systems.

Now Venger being he just can't not put a little optional tidbit or two into his free stuff & we get into the Divine Inspiration pool; "Inspiration refers to the pool of points you can spend to re-roll any die (not just d20) in hopes of improving your result. Aside from getting a point of inspiration at the beginning of each session, it is possible to earn additional points. However, only one point per scene up to a maximum of three points per session can be accumulated. Rather than continuing to call it inspiration, I’m henceforth using the phrase Divine Favor. It sounds less like a game mechanic and more like fate, destiny, and providence. If the Gods will it, their subtle influence may grant you victory" Not bad & we get into each of Cha'alt's alignments.. Not bad stuff & well done. A nice little optional bit & piece that can be adapted as needed.
So in thirteen pages we get a bit of everything Cha'alt. So is this merely a 'cherry on top' piece of advertising for Cha'alt? Well yes but its a well done & free piece of marketing & advertising with the added bonus of actually being usuable in a wide variety of setting & not simply Cha'alt.

Grab  Cha'alt Pre-Generated here