Friday, May 22, 2015

Petty Gods Now Available!


Expanded Petty Gods
Casewrap Hardback (sold at cost through Lulu.com)
Premium Softcover (also sold at cost via Lulu.com)
PDF - Free and without any watermark at RPGNow

327 petty gods, 116 minions, knights & servitors, 12 cults, dozens of divine items & new spells, plus a host of other petty-god-related gaming material and it can all be yours in three tasty formats.

Go get it...and be prepared to lose a few hours and some sanity as you peruse these pages packed with inspiration, imagination and weirdness beyond mortal ken..

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 130

Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja have left the undulating gronking-wave-beast-thing behind to go examine a mirror-aperture. They are curious as to where it might lead and what they might learn from it...

Leeja stopped with a low-toned hiss. Her claws were out. Her hair lashed about her like a halo of angry white cats.

"What is it?"

"The Vooric influence--it's moving."

"Is it coming this way?"

"I...don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever it is, I think it is hunting, searching after something...or someone..."

"Scheiss." Bujilli shifted his awareness to better discern the strange vibrations and ripples of things moving in the near aethyrial.

Biting green light shimmered across the murk, lashing outward and upward in a yowling frenzy.

"What is--"

"Do you really want to stick around and find out?"

"No. Let's go check out the mirror that's opening up. We might need some sort of exit sooner rather than later."

"It'll at least give us an option. I like having options."

A swarm of masks screamed and howled as it fluttered overhead in a looping spiral led by a glowing green face that pointedly ignored them.

The surrounding murk grew dimmer, thicker, colder as they walked away from the undulating wave-beast-thing. Drops of water condensed out of the swirling mist, lightly dampening their hair and slowly soaking their clothes.

Vast, black trees loomed out of the fogginess. they appeared almost hollow, like tubular shadows or the filmy remains of trees long absent.

The trees became a copse. A grove. A forest. Dark and dismal with wet, black limbs swaying out of step with the prevailing breezes.

Behind them, farther than either could see, someone was ringing a pair of sonorous bells through a ragged melody that they seemed to only half-remember.

Orange light gleamed just ahead. Angular and sharp-edged, crisp in the midst of the billowing fog...



Meanwhile...
Alphonse let the three little gnawed-bone charms dangle from his fingertips as he closed the door. One was from a rat, one of the big, brainy-things from the warrens along Curwen Street. He could tell by the runes growing out in ossified ridges along its length. The other two were from birds, probably penguins, with Tsalalian giggle-glyphs daubed sloppily across one another in three kinds of paint. Cheap things. But effective enough. Against tiny things. Like little folk from within the walls. Just to be safe, he added a fourth charm to the set. The naacal-incised curled lead curse tablet wrapped around a length of yellowish ape-sinew would discourage unwelcome visitations or observations...



"I thought it would be bigger."

"It's a mirror. We're lucky it isn't some spoiled princesses' hand-mirror."

"True. But what do we do now?" Leeja shivered as she looked about the place. It was rife with opportunities for ambush--all of them easily used against them by whomever or whatever might be out there.

Bujilli stepped up to the mirror-aperture and examined it. He had read a few things about mirrors in his Uncle's collection of grimoires and texts, but it had never been anything he had delved into in any real detail. Now he wished he had.

One side of the aperture was warmer than the other. If he let his eyes go out of focus, he could almost discern some vague impressions of a room of some sort, one with a balcony and the mirror in that room was facing out toward the balcony and a starry night sky.

The opposite side of the aperture was dimmer, colder and hurt his eyes when he tried to look at it.

Bujilli considered his repertoire of spells. He cast a minor spell* that let him sense  whether there were any thinking minds present on the other side of the mirror-aperture in the room beyond. Nothing. At least nothing he could recognize as a mind he could relate to in any meaningful way.

He cast another spell**, this one let him look into the space past the aperture. Rich tapestries, overstuffed cushions, censers emitting sinuous trails of incense smoke, glittering gems scuttled across a band of heavily-carved dark wood set over ten feet above the polished marble floors...

"It's some sort of mansion or palace..."

A cluster of Efts swam through the night air shedding a soft green light as they went on their way. The carpets in this place were thick and exquisite and had all sorts of strange geometrical figures woven into them by expert hands. Diaphanous, filmy curtains of silk fluttered gently in a slight breeze...

"Can you open the way?"

He considered the aperture using his sorcerously augmented sight. It resembled a sort of vacuole, like one might discover in the fossilized remains of an Orbiculate. He'd read about such a thing in one of his Uncles less cryptic scrolls. Smooth, slightly curving; the passage was rotating slowly...

"Yes. I think I can..."

"Good. Then you might want to consider doing so--we have company."

"Who?" Bujilli examined the artery-like passage connecting back through the aperture to the mirror in some exotic locale far from anywhere he'd ever been before. Fractals slithered across the hyperfolded skin of the thing like a type of weather...

"Two very tall quadrupeds, one of whom is wearing a monocle. They have a large, blue bird with them. The bird is armed with a glaive of some sort...it looks like it might be alive, or at least wriggling somewhat. I don't like the looks of them."

"As far as I can tell, there's no one in the immediate area on the other side. I can try to open the way through the mirror, but I don't know what will happen--I've never done this before. The passage might collapse, or it might remain open and allow these newcomers to follow us, if they are so inclined."

"Or..."

"Or what?"

"What if we offer them the chance to use the passage? you could open it for them and that would let you observe how it reacts, without having to go through it yourself." Leeja drew out her hand-axe. whoever these new-comers might be, they were drawing very near, very quickly.

"An interesting proposition. Ah. There. I have it. I can open the way into this other place now--"

"What have we here Jasko?" The monocle-wearing Cameleopard lowered its head to give Bujilli and the mirror-aperture a better look-see.

"The damp little monkey appears to have captured the backside of a mirror, my good Rollok."

"Indeed. Whatever for?"

"No good says I." Grumbled the large, blue emu in a heavy leather apron set with square rivets. The blade of his glaive seemed composed of compressed metallic, writhing, wriggling things. Werms of some sort.

"I was curious..."

"Ah. Of course. that's understandable. You wanted to see what was on the other side and like any good monkey you thrust your paw through the hole to grope about for some kernels of rice or some such."

"That is how they trap monkeys you know."

"This one has no tail. Not much of a monkey if it doesn't have a tail." the Blue Emu scratched himself in disdain.

"So what have you discovered little not-monkey?" Rollok squinted to look into the mirror-aperture through his monocle to no avail.

"Yes! Tell us!" Jasko moved closer, as though to sniff the mirror.

"I think it is a palace of some sort..."

"A palace! How wonderful!"

"Will you be visiting this palace? Or are you more of a voyeur, perhaps you're more interested in peeping-in on this potentate's harem? Eh?"

"We'd be willing to let you go take a look if you'd like..." Leeja smiled sweetly at the trio of strange entities.

"An interesting notion. Hmmm...."

"What an intriguing opportunity..."

"I don't like it--"

"Shush Molimer. You need not be so negative. I think it could be a pleasant diversion."

"Indeed. Yes. Please open the way for us to go forth and explore this palace you've discovered."

Bujilli reached into the orange light of the aperture. His Counsel guiding him as he shifted the subtle flows of energies he could work with and avoiding contract with those streams or fluctuations dreadful or deadly to touch. He gently coaxed the artery-like passage to dilate as it rolled along its axis.

Faceted pillars of alabaster and onyx and some strange greenish stone, possibly a type of malachite, held up three overlapping series of delicate arches that unfurled like flowers into a deeply-groined ceiling overhead. A soft, warm wind teased his nose with a peculiar fragrance that was both earthy and spicy, wonderfully aromatic but altogether unfamiliar...

POP!

The way was open.

The two aristocratic Cameleopards and their muttering Blue Emu henchmen strode through the aperture. They wasted no time in setting about examining and critiquing everything they saw, including the massive, ornately carved casket...no...not a casket...not a coffin...a clock...a clock with four hands...the rim etched in Tsannic glyphs...

Something vast and ancient and implacable stirred in deep places below those glistening marble tiles.

Bujilli felt his grip on the mirror-aperture slipping...


* ESP, Labyrinth Lord, page 31.
** Clairvoyance, LL p. 28.


What should they do next?

You Decide!


Synchronocitor Status: Fully Recharged.


Roll for Initiative!
Someone please roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) The two Cameleopards and 4) Molimer the Blue Emu. Molimer gets a +2 bonus to being a grizzled veteran. Rollok and Jasko, the two Cameleopards suffer a -3 penalty each, as they are entirely caught-up in their explorations and especially their running commentary...

Close the aperture or Follow After?
Do you want Bujilli & Leeja to go through the mirror-aperture? Or should Bujilli attempt to warn the three creatures about what he feels/suspects? Or would it be better to just close the aperture before anything happens? Or it might be possible to hold the aperture open and observe what takes place on the other side...at least for a little bit longer. You decide!

Roll for Possible Observation.
Please roll 1d6 and let me know the result. If you get a 1, there is a bonus Random Encounter. If you get a 6, then the encounter is from the other side of the mirror-aperture.

Optional Spot Mirror Roll. (1d30)
We'll also need another d30 roll to determine if Bujilli or Leeja spot yet another mirror in the distance. A result of 10 means maybe/it isn't clear, a result of 20 means that there seems to be a mirror in a random direction, but it looks closed/shuttered; and a result of 30 means that they spot a mirror in the distance that might be open and accessible...or at least whatever they are seeing appears that way from a distance. A result of 1 means something else mirror-related happens, possibly some sort of environmental effect or shift in the surrounding terrain...

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

& Magazine Issue 11

Would you want to drink a beer with this guy?

& Magazine
Link: http://www.and-mag.com/
Download it HERE.
Download the other Ten Free Issues HERE.
Discuss it at: & Magazine Forums at OSR Gaming


& Magazine is primarily devoted to 1st Edition AD&D, but a great deal of the content can be ported over to any other edition and quite a few other systems without too much trouble. There are a good variety of maps, monsters, scenarios and more in every issue and it just keeps getting better.


Issue 11 of & Magazine is devoted to Humanoids, with four feature articles focusing on goblinoids, orcs and humanoid societies with two bonus articles that explore an alternative non-spell-casting version of the Ranger class and a look at the extended family of Sphinxes. Then you get a bunch of maps, numerous magical items, spells (including Kobold spells), an examination of the Ogre Mage (with a follow-up piece discussing undead ogre mages), a couple of mini-adventures and a hexcrawl, plus a recipe for 'fusion chicken.'

First off, the two TSR-Blue maps by M. W. Poort/Fingolwyn could easily get added onto B2: Keep on the Borderlands or one of the other classic modules. A DM can always use nice maps of small castles or keeps. Good stuff.

There are some pretty decent magic items sprinkled throughout the pages of this issue. The Portable Tunnel in particular is a nifty magic item and could open up some interesting alternative adventuring opportunities.

Getting More Mileage From Goblinoids presents a way to break past the lingering impression that goblins, etc. are simply dumb brutes. I rarely run these creatures as dummies, but quite a lot of people do, so this article might help change a few minds...or not. Personally, I am not a fan of lumping all creatures of a specific type, say Ettins for example, into one fixed category in terms of overall intelligence. Sure, a large number of them might be of low intelligence, but there could be a few exceptions...otherwise it begins to make one wonder just how these things could ever survive. In my experience, the dumber monsters can be fun from time to time, either as comedic relief or  a distraction, but the more intelligent things are the most frightening. They set traps, learn from previous encounters, and sometimes decide to get pro-active and hunt down those filthy adventurers that have been harassing their folk. But that's just an opinion, based on a particular approach and play-style, and by no means the only option, nor even necessarily the best. This article offers an approach worth considering and hopefully it will spark some discussion or equally well thought-out feedback. There's certainly plenty of room for alternative approaches and other ideas and it would be interesting to see some sort of follow-up to this piece that explored this matter from another perspective.

Humanoid Society offers some good insights as to why the various goblinoids have shamans or witchdoctors, how their societies are structured and what makes them able to continue operating, let alone competing with the other societies. Mr. L also does a good job of addressing the often misunderstood Alignment aspect of these (and many other) creatures. Chaotic isn't necessarily stupid and evil beings still have to raise their young and eat regularly if they're going to survive. The expanded information for handling Leaders as well as the new spells for shamans and witchdoctors are pretty useful.

Points of View offers up two pages of ideas for freshening-up a game with a number of examples drawn from world history, biology and Star Trek. New DMs and worldbuilders might particularly find this a helpful jumping-off point for some inspiration.

Reviving the Lowly Orc presents two new variant-versions of orcs that are a little bit different. Both versions are interesting, and are presented alongside some suggestions for tactics and ideas for integrating these critters into an ongoing campaign. The Bloodcaps are a more elite sort of warrior-orc, while the Soul-bound orcs would really fit in well alongside the other servants and followers of an unscrupulous necromancer or the like, especially with their built-in 'advancement-through-fratricide' quality. The right person, in the right place at the right time could really stir up some serious trouble with these creatures...and they provide a great challenge for a bard of all things. A bard might get them to kill their fellows in order to grow more powerful, which could be a good short-term solution...but would then lead to a bigger, stronger monster to deal with afterwards. Good stuff.

The variant Ranger class drops the spells and expands on their tracking ability, offering a set of modifiers to handle nearly any terrain and the most obvious environmental factors. This version is a little beefier as well, making it a fighter who hunts more than a mystical woodsmen. If you don't like letting Rangers use spells, then it's worth taking a look at this alternative approach.

The Extended Family of Sphinxes article was another high-point to this issue. Integrating the Lamia, Lammasu, Manticore, Shedu all into the Sphinx family tree is a great idea, The Apsasu and Umbral sphinx are nice additions to the group as well. Are Lammacores and Shedua far behind?

Creature Feature focuses on the Ecology of the Ogre Magi, including the undead version. Part One begins with some entertaining fiction, then gets into the nitty-gritty details of converting the 'off the shelf' version of the ogre magi into a slightly more refined and elegant creature, the Oni. This is a nice revision to a classic beast and opens up some good opportunities for nefarious plots and so forth--the Oni could give the Rakshasa a run for their money. A covert shadow-war between gangs being manipulated behind the scenes by Oni and Rakshasa masters could make for some interesting adventures.

There is a 2-page piece describing an Ogre Berserker Company...and it is pretty good. It also includes an undead ogre berserker, just in case, like for those special occasions when extreme undead ogre mayhem is called for.

Leomund's Long Coats was one of my personal favorite articles in the entire issue. These are some very useful magic items that players are going to demand once they read about them.

Spell-Caster's Paradise I & II reveal some nasty-useful Kobold Shaman spells and a magic item that can be used to unlock a series of new, variant versions of some classic spells.

Tactical Magic expands upon Appendix P from the DMG in order to build a more robust and varied process for randomly rolling-up spells and magic items for pre-gen (or other) characters. There are some good ideas here, and it's an interesting piece, building on the bones of the DMG to create something useful.

Brewmaster: Games Within Games presents a few new games of chance to try out the next time your party of adventurers heads over to the local tavern.

Blues for a Red Sun is an interesting scenario centered upon a small ruined temple in an oasis. Boalisks, sandmen, and some wicked undead creatures lurk beneath the sands. I could see swapping-out the main antagonists for mummies, especially spell-casting mummies, to make it even nastier...but it is pretty challenging as-is. Oh, and this is part of a larger complex, so I'd definitely like to see what happens in the next installment.

The Grym Grove features a faerie circle, needlemen, 'grym trolls,' freshwater skrags and a dracolich. It all hangs together pretty well and could easily serve as the backbone of a series of adventures for a group trying to track down whatever happened to that badly wounded green dragon no one has seen in a while. A few rumors, a cranky sage or scholar who is convinced that the dragon is in fact deceased and that its amassed treasure is just waiting to get looted, and this all clicks right into place.

Two Shores and Torjetty Regions are a pair of hexes lifted from the author's campaign and presented as something you can either adopt or adapt as you will. The maps for each of the hexes are hand-drawn in colored pencil, which reminded me of Tim Short's Random Maps over at Gothridge Manor...maybe Tim might consider contributing one of his maps to these guys in the future. I think that would be cool.

There are a few variant potions and a recipe for 'fusion chicken,' which I just might have to try out. How many RPG-zines contain recipes? I think & Magazine is unique in this respect.

The For Further Reading section in  the back is a nice idea...I don't do Facebook, so it wasn't particularly useful for me, but I'm sure it will come in handy for someone else who wanders through that particular digital walled garden. The follow-up section details all the places and spaces out on the web where you can locate or connect with the & Magazine producers and community. They're all over the place...

Okay. So that's a quick run down on everything that is in this issue. There's a lot of good stuff in there, and it's all free, so go download a copy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Manor, Issue 8

Go Get It!
Issue 8 of The Manor is available in print via Lulu (for $2.50) and for free at RPGNow in pdf-format.

In this issue you get an old school grappling system ideal for tavern brawls, a sneak peek into Trey Causey's Strange Stars, some tips for making hirelings more interesting & useful, as well as a set of eight magical torches, and some stuff for Torchbearer.

Denis from over at Northport has a couple of nice hireling illustrations in this issue.

That's a lot of good stuff packed into just 26 pages.

Great Stuff!
While you're clicking over to get your copy of The Manor be sure to check out Tim short's mini-classic The Flayed King, also available for free at RPGNow. It's a great little adventure and well worth checking it out.


Wermspittle: Orlando Syndrome

We may take advantage of this pause in the narrative to make certain statements. Orlando had become a woman — there is no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been. The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity. Their faces remained, as their portraits prove, practically the same. His memory — but in future we must, for convention's sake, say 'her' for 'his,' and 'she' for 'he' — her memory then, went back through all the events of her past life without encountering any obstacle. Some slight haziness there may have been, as if a few dark drops had fallen into the clear pool of memory; certain things had become a little dimmed; but that was all. The change seemed to have been accomplished painlessly and completely and in such a way that Orlando herself showed no surprise at it. Many people, taking this into account, and holding that such a change of sex is against nature, have been at great pains to prove (1) that Orlando had always been a woman, (2) that Orlando is at this moment a man. Let biologists and psychologists determine. It is enough for us to state the simple fact; Orlando was a man till the age of thirty; when he became a woman and has remained so ever since...
Orlando
Virginia Woolf



Perhaps there is something in the water. There could easily be some sort of chemical taint, some bizarre pollutant or low-grade toxin at work. One cistern is overgrown with Red Weeds, another is polluted by Spectral Brine from the Corruption Trade and a third is known to be so foul that a mere few drops are deadly poison. And who knows what twisted things the Murkim or the Tsugrin, let alone the Vinkin or those despicable Pruztian Scientists have done in the course of their brutal experiments and mad interrogations.

It remains to be determined if it is some sort of sexually-transmitted disease, or it might prove to be yet another effect brought on by the lingering taint in the Low Lands. So far the Physicians and pharmacists, surgeons and charlatans alike have not been able to arrive at a conclusive or convincing answer. There are dozens of earnest, thoughtful, even deeply considered hypotheses currently being tested and explored, but few reliable results that lead anywhere.

It could be a curse of some sort, of course. Wermspittle has been accursed, anathematized, and damned by a host of religious authorities ranging from the Ecclesiastic Masters of the Achuin Empire on down to myriads of cranky, creepy cults exiled to the Near Deeps or clustered about tiny make-shift shrines off in some alley. But the lingering maledictions of the Achuinites and the muttered imprecations of starving prophets and raving madmen tend to cancel themselves out, more or less, if you believe what the Midwives and Minstrels whisper or rhyme in the dark. Fools and poets debate the morality of such things and drunkards rail against an unnatural violation of their rights, but opinions are cheap and none of it matters.

No one really knows the root cause, but everyone is aware of the inevitable effect.

Upon reaching puberty the people of Wermspittle run the risk of spontaneously switching genders overnight. Apparently, according to the Midwives, there's only a 20-30% chance of the change actually happening, though there are numerous mitigating and complicating factors, all of which they will discuss with those concerned for a suitable fee. It is also believed that the older one gets, the lower the chances of the change happening and if it hasn't taken place by the time you've reached thirty or thereabouts it might not happen at all...but as with all such things there are numerous caveats and considerations...



Source of InspirationOrlando by Virginia Woolf, which you can read about at Wikipedia, or actually read the thing yourself for free via Project Gutenberg Australia, or purchase a copy via Amazon or watch the movie with Tilda Swinton. There's nothing to be afraid of...it isn't contagious, that we know...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Alien Meddlers: The Rugalli for White Star


RUGALLI
ARMOR CLASS
6 [13]
HIT DICE
3
TOTAL HIT BONUS
+3
ATTACKS
By weapon
SAVING THROW
16
SPECIAL
Regeneration, Healing Touch, Rejection Protocol
Movement
12
HDE/XP
00/00


Rugalli are ancient beings who wander through space aboard a few heavily colonized rogue planets and moon-ships. They do not employ FTL-drives, preferring to coast along for centuries as they focus on medical research and biological experimentation. Famous and much sought after for their healing abilities, the Rugalli have accomplished incredible feats of medical science well beyond the norm of most space-faring species. 

Rugalli regenerate 1 hit point per turn and can restore 1d4 hit points to anyone they touch once per hour. Any cyborgs or those with technological implants who are touched by a Rugalli automatically take 1d6 points of damage and must make a Saving Throw or find one piece of cybernetic technology rejected and expelled from their bodies as a living replacement takes its place.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Zagmus

Zagmus
Hit Dice: 2+
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Attacks: 4 Tentacle-Stings (1 hp each)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Immune to Fire, Dissolve Organics.
Move: 9
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Distorted and deranged creations of a Pestimancer, the Zagmus wanders about blindly in search of prey. Their tentacles end in stubby stingers that emit a viscous yellowish fluid that causes all organic matter it touches to dissolve so the nasty thing can then slurp up the sloppy mess it makes.

Anyone taking more than six points of damage in a single encounter with a Zagmus must make a Save or lose either 1 point of CHAR or DEX, player's choice, due to the disfiguring effects of its dissolving attack. Magical healing will restore this loss, but mundane efforts will be to no avail.




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