Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GNARTIAN FAMILIARS

Always like the idea of PC Familiars, but disliked the original PH handing of the idea. I think that any magic should come with some risk, but the familiars of 1st ed were such easy targets that the spell made no sense to me. Sure, you might (5%) get a Quasit or Pseudodragon, but you'll prob get a 2HP Toad that will die in the next Random Encounter. This version of the spell makes the arrangement a much better deal for the Familiar, which means it might actually be worth it!
THE BINDING of the FAMILIAR
A Spell of Ritual Magic which can be cast by a Wizard of any level, but only during certain alignments/phases of the moons, occurring once every 30 +1d30 days. Type of creature summoned determ randomly. All are no larger than a small house cat, of exceptional, though still animal INT, have 4 HP and AC 7. They have no offensive attacks to speak of, although they can defend themselves as a 1/2HD Monster, doing 1 or 2 HP damage. No extraordinary or magical abilities (venom, if any, is effective against very small animals only). Creature Summoned is magically bound to caster, and the two share an empathic psychic link. When the Familiar is w/in 12", the Wizard may simply concentrate in order to "see" through its eyes, "hear" through its ears, etc. Also, each adds the others' HP to their own total; so both the Familiar and the Wizard will have the Wizard's HP +4. The pair share the same AC, either the Wizard's or the Familiar's, whichever is better. Familiars are rendered immune to Mental Influence/Control, and are extraordinarily lucky, automatically making all Saving Throws. If a Familiar is killed, the Wizard loses the bonus 4 HP, and also permanently loses an additional 1d4 HP, and may not cast the Spell again for one full year.

CREATURE SUMMONED (d20)
1. Archaeopteryx
2. Big-eared Bat
3. Horned Viper
4. Beaded Lizard
5. Your Standard Rat
6. Large Centipede
7. Iridescent Mantis
8. Spider Monkey
9. Small Ocelot
10. Aye-Aye
11. Bristly Tarantula
12. Colorful Constrictor
13. Horned Chameleon
14. Pygmy Hedgehog
15. Naked, Exhibitionist Mole Rat
16-20. No creature responds

10GPgem: Be sure to assign/determine an NPC trait or two to provide a little personality.

Friday, March 25, 2011

SPELLS of the GNARKOTIC MANUSCRIPTS

CATASTROPHIC MISFORTUNE OF MALICIOUS FATE
lvl 5, cast time 5s, area effect 30' rad, 1creature
Whatever action the recipient/victim attempts on the following rnd will not only be unsuccessful, but will in fact fail in the most catastrophic and picturesque manner possible. Attacking swordsmen will not simply miss, but rather trip and impale themselves on their own blade, spellcasters attempting Fireball will have it explode in their hands, opponents using modern weapons will experience a jam/backfire, while advanced weaponry will "short out", draining all remaining charges, etc. If target is unfortunate enough to declare he is doing "nothing", a tiny micro-meteorite falls from the sky (or other improbable effect if underground, etc), unerringly striking for 1d4 damage per lvl/HD of the victim! Players using the spell may suggest potential effects, subject to DM veto/modification. DMs using the spell are encouraged to be real jerks about it!

IMPROVED MIRROR IMAGE
lvl 5, dur 2r/lvl, cast time 5s
Creates 1d4 Mirror Images, whose AC and total HP = those of the caster; if two images, ea has 1/2 of caster's HP, if three images, ea has 1/3, if four, each has 1/4.

I AM THE SLIME
lvl 6, cast time 6s, dur 1trn/lvl
Allows caster to dissolve into a pool of caustic, mobile goo, which can seep under doorways or through small cracks (3" MV), flow up walls and across ceilings, fill appropriately-sized containers, etc. The touch of the goo dissolves living tissue at a rate of 3 HP/rnd, and the Slime can extend one pseudopod/rnd (max 1/lvl), attacking as a monster of HD = to the lvl of the caster. Pseudopods which hit attach to the victim, and auto do damage ea rnd. The Slime takes 1/2 damage from cutting and thrusting attacks, and no damage from blunt weapon attacks, and retains the AC and HP of the caster.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEA6oRPSmUA&feature=related

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Week's Game - The Long Road to Ognar

Just a lot of bumpy roads and Random Encounters as the Party crosses the grasslands on their way to the Eternal City. They chose to ride with a caravan rather than purchase (admittedly expensive) mounts, which surprised me, but I think the "new" planet is freaking them out ("Excellent..."). A Wyvern did make off with a merchant from the next wagon, and since there was no way to bring down the beast before it got away, Sot Palad chose to target the unfortunate pottery vendor with a volley of Magic Missiles, killing him instantly rather than allowing him to be eaten alive by the flying horror. While opinions differed on the morality &/or advisability of this action, all agreed with a wry grin that it was the nicest thing the Wizard had ever done for a stranger!
Next session will involve the weeping widow in the next wagon... will the Party choose to lend a hand, possibly even part with some of the meager, hard-won GP they've decided to save until reaching Ognar?

the GNARKOTIC MANUSCRIPTS

THE IDEA: Wanted a means to generate/introduce new Spells, Monsters, PC quests/pursuits, adventure plots/subplots, add some "local color" to the new campaign world, and offer weird insights into the peculiar pursuits of the Ancients. Not a lot of specific details at this point, more like an idea generator. ("this scroll requires intensive study... get back to me next week"). I'll post details as I go.

THE THING: The Gnarkotic Manuscripts are scroll sheets of unknown, nigh-invulnerable gray metal, inscribed with the occult secrets of the Ancients. Sometimes found rolled and stored in scroll tubes, they remain flat once unrolled, and have the unusual property of clinging to any flat surface (think "post-it" note), even a plastered wall or door. Appear blank until touched by Magic-using being. Scrolls which require more than a full "page" of writing function just like a PDF file; the reader can "scroll thru the scroll" by touching/dragging lines of faintly-glowing script. There is a row of numbers & symbols (possibly a code?) across the top of each scroll... some believe the Gnarkotic Manuscripts comprise a single, incredibly vast compendium spanning the entirety of the Magic of the Ancients, while others maintain that they are more a collection of distinct works, and the number/codes are a form of indexing, as in a library. A complete archive is unknown. Note that any spells may be copied into Spellbooks and, if the Wizard is capable, made into a standard "one-shot" Scrolls, but may not be cast directly from the Manuscripts.

SCROLL CONTENT (d8)

1. "RITUAL MAGIC "; a spell which can only be cast at certain times/places/conditions for unusual effects, such as (d12)
1. The Gates of the Moons 2. The Sibilant Whispers of Hastur
3. The Invocation of the Colorless Fire 4. The Gate of Returning
5. Raising of the Black Ziggurat* 6. The Primordial Imprisonment
7. The Lamentation of the Lost 8. The Alignment of the Spheres of Xeg
9. The Crimson Cascade 10. The Banishment of Yith
11. The Avuncular Avatar of Azathoth 12. Binding of the Familiar

2. MAGIC ITEM CREATION; materials, Spells involved, etc., for any one item. Roll randomly on Magic Item tables

3 THE MASTERY OF LIFE ITSELF! arcane/alchemical instruction in the creating/breeding/manipulating/reanimating/perverting area...(d12)
1. Decantation of the Homunculi 2. The Gifts of Gnarlathotep
3. The Incubation of the Egg 4. Formulae of the Wrinkling Replica
5. Domination of the Doppelganger 6. The Aeonic Advancement
7. I am the Slime 8. The Shapes of Things to Come
9. The Gratuitous Graft 10. The Incandescent Imbuement
11. The Scales of the Serpent 12. The Internment of Invulnerability

4. "STANDARD" MISC SPELL; determ randomly at whatever level you feel appropriate, disregard any "common picks" and look for something more offbeat to add to the Wizard's Spellbook

5. SUMMONING SPELL; a specific creature for a certain purpose, or limited duration, if provided with proper appeasement (d12)
1. The Sufferance of the Shantak 2. The Eclipsing Swarm
3. The Angry Gnargoyle 4. The Putrid Eruption of Kyuss
5. Coalescence of the Congeries 6. Acquiescence of the Quasit
7. Subservience of the Shoggoth 8. Restraining Order of the Unseen Stalker
9. The Mycetic Malfeasance of MiGo 10. The Howl of the Byakhee
11. Accretion of the Algoid 12. The Solicitation of the Slaadi

6. "NEW" MISC. SPELL; from your latest blog-crawl. I don't have a table because I think 1st ed AD&D pretty much covers it, I'm rarely interested in what I come across, and I don't have much to offer in this area, either! (I'll post a few modest Ritual and Misc "New" spells next post, but here's my fave Spell Compilation, and there are some good ones here, too)

7. GLYPH or SYMBOL; the Ancients were all about magic runes and such, no doubt. I'm fond of 'em, too. General Effects:(d30)
1. Fire 7.Electricity 13. Insanity 19. Mutation 25. Weakness
2. Cold 8. XP Drain 14. Despair 20. Polymorph 26. Phasing
3. Paralysis 9. Blindness 15. Discord 21. Obsession 27. Stupidity
4. Stunning 10. Radiation 16. Rage 22. Giggles 28. Unseen Object
5. Fear 11. Slowing 17. Warding 23. Passion 29. Elder Sign
6. Cursing 12.Amnesia 18. Hypnosis 24. Suggestion 30. DM's Whim

8. LEGEND & LORE; "adventure hook" entry detailing a legendary person/place/thing, possibly incl a map or directions, clues, hints, enticements...

*see also here :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

HELLO, BOYS! I'M BAAACK!


Doesn't really have anything to do with this post

PYRAMID OF RESURRECTION Gnartian Artifact in form of smoky crystal pyramid, approx 6" along the edges, a construct of the Elder Serpent Folk.

When first handled, the PC doing so must Save vs Death once, or be drained of one XP lvl. Thereafter, the item will no longer drain that person (whether or not the attempt succeeded), and only that person may employ its power. Another may attempt to use the item once they also Save (or fail!), but only one person may command the Pyramid at any time.

Total # Charges/Uses is something I call "Level Variable"; meaning a base #, plus 1ch/lvl of the bearer. So, as charges are subtracted by one per use, they are also increased by one per lvl of XP gained. This Artifact has 1d4+XP lvl charges when first found, to be redetermined if it changes hands.(possibly it "starts over" at 1d4+lvl each time it changes hands)

Operates by "scanning" whatever scraps of the deceased (no pun intended) remain, and reconstructing a new body in perfect condition; full HP, all memories, personality, etc intact. Side effect: all Bad Mutations are removed, and any Good Mutations must ea make a save vs Spells/Mutations to be retained, any missing or ruined limbs, organs, etc are restored as well, all scars are gone

The Pyramid automatically restores any PC the first time it is used upon them, without penalty. If used a second time, a Resurrect Survival roll must be made, and each time thereafter this % is reduced by half, failure dissolves the remains into goo. Any PC resurrected more than once also loses an XP lvl each time the device is used upon them thereafter.

There is a 1in8 chance/use that the Pyramid does not Resurrect, but rather Reincarnates the deceased by creating a new, but different body, possibly from bits of other persons lying about, or floating on the breeze... maybe the "psychic residue" of a forgotten death.... I have a table of bodies for this, but its too specifically Gnartian to be much use to anyone else, and one can always use the Spell version. I think I'm going to allow them to retain Mental Ability Scores, HP, etc, because I have other trauma in mind:

Collateral Reincarnation Weirdness (d10/d12) (Gonzo version d12)
1. New body is very young; teenager, or even small child
2. PC retains all Class abilities as before, but has no other memories
3. PC's new brain seems to contain scraps of another personality, or repressed memories ("whispers")
4. Tragic mishap places PC into nearby corpse (of type as rolled), which claws to surface howling in agony, and attacks Party for their gross misdeed. Zombie PC retains HP & HD/lvl, but is otherwise slow and sloppy
5. New body exhibits Mutation(s), possibly even Good Ones! (or is oddly marked; tattoo, birthmark, runic brand)
6. PC is reincarnated into body which already has a soul/personality, and the two must share the same skull until the other personality "finishes its Gnarthly business" and moves on (seeks justice, revenge, completion, etc)
7. New body is of different gender than original
8. PC is driven a wee bit mad by the whole experience; roll on your fave table or just assign a weird mania
9, 10. Just your average reincarnation
(11, 12.) (same as 9, 10 above) or
(11, 12.) Check Out this awesome Random Reincarnator! You can adjust the circumstances with cool modifiers like "Who cares? The Crawling Chaos smiles upon me!"

The Pyramid also bears a Curse; whenever it is used, a Byakhee is Summoned and arrives w/in 2d4 rnds, and attempts to carry the user off to Hastur (dead or alive), unless slain. Perhaps this only occurs the first few times the Pyramid is used, or perhaps the Curse can be lifted... with the blood of a Serpent Folk Wizard...

...I once introduced the Rod of Reincarnation, which is exactly like the Rod of Resurrection from the DMG, but Reincarnates the deceased on either the MU spell table (75%) or the Druid version (25%), and that was fun, too. Congratulations! You're a Kobold! Badgers? We don't need no stinking Badgers!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

THACO = SAVE VS SPELLS

Someone out there has noticed this already... right?

Here's the MONSTER ATTACK MATRIX I'm currently using.  The values are comparable to those in 1ed, Labyrinth Lord, etc; that is, they are generally the same throughout, varying no more than one (or rarely two) points from the standard tables, but weighted slightly in favor of the mid-level Monsters.  I have not included values for Monsters of less than one HD; when it occurs I attach a TH penalty of -1 to -3, a -3 rendering high AC invulnerable to these nuisances.

HD     1      2      3      4      5      6      7      8      9     10
TH0  18     17    16    15     14    13     12    11    10    10

HD    11    12    13    14     15    16     17    18    19    20    21+
TH0    9      9      8      8      7      7       6      5      4     3      2

Why bother?  Its easy for me to use, seems to follow some sort of regular progression, and here's the bonus:
The TH0s are also very, very close to the Fighter Saving Throw vs Spells values, so I can quickly glance at the same Matrix for either value, and when in combat with most creatures, one number does the job for both!
Of course, some Monsters Save as other than Fighters, and this shortcut doesn't work!
Use these Save Modifiers for values nearly identical to 1st ed:
Paral/Pois/Death +3
Petrif/Poly +2
R/S/W +1
Spells (unadjusted)
as for Breath Weapon, this quick and easy system doesn't work... but really, how often is a Monster the one Saving vs BW?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Temple o' the Toad pt 4

The Party had some odd events befall...

A pit in a natural cavern appeared to be a well of some sort. Four equidistant metal rings were secured to the floor along the rim of the 10' diam shaft. From these, a set of four slimy metal chains dangled into dark water 50' below, and a quick Levitating Recon by Borune revealed nothing else. The party debated hauling up one or all of these, separately or simultaneously, and decided to drag on one of the chains, bringing up a metal bucket of blackish water. I was surprised when they left it at that, and went to explore the stairs to lvl III! They didn't even examine or dump out the bucket! It was unremarkable, but that only meant that one of the remaining three buckets was the one which held "a (very) Minor Random Magic, Tech, or useful Mundane Item", which I decided I'd determine on the fly, sunken to the bottom of the bucket... and so they passed on the only piece of unguarded treasure in the place!

A stone table in the center of a large, seemingly empty domed chamber was lit by a feeble "spotlight" from above. This pedestal was inscribed with a Glyph of the Unseen Object, which caused all to Save upon viewing, so that only Borune was able to perceive that their were items of possible interest arranged upon it. As I like surprises, these were also determined when they entered; a Crystal Flask w/stopper (Endless Water), a "faceted metallic egg" (Tech Grenade, "irritant" - like mace), and a shiny aluminum canister (of Scoobies). This proved enough to entice the party to send the unwounded fighters in to examine the table, while the others remained tightly packed in the hallway outside. A few Chupacabra scuttled forth from narrow side tunnels, and were soon dispatched, and then the Duodon* extended its snaky necks through two of the rat-holes, and attacked with two of its most powerful Spells, a Fireball for the majority of the party huddled "safely" in the hall outside, and a Lightning Bolt for Tarkas, who had shown himself to be a powerhouse against the Chupes. Total confusion ensued... were more giant snakes coming out of all the side tunnels, where were spells coming from, should we retreat down the hall and up the ladder, what about the loot on the table (maybe its not even real!), ...and on the following rnd... the Duodon heads, now exposed, revealed that they were the source of the spells by casting Web to block off all retreat, then Magic Missiles to disrupt spell casting. As the fighters took cover behind the table and fired ranged weapons, Rose managed a Silence Spell, which effectively robbed the Duodon of its spells, and so it withdrew its heads into the secret vault which was its lair, but the secret entrance was discovered, and the party either wisely pressed what little advantage they had, or foolishly charged onward despite injuries... anyway, they pursued and slaughtered the beast, which couldn't seem to score any decent damage or catch a break with any of its remaining spells. Such are the dice. The Party discovered a pile of bones and debris which also held assorted coins and jewelry, and also a personal Energy Field Generator harness, the power pack readout revealing 14 charges remaining (determined to be a Displacer emitter, acting as the Cloak)

Also in the Duodon's secret vault was a statue of Hastur, squatting and contemplating his palms. After a few rnds, a sphere of faint grayish radiance appeared in its lap, the party became inexplicably FREAKED OUT by this, snatched up everything, and made their way back upstairs. OK, I'll admit there was a nasty Glyph on the statue which would have affected any approaching it, and the party was depleted, but the radiance was obscuring a Gnartian Artifact, a very powerful legacy of the Elder Races. Once again, I hadn't determined exactly what is was, but it was an Artifact! All they had to do was grab it and pull it out of the radiance! (If they had, I had a scary earth-tremor planned, which would crack the ceiling and dislodge some debris, but not collapse the place) There were NO MORE Wandering Monsters left in the place! This was THE PRIZE from the entire dungeon! I dunno. The "radiance" may appear again, if they go back, or maybe not! Oh, and just so ya know, although powerful, a Gnartian Artifact is not of the caliber of an AD&D Artifact, and often has a limited # of uses, and this particular one was Cursed to summon an angry Byakhee to carry the bearer off when used. I'm not running a "give away"!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Let’s face it, You’re not ready"

  • OK, so this is adapted from Survive the Apocalypse, and makes a useful Mundane Modern Item table; nothing too fancy, but useful

     

    Tools for the Apocalyptic Wanderer (d30)

    • 1  Weapon with spikes on it
    • 2  Fire Starters – Matches, Magnifying Glass, Magnesium, Flint and Steel
    • 3  Hatchet, Fireman's Axe
    • 4  Adjustable Wrench or Folding Shovel
    • 5  Weird helmet
    • 6  2 – 3 gallon cooking pot
    • 7  First Aid Kit (salve, hypos?)
    • 8  Book of Edible Plant Life
    • 9  Map or Compass
    • 10  Collapsible Saw
    • 11  Crowbar
    • 12  Hunting Knife, Bowie, Machete
    • 13  Crank Flashlight, glow stick
    • 14  Can-opener, or other odd tool
    • 16  Caribiner
    • 17  Needle and Thread
    • 18  Binoculars, Telescope
    • 19  Leatherman tool
    • 20  Fishing Line and Hooks
    • 21  Small Radio, Communicator
    • 22  Wool Blanket or Fur
    • 23  Boot Lace, rope, twine
    • 24  Harmonica or Kazoo
    • 25  Canteen for Water (empty?)
    • 26  Canteen for Fuel (full?)
    • 27  Tarp, canvas
    • 28  Power Source, fuel
    • 29  Rations, preserved foodstuffs
    • 30 New idea

Saturday, March 5, 2011

...and the Award goes to...

Houserule:
MVP AWARD: each time XP is awarded, the Players (not each PC) vote
for which PC gets the MVP award.  DM presents a list of exceptional instances of
gameplay, and the winning PC is granted an XP bonus, up to +10% of the PCs
share of  XP.  DM does not vote, but does resolve any "ties", possibly choosing
to divide the bonus among two or more PCs.  Exact amount awarded is up to DM.
(Optional: Players cannot vote for own Character; prob depends more on # of Players rather than modesty issues)
Nomination-Worthy:  mind-blowing originality, "staying in character" despite obvious advantages to the contrary, self-sacrifice on Party's behalf, really good decisions, keen strategy, etc.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"LANDMARK" LEVELS

Houserule: When reaching the XP lvls of 5, 10, and 15, PCs of all classes receive a +1 to their Primary Ability Score as a result of intense training in their chosen class, max of 18.

Why not?  Would seem odd if it did not occur, to me.  Of course, the increase could happen every four XP levels, or every six, but I'm going with 5/10/15 for my game, as 15th lvl is nearly impossible to achieve in it.  You started out with an 18 and don't get to advance?  Lucky you, what are you complaining about?

I'm using Labyrinth Lord Ability Scores, NOT AD&D Scores (no % STR!), not using any Weapon Specialization, or Weapon vs Armor Type mods

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

KILLBOTS


The Killbots from Futurama have two attributes I'd love to utilize:

Kill limit

For unknown reasons, a kill limit of 999,999 is hardcoded into killbots. I'm thinking of a large, old-style LED counter, red -of course -displayed prominently on the chest or torso, which increases as it kills, accompanied by a pleasant "BING!"  Perhaps lesser models have a limit of 999, or 99.  When the kill-limit is reached, they become peaceful and in fact rather friendly. Perhaps the players encounter one that is within one or two kills of its limit... however, their kill counter has the option of being reset, possibly unintentionally...

Activation

Killbots start shooting immediately when hearing a word that has to do with weapons. Supposedly, this has been installed to easily activate the Killbots on immediate demand, but it also causes troubles, including accidentally shooting each other or themselves when talking to each other.
Imagine a sealed vault containing a massive Warbot of the Ancients, possibly the very first chamber of an underground complex, or central nexus to lvl one, which the party will surely have to pass through numerous times.  It remains completely unresponsive until one of the PCs happens to mention "that wound I took in the arm", or "wish I still had that Fireball", or "I only have 3 charges left in my Wand of Magic Missiles"... whereupon it immediately "lights up" and a powerful vibration/hum is felt/heard as the automaton intones "Arm/Fire/Missiles!" and launches the appropriate attack!  Maybe its sealed behind a partitioning wall of Glassteel or some such, and just maybe that accounts for the obviously dead and contorted - but not obviously wounded (?) -corpses in there as well, victims of the colorless, deadly poisonous gas which has kept the Killbot insulated from the effects of time for so long... maybe the party should be given a rnd to prepare, as the machinery supporting the Killbot evacuates the poison gas before lowering the barrier... this might actually give them a chance against the thing... and of course, if the Kbot is defeated, the machinery will raise the barrier again in 10 rnds, and refill the chamber with gas... better loot those corpses quickly!