Monday, January 31, 2011


 Also a good idea

Few weeks back I forgot to pack my trusty DM screen, and was having difficulty using a loaner, so I cleared my end of the gaming table, set my adventure/map notebook on my lap, and rolled 'em for all to see.  The lack of a physical barrier has made a noticeable difference in the game which is difficult to describe, but it seems more of a group effort, as opposed to an "us against that guy with the screen" dynamic.  Anyhow, its back in my D&D bag, but now it lies flat on the table.  I say, ditch the screen!

However, if you like your screen, here's a 10GP idea for ya: get some of those black spring-steel paper clips, and attach a few to the bottom when setting up.  Bigger clips provide a broader base, and the added weight keeps it upright even under the impact of a wildly-flung d30.  These will tend to mar the screen over time, but you could prob wrap them with duct tape to provide a cushion between the cardboard and the metal, or maybe sandwich the screen between two additional layers of cardboard before clipping.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


So I started working on this campaign world, and needed to name it. I wanted something simple, no more than one or two syllables, which would be easy to pronounce and would somehow evoke the spirit of a pulp sci fi world, possibly based on the word "Mars". An examination of "Cthulhu mythos celestial bodies" led me to Kynarth, "A mysterious celestial body located past Yuggoth (or Pluto?) on the edge of the solar system," which sounded kinda cool, but I wanted a more original name, without a Wikipedia listing, so I toyed with K'narth, which incl the sci-fi/fantasy vocab cliche of an apostrophe instead of a vowel, which in turn suggested Knarth (with another cliche, the silent consonant!), and I thought of a dungeon I created years ago, the "Maze of Gnar", and I said, yeah... Gnarth! Sounds like a Gnarly version of Mars+Earth, cool! My natives would be called "Gnartians"! To be sure it wasn't already a bargain-bin novel or B-movie, I Wikied "Gnarth", and was asked "Are you sure you didn't mean Garth?" I had my own original name! Or so it seemed...
Halfway through designing Gnarth I was on the Urban Dictionary, and just for giggles I entered the name of my new world, and that's when I realized there really isn't anything new under the sun. Any sun.

GNARTH (buy gnarth mugs, tshirts and magnets) Can mean pretty much anything depending on the context it's used in. "oh man I totally gnarthed that test today."

and there was more... much more...

I'm planning to use all of these in the campaign! The puns will be merciless. Party on, Kane. Party on... Gnarth.

Oh, there's this thing, too. I like it. Needs OSR stats.


Easy system for producing weird, random-assembly monsters/mutants.

1. BASIC STRUCTURE Determ creature's body structure & appearance by
combining the features of two or more Random Monsters (d6): 1-3 combine two, 4 or 5 combine three, 6 combine four. Select any features you like, get an idea of appearance, attack forms & damage, movement, abilities. Average combined HD and AC. I like to mix AD&D, Gnarth (my own campaign), Gamma World, and Mutant Future

2. APPEARANCE Modify size and outward appearance, if you like. Size is best
left to discretion; most are Large, while a small number are Medium, Huge, or
even Gigantic.

1. Hairy (shaggy, matted, patchy, scruffy, dreaddy)
2. Scaly (reptilian, fishy, overlapping, plated)
3. Skin (leathery, wrinkly, warty, lumpy, bumpy)
4. Spiky (bristly, horny)
5. Exoskeleton (carapace; partial or full, "shell")
6. Slimy (covered, oozing, trailing)

3. SPECIAL ABILITIES Add 1-4 Mutations &/0r Attributes of Interest.
Apply any features already selected toward these totals, or tack on additions

ATTRIBUTES OF INTEREST (d50) Detail as you like

1. Displaced; -2 TH, first AT auto miss 26. Bio-luminescent
2. Plant-like feature(s) 27. Prehensile tongue/tail
3. +1d4 HD 28. +1d4 AC
4. Specific Weakness 29. Contagious/Infectious
5. Ability Score/level Drain 30. Changes color to suit mood or blend
6. +1d24 HP 31. +1d4 Save vs Magic or other
7. Increased/Special/Weird Movement 32. Weird fascination with...
8. Detects Invisibility or other 33. Ultravision/Extra sense
9. Duplicates/Splits when hit 34. Corrodes/Dissolves
10. Spell Casting Ability 35. Random spell, 1d4/day
11. STR bonus, +1d4 36. Berserker!
12. Slime producing 37. Acidic Blood
13. Poison (AT, Contact, Ingested) 38. Wounding, Unhealing
14. Immune or Aura - Heat or Cold 39. 1/2 dam from Blunt weapons
15. - Spells, lvls 1-3, or specific 40. Thief Skill (Backstab, CW, MS, HN)
16. - Lasers, other Energy 41. Vampiric, gains HP by AT
17. - Radiation 42. Specific enmity (Wizards, Mutants, etc)
18. - Mental Influence, general/specific 43. Increased rate or # of AT
19. Highly territorial 44. Odd, disturbing, or scary noise
20. Sticky (weapons, etc adhere) 45. Regenerate 1d4/rnd
21. Magic Resistance 46. Damaged by Magic only
22. Vorpal, Amputating, Withering 47. Takes extra damage from ?
23. Detects &/or Dispels Magic 48. Able to employ weaponry
24. Speaks the tongues of men 49. Ability as Magic Potion, 1d4/day
25. Elongated/retractable neck/limbs 50. Pick One or New Idea


    "You've got a bit of red on you"
So my buddy Dan inquires about purchasing darts for his Fighter while they're in a town, which was kinda weird, but OK, sure.  Next thing I know, his low-lvl Fighter is getting 3AT/rnd, and sure, they are only doing 1-3/1-2 damage, but here's the kicker: cumulative STR bonus!  Tarkas has  +3 STR bonus, meaning his damage is 4-6/4-5, per dart!  With a long bow, albeit at much longer range, he could conceivably do 12 HP dam/rnd, if both arrows strike, while at shorter range, three dart hits (ea at +1!) could more easily deal out 18!
So... if your character has a Girdle of Giant Strength, ask about buying some darts next time you're in town!
                                             Or sell them on E-bay


"Wand of Affixing"  an idea stolen from Jack Vance; tap any item, and it can be permanently affixed/joined/bonded to another, as if somehow "glued".  Figure a Bend Bars roll or something similar might break this bond.  A second tap negates a previous bonding.  (1charge/tap)  Does NOT work on living creatures... but no one has tried it on an Undead, yet...  Current party uses it primarily to "lock" dungeon doors by affixing door to frame, esp. when trying to rest/recoup in a dungeon setting... oddly, no one has yet used it to keep a door permanently OPEN...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


There are few things more iconic to weird science/space pulp than a strange, sinister raygun! Produced only by highly advanced Alien technology. 100' range (unless noted otherwise), one shot/rnd, power source/ammo is non-standard and unlikely to be replaceable, charges/shots avail as per DM. Require Save vs R/S/W/Raygun rather than rolling an attack to hit on the combat table.
1. SHRINK RAY 50% of height/weight per shot, effects either permanent, or reverts at 1" height/day, might just have a Growth Ray selector as well!
2. FOSSILIZER 3" beam, petrifaction, effect permanent
3. NEURAL DISRUPTOR save -2, stuns 1d4 rnds, failed save of "1" causes head to explode!
4. BUG GUN fires swarm of stinging, flying bugs, or clutch of boring worms
5. WEB GUN 30'x20' cone, as Spell
6. SONIC BLASTER 6" cone, effect selectable: 3d6 DAM, Stun 1 rnd, Deafen, or "Brown Noise"
7. MUTATOR roll on Bad Table (possible selector for Good Mutations!), only mutates target on first use, subsequent exposure = 6d6 Radiation dam
8. DEVOLVER as per the Mutation, Devolution, failed save of "1" causes Complete Body Devolution
9. NERVE FIRE causes uncontrollable movement at top speed in random direction
10. BLUE GOO viscous, hardening goo causes Slowing (no save) or complete immobility (failed save), dur 1 trn
11. GINGIFICATION RAY (TELEPORTER) no save (?), safely transported 100" in random direction
12. TRACTOR/REPULSOR BEAM "telekinese" up to, say... 1000 lbs?
13. SICKLY PURPLE DEATH RAY liquifies flesh, leaving only bones, save vs Death Magic, +2
14. FREEZE RAY 3" beam, or cone, selectable, 6d6 Cold damage
15. OXIDIZER (RUST GUN) metal items (not just iron, steel) must save vs Disintegration or rust/flake into dust
16. POLLINATOR (SPORE GUN) range 3", creates 1" radius cloud, effects a s per DM
17. THE DREAD BLACK RAY save at -2, drains one XP lvl/HD per shot
18. BLUE BOLT/BLUE BALL 8d6 Radiation damage, selectable bolt (save -1) or 30' radius ball, save for 1/2 dam
19. RUBBERAY tranforms matter into rubbery substance, save vs Disintegration, does not affect living beings
20. IDIOCY lowers INT to 3, regain 1 pt/day
21. AMNESIA FLASHWAND if save failed, roll d4 and lose: 1 day, 1 week, 1 year, all memory! (also wipes all Spells from memory)
22. METABOLIC REFRAGULATOR/DEFRAGULATOR heal or harm for 10 HP, selectable
23. ANTI-GRAV PULSE "levitates" target 30-60' (1d4+2, times 10), effect ends in 1d4 rnds
24. FUN GUN victim undergoes spastic fit of laughter for 1 trn, -1AC, TH, Dam, Saves, Initiative, cannot speak or cast Spells, no save
25. BUBBLE GUN encases target in Force Field bubble for 1d4 trns
26. CHRONOTRON PROJECTOR target is propelled through time, either backward or forward (selectable), 1d24 hrs (random)
27. BERZOOKA all creatures w/in 3" sphere are simultaneously affected by Haste, and a berserk, murderous rage, and attack closest being
28. REANIMATOR zombifies recently deceased corpses (AC 10, HD&Dam 1/2 original, Always attacks last), dur 24 hrs, Undead save vs Disruption
29. COMBO WEAPON Roll again, and also has secondary, lesser function; auxiliary laser, electric discharge, grenade launcher, motion detector, accuracy scope (-1 save)...
30. LAZY GUN mysterious ancient objects, possibly the creation of an Elder Species. The Lazy Gun is the only weapon known to display a sense of humour, and oddly, weighs three times as much when turned upside down. It is the Ultimate Ray Gun, auto destroying whatever it is fired at, although it can only be fired 1/day, and there is a 1 in 10 chance/use that the user will be drawn through a temporary Black Hole into another reality, while the Lazy Gun Teleports 100-1000 miles away.

DETAILING (d30) roll twice, adds to the fun

1. Brushed Aluminum 2. Gold filigree 3. Hepatizon!
4. Mother o Pearl Inlay 5. Xenowood stock 6. Bronzed
7. Blued 8. Rusty 9. Brightly enameled
10. Brass/Copper fittings 11. Fins 12.Shiny chrome
13. Muzzle nozzle 14. "Radar dish" 15. Indecipherable engraving
16. Scary prongs 17. Bedazzled 18. Transparent casing
19. Scuffed plastic 20. Ceramic 21. Barrel etched w/notches
22. Crystal encrusted 23. Blinking nodes 24. Sparking aperture
25. Buzzes 26. Hummmmms 27. Emits colored smoke puff
28. Ultrablack 29. No barrel 30. Wing It! (haven't read it, yet) (leave it to Blair at planet Algol; I love his weird details - obviously)

Monday, January 17, 2011

well... they can't all be gems

Been yoinking ideas from everyone else for a while, figure I should post what few ideas I have! Would love to start with a mind-blower, but like the title says... they're just minor treasures, for the most part.

As originally conceived, immune to damn near everything but +3 or better weapons, but what if the one fighter with the requisite tool steps up, whacks it for damage, then finds his prized weapon... stuck! I imagine a reaction similar to Fleck in Christmas Story, "Stuck? Stuck! STUCK!!!" Maybe there's a lever on the wall that negates this effect. Possibly healed by electric rather than fire. (I once had an Iron Golem breathe crimson gas which Heated Metal... that was cool.)

Other "Attractive" ideas:
MAGNETIC MONSTER-SUMMONING OBELISK Hematite structure effectively immobilizes PCs in metal armor, then acts as beacon to attract local Wandering beasties
HALL OF MAGNETIC SHIELDS Partway through traversing a long hallway adorned with metal shields, the party is attacked by humanoid (or other) monsters rushing in. Just as they prepare to respond, the magnetized shields "turn on", possibly tearing weapons, etc, from their hands and leaving them unarmed! (Save to avoid being disarmed, and also to pry item off of wall-mounted shield) Possibly blink on/off every few rnds; items attached drop to floor, maybe monsters wait for this opportunity to snatch them up, maybe metal-armored PCs w/in 5' must save or get stuck...
MAGNETIC ANTI-PIT Pit opens in ceiling, floor of which is magnetized, and when party passes, everyone in armor gets snatched up. Hopefully the other PCs will be standing directly beneath this pit when the effect suddenly stops a round or two later.