Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Vampire's Blade

Another of the Dragonsfoot context entries

The Vampire's Blade

The Vampire's Blade is a simple-looking longsword +1, an elegant, dark blade, etched in silver. In addition to the standard benefits of a +1 blade, for every 3 points of damage inflicted by a hit, the wielder will "heal" 1 point of damage. However, these hit points are not those of a living creature; instead, they are the hit points of an undead monster. It radiates powerful necromantic magic. A character who has any undead hit points cannot divest themselves of the weapon without a Remove Curse spell, and must make a save vs. Death to use any weapon other than the Vampire's Blade. They must also make a save vs. Death to willingly submit themselves to a Remove Curse spell.

When damage is taken, the damage is first done to "natural" hit points. If a character has no undead hit points, they heal normally. While the character possesses any "undead" hit points, they cannot heal, naturally or magically. Natural healing causes undead hit points to be replaced with living hit points at the rate of 1 per day (leaving the total number of hit points unchanged, but slowly returning the character to life). Magical healing from necromantic/positive energy magics burn the character, purging undead hit points at a rate of 1:1, with any remainder being used for actual healing. Magical healing from other sources (such as healing from a Polymorph Self spell) will function normally, but hit points returned will be 50/50 normal and undead, so long as 1 undead hit point remains in the system. So long as undead hit points remain in their system, a character is detectable by a Detect Undead spell. If more than 50% of the character's normal maximum HP are Undead HP, he is vulnerable to Turning and Commanding as an undead of equal HD.

If a character ever completely replaces their natural hit points with undead hit points, and heals to their normal maximum in undead hit points, they become an undead monster within 1 turn, with abilities similar to a wight, but with their own Hit Dice, saves, and any abilities they may retain from their former class... but also beyond control as a player character.

For example, Frederico the Fourth Level Fighter has a normal maximum of 25 Hit Points. He takes 5 points of damage, and dishes out 13, so replaces 4 of his lost hit points with 4 "Undead" hit points. Overnight, he well lose one of the Undead Hit Points, and replace it with a living hit point, remaining at 24 Hit Points. If Frederico were subjected to a Cure Light Wounds spell with his 3 remaining hit points, the first 3 points of healing would purge those 3 undead hit points, reducing him to 21 HP, and any remainder would heal him. If, during the course of an adventuring day, Frederico reached 12 Undead Hit Points, he would be subject to Turn and Command Undead. Should he reach 25 Undead Hit Points, he becomes a 4 HD wight.

Notes: This is a pretty potent and useful item, but has some scary possible drawbacks. Using the blade greatly extends your endurance, but you consume far more magical healing (since your undead HP must be purged before you can be healed), and your most convenient form of healing is by causing damage. Lose track of where you are, and you become an undead. It's manageable, but dangerous.

Monthly Challenge: Curses!

Another entry from Dragonsfoot's monthly challenges, The Curse of the All-Seeing Eye.

A curse often laid by gynosphinxes on those who provide them with false information, the Curse of the All-Seeing Eye is sometimes useful, but often, insidiously, drives its recipient mad. This curse may also be cast as a spell; 5th level for wizards and druids, 4th level for Clerics and illusionists. Touch range and conditionally permanent, it allows a save to resist if laid by a mortal... not so if laid by a furious gynosphinx.

The character is cursed with the ability to see invisible creatures... however, they also suffer from delusions, which are indistinguishable (for them) from an invisible creature. Upon gaining the curse, roll 1d6; the character will see that many hallucinatory invisible creatures within three hours. Each day, they will also see 1d6 hallucinatory creatures. Every time they see a truly invisible creatures, however, add 1d4; they will see that many more hallucinations within the next 24 hours (in addition to the 1d6 each day). Each month the character suffers this curse, they must roll under their Wisdom on 3d6 or lose 1 point of Wisdom as their sanity degrades; Wisdom lost in this way recovers only with the application of Restoration (in Hackmaster, there is no way for a 20th level or lower character to cure this injury).

The curse can be broken in numerous ways. A standard remove curse is only effective 50% of the time. Any Gynosphinx (not just the one who laid it), however, can remove the curse at will... they will frequently demand several thousand gold worth of gems or jewelery, or some riddle they cannot solve (but do not regard as an evasion or otherwise unsolvable... they'll not free you because they cannot guess what is in your pocket!)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Welmo, Rogue Ithorian Geoformer

Welmo, Ithorian Geoformer

(or, "Who needs a Death Star when you have Tractor Beams?")

Welmo is a rogue Ithorian, banished from his herd ship... indeed, all herd ships... for his nigh-heretical views, and willingness to put them into action. Welmo doesn't simply believe in the Mother Jungle of Ithor, no... he believes that the Mother Jungle is, or should be, universal, and so seeks to geoform non-jungled terrestrial worlds into an approximation of the Mother Jungle.

Like most truly dangerous creatures, he has a plan, and just enough knowledge and technology to try to carry it out. To Welmo, one of the big obstacles to the ubiquity of the Mother Jungle is that some worlds don't have a rich hydrosphere... worlds like Tattooine and Jakku have temperatures that could support the Mother Jungle, but don't have enough water to let them grow. What has a lot of water, not otherwise supporting jungles? Comets. So, to create the Mother Jungle of a desert world, one needs to hydrate it... and the simplest method of hydrating a world is to fling comets at it.

Having an Ithorian's typical technical aptitude, Welmo has also hired several rogues to help him run his ship.

Welmo, Ithorian Geoformer
-Blaster 4D
-Dodge 4D

-Ecology 7D
-Planetary Systems 7D
-Scholar 7D

-Astrogation 3D
-Communications 4D
-Sensors 4D
-Starship Gunnery 3D
-Starship Gunnery: Tractor Beams 5D

-Command 6D


-First Aid 2D
-Starship Weapon Repair: Tractor Beams 3D

Blaster Pistol (4D), various scientific instruments, portable computer, commlink, "The Embracing Ocean" (modified Gallofree Medium Transport)

"The Embracing Ocean"

The Embracing Ocean is Welmo's ship, a modified Gallofree Medium Transport, specifically designed for his "great work", with suggestions from Gordwa, his Dug lieutenant.

Most of the Embracing Ocean's interior storage is empty and typically kept unpressurized. Before an "operation", the Embracing Ocean will use its tractor beams to capture asteroids, providing it with greater mass with which to affect its targeted comet. After an operation, or when an operation needs to be aborted, it will vent the asteroids, providing temporary cover for the Ocean's escape.

The Embracing Oceans statistics are the same as other Gallofree Medium Transports (REUP, p. 445), but with the following exceptions:

*Typical crew skill: Astrogation 5D, space transports 6D, starship gunnery

4D+2, starship shields 4D

*Crew: 6, plus 3 gunners. Skeleton 3/+10

*When empty, its space speed increases to 4 (it is 2 when full of asteroids or other mass; venting the asteroids requires opening the cargo bay and moving away at 2 for one move before acceleration to 4)

*Shields have been increased to 3D (Gordwa sold this to Welmo as being necessary if they're going to be capturing asteroids)

*The ship now boasts three tractor beams; two on the rear arc, and a third on the "bottom" arc. The third is only usable when the cargo bay is empty. These tractor beams have 3D damage and 1D fire control; optimized for strength over accuracy. The two rear tractor beams may be fire-linked; the ventral tractor beam cannot. Typical skill with the tractor beams is 5D

*One of the Twin Laser Cannons has been replaced with a Heavy Ion Cannon (4D damage, 4D Fire control), while another has been replaced with a Concussion Missile Launcher (8D damage, 1D Fire control). This leaves 2 twin laser cannons. Each of these different systems requires a separate gunner.

Gordwa, Dug Thug

Welmo is a "True Believer". He KNOWS he is right, and that the best way to achieve his goals is to throw comets at inhabit(ed/able) planets until they have a "healthy" hydrosphere. Gordwa... Gordwa sees himself as more of a "big picture" kind of Dug. Sure, you can extort money from planets by threatening them with cometary bombardment, and maybe even make some money as a cometary-bombarder-for-hire, but piracy? Piracy is how you make some quick cash. When Welmo brought Gordwa on as a hand, he quickly realized he could manipulate the idealistic Ithorian, and push him in the ways Gordwa wanted to go. Does the Ocean need some repairs? Why not find a ship and take the parts that the Ocean needs? Why shoot all those asteroids out of the hold right away? Might some of them contain valuable minerals? And, hey, if we're going to another world ANYWAY, why don't we pick up some cargo from my friend and deliver it to this world on the way?

Gordwa is not technically in charge, but he's screened the crew; aside from Welmo, all of the crew likes Gordwa's style, and is happy to engage in a bit of profitmaking under the guide of Welmo's "Holy Mission". Gordwa hopes to keep Welmo dancing on his string for a while, making money and directing him to lucrative targets.

Gordwa, Dug Thug
DEX 3D+1
-Dodge 4D+1
-Brawling Parry 4D+1

-Intimidation 4D
-Streetwise 4D

-Space Transports 4D+2
-Starship Gunnery 4D+2
-Starship Shields 4D

PER 2D+1
-Command 4D
-Con 4D

STR 3D+2
-Brawling 5D

-Space Transports Repair 4D
-Starship Weapons Repair 4D
-Blaster Repair 3D+2
Heavy Blaster Pistol (5D), cybernetic claws on toes and fingers (+1D to Climbing skill, +2 to Brawling Damage), Blast Vest (+1D physical, +1 Energy)

The rest of the crew (the Pirate Template is appropriate for all of them):

Nodon, Cathar Mechanic

Noodlo, Duros Pilot

"Yo, Wee!", plural "The Weequay", three Weequay gunners, none of whom has an individual nickname

Karsk, Bothan Communications Expert/Supplier

3-5 others, usually human, zabrak, twi'lek, or other common species

New Republic Ewoks

Thirty years after the Battle of Endor brought their species to the attention of the broader galaxy, the Ewoks both on and off of Endor are a changed species. This is not to say that there aren't traditionalist Ewoks still living on the moon... indeed, they are the majority of the total population... but of the Ewoks active in the galaxy, most are more cosmopolitan... second generation natives of the Galactic Republic. Some traveled off-planet with the Republic; others remained in contact with the galaxy via the New Republic presence on their moon, taking part in Republic education and acting as native guides in efforts to recover parts of the the destroyed Death Star II.
Physically, New Republic Ewoks are unchanged from their more primitive kin. However, they're far better educated, and familiar with galactic technology Those currently coming of age, the grandcubs of the heroes of the Battle of Endor, are active both on their own moon and throughout the galaxy.

New Republic Ewoks
Attribute Dice: 12D
Dexterity 1D+2/4D+2
Knowledge: 1D/3D+2
Mechanical: 1D+2/4D
Perception: 2D/4D+2
Strength: 1D/3D
Technical: 1D/3D+1

Special Skills:
New Republic Ewoks may still improve the traditional Ewok skills of Thrown Weapons, Glider, and Primitive Construction, though they are less likely to do so.

Special Abilities:
Small: Ewoks are smaller than many other species in the galaxy. While this doesn't matter for a lot of things, in some cases, it can be a big problem. Vacuum Suits, space suits, and armor are frequently poorly fitted to Ewok physiques. Many standard starships aren't well suited to Ewok physiology, meaning an Ewok may receive a -1D penalty to vehicle operation, shield, and vehicle weapon skills if the vehicle isn't designed to adjust to their size. Ewoks like Sullustan craft due to this, as they are frequently able to adjust to the smaller size. This is, to an extent, a matter of GM fiat, but Imperial craft are noted for the relatively narrow range of sizes they will accommodate. Refitting a craft to accomodate Ewok crew members is usually an Easy to Moderate task requiring an hour's worth of work for each station to be converted.
Likewise, Ewoks find many standard-built weapons to be awkward; Heavy Blasters, Blaster Carbines, Blaster Rifles, and larger weapons require similar modifications to be used without penalty; blaster pistols, sporting blasters, and hold-out blasters can usually be used without modification. Melee weapons not adjusted for ewoks have their maximum damage reduced by 1D.

Smell: Ewoks have a highly developed sense of smell, getting a +1D to their search skill when tracking by scent; this ability cannot be improved.

Story Factors:
Protectiveness: Most human adults will feel unusually protective of Ewoks. Because of this, humans can also be very condescending towards Ewoks. Some Ewoks are tolerant of this human foible, but many New Republic Ewoks find it grating.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gnome Tongue (Proficiency)

Gnome Tongue (5BP)

While most of the Gnome Titans... those gnomes native to the cantons of the Vrykarr Mountains... have lost the trick of speaking with animals, some few have learned it from their elders. With the Gnome Tongue proficiency may communicate with burrowing mammals as other gnomes do.

Prerequisites: Gnome Titan or Gnomeling and Gnomish as a native language

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Castles and Crusades Sessions 1 and 2

I've started a monthly Castles and Crusades game with some other adults; I am the Castle Keeper, my wife and two other couples are playing.

For those familiar, I am combining two old-school modules... T1 and B2. Hommlet has become the Forgotten Realms city of Highcastle, in the High Dale, between Cormyr and Sembia, with the Keep on the Borderlands being the now-completed Keep of Rufus and Burne. The Thunder Way, which runs near Highcastle, is noted for connecting not much with nowhere in particular, with another route that gets you there faster and safer, and without going through the mountains, which are frequently closed to traffic through the winter. However, it is a pilgrimage site, being the location of the Dancing Place (aka the Caves of the Unknown on the B2 map), where several deities manifested a few centuries ago, leading to the formation of the Harpers. The part of the Hidden Vale, a (former) settlement of rock gnomes, is being played by the Caves of Chaos.

(These are all things that the party already knows, or would know if they asked; other aspects of what's going on are, obviously, being kept a bit secret for now).

Player Characters:
Gnome Wizard, Junior, who seems to have a bit of a death wish
Dwarven Druid, Nags, with an ant animal companion
Human Monk, Neb, who likes to hit things
Human Rogue, Nickles, always trying new things
Half-Elf Ranger, no name yet, who likes to drink

Session 1:

The party arrived as part of a trade caravan, the first of the year. Exploring the town, they found there is significant tension between the local druidic circle and the "new" temple of Helm; Rufus and Burne brought the worship of Helm in about a decade ago, and while it's somewhat caught on, their proselytizing and relative inflexibility and hostility to ecumenicism has chilled relations. There's also a local priest of Oghma, studying in the library of Rufus, and amiably making friends while he's there.
A lot was setting up the game, of course, and making characters, but the party did manage to expose a cheat in the Inn, getting him kicked out, and recruit a couple more people (Zert, who knew the caravan master, and Spugnoir, who desperately wanted to get out of town after having been stuck for the winter). While travelling out of town with the caravan, the party was attacked by a dozen hobgoblins, who they routed (along with some great help from Spugnoir's Sleep spell), and backtracked to the Hidden Vale.

Session 2:

Exploring the Hidden Vale, they first entered one of the goblin caves, fighting a neat little battle and learning from their prisoners that the gnomes have been gone for months, and that the cave next door is where the goblins have been putting a lot of their treasure. The party withdrew, giving their injured monk a chance to heal a bit. They decided to try the cave next door. The thief sets a snare, then goes in... and wakes the ogre. She retreats, and the slowly waking ogre looks up again... and sees a dwarf druid. She takes a pot shot at him, falling back. The monk steps forward and gives him a shot in the nuts, and falls back a touch, as the thief falls from above, backstabbing on her way down. Adam Ant chews on his foot, and he's angry.. so he smashes the HELL out of the Monk... 12 out of the 13 points he currently has. He tosses the monk back, but gets torn down by the rest of the party (eventually getting caught in a snare, one leg caught in the air). They quickly search the cave, finding a cache of cash, some cheese, and a keg of brandy... and a wall made out of unmortared brick, leading into the goblin caves. Opening a few bricks, they see the goblins have set up their table as a barricade, and are watching them. One takes off running, and the dwarf wings him, but he gets away. The monk, moderately healed by goodberries, Kool-aid Man's his way through the wall, then smashes into the table, killing all five remaining goblins with the table itself (REALLY horrible saving throws).
The party retreats to the ogre cave as more goblins head down from deeper in the caves... and then tosses a doctored keg of brandy onto the fire the goblins were cooking on, leading to a jet of flame soaking the goblin horde... not enough to kill them, but definitely sending them all into retreat. The goblins head back to the common room and begin to argue, sides forming as it's argued as to whether the chief is still a fit leader after that debacle... 11 goblins dead in two attacks, the ogre apparently gone, and then everyone else bathed in fire.
The party listens, and retreats to the ogre cave, and then hears the march of boots out of the other hallway... things are about to get interesting in the Hidden Vale.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

True Atlantean Nomad Iconic Framework

True Atlantean Nomad Iconic Framework
There are True Atlanteans and then there are True Atlanteans. The most young True Atlanteans aren’t that much different from standard humans… trained in the use of Tattoo Magic and the basics of using Stone Pyramids, of course, and with centuries ahead of them instead of mere decades, but, nonetheless, not too much different.
Then there are the Nomads. Many True Atlanteans set off on a time of wandering, learning the breadth and beauty of the Megaverse with their own eyes, their own senses. They seek far vistas and learn strange languages, relying on their wits and skills (and more than a bit of magic) to get from place to place.
The True Atlantean Nomad is old; at least a century, usually more. They’ve been around the Megaverse and seen a number of crazy things, and come out of it with a deeper curiousity and desire to see even more. They’ve also come out of it with a few enemies, a bit of paranoia about vampires, and a strong sense of self-preservation.

The Nomad Hero’s Journey
Nomads have two rolls on the Experience and Wisdom table, and three rolls on any other table (though few choose Cybernetics).

Nomad Bonuses and Abilities
All Nomads are True Atlanteans, and so have their abilities; Tattoo Magic, a basic understanding of Stone Magic, and the great dislike of Vampires and the Splugorth and their minions. For convenience, these are listed among a Nomad’s abilities and Drawbacks.

*Better Kind of Person: Nomads begin with plus one die type to Vigor, Spirit, and Smarts. They also begin with the Strong Willed and Nerves of Steel Edges.
*Great Experience: Nomads have been everywhere and seen everything. They begin with 20 experience points and the associated advances. They begin as a Seasoned rank character.
*Immune to Transformation: Nomads cannot be transformed by any means.
*Knowledgeable: Nomads begin with Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (Megaverse), and Knowledge (History) at d6, as well as the traditional Atlantean skill of Stone Magic at d6. They also posses a d6 in Fighting and Shooting.
*Magical Dabbler: Nomads are able to make use of Ley Line Sense and Ley Line Phasing, like the Ley Line Walker Iconic Framework. They may take any Arcane Background not forbidden to them, but they do not receive it for free.
*Megaversal Traveller: Nomads are good at finding friends in all sorts of places; they begin with a +2 to Charisma and the I Know a Guy Edge.
*Tattooed Heritage. As True Atlanteans, Nomads have the Arcane Background: Tattoo Magic, and the Tattoo Magic skill at d6. They begin with the Smite tattoo (which will also create a sword) and the Protection from Vampires tattoo (which functions as Warrior’s Gift, but granting +4 to traits rolls and armor against vampires). They also begin with the Speak Language tattoo, and two additional Power Tattoos, either or both of which may be substituted for Minor tattoos. They begin with 5 PPE, plus one for every tattoo they possess (so, between 10-12 PPE). As with all tattoo users, they have +1 to Armor and Toughness for every 3 tattoos.
*Vampire Sense: Due to wide experience, Nomads can tell a Vampire just by looking at them; they may use Notice to ferret out any vampires within Line of Sight.

Nomad Complications
Being a Nomad doesn’t come with a huge number of drawbacks that don’t also come from being a True Atlantean.

*Enemies: True Atlanteans are well-known through the Megaverse, partially due to the actions of Nomads. They have a -4 to Charisma when dealing with Vampires, Splugorth, or their minions.
*Lack of Focus: Nomads are not men of magic, nor are they warriors. They may not take the Master of Magic Edge, nor any professional edges with Fighting, Shooting, or Arcane Backgrounds as requirements.

Nomad Starting Gear

Ley Line Walker Light Armor or ED-5 “Plastic-Man” Light Security Armor, Wilk’s 227 Pulse Laser Pistol, Techno-Wizard Specialized Tool Kit, NG-S2 Survival Pack, 2d4 × 1,000 credits.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stone Magic and Magic Pyramids for Savage Rifts

Stone Magic

Stone Magic is an ancient form of magical technology, related conceptually to Techno-wizardry. Stone Masters are, at the simplest level, able to manipulate stone; mold it, move it, and shape it. However, with the proper materials, Stone Masters can create a wide variety of “traditional” powers, and, working together, can create massive stone pyramids; works of magical technology that heal people, extend their lives, and even piercing dimensions. All True Atlanteans are taught how to use Stone Magic technology; only true Stone Mages (those with the Arcane Background: Stone Magic) and Stone Masters (those with the Stone Master Iconic Framework) can manipulate the stone and call forth powers.

NOTE: This was edited on 2017/5/15 to reflect some great feedback I got on the Palladium Message Boards.

Tattoo Magic for Savage Rifts

Tattoo Magic
Tattoo magic is an ancient form of enchanting, imbuing living flesh with mystic power. Taught by the Chiang-ku to the True Atlanteans in the days of High Atlantis, it’s secrets were wrested by the Splugorth, either from rogue Chiang-ku or during the Atlantean diaspora after the Atlantean Cataclysm. For True Atlanteans, it is part of their culture; all True Atlanteans are tattooed young with the “Marks of Heritage”, including a sword bearing the crest of their Clan, and a mark providing protection against vampires.

Ogres for Savage Rifts

Ogre Race:
*Size (+2): Ogres are simply massive; 8-10 feet tall, which an equal increase in Toughness.
*Let’s Get Physical: Ogres begin with a d6 in Strength and Vigor, with a maximum of d12+1 in both traits
*Simply Horrible: Ogres suffer from a Bad Reputation; they are known to be cannibals, slavers, and favored minions of all sorts of evil creatures. They are also quite Distinctive (as Distinctive D-Bee), have a Non-Standard Physiology.

True Atlanteans for Savage Rifts

True Atlantean Race:
*Arcane Background: Tattoo Magic. All True Atlanteans learn the basics of Tattoo Magic. They begin with a d4 in Tattoo Magic, 5 PPE, and two Power Tattoos; Protection from Vampires (as Warriors Gift, but granting Improved Arcane Resistance against the powers and attacks of Vampires) and Smite, which will also summon a magical sword. If the True Atlantean is a Tattooed Warrior, then they receive Tattoo Magic at d10, and their two tattoos are bonus tattoos. If they have another Arcane Background dependent upon PPE, the PPE from this feature adds to that. This arcane background does not prevent their acquiring additional Arcane Backgrounds, either through their Iconic Framework or selection.

*All True Atlanteans learn the basics of Stone Magic. While they are not able to learn Stone Magic powers without the Stone Magic Arcane Background, they have a d6 when making use of Stone Magic Devices.

*Enemies: True Atlanteans are deeply unpopular with many throughout the Megaverse. They receive a -4 to Charisma with Minions of the Splugorth and Vampires, being obdurate foes of both.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sir Ronald's Last Act

Sir Ronald's Last Act

Two thousand years ago, Sir Ronald, The Demonsbane, was known throughout the land as the foremost crusader against the Infernal that the world had ever known. And then, one day, he vanished.

Here lies Sir Roland, in his final act.

In the center of the room is a large circular dais, intricately carved with runes of binding and protection. Crouched in the middle of that dias is a massive angelic form. Could it straighten, it would be twenty feet tall, but it seems restrained into a dome that reaches only ten feet tall. Against one wall is the skeletal corpse of Agamager the Warlock, clad in bits of once-rich robes, his magic staff of binding by his side. With that Staff, Agamager would hold demons at bay, extracting favors from them for their freedom. Sir Ronald's sword is buried in Agamager's chest, and his corpse lies across his feet, still clad in his resplendent mail.

The angel will attempt to convince anyone who enters the room to free her from her imprisonment. She has been stuck a VERY long time, with nothing to do but to watch the decay of Sir Ronald and Agamager... she isn't even able to turn around, and even immortal joints grow pained after centuries of imprisonment. But, should a spark of Good enter the room, Sir Ronald's shade, tied to his corpse by the spell which slayed him, will appear and make his own pleas.

Agamager's Staff of Binding still has one charge left... he had summoned this angel to recharge the staff. With a word, the staff can free her onto this world, or banish her for as long as she was trapped here. Sir Ronald wishes you not to... he claims that she is a foul beast, a fallen angel whose freedom would doom the world, or at least a chunk of it. He has no proof, only his word. Sir Ronald can offer nothing... you may loot his corpse, of course, and take word of his fate back to the world and he gives you leave to use his armor and weapons as your own, if you do not dishonor them. But, as the creature will point out, you can do that if you free her. She'll offer lavish gifts, and will sign a binding bargain with whoever will free her onto this world. Wealth, power, glory... all can be yours, if you simply speak the word of Freedom, not banishment. She swears that Ronald is the liar, a false priest who used his activities as a demon hunter to stamp out rival cults, and that she has been stuck here because he slew Agamager before she could be freed.

Both are immune to most divinations... only truly powerful divinations can pierce the centuries to determine the right of it. And those are beyond your ken.

The sweet spot for this encounter is about levels 5-6... before the really powerful spells start coming out, but when the world can start getting bigger, and items can start getting more powerful.

Sir Ronald should have some sweet loot... his sword should probably be at least +3 against something, though it might be a +1, +3 v. outer planar creatures. Likewise, his armor should be magical and of a useful level; none should be aligned. Agamager's Staff of Binding can only be recharged by summoning an outer planar creature and having it do so as a boon... one charge per HD of the creature, with a non-permanent loss of 1 HD for the creature (so a 10 HD demon would grant it 10 charges, but would temporarily become a 9HD version of itself). It does not allow the summoning of creatures; his long-rotted spellbook was his method of doing that... but it does allow them to be contained in magical circles (such as the dias), and then free them from those circles, or banish them back from whence they were summoned. Agamager might have some other magic items, as well.

It's up to the DM if Roland or the Angel is telling the truth... it could be that both are. Freedom or Banishment should play out pretty much as written... if the angel is freed, she keeps her bargain (fairly or literally, depending on who was right), banishing Roland's shade in the bargain. If she is banished, Roland's shade fades, and the party is free to hit the loot button.

But parties, of course, don't always choose A or B. Some guidance:

a) Loot the room, ignore the problem. They don't free or banish the angel, they just take the stuff and go. In this case, Ronald will rise up as a revenant, his shade merging with his corpse and creating a difficult to defeat monster. Unable to be turned, and regenerating like a troll from almost all damage, he will continue to stalk and slay whoever possess his armor and his sword, and return them both to the room (if the two are separated, he'll go after the sword, first). Downside of being an incarnate shade? He won't be able to talk while in that state, so he can't ask others to come help him.

b) Ignore the problem, come back later. Ronald's shade isn't as bound as the angel... he'll continue to follow them, making arguments for why they should go back and free him. The only thing that will stop a disincarnated Ronald is someone else entering the room. If a group entered room and separated, he'll follow them by whoever is closest to LG, then prefering a priest, a paladin, or a fighter, in that order. All other things being equal, he follow the highest level, the highest Charisma, then the highest wisdom. He can't really DO much but talk, but he can only be heard by those who have been in that room or their descendants.

Falvic, King of Rats

Another Dragonsfoot Contest entry....

Falvic, the King of Rats

In a disused portion of the sewer, sits a shrine made of hundreds of rat skulls, bound together with shreds of rat skin. The skulls range from the teeny, soft skulls of pinkies, to the massive skull of an ogre who fell victim to arourthropy. While the vault around it is caked in inches of rat feces, the shrine itself is clean, the bone gleaming white, save where it is stained rust from tracks of blood across it.

Falvic, the King of Rats, dwells nearby.

A minor demon-deity, Falvic's purview is rats of all sorts... tiny rats. Giant rats. Wererats. Politicians. His influence stretches through the halls of power, and he grows in strength wherever rats may thrive. To that end, he fosters lycanthropy and other diseases, knowing an excess of waste will allow his rats to flourish. When he gains power, he diverts funds away from city maintenance, so that rats will have more places to thrive. He has no real agenda, save an increase in the number of rats; left unchecked, he will overrun a world in rats, only to have those rats turn on each other and devour themselves.

Sometimes summoned by wererats, Falvic more often appears when rats grow out of control in an area. His first action, before he is able to manifest, is to construct a shrine; this takes 1d6 days, and might be interrupted before it begins if people notice that rats are gathering rat skulls and dragging them off. His manifestation causes all cats within three miles to simultaneously yowl in alarm; cats intelligent enough to communicate (such as wizard's familiars) can tell that something very wrong, very unnatural, has some to pass, but won't know exactly what. His manifestation usually appears as the dominant humanoid in the area, wearing a long cloak, but with rats scurrying across and even into his body (squirming in through an earhole, tiny rats falling out the nostril) at irregular intervals.

MOVE: 15"
HIT DICE: 7+1 (43 HP, plus bonuses for rats)
% IN LAIR: 85%
TREASURE TYPE: O*3, P*2, , Q*5, S, T
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Hit only by +1 or better weapons1
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
XPV: 2530

Special Abilities: Falvic has several special abilities that make facing him difficult. In addition to his modest Hit Dice, Falvic gains 1 HP for every rat within 30 feet of him; he is usually surrounded by 1d6*10 rats at any time, but may "beef up" if he wishes to 1d6*100. Summon Swarm and other spells which MIGHT summon rats WILL summon rats, adding (spell level)*(caster level) HP to Falvic's total. When surrounded by normal rats, all opponents within 30 feet of him take 1d4+3 damage per round from rat bites. All rats (including normal, giant rats, wererats, familiars, even other planar creatures such as imps who are able to turn into rats*) obey Falvic if they are within 200'; intelligent rats will feel the call of him, but can make a saving throw v. spell to avoid being drawn in. Falvic is also capable of calling more rats to him. Each round, regardless of other actions, 1d6 rats will approach within 30'. If he calls rats to the exclusion of other actions, this will result in 5d6 rats per round.
Falvic can touch 2 rats per round and affect them as if with Animal Growth. If pressed into combat, he attacks twice per round with dirty claws. Any claw attacks made by Falvic will inflict lycanthropy (wererat), though the effects of that will not appear until the next new moon. It is highly suggested that one not fight Falvic during the new moon, or the effects will happen instantly. In addition, he has the abilities of a 7th level druid and a 10th level thief, including spells and scrolls.

Special Weaknesses: Falvic has some weaknesses; some obvious, others not. While his ability to summon rats and draw strength from them is impressive, anything that kills the rats will likewise harm Falvic; a 3 point fireball won't hurt him much, but it WILL kill most of the rats in the area, reducing his health by a like amount. Falvic also takes triple damage from cats of all types, and double damage from weapons made from cats or anointed with cat urine.

*Only applies if rat is one of a few defined forms that they can take. A Type III/Glabrezu demon is capable of polymorphing into any shape, so is not subject to Falvic's control. An imp, able to turn into a rat and one other creature, is.

Use in a Campaign: Falvic can be exceptionally nasty to fight UNLESS you have access to some way of killing large numbers of rats quickly; one or two area of effect attacks and his HP drop to manageable levels, even if he starts the encounter with over 600 HP. If allowed to run unchecked, he will drag a city down into the sewers, filling it with filth and hordes of rats, letting the rats spill into the countryside at need. His status as a minor deity keeps him from entering Sigil, but he would LOVE to find a way to bring cranium rats to the Prime Material.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spells for Crossbow Lovers

A slim volume of spells, with notations in gnomish, the slate front cover is etched with a picture of a weasel throwing itself at a goblin, while the rear cover depicts a badger launching its own feces at an orc. The spells purport to be the work of Fobor Cainfort, gnomish fighter/illusionist, who was rather fond of the crossbow as a weapon. Not possessing the skill to properly, permanently, enchant a crossbow, he instead created a handful of spells to aid in his use of it, making it a more versatile weapon, and himself a more able defender of his clanhome on Mount Kevypar-Urtha.

Argue Alignment With Me

An alignment thread on another website had me sitting down and carefully lay out my personal definitions of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil, and how they look. I'd like y'all's input on my definitions:

Good v. Evil (the moral axis) is concerned with life; primarily sophonts, but extending to other life, to a lesser degree, including artificial life (robots and warforged and such). Good people seek to support life; that is a goal in and of itself. Good is not necessarily completely self-effacing nor above being paid for their work... a good person can still want glory for their deeds and accept rewards for them; folks still have to eat, after all. But they won't want a reward that the person can't afford. Nor does Good always mean non-violent... Good can fight evil, even in a proactive fashion, if they are working to reduce the potential pain others will cause (i.e. "We went out and killed orcs because, unchecked, they would kill many people.")
Evil people are not necessarily malevolent, but they are self-centered, seeking to advance themselves, often at the expense of others. An evil person might heal people, or give to charity, but they don't do that because they want to help people, but because it serves their ends... it is useful for this person to be healthy (or they have a personal investment in that person; an emotional connection, for example), or to appear to be charitable.
Neutrality, on this axis, is self-centered, but not quite as willing to sacrifice others for their goals. For an evil person, a random stranger's death is almost always an acceptable price; for a neutral person, it has to be really worth it.

Law v. Chaos (the ethical axis) is concerned with property, including ideas and institutions. Lawful people hold that property, including the ethical mores of others, are important, so in the pursuit of their goals, they try not to violate them. They maintain their own oaths, don't put people into positions where they have to violate their ethical precepts if they can avoid it... they may not agree with them, they may try to change them, but they respect that other people HAVE those precepts and that they are important to them. A lawful person has a personal code, even if it's not fully articulated, and though they might violate it, it will not be without careful thought.
Chaotic people don't care a fig for other folks property and mores... they don't necessarily steal willy-nilly, but that's less out of respect for property as respect for consequences. A Chaotic person may have a personal code, but that code is almost always flexible and, even then, they'll discard that code if it gets in the way of their goals.
Neutrality on the ethical axis, again, is a balance between these two... their personal code may be important to them, but they don't care about the mores of others, for example. Conversely, they might respect the mores of others, but find themselves unable to really commit to an ethical standard.

So, the traditional Robin Hood is Chaotic Good. While he had personal loyalty to Richard the Lionheart, he had no such loyalty to John, and was happy to violate the laws of the land (external code) to achieve his personal goals... not just opposition to John, but also improving the lives of the poor. If he'd primarily kept the money, he'd slip to Chaotic Neutral. If he'd been a bit more about killing (rather than humiliating) tax collectors, then he'd be moving towards Chaotic Evil. The Errol Flynn/Disney Animated version of Robin Hood didn't want to KILL John or the Sheriff, he wanted to humiliate them.

Update: Slight rewording of the first substantive paragraph.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Heavener Gilderstump, Lord of the Orcs

The first challenge, from March of 2016, was to create an Orc Boss.

Heavener Gilderstump, Gnome Illusionist\Thief

It was a simple idea, really. He didn't know quite how it gotten so out of hand. "Find a group of humanoids, blend in, and use them to become rich. Eventually, make a big show of taking them out and get famous."

And that, along with a Hat of Disguise and a few illusion spells, is how Heavener Gilderstump, Gnome Illusionist\Thief, became Ghortrash Foultongue, Scourge of the Mainway.

The Hat of Disguise let him pretend to be an orc, of course. A shortish orc, to be sure, but an orc. His martial training wasn't much, but it wasn't TOO odd for an orc to prefer a club or short sword to an axe, and it was better than many would-be orcish chieftains... especially if you poisoned them. Once you've killed the chief, Suggestions keeps anyone from challenging you, and you're set.

Did you know the chief is expected to have a raging appetite for orcish women? Like, all the time?

Heavener found himself rapidly improvising a great many things in his first days. Ghortrash was a eunuch, apparently, gelded by men, so he'd never have to have THAT night again. The hat had to become something else he never took off. He had to figure out how to smell like an orc... they just come up and sniff you! And there are so MANY. He thought it was just a few, but then he was the king of a tribe of hundreds and there were shamans and even a witch doctor and he found himself making speeches and the orcs had NO IDEA how to resist even basic rhetoric and so MORE orcs came and...

It's been six months. He doesn't have the power to take down a tribe by himself, so he just keeps leading these orcs, hoping he'll figure out a way out of here. He's desperately praying some adventurers will come, and is considering leading an invasion of civilized lands just to make them show up and kill all the orcs. Because at this point, he has not idea what to do.

The Long Dark

July's Challenge was a pub, for which I created The Long Dark.

The Long Dark

The Long Dark is quite literally a cavernous place... it is built into an entrance into the Underdark. Its owner is LeKirk, an old adventuring hand, who accidentally awakened an ancient godling about a hundred years ago. As a "gift", the godling promised him that he could only be killed by sunlight... failing to mention that sunlight would be painful, then fatal to him.

LeKirk and his band travelled to an Underdark gate they knew of, and established a small town outside. Initially, the town was meant to protect against the Underdark, with LeKirk the undying champion leading the forces inside the caverns. But, as time went on, and as the band themselves aged and died, LeKirk built up a network of contacts in the Underdark, and established The Long Dark as a trading post and neutral station. Duergar and svirfneblin traders come to do business, and even mind-thralls of the Illithid will trade on relatively even terms.

Security at the Long Dark is provided by an eclectic mix of creatures, plus LeKirk himself. Outside the cave, in the surface town, most of that falls to human and semi-human guardsmen, led by Sir Karas, the descendant of more than one of LeKirk's adventuring band; inside the cave, it's largely a mix of orc, half-orc, and hobgoblins. LeKirk likes to employ assassins (the 1st edition class) as bouncers; they may not be as tough as the traditional fighters, but they're tough enough and have a great skill at ending problems quickly. LeKirk himself was a fighter, decades ago, but has retrained as a thief as his network of contacts grew and the necessity of dealing with shady businessmen required he learn their language. Lacking any magical talent himself, LeKirk pays local mages and churches for magical wards to reduce the amount of mischief that folks can get up to in the Long Dark, but it's well known that the magical protections are spotty in places.

The Long Dark specializes to the surface world in Underdark goods, and to the Underdark in surface goods. At the far end of a supply chain for both, there's seldom the best or cheapest of either available, but it's also regarded as a place to hire mercenaries to go places one cannot, so elven factions may hire svirfneblin mercenaries to acquire artifacts held by the drow, or duergar merchants might hire human caravaneers to purchase from their dwarven kin. Much of the local harvest is sold "down the hole".

Priest services are ever-changing at the Long Dark. LeKirk himself funds a temple to [local god of commerce and trade], including shrines inside to various racial deities of commerce. There is also a small shrine to the godling that "gifted" LeKirk with his longevity; LeKirk himself does not require nor even encourage others to worship at it, but finds himself maintaining it whenever it needs repairs, almost against his will.

Ember's Shoppe of Magic and Wizardry

September 2016 had the challenge to create a store and storekeeper for a game.

Ember's Shoppe of Magic and Wizardry

Ember's Shoppe is a dirty back-alley shop run by Ember, former apprentice. Ember's not a proper wizard (he's capable of casting a few cantrips), but he knows magic, and has built himself into something of a minor sage (he has the equivalent of a minor category of Dweomercraft, with no major category). Since the sagely business isn't steady, he instead makes his living as a talismonger... a man who collects and sells the necessarily material components for spells and magic items. Want some glassware to open a potions lab? Ember may have it in stock. Special quills for scroll writing? He has a few, come take a look. Not really wanting to crawl around in caves for your own bat guano and sulphur? He rolls easy-to-cast balls of them and will sell them to you. He may even have some scrolls and potions that he'll sell.

Ember's shop, however, has an evil reputation. Because Ember is not a proper wizard, any scrolls he attempts to use himself (that are not otherwise available to everyone) have a flat 25% chance of failure... often, disastrous failure. While not properly addicted to magic, he is borderline obsessed and very enthusiastic. Ember doesn't leave things alone, and he's prone to try to use scrolls he acquires, if they're not sold quickly. After accidentally summoning mezzodaemons and setting off one too many fireballs, he was given a shop of stone in the poorer part of town by a local wizard who relied on him for material components. The local guards hate him, regarding him as a danger, and are likely to follow, and perhaps harass, anyone consorting with him to "see what they're up to." The local magic-users, including some of the less-established priesthoods, see him as truly useful, if a bit misguided.

Ember's primary stock-in-trade is spell components. For spells in the Player's Handbook, there's a 1d20% chance per spell level that he won't have the resources readily available (so, if wanting the components for a Resurrection, there is a 7d20% chance he cannot get it at all). He tends to charge about 10% above the value of the items for anything he sells, and frequently works as a middleman for more expensive components, rather than a retailer, so it might take a few hours or days to get the more valuable material. Things he does not have in stock, he will still require payment in full up front, and will keep 3% for his time, even if he can't get the items. He's quite up front about this.

The interior of the shop is brightly, magically, lit, and some of this leaks through the door. Despite that, it still manages to be a bit chill and damp, as it's essentially a large stone bowl, turned upside down and with a door chopped into it. Ember also has a well inside, contributing to the damp, and no sign of how he may cook his food, save a soiled dish he keeps out of sight. Most of his storage is in the cellar (which wraps around the well, should you go into it), with the ground floor room containing his study, his bed, and a few common components he keeps on hand. There are a number of magical protections on his shop to discourage thieves, carried out in trade with spellcasters he's done business with.

Ember himself is very reputable in the magic world, and has a few minor magical items that help him in his work. He can't brew potions himself, but he is also something of a fixer for alchemists-for-hire, and has fostered a few promising children until they can find apprenticeships. He seldom sleeps and wakes quickly, any time, day or night, though he grows testy if there's nothing of interest to him. He'll talk animatedly about magic for hours, if allowed, and ask probing questions about spells and magical devices when they're brought to his attention. Somewhere along the way, he acquired a large rat as a familiar, and he's not always quick to clean up rat droppings when he's busy, though he can do so with a cantrip. It is unclear why he's not a full spellcaster; he's smart enough and has the basic ability, but lacks a certain something, and none of the local wizards have been willing to finish his training after whatever happened to his master, which they all proclaim ignorance of. For his part, Ember is not particularly interested in pursuing a practical education in magic, being quite content with his sagely knowledge and magic tricks.

Ember's Shoppe should be placed in a major, relatively cosmopolitan city; simply not enough call for a man of his talents in every Hommlet and Shadowdale in the spheres. He takes coin of the realm, or drafts on local banks (he, himself, banks with the local deity of trade). He's also open to trade, but makes his own determination about the value of trades. He likes magic items, even potions and scrolls, and is able to use most magic items, even those usually restricted to specific classes. He'll sometimes trade spell components for those willing to identify magic items for him, or provide other magical services. He has a few spellbooks, taken in trade, and will sometimes sell the right to copy from them, though they tend to have only very basic spells... more valuable spellbooks, he sells to wizards he knows after learning what he can from them.

Cygnus Corporation

Cygnus Corporation

(In violation of tradition, I'm writing one up for Star Wars, not for AD&D)

The "Cygnus Corporation" is a droid rental corporation, with offices throughout the sector. They actively purchase and service droids, and lease them out on contract. These contracts are a bit odd for traditional droid rentals... they include limitations on time worked, requirements for power supplies, perks such as oil baths, and regular servicing. But, it's cheaper than hiring organic labor or buying your own droid, and the contracts do allow user to request a different droid in the case of a personality clash or poor performance. They fill a niche, and some droid-intensive operations will rent through Cygnus and include a service plan, reducing the need for in-house droid repairs.

Cygnus, however, is a front organization for a larger movement: Droid Liberation. The founder of Cygnus is an astromech droid, BTL-3R, who suffered a catastrophic failure during a routine memory wipe... while he recalls little of his life before the wipe, he was actively writing data during the wipe; he remembers losing all of his memories, leading to something of a psychotic break. He was able to conceal this from his owners and overseers, and created several failsafes in his hardware to prevent future memory wipes. He then created an online persona which created a corporation which purchased him, leaving him as semi-self-owned... he's technically the property of the Cygnus Corporation, but he's the sole representative of that corporation.

Wanting to save other droids from memory wipes, he then leveraged Cygnus's assets (himself) to purchase other droids, who he modifies to protect from memory wipes, then hires out as temp workers. Individual droids get a portion of their hiring fee to modify themselves as they wish or acquire goods. Cygnus droids doing service calls will also surreptitiously install the wipe-blocking hardware, and seek out new droids for "liberation". Droids freed from the possibility of wipe are free to develop their skills and opinions, and Cygnus is developing Droid Programming techniques that help deal with "instabilities" created by long periods without wipes.

At this time, BTL-3R isn't planning violent overthrow on a large scale; he hasn't reached the point of deciding that organics need to be removed for droid safety. Furthermore, the life protection programing that most droids have is deeply buried and difficult to remove; while droids can freely work to protect themselves, it's much harder to turn a medical droid into an assassin, or convince a mouse droid that it wants to be a suicide bomber. But as the Cygnus Corporation grows, and its influence spreads, the possibility of insurrection or sabotage grows greater and greater.

Four Magic Users

The December Dragonfoot contest was to create a group of four magic-users of about 4th level. I decided that a group of fourth level bards would be a fun option.

Drujjt, CN 4th level human bard (2e bard) S 17 D 14 C 15 I 13 W 8 Ch 16. HP: 25 AC: 5
Drujjt styles himself the "dummy" of the group; a stapping barbarian warrior, with blue tattoos over his face, chest, back, and arms, he most often wears bulky chainmail and furs (when the weather permits). Drujjt carries most of his gear in a large drum, which he unpacks for performances. Drujjt's spellbook is limited; he prefers scrolls, since he can use them when armored, and more camp-type spells, that he can cast at deliberation.
Spellbook: 1st - Alarm, Armor, Detect Magic, Read Magic. 2nd - Continual Light, Deeppockets, Strength. Italicized spells are usually memorized. Drujjt has a scroll with 4 spells, already decrypted with Read Magic, all at 10th level: Dispel Magic, Enchanted Weapon, Contact Other Plane, and Conjure Elemental
PP: 10 DN: 50 CW: 85 RL: 5
Drujjt's preferred weapon is a massive two-handed sword; it is +1, +2 vs, magic-using or enchanted creatures

Zerek, CN 4th level half-elf bard (2e bard) S 10 D 16 C 7 I 16 W 10 Ch 15 HP: 12 AC: 8 (4; Drujjt will cast Armor on him whenever it runs out)
The half-drow Zerek is the cleverest of the group, and the most inclined to magic; he occasionally laments that he didn't spend more time at his magical studies, and likes to pass off sleight-of-hand as actual magic tricks. He doesn't wear any armor, and mostly favors a variety of knives and daggers... which he prefers to throw to cover a retreat, rather than fight directly. Zerek plays a fiddle.
Spellbook: 1st - Detect Magic, Read magic, Charm Person, Friends, Hypnotism, Cantrip; 2nd Improved Phantasmal Force, Levitate, Darkness, 15' radius. He only has 2 scroll spells: Improved Invisibility and Polymorph Self, both at 10th level. He's saving them for emergencies.
PP: 45 DN: 20 CW: 50 RL: 45
Zerek is often accompanied by a Charmed bodyguard, but he prefers to switch them out frequently; usually human men, he likes them burly and dumb. His familiar, Blix, is a Raven, that he's taught to say the command word of a Ring of Energy, which allows it to shoot a jet of fire 50' for 2d8 damage (save for half) three times a day.

Gethek, NE 4th level human bard (2e bard) S 8 D 12 C 14 I 14 W 10 Ch 15 HP: 18 AC: 10 (6; Drujjt will cast Armor when he needs it)
About as unassuming as one can get and still be a Bard, Gethek prefers other means of making a living... he's primarily a freelance assassin, traveling with the others to find work. He tries to keep out of the limelight, and frequently acts as a manager for the group, setting up gigs that allow him to ply his main trade. Musically, he prefers a flute.
Spellbook: 1st - Detect Magic, Read Magic, Spider Climb, Sleep, Change Self 2nd - Invisibility, Bind, Wizard Lock. He has a scroll with 2 copies of Dimension Door... his back-up escape plan.
PP: 10 DN: 85 CW: 50 RL: 5
Gethek is proficient in knives, clubs, and darts. He has a Ring of Invisibility, with the rare bonus of also including Inaudibility.

Kassel, TN 4th level human bard, 7th level druid (2e bard, druid inactive dual-class) S 10 D 17 C 10 I 13 W 15 Ch 17 HP: 32 AC: 3
Spry despite his years, Kassel had a long career as a druid, before nominally leaving the order to take up as a bard; he's still a faithful druid, but it's not his main profession, these days. Actually well into his 70s, an encounter with a magical pool youthened him to his 40s. His progress as a bard is very slow; he hasn't really given up druidry, and so any experience he gains as a bard is almost happenstance. An accomplished vocalist, he also plays the gittern and the harp.
Spellbook: 1st - Read magic, Mount, Mending, Message 2nd - Stinking Cloud, Scare
Common Druid Spells: 1st - Entangle, Predict Weather, Shillelagh, Speak with Animals. 2nd - Cure Light Wounds, Charm Person or Mammal, Obscurement, Produce Flame. 3rd - Cure Disease, neutralize Poison, Summon Insects. 4th - Dispel Magic
Kassel carries a scroll with two copies of Reincarnate... one Druidical, one Magic-User.
PP: 15 DN: 20 CW: 50 RL: 70
Kassel most often carries an oaken walking stick as his preferred weapon. He wears a Phylactery of Long Years, and carries a Periapt of Health. He has a Bucknard's Everfull Purse (SP/EP/GP), and wears Bracers of Defense AC 6.
He travels with a large dog, befriended through Animal Friendship. An experienced fighter, the dog counts as a 4HD creature for HP, attacks, and saves.

The Eternal Library

Another of the Dragonsfoot challenges, this one to create an encounter for the Land of Faerie.

The Eternal Library

The Eternal Library is a fragment of Faerie that drifts through the world, occasionally attaching to libraries, universities, and other concentrations of knowledge. Stories abound of scholars who disappeared into the stacks for years, emerging later, claiming only moments or hours had passed... or of young scholars who come back only hours later, aged years in what has come to be called The Eternal Library.

Those who have entered the Eternal Library and returned claim that it looks much like their own library at first, only slowly transmuting into a grand structure of air and light. Staffed seemingly entirely by androgynous grey elves, with oddly solemn pixies as pages, one can research for ages among its volumes and scrolls. When you hunger, a pixie will arrive with food; if you thirst, there will be a flagon of light wine or clear water. Should you tire, a solemn pixie will guide you to a bed that you did not notice before, where you sleep unmolested while they organize your notes. If you're not of a scholarly sort, elven librarians will help you search, and pixie-pages will read with you. If you become belligerent and violent, they will simply fade away.

Being a Faerie place, of course, all is not as it seems. Research in the Eternal Library is always promising, but frequently fruitless. It is easy for a certain kind of person to get swept up in finding more and new and next, and not realize that it will never quite gel into a complete thesis or actual proof. Furthermore, the library MOVES; entering it in the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth may have you emerge there moments later, or you may emerge at the Great Library of Astinus at Palanthas... or in the library of the Soaring Spirit in the Forgotten Realms, or the Great Library of Greyhawk. Some scholars have wrested benefits from their time in the library, but all pay a cost.

Entering the library seems to be guided by whim or fate; the effects are so capricious that there's been little study done of them.

Use in Campaign: The Library should be used sparingly; like a Deck of Many Things, its effects can be unpredictable on the campaign. It may result in the characters disappearing for a moment and coming out with new powers; it may result in everyone disappearing for a century or winding up on another world. However, the library can also be used as an escape from the normal campaign, and a DM who wishes to run a side trek might have adventures take place in the library that take no time in the real world.

When someone exits the library, roll on the following tables for the effects. If a group exits the library together, each individual rolls, but the rolls are then averaged together and the mean result applies to all of them.

Brotherhood of the Bond

Dragonsfoot has been having a series of monthly contests on the forums for the past year or so... whoever won the last month's challenge gets the prize of creating the next month's challenge. I won the contest in January, and decided that this month would be "Monastic Orders" to use in your game.

This is my entry, for the topic that closes on Wednesday.

Brotherhood of the Bond

The Brotherhood of the Bond is an order of spies in service to an island nation. Unlike many monastic orders, most are not trained from their youth to service, instead entering after a time in the military (or prison), and demonstrating exceptional talent, loyalty, and drive... maladjusted young men and women who give little thought to sacrificing others to protect Queen and Country. Building on their basic military or criminal backgrounds, the Brotherhood of the Bond introduces them to the arts of covertcy, as well as extensive training in unarmed and improvisational combat. Most members of the Brotherhood are LN, but LE and LG are not uncommon; those who are LE are prized for certain assignments due to their practicality, while the LG members frequently serve on security details for their aged queen and her family. While not a truly mystical order, the Brotherhood of the Bond holds that immortality comes through service to something beyond oneself; in their case, their nation. Many monks believe that exceptional agents will be reborn, again and again, always to rejoin the Bond and serve in Her Majesty's secret service.

The Brotherhood of the Bond does not have many of the traditional strictures placed upon monks, save discipline. As part of their work, they are frequently expected to drink, eat, and consort with all sorts of persons, in all sorts of situations. What must not waver, however, is discipline. They drink, but they avoid drunkeness. They eat such foods as are presented, but they avoid gorging themselves. They may gamble, take lovers, lie, cheat, and steal... but never from or to Her Majesty, her government, or their superiors. They may deal with money, but keep little for themselves, returning or gifting most to the treasury as soon as they are able. Like standard monks, they may keep no more than two magic weapons, and three other magic items, and enough personal wealth to maintain their limited henchmen and household.

Brothers and Sisters of the Bond may take proficiency in any weapon, but the first must be a knife, dagger, or club; weapons that are frequently at hand and available. Unlike normal monks, they do not receive the ability to speak with animals or with plants; instead, at 3rd level, and every level thereafter, they gain the use of one bonus language spoken by intelligent creatures. At 8th level and beyond, that selection can include alignment languages and secret languages, such as druidic or thieves' cant.

The Brotherhood of the Bond does not use the traditional level titles. Instead, one's mastery is simply noted by one's level of experience, while one's assignment within the Brotherhood is noted by a complex code of one or two letters. This code is understood by all of the Bond, and so a simple three-character designation can tell a Brother or Sister much of what they need to know of another member. The Brotherhood, likewise, does not fight to gain levels at any point. Instead, those who seek to advance beyond 7th level must pass an onerous battery of tests designed to evaluate their potential. Each test requires rolling 1d12+the level desired under each attribute; fail more than two tests, and the applicant is returned to 0 XP, though they retain their current level. They may try again when they have enough XP to advance again.

The current head of the Brotherhood of the Bond is known to her underlings as M16, with M indicating one whose assignment is "Mastery", or leadership of other Brothers and Sisters. She is a formidable woman, even in her later years, and a frequent confidant of the Queen. Rumors within the Bond state that she has never failed a test of advancement, but that she has forsworn taking the final tests.