Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dust Dervishes

Dust Dervishes will disguise themselves as unremarkable piles of dust in the corners of cave floors and dungeon halls. When an adventuring party has past, they will be lucky if they hear that low-humming buzz - the sound of a cloud of dust swarming and readying for a surprise attack...

Dust Dervishes are most often in the service of other, more nefarious beings. As such, it is not uncommon for them to have little to no treasure, as anything they would have found would have been previously handed over to any such being. 

Dust DervishHD 4; AC 6 [13]; Atk Swirling dust (1d6); Move 12; Save 13; AL N;CL/XP 5/240; Special: Immune to sharp-edged weapons. Any player who comes within melee range of a Dust Dervish must make a successful saving throw or become overcome by a coughing fit for the duration of the succeeding 1d4 rounds.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Monsters of the Northern Realms

I enjoy "the grizzlied northern shores" as a playspace. It reminds me of the places I have lived in my own life. It reminds me of other things that I like, such as Winterfell and thinking about what the ride between Winterfell and Castle Black must be like.

So, here are three new monsters to drop into "the northern realms" of your game world. In creating these monsters, to be honest, I have simply borrowed the stats and abilities of some other, published monster and then slightly tweaked them, but again, I love that about this game...that is how monsters are supposed to be made.

Nothing in the initial appearance of an Ice Owl distinguishes it from any number of other, non-predatory species of owl that are regularly found in high densities throughout the various regions of the northern realms, a fact an Ice Owl will routinely rely upon in attempting to gain an initial advantage in combat. First-hand observers of these beasts claim that an Ice Owl engaged in combat will endeavor first to immobilize its opponent using its ice bolts. Once an opponent has been slowed, the Ice Owl will engage in melee combat.

Ice Owls most otten nest in the upper reaches of the tallest pine trees found in the valley and foothill regions that surround the mountain ranges of the northern realms. They are reputed to hunt at dusk in groups of 3-6.  A perfect specimen of a young owl’s feather, if it could be obtained (which would require somehow scaling the tree, locating the nest, etc.), could easily fetch 25-30 gp, as the feather is rumored to have important alchemical properties.

Ice Owl: HD 4; AC 6 [13]; Atk 2 ice bolts (1d8), 2 claws (1d8), 1 bite (1d6+1); Move 3 (Fly 20); Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Flies silently; once per 2 rounds of combat, an Ice Owl may attack a single target with 2 ice bolts (one from each eye) doing 1d8 cold damage each; any player damaged by an Ice Owl must succeed on a saving throw or risk being reduced to half movement for 1d4 rounds of combat.

A Tryserek resembles a pre-historic turtle with a maw of fangs where a beak might otherwise be expected to be. The tail of the average adult Tryserek is approximately 5-7 ft. long and made out of bone. The tail ends in a twisted fist of razor-sharp points of bone, each covered in a thin vereen of ice. A Tryserek will always favor an attempt to use its tail to maul its opponent, resorting only to its other attacks when it cannot maul or it is tactically unadvisable to do so. A player mauled by a Tryserek must succeed on a saving throw or lose 1d4 points of DEX for the duration of the succeeding 1d4 rounds (as a result of the shards of ice that remain lodged in the hero’s body, pulsating a cold that tightens his or her muscles and slows his or her response times.

Trysereks are most likely to be found in and around areas of inland water (e.g. northern marshes or swamps, rivers, lakes, etc.) or other damp areas (e.g. a mountain cave). They are not often seen by adventurers and as a result, they have few opportunities to amass significant amounts of gold or treasure. That isolation does mean that whatever treasure a Tryserek does possess will have a 50% chance of being an antiquiy worth 1d4+1 times its value.

Tryserek: HD 8; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 maul (2d8), 1 bite (1d6); Move 6; Save 6; AL N; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Any player damaged by a Tryserek must succeed on a saving throw or lose 1d4 points of DEX for the duration of the succeeding 1d4 rounds.

Though Northern Drakes are closely related to the dragon family, there remain significant differences between them.  Northern Drakes are, for instance, significantly smaller and significantly thinner than most dragons. Each Northern Drake is covered with scales that shimmer, appearing at times silver, then gray, and then white. The sight of such a creature is so mesmerizing, in fact, that any character who meets the gaze of a Northern Drake must make a saving throw or immediately fall under the effects of a Charm Person spell for the ensuing 1d6 rounds. If a Northern Drake is unable to subdue its opponents through the use of its special ability, it will seek to mix its claw and bite attacks.

In terms of avarice, drakes are nearly identical to dragons. An adventuring company lucky enough to find the hoard of a drake could earn a lifetime in a moment. A rare find, indeed, if you could survive to tell the tale...

Northern Drake: HD 9; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 claws (1d6), 1 bite (2d6+1); Move 18 (Fly 9); Save 6; AL N; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Dazzling gaze (any character who meets the gaze of a Northern Drake, even if only for a moment, must succeed on a saving throw or fall under the effects of a Charm Person spell for the next 1d6 rounds).


1d8 Monsters
1 1d2 Yetis
2 2d4 Ice Owls
3 1 Adult White Dragon (5 HD)
4 2d6 Winter Wolves
5 1d2 Trysereks
6 1d4 Northern Drakes
7 2d4 Giant Wolverines
8 2 Polar Bears

As always, let me know if you have any thoughts on any of the above, or if there is anything you want to add in. Always looking for additional content in the comments!

Game on.

8 Random Poisons and Effects

One of the things that I like most about the game is the ability to delve into particular niches of the game, creating tables and rules, etc. to specifically populate that niche. This is a quick table that I prepared that outlines some fairly commonly poisonous agents that are regularly found in nature (if not always easily).

Roll 1d8 to select a pair of entries (e.g. ingesting Roasted Onion Seeds will cause nausea, dizziness, and immobility). If you are looking for a bit more variety, roll 1d8 twice - once to generate a name of the poison, and a second time to attach an effect to that poison (e.g. a roll of 6 and 2 means that Sugargrass Root may be used as a poison that causes a -2 to be applied to all saving throws made by the victim for 1d8 days).

1d8 Name of Poison Effect
1 Tears of Anasthia Loss of 50% of STR for 1d6 days
2 Shadowbane Petals -2 to all saving throws for 1d8 days
3 Wrackjaw Pollen Blindness for 2d10 hours
4 Shimmerweed Stalks Loss of 1d6 of DEX for 1d4 days
5 Roasted Onion Seeds Nausea, dizziness, immobility
6 Sugargrass Root Memory loss of preceding 2d12 days
7 Leaves of El’Nurieth Instant aging of 1d20 years
8 Seeds of Banesgrowth Save vs. immediate death

Let me know if you have any corrections or suggestions for improvement.  Better still, please add your own in the comments so that we can grow the list! Only need 2 for a 1d10 and 4 for a 1d12! If the community can help me get something together nice and polished, I'd be more than happy to submit it (on behalf of the community) to the various zines and journals floating around so that others can see it as well.

Game on.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Character Sheet (Form Fillable)

I've posted this a few places already, but I took the already-excellent character sheet developed by Rob Griffin and posted at Blood & Battle and made it form-fillable electronically.  I am pretty new to working in Adobe Acrobat and making forms so there may be a bust or two.  Please feel free to let me know in the comments and I will do what I can to fix.

And obviously more than happy to discuss ideas for improvement.

Swords & Wizardry Character Sheet 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hello and Well Met!

Gosh, now that I pose the question, it seems harder to answer.

In short, this blog is intended to be about my adventures in table-top gaming.  Like many my age, I am coming back to table-top gaming, a relic of a misspent youth.  When I first dipped my toes back into the waters of the modern RPG, it was around the time that D&D 3.5 was released.  While I was glad to see that the industry appeared to be thriving (there was, after all, quite a bit of third party support around 3.5), the rulebooks bore more resemblance to the tax code and an accounting text than what I had remembered as a 10-year old.  Was the kid-version of me that much smarter than the current version (totally possible) or had the game grown into a morass of rules that had killed the spirit of the versions of the game we had played...the versions that made a Friday night sleepover at a friends the stuff of legend.

Alas, all is not dark in 2013 and man need not try to find sustenance in things like D&D 3.5, Pathfinder or anything similar.  Games like Swords & Wizardry (see also Frog God Games, which has taken up the laboring oar on providing revised versions of the game, support materials, etc.), Labyrinth Lord and others have given me that feeling of the game I played as a kid - a game that wasn't about the rules or even really the system.  A game that facilitated and helped create adventure without having a rules sub-system to describe every nook and cranny of the world.

I am still new to this second turn at gaming and so this blog is really about my experiences as I learn and experiment with these systems.  I only hope that someone else might be able to learn something from my experiences or, if not, at least enjoy the view...