Friday, 17 February 2017

Wormskin 5 and Cross-Class Subterfuge out now in PDF!

Missives from the Necrotic Gnome!

Two new releases have crawled out of our dungeons in the last week:

1. Wormskin Issue Five by Gavin Norman, Greg Gorgonmilk, and the usual coterie of rascally collaborators. The latest instalment in the chronicles of Dolmenwood, this issue unveils the sinister cabal of sorcerers who dominate the Wood's arcane energies -- the Drune. Also details 7 hexes around the region called Hag's Addle and describes the titular hag and her lair in depth. The issue is rounded off with four new monsters: boggin, brambling, drune, flammbraggyrd.

(The print edition of Wormskin 5 is in progress. It should be available in the next week or so.)

2. Cross-Class Subterfuge by Greg Gorgonmilk. A short but eminently usable pamphlet containing guidelines and charts for those whose tastes chafe against the traditional Thief class. These rules describe a means of dissolving the Thief class and redistributing its sneaky abilities to other character types. Now the whole party can know the joys of moving silently and hiding in shadows!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Jungle Megadungeon: More Dead Snake-Cultists

Here's a few more monsters which may be encountered in the surface areas of the jungle megadungeon, where the ruins of a snake-cult temple are located. In the two fungus-infested mummies presented, we begin to see a "twisted biology" theme coming through. The main megadungeon is envisaged to be the lair of a long-dead vivimancer, with experimental life-forms having oozed out into the surrounding jungle, over the centuries since the labs have been abandoned.

HD 7+4, AC 6 (bronze breastplate), Att: bronze warhammer (1d8+2) or snake vomit, Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al LE, XP 900

The corpses of eunuch high priests, bodies swollen to grotesque proportions on a diet consisting solely of whole snakes -- a great honour among the cultists of Thaa. In death, their organs were removed and the body cavity filled with mummified snakes. Interred in robes of gold and silver thread (worth 250gp undamaged) and great, bronze breastplates, they remain in a state of undeath, ready to defend their tombs against intruders.

Snake vomit: three times per encounter, an eater-of-snakes can vomit forth a stream of writhing, snapping-jawed, mummified snakes, targeting characters within 10’ and a 90° cone. Characters in this area suffer damage equal to the eater-of-snakes’ current hit point total, with a save versus breath weapons for half damage.

Mushroom-Head Mummy
HD 3 (suffer double damage from fire, but emit screech), AC 8, Att: 2 × throttling (1d6), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 11, Al C, XP 65

Mummified snake-cultists whose rest has been disturbed by the incursion of fungal mycelia. Their cloth-wrapped bodies are now riddled with fungus, a great, garish bloom erupting from the top of the head. These corpses are now under the control of the mushrooms, which cause them to rise from the grave, if disturbed by light or sound. The mushrooms seek to attack and kill any creatures they come across, providing more fodder for their mycelia.

Note that mushroom-head mummies are not undead and thus cannot be turned.

Screech: if damaged with fire, the mushrooms inside the mummy let out an ear-splitting screech, causing 1d3 damage to all within 30’ and triggering a check for wandering monsters.

Puffball Mummy
HD 5+2 (suffer double damage from fire), AC 8 (spore cloud when hit), Att: 2 × throttling (1d6), Mv 90’ (30’), Ml 11, Al C, XP 460

Blessed members of the snake-cult who, in death, were ritualistically mummified and placed in tombs among the temple complex. Over centuries, fungal mycelia have crept into their coffers, infecting the corpses. Light or sound will cause them to rise from their graves, bent on attacking those who disturb them. The mummies’ bodies are now little more than grossly swollen husks filled with fungal spores. A dust of spores drifts from the crowns of their heads and their bodies are fit to burst, if damaged.

Note that puffball mummies are not undead and thus cannot be turned.

Spore cloud: when a puffball mummy is damaged, a great cloud of fungal spores are released. All within 10’ of the mummy must save versus poison or breathe in a lungful of spores. This has two effects: 1. 1d6 choking damage for three rounds; 2. the spores take root and grow inside the victim. Unless cured by magic (e.g. cure disease), one thus afflicted swells up, over the course of a month, and then dies, being entirely taken over by the puffball fungus (effectively becoming a puffball mummy).

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Jungle Megadungeon: Snake-Cult Zombies

I've been running Barrowmaze recently and enjoying it a great deal. It's inspired thoughts about writing a megadungeon of my own, set in a jungle.

I've started writing up a few ideas. Here are a few monsters, to start with.

Snake-Cultist Zombie
HD 2, AC 8, Att: bronze dagger (1d4) or curse, Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al LE, XP 29

Fanatics of the snake-cult who swore to protect the temple in death as in life. Their ritualistically scarred bodies have been preserved by magic and lain to rest wrapped in golden silks (worth 25gp, if undamaged). The lingering spirits of these men and women will be awoken to avenge any who disturb their rest.

Curse: upon rising, a snake-cult zombie may pronounce a curse upon intruders. The curse affects one target whom the zombie lays eyes upon as it wakes. The target must save versus spells or tremble with fear, incurring a -2 penalty to attacks and a 25% chance of spell failure for 1d6 turns.

Snake-Priestess Zombie
HD 4, AC 7, Att: gaze or bronze scimitar (1d6) + constriction (2d4), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al LE, XP 190

Female aspirants selected for their sensuous beauty and ruthless devotion to the cult. In life, they were initiated in the secret rites of the priestesses, becoming semi-ophiomorphs -- their eyes and tongues are those of snakes and, in place of legs, they move upon great serpentine tails (10’ long). Finally, they were ritually impaled to bring about a state of lingering undeath. They now serve as sleepless guardians of precious treasures.

Gaze: one whom a snake-priestess zombie focuses her gaze upon must save versus spells. Failure indicates that visions of writhing serpents cause the victim’s will to be overcome. One thus afflicted becomes a mind-slave of the priestess, following her mental commands. Another saving throw is allowed, each time the victim suffers damage. If the snake-priestess dies, any under her command fall unconscious for 1d6 turns.

Constriction: using her great tail, a snake-priestess zombie may grab and constrict a victim. Once an attack with the tail succeeds, the victim is grappled and suffers automatic damage (2d4) each round, as well as a -2 penalty to attack rolls.

Temple Guard Zombie
HD 4+3, AC 5 (bronze plate), Att: bronze broadsword (1d8) + bite (1d8 + poison), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al LE, XP 215

Warrior temple guards whose tattooed bodies have been preserved by magic to watch over tombs and shrines of the serpent cult for all eternity. During life, these men underwent a process of physical transformation via dark rituals, gaining deadly, snake-like fangs.

Poison: one bitten by a guardian zombie of the snake-cult must save versus poison or suffer one hit point of damage per turn. The poison lasts indefinitely, until it is neutralised or the victim dies. (Poison from multiple bites is not cumulative.)

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition: Out Now In Print!

At long last, the print versions of the revised Theorems & Thaumaturgy are ready!

What's in the book?

  • Over 160 new spells to add to your Labyrinth Lord campaign. (Compatible with all other extra-mature D&D editions/clones, of course.)
  • Three wizardly classes: the elementalist, the necromancer, and the vivimancer.
  • 24 new magic items -- eight associated with each class.
  • 16 new monsters which can be summoned by the spells in the book.
  • Fully illustrated, by David Coppoletti, Cadanse D, Claytonian, and Russ Nicholson.

For people who have the original edition: what's changed?

  • Completely new layout (in a smaller 6" x 9" format).
  • Completely new illustrations (and lots more than before).
  • Updated elementalist and vivimancer spell lists (precise details here).
  • New vivimancer and elementalist magic items.
  • The book now focuses purely on the elementalist, necromancer, and vivimancer. (The additional material from the original edition is to be expanded and republished separately.)

How to get hold of a copy?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Start of 2017: Projects in the Works

As is traditional, I thought I'd write a short post mentioning the various RPG-related projects that I have in the works for the coming year:

  • I've finally started a proper campaign set in Dolmenwood! Previously, I've just run odd one-shots and side-adventures in the forest, but my latest campaign is set firmly within the its bounds. I'm running Barrowmaze, which I've situated in the middle of Dolmenwood, as the "tent-pole" for the campaign, but plan on introducing various other side-quests and complications to involve the players in the wider wood.
  • I'm play-testing the first in the Dolmenwood Adventures line -- a 5th level adventure code-named "Wormwood Falls", written by myself and Greg Gorgonmilk. We've had one session so far which was a lot of fun. The adventure features a lot of very weird, psychedelic stuff and I was happy to see that it played out really well, in practice. The second session is in a few weeks. The adventure is going to be illustrated by Andrew Walter and should be out in early spring. Full colour, A5, around 50 pages, maybe hardcover and softcover options.
  • Following on from that, the second Dolmenwood Adventures module is beginning to coalesce. Tentatively, it will be a 1st level adventure written by myself and Yves Geens and may involve fairies. Publication date unknown.
  • Continuing the Dolmenwood theme (clearly, much of my gaming life is dominated by the setting now!), issue five of Wormskin is nearing completion for a tentative February release. This issue reveals much about the Drune, who have remained stubbornly mysterious until now.
  • I also plan to publish a short "Welcome to Dolmenwood" guide, containing a brief introduction to the setting, a gazeteer, and descriptions of some of the main factions. This will act as a great starting point for anyone interested in Dolmenwood. Should be out in Jan/Feb. Probably a free download.
  • Onto other things... My Complete Illusionist project is coming along nicely. I have a few dozen spells to write up still and am awaiting some contributions from other people, but it's looking like a 2017 release of the book is pretty feasible. Illustrators as yet undetermined.
  • Another small project which I have on the go is a series of print-at-home booklets to speed the creation of wizardly PCs. The first booklet in the series is quite far along, so more info on that coming soon.
  • Last but not least, I have the long overdue B/X Warrior. Honestly, I go back and forth on the concept a bit -- the mechanical aspects don't fit quite as naturally as they did with the thief/rogue archetype. However, the book is 95% written, so I just need to put the finishing touches to it and it will be done.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Complete Illusionist: Work-in-Progress Spell List

Work on my next big project, The Complete Illusionist (which popped out of nowhere, quite unexpectedly), has been progressing rather well. I'm still in the stage of collating a lot of ideas for spells of different levels and trying to build up the spell lists. Adding to the base illusionist class in the Labyrinth Lord AEC, I've been doing OGL write-ups of the illusionist spells from AD&D Unearthed Arcana. I also have quite a number of interesting submissions from other people now, following my recent call out. All in all, it's looking like I should have a very nicely rounded out spell list in the final book.

Just out of interest, here are the lists so far. These only include spells which I actually have a full write-up of. I have lots more to write up and put in place. I also need to read through many of the submissions still and decide which fit.

1st level

  1. Auditory Illusion
  2. Color Spray
  3. Dancing Lights
  4. Darkness Globe
  5. Detect Illusion
  6. Detect Invisibility
  7. Doppelganger
  8. Hypnotism
  9. Light
  10. Phantasmal Force
  11. Refraction
  12. Wall of Vapor
  13. Glamour
  14. Invisibility, Lesser
  15. Lost and Found
  16. Script Codex
  17. Spook
  18. Discernment of Pyschic Location
  19. Evoke Nightmare
  20. Semblance of Wakefulness
  21. Sweet Dreams
  22. Wizard Mark
  23. Faerie Fire
  24. Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter
  25. Brilliant Pattern
  26. False Script
  27. Phantom Armour
  28. Silent Image
  29. Chromatic Orb
  30. Hush

2nd level

  1. Blindness
  2. Blur
  3. Deafness
  4. Detect Magic
  5. Fog Cloud
  6. Hypnotic Pattern
  7. Invisibility
  8. Magic Mouth
  9. Mirror Image
  10. Misdirection
  11. Phantasmal Force, Greater
  12. Ventriloquism
  13. Sound Codex
  14. Light Codex
  15. Somnambulism
  16. Vapours of Dream
  17. Imaginary Companion
  18. Whisper Thief
  19. Whispering Wind
  20. Darkvision
  21. Pyrotechnics
  22. Fool's gold 
  23. Fascinate
  24. Amnesia

3rd level

  1. Continual Light (reversible)
  2. Dispel Phantasm
  3. Fear
  4. Hallucinatory Terrain
  5. Illusory Script
  6. Invisibility 10' Radius
  7. Nondetection
  8. Paralyze
  9. Rope Trick
  10. Spectral Force
  11. Suggestion
  12. Full Codex
  13. Energy Reflection
  14. Dreamspell
  15. Black Light
  16. Semblance of Life
  17. Phantom Steed
  18. Doppelganger, Improved
  19. Wraithform
  20. Enthrall
  21. Lost
  22. Deadly Darkness

4th level

  1. Confusion
  2. Illusory Stamina
  3. Implant Emotion
  4. Invisibility, Greater
  5. Massmorph
  6. Minor Creation
  7. Phantasmal Killer
  8. Phantasmal Monsters
  9. Solid Fog
  10. Looking Glass
  11. Shared Dream
  12. Masque
  13. Illicit Dream Projection
  14. Lonely Road
  15. Menioth's Instant Light

5th level

  1. Confusion, Greater
  2. Major Creation
  3. Maze
  4. Phantasmal Door
  5. Phantasmal Monsters, Greater
  6. Project Image
  7. Shadow Evocation
  8. Summon Shadow
  9. Time Flow
  10. Hyperreal Awakening
  11. Many Worlds, Many Lives
  12. Phantom Summons
  13. Overlook
  14. Shadow Servitor
  15. Phantom Palanquin

6th level

  1. Conjure Animals
  2. Phantasmal Monsters, Advanced
  3. Shadow Evocation, Greater
  4. Spectral Force, Permanent
  5. Spectral Force, Programmed
  6. Suggestion, Mass
  7. True Seeing
  8. Veil
  9. Through the Looking Glass
  10. Curse of Sleeplessness
  11. Psychic Cache
  12. Persistent Dream

7th level

  1. Astral Spell
  2. Limited Wish
  3. Prismatic Spray
  4. Prismatic Wall
  5. Vision
  6. Phantasm of Forgetting
  7. Dreaming
  8. Spell Reflection
  9. Unreal 
  10. Phantasmal Resurrection
  11. Duo-Dimension
  12. Animated Artwork
  13. Simulacrum
  14. Doppelganger, Greater

8th level

  1. Prismatic Sphere
  2. Memorium
  3. Figment
  4. Illusory Abode
  5. Pathless Land
  6. Mirror Image, Advanced
  7. Prismatic Beam
  8. Black Clouds

9th level

  1. Alter Reality
  2. Dream Travel
  3. Weird
  4. Mists of Madness
  5. Upper Hand
  6. Viral Phantasm
  7. Doppelganger, True

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Updated Illusionist Spell: Chromatic Orb

This spell was featured in the expanded illusionist spell list in AD&D Unearthed Arcana. I like the effects, but it's always struck me as weirdly balanced: almost useless at low levels and very powerful at high levels. This isn't a feature I'm fond of, so, as part of the work on my Complete Illusionist, I decided to try to come up with a version more to my taste. Here you go:

Chromatic Orb

Level: 1
Duration: Instant
Range: 60’
Cost: 25gp - 1,000gp (gem of appropriate colour)
This spell harnesses and amplifies the pure hue and intrinsic properties of a gemstone, which must be in the illusionist’s possession. Light is conjured in the heart of the stone, refracted, and amplified, conjuring an orb of pure colour in the illusionist’s hand. The orb may be hurled at an opponent within range, requiring a normal attack roll, with a +2 bonus. If the orb misses, it dissolves without effect. Otherwise, the orb inflicts damage on the target and another effect depending on its colour. The illusionist may conjure an orb of one of the following colours, depending on his experience level:

Gem Value
1st or greater
2nd or greater
3rd or greater
4th or greater
5th or greater
6th or greater
7th or greater
10th or greater
12th or greater

The gemstone must be of at least the value listed and must be of an appropriate hue. It is consumed by the spell.

Chromatic orb effects:

  • Light: Light in a 60’ radius for one round per caster level.
  • Heat: If the target fails a save versus spells, they suffer -1 to attacks and AC for one round. The heat of the ruby orb may also be used to melt ice -- up a cubic yard.
  • Fire: All flammable objects within 2’ of the target are set alight. If the target fails a save versus spells, flammable objects (e.g. clothing, hair, etc) on its person are also set alight. This inflicts 1d3 damage for three rounds, unless the target spends a round extinguishing the flames.
  • Blindness: The target is blinded for 1d4+4 rounds, unless it makes a saving throw versus spells.
  • Stench: A 5’ radius cloud of stinking vapours erupts around the target. Any within the cloud (including the target) must save versus poison or be overcome with nausea -- unable to act except to move at half movement rate. Once leaving the cloud, the nausea subsides after 1d4 rounds. The cloud is permanent but usually disperses after one turn.
  • Magnetism: The electrical energy of the orb strongly magnetizes any metal objects on the target (e.g. armour, weapons) unless a save versus spells is made. The magnetic charge lasts for 3d4 rounds and causes metal objects to stick together, typically making attacking impossible and causing a -2 penalty to AC.
  • Paralysis: Unless a save versus paralysis is made, the target is paralysed for 5d4 rounds.
  • Petrification: The target must save versus petrification. Failure means that it turns permanently to stone. Success means that the target is slowed for 2d4 rounds -- only able to move at half the normal rate and attack or cast spells every other round.
  • Death: The target must save versus death. Failure means that it dies instantly. Success means that it is paralysed for 1d4 rounds.