Friday, 11 July 2014

The Choice - 5E or B/X?

Although my blogging has not been as productive recently as it used to be when I first started, I still feel like keeping it going. Now that 5E has come out, I'm faced with a choice. Do I stick with B/X and it's OSR progeny, Labyrinth Lord, or do I change to 5E?

The thoughts that spring to mind include:
  • From what I've seen of 5E, it looks like quite a good system, not too far removed from previous editions. I feel I could work with it. 
  • Increased viewing figures for the blog. This is quite shallow, and I know it should not be important, but I cannot completely ignore it. 
  • There is the feeling of joining in with a whole lot of people in a common pastime. When a whole lot of people are enthusiastic about something, its easier to be enthusiastic about it oneself.  
  • In a previous post I mentioned having a simple core, with many options. I can treat 5E Basic Rules as the core, from which new options can spring. 
  • 5E Basic rules are free for download. I could easily stick to those and ignore the expensive hardbacks, as I suspect a few players and DMs will do. 


  • The B/X and Labyrinth Lord niche is quite small. As such I felt quite comfortable making suggestions and putting ideas out there. The rule of thumb is that the smaller the group, the less likely there will be some psycho who gets offended or gets mean about my efforts. 5E could involve thousands of players and DMs, and quite honestly putting ideas out there seems more intimidating. 
  • 5E is a new system which I am not familiar with. Yes there are some similarities and commonalities with other editions, but I'm still cautious and uncertain about some of the rules. I've had B/X for over 30 years. Maybe I should stick with what I know. Being told I've got the rules wrong can make me feel a fool, and put a dampener on any enthusiasm.
  • 5E is still in the process of being released, both in terms of the 5E Basic rules and the full rulebooks (PHB, DMG & MM). Should I be writing for something when my ideas could be rendered irrelevant or redundant because of official releases I am not yet aware of?
  • Although WotC is unlikely to get its legal knickers in a twist over blogs that do not make money, nonetheless, with Labyrinth Lord and 3.X I felt protected by the OGL. 5E does not seem to have that sort of license. 
  • There may be an ongoing interest in B/X and Labyrinth Lord regardless of 5E. I could carry on providing ideas for them. 
  • There are enough differences between 5E and B/X that I would feel the need to start a new world. Kaelaross is heavily dependent on the three alignment system, not nine, and assumes that the forces of Chaos are evil, and the forces of Law are good. 

Then again:

  • Maybe I am taking myself too seriously. This is a hobby, not a job. I am not getting paid for this, nor does anyone's lives or livelihoods depend on my blog. 
  • Starting a new world could be quite entertaining. 
  • The rules are not as important as having cool ideas. 
  • A lot of the rules between the editions are common enough that anything written for B/X can be converted (with a bit of thought) to 5E and vice versa. 
  • This is my blog. As I mentioned before, I am the primary audience. So what do I want to do? What do I think is fun?
  • With the emphasis away from strict rules and more towards optional rules, I may not need to stick to official 5E, and could do a sort of 5E/B/X mash-up.

Friday, 4 July 2014

My first impressions of 5E Basic Rules

I've just downloaded the 5E Basic rules here.
What I've seen looks pretty good. And it's free, at least the Basic version is.
Some observations that spring to mind:

  • Ability scores get bonuses like 3E. However, the default way of generating them is first choose race and class, then roll 6 stats (4d6 and drop lowest) and assign to whichever ability scores you wish.  
  • Demihumans all get +2 to one stat (Subraces get an extra +1 or +2 to another stat). Humans, however, get +1 to each stat. Is this balanced? Purely in terms of stats, no, but I suspect that other demihuman abilities (such as infravision) do keep things balanced. 
  • Quite a bit more flavour and fluff than I was expecting. This is not an SRD collection of rules but a proper book for DMs and players to learn about the game. 
  • There are many references to the Forgotten Realms, and a few to Greyhawk, Dragonlance and other campaign settings. 
  • Clerics are modified - no longer restricted to blunt weapons, they now use any simple weapon. Interestingly they don't use heavy armour, only light or medium armour. 
  • Only one domain is given for clerics, the Life Domain. Incidentally this domain allows clerics to use heavy armour. 
  • Fighters get Martial Archetypes, though only one is given, the Champion. 
  • Rogues also get Roguish Archetypes, and the only one given in the Basic rules is the Thief. 
  • Wizards get Arcane Traditions (perhaps similar to 2E schools). The one given in the Basic rules is Evocation.
  • The Nine Alignments are back! Thank goodness. I know not everyone likes or uses alignments, but what 4E did just seemed so wrong. 
  • Backgrounds include Acolyte, Criminal, Folk Hero, Sage & Soldier. These all have a big impact on equipment, skills and other aspects. 
  • Strength requirements for heavy armour? Interesting. 
  • Armour Class is ascending. 
  • Premade equipment packs allow adventurers to start quicker. 
  • Trinkets are a whimsical addition to equipment
  • Feats are mentioned as being in the PHB but are not part of the Basic rules. 
  • Multiclassing is sort of discussed, but certain details are left to the PHB. Enterprising DMs could probably house-rule it without the PHB. 
  • Proficiency Bonus becomes quite important. Still haven't worked out exactly how. They seem to crop up in all sorts of situations, particularly in skills and combat. 
  • Ability Scores get discussed in chapter 7, after race, class, alignment and equipment. Interesting choice. 
  • Saving throws get a short section, with no examples given. 
  • Rounds are 6 seconds long. 
  • Spell lists are reduced in size, as befits a Basic Rules set. I'm sure more spells will appear in the PHB. 
  • There is a blank 2-sided character sheet and an extra sheet for spells at the end.  

So for me this raises the question - do I stick with B/X Classic D&D, or make the jump to 5E ? I have not decided yet, but a new edition would benefit from a new campaign setting.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Menshallan Keep part 2

This follows on from the previous post, Menshallan Keep Part 1 and details the upper floor of the keep. It uses the B/X / Labyrinth Lord rules and is suitable for characters level 4-6.

The north-east corner is taken over by a band of chaos cultists while werewolves have taken the north-west corner. There is an uneasy truce between the two.

27) 4 chaos cultists - 3 Chaos Warriors (F3), 1 Chaos Cleric (C3) are guarding the stairway to the upper floor. If in trouble they will call to room 28 for reinforcements. They have a candelabra with Continual Light cast on it. 
Chaos Warriors - AC 3, Mv 90', HD F3, hp 15, 12, 20, THAC0 17, Att 1 sword for 1d8+1, Ml 10, Align C, XP 50 each, Equipment: Banded Armour, Sword, Shield, Cultist Robes, 3d6gp each
Chaos Cleric - AC 3, Mv 90', HD C3, hp 12, THAC0 19, Att 1 hammer for 1d6, Ml 10, Align C, XP 65, Equipment: Banded Armour, Hammer, Shield, Cultist Robes, Unholy Symbol, 23gp
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Rage ( + Aura of Shadows if using LL rather than B/X)

28) Empty Hallway

29) 3 chaos cultists - 2 Chaos Warriors (F3), 1 Chaos Magus (MU4)  here as reinforcements if called for from room 27
Chaos Warriors - AC 3, Mv 90', HD F3, HP 12, 15, THAC0 17, Att 1 sword for 1d8+1, Ml 10, Align C, XP 50 each, Equipment: Banded Armour, Sword, Shield, Cultist Robes, 3d6gp each)
Chaos Magus - AC 8, Mv 120', HD MU4, HP 14, THAC0 18, Att 1 dagger for 1d4 or spell, Ml 9, Align C, XP 190, Equipment: Cultist Robes, 2 Daggers, 1 spellbook, 36gp
Spells: Charm Person, Shield, Mirror Image, Phantasmal Force (+ Read Magic, Detect Magic, Continual Light, Knock and Web in spell book but not memorised)
This room contains a bed, a lantern with Continual Light cast on it and table for the magus - it is his home since he has been displaced by the nagpa in room 35. He would dearly love to get his hands on the nagpa's spell book and dispose of his inhuman rival. Underneath the mattress and pillow is a sack with 12 gems worth 1940gp (2 zircons worth 60gp + 50gp, 1 amethyst worth 100gp, 1 pearl worth 100gp, 2 topazes worth 200gp + 250gp, 4 aquamarines worth 250gp, 300gp, 300gp, 330gp) plus the magus' spell book. 

30) 6 chaos cultists (5x F3, 1 C3). The chaos warriors are resting and do not have their armour on. There are 10 beds around this room plus a table and 6 chairs and a candelabra with Continual Light cast on it. If the cultists are surprised or if for some reason they do not recognise the PCs as a threat, they will be sat around the table playing a game of dice and cards (called "Papers and Paychecks").
Chaos Warriors - AC 8, Mv 120', HD F3, HP 13, 13, 20, 12, 9, THAC0 17, Att 1 sword for 1d8+1, Ml 10, Align C, XP 50 each, Equipment: Banded Armour - not worn, Sword, Shield, Cultist Robes, 3d6gp each)
Chaos Cleric - AC 3, Mv 90', HD C3, HP 8, THAC0 19, Att 1 hammer for 1d6, Ml 10, Align C, XP 65, Equipment: Banded Armour, Hammer, Shield, Cultist Robes, Unholy Symbol, 20gp
Spells: Darkness, Blood Loan (+ Hold Person if using LL rather than B/X)

31) Empty Hallway draped with banners with the symbols of two chaos gods, Slargor and Havok.

32) 1 chaos cultist leader Galliard, (C5 / Advanced Werewolf) Galliard will transform into his wolfman form when he is reduced to half HP or less. The transformation will restore him to his "werewolf hit points" of 28.
As human AC 7, Move 120', HD C5, HP 15, THAC0 16 Att 1 mace for 1d6+1 or Spell, Ml 12, Align C, Equip: Mace, unholy symbol, cultist robes, key to treasure chest
Spells: Rage, Cure Light Wounds, Hold Person, Aura of Shadows, Champion of Chaos)
As Wolfman form of werewolf: AC 5, Mv 120', HD 7, HP 28, THAC0 12, Att 2 claws/1 bite for 1d4+1/1d4+1/1d10+1. Spec Att: Infect with Lycanthropy, Spec Def: Immune to normal weapons (Silver or magic to hit), Sv F6, Ml 12, Align C, XP 1490
In a corner under a lounger Galliard uses as a bed is a locked chest. He has the key around his neck. Anyone trying to force or pick the lock without the key will trigger a poison needle trap (save at +2 vs poison or die in 1d6 turns). Inside the chest is 3300sp, 3570gp, 720pp, a Potion of Levitation, a Scroll of Protection from Elementals and a large sapphire worth 2000gp

33) Empty - storage for cultists, full of boxes of food and barrels of drink. 

34) 1 displacer beast (a.k.a. phase tiger, pet of the chaos cultists) (AC 4, Mv 150', HD 6, HP 20, THAC0 14, Att 2 tentacles for 2d4/2d4, SD +2 bonus to AC & Saves, Sv F6 (+2 bonus), Ml 8, Align N, XP 570). The displacer beast will not attack anyone wearing cultist robes but will only follow and obey Galliard. 

35) 1 lesser nagpa (AC 5, Mv 120', HD 6, HP 25, THAC0 14, Att 1 bite for 1d6 or spell, SA Create Flames, Darkness, Phantasmal Force all 3 x per day, SA MU6, Ml 7, Align C, XP 820, memorised spells: Charm Person, Web, Lightning Bolt (for 6d6 dam)), allied to the cultists, plus a pet hellhound (AC4, Mv 120' HD4, HP 19, THAC0 16, Att 1 bite for 1d6, SA breath for 4d6, Detect Invis 75%, Sv F4, Ml 9, Align C, XP 190) 
The nagpa's lair is decorated in all sorts of arcane writings and formulae. Instead of a conventional bed, the nagpa has a raised platform that it perches on while sleeping. On this platform there is a locked chest and an apparently empty leather sack. The locked chest is actually a decoy and the lock has been jammed and the chest is full of pieces of iron and lead. The sack is a magical Bag of Holding. Inside is 2400gp, 6000sp and the nagpa's spell book (containing Read Magic, Magic Missile, Charm Person, Mirror Image, Web, Dispel Magic, Lightning Bolt and Fly). 

36) Empty (corridor)

37) Empty

38) 2 wights dressed in the uniform of the former guards of this keepwho have been cowed by Galliard in room 32 (AC 5, Mv 90', HD 3, hp 13, 8 THAC0 17, Att 1 touch for Energy Drain, SD silver or magic weapons needed to hit, Sv F3, Ml 12, Align C, XP 110),  + a box with 6 pieces of ornately engraved silverware (2 plates worth 300gp each, 2 bowls worth 400gp each, a serving dish worth 600gp and a jug worth 600gp)

39) Empty

40) 1 ochre jelly (AC 8, Mv 30', HD 5, HP 16, THAC0 15, Att 1 slam for 2d6, SD Split into smaller jellies, Sv F3, Ml 12, Align U, XP 500) trapped in here by the werewolves. 

41) Empty apart from inanimate skeletons of two careless cultists caught by the ochre jelly

42) 1 rust monster patrolling the corridor (AC 2, Mv 120', HD 5, HP 22, Att 1 for special, SA rust metal weapons and armour, Sv F3, Ml 7, Align U, XP 500)

43) Trap - There is a large chalice made of silver sat on a carved stone pedestal in the middle of this room. There are two traps in this room. Firstly a crossbow trap (Att 2 bolts, THAC0 12, Dam 1d8/1d8) aimed at the door. Secondly the chalice sits on an Explosive Rune - anyone looking at the rune under the chalice detonates it, causing 6d4+6 dam, save vs spells for half damage except for the person triggering it. The chalice itself is nonmagical and worth 400gp (part of the silverware set in room 38). 

44) 4 Dire Wolves, kept as pets by the werewolves. They are hungry and will attack anyone not a werewolf (AC 6, Mv 150', HD 4+1, HP 12, 19, 22, 17, THAC0 15, Att 1 bite for 2d4, Sv F2, Ml 8, Align U, XP 140)

45) 1 advanced werewolf (5 HD) - initially appears as a muscular barbarian. He will transform into a wolfman as soon as he senses danger. 
As wolfman - AC 5, Mv 120', HD 5, hp 27, THAC0 15, Att 2 claws/1 bite for 1d4/1d4/2d4, SA Infect with lycanthropy, SD Silver or magic weapons to hit, Sv F5, Ml 8, Align C, XP 500
His "bed" consists of 6 fur blankets each worth 200gp (made of giant weasel pelts, properly tanned and made) and upright against the wall are 3 rolls of silk, each worth 400gp.  In a sack under the pile of furs is 1600gp + 240pp

46) 3 normal Werewolves (AC 5, Mv 180',  HD 4, HP 28, 16, 18, THAC0 16, Att 1 bite for 2d4, SA Infect with Lycanthropy, SD Silver or magic weapons to hit, Sv F4, Ml 8, Align C, XP 190). As normal werewolves, they do not have a wolfman form, and just transform into large wolves. 

47) Empty

48) 4 normal werewolves (AC 5, Mv 180',  HD 4, HP 15, 20, 16, 22, THAC0 16, Att 1 bite for 2d4, SA Infect with Lycanthropy, SD Silver or magic weapons to hit, Sv F4, Ml 8, Align C, XP 190)

49) Trap  -Contains a cloud of Insanity Gas - anyone entering must save vs poison or act as if under a confusion spell for 1 hour (roll for the effects of the Confusion spell every 1 turn/10 mins)

50) Trick - Illusion of 2 rust monsters running around on the floor. The illusion is not sophisticated enough for the illusory rust monsters to respond to the PCs entering - they appear to just keep running around.

51) 4 chaos warriors (3x F3, 1x F4) are stationed here. Their main task is to guard against werewolf attacks. They have a table, 4 chairs and a lantern with Continual Light cast on it. 
Chaos Warriors - AC 4, Mv 90', HD F3, HP 10, 15, 10, THAC0 17, Att 1 sword for 1d8+1 or Silver Dagger for 1d4+1 Ml 10, Align C, XP 50 each, Equipment: Banded Armour, Sword, Shield, Cultist Robes, Silver Daggers, 3d6gp each). 
Chaos Sergeant - AC 2, Mv 60', HD F4, hp 19, THAC0 15, Att 1 sword for 1d8+2, Ml 10, Align C, XP 135, equip: Plate mail, Shield, Sword +1, +2 vs Lycanthropes (makes humming noise when lycanthropes are within 30')

52) Empty

XP count: #27 215xp, #29 390xp, #30 365xp, #31 1490xp, #34 570xp, #35 1010xp, #38 220xp, #40 500xp, #42 500xp, #44 560xp, #45 500xp, #46 420xp, #48 760xp, #51 285xp
total = 7650

Menshallan Keep Part 1

Menshallan Keep was an outpost of the Toutus Empire far to the north in the Walrus Freehold.along the coastline of the Twisted Hills. (It is not marked on the map - use your intuition to find it). It is abandoned by humans, but not ruined - during the Wars between the Empires, the Toutus Empire just withdrew all the troops and staff to fight elsewhere, and then the empire collapsed. The Keep still stands. 
The keep is in a concentric pattern, with four square corner towers connected by four thick "corridors" and a courtyard with a pond in the middle. 
The two main levels are shown here, though any enterprising DM could add as many extra levels as they want. Note the stairs going down from the ground floor in room 13 - is that just cellars or is there more under the keep than on the surface?
The surface levels are intended for a party of levels 3-5. At least one magic weapon is recommended. 

Menshallan Keep Ground Level

  1. The Entrance Passageway: The double doors at each end are hanging off their hinges. 
  2. Hallway - empty apart from a pile of animal bones (previous meals of the ogres). 
  3. Crossbow Trap aimed at the doorway. Att 2 bolts, THAC0 12, Dam 1d8/1d8
  4. Armoury - all usable stuff has ben looted. In the corner are two Rhagodessas (AC 5, Mv 150', HD 4+2, hp 13, 24, THAC0 15, Att 1 leg/1 bite for 0/2d8, leg hit grips and allows automatic bite, Sv F2, Ml 9, Align unaligned, XP 215 each) that will attack any intruders. 
  5. Armoury - Most usable stuff has been looted but 2 suits of human-sized scale mail & 10 spears remain. 
  6. 2 ogres (AC 5, Mv 90', HD 4+1, hp 15, 16, THAC0 15, Att 1 club for 1d10, Sv F4, Ml 10, Align C, XP 140 each) + 2 juvenile ogres (AC 6, Mv 90', HD 2+1, hp 7, 5, THAC0 17, Att 1 club for 1d8, Sv F2, Ml 8, Align C, XP 35 each)
  7. Hunks of butchered meat hanging from the ceiling. The meat is mostly livestock and wild deer, but one or two pieces look disturbingly human.
  8. 3 ogres (AC 5, Mv 90', HD 4+1, hp 11, 24, 17, THAC0 15, Att 1 club for 1d10, Sv F4, Ml 10, Align C, XP 140 each)
  9. A dead dwarf - used as part trophy, part toy by the ogres. 
  10. 1 ogre leader (AC 4, Mv 90', HD 6+2, hp 37, THAC0 12, Att 1 battle axe for 1d8+3, Sv F6, Ml 11, Align C, XP 380) wielding a battle axe +1 for 1d8+3 damage (+1 magic bonus, +2 for ogre strength). He has a chest in the corner with 60 ingots worth 100sp each, 21,000sp, 1600gp and 420pp. 
  11. Empty
  12. Empty
  13. 1 wight (AC 5, Mv 90', HD 3, hp 13 THAC0 17, Att 1 touch for Energy Drain, SD silver or magic weapons needed to hit, Sv F3, Ml 12, Align C, XP 110)
  14. 3 shadows (AC7, Mv 90', HD 2+2, hp 12, 9, 10, THAC0 17 Att 1 touch for 1d4 + drain 1 strength, SD Magic weapon needed to hit, Surprise on 1-5 on D6, Sv F2, Ml 12, Align C, XP 83). In the corner there are four large ceramic vases, 3 containing a total of 13,000sp and the last one 18 gems (all citrines) worth 50gp each and 2 scrolls (one is a Scroll of Protection against Elementals, the other has the Magic User spells Web, Levitate and Dispel Magic)
  15. animated iron statue (AC 2, Mv 30', HD 4, hp 26, THAC0 16, Att 2 swords for 1d8/1d8, SD nonmagical metal weapons stick to statue, Sv F4, Ml 11, Align Unaligned, XP 190) crafted to appear as a soldier encased in full plate armour wielding two swords. The statue will not attack immediately unless to defend itself. Scrawled in chalk on one of the walls are three commands: En Garde!, Hither! and As You Were!
    En Garde! will cause the statue to attack
    Hither! will cause the statue to move in the direction of the person giving the command.
    As You Were! will cause the statue to cease fighting and return to this room. 
  16. Former training room. 3 animated swords attack, 1 is a sword +1 +2 vs spellcasters and will attack any mage, cleric or other spellcaster. Dispel Magic will de-animate the swords. They attack with THAC0 18 and do 1d8 damage, except for the magical sword which of course has THAC0 17 and does 1d8+1 damage, except against spellcasters such as clerics, magic users and elf spellblades. The swords cannot be defeated by conventional means, but they, like other weapons, will be stuck if they damage the animated iron statue in room 15. They will not leave this room, so characters can retreat without the swords following. 
  17. Dining hall with long tables and benches. There are two wax animated statues (AC 9, Mv 90', HD 3, hp 10, 11, THAC0 17, Att 1 weapon for 1d6, Sv T3, Ml 12, Align U, XP 65) attending the tables in an endless cycle - one lays the table places and the other clears them away. The statues appear to be man-servants in peasant clothes, with hand axes hanging from their belts. If interrupted or the crockery or cutlery is stolen or destroyed the wax animated statues attack the offenders. 
  18. Corridor - appears normal but entering the southern half triggers blinding gas (save vs poison or be blind for 1d6 hours) and a magic mouth spell that shouts out "Intruders!" repeatedly. Intelligent inhabitants of the keep have marked the boundary between the safe part and the trapped part with two upturned buckets sitting on the floor of the passage (in between the doors to rooms 21 and 22)
  19. Central Courtyard. The pond here is murky but contains nothing of interest except scummy water and mud. 
  20. Empty
  21. 1 Gelatinous Cube (AC 8, Mv 60', HD 4, hp 24 THAC0 16, Att 1 slam for 2d4 + paralysis, SD surprise on 1-4 on D6, Sv F2, Ml 12, Align U, XP 135) + gems suspended in it.
  22. Empty
  23. 1 Wight (AC 5, Mv 90', HD 3, hp 9 THAC0 17, Att 1 touch for Energy Drain, SD silver or magic weapons needed to hit, Sv F3, Ml 12, Align C, XP 110) plus 3 Ogre zombies (AC 8, Mv 60', HD 5+1, hp 31, 18, 20, THAC0 14, Att 1 club for 1d10, always attacks last, Ml 12, Align C, XP 260), guarding a chest with 2100gp, 4 pieces of jewelry worth 400gp each and 210pp and a Mace +1. 
  24. Empty. Former kitchen, with sink and stoves and tables. 
  25. Alchemical Lab with warning on the door in Elvish. Inside there are many pieces of salvageable alchemy equipment (total 160gp worth but bulky and fragile) and ingredients, plus 32 different unlabeled jars and vials with various contents such as magic potions, acids, urine specimens, poison, squid sepia and the like. The DM is invited to be creative and sadistic should the PCs start experimenting....
(XP distribution: #4 430xp, #6 350xp, #8 420xp, #10 380xp, 13# 110xp, #14 190xp, #15 249xp, #17 130xp, #21 245xp, #23 890xp)  

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Borrowing from Magic the Gathering

I'll be honest here: I've always liked MTG's looks, flavour and huge range but I've never really got into playing it. I bought several packs both when it first came out and as various expansions were released, but never got round to finding other people to play it with. 
But the pictures were cool. 
This article explains why an official M:TG /D&D crossover did not happen, but there are plenty of opportunities for unofficial conversions. is quite good as well if you look further down the page to the answer that quotes Ryan Dancy. 

There are a lot of cool ideas in M:TG, much of which is inspired by the artwork. Most of those ideas are monsters of one sort or another. For example:

Serpent Warrior

No Enc:     1d8
Alignment:     Chaotic
Movement:     180’
Armour Class:     4
Hit Dice:     6*
Attacks     2 claws/1 bite
Damage     1d4/1d4/1d8+poison
Save:     F6
Morale:     10
TT/Hoard:    K/X
Size:     Medium
Type:     Humanoid
Intelligence:     11-12
XP:     350

These creatures are found in swamps and jungles, particularly around desolate ruins of fallen civilisations, and are ferocious enemies of mankind. Sages speculate they were created by an elder race of serpent-creatures called the Yuan-ti. 
In combat they are fast and deadly, preferring teeth and claws to artificial weapons. They can create darkness in 10’ radius around their bodies once per day for 10 rounds and they will use this to surprise opponents. If they successfully bite an opponent, they inject a venom - the target must save vs poison or suffer 1d4 damage per hour for a whole day (24 hours). Serpent warriors are willing to cooperate with other evil reptiles and sometimes have lizardmen and troglodytes as slaves or foot-soldiers. 

Bogardan Firefiend

No Enc: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180’
Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5*
Attacks 2 hoofs/1 gore
Damage 1d6/1d6/2d4
Save: F5
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: Nil
Size: Large
Type: Outsider
Intelligence: 6 (low)
XP: 350

These weird and terrible creatures are a fusion of elemental fire and the planes of Chaos, and can be found in either place. They can also be found in volcanic areas on the Material Plane, including lava caverns of the Underworld. They are occasionally found alongside fire giants, efreet and red dragons.
Firefiends have vents on their back that unleash red-hot gasses once an hour and they may, in addition to attacking normally, unleash a burst of flames and hot gases that cause 2d6 fire damage to all within 10’ of the creature and 1d6 to anyone from 10’ to 20’ of the creature.
Furthermore, on dying, a bogardan Firefiend unleashes one last burst of flame that does 3d6 to all within 10' and 1d6 to anyone from 10' to 20' of the firefiend.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Ruined City of Aerisport

Aerisport used to be one of the greatest ports of the Duchy of Urdus in the Toutus Empire. At its height, shortly before the Wars between the Empires, Aerisport had a population of 10,000. It sat on the River Rancor, and ships would swap cargo with river barges that would then travel up through prime farmland to Mesabridge and the Confederacy of the Ten Peaks.
During the Wars between the Empires, Aerisport escaped relatively unscathed. A raid by Telthyan pirates was fought off by the town guard.
This all changed with the Summoning. During his rampage across Kaelaross, Bhael created many Chaos Portals. One of these was in the heart of Aerisport, and it linked to the Chaotic Plane of Carceros (the reddish dot in the middle of the city map).
Further disaster occured when, during the fight between Bhael and the two lawful gods Rhondus and Adonar, the Godsblood Strait was created and the Godsblood Hills were heaved out of the sea immediately offshore from Aerisport. This shook Aerisport like an earthquake and six major fissures in the earth ripped open, swallowing buildings and a few remaining inhabitants (many had fled east when the Chaos Portal was opened). Other smaller splits in the earth are dotted around the city.
This left Aerisport landlocked and the River Rancor was diverted away from the stricken city.

These days Aerisport is abandoned by civilised humans. The map of the city does not show which buildings are ruined and which are still intact . About a third are ruined, either by the earthquake or monsters or even just time and erosion - it has been abandoned for 50 years.
The creatures of Carceros are more varied than the humanoid hordes of Hestoris, and are generally subterranean in nature. To start with they hid out in the surface ruins but then a clan of goblins emerged into Aerisport. These goblins, the Virrish-Guth, are master miners and excavators. On the plane of Carceros they expand and modify the vast dungeon networks. In Aerisport they have started in the fissures, digging sideways from the walls and sometimes creating safe pathways down into the fissures.
The other monsters appreciate the goblins' efforts - rather than killing and eating the goblins the other creatures have enslaved and bullied the goblins into creating underground lairs, usually connected to the fissures.

Nobody knows for how long or how far the goblins have excavated, but it is telling that the area that was the shoreline to the north-west of the city is being filled with what seems to be bucket- and barrow-loads of rubble, enough to form small hills. Some would say that underneath Aerisport is the biggest dungeon in Toutus, surpassing that underneath Seaview Keep.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Howling Forest

The Howling Forest is a large stretch of deciduous forest south of the east side of the Godsblood Straits. It is mostly natural, but has a bad reputation since it was first investigated by the Toutus empire. Humans of the Toutus Empire have entered into it occasionally but never settled. Even woodcutters and hunters rarely venture more than a few hours inwards then retreating back out before sunset.
There are a number of inhabitants of the Howling Forest, few of whom are friendly.

There are substantial numbers of werewolves. These include more powerful leader-types that can fight most heroes and win. Other werewolves are clerics of chaotic gods when in human form, particularly Bhael, Skreech and Slargor. These werewolves gather into packs of about 2-20, but many packs are part of wider tribes. These include:
the Sly Stalkers (who sometimes visit human settlements outside the woods, either in human form in the day, or as wolves in the night), the Rabid Slayers (ferocious to the point of killing any creature not of their tribe) and the Midnight Singers  (who take glee in scaring prey witless with their howls before moving in for the kill)
There is the ruins of an elven culture that predates the Toutus Empire. The Citadel of Maeredoth has long been abandoned by the elves after foolish elven spellswords dabbled in magics that should have been left alone. Although there was no disaster on the scale of the Summoning, Mearedoth was still tainted with Chaos in such an indelible way that no amount of Remove Curse or Dispel Evil spells would remove. Chaotic monsters, including those from chaos portals, are attracted to the ruins of Maeredoth.
Some of the elves of Maeredoth moved north and joined their kin in the Talloak Forest while others fled west to Teiglin and the Shorgan Forest. There are now very few elves still staying in the Howling Forest, and they have to contend with the werewolves and other creatures.

The Lurggorkoth Orcs (translated: Bleeding Socket orcs) have been in this forest for hundreds of years - long before the Summoning and the chaos portals. They are immune to werewolf lycanthropy but can still be attacked and killed by the werewolves. As such, the Lurggorkoth orcs prize silver more than gold, and will fashion it into weapons, particularly daggers and arrowheads. Chiefs, shamans and leaders will be equipped with silver-headed spears and hand axes.
There is a small tribe of minotaurs led by a chief. They usually stay close to the centre, and are sometimes found investigating the elven ruins of Maeredoth. They dislike the werewolves and can hold their own against them. Although contemptuous of the orcs, they occasionally hire themselves out as mercenaries. Due to their great strength (and possible supernatural origins) minotaurs can damage werewolves. This makes them valuable allies to the orcs.

There is a small, scattered community of sylvan creatures, including treants, dryads, pixies, sprites and elves. They are very cautious of humans, as most werewolves appear human during the day. They hate the werewolves for hunting and killing all the centaurs that used to live in the Howling Forest. 

Random Encounters:
Roll D12+D8  Result
2Green Dragon
4Sprite or Pixie
6Giant Crab Spider
8Giant Carnivorous Beetle
10Wild Boar or Giant boar
11Stag (2HD herd animal) or Giant Stag
14Dire Wolf
17Bear, Grizzly
19Human or Demihuman NPC
20Treant or Dryad

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Hoofed Herbivores of Toutus

Toutus, as a continent rather than an Empire, has a wide range of wildlife as well as supernatural monsters. The continent is loosely based on medieval Europe, so looking at what sort of herbivorous creatures would be in a fantasy version of Europe I came up with:
Giant Elk
Great Ram
Giant Boar
I admit these are sort of borrowed/adapted from 1st Edition AD & D but I reckon they are worth producing here. They seem to answer the question "What do big fierce monsters eat (apart from careless adventurers)?"

Name Auroch Giant Elk Great Ram Giant Boar
No. App. 0 (2d8) 0 (1+2d4 does) 0 (3d6) 0 (1d8)
Alignment Unaligned Unaligned Unaligned Unaligned 
Movement180' (60')240' (80')240' (80')180' (60')
Armor Class7776
Hit Dice5536+6
Attacks1 gore or 1 trample1 gore or 1 trample1 butt1 gore
Damage1d6 or 1d61d8 or 1d41d82d6
Save AsF2F2F1F3
Hoard Classnonenonenonenone

Aurochs are large wild cattle that roam the wilds of Toutus. They form small herds and usually live in temperate forests, swamps and plains where there is plenty of vegetation to feed on. Their eyesight is not very good, but their sense of smell is acute. On Kaelaross there is no significant difference between bull aurochs and cows - they are both powerful and dangerous. If an auroch has a 30' or more running start, it will try to charge an opponent. When charging it will only use its horns but gets +2 to hit and does double damage.
Aurochs are found in:
Wherever there is a random encounter with wild cattle, the DM may roll 1d6. On 1-2, the cattle are aurochs.

Giant Elk (the name Irish Elk seems inappropriate on Kaelaross) roam the hills and woodlands of Toutus. Their magnificent antlers make them prized among huntsmen and noblemen seeking sport. However, they do not give up their antlers easily. Only the males have antlers, and typically there will be a single giant stag accompanied by a number of giant does. The stags can charge if it has a run of 30' or more. When charging it will only use its antlers but gets +2 to hit and does double damage. Does can only use their hooves to trample, and rarely fight anyway as they usually flee any threat larger than a fox.
Giant elk are found in temperate and cold climates, usually hills and woodlands, such as:
Similar to aurochs, if a DM rolls stags or deer as a random encounter, then 1-2 on D6 says that it is a giant stag.

Great Rams are agile and powerful mountain dwellers found in hills and mountains. They are almost the size of a pony, standing 4'6" at the shoulder, and both sexes have horns (though the males are larger and more impressive). The ram can charge if it has a run of 30' or more. When charging it will only use its horns but gets +2 to hit and does double damage. It has been rumoured that some dwarven adventurers have tamed great rams to ride around on them, but this is dismissed as being silly by any self-respecting dwarf.

Great Rams are found in high altitudes across Toutus, including
Giant Boar are at least twice the height and length of normal wild boar, and often have more elaborate tusks and facial "warts". They are surprisingly aggressive for hoofed animals, but are omnivorous, not herbivorous. They generally do not actively hunt, but will scavenge on dead animals they come across. In combat the males and females are basically the same.  

Giant boars are found in a wide range of environments 
Giant boar are found in temperate and cool forests, hills and swamps, such as:

As with previous entries here, if you roll a wild boar as a random encounter, you can roll 1d6 and on a 1-2 the wild boar is actually an encounter with giant boar.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chaotic Cleric Spells

As a sort of counterbalance to a previous post on Lawful cleric spells, I've come up with a few for the dark side. 
Although I realize that clerics were never meant to be the magical powerhouses of destruction and control that mages can be, the 1st level cleric spells still seem pretty weak. 
If you use Basic D&D, then you don't get any spells as a 1st level cleric - you have to get to 2nd level to prove yourself worthy to receive...Purify Food and Drink! Is that how foul followers of terrifying gods lure crazed worshippers into their dark cults? No, this is how they show their deity's boons. 

1st level spells for chaotic clerics

Blood Loan
Range: 30'
Duration: 1 turn per caster level
Area: 1 target
This spell grants the target a temporary extra 1d6+1 hp. The same amount of hit points are subtracted from the target at the end of the spell's duration. If this reduces the target to below 1 hp, they die as normal as they lose the borrowed life force. This spell can stack with multiple castings. Some clerics use this on their allies before a fight, then after battle they ask for vital information or oaths of loyalty before casting healing spells that save the ally's life. 

Range: Touch
Duration: 1 round per caster level
Area: 1 target
This spell grants the target a +1 to damage and also makes them unable to retreat or surrender voluntarily. They get a +2 bonus to morale checks while fighting, though they may run away if they fail a morale test. If cast on PCs, they will keep fighting until either they or the opponents are dead. While the spell is in effect, the target shouts and yells threats and obscenities at any enemies. 

2nd level spells for chaotic clerics

Aura of Shadows
Range: Caster only
Duration: 1 round per caster level
Area: Caster
This spell causes the cleric to be surrounded by wisps of dark shadows that cling to to the cleric like smoke. The Aura gives the cleric +2 to AC and +2 to saving throws, and reduces the damage of all attacks against the cleric by 1hp. 

3rd level spells for chaotic clerics

Champion of Chaos
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 turn per caster level
Area: 30' around target
This spell is like a variation of the Bless spell. It is cast on a single target who temporarily becomes a champion of chaos and exudes an aura of power and hatred. All chaotic creatures within a 30' radius around the champion of chaos gain +1 to hit and damage and saves similar to a Bless spell, and also +1 bonus to AC and +2 to morale. The champion gains +2 to hit, damage, to saving throws and AC, never needs to check morale while the spell is in effect, and visibly appears more powerful (more muscular, more ferocious).  The cleric may choose to cast the spell on himself. 

Range: 60' 
Duration: 1 turn per caster level
Area: 1 target
This spell causes the affected target to save vs spells. If they fail, they treat all allies as if they were foes and will refuse to trust them. The target may retreat and run away if outnumbered, or may attack allies if confident of victory. They will refuse any help, and any attempt to cast a spell on them will be treated as an attack. This spell can be removed by Dispel Magic and Remove Curse. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Werewolves of Kaelaross

Werewolves are cool. They are vicious, powerful and scary, at least in books, movies and comics. In D&D they are lethal for novice adventurers, but from 3rd level onward they seem just one more monster. I would like to rectify that.
In this version, werewolves become more powerful as their human halves gain experience and levels. It is plausible that a human infected with lycanthropy may not have all the special abilities as soon as he is infect, but he gradually gains them over several months or a year as he becomes accustomed to his new condition.
However, the werewolf cannot use any weapons, armour, spells or special abilities that it might in human form. Any clothes or armour worn when the werewolf transforms is ripped and damaged beyond use. The werewolf does retain Strength, Dexterity and Constitution modifiers from its human form.
The time it takes to transform (either human to wolf or wolf to human) is generally 1 combat round, during which the werewolf cannot attack. However, this can be prolonged, usually for dramatic effect (think of all those werewolf movies).
The standard werewolf form is as a large wolf - quadrupedal and almost indistinguishable from normal wolves except for the eyes. As the werewolf progresses, it learns how to change into a wolfman - a hybrid form that is familiar to fans of horror movies. The major advantage of taking wolfman form is the extra claw attacks. However, the werewolf cannot run as fast on two legs like a human (120' per turn or 40' per round) as it can as on four legs as a wolf (180' per turn or 60' per round).

I admit the Special Abilities are more of a suggested progression than anything else - if you don't like some of them, or think werewolves should get some abilities regardless of level, go ahead and modify as you see fit. I admit the infravision thing could be acquired at 1st level, but that seemed rather crowded on the table and I wanted to space the abilities out a bit.

Character LevelWerewolf ACWerewolf HDBite DamageWolfman DamageSpecial Abilities
1631d8Cannot be wolfmanLunar Transformation,
Bestial Mind
2642d4Cannot be wolfmanInfect with Lycanthropy,
Immunity to
mundane weapons
3552d42d4/1d4/1d4Combat transformation
Wolfman form
4562d42d4/1d4/1d4Command Wolves
5571d101d10/1d4/1d4Track Faultlessly
6481d101d10/1d4/1d4Retain intelligence
7491d121d12/1d6/1d6Summon Wolves
93112d62d6/1d6/1d6Regenerate (1 hp/rnd)
103122d62d6/1d6/1d6Transform at will
113132d82d8/1d8/1d8Summon Dire Wolf
122142d82d8/1d8/1d8+2 or better
 enchantment to hit

Lunar Transformation: The werewolf transforms involuntarily on the night of the full moon and goes hunting
Bestial Mind: Weaker werewolves have the mind and intelligence of a wolf - they see all humans and livestock as prey, and have little strategy or judgement. Think of a dog chasing sheep.
Infect with Lycanthropy: The werewolf can pass on the disease of Lycanthropy to any victim that is bitten and survives.
Immunity to Mundane Weapons:  The werewolf cannot be damaged by non-magical weapons, except for silver weapons which do damage as normal.
Combat transformation: The werewolf can transform when threatened or angry (i.e. as combat starts) even if there is no full moon.
Wolfman Form: The werewolf can take bipedal form and attack with its claws if it wishes.
Command Wolves: If wolves are in the vicinity, the werewolf can call on them and command them to join it in a hunt.
Track Faultlessly: The werewolf's sense of smell is so good that it can track at least as well as any ranger with the nose of a bloodhound.
Retain Intelligence: The werewolf no longer becomes a mindless killer when it transforms, but retains the intelligence of its human form.
Summon Wolves: Even if wolves are not naturally occurring nearby, they will appear to help the werewolf (up to 1 normal wolf per level).
Infravision: The werewolf can see heat patterns in the dark up to 60' like dwarves and many monsters.
Regenerate: If attacked by spells or magic weapons, a werewolf with this ability can regenerate at 1 hp per round. However, the werewolf cannot regenerate from wounds caused by silver weapons.
Transform at Will: Regardless of the lunar phase, time of day or level of danger or stress, the werewolf can shift between forms at will. However, during the night of the full moon the werewolf is very uncomfortable staying in human form and may transform involuntarily if threatened or attacked.
Summon Dire Wolf: The werewolf can summon 1 dire wolf per 3 levels. If dire wolves are already present (e.g. naturally occurring) he may command any number of them.
+2 or better enchantment to hit: The werewolf effectively becomes immune to magic weapons of +1 enchantment. However, the werewolf can still be damaged by silver weapons, and also weapons with special bonuses against lycanthropes.