Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monster: False Unicorn

False Unicorn
Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Move: 240’ (80’)
Attacks: 2 hooves / 1 horn
Damage: 1-4/1-4 or 1-6
No. Appearing: 2-20
Save As: F4
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 35

Mistaken for actual unicorns only by those with little knowledge of the fey beast, false unicorns are wild equines found in forests and savannah scrublands. Their coats vary from pale dun to almost black, and on their foreheads is a sharp reddish-brown horn much like that of a rhinoceros, if sharper and more slender.

False unicorns, if caught young, can be broken with some difficulty. They can carry up to 3500cn, or 7000cn at half-speed.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monster: Alraune

Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2
Move: nil / 90’ (30’)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1-4
No. Appearing: 1-6
Save As: M2
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: K
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 25

Horrid little plant monsters, alraunes burrow themselves into earth, or are potted, and while at rest resemble rosettes of foliage the size of a dinner plate bearing a few fleshy, pale yellow fruit. When a living creature passes close, the alraune springs free of the surrounding soil -- revealing its oversized head, wizened body, sickly green flesh and maw of fangs – and lunges at its prey.

An alraune is a swift ambusher, gaining +2 to initiative checks, and prefers to begin attacking with a shriek that affects all within 20’. Usable once per day, this shriek stuns all who hear it for 1-6 rounds if a save vs. paralysis is not successful, inflicting a -3 penalty to all rolls.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Magic Item: Fire Seeds

Fire Seeds: When found, 2-12 of these small crystals will be found in a waxed leather pouch or wax-paper parcel. A fire seed is orange-red, flickers with an oily sheen, the size of one’s thumb joint and warm to the touch.

If removed from their container a fire seed will ignite (burning as a torch flame) in two rounds and will burn for a single round unless in contact with something flammable. Fire seeds may be thrown, with a range of 5/10/15.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monster: Giltsnake

Armour Class: 1
Hit Dice: 1 hit point*
Move: 150’ (50’)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 0 + poison
No. Appearing: 1-100
Save As: F1
Morale: 6
Treasure Type: Variable (special)
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: 6

Sometimes the treasure is actually the trap – or it is when it’s been infected with giltsnakes.

Two to four inches long, tiny giltsnakes have highly ridged and articulated metallic scales – they may be pale as platinum to dark as copper – that, when the tiny snake coils up, interlock and resemble a metal coin to a fantastic degree. Disturbing a giltsnake while it is coiled will cause it to uncoil and bite instinctively.

The bite from a giltsnake’s miniscule mouth does no damage, but instead delivers a contact poison. This poison’s effects can vary by strain of snake, but the most common causes 2-12 hit points of damage unless a save vs. poison is made.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flowery Elixirs

Magical or enchanted flora crops up throughout worlds of fantasy. Here's a few, rendered into forms that intrepid adventurers might stumble over --

Boneflower: An orchid that sprouts from the remains of long-dead corpses, a boneflower has a single blossom – pale ivory mottled with cream, and chitinous to the touch – and two pale, wrinkled leaves.

A boneflower potion is also ivory, and a little gritty, providing a +2 to all saves (or to Armour Class) vs. attacks from undead. It will negate one energy drain attack, but then the potion's effects fade immediately.

Heartsfaith: Resembling nothing so much as a strange form of goldenrod, heartsfaith bears long tassels of tiny flowers of molten gold colour on strong, tall stems.
A heartsfaith potion, golden yellow, is useful only to clerics; it provides a +1 bonus to all turning attempts for the potion's duration.

Drakesbane: This strain of lily-of-the-valley is almost indistinguishable from the ordinary variety – only a minute examination will reveal the blood-red spot inside each flower's pale white bell.
A drakesbane potion, brilliant crimson, grants a +1 to saves vs. dragon breath and a +1 to attack rolls against dragons for the duration of the potion. A drakesbane potion lasts for only four turns.

Nightsable: A variety of velvety black rose, with golden edging on its petals and greenish-black leaves, a nightsable's thorns can make the unwary sleep.
Black flecked with gold, a nightsable potion grants a +2 bonus to all saves to resist mental control or domination, such as from a Charm spell.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Magic Item: Tincture of Striking

Tincture of Striking: In actuality a thin oil, this tincture is found in ceramic vials containing 1-6 uses and is either shimmering silver, dully-shining iron or translucently iridescent in colour. One use will treat one weapon (or five missiles), allowing the next successful attack with that weapon to strike as if the weapon were magical.

A silver tincture affects Chaotic creatures, iron tincture affects Lawful creatures, and iridescent tincture affects Neutral creatures.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monster: Anpu

Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4**
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite
Damage: 1-4/1-4/1-6 + special
No. Appearing: 1-4 (2-16)
Save As: C4
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 175

Undead creatures that prowl amongst graves, anpu superficially resemble ghouls. Unlike a ghoul, however, an anpu’s jaws are distended into a long canid-like muzzle filled with rending teeth, its hands transformed into tearing claws. The hair of an anpu becomes a ragged, filthy black mane despite its appearance in life. While some anpu rise from those of its victims it does not devour, the vast majority are the product of wretched graverobbers cursed by dying at the place of their theft – or are deliberately created to serve as the guardians of said tombs.

Like a ghoul, a successful hit from an anpu causes paralysis for 2-8 turns unless a save versus paralysis is made; unlike a ghoul, the paralysis of an anpu is not restricted by the size of the victim. More gruesomely, wounds inflicted by an anpu’s rending fangs will continue to bleed at a rate of one hit point per round until healing is applied.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Magic Item: Danah Scroll

Danah Scroll: Originally called “Danah’s spell scrolls” after their creator, and also known as wizard scrolls or “’prentice-in-a-pocket”, Danah scrolls are sheets of a strange material; as if parchment had been transmuted into a gem-like substance without losing its flexibility.

Once a week, a Danah scroll will be imprinted with a single first-level Magic-User spell (selected by the DM when the treasure is placed; every week the same spell is produced), etched into the crystalline surface. This spell may be cast by anyone, even a non-spellcaster.

Elementally, my dear adventurer --

I'm stepping away from strictly low-level things for a moment to mull over one of my favorite subjects -- the Elemental Planes.

(Don't worry, the cavalcade of odd little critters will resume anon ;) )

Since the day I started playing D&D, elemental things have fascinated me. I love the elementals, elemental effects, spells using elements, you name it; and I like my dragons with a bit of an elemental touch, when I can fit it in there somewhere. And I love the Elemental Planes, wonderful sources of the primal stuff, in both D&D and AD&D.

Now, I've been and am an avid Planescape fan. (Put down those pitchforks!) Predictably enough, I picked up the setting because of the elemental goodness it could give me -- the rest was a nifty side-benefit -- and the complex interactions of the 2e Inner Planes in all their variations make me a happy hamster indeed. Plane of Fire? Check. Plane of Ooze? We have one! Plane of Killer Death RainbowsRadiance? Drop on by, bring the kids!

But one of the most interesting bits of Planescape elemental goodness were the hints that things were not always as we currently saw them. Not only was there still the pre-PS djinn-efreet war -- something which makes little sense in a game where fire is opposed by water -- but in the PS elemental supplements they dropped in little suggestions that the Elemental Planes, just maybe, once had a different configuration. And I ate it up.

That different configuration, of course, comes from D&D.

I love the D&D Elemental Planes, stripped to their basics -- only four -- as they are. Not only do we have a different scheme of opposition (Fire opposes and is opposed by Air -- there's our djinn-efreet conflict! -- and Earth opposes and is opposed by Water), but there's also the idea of dominance, flowing in a circle:

Air -> Water -> Fire -> Earth -> Air etc etc ~

And these factor into both damage in combat and social interactions between elemental creatures. I love it.

Naturally, the D&D schema is lacking both the extended "sphere" of Para- and Quasi-Elemental Planes and it also lacks the two Energy Planes. While I can do without the extras, I think for my campaigns I'll restore the Positive and Negative Planes; I rather like them, and will probably slip them in as an unusual opposing pair of elements. (Since I'm tinkering with a six-element system already, it should work nicely ...)

Of course the trick with the Elemental Planes -- traditionally speaking -- is getting there and surviving. AD&D has the odd vortex (and, of course, Sigilian portals if you happen to be using PS) and ethereal travel, but you had best be well-protected when you arrive or expect a swift and terrible death upon arrival in the vast majority of the Inner Planes. D&D makes the travel both simpler (wormholes seem considerably more common than AD&D vortexes, with ethereal travel still an option) and less potentially fatal.

There's a good reason why I say that. While directly travelling to a D&D Elemental Plane still requires one to use magic to survive the environment (or at least to breathe, except on Air), there seems to be a convenient loophole on p. 263 of the Rules Cyclopedia:

"Creatures and things in a wormhole are magically changed into the "proper" element when they reach the elemental plane, unless protected by powerful magic."

Excellent! Fit in with the natives, enjoy yourself, have a good time. Just make sure you take a wormhole back to the Prime again, or you may wind up with some interesting problems ... A pedantic DM might rule that the trip back won't reverse the process, but bah! to that says I.

All and all, I'm quite in love with the D&D situation. My desire for the Positive and Negative Planes I think I shall fill with a lovely Dragon article from Issue 42, wherein Len Lakofka wrote up an interesting take on the Inner Planes comprising just the core four and the Positive and Negative. I have to admit, though, the drawing-point for the article isn't the pages and pages of (frankly soul-numbing) tables, but the descriptions of the planes that make up the end.

Differently-coloured and translucent soils on Earth, with pebbles that can be passed through but large rock and mineral formations cannot? A Plane of Fire where heat doesn't harm a traveller and lava flows might be sentient, even psionic? Positive and Negative Planes filled with crystals, some of which are also sentient? Solid cloud islands filled with dungeons in the Plane of Air?

Time to start filling out planar passposts, methinks!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Magic Item: Bloodflower

Jie Chue was once approached by an angry, vengeance-driven warrior, who desired to have a blade forged after his homeland was savaged by war. He desired this so that he may demonstrate to all who wronged him exactly how much pain they had caused him when his family was torn away.

Jie Chue felt that this was entirely the wrong reason for such a request, but the warrior was adamant; and so the forger set to work with a twinge of regret.

The warrior was pleased with the results, but Jie Chue was not.

Bloodflower: This normal sword has a blade of oddly milky steel, its grip wrapped in black snakeskin and its guard worked into the shape of briars and mandrake plants; the pommel-nut is a slightly-pointed dome of buttery-yellow amber, like a mandrake fruit.

A sword +1, +2 versus humanoids, Bloodflower can once a day inflict a -4 Armour Class penalty upon a successfully struck opponent, causing them to be wracked with pain for four rounds. When this ability is activated Bloodflower's blade turns crimson and seems to drip blood.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monster: Briarbones

Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2* (special)
Move: 90’ (30’)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-4 or by weapon
No. Appearing: 2-12
Save As: F3
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 30

A briarbones appears to be a skeleton entangled with a delicate green vine adorned with sharp thorns, coiling tendrils and tiny rose-like flowers. It normally attacks with its bony hands, but may carry a weapon. Like normal skeletons a briarbones is unaffected by sleep or charm spells, but it cannot be turned.

The motive force of a briarbones is its vine. When enough damage to defeat a skeleton (one of its Hit Dice) has been defeated, a briarbones will collapse; but if left alone the vine will sink more rootlets into the pieces and ooze a sap that binds the skeleton back together to rise again within two turns with full hit points. The vine must be destroyed to prevent this “regeneration”.

Corpses found – or created – by a briarbones will be seeded with bulbs in order to produce new briarbones.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holy Water Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

Ah, the vial of holy water. That most convenient of tools in a Cleric's arsenal, the one that gets pulled out when the turning isn't taking and you just don't want to get up close and personal with the ghastly undead beasties quite yet.

There's just one question: why would an adventurer ever buy it?

Glancing through the Red Box, it quickly and painfully becomes apparent that a vial of holy water is overpriced, underutilized, or both – especially when stacked up against its mundane counterpart, a flask of oil. A quick comparison:

Holy water: range 10/30/50; 1-8 points of damage to undead; 25gp / vial. may also be used as a hand-held weapon.

Oil: range 10/30/50; 1-8 points of damage per round to any flammable creature if the oil is burning, for two rounds if the target is covered in oil; oil will burn for a turn instead if in a 3' diameter pool on the ground; 2gp / flask. may also be used as a hand-held weapon.

Something's just not right here.

An oil flask admittedly needs to be lit, but a toss of a torch against AC 10 will take care of that, and many many creatures and objects will burn quite nicely, offering at least two rounds' worth of damage for your trouble. Or you could, y'know, light your lantern with it, or make the floor slippery, or ...

Meanwhile, the holy water only affects undead, and deals damage for a single round. Yet it costs more than ten times the coat of a flask of oil. Granted holy water is a sacred substance, but still – why would an adventurer, especially a beginning adventurer, cough up 25gp when oil will do the job and then some? Removing some of the “tricks” of a flask of oil wouldn't make any sense. Nor would making the oil more expensive.

So then, back to the holy water! What can be done to make it more worthwhile? Lowering the price would arguably cheapen the roleplaying aspects of carrying the precious blessed waters of your Cleric's faith; it could be done, but what other options are there?

One possibility is to allow the holy water to damage undead for two rounds, much like burning oil (unless washed off, say by normal water). This brings it more in line with oil, without the possibility of turn-long burning holy puddles.

Perhaps a few roleplaying-related tweaks and quirks to be considered along with the extra round of damage? True, enterprising players may well try some of these anyway, but putting few “into the canon” as it were might jog their creativity along. A few possibilities:

 Blessing a corpse to prevent it from rising as one of the undead
 Used as an impromptu holy symbol (perhaps with a penalty to the turning roll)
 Poured out over an unholy idol or altar as part of a cleansing of its taint

Some DMs may even permit holy water to be used to supplement a turning check (for +1 to the roll, perhaps) or for blessing a weapon to allow it to strike a magical undead once. Situtions such as these would, however, require careful judgement on the part of the DM.

Personally, I would consider allowing the turning supplement but would be careful about the weapon enhancement.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Monster: Dark Jelly

Dark Jelly
Armour Class: 8
Hit Dice: 4**
Move: 60’ (20’)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-12 + special
No. Appearing: 2-8
Save As: F3
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 175

A glistening purplish-black gelatinous mass the size of a large man’s torso, a dark jelly is a huge amoeboid that is harmed only by fire and blessed attacks such as holy water. Cold, lightning, or physical attacks will cause a dark jelly to fission into 1-5 smaller 2 Hit Dice jellies.

A dark jelly causes 2-12 points of damage to flesh when it attacks as it draws blood via a hideous form of osmosis. Its touch destroys organic materials in one round; when a dark jelly attacks, a successful hit will drain a point of Constitution in addition to its normal damage. Lost Constitution returns after a day of rest.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Monster: Yixan

Armour Class: 2
Hit Dice: 3+3**
Move: 180’ (60’)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1-8 + special
No. Appearing: 2-20
Save As: F4
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: (K)
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 125

Malevolent beasts, yixan resemble long-necked, half-starved coursing hounds sheathed in blue-black scales as hard as iron. Their eyes are the cold green of witch-fire, and their long and narrow muzzles are lined with teeth as sharp as razors.

Possessed of a dim and malignant intelligence, yixan prefer to hunt in pairs or packs. Their claws, while sharp, are not used for attacking; their bite is venomous, requiring a save the round following a successful attack or else the victim suffers 2-8 additional points of damage. One in ten yixan cause paralysis with their venom as well as hit point damage, lasting for four turns. A magical weapon is required to harm a yixan.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monster: Lindwurm

Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 6**
Move: 150' (50')
[flying 210' (70')]
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 2-16
No. Appearing: 1 (1-3)
Save As: F6
Morale: 9
Treasure Type: E
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 725

A type of dragon-kin closely related to wyverns, a lindwurm is a long, sinuous and rather snakelike creature. It has a horned, dragonlike head and broad fanlike dragon wings, but no limbs. A lindwurm may have scales of any colour, but its colouration has no bearing on its breath weapon or alignment. Though somewhat smarter than wyverns, lindwurms are even more savage and will attack any prey that they believe they can overpower (though they may be bribed with sufficient food or treasure).

A lindwurm attacks by biting, and three times a day may use a breath weapon of acidic venom: the breath takes the form of a 60' x 20' cone that deals 6-24 points of damage and inflicts a -4 penalty to all dice rolls for two hours if a save vs. poison is failed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pick Your Poison

I adore the Red Box, I really do. BEMCI in general rocks my socks (except for the I part). But one place where I do feel the need for a little more variety is in how it handles poisons; so, I've been tinkering with those a bit.

Because I've been mulling the notion over for a day or so now, I offer up a handful of unusual poisons. Some are relatively harmless, some rather more insidious. Admittedly most of these are pretty brutal to inflict on Red Box PCs, but it's no worse than "save or die"; in the next day or two I hope to post up a list of lesser and more "low level" poisons.

Needles in locks, smeared on weapons, dropped into someone's morning grog; whatever works!

Nightsable: Named for the black and gold variety of rose from whose sap the poison is distilled from, nightsable is a dark amber-coloured and stickily resinous substance. If a saving throw against poison is failed, nightsable puts the victim into a deep sleep for 2-8 hours, during which the victim suffers wild and often horrific dreams.

Ur'tik'ti: Surprisingly enough, this thin pale syrup -- though made from the fist-sized jeweled land urchin -- is not extracted from the urchin's spines, but instead from a combination of the "coral" (the gonad) and lymph of the creature. A failed saving throw against the effects of ur'tik'ti causes the victim to suffer a -4 penalty to all rolls for the next 12 hours.

Prime Tincture: A magical poison, prime tincture (or ffessa) has four variations, as would be expected for a poison composed of concentrated elemental essence. All four look identical -- a perfectly colourless fluid -- and evaporate to leave a faintly-shiny but still potent residue. Ffessa deals 6d6 points of damage (air, earth, fire or water) over six rounds, one die of damage at a time.

Hllak: An unlikely and unpleasant combination of the venom of the scarlet scorpion and distillate of cinnabar crystals, hllak is thick, grainy, and virulently red in colour. A failed save against a dose of hllak causes a mosaic of symptoms: 1-6 hours of paralysis, 2-16 points of damage, and a lingering weakness (-2 penalty to all rolls for 24 hours). Against spellcasters hllak has an additional and terrible effect -- it cuts off a spellcaster's access to one randomly-chosen spell until an antitoxin is found and administered.

Jade Mushroom Powder: The deeply verdant jade mushrooms may be effective healing, but their spores are crippling whether served in food or mixed with oil as a binder for needle or blade. The emerald-black spores cause a -4 penalty to the poison save, and the victim must save or die as the spores burst in their bloodstream or gut. A successful save still results in 9d6 points of damage.

Monster: Stonestar

Armour Class: 1
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: 9' (3')
Attacks: 1 ray
Damage: 1-10
No. Appearing: 1 (1-6)
Save As: F2
Morale: 10
Treasure: Special
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 35

Stonestars are fleshy, five-lobed and radially-symmetrical creatures resembling a three-foot diameter starfish with a hard, calcined shell that resembles tiny nodules of stone and iron.

Usually clinging to a wall or ceiling by the hundreds of cilia-like suckers on its underbelly, a stonestar will fire a ray of energy from its central mass at any living creature that passes within ten feet. This ray provokes bleeding and liquifies flesh; even if its prey should flee, a stonestar will descend from its perch to absorb the liquids from the wounds it succeeded in inflicting through its ventral surface. A stonestar's camouflage makes them difficult to detect against their native stone, resulting in a -3 to all attacks made against them as they slowly shift about.

Within a stonestar's body is a soft, pearl-like organic “gemstone” with a value of 5gp per hit point of the stonestar.

Monday, December 8, 2008

First Level Spells: Firedge / Icedge, Detect Magic Potential

Firedge / Icedge
Range: 20'
Duration: 1 turn
Effect: Adds damage to a weapon

A simple elemental enchantment, this spell bestows a bonus to damage the next time a weapon with the spell cast upon it is used in battle. The weapon will do an additional 1-4 hit points of either fire or cold damage, chosen by the magic-user at the time the spell is cast.

For every two additional levels of the magic-user, another strike is added to the enchantment.

Detect Magic Potential
Range: 0
Duration: 2 turns
Effect: All potential subjects within 60'

A variant of detect magic, detect magic potential will allow the magic-user to see all living beings in range with the potential to use spells outlined in a glowing aura. the spell will not reveal casting ability, but only indicates that the potential is present; a mighty wizard in disguise will have an identical glow as a young child suitable as an apprentice.

On lethality, poisons, and character death.

One of the reasons I don't think I make a very good "old-school" DM is that I'm not terribly keen on PC deaths.

I've had some spectacularly amazing and stupid PC antics that led to death, deaths that I still recount years later; these are just fine, bring 'em! But I've never been much keen on save-or-die poisons, lethal traps (that didn't have one way out if the PCs just paid enough attention), and utterly no-win situations. It's never been a great draw for me or for my players.

Without a doubt, this particular leaning has only been fed in recent years by the lion's share of my DM duties being one-player games. You don't really want instant-death scenarios in a one-player game in my opinion -- your player doesn't even have a buddy they can confer with before they trip that trap or poke that (undead) corpse in the shiny robes. There are more entertaining ways to cause a lone PC grief than just killing them.

Now, I'm also quite certain that the hardcore old-schoolers will gladly argue that point. Hey, if it works for you, right on! But I don't see it working for me and my players, which is also right on. And by disliking lethality I don't mean that I fudge the dice constantly or avoid challenging (and/or potentially lethal) encounters, either; I've dealt with gamers like that and it gets annoying. It's the instant kills that I prefer to not use.

Extreme PC stupidity, on the other hand, surely deserves pain and angst and yes death, if it comes to that. Without a doubt.

... I should write up a few poisons and post them here sometime.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Monster: Ivory Scarab

Ivory Scarab
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1*
Move: 90' (30')
[burrow 60' (20')]
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1-3
No. Appearing: 6-18
Save As: F2
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP value: 13

These six-inch beetles travel in small swarms and are notable for their bone- or ivory-coloured carapaces, stout clawed legs, and strong mandibles surrounding an awl-like probiscis.

Once an ivory scarab makes a successful attack, it attaches to its victim and plunges its probiscis into the victim's flesh, draining 1 hp per round until dead or removed (requiring a successful Strength check). Every two rounds an ivory scarab remains attached, the mild venom in its bite dulls the victim's reactions and inflicts a -1 penalty to all rolls.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Magic Item: Tears of Ivory

One evening while working at his forge, Jie Chue was presented with a token of a former client's appreciation. Setting aside hammer, tongs and blade, he accepted the gift. Within the bundle was an alicorn.

This distressed Jie Chue, though he made no outward sign; with honest graciousness, he gave his thanks and bid good evening to his guest.

The following morning Jie Chue forged a weapon that would not harm.

Tears of Ivory: This slim, slightly-curved dagger is forged with blade and hilt all of one piece of steel, the grip wrapped in plaited silver wire, and inlaid along both sides of its blade with thin and delicately-etched slices of alicorn in the shape of a stylized unicorn's horn.

The dagger cannot be used to attack; it simply will do no damage. However, each day Tears of Ivory may be touched to wounded individuals to grant healing, to a maximum of 8 hit points total per day. Carrying Tears of Ivory grants its owner a +1 bonus to saves against poison.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monster: Xenthrek

Armour Class: 3
Hit Dice: 3***
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1 claw or by weapon
Damage: 1-6 or by weapon
No. Appearing: 1-4
Save As: C4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP value: 80

Xenthreks are magical constructs resembling skeletons carved from transparent crystal. they are usually but not always human in shape (though human-like xenthrek may exhibit some animal features), and inside their glittering “bones” roils foaming liquid flame. Unnaturally quick, xenthrek gain +3 to their initiative rolls.

Most xenthrek attack with their clawlike hands, but some have been equipped by their creators with crystalline weaponry. A successful attack on a xenthrek shattered their crystal structure and releases a gout of liquid flame that scorches for 1-6 hit points of damage for two rounds.

Fire gives a xenthrek hit points equal to the amount of damage dealt; they are immune to cold. A magical weapon is required to damage a xenthrek.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monster: Fire Jelly

Fire Jelly
Armour Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1*
Move: 40' (20')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-4
No. Appearing: 3-18
Save As: F1
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP value: 13

A translucent, red-orange amoeba, a fire jelly is roughly the size of a human head. It attacks by engulfing or extending a pseudopod, and its fiery touch causes 1-4hp of damage and will set organic materials on fire on contact. A fire jelly crawling on metal objects will cause them to melt within 1-6 rounds.

A fire jelly takes double damage from cold, and no damage from piercing weapons; bludeoning weapons deal half damage. Fire attacks will cause it to divide into two 1/2 Hit Die monsters.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Magic Item: Nasri's Burning Grace

Nasri's Burning Grace: This magical item is a large, sumptuous shawl or scarf of deep red and heavy silk. It is finished along all of its edges with red and golden silk tassels, and is embroidered with outlines of stylized flames in golden thread.

The shawl, when worn, may be used to cast rays of brilliant flame at a target up to 30' distant; or, draped across a chosen target, may be used to heal with a surge of warmth. Nasri's burning grace can produce 2d6 points of flame or healing per day, divided up by dice (1d6 of flame and 1d6 of healing, or 2d6 of one or the other).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monster: Greenfang

Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: see below
Move: Nil
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: see below
No. Appearing: 1-4
Save As: F of equivalent Hit Dice
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: U
Alignment: Neutral
XP value: see below

Greenfangs are a particularly hardy and stubborn form of carnivorous plant. Capable of rooting themselves almost anywhere – even into stone – they normally appear like a large round mass of foliage (something like a giant cabbage) surrounded by ragged dark green leaves.

When potential prey moves within ten feet of a greenfang, the central globe shoots forth on a long flexible stalk, opening up into a maw lined with sharp woody fangs intent on devouring the meal.

Hit DiceDamageXP Value

Friday, November 28, 2008

Magic Item: The Cobra King's Warding

The Cobra King's Warding: Sometimes found in an ordinary potion vial but most commonly stored in small flasks of amber glass stoppered and sealed with wax, this emerald green draught is effective only when the inbiber is wearing no better than chainmail.

For the next hour, the draught grants a magical +4 bonus to the imbiber's Armour Class – but for the duration and an hour afterwards the imbiber sports thin, flexible scales of greenish-gold.

A sip from the draught causes a single scale to grow on the back of the hand, moulting away in a few minutes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monster: Water Jelly

Water Jelly
Armour Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2**
Move: 60' (20')
[swim 90' (30')]
Attacks: 1 bash or engulf
Damage: 2-8
No. Appearing: 1-6
Save As: F2
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP value: 30

A translucent, blue-green amoeba, a water jelly is competely transparent in water and almost impossible to see, as if invisible. It attacks by engulfing or extending a pseudopod, and its acidic touch causes 2-8hp of damage and will eat through organic material.

A water jelly takes double damage from fire, and no damage from bludgeoning or piercing weapons. Electrical attacks will cause it to divide into two 1 Hit Die monsters.

Monster: Chiktik

Chiktik (Ratling)
Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: ½ (4hp)
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 weapon -1
Damage: As weapon
No. Appearing: 2 – 12 (4 – 40)
Save As: Normal Man
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Type: P (J, K)
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 5

Ratlings are exactly what they sound like, two feet tall, bipedal rat people -- with brilliant green, mottled fur and dark grey skin where exposed. Ratlings prefer forested and overgrown terrain, but some tribes (with a grey-brown cast to their fur) are found underground where their infravision grants an advantage.

Most ratlings fight with spears or oversized knives (treat as short sword). Elite members of the tribe will fight with bows. A Rat King of 1+4 Hit Dice and three feet tall will be found in the ratling's lair, and fights as a 2 Hit Dice monster; the Rat King is attended by 1 – 6 bodyguards of 1+1 Hit Dice. Ratlings in the presence of their King have a morale of 8.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monster: Brass Dragonfly

Brass Dragonfly
Armour Class: 3
Hit Dice: 1/2
Move: 360' (120')
Attacks: 1 bite + scorching
Damage: 1 + 1d2 (see below)
No. Appearing: 1d6
Save As: F1
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP value: 5

A brass dragonfly is a one-foot-long brass and glass sculpture of the insect is it named for, intricately crafted and animated by magic.

Brass dragonflies are often found dormant, waiting in alcoves or treasure chests until a predetermined action triggers their animation; once activated, they fly at their targets -- usually the creature that triggered them -- and attack. A brass dragonfly bites with magically-heated crystal mandibles, causing 1hp of damage plus an additional 1d2hps of damage from the coal-like heat of their jaws.

More mental meanderings: oldschool, editions, and the hamster

As the "retro" phenomenon picks up speed at the same time that 4e is launched and appealing to many, I'm finding myself caught in the middle. With my preferences falling in 2e AD&D and BEMCI D&D, I don't really speak the language of the "old-schoolers" enough to fit in well and I'm not that fussy about the newer editions -- even if I did give 3e a try.

Luckily for me I suppose, I really don't mind most editions of (A)D&D. I'm loving the retro phenomenon, and happily snap up servings of 0e, 1e, 2e, Basic, BEMCI ... I've been spending time reading old-school blogs here and there, and picking things up at Dragonsfoot by reading the forums. My 2e books see plenty of love, and I've kept a good pile of 3e because I like to borrow ideas from them. I've happily chewed over Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, OSRIC ... and on and on. I like it all.

I don't want to say this is an old-school blog, because it really isn't by the definitions currently being used by the retro, old-school movement. I came late to D&D, and late-ish to 2e (in the early-to-mid ninties) at that. I like the pulpish swords-and-sorcery feel of the movement, but my posts here probably aren't really going to reflect that feel in their "fluff" all that much. My game style is more old-school than new-school, but it's not truely old-school because I'm a 2e player and DM at heart. (Please don't shoot me!)

Still, I hope that my bits and snips appeal to someone out there -- and hey, fluff can be changed. Rules can be tweaked. That's the whole point, isn't it? ;3

Some mental meanderings: the purpose of this blog

I could make two different claims to how I started with D&D.

My first game and campaign were 2e AD&D (in honesty I suppose a 1e / 2e hybrid), and I stuck with that until 3e came along. Tried 3e, eventually gave up on it and went back to 2e where I was happy.

But my very first exposure to D&D was the Mentzer red Basic box, borrowed from a friend at school. I'd never played D&D but always wanted to, so when a chance to snap up the Rules Cyclopedia rolled around (after failing to find a Red Box) I leapt at the chance. And now I have two Red Boxes to go with it -- one of which was promptly given to my housemate -- and I'm happy as a clam.

The BEMCI edition of D&D makes me happy. So does 2e AD&D, but right now my creative notions are in D&D mode so that's what I'll be posting. I might start adding AD&D bits if something catches my attention, though.

I'm sticking with low-level things, in the main. The Red Box was what I was craving, so high-level widgets probably won't do it for me *grins* In an ideal world I'll be posting every day or every two days -- but knowing myself all too well, I'm not making any hard and fast promises.

Getting there

Damnit, I need to get the hang of this thing ...