Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Contemplating some themes.

Last month, I had a "theme week" of sorts and posted seven days of dragons. It was entertaining to work with a common thread and see what I came up with, and I must admit I'm rather tempted to try it again. The question is, of course -- what to use as a theme?

A few ideas I've had drift through my hindbrain are

- demihumans / humanoids
- elementals (... I should probably finish up the lesser spirits in any case)
- undead and related critters
- plants (whether critters or otherwise)
- a specific form of magical item
- a themed set of spells (astral, sanguine, geomantic, elemental ...)
- a theme of posts from my 'named' entries, such as Jie Chue or Salan Kir'ith

Requests? Suggestions? Throwing of dead carp? ;3

Monster: Shining Jelly

Shining Jelly
Armour Class: 8
Hit Dice: 4**
Move: 60' (20')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-16 + special
No. Appearing: 1-6
Save As: F3
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 175

A strange gelatinous creature -- essentially a dense, sluggish amoeba the size of a large man's torso or even greater -- a shining jelly is a translucent golden amber in colour, iridescent like an opal or an oil slick. In darkness, a shining jelly glows softly.

A shining jelly causes 2-16 hit points of damage per attack, searing the moisture from all living tissue, and will drain 1-4 points of Dexterity which is regained with twelve hours rest. It is immune to all magic save for cold; casting any other spell on a shining jelly will cause it to flash with brilliant light, forcing a save vs. spells or be blinded. Fire will heal a shining jelly, whereas lightning attacks will fission one into 1-4 2HD jellies. Its touch destroys organic materials such as leather in one round.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Class: Esper (alpha version)

Nothing in BEMCI has had me howling in frustration quite so much as my attempts to work up some rules for a psionic class. Admittedly I have a certain set of goals I've been trying to reach ...

- limited number of psionic abilities
- abilities usable pretty much at will
- "power points" and the like to be avoided if at all possible

... and they likely aren't helping me at all.

Despite all that, after knocking my head against the proverbial wall I've put together a draft of an idea for a Red Box esper class. I haven't been able to test it yet, let alone eyeball it and see how horribly it breaks; but this or something like it with minor tweaking is what I'm aiming for.

I'm posting the alpha up, if only to try and convince myself it's "finished" and to leave it alone for a bit before I go silly in the head. And who knows, someone just might find it useful --

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Monster: Underfolk (Tak'ti)

Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1-3 hp
Move: 60' (20')
burrow 150' (50')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-3
No. Appearing: 1-10 (10-100)
Save As: Normal Man
Morale: 6
Treasure Type: I
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 5

With chalk-white flesh, more more than 1 1/2' tall, underfolk are strange little humanoids. They are round-bodied and hunched, with spindly yet strong limbs and broad glittering claws for digging; they possess a pair of insectile antennae, huge orb-like black eyes and a protective carapace like that of a scarab in darkly iridescent hues. Underfolk are not intrinsically hostile, but their endless tunnelling and taste for metals and gems -- as food -- causes dwarves and their ilk to regard them as vermin and worse.

When pressed, underfolk will attack with their claws for 1-3 hit points of damage. If the swarm believes it can overpower a target, they will cling and hang on after a successful attack, biting automatically with mandible-like jaws for one hit point per round until removed.

One in twenty underfolk is a swarmleader with 1-1 HD. Underfolk have infravision, and function at a -2 penalty to all rolls when in sunlight or strong magical light.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spellbook musings: part the third.

It is very annoying to me how, in the BEMCI ruleset (and Labyrinth Lord for that matter), there is no cost for adding spells into a spellbook and yet replacing lost or destroyed books costs a veritable fortune, to the tune of 1000gp per spell level. I'm all for paying for what you need to replace -- but gouging that much cash from a hapless MU who will be defenseless without the spellbook(s) seems a little much. Especially when first scribing the books costs the character nothing at all.

A little tinkering, says I, is required. Luckily, there are many examples to borrow inspiration from -- and a useful extenuating circumstance.

Scribing costs: A widely-used (from 1e to 3.x) and fairly reasonable standard scribing-price for a spell is 100gp per spell level to be scribed. This works nicely, to my mind; expensive enough to keep rampant scribing in check, not so expensive as to completely bankrupt the MU given the rates of treasure acquisition. (If a little randomness is desired, make it, oh, 6d10+50gp.)

Campaign-based rationale for this price can be easily made by considering the materials used. Ritual materials, exotic quills or ink-pens and most of all the ink needed for such an endeavour can easily eat up a MU's gold. Ink for imbuing the spell formula may be infused with myrrh and rosewood ashes, or distilled from cinnabar and dragon's blood, or glittering with miniscule flecks of purified jade and gold ...

Replacement costs: At a minimum, replacing a spellbook should cost as much as the initial scribing of the book; the MU is, after all, performing the same work again. However, a case could be made that replacements -- having to start from scratch, without references -- should cost twice as much, or three times if the DM prefers it (though I would argue against it).

The real cost in losing spellbooks, whether to damage or theft, is in finding the means to have any reference for the spells being replaced. One could make a good argument that -- except for any spells memorized at the time and still in memory -- a MU cannot replace lost scribed spells unless a reference is at hand. Gaining that needed reference could become costly in a different way, as the MU goes into debt with other spellcasters for access to their books for copying purposes, and rare spells may not be recoverable at all! Truly, this spectre presents a good argument for spending the gold for multiple copies of ones' spellbooks!

Duplicating spellbooks: An optional notion would be to allow a MU to re-copy their own spellbooks (so as to make two copies, one being already in hand) at half the required cost, as they are already well familiar with the material and the notation. On the other hand, it could be as easily argued that familiarity or no, material costs are material costs.

Spellbook musings: part the second.

After some thought on the matter, here are some ideas for the use of spellbooks that have drifted though my mind so far. It's somewhat rough-and-ready; but then, so are the original rules --

The first thing to note is that I wanted to have some idea of how many pages scribing a spell may take up. 3.x uses this scheme; at that, I'd had some formula or other years ago for pagecount for 2e but have long since forgotten exactly what it was (alas). Page-count could be abstracted for spellbooks, but for things like scrolls and folios of loose "spellbook pages" I'd like to have a number. Call me odd that way I suppose.

I am assigning a page-count of 4 pages per spell. In my campaigns, spells are more powerful as they increase in level but not necessarily more complex, and so needn't eat up more notation; also, the original rules didn't distinguish between spell levels when scribing spells and that fits nicely with the above. Feel free to substitute 3.x page-count or whatever catches your fancy ;3

That said, some sample spellbooks:

"Standard Spellbook": The common beastie, usually bound in hide from some exotic monster or even in thin metal, with corner-caps, straps and lock, and occasionally a protective casing. I've decided on an average measurement of 12x10" for a standard book, give or take a few inches, and a thickness of 2-3" on average. This was based on comfortable sizes of textbooks that I own; and also the Book of Kells, which measures 13x10" and I believe a thickness of 3-4" based on my memory of the facsimile at my university. (Granted it also has 340 leaves, but we'll just say you can get that after adding pages to your spellbook ...)

A typical spellbook will have 90 leaves plus 3d10. It costs 100gp and weighs 100cn / 10lbs.

Travelling Spellbook: Smaller than the standard keep-at-home model, a travelling spellbook is more usually bound in durable leather or monster hide and has fewer of the metallic reinforcements and ornamentation of the full-sized spellbook. A travelling spellbook averages 9x6" with a thickness of 1-2" though one can add more pages if desired. Travelling spellbooks require one-half again as many pages for scribing a spell.

A travelling spellbook will have 50 leaves plus 2d10, before adding pages. It costs 50gp and weighs 40cn / 4lbs.

An example girdle book: Girdle books, like many medieval books, range from small to unbelievably tiny. A 5x4" girdle book like that from the Spencer Collection would be quite thick indeed and require double the standard page-count -- or more! -- but may be designed to have as many leaves as a travelling spellbook, or even more. Other girdle books may be larger but have fewer leaves.

Regardless of actual dimensions, an unornamented girdle book costs 40gp and weighs approximately 10cn / 1lb.

Adding leaves: Spellbooks may be designed to be thicker than the norm. The price will increase in proportion to the percentage of leaves added to the base number. Adding more than dozen leaves to an already-bound book will require it to be re-bound and may damage the already-scribed spells contained within it.

Leaves vs. pages: Yes, one leaf equals two pages. No, I have no problem with allowing that much space in a spellbook; call it a half-nod to the "endless spellbook" of the Red Box *grins* YMMV, however, and like all things feel free to change and tinker with as you will. I may change this myself, though at the moment it best captures the number of actual physical sheets (and even then feels rather low).

Scrolls and folios: A scroll will be at least four pages long (to hold the spell), with perhaps the space of an extra page for "endpapers" or mounting onto end-bars. The more spells, the longer the scroll. Folios, for this purpose, are defined as collections of loose leaves kept between two "covers" -- wooden panels, etc. and the whole secured with ties or similar fasteners.

This bit of houseruling allows for variations in spellbooks, in found spells that aren't expressly spell-scrolls in the "cast 'em now" sense, and -- most especially -- in the kitting-out of beginning MUs. Perhaps the PC's master sent them off with a traveller's book or small girdle book and has left the PC to finance their own master spellbook if and when they need one. Perhaps the PC has fled their master, smuggling out a haphazard folio of spells ...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spellbook musings: part the first.

I'm seriously considering changing the spellbook rules (such as they are) for BEMCI. More precisely, the size of the bloody things and how many spells they can hold. This is being brought about by the desire to have other sizes and forms of spell recording -- such as the scrolls and folios mentioned in recent spell postings of mine -- available to PCs, and because the extant rules drive me batty.

In the Red Box, we are told that "a spellbook is about 2 feet square, 2-6 inches thick, and weighs at least twenty pounds". This already hurts my head on sheer size alone when I try to contemplate the size of the parchments used to make the quires of pages -- medieval books were not generally so massive in dimensions, I swear -- but, in addition to this, there is apparently no limit to the number of spells that may be entered into the spellbook. (magic --!)

Neither the Red Box nor the RC give a price for a spellbook. An expanded equipment list from Dragon Magazine ("Different Totes For Different Folks", March 1993) gives the spellbook as 100gp, weighing 200cn / 20 lbs, with a measurement of 24x24x6", and capable of holding a grand total of twenty-four spells.


Over in the land of Labyrinth Lord, the OGL version of the spellbook is in use: 15 gp, weighing 1 lb., with 100 pages and spells taking up one page per spell level. No dimensions are given. This feels like it goes a wee bit too far over into the other extreme (price-wise, at least, and maybe weight also for a main spellbook), but I'm still debating.

Ideally, in the next day or so I'll cobble together a collection of standard sizes, with options to go smaller, perhaps -- yes, I quite like the idea of a girdle book as a small "travel-sized"spellbook, limited in space but containing spells the caster doesn't want to be without, and it's a major cause of my musings here -- and post them up for general consumption.

Similarly, the putting-spells-in-the-book system versus replacing-the-book system needs work. More to the point, being able to scribe new spells into a spellbook with no cost attached but being forced to shell out thousands of gold pieces to replace a lost book -- when it is much the same process in many ways -- strikes me as quite daft. This bit requires more mulling-over on my part but I do want to address it in some way that doesn't grow too complicated.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Magic Item: Shining Blade of Keljaia

Shining Blade of Keljaia: Not a "blade" at all, this magical ring is a band of translucent crystal. When closely inspected, it appears to hold a tiny rippling ribbon of golden flames within its core.

When so willed by the ring's wearer, the Shining Blade produces a thin blade-like ray of golden fire a foot or so in length; the wearer may then attack as if wielding a dagger +1. Damage may also be withheld if so chosen, such as to leave no more than a fine slice down a target's cheek as a warning.

Keljaia Sunfire was, in her day, a powerful and flamboyant magic-user known for her unique and strange spells that mixed elemental energies into new and often unpredictable forms. her final fate is unknown, but the Shining Blade began to circulate through dungeoneer's circles some years ago. A common speculation is that the pattern of the ring's ribbon of flame conceals the formula for a unique spell -- or possibly more than one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spells: The Book of the Black Rose

[Not a "book" at all, in reality, but an ebony box suited for containing such a book. Carved all over delicately with knotworks of barbed briars, the two halves of the box are solid pieces of ebony and the seam between them can scarcely fit a hair.

Inside the box rests a handful of dried rose petals, a handful of tiny bones, and a sheaf of impossibly thin vellum sheets inked with the following spells]

Black Rose Talon
Level: 1
Range: 0
Duration: 5 rounds
Effect: A thorn weapon that impairs what it injures

Casting this spell conjures to the Magic-User's hand a long, curved and razor-sharp spur resembling a gigantic briar thorn. It may be used to attack as if it were a dagger, and every successful attack inflicts a -2 penalty to all rolls on the target as a magical toxin floods their veins. The penalty fades after two hours.

Dead Rose Heart
Level: 1
Range: 150'
Duration: 1 turn
Effect: A rose blossom that stuns and frightens

This spell creates a small, blackened bit of energy resembling a long thin thorn or needle that moves with the Magic-User until directed at a target. It then flies towards the target's heart, blossoming upon impact into a blackened rose and biting into the flesh. The target is stunned for one round, unable to act; and then must save vs. spells or flee from the Magic-user for two rounds.

Thorned Retribution
Level: 2
Range: 0
Duration: 1 turn
Effect: Thorny vines in the flesh attack the caster's attackers

Thorned retribution creates a lace of thin ruby-black energy vines bearing fanglike thorns that slowly move across – or perhaps under – the Magic-User's skin. The first successful attack on the Magic-User in a round activates the vines, causing them to lash out and strike the attacker for 1-4 hit points of damage. Wounds caused by the vines continue to bleed at a rate of 1 hit point per round until the wound is seen to.

Iron Briar Embrace
Level: 3
Range: 50'
Duration: 6 rounds
Effect: Traps a target in life-draining briars

This spell creates a tangle of coiling, clawing metallic black briars studded with fanglike thorns. The briars erupt from the ground beneath the target and wrap themselves around it -- effectively immobilizing it -- and inflict 2-5 hit points of damage per round as the thorns drain blood (or other fluids). Targets trapped in the briars may be cut free in 1-4 rounds.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monster: Nakharia

Nakharia (Ivory Knight)
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3+2**
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 fists or by weapon
Damage: 1-6/1-6 or by weapon +2
No. Appearing: 2-8 (3-18)
Save As: F4
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: (U) B
Alignment: Any
XP Value: 100

With a shell of ivory enchanted to be as supple as flesh, eyes of marble and jewels, and every other detail picked out with equal precision by their creators -- combined with surprising sapience -- the nakharia are the closest and most prized servants and warriors of those neu who possess one. It requires close observation indeed to spot the hair-fine joints of an ivory knight, and few get close enough to do so without being challenged. Inside a nakharia, past the polished outer shell, is a mass of crystal foci and arcane clockworks of bewildering and exotic alloys.

Ivory knights attack as directed by their neu master or, failing direct orders, as they see fit in order to protect their charge. If necessary a nakharia will fight with its fists, inflicting 1-6 hit points of damage per strike; but most have been equipped with weaponry -- often baroque and sometimes enchanted -- by their master. Many nakharia, in addition to their weaponry, have been created with a focus jewel in their brow that allows the casting of one first-level Magic-User spell per day; this spell must be recharged by a neu or other spellcaster and may vary from use to use. Nakharia are immune to non-magical weapons.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monster: Macal

Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: fly 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 claws
Damage: 1-6/1-6 + special
No. Appearing: 1-6
Save As: F3
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 35

Macal are flying predators, creatures best described as three-feet-long teardrops of rubbery, leathery rusty tan flesh. Their flanks are lined with broad flap-like rays which they ripple in unison, ray-like, to fly silently; their tails are tipped with a fan of flukes, their heads blunt and bearing huge blue-black, faceted eyes. The mouth of a macal is on the underside of its head, a ring of bony plates lined with fangs that constricts and shreds; and flaking the mouth are long curved and jointed armoured claws lined with long bony barbs for seizing and rending flesh before delivering it to the mouth. Macal can hover, and are completely silent.

A macal attacks with its grasping claws, tearing flesh away and inflicting 1-6 hit points of damage per strike. If both claws successfully attack, the macal will do one of two things; either it will attach its mouth to the target, clinging with claws, and inflict 1-4 hit points per round automatically, or it will begin to bend and flex the grasped portion of the target in an attempt to shred or shatter it to gain access to its internals. This breaking attempt succeeds on a 2-in-6 chance, and will inflict cause a humanoid target to lose 1 point of Constitution until healed.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Estwind, a village

Barely qualifying as a "village" in the eyes of some, the community of Estwind consists of some dozen crofts clustered about a recently established branch of the Western Trade Road. Estwind is a woolmen's community, dedicated to sheep (for spinning), pigs (for eating and taxes), and barley (for basic sustenance and yet more taxes). It looks to the borderland Manor of Five Fires, located a day's travel by cart to the northeast.

Being in hill-lands dotted with the ruins of former attempts at claiming the land, Estwind is not especially suited to cultivating wheat; all wheaten flour is brought into the village by merchantmen from Five Fires and the duchy proper. The forested scrubland is ideal for the pigs, however; and many villagers supplement the produce of their plots of land with foraged edibles and the odd luxury item plucked from the wildlands. Dovan Sheepman, of the longest-established family croft in the village, has made a fine name for himself in this way, foraging rare dye-plants from the surrounding forest.

Most structures in the village are sturdily constructed of wood, thatch and wattle. The exceptions to this are the home of Vehroy Thrune, the village reeve, the shrine-house of the Dedicated, and the tavern. Said tavern, the Black Basilisk, serves also as an inn of sorts, with two small private rooms and a common bunkroom on the upper floor. Geffri Twice-Bitten -- it's best not to ask about his unfortunate "surname" -- owns the Basilisk and also serves as the contact for the Mercantyler's Guild.

A fourth stone structure once stood at the southern edge of the village. Unfortunately this small magic-user's tower exploded in a shower of rubble and uncanny pink and green flames. The villagers consider the entire area ill-omened and -- with the exception of those desperate and down on their luck -- avoid it as much as possible. The only site equally avoided by the villagers are the four weathered, engraved quartzite pillars that stand in a cluster in a small forest clearing an hour's walk into the trees; covered in spirals and glyphs, the villagers believe them to be the ancient work of elves or neu and haunted to boot. Ancient burial mounds to the southeast, on the other hand, are revered; an action tolerated for now by the Dedicated's clerics.

With the recent upswing in ratling raids and sightings of bloodboars, macals, and other creatures, the villagers are agitating for a perimeter wall to be constructed. Vehroy -- not wanting to suggest to his lord that he can't protect the village -- is hoping to have the problems rooted out before any such necessity becomes crucial, preferably by adventurous strangers and not his own people.

Magic Item: Thorn's Blessing

As Jie Chue was gathering brushwood for his forge-fires, he once met a princely knight amongst the briars. The knight greeted him, and asked to be of service. Such was his purpose.

Jie Chue shook his head; he needed no such aid. With a weary smile the knight continued on his way, and Jie Chue pondered the meeting as he stood before the forge.

A year and a day passed.

The knight crossed Jie Chue's path on the briar-road once more; and Jie Chue gifted him a blade with which to divine that purpose.

Thorn's Blessing: This slender blade is a short sword with a blade of mirror-bright steel. Its hilt, of a darker and frosted steel, mounts a grip of ivory wrapped in braided crimson silk and a knuckle-guard of coiling, thorned arcs of magically-hardened gold. Set in the pommel is a garnet cabochon etched with petals and thorns.

Thorn's Blessing is a short sword +1. The bearer of the blade may, once a day, reroll any one saving throw or attempted attack roll; additionally, the bearer may use the blade's power to divine the wishes and needs of a subject a number of times a day equal to the bearer's Charisma modifier.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monster: Earth Jelly

Earth Jelly
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3+2**
Move: 60' (20')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-16 + special
No. Appearing: 1-3
Save As: F3
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 100

This giant, sluggish amoeba blends in against soil and stone (making it effectively invisible) and will absorb any organic or metallic objects it can engulf within its grainy gelatinous mass. When not camoflaged against soil or stone an earth jelly is a translucent greenish-brown.

An earth jelly inflicts 2-16 hit points of damage per attack; and, for every successful attack, a save vs. poison must be made by the target or the jelly siphons away one hit point permanently. Metal in contact with an earth jelly will be dissolved and absorbed, including non-enchanted weaponry; organic objects are dissolved after being engulfed for 1-3 rounds. Earth jellies may only be harmed by electricity, spells and enchanted weaponry. Cold damage will heal them, and fire causes them to fission into 1-3 2HD jellies.

Two Second Level Spells: Bleeding Edge, Tears of Crimson

[found inked in gold in a trembling hand on sheets of heavy parchment, clasped within a folio made of broad leaves of ivory tied with black silk cords]

Bleeding Edge
Range: 0
Duration: 1 turn or until all blades are produced
Effect: Creates throwing knives from the caster's blood

Casting this spell causes blood to ooze from the Magic-User's flesh (or from an existing wound, if there is one) and congeal into crystalline, blood-red shards usable as throwing knives. One knife may be produced per round; and each knife inflicts 1-4 hit points of damage, counting as an enchanted weapon, with a range of 10'. Bleeding edge will produce 1-6 knives per casting. The knives may only be wielded by the Magic-User.

Tears of Crimson
Range: 25'
Duration: 1 round
Effect: Leeches life from one target

Casting tears of crimson draws lifeforce from one target in range in a stream of glistening red orbs and flickers of spirit-fire, inflicting 2-8 hit points of damage and healing the Magic-User of half the damage caused. The Magic-User cannot gain more hit points than the target currently possesses, and cannot exceed their own maximum hit points. Casting tears of crimson on an undead creature will cause the spell to backlash, wounding the caster and "healing" the undead.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Three First Level Spells: Cloak of Silver, Winter Petal Wind, Flame's Bounty

[found on delicate sheets of vellum inked in veridian and azure, tucked within a scrollcase of jade]

Cloak of Silver

Range: 0
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: A bolstering of the caster's resistance to magic

Cloak of silver envelops the Magic-User in a faint sheath of silvery-white energy which protects against hostile magic. For the duration of the spell, the Magic-User gains a +3 bonus to saves vs. spells, wands and similar magic-based effects.

Winter Petal Wind
Range: 15'
Duration: 1 round
Effect: A 15' cone of icy "petals" that injure targets

Casting this spell produces a 15'x5' cone of razor-sharp "petals" or flakes of ice that freeze and slash all within its area, inflicting 1-4 hit points of damage. Winter petal wind counts as both cold and physical damage.

Flame's Bounty
Range: 0 / 5'
Duration: 1 hour / 2 rounds
Effect: Creates a sustaining -- and fiery -- fruit

Casting this spell creates a single orange-pink fruit resembling a peach the size of a grapefruit; its flesh is hot, sweet, almost syrupy and nutritious, enough for one meal for a humanoid. It is also a surprisingly effective weapon (for a fruit) -- if thrown at a target within 5', the fruit explodes in a shower of scalding jelly and syrup inflicting 1-4 hit points of damage the first round and 1-2 hit points of damage the second round.

Fruit not consumed within an hour dissolve into inedible slushy pulp.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monster: Dreamsnake

Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1-1**
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1-4 + special
No. Appearing: 1-2 (1-8)
Save As: F1
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 7

These small serpents are exceedingly slender, with wedge-shaped heads, icy-white scales tinged with green, and bright red eyes. Their fangs are crystalline and razor sharp. Dreamsnakes are deceptively gentle and slow to obviously attack; they feed on mental energy, not flesh and blood.

A dreamsnake's first attack will always be to dreamthief instead of using its poisonous bite (said venom causing a -4 penalty to Int and Dex for three hours); this "attack" requires only physical contact. If a save vs. spells is failed, the dreamsnake spirits away one significant memory or dream (DM's discretion) and the victim is stunned, unable to act, for one round. The dreamsnake will generally take that round to try to escape.

Twelve hours are required for a dreamsnake to "digest" stolen mental energies. If its jewel-like brain is consumed by its victim or victims before that span of time, the memories may be regained.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A contemplation.

I wonder if I can work out a few different types of fantasy currency and get them typed up? Maybe some basic / generic ideas, and then a specific currency using each example. Or a mix of both. Trade goods might work their way in there somewhere also.

Something of a "companion" file to the Little Treasures one ...

Monster: Air Jelly

I have woefully neglected my jellies for months. This oversight must be rectified --

Air Jelly
Armour Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1**
Move: 150' (50')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-5 + special
No. Appearing: 4-24
Save As: F1
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 16

Air jellies are virtually invisible, transparent amoeboid creatures that appear to be quivering shapes of colourless, gelatinous clouds or froth. Smaller than most jellies, they are also faster and cluster together in greater numbers.

An air jelly inflicts 2-5 hit points of damage per attack; and, for every successful attack, a save vs. paralysis must be made by the target or the jelly siphons away one point of Wisdom. Lost Wisdom is regained after twelve hours of rest. Metal in contact with an air jelly will corrode into nothingness in 1-4 rounds. Air jellies may only be harmed by fire or physical weaponry. Cold damage will heal them, and lightning or magic missiles cause them to fission into 1-3 1/2HD jellies.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Magic Item: Harp of the Winter Court

Harp of the Winter Court: The peace and serenity of winter is a valued commodity in many lands; and perhaps nowhere moreso than within the Earth Courts. An enchanted instrument from the Court of Winter -- not that of Water, but of Earth -- the Harp is shaped from purest rock-crystal and ivory steel, etched with patterns of lacy frost picked out in silver and strung with silks spun from the hair of the Eternal Ice Princes.

So long as this harp is being played all those listening to its song are lulled into a feeling of serenity; they are unable to initiate hostile actions, whether against the harpist or another, unless a successful save vs. spell is made. A virtuoso harpist may inflict as much as a -6 penalty to saves, at the DM's discretion.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monster: Cricet

Something like this was, I suppose, inevitable ~


Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: ½
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: By weapon
Damage: As weapon -1
No. Appearing: 1-10 (4–40)
Save As: Normal Man
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: P (J, K)
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 5

Distant relatives of the chiktik, criceti are also humanoid rodents, though slightly shorter and good deal stouter than the ratlings. Their fur is longer and denser, varying from an almost metallic copper to pure white; their ears more rounded, their eyes large and black, and any exposed skin is pinkish. Unlike ratlings, criceti have the merest stubs for tails, if that.

Somewhat less thieving than their cousins, criceti will nonetheless make off with valuables if given the opportunity, concealing small objects in their expansive cheek pouches. Criceti get along well enough with elves and halflings, but have a distinct dislike for gnomes. They prefer less dense woodlands and scrubby dry grasslands.

Criceti prefer to fight with knives and slings. Elite members of the clan fight with short spears. A cricet matriarch of 1+4 Hit Dice will be found in the home warren, and fights as a 2 Hit Dice monster; she is attended by 1–4 bodyguards of 1+1 Hit Dice.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Monster: Neu

Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1***
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1 bolt or by weapon
Damage: 1-8 or by weapon or spell
No. Appearing: 1-4 (2-12)
Save As: M2
Morale: 8
Treasure: G
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: 19

A humanoid race, neu appear delicate and much like a sheltered and noncombatant human, perhaps a scholar of some sort, until one notices the small tell-tale signs: strange or outright unnatural hair- or eye-colour, skin that has a faint sheen like that of marble or even tiny matte scales when the light hits just so. Neu take pleasure in manipulating and exerting control over others, and consider themselves to have a finer touch about it than the sshian. They excel in the creation of arcane constructs, and are customarily accompanied by living statues, golems or stranger creations.

All neu have the spell ability of a third-level magic-user; their leaders, of 1+3 HD, have spellcasting abilities of a fifth-level magic-user or even higher. When not casting spells in combat -- or leaving combat to their crafted servants -- neu attack using slender rods of faceted crystal that emit bolts of energy inflicting 1-8 hit points of damage with a 60' range. Very rarely will a neu wield a physical weapon, but it has been known to occur.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Magic Item: Lamia's Kiss

Lamia's Kiss: This colorless, near-weightless dust is as fine as talcum powder and has a faint pearlescent sheen. When introduced into a creature's body -- by whatever means, usually by being breathed in -- it subtly clouds the mind and leaves it open to manipulation while numbing the nerves of the body. It is a favoured weapon of sshian and neu both, and both races claim its invention.

For the following hour after exposure, lamia's kiss causes a -4 to the target's saves vs. charms and paralysis. Lamia's kiss is normally created in batches of 2-12 doses, bundled into tiny wax-paper packets or bird-bone blowtubes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Monster: Haro

This one comes from a bit of a cross-fandom injoke, and is definitely an adaptation of other material ... *grins*

Armour Class: 3
Hit Dice: 1+1
Move: 60' (20'), fly 120' (40')
Attacks: 1 slam
Damage: 1-3
No. Appearing: 1 (1-6)
Save As: F2
Morale: 11
Treasure: L
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: 15

A small spherical construct the size of a largish melon, a haro has hinged circular panels that serve as flapping "ears" that conceal retractable arms and small hands, and similar panels in the lower hemisphere that conceal retractable legs. However, haros generally prefer rolling, a fluttering sort of flight, or -- ideally -- being carried. Haros have a curved centre-line that resembles a smiling mouth, and two crystal eyes. They may be any bright colour. Exceedingly clever for constructs, most haros are forged to serve as messengers, advisors and support staff for larger examples of magitech.

In most circumstances a haro will avoid combat; when pressed, it will slam into a target, inflicting 1-3 hit points of damage per strike. Rumours abound of haros that may unhinge at the mouthline and bite for 1-6 hit points of damage.

Variants: Pocket haros are the size of grapefruit, with 1/3 Hit Dice (2 hp) and no effective methods of attack. A hanayo is a haro designed to have vaguely feline physical traits -- catlike "ears", a tail, etc -- and an advanced sentience; hanayo models may also project an illusion of a humanoid three times a day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Final Fantasy Red Box Hack 1.0

Here we go again; but this time, with a little more seriousness than the "Mycelian Kingdom" -- a 'hack' of sorts of the first Final Fantasy, for the good ol' BEMCI Red Box. This is a work in progress, so please bear with me.

Also, apologies for those who have already seen the Arcanist class here on this blog, but it does truly belong in the hack.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Magic Item: the Unicorn's Cuirass

Liann, the Unicorn's Cuirass: An ornate enchanted armour believed to be of elven or neu make, the Unicorn's Cuirass is a jack of blue-white scales mounted with draping shoulder pauldrons, plus a matching lappetted helm bearing a single curved, backswept horn. Despite abiding legendry that only those of the most Lawful bent may don the armour, Liann has been seen in the hands of both great heroes and great villains over the years.

The Unicorn's Cuirass grants the same Armour Class as chain mail +1. In addition, once a day the bearer may increase their base movement by one third for an hour's duration. This speed may be sacrificed to gain a single +4 to initiative.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Minidungeon: The Tribe of Rorvash

There will always be those who find it easier to take from others than to do a day's honest work. Rorvash was always one of those despicable individuals -- and magic only made it easier; a few judiciously-applied charm spells on a splinter tribe of goblins and he had his very own band of bandits.

Now Rorvash and his goblin underlings, along with their pack of mantids, ambush small-merchants and travellers along the trade roads before retreating to the old ruin in the hill with their ill-gotten gains ...

The Ruin: An outpost of bygone days, the small complex is carved out impeccably and faced with tight-fitting stones of grey granite. Every twenty feet is measured by a torch-bracket on the walls; the scale is one square = 10'.

1. Common Room: This chamber is cluttered with the detritus of goblin occupation: worn furs, ratty leathers, crude and broken pottery, bits of cold-worked metal, and the remains of mantid shells not yet worked into weapons or other objects. A firepit is in the centre of the chamber; to the north lies a corridor blocked with a stained tapestry, whereas to the west a corridor runs 10' before abrupting narrowing to a tiny passage.

In the chamber are four goblins [AC6; HD 1-1; hp 5, 3, 4, 3; Mv 90' (30'); Att by weapon; Dam 1-6; Sv Normal Man; Ml 7; XP 5] who will immediately stop their game of knucklebones, snatch up weapons and attack any intruders, shouting for reinforcements. Each goblin carries a handful of silver coins: 8, 5, 11, 7.

2. Mantid Den: The floor of this circular chamber has been layered with soil and half-rotten logs as a lair for the band's mantids. Three verdant mantids are present
[AC4; HD 1+3; hp 9, 6, 8; Mv 180' (60'); Att claws; Dam 2-5/2-5; Sv F1; Ml 10; XP 19], along with one goblin handler [AC6; HD 1-1; hp 5; Mv 90' (30'); Att by weapon; Dam 1-6; Sv Normal Man; Ml 7; XP 5]; the handler will take one mantid and join any scuffle in areas 1) or 3) in three rounds.

3. Leader's Quarters: Less cluttered with trash than the outer chamber, and also curtained off by another ratty bit of tapestry, this room contains rough beds belonging to Neth, the goblin band leader [AC6; hp 15; Mv 90' (30'); Att by weapon as 3HD; Dam 2-7; Sv Normal Man; Ml 7; XP 15], and his two lieutenants [AC6; hp 9, 10; Mv 90' (30'); Att by weapon as 2HD; Dam 1-6; Sv Normal Man; Ml 7; XP 10]. If combat breaks out in area 1), the trio will spend two rounds preparing and then enter combat. Neth carries 4 gold pieces and 13 silver pieces; his lieutenants carry 2gp and 8sp each.

Piled along the walls of the chamber is an abundance of bulk goods stolen from unwary travellers: 10 casks of wine (3gp ea.), 23 hand-sized ingots of fine blue glass flecked with gold (2gp ea.), 60 sacks of grain (1gp ea. -- some complete with mice!), and 24 bolts of reddish-violet silk (5gp ea.)

4. Rorvesh's Chamber: Equipped with bed, desk, storage chest and chamber-pot, this smaller room is kept immeculately clean by the obsessive Rorvesh. The magic-user will remain squirrelled away in his chamber unless it looks like the goblins are taking a severe beating; then he will try to bargain his way to safety only to attempt to betray or charm the party at the earliest convenience.

Rorvesh's desk is cluttered with tallies of the band's victims, entomological minutae, crazed musings on an ancient snake-cult and haphazard notation ultimately intended as magical research. The chest is packed with many red and rust robes and a moth-eaten fur cloak; Rorvesh's spellbook is hidden in a secret compartment in the bottom. Another tight fit of a passage links Rorvesh's chamber with a second small chamber.

Rorvesh: second level MU; AC 7; hps 6; Mv 120' (40'); STR 8, INT 15, WIS 11, DEX 16, CON 12, CHA 10; Align Chaotic; spells - 2 1st; equipment: silver dagger, spellbook (read magic, shield, charm person, bloodbite), healing potion x2, pink pearl (100gp) and silver pearl (50gp) in a small leather pouch

(Bloodbite: as magic missile, save for inflicting only 1-6 hit points of damage and disorienting the target [-1 on all rolls] for two rounds)

5. "Treasure Vault": This second room contains the true valuables Rorvesh's band has acquired, as well as a few antiquities the magic-user found within the ruin before leading the goblins to it. Laid out neatly against the furthest wall are: 6 electrum ingots (15 gp ea.), 10 fat waxed leather pouches packed with gold dust (75gp ea.), two strongboxes containing 2230sp and 463gp respectively, and a small bronzewood coffer containing an ivory and coral set of prayer beads (130gp) and an amber ring set with a carnelian sealstone depicting a coiled wyvern (224gp).

Set to one side are a two foot tall greenstone idol of a coiled winged serpent with a feline head (432gp), and Winterfang.

Magic Item: Winterfang

Winterfang: This broad-bladed spear has a shaft of frosted steel with grips of white dragonhide, and long tassels of soft white fur dangle from the socket of its sapphire-inlaid crystal head.
The soft ice-blue light emitted by Winterfang signals its enmity towards creatures of heat and flame, who suffer coldly burning wounds from the weapon's head and the bitter frost it represents. The enchanted spear was crafted as tribute to the Winter Court of Water by a cabal of human magic-users, but was never recorded as received by the emissaries of the Court.

Winterfang is a spear +1, +2 vs fire creatures. Additionally, all damage dealt by the weapon is considered to be cold damage when applied against creatures vulnerable to cold, whether flame-based or no.

Monster: Verdant Mantid

Verdant Mantid
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1+3*
Move: 180' (60')
Attacks: 2 claws (special)
Damage: 2-5/2-5 (special)
No. Appearing: 1-6
Save As: F1
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 19

Nearly three feet long and sheathed in glittering emerald chitin as dense as crystal and sharp as glass, verdant mantids are dangerous and patient predators of anything they set their azure-tinted eyes on. More disturbing is their increased intelligence; verdant mantids are perfectly capable of working in small packs for greater gain, and they may be trained if acquired fresh from the egg-case.

A verdant mantid attacks with the two spined, razor-sharp "switchblades" of its forearms, inflicting 2-5 hit points of damage with each successful strike. If both attacks succeed, the mantid holds on and begins to chew through its prey, automatically inflicting 2 hit points of damage per round.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On the Uses of Unicorns

From the field notes of Salan Kir'ith:

"It is well-known by many, scholars and laymen both, that the Unicorn-Horn or Alicorn is proof positive against the power of most any noxious venom or corruption; be it applied in whole or in shaved fragments to afflicted limb or imbibed in tincture. So it is that this magnificent beast be hunted by many for the treasure which sits upon its brow. A better-kept secret, in truth, be kept within the brow of the unicorn -- and, in truth, even to his heels -- and these secrets I now place upon these pages.

"The first and least of these being the Astragali, the Talus-Bones found each one within the slender limbs of the unicorn; and, far from being crude dice fit for peasantry, these Astragali prove their worth greater than mere chance. For each Astragalus is akin to the densest of ivories, and coloured of a deep cinnabar hue to the very quick; morealso, each is heavy, of a like more resembling lead than bone. As the Alicorn brings proof from poison, so does the Astragalus bring proof against hexes and ill-fortune, and great men give dearly for them.

"Those of an unscrupulous nature ofttimes peddle the Talus of the cartazon as the true Astragalus Monoceros; the deception is of the crudest nature, the Bones of the cartazon being of darkest black and never cinnabar.

"Exceeding in Astragalus and Alicorn likewise in virtue and exquisite price is the Carbuncle, that blood-ember Stone found at rest within the snowy brow. Of a ruddy hue like that of heart's-blood set afire, this smooth and lustrous gem sits against the ivory skull-plate of the unicorn; veiled with the thinnest of membranes beneath the Alicorn's root, it is -- and a pity -- unseen and unguessed-at by the crude procurers of the unicorn's swift lance.

"This Carbuncle, administered in a draft of pure wine or spring-water, is a soveriegn remedy against with no wound, nor venom, nor disease may stand; indeed, such is the effectiveness of the Brow-Stone that merely tincturing an elixir with its presence for some hours increases the power of the dose tenfold."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Magic Item: Fluid Edge

Fluid Edge: Not a weapon in and of itself but instead a delicately carved ivory dagger hilt, the Fluid Edge mounts a golden half-sphere as a pommel nut and a small, slender wedge of crystal where a blade should sit.

Dipping or trailing the crystal into any liquid -- of which there must be at least a pint -- creates a dagger-like blade of magically-hardened fluid to form around the crystal. This blade may take any shape desired by the bearer of Fluid Edge, but always deals damage as a dagger.

The special properties of said blade depend on the liquid used; some examples are:

- water: grants the ability to strike enchanted creatures
- wine: causes the victim to lose a point of Dexterity with every strike (regained after sleep)
- blood: Fluid Edge's bearer gains half the damage dealt as healing

The DM is encouraged to be as devious as the player is encouraged to be inventive.

Fluid Edge -- though created as a noble's wedding-gift -- was spirited away by revolutionaries and was last seen in the hands of the leader of a notorious bandit cell, the Broken Wheel.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I plead temporary insanity ...?

I have just spent the last three days (two days?) in a fevered haze. A fevered haze, no less, in which I still was required to drag my carcass to work. (alas.) Also, am still sick; I think I have the bloody plague, even.

Strangely enough, there was something produced during that time ...

For the contents of the following link, I can only plead insanity. Or maybe hallucination *grins*