Thursday, April 30, 2009

Magic Item: Kirfeshi's Spellchick

Kirfeshi's Spellchick: An automaton constructed of gold and coral and crystal, the spellchick is so finely crafted as to resemble a living chick with golden beak, coral feet and onyx eyes. Its coat of silken fluff neatly conceals the arcane clockworks that operate beneath its golden skin.

The spellchick is a boon for any magic-user or elf with a taste for scribing magical scrolls. If the chick is permitted access to a scroll, on a worktable for example, before the final enchantments are laid, it will hop across the parchment, pecking at the inscriptions and correcting any errors it may find in the diagrams or text. These corrections increase the enchanter's chances of successfully enchanting the scroll.

Unaugmented, the spellchick grants an additional 10% chance to the enchantment roll. It may be fed with special "feed" -- arcane mixtures of ground precious metals, dragon talon, lily-of-the-valley harvested at midnight, liquid jade and more exotic materials, mixed with white cornmeal -- which will increase the bonus by 5% for every dose fed to the chick. These feeds will cost 100-1000gp per dose, and are unique to each form of spell or other scroll.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Magic Item: Tears of Blood

Tears of Blood: A dark and forbidding weapon, Tears of Blood is a spear forged of blackened steel and completely enameled over in translucent, glassy crimson. Its broad, chisel-like head is of the same steel and carved with intricate channels; the razored edges seem perpetually wet with blood, which arcs from the weapon in gleaming teardrops when Tears is used in combat.
The lance saps its wielder's vitality, but pays back the price in combat; with every successful strike, Tears of Blood draws out a portion of the the victim's life and feeds it to its wielder.

Though considerably more visceral than his prior creations, the magesmith Ar'keli consented to the enchantment of Tears at the insistence of his adventuring companion Jurvan the Twice-Barbed. The spear became only one portion of the panoply the Sky Banners carried to wield against Korvokkhar the Night Dragon; Jurvan was destroyed during the battle, and the weapon was added to Korvokkhar's immense hoard until the dragon mysteriously disappeared some two centuries later.

Tears of Blood was last seen in the hands of a wandering warrior less than a decade past. Swathed in silken veils, even the species of this individual is in some doubt.

Tears of Blood is a spear +2. As long as Tears of Blood is wielded, its bearer recieves a -3 penalty to Constitution; however, half of all damage dealt by the weapon is channelled to the wielder as healing energy. Excess healing remains as bonus hit points for one hour. If a victim is injured twice by Tears the wounds begin to bleed out at a rate of 1 hit point per round (cumulative, adding another hit point per round if additional wounds are dealt); these hit points are, however, not absorbed by Tears' wielder.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Magic Item: Densha's Talon Ring

Densha's Talon Ring: This magical ring is carved from moonstone in the shape of a miniature, cable-twisted torc. The end-caps of the "torc" rest where a signet would be, each mounting a tiny, curved feline claw cast from silver.

Three times a day the talon ring may conjure a razor-sharp crescent of translucent force. This force construct can then be directed to attack any target within 50' of the individual wearing the ring, inflicting 1-6 hit points of damage with each attack, or be used to block a single incoming attack (which destroys the construct). A "talon" lasts for 5 rounds, and attacks using the ring-wearer's ranged to-hit.

Though the capricious rogue neu known as Densha claimed to own the only copy of the talon ring, a second ring was subsequently discovered in the depths of a primordial-era dungeon. This ring -- identical to the first -- was contained in a small casket carved from a single pearl which had been sealed with the emblem of a rampant lily-lion, along with a scroll elaborately folded into an ornamental letter packet. The scroll contained the following spell.

Maahes' Claw
Level: 2
Range: 100'
Duration: 1 round per level
Effect: Conjures a curving claw of force

Casting Maahes' claw conjures a razor-sharp crescent "claw" of translucent force. This construct can then be directed to attack any target within range of the spell, using the caster's ranged to-hit and inflicting 1-6 hit points of damage with each attack. Alternatively the claw may be used to block a single incoming attack (which destroys it).

Monday, April 27, 2009


These spells may be used by any magic-user or elf, but are also suitable for the "magic knight" variant of my arcanist class ... which will have a tweaking and full level progression posted eventually, I swear *grins*

The Argent Thorn
Level: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 5 rounds
Effect: Silvers a weapon

Casting this spell on a weapon cloaks it in a pale silvery radiance, impossible to miss but not strong enough to see by. The weapon takes on the ability to injure lycanthropes and other creatures vulnerable to silver weapons; the energies of the enchantment further inflict an additional 1-2 hit points of damage if the victim of an attack is vulnerable to silver.

The Drop of Light
Level: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 3 rounds
Effect: Enchants a weapon against undead

Casting this spell on a weapon cloaks it in a pearly, luminous sheen; when used to attack, the weapon trails tiny motes of light. Any undead creature struck by the weapon takes an additional 1-4 hit points damage and must immediately check for morale (if applicable) with a -2 penalty.

The Phoenix Tail
Level: 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 3 rounds
Effect: Sheathes a weapon in dazzling flames

Casting this spell on a weapon sheathes it in a brilliant, trailing fan of red-gold flames. When the weapon is used to attack, it trails a wake of rippling flame that occasionally displays peacock-like "eyes" of gold or pale jade; the flames inflict 2-8 hit points of damage in addition to the weapon's normal damage, and the victim is dazzled for a round if a save vs. spell is failed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Magic Item: Rod of Wings

Rod of Wings (Titan's Whisper): This surprisingly light shaft is forged of an unknown metal, rumoured to be a form of silver forged from one of the stars themselves. It is roughly two feet long, and richly decorated with arabesques in relief-work and many sculptured wings in various positions which stand proud from the rod itself. Unusually, it has also been crafted to serve as a functional flute, the airholes and stops cunningly concealed amongst the ornamentation.

The Rod of Wings has 1-10 charges when found; when a charge is expended, one of three effects may be created, all of which have a 240' range:

- Blessed Respite: a sleep-like effect that sends 3-24 HD of creatures into a deep and unwakeable slumber for 20 turns if the saving throw is failed

- Phantasm: a single false memory, image or dream may be implanted into a target's mind (save vs. spells applicable)

- Thunder of Wings: a flock of translucent white crows with wings sharp as razors descends onto all within a 10' radius, inflicting 3-18 hit points of damage

When all charges are expended the Rod of Wings goes inert. It may be recharged by the sacrifice of burning poppies and burying the Rod as deep within the earth as its bearer is capable (in the depths of a dungeon, if one is known to be nearby) for the span of a month.

It is rumoured that extended use or even ownership of the Rod of Wings will attract the attention of one of the elder forces. This rumour may be connected to the name "Titan's Whisper", which is otherwise untraceable but ancient in origin.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Monster: Zihal

Zihal ("flame spider")
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4+4*
Move: 150' (50')
Attacks: 2 claws or 1 bite
Damage: 1-6/1-6 or 1-8 + poison (see below)
No. Appearing: 1-4 (2-16)
Save As: F4
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: G
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 200

Monstrous spiders, zihal are arachnids with nearly spherical abdomens, as large as a pony and nearly as fast. Their chitin is a glowing, deep red mottled with fiery orange growths, and both their mandibles and legs are tipped with fangs and claws of a translucent ruby. Their two major eyes are black, and their smaller subsidiary eyes a phosphorescent green. A zihal spins dense, amber-tinted silk which it uses to construct a labyrinthine lair within caverns or dungeons, and often shares space with humanoids such as kobolds or goblins as its allies -- or servants.

In combat a zihal will attack with either its bite or its two foreclaws. Each claw inflicts 1-6 hit points damage and coats the wound with an inflammable secretion that causes it to burst into flame on the next round, inflicting 1-3 hit points of damage. The zihal's fanged bite inflicts 1-8 hit points of damage and poisons the victim; 2-8 hit points of damage from the fiery venom, and a -2 to all rolls for an hour, if the save vs. poison is failed. Two doses of venom will charm a victim, if it survives. Zihal take no damage from fire.

Zihal produce live young parthenogenically; a clutch of 2-20 new flame spiders have 1/2 HD and inflict only 1-2 hit points of damage but still cause ignition (1-2 hp) and have venom (1-4 hp damage, -2 to rolls for an hour, but no charm effect). The zihal broodmaster may take control of a hatchling, or watch through its eyes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A brief slowdown ~

I am currently waging furious war with the last few thousand words of a manuscript. This is likely to slow me down for another few days --

Don't worry, I'm not dead. Just pining for the fjordsend of the doc ~

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Magic Item: Grey Fangs

Jie Chue -- as happened on occasion, fate being what it will be -- once found a risen spirit lurking within his forge.

This spirit was a vengeful thing. Cursing and clawing, the spectre lay its fate at the swordsmith's feet. Jie Chue's gift did not prevent its death --

Unmoved by the prickling at his life, Jie Chue crafted four slim fangs from shining spirit and silver steel; marked out the cardinals about his forge, and turned his back on the wailing dead one.

A mendicant holy one came, after a time, and struck down the spectre to its proper hell.

Jie Chue gifted her the fangs without a word.

Grey Fangs: Slender and almost stiletto-like, though slightly curved, these four small blades are crafted of an enchanted alloy of silver and steel. Blade, quillions and hilt are all of one piece, the blade is honed razor sharp, and the grip is sheathed in bone mounted in silver. The pommel-nut is, on every blade, a hemisphere of brightly polished black iron, and each blade bears a tassel of grey silk cord and an intricate glyph etched onto the blade itself. All four fangs are identical.

If the owner of the Grey Fangs wishes, the fangs may be thrown (15' range, 1-3 hit points damage), and possess a magical +1 bonus to hit but not to damage. However, their true enchantment is one of warding.

Any area demarcated by the four fangs -- whether stuck in the ground, laid out flat, etc -- up to 40' feet in radius will be protected from the physical presence or spiritual invasion by undead creatures. The undead may not cross the intangible barrier created by the fangs. However, any disturbance of the blades will end the protection, as will any interaction with undead creatures held at bay by the fang's power. An undead creature may interfere with the placement of a fang but will suffer 3-12 hit points of damage for doing so. The barrier has an indeterminate duration, but may only be created once a day. All four fangs are required.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Monster: Vikor

Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2+4*
Move: 30' (10')
fly 180' (60')
Attacks: 1 bite or acid
Damage: 1-4 or 1-8 (see below)
No. Appearing: 2-8 (2-8)
Save As: F2
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: C
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 35

Vikor are giant, monstrous bats with six-foot wingspans. Their skin is a dusty black, their coat rusty brown, and along the dorsal sides of their wingbones and down their spines run row after row of shining green and violet scales.

Though a vikor may bite for 1-4 hit points of damage in combat, it prefers to first spit acid at a target with a range of 50'; dissolving flesh, this acid inflicts 1-8 hit points of damage in the first round and and then 1-2 hit points for two additional rounds. Vikor may spit acid twice a day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One Page Dungeon Contest --

As posted on Chgowiz's blog and elsewhere, there is a One Page Dungeon Contest afoot!

I have to say, I both like this idea muchly and am quite tempted to give it a shot. I wasn't certain I could create something suitable in scale, but the map field isn't too terribly "intimidating" *grins* The need to only name and describe critters also has great appeal, I must admit.

I find myself wondering, though, whether my dungeons would fall under the "old school" or "new edition" categories ~ ;3

Nanodungeon: The Mountain Shrine

The Mountain Shrine

High atop a forbidding mountain pass, at the end of a switchbacked, twisting trail not much more than a goat-track, sits a small stone shrine of weathered white granite. On some mornings the wan sunlight glints off its weathered walls like an ancient beacon ...

Approaching the shrine is as eventful -- or uneventful -- as the DM wishes (with random or planned encounters as appropriate). The shrine itself stands on a small plateau-like clearing with patchy grass; this close, it is revealed that the structure is intact, though the wooden leaves of its double doors have silvered with weathering. Though unmarked on the maplet, two statues of greened copper -- humans in archaic clothing, horned and crowned with grain tassels and pomegranates -- flank the doors. A carving of stylized horns, three feet tall, juts from the earth some sixty feet from the entrance.

Scattered throughout the clearing are weathered human skeletons and bits of rotted clothing. The deceased appear to have fallen in combat, their bones broken and crushed. Searching the bodies turns up 100gp of miscellaneous ornaments and charms used by the natives of the region, some quite old.

Approaching the doors of the shrine causes the statues to animate and attack [AC4; HD 2+2; hp 15, 15; Mv 120' (40'); Att 1 fist; Dam 1-8 +2; Sv F2; Mr 12; immune to fire, electricity, nonmagical weapons; XP 35] until there are no living opponents or the statues are destroyed.

Within the shrine stand two additional statues; though armed with bow and spear, these statues are inanimate and will not attack. They are also uncorroded, with gilded details and eyes of milky amber (90gp each eye). The far wall of the shrine glows as if with an inner light -- the wall is a glittering mosaic of crystal and gold and red glass depicting the stylized forms of a sun disc radiating fire and a solar bull.

Before the mosaic are two marble altars. The altar on the left still bears faint, decayed remnants of some form of food or produce sacrifice; the altar on the right, however, bears the still-bound form of a human skeleton -- and the dark stains on the altar leave no doubt as to the cause of death. This is, however, not the only corpse within the shrine.

Immediately before the sacrificial altar lies a crumpled second skeleton, still dressed in robes that crumble at a touch; this skeleton wears a slim golden circlet (60gp) and two wristlets of amethyst beads and gold seals (126gp each), with a heavy ring of platinum ornamented with black iron -- gryphon-daimons bearing tribute to a seated ruler -- on the left hand (350gp). In the bony fingers is still clutched a mirror-bright dagger mounted in a gold-washed bronze hilt, its quillions and pommel-nut inset with ivory (a dagger +1, casts bless once a day).

Within fifteen feet of the doors of the shrine lies a second skeleton, also wearing decaying robes and wristlets of carnelian beads and agate sealstones (85gp each). This individual appears to have collapsed mid-stride on their way to the doors, dropping and shattering a large porcelain ewer and liberally staining the floor with the blood once contained within it.

If the PCs spend more than ten minutes within the shrine, or disturb any of the bodies, an akh [AC6; HD 5; hp 38; Mv 120' (40'); Att 2 fists; Dam 1-6/1-6 + Str drain; may curse or bless; Sv C6; Mr 10; immune to nonmagical weapons; XP 550] will rise from the sacrificed youth. Resolving itself into the shape of a noble young man in archaic clothing and golden ornaments, the akh will demand to know whether the plague-curse has been lifted.

If it is not offered positive evidence or believable argument -- and if an offer to test truth is made, the akh will take memories from the PCs that show the health of the native countryside -- the akh will attack. If defeated, it will reform twenty-four hours later and hunt out the PCs, continuing the cycle of questioning and attack until satisfied that the sacrifice was (apparently) successful; then it will fade, never to return, after blessing the PCs.

Monster: Akh

Akh (“honoured dead, blessed dead, restless one”)
Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 5***
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 fists or by weapon
Damage: 1-6/1-6 or by weapon + Strength drain
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: C6
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: Variable
Alignment: Any
XP Value: 550

An akh is an undead creature generated by the spirit of a deceased individual. Akh may be benevolent ancestor spirits, vengeful revenants, the malicious shades of the dead who resent the living, and many other things -- the defining point is that the deceased have a strong compulsion to return to the land of the living to see to a person, task or object. All akh are driven in this goal and can be malevolent if thwarted or if their charges are endangered. Akh are creations of the spirit, not animated corpses; nonetheless, they are solid forms unless deliberately choosing to be immaterial. Most akh resemble idealized versions of their living selves.

Akh attack with their fists for 1-6 hit points of damage per strike, or with weapons if weapons are available. The akh may choose to drain 2 points of Strength from a victim of its attack if a successful save vs. energy drain is not made, but this is not an automatic effect. Lost Strength is regained after twelve hour's rest. An akh may also curse or bless an individual, inflicting a -2 to all rolls and general ill-luck until the curse is lifted (usually by fulfilling the akh's complaint or purpose) or granting a +2 to all rolls for the next twenty-four hours. Akh may shift to be invisible and immaterial at will, and are immune to non-magical weapons.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Needs more extinct critters.

Leafing my way through the critter section of the Rules Cyclopedia (the Red Box is not quite so useful for this), I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed by the selection of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, extinct mammals and other ancient critters.

Same old same old: sabretoothed tigers, cave bears ... triceratops, tyrannosaurs ... Why not some variety? How about Elasmotherium, or Andewsarchus, or Hatzegopteryx? Or trilobites? Or Microraptor -- it's a midget Velociraptor with wings on arms and legs like a biplane, how could it not be cool?

There's not enough variety, and frankly the ones they do have there are in desperate need for some overhauling. Especially the dinosaurs -- and seeing as such lovely books as Gregory Paul's Predatory Dinosaurs of the World were published in the second half of the 80s ... well.

I just may have to revamp and add to the extinct critter lists.

Monster: Kaashrath

Fire Spirit, Kaashrath
Armour Class: 3
Hit Dice: 7+7***
Move: 240' (80')
Attacks: 2 claws + one bite or gore, or special
Damage: 2-8 / 2-8 + 2-16 or 3-18, or special
No. Appearing: 1 (1-2)
Save As: F7
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: U
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 1900

A massive creature whose shape melds tiger and bear with some faintly humanoid hints, a kaashrath is one of the greater spirits of the Courts of Fire. Beneath its garnet and black pelt is flesh of solid flame; a crest of brilliant fire runs from between its four massive, curved obsidian horns to the tip of its long, muscular tail and ends in a fan of cascading flames. Its claws and fangs are embers as dense and sharp as steel, and its eyes are icy blue orbs of fire. The eldest of kaashrath grow obsidian spikes from their shoulders as well, tongues of pale flame flicking between them like wingsails. Long dewclaws on the forepaws allow for grasping, and should a kaashrath rear onto its hind legs it would stand over 12' tall. Despite their ferocity kaashrath are sapient beings, and may on occasion be reasoned with.

Kaashrath attack with their burning claws, inflicting 2-8 hit points of damage per successful attack. Depending on mood they may also either bite for 2-16 hit points of damage, or gore and slash with their horns for 3-18 hit points of damage. Any victims successfully struck must save vs. spell or catch on fire. Given enough space a kaashrath will charge (or hug) an opponent, inflicting twice its gore attack (or 1-10 hit points per round) in damage. Twice a day a kaashrath may envelop an area around themselves, up to 30' in radius, in a haze of smoke and burning motes; it may choose to have this haze cause sleep as per the spell, or scorch all within for 2-12 hit points of damage.

A magical weapon is required to successfully attack a kaashrath. It will regenerate 3 hit points per round when in contact with flames or extreme heat of any kind.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Monster: Living Statue, Marble

Living Statue, Marble
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3*
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 2
Damage: 1-6/1-6
No. Appearing: 1-3
Save As: F3
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: 45

A living marble statue may be created in any shape, but is always carved from pure white stone with a faintly pearlescent sheen or network on its surface. Popular forms for marble statues include lions, gryphons and beast-headed humans.

Marble statues inflict 1-6 hit points of damage per successful attack. Every three rounds, a marble statue may create a mesmerism effect as its shimmering surface begins to ripple in a slow and hypnotic pattern; any creature looking at the statue must then save vs. spell or stand entranced for one round. Many marble statues are enchanted to capture opponents so spellbound -- if possible -- rather than attack.

Second Level Spell: Searing Argent Frost

[found on a scroll of vellum tied with silver and silk cord, within a crystal scroll-case]

Searing Argent Frost
Range: 100'
Duration: 2 rounds
Effect: Creates a bolt of silver and ice that wounds a target

Casting this spell directs a bolt of searingly cold, silvery energy from the outstretched hand of the magic-user, inflicting 2-8 hit points of damage when it strikes the target. On the second round the silvery mass in the wound instantly grows into a cluster of long spikes of ice crystals, inflicting a further 2-5 hit points of damage. The crystals then crumble to nothing and fade away.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Growing over the stones of dungeon chambers, ruins, and natural caverns with equal abandon, mirrormoss appears to be a perfectly safe -- and comfortable, even -- bit of simple flora hanging about as dungeon dressing. And indeed, the moss itself can and does inflict no harm whatsoever upon any creature coming into contact with it.

A typical patch of the moss may be as much as five to ten feet across, following the contours of the stone it grows on (if any) and developing into a mass of short, twisted stems with scale-like leaves as most other mosses do. It is not particularly edible. The mirrormoss growth may be as much as four inches "deep" (tall) or more, dense, and form a surprisingly soft and pleasant surface on which to rest or sleep. The occasional mushroom, small slime mold or insect may lurk amongst the mottled green and dun mosses, but a sleeper finds no harm comes to them from resting amongst the moss.

While a living creature rests upon it, a patch of mirrormoss will sample that creature's lifeforce and flesh through contact with its hundreds of leaves. Within an hour or two of sustained contact the moss has sampled all it requires, and a small leafy cyst begins to form within the patch's mass. Twenty-fours hours after contact has ended, this cyst -- now many times larger -- splits open to reveal a perfect replica of the creature that the moss sampled. Only one notable different exists between the original and the copy -- the replica's alignment is the opposite of that of the sampled creature.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ten Botanical Treasures

- A smallish oaken strongchest, bound in bronze: inside it rests four fat, tightly-packed pouches of waxed linen filled with a brilliant scarlet dyestuff and three dried bundles of the ruddy, weedy herb of unknown type the dye was rendered from. One bundle is tied with a crude map to the source of the herb.

- A hand-sized black jade casket, lined with gold-shot red silks cradling a jade mushroom.

- Half a pound of pure, reddish-gold tears of myrrh of the highest quality, sewn into a courier's packet of silk-lined leather.

- A hand-sized bundle of rishi -- a herb resembling lavender, though with blossoms of pale grey -- tied with a blood-stained white ribbon. Attached is a small scroll with instructions for using the herb to combat an illness referred to only as "the crawling death".

- A flat box of pale wood etched with a repeating pattern of ivy-vines, roughly a foot long by six inches wide by two deep. Inside, nestled in tissue, are a dozen perfect quills of cinnamon, deeply coloured, scenting faintly of rose and fit for an emperor's table.

- A carefully-coiled vine of white bleeding-heart, preserved in spirits within a globular glass flask. If used to strike an undead creature, the blossoms will cause damage double that of holy water and then fade into motes of light.

- A half-dozen fat leather pouches packed with cottonseeds. The drawstrings of each pouch have a single cotton boll attached, in the following colours: rust, green, pink, gold, brown, and grey. The bolls do not appear to have been dyed or otherwise altered in any way.

- A cask packed to the utmost with brown bean-like seeds or nuts with a distinctive earthy-sweet scent. Accompanying the cask is a mortar and pestle of rough black granite and a scroll describing the crushing of the nuts into a paste to be mixed with heated water, spiced and worked to a froth, then drunk. In the document, the nuts are referred to as kakaw.

- A healer's kit, complete with needles, bandaging, two steel flasks of poppy extract and a half-pound of the dark green, red-tinted bloodstaunch moss that heals 1 hit point per daily application.

- A single perfect, unblemished peony, icy white tinged with pale blue. Legendary, it is said to bring the dead to life -- for a time -- if the blossom is placed within the wound that killed the victim.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ichneumon Rose

A climbing vine with tiny, almost unnoticable white flowers, often found growing within abandoned ruins, invading the upper levels of dungeons and crawling over the walls of many an isolated tower, the ichneumon rose has a tempting and deadly method of seeding more of its kind. Though the mature ichneumon has no strange powers of its own, the immature plants possess a unique suite of abilities which can be granted to their "host".

The small, dry-flesh rosehips of an ichneumon rose are seedless, the remnant of an ancestral means of reproduction. Instead, when ready to reproduce the vine injects a tiny, coiled seedling into any living being which inadvertently finds itself being stabbed by one of the plants' long needle-like thorns. After a day or two the seedling breaks painlessly through the host's skin - usually at the hollow of the throat, or near one temple - appearing a translucent green vinelet with tiny heart-shaped leaves. The seedling grants the following abilities to its host -- usable once a day each -- with the knowledge of these new powers automatically granted to the host:

- "hatching": detect magic
- 3 days: protection from evil, know alignment
- 1 week: sleep, cure light wounds
- 2 weeks: phantasmal force

At any point before the one-week mark, the seedling may be destroyed via cure disease or similar abilities. After that point, remove curse is also required in order to separate the seedling's influence from the host. After two weeks the seedling cannot be removed short of a wish or similar, and the host loses 2 points of Constitution a day until death as the seedling fuels itself one final time.

If left undisturbed, the new ichneumon rose will root itself in the corpse, but it can be transplanted if rich soil is supplied for it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monster: Paradscha

Armour Class: 5 (see below)
Hit Dice: 1+3*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 calyx lash or by weapon
Damage: 1-4/1-4 or by weapon
No. Appearing: 1-4 (2-12)
Save As: M2
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: (S) E
Alignment: Any
XP Value: 19

Fey plant-spirits distantly related to dryads, paradscha resemble humans with deep green eyes and thick, shaggy hair often tinted with red or rose. Their true nature is readily revealed when injury causes them to bleed a golden-red sap instead of blood, or when they extend and unfurl their calyx -- a mandala-like rosette of dagged, lily-like petals, up to twice their armspan, that extend from their shoulders and spine and may be of any colour. Two of these petals are highly modified, and may be used like thorn-tipped whips. Unlike many plant and nature spirits, paradscha are highly social creatures and take great delight in slipping amongst humanity in order to subtly tweak and influence it.

A paradscha may attack with their calyx lashes, inflicting 1-4 hit points of damage per strike, or may attack with a weapon. Three times a day, a paradscha may release a burst of fine pollen and perfume that acts as a sleep spell. Paradscha take two hit points damage less, per die, from any source of elemental damage; and, when threatened, may curl their calyx around themselves to lower their Armour Class to 2. A paradscha so infurled may not move or attack. Some paradscha develop clerical spellcasting ability.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WotC, PDFs, etc etc. GIFs at 11 --

I try really really hard to keep editorials off the blog. My blog is here for my randomly-running stream of critters, magical widgets and other oddities, and -- though I've slipped once or twice -- I like to keep it that way. This topic, though ... this one I think I'll spill a bit of pixels on.

WotC has yanked all of their PDF catalogue from legal download. (Of course, anyone in gaming who happens to have been online in the last 24 hours likely knows that.) Much verbage -- and other worthy reactions -- have already been expressed on this, so I won't belabour the details. But what was the point of yanking the entire catalogue? WotC keeps bleating about piracy and the loss of sales of their hardcopy product because of it, but how or why would that affect the sale of OOP material from which WotC could only expect profit from legal sales, and certainly no further loss of income?

I have a few theories.

(no, not bunnies.)

The first that comes to mind is that the PDF market is one of two sources for prospective players to pick up older editions of (A)D&D, the other being the secondhand book market. By yanking the PDFs, WotC is trying to herd gamers into the waiting arms of 4e.

Unfortunately for this plan, if plan it is, all WotC has succeeded with here is 1) the further proliferation of pirate OOP material and 2) plenty of breathing room for the retro-clone industry.

The second is even more straightforward, in its way. I've seen with my own eyes WotC reprints of Dark Sun's "Prism Pentad" novels in my FLGS. I wouldn't put it past WotC to be pre-emptively raking back all access to earlier editions of their settings in order to be certain that their 4e iterations -- should there be any -- are all that are available.

These two notions go nicely hand-in-glove, all things being equal --

Monster: Blackberry Cat

Blackberry Cat
Armour Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2+5**
Move: 180' (60')
Attacks: 2 claws + 1 bite
Damage: 1-3/1-3/1-6 + energy drain
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: M3
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: U
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 55

Fey and dangerous sentient briars, blackberry cats -- when at rest -- resemble an ordinary if dense blackberry bush. They prefer to rest in hedges or thickets with ordinary blackberries, blending in with the rest of the foliage; in this shape only the ruddy tinge to their glossy black berries is a little unusual. During the day, they do not hunt.

At night, and on the solstices and equinoxes, the blackberry cat uproots and reshapes itself into a lean and muscular feline form, its canes compacting and twisting back upon themselves. Its paws are tipped with long thorn-claws, and two brilliant green witchfires light in the hollows of its "eyes". If it does not wish to reveal its identity such as when stalking an especially wary prey, it cloaks itself in the illusion of an ordinary tortoiseshell housecat.

Blackberry cats feed on the lifeforce of animals, preferring sapient beings over all others. In combat a blackberry cat attacks with thorny claws and bite, inflicting 1-3 hit points and 1-6 hit points of damage respectively. Victims struck by a blackberry cat must make a successful saving throw vs. energy drain or lose one experience level. Blackberry cats are immune to non-magical weapons.

It is rumoured that some blackberry cats may possess spellcasting capability. It is also rumoured that some cats trick their way into unwitting households, masquerading as a family pet.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Swords and Wizardry ... frag you very much, Lulu.

After some debate, I decided to wander over to Lulu and purchase a copy of Swords and Wizardry. (I might not ever run it, but I think I'd still like to have it.) Now, months ago I'd considered this for Labyrinth Lord and the shipping scared me off; that, I managed to get via Amazon.

So in any case, off to Lulu I go.

Softcover book? $9.75US. That's cool.

"Standard" shipping? $68.93. Oh hell no.

The cheapest option is economy -- with no tracking, the gods only know what kind of delivery time, and Lulu upfront saying "if it's screwed it's not our problem" -- and that's still $19.96US. For a $9.75 book.

I think I'm going to continue to go without S&W.

Magic Item: Harvester's Arrow

Harvester's Arrow: This innocently-named enchanted arrow is in fact a shaft of living wood; its tip is simply hardened heartwood and is of one piece with the arrow-shaft, and the fletching is made up of vanes of tiny, living leaves. Some harvester's arrows appear to be crafted from rose briars; others from mistletoe and yet others resemble holly or more exotic or unnatural plants.

However, the arrow is far from innocent. When fired it acts as an arrow +1. However, upon impact the arrow's tip burrows into the flesh, sprouting masses of rapidly-growing roots and inflicting 1 hit point of damage each round until torn free -- and such an action inflicts 1-6 hit points of damage as the roots rip free of their fleshy anchors.

If a harvester's arrow kills its target, the arrow will grow into a sapling at remarkable speed, with glossy green-black leaves and dark bark. The sapling then produces a single blood-red fruit resembling a peach, which -- if consumed -- will heal 1-6 hit points for the consumer.

Harvester's arrows are normally found singly; never will more than 1-4 will be discovered at a time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


(Magishrooms, Boomshrooms, Spell Repellent ...)

The fungal growth known as heqoranth is, to all available analyses, a harmless organism annoying only in its habit of growing most anywhere its mycelia can find purchase. Stone, soil, wood, cloth, untended tapestries -- heqoranth is not a fussy fungus, any rough or porous non-living surface will do. Once established as a viable growth (anywhere from 1/4- to 2" thick, a mass of dense pale-dun filaments), heqoranth begins to send up mushrooms. A dull golden-dun in colour with reddish markings, the mushrooms are vaguely crunchy, taste something like sugary, spiced custard, and grow in clusters with thick stubby stalks and dense caps. They can provide a welcome snack in the depths of dungeons -- if they haven't been claimed by the denizens there.

The danger of heqoranth lies not in any form of poison, but in its response to magical energies. Heqoranth spreads readily -- it can carpet a passage or chamber, given the chance -- and the fungus is exquisitely sensitive to magic. If a spell is cast, whether by voice, scroll or a magical item such as a wand, within ten feet of a heqoranth growth (with or without mushrooms) the fungus will ignite and explode violently, causing scorching acidic wounds to all within 15'. For every square yard of heqoranth, 1-6 hit points of damage is inflicted (with a minimum of 1-6 hit points if less than a square yard).

To make matters worse, heqoranth will scatter spores if detonated or if unduly disturbed -- such as when gathered to be eaten -- and it takes root within hours. While an adventurer need fear no direct harm from heqoranth, should their gear be inoculated they may be in for a very explosive surprise as little as six hours later ...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Monster: Water Spirit, Least

Least Water Spirit
Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1+1**
Move: 90' (30')
swim 210' (70')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6 + poison
No. Appearing: 1-3
Save As: C2
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: L
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 23

Minor inhabitants and hangers-on of the Courts of Water, the least water spirits are creatures of blue-gold liquid and icy white foam; sometimes as fluid as water, sometimes hard as ice. Least water spirits take the shapes of slender piscine creatures, or of shoals of tiny fish and serpentine beasts, and are scattered with pearls which are their eyes.

Least water spirits attack for 1-6 hit points of damage, and their fluids drug their victim if a save vs. poison is failed; the victim feels a lassitude for three rounds, being -2 to all rolls and moving at half-speed. They are immune to non-magical weapons, take one extra hit point of damage from all elemental sources save for water, and will regenerate two hit points per round as long as they are in contact with a reasonably pure water source.

Monster: Fire Spirit, Least

Least Fire Spirit
Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1+1**
Move: 120' (40')
fly 180' (60')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6 + blindness
No. Appearing: 1-3
Save As: C2
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: T
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 23

The minor functionaries of the Fire Courts, least fire spirits are creatures of flame of deep orange and brilliant crimson, their fires concentrated so densely as to resemble shimmering metal or glass as much as tongues of flame. These spirits take the shapes of sunbursts and mandalas and exotic quadrupeds, their eyes brilliant orbs of icy blue fire; their "treasure" is in the eternal ember shards that may remain after their destruction.

Least fire spirits attack for 1-6 hit points of damage and will lash out with a brilliant burst of flame to blind their victim for two rounds if a save vs. spell is failed. They are immune to non-magical weapons, take one extra hit point of damage from all elemental sources save for fire, and will regenerate two hit points per round as long as they are in contact with any manner of flame.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cheers for foliage!

Due to the notable majority when I asked for input on a theme week, starting Sunday morning I'll be making a week of plant posts. This will include mosses, fungi and what-have-you, and could be anything from critters to "ordinary" plants (yeah, right) or botanical items. Or ... other things.

I'm delaying for a few days because I've had a spate of thought about my least elemental spirits and want to finish up the main four before sticking my head into a metaphorical jungle *grins*

Monster: Air Spirit, Least

Least Air Spirit
Armour Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1+1**
Move: fly 240' (80')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6 + confusion
No. Appearing: 1-3
Save As: C2
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: T
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 23

Amongst the least-influential of the inhabitants of the Air Courts, these elemental spirits are composed of ever-moving breezes and whirling pearly mists. The least air spirits constantly shift through forms, one moment vaguely winged and another resembling a swarm of gossamer dragonflies or stranger shapes; and pinpoints of silver lightning serve as their eyes. Their "treasure" is the delicate webwork of shining solid thunder that may be left behind when they are destroyed.

Least air spirits attack for 1-6 hit points of damage and confuse their victim for one round if a save vs. charm is failed, making them as likely to attack allies as enemies. They are immune to non-magical weapons, take one extra hit point of damage from all elemental sources save for air, and will regenerate one hit point per round unless somehow cut off from contact with the air around them.