Saturday, January 9, 2021

BX House Rule: Manufacturing Holy Water

There has been some discussion in my bi-weekly game group about the possibility of making their own holy water, so I had to do a little research. I've created a B/X house rule for making holy water based on the information in the 1e DMG.

The good news for the cleric is there is a clairvoyant NPC that can send a message for the party to have a stoup made dedicated to the cleric's deity—Morbagallicus. The bad news is the cleric is a couple of levels shy of being able to cast 3rd level spells. 

But, then again, by the time the stoup is finished, the cleric might have gained a couple of levels!

A cleric (or paladin, or similar divine spellcaster) may create holy/unholy water under the following conditions:
  1. They possess or have access to a approriate blessed/cursed vessel (a “stoup”) in which the holy/unholy water will be created.
  2. The character is capable of casting 3rd level cleric spells.
Holy/Unholy Water Receptacles

The stoup/vessel for creating holy water consists of 2 parts:
  1. the font: a finely-crafted repository of wood (with a base, pedestal, chest-like holder, and lid) carved or engraved with the holy/unholy symbols of the deity to which the vessel has been dedicated.
  2. the basin: a metal bowl placed within the font which holds the water to be blessed.
A cleric may only create holy/unholy water in a vessel dedicated to their deity. The amount of water they may create depends on the metal used for the basin.

All fonts and basins are made to order, taking 4-10 (2d4+2) weeks to be designed and constructed. 

Basins in combinations of metal may be available (at DM’s discretion), with costs and capacity adjusted accordingly (e.g., a silver basin chased with gold and set with gold handles).

Generally, the stoup must be housed in a religious structure, and each structure is limited to having a single stoup. 


The ritual for creating holy/unholy water takes 1 hour to perform, and requires the cleric use the following: a purify food and water spell (or reverse), a bless spell (or reverse), and a 3rd level spell slot for the ritual that creates the holy/unholy water. The ritual must be performed uninterrupted, and if the cleric does not have the available spell slots for all three spells, the ritual cannot be completed. The ritual may only be performed once per week, and immediately after the cleric must rest for at least 8 hours.

Portable Stoups (Optional)

The DM may opt to allow the use of portable stoups. The suggested cost and capacity for such stoups is outlined below:

The encumbrance of a portable stoup is a number of coins equal to the font cost for the stoup (e.g., a portable silver stoup has an encumbrance of 200 coins). 

Performing the ritual to make holy water outside a structure dedicated to cleric’s deity (even a structure dedicated to a similar or companion deity) takes the cleric an entire day, during which time they may not undertake any other adventuring or perform any other activities. The standard period of 8 hours is required as normal.

Friday, January 8, 2021

BX House Rule: Lore Check

My bi-weekly game group kept encountering symbols and books and things, and there's always a question about how much/little information I should give them, so I worked this out as an answer.

The DM may make a lore check for any Player whose character has an an association with the topic or object being investigated. For example: thieves might know about other/famous thieves; clerics might have knowledge about other deities, their symbols, followers, etc.: a magic-user might be able to gain an understanding about the meaning of a symbol or the type of spell research being done in a lab based on the materials and equipment; race-classes (dwarves, elves, etc.) would have knowledge of the lore of their race; characters with ties to nature (e.g., rangers, druids, wood elves, gnomes) would have some knowledge of plants and animals, and their respective ecologies. 

Procedure: The DM should first determine how uncommon or uncommon the subject is before the lore check is made. The DM then rolls 2d6 for the character making the lore attempt, checks the column appropriate to the subject obscurity, and provides the appropriate amount of information to the player.  

Arcane Symbols: The ability to understand an arcane symbol does not grant the ability to read the symbol aloud or activate its magic (if speaking the symbol aloud is required). Likewise, it does not provide the ability to disarm any magic held in/by the symbol (dispell magic will most often still be required to do this). 

Sigils: The ability to recognize the sigil of an outsider (e.g., a demon, devil, angel, etc.) does not grant the ability to know the being’s true name, nor the ability to read the sigil aloud. 

The folowing rules are optional and may be adjusted at the discretion of the DM.

Roll Modifiers: Generally, the character’s Intelligence modifier should be applied to the roll. However, the DM may choose to have the roll to be adjusted by a different modifier based on the instance (e.g., if a  Wisdom (divine spellcasters).

Areas of Expertise:
In lieu of an extra language, the DM may allow a character to choose a general area of knowledge not necessarily associated with their class. For an additional language substitution, the player may choose a specific area of knowledge from a general area of knowledge they already possess. Lore checks for a general area of knowledge are made as normal. Lore checks made for a specific area of knowledge are made with a +3 bonus on the roll.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

My Quarantine Project

So... this is one of the things I've been working on during "my COVID year." I culled a number of public domain illustrations from a host of pulp magazines, and started writing descriptions for them as B/X monsters. It has manifested itself as three 6"×9" books, each with 45 monsters and about 60 pages. The creatures are all named and divided into the books. The layout is 95% complete, but copy for the entries is only about 33% complete. My goal is to have these ready for the upcoming NTRPGCon. So until that gets closer, no use in asking how they're coming.

BTW, these are generally unrelated to the Creature Compendium II, which is still a possible/ongoing thing. Though, the creatures from these might make it into that (with new drawings to replace the PD images).

Saturday, November 28, 2020

BX House Rule: Scroll Production

Sparked by a discussion in the B/X group on Facebook, and partly as an extension of my recent poast House Rule: Thieves’ Ability: Find/Disarm Traps and as an idea I had a while back about creating a detailed scroll production supplement (that went into detail about writing substrates, special quills, etc.), I decided to do simplified scroll production table. Generally, I don't like the idea of a "flat" chance of failure (15% according to Marsh/Cook Expert), regardless of the caster or spell level. This chart takes that into account. The higher in level the caster, the lower level the spell, the higher the chance of success (well... the lower the chance of failure), and vice versa.

Creating scrolls requires 500 gp and 1 week per spell level (e.g., creating a scroll for a 2nd level spell takes 1000 gp and 2 weeks). After the time and expense, the spellcaster rolls 2d6 on the the table below to determine success.
Optional Rules

Roll Modifiers: DM May allow roll to be adjusted by the spellcaster's Dexterity modifier, and/or Intelligence modifier (for arcane spell casters) or Wisdom modifier (for divine spellcasters).

High-quality Materials: For twice the normal cost, the spellcaster rolls as if one level higher than normal.

Rushed Production: For each week taken off of the production time, the spellcaster rolls as if one level lower than normal. A minimum of one week is required.

Multiple Spells on a Single Scroll: A caster may attempt to scribe multiple spells on a single scroll. This halves the normal cost of producing the scrolls separately. However, a success roll must be made for each spell being scribed, and any failure for any spell on the entire scroll ruins all other spells on the scroll (even if successfully scribed on their own).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

New Monster: Ghoulfish

I recently completed #inktober2020, and for several of the images created some things that could be new monsters. This was the day 1 prompt — fish.

A ghoulfish is a bulky thing, measuring about 6' long from tip of lip to end of tail. It is a ghostly, glowing white, making the area around it seem darker. They are solitary travelers, Abyssal natives found both in Hell and the Abyss as they move up and down the river Styx, occasionally emerging in the Astral Sea. They are constantly swimming, always on the hunt to consume the life force of living creatures. 

The bite of a ghoulfish does 2d6 hit points of damage and drains 1 level from the victim (no saving throw permitted). The loss is permanent but may be regained through continued experience acquisition. 

Ghoulfish are not affected by sleep, charm, or hold spells, nor are they affected by mind reading or controlling effects. Furthermore, a +1 or better weapon is required "to hit" a ghoulfish. 

Should a resurrection attempt be made on a humanoid creature killed by a ghoulfish, the body of the deceased must be completely submerged when the attempt is made. If successful, the character must be immediately pulled out from the water/liquid, and a successful save vs. death throw made for the now-living character to avoide immediately dying again from drowning. If another character assists on the save (only 1 character may assist), the assisting character's Intelligence bonus applies to the saving throw vs. drowning (e.g., if a character with a +3 Intelligence bonus assists, the character gets a +3 bonus on the save vs. death to avoid the drowning).

FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: /6"
% IN LAIR: 0
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +1 or better
    weapon "to hit"
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic neutral 
SIZE: M (6' long)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

HIT DICE: 7+1**
MOVE: /60'(20')
ATTACKS: 1 bite
DAMAGE: 2-12 + special
SAVE AS: Fighter:7

Sunday, October 4, 2020

New Magic Items

The players in my biweekly group just finished up a tomb that took most of the late summer to complete. I thought I'd share all the new magic items that came to them during their delving. Here you go!

Axe of Focus
The wooden haft of this +1 axe is covered in Dwarvish lettering inlaid with gold. It reads, “In the battle, it is you alone I see.” Once per day, the wielder may choose as the axe’s sworn enemy any creature in the wielder’s line of sight. Any successful attack against that creature does an additional 1d6 damage. Even if that creature dies, the axe may not be given another sworn enemy until the next dawn. If a new sworn enemy is given to the axe, it loses its advantages over any previous sworn enemy.

Bow of Magic Missiles
Once every three rounds, this +1 short bow is able to shoot a magic missile that strikes it target automatically for 1d4+1 damage.

Bracelet of Success
When wearing this ring, all failed “to hit” rolls and saving throws have a 1-in-6 chance of succeeding, regardless of the original roll. Additionally, once per week, a single roll of the player’s choosing succeeds. This use must be announced by the player before the roll is made. Alternately, the player may relinquish that guaranteed success for a 50% chance to succeed (after the fact) on a roll that failed.

Cap of Solitude
This calotte of blue fabric adorned with with pearls provides user a +1 AC bonus, as well as the following abilities: invisibility (as ring; usable at will); silence (15' radius; centered on wearer; usable at will but requires complete concentration to maintain); and hold portal (as MU spell; 1×/day).

Crown of Chills
The surface of this 1" wide band of light-blue steel has a frosty appearance, and the item itself is cool to the touch. Three times per day, it provide the ability of an icy gaze; any creature within the wearer’s line of sight must save vs. spells or be frozen in place for 1d4+1 rounds. This may be used as a free action against a melee opponent. Additionally, once per day, it provides the ability of icy breath. This is a cone of cold that is 10' long and 5' wide at it's terminus. All caught in its path take 4d4 cold damage (a save vs. breath havles this damage).

The distinguishing physical feature of this stunning, steely white sword is its guard, which features a pair angel wings, inlaid with silver. The sword is neutral, has in Intelligence of 6, and communicates with simple urges (it desires to cause dream). On a successful “to hit” roll, the target must save vs. spells or be in a daydream daze for 1 round (unable to act). Additionally, once per day, the sword is able to emit a dreamwave. All living, sentient creatures within a 10' radius must save vs. paralysis or fall into a daydream state for 1d4 rounds. While in this state, they imagine themselves as the wielder and are unable to perform any other actions until the state ends. The sword also allows the owner the ability to dream travel (as the 6th level magic-user spell) for up to 8 hours.

Gloves of Repulsion
These gloves of pebbly brown leather are brutally ugly, with poorly cut swatches and uneven stitching. The gloves are cursed, lowering the owner’s Charisma by 3 while in their possession. They cannot be given away (due to curse) but they can be removed (though the Charisma penalty remains). However, while worn, they provide the wearer a –3 AC bonus. Removing the curse also removes the AC bonus, and would render them no more than an ugly pair of gloves.

Mirror Mace
+1 mace; each successful strike creates a mirror image of the user. Mirror images created in this manner persist for 1 turn or until struck by an attack (whichever comes first). Additionally once per day, the mace can create 1d4+1 mirror images that persist for 6 turns or until struck.

Putrid Pendant
Usable 3x/day. Gives off a revolting, stomach-twisting stench. Living creatures within 10' of the wearer must save vs. poison or be sickened for 5 rounds (–2 on attack and save rolls). Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the same item for 24 hours.

Ring of Clarity
This silver band inlaid with diamond chips provides the wearer immunity to all nature of confusion effects of (including poisons, magic, psionics, etc.).

Ring of Intimidation
3x times per day, allows the wearer to weaken an opponent’s resolve in combat through intimidation (no saving throw allowed). This may only be used used against a melee opponent with whom the character is engaged, and who can see the character. The opponent becomes shaken for 3 rounds, suffering a –2 penalty on attack rolls and saving throws. An opponent can only be intimidated once per encounter.

Soulstealing Gem
Once per day, this chunk of black quartz allows the user to trap a target creature’s soul (and material presence) in the gem for a duration of 1 hour. The target must be with a range of 30', and they are permitted a save vs. spells to avoid the effect. On a failed save, the creature and everything they are holding/carrying are “sucked” into the gem. After 1 hour, the gem will “spit back out” the creature and its belongings. This item does not work on green (psionic) tigers.

Wight’s Finger
Appears as a shriveled black finger strung from a black leather string. On each successful melee attack, the wearer drains 1 additional hit point from the target and replaces one lost hit point of their own. Additionally, once per day, the the finger allows the wearer to drain 1d6+1 hit from a target to replace lost hit points of their own. This is automatic against willing targets. A successful “to hit” roll is required for unwilling targets. A failed “to hit” roll does not discharge this ability for the day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

BX House Rule: Thieves’ Ability: Find/Disarm Traps

I have an adventure I'm working on that relies heavily on the theives' ability to find/remove traps. I've really put some thought into the traps themselves, and don't want to have that dismissed by a binary (fail/pass) roll to discover the trap. So I developed these tables based on the Cleric's Turning table, but using 3d6 instead of 2d6.

I prefer the 3d6 probability curve better than 2d6 or 1d20. It's why when I do attribute checks, I have player roll under their stat on 3d6 (like The Fantasy Trip).

Should get a chance to break them in this weekend.