Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Oe/1e/BX Monster: Gibbershroom


These fungoid creatures appear as a large (2'-3' diameter) greenish-white toadstool. On its cap, it possesses a number of mouth-like openings equal to its hit points (e.g., an 8 hp gibbershroom has 8 openings). Should any creature approach within 30' of a gibbershroom, these “mouths” will begin “gibbering.” In truth, this gibbering is created by the fluttering of its gills, amplified through the openings. As these mouths open and close, it creates a sound similar to loud human gibbering. Each point of damage inflicted on a gibbershroom will cause one of its mouths to cease functioning. Any creature near gibbering gibbershrooms will suffer an effect as determined by the total number of gibbering mouths within 30' of the creature as outlined below:

Number of
Gibbering Mouths

Effect
21+ death (on failed save vs. death)
16-20 stun (no save)
11-15 stun (on failed save vs. paralysis)
6-10 confusion (as MU spell; on failed save vs. breath)
5 or less none

The effect continues while the gibbering persists, plus 1 round for each mouth that was gibbering during the round before the gibbering ended.

During each round a cluster of gibbershrooms is gibbering, there is a 5% cumulative chance per active (i.e., gibbering) opening that a nearby creature will be attracted (maximum chance of 95%).

Should a spellcaster attempt to speak with plants with a gibbershroom, the caster must save vs. spells or be confused (as the MU spell) for the duration of the spell. No coherent conversation may be had with a gibbershroom, even on a successful save vs. spells or by creatures/character with an innate ability to speak with plants/fungi.


Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 3-18
ARMOR CLASS: 7
MOVE: Nil
HIT DICE: 2
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
NO. OF ATTACKS: 0
DAMAGE/ATTACK: Nil
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Non
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Non-
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: M
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 7
HIT DICE: 2
MOVE: Nil
ATTACKS: Special
DAMAGE: See below
NO. APPEARING: 3-18
SAVE AS: Fighter:1
MORALE: 12
TREASURE TYPE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Neutral

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Oe/1e/BX Monster: Pouncer


These subterranean burrowers and dwellers are non-psionic cousins to intellect devourers, although they share an immunity with their genetic relativesto charm and control (including similar psionic abilities). The rubbery skin over their frog-like bodies is mottled with light and pale gray, and their ivory-colored eyes stare blankly forward.

Though their eyes do not see, they are sensitive to sound impressions. Combined with ticking and clicking (from the pouncer’s mouth), the creature is able to “see” without the aid of sight. A silence spell will effectively “blind” them, and extremely loud noises will drive them off. Their extraordinary sense of smell also aids them in rooting out prey (even if unaided by their tick-click radar). Any attempt to blind a pouncer by normal means (e.g., a light spell cast against its eyes) has no effect.

Like intellect devourers, pouncers attack by jumping on a victim, digging in with all four claws, and simultaneously biting (separate “to hit” rolls are required for each claw attack, as well as the bite). In addition to the 1d6 damage done with each successful claw attack, a successful bite attack does 1d4 and, on a failed save vs. poison, injects a toxin into the victim’s nervous system that causes blindness and deafness for 1d6 turns (cumulative for each bite).


Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Very rare
NO. APPEARING: 1-4
ARMOR CLASS: 4
MOVE: 15" (9")
HIT DICE: 6
% IN LAIR: 45%
TREASURE TYPE: D
NO. OF ATTACKS: 5
DAMAGE/ATTACK:
1-6(×4)/1d4
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Toxin
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Animal
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
SIZE: M
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 4
HIT DICE: 6*
MOVE: 150'(50') (90'(30'))
ATTACKS: 4 claws/1 bite
DAMAGE: 1-6(×4)/
1d4+special
NO. APPEARING: 1 (1-4)
SAVE AS: Cleric:9
MORALE: 8
TREASURE TYPE: D
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Oe/1e/BX Monster: Mistwraith


These negative energy beings are natives of the Quasi-elemental Plane of Steam. They appear as clouds of mist that are vaguely human-shaped.

The touch of a mistwraith (on a successful “to hit” roll) does 1d6 damage from negative energy (restores hp to undead), does an additional 1d6 damage from heat, and drains 1 level.

As normal undead, mistwraiths are immune to sleep, charm, hold and psionics. They are additionally immune to silver and normal weapons, and are unharmed by heat and fire. Cold attacks do +1 point per die of damage to a mistwraith, as does holy water. A part water spell will dispel a mistwraith, as will dispel evil, and a mistwraith can be turned by a cleric as a normal wraith.

Three times per day, a mistwraith may cast obscuring mist as a druid of a level equal to the mistwraith's Hit Dice.


Oe/1E STATS
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 2-8
ARMOR CLASS: 7
MOVE: —/18"
HIT DICE: 5+1
% IN LAIR: 25%
TREASURE TYPE: E
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS:
Energy drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES:
+1 or better “to hit”
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Very
ALIGNMENT: Neutral evil
SIZE: M
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil


BX STATS
ARMOR CLASS: 7
HIT DICE: 4+1**
MOVE: —/180'(60')
ATTACKS: 1 touch
DAMAGE: See below
NO. APPEARING: 1-4
SAVE AS: Fighter:4
MORALE: 12
TREASURE TYPE: E
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Planes of Nakara



In (slowly) developing the Basic Atlas of the Planes, I'm trying to make sure I look to Eastern influences as well as Western (mainly because these resources act to support the foundation of the Basic Psionics Handbook. Nakara is the hindu concept of hell... arguably 21 or 28 layers (I'm going with 28), where each layer reflects a particular type of sin. I'm leaving the sin references out, and taking some latitude with the appearance of the layers since the sources don't really describe them. So here's where I've ended up for now...



1. Tamisra (Darkness). A realm similar in appearance to the Prime Material Plane, except that it is consumed by total and complete magical darkness. No forms of light (magical or normal) function here, even for the briefest periods of time.



2. Andhatamisra (Blind-darkness). This realm consists of a massive winding web of underground tunnels and caverns, with no natural sources of light. While magical and normal lights work here, any time a fresh source of light is illuminated, all within sight of it must save vs. spells or be permanently blinded (until it is negated by cure blindness or remove curse).



3. Raurava (Fearful/Hell of Rurus). This realm appears as an expansive jungle broken by massive active volcanoes and rivers of flowing magma. This realm is populated by savage serpent-like rurus.



4. Maharaurava (Great-fearful). A cracked and barren realm with no life or sustenance to speak of, save for the kravyadas (flesh-eating rurus that appear as human/animal hybrids).



5. Kumbhipaka (Cooked in a Pot). A rocky realm pocked by a seemingly infinite number of pits filled with boiling oil. A putrid cloud hangs over the entire place, and the smell of burning hair and flesh is pervasive.



6. Kalasutra (Thread of Time/Death). This realm is made entirely of copper and extremely hot, heated by fire from below and the red hot sun from above.



7. Asipatravana/Asipatrakanana (Forest of Sword Leaves). A metallic forest where everything is composed of metal, and the trees have razor-sharp swords for leaves. This realm is populated by whip-wielding yamadutas who will attempt to beat any creature they encounter.



8. Shukaramukha (Hog’s Mouth). A massive prison complex guarded by yamadutas with fists so powerful they are able to liquify anything they squeeze.



9. Andhakupa (Well with its Mouth Hidden). A great forest at the bottom of a great pit. The forest is overrun with birds, animals, reptiles, mosquitoes, lice, worms, flies and other creatures that attack endlessly all intruders to the realm.



10. Krimibhaksha (Worm-food). The main feature of this plane is a 100,000 mile diameter lake filled with worms (instead of water). Anyone who dies here is reborn as a worm who must spend every spare moment devouring worms, or be devoured by the other worms (to be reborn again as a worm).



11. Sandamsa (Hell of Pincers). A massive dungeon complex filled with unimaginable sums of gold. The demons dwelling here torture prisoners with red-hot iron tongs. The realm is overseen by an omnipotent presence known as The Great Rakshak.



12. Taptasurmi/Taptamurti (Red-hot Iron Statue). A landscape of red-hot iron populated by iron golems armed with iron whips.



13. Vajrakantaka-salmali (The Silk-cotton Tree with Thorns like Thunderbolts/Vajras). A thorny, brambled realm that surges with electricity.



14. Vaitarni/Vaitarna (To Be Crossed). A river that both occupies its own plane while forming the boundary of Naraka (accessing all layers of the Nakara at one point or another). The river is filled with excreta, urine, pus, blood, hair, nails, bones, marrow, flesh and fat, and it is lined on both banks with fire. The realm is populated by fierce, flesh-eating aquatic beings that spit boiling oil.



15. Puyoda (Water of Pus). An ocean of pus, excreta, urine, mucus, saliva and other repugnant things. Its waters surge and it difficult to traverse without swallowing (accidentally) its disease-riddled waters.



16. Pranarodha (Obstruction to Life). A forested realm where yamaduta archers hunt to kill all humanoid intruders to the realm.



17. Visashana (Murderous). A rocky, mist-filled realm is populated by whip-wielding yamadutas who attempt to beat to death any creature of status. It is believed that the great maker of chaotically-aligned astras (the weaponsmith that made Pashupatastra for Kali and Trishul for Kali) calls this plane home.



18. Lalabhaksa (Saliva as Food). A sea of semen, devoid of any plant-life.



19. Sarameyadana (Hell of the Sons of Sarama). A massive kennel populated by 720 ferocious dogs (the sons of Sarama) with razor-sharp teeth, who act in service to their yamaduta handlers.



20. Avici/Avicimat (Waterless/Waveless). A barren, craggy realm filled with razor-sharp, wave-shaped rocks, and a peak 100 miles high at its center. Visitors to this realm become weaker the longer they remain away from their home plane. Each fall causes cuts that cannot be healed while the intruder remains on the plane, but neither does the intruder die from these cuts (though those so injured often beg for death).



21. Ayahpana (Iron-drink). A steamy, rocky realm strewn with rivers of molten iron. The yamadutas that inhabit this realm will stand on the chests of captured victims and force them to drink this molten iron.



22. Ksarakardama (Acidic/Saline Mud/Filth). This realm is similar in appearance to the Slime Pits of the Abyss, but with muck and filth instead of slime.



23. Raksogana-bhojana (Food of Rakshasas). A great jungled realm that is home to the rakshasas (tiger-like asuras). The ruler of this realm, Bha Hsankarh, is believed to be the progenitor of both the rakshasas and the rakastas.



24. Shulaprota (Pierced by Sharp Pointed Spear/Dart). This realm is composed of an almost endless sky, spotted by an occasional small floating island featuring a small outcropping of trees. The realm is populated by ferocious carnivorous birds like vultures and herons with razor sharp beaks.



25. Dandasuka (Snakes). While the geography of this realm varies wildly, its climate ranges from tropical to sub-arctic. It is pervasively pocked with snake pits and dens, and populated by seven-hooded snakes.



26. Avata-nirodhana (Confined in a Hole). A vast prison realm of caverns lined with dark wells and hidden crannies, and filled with poisonous fumes and suffocating smoke.



27. Paryavartana (Returning). This realm appears as a vast forest filled with small-to-medium sized trees. It is populated by hard-eyed vultures, herons, crows and similar birds which attempt to pluck out the eyes of every living (non-avian) creature.



28. Sucimukha (Needle-face). This realm appears as a massive landscape stitched together from the flesh of all manner of creatures. The yamadutas here are armed with massive needles, and each of their victims becomes part of the ever-expanding patchwork landscape.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fifty Fiends

One of the things I've been doing over the last couple of months, as I've had a spare few minutes here and there (between working on Kickstarter stuff, dealing with work stuff, and living up to family commitments), is draw some fiends.

Originally, the drawings were just things I had planned on piling up into the material that may (or may not) eventually become the Creature Compendium II. But having 50 lower planes natives in CC2 seemed a bit to weighted toward one type of creature (since my CC goal has always been a good mix of stuff that fits all types of adventures/campaigns), so my objective shifted a bit.

My new goal was to come up with 50. That's enough drawings to do that alliterative thing that I (and Stan Lee) seem to love so much, allowing me to name them as the "Fifty Fiends," with a potential (but-as-yet unconfirmed book... Fifty Fiends). Some are based on demons from historical sources (like Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal), and a couple are based on PD comic book images, but most are just of result of my placing pencil to paper and drawing until I was done.

I was originally planning on dual-statting them (as with the Creature Compendium. However, I realized how textually cumbersome that would become with the need to add resistances, immunities, psionics, etc. Instead, I'm planning on going with the basic B/X stat block, an additional stat block for immunities/resistances (e.g., damage from fire, ice, etc.), and a B/X psionics stat block. This does a couple of things that I like. First, it makes things pretty easy for Oe and 1e players to convert (e.g., I'm planning on including some info so Oe/1e players using first gen psionics can convert the psionic stats). Second, it helps keep things in line with any information that might be included in the Basic Atlas of the Planes (which itself may take years to finish).

So a week or two ago, I finished the drawings. Then, in those spare few minutes here and there over the last week or two, I've been naming them, assigning them a native plane (and planar layer, where appropriate), and noting who (or what) they serve (or their place in an existing planar hierarchy).

So to whet your appetite, here are all 50 illustrations compiled into a handy-dandy visual overview (that is roughly alphabetically by fiend name!

As a side note, if the book does publish, I am considering auctioning off all 50 original illustrations as a single folio.










Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Really Old Old-School Artist: René Bull

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these posts. But it's also been quite a while since I stumbled across a new artist that I felt like I wanted to cover. I'm not sure what had me looking through copies of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (well, actually I do, but I'd rather not say... yet), but I found an edition with which I was unfamiliar. This one features the art of British illustrator and photographer René Bull. I'll let you go to the Wikipedia link (just there) if you want the skinny on this Dublin-born son of a French mother and British father.

Bull's color work reminds of Edmund Dulac and Howard Pyle, in terms of tone and painting style. On the other hand, Bull's B&W work is, in a lot of ways, the overall "look" I had in my mind for the higher level mystics when I wrote the Basic Psionics Handbook. Particularly the image below that looks like the guy is floating on pillows.

Without further ado, here you go...




Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our Universe, My View of Sci-Fi Gaming

As a kid, my parents had a subscription to National Geographic. Somewhere along the way, I (well, really "we" as a family, but I sort of commandeered it) came into possession of the National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe (Roy A. Gallant, published by TBS The Book Service Ltd, 1980). I'm not sure if it was giveaway as part of a subscription, or if it was a book for purchase that my parents thought I (and my siblings) would appreciate. Regardless, it became THE book that informed my knowledge of the solar system, and what the solar system might be like in an alternative sci-fi-informed reality. To this day, it one of the 2 books that forms the foundation for how I "see" sci-fi gaming (the other is Profiles of the Future by Arthur C. Clarke). I won't go into too much detail on how this book inspired me, because Brian Koberlein has done a nice, concise job of expressing the same sentiment.

Long ago, the book left my parents house. I believe it went to Goodwill or similar. Well recently, I came across a copy at an estate sale, and could not pass it by... especially for just a few bucks. So I thought I'd share a few things from the book that I find particularly striking.

Let me start with the image that first struck me... the cover. It's a killer painting of star cruiser by John Berkey. If that names sounds familiar, it's likely because he's did a number of paintings/illustrations for Star Wars Episode IV. In the bigger scheme, his contributions were fewer than Ralph McQuarrie, but important nonetheless. BTW, though Berkey died in 2008, many of the paintings he left behind are available for licensing (and I'd love to see somebody in the community license his art for a cover). In fact, should I ever get back to Starmasters, Berkey's, I hope to do just that myself.

Now let's look at a couple of key images from the interior. One of the first things that struck me were the "What if..." images, speculating what alien life would be like on our solar system's planets and their moons. Check these out!



And then, the pages for each planet almost read like an appendix to Deities & Demigods.



I'll leave it at this for now. I just wanted to share a little slice of my childhood that was recently re-found, and share that with you.