Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Official: I've Signed Up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2012

Long story short, I have no idea what I'll do yet, but...

The way I figure it, A to Z is 26 entries. So add a title page and an index (or appendix or map!), and that gives you a 28-page book (plus cover.) So whatever I do, my plan will be to create something that I can quickly turn back around and publish as a complete book in May.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Oe/BX/1E Monster: Abysmal

Among other resources, I like to troll old public domain comics for monster ideas.
This is one is inspired from an old pre-code comic from the 50s.

ARMOR CLASS: 3 (-variable)
MOVE: 12”
HIT DICE: 8 (+variable HPs)
% IN LAIR: 35%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-12/2-12/2-8
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
SIZE: L (12’ tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
3 (-variable)
8 (+variable hit points)**
MOVE: 120’
2 claws/1 bite + special
2-12/2-12/2-8 + special
SAVE AS: Fighter: 8

Abysmals are subterranean dwellers that feed on both the fear of their victims as well as their flesh. They appear with a roughly octopus-like shape, walking aright on 6 tentacles, with 2 arms and a head that are vaguely humanoid, rubbery skin that is mottled gray, and bodies that seem waterlogged and bloated.

The sight of an abysmal alone alone can cause fear which the abysmal will then “feed” upon. For every creature that views an abysmal and fails his saving throw vs. magic, the abysmal gains a -1 bonus to its AC (cumulative against all attackers) while those creatures are within 100’ feet of the abysmal. The only further effect on the attackers that have failed their saving throws is an internal feeling of angst that will persist until that particular abysmal is dead, or the fear has been removed by magical means (even if the creature moves beyond the 100' distance.) Any AC bonus for the abysmal remains in effect while the affected victim is in proximity to the abysmal, regardless of whether the fear has been removed. If the affected creature leaves the effective distance, the bonus to the abysmal is lost, but the affected creature must make another saving throw (as per the first) should he return close enough to view the abysmal again.

In addition to the visage of an abysmal causing fear, every attack the abysmal makes (on successful “to hit” rolls) with its razor sharp talons and/or gouging bite also has repercussive effects. During any melee round that a defender is successfully attacked by an abysmal, the wounded creature must make a saving throw vs. magic (1 throw per melee round per abysmal, regardless of the number of successful hits by that abysmal) or become full of a sense of dread and fear that reinvigorates the abysmal by adding a number of hit points to the abysmal equal to the damage inflicted upon the character (that has failed his saving throw) during that melee round. The number of hit points that an abysmal may gain is not restricted by his starting hit points or his number of hit dice.

Abysmals are immune to the effects of fear and charm.

Monday, February 27, 2012

d30 DM Companion Update: New Back Cover Image

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Dave had remarked that my first version of the new back cover image (below) for the d30 DM Companion felt like the guys and background were more interesting than the statue, and he was right. I think the new version (at top) is much more dynamic.

Both images ©2012, Richard Jean LeBlanc, Jr./New Big Dragon Games Unlimited. These images are NOT CREATIVE COMMONS! You must have my permission for all uses of these images.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

d30 DM Companion Update: Additional Editing Round

I know what many of you are thinking...
"Enough already! We're jonesin' man. We need our d30 fix! What's taking so freakin' long?"

Answer... 3 things. But as you'll see via the notes below, I think the updates were well worth it.

1) In looking at the test print from Lulu, Dave took at look at the layout and remarked how the numbers on one page were bolded where they weren't on most of the others. I'd only done it because the page had a strange layout (because of space requirements) and bolding the numbers allowed me to share numbered columns between results tables, thus conserving space. However, it wasn't until Dave said this that I realized doing this throughout the book would make every page easier to read and, more importantly, use. So I went back through all of the pages and made the numbers bold to aid in readability. (See first sample above.)

2) Based on the way I'd done the shorthand monster descriptions, I realized I'd never done a true and proper job of trying to make sure they had any real consistency for a specific rules version. Given that I want this resource to be useable by anyone running most games (Oe, BX, 1e, LL, SW, et al.), I wanted these stats to be as complete as possible so that if someone didn't have the stats for a specific monster because it's not "native" to their version. However, it also needed to be as stat-generic as possible, regardless of version. That meant I needed to balance out (or "average"?) things like hit dice (e.g., some monsters are stronger in 1e than they are in BX) and movements (oddly, many monsters that are stronger in 1e are actually faster in BX.) Plus there were some other things that, when stepping away and coming back, needed more clarification anyway. (See second example above.)

3) And finally, since there's now going to be a d30 Sandbox Companion, there were a couple of pages from the d30 DM Companion that felt better served in the other book (and I want to avoid too much duplication), as well as a couple of pages of "fluff" that I'd added to the DM Companion to adjust for page count (especially since Lulu doesn't print interior covers- ugh!) that really just felt like needed to be removed. Also, I wanted each spread (2 pages next to each other) to be as complete as possible, throughout the book. This meant a couple of hours of playing around with re-pagination. For example, in these first versions, the monster descriptions took the 2nd half of 1 spread, a full spread of another, and the 1st half of a 3rd spread. Now those 4 pages aren't spread across 3 spreads (6 pages) and appear in just 2 spreads. The whole book is like that now. What's left is a tight piece of pure meat (that's what she said.) I do not feel like there is a wasted page in the book. I do not believe in "spreading shit out" to make the buyer feel like they're getting a higher page count for their money. I believe in giving DMs a useful tool that requires as little page-flipping as possible.

And all that's left to do now is...

1) Finalize editing the descriptions for human/demi-human encounters (an extension of the monster descriptions from #2 above)

2) Move the page numbers back to where I had them originally (long story short, I moved them thinking it would make it easier to use, and it didn't so they have to move back.)

and 3) Rework the back cover illustration. Dave remarked that it felt like the guys and background were more interesting than the statue, and he was right. Hopefully, I can just redraw the statue portion and photoshop the other elements together.

Start polishing those rhombic triacontahedrons, I'm getting close.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How To Embalm A Corpse!!!

In doing some "research" this week, I was perusing through the online copy of Weird Terror #13 from September of 1954 and came across this informative little article. I'm not really sure what pre-teen boy in 1954 might do with this information, but I honestly have a more interesting question... was this "essay" a copy of the one written by author Robert Benchley as a satirical response to a school assignment (c. 1908?) when asked to write and essay about "something practical?" (BTW, Robert is the grandfather of Peter, author of Jaws.) Questions aside, I thought this might have place in some folks' game worlds, so I present it to you for your perusal and/or use as source material.

Special thanks to "leinad" who scanned in this public domain gem for the Digital Comic Museum.

Friday, February 24, 2012

d30 Feature of the Week: Encounters by Population Density

As last week, this week's d30 Feature is a little light compared to normal. As you'll see in the note below, there is much more to this as it will be part of the d30 Sandbox Companion.

I know this table references other tables, but it can also be used generically. The tables for RE1, RE2 and RE3 appear on the "Road Encounters" page at this link. I had intended to complete the tables for RE4, RE5 and RE6, but time got away from me (hope to have them next week.) And for now, you'll have to consider the NCN tables "lost in translation" (I'll explain later.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Oe/BX/1E Monster: Draugr

MOVE: 12" (18")
% IN LAIR: 65%
2-7 or by weapon
+1 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic evil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
HIT DICE: 10**
MOVE: 120' (180')
ATTACKS: 1 weapon
DAMAGE: 2-7 or by weapon
SAVE AS: Fighter: 10

Draugen (sing.=”draugr”) are the animated corpses of once great warriors driven in their afterlife by jealousy and contempt for the living, as well as a burning greed that never lets them rest. They are most often found in their own place of burial and will attack any and all grave robbers without question (both to protect their own treasure as well as acquiring anything the robbers might possess.) A draugr will sometimes leave his dwelling place to visit the living at night, often in the search for more treasure, never hesitating to slaughter innocents in the quest to increase his horde.

As undead creatures, draugen are not affected by sleep, cold, hold, poison or paralysis, and can only be hit by magic weapons. Unlike some other undead beings, draugen are not affected by light and, therefore, may travel freely and unrestricted at both nighttime and daytime. Once killed, a draugr will come back to life in 1-4 turns unless its body is disposed of properly. At the very least, this disposal requires cutting off the draugr’s head and burning its body. However, it would preferably include dumping the draugr’s ashes at sea.

The body of a draugr is both dense (providing it with a substantially low AC) as well as strong (normally giving them a +1 bonus to all damage with handheld weapons.) In addition to this natural density, a draugr is able to increase the size of his body at will, doubling in size from its normal height (6-7’) to approximately 13’ tall. In this larger form, a draugr receives bonuses to both its movement and AC (noted in parentheses above), as well its strength, giving the draugr a +3 damage bonus (rather than +1) for all attacks with handheld weapons while in this enlarged form.

In addition to a draugr’s standard treasure (by type above), there is a 90% chance a draugr will also have a magic weapon, and a further 90% chance that the draugr will have magic armor. Any weapons or armor (including magic) possessed by the draugr will also increase in size with the draugr (if in enlarged form), providing any weapon (magic or otherwise) with an additional damage bonus of +3 (in addition to the draugr’s +3 STR bonus as noted above, and in addition to any bonuses normally provided by magic weapons.) This power to enlarge his possessions comes from the draugr, not from the items; should one of this items be "dropped" by the draugr in enlarged form, the item will "return" to normal size while out of the draugr's possession.

A draugr is able to polymorph self (as MU spell) up to three times per day. Additionally, a draugr has the following abilities (as a 6th level cleric) that he is able to use up to three times per day each: curse, hold person, cause disease, and protection from good (10’ radius).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Illustration of the Week: New d30 Companion Back Cover Image

So in making the final tweaks (i.e., "edits") to the d30 DM Companion and starting work on the d30 Sandbox Companion, I realized that the old back cover image for the d30 DM Companion made a better sandbox cover (or back cover.) The d30 DM Companion needed a "dungeon" back cover. So, like many other OSR artists before me, I've paid homage to Trampier's PHB cover. It just felt right. And the fact that the gem eyes allowed me to easily draw them as d30s didn't hurt either.

Image ©2012, Richard Jean LeBlanc, Jr./New Big Dragon Games Unlimited. This image is NOT CREATIVE COMMONS! You must have my permission for all uses of this image.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The System Hits 3,000 Downloads (+Free RPG Downloads)

It's been just shy of one year now, and I've topped the 3,000 mark for downloads of the free copy ofThe System, my universal RPG written originally in the mid-80s. (Tally includes only MediaFire downloads, not including any Lulu or 1km1kt downloads.)

As per my 2,000 downloads post, I have to thank Chris's Compendiums of Free Role-Playing Games, John Kim's Free RPGs on the Web, and Rob Lang over at 1KM1KT (1,000 Monkeys, 1,000 Typewriters), all of whom have taken on the vocation of helping rule-makers and home-brewers to get their work out there. Rob even goes above and beyond, working double-duty with the 24 Hour RPG competition, and triple-duty with the Game Chef competition. I'd also like to say "C'mon Lulu! Why the hell can't I see how many people have downloaded a free PDF of this from you?"

If you want the full story on The System, check out this post.

Friday, February 17, 2012

d30 Feature of the Week: Magical Places Generator

Sorry that this week's d30 Feature is a little light compared to normal. I'd like to eventually add a bit more to this item, particularly as it's intended for the d30 Sandbox Companion.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scrutinizing the Scroll: Papyrus, Parchment and Vellum

In the original DMG, this is about as far as EGG goes into the differences between paper, papyrus, parchment and vellum... "A scroll of spells may be inscribed only upon pure and unblemished papyrus, parchment, or vellum - the latter being the most desirable."

As an educator on the history of graphic communication, I'm familiar with the origins of and differences between the various writing substrates (as well as the writing utensils and "inks" that correspond to each), but it struck me that many of you may not be. So what follows is a top-line overview of the various writing surfaces (particularly those used for spell scrolls) and considerations for incorporating those into game play.

Cave Walls and Ceilings
30,000+ B.C.

Obviously, the point of a scroll is to make the magic portable, convenient, and disposable. And, obviously, you can't do that with a cave wall or ceiling, but it was the first writing substrate. Every type of writing medium requires both a pigment and a medium and, in these cases, the pigments included red and yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal, held in a medium of animal fat to bind the pigment.

Wet Clay
In common use from 3500-1750 B.C.

As nomads became farmers in the fertile lands between the Tigres and the Euphrates, village culture necessitated the need for records of properties, laws, ets. So the Sumerians when straight to the most available materials... reed styluses and wet clay. Pictographic writing gave way to symbolic writing in the form of cuneiforms (quick marks made with a triangular tipped version of the stylus.)

So... get out your copy of Deities and Demigods, go to the Sumerian Mythos section, and consider that in the earliest of the time period reflected here, clerics of these gods would (most likely) not see papyrus for at least 1,000 years (if they saw it at all.) And parchment? Forget about it. By the time the Sumerian language was fading away as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and/or scientific language in Mesopotamia, parchment was just being invented. Now, go the Babylonian section of the book. Those clerics... maybe.

As far as incorporating clay tablets into game play, it's obviously not conducive to carrying even one spell tablet with you into a dungeon, unless you happen to possess a Bag of Holding. However, in more primitive cultures, spell tablets are an option. I could see clerics or magic-users going into battle accompanied by horse-drawn carts filled with spell tablets prepared with summoning and protection spells (the tablets would disintegrate upon use, similarly to their papyrus and parchment counterparts.)

Invented c. 1,000 B.C.

This is an Egyptian invention that dates to around 1,000 B.C. However, it was adopted soon after by the Greeks (being supplanted later in Greece by parchment, a Roman invention), and was used widely through Europe and the Roman and Byzantine empires until it was replaced by the less expensive paper (invented in China, but introduced to the West by way of Arabia.)

Papyrus as a substrate is made from the pith (the inner portion) of the Cyperus papyrus plant. It essentially consists of two layers (or sides) with the fibers in each side aligned with the same side, and perpendicular to the other side. The fibers in the top (recto) side run horizontally, and the fibers in the bottom (verso) side run vertically. For longer scrolls, multiple pages of papyrus were glued together. In regards to writing utensils, the Egyptians used brushes made from rush stems, whereas Greek scribes used hard reeds, cut with a nib and split at the tip to aid ink flow.

As for game play, consider this... sure, papyrus is cheaper, but it also has a +5% chance of failure (per DMG.) Why? Firstly, in dry climates (like Egypt) papyrus is fairly stable, but in more humid climates it is highly susceptible to mold. No reason to not up that % chance of failure in more humid climates, especially the longer that papyrus has been sitting around in a less-than-airtight scroll tube. Second, those striations in the recto and verso sides do not exactly make for the smoothest of writing experiences, especially with "loopier" writing forms. It serves the Eqyptian Demotic ("priestly") script well, given its strong vertical and horizontal strokes. But Elvish is a little on the loopier side. Consider upping that % chance of failure based on the quality of the papyrus, as well as the form of the writing being used by the scribe.

Invented c. 500-200 B.C.

According to the Roman Varro, Pliny's Natural History notes parchment was invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamon, as a substitute for papyrus, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. ("Parchment" is actually an English word derived from the name of the city where it was reportedly invented.) Though a Roman invention, it was quickly adopted by the Greeks, and was used popularly throughout Europe, even concurrently with the use of paper up through the invention of the printing press (mid 1400s A.D.) In fact, though most copies of the Gutenberg Bible were printed on paper, a few parchment copies exist. Papermaking was mechanized around this time, which made paper inexpensive enough to allow it to become pervasive.

As a substrate, parchment is made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Think of parchment as a "half-ass" version of leather in that it's limed (the part of the leather-making process that removes the flesh, fat and hair from the skin) but it's not tanned (which helps protect leather from weather/humidity.) The skins are then soaked, stretched and scraped to finalize the process. However, additional treatments could make the parchment smoother or more writing-friendly (like rubbing pumice powder over the flesh side while it was still wet.) But let's go back to that not-being-tanned thing for a minute. Uh-oh... guess what that means...

Parchment, like papyrus, is extremely affected by its environment and changes in humidity, which can cause buckling. Books with parchment pages were bound with strong wooden boards and clamped tightly shut by metal (often brass) clasps or leather straps; this acted to keep the pages pressed flat despite humidity changes. Even after the use of paper made such fittings unnecessary, they continued to be used as decorative element on bound books of paper. But let's face it, buckling is not molding. I guess that explains the "± 0% chance of failure" in the DMG.

Popularized c. 500-1500 A.D.

Simply put, the difference between vellum and parchment is the difference between veal and beef, respectively. Vellum is really just a finer version of parchment made from the skins of calves and/or kids, depending on whether you believe the English or the French; it is either the split skin of any of several species (English) or the split skin specifically of the calf (French.) Now, when it comes to anything animal-related (particularly food-related, or quasi-food related) I tend to defer to the French over the English (but don't let them know I said that.) If this helps settle the argument, the term "vellum" comes from the French word "veau," which means "calf" or "veal." Most of the finer sort of medieval manuscripts, whether illuminated or not, were written on vellum. The Gutenberg Bibles mentioned above are (more specifically) on vellum.

In game, the thing to remember about vellum is that, for scribes, vellum's finer, smoother surface is the cream of the crop when it comes to writing anything. (Okay, that explains that -5% chance of failure from the DMG.) BUT!!! There is that climate thing to consider again. When store in areas with less than 11% relative humidity, it tends to get brittle. And in areas with 40%+ relative humidity, it has a propensity for mold and fungus growth. (Yummy!)

Invented c. 105 A.D.

Though the actual invention of paper is "shrouded in mystery," is invention was reported to the Chinese Emperor by Ts'ai Lun, an official of the Imperial Court. Even though paper was most likely invented 200 years earlier, WAY before Ts'ai Lun was born, Ts'ai Lun is nonetheless deified in China as the "god of the papermakers." By 600 A.D., paper was all over the far east. After the defeat of the Chinese in the Battle of Talas in 751 (present day Kyrgyzstan), the invention spread to the Middle East. By the 9th century, Arabs were using paper regularly (reserving the use of parchment/vellum for more important documents/manuscripts.) The oldest European paper documents date to around 1100 A.D. (most likely introduced to the West via The Crusades.)

In its more primitive forms (though still made essentially the same way today, albeit mechanized) plant fibers are soaked and pulped, set in a frame on a screen, shaken to cross the fibers and grains, the excess water pressed out, then the frame set aside for the paper to dry. The dried sheet of paper is removed from the mold, allowing the mold to be reused.

While the 1e DMG makes no mention of paper at all, by 3e you start to see mention of "high-quality" papers for use in scrolls. The more important thing to remember about paper, though, is the immense varieties of type based on the fibers and binders/additives used during the papermaking process. Vulnerability to weather and other conditions are completely dependent upon this.

Again, I refer back to the 1e DMG. This time I refer to the entire "Manufacture of Scrolls" section beginning on page 117. Note how much attention is given to the ink formulas and to the quill types being used, going as far as including the formula for the ink required to scribe a protection from petrification spell. And note how little attention is given to the writing surface. Even the BX Expert rule book (as limited as it is) goes further than the DMG on the subject matter when it suggests a "scroll might require a special parchment." Given the information in the post above, I don't see why you couldn't require the same thing of the writing surface that you might of a quill or ink. Scroll types could necessitate that parchments or vellums be made from specific animals, perhaps prepared particularly by alchemical or magical means (beyond the standard liming process.) I don't see why you couldn't require paper for certain scrolls be made from the pulp of specific plants or trees. Or papryus prepared from cyperus papyrus plants that grow in particular waters. What would happen if the PCs were to get ahold of a particular type of parchment or paper but, having been lied to by the merchant, procure the wrong type? It might accidentally turn that summon dryad scroll into a summon dragon one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Illustration of the Week (+ a few free buttons left!)

Today's image is from that "secret project" I mentioned in Monday's post.

Image ©2012, Richard Jean LeBlanc, Jr./New Big Dragon Games Unlimited. This image is NOT CREATIVE COMMONS! You must have my permission for all uses of this image.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Oe/BX/1E Monster: Hsigo (Flying Monkey)

This creature from Chinese legend supposedly inspired L. Frank Baum's flying monkeys in his Oz books.


MOVE: 12”/24”
% IN LAIR: 20%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-2 or by weapon
SIZE: S (4’ tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 120’/240’
ATTACKS: 1 weapon
DAMAGE: 1-2 or by weapon
SAVE AS: Fighter: 1

Hsigos are winged monkeys with human faces and dog-like tails. While sometimes found in the wild in forested areas, they are usually bred to act as servants for those that own them (most often high-level magic users.)

The weapons normally carried by hsigos are:
small sword - 40%
club - 30%
morning star - 20%
spear - 10%

For every 10 hsigos appearing as part of their owner’s army, there will be an additional leader with 2 hit dice (attacks and saves as 2 HD monster), carrying a +1 sword. For every hsigo army numbering 50 or greater, there will be a hsigo general with 3 hit dice (attacks and saves as a 3 HD monster), carrying a +1 sword and wearing a magic helmet (-1 bonus to AC.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

d30 Sandbox Companion

I know that the test print of the d30 DM Companion hasn't even arrived yet, but I'm going to go ahead and make the "official announcement" (whatever that really means) that the d30 Wilderness Companion (the intended next edition) is now the d30 Sandbox Companion. I realized that's how it's intended to be used, and how people are most likely to use it, but most of all... it sounds cooler.

I'm sorry that I can't give you any kind of target date on this next edition (especially because I have a secret project in the works that seems to be taken precedence over it), but I'll continue to post elements from it during Friday's regular d30 feature. Look for updates there.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Plenty of Free Dragon Buttons Left!

I know a lot of you were probably out gaming yesterday (or attending to other family/personal duties, etc.) and may have missed this opportunity to grab up a free New Big Dragon button. Many of you requested yours yesterday and should have received confirmations this morning (check your spam folder if you don't see it in your inbox; if you still don't see it, try emailing again to the email address below as the link was messed up when I first posted yesterday.)

Here's how to get one...

Email your full name, snail mail address, and blogger/wordpress/google+ user name (and/or blog title), to this email address: (address removed/offer ended)

I've released a bit more stock, so (in addition to the requests from yesterday) the first 30 emails received as of this post (today/Sunday) will get a button (via USPS) AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU! This is just my way of saying "thank you" to for being my audience!

I will update this post to reflect when all the buttons have been spoken for, at which point I will shut off that "buttons" email address, and will send out any remaining confirmation emails at that time (unless you've already received yours per above.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

30 Free Buttons! First Come, First Served! (Email link fixed!)

As I mentioned in my post back on Chinese New Year's, I was planning some freebies and the first ones are here. I've got 30 New Big Dragon buttons (1" dia.) ready for you dragon clan members to scoop up.

Here's how to get one...
Email your full name, snail mail address, and blogger/wordpress/google+ user name (and/or blog title), to this email address: (address removed/offer ended)
Only the first 30 emails received will get a button (via USPS) AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU!

Embedded link was messed up before. Fixed now. Plenty of buttons left.
I will update this post to reflect when all the buttons have been spoken for, and will send out confirmation emails at that time.

Friday, February 10, 2012

d30 Feature of the Week: Sandbox Settlement Background Generator

This week's d30 feature is a page to help you quickly generate the background for a settlement, including: 1) the type of government in the settlement, 2) the settlement's general disposition toward outsiders, 3) nearby threats (raiders, evil clerics, monsters, etc., which I suppose could also act as adventure starters), and 4) other issues in the settlement (fire, disease, corruption, etc.)

To download a free PDF of today's chart from MediaFire, click here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Really Old Old-School Artist: John Austen

John Austen was a carpenter turned prolific illustrator. Of his early works of note were his illustrations for an edition of Hamlet (below) that are pretty much a rip off of Aubrey Beardsley's style, but let's face it... Beardsley was one of THE greats of the period. Thankfully for us, though, Austen quickly moved beyond mimicry to come into his own. Of particular note were his scratchboard illustrations for the Limited Edition Club (from which the King Arthur "Faerie Queene" images below have come.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Monster/Illustration of the Week: White Scorpion

Scorpion, White

MOVE: 18"
% IN LAIR: 50%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-10/1-10/1-4
SIZE: M (8-10' long)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 180'
ATTACKS: 2 claws/1 tail + special
DAMAGE: 1-10/1-10/1-4 + poison
SAVE AS: Fighter: 5

The white scorpion is a semi-intelligent variety of giant scorpion whose body is completely covered in a short, soft white fur, except for it’s extremities which appear as a pale green. Being more cognitively developed than their non-intelligent relatives, the white scorpion is a consummate predator and surprises on a 1-4 (on 1d6.) The sight of a white scorpion is so unnatural, it is able to cause fear just by its appearance (unless an appropriate saving throw is made vs. magic.) All creatures with 3 hit dice or less who fail their saving throw will fall to the ground in convulsive fear, writhing in place for 2-12 turns. All creatures with 4 or more hit dice who fail their saving throw will drop anything they are carrying and lose any initiative during ensuing combat.

White scorpions are magical creatures with an immunity to magical control and paralysis, as well as the ability to regenerate 3 hit points every melee round. Additionally, the venom that their stinger injects is a magical one and any creature struck must save vs. spells or suffer the effects of its poison. The white scorpion’s magic venom does 1-8 points with its initial hit, and (unless cured) an additional point of damage every turn thereafter until cured (magically.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

51 Pharmaceuticals That Sound Like D&D Character Names

Please note that the class, race and sex assignments made to each pharmaceutical listed below is simply based on my initial gut feeling, but are completely open for discussion.

Also, if any of you are bold enough to actually use any of the names below for PCs or NPCs, please let me know which drug, as well as class/race/sex.

1. Actos - Cleric: diabetic medicine; also goes by Pioglitazone (Monk), Glustin (Druid), Glizone (Ranger) and Zactos (Cleric)
2. Atripla - Elf Ranger/MU: fixed-combination of drugs to treat HIV
3. Avistan - Paladin: used with chemotherapy to treat cancer of the colon
4. Avelox - Dwarf Fighter: (moxifloxacin) used to treat respiratory tract infections
5. Avonex - Magic-user: used to reduce the episodes and symptoms of MS
6. Benicar - Thief: used to treat high blood pressure
7. Boniva - Cleric (F): used to prevent and treat osteoporosis
8. Caduet - Druid: used to treat high blood pressure or angina in patients with high cholesterol
9. Chantix - Illusionist: used "in combination with education" to help people stock smoking
10. Cozaar - Barbarian: used to treat high blood pressure;trade name for "Losartan" (Barbarian)
11. Cymbalta - Magic-user: used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder
12. Diovan - Assassin: used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure
13. Doryx - Druid: used to treat bacterial infections
14. Enbrel - Paladin: used to relieve the symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders, including: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, chronic plaque psoriasis
15. Epogen - Elf Magic-user/Fighter (F): injection used to treat anemia in people with chronic kidney failure
16. Flomax - Dwarf Fighter: used in men to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate; trade name for "Tamsulosin" (Elf MU/Thief)
17. Gardasil - Paladin (F): vaccine for use in the prevention of certain types of human papillomavirus
18. Geodon - Half-elf Ranger/Magic-user/Thief: used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia
19. Herceptin - Ranger (F): injection used along with other medications or after other medications have been used to treat a certain type of breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
20. Humira - Magic-user (F): ("Human Monoclonal Antibody in Rheumatoid Arthritis") TNF inhibitor; trade name for "Adalimumab" (Half-orc Cleric)
21. Januvia - Fighter (F): used to lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes
22. Keppra - Elf Ranger: used in combination with other medications to treat certain types of seizures in people with epilepsy
23. Lamictal - Magic-user: used with other medications to treat certain types of seizures in patients who have epilepsy
24. Lantus - Cleric: used to treat type 1 diabetes
25. Levaquin - Elf Fighter/Thief: injection used to treat infections such as pneumonia; chronic bronchitis; and sinus, urinary tract, kidney, prostate (a male reproductive gland), and skin infections
26. Lotrel - Ranger: used to treat high blood pressure
27. Lovaza - Magic-user: used to reduce the amount of triglycerides in blood
28. Lovenox - Dwarf Fighter: used to prevent blood clots in the leg in patients who are on bedrest or who are having hip replacement, knee replacement, or stomach surgery
29. Lucentis - Assassin: used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration
30. Lumigan - Druid: used to treat eye conditions, including glaucoma and ocular hypertension, in which increased pressure can lead to a gradual loss of vision
31. Lunesta - Illusionist: used to treat insomnia
32. Mirena - Magic-user (F): IUD with progestogen
33. Neulasta - Fighter (F): used to reduce the chance of infection in people who have certain types of cancer and are receiving chemotherapy medications that may decrease the number of neutrophils
34. Plavix - Paladin: used to prevent strokes and heart attacks
35. Premarin - Cleric (F): vaginal estrogen used to treat vaginal dryness, itching, and burning; painful or difficult urination; and sudden need to urinate immediately in women who are experiencing or have experienced menopause
36. Prinivil - Paladin: used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure
37. Provera - Fighter (F): used to treat abnormal menstruation (periods) or irregular vaginal bleeding
38. Reglan - Fighter: used to relieve symptoms caused by slow stomach emptying in people who have diabetes
39. Relafen - Cleric: used to relieve pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
40. Remeron - Fighter: used to treat depression
41. Risperdal - Elf Fighter/Magic-user: used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia
42. Ritalin - Thief: used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults and children
43. Rituxan - Fighter: used alone or with other medications to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
44. Septra - Magic-user: antibiotic containing sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim used to treat ear infections and urinary tract infections
45. Seroquel - Half-elf Ranger/Magic-user (F): used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia
46. Sinemet - Elf Fighter/Thief: often prescribed to treat Parkinson's disease and Parkinson-like symptoms
47. Soma - Gnome Illusionist: muscle relaxant used with rest, physical therapy, and other measures to relax muscles and relieve pain and discomfort caused by strains, sprains, and other muscle injuries
48. Sumycin - Elf Magic-user: (tetracycline) used to treat bacterial infections, including pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections; acne; infections of skin, genital and urinary systems; and the infection that causes stomach ulcers
49. Truvada - Bard: HIV treatment for HIV patients using a combination therapy for HIV
50. Vyvanse - Illusionist (F): part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults and children
51. Zetia - Gnome Fighter (F): used to reduce cholesterol

Sunday, February 5, 2012

d30 DM Companion Update: Proofing Done/Test Print Ordered/Final Cover Preview

I can't believe it's almost ready for the world! After a looooonnnnng day in front of the computer yesterday, and after a truly carpal tunnel amount of clicking "ignore" while doing the final round of proofreading, I got the files prepped, uploaded them (privately) to Lulu, and ordered a couple of final check copies for myself. While I'm waiting on those, I'm going to get set up and ready to go with RPGNow/DriveThruRPG so I can hit the ground running with this in the next few weeks. Thank you all for your patience!

Friday, February 3, 2012

d30 Feature of the Week: Heraldry Generator

Again, this one is sort of self-explanatory, and is slated to be part of the d30 Wilderness Companion. It creates over 27,000 variants of spatial division, colors and charges.

To download a free PDF of today's chart from MediaFire, click here.

d3 DM Companion Update: I hope to finish the proofreading today on the d30 DM Companion. Then I just need to try one more print run test and the sumbitch will be ready!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mazes, Minotaurs and Modules: Part II

As you may remember, back in November, I examined the phenomenon of the minotaur's maze as a cliché of dungeon crawling. Again, I reiterate that, in one way or another, all dungeon crawls are essentially labyrinths, but I wanted to add a couple of entries to the list (which previously dealt with only TSR publications between 1980 and 1983.)

(Spoiler alert: As before, I know it's been about 30 years since these adventures were published, but the following descriptions do give away pertinent details of the referenced modules, on the chance that you haven't read/played them yet.)

1979 - The Caverns of Thracia (Judges Guild)
Originally published in 1979, but now available in a d20 adaptation, this module is the "king" of all minotaur modules. No... literally, there's a minotaur king ruling the former slave sub-humans (gnolls, minotaurs, dog brothers) who revolted against their captors and now occupy the Caverns of Thracia (a former "playground" for human Thracian royalty.) It's not until the adventures reach the palace and dungeon (on levels 3 and 4 respectively) that minotaurs start to show up on the wandering monster charts as "minotaur" encounters, but they show up as early as level 1 via the "gnoll patrols" running around, as well as in many of the numbered encounters that begin just after the entry to the caverns on level 1. "Grognardia" James and "Porn Star" Zak have both done fairly comprehensive reviews of this one.

1981 - Escape from the Minotaur's Lair (International Dungeon Designs)
If you haven't ever heard of this module, or this company, don't worry. It's pretty flipping rare and tends to sell on eBay for anywhere from $250 up. I'm hoping to update my entry on this one, and I am waiting on my copy of Lawrence Schick's Heroic Worlds to arrive to (hopefully) do so. If anyone has a print copy of this baby, I'd love to "get a look at it," if you know what I mean (wink, wink, nudge, nudge... PDF-ahem,) unless a reasonably priced procurement could be arranged.

Pictured at top: The Minotaur, George Frederic Watts, oil on canvas, 1885, located at The Tate.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Monster of the Week Bonus Edition: Djetabi (Serpopard)

Sometimes referred to as "serpopards," djetabi (singular and plural) have the body of an oversized leopard with a serpentine neck and head. Normally found in the plains and shrub lands of warmer climates, djetabi are solitary animals, preferring to live alone and mating only occasionally and indiscriminately. Djetabi are natural predators and will attack most other animals. Furthermore, their tan coloration and light spotting provides them a bit of natural camouflage in shrub lands, allowing them to surprise their prey on a 1-3 (on 1d6) in that type of terrain. While a djetabi's fangs are sharp and inflict a good deal of damage, its true danger is its poisonous bite. On any successful "to hit" roll by a djetabi on a bite attack, its victim must save vs. poison or die in 2-3 turns. While djetabi have been portrayed as domesticated in sculpture and on pottery, there is no record to support that this has ever happened. On the contrary, most of those who have tried have died.
MOVE: 18"
% IN LAIR: 5%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-4/1-8 + poison
SIZE: L (7-8' tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

MOVE: 180'
ATTACKS: 2 claws/1 bite
DAMAGE: 1-4/1-4/1-8 + poison
SAVE AS: Fighter: 2