Monday, December 30, 2013

The God-Seed Awakens in 2014!

Our upcoming book, The God-Seed Awakens, is getting closer to publication! We're deep into editing, layout and art. Over the next two weeks, I'll be previewing some of the art and content, as well as talking about plans for the coming year for the Mystic Bull.

Here's a preview of the Tokar (PDF), a minor faction in the underworld affected by the incursion of the god-seed.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Praeder Island -- A Historical Look

A portion of Praeder Island is featured in the adventure Forsaken Reavers of Praeder Peak by +Paul Wolfe in D.A.M.N. Magazine, issue 1. The island has a long history, both in my fictional campaign world and in my actual gaming.

I've used Praeder for about 10 years as a mysterious jungle island where lurk evils from throughout history. The island is forever being "discovered" by the next major power seeking to exploit the rich wood, exotic animals, and, in a number of cases, the arcane resources of ancient empires.

This is Praeder as it appears about 1,000 years before the PCs arrive on the island during the Forsaken Reavers adventure. 

This time period is the current setting of an extended campaign that began with Frozen in Time by +Michael Curtis  and The Gift of Suss by +Daniel Bishop. The prehistoric PCs have been thrown here through arcane pathways and stranded in the southern reaches of the island, behind the Barrier. This is also the setting for a forthcoming adventure from Mystic Bull Games: The God-Seed Awakens. We'll preview God-Seed over the next few weeks leading up to its release. 

The Northern settlements of Brivas, Stobi, and Nidum, as well as Camp Aeril, comprise the Numaran Empire's foothold about 40 years after discovering the island. 

The villages on the eastern shore, Hrulek and Urm, are major native settlements built on the remnants of the Panian peoples, an advanced race of builders and arcanists that thrived here over 5,000 years ago. It was the Panians that built the great city of Treluk, in the central highlands and M'hukrat, shrine-city to the demon lord of the same name. They also built the Barrier, a stone wall holding back some ancient evil brought to this world by the diabolists among the Panians. 

It was during this time that the Queen of Abominations rose from the ranks of the Panian arcanists and sought to extend the people's demonic reach across the world. That was before Skal Silverhand and his band of reavers descended on the Ruby Palace, destroying the Queen of Abominations and her crag demon thralls, about 3,000 years ago. Their memorial menhir stands near the pinnacle of Praeder Peak on the northern tip of the island.

Behind the Barrier now are dinosaurs, demons, and the Great Kong, as well as the recent arrival of Shaloth, the dragon-like god-thing featured in The God-Seed Awakens and the beacon tower featured in Tower Out of Time by +Michael Curtis 

Next up is Praeder in the time of the PCs in Forsaken Reavers of Praeder Peak, where another far reaching empire has "discovered" the island and seeks to exploit its secrets for a new age. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

RPG Profile -- Paul Wolfe

At the prompting of +Zak Smith.

My RPG Person Profile
I'm currently running (at home): DCC RPG, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, AD&D

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: DCC RPG

I would especially like to play/run: CoC, LotFP, Void Hunters, Machinations of the Space Princess,

...but would also try: Fate Core

I live in: Austin, Texas

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: HellFrost  +Paul Wade-Williams   Vornheim +Zak Smith  , Better than Any Man +James Raggi , Durance +Jason Morningstar,  anything by +Daniel Bishop 

2 or 3 novels I like: Blood Meridian (or an Evening of Redness in the West), Malazan Series (especially House of Chains), Ananthem, Thieves’ World (a lot of them), Mars Series (Burroughs), Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

2 or 3 movies I like: Yojimbo/Sanjuro, Here Comes the Boom, Training Day, No Country for Old Men, Aliens, District 9, Cloverfield

Best place to find me on-line: Google+, Goodman Games forum

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: Old-school / Retro / Sci-fi / Pulp

I really do not want to hear about: Wargames, tactics, collectable card games and miniatures, 4e/5e D&D

I think dead orc babies are (....well, ok, it's complicated because....) Right and Just.

Games I'm in are like those parties where everyone sits around and tries to insult each other in the most degrading and fun way possible.

Free RPG Content I made for DCC RPG are here:

Free RPG Content I made for Swords&Wizardry are here:

Free RPG Content I made for Savage Worlds are here:

You can buy RPG stuff I made about DCC RPG here:;

If you know anything about Puzzle Design it'd help me with a project I'm working on.

I talk about RPGs on Google+ under the name Paul Wolfe

I talk about RPGs on under the name ragboy

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Playing with the System Part 1: DCC

Playing with the System Part 1: DCC

DCC RPG ignited a spark of creativity in me and my players. It had the old school feel, modern d20 mechanics, and an Appendix N take that made it unique from all the other OSR and/or third party d20-esque products out there. It's still the system of choice for my players and me. Development is not as easy as with your traditional OSR systems, but it's crunchy enough to be interesting without being completely overbearing. 

With all that said, I think every DM wants to tinker, regardless of the system. For me, the OSR legacy of DCC does not fully capture the Appendix N feel -- it does a really really good job, but there are just a few things I want to jettison. I'm talking about the presupposition of demi-humans as player races, graduated humanoid threats (though DCC has a system for making these unique), and adherence to idol (read divine; cleric) magic and patron (read arcane;wizard;elf) magic. 

With this series, I'm going to talk about how I'm tinkering with the system by presenting a campaign setting in process. I DID NOT create this setting whole cloth from my own brain -- I stood on some shoulders (some rather big shoulders, actually). First and foremost is Rob Conely's Blackmarsh, Majestic Wilderlands, Points of Light, and many thoughts and ideas from his blog. Secondly is Chris Gonnerman's Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game (specifically BF1: Morgansfort). I think Chris did a good job in that module of presenting a mono-theistic religion, and I think that is missing (at least in my game). Obviously, Goodman Games DCCRPG is at the core, but I'm also pulling stuff from Shadrac MQ's Vancian Spell Lists, in the Vancian Magic Supplement. And from Castles and Crusades, a system that I think is strangely underrated in the OSR circles. 

Excising Demi-Humans

Everyone loves to be an elf. Some are drawn to the dwarf, while a few even love to play the lowly halfling. Apparently, no one loves the gnome, half-elf and half-orc anymore. For my money, I'm tired of all of them. Not only are they directly cribbed from Lord of the Rings (regardless of what the grognards say), they have become, for me, just another RPG trope that's played out. I also think they bring a certain presupposition of "character role" that forces DMs to write demi-human histories that read almost exactly the same from campaign to campaign, and ultimately limits a game that should be limitless. Dwarves love gold. Elves are long-lived hipsters. Halflings are fat burglars. Et cetera forever. 

When I go back and read Appendix N, these creatures don't exist. What does exist? Strange alien humanoids. Mutants. Demons, half-demons, and other spawn. Fey. Spirits. And humans. Lots and lots of humans. But players like to play characters that are "different." I take a more positive position and believe that they don't mean "more powerful," but it could mean that.

DCC RPG does a great job of setting the "demographic" of a game world. If you live (and die and die again) by the 0-level Funnel, you should rarely have an elf, dwarf or halfling as a 0-level character and even more rarely have one survive to make it to 1st level. I've always said that the funnel continues long after 0-level, especially for elves, since they have to contend with all the external threats of a normal character and also the "internal" threats of their use of magic. And, in addition to being tired for me, dwarves and halflings get short shrift (um...nevermind). I like the halfling Luck burn mechanics, but the "all dwarves are

So, my task, as I saw it, was to maintain the "demographic funnel" of DCC (as well as the general 0-level funnel) while providing players with the opportunity to have a character that's "different." My solution was to build a new set of 0-level character creation tables comprising: Race, Background, Occupation, and Associations.

Race Table

d100 Race Description
01-80 Human Three Primes; 1 Free Association
81-95 Half-Breed 1d6: 1-5 - Human appearance 6 - Fey appearance; 1d2 Mutations, 1 weakness
96-00 Fey Roll Appearance; 1d3 Mutations; 1d2 Weaknesses

Race Description
Characters are humans, fey, or half-breeds. If a character is a fey or half-breed, they may appear mostly human (i.e. they can "pass"), or may be very distinctively fey. Humans receive 3 Primes (cribbed from C&C -- I'll explain later), 1 at 0-level, 1 from their class, and 1 more at 1st level. Fey receive a Prime from their class and can choose another at 1st level. Additionally, humans receive a free Association (I'll explain later -- its essentially a character contact for resources or aid...though it may also be an enemy). All characters receive a base of 2 associations (1 at 0-level and 1 at 1st level). Humans start with 2 at 0-level.

Fey receive up to 3 mutations and up to 2 weaknesses. Half-breeds, up to two mutations and 1 weakness. Weaknesses are similar to the elven allergy to iron. Something fairly common that either repels or harms them.

Fey Type Table

d100 Fey Type Description
01-65 Bestial Mammalian qualities
66-80 Reptilian Reptile, amphibian, dinosaur qualities
81-90 Insectile Insect, Arachnid, other bug-like qualities
91-94 Vegetal Plant-like
95-98 Elemental Guess. 
99-00 Demonic Amalgam 

This table should be fairly self-explanatory. Probably need a better word for "vegetal," but I'm thinking of classes of traditional fey, like dryads and the like, that have plant-like qualities. Though, for very gonzo games, this could include fungi...

Mutation Table

d100 Mutation type Bestial Reptilian Insectile Vegetal Elemental Demonic
01-65 Body Covering Thick Fur Scales Chitin Bark Wisps of Element Choose one
66-80 Head Horns/Antlers Snout w/ Teeth Mandibles Fungus Eyes of element Choose one
81-90 Arms/Hands Claws Claws Pincers Vines Hands of element Choose one
91-94 Powers Scent Gills Multi-Limbed Pass without trace Project Element Level 1 Wizard Spell
95-98 Powers II Darkvision Shapeshifter Wings Smell Resist Element Choose one
99-00 Powers III Shapeshifter Breath Weapon Web Passwall Pass Element Rebuke Demons

Mutation Description

Body Covering -- +1 AC
Head -- A physical attack to be determined by the GM and player (my guidance would be 1d4 damage)
Arms/Hands -- Another physical attack to be worked out by the GM and player (same here 1d4 damage)
Powers -- These should be fairly self-explanatory with general d20 concepts.

  • Multi-limbed: I'm ruling this an extra set of arms: 1d16/1d16 attack
  • Shapeshifter: Think Changeling from Eberron...not necessarily a doppelganger or lycanthrope.
  • Breath Weapon: Generally, cone (20' long, 10' wide?) and max of 2d4 damage. Obviously implies a draconic origin, but could also be a long sticky tongue. 
  • Gills -- can swim underwater, but also might require the character to spend some time in the water every day.
  • Wings -- I'd go beetle-like wings here with a limited range, speed (and control). And the character probably can't wear armor (I'd grant a +3-+5 AC). 
  • Smell -- This is an attempt to get the dwarven "smell gold and gems" in there. This could be "sense" just about anything: Magic, gems/gold, evil...whatever.
  • Fungus -- Think Poison Ivy (Batman). This could be a puff of spores that have some detrimental effect on the target.
1-5SubstanceSilver, iron, salt, quicksilver, etc. 
6-7Light Blindall d20 rolls -4 in daylight
8-9ElementalRunning water, smoke, mud, etc. 
10MagicIdol or patron magic

These are, again, discussed and decided between the DM and player. I think the game benefits from this dialogue.

Fey in the World

I'm not going for an "Inquisition" type campaign, where fey are hunted, but I'm definitely leaning toward certain areas and peoples having prejudices against them. And certain areas that are fey dominated and being human is uncomfortable.

I'll talk a bit about the world setting in the next part of this series, since it precludes talk about Background, Occupation, and Associations.


Let me know what you think. I think there is lots of room for abuse and the power level is a bit higher than the traditional DCC game. I'm testing it in play now. Let me know if you do the same... 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Murderhoboes Back on the Town

Murderhoboes Back on the Town

Fresh from a rest stop after defeating the nascent cult of Qo, the Twin-Headed Snake Goddess (and completely ignoring an open door to more adventure against the sweet mummified deity), the party picked up the trail of the missing courtier of Lord Osmund of Junia – Back to the whorehouses! They tracked the randy little bugger through three of the places over on the west side. They managed to track him to a favorite doxy and questioned her (strangely, they were quite restrained). She happened to know that he kept a bolthole over in the Shanty district, so they meandered over there and found on an alley wall a sigil that shifted between its forms – each saw something different and even that melded into new forms as they observed it. 
Bad art by Me!

The wizard was able to deduce that this was a sigil of Jalianos, the Fluid Forms – a shapeshifting demon known to be the patron of assassins and powerful spellcasters. Searching the alleyway, they found the courtier’s lair and realized through various letters and things that the courtier was actually an assassin sent to kill the fat Lord Osmund. Rushing back across town to the great lord’s town mansion, they found the gates unmanned, the yard full of corpses, and a keening wail coming from upstairs.

Art by Rick Hershey
Heedless of their own safety, they ran up the stairs to find Lord Osmund under attack by a Shifting Demon – servant of Jalianos, the Fluid Forms. The party leaped to attack, finding that their weapons were useless against the mind-bending Gordian knot of tentacles, viscera and jagged bones that comprised the demon. Lawithem (also known as Law) the mighty elven servant of Hhaaashh-Lusss, Lord Duke of Reptiles invoked his patron, burning away his very lifeblood to ensure that he got the Cold-Blooded One’s attention.

He got the Serpent Lord’s attention (31 on the roll).

From Angels Daemons and Beings Between:
Art by David Fisher
Some portion of the Lord Duke of Reptiles extends into the material plane to aid the caster. For example, a broad and scaly back might appear to form a bridge, or a huge reptilian mouth might appear to attack a foe. When Hhaaashh-Lusss makes an attack, he strikes with a +10 bonus, doing 2d20 points of damage, and his target must make a Fort save (DC 25) or die from his potent venom. This manifestation is AC 25, has a +6 Initiative bonus, and takes 60 hit points of damage before being driven away. Otherwise, the Lord Duke only appears to aid with a single problem, and then fades back to his home plane.

So, reality bent in Lord Osmand’s solar, splitting the roof and disintegrating one wall. Some number of characters were consumed in the conflagration, though the Lord Duke struck and swallowed the Flickering Demon. Osmund himself was grievously injured, but the party managed to pull him out of the wreckage as his once beautiful mansion imploded in flame and eldritch energies.
The Zaitian, devotee of the great Bear God, Greim, gave what healing he could to the injured lord and the team beat a hasty retreat, intending to come back to the Osmund to ask about a reward later.

All told, they spent a lot of time getting to know the city of Junia, destroyed a small portion of it, and uncovered two burgeoning cult movements (and disrupted both). In the course of murderhobo events, they came to the attention of:

  • The Junia Thieves’ Guild – for distributing platinum pieces each time they attempted to gather information in the Shanty and Red-light districts. I sense a caper targeted on the party in their near future.
  • The Cult of the Flickering Sign – for disrupting a three-year mission to extract information from the great Lord Osmund and then kill him.
  • The Cult of Qo, the Twin-Headed Snake Goddess – This is going to be bad.
  • Hhaaashh-Lusss, Lord Duke of Reptiles – Young Lawithem owes him quite a debt.
  • The nobility of Junia – for destroying part of their gated community and obviously flouting several of the neighborhood association rules concerning trash storage, building fa├žade repair and summoning/fighting demon lords.

As they spent a couple of days resting and tracking down some better equipment, they were approached by a member of the city watch (cribbed from Thieves’ World: The Hell Hounds) – it seems that two erstwhile thieves, O’mosh and Bittersnail, nabbed a very expensive purple sapphire while on its way to the Museum of Antiquities: Junia. While these two thieves were typically bumbling idiots, they managed to pull the caper off without a hitch, but have brought down several groups within the city on their two-bit little heads. Qaffing another round of ale, the party spun into their next investigative disaster. 

Resources used this Session (sorry -- this reads like a shameless plug...Next session I used a lot of other third party stuff) 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pulp Weird Adventures #1

We did a small thing for DCC, just to test whether anyone was interested in a semi-zine-like book of short adventures -- similar to In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer, but shorter/simpler in scope.

The Idea

The idea of Pulp Weird Adventures (and Squid Sorcerer) was three-fold:

  • Short -- Like a lot of gamers, I have a job, a family, and a lot of "real life" going on. I get about 3 sessions a month for about 3-4 hours each. I love mega-dungeons, but they don't always serve the purpose. I really like well-crafted, intense adventures that play in that "con spot" span of time. 
  • Pulpy -- I was a creature of pulp even before I was a gamer (Tarzan 1-15 by the time I was 12). I love the two-fisted, action-packed, and slightly odd stories that come out of pulp. I mean, Tarzan rejected as an actor to play Tarzan in the movie of the same name? And then he has to rescue the whole movie crew from some mad scientist and his talking gorilla minions? Yeah. I love pulp. (Tarzan and the Lion Man). 
  • Weird -- I dig on classic fantasy, but I love to put the weird fantasy in the bowl and smoke it. Laser robots versus flying ape demons? A wizard captivated by an alien scout invader? Hyperspatial ooze lords versus the cat women from the Planet XXX? Mermaids from Yuggoth? I'm all over that. 

Pulp Weird Adventures #1

Pulp Weird Adventures #1 gets us started with two short adventures. 

The first one, by +Daniel Bishop, Tomb of the Squonk, was actually written for Squid Sorcerer, but fell out of that book due to length. It's a short adventure, but packed with some weirdness and has a few campaign implications if the Judge decides to use it. 

The second one, by +Charlie Scott, is his first adventure for DCC -- Called the Silent Army, it contemplates the implications of an otherwordly invader to a simple fantasy setting. How those seeking power get enthralled by such power. It's a good one. 

So, take a look at Pulp Weird #1 and let us know if you'd like to see more, weirder and pulpier adventures in the future. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

DCC - Poor Man's Vornheim

Poor Man's Vornheim

I want Vornheim, by +Zak Smith, but I can't have it right now. My players were due in about four hours and I needed to do something quickly to build out an good evening's worth of potential chaos and destruction in a port city setting.

First, I ran out and grabbed this from a random Castles & Crusades pbem site (which I think might be a reused map of Sanctuary -- and I didn't even realize that geocities was still around!):

I had a stack of DCC and OSR adventures that I wanted to use that fit nicely into an urban setting, so I made a simple table with each of the adventure names (or a possible encounter related to the adventure) and a random die roll. I didn't bother with run-of-the-mill random city encounters -- my players are good at creating their own through their random murderhobo actions.

I gave the characters free reign to do whatever they wanted -- essentially a city "hex crawl" and checked for an encounter every four hours they were out moving about or otherwise interacting with the populace. If one was indicated, I'd roll on my "adventure starter" table, and proceed from there with a quick encounter that gave them either a rumor, an interaction with someone involved in a developing story, or a straight up confrontation. What I ended up with was a list of factions, essentially, that through the course of play have some connection to the party -- regardless of whether their friendly, hostile, or neutral.

Murderhobos on the Town

Almost immediately, they fell into the "missing noble's courier" path, this was a lead in to a modified Cult of the Flickering Sign encounter that I'd done for In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer. They managed to gather a few clues that sent them heading across town to the "pleasure district" and a low rent whorehouse. Out of the darkened streets (having started their follow up late), they were attacked by two huge humanoids, heavily robed. The elf took it in the neck and dropped like a cheap chemise. As the short battle progressed, the characters realized they were fighting a couple of white apemen. They managed to fell one, but the other grabbed their dazed elf and leaped to the rooftops and away. A short torture session of the barely alive apeman revealed that the elf was bound for the "Queen of Serpents" ritual, but would reveal nothing more.

This was the beginnings of a quick pre-adventure I'd crafted earlier in the day to get the party to the Demon Idol, by +Jobe Bittman, one of the winners of the One-Page Dungeon contest. I noticed he used a gelatinous humanoid, and I immediately thought of the creatures I'd used in the Tomb of Curses: The Prison of Qo. The gelatinous humanoids became cultists of Qo with their white apemen minions seeking to repair and pilot the Demon Idol for the glory of the Twin-Headed Snake!

Here, I set a timer -- 6 hours until the soft elfy prisoner would end up a tasty treat for the Queen of Serpents. The players did a fairly admirable job of tracking down the cult (I did not make it easy for them) in an abandoned warehouse deep in the slums.There was a quick fight with a single ape man on the roof of the seemingly inaccessible place, as the party was mid-climb down into the ruined interior, but they quickly dispatched the creature and found a trap door to the undercroft.

The party by this time was composed of a warrior, thief, and dwarf PC and three warrior hirelings.

   As an aside, I have taken a lot of various random charts and things from various OSR resources (from AD&D to present) to craft a "settlement generator" using Tablesmith -- one of the best extensible random table generators ever made. If you aren't using it for your game, consider it. It has a very simple scripting language and engine, with which I generate something as complex as a random potential henchman in a tavern:


Nemelian, Wizard
Gender Male

STA 10
INT 14

Armor Padded (+1) no shield
HP 15
Longsword, iron

Wealth 17 sp
practical joker/prankster

Terms: 142 sp and Equal Share (DC 12)

To a full skeleton of the city of Low Glassarbor.

Anyway, the NPC generator is rudimentary (how does a 1st level Wizard have 15 hit points??), but the Traits (directly from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide) are worth the price of admission. With a few simple adjectives, I can throw a few wrenches at the party. My tables for Tablesmith are here, for anyone that's interested.

Back to the action -- The party was underpowered, but pressed on anyway. Down in the undercroft they faced off against three of the apeman beasts and then moved into a maze of passages. Though the main passage seemed to lead to a ritual in progress, they tried to find a way around to a possible back door -- next chamber revealed two apemen and a gelatinous humanoid creature that extruded corrosive pseudopods from various parts of its body. These were defeated, though some equipment was damage and lost and everyone was down to minimal hit points.

Throwing caution to the wind, they approached the main chamber, finding a tripwire that would trigger falling iceblocks. This was merely stepped over and the thief proceeded up to the main chamber to scout the situation. Quickly, the thief took in the situation (2 apemen and a gelatinous humanoid conducting a ritual to a tall wood and wicker idol to a twin-headed snake). The room was crowded with sacrifices, including the party elf. She took a pot shot at the apemen and fled noisily, hoping they'd follow and yelling for the party to move back passed the trap. The apemen blundered into their own trap in their haste to catch the thief. One ended up crushed under a block of ice while the other narrowly escaped that fate, only to be flash frozen when the second effect went off. The party had not moved back far enough, but only managed to lose a henchman to the flash freeze effect.

The final showdown between the party and the gelatinous humanoid was over as quick as a flung oil flask and torch and a collapsing, flaming wooden idol.

The thief was dropped in the battle, but managed to recover. I had kept a good account of time, and when the final confrontation started, the elf had 30 minutes of life left. The ritual had actually already started....

Part 2 tomorrow...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

DCC RPG: The Imp's Bargain

The Imps Bargain

This encounter may be dropped in anywhere you’d like to test a character’s faith and sanity.


The imp, Czelig, is a messenger, go-fer, and slave to the arch-demon Ganelith. Though the creature loathes its master and its fate, the imp has schemed his way into a position to slide into its master’s favor, with the intention of being “raised” to a more lofty job (and form). Czelig stole a box full of golden rings that Ganelith uses to bind mortals. Now, when the imp has a spare moment, he attempts to trick mortals into taking a ring, which have a variety of effects.


Czelig typically chooses to trick mortals with a binding ring by preying on their "better instincts," appearing as a person in desperate need (usually as an urchin or an unfortunate lass). The story and setup varies and judges are encouraged to make the setup compelling and relevant to the party. Some ideas follow:

  • A noble's servant, beaten and robbed, begs the party to retrieve an important message pouch from the thief who has holed up nearby. The reward is the golden ring, which he displays.
  • A woman lies near death beside the road and with her dying breath asks the party to deliver the ring and a note to her faithless husband.
  • An urchin is caught picking a party member's pocket. Later when checked, the ring is discovered in the pocket.

The Imp

Czelig can change its form to any humanoid, animal or vermin to about the size of an ogre. In its natural form (which it reverts to when faced with a combat situation), the imp appears to be a tusked, three-legged hyena with a green gem set in its forehead and the head of a cobra at the end of its long serpentine tail. A bite from Czelig’s tail deals 1d6 damage + 1 point of STR due to poison. On a failed save (DC 11), the victim loses an additional 1d4 STR per round.

Czelig: Init +3; Atk Ray of Paralysis +5 ranged (paralysis DC 15) or tail bite +5 (1d3+poison); AC 14; HD 5d12; MV 30’, Fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Poison (DC 11 Fort, 1d4 STR per round), shapeshift, demonic traits; SV Fort +5, Ref +8, Will 4; AL C.

If Czelig is defeated within the mortal dimensions, it drops the ring of binding and returns to Ganelith’s plane for 666 days.

The Ring of Binding

The ring of binding appears as a simple golden ring, the band formed of interlocking chain links. Once the ring is put on a finger, it cannot be removed. Even if the finger is cut off, the ring appears on another finger, toe, pierced through a lip, etc. The ring detects as non-magical and inert (on the good/evil/chaos/law continuum).

Anyone that wears the ring of binding enjoys one of the effects listed on the table. However, they are also subject to a meeting with the arch-demon Ganelith's majordomo in the not too distant future. Each time the character burns luck, the judge should make a secret DC 11 Will save. If the save is passed, the character receives a +3 to the total of Luck burned. (Thus, if the character burns 1 point of Luck, he or she receives a +4 to apply to the d20 roll modified). If the save is failed, see The Pitch.

AC +1
Mirror Image (Spell Check to use, as results of spell)
Cantrip (Spell Check to use, as results of spell)
Resist Cold/Heat (Spell Check to use, as results of spell)
Displacement (first attack in a battle always misses, +2 AC)

The Pitch

If the character fails the save, he or she is transported to a hellish plane chained to a stone chair before a stone table, and hovered over by a nightmarish creature: a towering hyena-headed bull-like creature with the claws of a lion and 100 poisonous serpents for a tail. This is Ganelith's majordomo, Gilezc.

The demon attempts force the character to sign a compact with Ganelith within 6 hours. He first uses intimidation, torture and lies – with great bellowing, bites from its horde of snake-like tail fringes which drain abilities, and any other nastiness that the judge can conceive. It should be clear that the character will never leave unless the document is signed. After three hours of this tactic, Gilezc tries to entice the character with the wonders of service to the Lord of the Twisted – power, slaves, gold, etc. offered and lain at the character’s feet. After two hours of whatever debauchery the judge can conceive, the character will see a demon at its most foul: Gilezc actually begs, offering his own power, knowledge or other valuables if the character would just sign.

This should be a scene based on role-playing (not necessarily on the character’s abilities/dice rolls). Gilezc must “convert” the character within 6 hours or the character has resisted (see below). The session can be ended if the character specifically says “no” and binds that resistance to a god or patron of law/good.

If the character signs the compact, he or she is bound to Ganelith (Roll Patron Bond: Ganelith with a Spell Check of +12 -- failures are not possible), and the character is immediately transported back to the exact spot and time they left the mortal world. The character receives a +3 Luck score bonus and thereafter can burn and recharge luck as a halfling. The recipient can burn luck for others even if there is already a halfling lucky charm in the party, however anyone that receives luck from this character run the risk of being transported to Ganelith's hellish realm and offered the same deal, as above. Regardless, anyone that signs the contract becomes a bound thrall of Ganelith and a creature of great evil and chaos. This binding can only be broken by extreme measures.

Those that resist signing are transported back to the exact spot and time they left the mortal world and all ill effects done to them on that hellish realm are healed. Unfortunately, the character arrives back with a 0 Luck score. Having flicked their noses at creatures of ultimate evil and chaos, however, the character receives a boon from the gods of Law. The character’s Luck heals at a rate of 1 point per day until the ability has recovered to a Luck score of 18. Such are the blessings of resisting demons.

In both cases, the ring of binding becomes a simple golden ring worth 666 gp.

Monday, May 20, 2013

DCC RPG: The Ifrit's Chosen

The Ifrit's Chosen

Along the great Izgoni caravan route over the dunes of the Ulrik Wastes lie the ruins of a small settlement. Once a desert spring bubbled up here, and the settlement was a waypoint for travelers and their animals to water and rest in the shade. Though the tumbledown adobe structures are still used as emergency shelter from the many sandstorms, the settlement is generally bypassed as another dead husk amongst the dunes of Ulrik.

Investigation of the settlement reveals little, though the simple bricked shaft that once served as a well in the village center may draw the curious. Either storm or the disgruntled filled the well shaft with sand and it is only ten feet deep. 

On the northern wall, only partially exposed near the surface of the sand, one of the bricks is stamped with a faint symbol of a serpent entwining a palm tree (Search/Spot DC 15). Those with knowledge of the ancient peoples of the Ulrik know that this symbol was for the Caliphate of the East Winds, a small nation that controlled a significant portion of the Izgoni caravan route. With an Intelligence check (DC 18), those with knowledge of the region know that the Caliphate was ruled by the priest kings of the ifrit, Afara, and that their holy warriors roamed the Izgoni route protecting merchants and pilgrims.

Digging out the clay brick reveals a metal bar, about three inches long set into the stone. The bar can be pried away from the wall, which opens a secret door about 3' below the surface of the sand. (Reflex DC 13 or slide into the chamber beyond).

1) Pile of Sand – The fall to the top of the sand pile is ten feet, and though this causes no damage, those affected must make a second DC 13 Reflex or slide to the bottom of the 20’ tall sand pile that half buries this small natural cavern. A passage exits to the west. 

The fall and light surprises several rats who scurry away squeaking.

A skeleton half buried at the bottom of the pile (DC 9) wears a tattered turban with a small garnet set in silver pin (25 gp), a gold signet ring stamped with the symbol of the Caliphate (DC 15), a rusted steel helmet and hauberk. A perfectly preserved leather sack on its belt holds 200sp and a scroll written in the ancient language of the Ulrik peoples (this is a writ authorizing the magistrate of district 27 to collect such taxes as are due the Caliphate from the village of Yaiden)

Those that examine the skeleton notice that both the man's legs were broken. Those with medical knowledge understand that this was caused by blunt force trauma (a hammer) and not a fall into this chamber.

Disturbing the skeleton also disturbs the spitting cobra lairing inside its chest. It attacks with surprise unless the examiner states they are carefully looking for hidden enemies, etc.

Spitting cobra: Init +4; Atk bite +2 melee (1 + poison DC 14 Fort or death) or spit (DC 15 REf; DC 14 Fort blinded); AC 12; HD 2d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP: Spit hits unless a DC 15 Ref save; If struck, DC 14 Fort or blinded; SV Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N.

2) The Secret Well – A stone brick hemisphere about 4’ tall with an opening at the top stands in this natural chamber. This well drops off into darkness. Note that there is no moisture in the room or smell of water from the well. Descending the well requires 100' of rope and leads to roughly circular chamber (30' radius) with a pile of skeletons with dried muscles/viscera beneath the hole. A detailed examination reveals that all been stripped of clothing and killed with a single hammer blow to the forehead (see Area 5).

3) The True Well – The original spring receded to here. The pool is 25’ deep, though a series of cracks and small passages lead down into the aquifer (impassible without extreme magical means).
The shore is muddy stone with the footprints and scat of rats (rats will scatter if surprised, though they move and hide at approaching lights). Cave cricket, crayfish and other insect corpses abound. Walls crawl with various blind insects. Note the effects of the book (Area 5) if brought into this room.

Carvings on the wall depict symbols of the ancient caliphate and a religious symbol (DC 12) depicting a curved knife -- this is the symbol of Afara, the ifrit "god" of the Caliphate.

If a new well is dropped over this spot, it supplies water to a village of ~100 people and animals for the next 15 years before drying up.

4) Bricked up chamber – This small natural chamber is intersected by a brick wall concealing the tomb of the guardians of Yaiden. Each brick is carved with hundreds of warding symbols associated with Afara (DC 12). These symbols are not magical (DC 15; or detect magic). The bricks can be smashed down fairly easily, though it requires a hefty hammer and an iron spike or some similar combination of tools (2 turns). With a normal hammer/warhammer alone, this takes 1-2 hours.

Beyond the wall is a worked stone and brick passage. The passage walls curve to a mere 5' ceiling and the clay-stucco walls are crowded with runes, symbols and sutras dedicated to Afara (DC 12). Moving into this passage causes various random runes to flash green, glow and fade to darkness in a complicated and continuous pattern. This causes confusion (DC 12 Fort) for 1d3 turns. The effects can be defeated simply by closing the eyes, covering the walls somehow, magical darkness, or the like.

5) The Tomb – The plain seal to the tomb is a solid stone slab set into the surrounding walls (hammer and spike to open, as above, though anything less than a sledge and spike makes it impossible to break). When broken, a foul gust of gas issues from the very stone, coalescing as a Guardian Jinn, who attacks intruders immediately.

NOTE: Moving back down the passage results in the same confusing flashes of runes.

Guardian Jinn: Init +4; Atk sword +6 melee (2d4 + Disjunction); AC 14; HD 2d12+4; MV 30’, 50' Fly; SP Disjunction (Will DC 16), immune to normal weapons, gaseous form when killed; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

The Guardian Jinn transforms from a sentient gas to a humanoid entity composed of living water. When attacking, it extrudes a sword from its arm. When struck by this sword, opponents must make a DC 16 Will save or have all magical effects dispelled for 2d5 rounds. This includes any magical items held or worn by the opponent (a separate Will save for each item at the bearer's bonus). When the guardian jinn’s hit points reach 0, it transforms into a gaseous form and becomes locked inside its holy vessel for 1,001 nights.

Tomb of the Chosen

Within the tomb are two skeletal figures dressed in rich robes and jeweled turbans seated on stone chairs facing each other. One is kitted in pristine chainmail, a shield with a tree device painted on its face, and a stone-headed hammer (this will be familiar to those examining the bodies at the bottom of the secret well). The second holds a book in his lap with a tree device painted on the cover. (Described below)

The turbans turns to dust when touched, though 300 gp worth of gems can be recovered from each.
Removing the book from the skeletal hands causes a swarm of biting insects to pour, seemingly, from the chest of the skeleton. The swarm forms into a vaguely humanoid form and attacks!

Swarm Guardian: Init +4; Atk Stinging slam +5 (1d3+paralysis); AC 16; HD 5d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Poison (DC 14 Fort or paralyzed for 2d3 turns), dissolve to swarm when “killed”; SV Fort +3, Ref +10, Will -1; AL N.

The swarm guardian is a creature composed of a magical insect swarm. The swarm forms into a humanoid creature about 8’ tall, though the swarm continually shifts and moves to suit the creature’s purpose. When attacking, the swarm guardian strikes with its swarming insect fists delivering a poisonous sting. Those that fail the saving throw are paralyzed for 2d3 turns. When reduced to 0 hit points, the swarm guardian dissolves into 1d3+1 insect swarms (as per the Core Rules)

The Accoutrements of the Grand Holy Ghazi Abdul-Rahman Mukhtar Masoud Salah-al-Din Ahmed

These artifacts were created by the ifrit, Afara, for warrior-priests in its service and include:

  • Shield with Silver Tree Device – The shield provides a +2 AC (total) and weighs only 3 lbs.
  • Chainmail – This extremely light armor weighs as much as leather armor, while providing the protection of chain. Additionally, the wearer receives a +2 to all saves against the power of any god other than Afara and +2 to Fortitude saves due to deprivation.
  • Long-handled Stone Hammer – This weapon can be used one-handed for 1d6+1 damage. When wielded two-handed, the weapon deals 1d8+2 damage. The weapon is considered magical when dealing with opponents only harmed by magical weapons.

Those that choose to bear the Holy Accoutrements are making a holy pact with the ifrit, Afara. Though, until Afara is encountered, there is no outward sign. The artifacts themselves cannot bear to be separated from each other. Each bearer of separated Holy Accoutrements must make a daily DC 13 Will save or be compelled to seek out the other artifacts with the intention of reuniting them. This compulsion causes a -2 to all action dice, saving throw and mental ability checks if the bearer is not actively seeking out the other artifacts.

Those bound to gods opposed to Afara that bear one or more of the Accoutrements receive a cumulative +1 increase to their disapproval range per day. This increase cannot be removed by time or sacrifice, though it resets at a rate of -1 per day that the artifacts are not borne.

When Afara is taken as a patron, the Holy Accoutrements are said to “awaken” with purpose and power. ·         

The Holy Writs of Kalid Sakhr

The sorcerer Kalid Sakhr gathered many of the spells that Afara gifted to his Chosen. These spells may be learned and cast by any wizard or elf, though such actions may incur a mortal debt with the ifrit.
Additionally, the spellbook has an insidious curse. Those carrying the spellbook attract a variety of vermin (insects, rats, bats, etc.). When faced with an attack by such creatures, the bearer of the spellbook is targeted exclusively.
  • Flames of the East Wind (flaming hands with a manifestation of a miniature flame jinn)
  • Farouk’s Guardian (ward portal with the manifestation of a stone jinn blocking the affected portal)
  • Blooms of the Desert (color spray with the manifestation of fresh spring flowers and a wash of damp desert air)
  • Farouk’s Gentle Hand (featherfall with the manifestation of a giant jinn’s hand lowering the caster to safety)
  • Bolt from the Mountain (magic missile with the manifestation of shouted sutras and bolts of crackling force)
  • Hakim’s Mind Numb (forget with standard manifestation)
  • Hakim’s Free Entry (knock with the manifestation of a cloud jinn passing through the portal and opening it)
  • Runelight (note, this is not a spell specific to Afara and is described below)

NOTE: Every turn while in this dungeon, the bearer of the book draws 2d10 rats -- they do not attack, but follow the bearer and attack anything that seems to be threatening. They drift away at a rate of 5 per round after leaving this dungeon. If the bearer enters the True Well (Area 3), hordes of cave insects are drawn to the bearer (including crayfish from the pool) causing a chaotic scene of rats attacking swarms of insects. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

DCC RPG: The Tower Ring

The Tower Ring
Within the musty sack are a handful of bronze coins each green with age and stamped with the head of a bestial humanoid creature, a clay oil lamp surprisingly undamaged and a tarnished pewter ring seemingly stamped with a symbol of a falling tower.

A tower ring is a magical ring created in ancient times for the minions of the sorcerer Ardavos. The sorcerer was not a powerful man, but served a powerful spiritual entity called Xayzen, bringer of dreams. Calling upon Xayzen, Ardavos created several of these artifacts before himself descending into catatonia, his dreams plagued by horrors forevermore. 

Notes on Properties and Effects

  • Roll separately on each table above.
  • Bonuses to Luck, Intelligence and Personality checks do not include Spell Checks, various cleric checks, fumbles/critical hits, or thief skills.
  • Bonuses to Fumble rolls are true bonuses (thus a +1 Tower Ring would lower the Fumble roll by 1).
  • Nightmares require the sleeper to sleep an additional 2 hours each night to become rested. Otherwise, the bearer suffers a -2 to all Action dice, initiative, Intelligence, and Personality checks, and cannot naturally heal.
  • A sleepless character suffers penalties as above on the first day, -4 on the second, and can only move a ½ speed (no other significant actions) on the third.
  • A waking nightmare incurs a -2 to all Action dice, initiative, Intelligence, and Personality checks for 1d3 turns. While experiencing waking nightmares, the victim can only move a ½ normal speed.
  • Project Nightmare allows the bearer to target one sentient creature with waking nightmares (as above). The victim receives a Will save (DC 10 + the bonus of the ring). This requires a full round. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

DCC RPG: Squibs and Rat Things

Squibs and the Rat Things

In my constant search to convert OSR and other RPG content to DCC RPG, I was thinking about the stirge and the were-rat. Were-rats have ever been a favorite of mine, since that evocative image by David Trampier back in the old Monster Manual. Stirges, of course, are just annoying little gits that seem to give even higher level characters fits. 

All of this came about when I was running Barrowmaze for the home crew. Though I don't think stirges occur in an actual encounter, they louse up all the wandering monster tables. So, on the fly, I created squibs as detailed below. Then, on some random table somewhere, as I was crafting the world around Barrowmaze, I rolled up a "dolmen" that was inhabited by were-rats. I really liked the idea, but I didn't feel like were-rats fit DCC -- though a shapeshifting curse fits directly into some of the lore within my campaign world. 

Anyway, this reminded me of a free adventure over at dragonsfoot -- The Corrupt Crypt of Ilmater. It's not a fantastic adventure, but there was something about it that
I liked and it fit into my campaign pantheon. And, it was populated by were-rats. 

So, Ilmater's corrupted crypt became The Corrupt Crypt of Spaeluc. Stirges became Squibs and were-rats became Rat Things... It'll all make sense when you read below...

Rat Things

Rat Things are servants of Epaphro, the Demon Rat of Hell’s Sewers. Those “blessed” by the Demon Rat change into a Rat Thing – a humanoid rat-like creature with a fringe of feelers around the mouth (which is sealed). Each of the tentacle-like feelers has a small mouth crowded with teeth. They may also turn into a squib – a flying rat thing with leathery wings and similar mouth fringes (essentially a stirge with a different coat on).

Those taking more than 50% damage by a Rat Thing’s natural attacks (claw or bite) must make a Fortitude save DC 9 or contract a painful malady – for the next 30 days, the victim cannot sleep properly (no natural healing) because of several minor, but distracting cramps that constantly lodge in the extremities while at rest. During this time, Epaphro haunts the victim’s dreams, essentially casting a forced Patron Bond. A Cure Disease or successful Lay on Hands (4 dice) during this time banishes the curse from the victim’s blood. If the disease is not cured in this time, the victim has become a servant of the Demon Rat. At this point, only a remove curse or similar miracle can cure the victim.

Any time the cursed victim's hit points drop below 50%, he or she must make a Will save (DC 13) or transform into a Rat Thing (75% humanoid form, 25% squib form). A ritual, led by a true adherent to Epaphro and lasting several months, can train the victim to control the transformation. 

Rat Thing: Init +2; AC 13, MV 30, HD 3d8, Atk bite +3 (1d4) or short sword +3 (1d6) ; Act 1d20; SP: Epahro's Blessing, Transformation; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +2; AL C.

Rat things have three forms that they can assume at will: humanoid (depending on their original race), a rat thing hybrid, or a squib (see below). A full transformation takes one full round.

As a humanoid or hybrid, rat things wield normal weapons and armor (note, their AC above assumes studded leather armor and a short sword). In squib form, they attack as described in the squib description below.

In hybrid form, a rat thing appears to be a humanoid naked mole rat with the tentacled feelers of a squib and large black eyes.

Squib: Init +2; AC 13, MV 10; Fly 40', HD 1d4, Atk bite +2 (1d3); Act 1d20; SP: Blood drain; SV Fort +1, Ref -1, Will 0; AL C.

Squibs are creatures that resemble a cross between a star-nosed mole and a naked mole rat...with bat wings. They are about the size of a small dog. When attacking, the squib flies onto its victim and bites with several of its feelers, each equipped with a small, toothy mouth. One attached, the squib drains blood at a rate of 1 per round.

An attached squib may be ripped off of a victim with a successful unarmed attack (to hit an AC 10). This deals 1d3 damage to the victim, though the squib can be crushed to death in one round. There is a 20% chance that the squib is so positioned that the victim may remove the creature, though typically they attach to the back of the victim to avoid such attacks.

NOTE: If the squib is a transformed Rat Thing, it has the HD, attack bonuses and saves of a Rat Thing, as well as Epaphro's Blessing and Transformation abilities.