Friday, 27 February 2015

d100. What's frozen in a block of ice.

‘Driven south to the land of the snow and ice
To a place where nobody's been…’
The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

One minute it was clear blue sky, the next it wasn’t. Don’t ask me where that storm sprang from cos I don’t know… from hell most likely. Little Xanthene was the first to disappear in the white-out, then it was the turn of the Fell brothers. In the end, there was only the two of us left, me and Ink. We survived. Barely. But we did find this though, frozen in a block of ice…’
Gustav Kerr the Myrmidon

01-31 choose one random non-magical item from the equipment list in your player’s handbook
32-62 choose two random non-magical items from the equipment list in your player’s handbook
63 A Narwhal tusk (About 6ft in length, worth at least 500gp to the right collector, but is in fact a spear of +2 vs. Magic Users)
64 A dead rat and a string to swing it with (when swung it will summon 2d10 giant rats that will do the wielders bidding)
65 The severed head of a bearded man (when defrosted around the fire, the head will open its eyes and allow you to ask it one question a day. Answers truthfully 50% of the time)
66 A large red mushroom (when ground down and consumed it wards versus poison as well as giving the imbiber the most pleasant dreams)
67 A small clay horse (written on the base is the word, ‘Perd’. Recite it out loud and it will transform into a full size riding horse that may be ridden like a normal horse for 3d12 turns)
68 An Ice Maiden (After being thawed, she will awaken and act as a NPC to the party. She is equivalent to a fifth level fighter)
69 A Harpoon (Plus +2 vs. Were-Whales and other large sea-creatures)
70 A giant sharks tooth (Cursed item. Player rolls a ‘fumble’ in combat on a 1, 2, or 3)
71 A large frog about the size of your hand (Was a wizards familiar trapped in ice for more than thirty years. Does what a normal familiar does, only better. A +1 to all its interactions with its new owner)
72 A lump of ambergris (worth at least 800gp per kilo. Roll 1d6 to determine its weight. A roll of one equals 1kg etc.)
73 A bosun’s whistle that’s carved from bone (Can be used to control up to ten skeletons. One short blast equals ‘form-up’. Two equals,’ right foot, quick march’. Three equals, ‘Attack’. Four equals ‘Stop’)
74 A Caveman (will join the group as an NPC. Acts as a fighter level 2.  Cannot speak common, but if treated fairly, will do their best to learn and remain with the group.)
75 A small wooden dog (Written on the base is the word, ‘Hond’.  Recite the word aloud and it will transform into a watchdog that will stand guard while the party sleeps. Will return to its normal size at sunrise. Can only be used twice a week, and can only be summoned after the sun has set. It will bark if anyone comes within the 100ft of the group, even if those people/creatures are invisible)
76 The tip of a spear (+2 vs. Frost Giants.  Wielder takes half damage from any spell/action/ability that would deal the wielder damage via frost/cold/freezing etc. A successful save roll means the wielder takes nothing if it already calls for them to take half damage)
77 A map (leads the players to a nearby dungeon containing a fabulous treasure)
78 A quiver of arrows (40% that at least five of them are magical)
79 A severed hand (will obey simple commands, like, ‘Follow’, ‘Stop’, ‘Grab’, or ‘Strangle’)
80 A mask (see this post and roll accordingly)
81 An Albatross with a crossbow bolt through its chest (cursed item, will attach itself to the finders neck by chain. Wearer suffers penalties to everything i.e. combat, movement, saving throws)
82 A Butterfly (owner receives a plus 1 to any save required versus illusions)
83 A jug of honeyed mead (acts as a healing restorative that will take the player back to full hit points. There are 1d6 draughts available in the jug)
84 Iron manacles that are connected to leg and neck restraints (anyone trying to pick the locks on this item do so at -30% to their success roll)
85 A Telescope (when at sea, can be used to see through what would otherwise be an impenetrable fog bank etc.)
86 Jawbone of a donkey (Allows the wielder to talk to fairy folk and other sundry phantasms of the Sidhe ilk)
87 A Mastodon (10% chance it comes alive after thawing process. If so, see the world in style!)
88 A treasure chest (appears empty, false bottom holding 1000gp worth of snow diamonds)
89 A didgeridoo (if played correctly, can be used to summon a magical fire that will warm the players but will disappear at sunrise)
90 A mirror (can be used to read scrolls/parchments/books written in another language. Simply place the item before it and read what it says in the reflection, albeit upside down and left to right)
91 A crystal ball (can be used to talk with spirits once per day, what you discuss is up to you, but be warned, whatever they say is usually a bald faced lie)
92 A box of ship’s biscuits (filling, just one biscuit consumed allows you to go without food for three days. Must still consume liquid though. 24 biscuits in the box)
93 A jade dragonfly (with the word ‘naaldekoker’ written on the bottom, recite word and it will come alive allowing the user to see what it sees for 2 turns. It will follow simple flight instructions like, stop, go, land, left or right)
94 A small spinnaker (when at sea, will summon a wind on a windless day, just enough to get your small vessel going)
95 A spellbook (from another place/time/dimension- contains 1d4 spells from a completely different RPG system than the one you are playing at the moment. Modify so that they fit)
96 A small cauldron (can turn anything into a nutritious meal for two. Sticks/leaves/mud etc. Can be used twice a week)
97 A boomerang (+2 to hit flying birds when out hunting or foraging. This Boomerang is of the returning variety and will come back to the throwers hand)
98 A mandrake (can be used to grow a missing body part, once only. Lost a hand? Tie the mandrake to the area in question and it will begin to grow again, takes 4 weeks for a hand, and six weeks for a leg. Can’t grow a head)
99 An ice axe (adds a +20% when climbing in severe cold/frozen conditions)
100 A pair of snow shoes (can pass through a Wall of Ice without harm, as well as moving through/over snow and ice without penalty)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Ancient Artifacts. One Man's Trash is another Man's Treasure.

‘The fires have all gone out
The furnace has gone unfed
What once glowed red and hateful
Is now cold, cold, ash and dead
Wither the power?
Where has it gone?
Once it was screams of sacrifice
Now it’s naught, but wind-song.’

Arena Tempus (Sand of Time)
 ‘Some scholars proclaim that Time is there to shepherd events to occur in sequence: from past to present to future. While others honour that time is not a solid object, nor an occasion, but a fluid substance, and thus is perfectly malleable, and not as linear as first thought.’ Tempus Edax Rerum

It was with this in mind that Artimes, the Great Architect of the Samonic Brotherhood, gave us his last perfect creation, the Sand Timer. Fashioned with the help of the, ‘men-who-will-not-be-blamed-for-nothing’, the timer is said manipulate the great river itself. Forwards, backwards, even to stay temporarily in place, the Timer does it all. But, as anyone knows, those who parley with powers beyond their ken have a price to pay.  Tampering with the time stream comes at a cost: old age and ruin will befall those that use this item too frequently, no matter whether they go forward or backward in time.
Made from bone, and fired glass, it contains the dark sands of Night’s Plutonium Shore, mixed with the ashes of the Serpent Queen, Boudicca.  Turn it upside down, let the sands flow, and watch as all is altered, albeit for a few fleeting seconds.
(The device works in a completely random fashion for X amount of seconds and can only be used once per week. It will only affect the person holding it and no one else. You would not be able to make a daisy-chain of people holding onto the wielder for example.
 It’s possible to freeze time, to go forward, or back, or nothing can happen at all. The player has no control over this and it is left completely up to the whims of the dice. However, with each successful use of this item, the player will start to lose ability points as if they were aging. Again, this will be random, as will the amount to be penalised with. There is also a possibility that the players may be lost to the sands of time, caught somewhere in time as it were, thus they would be unable to move or interact with the world, paralysed in the time stream while those that they love carry on without them. While moving either back or forward in time, it would be as if you had disappeared from those around you but you would be able to see all that goes on around you.)
1)       Nothing happens
2)       Move forward in time by 1d20 seconds
3)       Move backward in time by 1d20 seconds
4)       Stay precisely where you are, while all around you is frozen for 1d20 seconds. You can step out the time stream and alter what you find e.g. move a potentially fatal sword blow out of the way?
5)       Nothing happens
6)       Move backward in time by 1d10 seconds
7)       Move forward in time by 1d10 seconds
8)       Stay precisely where you are, while all around you is frozen for 1d10 seconds. You can step out the time stream and alter what you find e.g. move a potentially fatal sword blow out of the way?
9)       Nothing happens
10)   Caught! Make a Save vs. Spells or be caught in time.

Successful Use
 Save Vs. Spells. If passed nothing happens. If failed, roll 1d6, with 1 being your first stat and 6 your last (or however many stats you have, just change the dice) then roll a d6. A result of one, two or three then deduct one point, four, five or six then deduct two.
For the DM
Right, there you have it. Blueprints and ideas only. How it plays in your game is up to you. I see it as almost a, Get-out-of-Jail-Free Card for a player, granted it comes at a cost, and, there’s also a chance they could be snared forever in time, but sometimes the risk is worth the reward…it’s up to you.

 The Dues-Ex-Machina (The Machine of the Gods)
It was discovered amidst the ruins of Zambambia (on the continent of Ki’Afra), by the famed explorer, Felonious the Feigned. The Machine of the Gods is reminiscent of a sarcophagus in its shape, splendour and size. However, there is one key difference between the two, whereas the sarcophagus is an elegantly clad coffin for housing a dead god, it’s rumoured that the Machine of the Gods, is a chamber for giving birth to one. Alongside this magnificent ancient item, is a wooden case containing six silver vials of effluvia from the loins of the gods themselves.

Made from a marble that has withstood the ravages of time, the Machine is carved in the shape of a vivacious female figure, large of girth, and abundant of breast,she is  reclining on her side.  A small incision above the belly button is where the vial is to be placed. Once this is done, all the owner of the Machine can do is wait approximately 90 days, before it will birth a fully formed adult being.
  All of this was carefully documented in the wizard’s notes that were found in the smoking rubble of his tower. It seems as if his first ‘creation’ had gone terribly wrong, and instead of birthing someone as magnificent as Herculat or even Orpheum, the ancient Machine spawned a monster that quickly destroyed everything, and everyone around it. It disappeared into the bustling harbour town of Utrecht before vanishing for ever. It seems as if the Machine has also gone; maybe to the Princes of Galantri? Or even further afield, over the Teeth, to the court of the D’Ambervilles? It is well known that Felonious courted royalty for their patronage, perhaps they came to collect? In the right hands, the Machine could be an instrument of wonder, in the wrong hands however, it could be an instrument of slaughter…
(Obviously, having characters gain access to a machine that pops out gods, and supposedly lets you control them, would be milieu destroying for all referees out there, not to mention the inflation it might do to their players ego… because,’ Dude…I control a GOD! A Golden GOD! He polishes my armour and everything!’ would just be insufferable….so, bearing this in mind, I propose that all the contents of the vials are corrupted, and that the machine was actually built to birth an army of slavish Giants called Nephilim, not Gods, and the Nephilim were then used to fight for whomever controlled the Machine. (You could possibly have the Nephilim come and look for it the moment it’s used?)

However, it’s also rumoured that placing one’s own blood into the Machine, will not only create another you, physically, but also mentally. It would be as if there were two of you running around, sort of like a permanent Mirror Image. You don’t have to stop at one either. You would share a Hive-Mind as it were, working as one.  If one takes damage, you all do, but they can operate independently of you. This however, should come with a caveat before the player becomes too powerful… For every one created, there is a 85% chance, rolled by the DM, that the carbon copy develops homicidal tendencies and will stop at nothing to kill the ‘original’ so that it may be free of its/your control.  At no point should the Machine be the ultimate Healing potion. It should go wrong for the players at every conceivable turn. You could ramp up the paranoia levels to the extreme and get the party thinking they are all out to get one another when it is in fact their creation/s plotting their downfall.
No magic item is ever fool proof or player proof, so what would happen if one of them climbed inside? I’m glad you asked, because believe me, one of them WILL try. When it happens (not if) they will be teleported to the inside of another one that’s located in the area of your choice, and, controlled by the people of your choice. Maybe they become beholden/controlled to another group of adventures?

If the players decide on using the vials, roll on the following chart. Whatever is birthed/created, becomes not just a Lizardman (for example) but THE Lizardman. Strong, clever, functionally better at everything than his normal species type would be. She/he could possibly be under the group’s control, or maybe not, or maybe, it gives the illusion that it is working for the group. That’s up to you. In my games, the creation gives the illusion that all is well, but actually, it’s just waiting to kill them.
1)      Nothing emerges from the smoke and noise…
2)      Lizardman
3)      Giant Spider
4)      Goblin
5)      Owl Bear
6)      Giant Snake
7)      Carrion Crawler
8)      Hill Giant
9)      Orc
10)   Berserker
11)   Halfling
12)   Kitsune
13)   Ogre
14)   Elf
15)   Nephilim (Frost Giant stats)
16)   Mothman
17)   Giant Fly or Fly-man perhaps?
18)   Naga
19)   Minotaur
20)   Flesh Golem
Despite these being mostly creatures, because of their high intelligence, they should be able to communicate with the party by some means.

Occam’s Lenses
Just as Occam’s razor allows one to sort the wheat from the theoretical chaff, Occam’s Lenses, allows one to see in various ways.  Occam was a theorist, physician, watch maker, and keen modeller, who built his now famous set of lenses to assist his ailing eyes.  However, due to his countless years of gainful employ at Hamlet’s Mill, old Meneer Occam, was imbued with more than just a smattering of dweomering.

 Not only does Occam’s lenses allow you to spy those who would remain invisible, but one can sharpen ones focus and magnify what is before you nearly one thousand times over. Grains of sand now become the size of pebbles, and the humble (yet irritating) flea, as large as a house cat. All it takes to do this is use the adjustments located on the side of the lenses. The wearer can also see in complete darkness, as if they were blessed with dwarf sight.
When a mage uses the lenses to transcribe a scroll to his spellbook, because of the sharpness of focus, it takes but a single day to do so, instead of the weeks that it usually takes. No matter the level of spell, it takes but a single day to copy it across into their spellbook only, no one else’s.
When a thief uses these lenses to disarm traps/detect for traps, count them as operating as a 15th level thief, instead of what they actually are. Once they are of the same level as what the lenses allow, they get a re-roll on any failed throws for these skills. They must use the second roll, regardless of the result.
If in the hands of a gem-cutter, add an extra 40% value to what they would normally be able to get for their cut gems.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Loot & Scoot. Killing Is My Business, And Business Is Good. Damn Their Eyes & Pass the Brown M&M’s!

I run a monthly AD&D game for my friends, and because of this, I try and make it an occasion for my players. Those of you that have seen my table can attest to this. But our last game I thought I would do something different, something…simple. If we were a band then this session would be our unplugged album instead of our usual full-on, theatrical world tour complete with smoke, lasers, dancing Ewoks, and a stage rider FULL of brown M&M’s.
 Why the sudden change I hear the crowd, roar? Well, because I wanted that night to be just plain and simple and fun. Nothing more, nothing less.
 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying our regular games aren’t a barrel of laughs, they are,  I swear, but that night I wanted us to be KISS… KISS without the makeup. Why? So we could just focus on the music for a change instead of the show.
 It’s partly my fault.  I tend to get caught up a few days before the game and create these fekkin’ elaborate missions and set pieces, and then I sit there trying my hardest to make sure that everyone else is having fun, that I forget to have fun myself.
So, as I said, this night was different. I bought some large bits of cardboard, colour-copied some dungeon tiles, gathered all my Hirst/Warhammer/LOTR bits-and-bobs and made a huge dungeon for them to go through. I pulled out all my Mantic/LOTR/Reaper miniatures and went to town. We had Beholders, Serpent Gods, Zombies by the score, Statues breathing fire, and Statues breathing cold, to name but a few.
The premise was simple: Seven Keys need to be collected for them to enter the Tomb of the Foreign God. Each key was around the neck of a Boss type creature that they had to slay to get the key. Every room had a monster, every corridor a trap, it was Hack and Slash in its purest form. And? It was glorious.
Everyone knew where they stood from the outset because I told them that it was going to be ‘Loot & Scoot’, nothing more complicated than that. If it moves? Beat it. If it sparkles? Take it. If it looks like a trap? It probably is. I also let them roll for their own treasure using Kelvin Green’s really cool Drop Table. My players had never seen one before so there was the added excitement of that as well. I rolled in the open too, and that really made them sit up and take notice. 
The result of that night? Well, it was carnage on both fronts. The thief got sneak-attacked by a vampire of my own creation and lost four points of intelligence. We lost a fighter/squire to a Crypt-Keeper, (a level draining Mummy type beastie) who also managed to drain two entire levels from the ranger as well as the already maimed thief. 
One of the mages went off wandering where he shouldn’t have been wandering, and woke what shouldn’t have been woken. It slithered, cast a sleep spell, and is about to eviscerate him, oh, and I almost forgot, I used my Mask Table. I rolled, and they found the Mask of the Whipping Boy. This promptly got stuck on Felonious’ face for a joke… well, let’s just say that no one’s laughing now!

In short? A great time was had by all, and I felt that I got to relieve a little steam from the pressure cooker. You couldn’t do this for every session because you’d just get bored with it, but for once in a while? I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

If you go down to the woods today... you're sure of a big surprise.

“If you go down to the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You'd better go in disguise…”

I enjoy coming up with interesting places and people. So far we’ve been to Swamp City, Nazawrath, and met with the Midnight Ramblers. This week we’re off to the forests for some arboreal adventures and to listen to the songs from the wood. Ramble on!

Bestiary and Persons of Interest

More apex-predator than bucolic forest dweller, the Ghillies are unparalleled in stalking, hunting, and killing. If by the off chance you walk into some while traipsing through the woods, they are never surprised, ever. In turn, they always surprise, 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter how many rangers you have in the party, no one ever sees a Ghillie coming. In combat they favour bows and short blades, seldom using long swords or weapons of that ilk because they prefer to do their killing silently. They craft their arrow points from bone, and their stabbing/slashing weapons from flint and antler. They clothe themselves in the colours and the materials of the forest thus making them nigh impossible to spot. They use a plethora of poisons on their blades and arrows, ranging from the relatively benign to the downright deadly. Class all movement as silent, and visibility as if they were garbed like elves in their wooded environs. Because of their stealth and use of their natural environment, treat the first time they strike an opponent as if their enemy had been successfully backstabbed, even if the Ghillie was attacking from the front.

It’s rumoured they operate under impunity granted by the Arch-Druid himself, and are in essence assassins under his druidic control. They never attack without provocation though, and prefer to lay waste to bands of marauding orcs, goblins, bandits or anything else that may cause the forest and her inhabitants harm. However, if they feel cornered, or in any way threatened, they will attack. They sometimes perform bodyguard duties to high ranking Druids who have business far from their own forest holds.

They weave no spells, instead they rely on their natural skills and abilities of tracking and hunting that have been passed down from generation to generation. They are a nomadic peoples the Ghillie, preferring to spend each night in a different place, leaving before the sun rises. The Ghillie are rare, no one is very sure just how many there are in the realm, nor are they sure of their exact make up. They never mix with anyone else save the Druids, and the Druids are forbidden to speak of them. They are a mystery the Ghillie, a window into an older time, because surely, these primordial forest children were there when the first acorn was planted?
The Ghillie can be found in any forest, wood, wald, or woud there is. It’s not known if they use anything for transportation except their own feet, but they travel light and rely on the forest for food, shelter and medicine. Their language is not known outside of Ghillie or Druidic circles and they can also communicate in their own version of Thieves Cant. They also make fiendish traps to ward off people from areas that they would see protected.
Ghillie Spike Trap
For every ten Ghillie encountered, one will be at least a fifth level fighter. For every thirty Ghillie you come across there will be two fifth level fighters and one eighth level. Just who is in charge is anyone’s guess, and it’s said that men and women can lead a pack of Ghillie, they make no distinction between the sexes, and even the very youngest fight as a level 1 warrior. It’s said that those that survive an attack by the Ghillie are offered up in bloody sacrifice to Herne the Hunter, Protector- Deity of the forests. They also worship the Jack-in-the-Green, and are always a part of the Ceremony of the Green Slumber. (More on this below)
Ghillie Man-Trap
As far as treasure is concerned, they have no use for shiny coins or gaudy baubles, and these will be scattered around the corpses of the fallen as a mark of disrespect to their vanquished foes. They communicate with forest animals and use them to pass word from one group to another. They prefer dealing with badgers and squirrels for short distance message carrying, and crows for anything more than several leagues.

Jack in the Green
‘Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree
 in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty, acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground
signals the snowdrops it's time to grow.
It's no fun being Jack-In-The-Green
no place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier
And carries the green flag all the winter long.’

A rare and powerful guardian of the forest, the Jack in the Green is a sworn protector of all that live there. Incredibly tall, incredibly strong, he answers to no one, not even the druids. Jack is, as Jack does, and gods protect you, if you get on his bad side. Jack never dies, and Jack never sleeps, instead he patrols the forest for hours on end ensuring that all is well in his realm. He uses the birds and the beasts as his eyes and ears and he utilises the special skills of the Ghillie where needs be. Jack is a living thing, created from the flora of the Slumbering Green, and were his physical form ever damaged, or destroyed, it is to the Slumbering Green he returns to await the cycle of rebirth. While in this state, the Ghillie set watch in the Glade of Shadows where this magical transformation takes place. When in combat, Jack summons Tree-Kin, Ghillies and Swathe Elementals to his aide, as well as the regular denizens of the forest. He uses the grass, roots and trees to Entangle his foes, then douses them in Faerie Fire for added effect. Jack casts druidic spells as if he were a fifth level druid but prefers to duke it out old school. Jack can meld with the Root Mind of the living world, and travel vast distances to where he is needed most. He will sink into the earth and reappear wherever there is plant life.

Wildman of the Woods
Not much is known about the Wildman, except that he is shy and will do anything to avoid being seen. We know he exists, because the famed ranger, Greenslade Fane, has been studying them for years. Males stand between 8-10 feet tall, while the females are only marginally smaller. They tend to live in caves in the forest, near a source of fresh running water. They hibernate in the winter. Their diet consists of berries, roots and very occasionally meat, but this is the exception rather than the rule. They weigh around 350 pounds and one swat from their ham-sized hands would be enough to break your neck. If you see one coming, better turn the other way. They are peaceful for the most part, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Herne the Hunter

“Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.”
William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

A woodland deity, bloody, bold and resolute. He is primal savagery given flesh, and, just like nature, he is red in tooth and claw. Clad in a helm of antlers, wearing armour of bone, and wielding a sword of ice, the Hunter and his pack of hounds stalk the wilds in search of wrongdoers to punish for their misdeeds, no matter how slight those wrongs may be. All transgressions are met with swift punishment, the severity thereof depends on Herne’s whim. Sometimes they would pay with their life, sometimes with the promise to do something for the horned hunter. Whenever the gods would track someone across any of the plains of existence, it is Herne they set on their quarry. He is a master tracker that sees all, not even invisibility could work against him and his hounds. Herne also ushers in the change in the seasons, and his celestial passing is tracked with great interest by the druids, who use their dolmens and standing stones to great effect. Lustful and wild the one moment, slothful and melancholy the next, Herne is a true servant of the Great Cycle.
The Hounds of Winter

“I still see her face
As beautiful as day
It's easy to remember
Remember my love that way
All I hear is that lonesome sound
The Hounds of Winter
They harry me down…”

Great hounds, massive beasts with tongues and breathe of wintery cold with flanks the hue of fallen snow, and their eyes! Their eyes are as blue as the icicles that hang from the boughs of the World Tree, and they sparkle and flash like lightning out of a vaulted winter sky. In addition to the terrible damage wrought by their sharp claws (1d8) and fearsome bite (1d10) they can breathe out gouts of frost (1d12) that will slow their opponent. Like Herne, they are keen hunters and nothing escapes their keen sense of sight, or smell. Not even being invisible can shake these dread hounds from your tail.

The Green Knight
A burly Knight of the Wood who journeys far and wide teaching the uninitiated in the ways of Chivalry and Honour, (and some say stupidity) through his use of the ancient ‘Beheading Game’. The Green Knight approaches those in need of the lesson more than most, and proposes that if they are brave enough, they may cut his head from his shoulders using his emerald axe. Not many take the Green Knight up on his bizarre offer because the caveat is as follows: that the Green Knight will return in a year and a day to do the same to them. If the player accepts the dare then he will indeed sever the Green Knights head from his massive shoulders, but the knight will not die, instead, he will pick his bloody head up by the hair, and say through his now bloodless lips, that he shall return in a year and a day to collect on his bargain. And so, no matter what happens, he will return, and if the person refuse to kneel and stretch their neck before him, they will be cut down and killed where they stand. However, if they acquiesce, then they are spared the fate of a beheading. Just what the lesson is in all of this is lost on most scholars, but the most famous player of this ‘game’ was Sir Gawain of Arthurian Legend.

Swathe Elementals
The fury of the forest given form. The swathe elemental can only be summoned by Jack in the Green, or by Herne the Hunter. Not even the Arch Druid has access to such mighty creations. Unlike most elementals, they are far from stupid, and do not resent being summoned to do their Master’s bidding. When angry, they appear like a large tree covered with snapping, thorn filled branches, as well as long vines for entangling and strangling their foes. When at ease, they appear as a human carved from wood, resting in the shade of a tree. There is no duration to how long a swathe elemental may walk the earth, only being dispelled by their creator will send them back to the Slumbering Green. So, they could be set to watch a particular area in the forest for many years without anyone being the wiser. They can only be struck by weapons of magic, and fire does double damage to them. When reduced to one hp or less, the life-blood of the swathe elemental is jettisoned into the ground through its roots to give life to the Slumbering Green, if it is needed, so, in essence, they never die, they are recycled and thus go onto to feed the next one.

The Vagabond King
A charismatic chap who rambles the greensward in search of easy marks. He does not use violence though, and abhors killing, much preferring to knock someone unconscious with his blackjack than stab someone with his dagger. He likes to target fat, slothful, merchants and bankers who have more than they could possibly spend. He travels with four extremely viscous Halflings though, who have no compunction about killing. Their names are Neeps, Tatties, Kith and Kin. The Vagabond King has to give them extra shares of the loot to sway their killing hands. He only keeps them by his side as he swore a dying oath to their mother. Were it not for that, he would be glad to see the last of their little bloodthirsty backs. There is a high bounty for the King, and an even higher one for his pack of feral Halflings, and the forest is littered with the bodies of those who have tried to collect, and failed. Be careful when you meet the King and his Halflings, you never know how it may go.

Oddities & Rarities

Chapel in the Green
An ancient place that was old when the lands were young. Many have worshipped here over the years, and the gods to which the chapel has been dedicated to, number in the thousands. It is a holy place, but it was built in honour of the Slumbering Green, as opposed to a god. There is always a caretaker set to guard the chapel and offer succour to those that need it. Once a person is inside the chapel, no bad deed can be performed there because of the overwhelming goodness of the Slumbering Green, and thus, this turns an evil mind who would hurt, to one that would help. Once such a person leaves the Chapel, that initial sense of euphoria and wellbeing will fade away, leaving the chaotic person somewhat dazed and confused. The caretaker is bound to house, feed and heal anyone who needs it, and will gladly accept any donations that the party (or persons) will make. Unbeknownst to nearly everyone, (except the caretaker) there is a swathe elemental right outside the front door that will aid the caretaker and the chapel if need be. If a person were to spend the night and pay a small tithe, they would receive a plus one to all their Saving Throws for that evening, and the following day.

Sword in the Stone
A moss covered boulder that does indeed have a sword sticking out of it. There is a motif of a sleeping dragon carved into the stone. The sword is a permanent illusion though, and it will disappear the moment someone tries to grab it, and draw it forth. However, that being said, let the players roll percentage dice, and, if one of them rolls a 1% then the sword is indeed real! It is Caliburn, a sword of legend. A longsword of +3/+5 vs. Dragons. It will vibrate and hum whenever a dragon is near. The wielder will automatically take only half damage from dragons’ breath and is immune to its charm.

The Hop
That’s what happens every seventh day, the people of the forest gather right after sunset to listen to music, swop stories, and generally catch up with all the news. The entertainment is provided by a singing group called The Beetles, which are famous throughout the greenbelt. The get-together is called a Hop, in honour of a type of dance that is performed to the music.

The Trees of Cloth
A tradition to mark the passing of a loved one, a piece of the deceased’s hair, or clothing is tied to a tree and left. It is done to ensure that the soul of their loved one makes the journey to the other side successfully. It is bad luck to remove any item of clothing from any of the trees.

The Trees of Coin
Unanswered prayers? Well head to the Tree of Coin to remedy that. When you feel that things are just not going your way, drive a coin into the boughs of the Tree of Coins, say aloud what it is that you are looking for, then leave. Hopefully your luck will change for the better. You may only hammer in one coin per new moon. It goes without saying that taking from the Tree of Coin would be a bad, bad, thing. The kind of thing that might even get you on Herne’s bad side if you were ever to cross paths.

Random Encounters/Plot Hooks

You stumble across the slain bodies of several centaurs. A local druid beseeches your help in tracking down, and bringing to justice, their killer.

A Dryad spirit has been kidnapped by an evil entity that has set up home in the forest. Find out what it is, destroy it, and help the Dryad back to its kind.

Bear with a sore head
A bear is seemingly responsible for several fatal attacks in the past few weeks. Find out what’s going on.
A prince has escaped his tyrannical father and fled to the forest. Help guide the boy to his mother, the queen, without being caught by the Kings bloodthirsty bondsmen.

I’m not really one to mix Sci-Fi with my Fantasy, but I couldn’t resist a nod to E.T. Help a group of Greys find their friend who disappeared over a week ago while exploring  the forest. Perhaps he was captured by an evil witch? If she gets her warty little hands on any of his alien technology, she could become damn near unstoppable.

Sit back and listen to the songs from the wood.           
Lost and VERY far from home.

Monday, 9 February 2015

1d20 Gypsy Curses. Thinner...


I am in the middle of a Stephen King reread, so, after reading ‘Thinner’ this weekend, I figured I’d whip up some Gypsy curses that would make Taduz Lemke proud. A 1d20 chart of gypsy curses with their explanations beneath. I mostly play First Ed AD&D, but any DM with chops can melt it down to their own system of choice, besides, I don’t go into too much detail anyway. It’s up to the DM to determine how much of an irritant they are going to be. The only real pain in the arse with curses are clerics. They come along, snap their fingers, and Hey Presto, curse removed. You need to find a way around it or it’s no fun at all. In the book, the main character can never destroy the curse, all he can do is give it to someone else. So in essence, the curse is never vanquished, it just becomes a hellish chain letter which spreads from person to person. I like that, so I think that’s how I’m going to play it. To make it even tougher, the curse can only be given to someone that they know/love/respect, and not just some random stranger they pass in the street. You could also make these into a minor plot point because they now have to go off and break the curse. Anyway, here you go:

1.       Shock
Any time the player would touch anything metal, they will be given a short, sharp, shock that will deal 1-3 hp Dmg. This will happen every 1d4 rounds. So, if the player goes for a sword with a metal handle, Bzzzt they get shocked, however, if it has leather wrapped around the handle they should be fine, until they accidently touch the cross guard … Also, this will make wearing metal armour a near death experience, unless of course they are fully clothed beneath it and no part of their skin is touching it. If someone would deal them damage with a metallic weapon, on an exposed piece of skin, they will still take Shock damage. Also, because of the Shock, the player’s hair turns white.
2.       Feast
The player will be constantly hungry, stomach growlingly hungry and will stop at nothing to fill the empty void, even stealing from their friends and looting through their backpacks. If in a village/town/city the player will think nothing of spending all their treasure on food. While in this state they are pretty much useless as every waking second is consumed with looking for it, talking about it, thinking about it, and finally, eating it.
3.       Saint/Sinner
Once a day the player will find themselves doing something completely out of character, so much so, that there will be a gradual shift in alignment to the opposite of what they are when the curse first struck them. A true neutral could go either way, that’s up to the DM. So, if the player is notoriously tight-fisted with their cash, the next time they are in a town they could donate it all to the local orphanage. In turn, if a player is known for their generosity, they might actually break into the orphanage to see what money they could steal.
4.       Thinner
For a good idea on how this plays out, read the book. But, in a nutshell, the player will begin to lose weight rapidly, shedding massive amounts of fat daily. Armour will no longer fit and will in fact be more of a hindrance than a help. Every week the PC will lose a Constitution point until dead.
5.       Heat
The Player begins to sweat, excessively. If they were consuming one water-skin a day, then for the first week that doubles, and in the second week, doubles again. They will need to find somewhere to store all the excess skins or hire more people to help carry them. Also, wearing anything more than a robe will be impossible. They have to try and remain cool at all cost. Because of the excess heat and sweat, there is a 20% chance per round, that when in combat, they will drop their weapon.
6.       Coin
Once the player has been given their share of the loot, and anytime they want to try and spend it on something, they will find that whatever coin they try and use will turn to copper, or a type of metal that is completely worthless. While the coins are in their possession they are normal, gold, silver etc. But as soon as they’re not, they’ll change. Also, whomever they are trying to give them too, will see the change and will no longer be interested in doing business with them.
7.       Dull
Whenever this player handles an edged weapon (anything that has a sharp bit, or a pointy bit is fair game, from swords to spears to arrows) they become dull and lose their edge, to the tune of a -1 to damage. Each week thereafter will be worse, just how bad is up to you. If the player wields a mace or a stave, or anything considered to already be dull, there is a 20% per combat that the weapon will break.
8.       Teeth
Starts slowly at first, but become progressively worse. Loses 1d4 teeth the first week, 1d6 six the next and so it goes until they are all gone. Big changes to the players eating habits, speech patterns, and also, if they are spell-casters, there will be problems with the verbal component of their spells. Possibly include a failure roll to see if they get the spell off as intended?
9.       Miss
They slowly lose their ability to hit with ranged weapons. At first it’s say a, -1 to hit, then -2 etc. Until they couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with their helmet from six feet away.
10.   Clumsy
Tripping over their own feet at every turn, dropping weapons when they need them the most. Butterfingers extraordinaire and born with two left feet. Penalties to their dexterity will apply over time, making them easier to hit, not because their armour is weakened, but because they are so clumsy they fall into harm’s way. If the character is of the Thief persuasion then they will revert back to first level thief statistics with a huge penalty levelled against them.
11.   Doze
Nods off at the most inopportune times, like when you’re crossing a rope bridge over a river of lava for example.  Find the most exciting time for it, then let the player make a Saving Throw versus Spells ( no bonuses need apply) then have them roll a d10 for how many rounds they’ll be asleep.
12.   Blood, Sweat and Tears
Blood seeps from the skin, tears from the eyes, and sweat drips from their brow…constantly. Makes it uncomfortable to see, and of course be seen. Leak 2hp per day until death takes them.
13.   Hooves
Seen the Foley engineer clip-clopping coconuts together to mimic the sound of a horses hooves? Well, walk in silence no more! Every time you move, it sounds like a shoed horse on stone. Clip-clop. The fun never stops.
14.   Jump
I came to get down, I came to get down…So get out your seats and jump around… Jump around around…Jump up, jump up and get down. Jump, jump, jump, jump…. Jump around. Non-Stop.
15.   Goth
Complexion becomes pale. Develops allergies to sunlight and garlic. Holy Water burns as if the player was un-dead. Lose their reflection, cannot be seen in mirrors or any other reflective surface. Cannot pass over running water. Is a vampire for all intents and purposes, with none of the special abilities, just the weaknesses.
16.   Rot
As if they had been touched by a Mummy. It will manifest in 1d4 days however, and the grave rot will claim 1d6 hp per day. Also, limbs and appendages will fall off too, starting with the nose.
17.   Silence
Cannot speak, not even above a whisper. Nothing comes out except freshly hatched flies. Will impact on spell-casters casting verbal spells, those spells will be off the menu until the curse is broken.
18.   Goblins
Goblins is dungeon slang for the runs. So that’s how the character will spend their days, running around looking for a toilet.
19.   Moth
Drawn slavishly to naked flames, like torches or campfires etc. Once there, they will run their hands through the flame, doing 1d4 hp Dmg to themselves until restrained or someone puts the flame out.
20.   Fear

The player becomes scared of their own shadow.  Treat every encounter with any HD creature as if it had the Fear special ability.