Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Writing an OSR(?) game from memory, Part 4: Encumbrance, exploration, encounters, combat, morale

This is a lot harder than I thought it would be and, as usual, I'm losing interest. Perhaps I shall make one last valiant effort to complete the Men & Magic portion of the rules.


Encumbrance

Encumbrance represents the effect of weight carried. In general, the starting tools, sundries, and worn armor carried into the dungeon or wilderness are not weighed and tallied but weapons, additional armor, and any items acquired during expeditions ARE tallied.

Weights cause characters to move more slowly: For characters wearing armor, use the worst of the two movement values below (for example, a character wearing plate but carrying less than 50 lbs has a combat speed of 30')
Weight Carried | Combat Speed | Exploration Speed
less than 50 lbs | 40' | 120'
50-100 lbs | 30' | 90'
101-150 lbs | 20' | 60'
151-200 lbs | 10' | 30'
more than 200 lb* | 5' | 15'
*The referee may rule that certain weights or unwieldy masses allow no movement whatsoever.

Encounters & Exploration

Time is the essential factor of the game. The referee should obtain a calendar of some sort to track days, weeks, and months accurately. Smaller, but no less important, units of time include the round (1 minute) and the turn (10 minutes). Rounds are mostly used to track time in combat while turns are used to track exploration. It is assumed that a party will move as fast as its slowest member in order to maintain formation and defense; if a full retreat is being enacted then no such compulsion exists.

Encounters (Wandering Monsters)
For every two turns spent exploring, there is a 1-in-6 chance that a random encounter will occur. These encounters may be native monsters, invaders, or other adventurers. The monster will be up to 2d6x10 feet away in dungeons or yards in the wilderness; randomly determine its point of entry, ignoring illogical routes such as the empty room the party just left. Note that more encounters can occur during combats due to either third parties or reinforcements.

Surprise
If the party does not have lights in the dungeon or is in the wilderness during active hours, both sides have a 2-in-6 chance of being surprised.
If the party does have lights  in the dungeon or is in the wilderness during resting hours, the encounter only has a 1-in-6 chance to be surprised while the party has the normal 2-in-6 chance of being surprised.
The referee may rule that particularly large, reckless, or conspicuous groups have no chance of surprising opponents. Surprised opponents are essentially helpless for one round. Note that some enemies will have reduced or increased chances of being surprised based on other factors: If the Knights of The Fang know the party is the west wing of Castle Carmine, they only have a 1-in-6 chance of being surprised upon finding the party; if the know the party is trapped in the Anti-Temple, the Knights will not be surprised; and if the party some manages to out with the Knights and encounters the neophytes performing cursory duties in the East Wing they have a 3-in-6 chance of being surprised.

Reactions
Not all encounters, even those between Lawfuls and Chaotics, need be combat. In some cases, a reaction will be obvious; Retainers of the Baronet who sponsors the party should have no reason to attack unless they or the party are traitors; Hobgoblins have no reason to be friendly and every reason to attack a party who has penetrated their warrens. When the referee has no strong idea of how an encountered character will react, he should roll below, applying the reaction modifier of the party member with the highest Charisma (unless the party wishes to nominate someone else as their "face").

2d6 | Reaction | Possible Actions
2-3| Hostile | Attack, offer horrible deal
4-5| Unfriendly | Insult, draw weapons, offer bad deal
6-7| Indifferent | Ignore, offer normal deal
8-9 | Unsure | Observe, retreat, hide
10-11| Friendly | Non-combat aid, offer good deal
12| Helpful | Combat aid, offer great deal

The referee may wish to make adjustments to the reaction roll based on biases: An anti-cleric may not immediately attack a cleric but it will sour his demeanor, while a judicator may put a whole party to the sword due the presence of an anti-cleric.

Combat

Combat Structure
Combat is joined when the party attacks or is attacked. The order of combat is as follows:
S1. Determine surprise
S2. Unsurprised sides declare actions
S2a. Roll initiative (1d6) for each unsurprised side if there are multiple; the highest scoring side acts first
S3. Unsurprised movement occurs
S4. Unsurprised ranged attacks occur
S5. Unsurprised spells occur
S6. Unsurprised melee attacks occur
S7. Once all unsurprised sides have acted, normal combat begins
1. All sides declare actions
2. Roll initiative (1d6) for each side; the highest scoring side acts first
3. Movement occurs
4. Ranged attacks occur
5. Spells occur
6. Melee attacks occur
7. Repeat until slaughter, surrender, ceasefire, or retreat

Morale & Loyalty
Even among monsters, few will fight to the death. Monsters have morale while henchmen have loyalty: Both are fundamentally the same.
Monsters check morale when 30% or more of their group are dead or if they only have 30% or less hp remaining; they will flee if possible or surrender if unable.
Henchmen check loyalty when 30% or more of their party are dead, if they only have 30% or less hp remaining, or if their leader is reduced to 25% or less hp; they will flee if possible or surrender if unable. Henchmen automatically fall loyalty checks if their leader dies.
To check morale or loyalty, roll 2d10: If the result is equal or lower then the character acts normally.
As always, the referee may modify morale scores to reflect circumstances: A group who knows there is no escape and that they will be killed even if they surrender is likely to fight to the last.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Writing an OSR(?) game from memory, Part 3: Equipment

A much shorter post this time. I'll probably break spells into two posts.


Equipment

Characters start with 3d6x10 gold pieces (gp). 10 gp weigh 1 lb.
1 gold piece = 10 silver pieces (sp) = 100 copper pieces (cp)

Melee Weapons
Weapon | Cost | Weight |Special
Axe  | 10 gp | 8 lb | Can be thrown up to 10'
Club | 2 gp | 6 lb | Made of wood
Dagger | 3 gp | 1 lb | Can be thrown up to 10', easily concealed, short reach
Greatsword | 20 gp | 15 lb | +2 damage, must be wielded with both hands
Mace | 8 gp | 8 lb | -
Spear | 9 gp | 8 lb | Double damage if hitting a charging target, can be used to attack from the second rank
Staff | 2 gp | 5 lb | Made of wood
Sword | 8 gp | 7 lb | -

Ranged Weapons
Weapon | Cost | Weight | Range | Special
Bow | 10 gp | 7 lb | 100' | Requires two hands to nock and shoot
-10 arrows | 1 gp | 1 lb
Crossbow | 15 gp | 12 lb  | 50' | +2 to damage, takes one round to reload
-10 bolts | 1 gp | 1 lb
Sling | 5 sp | 0.5 lb | 50' | Can be "fired" with one hand
-10 stones | 1sp* | 0.5 lb
*Cost to hire someone else to find stones. A character may instead spend 1 turn searching for stones, which will find 1d4-1 (0-3) usable stones.

Armor
Armor type | AC | Weight | Movement
None | 9 | - | 40' per round / 120' per turn
Leather | 7 | 10 lb | 40' per round / 120' per turn
Chain | 5 | 25 lb | 30' per round / 90' per turn
Plate | 3 | 60 lb | 30' per round / 90' per turn
Shield | * | 5 lb | - |  -
*Shields improve AC by 1 point; no armor + shield = AC 8, leather + shield = AC 6, etc.

Other equipment and tools
Item | Cost | Weight | Notes
Backpack | 5 gp | 2 lb | Can hold about 40 lb/400 coins Candle | 1 cp | - | Illuminates 10' radius, 5-in-6 chance to be blown out by strong wind, etc.
Hammer | 1 sp | 1 lb | -2 to hit and damage
Holy symbol | 1 sp | 0.5 lb | Used by clerics, shamans, and anti-clerics
Holy water | 10 gp | 0.5 lb | Deals 2d6 to undead and demons, delays onset of regular diseases for 1d6 days and supernatural diseases for 1d6 turns Iron spike | 1 sp | 1 lb | -2 to hit and damage
Lantern | 1 gp | 2 lb | Illuminates 30' radius, 1-in-6  chance to be blown out by strong wind, etc.
Manacles | 10 gp | 5 lb | Includes keyPole, 10' | | 10 lb | Can be used as a weapon with -2 to hit and damage
Rations, iron | 3 sp | 2 lb | Enough cured food to last 1 day, 1-in-6 chance to distract intelligent monsters if dropped
Rations, trail | 3 sp| 2 lb | Enough fresh food to last 1 day, 1-in-6 chance to distract unintelligent monsters if dropped
Rope, 50'  | 1 gp | - | Can hold up to 300 lb if properly secured
Sack, large | 1 gp | 1 lb | Can hold about 20 lb/200 coins
Sack, small | 2 sp | 0.5 lb | Can hold about 10 lb/100 coins
Torch | 1 sp | 1 lb | Illuminates 30' radius, 3-in-6 chance  to be blown out by strong wind, etc.
Wheelbarrow | 10 gp | 20 lb | Can hold about 200 lb/2000 coins, requires two hands to push

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Writing an OSR(?) game from memory, Part 2: Races, classes

The project continues. Aplogies for the terrible blogger formatting. I'm noticing this is a bit stream-of-consciousness. I can't really remember the specifics of XP, saves, and spell tables so expect a lot of discrepancies to pop up.



Races:
Races are somewhat akin to species. Races are broadly categorized into humans (us), demi-humans (dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings), and humanoids (goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs)

Man
Men (and women) are typical examples of humankind.
Racial languages: Common
Extra languages: Dragon, dwarven, elven, goblin, kobold, giant, orcish, sylvan
Powers: None
Typical alignment: Neutral (with notable outliers)
Classes & level limits: All classes, no level limits

Dwarf/Gnome
Short, human-like creatures with great beards (for males) or great manes (for females). Dwarves are stocky, live in mountains, and hate goblins; gnomes are thin , live in hills, and hate kobolds.
Racial languages: Dwarven and common
Extra languages: Giant, goblin, kobold
Powers: Infravision 30' range (they can see in grayscale but only in total darkness), 1-in-6 chance of automatically detecting hidden stonework features, dips, rises, or other details in rock, +1 to hit and damage against goblins (dwarves)/kobolds (gnomes).
Typical alignment: Lawful
Classes & level limits: Fighting-man 7; cleric 5 (dwarves only); magic-user 5 (gnomes only)

Elf
Lithe, human-like creatures with pointed ears. Elves usually live in or near forests.
Racial languages: Elven and common
Extra languages: Orcish, sylvan
Powers: Infravision 30' range (they can see in grayscale but only in total darkness), 1-in-6 chance of automatically detecting hidden doors or other entrances, may advance as both fighting-men AND magic-users simultaneously, allotting XP earned to one class per session, using the best values for HAC0, saves, and total hit dice. Elf fighting-men/magic-users may use any weapons but not shields or plate armor. 
Typical alignment: Chaotic with Neutral minority
Classes & level limits: Fighting-man 8; magic-user 6; anti-cleric 7


Halfling
Halflings are about 3-1/2' tall human-like creatures with hairy/furry hands and feet. The possess keen eyesight.
Racial languages: Common
Extra languages: Goblin, kobold
Powers: Infravision 30' range (they can see in grayscale but only in total darkness), +1 to hit and damage with ranged weapons.
Typical alignment: Neutral with Lawful minority
Classes & level limits: Fighting-man 6; shaman 5

Classes:
Explanation of some terms:
] Level: Relative measure of power.
] Hit dice: Abbreviated HD, the number of six-sided dice rolled to generate hit points (hp). Pluses are added and minuses are subtracted but a minimum of 1 hp is gained per each hit die.
] XP needed: Experience required to obtain this level.
] HAC0: The unmodified roll needed to Hit Armor Class (AC) 0 (zero). To hit AC 9 subtract 9, to hit AC -9 add 9, etc.
] Save vs. _____: Roll 1d20 against certain effects or at referee's discretion, if the number equals or exceeds this number then the effect will either be lessened or negated.
] Spells per day: The maximum number of spells that can be stored for use within the caster's mind.

Fighting-man
Fighting-men (and fighting-women, fighting-elves, etc.) are masters of martial arts. They can use any weapon or armor.

Level | Hit Dice | XP needed | HAC0 | Save vs death | poison/paralysis | breath | spell | wand
1   | 1 | 0 | 19 | 16 | 14 | 14 | 16| 14
2   | 2 | 2000 | 18 | 16 | 14 | 14 | 16 | 14
3   | 3 | 4000 | 18 | 16 | 14 | 14 | 16 | 14
4   | 4 | 6000 | 17 | 15 | 13 | 13 | 15 | 14
5   | 5 | 8000 | 17 | 15 | 13 | 13 | 15 | 13
6   | 6 | 10000 | 16 | 15 | 13 | 13 | 15 | 13
7   | 7 | 12000 | 16 | 14 | 12 | 12 | 14 | 13
8   | 8 | 14000 | 15 | 14 | 12 | 12 | 14 | 12
9   | 9 | 16000 | 15 | 14 | 12 | 12 | 14 | 12
10 | 9+2 | 18000 | 14 | 11 | 11 | 14 | 13 | 12
11 | 9+4 | 20000 | 13 | 11 | 11 | 14 | 13 | 11
12 | 9+6 | 22000 | 12 | 10 | 10 | 14 | 12 | 11

 
Magic-User
The magic-user uses esoteric knowledge to cast spells. A magic-user starts with a spellbook containing 1 randomly determined spell (see the Spells section for details), a gift from his master(s). =EDIT= Magic-users may only use daggers, staves, and slings and may not wear any armor.        

Level | Hit Dice | XP needed | HAC0 | Save vs death | poison/paralysis | breath | spell | wand
1  | 1 | 0 | 20 | 17 | 16 | 16 | 14| 12
2  | 2 | 4000 | 20 | 17 | 16 | 16 | 14 | 12
3  | 2 | 6000 | 19 | 17 | 16 | 16 | 14 | 12
4  | 3 | 8000 | 19 | 16 | 15 | 15 | 13 | 11
5  | 4 | 10000 | 18 | 16 | 15 | 15 | 13 | 11
6  | 5 | 12000 | 18 | 16 | 15 | 15 | 13 | 11
7  | 5 | 14000 | 17 | 15 | 14 | 14 | 12 | 10
8  | 6 | 16000 | 17 | 15 | 14 | 14 | 12 | 10
9  | 7 | 18000 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 14 | 12 | 10
10 | 8 | 20000 | 16 | 14 | 13 | 13 | 11 | 9
11 | 8 | 22000 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 13 | 11 | 9
12 | 9 | 24000 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 12 | 10 | 8

Magic-user spells per day
Character level | # of 1st-level spells | # 2nd | # 3rd | # 4th | # 5th | # 6th
1 | 1 | - | - | - | - | - |
2 | 2 | - | - | - | - | - |
3 | 3 | 1 | - | - | - | - |
4 | 4 | 2 | - | - | - | - |
5 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - | - | - |
6 | 5 | 4 | 2 | - | - | - |
7 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - | - |
8 | 5 | 5 | 4 | 2 | - | - |
9 | 5 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - |
10 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 4 | 2 | - |
11 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 1
12  | 5 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 4 | 2

Cleric/Shaman/Anti-cleric
The servants of the gods, most obvious soldiers in the Cosmic Struggle.

Clerics are Lawful. Their holy symbols are the ankh or sun. They cannot use bladed or piercing weapons. If they cast reversed spells they have a 30% chance of their god(s) taking away their spellcasting abilities for 1d6 days. They have the power to turn (repel) or destroy undead.

Shamans are Neutral. Their holy symbols (carved from bone or wood) are animals, plants, and elements. They may only use weapons and armor made from "living" materials (leather, wood, bone, etc.). They may cast reversed and unreversed spells freely.

Anti-Clerics are Chaotic. Their holy symbols are the skull, inhuman eye, or savage maw. They cannot use bladed or piercing weapons. If they cast unreversed spells they have a 30% chance of their god(s) taking away their spellcasting abilities for 1d6 days. Anti-clerics who obviously display their allegiance will never receive a "hostile" reaction from Chaotic creatures or a "helpful" reaction from Lawful creatures (this does not allow them to act without consequence).

Level | Hit Dice | XP needed | HAC0 | Save vs death | poison/paralysis | breath | spell | wand
1     | 1 | 0        | 20 | 15 | 15 | 15 | 15| 13
2     | 2 | 3000  | 19 | 15 | 15 | 15 | 15 | 13
3     | 2 | 5000  | 19 | 15 | 15 | 15 | 15 | 13
4     | 3 | 7000  | 18 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 12
5     | 4 | 9000  | 17 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 12
6     | 5 | 11000 | 17 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 14 | 12
7     | 6 | 13000 | 16 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 11
8     | 6 | 15000 | 15 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 11
9     | 7 | 17000 | 15 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 13 | 11
10   | 8 | 19000 | 14 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 10
11   | 9 | 21000 | 13 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 10
12 | 9+2 | 23000 | 13 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 11 | 10

Cleric/shaman/anti-cleric spells per day
Character level | # of 1st-level spells | # 2nd | # 3rd | # 4th | # 5th | # 6th
1* | - | - | - | - | - | - |
2 | 1 | - | - | - | - | - |
3 | 2 | - | - | - | - | - |
4 | 3 | 1 | - | - | - | - |
5 | 4 | 2 | - | - | - | - |
6 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - | - | - |
7 | 4 | 4 | 2 | - | - | - |
8 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - | - |
9 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 2 | - | - |
10 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 1 | - |
11 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 2 | - |
12 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 1
*1st-level clerics/shamans/anti-clerics cannot cast spells

Turning/repelling/destroying undead
Cleric level | Undead 1 HD | 2 HD | 3 HD | 4 HD | 5 HD | 6 HD | 7 HD | 8 HD | 9 HD | 10 HD | 11+ HD
1   | 7 | 10 | - | - | - | - | - |  - | - | - | - |
2   | 5 | 8 | 11 | - | - | - | - |  - | - | - | - |
3   | 3 | 6 | 9 | 12 | - | - | - |  - | - | - | - |
4   | A | 4 | 7 | 9 | 12 | - | - |  - | - | - | - |
5   | A | A | 5 | 7 | 9 | 12 | - |  - | - | - | - |
6   | D | A | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 12 |  - | - | - | - |
7   | D | D | A | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 12 | - | - | - |
8   | D | D | A| A | 3 | 5 | 7 |  9 | 12| - | - |
9   | D | D | D | A | A | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 12 | - |
10 | D | D | D | D | A | A | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9 | 12 |
11 | D | D | D | D | D | A | A | 3 | 5 | 7 | 9|
12 | D | D | D | D | D | D | A | A | 3 | 3 | 7 |

To turn undead a cleric must present his holy symbol with a free hand. The player then rolls 2d6 and if the result equals or exceeds any number shown then the undead are turn away and cannot approach or attack the cleric or his party for 10 minutes (1 turn). All of the closest and weakest undead are affected first. An "A" indicates automatic turning and a "D" indicates that turned undead are instead destroyed.


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Writing an OSR(?) game from memory, Part 1: Goals, ability scores, alignment

Somewhat inspired by the Gygax 75 challenge, I've decided to write an OSR(-compatible) game from memory. I won't be referencing any rulebooks, modules, or SRDs. I expect the result to look a bit like LBB with weird bits of B/X, 1e, 2e, and some homebrew. I will gather my end results and throw them up as a formatted PDF on Drivethrurpg.



Goals:
] all character creation information
] at least 3 races
] at least 3 classes, at least one of which is a spell caster
] full spell list for casters
] equipment list
] full exploration rules
] full combat rules 
] full treasure and magic items
] enough monsters to populate 3 dungeon levels' worth of encounters
] enough monsters to populate 3 biomes' worth of encounters


Character Creation
To create a character one must generate abilities, select a race, select a class, determine spells, and purchase equipment.

Ability Scores
Ability scores represent general physical and mental aptitudes in numerical fashion. Roll 3d6 6 times, assigning each number in order to the following abilities:

Strength: Represents muscle power. It is most important to fighting-men.
Scores | Fighting-manXP | Force doors/objects
3-6 | -10% | 1-in-6
7-14 | - | 2-in-6
15-18 | +10% | 4-in-6

Intelligence: Represents intellect, logic, and memory. It is most important to magic-users.
Scores | Magic-User XP | Languages | Literacy | Chance to learn spell (Magic-Users)
3-6 | -10% | Alignment and racial | Illiterate* | 60**
7-14 | - | Alignment and racial | Literate | 70**
15-18 | +10% | Alignment, racial, plus one extra language | Literate | 80%**
*illiterate magic-user require the aid of a literate magic-user to teach them spells
**modified by spell level

Wisdom: Represents insight, senses, and reflection. It is most important to clerics, shamans, and anti-clerics. 
Scores | Cleric XP | Modifier on saves vs mental/emotional/spiritual effects
3-6 | -10% | -2
7-14 | - | -

15-18 | +10% | +2
Constitution: Represents endurance and general health. It is important for all characters.
Scores | Hit point modifier per hit die | System shock survival chance
3-4 | -1 | 45%
5-14 | - | 70%

17-18 | +1 | 95%
Dexterity: Represents reflexes and coordination.

Scores | Modifier on ranged attacks
3-8 | -1
9-12 | -

13-18 | +1


Charisma: Represents personal magnetism and self-confidence.
Scores | Reaction modifier | Maximum henchmen | Base loyalty
3-4 | -2 | 2 | 8
6-8 | -1 | 2 | 10
9-12 | - | 3 | 12
13-16 | +1 | 4 | 14
17-18 | +2 | 4 | 16


Alignment
All of creation is involved in the cosmic struggle between Law and Chaos; even those who refrain from the battle unknowingly side with Neutrality. Mortals (and many immortals) are not perfect representations of their alignments but their attitudes and actions convey their allegiances. All characters must select an alignment, and some alignments cannot pursue certain classes. All characters know their alignment language (Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic); a character whose alignment changes lose access to the alignment language until his alignment reverts or someone from his new alignment teaches him the new language.

Law can be roughly equated to "Good"; Even at their worst, Lawful people act with noble intentions and try to help others.

Chaos can be roughly equated to "Evil"; Even at their best, Chaotic people act with corrupt intentions and try to hinder others.

Neutrality often represents a lack of commitment or a desire to avoid trouble but for some it is a philosophy of "Balance" in the cosmos.

Selected creatures' typical alignments
LAW========NEUTRALITY========CHAOS
Men                    Men                                    Men
Dwarves             Halflings                            Goblins
Cavemen            Orcs                                   Hobgoblins
Treants               Ogres                                 Trolls
Judicators           Elementals                        Balors
Dragons             Dragons                            Dragons

Underlined creatures are equally likely to be Neutral or Chaotic
Italic creatures are equally likely to be Lawful or Neutral





Monday, October 28, 2019

Give me a fish-man and I will explain the monsters of my setting

Inspired by this post by Joseph Manola I read years ago and late-night sleepy thoughts. 

While Ye Olde Snake-Men Empire isn't a bad idea, I feel it's been suffering a bit of overexposure in the OSR, a critcism which extends to my own WIP setting. Until yesterday, I was riffing heavily on McKinney's Carcosa with the Serpentine (snake-men) being the creators of Mankind for the purposes of occult science. The Kuo-Toa (or their off-brand OGL equivalents) popped into my head as something cool to add to the bestiary. I had originally thought of them as enemies of the Serpentine, Men, and Elves but then I realized they fit the role I wanted the Sepentine to play.


You may ask, "Buzzclaw, what's so special about fish-dudes?" You're right to ask that. My first foray into the Kuo-Toa (and the D&D brand) was 3e; I wasn't impressed. They seemed like generic fishmen. Then recently (this year, I believe), I got a chance to read D2 - Shrine of The Kuo-Toa. That won me over. Horrible, amphibious fish-men ruling and rampaging throughout sea, land, and underworld, kidnapping (fishing? manning?) people for dark rituals. Then the land and sea groups went extinct, leaving only the underworld-dwellers. But they still remember those upstart Men and they're dreaming up schemes of revenge. That's some good shit right there.

Legacies of the Kuo-Toa

Assuming then, that the man-fishes had a stereotypical empire like the classic snake-men, what did they leave behind?

1) Magic! In my own setting, the (off-brand) Kuo-Toa created occult science (less icky Carcosa rituals) then Elves used some of their notes + demonic consultations to create classic D&D magic.

2) Magic Items! In their monster entry, Kuo-Toa really like to use daggers and spears; embellish that dagger +1 with aquatic motifs!

3) Monsters! Land lampreys. Land Urchins. Mantari. Behemoths from the Lankhmar sets. Cloakers too. What's a Roper but a weird-ass land-squid? Are Koalinths and Scrags aquatic versions of Hobgoblins and Trolls OR did the Kuo-Toa take aquatic creatures and create terrestrial versions? Are Mermen and Tritons prototypes or alternative research for Project: Man?

4) Dungeons! All those ruins and tombs are the handiwork of the vanished man-fishes. Are you a bad enough party to dive into ancient, pre-human ruins in search of loot?


Monday, September 16, 2019

More on McKinney's Carcosa, the Lovecraftian Pantheon, and D&D


 I noted in my previous semi-review of Carcosa that McKinney's take on the Lovecraft mythos was a bit odd. Only much later (or much recently) did I realize that his takes are derived from AD&D Deities & Demigods. I didn't notice it despite having read D&DG before because I read it during a different phase of my roleplaying days when the idea of PCs actually fighting gods seemed to be atrocious Munchkinry (I've since changed my attitudes). But that just raises more questions: Are the quirks of the D&D Lovecraft mythos examples of temporary fan theories, corporate obfuscation, or something else?

2 Warps to Neptune catalogs two sets of scans: the OD&D version of the Lovecraft mythos solely by Kuntz and the AD&D D&DG version by Ward and Kuntz. Note that Kuntz's version mentions the Ubbo-Shatla/Abhoth aspects of D&D Shub-Niggurath like I did. The OD&D Shub-Niggurath also does not spawn Elder Things, Deep Ones, or Mi-Go. Kuntz's OD&D Cthuga and Ithaqua also match the descriptions I've seen in Chaosium products unlike the fiery amoeboid and evil humanoid cloud of D&DG. It's unclear why Kuntz/Ward altered the (relatively) faithful OD&D adaptations into the more divergent D&DG versions.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Carcosan Ravenloft Cluster part 1: Darklords

I've been having thoughts about a Carcosa-based cluster for Ravenloft. I've already got a rough map done:




Queen Mora, Lady-in-iron, Slayer of Old Ones
Lawful Evil Blue woman Fighter 12
Darklord of (the realm with crater lake)

Appearance: Mora is middle-aged, attractive but with stern demeanor. She keeps her hair cropped short and has a scar that runs along the right side of her jaw. She usually wears her armor or simple robes; if she is somehow glimpsed nude there will be many more scars, wounds, and acid burns visible.

Background: On Carcosa, Lawful people oppose the Old Ones. For some, this is a reactive position, fighting those Old Ones they happen upon; for others, it is a proactive position involving hunting down Old Ones and spawn. Some advocate that even that isn't enough, that all sorcerers must also be hunted. And a small and unsuccessful fringe advocates awakening the Old Ones to kill them, for is it not better to strike on Man's terms than wait until the stars are right? For the current generation to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their descendants? the Mora was the leader of a small cell of like-minded Lawful hunters who fooled a coven of sorcerers into summoning forth The Haunter of The Moon's Dark, a massive horror who would have not awakened for another millennia. Mora and her followers killed the sorcerers then engaged in a running battle with the eldritch thing using their arsenal of alien technology. The day-long battle ended with the Old One dead, the land irradiated, and possibly thousands dead. Mora lay sprawled on the ground, questioning whether it was all worth it. She decided it was, and that she would do it again if she had the chance. The smoke around her seemed to thicken into a fog . . .

Curse: Mora and all the domain natives are sterile. She rules over a dying stretch of land without a future. She still questions herself but always resolves that she was in the right. Her curse will be broken if she admits she was in the wrong and the evil she did outweighs the good.

Special Powers: When Mora wishes to close the borders, a disorienting, jale-colored fog suddenly appears. The fog disorients those fleeing, forcing them back into the domain. She is also immune to aging but has not realize this yet.

Stats:  S 10, D 11, C 15, I 12, W 10, Ch 16
HD 9+9, MV 9, AC 2 (battle armor), Atks: 1 astatine-pulse pistol (300', 1d8 or 2d8 vs Green Men), 1 radio-beam rifle (1000' line, 2d8), 1 infrared-beam bazooka (3000' cone, 3d8), and/or 1 two-handed sword (1d10),  AL LE

Equipment: Mora has a unique suit of Battle Armor
- provides AC 2
- Back-mounted infrared-ray bazooka (3000' cone, 3d8 damage) which can swing down over her left shoulder, 25 charges
- An integrated radio-beam rifle on her right arm (1000' line, 2d8 damage), 50 charges
- An integrated astatine-pulse pistol on her left arm (300' range, 1d8 damage or 2d8 damage against Green Men)
She also carries two power cells for each weapon in the armor's thigh storage and a two-handed sword strapped to her back.


Prince K'nath
Neutral Evil White man ex-Sorcerer (Fighter) 7
Darklord of (tiny swamp)

Appearance: K'nath is a White male in his mid-20s. His hair is unruly and he has a wild beard. His eyes are bloodshot and he has dark circles under his eyes. His robes were high quality but are stained, frayed, and damaged. He fluctuates between extremely chatty and almost non-verbal.

Background: Finally, Prince K'nath and his younger sister/apprentice Princess K'nara would have their revenge on "King" Valtan. K'nath would summon the Amphibious Ones using a horrific rite to summon an army. But the most sublime, most ironic, most delicious part of the whole affair was that Valtan's own daughter would be the sacrifice. K'nath would be sure to let Valtan know every pain his daughter suffered in excruciating detail. But disaster struck. A mixed band of adventurers took the would-be victim. K'nath was panicking: He could not stop their escape but Valtan's fury would be inescapable and implacable. Then he realized that K'nara was also a White girl, long-haired, eleven years old, and a virgin. She pleaded with him; he tried arguing then used his strength instead. She was dead a few hours later and he had an army of 100 Amphibious Ones. After a moment composing himself, he left her body on the crude altar, leading his army forth through the thick fog to claim his kingship.


Curse: Although his domain is small, K'nath has totally lost all sense of direction and all his magic powers. He thus endlessly wanders the swamp, looping on his own path and getting stranded in patch of fog. His curse will be broken if he gives up on his quest for the crown and/or properly buries K'nara.

Special Powers: All Amphibious Ones in the domain obey K'nath without question, though only up 100 will accompany him at any given time. He is immune to aging and automatically resurrects within 1-6 hours at a random point in the domain with no memory of the past 24 hours and all his possessions intact. If he ever wished to close the borders, the domain would be surround by impenetrable and impassable fog.

Stats:  S 9, D 11, C 12, I 16, W 8, Ch 11
HD 7, MV 12, AC 9, Atks: 1 gamma radiation-pulse pistol (300', 2d8) and/or 1 longsword (1d8),  AL NE

Equipment: K'nath carries a gamma radiation-pulse pistol, a gold signet ring depicting Cthulhu (worth 100-200 gp), two power cells, and a longsword.

Z'lgutheb
Lawful Evil Unique Spawn of Shub-Niggurath
Darklord of (sea/island domain)

Appearance: Z'lgutheb is a crustacean the size of a small hut with a crab-shaped, smooth purple hide, a beak, six dolm-colored eyes, and two thick, stumpy legs. Everywhere it steps it leaves puddles of purple slime. It usually behaves overly friendly the first time it encounters people, but tries to browbeat people into worshiping it, finally shifting to murderous rage

Background: On Carcosa, Law is merely the state of opposing the Old Ones. Some oppose the Old Ones because they wish to usurp their privileged status. Z'lgutheb lived on an island. Its six eyes saw the obeisance and worship men gave to its Old One brethren. It grew envious. It slew its brethren. It waited for the men to worship it with songs and offerings as they had done for its brethren. But instead they turned to other gods Z'lgutheb did not know. Furious, he rampaged, killing all the fledgling cults. The mists engulfed it and he found itself on a much smaller, unfamiliar island.

Curse: Z'lgutheb wants to be worshiped "properly" by intelligent creatures but its Big Island is populated by semi-intelligent apes who can't speak. It knows that there are men on the islands of its domain (fires are sometimes visible on other islands and it has seen boats) but they avoid the Big Island due to superstition. Z'lgutheb cannot swim so it cannot reach them. Some shipwrecked sailors and ambitious adventurers have washed ashore but every time their impertinence drove Z'lgutheb to devour them. If it were to finally give its quest for worship (which turn it Neutral on the Law-Chaos axis), its curse would be lifted.

Special Powers: Z'lgutheb cannot be harmed by common weapons, only magic and alien weapons. The mere touch of its body causes living beings to dissolve into purple slime unless a save vs death is made. If it dies and the curse has not been lifted, it will regrow with 2d12 hours from a pool of purple slime somewhere on the isle. If it wishes to close the borders (or is trying to prevent escape from the Big Island), sudden storms break out all throughout the domain.

Stats:  HD 7, MV 3, AC 6 (hit only by magic or alien weapons), Atks: 1 bite (1d8 + save vs death or turn into purple slime) or 1 touch (save vs death or turn into purple slime),  SZ L (7' tall and 8' broad), AL NE

Equipment: None


Tekeli
Chaotic Evil Bone woman ex-Sorcerer (Fighter) 3
Darklord of (plains domain)

Appearance: Because of her transparent flesh and hair, her only noticeable feature is her skeleton. She is almost always clad in her chrome reflective armor and hauling a backpack. She will always approach strangers with questions about Bone men sightings then quiet down if they do not have news. She smells of stale sweat.

Background: The Red men had finally gone to war. Only Tekeli and a dozen other Bone men had survived the attack. Only two among the group knew the ritual that could wreak vengeance: Tekeli and her lover, Xand. The rampage of the Red men made it impossible for them to retrieve the necessary dozen Bone man sacrifices from elsewhere. Xand and Tekeli acted swiftly and stealthily, disabling their fellows and dragging them to the circle of standing stones. Tekeli volunteered herself to be the 12th victim, pledging loyalty to Xand. The couple set to work of killing the eleven slowly and painfully as the rite required. Tekeli and Xand embraced one last time. Xand did not even have time to realize that he had been stabbed with a poisoned dagger before he collapsed, dead. The rite was not complete: Xand had not died within the circle, nor had his death been painful and slow. Fighting back tears, Tekeli marched off to find a 12th sacrifice, heedless the suddenly materializing fog.

Curse: Tekeli wanders the length and breadth of her domain looking for another Bone man to capture and sacrifice. She is so obsessed with her quest that she doesn't even notice how peaceful her domain is. The only way for her to lift her curse is to abandon her pursuit or to ritually kill herself or another Bone man to complete the ritual.

Special Powers: Tekeli will revive in 1-6 days after death with all her possessions intact unless she was killed as part of the ritual. If she wishes to close the domain's borders then impassable, regenerating, 100' walls of bone spring up around the borders. The walls actively attack, doing 2d10 damage per round to those climbing them.

Stats: S 16, D 12, C 15, I 13, W 10, Ch 6 
HD 3+3, MV 12, AC 8 (reflective armor and small shield), Atks: 1 hand axe (1d6+1) or 1 shortbow (150', 1d6), AL CE

Equipment: Backpack (food, rope, diary, miscellany), belt pouch (14 gp, 35 sp), hand axe, small shield, shortbow, 20 arrows, reflective armor (nullifies all damage from dolm laser, gamma radiation, green laser, jale laser, lanthanum, orange laser, radio, red laser, rhenium, scandium, sulfur, titanium, thorium, ulfire laser, violet laser, and white laser weapons).