Archive for Dungeons and Dragons

D&D Classics Is Live! Hot Damn!

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons, Swords & Sorcery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2013 by Kullervo

Hot damn! Wizards of the Coast has pdfs for sale again! I can’t tell if the price point is the same as when it was all taken down in 2009 (I seem to recall a lot more $4.99 products and a lot fewer $9.99 products), but it all still looks very resonable, and in any case cheaper than what you have to pay on the secondary market.

Honestly, I had stopped buying anything from Wizards of the Coast awhile ago and I had basically written them off (played 4e and liked it but didn’t love it; have no interest at all in 5e/Next; am now only really interested in older editions), but it looks like they’re back in the game. This was pretty much the only way they were going to get me to give them my money again, and they’ve done it.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go demonstrate with my wallet that this was a sound business decision (on the other hand, I promise you right now that my productivity for the day is just shot to hell). To start with, I think I shall purchase…

C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
HR7: The Crusades Campaign Sourcebook
Manual of the Planes (AD&D 1e)

But I have a bunch of other stuff in my wish list that I’ll be getting in short order–lots of classic modules and 1e hardback/sourcebooks. Oh, and I fully intend to buy every single Planescape pdf they release.

New D&D Monster: Blight Hulk

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Kullervo

Blight Hulk

No. Enc.: 1 (1d3)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4+2
Attacks: 2 (slam)
Damage: 1d8/1d8
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XI
XP: 205

AA looming, 10’ mass of corpses stitched together by black, pustulent vines and roots, a Blight Hulk is a true monstrosity. Apart from its size, a Blight Hulk is immediately distinguishable by its gaping, slack maw lined with teeth of thorns and jagged bone. A Blight Hulk is utterly mindless except for an all-consuming urge to consume and destroy.

Blight Hulks are completely blind and deaf, and can only sense the presence of other creatures within 10’ by the vibrations they create. However, if attached with a missile weapon, a Blight Hulk will charge in the direction of the attack until it finds a target or is attacked from a different direction.

If a Blight Hulk hits a creature smaller than it with both slam attacks, it will shove the target down its gullet, where the target will be jabbed with rows of poisoned spines (automatic 1d6 damage per turn until the target or the Blight Hulk is dead, plus the target must save versus poison or die in 1d4 turns).

Like ordinary Blightlings, Blight Hulks are undead (and thus immune to charm, hold person and sleep) but are generally immune to turning by a cleric, except by clerics that specifically serve deities of nature or nature itself.

Illustration by David Deitrick

New D&D Monster: Slime Eel

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by Kullervo

Slime Eel

No. Enc.: 1d3 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement (Swim): 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6
Save: F1
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: None
XP: 38

Slime eels are disgusting aquatic creatures, 8’ in length and lacking bones or a separate jaw. Their heads are merely a blunt end to their fat, pinkish, wormlike bodies with a single primitive eye and a disc-shaped rasping mouth surrounded by blubbery feelers. Their boneless bodies can squeeze through surprisingly tight spaces.

Sluggish except when feeding, slime eels burrow into the mud and rocks of subterranean river bottoms when no prey is available and go into torpor for months until they sense suitable food, at which time they can quickly enter a feeding frenzy. Adventurers caught in a mass of feeding slime eels run the risk of being knocked prone (roll 1d6 each round; characters are knocked prone on a roll of 1).

When active, a slime eel exudes a slick, viscous ooze that clouds the water within 10’ of the slime eel, imposing a -2 to-hit penalty against any attacker who relies on sight to hit. The slime also works as an anticoagulant; consequently, any wound inflicted by a slime eel will continue to do 1 point of damage every round that the wounded creature remains in the slime. Canny adventurers may try to coat their weapons with a defeated slime eel’s slime. Slime harvested from a dead slime eel retains its potency for up to an hour; each dose of the slime is good for one use when applied to a weapon and will cause a wound inflicted by that weapon to bleed for an extra point of damage on the next round. 1d3 doses may be harvested from each defeated eel.

Illustration by David Deitrick

Megadungeon Progress: Mostly Mapping

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2011 by Kullervo

Yesterday I wrote up some more monsters for my as-yet-unnamed megadungeon, and I started working on a flowchart for the major dungeon levels.

One issue that has come up is how to insulate the big thematic levels from each other. I don’t want just, a door leading from the vampire’s Cathedral of Blood into the yeti’s Frozen Tunnels, so I think I need to fill the dungeon out with some more “mundane” dungeon areas. At the same time, I don’t want the whole thing to be generic-thematic-generic-thematic-etc., so I am working on ways to (1) mix it up a bit, seeing where I can butt thematic areas together and where multiple subtly different generic areas an flow back and forth between each other and provide for meaningful choices between major thematic areas, and (2) make the “generic” areas more flavorful. By the latter, I am thinking about ways that the features or the inhabitants of an area can give flavor and interest to a sublevel that does not necessarily have eye-poppingly unique architecture. I’m sprinkling in a few hidden tombs, a few petty troll kingdoms, a forgotten dwarf battlefield, stuff like that. Ways to pepper up the otherwise banal 20′ rooms.

I’m also leaving a lot of areas intentionally empty, not only to give room for DMs to key it themselves, but also to lend some mystery to the exploration: not every room needs to have a monster, a treasure and a feature, and big dark empty spaces can add that sense of menace and wonder that is essential to a great dungeon.

Finally, I’m trying to sort out the maps themselves. I have been waffling between richly drawn 3/4 view fully-drawn pictures and simple, overhead renderings on a grid. I might actually do both, and have a master map (which I will draw) for each level that’s the basic dungeon grid, and 3/4 drawings of the interesting rooms (which someone else will draw) to go in the keyed sections.

Thoughts on Dungeon Crawl Classics

Posted in Swords & Sorcery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2011 by Kullervo

The Dungeon Crawl Classics beta playtest rules are out and they’re what everyone is talking about (at least everyone who writes gameblogs I read…), and as I have had a chance to briefly flip through them, I thought I would toss my two cents into the palaver circle.

I’m not incredibly wild about fantasy roleplaying in general. I like D&D, by which I mean Dungeons and Dragons in a motherfucking dungeon, fighting monsters, like a motherfucking dragon. I like dungeon crawl games. They’re fun.

But I don’t really love medieval fantasy for medieval fantasy’s sake. I have no interest in an epic high fantasy adventure story. I have no interest in a Game of Thrones. I like to read a little swords and sorcery, but I don’t even know how bad I would want to play it.

So my interest in fantasy RPGs is relatively limited, and mostly already served by the existing OSR games out there. That said, I do love new and interesting variations, especially ones that I think look fun, or that add the stuff I like and don’t clutter it with the stuff I don’t like. Back on the other hand, i am not thrilled anymore by learning new rules systems or reading RPG manuals for the sake of reading RPG manuals. I would rather play an RPG and read a real book.

So, with all of that on the table, here’s what I think about DCC: If someone else was going to run it, and I thought they would be a good DM (because most DMs are honestly just atrocious; there, I said it), I would be in it in a heartbeat. I think the charts and tables for spells look awesome, and I think the magical patron rules look rad. I usualyl like to play fighters and barbarians, but I would most definitely play a magic user in DCC because it looks, first and foremost like thay have made magic hellafun and flavored with awesome.

I’m not going to run the game though. And I’m probably not going to buy it, unless I do wind up playing it and loving it. My rule for years has been to not buy any RPG product that I don’t think I’m actually going to use, and until I know I’m hot for DCC, I know i’m not going to be using the book or the funky dice.

In summary: the game has some really cool-looking stuff about it, I don’t mind the awkward dice because I think there’s value in weirdness for weirdness’s sake, I would like to give the game a spin, but I’m not going to buy it, read it, or run it until I already know I love it.

D&D Monsters: Now With Illustrations!

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by Kullervo

I managed to rope my old man into illustrating these monsters as I stat them up. You may know his work if you were a gamer in the 1980’s (Jeff Rients does, at least), when it seemed like his art was everywhere.

He’s done one drawing so far, the Blightling, and I couldn’t be more pleased:

I’ll be adding his illustrations to my monsters as he does them. All the more reason to follow along!

New D&D Monster: Blightling

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by Kullervo


No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6 plus 1 Blightling Priest)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2+1
Attacks: 1 (thorn slash)
Damage: 1d6 plus paralysis (see below)
Save: F2
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XXI
XP: 53

Blightlings are a disturbing combination of plant and undead. Standing the size of a human, they resemble pale, desiccated corpses wrapped in shrouds of ragged black, brown and green cloth, with knotted, twisting muscles beneath their thin-stretched skin. In truth, instead of flesh, Blightlings are animated by a coiled, gnarled mass of rootlike growths between skin and skeleton. Their eyes are black, empty sockets, and they are incapable of speech or sound.

Venomous thorns project from a Blightling’s fingertips, and a character hit with a Blightling’s thorns must save versus paralysis or be paralyzed for 2d4 turns. This paralysis may be cured with cure light wounds. Paralyzed humanoids are then dragged away by Blightlings to be sacrificed to their loathsome, dark forest gods. Sacrificed humanoids are buried among the roots of evil trees and have a 35% chance of rising three days later as a Blightling.

Although undead for most purposes (and thus immune to charm, hold person and sleep), Blightlings are generally immune to turning by a cleric, except by clerics that specifically serve deities of nature or nature itself, as a Blightling is as much the spawn of a distorted, corrupted plant as it is an undead creature.

Illustration by David Deitrick

Jeff Rients: The Dungeon As The Psyche

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Kullervo

In response to a recent open thread on Grognardia, Jeff Rients posted the following comment:

I believe that the descent into the dungeon is a symbolic representation of the rational mind attempting to understand the irrational, unconscious self. Therefore dungeons should have something important to say but they are under no obligation to make any sense.

I don’t know how seriously he meant this, but I think it might be one of the most, if not the most, important things ever said about roleplaying games. I will be thinking about this pretty intensely, so expect a more substantial post about it soon.

Warhammer Quest: Updating the Bestiary

Posted in Warhammer Quest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by Kullervo

Still thinking about Warhammer Quest here on the haunted space station orbiting the Asura Star.

One daunting task is going to be updating the bestiary. Many new miniatures and army books have been released since Warhammer Quest came out, and consequently, many new monster options exist now. The Tomb Kings/Vampire Counts split had not yet happened when the game was released; Ogre Kingdoms were not an option yet; Beasts of Chaos were just “beastmen.” We could seriously fill out the mosnter choices by just converting the profiles of all of these choices into Warhammer Quest stats.

Also, I wonder if we might find anything interesting in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e monster book. Probably.

I don’t want to take anything out–in particular, I dearly love Chaos Dwarves even though they have long been abandoned by Games Workshop. But if there are new miniatures for new monsters, I don’t see a good reason not to stat them up and engage them in bloody combat in the dark places of the Old World.

One consideration, I suppose, is how much of the project needs to be bitten off in one go. In reality, it probably makes more sense to only stat up a new mosnter when we have a miniature for it and are already ready to throw it in the game. It kind of castrates the project to think of it that way, but it’s honestly more realistic to grow it organixcally we we plan and as we expand than to bite off this big game design homebrew thing that we’ll likely never finish. After all, it’s better to have one fully statted up new monster that we can actually play with than a whole book full of unfinished shit we can’t use.

And I’m not sure I even have anything right now that I could stat up and use. Except for the Fimir! For the record, I want to stat up the Fimir and use them really bad. I still have all of my old HeroQuest stuff, so I can use them right now, and Fimir are officially awesome.

I might have some Lizardmen and Skinks floating around, too, but I think there might be a Deathblow article out there where they have been statted up already. That brings up a point I addressed in my post about statting up the Amazon (hmm, what about Amazons as monsters? Pygmies? Other stuff from older editions of Warhammer? The expansion can go both ways in time…)–I realize that a lot of work has already been done by fans to stat up everything in existence for Warhammer Quest, and I could draw on some of that, and I might. But at the end of the day, I do usually think it’s the most fun to do it myself.

One question lingering is how true we want to stay to the existing Warhammer world. Should we stat up, say, an Aboleth for Warhammer Quest? A Mind flayer? They’re not Warhammer monsters, but do we care? They might be fun. Something to think about, at least.

D&D 4e Essentials Hexblade: Other Pacts

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2011 by Kullervo

The D&D Essentials player’s guide Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms gave us the Hexblade, a Warlock variant that draws on otherworldly power through pacts with powerful extraplanar beings and channels this power into a sorcerous weapon. This is, of course, insanely awesome.

In HoFK we get the Infernal Pact and the Fey Pact versions, and DDI gave us a Star Pact hexblade. The Fey Pact’s power comes from deals made with powerful archfey, the Infernal Pact’s power comes from deals made with archdevils (well, as per HoFK it draws on loopholes in ancient pacts that Bael Turath made with archdevils; I think this is a sissy move, but I will post more about that another time), and the Star Pact, assuming it is the same as the regular Star Pact Warlock in the 4e Player’s Handbook, has pacts made with the alien stars of the Far Realm.

All of this is great, and I lvoe this class and the ideas in it, but it leaves me wanting more. If this kind of power is available through deals with three different kinds of powerful extraplanar archbeings, why not all the other kinds of powerful extraplanar archbeings? Dark Sun has already given us a Sorcerer King pact Warlock. What else could we have?

Here are my ideas:

Grave Pact: Power from deals made with dead/undead ancestors or other powerful ghosts in the Shadowlands. Essentially the same as the Abyssal Exalted. Consequently, this is the idea I like best.

Demon Pact: If it’s okay to deal with the Far Realm, it’s okay to deal with the Abyss. At first glance, a Demon Pact might sound like it would be effectively identical to the Infernal PAct, and while that’s one way to take it, I think there are some interesting and diverse options. What would a warlock be like whose pact was made with Juiblex?

Titan Pact: Why not some kind of elemental pact, made with the titans of the Elemental Chaos? Or maybe zero in on just one interesting kind, like a Frost Titan pact or even an Eldritch Titan pact? What would that look like? It would be tempting to just come up with some generic “elemental pacts,” but I feel like the 4e cosmology offers more interesting options.

Void Pact: A pact made with a terrible slaad lord like Ygorl?

Primal Pact: What about pacts made with the powerful essence of the material plane? Instead of tapping that power in the usual way, what if you could bind it with eldritch rituals? Some kind of Druid/Warlock hybrid, perhaps?

Dragon Pact: Dragons so powerful and ancient that they spend almost all their time dormant, but are immense wellsprings of arcane power. Possibly based on lore passed down from the ancient empire of the Dragonborn?

Angel Pact? What other possibilities are out there? It seems like there’s a ton of untapped potential. I think most of it could be accomplished by cosmetic re-skinning of existing Warlock/Hexblade options, requiring minimal actual rules-tinkering, but maybe I am underestimating it.