I had four Warhammer elves that I wanted to add to my rotation of player character minis, so I decided to do 'em up in a "four seasons" kinda theme. That's pretty much it. I guess this kind of works as a holiday post, but these guys probably never spent much time in a workshop working with mallets and chisels or wrangling reindeer.
Here's a couple of minor magic items to toss your character's way in a Labyrinth Lord game. They were on a random equipment list from my Halloween Game, but didn't show up in play.
These two items are based on magic items from European folklore, and I'm kind of surprised they never showed up in older versions of the game. (3rd. Ed. had a Hand of Glory that was pretty much just an extra hand for magic rings. In most folklore I've read, it's supposed to be a powerful charm for thieves, and that's how I'm presenting it. (Although the idea of an armless wizard with a Hand of Glory sporting a Ring of Telekinesis is an inneresting villain concept, if y'ask me...)
Hand of Glory This boon to thieves and dungeon delvers is a mummified hand dipped in wax and fashioned into a candle by disreputable hedge wizards and scurrilous hoodoo men. The hand may be from any humanoid creature, but the hands of human thieves hung for their crimes under a new moon are reputed to be the most efficacious.
The Hand of Glory is activated by lighting all five fingers, after which it will burn for one hour before its charm is lost. It illuminates an area similar to a torch, and its eerie light reveals any hidden doors or secret compartments it is shown upon. The user may also use this gruesome talisman to open locked doors or containers up to five times, by standing before the chosen lock and blowing out one of the fingers. Once all of the fingers have been blown out, the talisman is useless, except maybe as a back scratcher.
Mandrake Root This palm sized, vaguely man shaped root is prized by alchemists and apothecarys for its magical properties, but members of the dungeon delving professions value it for its ability to protect them from the sapping of their souls by powerful undead.
When worn as an amulet about the neck, a mandrake root will protect the wearer from 1d3 level draining attacks, after which it crumbles into dust.
Mandrakes of the magical variety are very dangerous to harvest. If a mandrake root is pulled from the soil, it looses a scream that forces all within 20 feet to make a save vs. death or die. Over the years, adventurous harvesters have developed many clever methods for pulling the root from the ground, such as tying a hungry dog to the plant with a haunch of meat just out of its reach, and then running for the hills. Once obtained, the root must be washed with wine and kept wrapped in a clean linen towel out of the sun for a week.
Okay, so I'm just tossing this weird idea up here for a house rule type thing for spellcasters. It's kind of based on counterspells from 3rd. edition, adapted for use in Labyrinth Lord.
Basically, the idea is that a wizard can counterspell a rival spellcaster using the Turn Undead chart for clerics, with the rival spellcaster's level being used for the target Hit Dice. Results with a number or the T would stop the spell from being cast, but would not eliminate the spell slot. In other words, it would merely halt the casting of that spell for that round of combat. (Or maybe the T would block the spell for a turn, and the numbered results would do so for a round.) Results with a D on the matrix, however, would cause the spell to be lost.
One one hand, I think it's interesting because it gives the wizardly characters something defensive to do once they've expended all of their magic, since I see this as being a freely available action. Plus it has a neat implication for wizardly duel type situations.
On the other hand, this is just an off the top of my head idea, so I'm not sure if it would disrupt play too horribly or not. Mayhap I shall experiment with it in upcoming sandboxery. Any chiming in by wiser heads than mine would be welcome.
I've noticed that in the past couple of one shot sessions I've been involved in, the boggy part of character creation for Labyrinth Lord, if you're trying to move fast, is equipment purchasing. Once you figure out your primary armor and weapons, you have to slow down and get a bunch of handy junk that's usually the same set of things anyway.
So here's a bunch of packages for equipment, that someone could probably print out on note cards or something. These are pretty much selections from the standard equipment list bracketed toward certain purposes, so that players can make quick decisions about their secondary equipment. Of course, players could opt to edit these more to their taste, but if you're movin' fast, in my mind it's easier to, for example, buy a Camping Kit and have done with it.
The DM could opt to round the prices to gold pieces, up reflecting the addition of a handsome carrying case or some extra stuff thrown in from random tables of choice, or round down to reflect a bargain from the merchant for getting a package deal.
It's always Black Friday down in the dungeon.
Burglar's Kit Cost: 12.21 gp Weight: 14.5 lb. Contents: Crowbar, Grappling Hook, 50' Silk Rope, Candles (10), 1 Large Sack
Camping Kit: Cost: 10.6 gp Weight: 24 lb. Contents: Bedroll, Backpack, Flint & Steel, Waterskin, 10 days Trail Rations,Winter Blanket
Spelunker's Kit: Cost: 13.2 gp Weight: 31 lb. Contents: Lantern, 10 oil flasks, Miner's Pick, 10' Pole
Vampire Hunter's Kit Cost: 41.85 gp Weight: 12 lb. Contents: Wooden Holy Symbol, Garlic(3 Cloves), Flask of Holy Water, 3 Oil Flasks, Hammer, Wooden Stakes (3), Steel Mirror The content of these kits is Open Game Content via the Open Game License.
As promised, here are the custom Labyrinth Lord classes I had on hand for my frightful Halloween dungeon crawl. I figure I oughta get these up before we're too far along toward turkey time, and monsters, pumpkins, and wads of candy are too far in the past.
Blah! Do the Batusi!
REQUIREMENT: Cha 9 PRIME REQUISITE: Str & Cha Hit Dice: d6 Maximum level: 12
The blood of the dampyr is a strange mingling of human and vampiric bloodlines. While mortal, they possess the rudiments of a vampire's power. They are cruelly handsome folk, with pallid skin and feral eyes. They may fight with any armor and weapons, and may also cast spells like a magic user. Their supernatural background grants them 60 ft infravision, as well as uncanny senses with half the range on a surprise roll (i.e. if surprise is on a 1-2 on a d6, it is only on a 1 for a dampyr.) Dampyr are uncomfortable in daylight, and suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls made while in direct sunlight. They may be turned by a priest as an undead of their level, but are allowed a save vs. wands to resist this. They are immune to the paralysis effect of ghouls, as well as charm and sleep type effects.
A dampyr must have a 13 in both prime requisites to get the +5% experience bonus. They must have a Cha of 16 and a Str of 13 to get the +10% bonus.
Upon reaching 9th. lvl, a dampyr may establish a stronghold, usually in a remote, moody castle overlooking a village of fearful peasants, who count themselves lucky that it's only a half vampire occupying their neck of the woods. Dampyr may hire soldiers of any race, although they do not generally trust other dampyr.
NOTE: DAMPYR use the ELF experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord.
When you absolutely, positively, need a body dug up overnight...
REQUIREMENT: Dex 9, Con 9 PRIME REQUISITE: Str & Dex Hit Dice: d6 Maximum Level: 10
Furtive, grimy little lurkers in graveyards, catacombs, and dark alleys, grimlings are distrusted by most, but their willingness to do any task, no matter how vile or menial, means they fill many niches at the edges of society. A typical grimling is 3-4 feet tall, and prefers to keep their face hidden by wrappings and deep hoods, from which red eyes glitter. A grimling's wiry, ape like build allows them to climb as if they were thieves of their level. They have an uncanny ability to vanish in graveyards and ruins, hiding with a 90% ability. They are also able to hide in shadows on a 1-2 on a d6 if they hold absolutely still. They have keen senses of smell, especially when it comes to finding dead bodies, so they will find a corpse (dead or undead) on a 1 in d6 if there is one to be found. Due to their short stature, and skill at ducking when they've made themselves enough of a nuisance, they gain a -2 to AC when fighting foes larger than human size. While short, they are immensely strong, and can use large or two handed weapons with ease, and may wear any armor.
A grimling must have one prime requisite at 13 to get the +5% experience bonus. They must have both prime requisites at 13 to get +10%.
Upon reaching 9th. level, a grimling can establish a community of their kind in a suitable graveyard, tunneling out a network of subterranian passages and chambers and ruling this territory as an underlord. It goes without saying, aside from certain eccentric necromancers and other humanoids, only grimling would want to take up residence there, let alone hire on as soldiery.
NOTE: GRIMLINGS use the HALFLING experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord. HOMANCULUS
Rrrr! Fire bad! Bread good! Candy better!
REQUIREMENT: Con 9 PRIME REQUISITE: Str Hit Dice: d10 Maximum Level: 10
These hulking creatures are not born of nature, but are instead the work of wizards, alchemists, and other dabblers in forbidden knowledge. A homanculus is usually over six feet tall and powerfully muscled, with drab green skin and red, sunken eyes. A homanculus cannot wear armor, but they have a natural armor class of 5 from their tough, leathery hides. They can, however, carry shields. They have 60 ft. infravision. A homanculus is very easy to resurrect from the dead, requiring only the application of a cure spell and a lightning bolt. Their unnatural origins make them outcasts from most societies, and therefore they suffer a +2 to reaction adjustments, and cannot hire human retainers.
Upon reaching 9th. level, a homanculus may choose to adopt an area to protect or terrorize (depending on their alignment) up to a single map hex in size. This territory will always be in a wilderness area, generally rather remote. All natural animal life in the hex will befriend the homanculus, serving as their eyes and ears and giving what aid they can. Lawful homanculus tend to get on well with deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds, while Chaotic homanculus will generally befriend bats, snakes, wolves, and toads. Neutral homanculus may befriend any animal they wish, as long as they don't pet them too hard.
NOTE: HOMANCULUS use the DWARF experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord. The entirety of these classes are hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.
Yeah, I'm done with it. I've decided that while "In Search of the Unknown" is a pretty classic module from the B/X days of yore it is uniquely unsuited as a whole for the style of play I find myself gravitating towards these days.
I tend to strip mine old modules I have on hand for material, particularly maps. I've used "In Search of the Unknown" as root stock for more than a few gaming sorties, and every damn time the group gets bogged down in the damn noodle pile of hallways, complex junction points, and switchbacks the first level of this module contains. It's not long before the poor shmoe who's stuck as the mapper is ready to stab me with their writing implement of choice. So yeah, I'm done with Quasqueton. I'll probably bust loose some of the more interesting rooms and seed them in other dungeons, but the module as a whole is going back on my shelf.
Okay. So what brought this on is that I got dropped into an impromptu old school game session at a party I was at last night. The invite said to bring any RPG game stuff we wanted, so I just crammed B1 into my bag figuring on the off chance that's what was called for, I could bash through it with Labyrinth Lord and dice. This was total "Stuck in an Elevator" style gaming.
Don't get me wrong, the session went pretty well all told, and there were some other tactical errors on my part unrelated to B1 and it's map, but the map excaberated the issues. I had five players, of varying levels of experience. We managed to bash out characters for all of 'em, plus a hireling torch bearer, in about 15-20 minutes.
I'd say my big mistake, aside from choice of materials, was over reliance on random rolls without adjusting for fun. Each room I came to I used Labyrinth Lord's dungeon stocking table, but kept coming up with empty rooms, so once the party got thru the tangle of hallways in the southeast quadrant, they just came to some rather dull room searching. I guess I can obliquely blame B1 for that, since the rooms are unstocked as written and it's up to the DM to stock 'em in preparation. But in honesty it was my fault for not just tossing a monster into every room and letting the dice fly.
I'd say my other error was the one encounter we did have I bulked up the monsters from two troglodytes to six, thinking the party would mow through two too fast (plus I figured they were itching for some smackdown after wandering the twisty hallways for the better part of an hour). Well, that probably would have been okay if my dice weren't so hot and the party's dice weren't so cold. I banged a lot of crits from the trogs' claw/claw/bite routine, which took its toll.
But enough negativity. There were some cool bits too. The best, I think, was allowing the players to hurl bottles of perfume they found in Roghan's mistress' chamber like holy water flasks to counteract the troglodytes' stank, and I had a pretty decent on the fly ruling for firing bows into combat (basically, rolled a d12 if the character missed his shot, with the first 4 numbers corresponding to characters and the rest indicating the arrows just clattered off someplace.) Thankfully, nobody got accidentally skewered, but the way the party's luck was running, they were expecting it. I also used Trollsmyth's "Shields Will Be Splintered" rule to good effect. Once again, Trollsmyth, my characters thank you for this simple, life saving measure. Wrecked up a +1 shield pretty bad, tho. (I allow a splintering for each +1 on the shield, so this one took two whacks to destroy.)
So lessons learned:
A: Come up with some small scale one shot stuff that's portable and ready to roll. Hell, I've got a couple things like that that fit the bill, should take a minute or two and get 'em ready to deploy. Maybe if another One Page Dungeon Contest happens I'll have something to enter.
B: or more accurately Not B, as in no more B1. I'm done with you, Quasqueton.
So this past Friday I ran a great session of Halloween themed Labyrinth Lord. I had three players, so it was decided that each would roll up a primary character, and then bring along a hireling to bulk up the party.
L to R: Iandor, Gorm, Grar, Vaan, Ezekiel the Younger, and Floyd
DH played Ezekiel the Younger, an aged magic user with his long suffering fighter hireling Floyd, who was hired in Briggs' Tavern back in Strangledorf as the winner of an arm wrestling contest. Charles played Iandor the Cleric, who went to the local alchemist and purchased the services of Gorm, a homanculus (which is one of the unique player classes I created for this evening to replace the usual Tolkeinian elves, dwarves, and halflings with something more Gothic and Halloweeny) and Joe played Grar, a barbaric fighter who retained the overqualified services of Vaan the Thief.
The adventure began as the group made their weary way down the road through the haunted valley known as Ghoulardia Pass, trudging past the graveyard and Lake Zacherly as the black stone watchtower known as Cardille Keep loomed over the dark pine forests up the mountainside. It was late at night, with the pale light of the full moon adding to the chill in the mountain air, so the group headed toward an old hunting lodge they could see at a fork in the road past the graveyard, a cheery light burning in the window.
After knocking on the door and receiving no answer, the impetuous Grar forced the door, and found that the living room inside had been torn to shreds, and the light they had seen was actually the rug burning from an overturned oil lamp. As the party went inside and set about searching the room, a deep, ominous growl sounded from the depths of a darkened doorway leading out of the smashed parlor. Moments later, the terrifying figure of a female werewolf stepped into the flickering firelight and sprang to attack.
As Ezekiel's servant Floyd stepped up to defend his master, striking ineffectively with his hammer on the creature's magically protected hide, Grar grabbed up the burning rug from the floor and threw it over her head. While the flames did the beast no harm, being suddenly blinded and on fire caused her to panic nonetheless, and she fled the room and crashed through a window and fled into the night.
The party couldn't rest for long, however, as the creature's mate, an even bigger specimen of lycanthropy, surged into the room from another doorway. Grar, Floyd, and Gorm moved to face this new threat, as Ezekiel took the opportunity to cast "Charm Monster", which brought the werebeast handily under his control. The monstrous wolf beast was dubbed "Mister Barky" by the simple minded Grar, and became a powerful ally for the party under Ezekiel's control.
Moments later, the female werewolf returned, having cast off the burning rug and circled back to defend her lair. She was nonplussed to find her mate bristling and growling in her path, defending the strangers. Ezekiel ordered his hireling fighter to take the mage's silver dagger and take part in the confrontation, but the prospect of stepping between two quarreling supernatural beasts with a mere dagger in hand caused Floyd to exercise his discretion as an employee. The she wolf snarled back at her mate in defiance, but after a brief scuffle was pinned to the floor with emphasis by the magically charmed male. When the werewolfess was allowed to regain her feet she fled the cabin for good, howling in confusion and dismay.
Mister Barky, and the lovely Mrs. Barky.
The werewolves subdued or defeated, the party set about searching the premises. They found three magical crossbow bolts in a chest at the foot of a bed which was currently occupied by the torn carcass of a deer, and also found a crossbow and 20 bolts, a spear, and two hand axes in a room full of hunting trophies.
It was in the ransacked larder that the party found a small stone well capped by a wooden cover. When it was removed, a vertical shaft with iron rungs leading down into the depths was revealed. The party formed up, and climbed down into the darkness.
Down below, they found a long hallway of rough carved earth shored up by crude timbers, that eventually came to a fog shrouded crossroads where visibility was reduced to a mere ten feet. They decided to turn left, and headed in a Westerly direction, until they out of the fog and reached a chamber hung with pale, trailing roots from the forest above. The impetuous Grar strode into the room, shoving the woven tendrils aside, but as he did so he caused the weakened roof of the chamber to collapse on him. Once the dust had cleared, the night sky was visible above, ringed round by the jutting branches of pine trees. Iandor activated his trusty Rope of Climbing, and the party climbed up to scout the opening, finding it had opened in the forests up the hillside from the hunting lodge.
Grar decided to clear a path through the room by pushing through the roof with his shield held over his head, which he proceeded to do, collapsing several more sections of ceiling but avoiding any further head injuries in doing so. The group paused and explored a side passage that ended in a small fountain fed by a pure, natural spring, before ascending a staircase they found at the opposite end of the room of roots.
At the top of the stairway, they found a worked stone hall leading to a rusted iron door, upon which hung an ironwork skeleton with an archaic breastplate and helm. Scroll work beneath the black iron bones was engraved with the name "Count Gore De Vol and his Legion"
As usual, Grar was the first to the door, and he took it upon himself to knock. This proved to be his undoing, as his ringing blows on the iron skull activated a poison dart trap in the sculpture's mouth. The mighty fighter stiffened, and fell back dead.
Saddened by the sudden loss of his employer, Vaan the Thief stepped forward and inspected the door carefully, picking the lock with ease and determining that the dart that had felled Grar was indeed the final projectile. After conferring for a few moments, the party decided to let Iandor use his Animate Dead spell, and brought Grar to his feet as a zombie. With the now lifeless body Grar and Gorm in the lead, they opened the door.
Beyond they found an ossuary, with piles of bones and skulls stacked around the room beneath crossed scythes. In the center of the west end of the chamber, they found a dark metal sarcophagus with a bright metal sword laying on its featureless lid. They ordered Grar to pick up the sword, but when they did a chilling howl filled the room, and the angry specter of the Count appeared. It surged forward and planted it's clawed hand on the zombie's chest, and its life sapping touch reduced the party's undead companion to a withered, motionless husk that dropped to the floor and crumbled on the flagstones. As the party closed ranks, eight skeletons pieced themselves together from the bone piles in the ossuary, grabbing scythes off of the walls and charging the interlopers. The specter's chilling grasp landed on poor Gorm, who became weakened under the apparition's life destroying touch.
At this point Iandor held high his holy symbol and rebuked the phantom, turning it so that it fled to one of the far corners of the crypt. From there the battle went quickly, as skeletons fell, mostly from the deft strokes of Vaan the Theif. Being stupid automatons, they wasted their blows on Mr. Barky as the others fended them off. Soon, it was just the party and the specter, which cowered against the far wall hissing and cursing as the adventurers planned their next move. They knew if they pressed their attack against the haunt it would lash out, holy symbol or not, and they knew its soul draining touch would be fatal for any of the group. It was decided that since Gorm could be brought back to life with a cure spell and a lightning bolt, that he would lead the charge against the creature, with Iandor's vial of holy water as a second wave of attack, and a lightning bolt from Ezekiel as a last resort. They pulled the sword in the crypt loose from the sarcophagus with difficulty, as the coffin's surface was magnetic, and hoped that the sword was magical enough to affect the specter.
With that, Gorm charged, and laid a mighty blow on the haunt. The sword he held was indeed a powerful tool against the undead, and the specter's incorporeal form was split nearly in two. Floyd charged forward and hurled the holy water vial, striking right in its heart and causing the thing to boil away in a hiss of ectoplasm with a final muttered curse.
The Specter and his Skeleton Crew
After they had calmed down and taken stock, and used some curative spells, the party decided to press on. They exited the other end of the crypt and made their way down more hallways, coming to an offset T junction. They took the north branch, and wound their way to a chamber where they heard a strident voice raised in anger. At once, Ezekiel recognized the voice as that of his hated rival magician, Morgus the Malevolent, apparently berating a group of henchmen.
The elderly wizard hatched a plan with Vaan the theif to go and stab Morgus in the back, casting an invisibility spell on him. They couldn't get Gorm to part with the magical sword, so he merely carried his own short blade to do the deed, finding Morgus shaking his gnarled fist at a collection of ruffians composed of four human fighters, a homanculus, and a grimling.
The malevolent Morgus and his merry mob of minions.
Unfortunately, Vaan's tread echoed in the closed space, and Morgus was vaguely alerted to his presence. He turned and tried to cast Hold Person, but missed. Vaan decided to cut his losses, literally, and took a stab at Morgus, then bolted using the Boots of Striding that he'd "inherited" from his former employer Grar. The rival evil wizard shouted for his flunkies to give chase, and they pursued him, stopping short as they found themselves faced by the party and its lycanthropic ally. With a shout the ruffians charged, and the battle was joined.
Soon, it became apparent that the fight was reaching a stalemate, although Ezekiel cast a charm person spell and gained one of the ruffians for the party's side, and a Hold Person spell froze the hapless grimling in place. Morgus came around the corner and was thoroughly nonplussed to see Ezekiel there, and called off his men for a parley, revealing he'd had a map to a treasure down in the maze. He was prepared to bargain a share of the wealth in exchange for a way out of the catacombs, for a collapse had closed off the tunnel that he and his lackeys had made to get in. Reluctantly, the party agreed, and led them through the dark tunnels.
When the group reached the crypt, Morgus revealed that there was a huge sum of gold to be found in the sarcophagus. As soon as they laid eyes on all the coins, the party decided to end the truce and attacked. Morgus attempted to take control of Mister Barky, but failed to do anything more than release the beast from Ezekiel's control. Faced with an angry, uncontrolled werewolf in their midst, the party and their rivals scattered and fled the scene, ending the adventure for the time being.
All in all, a good session, but as DH pointed out in his recap, I kind of brought things to a clumsy stop at the end. I probably should have let the combat play out naturally rather than have Morgus call off hostilities prematurely. All I can say was I was feeling short on time (it was 11:00 or so when this phase of the adventure rolled around) and didn't want to make anybody stay late. In retrospect, I should have just let it flow. Heck, I didn't have to go anyplace, I could have gone all night if I'd wanted.
Anyway, all that aside it was a hoot of a session, full of thrills and chills and totally in the spirit of Halloween. Labyrinth Lord was a breeze to run, and all told the old school style really suited the session. My players were all in excellent form, and a great, ghoulish time was had by all.
Bwah hah hah hah haaaah!
By the by. Stay tuned. Soon I'll post about the alternate classes I used to give this session its more monstrous feel.
Okay, so it seems this is pretty much becoming a blog about minis, but that's fine with me, 'cos I love building 'em, kit bashing 'em, and to a slightly lesser degree, painting 'em. (Don't get me wrong, I love having fully painted miniatures, but there's a kind of sloggy quality to painting that must be overcome.)
Anyway, I keep coming up with crazy new minis projects, and here's the beginning of one. A buncha mutants for a vaguely realized Gamma World game/ campaign/ oneshot/ sandbox thing I've got in mind set in New England. This batch is ready to prime, and the only thing stopping me from digging thru my bits box and making more is I'm out of round bases.
These guys are built from Warhammer Fantasy Imperial Militia (my root stock of choice for kitbashing), Cadian Imperial guard, a variety of bits from my bits box, and Reaper Mini's awesome "Creature Components" pack.
Left to right up top, we've got high tech equipped Restorationists and adventurers. Some mean mutant plants. Imperialist Blackbellies in back, brave Watchmen from the walled city of Tham in front, and a variety of road sign shield waving freaks to the left. (Gotta love road sign shields. It's de rigeur for gonzo post apocalypse games.) Seein' all these little guys just gives me a warm glow inside, the kind of warm glow that sets off a gieger counter.
So here's the last of my new race replacements for my Arabian Nights themed Labyrinth Lord campaign in development. These guys are built out of dwarf and lizardman bits, which is fitting since they are essentially dwarf lizardmen. The female is an amalgamation of random bits held together with modeling putty. I figured all the races have a diaphanous veiled dancer, the Largomani should get one too.
They're named in honor of Largo, a mutant turtle (and heavy weapons enthusiast) a good amigo of mine played in my old Gamma World homebrew campaign. Hope you dig.
REQUIREMENTS: Con 9 PRIME REQUISITES: STR Hit Dice: 1d8 Maximum Level: 12
The stocky, reptilian Largomani (singular: Largoman) are creatures of the deep desert, able to survive and prosper in the merciless dune wastes that stretch from the perimeter fertile crescent to the Mount of Ages. While the harshness of their environs make survival their main concern, they are also a kindly folk, willing to extend hospitality to those in need.
A typical Largoman is about four feet tall, weighing about 170 pounds (all of which is muscle) and covered in a smooth, slightly waxy olive green hide. Their lizard like faces are rigid and inscrutable, so much of their personality comes through in vocal inflection and body language. (In fact, they are well known for their grace and skill at dancing, which comes as quite a surprise to the other peoples.) Their hands, while dextrous as any man's, are rough and thorny with thick nails that allow them to burrow through sand with amazing speed. Large, taloned feet and a four foot tail grant them very solid footing on shifting sands, should they choose to move above ground. In day to day life largomani dress very pragmatically, in simple kilts and cloaks, favoring as heavy armor as they can get.
From the day they come of age, every largoman is given a special device known as a dewwok, which resembles a small shield with strange hollows on one side and a polished metal surface on the other, that when set out at night allows them to gather enough water to sustain them for a whole day. A largoman dewwok is usually carried strapped to their back when they are mobile during the day, and adds a +1 to their armor class in addition to whatever other armor and shield they may be using. It is generally their most prized posession, and they will go to great lengths to protect it.
Largomani have the ability to see heat, granting them infravision out to 60 feet. They are also able to burrow through loose earth or sand at a movement rate of 30'. Their intimate knowledge of the wastelands allows them a 1-2 on a d6 roll to detect pitfalls, hidden tunnels, quicksand, or buried water in earthen or sandy environments. Their inherent toughness grants them good saving throws against magic. An unencumbered Largoman has a movement rate of 60', but only suffer encumbrance if they are carrying over 80 lbs. Due to their short stature, they can't use pole arms or large 2 handed weapons. Largomani speak their own language, the common tongue, and their alignment language. They harbour a fierce hatred of the tomb rats, and gain a +1 to damage against them in battle. All Largomani understand something of the tomb rats' debased language.
Reaching 9th. Level: When a Largoman reaches a this level, they will find a likely spot and construct a sietch: an underground warren of tunnels that features large meeting halls, deeply buried cisterns, colonies of docile giant insects that the occupants raise for food, and creche chambers for Largomani eggs and hatchlings. The sietch is defended by Largomani soldiers, but may harbor experts and spellcasters of other races. Largomani seitches operate under a strict code of hospitality. If a wayfarer comes to one in peace, they will be housed, fed, and protected for up to three days.
Largomani use the Dwarf saving throws and the Dwarf level progression from the Labyrinth Lord rulebook, with a d8 for hit dice.
The main reason for these guys is 'cos I got all these awesome minis from the Alkemy tactical game. How can you not dig cat people in Arabian Nights gear? They are also a revamp of a race my friends and I came up with for a shared worldbuilding/Savage Worlds campaign. (Factoid: Kedai is derived from "Kedi" which is cat in Turkish)
REQUIREMENTS: Dex 9, Wis 9 PRIME REQUISITES: STR, DEX Hit Dice: 1d6 Maximum Level: 10
The Kedai are an exalted race of felines originating in the ancient temples of a forgotten deity that can be found at oasis' across the land. Before vanishing, this unknown patron bestowed a final blessing on the sacred cats dwelling in these sprawling ruins, giving them the gifts of speech, sense, and skill. The Kedai refer to this diety in their language as "Ohai", which translates as "She who will return." They revere her as their creator, but do not attach much significance to her beyond that. Aside from a small but fervent order of albino priestesses, they generally ignore their patron deity.
Were a leopard to rise up upon its hind legs and begin dressing and acting as a human, that is the general appearance of the Kedai. Their short fur coats come in shades of gold or orange with black rosettes, with all black and albino specimens infrequently appearing as well.
They are very proud of their appearance, and prefer to dress in loose, colorful clothing that accentuates their pelts to greatest effect. Kedai at their best are bright and vivacious, and intensely curious, at their worst they are lazy, flighty, and vain. Fierce when wronged, but quick to forget grudges. Kedai speak their own language, as well as common and gnoll. Those with Intelligence over 13 may speak the Ancient tongue, while those with Wisdom over 13 may speak the langage of the Jinni.
A kedai gains a +5% bonus to experience if they have a 13 in either prime requisite, and gain a +10% if they have a 13 in both. They gain a +1 bonus to initiative rolls when alone or in a party composed completely of their own kind. They posess infravision out to 60 feet, but their eyes glow in the dark, possibly revealing their location to enemies. They are capable of making great leaps of 20 feet in any direction, as long as they are unencumbered. A kedai may make a saving throw vs. Petrify while falling distances of 30 feet or less to land safely on their feet without harm.
Reaching 9th. Level: A kedai of high enough level may seek out an unoccupied temple ruin and establish a community there, where they may rule as a Bey answering to the Kedai Pasha once they have cleared it of any unwarranted occupants and restored the complex to a liveable state. Such communities often become caravan waypoints and centers of trade and culture, and it often will behoove the ruler to attract learned sages, wizards, and clerics, as well as merchants, tradesmen, and entertainers. The complex may be defended by mercenaries of any kind, but the Pasha prefers his vassals to make as much use of kedai soldiery as possible.
Kedai use the Elf saving throws and the Fighter level progression from the Labyrinth Lord rulebook, with a d6 for Hit Dice.
Here is one of the first "race replacements" for the Thousand Year Sandglass. One of the beauties of Oldskool Moldvay-Cook, BX Labyrinth Lord yada yada style race as class is the ease with which you can swap out these race as classes to change the character and tone of your campaign world. For this setting, having Tolkeinian elves, dwarves, and halvlings running around an Arabian Nights style desert setting just doesn't work. (That's not to say it can't work ever, but fer my purposes, nah...) So here is my replacement for the Elves, the Jann.
REQUIREMENTS: CHA 9 PRIME REQUISITES: STR & CHA Hit Dice: 1d8 Maximum Level: 10
Among the tribes and nations of mankind, there are those in whose veins flow the magical blood of the jinni. These individuals are known among men as the jann. They are gifted with both skill at arms, as well as the power to cast spells as wizards do. Many jann are indistinguishable from humanity, albeit with a greater tendency towards comeliness, but just as many bear outward signs of their lineage, such as unusually colored eyes or hair, or greatly increased height. Regardless of their physical appearance, they are invariably strong, commanding personalities capable of great passions. Many find them arrogant, high handed, and boastful, but often their boasts have considerable power backing them up. The life of a jann is one fraught with destiny and adventure.
Jann may wield any weapon and use any armor, and may cast spells from a list they share with the Sha'ir, using the Magic User's spell progression chart for the number of spells they may cast per day. They do not need to choose spells in advance, instead picking spells from among the spells they know for an appropriate slot on the fly.
They must have at least a 13 on both prime requisites to get a +5% bonus to their XP, and must have a 16 in CHA and a 13 in STR to get the +10% bonus. Due to their magical nature, they can spot illusions on a 1-2 on a d6 when actively searching. Also due to their lineage, they are immune to the paralysing touch of ghuls. Jann can speak common, their alignment language, gnoll, kedai, and the language of the jinni.
Reaching 9th. Level: When a jann reaches this level, they may choose to either build a fixed stronghold in the traditional fashion, generally at an isolated oasis or mountain top, or found a nomadic camp that they rule over as a shaykh, claiming a number of hexes equal to the shaykh's level in the desert. The camp moves from hex to hex every 1d3 months, with a 1d6 to randomize the direction it heads within its ruler's territory. While the hexes in a sheikh's domain remain wild in terms of clearing out monsters and other perils, the hex the camp is currently residing in must be free of threats, and a force must be sent to clear out a hex to be occupied in the future. Warriors of all kinds may be hired, but a personal honor guard of jann stock must be retained.
Jann use the Elf Level Progression and Saving Throws from the Labyrinth Lord Rulebook.
The entirety of this class is hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.
In ancient times I ran an Al Qadim campaign for my brother and his friends, that we had a LOT of fun with. One of my favorite aspects of that setting was how big genies figured into the mix, and how cool the sha'ir class/kit was. Since I'm gonna run an Arabian Nights themed game, here's my Labyrinth Lord take on the class. Sim sim, salabim!
REQUIREMENTS: None PRIME REQUISITES: CHA Hit Dice: 1d6 Maximum Level: None.
The jinni are a powerful force in the magical realm of Sanduq Ramul, and among the tribes of mankind there are men and women who have learned how to speak to, bargain with, and eventually, command these primal, elemental creatures.
Sha'ir may carry and use one handed weapons and bows, but may not use large two handed weapons or polearms. They cannot wear armor or use shields, as to wear armor is a sign of fear that causes them to lose the jinni's respect. They fight as Clerics, and save as Magic Users.
Sha'ir cast spells known as boons from their own spell list, using the Magic User's spell progression chart. This progression indicates the number and quality of favors they may ask from the jinni in a given day. They may choose any spell from the list as appropriate to the level available to them, rather than memorizing their spells beforehand.
At Level 4, a Sha'ir may summon a gen, a diminutive form of jinni that acts as a familiar to them. The gen shares the sha'ir's hit points, and if they are damaged so is their master (although not vice versa). Gen and their master may be healed seperately by any means available to them. If a sha'ir's gen is killed, they may not summon another for 101 days.
There are four types of gen, aligned to the four elements, and what type the Sha'ir may bond with is dependent on their alignment. Each type has a unique power that they may use on themselves at will, and on others once a day. A gen is only a foot tall, hits like a Lvl 1 Fighter, striking with their tiny fists or biting. They speak the language of the jinni.
The four gen types are: Djinnlings, who can cast Fly once a day, has an AC of 3, and hits for 1d4 damage. Daolani, who can cast Passwall once a day, has an AC of 2, and hits for 1d4 damage. Efreetikin, who can cast Resist Flame once a day, has an AC of 3, and hits for 1d8 damage. Maridan, who can cast Breathe Water once a day, has an AC of 3, and hits for 1d4 damage.
Lawful Sha'ir may choose a Djinnling or a Maridan. Neutral Sha'ir may choose a Daolani or Maridan. Chaotic Sha'ir may choose a Daolani or Efreetikin.
Reaching 9th. Level: Upon reaching this level, a sha'ir gains the power to summon and bind jinni into their service. They may do this with any type of jinni whose hit dice are 2 lower than their level (ignoring plus's), thus a 9th. level sha'ir may bind a djinn, while a 12th. level sha'ir may bind an efreeti. The service may be for a maximum duration of 101 days. Sha'ir may only bind one jinni at a time. Upon initiating the binding, the sha'ir must roll a 2d6 and consult the following table
Roll Result 2 Jinni is bound and serves enthusiastically. +1 to Morale 3-5 Jinni is bound to service. 6-8 Jinni is bound, but rebellious. -1 to Morale. 10% chance/day of escape 9-11 Jinni refuses service and vanishes 12 Jinni enraged at attempt to bind. Attacks instantly.
The following modifiers apply to this roll. The sha'ir may apply their reaction adjustment as well if their charisma is high or low enough. +4 if a jinni of the same type has been slain in the sha'ir's service -2 if a prior bound jinni was released from service earlier than agreed upon +2 if a jinni is of a different alignment than the sha'ir -1 if a jinni is the same alignment as the sha'ir -1 for every 100000 gp worth of treasure offered to the jinni, up to 400000 gp.
Sha'ir do not build strongholds, preferring to wander, but they are a welcome presence in the halls or tents of the powerful and well connected.
Sha'ir use the Magic User level progression chart.
Sha'ir Spell List
1st Level 1 Light 2 Floating Disc 3 Hold Portal 4 Shield 5 Water Breathing 6 Resist Fire
I'll start off by saying that I'm probably going to shelf the Fort Standish 3rd. edition campaign for now. Partly it's 'cos I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with 3rd. Edition. I wanna get back to simpler rulesets, so I'm switching up to Labyrinth Lord for my new game engine of choice, and I'm in development on a new campaign. So without further ado, I'd like to announce "The Thousand Year Sandglass", adventures set in the blazing sands and mysterious nights of an exotic desert land. Until I have it playable, I'll be posting occasional tidbits up here, like new classes and whatnot, so stay tuned. If you like Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad movies, then you're in for quite a magic carpet ride.
Okay, so it's August now, which is generally a month when folks take vacations and whatnot. Combine that with general attendance issues, and I'm makin' the call to power down the Sandbox 'til September. There'll still be minis popping up here form time to time, but the game won't really gear up again 'til I can agitate for more players. Enjoy your summer, folks.
Here's a buncha skaven types, a couple of rat ogres and a nasty little trio I like to call the rattish inquisition. Lookit' em skitter! They ain't scared of no carving knife. Get back here, you cowards!
I should make note, being as this is a gaming type blog about gaming type stuff, that this past Friday I had a marvelous session of old school D&D at my buddy DH's. He was running Moldvay/Cook red box/blue box style, and it was a lotta fun. Delta came up from NYC and a grand time was had by all.
I started play as Nosnoj the Magic Man (try to understand, he is a magic man!), armed with a magic +1 dagger and a handful of random rolled, non damaging spells, and clad in slacks, sandals, and the finest knee length turtleneck sweater with elbow and shoulder pads. Then when said stalwart fell to a punch in the neck from a zombie, I switched to playing Freddie "The Bastard" Fraggatelli, a local tough the party had press ganged when busting up a ring of slavers.
This led me to an interesting lesson about play of the game. This was the second time I've had a character die on me, and be replaced by a character I enjoyed playing even more. Those of you readers who were part of my old Thursday night group remember the untimely and sudden death of my brownie character known as "The Ferret", who was replaced by the legendary Zzapokk the Lizard Man, who in all my years of gaming is still my favoritest character I ever played. The lesson: lighten up about your character getting croaked. It's usually an opportunity to run with something even more fun. Fortune favors the bold!
Anyway, thanks a bunch, DH for a great session, and I tip my hat to my fellow players as well. Nary a dud at the table, which is what really makes a session shine. I would play with all of you guys again if given the chance.
I was kind of reluctant about this session, I'm still kind of putting in long hours at work and feeling the effects of that, and I'm still dealing with attendance issues for this whole sandbox experiment, so I was seriously considering bagging it, but I forged ahead, and was really glad I did because this was a real rip snortin' session.
One humorous note I should add is that two of my players had come directly from some sort of historical reenactment event, and were dressed in Colonial garb for ye olde gaming session, which was a hoot.
I think the fact that everybody was mounted did a lot for this session. As in real life, horses are a real force multiplier, and so their battles with the worgs went a lot better. It also really helped with travelling across the map, as they went twice as fast, reducing a lot of the chance of random encounters. (Not completely though, as the hobgoblin ambush will attest.)
I think I was a little testy at times in this session, and for that I apologise to any of my players. I say this as a lead off to a couple of things I found slightly frustrating, which was mainly a tendency for the players to look at me to direct them, especially when the Road Wardens from the Fort came into play.
I know that as generally law abiding, modern day citizens, folks have a tendency to want to defer to authority. It kind of left me in a weird position. I wanted to give them the guard detachment to help bolster their numbers and give them some confidence, but I didn't want to call the shots. I had to explain to them that they were running the show, and that I would not throw in any opinions about what they would do unless absolutely necessary.
Also, at the start of the session I kind of sensed there was this expectation that if they just reported the location of the goblin base, the Fort would take action against the monsters. That's not how it works. Dungeons are for players. You can't just tip off the cops and let them sort it out. In the game world, the Fort is at it's utmost patrolling the road and guarding the small swath of farmland around it's borders. They don't have the guys to spare to put down monsters in the wilderness. That's the adventurers' job.
I think this is somewhat an artifact of the difference between Sandbox format and normal, narrative format. So to reiterate to my players: I am not going to tell you what to do. I will only dangle hooks and it is up to you to decide whether to follow them. You guys are well appraised of most of my initial rumor table, and have a wealth of things that you can go and do. Go do them!
I'm also noticing a tendency for my players to over think things, and to be very cautious about where they go and what they do. I know you want to be prudent and considered in your approach, especially at low levels, but there is a time where when you know where the goblins live, you go and kick their scrawny little asses.
One notion that I'd like to disabuse the players of is that south of the highway is "above their pay grade". I think you are assuming too much there without trying it and seeing.
In my mind, the proper response for adventurers when hearing "Beware of the terrible peat bogs to the South." should be "Huh... I wonder what the big deal is." not "Whoa, thanks for the warning, I sure won't go there."
I dunno, I'm probably getting too cranky here, and I don't mean to give offense to my players. Just take this with a grain of salt and good humor. And cowboy up and go kill some freakin' monsters already!
Oh yeah, one more thing, if I haven't alienated any of my few regular players by the above rant. I'm gonna be setting the quorum for a game at three. Two players just ain't enough for me to feel motivated about, so be advised that if only two sign ups are present by Saturday afternoon, the session is going to be called off.
So Sallum and Safira, the brother and sister team of mounted warriors returned to Millford with the halfling sorceror Deriadan Redkettle. The siblings had recently been working with their mounts to get them more accustomed to combat, and were seeking to press on in their battle against the goblin raiders who had been plaguing the farmlands to the North East. They had taken part in the burning of the Rag Tree, where the goblins had been lairing, and were now back to see what effect their victory had had on the vile creature's movements.
When they arrived in Millford, they found the village on high alert, for the raids had increased in violence and severity. Knowing that Millford was a way point for the road patrols from Fort Standish, they sought out the Sergeant and spoke to him. They found him in the tavern, in council with a group of his riders, and were invited to sit and tell what they knew. When it became known that they were aware of the location of the goblins' forward camp, it was decided that they would lead a detachment of riders there to scout and perhaps strike another blow at the raiders.
The following morning, brother and sister and halfling, and eight fighting men armed with crossbow and battle axe and armored with chainmail, set out on horseback towards the site of the Rag Tree. Their mounts bore them swiftly across the grasslands, and soon they were in sight of the tree, now black and skeletal since it had been burned, and eerily silent, save for the distant croaking of ravens in the forest.
When they approached, they saw that a crude screen of lashed branches had been laid over the cave entrance tucked among the roots of the tree as a sort of blind. It was short work for a couple of the men to lay this aside, and they stood looking down into an inclined tunnel leading into the darkness. Redkettle took out his lantern and lit it, and they hobbled their horses and went down, with Sallum and Carruthers, one of the horsemen, and Safira and Redkettle in the lead.
When they reached the bottom of the incline, suddenly the earth gave way beneath their feet, and the adventurers found themselves in a painful tangle of limbs at the bottom of a twenty foot deep pit. Above them, they heard the hooting and jabbering of goblins, as a tower shield cut with arrow slits was hastily rolled into place at the lip of the pit to the East. A hail of black, pitch dipped crossbow bolts flew and struck down the two road wardens standing at the lip of the pit trap, before the remaining warriors unlimbered their crossbows and returned fire.
At the bottom of the pit, the four looked up to see the crossfire of quarrels, and set about climbing up out of the pit. Mercifully the pit was rather square in dimension, so it was a simple matter for Sallum to brace against the corners and use roots to climb up. He hastily tied a rope to a root and tossed it down, perhaps too hastily, as it looked like it would slip loose if pulled too hard. Safira decided to rely on her own strength to climb out, and was just over the lip of the pit in the corridor to the west, across from the tower shield, when she heard an alarming pattering of clawed feet and a fierce chittering. A swarm of dire rats, hideous beasts as large as herding dogs, had come from the depths of the tunnel, ravenous for fresh meat. The siblings were set upon by the beasts, and suffed horrible bites, as at their backs another warden fell to a goblin quarrel.
Redkettle then managed to get himself up to the lip of the pit with the wardens, and turns to cast a spell to aid Sallum and Safira. A burst of colors caused a few of the rats to fall dazed, but not enough, and one bit Sallum so gravely that he passed out. The halfling followed up with a missile of magical energy, slaying one of the rats that Safira had wounded, and giving her enough opportunity to grab her unconscious brother and leap the corner of the pit to the upward ramp. Carruthers climbed up from the pit, and the group decided to beat a retreat, with Redkettle tossing a vial of alchemist's fire at the tower shield to cover them. They hurried up the incline, dragging their wounded as the goblins hooted and banged the butts of their crossbows against the planks of their tower shield.
The group ran a short distance and then spent time binding their companion's wounds, making sure that none of them would bleed out. They were grateful that it was still day, as the goblins would not venture from their lair as long as the sun shone. Seeking to get more reconnaissance before they hied back to Millford, Safira and Redkettle and a couple of the wardens rode a circuit around the tree, searching for hidden escape tunnels or secret doors, which they fail to discover. As the daylight began to wane, they propped the wounded up on their horses and rode back to the village. On the way they nearly disturbed a grizzly bear over a kill, but gave the beast a wide berth, and avoided provoking it further.
Back in Millford, they settle in at the inn for a few days rest and receuperation. The siblings are stricken with filth fever from the scaberous bites of the rats, and spend the time quite ill. Mercifully, Nana Begler, a kindly hogwife who's herd was among those saved from the depredations of the ankheg showed her gratitude by taking care of the stricken warriors during their sojourn, tending their wounds and brewing herbal curatives and cooking amazing amounts of bacon for them.
After three days, the adventurers were hale and hearty and ready to return to the lair of the goblins. The eight man detachment mounted up, and they rode out once more. When they reached the blackened tree, they approached the cave mouth and looked down it. At the base, two large dark shapes moved, with glittering red eyes full of malice and mouthfuls of white fangs, bared at the intruders. Worgs!
The huge monster wolves began to lope up the tunnel incline, baying for blood. The horsemen scattered back to their mounts, with Sallum and Safira vaulting into their saddles to make ready to face the foes. Sallum spurred his horse, and charged down into the tunnel, his horse furiously kicking at the one on the right, as the one on the left bounded past, snapping and snarling at the horses flanks. Safira drew her bow and rode across the field in front of the hole, firing arrows down at the approaching beast, as the other wardens finally climbed into their horses, with the warden Nelwood fighting to keep his horse from rearing as Redkettle clambered up into the saddle in front of him. Sallum began to back his horse out, leading the attacking beast up into the light, as Safira and the wardens made short work of its companion. When it had been drawn into the light, Nelwood rode up and lopped the beast's head off with his axe, as Redkettle threw a javelin into it's side, slaying it .
The wardens wheeled back to steady their beasts, and the halfling leapt off his mount to retrieve his weapon and stuff the dead worg's severed head into a sack. As he glanced down the tunnel, the halfling froze, as he saw four more of the black pelted monsters, crouching low and stalking up the tunnel toward them. With a cry of alarm, he cast another of his blasts of jangling colors, blinding one of the approaching worgs as the other three broke into a run.
Nelwood reached down and roughly grabbed the halfling by the scruff of the neck and pulled him into the saddle in front of him, wheeling away as the three worgs burst from the tunnel mouth and fan out to attack the cavalrymen (and cavalrywoman). The snarling beasts slammed into the riders, one managing to bowl over Adair's mount, crushing the hapless warden beneath his horse's bulk, while another managed to do the same to Biggleston, however this time the rider was able to leap clear before being injured. The riders brought their mounts around, and had soon encircled the furious worgs in a ring of kicking hooves and swift battle axes. When one of their number fell to Sallum's guisarme and the crushing hooves of Safira's horse, the other two attempted to flee, but were overwhelmed and slain.
The riders then dismounted to tend their wounded and take worg tails for bounties. The final worg that had been blinded by Redkettle's magic was nowhere to be seen, having doubtless fled back down the tunnel.
The group decided to push on, venturing down into the caves, now well warned about the pit trap at the bottom. They found a tunnel leading East and West, and decided to follow the Eastern corridor. Just off of the base of the tunnel to the surface, they found a ten foot wide alcove that contained a curious lever, a board coming out of a slot in the floor, which they guessed was the locking mechanism for the pit trap. They also found some worn ruts in the dirt floor, which they presumed would be from the wheels of the tower shield, which was nowhere to be seen.
They followed the tunnel for several yards, and presently they came to a side tunnel leading to the left. Following it, they saw the charred planks of the shield wall, and Henderson the warden was felled by a crossbow bolt as the goblins behind open fire. The group hurried back around the corner and drew up their plans.
Moving together, Sallum held his shield before him and advanced up the tunnel with Redkettle in tow, as Safira and the wardens covered them with bowfire. When they reached the tower shield, Sallum blocked one of the arrow slits with his shield, as Redkettle cast another blast of blinding color in through the other slit. They were rewarded by the sound of two goblins slumping to the floor, stunned by the clashing, disorienting blast of the spell, as their companions fled down the tunnel behind the shield. The wardens then raced up the tunnel and set about hacking at the barrier with their axes and pushing, finally knocking it over and crushing the senseless goblins beneath.
Behind the fallen shield wall the group found a T junction, to the left, a sturdy wooden door, to the right, a long tunnel leading into the depths of the earth. They decided to concentrate on the door, and spent some time hacking at it ineffectively with their axes when they found it locked. Michaelsford, one of the wardens, turned and hoarsely whispered an alarm, as he spotted a dark, snarling shape slinking up the tunnel toward them. Another worg! The beast charged, bearing the hapless warden down to the ground and worrying at his throat, as the adventurers turned and gave battle. Sallum stabbed at the beast with his guisarme, Safira fired shots from her bow, and Redkettle blasted the beast with a chilling ray of frost. The remaining wardens rapidly surrounded the thrashing beast, and did it in with their axes. After a moment of stunned silence, the tunnels began to echo with hooting and jabbering, and the adventurers decided it was past time to make their retreat.
As they fled out the tunnels, they came to the junction of the side tunnel and the main tunnel that led from the pit trap. As they raced past, Jeffries, the youngest of the wardens, heard something he thought was a human scream coming from the long tunnel they hadn't followed. Deciding to investigate, Sallum, Safira, Redkettle, and Jeffries ventured down the tunnel as softly as they could manage in their armor. What they came upon was a scene of horror none had imagined was possible.
The tunnel widened into a large chamber, vaulted by tree roots. The floor was covered in a tangle of vines and large, flaccid leaves, rather like a pumpkin patch, although the mottled, globular pumpkins were not the cheery orange one would expect, but instead a bruised, crimson red darkening to a purplish black. Among the vile fruits of this garden, humanoid figures writhed on the ground, with wine colored stains down their chins and chests. They were dressed as peasants or travellers, and one was wearing the tabard bearing the crest of Fort Standish, but their bodies were twitching and distorting, their skin blackening and becoming leathery, and sprouting black wiry hair. Their ears were becoming pointed, their hands and feet becoming claws, their teeth becoming jagged, their faces flattening into snarling masks. Most seemed to be shrinking and shrivelling, their human clothes hanging loose about their wasting frames, but the one in the tabard was growing, his uniform splitting over twisting, hairy muscles. The brute looked up at the stunned adventurers, his bear like nose twitching, and they could see murder boiling up in his red, glittering eyes.
With a roar, the creature, which towered at least a head taller than a man if not more, tore loose the peg in the ground it had been tied to and charged them. Sallum braced with his guisarme and stabbed it in its heaving chest, as Jeffries swung his axe and beheaded the creature. Silent with horror, the group hastily retrieved the thing's tabard and head, and fled out the tunnel to the other wardens and quit the goblin lair, now bearing terrible news for the authorities at the Fort.
They rode with all haste, after strapping the wounded into their saddles. As they rode along the edge of the treeline, they spotted an indistinct figure stumbling among the tall trees, but gave it no thought as they galloped onward.
Suddenly, their headlong flight was checked by an ambush in the tall grass of the plains. A rabble of hobgoblins, grinning under their leather sallets, stood and pulled a black tarred rope taut across their path, at the order of a hulking bugbear wearing a knit cap and a wolfskin vest and brandishing a huge, ugly morning star over his misshapen head.
The front row of riders was unhorsed as their mounts were bowled forward over the rope, as behind them the horses carrying unconscious wounded screeched to a halt. The rear guard split into two groups and gave battle to the hobgoblins as the brutes dropped the rope and drew their crude, cleaver like longswords. Sallum got his horse back on it's feet and vaulted into the saddle, charging the bugbear and his hobgoblin henchmen as Jeffries bounded past with Redkettle in the saddle in front of him. The halfling urged the warden to not stop and make speed, as their news was too important not to get back to the Fort. Safira regained her mount and began to fire covering fire with her bow. The wardens who had broken to the left soon made short work of their assailants, but on the right flank of the battle the hobgoblins were effectively knocking out the riders with their sword blows.
Sallum was finding himself overwhelmed by the bugbear and his hobgoblins, taking blows from all sides but unable to fend them off as his shield was strapped to his back. Dizzy from blood loss, he heard his sister's distinctive whistle, and looked around to see her leading a charge to escape as the horses responded to her signal and joined her in a stampede to freedom. The horse warrior spurred his mount and broke through the mob of monsters encircling him, taking a few last opportunistic blows but staying in the saddle. The hobgoblins and bugbear bellowed impotently after them as they made good their escape.
The group made their way back to Millford at top speed, collapsing in town wounded and exhausted, but thankfully having lost never a man. Redkettle raced to the Sergeant with their discovery, and was put on a fast, fresh horse with a warder and sent back to Fort Standish.
There, he related his tale to Captain Costigan, who listened gravely to their findings and thanked them for their bravery. He paid the adventurers handsomely for their kills, and a bit extra for the intelligence they had gathered, and the authorities at the fort pondered what this new information meant in their battle with the goblinoids.
And while we're on the subject of reptiles, and in honor of the fireworks going off this upcoming weekend, here's a dragon! Rar! Try to stay out of the burn wards this weekend, folks. Happy 4th. O' July!
Lizard men, one of my favorite dungeon goons. Here's a squad of 8, plus a gussied up Lizard King. (He can do most anything!) Aside from these guys, I've got a whole dang army of these guys for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which I will display on these pages in the coming months. (The best thing about lizard men minions, you can pay them in ham! It's true!)
Part of collecting minis as a frequent DM has been accumulating a good stock of various grunts, thugs, and dungeon goon types for the characters to do battle with. These guys represent a heavier duty foe, like bugbears. I somehow ended up with enough Warhammer orcs to pull off a pretty mean crowd of 'em, but for a change I decided to do 'em in a natural flesh tone instead of the regular bright green that seems to be de rigeur. I also managed to get hold of a couple of heavily armored ones, which make for good leader/boss type.
So a couple of years ago I was asked by my manager at the time to give a talk about/run a session of D&D at the game design course he was teaching at community college. I was tremendously flattered to be asked, and of course it got the ol' wheels turning.
I wanted to jazz up the presentation, so I decided to dig into my bits box and make representative minis for each class in the game (3rd. Edition). With the exception of the bard's lute, which I had to special order, most of these guys are built from various Warhammer plastic parts, mostly Empire militia (which were originally used for the Mordheim skirmish game, perfect for custom building dungeon delvers, at least human male ones). Took me about a week to paint up the initial set of seven (fighter, rogue, wizard, cleric,barbarian, elf, dwarf, halfling) and as time went on, I kept having ideas on how to do the rest of the classes, so eventually I had a full set, plus some demihuman variants.
I'll also note that the sorceror started life as a mini for a character I played in a short campaign, a master of mystery known as Hieronymus Voss. Hah HAH! (Voss kind of talked like Phil Ken Sebbin from "Harvy Birdman, Attourney At Law". But I digress...)
So here are the results. L to R, you've got a halfling rogue, a bard, a monk, a human rogue, a sorceror, a wizard, a barbarian, a fighter, a paladin, a cleric, a half elven druid, an elven ranger, and a dwarf cleric.
The demo game was a hoot, and since then they've come in very handy as player character minis in many a game. Uh oh, looks like some trouble ahead for our heroes!
Alas, the sandbox had it's first cancelled session tonite. Combination of low turnout combining with a grueling week for yours truly last week and a potentially gruelinger week next week. Hopefully things'll pick up in the following weeks, although next week may be dodgy too because of big doin's at work.
As a consolation prize, here's the map of the area the sandbox is set in. If you think it resembles lands that border other lands, with a keep on it, you probably wouldn't B 2 far wrong. I cast some hexes on it to make it different from the source material.
Anyway, now you can follow along at home as I spin thrilling tales of the sandbox.
Big group this time, which is awesome. Six players, plus with the handsmen we had a force of nine. Plenty of beatdown to spread around.
The handsmen are my take on the Monk class for this campaign. The shao lin style kung fu guys they're presented as in the official rules are a fair bit out of place in a medieval european-esque setting. So I changed 'em to secular, Gentleman Jim Corbett/John Sullivan pugilist/brawler types, or like Morris Dancers or the Colles Castellares from Spain (the human tower guys). Much more european in nature than kung fu guys. Their backstory is kind of like Okinawa, Japan, where the authorities forbade weapons so they just learned to fight with their fists. If I was playing in this campaign, I'd probably play a handsman. I like playing mighty thewed brawly types.
One snag was that I've noticed a tendency for it to take a while for the group to get it in gear, so even though they had this mighty army of awesome, we were pushing at the end of the evening and risking me rolling on the dreaded Calamity tables.
I've been mulling over how to fix this. I think it falls to me to clean up my rumor tables and make 'em a little more tantalizing so that players don't have to spend so much time weighing options.
For players, if I may be so bold as to suggest to any who are reading this, maybe thinking over some goals you want to pursue before you get around the table would be a good idea. There's plenty of great chatter on the google group I use to run this thing about rules and such. We need a little more about rumors and potential expeditions. I know it's tough with a very loose and sometimes last minute group composition, but it's just a thought.
Also, I think I'm gonna be a little more strict about the tavern sessions at the start of the game. It's been great byplay, and I don't want to tamp down on any roleplaying, but there's a lot of time used up on introductions and whatnot that could probably be better used getting into trouble out in the field.
Had to do a little adjustment on the fly with the final encounter with the group of worgs and their mysterious, shapeshifting leader. I threw the encounter together as a strong reprisal (not personally, but thinking like a goblin) for torching the Rag Tree, but when I read the leader's monster description, using my whole brain for once, I saw that it had damage reduction, which changed this from a tough encounter into an unwinnable one, so I did some tinkering on the fly, and was glad I had a logical, in character reason to pull the thing out of the fight. Y'gotta come when Granny calls, Pookie...
Which again is why I'm happy with this format. I can turn a DM screwup into more plot hook/info, which is fine by me.
So yeah, I got the impression the group was exhilarated by the fight, and happy to have struck a blow at the little bastards and survive. They got a good dose of XP, even with shares going to the handsmen, and everybody got a little gold in their pocket too.
All good. Lookin' forward to next week already. What thrills and chills does the sandbox have in store? Come back soon and find out.
So it was another early summer evening at "The Nut". As other patrons came and went, a table at the center of the tavern was accumulating a crew of adventurers discussing what sort of expedition they would next undertake. Earilas the elven bowman was there, as well as Celenor the elven cleric of the Skull. Sallum the horseman arrived, accompanied by his sister Safira, who was known to be skilled in archery as well as riding. Kaylee Hawkins the ranger was there, as well as the golden tressed halfling druidess, who insisted her name was Fern, not Marigold or Goldy as she had previously claimed. The ways of the druids are inscrutable, so the group was happy to oblige.
After much discussion, they decided that a journey to the ruined manor of Eichenbaum would be too dangerous, and to travel south to the peat bogs would also be out of the question. The crew who had battled the giant rats in the cave on the outskirts of the fens had learned through talking with the patrons of the tavern that the peatcutters called that dark grotto the Shunned Cavern, and the adventurers well understood why.
Earilas spoke up, saying that he was interested in getting a closer look at the huge statues he and the group that had explored Eichenbaum had seen on the Slumbering Hill as they fled, so the band of adventurers resolved to set out the next day on the Pilgrim's highway and go to see this edifice, which was known to locals as the Blind Watchers.
The following day found the group of six adventurers, two horses, and a hireling groom to look after the animals setting out on the road. On the way between Poleton and Millford, they encountered a merchant in a wagon loaded with ironware and assorted dry goods, and purchased several lengths of hemp rope, some trail rations, and an iron cooking pot before heading on their way.
Farther down the highway the group was approached by two armed riders, who hailed the travellers and showed by their livery to be patrol riders from Fort Standish. They paused to check on the party's Letters of Marque, and finding them in order paused to discuss what was afoot farther up the road, in more dangerous parts near the Slumbering Hill and the Bleak valley. Of course the goblins were a growing threat, and loose bands of displaced gnolls were also a danger. The adventurers learned from the patrolmen that they should take especial care around gnolls bearing ritual scars upon their faces, as they belonged to a bloodthirsty faction of demon worshippers among the gnoll tribes. Armed with new knowledge, the group bade farewell to the riders and continued on their journey.
As the day was waning the group was in sight of the larger of two hills known as The Sisters. From behind them they heard a trio of booming voices singing bawdy songs, and turned to see three large men approaching along the road. From their simple workmans clothing and their elaborite beards and mustaches, it could be seen that these wayfarers were Handsmen, wandering pugilists from certain Commonwealth villages who made a virtue of fighting without weapons, and who often fared far from their hometowns seeking adventure and opportunities to test their strength. The group greeted them, and in conversation found that the handsmen hailed from the town of Musseldorf far to the west.
Their leader was a mountain of a man named Hercules Haas, ostensibly the strongest man in Musseldorf, who wore a bearskin cloak and carried a large metal weight hanging from a stout timber by a heavy chain as easily as one might carry a hickory branch. His companions were younger handsmen, a hulking brute named Ugly Mike and a one eyed stalwart known as Patch Mulligan. The handsmen had come out on the road looking for adventure, but had found the way blocked by fallen trees past the Slumbering Hills and decided to double back. After a brief parley they decided to join the group in their journey to the Blind Watchers, and so the party's strength was tremendously increased by these three mighty men.
That evening, in the shadow of the Big Sister, the group made camp. Fern, Celenor, and Kaylee slipped off into the forest, seeking wolves so that Fern might adopt a new animal companion. After an hour of expert tracking, they came across a pack of nine wolves, who bristled and growled at their approach. The druidess and cleric attempted to calm the animals with spells, but did little to ease their hostility. They did manage to change the beasts' attitudes from hostile to merely wary and unfriendly, and it was enough that the halfling could perform a ritual to bind one of the animals to her. She chose a young, healthy male who would soon have been driven from the pack anyway, and offered him some jerky as she chanted ancient runes of animal friendship. With her new companion in tow, they backed away from the pack and went their way.
The next morning the sun rose, and the group could see it shining on the huge seated statues that were their goal, miles off on the broad face of the Slumbering Hill. Inspired to continue, they broke camp and set out.
As they walked along the increasingly ill kept and overgrown highway, they sighted a broken down wagon in the ditch ahead of them. After Celenor sent his giant raven companion to give it a look, they decided to investigate more closely.
The wagon was of the gypsy type, more a small hut on wheels than anything else. It was brightly painted, and on the broad side bore a painting of a man in a conical hat presiding over a tiny stage full of colorful figures. On decorative scrollwork beneath the tableau it read "Professor Marvel's Most Excellent Cavalcade of Whimsey" The cart had a broken wheel, and had been completely stripped of all valuables, including the very metal fittings and nails, which had been prised loose and taken. Kaylee found a profusion of worg and goblin tracks, larger tracks that must have been hobgoblins, as well as strange, three toed clawed feet that looked as if giant chickens had circled the wagon as well. Celenor, while searching inside, discovered a spring loaded hidden panel in one of the inner walls, and found two stoppered test tubes in a rack inside. One was full of a thin amber liquid, and had a mark depicting a stylized rabbit underneath a hat, while the other was clear liquid full of specks of red precipitate, marked with a symbol of a cat's eye. He pocketed them, and the group considered their options. Kaylee established that the wagon had been there for maybe a couple of days, and there were no signs of any Professor Marvel or any other occupants about. They did, however, have very good tracks for the goblin raiders, and decided they would follow them instead of pressing on to the Blind Watchers. If a rescue could be enacted, well and good, and they would get to strike a blow at the goblins. The handsmen agreed that this would be a fine adventure, and so the group set out across the plains heading West, following the trail of the goblins.
Presently, with only about an hour or so of daylight left, they came to the treeline of the great Northern Forest. There, at the end of the trail, they spotted a most unusual tree. As they got closer, they realized that it was quite dead, and instead of leaves it had been densely hung with rags and scraps of cloth, forming an edifice that looked like a massive bag worm's nest. Celenor sent his raven to scout, and as she wheeled around the evil looking tree arrows were fired and struck the poor bird as she passed. As she returned to her master croaking the elvish word for danger, the shafts sticking out of her ruffled plumange confirmed it, goblin arrows. They had found the raiders' base of operations.
The group quickly drew up a plan, rushing before they lost what daylight they had. Several torches were unwound of their pitch soaked strips of cloth, which were hastily wrapped around a handful of arrows. The group fanned out, with Sallum and the handsmen on the far right, Earilas, Celenor, and Fern and her wolf in the center, and Kaylee and Safira on the far leaft. Earilas stepped foreward and staked his pitch wrapped arrows in the ground before him. Then, calmly and precisely, he nocked an arrow to his bow and allowed Celenor to light it, and fired it into the Rag Tree. The greasy strips of cloth burst into flame with a whoosh. The elf moved down the line, drew an arrow, lit it, and fired again. This time, he struck a concentration of rags, and soon the massive tree had been converted into a huge torch. A huge cacophany of cries and jabbering, accompanied by banging on metal gongs and the blowing of hunting horns, arose from the tree. A pair of worgs, each carrying a goblin on their broad, mangy backs, burst from the treeline and each charged one of the pair of riders on the party's side.
Meanwhile, the force of goblins who had been lurking in the Rag Tree dropped out of it, some breaking their necks when they hit the ground, others perishing in the bright flames that wreathed their wretched little bodies. Only one survived the fall and fire, and he darted down the cave mouth that the party now saw at the base of the tree by the light of the conflagration.
Earilas fired his bow at the charging worgs, hitting one of them as it passed. The giant wolves dove for the horses, but both Safira and Sallum deftly drew their mounts aside and deflected the savage beast's attacks. As a group the handsmen charged the worg, with Hercules Hass bringing his mighty iron weight down on the slavering beast's head. The huge animal, it's skull ringing from the impact, lunged at the mighty handsman, biting into his forearm as he batted aside the goblin rider's spear. His fellow pugilists then flanked the beast, raining blows upon it with their mighty fists, as Celenor's raven worried at the black pelted wolf with her claws. Sallum brought his horse around and began to stab at the creature. Across the field of battle, Earilas, Kaylee and Fern peppered the other great beast with missile fire. The overexcited goblin on the creatures back dropped it's spear, and dismounted to try to retrieve it. The little wretch was met by Celenor, who used an uncanny power of his order and stopped the goblin's heart with a touch. The dead goblin's mount, overwhelmed by the resistance it was facing, turned tail and fled the field, disappearing into the trees as Kaylee and Earilas fired vollys of arrows after it. Meanwhile, the other worg and it's goblin rider were worn down by Sallum and the handsmen. Fern's wolf charged into the fray and placed a killing bite on the giant worg's throat, and the unmounted goblin fell to a punch in the face from Ugly Mike the handsman.
The group advanced on the flaming tree, considering what to do next. They peered into the cave and could see the venomous glare of reflected goblin eyes staring back at them in the depths of the cave. The adventurers decided to withdraw after claiming bounty trophys from the dead goblins and worg on the field, as the light of the sun was failing and the goblins in the cave didn't seem to be willing to come out and fight, and they feared that an excursion into their stronghold would be too dangerous. The group resolved to head home and return another day.
However, the vengeance of the goblins was not long in coming. The group made camp about a league away from the flaming wreckage of the Rag Tree, and set watches to guard against danger. Late in the night, on the fourth watch, the task had fallen to the handsmen. Thankfully for their mighty voices, the pugilists awakened the group as a formation of dark, lupine shapes clambered through the tall grass toward them. At the edge of the campfire's light, they saw a phalanx of five worgs. Four of them bore angrily jabbering goblins on their backs, while at the lead a particularly evil looking brute of a work loped toward the camp riderless. Unnervingly, it was laughing in a harsh, ugly voice and speaking in goblinish, singing a childish song about how it was going to rend the party limb from limb, gnaw their bones, and drink their blood.
The party arose and drew their weapons, forming a hurried defensive line as the beasts closed the distance. Earilas calmly drew an arrow and fired it at the leader, and scarcely blinked as the shaft bounced off the beast's hide as if it had been a thrown flower. The monstrous worg laughed and taunted them. At Fern's side, the wolf was seized by a frenzy of anger and fear, causing it's hackles to rise sharply. Almost unbidden, the beast charged the lead worg, stopping it's forward momentum as the other beasts charged the party. The leader almost casually pinned the wolf down to the ground with a chuckle. It sneered in goblin. "You'll not find my throat so easily, little cousin." At that moment, Earilas and Celenor's sharp eyes spotted an even larger beast, a truly hideous and huge worg, just at the edge of the light of the campfire, as their companions struggled with the jagged spears and gnashing jaws of the lesser worgs. With a shrug of its shoulders, the great beast changed form, into a tall humanoid clad in a dun colored dress and grey shawl, held closed by a blue skinned, gnarled hand. The female creature had a hideous, wrinkled, feral blue face with a long, pointed nose, and iron grey hair pulled back into a tight bun wrapped around shards of bone. With a snarl, the creature barked an order at the huge worg. "Pookie! Come home!" The worg, who still held the struggling wolf under its paw, suddenly shifted and transformed as well, into a large, muscular goblin with blue skin, clad in dirty wolf pelts. Its features contorted in dismay as it turned toward the hag like creature. "But Granny, I'm havin' fun!" The she creature stamped on the ground and repeated its command, with a palpable air of menace. "Pookie! Come home!" With that, it shifted once again into the form of a giant, horrible worg, and vanished into the darkness. With a sigh, the blue goblin thing looked longingly at the pitched battle between the adventurers and the worgs, looked down at the wolf in its hands, and almost as an afterthought snapped its poor neck. It then transformed into its worg shape, and loped into the woods with it's tail tucked between its legs.
Meanwhile, the battle had been joined. Safira and Sallum both vaulted into the saddles of their horses, while the handsmen formed a line to face the wolves. The mighty men fought valiantly, but are soon borne to the ground by the gnashing jaws of the wolves. From behind the fire, Kaylee fired her bow while Fern threw sling stones. Celenor's raven took to the air and harried the quartet of beasts with her claws and beak in flyby attacks. Sallum, barely controlling his frightened horse, wheeled back and forth, stabbing with his polearm where opportunity presented. Fern took an opportunity and rushed to Hercules Haas' side, reviving the mighty handsman with druidic healing magic. Finally, Sallum managed a powerful strike at one of the worgs, peircing the thing's black heart. In it's death throes, the monster wolf toppled backwards, crushing it's goblin rider. From there the tide of battle turned, as the archers and horseman slew two more of the beasts. The final worg, bleeding from a multitude of cuts and punctures, turned its tail and fled, its angry goblin rider cursing and walloping the beast with its spear.
When the dust settled, the group found they had three more goblins and three more worgs to add to their tally of bountys. They set about binding wounds, and found that the other handsmen, through sheer physical strength, had stabilized and were going to pull through. Alas, another animal companion was lost to Fern the druid, and they buried the poor beast where it lay.
After keeping a close watch for the rest of the night, the group hurried South and caught the highway, and rushed back to Millford without further incident. When they returned to the Fort, they cashed in the trophies from their kills for a total of a hundred gold merits, split between them and their handsmen friends. They warned the Captain of the Road Watch that they had struck a blow at the goblins, and that it woud behoove the Commonwealth forces to fortify Millford for a time. So, with pockets jingling with new gold and tales of their thrilling battles on their lips, the group returned to the Red Acorn to purchase another round.