Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New Patreon Post is up

New hex is up, featuring a giant snail on the brink of sentience, a gnoll village, two playable gnoll classes and a simple skill system to bolt onto your Labyrinth Lord (or other OSR) games.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Shrine of Sabeth

In lieu of another monster today here is an encounter location, the Shrine of Sabeth.

An abandoned and ruined temple in the woods fronts an underground grotto holding a statue of a satyr the size of an ogre. An iron crown, shaped like twining thorns, crests the statue's head, and in its hand it holds a set of pan pipes. There is an open shaft in the ceiling above the statue, and every month on the full moon the statue comes to life at midnight as the Spirit of Sabeth possesses the statue. It will not animate without both the Crown and the Pipes.

Upon animating, the Spirit of Sabeth begins to play a tune upon its pipes, and all mortal creatures within the grotto must Save v. Spells or start dancing. The dancing lasts until dawn, and all who dance are exhausted and must rest for either one or two days. Occasionally, those who dance recieve a boon from Sabeth, as follows, by rolling on 1d100.

1-85. No blessing
86-88. The animals of the forest react positively to the adventurers. Any time the adventurer encounters a normal animal in the woods they add a +4 bonus to their reaction roll. This ends once the adventurer kills an animal, normal or giant.
89-91. The next roll the character makes automatically succeeds.
92-94. The character gains knowledge of a 1st level druid spell for one week. If they are not a spellcaster they may cast it once before memory of it fades. If they are a spellcaster they may cast it in place of another spell during this time period, as often as possible, and if the spellcaster is a cleric or druid they have a 1-4 in 6 chance of remembering it and adding it to their spell-list.
95-97. Character gains 1d4 extra hit points, permanently.
98-99. Character gains 1d6x100 XP
100. Character has one randomly chosen Attribute increase by 1.

No individual may recieve more than one boon per year, and they may not receive any one boon more than once. In addition, those who receive Sabeth's gift find the cities and accoutrements of civilizations distasteful, a feeling of mild revulsion which lasts for 3d4 days. They also glow faintly, ever so faintly, in the dark.

If attacked or threatened, Sabeth may gaze upon the interloper, who must make a Save v. Spells or be polymorphed into a random forest animal, as per the spell polymorph others. A Remove Curse will change the target back, or a Dispel Magic cast by a magic-user of 9th level or higher.

When first encountered both the Crown and the Pipes are missing. The Pipes can be found hidden under the floorboards of the temple above, along with a liturgical guide that details some of the practices of the now defunct Cult of Sabeth. The Crown has been tossed into a pool of water in the forest outside of the shrine, and is now guarded by a water weird (can be found in B7, Rahasia). There are two goblins lurking in the ruined temple as the adventurers approach, and a dead goblin at the edge of pool of water.

Day Twenty-eight -- Dream Spider

Day Twenty-eight is another Horror, with a roll of 48. It hails from a realm of nightmares and dreams (79) and is barely intelligent, but can be trained over time. Its base form is that of a daddy longlegs (91), with fish-like attributes (39), spongy skin (81) and eats abstract food (6). Since it hails from a land of nightmares and dreams let's assume that it feeds upon the fevered nightmares it induces in its victims.

Dream Spider
# Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
AC: 4
HD: 4+6
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d6 + special
Save: F8
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None
XP: 215

Dream spiders are long-legged horrors that dwell in the Dreamlands, entering the Material world at certain times when large populations of creatures experience mass night terrors as a result of war, great tragedy or magically induced dreams. They are about three feet in diameter, with more than a dozen long, spindly legs, and bloated, many-eyed bodies that are covered in irridescent, shimmering scales.

They are stealthy, moving silently and hiding in shadows as a 9th level thief, and prefer to approach sleeping victims. They have the ability to cause the victim to have unusually terrifying nightmares, but can only feed on one target per night, although they may target more than one victim per night! The targeted victim must Save v. Spells or have their slumber deepened into an almost unwakeable sleep lasting 2d4 hours, during which time they suffer intense nightmares that prevents full rest. The dream spider must remain with 30' of their victim during this time. The nightmares are exhausting, and a target dies after a number of consecutive nights of dream spider induced dreams equal to their Constitution score.

Dream spiders can also attack with a powerful bite, causing 2d4 points of damage and injecting their target with a powerful poison that puts the victim to sleep (automatically forcing them into the nightmare dreams described above, without the Save v. Spells). In this case the victim remembers being attacked by a multi-legged horror, and is usually aware when they wake up that something is amiss. Sunlight (or magical spells that recreate sunlight) will automatically slay a dream spider, so the creatures usually lurk in dank cellars, sewers, etc., typically anywhere with a high concentration of potential dreamers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Day Twenty-seven -- Hydrochoer

We've been having some intense storms sweep through the area, and our internet connection has been spotty the past few days. For Day 27 the first roll is a 97, for a verminous creature. It's a slightly venemous (89), rodent (larger than cats)(83), that is amphibious, nesting in the water but coming out to hunt on land.

A little quick googling for information on large rodents reveals that the latin name for capybara is hydrochoerus, which means water hog. I think we've just found the name of our vermin.

 # Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
AC: 7
HD: 1
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d4 + poison
Save: NM
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: VI
XP: 13

Amphibious rodents larger than cats, hydrochoers nest in still underwater grottoes, both in the wilderness and in dungeons, venturing onto land to hunt. They are attracted to shiny things, which are brought back to their nests, but it is often difficult to retrieve the treasures of hydrochoers, both because they lair underwater and often in tight spots that creatures larger than them find difficult to access.

Hydrochoers attack by swarming their prey and biting them with their large teeth. A living creature bitten by a hydrocchoer must make a Save v. Poison. Those failing are nauseated for 1d4 turns after being bitten, suffering a -2 penalty to all rolls and having a movement reduced by 10' per round. The penalties are not cumulative. Hydrochoers fear fire, and being in the presence of any fire larger than a torch forces an immediate morale check. Their favorite tactic is to swarm their prey, biting as many as possible, and then retreating to shadow their victims, picking off those who are already affected and moving more slowly.

There is a sub-species of the hydrochoer that dwells in salt or brackish water. They are identical statistically to the normal version, except they have 1+1 HD and a morale of 9.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Day Twenty-six -- Cycadian

Towards the end of the stretch, and today's monster is a plant monster. A roll of 10 gives us a basic form of "broad leaves", and a second roll of 49 tell us that it is mobile. In addition to fighting with limbs (Table 2-74) it has a pulling attack *and* an augmenting attack, both from Table 2-61.

For movement the result is a 9, meaning that it glides or flies using wing-like growths. For pulling attacks we get a 56 (organ, functioning as a gaze attack, with those affected moving towards the plant) and augmented we get a 77 (substance, coated on the body, that causes targets to become "plant zombies". Finally, for limb attacks we find that it uses a wing buffet. So, that goes well with its mode of action.

# Enc.: 0 (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 30' (10')
AC: 3
HD: 6
Attacks: 2 leaf buffet + gaze
Damage: 1d6/1d6 + special
Save: F6
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None (see below)
XP: 570

Millennia old, from an age when the world was new and much hotter and humid than it is to day, the mysterious Cycadians ruled the lands. Now their numbers are much reduced, with many of the surviving numbers lolling in a stupor of lethargy. Those awake Cycadians haunt the tropical zones of the world, floating menacingly through the forests in search of prey, as their leaf fronds ripple slowly, propelling them forwards, roots trailed behind above the ground. They stand between around eight feet tall.

When confronted with sentient beings the Cycadian fronds part, revealing a large, pupiless eye. All those meeting the gaze of the eye must Save v. Spells or be affected as per the Spell Charm Monster, and feel a deep-seated desire to advance towards the Cycadian without caution. Once within range the victims are pressed to the creature's trunk and implanted with seeds into their brain. They will lose 1 point of Intelligence per day afterwards, unless the seeds are removed via a Cure Diesease spell. When the victim reaches 0 Intelligence they are rendered immobile and do nothing but drool, and the newly formed Cycadian saplings sprout from its body. Unfortunately for the Cycadians, the centuries have rendered most of their seeds inviable, and only 5% ever sprout. Those victims infected with inviable seeds die after 1d6 days of insensate drooling.

Occasionally, rather than implant a victim with seeds the Cycadian chooses to feed upon a charmed creature, and will send their roots into their chest, doing one point of damage per hour until they are sucked dry of nutrients. Charmed victims will not resist this feeding. Cycadians can also buffett a nearby target twice per round with their fronds, but they must be on the ground in order to do so and cannot move while buffetting.

Cycadian communicate via a strange rustling and susurrus of the leaves, a mode of communication lost to Man, although it is rumored there are some elves who still understand the language. Cycadians are immune to all Charm and Hold spells. The timber that can be milled from a felled Cycadian is rare and valuable, worth 100 gp per hit point the creature originally had.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Darkness Beneath Dalentown, a Review

This is an unsolicited review of The Darkness Beneath Dalentown, an adventure for 4-8 characters of levels 8-12. It is written using the Swords and Wizardry ruleset. There will be some spoilers in this review, so players beware! It is written by brothers Tim and Matthew Bannock.

The cover is by Dean Spencer and shows an elf fighter with one leg partially encased in a gelatinous cube. The elf is in the process of swinging a sword, and to me it looks like she is trying to cut off her leg to escape the cube rather than attacking it. I will admit that I've got a soft spot in my heart for oozes, jellies and gelatinous creatures, and was attracted to this module both because of its contents but also because it is a higher level adventure, which are relatively rare.

From introduction to Appendix it is 30 pages. The introduction starts out explaining the premise in broad strokes -- an urban expansion project in the sewers of Dalentown has opened up a passageway to an ancient dwarven mine tragically abandoned. It is recommended that at least one character be a cleric or paladin, for access to magics that can deal with various ooze related conditions.

The module is organized in logical fashion: there's a brief introduction to Dalentown and background explaining the events that led to the staging of the module, followed by a summary of the adventure itself and a listing of what books are needed to play (both the S&W Monstrosities book and the Tome of Horrors Complete), although it is noted that all monster stats are given in the back of the book.

Briefly, Dalentown was settled unknowingly above an abandoned dwarven mine. The dwarves were mining an especially hard crystal, and decided to take a shortcut by hiring a wizard to help them out. The magic-user, named Sedeen the Conjurer, decided to conjure some oozes to dissolve the softer surrounding stone to make the mining got faster. Needless to say, hijinks then ensued with the demon lord Jubilex (spelled that way in TOHC) interfered and sent more oozes than could be dealt with. The dwarves blamed Seldeen and threw the magic-user into a pit of oozes, where the demon-lord transformed her into a demon!

There's a map of Dalentown, a brief overview of the town itself with some notable NPCs and locations noted, including some plot hooks that could be used beyond the adventure itself. When the PCs arrive in town they find out that, upon discovering the ancient dwarven ruins a team of adventurers were hired to explore; they were routed and almost all were slain, with their being only two survivors. These two can be pumped for information about what they saw, which isn't much, although one of them swears to have encountered a ghost. The adventurers are low level, so it comes as no surprise that they were slaughtered. Dalentown itself is fairly generic and designed to be placed as desired in an existing campaign world, and can be expanded upon as needed.

There are four hooks given to get the adventurers interested in the adventure, and a neat timeline that spells out what happens the longer the infestation of oozes goes unchecked, including a timetable of events that occur over the period of a couple of months. It's a neat touch, and as the timeline advances there are mechanical increases to the sewer random encounter rolls to include greater threats. We're given a map of the sewers and told to place the entrance to the dwarven stronghold as desired in the sewer, and to limit the number of entrances to the sewer itself, so it allows for some customization.

Once the adventurers travel through the sewers -- where they risk only random encounters -- they enter the dwarven stronghold itself. The maps are fairly basic, created using Inkwell Ideas Dungeonographer, and easy to use. One nice touch is that the remains of the previous adventuring party can be found throughout the upper levels in different places as they meet their demise. I won't go into too much detail about the adventure itself, but will note that the primary monsters in this dungeon are oozes, with a golem, ghost, ratlings and some cursed dwarven lords making up the rest, in addition to Sedeen, the Faceless Demon Ooze. The dungeon itself is relatively small -- which I actually like, as I've gotten a bit tired of enormous megadungeons -- but there are a couple opportunities for the DM to expand it beyond its current borders.

Defeating Sedeen is not enough to prevent the oozes from eventually making their way up to the surface, so the players should have to come up with a way to end the ooze threat, or they might jsut assume that defeating Sedeen is enough to end the threat, leave town and then receive news that all is still not well in Dalentown.

The Appendix lists a couple of unique magical items and the stats of all the monsters encountered in the book, with a brief listing of their abilities, which is nice. The second section of Appendix gives some options for placing specific books within the dwarven library and presents 20 different tomes that can be found, some harmful and some beneficial. I'm a big fan of handing out books as treasure, especially those that can have game benefits down the road (for research or whatever).

Overall it is a solid adventure, but I feel that it could benefit by including more material. Not by increasing the size of the dungeon, but by fleshing out Dalentown and the surroundings a bit more, and Sedeen herself. Her long-term plan is somewhat limited in scope -- she's driven by vengeance against the dwarves who slew her and wants to unleash a plague of oozes upon the surface world, but that's about it. She feels kind of shallow and undeveloped as a rather potent demon, and I think could use some work to expand on. She is explicitly given the ability to speak through oozes, and we're told that she will mock and rage at the adventurers through her jellied mouthpieces, which seems rather petty and shallow to me. Mabe it is meant to be that way? I would much rather have her silent and inscrutable, with the only clues the adventurers recieve to her presence is the strangely intelligent behavior of the oozes they face, as the seemingly mindless creatures act with cunning and guile far beyond what is expected.

One of the things I like about this adventure, though, is that it can be utilized in different ways; it could be run as is, or it could be run as an isolated dungeon, sealed off from the rest of the world that the adventurers encounter during their travels: at the back end of the cavernous chamber you discover a locked door of what looks to be dwarven manufacture, locked and untouched for centuries. Runes above the door warn in dwarfish to beware the Magician's Folly!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Day Twenty-five -- The Odobenus, a noble water elemental

Day Twenty-five of 30 Monsters in 30 Days. For those of you just jumping in, I'm using Matthew Finch's excellent "Tome of Adventure Design" to randomly generate a monster a day. I haven't quite hit my goal of one per day, but have kept things going, so that's good, I think.

Today the result is a 26, an elemental. It's nobility, similar to a powerful djinn. Mammalian in appearance, it originates from the plane of water. It can be bound through a sacrifice.  Hmm.

# Enc.: 1 (wilderness only)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180' (60') Swimming
AC: 4
HD: 8
Attacks: 2 (bite, tail) or special (see below)
Damage: 3d4, 2d6 or special
Save: F8
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None
XP: 2060

Powerful, walrus-like elementals from the plane of water, Odobeni only appear on the Material Plane when summoned by a powerful magic-user; doing so requires a sacrifice of 20 HD of sapient beings, drowned in ocean brine. If the sacrifice pleased them (make a reaction roll, modified by +1 for every additional 20 HD sacrificed) they will serve the conjurer for a period of 13 days, although they primarily serve their own Chaotic agendas and may subtly twist orders to fit their desires.

Odobeni are only affected by magic and magical weapons. In addition to their powerful melee attacks, they may use the following special abilities, thrice per day:

  1. Become invisible, as the spell.
  2. Create an illusion, as per the spell Spectral Force.
  3. Lower water, as per the spell, as a caster of level 16.
  4. Cast Water Breathing, as the spell, on up to 8 targets.
  5. Once per week they may control weather, as per the druid spell Control Weather, greater
Odobeni rarely leave the water, although they can survive both in and out of it, and when in the water suffer automatic half damage (save for 1/4) from fire-based attacks. Once per day they may create a whirlpool 120' in diameter and up to twice that in depth, capable of sinking all but the largest ocean-going vessels.