Sunday, June 28, 2015

Monsters I Just Made Up

I just made these up. Do you find me more cool and mysterious!

Small Magical Beast, Neutral (N), Low to Average Intelligence; Pride (2d8)

Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 13
Attack: 2 claws (1d2) or bite (1d3)
Move: 50 (Climb 20)
Saves: F14 R12 W15
XP: 50 (CL 1)

Monkey cats dwell in the steamy equatorial jungles. They look like cats with long tails, and overlong arms and legs that end in grasping hands. Most are black, but other color schemes exist. Like both monkeys and cats, they are terribly curious, and have a penchant for theft. They dwell in prides in the tree tops under a Grand Dame, who decorates herself with stolen jewelry. Her attendants are the bullies and protectors of the tribe, while her daughters hunt and practice the ancient rites that honor the creator of the monkey cats, an Aegyptian wizard with more time and money than he knew what to do with. Crude carvings of his face are made in the high tree tops, and are worshipped with yowling songs and ritual hunts of birds and rodents.

Monkey cat characters gain a bonus of +2 to dexterity and suffer a -2 penalty to intelligence. They can hang from their tails, and gain a climb speed of 20. They can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Monkey cats can multi-class as fighter/thieves, sorcerer/thieves and cleric/thieves.

Large Aberration, Chaotic (CE), Low Intelligence; Pod (1d4)

Hit Dice: 7
Armor Class: 14 (18 when skinned)
Attack: 2 slams (2d6 + Poison II) [ooze form]
Move: 30 (Fly 20)
Save: F11 R12 W11
XP: 700 (CL 8)

Globulous looches are buoyant balls of skin and fat with six beady eyes on their underside. They mostly float on air currents, especially in narrow valleys of high mountain ranges, observing the inhabitants and travelers and cursing them silently. When their hatred for other beings gets the better of them, they descend to the ground and split, releasing their ooze form, which then does its best to gobble up as much plant and animal life as possible as it grows a new, thick skin and regains its buoyancy. Globulous looches are especially fond of magic items, which they drain of their magic. The enchantments in the item are retained by the globulous looch for up to 24 hours, and are usable at will. Magic armor simply transfers its magical armor bonus to the looch (as well as any special abilities), and magic weapons transfer their bonus to hit and damage (as well as any special abilities). After 24 hours, a new skin is grown, and the globulous looch, if still alive, floats back into the atmosphere.

Medium Humanoid, Neutral (N), Average Intelligence; Gathering (3d8)

Hit Dice: 1+1
Armor Class: 13 (leather scale, buckler)
Attacks: By weapon (1d8)
Move: 30 (Burrow 10)
Saves: F13 R15 W15
XP: 150 (CL 2)

Traballers are flinty-skinned folk with manes of black hair and perpetual scowls on their faces. They stand as tall as elves, but have overlong arms and legs and pot bellies. Their touch causes sympathetic vibrations in solid items, causing them to shatter (item saving throw permitted). Stone items save at -4. Traballers most work as miners and quarrymen. They are secretive folk, dwelling away from others in simple huts, and hiding their children and wives under heavy scarlet cloaks bound at the ankles and wrists in brass bands. While so hidden, traballer females gain mystic abilities bestowed on the species by their goddess of mysteries, allowing them to cast spells as adepts (level 1 to 4).

Male traballers wear armor of leather scales with steel collars and bands around their arms and legs. In battle, they wield steel battle rings that can be used as shields (two are the equivalent of a buckler), bludgeons and can be thrown (25’ range, 1d3+2 damage).

Traballer characters enjoy a +1 bonus to Constitution, but suffer a -1 penalty to Charisma. Female characters who retain their scarlet coverings also gain a +1 bonus to Wisdom, but suffer an additional -1 penalty to Charisma (total -2) for their unnerving appearance. They can make sundering attack with their bare hands. Males understand how to fight with their battle rings. Shrouded females gain the following spells, provided they have a Wisdom score of 10 or higher, each spell usable once per day: Guidance, mending and sanctuary. Traballer characters cannot multi-class, but they can dual class like humans.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bring Some Muscle Into the Dungeon [New Class]

1958. Steve Reeves plays Hercules and not only is a legend born, but a new genre of action/adventure – Sword & Sandals: the heroic adventures of oiled bodybuilders strangling things with their bare hands, bending bars and lifting gates.

We have lots of interesting characters running around fantasy roleplaying games, and plenty have 18’s in Strength, but none of them are true musclemen. Until now …

Requirements & Restrictions
Strength 15+, at least 6’ tall

Musclemen wear no armor, only the hides of the animals and monsters that have slain. They can use shields

Musclemen can wield any weapon, but double-handed weapons are preferred

Hit Dice: d12

Skills: Bend Bars/Lift Gates, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Jump, Swimming

Advance As: Fighter

Special Abilities
Musclemen are capable of using their muscles to influence reactions, either through charm and awe, or sheer intimidation. Musclemen can modify reaction checks with their Strength score rather than Charisma score if the TK deems the situation appropriate.

Musclemen add 1.5 their strength bonus to attacks and damage when armed with double-handed weapons.

Musclemen treat creatures as one size category smaller for grapple and bull rush attacks.

Once per day, a muscleman can call on an adrenaline rush and either re roll a failed strength check with a +2 bonus or double their strength bonus on a single melee attack and damage. They can also make sundering attacks with their bare hands.

A muscleman spends a great deal of time in training. Every four levels, beginning with fourth level, they can deduct one point from intelligence, wisdom or charisma and add it to their strength score.

Musclemen gain additional skills as they advance in level if their strength score is high enough.

Burst Chains and Iron Bands (Level 3, Strength 16) – A muscleman can burst chains and iron bands simply by flexing their chest muscles or biceps.

Toss Dwarf (Level 5, Strength 17) – Musclemen can toss gnomes (Str 17), halflings (Str 19) and dwarfs (Str 21) at opponents. Treat this as a ranged attack with a range of 10 feet. If the muscleman misses, the tossed character gets no attack, loses their turn and suffers 1d4 points of damage. If their attack hits, the tossed character makes an attack as though charging, and the mere act of throwing them scores 1d6 points of damage for gnomes, 1d8 for halflings and 1d10 for dwarves, plus the muscleman’s strength bonus.

Hammer Nails (Level 7, Strength 18) – A muscleman’s sinews are iron hard, allowing him to hammer nails with their bare fists. Difficulties include hammering sharp items larger than nails, or hammering into materials harder than wood.

Bite Through Chains (Level 9, Strength 20) – A muscleman’s jaws are such that he can bite through metal. In addition, he can bite characters that he grapples (treat as an additional unarmed attack).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Another Taste of Ulflandia

I'm about 90% finished writing the Ulflandia hex crawl, which means I'm pretty much on schedule to get the next issue of NOD out this month. I should get Bloody Basic - Sinew & Steel Edition out as well, and maybe Bloody Basic - Weird Fantasy Edition (depending on how much reading I get done between now and the end of the month). Once those are put to bed, I turn my near-sighted eyes to Grit & Vigor, which I would like to publish before the end of summer.

That being said, I thought I'd post a few Ulflandia entries today to give people a taste of it. Enjoy!


Old Grog the hill giant smith dwells here, keeping a forge, three unruly daughters and a motherly wife who could only kill a person with kindness, for she’s otherwise gentle as a lamb. Old Grog remembers the old ways, and he can breathe magic into his creations if he has the mind to – he’ll swap minor magic weapons and armor for tales well told (and a heap of gold). If somebody will promise to wed one of his daughters, he’ll make more powerful magic items. He keeps a giant spider on an unbreakable silver thread in his workshop as a guard animal and companion. The spider is well versed in elven poetry and gnomish limericks, and he has a fine baritone voice (for a spider).

Treasure: 150 pp, a silver hammer (80 gp).


A band of fifteen forest giants and their mates dwells in a massive hall made of timber in this hex. The longhouse is surrounded by a wooden picket and a shallow moat, about 20 feet wide, filled with gooey mud and crossed by a drawbridge.

The forest giants have grey skin, no hair and emerald eyes. They dress in tunics and leggings, usually of green, brown, russet or grey, and wear cloaks. Forest giants are excellent bowmen, and carry large longbows and scimitars.

The forest giants have a love for ale and wine, and will gladly trade their guidance through the woods for intoxicants.

Treasure: 65 pp, 1,750 gp, a silver medallion set with a citrine (500 gp), a sable cloak with a golden clasp set with alexandrite (1,500 gp), a scroll of darkvision, a +1 shield (giant-sized), a potion of hide from undead, and a potion of remove paralysis.


The stronghold of Nobrun of the Glassy Eyes appears to be a cave set in a doughty granite hill topped by long, green grasses with a base surrounded by huckleberry bushes. The cave mouth is shaped like the maw of a demon, and there is the notable scent of sulfur surrounding the place.

If one approaches the cave mouth, a vrock demon is conjured. The vrock, Xerial, is Nobrun’s major domo. He will inquire as to the nature of the visit and peruse his scroll to see if the visitors are expected. If they are, he will permit them to enter the cave, at which point they will see a stone stair leading up to the top of the hill and a simple wooden door painted dull green. The door is wizard locked. Beyond the door, which appears to be attached to nothing, is the invisible tower of Nobrun.

Nobrun is a necromancer. He is inhumanly tall and thin, with long, bony fingers absolutely covered in rings. Some of the rings look valuable, others are made from human hair or meteoric iron and engraved with runes. The necromancer dresses in purple silk and black velvet, in the manner of a Spanish grandee. Nobrun is always heavily perfumed (usually lavender), and he has a long, black beard (he colors it) and strange, glassy eyes. One of his eyes has a permanent x-ray vision spell cast on it, while the other always sees with a faerie fire effect. He normally wears a patch lined with lead over the x-ray eye.

Nobrun lives alone, except for his army of zombies. All of them are shaved smooth and dyed purple, and dressed in black velvet doublets and leggings of silver maille. Nobrun is currently between apprentices.


A well in this hex produces great gouts of steam from the water, which nearly boils with magical energy. The water is about 20 feet below the surface, the well being constructed of grey stones that are slick with green slime that must be cleared before one can safely enter the well.

By bathing in the water for one minute (suffering 1d6 points of Constitution damage in the process), a magic-user or sorcerer gains the knowledge of a single weird spell. The spell remains lodged in a person’s mind for 24 hours. A sorcerer can add the spell to her natural repertoire if she has a spare spell slot, while a magic-user can scribe the spell on a scroll or in his spell book. Of course, they can also just cast the spell and discharge it from their mind permanently.

The second time a magic-user bathes in the well, the Constitution damage becomes Constitution drain. The third time, it becomes 1d6 points of energy drain. A fourth dip is fatal, turning the magician into a rampaging chaos beast.

The random spells learned from the well are:

1 Accursed Archer
2 Blasphemous Shield
3 Golden Torch
4 Hex of Diminution
5 Invocation of Righteous Anger
6 Unknowable Incantation of the Yellow Doors

Level: Magic-User 1
Range: Medium (150 ft.)
Duration: Concentration + 1 round

This spell forces a single opponent within range that is shooting or throwing missiles to automatically target one of his own allies. If he has no allies, the spell simply applies a -1 penalty to his attacks on non-allies.

Level: Magic-User 2
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 minute

This spell conjures a shield (much like the shield spell) before the spellcaster. The shield bears an image blasphemous to a single chosen cleric within sight of the magic-user.

The cleric must pass a Will saving throw each round he or she attempts to do anything but attack the bearer of the shield. The shield bearer enjoys AC 18 against the cleric’s attacks, and a +1 bonus to saving throws against the cleric’s spells. Spell that are saved against have a 25% chance of turning back on the spellcasting cleric.

Level: Magic-User 2 (Lawful (Good))
Range: See below
Duration: 1 hour

A golden torch appears in the magician’s right hand (always the right hand, and there it must stay). It emits a golden glow with double the illumination of a normal torch, and emits positive energy in a 30-foot radius. This positive energy doubles the normal healing rate of living creatures and grants them a +1 bonus to save vs. poison, disease and death effects, forces undead creatures to pass a Will saving throw to enter the positive energy and imposes a -2 penalty to their Fortitude saving throws.

Level: Magic-User 4
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous

This hex slowly shrinks a creature down to tiny size. Each hour, the creature’s size category is reduced by one. The spell is permanent, though it can be reversed with one or several permanent enlarge person spells, dispel magic or wish. The creature’s equipment does not shrink with him or her.

Level: Magic-User 5
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 minute

As the cleric spell righteous might, save that the magic-user is unable to cast spells while enlarged.

Level: Magic-User 6
Range: Personal
Duration: See below

Often used as a last ditch effort to escape certain doom, the unknowable incantation is a dangerous spell. When cast, the magic-user is surrounded by walls of black energy (negative energy, in fact) with four yellow portals placed to the north, south, east and west. The black walls form a circle with a 20-ft diameter, and they rise 20 feet before ending in a ceiling.

Touching the walls causes 1d6 points of energy drain. Each round, the walls and ceiling contract, moving inward by 5 feet (the movement is actually fluid, not all at once). If they close in on a creature, it is killed unless it is immune to energy drain, in which case it left unharmed.

The walls can be avoided by entering one of the yellow portals. Each portal leads to a random plane, elemental or outer. The magic-user has no control over where the doors lead, nor has he any knowledge of where they lead. Once a door is touched, a person is transported to that plane. There is a 5% chance that the door deposits the person before a power of that plane.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Random Royal Thank You

When you've done the king or queen of a small kingdom a favor, it's only natural to expect a thank you. Just roll 3d8 (because how often do three d8's get to work together) and see what you get ...

3. Position as royal cup bearer with a 120 gp a year salary and weekends off

4. A night in the royal wine cellar – no questions asked

5. Right to kiss the queen’s hand

6. Entry into the lists at the next tournament

7. Box seat at the opera (and invitation to the post-opera ball)

8. The hand of a maid-in-waiting’s hand in marriage

9. An acre of land

10. A pension of 10 gp per year for the life of the king or queen

11. A gold medal (100 gp)

12. A place of honor at the next royal feast

13. A firm handshake (slipping you a platinum piece)

14. A garland of roses (and a necklace of silver roses worth 50 gp)

15. An adamantine weapon

16. A mithral shirt

17. An abandoned motte-and-bailey castle (a fixer-upper with no peasants and 1d6 acres of really crappy land)

18. Charter to a royal tin mine for one year (worth 1d12 gp per month, 1 in 6 chance of labor dispute per month)

19. Cloak of elvenkind

20. Suit of rich clothes and a fitting with the royal tailor

21. Invitation to the royal unicorn hunt

22. Dubbed a knight in a very minor and honorary order (with rights to lodge in their house and borrow money at 10% interest)

23. A very fine warhorse or riding horse (or pony)

24. A golden goblet studded with fancy stones (worth 300 gp)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Ur-Thief

Image by Sidney Sime, found HERE
One of the fun things about exploring old D&D is the search for the origins of its many elements. Rangers are Aragorns, rust monsters came in a pack of Japanese dinosaur toys, etc. The thief has often been linked to the Leiber's Grey Mouser and Vance's Cugel, but I would propose a different Ur-Thief ... Thangobrind the Jeweller.

I've been boning up on my Dunsany lately, to help me apply the finishing touches to Bloody Basic - Weird Fantasy Edition, and last night read through the "Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller" in his Book of Wonder. I draw your attention to the following passages, which seem very thiefy to me:

"O, but he loved shadows! Once the moon peeping out unexpectedly from a tempest had betrayed an ordinary jeweller; not so did it undo Thangobrind: the watchman only saw a crouching shape that snarled and laughed: "'Tis but a hyena," they said."

"Once in the city of Ag one of the guardians seized him, but Thangobrind was oiled and slipped from his hand; you scarcely heard his bare feet patter away."
"At night they shoot by the sound of the strangers' feet. O, Thangobrind, Thangobrind, was ever a jeweller like you! He dragged two stones behind him by long cords, and at these the archers shot."
"... but Thangobrind discerned the golden cord that climbed the wall from each [of the emeralds] and the weights that would topple upon him if he touched one ..."
"Though when a soft pittering as of velvet feet arose behind him he refused to acknowledge that it might be what he feared ..."
Okay, not at a door, but keen listening nonetheless.

"... - now like a botanist, scrutinising the ground; now like a dancer, leaping from crumbling edges."

"Oh, he was cunning! When the priests stole out of the darkness to lap up the honey they were stretched senseless on the temple floor, for there was a drug in the honey that was offered to Hlo-Hlo."
Which, of course, means the Thief needs to be reintroduced as a class in its own right into the Weird Fantasy edition, sending the vagabond back to the "subclass" category. This thief will likely have a couple different skills to bring to the table, though.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Copper Age Heroes II - The Quickening

Very quick post today to show off my revised map for the Copper Age campaign idea I've been working on. I've cleaned up the settlements, color coded them by culture, and made up new names where they were needed for settlements and cultures. I've also added in some more mythological places. The red dotted indicates the extent of copper use in the prehistoric world circa 3500 BC. The yellow circles show areas where copper was mined.

The next step for me is fleshing out these fantasy prehistoric societies.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Copper Age Heroes

Works continues apace on the next issue of NOD, and I'm doing research for my Age of Heroes campaign idea, which will probably show up in NOD later this year. The late Neolithic and Chalcolithic are really fascinating, and I'm enjoying the research immensely. Research is, of course, only the first step. I like to get an idea of what really was before I start making nonsense up to lay over the top of it and turn it into a fantasy campaign. I'm still not finished, but today I thought I'd share my working map.

I've mapped out settlements that would have been active (or nearly active in the case of Troy - I'd really like to include it but I probably will not) around 4000 to 3500 BC, drew out some broad cultural areas to work with (not entirely accurate, but again, this is a fantasy campaign, not a dissertation), included a couple locations of known ancient monsters (Chimera, for example) and sketched out the location of mythical Atlantis in North Africa. After all, every good fantasy campaign needs an ancient, ruined empire to plunder. In some case, I've started the process of giving these sites names - primarily in the west, using Basque and the Berber tongues as guides. Lots of work left to do, but it's getting there and is being refined and nudged constantly.

Obviously, any person who does this for a living could find a million problems with this map, but for my purposes of creating a Chalcolithic fantasy world with lost kingdoms and monsters, I think it will do.

I should note that the base map comes from Natural Earth Data. Very useful - I wish I had known about it when I was working on some of the other Campaign Workbooks I've published.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Getting Primitive

I have a tendency to run with ideas. The current one is an Age of Heroes campaign outline for NOD, or maybe Bloody Basic ... or maybe both. I've been reading The Horse, the Wheel and Language by David W. Anthony, and it got me thinking about a stone age/copper age setting from before the movement of Proto-Indo-Europeans into Europe and India. Now, I'm not going to get into whether this theorized movement actually happened - I don't have the background in it, and frankly, when I'm inventing a fantasy world to play in, I don't care.

My current thinking is to set the game in approximately 3500 BC in Europe, the Near East and the adjacent regions. This means stone age technology, with a few advanced societies using copper weapons (which may have been ceremonial, but who cares.) Armor would be padded and leather, and probably no shields. Weapons include bows, javelins, spears, daggers, maces, clubs, and hand axes. Since most are made of stone or copper, the damage should be reduced from normal, which mitigates the lack of armor to some degree. Hey - it was a rough time to be alive.

I'm thinking I'll take metal weapon damage back two steps for stone, with a chance of breakage on a natural "1" - maybe a simple item saving throw. For copper weapons, take damage back one step, with a similar chance of item's being ruined on a natural "1" attack roll. For armor, I might draw on the post I wrote about fighting naked like the ancient Greek heroes were depicted doing in art.

Horses (ponies really) will be rare, and the knowledge and technology of riding will be very limited. In fact, it was probably unknown in this period, but here's where we fudge things a bit.

Monsters will be geared towards prehistoric hold-overs from previous ages and the mythic monsters of the cultures of Europe and the Near East - manticores, chimeras, etc.

I'm working on a preliminary map of the cultures that were floating around in 3500 BC. Here, there will be some fudging and wholesale creation of ancient cultures. Mythology will be plundered, and something akin to Howard's Hyborian Age will be woven from the strands of what little we know. This is where the "Age of Heroes" idea comes in - the idea that the heroic stories of ancient peoples were really set in this prehistoric age. Hercules, Jason, etc. will be featured in one guise or another. Here, I want to make use of the demigod class I wrote up a while ago - the idea is that the player characters are demigods walking the world, creating the stories that will be told for centuries after by the tribes and kingdoms they found.

It's been a fascinating journey through prehistory for me so far - there was plenty I didn't know, primarily about the extent of stone age urbanization. I'll update you as I proceed. I'm still writing the next hex crawl. Sinew & Steel is pretty close to completion. Weird Fantasy is on hold while I bone up on my Dunsany and CAS. Still, all is proceeding nicely.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Of Armsmen and Puissants [Bloody Basic]

I've put in some yeoman's work on the Weird Fantasy Edition of Bloody Basic, and, in the process, had some inspiration for what I think I'm calling the Sinew & Steel Edition.

Sinew & Steel is designed to be a version of Bloody Basic with no magic or supernatural elements at all. In other words, it is role-playing in the real (well, mostly real) Middle Ages, with all the filth and plague you would expect from such a thing. Naturally, Sinew & Steel only has human characters, and they may (at least for now) take levels as armsmen (with the subclasses of barbarian, cavalier and cleric), thief (with the subclasses of assassin, charlatan, hedge wizard and minstrel) and scholar (specializing as a lawyer, theologian or leech). The game will feature some simple rules for strongholds, warfare, storming castles (rather than dungeons) and sieges. When you take out spells, monsters (outside of human and animal monsters) and magical treasure, you sure make a concise game, so I'm trying to fill the pages with other useful materials.

I need to get back to work on the next issue of NOD, and I need to set up my own little playtest of GRIT & VIGOR, but I think I might be able to complete Bloody Basic - Weird Fantasy Edition and Bloody Basic - Sinew & Steel Edition by sometime around mid-summer. And, of course, "midsummer" brings up the possibility of doing a Shakespeare edition of Bloody Basic. 'Zounds, that would be fun!

Now, the armsman ... or as the class is known in the Weird Fantasy Edition, the puissant.

The armsman uses the spell casting ability of the magic-user as a basis for using combat feats. I've brought this idea up before, and I'm certainly not the first person to think of it, but I thought I might post the class here for your enjoyment and use.

The armsman is a trained warrior, a master of fence, who is designed to dominate utterly the field of battle. While any sort of historical warrior can be portrayed using the armsman class, most wear heavy armor and carry the most potent weapons they can.

REQUIREMENTS & RESTRICTIONS – Armsmen must have a Strength score of 9 or higher. They can be of any religion, and they can use any weapon and wear any armor.

SPECIAL ABILITIES – Armsmen have the ability to perform feats of combat excellence while fighting. An armsman can perform a limited number of feats per day, based on their level and the level of difficulty of the feat. Armsmen know only a limited number of feats, beginning with three first level feats at first level. An armsman learns a new feat each time they advance in level. They might also learn additional feats from other armsmen.
At sixth level, an armsman gains a retainer. The retainer is a loyal companion under the control of the armsman’s player. The retainer is rolled randomly on the retainer table at the end of this section. The TK should roll ability scores for the retainer and assign them a name and religion. The armsman must pay for his retainer’s room and board. Arsmen receive 25% of the XP earned by the armsman.


1. ARTFUL DODGE – You avoid one enemy attack this round, provided you are capable of moving.

2. CLEAVE – If you slay an opponent this round, you get an extra attack against another opponent within reach.

3. CRITICAL HIT – One successful attack you strike this round does an extra 1d6 points of damage.

4. FAR SHOT – You double the range of a missile weapon attack.

5. FIGHT BLIND – You can make one attack while blind without suffering any penalty on the attack.

6. GUARDS & WARDS – You accept a penalty to hit, and gain a bonus equal to that penalty to your own Armor Class.

7. IRON FIST – You may deal 1d4 points of damage with an unarmed strike this round.

8. POWER ATTACK – You accept a penalty to hit, and if your attack is successful gain a bonus equal to the penalty to damage.

9. QUICK – You add +1 to your initiative roll next round.

10. SHIELD BASH – You may attack with a shield at no penalty, scoring 1d4 points of damage if successful.

11. SWORD & DAGGER – You may attack with two weapons you are holding this round. One weapon can be of medium weight, the other must be light. The light weapon attacks at a penalty of -4 to your attack roll.

12. WEAPON FOCUS – Choose one weapon. For the remainder of this combat, you gain a +1 bonus to hit with that weapon.


1. BULL RUSH – Any opponent you successfully attack this round is also knocked out of your way (up to 5 feet).

2. DEFLECT ARROWS – For one minute you can negate hits on you from missile weapons with a successful Reflex saving throw.

3. DISARM – Any opponent you successful attack this round is also disarmed of their weapon or any other item they are holding.

4. FEINT – Any opponent you successful attack this round is fooled into moving into an awkward position, and is denied an attack on their next turn (whether this round or the next).

5. GRAPPLE – Any opponent you successfully attack with an unarmed strike this round is also held and pinned by you. This pin is maintained until they make a successful attack roll against you.

6. STUNNING FIST – Any opponent you successfully attack with your unarmed strike is dazed for 1d4 rounds. While dazed, they may not move or attack, but can defend themselves.

7. SUNDER – Any opponent you attack this round also has their weapon, shield or some other item they are holding sundered in twain. Fragile items are broken instantly. Wooden items have a 2 in 6 chance of surviving. Metal items have a 4 in 6 chance.

8. TRIP – Any opponent you successfully attack this round is also knocked prone to the ground.


1. GREAT CLEAVE – As long as you keep slaying opponents, you keep gaining extra attacks against new opponents within reach.

2. SHOT ON THE RUN – You may make a full run and still shoot or throw missiles without any penalty to your attacks.

3. SNATCH ARROWS – As deflect arrows, but you actually catch the missiles and may immediately, out of turn, throw them back at your attackers (if they are within range).

4. SPRING ATTACK – You may make a move, attack, and then make a second move.

5. WHIRLWIND ATTACK – You make one attack against every opponent within reach of your weapon. A penalty equal to the total number of attacks you are making is applied to each and every one of these attacks. Attacking five people, therefore, results in a -5 penalty to each of those five attacks.

An armsman with a Constitution of 13 or higher can opt to be a barbarian. Barbarians are wild and woolly warriors from the wilderness. They eschew the civilized ways of normal armsmen. Barbarians do not gain the feats of an armsman and they cannot use armor heavier than maille. Barbarians can go berserk in one combat per day per level. While berserk, the barbarian deducts two from her Armor Class, but scores double damage with successful melee attacks. In addition, barbarians can climb sheer surfaces and move silently as thieves (see below).

An armsmen with a Dexterity score of 13 or higher can opt to be a cavalier. Cavaliers specialize in mounted combat. They suffer no penalty for fighting on horseback, and gain three special feats not available to other armsmen.

1. RIDE-BY ATTACK – While charging on a mount, the cavalier may attack at any point during the charge – in essence, making a move, attacking, and then moving again.

2. SPIRITED CHARGE – The cavalier deals double damage with his weapon attack while charging on a mount.

3. TRAMPLE – The cavalier can trample opponents with its mount by simply riding over them. The mount gets no attacks that round other than trampling, dealing double hoof damage to all in its path unless they pass a Reflex saving throw, in which case they cut the damage in half. The cavalier may still attack with his own weapon while trampling.

An armsman with a wisdom of 13 or higher can opt to become a cleric. Clerics are religious knights or fighting priests. While clerics must have a religion, the extent of their faith is up to them. One can be a fighting bishop and give only cursory lip service to their faith. Clerics can bless, as theologians (see Scholar below).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weird Fantasy

I'm a weird-o (if that's the correct spelling). I've come to this conclusion as "geek culture" has become more prominent, and I came to realize that while my interests have some overlap with geek culture, I'm definitely not part of that culture. Of course, definitions vary, so we won't linger on that. The point is - I like weird stuff, including weird fiction and weird fantasy. I'm more of a Clark Ashton Smith guy than a J.R.R. Tolkien guy.

This brings me to my next mini-project. Bloody Basic - Weird Fantasy Edition.

I know, I said I'd probably do a different edition next, but then I was perusing some Aubrey Beardsley art, and that led to Harry Clarke art and then Clark Ashton Smith and the next thing you know I was spit-balling ideas and writing up an outline.

Here's my intro to the edition:

Weird fantasy is a cornerstone of fantasy role-playing games, influencing the earliest games and lending them their unique flavor. Born from the Romantic Movement and symbolism, weird fantasy was a reaction to the modern world in which the authors lived. Weird fantasy was lush and decadent and yearned for meaning and release. It consisted of simple stories set in ornate worlds, and reveled in obscure, flowery and archaic text. The weird fantasy author and his characters were like tourists drinking in exotic places that existed only in their dreams. It has in its genes both pseudo-historical romances, Orientalism and fairy tales. Not fairy tales fit for children, but fairy tales that were not stripped of their violence or their erotic overtones.

Weird fantasy is steeped in meaning and bereft of it. It is quiet and noisome and ridiculous and sublime … and makes an excellent place for players to explore and indulge their sense of wonder. Weird fantasy characters are decadent and seek escape from the tedium and constrictions of the industrial age. They are errant knights, burglars, wise women, mystery priests and magicians, entering a world of fantasy through their dreams. They are bent on one last grand adventure, one chance to crack open the bones of drudgery and suck out the marrow of life, one final opportunity to live deeply and truly and transform the mundane into the beautiful … are you?

Does this sound right to you? It's one of those situations where I know what mean, but I don't know if I'm conveying what I mean.

Races for the edition, at the moment, are humans, elves (with a little soulless fairy twist), grotesques (ugly little buggers) and satyrs. Classes are the hierophant (unarmored clerics that accept taboos to gain access to the spell lists of divine mystery cults), the magic-user, the vagabond (basically the thief with a different name, not unlike the knave of the Mother Goose Edition) and the puissant (a warrior that uses combat feats the way magic-user's use spells). Sub-classes are the rake (puissant), and the demimonde, odalisque and traveler (vagabond sub-classes).

I'm still working on monsters - trying to get the basics in (after all, we're still dealing with good, old-fashioned dungeoneering), with some CAS-inspired stuff added in. I don't want to go the Lovecraft route because I think that it is a little overexposed at the moment, and it tends to dominate. Alignment is replaced by passions, which are dangerous to indulge (one loses wisdom or constitution, as over-indulgence leads characters to madness or physical degredation) but are worth bonus XP when they are indulged. I might switch out the bonus XP for special abilities, though - something more palpable and flavorful that just raw numbers.

I might mess with spell names, treasure and the weapons and armor to use more archaic, ornate language, a la Clark Ashton Smith. I say I might, because I'm not sure if that's just adding complexity without adding enough flavor to make it worth while.

So, what else? And what public domain art would make for a good cover image? I'd love to hear some ideas from the peanut gallery - make sure this edition is all it could be. Let me know in the comments or on G+, if you would be so kind. Thanks!

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