Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I have the barest sliver of a wireless connection, so I'll keep this brief. Here's my little Christmas gift to you, a new monster prompted by someone on (I think Peter LaCara). The idea is that if elves are related to the eladrin, what is the Feywild equivalent of a goblin?

My answer the boggart. I'm sure that name has been used in D&D before, but I'm coopting it for this annoying little beastie. Have fun, and merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Here's another conversion of a "classic" (in my eyes, at least) Fiend Folio monster: the blindheim.

End of the Year Part I: Gaming Resolutions

I had two options for today's post: either talk a bit about magic items in D&D in response to today's post at Grognardia, or shamelessly copy Amityville Mike at the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope.

I started to wax eloquently about magic items, but then stopped when I had an idea that might grow into something larger. So, here are my gaming resolutions for 2009:

1. Paint enough kobolds, orcs, hobgoblins, undead, and gnolls to have metal minis on hand for those monster types.

2. Get back to running my OD&D megadungeon, Kardallin's Palace. I ran two sessions at work, but stopped once the next phase of 4e work (and my lunch time Temple of Elemental Evil game) took up my time.

3. Play or run Traveller.

4. Play a game of Divine Right.

5. Keep my 4e Temple of Elemental Evil campaign running throughout the year.

6. Start my 4e Keep on the Borderlands sandbox game.

7. Stay on top of creating item cards for all my D&D games, and make a point of using them in the game. This is tangentially related to James' post, but I've had some success in making up index cards to represent each magic item I had out in 4e. The card has the mechanics on one side, and a (story) description of the item on the other. This method made items interesting when I put energy into it, but it is a fair amount of work.

8. Post here at least once a week.

9. Stay focused enough to complete these tasks, rather than fall victim to gamer ADD.

Next up: my gaming wish list.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Adherer

I'm messing around with Google docs. Below is what it belched out when I tried to publish a document to this blog. If you want to peek at the original Google doc, I've published it for public consumption. Let me know if this is a handy way to get stuff out there. In the future, I think I'll just post notices here of stuff that I've cooked up.

Anyway, here's the original. Or at least, I think that's the URL.



This strange creature has wrinkly skin that hangs from its body in
thick folds that resemble a mummy's wrappings. This creature is
covered in a thick, sticky substance it secretes. An adherer usually
preys on insects and other creatures that it can trap on its skin. It
then slowly digests trapped prey by bathing it in acid that flows
from its skin.

Adherers are aggressive creatures originally found deep in
the Darrana jungles. They were unknown in the region until shortly
after a doomed adventuring expedition led by Lord Tallark Greyfaire
departed for the plateau of Karrn. Lord Greyfaire claimed to possess
a map that led to a great treasure. The dragonborn clansmen of the
region refused to provide guides or porters for the expedition, as
local legends hold the plateau as sacred to Torog. Greyfaire and his
men never returned, but soon after the first adherer was spotted in
the jungle along the plateau's western fringe.

In the years since, beast handlers have trapped and trained adhere for
use as guards. Their ability to disarm and capture intruders without
immediately killing them have made adherers useful as guard beasts.


Adherer Level 5 Controller

Medium aberrant humanoid XP 200
Initiative +3 Senses Perception +3; low-light vision
HP 62; Bloodied 31
AC 19; Fortitude 18, Reflex 16, Will 16
Speed 6
m Slam (standard; at-will)
+10 vs. AC; 1d8+4 damage and the adherer grabs the target.
M Adhering Crush (standard; recharge 5 6)
Target grabbed by the adherer only; +10 vs. Reflex; 1d8+4 damage and the target loses its standard action each turn until it escapes from the adherer's grab. The adherer also loses its standard action while it has a target trapped in this manner.
M Adhering Hide (immediate reaction when hit by a weapon melee attack; at-will)
+10 vs. Reflex against the triggering attacker; on a hit, the target's weapon becomes stuck to the adherer. Creatures using natural weapons are grabbed by the adherer. A creature can free a stuck weapon with a Strength check as a standard action (DC 18).
Acidic Secretions
A creature that ends its turn grabbed by an adherer suffers 5 acid damage.
Alignment Unaligned Languages None
Str 18 (+6) Dex 12 (+3) Wis 13 (+3)
Con 14 (+4) Int 9 (+1) Cha 11 (+2)

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's All in the Details

This is why I love writing D&D stuff:

"With an Arcana check (DC 23) the PCs learn that the entire plateau is, in fact, the broken shaft of a spear used to pin some monstrous creature to the bottom of the Sea of Howling Souls."

Tip o' the hat to Amityville Mike at The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope for this post. It proved useful this week in working on an adventure.

I think that's one of the things I love best about working on RPGs. There's no layer between designer and the end product, or the methods used by "customers" and producers. Really, we're all producers. Some of us just do it on company time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gates of Death

If you haven't read any of Karl Edward Wagner's Kane stories, well, I'm not surprised. They've been out of print for years, and the few collections printed in the recent past go for outrageous sums of money. I prowl the Planet Stories forum at Paizo on a weekly basis, hoping that they've managed to secure the license for a reprint. So far, no dice.

I've read only one Kane novel, Dark Crusade, and it provided a number of ideas to help populate my campaign:

1. I want to create a number of "freelance NPCs", basically rival adventurers who can serve as foils to the characters' plots. Think of it as semi-character driven sandboxing.

2. I've designed a series of gates throughout the region that allow rapid transport across the area, turning a week-long trip into a one day excursion.

There is, of course, a catch. I don't like the Star Trek/science fiction-esque feel of a teleportation transit system. It's too cold, clinical, and technical.

Instead, these passages are called the Gates of Death, and for good reason. When the gods and titans warred over the world, it was only partially completed. Here and there, titanic and divine creatures still labored over the world. The world spider was one of these creatures. It and its brood wove the firmaments of time and space.

The Death Gates are areas where the world spider and its children still lurk, realms where time and space run at odd angles. To a mortal, this lets you take a journey of 100 miles in 50 steps. Nice, isn't it?

Sadly, the world spider and its children are trapped within the gates. They've gone mad over the eons, as they are trapped within creation while the gods and titans are consigned to the planes. Thus, while a journey through the Gates is but 50 steps, it is 50 steps of pure, maniacal, panic as a horde of eons old spider demons rushes after you.

Legends hold that the world spider has lost track of the extent of its domain. Passages twist and turn, leading to chambers and realms untouched since the dawn of time. Further legends whisper that, hidden within that awful maze, are doorways that contain the treasure troves of gods, lands where gold grows from the soil like grass, and a library in which every single truth of the world is kept hidden.

So, that's how I'm handling gates in my campaign.

Kane's adventures also prompted a few other ideas, but I'll get to those in future posts. If you have a chance to read any of the stories, I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Outdoor Survival!

As a little, early Christmas gift to myself, I bought a copy of Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival board game. For those not in the know, Gary suggested using the Outdoor Survival board as a map for the overland environs in a D&D campaign. If it worked in 1974, I think it'll work just fine now.

The game board is going to serve as the regional map for my Keep on the Borderlands sandbox game. Here are my impressions of the map so far:

  • It's a mounted gameboard, making it more durable and giving it a nice, solid feel. As a physical artifact, I like the heft of it. It'll just feel nice to lay it down on the table and ask the PCs where they want to go.
  • It has plenty of mountains, swamps, forests, and other nooks to explore. It looks like a wilderness ready for exploration.
  • It lacks an obvious scale, so it's easy to simply treat the hexes as huge regions or tiny bits of wilderness. There aren't any huge bodies of water, so any map that needs oceans or seas is right out, but otherwise it's flexible.
  • The map comes in three pieces. I would've preferred one big map.
  • There are 10 cabins scattered about the map. Most of them are on the center map piece. They might be a distraction if you choose to ignore them. Otherwise, that's 10 places (ruins? settlements?) that the map imposes on you. I don't mind it so much, but it could prove a bit restrictive.
  • There are deer icons all over the map, presumably markers for the Outdoor Survival game. They're a little distracting.
  • There's a lot of blank plains on the map. I'd prefer more mountains and forests.
  • The hexes aren't numbered. Either I'll to number them myself (and mark up my precious map!) or make a smaller, reference copy of the map in my notes. This is easily the biggest drawback, IMO. I think I'll sketch a copy in my notebook, but it would've been nice to use hex reference numbers instead.
Still, overall I'm happy I dropped the money on a piece (albeit a tangential one) of D&D lore. I'm excited to run a sandbox game in 4e. The game's design makes it perfect for that style of campaign. 4e's emphasis on a structure - the standardized math, spread of monster level vs. PC level, and treasure independent of encounter type - make it easy to throw together a lot of material quickly and to build the world on the fly.