Friday, 26 April 2019

One-Page Dungeon Entry: Yesterday's Dungeon ... Tomorrow

After rejecting a number of time travel gimmicks for this year's One-Page Dungeon Contest entry, I stuck with the best kind of time travel ... the kind we are all doing, all the time. So, this dungeon has notes for a first play at beginner level, then for a second play at later levels when things have changed. It's also interactive, so that decisions players make -- to smash down a door, open sealed tombs, kill or leave an NPC -- have an impact on the higher-level profile of the dungeon.

I mainly wanted to make this adventure useful in a campaign, the kind that gets up to fifth level or so. Or, you can play it in a convention session, devoting 2-3 hours to each "half" and switching to higher level pre-generated characters midway through.

Click to enlarge.


Finally, here are some rough, old-school generic stats for the monsters I have jankily doodled herein.

"NOW"
Grimalkins: HD 1-1, AC 11 [8] +2 against 1 attack/round, MV 12, AT spear d6+1
Grimalkin Shaman: HD 2-1, AC 11 [8] +2 against 1 attack/round, MV 12, AT holy stick d6, spells: cure/cause light wounds, command, spiritual hammer
Beak Dog: HD 2, AC 12 [7]. MV 15, AT beak d6
Satyr: HD 4, AC 12 [7], MV 12, AT weapon
Psqualladir: HD 8+8, AC 18 [1], MV 15, AT bite d8+poison, DF +1 weapon to hit, immune to fire and lightning, half damage from cold and acid, 50% magic resistance, powers as described

"LATER"
Ogre: HD 4+1, AC 14 [5], MV 12, AT weapon +3
Half-Demon Ogre Fire Wizard: HD 6+3, AC 16 [3], MV 12, AT weapon +3, spells: burning hands (x2), magic missile, affect normal fires, flaming sphere (x3), fireball, protection from fire, DF half damage from fire and non-magic weapons, magic resistance 20%
Leucrotta: HD 6+1, AC 15 [4], MV 18, AT bite 3d6, back kick d6, voice imitation
Cray-leeches: HD 1+2, AC 14 [5], MV 12, AT 2 pincers (d4, fall on a 4) and mouth (d4, stays attached doing d4 blood drain/round, open wound still bleeds for 1 hp/round)
Wraith: HD 5+3, AC 15 [4], MV 24, AT hug d6 and 1 level energy drain (permanent or not), DF undead immunities, immune to cold, +1 weapon to hit
Evil Satyr Priest: HD 6, AC 12 [7], MV 12, AT spear d6+ d6 fire + 1, spells: cause light wounds (x2) (fingers become centipede pincers), sanctuary, cause fear, hold person, know alignment, feign death, cause blindness.
Flaming Skeleton: HD 3, AC 13 [6], MV 12, AT 2x flaming punches d6 +1, wrestle for d6 fire damage/round, DF mindless, immune to fire and piercing weapons, half damage from slashing weapons and lightning


Saturday, 13 April 2019

Harry Clarke Project: The Hellrake

=
I feel impelled to contribute to Cavegirl's Harry Clarke Project using this fabulous fellow (Bluebeard?) who has sat on my hard drive many a year awaiting his introduction to polite society.

HELLRAKE

Armour class: as leather with +4 magical protection
Hit dice: 6+9 hp
Move: slightly more than human
Attacks: weapon, as 6th or 9th level; spells
No. Appearing: 1, plus entourage
Morale: 4, or 9 in polite society
Treasure:  Fabulous weapons and clothing, worn jewellery, magic; nothing he cannot carry and show off
Alignment: Chaos

The parentage of this sterile nonesuch is cruel and improbable: a male-aspected devil of Hell's nobility and an elf-maid of the fey planes. Invariably male, but questionably masculine, hellrakes flaunt the improbable, reedy physique of a clotheshorse, with one or two coy devilish marks such as hooves, horns, wings, tail, talking moles, goatish features, or ruddy skin. Their anatomy only partly explains the bizarre, stiff- or bent-legged gaits they affect when making a grand entrance, for they can run fast enough if they need to.

Hellrakes are notorious, thanks to the legendary Barbramel, as fashion-breakers and fashion-setters. Other of their recorded professions include gambler, verbal duellist, procurer of succubi and incubi, black-market sommelier of potions and philtres, hired mourner, slander poet, and erotic ballet impresario. Each one will usually have the abilities of two character classes at 6th level or one at 9th: fighter, thief and wizard are the favored ones, but they are drawn to more exotic choices if available, such as assassin, illusionist, or bard. They take half damage from spells, no damage from normal weapons of iron or steel, and double damage from silver.

The nature of the breed is whimsical, ostentatious, and vain, their quirks but a masquerade upon a thoroughly rotten core. In front of those who matter, they make a great show of bravery, but when fending for themselves, they are craven. Despite or because of these flaws, they are usually attended by an entourage of 1d4 sycophants, grifters, opportunists, and pleasure-seekers from this list (d12):

1. lascivious succubus
2. coy incubus
3. fawning imp
4. hustling leprechaun
5. abrasive quickling twins
6. perspicacious drow rogue
7. ranting human devil-cult preacher
8. stolid minotaur bodyguard
9. paranoid smoke mephit bagman
10. frantic satyr hypeman
11. sarcastic talking wonder-goat
12. agile troupe of 5 homunculi

The hellrake ilk is inveighed against in a famous theatrical soliloquy of the Autumn Court literata Glingeroyce, thusly: "thou Limbeaux, thou Cocytuscombs, thou Hellsapopinjays, thou Macaro-Nicks; toffs of Tophet, preening pimps of perdition, flouncing fribble-fiends, sad cads of dire sire and glam dam."

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Steal the Eyes ... Scratch That

That feeling when you're playtesting your long-delayed megadungeon and there's a 20' high bird god idol with glowing orange eyes and one of your players -- who has in fact probably never seen this picture:



follows her rogue's instinct to climb up and see if those eyes are a) gems and b) pry-able ...

but no, they are just magic light cast on stone eyes.

In what is not really a fit of pique and more like dogged mission completion mode, she then takes hammer and chisel and chips off all the light-bearing stone, raining a shower of little half-glowing, candle-strength chips on the floor ...

which turn out to be a useful small treasure in their own right.

Confirming that it's much more fun to redraw the path of ages, then follow it.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Umpleby's Net

A 2nd Edition Umpleby.
Among the curious, little-used, and often-derided B-list of the AD&D Fiend Folio, there is a monster called the Umpleby that is tall, hairy, friendly up to a point, and can put a real hurting on you with ... static electricity from its shaggy pelt. It appeared in somewhat rough form in the source material, White Dwarf magazine's Fiend Factory (exhibit A below) and got a clearer set of rules and rulings in the Fiend Folio itself, including more detail given to its hair net weapon (exhibit B).

No relation.
The Umpleby is one of the lesser known Fiend Folio contributions that poses a weird, specific challenge, like the Aleax, Meenlocks, and so forth. It has a little bit of the mess-with-you factor from grudge monsters like the Zorbo or Disenchanter. In the editions since then, it has sometimes gotten dragged out of the attic for sheer obscurity cachet, like the Flumph but more underground. A long time ago here, I dragged it out as an example of a bad monster.

And where on earth does that name come from? Is it just a coincidence that one Stuart Umpleby was the co-founder of an early communication network -- NET-work -- in the 1970's, that used an instructional computer system called PLATO? A network that eventually failed to join up with the Internet like like ARPANET did, and almost got canned by Nixon for hosting calls for his impeachment? Is it coincidence that PLATO's terminals glowed orange? If true, this has to be one of the most obscure current events references in all of D&D. If Stephen Wood's not around to comment, perhaps a mystery forevermore.


Exhibit A:






Exhibit B: