Friday, October 31, 2014

Giant, Pumpkin (5E monster)

Giant, Pumpkin (Go, go, mighty commas!)
Afriy, the saummerly wastrel priest, had lied a follicked tale unto the wandrelknight Mishkala ad Gare who sought the unwrongdoing of the hooperwaste. A walk on the wild side and a perfect day and thar in the Hellpum'kin Crate he met not one giant pumpkin to soothe the pellen ache of swayne prinzessen, but a pumpkin giant clad in sooten barkwool and bewielded of an axe most gruesome and great. The Garish folk spoke long and sought far, but nary a bone or bane of fair Mishkala ad Gare was found between Garish and Cheerish, neither that once-a-year-for-a-night impression in the hooperwaste that the saummerly Afriy had called, 'fore he vainsh'd, the Hellpum'kin Crate.

huge giant, chaotic neutral
Encounter: 1, 1d8 in Hellpumpkin Crater
AC: 13, HP: 100 (10d12 + 35), Speed 40,
STR 22, DEX 8, CON 19, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 12
Skills: Perception +3, Intuition +5, Lang: Giant Pumpkin, Sneering Common,
2,300 XP

Multiattack - the pumpkin giant makes two pumpkin axe attacks and one bite attack.

Pumpkin Axe, melee +9, reach 10, 3d10+6 (22) damage.
Pumpkin Bite, melee +7, 2d8+6 (15), swallow on 15 damage or more

Swallowed: 1d6 damage per round, Con save DC13 each round versus paralytic gastric fumes

Pumpkin Grenade, ranged +9, range 60/240, 20' foot radius burst, hit 22 (3d10+6) pumpkin acid damage

Terrifying Cackle, sonic, recharge 5-6, 50' radius, the pumpkin cackles causing fear and watery knees in all who hear, Wis save DC15,

On Death: Gastric Explosion, on death the pumpkin explodes in a sudden eruption of noxious paralytic fumes, 30' radius, 1d8 damage (no save) from flying pips, Con save DC13 or paralyzed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Deep Carbon Observatory by False Machine

So ... this is it, the Deep Carbon Observatory.

It is a D&D adventure. It is something I would have liked to have written and something I would like to run. Here's the description:
The adventure takes players from a town devastated by an unexpected flood, through a drowned land where nature is turned upside down and desperate families cling to the roofs of their ruined homes, hiding from the monstrous products of a disordered world, through the strange tomb of an ancient race, to a profundal zone, hidden for millennia and now exposed, and finally to the Observatory itself, an eerie abandoned treasure palace, where they will encounter a pale and unexpected terror which will seek to claim their lives.
At the final point of the Observatory is a glimpse of another world.
Deep Carbon Observatory is about 90 pages long, 20,000 words with four maps and extensive artwork by Scrap Princess.
It was created by Patrick Stuart  and Scrap Princess. The layout was by Alex Mayo and it was brought into being at the command of Zzarchov Kowalski
If you prefer top-down maps, Gus L has created some for this adventure for free. Go here to access them.
End quoty bit. Now for my judgemental review:

What it does really well:

  • It captures the transition from ordinary-if-struck-by-tragedy to terribly weird and strange, twisting old D&D tropes like drow, duergar and the like into something far more scary and weird. No Drizz't here, the drow are smelled like tantalising alien shadows in the back of your eye sockets.
  • It captures a valley society struck by a (natural?) catastrophe and faces the PCs with something larger than themselves, with hard choices and difficult outcomes and a ticking clock - if the PCs leave and do nothing: fine, but then there will be consequences for their setting.
  • It serves up memorable scenes, really cool items, fun and funky new monsters and loads of tricks you can steal piece-meal for your campaign - or use all together for a fun extended jaunt into Carrowmere.
  • It gives a competing adventuring party (the Crows) to harass and annoy the players.
  • There's a Wicked Witch.
  • It's interspersed with random tables for interesting results and plot hooks to take your campaign into weird new waters.
  • It doesn't hold players (or DMs!) by the hand - it tosses all into the deep end to sink in deep time.
  • Seriously, my points here are - it gives you pretty much everything you need for 4-8 sessions of gaming, depending on your style (my style of games would probably end up at the higher end of that amount) - which for $10 is a steal.

What it doesn't do so well:

  • The layout means that the fantabulous weirdness and interconnectedness of the adventure only becomes obvious once the whole document is read. A quick glossary of the key factions, enemies and locales (perhaps a semi visual or diagrammed one?) would really have helped me at the outset. At least to draw my attention to things (e.g. pay attention to the mummy, the golems are important, the witch is a big deal, hey, there's a second - sparsely detailed - adventuring expedition besides the crows!).
  • The overland adventure is a point-crawl and time is an important resource - I don't really have an idea how long travelling from point to point takes. This is quite an issue - additional information on the overland maps would have helped me here. I usually deal with this by writing in days (or fractions of days) on key connections between locations.
  • The time for the adventure to elapse seems incredibly short. Players have a very limited time to get in to the Observatory, do their thing and get out. I only realised this after I got to the end - putting this information at the beginning, along with the faction glossary, would have helped me.
  • The editing is ok, it reads well, but some of the key opponents (the wicked witch!) don't stand out enough. I don't know what would be the perfect solution, but this is a really complex and interesting adventure: it would require more than just a simple linear layout - I don't have a solution on this.

What I would have loved to see:

  • Hyperlinks in the .pdf to make it simpler and faster to look up stuff and connect the dots.
  • Tables of the treasures and monsters for faster looting thereof for my own games!
  • A living flailsnail (there are some dead ones).
  • The stats for a heavy metal elemental.

The Summary

It is something I would have liked to have written and something I would like to run. I'm repeating myself, I know, but it's really worth its $10 - with a teensy bit of tweaking and poking it's basically a weird and wonderful setting book.

Is it perfect? Well ... no. But it is memorable and fun, which adds up to a lot!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cauldron Classic Recipes

Being a list of foods I've cooked and eaten (and that tasted good!) that work well in gonzo fantasy taverns, inns, bars, restaurants, and other places.

Roll d100:
  1. Pan-fried garlic and avocado prawns,
  2. Hand-picked mud-flat clam sauce and pasta,
  3. White-wine and barnacle stew,
  4. Fresh limpets with amber beer,
  5. Garlic and parsley garnished snails,
  6. Giant land-snail strips cooked and fried with olive oil,
  7. Dandelion salad with squid tentacles,
  8. Turkey-heart curry,
  9. Spit-roasted chicken hearts,
  10. Cooked beef heart,
  11. Grilled marrow-bones and fresh butterzopf,
  12. Rabbit livers with bell peppers and sweet potato,
  13. Beef-lung soup,
  14. Cheese and garlic soup,
  15. Bone-and-vegetable stew,
  16. Fish-bone-and-head stew (prepare the bones in a little muslin net, or you'll have to fish them out),
  17. Fried dandelion with strips of raw beefsteak,
  18. Stir-fried brains with the flesh of the unborn chicken (eggs),
  19. Calf liver steaks in red-wine sauce with peppers and onions,
  20. Blood-sausage and cream,
  21. Blood-sausage and mint,
  22. Blood-sausage and rice and barley and chunks of pork fat,
  23. Fried and sliced pig snouts to go with your ale, sirrah,
  24. Car-engine grilled mixed sausages and vegetables (the carbeque),
  25. Chunk of beef baked under hot stones,
  26. Raw oysters freshly hammered off the rocks with vodka,
  27. Fish cheek selection,
  28. Tripe with tomato sauce and spices,
  29. Pickled tripe with garlic and peppers,
  30. Selection of sliced tongues with onions and pepper,
  31. Crocodile meat jerky,
  32. Sun-dried anchovies with peppers and nuts,
  33. Chicken liver soup,
  34. Baked bear's paw with blueberry sauce and a fine chianti,
  35. Whole lamb eaten off a spit over a charcoal pit,
  36. Grilled pig's ears,
  37. Blood and corn soup,
  38. Ovaries of sea urchin with toast,
  39. Honey-marinated fillet of marble trout,
  40. Deep-fried fish ovaries,
  41. Baked cormorant with last-meal (greyling) gullet filling,
  42. Deep-fried bull's-balls (rocky mountain oysters),
  43. Frog's legs grilled action-figure style,
  44. Grilled liver and onions, liberally peppered,
  45. Deep-fried fish bites,
  46. Pickled sardine spines,
  47. Raw herring partially digested by its own gastric enzymes (hollandse nieuwe),
  48. Grilled cheese-and-potato lump (frika),
  49. Suckling pig on a spit glazed with fresh lager,
  50. Strips of horse-meat lightly grilled with garlic and peppers,
  51. Dormouse ghoulash,
  52. Water-rat stew (nutria),
  53. Monitor lizard on a stick,
  54. Melon-and-turkey stir-fry,
  55. Duck breast fried in its own fat,
  56. Raw strips of sea-bream with olive oil and fresh parsley,
  57. Scallop gratin with garlic, butter and parmesan,
  58. Terrine of deer and pheasant with pistachios and olives,
  59. African cape buffalo fillet ghoulash,
  60. Dried tuna strips,
  61. Diced octopus burger,
  62. Camel burger in a bun,
  63. Wild-boar sausages with a sideboard of cheeses and strong red wine,
  64. Grilled blood-and-rye sausages with a side of sparkling golden beer,
  65. Grilled chitterlings on a little stick,
  66. Minced left-over-meat mixed stew,
  67. Grilled sturgeon steaks,
  68. Fried trout skins,
  69. Sour vegetable stir fry seasoned with giant ants,
  70. Fried earthworms with scrambled eggs,
  71. Jellied pork trotters,
  72. Grilled wild mushrooms dipped in melted cheese (fondue),
  73. Ostrich steaks in garlic and mustard sauce,
  74. White sausages with sweet mustard and pretzels,
  75. Boiled smoked pork stomach sausage (boudin),
  76. Fish-cakes gratin baked in cheese and tomato sauce (quenelle),
  77. Cold beef-and-onion salad,
  78. Pumpkin strudel,
  79. Grilled camembert-style cheese stuffed with garlic,
  80. Bread and mushroom curry,
  81. Fresh pheasant tripe paté with olives, grilled peppers and rosemary crackers,
  82. Steamed artichoke flower hearts with vinegar-pickled anchovies,
  83. Catfish stuffed with roof rabbit, stewed in a red-pepper tschorba,

Ok, I have to go cook now. If you want a more detailed recipe of one of these, let me know.

Edit 15th June 2014: Added a few more.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Three Opposed Faction Favour Tracker

For my next sandbox game I will have three major factions in the "safe" haven where the players reside.

I've created a visual tracker of their influence / favour with individual factions. By default they start at -1 with each of the factions, as they gain favour with one side, they will almost invariably start running into trouble with the other factions and have to decide who to make an enemy. If they want to get in really close with one faction, they will end up making serious enemies of both other factions.

Faction reactions just use 2d6 like morale rolls, modified by favour and PCs personality (wisdom or charisma or ...)

Faction Table v1.0: 2d6+Pers+Favour

<2 - terrible, faction will take special steps to remove PCs
2 - very negative
3 - negative
4 - negative
5 - neutral
6 - neutral
7 - neutral
8 - neutral
9 - neutral
10 - positive
11 - positive
12 - very positive
12+ - exceptional, faction will take special steps to help PCs

Watch this space for more thoughts.

And a version for grayscale printing and taking notes:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

BASS v4.1.1.

I created a thing last year. It's .pdf rendition of the "D&D" rules by which I game - occasionally. It's here:

feel free to use it and please do comment on it.

Right now I'm about to embark on a reworking of it to fit with the Sunday game I am setting up and some things I like from DCC.

And here is something with bass to listen to while you peruse the BASS document.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Tower of Down

Perhaps something that lies beneath the Endless Necropolis of Ebet? The Tower of Down continues deep below the verdant earth, a beckoning, luring worm of a dungeon that feeds on the reckless fools drawn into its depths. Perhaps the Tower itself produces gold and gems to lure in its food. Perhaps the more souls it consumes, the stronger it grows.

17 20 levels and counting :) - get the hi-res version here.

The Tower Exploration Table:

1 - all is as it should be. This chamber is clean.
2 - a faint miasma of something off lingers.
3 - no, you're just hearing things.
4 - it sounds and feels moist and expectant.
5 - it's just your imagination. There are no rats in the walls.
6 - something is definitely squeaking and smacking it's lips.
7 - did that wall just fart? it definitely smells bad.
8 - no, it's all ok, your hair is standing on end because of static electricity, that's all.
9 - that looks like an empty eye socket in the wall.
10 - something is whispering and those look like mouths in the wall.
11 - that's an eye. I'm telling you, there's an eye in the wall.
12 - An Eye of the Tower watches this chamber.
13 - 50% Ears of the Tower listen here / 50% Noses of the Tower smell here.
14 - Orifices of the Tower expel foul liquids and vapours here.
15 - A Mouth of the Tower smacks its lips in appreciation.
16 - A Tongue of the Tower licks about this chamber.
17 - 1d4 Eyes of the Tower watch this chamber 18 - 1d4 Ears and Tongues of the Tower lash the chamber 19 - 1d4 Noses and Mouths of the Tower bite and gnash.
20 - 1d8 Eyes of the Tower blink and stare and roll.
21 - 1d4 Eyes of the Tower and 1d4 Orifices of the Tower.
22 - 1d3 Eyes of the Tower and a Monsterwomb of the Tower.
23 - 1d4 Tentacles of the Tower and 1d4 Mouths of the Tower.
24 - An exposed Stomach of the Tower and 1d8 Orifices of the Tower.
25 - 3d6 Eyes of the Tower and a Crushing Hand of the Tower.
26 - 1d12 Laughing Mouths of the Tower and one Oozing Bladder of the Tower.
27 - it is all ok, there is no chaos here, the tower is safe, the treasure chest is safe, there are no curses.
28 - 1d20 Eyes of the Tower and 1d20 Ears of the Tower.
29 - 1d6 Caco-orifices and 1d6 Mouths of the Tower.
30 - 1 Great Mind's Eye of the Tower and 1d4 Bones of the Tower.
31 - 1d6 Eggs of the Tower and 1d4 Phalluses of the Tower.
32 - a Stomach of the Tower and 1d6-2 Eyes of the Tower.
33 - truly, there is no chaos, the water is safe to drink, sleep here, rest a while.
34 - do you not trust the tower? the whispering mouths are your friends. rest upon the soft Bosoms of the Tower, suckle the Milk of the Tower.
35 - 1d6 Feet of the Tower and 1 Vomiting Orifice of the Tower.
36 - a Heart of the Tower and sense of peace.
37 - the Dead Soul of the Tower and the Mental Womb of Destruction of the Tower

The work in progress version.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

d100 Bizarre and Horrible Magics

I hate elves. Elves are poncy. True faeries are fucking scary. And inhuman. And vile.

They are called the Viladrines by some archeomancers and simply The Vile by the humans, dwarves and other mortals that they call, with their flair for poetry, Cattle.

d100 Horrible Magics of the Viladrines

  1. Animation of the Fallen Warriors of the Enemy Upon the Field of Blood and Pain
  2. Curse the Kingdom
  3. Shrivelling of the Wombs of the Unforgiven
  4. Living Forest of the Green Face
  5. Kraken Creation
  6. Vile Philactery of the Suffocation of Souls
  7. Curse of the Seven Generations
  8. Plague of the Falling Fingers and Shrivelling Appendages
  9. Create Pocket Universe
  10. End Offensive Life of the Fate-cursed Ones
  11. Mists of Terrestrial Transportation
  12. Eliminate Human Vermin
  13. Animate the Mountain
  14. Create Soul-Mill
  15. Dancing Lights of Maddening Mysts
  16. Draining of the Vital Fluids and Life Forces of the Cattle
  17. Cull the Herds
  18. Entwined in Vengeance of Transcendent Putrescen
  19. Become the Dragon of Destruction
  20. Feed Upon the Hopes and Dreams of the Cattle Children
  21. Embracing Shadows of the Evermocking Slumber
  22. Summon the Thorns of the Ravenous Green Hunger
  23. Melt the Cattle into the Ooze of Raging Acid
  24. Create the Castle of Enchantend Marble and Bone
  25. Rainbow of Fire and Gold
  26. Steal the Faces of the Enemy
  27. Corrupt the Bodies of the Offensive Cattle
  28. Plague of the Rotting Flesh
  29. Final Summoning of the Sarcophagus
  30. Animate the Plains and Rivers
  31. Force the Souls into the Weapons
  32. Eat the Souls and Squander the Afterlives of the Mortals
  33. Loss of Centuries and Everweeping Sorrow of Loss
  34. Summon the Skiff of the Rivers of Time
  35. Lay the Green Land to Desert
  36. Level the Mountains
  37. Crack the Sky and Summon the Colourless Fire of the Rainbow
  38. Plague of the Vile Zombies
  39. Summon the Warriors of the Dragons’ Teeth
  40. Refine the Souls of the Slain Into the Bread of the Immortal Hero
  41. Imprison the Demon Soul in the Rainbow Sword
  42. Rip the Veil of Worlds and Unleash the Essence of Chaos
  43. Plunge the Land Into the Void
  44. Invoke the Planet Smasher
  45. Step Through The Veil of Green and Blood to the Lands and Times Beyond the Rim of the World
  46. Summon Ice Age
  47. Bring Forth the Flood to Wipe Clear the Sinful Hordes
  48. Transform Vermin Into Salt
  49. Bring Forth Immortal Life From Dust
  50. Drain the Waters and Bring the Death of Thirst
  51. Invoke War
  52. Corrupt the Seed to Bring Forth the Rustling Walkers
  53. Bind the Minds of the Cattle in Eternal Delirium
  54. Summon the Elemental Storm
  55. Surf the Swirling Chaos
  56. Grind the Skulls of the Offending Ones to Armor the Hearts and Souls of the Fae
  57. Plague of Amnesia
  58. Rainstorm of Everrecurring Nightmares
  59. Summon the Worm that Eates the Bones of the World
  60. Awaken the Island that Swims
  61. Create the Living Tower of Flesh and Sinew and Blood to Rule the Ignorant Masses
  62. Invoke the Divine Right of Fae Overlordship and Enslave the Populace
  63. Crushing Humility of the Mortal Before the Divine Fae
  64. Plague of the Hunger for Flesh
  65. Curse of Malignant Immortality
  66. Corrupt the Mortal Seed to Create the Bestial Servants of War
  67. Make the Rivers and Seas Run Red With Poisoned Blood
  68. Sink the Land in the Vengeful Waters of Doom
  69. Awaken the Volcano Elemental
  70. The Star Falls Upon the Sinners Like the Hammer of the All-father-mother
  71. Curdle the Milk and Bring Sterility and Impotence Upon the Wicked
  72. Blind the Eyes of the Cattle Who Stare Upon Immortal Beauty
  73. Feed Upon the Tears of the Innocents to Sculpt the World
  74. Possess the Bodies of the Enemy Horde
  75. Create Eternal Love Slaves
  76. Summon the Swirling Mists of Ignorance
  77. Bring the Night Eternal
  78. Excavate Glittering Fortress of Mirrors and Crystal
  79. Transform the Cattle into the Pigs that They Deserve to Be
  80. Awaken the Iron World Tree of Heaven
  81. Send the Realm Into The Slumber Eternal
  82. Melt the Waking and Nightmare Worlds Together
  83. Amputate the Magic from the Undeserving Cattle
  84. Awaken the Beasts of the Earth to Battle for their Masters
  85. Invoke the Mother of Monsters
  86. Expand the Curling Dungeon of Chaos into the Realm of the Offensive Ones
  87. Blind the Dwarves and Cattle With Greed and Gold-lust
  88. Invoke Famine
  89. Shield the Valley From the World
  90. The Shimmering Veil That Wipes the Minds and Steals the Souls
  91. Share the Corrupting Forbidden Knowledge that Melts the Cattle’s Mind
  92. Step Through Stone and Bone and Wood to Safety and Sanctuary
  93. Summon Blood Elemental from the Butchered
  94. Fill the Night With Howling Terrors and Hunt the Wretched Fools
  95. Summon Field of Barrows and Wights
  96. Make the Stones Walk and the Ley Lines Shift
  97. Restore the Wilderness and Annihilate the Filth of Civilization and Corruption
  98. Walk the Planes and Feed Upon the Emotions of the Mortals
  99. Occupy the Multiple Bodies of Thine Fallen Foes
  100. Enforce the Transcendent Tranquility of the Unified World-Mind