"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Friday, September 30, 2011

MH - 8 Fault Line - MSH, Decay (R)

I have written a couple of times how my superhero game of of  choice was V&V but we ended up playing Champions. In the comic  worl I have always been more in the Marvel camp than I have in the  DC camp. It is odd that we did not play more of Marvel Super  Heroes given that. I think it was because the other person who  GM'ed other than me and ran most of the non D&D stuff was a  Champions fan.

Fault Line (MH-8) is one of the adventures for Marvel Super Heroes  than I own but have never really played. There are some of the  modules for the game that appeal to me much more than others. This  is actually in the group that does not appeal. I am not sure it is  the least appealing but it is close. I think the mixture of the  characters in the module seems a bit contrived and unless played  as a one shot then it will most likely never work.

The plot in the module is one that when written did not seem like  it was that catastrophic. In the post 9/11 world the plot is one  that I am not sure I would want to use in a campaign I was  running. I won't talk any more about it but I think what I have  written already explains it. This is most likely going to be a me  issue being over sensitive to the location. It just wouldn't be  anything I would use in a game anymore.

This module uses a different format than the previous modules  released for the game. Previous modules used chaptered adventures  that most often needed to be run in sequence. This module is  written in a format that uses a timeline and events. This seems at  least in theory make the adventure more variable in nature.

The module itself is short coming in at 16 pages which as I recall  in 1985, when it was released, was short for a module of that time  period. The content of the module is well done and the write up  for various location in the city would serve the GM well. Even if  you never run it I am going to guess some of the flavor material  could be used. The two sided map works with the one in the basic  set so that is a benefit as well. The mix of heroes again is one  of my concerns but it was nice to see the Black Knight get a nod.  In the end I would say you can pass on it as a scenario but maybe  own it for the parts.

Front cover blurb:

"Three AVENGERS and SPIDER-MAN must unravel the mysterious  message, beat the clock, and find the Fault Line before New York  runs out of time!"

From the back cover:

They are the last words of a dying man. "Fault... Line." What  do they mean? How does it threaten New York? Who would kill to  keep it a secret? Is there a rupture in the foundation under the  Big Apple, or is there another meaning lurking in the cryptic  confession?

    Can SPIDER-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, the WASP, and the BLACK  KNIGHT save the city from certain destruction? Can the heroes  solve the mystery, find the villain behind the evil plot, and beat  the clock before the mighty metropolis runs out of time?



Spell:

Decay (R)


Level: Third
Range: Touch
Duration: Permanent
Ares of Effect: Item Touched
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is caste the magic user causes the target item  touched to decay rapidly. The change in the item will occur over a  period of one round. The effectiveness of this spell is going to  depend on the item it is used on.

The spell may only be cast on a non-living item. It can be used on  organic items that were once alive though. When the spell is cast  the affected item will age 100 years plus an additional 100 years  per level of the caster. Depending on the item this may or may not  have an effect. The GM will need to determine exactly how the item  is affected. The decay affect will be such that it will determine  if the slain can be affected by clerical spells where the time  period dead is an issue.

The reverse of this spell will allow the caster to cause the touched item to be restored back a similar period of time for aging/decay purposes. If the item is newer than the time it would be  restored back it will be restored to a state as if it were new. This being used on a  corpse will restore it back to a state it was in for the period  of time and again if dead less than that the corpse will be as if  it was just slain. This will also affect the ability of the corpse  to be affected by clerical spells. This spell can not affect the  undead.

The material component for this spell will be a small pinch of dust  from a tomb or grave that is at least as old as the spell will age  an item. If used to age the item then the dust will not be  affected and can be reused. If the reverse of the spell is cast  then it consumes the dust.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chromebook, Wizard's Breath

In doing these recaps/reviews of the books in my collection I have  been able to find a few gems that I did not know that I had. The  biggest of these so far has been the entire Cyberpunk line. I have  known that the game was good but I have not paid attention to the  accessories as well as I should have perhaps.

Chromebook is the first in a series of what would become four  books dedicated to the accessories that would be available to  characters in the Cyberpunk 2020 world. Much as was done in the  Night City accessory this book packs a ton of information into  it's 96 pages. One of the nice touches is that it is written as if  it is an actual "catalog" and not a gaming accessory. It declares itself the "digital styleguide and techbook for Cyberpunk 2020".  It does well in fulfilling this claim.

This book more so than others that would follow is not focused so  much on the combat aspect of the game. This first volume though  full of useful stuff for the action side of the game also has a  good amount of what would be considered fluff by some. To me this  helps make the setting more real though. The book is broken down  into ten sections. These are as follows:

Electronics & Miscellaneous
Vehicles
Cyberware
Fashion
Executive Services
Chipware
Housing
Software
Price List & Index

The sections of the book are all well done and in addition to  describing the items often have images as one would expect a  catalog or styleguide to have. The art though not great is  passable. The books art adds some color when it gets to the  Fashion section. This is a nice touch and it might serve to emphasize that section of the book in the readers mind.

The one drawback is one that other material for the game has  suffered from. The materials presented in some cases either in  function or form are archaic in today's world let alone what will  be in less than 10 years. This often the case for books dealing  with technology that are were written twenty years ago so I will  have to give it a pass. One can always think of it as a throwback  to a vintage feel.

I have to say that this book would be one that any GM of the  Cyberpunk game will want to have in their bookcase. It would also  serve well someone running Shadowrun or any modern/future type  game. It is also just a fun book for anyone to read through and  see how close they writers from 1991 came to getting things  right. Avery Brooks did a great commercial for IBM where he  decried the present the lack of flying cars. This book does not  promise those but it does have somethings that are still perhaps  too far off. I for one though still want the flying car I was promised.


Spell:

Wizard's Breath


Level: Fifth
Range: None
Duration: One Turn + 1 Turn/Level
Ares of Effect: Caster
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Round
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user makes it so that they can  breath and function in in any environment in regards to breathing.  The spell does not impart any other immunities or abilities to adapt to harsh environments.

This spell will allow the caster to breath under water. It will  even allow them to function in environments with noxious fumes.  Other aspects of the certain environments will limit the spells  functionality though. The caster could breath submersed in lava  but the lava would kill them in other ways. The vacuum of space is  not a problem but the cold and pressure issues would be a problem.

In addition to the obvious benefits the spell also grants the  caster some offensive capabilities as well. These can be used up  to three times during the duration of the spell. If used the three  times then the spell will expire with the third use. Each use will  allow the caster to have their breath affect a single target  within 1" of them. The effect of their breath will serve as a  single target Sleep, Friendship or Hold Person spell. The victim of  the caster's breath is not entitled to a save versus these effects.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who Watches the Watchmen, Counterspell

For the longest time my favorite super hero movie was the first  Batman with Michael Keaton and Jack as the Joker. The first Iron  Man usurped that but it's reign was short lived as Dark Knight  replaced it quickly. The reign of Dark Knight was ended with the  release of Zack Snyder's Watchmen in 2009.

In comics Alan Moore has always held a high place in the pantheon  of comic book writers. I am not sure anyone can touch him except  for perhaps Frank Miller. Neil Gaiman is someone that one day  might be considered a contender but that is yet to be determined.  The man that has given us The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta and The  Watchmen will be hard to topple.

Who Watches the Watchmen is a a module released in 1987 for the  first edition of DC Heroes. It was one of the harder modules to  find and easily out prices others from the era except for the   Watchmen source book. Taking Out the Trash can also sell for  higher prices. This module is set about 20 years before the main  story in The Watchmen. I won't go into too much detail on it.

The module is a nice one to have in that it has game stats for all  of the characters in the Watchmen even the one that is really not  used in the adventure. It also has stats for one of the major  villains. If you do not have the Watchmen Sourcebook this is the  next best thing to have. The adventure itself is one that will  focus more on investigation and role playing than it does on  combat. There will be both but it is an adventure more in line  with the comic. The module is also good in that it is designed to  allow all of the heroes to be a focus at some point in the  adventure.

Being set in 1966 changes the atmosphere of the setting quite a  bit from the book and the gritty setting is part of the comics  charm. This will be a detractor for some and I would prefer the  later setting myself but this gives the players a chance to be a  lot less cynical in how they play the characters. With all that  being said the theme is right in line with what I would like to  see.

I can not recommend this module enough. I am not saying it is the  best adventure ever written but it does get you the stats for some  of the best comic book heroes ever written. On the flip side if  you like a more traditional comic book adventure or super heroes  this will not be for you. It is still a good one to have though as  it is most likely the best of the early DC Hero modules. Let me  close by saying, and I mean this in the most heterosexual way  possible, that Rorschach is a stud!


Spell:


Counterspell

Level: Second
Range: 9"
Duration: Permanent
Ares of Effect: Target Spell
Components: V,S
Casting Time: One Segment
Saving Throw: None

The use of this spell will allow the magic user to counter the  magic of the spell that this one targets. The magic connected with  countering the other spell is not something that the caster will  want to take using lightly though. The Counterspell caster  actually absorbs the energy of the target spell internally.

Counterspell will counter the magic of a spell as it is being  cast. It will not work on a spell that has already been successfully cast. The spell that is being countered will finish being cast but the magic connected with it never happens. The  spell is used up by the caster though.

The magic user countering the spell will have a number of side  effects from casting this spell though. The first effect is that  the caster will not be able to cast any further spells for a  number of rounds equal to half the level of the spell rounded up.  There is also a cumulative chance equal to the level of the spell  countered that the caster will age 11 to 20 years and suffer a loss  of one point of constitution. If the casters constitution were to  ever drop below three they will become a Shadow and be flung into  the Ethereal plane. In addition for each time this spell is cast  there is a 5% chance that the caster will suffer some permanent  random physical side effect or deformity.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GW1 - Legion of Gold, Spell Lock

Gamma World holds a place near and dear in my heart. There is no  other game that I like more and seem to play the least. I am a  sucker for the end of the world stories and games. I have played  Morrow Project and Aftermath which are both more realistic games  in the same genre but at the end of the day I want mutated talking mastiffs or flying laser shooting sunflowers.

GW1 - Legion of Gold was the first module released for the Gamma  World setting. It came out in 1981 and was written, at least in  part, by none other than Gary Gygax himself. It is labeled as an  Exploration Module but in the end it is really more of a dungeon  crawl with a few side adventures. Not that there is anything wrong  with this as the module is open ended enough that the players may  end up taking things in a whole different direction.

The module starts by giving the GM an introduction and a setting  that could serve as the basis for the setting used throughout a  long running campaign if the GM wanted. The location is the Barony  of Horn which bears a strange resemblance to an area of the world  that was probably well known to the author. There is a map of the  areas as well as the actual city of Horn provided.

The module then has three mini-adventures that will help guide the  adventurers to the final conclusion of the module. Each of these  mini-adventures is different enough that they will not seem to  drag out the modules eventual goal. In some ways they are more  interesting than the actual end game of the module. The module is
32 pages long so each of the mini-adventures will be long enough  to take a single session depending on how much the players explore  and role play. I won't go into too much detail about the mini-adventures and the module cover, as if often the case, gives too  much away about what the Legion of Gold end game is.

The module is chock full of new game material as well as the  adventure. There are no less than seven new creatures presented in  the module. I can't recall if any of these make it into later  editions of the game but it would not surprise me. There is then  expanded information on guns for use in the module and then the  game with some nice tables that will need to be copied. The next  item will be a short description of the 14 villages in the Barony.  This gives an idea as to how easy it would be to make this the  setting for the campaign. Finally comes one of my favorite Gamma  World items. There are two loot tables. I loved the lists of mixed  everyday junk to useful items that made up these tables. Though  comical at times it helped in my mind to paint a picture of the  chaos that was left.

In the end this module is worth picking up. The fact that it could  end up being a campaign setting is nice. The additional game  material in the shape of creatures, baddies and gun rules is nice  as well. Add those up, mis in the art by the likes of Otis and  Willingham and the fact that it is a Gygax piece and it deserves a  place in the collection of any Gamma World GMs collection.

From the back cover...

Excerpts from notes made by Ydal Eilffik, professor at the  University of Horn:

"All know that there is much to worry about in these difficult  times, but the skies have grown darker in the past few weeks, as  if an omen of destruction hangs over us all.

"Baron Jemmas, the Warder, has been very preoccupied in the recent  weeks. This bothers me, for the mind of the ruler of the Barony of  Horn ought to be clear, since his decisions affect us all.

"I can only hazard a guess at the problem that afflicts him for  only vague rumors of the trouble have reached my ears.

"In the past several weeks there have been raids on several  outlying towns of the Barony by mysterious golden marauders.  Whether these creatures are robots, mutants or men, none can be  sure for reports are scarce. The monsters are rumored to have  struck from nowhere, then vanished without a trace, leaving only  destruction in their wake.

"The Warder fears that unless something is done the very heart of  the Barony will fall victim to this threat. It is rumored that he  had offered a substantial reward for the destruction of this  'Legion of Gold;. I only hope it is not already too late."

This is the first GAMMA WORLD module to be produced by the Game  Wizards at TSR Hobbies, Inc. This module includes the main Legion  of Gold adventure, several mini-adventures which lead up to it,  background information, suggestions for the referee, a special  players' map and numerous referee's maps.



Spell:

Spell Lock


Level: Fourth
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: One Spell
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: Special

When this spell is cast the magic user causes a spell being cast  by another to become locked in mid-cast in the mind of the other  caster. This will have a number of possible outcomes depending on  the levels of the casters as well as the saving throw. The actual  casting of the spell is but a single word and can therefore affect  any spell regardless of where the casters action might fall in the  combat round.

When the spell is cast the DM will need to compare the level of  the two casters. If the caster of Spell Lock is higher than that  of the other spell caster then the spell will go off with no  required rolls. If the other caster is a higher level than the  caster od Spell Lock then the caster is entitled to an initial  save to see if Spell Lock even affects and interrupts the casting.

If Spell Lock has an effect the then the target will need to make  a second saving throw. Regardless of the outcome of the saving  throw the casting of the spell will be locked in the mind of the  caster. This will mean that the spell is not completed and may not  be cast again for a period of time.

If the saving throw is made then the spell will be locked in the  mind of the caster for a number of rounds equal to the level of  the caster of Spell Lock. If the saving throw is not made then the  spell will be locked into the mind of the caster for a number of  days equal to the level of the caster of Spell Lock. In either  case the effect can be removed by a successful casting of Dispel  Magic or Remove Curse on the victim.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hex Pad - TSR, Spell Storage III

Short post today. I am a little under the weather.

The Hex Pad was released by TSR in 1979. The hex pad is exactly what it says it is. It is a sheets of hexagonal mapping paper. There is no cardboard backing and they are held together at the top with a wax binding agent.  This is one of those  items that is hard to find and when you do see it they usually go  for too much money. Let's be honest you can print hex paper for  free of the the Internet so this is merely a collectors item. I  can't recall what I paid for this copy as I bought it more than a  few years ago. The last one I saw on eBay had an opening bid of  $70 but never got any takers.

I hope to return to more productive posts tomorrow.


Spell:

Spell Storage III


Level: Ninth
Range: None
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: Special
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 Round
Saving Throw: None

Please not that except for the level of spells that can be stored  this spell is identical to Spell Storage I.

When this spell is cast the magic user is able to then cast  additional spells into special designed foci. These will hold a  spell for later casting. These devices can only be used by the  caster that originally put the spell into the device.

The caster will be able to store one spell per device. The spells  must be between Seventh and eigth level with the use of this  particular spell. The caster may cast a limited number of spells  into any number of foci. The limit on this is that they must have  the spell to cast and they must be cast continuously with no more  than one round of break per spell.

The number of foci that a caster can have is limited by their  level. The caster can have a number of foci equal to one plus  their level at the time the spell was cast into the foci. The  spell will remain in the item for a period of 24 hours. At the end  of that time the spell energy dissipates.

The material components of this spell will be a small foci that is  designed specifically for a particular spell level. The cost of  the foci will be 50gp per level of the spell it is intended to  hold. Each foci may hold one spell. The foci may be reused after  the spell it contains is used or has lost the energy stored within  it.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Complete Book of Villains, Entropy

"The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."

That may not be the best line to open the post with but how bad can it be to quote "the Usual Suspects" in a post about villains. In some movies it is the villain that makes the story. They may not be the main character but they end up making the story. From Keyser Soze to Hannibal Lecter to Khan we find villains that we love to hate and in some cases can even root for.

In a long term campaign one thing that is needed is going to be goals for the characters long term. In most cases the journey for the goals will not be enough. They will need a long term adversary that is going to be one of if not the major obstacles along the way. That is where a well done villain comes in.

The Complete Book of Villains is one of those special supplements that cross system and genre in their usefulness. I have found myself looking back to this even when not playing D&D or AD&D. With this you can create a villain that will be able to replace the quest. The villain you create will not be the big baddie at the end of the dungeon that gets killed at the end. They will become the long term nemesis that players will talk about after the game is over.

One of the problems with this book though is that it gets sold short. It helps create great villains but doesn't get used for the creating other great NPCs. With just a little creativity the book can be used to help create any type of character. I have even read of this book being used by fiction writers to help them flesh out characters in stories. It was pegged as one of the five old school products for new school DMs at the RPG Athenaeum.

There may be other products that I would put in a list of cross system & genre musts but this would be on my list as well. This would probably be at the top of that list. Some of the Gygax Builder books would also make that list. The Complete Book of Villains could be released again today without being system specific and be a big seller. Below is a the Table of Contents for the book. I strongly suggest you find a copy of this and pick it up.

Introduction
CH 1 - Defining your Villain
CH 2 - Henchmen, Flunkies & Lackeys
CH 3 - Villainous Organizations
CH 4 - Introducing Your Villain
CH 5 - Delivering the Goods
CH 6 - Monsters Into Villains
CH 7 - Advanced Villains
CH 8 - Creative Villainy
CH 9 - A Compendium of Villains
CH 10 - A Catalog For Villains
Villain Tables

From the back of the book:

There is no little enemy -- French proverb

A paranoid warlord, a bitter drow priestess, a power-mad archmage, a sly dwarven assassin - not all the characters in the AD&D game went the way of the heroes. Villains - beings dedicated to committing evil - are the most dangerous of all foes, and thus the most useful of all tools that a Dungeon Master has to create a memorable campaign. This book presents the most complete guidelines ever offered on creating villains for role-playing games. Miss this advice at your own peril!



Spell:

Entropy


Level: Sixth
Range: 6"
Duration:  6 Rounds
Ares of Effect: 6" Radius Sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 6 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes any spell cast in  the area of effect to act as another spell. This will also have an  effect on magical devices that are triggered if they are used in  the sphere. Items that have a constant effect will not suffer from  the changes.

When a spell is cast the DM will need to determine what level the  spell being cast is and then roll randomly to determine what the  effect is. The spell will still be removed from the list of spells  that individual may cast but the effect will not be what they  want.

Another effect of the spell is that the caster not perceive that  the wrong spell is cast. They will see the effect they expect in  addition to what really happens. The same will hold true for effects from wands and other triggered devices. The entropy will  affect any spell caster that enters into the area of effect  including the caster of this spell.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Atlas of the Young Kingdoms, Cassandra's Wave of Disjunction

Atlas of the Young Kingdoms: Volume One is a supplement for Elric.  Elric is one of the later editions of the original Stormbringer  game by Chaosium. The Atlas was released in 1996 and is described  as the first n a series of four. The intent was to break the Young  Kingdoms up into quadrants and describe them in great detail. As  is often the case the later promised volumes never appeared.

It is really too bad that the other three volumes were never  produced. The level of detail provided for first the game world  and then the areas covered in this quadrant of the map were really  quite amazing. I have read all of the Elric books and do not  recall the level of detail in the books being this rich. If the  author did not have input from Michael Moorcock then they went  above and beyond in the level of detail.

The book starts with an introduction and then spends about seven  pages providing the GM with more information about the world of  Elric than was ever provided in the books or at least more than I  can ever recall being there. Next we are provided with information on seven distinct kingdoms or important locations. These seven  descriptions occupy the vast majority of the book. The book  finishes with a section of story seeds that are really more than  seeds. They are actually full scenario outlines without any stats  or maps. Finally there are calendars provided. There is one for  the Young Kingdoms and the Melnibonean calender is also provided.  There is also a full index which is always nice to have in a 148  page supplement.

The areas covered in this book are gone over in a level of detail  that will make things easy for the GM if they want to run  adventures in these areas. They are present with a wealth of maps  of both the kingdoms and of individual cities. Each area is also  presented with a history and places of note. Varied across the  areas described there are also descriptions of customs, society,  ways of life and important NPCs. The locations described are as  follows:

Vilmir
Ilmiora
The Weeping Waster
Nadsokor
Org and the Forest of Troos
The Sighing Desert
Tanelorn

Unless you plan on running Elric or an adventure set in the Young  Kingdoms this may not be very portable. The setting is very  specific as is the history connected with these locations. I know  Tanelorn can exist anywhere so that is the exception. This is  still a great book to have as there are things that can always be  taken and used even if the whole can not. In the end the worst  part of this book is that the other three were never made.

From the back of the book:

"Great Imperial Melniboné lay swollen across the world. Her  fingers wound through the planes of the multiverse a hundred  times.

Among the earthly slaves of the great Melniboné were grunting  ape-men who ploughed and harvested the fields and vineyards.

When the ape-men changed, they challenged their betters, and won  against them. New kingdoms were gathered, this time by human  hands.

The Atlas of the Young Kingdoms: The Northern Continent discusses  the Sighing Desert, the Weeping Waste, heavenly Tanelorn, horrible  Nadsokor (the kingdom of beggars), the ancient evil of Org, and  the Forest of Troos, free-trading and progressive Ilmiora, and the  Lawful hell of dying Vilmir. We learn the origin of the Young  Kingdoms and the great rebellion of Vil Valario, the ways of the  people, histories, products, and attitudes, customs and holidays,  provinces and towns, and important leaders. There are plot ideas  and story seeds, scores of illustrations, full-page national and  regional maps, city plans, a Lormyrian and a Melnibonéan calendar,  and an index."



Spell:

Cassandra's Wave of Disjunction


Level: Seventh
Range: None
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: Special
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Special


When this spell is cat the magic user caused a cone shaped wave to  eminate from their hands. The wave will affect all magic items or  spell affects that are caught in the area effect. The wave will  cause the magical bonds that hold the effect to the item to break.  The effect the wave has will depend on the saving throw.

The wave will begin at the casters hand with a base of 1/2" (5')  and extend out for a range of 6" (60'). At its end the cone effect  will be 3" (30') wide. The height of the wave will match the  height of the room.

Every magic items in the areas of effect as well as anyone or  anything with a magical effect on it will be required to make a  saving throw. Items or effects that make their save will have  their abilities disrupted for 2-5 rounds. Items or effect that  fail the save will have the bonds of the magical effect  permanently broken. Magic Items with pluses will receive those as  pluses to their saving throw. The save of the items will be made  as if the owner of the item is making a save versus death.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thrilling Locations - VG, Fire Walk

James Bond as movies seem to be something you either love or hate. I fall into the former camp. I have know I have seen every Bond movie and have seen most more times than I care to share. I know part of it is the action in the movies. There is also the great gadgets and then there are the ladies but in the I think it is something else. Bond movies are like travel brochures of great places many of us will never get to go. But then again the ladies aren't bad either.

Thrilling Locations is one of the better supplements for the James Bond game by Victory games. I have written about the Q Manual before. Even more so than perhaps with D&D he James Bond game can really be run with just three books. The rulebook, the Q Manual and this book. You really don't need this book either but it helps give you ideas.

Released in 1985 Thrilling Locations presents the GM with information on locations that seem to be common in all James Bond movies and will most likely be ever present in the game if it holds true to the genre. The book has two major sections. The first is Where to Go and the second is How to Get There.

The book presents these locations and methods of travel broken down into chapters that go over the different types for each. Each chapter will have at least one sample for it provided. It will then have something specific to that type of location that can be added to the game. Each will then have a "Notes for the Gamemaster" section. They will then present encounters that would be specific to that location. The chapters are then rounded off with NPCs that would be present and floor-plans. The various chapters are:

Where To Go

Casinos
Hotels
Restaurants

How to Get There
Trains
Boats
Planes & Airports

As nice as the sample locations are I think the book actually shines in a couple of other portions. The sections specific to that chapters such as in Casinos it is Gambling offer great ideas for the GM on creating new locations or information to help in designing adventures. The other section is the Encounters section. When I hear or see Encounters I go right to combat but these are better thought of as plot hooks.

In the end this is a great book for the James Bond game. It will also be something that any Modern type game could be well served using. The one flaw is that being published in 1985 is is 26 years old and some of the information might need to be tweaked and updated to be true to today's world. Don't let that deter you though. If you like the world of Bond, spy based games or have any need for modern era game information this will be of use. 


Spell:

Fire Walk


Level: Third
Range: Special
Duration: Instantaneous
Ares of Effect: 1" Radius
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Round
Saving Throw: None

This spell will allow the magic user and others to travel between  two locations in an instant. Both locations will need to have some  sort of open flame present. The size of the flame present in either  location will not be important and they need not match.

The travel between the two points will be handled differently  depending on how the caster is using the spell. If the caster  knows the location of the destination flame the distance between  the two flames can be up to one mile distant.

If the caster does not know the location of the secondary flame  then distance will be limited to 300 yards (90"). The caster will  have no information about the area surrounding the destination  flame. The DM should map out all the open flames location in the  area of effect with no other information except dots. The caster  can then pick any one of those in range and that is where the  group will appear.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

RQ - The Gateway Bestiary, Wizard's Images

The Gateway Bestiary was published by Chaosium in 1980. It was  designed for use with RuneQuest. It beasrs the Gateway name though  to indicate that it is not tied directly with Glorantha. This  allowed the inclusion of entries that would not be appropriate for  a campaign using Glorantha as the setting. I am not sure why this  was deemed necessary but I am sure it was important.

The Bestiary includes what the advertising says is 99 new monsters  for the GM to use in their campaign. I counted the list but did  not come up with that exact number but I am sure there are  variations and a few not on the list. Each of the entries has  statistics that the GM will need to run the creatures that are  described. The entries except in a few instances do not have any  images though. The book says complete with illustrations but they  are used very sparingly. The ones used vary in quality but in  some cases are nicely done. For me the cover has always been one  that I liked and it evoked a a gaming feel more than some other  covers I have seen.

The creatures provided are broken down into seven different  categories. Some of these will be more useful than others as some  are very specific in the niche that they fill. Legendary beings  are a very much Greek/Roman in flavor and the Celtic Horrors will  best fit into a campaign using that type of setting. The most  specific will the the H.P. Lovecraft Creations entries. They avoid  the big baddies but still have some nasty very specific in flavor  entries included. The full list of sections is:

Giant Anthropods
Legendary Beings
Celtic Horrors
H.P. Lovecraft Creations
Natural Animals
Dinosaurs
Miscellaneous Types

In the end the book was a nice addition at its time. I am not sure  how many of it's entries have been adopted to later editions  through out the years though. I have seen this go for a fair  amount at times so it might take some waiting or luck to find it  cheap enough to warrant purchasing by the non collector. I would  still suggest at least find a copy to at least look over if you  can at some point.

From the back of the book:

Expand the horizons of your RuneQuest campaign with the exotic  creatures in this book. All new, they can be used to create  numerous interesting encounters.This book contains 99 new monsters  from a variety of sources, presented in the clear and concise  format of RuneQuest, complete with illustrations. This is the  first of our Gateway products, which are designed to aid the  referee who desires to run a RuneQuest campaign without the  restrictions of the limited flora and fauna of Glorantha.

GIANT ANTHROPODS - This section includes your favorite insects in  human size forms such as giant ants, spiders, or wasps capable of  carrying a rider.

LEGENDARY BEINGS - Provides monsters from terrestrial mythos, such  as the hydra, gorgon, lamia, or sphinx.

CELTIC HORRORS - Contains terrifying creations of the Gaelic mind.  These include kelpies, voughs, and more.

H. P. LOVECRAFT CREATIONS - These are the otherworld nightmares of  Lovecraftian mythos such as the rmi-go, nightgaunt, or shoggoth.

NATURAL ANIMALS - This section fills the more obvious omissions of  the original RuneQuest rules by including stats on frightening  carnivores like lions or bears, and the smaller animals useful as  familiars, such as owls or monkeys.

DINOSAURS - Here are the giant prehistoric creatures... from the  bulky sauropods that are likely to crush an adventuring party by  accident to the terrifying carnosaurs which should make any batch  of Rune level characters turn and run.

MISCELLANEOUS TYPES - These include the whimsical creations of  Lewis Carroll to the fatal anthropophage from a well-known science  fiction movie.

Complete statistics are provided, just roll them up and see the  players try to figure out what they're up against!



Spell:

Wizard's Images


Level: Third
Range: 3"
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: One Item
Components: V,S
Casting Time: One Round
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cat the magic user will cause the selected item  the spell is being cast on to vanish. At the same time a lifelike  image of the item will appear on the caster's body. The image will  appear where the caster desires so it may or may not be visible.

The image that appears will be the actual item that vanished. The  energies of the spell have converted the item to an image that  will allow the caster to carry items with them that they might not  normally have been able to carry. The item must be non living and  can also not be undead.

The item that can be copies will need to be one that would  normally be considered a single item. A raging bonfire or the  corpse of a fallen comrade could be copied but a pile of gold  coins or a dragons hoard could not. The image of the item copied  to the casters body can be increased or decreased in size by a  factor of up to ten. This will not affect the item's size when it  is restored. The caster can restore an item at will simply by  willing the item to be restored.

Items copied in this manner can remain on the body of the caster  for an extended period of time. There is a limit on the magics  involved though. There is a five percent cumulative chance per  week after one initial week that the magic will fail and the item  will become locked on the casters body. The caster may also only  have one item per every two levels, up to a maximum of eight, on  their body at any given time. Items which have become locked onto  the caster will count against these.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Idylls of the Rat King DCC#1, Alignment Fear

Idylls of the Rat King is the first in the Dungeon Crawl Classics  series from Goodman Games. It was first released in 2003 for use  with D&D 3.0. It has been relesed two more times and updated to  D&D 3.5.  The version pictured above is the first printing  released for the earlier edition.

The module is designed for a party of four to six characters or  are between levels one and three. The party mixture will need to  be diverse and it would be best if the group contained a rogue as well as a good aligned cleric. The equipment will not be as  important provided someone remembers that silvered weapons are  always a good thing to have if you don't have magic weapons.

Since the line of adventures is Dungeon Crawl Classics it is  appropriate that the focus of this adventure is a dungeon and  there is little else that the module requires the payers to do  other than to find the dungeon and work it. The dungeon here is an  abandoned silver mine. It features four levels for the players to  explore. These levels have a fine mix of monsters to kill, secret  doors to find and some traps. In its attempt to pay homage to the  old dungeons from back in the day it does not fail. Please do not  look to this for in depth role playing or problem solving though.

The DCC series has grown to be a collection of over 50 titles at  the time of this writing. There has even been a sequel to this  module added into the mix. This is not going to make anyone's top 10 lists as far as best modules but it got the ball rolling on  what has grown to be a popular and interesting series. I was lucky  enough to pick up the first twelve in a lot a number of years  ago. I am glad I got them and have picked up a few more here and  there. I plan to eventually make a point of finishing off the  series.

Adventure Summary from inside the module:

The characters have arrived in the small mining town of Silverton  two days after a group of wererat goblin bandits attacked a  caravan carrying silver to the city of Archbridge, to the north.  The goblin tribe has taken up residence in an abandoned silver  mine to the northwest of town and has been conducting these daring  raids against the caravans for several months, crippling  Silverton’s silver trade. These wererat goblins are under the  leadership of a powerful human wererat bard named Lawrence Gannu,  who is exacting his family’s revenge on the town of Silverton for  killing his grandfather and cursing his then-infant father and  grandmother before exiling them to the southern city of Soulgrave  many years ago. With help from the desperate townsfolk, the  characters have found their way to the entrance of the abandoned  Gannu family silver mine.



Spell:

Alignment Fear


Level: Fifth
Range: None
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: 3" Radius
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes those of alignments  other than theirs to flee in panic. Those who are of the same  alignment or in the caster party are unaffected. After running for  a period of time the victims will then spend time hiding as well.   The greater the variance from the casters alignment the longer they  will run and hide for.

For each place the victim is removed from the casters alignment  they will be affected for one round per level of the caster. The  number of places removed will be used by moving clockwise or  counterclockwise on the alignment chart (using whichever means the  least number of spaces). Those of a Neutral alignment will only be  affected by one place unless the caster is neutral in which case  they are unaffected. The maximum number of spaces will always be  four.

LG    NG    CG
LN    N    CN
LE    NE    CE

Those affected by the spell will spend one round per level of the  caster running in fear. They will then spend the remainder of the  the time affected hiding. While hiding they will be as quiet as  they possibly can doing nothing in fear of alerting the caster to  their location.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

City Sites - TSR, Deaden Sound

Yesterday I wrote about Castle Sites. Today I will put together a  few words about the first in the Sites series from TSR. City Sites  was released by TSR in 1994 under the Second Edition. It describes  different locations within a city that the DM can use within their  campaign. This is not a city in and of itself but locations in a  city.

Castle Sites from yesterday is a product that I mentioned had  varied layers of ease of use. Some of the locations it had would  be much easier for the DM to use than others. City Sites has much  less of an issue where the locations might be hard for the DM to  use. The limitation in this case will be the size of the city the  DM is trying to use them in. As long as they are used in what  would be classified as a city then all could be used with little  change.

As one might expect the number of locations presented in City  Sites are more than what were presented in Castle Sites. There are  a total of thirteen different locations described in City Sites.  The locations are broken down into two types. The first are public  locations and the second are business. The Public Locations  section has five entries and the Businesses section has eight.

All of the locations described in the book provide the DM with a  map that provides them with the layout of the establishment or  building. This even more so than the actual described area will be  a boon to the time stretched, creatively challenged or even just  lazy DM. The maps can even be recycled for later use in other  locations because very few players bother to map shops and city  buildings.

There will perhaps be an obvious comparison to this product and  the City Book products from Flying Buffalo. The comparison isn't  really comparing apples to oranges but it comes close. The  offerings in this book are much more detailed and come closer to  being encounters in my mind. The offerings in City Book and the  later offerings are painted with much broader strokes, In the end  I am much more likely to steal maps from this book or use it as a  single shot and I am much more likely to look at City Book for  inspiration and also for fun reading. All that said both serve a  well defined purpose and a DM could not be hurt by having both.

From the back cover:

"Come to the city and take a look around!

City Sites, the first in a series of AD&D game floorplans,  includes extensive details on urban settings that player  characters are likely to visit in any campaign. For instance,  there's:
* A smithy run by gnomes
* A temple that's home to an orphaned dragon
* A tavern that patrons can't enter until they give the password

This book also describes two inns, a singing fountain, a jail, and  much more!

Each site's entry tells the Dungeon Master what the place looks  like at first glance and offers a detailed floorplan of the  interior as well as a picture of the exterior. Readers also find  fascinating notes about the characters who live and work in each  site, and one or two ideas for personalizing the spot to suit any  adventure.

From now on, make a trip to the city easy - and exciting!

Also in this series of accessories: Castle Sites and Country  Sites."



Spell:

Deaden Sound


Level: First
Range: 3"
Duration: 1 Turn + 1 Round/Level
Ares of Effect: Special
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes the sound caused by a  person or creature to be deadened. This will allow the affected to  move and operate with little chance of being detected because of  the sounds that they might be making.

Recipients of the spell must be willing. If they are not the spell  will not have any affect on them. The caster will be able to  target who the spell will affect. The spell will affect a number  of creatures based on the level of the caster. The caster can  affect themselves and then one other target for every level of  experience they have.

This spell does not have the same effect as a Silence spell as  that prevents all sound in the area of effect. This spell causes  the sounds from the affected or anything they had on them for any  part of a round to not cause any sound. Sounds from others or  things can still be heard. Since this affects individuals it will  move as they move and not be a static area of effect.

Items on the affected will not produce or cause sound either. A  toll or weapon dropped on the ground will produce no sound  provided it was in the possession of the affected for part of the  round. This spell will have the side effect of limiting audible  communication between affected individuals. The effect will also  prevent the casting of spells with a vocal component. Affected  individuals can drop the effect at will at any point.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Castle Sites - TSR, Seizures

Castle Sites is an accessory released by TSR in 1995 for the  second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and is 96 pages  long. The title pretty much gives away what it is. In here you  will find seven different castles. There are no specific levels  given for the product over all and it says suitable for all levels  of play.

Each of the castles will have a fairly detailed write up. There  will be a description of the area surrounding the castle with  information on the castle's appearance and history. There will then  be detailed maps of the castle itself with descriptions of  important areas along with statistics for any important NPCs  connected with the site. Finally the DM is presented with a number  of adventure hooks that can be used to draw the players into the  area.

There are seven castles that are described within the setting.  There are some that are larger than others but even the smallest  would seem to be enough of an adventure to occupy a party for at  least a full nights adventuring. The larger ones might take all of  two sessions or more depending on the party. Some of the castles  provided would be simple enough to drop into an evening session  for use in a hex crawl. Others are specific enough that the DM  might need to work a little bit to fit them into their campaign.

Castle sites is the second in the "Sites" series. The other two  products are City Sites and then the third is Country Sites. I  found all of these to be useful for the environs they each cover.  It is nice to have something to fall back on if you are not ready  for where the players may have taken you on the map as it were.  These seem to be pretty easy to locate and can be picked up for  less than cover price most of the time.

From the back of the book:

Castle Sites

A man's castle is his home!

"Castle Sites offers a fascinating and detailed look into the  workings of seven fantastic fortresses:

• Kaurak Kholzil, a dwarven bastion built into the face of a cliff  to protect a rich adamantium mine;

• Cloud Keep, the flying fortress of a storm giant clan;

• Dragon's Coffin, built to keep an ancient black dragon trapped  inside its subterranean lair;

• plus a walled valley, the ruined castle of a lich, a border  fort, and a frontier outpost.

Each entry includes a description of the site's appearance,  history, and layout, a detailed floorplan, complete data on the  NPCs who live (or died) there, and adventure hooks to draw player  characters into the setting.

Castle Sites is easily adaptable to any AD&D campaign and is  suitable for all levels of play. Also in this series of  accessories: City Sites and Country Sites."



Spell:

Seizures


Level: Third
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

When this spell is cast the magic user causes a wave of magical  energy to wash across the mind of the intended victim. The wave of energy will cause an overload in the mind of the victim. The effect  this will have depends on the the outcome of the victims saving  throw.

Victims who fail the saving throw will begin to suffer the effects  the round after the spell is cast. For the first round they will  become disoriented and suffer minor shaking. This will cause them  to suffer a -2 to all saves and attack rolls. The next round the  effects will worsen and all saves and attacks are at -4 and  casting of spells will fail. The next round the victim will fall  to the ground and begin having violent seizures. These will last  for 2-5 rounds.

Victims who make their save are still affected but to a lesser  degree. They will suffer a -2 to all save and attack rolls for 2-5  rounds. They will also be very disoriented and suffer from the shaking. Any attempt to use a special ability or cast a spell with  require an additional save.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heroes Magazine #5 - Avalon Hill, Dodge

I think I have said before how much I love magazines. Not just  gaming magazines but magazines in general. Still gaming magazines  have an exalted place in the realm of magazines. I have tried to  get an example of all the different magazines I run across. I in  many cases have tried to complete runs and in the case of Heroes  this was something that could be done.

Heroes was the house magazine for Avalon Hill. It ran articles on  the four role playing games they had at the time. These were James  Bond, Lords of Creation, Powers & Perils and lastly RuneQuest. I  know there is a reason to have a magazine dedicated to your games  specifically but this limits your audience. I still prefer the  older Dragons & White Dwarf magazines that ran articles on  everything under the sun.

The articles in Heroes are great for the games that they support  though. Since the print run on the magazine was only ten issues i  have been able to go through all of them. Issue number fives  stands out in my mind as being my favorite. I would have used the  word best in place of my favorite but other issues are just as  good. It is just that the content in issue five seems to be more  portable than others.

Issue #5 had a total of ten articles and a special pull out  section in it. It is the pull out section that sold me on the  issue. The pull out portion is the Royal City of Donara. Donara is  set in the Powers & Perils game but as in any city except for stat  blocks they can be easily ported. I won't say this is a fully  detailed city as the section is only nine pages in length. It  would better be described a well sketched out city. It has twenty  six neighborhoods and twenty two places of note described along  with some history, policies, laws and statistics as well as  important people described. It will not beat the Irilian offering  from White Dwarf but it comes in second from what I have found.

The issue also has some other articles that make it worthwhile.  There is an article on Powers & Perils magic items and then a  larger companion piece on magic item creation in the game. There  is also a piece on gambling for RuneQuest that could be ported.  There is also an interesting piece on swordsmen from history and  cinema. Finally there is the entry on the History of the Lunar  Empire which I have a soft spot for fantasy history pieces.

It will not be for everyone and there are other issues that may be  just as good but this one has stayed in my mind throughout the  years. If you have not had a chance to check out Heroes magazine  you might want to give at least one issue a try. You can usually  find it fairly prices on eBay and I have even seen them in places  like Half Price Books on occasion.


Spell:

Dodge


Level: Fifth
Range: Touch
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: Creature Touched
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: None

With the casting of this spell the magic user causes the recipient  to become impossible to hit for a period of time. The spell will  grant the recipient a level of agility that will allow them to  dodge any attack unerringly.

The recipient will be able to dodge any number of attacks per  round. They will still be able to attack the standard number of  times in the round as well. The ability to dodge is not due to a  speed increase though that will appear to be the case as a result  of the ability to dodge so many attacks. There is no speed  increase and the movement rate and attack speed stay the same.

The dodge ability will extend to both missile and melee combat. The  recipient is even able to dodge attacks that normally can not be  dodges such as missiles from the Magic Missile spell. The recipient  will even dodge attacks they cna not see such as surprise attacks  from behind.

The spell will remain in effect for a different period of time  depending who it is cast on. If it is cast on the magic user then  it will last one round for every two levels. If it is cast on  anyone else it drops to one round for every three levels.

The material component of this spell will be a mixture of  dragonfly wings and essence from a will-o-the wisp. The mixture  will cost no less than 200 gp to make. The mixture is not used up  in the casting buy will ony remain fresh for a period time. It  will remain viable for 3-6 months before it must be refreshed.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's That Smell? , Improved Magic Mouth

"What's That Smell" is a module released by WICKed Press in 2001.  It is another D20/OGL released for the 3e of D&D. The module was  written in part by John Wick who is not an unknown in the gaming  industry. The module is 32 pages long and it is intended for  characters of 4th to 7th level and is the first in what is  marketed as a multi-module.

The multi-module concept is supposed to allow the same module to  be run multiple times and each will be different. It sets forth to  accomplish this by strategic elements in the module being variable  and letting the GM choose between them and then the module will  flow differently from there. I like this idea though I see it as  more of a benefit for the DM as there is rarely a reason to run  the same module for the same group more than once.

The adventure portion of the module is broken down into two  parts. The first is the village of Nobbletog Grove. This is normally a thriving halfling village that the adventures now find  abandoned. The module uses this part to set up a feeling of  uneasiness and dread. There are suggestions provided in the module  to further this along. The adventurers will also find clues here  that will aid them in the second portion.

The second part of the adventure will be the catacombs that are  below Nobbletog Grove. The reason for the village being deserted  is located in the catacombs. Without giving too much away the  cause is a spell that has gone wrong and opened a portal to a  space between worlds. Being a fan of Lovecraft I love the idea of  extra-dimensional beings as antagonists. The weirder the better and  a fine job of making them weird is done in the module.

Under the multi-module concepts much of the adventure is variable.  This includes the maps. The effect of the portal causes the rooms  to shift locations. I am going to steal this idea for a dungeon  sometime and merge it with the movie Cube....back to the review  though. The dungeon portion is a little on the smallish side will  be more than enough for a nights playtime. The maps are presented  in a geomorph format which can be copied and enlarged and then used  as needed.

The module will end up throwing some curve balls at the  adventuring party. These could end up causing a TPK situation if  the DM plays it right and to its full extent. I would temper this  in some fashion. It might even be possible for the players to  figure out what is going on first and turn the tables on what is suggested in the module.

At the end of the module there are a number of appendixes that  will aid the GM in running the module and understanding how  various portions should be played. They will also contain stat  blocks for the new creatures and information on the NPCs the  module contains. There are also a number of tables spread  throughout the module which a DM could take and use later for  other purposes.

One final note is about the encounters in the module. Each is  presented in a four part fashion. The first is the "Run-down"  which will provide the DM information on the encounter and what it  is about in game terms. The second is the "Set-up" which will  feature the traditional real aloud portion that seems to be  ever present in modules anymore. The third is the "Action" section  that describes the events that could happen in the encounter. The  fourth and final is the "Follow-up" which suggests the possible  means to further the adventure along. I got the feeling it was  close to being a script and in this module naming the characters  Gorman, Vasquez, Hudson and Hicks might be appropriate.


Spell:

Improved Magic Mouth


Level: Fifth
Range: 1/2"/Level
Duration: Special
Ares of Effect: One Object
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Segments + Other Casting Time
Saving Throw: Special

This spell allows the magic user to cast a version of the standard  Magic Mouth spell. This version will be in all ways identical to  the original spell except that it will allow the Mouth to carry a  spell payload.

The spell will still only allow the mouth to speak for a message  of twenty-five words which can last no longer than one turn. The trigger  effect can also be either very simple or very complex based on the  desire of the caster. The trigger event also must occur within the  range based on the level but can be made to be less than that. The  material component is still the piece of honeycomb but the other  spells components will be required as well.

The difference is that this version will have the mouth reactivate  the round after the message is delivered. It will then cast the  spell the magic user cast into it. There is no save for the magic  mouth but the cast spell will have its normal saving throw.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Evael - Kingdom of the Elves, Cassandra's Mask of Charisma

Evael is a product from Columbia Games that lays out an Elven Kingdom. The product described allows it for use with Harnmaster as well as with any D20 game setting. This is a reprint and update of a previously released version though I do not have the original so I can not compare them. This version was released in 2002 and is 72 pages long. It should be noted that the pages are three hole punched and seem to be better suited to be placed in a binder.

The books describes the kingdom, the eleven culture, the history of the kingdom as well as describing the capital of the kingdom and three other cities. The book also includes an adventure in the kingdom that the GM can use to get players started there. It also feature information on adding elven characters to Harnmaster and rules governing them in D20.

The adventure in the book though short and simple is one that can be expanded upon greatly by a GM. The adventure as written also focuses more on interaction and role playing than on combat. I favor adventures of this nature as may be apparent in some of my posts. I won't go too much into it but it is different than most published adventures in the theme and content.

Overall Evael works great as an add or to Harnmaster or Harnworld which is good since it is a reprint of something designed for that purpose previously. Harn as a setting was always very detailed and the products released for it well done so this is no surprise. The quality of the product also makes it something that with a minimal level of effort could be incorporated into an existing campaign.

From the back of the book

Evael: Kingdom of the Elves

EVAEL - Bring your players to the mysterious Kingdom of the Elves in three related adventures. Elven culture, clans, magic and religion are detailed.

ELSHAVEL - The beautiful capital city of the elves has wide avenues, pristine parks and magnificent buildings. Includes plans of a typical Sindarin clanhouse, details on elven government and religion.

ULFSHAFEN - The city of Ulfshafen is Evael's only open port. The settlement has a small human population and conducts a rich maritime trade in elven artefacts. Includes plans of a local inn and seaman's hostel.

BEJIST - An ancient Sindarin fortress and prison and now the refuge of a Navehan sect. The priests of Naveh grow and assortment of interesting herbs which they use to subdue the regions warlike Pagaelin barbarians, while they loot Bejist.

PESINO - An ancient Sindarin and Khuzdul trading center, Pesino is today a forbidden ruin guarded by the elves. Pesino includes a color site map, extensive interior plans and site legends.



Spell:

Cassandra's Mask of Charisma

Level: Fourth
Range: None
Duration: 1 Turn + 1 Round/Level
Ares of Effect: 6" (60')
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user will be endowed with an unearthly charisma. In game terms this will raise the charisma stat of the caster to a 22 and will grant them the full affect as if this was a divine level charisma.

Other than the charisma increase and the awe effect it causes the only other effect will be the ability to affect one of the group in range of them as if they had been affected by a Suggestion spell. Once this ability is used though the casters effective charisma will drop by one point each round, beginning the round after the ability is used, for all other than the affected creature (the others do not like the singled out attention given to the victim).

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crisis at Crusader Citadel, Wizards Recall

There's A Crisis at Crusader Citadel is a module written for the Villains & Vigilantes game system. It was actually the first module released for the game by Fantasy Games Unlimited. The module was released in 1982 and is twenty pages ling. It was included in the box set of the game as well as being available individually.

If the Keep on the Borderlands is, as many consider it, the most played and iconic module for D&D then Crisis is it's counterpart under the V&V game system. There are no hard and fast numbers but it is likely that there are few people who have played V&V who have not played Crisis at Crusaders Citadel. It is simple by today's standards but it accomplishes what it sets out today by giving players and the GM an introduction to the game.

As with most of the V&V modules the layout is pretty simple. The idea was to put as much content into the module as they could using as little space as possible or it seems that way. In my younger days the smaller compact font spacing was not an issue but I apparently have not aged as well as the module. It is not impossible to read but it is packed in there. The art more than makes up for any layout issues though. Jeff Dee's work is used throughout and as much as anything his art I think helped define the game. Having the module just for his work is a valid option even if you never play the game.

The module itself is as stated early pretty simple in its design. There is the introduction and setup and there are then two fight scenes. In my history of playing superhero games this is pretty standard really. You might have one more fight scene and a portion of the module dedicated to some research and therefore roleplaying but in the end if you are playing a superhero game you want the action maybe more so than in any other gaming genre.

I won't go into detail as to the scenario in the off chance that there is someone who has not played the game. The module is intended as an introductory module. The villains and heroes that are detailed inside the cover are 12 and 6 respectively. These are some of the best conceived characters outside the licensed material based games. The idea behind the groups may "borrow" a little but from published works but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I can't recommend the game enough. I would say that you would want to have this module as well. In my looking around on the web while writing this I came across a great recap/write-up for a session that used the module. It made me want to play it all over again and is a great piece of game fiction in my opinion. You can find it here. If you like superhero games and comics you should read it.


Spell:

Wizard's recall


Level: Second
Range: None
Duration: One Day
Ares of Effect: Caster
Components: V,S
Casting Time: One Turn
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic user is able to recall the spells that were memorized from one day on the next day. The recall takes place after the full required period of rest is completed by the caster. The spell restores the pathways that the memorized spells had previously created in the caster's mind.

The spells that the caster will recall must be exactly the same as what was memorized the previous day with no changes in the makeup. This spell will be cast before the the magic user goes to sleep for the required rest period. The pathways will be restored as they sleep. If for any reason the caster's rest is disrupted for more than a few turns the spell will have failed and spells must be memorized as normal.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the 80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :) Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Haunted Highlands - TLG, Mage Scream

I normally try to mix things up a little better unless I run a series of products together like I did with the Drow series a couple of moths ago. It seems that I am stuck on campaign settings right now. I will try and break the chain tomorrow. For today though I will talk briefly on "The Haunted Highlands"

"The Haunted Highlands" is the first in a series of modules released by Troll Lord Games for Castles & Crusades. They all center around the same specific area and this one lays out the area in some detail. There are a total of six modules that were released in the series so far.

As stated earlier the module was released by Troll Lord Games for the Castle & Crusades system. The module is twenty four pages long and was released in 2006. The parchment cover is the first printing. It was later printed with a green colored cover to match the later printings of C&C.

The module packs a lot of information into its twenty four pages and it perhaps tries to do too much. In addition to being able to download a pay copy PDF of the module online you can actually see a six page sample and then another section were the deities are presented as well. This gives you a look at half the module. I wish they had either broken it up into two expanded products or made the current product either half again or double the size.

Even being as small as it is the information it presents is well done. This product gives the DM more wiggle room that Westbrook did if they want to put their own stamp on it. In my mind neither is better they are just geared towards different audiences. Either can serve as the start of a campaign area or be dropped into an existing product or creation as well.

From the Troll Lord Games site....

Upon the bloody northern marches lies a curious Roadhouse. Here are gathered the flotsam of the world: miscreants, mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, adventurers. Dirty Bowbe's they call it and its as rough and safe a sanctuary as any will find in those dark and bloody grounds! For once, long ago, a Kingdom thrived here and the wealth of its coffers flowed across the lands as honey from a jar. But those days are long past and nothing but memories remain . . . memories and the shadows of yesterday.

To the northeast of Dirty Bowbe's lie the ruins of Bortenski and the hazardous wastes known as the Witch Moor. To the north lies the village of the Ugashtan and further still lie the broken crags of the Mythnoc Cairns where the proud barbarian people once buried their cherished dead. To the Northwest stand the tall trees of the Grove of the Green Man, where the druids who worship the old ways still rule.

Four short adventures, plus a stand alone fantasy RPG setting! Welcome to the Haunted Highlands, an adventure setting for the Castles & Crusades fantasy role playing game. In the haunted highlands, players face dangerous foes as they attempt to collect bounties and challenge foes as they carve a name for themselves in a land fraught with peril.

Included here are three developed areas of adventure, two fully detailed and distinct Karboskian cultures and of course the infamous and always rowdy Roadhouse. The Roadhouse serves as a unique gathering place for adventurers and scoundrels where stories may be swapped, bounties collected and adventurers recruited, should they be brave enough to face the challenges which the highlands have in store.

The Haunted Highlands includes four short adventures for varying character levels and offers a stand alone fantasy role playing setting ready to be dropped into any campaign.. Extensive random encounter tables allow for continuing wilderness adventure. Details on a brand new pantheon featuring over a dozen new deities and one new monster help bring life to your new Castles and Crusades campaign.



Spell:

Mage Scream


Level: Second
Range: None
Duration: 2 Rounds + 1 Round/Level
Ares of Effect: 9" Sphere
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user emits a scream that will  exist on the entire range of the audible spectrum of sound. The  scream is such that any hearing it will be affected. The only  people exempt from the initial affect will be those that are  actually deaf or have no sense of hearing. Even the deaf could be  affected by the secondary effect.

The scream will have the effect that it was initially researched  for. It will cause all who hear it to be stunned for the  remainder of the round it is first heard and the entirety of the  following round, unable to take any actions. This will include  all who are in the range of the effect which centers off the  caster. This will include the caster and their party.

The secondary effect was found to exist once the spell is cast.  In addition to the audible effect the scream affects the bounds  in the mind of any spell caster that allow them to store and cast  spells. For a number of rounds equal to the caster's level, after  the first two, all casters will be required to make a saving  throw to cast spells. The save will be made at a -4 for anyone  other than the caster. The caster will only be at a -2 as they  were the epicenter of the scream and slightly less affected. The  spell affects the bonds of magic and will also affect creatures  using innate magical abilities.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beginnings: Westbrook, Hunger & Thirst

The start of a campaign may be the most time consuming portion of of the campaign for the GM. Many entry level modules give the GM a basic sketch that they can work from. There are then the products out there that give the GM a full fledged city to start with. Beginnings: Westbrook takes a spot between the two.

Westbrook is a 128 page setting offered by 3am Games. It was published in 2004 under the OGL and uses the D20 mechanics. This is the first in a line of products from the company though it appears there may have only been one other product released after this one.

The setting is a village of about 2000 or so people and is well designed and detailed from what I was able to see. The location of the village is between two larger cities and is part of the trade route between them. This presents the GM with obvious option for expansion once the players no longer have anything to support their adventuring in Westbrook.

The village has all the standbys that one will need for the characters to interact with. It has the town guards, the local leader who will ultimately need their assistance, the mysterious band of "rangers" who patrol the roads and wilderness and a well described series of shops and location.

One of the better parts of the book for the entry level or time crunched GM is the option on how the part gets together. There are four campaign hooks that can be used and a creative GM might actually mix two together. The option presented are the local heroes, the new to town group, the children of the old guard and finally the group that is pressed into service for punishment. I myself would use two or three of these to allow for some variation in the motives of the party and to allow for some level of friction.

The book unlike many D20 products is light on new mechanics. This is good for the entry level and also a refreshing change of pace. It does have some new spells, new diseases and a little bit more. The book also has an NPC class which I would suggest keeping as an NPC class.

To get the GM started in the actual gaming area there are three interconnected adventure lines that the GM can use. They are actually a little too linear for my taste but the starting GM will need something like this in many cases.

The wealth of information here allows the book to be used as intended for the stating GM as a campaign setting. It also makes it useful as a filler town for the GM who wants to move the players to another area and needs something in between the locations. I think it will serve every level GM well and provide ideas that can be mined even if not used as is.

Publishers blurb from the book....

This is the first book in the Beginnings series and the first release from 3am Games. It includes the fully developed town of Westbrook, a small, stopover town between two major trade centers. The town is well known for its hospitality and the comfort of the renowned Grey Griffon Inn.

Lately though, rats - lots of very large ones - have infested the town's granary. The call for heroes sounds, and the player characters answer. Clearing the rats from the granary shouldn't be much of a problem, but who was that shadowy figure letting the vermin in, and what's he up to?

Beginnings: Westbrook contains the fully developed town of Westbrook, four different campaign hooks to get the player characters involved with the granary, four low-level adventures that take the party through, outside, and under Westbrook to get the campaign going, and everything else that you should expect from a Beginnings book.



Spell:

Hunger & Thirst


Level: Second
Range: 9"
Duration: One Turn + 1 Round/Level
Ares of Effect: 6" Sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: Negates

When this spell is cast the magic user causes the targeted  victims in the area of effect will be overcome with both hunger  and thirst. The need and want for food and water will become their  primary objective. This will override everything else but self  defense.

The victims of this spell will immediately sit down and begin  eating and drinking all the food and beverages that they have  on them. They will then proceed to eat and drink anything that  they can find in the immediate area. If the spell is still in  effect after all of that is gone they will go off in search of  more food and water. Those who save will not be affected in any  manner.

For those affected the party will become of little concern while  the spell is in effect. Unless attacked the party can move away  with no interference from those affected by the spell. The party  could even explore the room where the victims are unmolested  unless they were to bother any food or beverages in the areas. It  should be noted that unless it is undetectable the victims will  not knowingly eat or drink anything that would be detrimental to  them. Once the spell expires the victims will recall the casters  party and act accordingly.

Disclaimer: The spells that you will see, for how ever long the  write ups last, were all written up or conceived of back in the  80's so the terminology may not appropriate for anything other  than 1e and depending on how well I did back then it may be  slightly off for that as well. If there is any duplication of  spells that exist now it is most likely I wrote mine first :)  Please feel free to comment on them but try not to be too hard on  me. If anyone wishes to use these in anything they print please  let me know in advance and all I ask is proper credit.

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