"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

Monday, October 31, 2011

DDA1 - Arena of Thyatis, Arcane Fire

DDA1 Arena of Thyatis was released in 1990 and was labeled a low  level module. Since this followed the other B series modules I  always wondered why it was not a B series module and thought they  were set apart for some reason. I recently read that it was most  likely because of the pending change over from the BECMI "system"  to the Rules Cyclopedia that occurred the following year. I am not  sure if that is accurate or not though.

The module is designed for four to six characters of second or  third level. The suggestion is for seventeen levels though I am  not sure that is too important. The module is as much about role  playing and problem solving as it is combat. The module is very  much a mix of A4 and B6 in plot and feel. I am sure that gives  too much away but the module has been out for a bit.

The module's plot is one that is easy enough to follow and would  most likely be a fun one to DM though I am not sure I would like  it much as a player. The concept behind it is one that as a  player would make me feel like I had no options in what was  supposed to happen which would be an issue. In a module like A4  this carries the plot in a series along but in an introductory  module I might find it hard to stomach. It also falls prey to one  of my concerns in some story lines in that why are second level  characters being sued for something important like this.

The module does have some great material in it. It presents  reasons why the characters might be involved and why they have  attracted the attention of the necessary parties. It also  presents an optional character class the Rake. The Rake is a  swashbuckler/thief which might be a good alternative if a thief  and some of the baggage they carry with them does not fit into  the realm of what the DM wants. It also features a down and dity  unarmed combat system including the option to disarm.

The module itself is broken down into five parts. Like I said  earlier the module has a good mix of combat, role playing and  problem solving. The maps in the module are all well done and the  map of the mansion is something I might "borrow" for use  elsewhere. There is also a nice overview of Thyatis with the  various zones of the city and some important locations mapped  out.

The module finishes off with a society The Order of the Sands  which I am not sure would have any interest for the players unless one of them was smitten with the idea of arena competition. It  also has a page dedicated to Thyatian names. This might seem  wasteful to some but if you are going to use Thyatis as a setting  I think the names of NPCs are not used often enough to add local  flavor. The module also earlier had a synopsis of the legal  system which could be of use later.

Though this would not be my first choice of the lower level "B"  modules to use it is one that I don't feel money was wasted on.  It packs in more than some others and except for heavy handedness  required for the plot it is well done. I see this one go for more  than some other modules and I think it might be that the print  run is lower but that is all conjecture though the label change  may have some affect as well. Regardless of all that this is one  that I would suggest picking up if you can get it for the right  price.


From the back cover:

"It's party time in Thyatis...

And simply everyone is going to the magnificent VILLA  OSTEROPOLUS, home of the wealthy old senator, Helenites. Raucous  fun, exotic food, and even advanced betting on the upcoming Arena  games are expected. Even adventurers just in from the outlands  may meet the powerful here. So don your festive togas, for in  Thyatis City there are important connections to be made and deeds  to be done, duels to be fought and fame to be won.

(But beware, oh Adventurer! The politics of Thyatis can be as labyinthine as the mazes beneath the Coliseum...)

This module is designed especially for the DM who wants to  sharpen his interactive skills.
- Presenting the detailed layout of a Thyatian noble's mansion  and maps of the multi-level Coliseum of Thyatis
- For four to six characters, levels 2-3
- Brief guide to Thyatis legal system
- New optional class, the Rake
- Fast unarmed combat system, including disarming attacks
- Special appendix on creating Thyatian names
- Featuring The DM's Guide to Winging It"




Spell:

Arcane Fire


Level: Second
Range: 6"
Duration: None
Area of Effect: Individual
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Halves

When this spell is cast the magic user causes another spell  caster to be engulfed in an arcane fire. The fire will persist  only for one round and may cause the target damage though there  will be no effect on inanimate objects.

The fire will cause damage to the target only if they are another  spell caster and only if they have spells remaining in their repertoire. If the target has no spells left to cast then there is  not effect to them and the caster will know this.

If they do have spells to cast then the flames will give the  magic user an idea of how many spells by the color of the flames.  The flames will scale along the ROYGBIV scale with R being the  lower number and V being the highest. The target will also suffer  damage from the flames if they have spells to cast. They will  suffer one point per their level plus one point per spell they  have left to cast. The target is entitled to a save for half  damage rounded up.

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, October 30, 2011

FOR4 - The Code of the Harpers, Cassandra's Teleporting Door

The Code of the Harpers - FOR4, is a 2e supplement released in  1993. The product is designed for campaigns that are based in the  Forgotten Realms setting and the supplement is even written by Ed  Greenwood who is the creator of the Forgotten Realms. I know for  may even the name causes a spike in the blood pressure. I to this  day have not played a session set in the Forgotten realms but as  a DM I have stolen from the material.

I am not going to bother doing an extensive review of the  product. Not because it is not good but because it is already  fairly well known for what it is. It is also so specific to the  Forgotten Realms that it is not something that can be used as is  for anything else. The history of the Harpers is so intertwined  with the setting that a DM would have to recreate almost  everything but the core idea to use it outside the setting.

The book does provide the DM the framework for what a group like  the Harpers could do for a campaign. Since the Harpers were from  Mr. Greenwood's setting I am sure they were not written as they  exist in the book but started as a germ of an idea and grew. This  is what the benefit of the book is to a DM not running a Realms  setting. Since the book is about the Harpers as they exist in the  Realms it does not lay out how to create a similar group. To do  this though all one has to do is take something as simple as the  chapter headings. Below are those heading:

Prologue
Introduction
The Code of the Harpers
Harper Runes
The History of the Harpers
The Harpers Today
Master Harpers
The Senior Harpers
Harper Heroes
Some Selected Harpers
The High Heralds
Harper Allies.
Harper Haunts
Harper Magic: Spells
Harper Magic: Magical Items
Foes of the Harpers
Joining the Harpers
Harper Ballads
Spectral Harpist (monster entry)

Throughout the book there are numerous items that can be taken  and used outside the setting. There are actual code of the Harpers  is one such item as are the spells and magic items. The haunts  requires a little more work but there are some nice ideas to be  had there. In addition the book as a whole is well done and  reading it will provide a DM with ideas the entire time. One  section that stood out for me was a section called "A Typical  Harper's Year" which detailed the events of the Harper for a year  showing all the actions major and minor of note they performed.  It shows that some actions need not be heroic to be meaningful.

In the end I know that there will be some that will not want to  have anything to do with this because of what it is based on and  even perhaps the era it came from. As I said I have never played  in the Realms myself but I will steal from it. This book provides  enough material for the DM that it is worth having in the  collection. If you are a Realms DM the book is even essential if  you are going to run them properly.

From the back of the book:

From the storm-lashed rocks west of fabled Evermeet to the Plains  of Purple Dust, all the folk of Faerun have heard of the Harpers.

Noble fools, some call them. Crazy misguided meddlers, others  say. Still others disagree. "The one true hope of the Realms,"  said one princess. "A shining light in the darkness of our  lives," agreed a sage, "pray that it never goes out."

Just who are these mysterious, wandering folk who wear silver  harp pins and walk softly in the most dangerous shadows of the  Realms?

This book reveals the secrets, rules, and magic of the Harpers,  including: Harper Runes, Harper Magic, The long, colorful History  of the Harpers, Their evil foes, Their special Allies, The fabled  high Heralds, What Harpers Do, Harper Haunts: their strongholds,  and the Harpers who (literally) haunt them! Joining the Harpers,  and how to become a True Harper and a Master Harper...

...And more, from favorite Harper ballads to detailed Harper  NPCs. This is a sourcebook you'll turn to again and again. It  lays bare the warring power groups who work behind the scenes in  Faerun; no FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign is complete without it!



Spell:

Cassandra's Teleporting Door


Level: Fifth
Range: None
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: One Door
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Round
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes the target door to become impassable for a specific number of attempted entries for  those who do not know the proper phrase to permit entrance. Those  attempting to use the door will find themselves somewhere else  when the door is used.

The spell will cause those who use the door to enter the room it  was cast from within to be teleported to another room when  entered. The spell will cause the door to be randomly determined  unless specific actions were taken during casting. The door the  individual is teleported to must be within a 500' radius. This  works in a sphere so movement up and down levels might be  possible.

The spell will affect a number of entities entering the room  equal to the level of the caster.The spell will have no effect on  those leaving through the door. If the caster wishes they may  specify the door that individuals will be teleported to. If this  is done then all who enter it, other than the caster, will be  teleported regardless of use of the phrase. The spell will remain  in effect until such time that all of the instances of  teleportation have been expended.

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, October 29, 2011

GURPS - Vikings, Summon Pests

I am not sure how many GURPS books there actually are. I have  better than one hundred though there is an occasional duplicate  and I am certain I don't have them all. Most of these I may never  get a chance to use but they are still good to have. I have  written about the Russia offering earlier as well as Riverworld.  I have found the historical books to be some of the better  products in the GURP's line.

Vikings was released initially in 1991 and was written by Graeme  Davis. It is 128 pages long which seems to be right along the  lines as far as page counts for these books go. There as been at  least one other if not two other versions of the book released. I  do not have the later copies but I would expect them to be almost  the same. I prefer the cover to the older version which is the  one above to the newer one.

Even though the name of the book is Vikings it actually deals  with the entirety of the Norse world. The books is divided into  eleven different chapters. Each one takes on either an aspect of  the Norse world historically or how to utilize it in a campaign.  The art in the book is sparse and is used to accent the topic  being covered. I am not sure if this changed in later printings  but the book does not focus on the art.

Chapter One deals with the Viking world. It covers the various  aspects of the Norse society including topics along the lines of  social classes ideals and and Viking law. It also covers the  lands that would be considered part of the Viking world including  Scandinavia, Denmark and Iceland. It also covers the various  types of settlements that would have been common. One aspect of the  GURPS books I have liked are the sidebars they use. In this  chapter the one of Viking proverbs is especially nice.

The second chapter deals with characters. The chapter is a blend  of historical information and information used to create a Viking  character. The chapter discusses the real world topics of  appearance, names and economics. It also has the additional  information used for the character portion of GURPS that makes  the supplement its own. These include specific advantage and  disadvantages as well as quirks and skills. It then ends with a  sample character.

In the third chapter the topic is one that would be near and dear  to every viking, that of combat. The chapter covers the typical  types of weapons and armor that would have been part of the Norse  world. It covers both hand and ranged weapons. There is also  extensive rules provided for mass combat. I found this portion of  the chapter to be interesting and something that a DM could  utilize outside of the theme with a little effort.

Chapter Four deals with the history of the Viking world. It  starts with the of the Vikings discussing their origin. It then  covers the roles that the Vikings played throughout their history  covering the roles of raider, trader, conqueror and finally  explorer. In all the chapter covers the era from the eighth to  twelfth century.

The fifth chapter covers the Viking Campaign. It starts with  discussing some defining ideas these will be the magic and  violence levels. It next discusses the ideas of the campaign  style. These are based on a combination of the levels of violence  (two) and the level of magic (three) giving six different  options. It then discusses three specific types of campaign ideas  fleshing them out in more detail. This section includes a sidebar  on Ten Things You Thought You Knew About Vikings which is very  interesting.

In chapter six the topic of discussion is that of the Norse  deities. I personally find the Norse deities and their stories  much more interesting the those of the Greeks and Romans. The  chapter discusses that Thor, Tyr and Odin are the three major  deities and the others serve in a lesser role in the Norse  society. The chapter has some interesting information but I think  the sidebars here are just as good as the main material. The  information on the world origin and cosmos design will be of  extra help to a DM designing a campaign.

Chapter Seven deals with magic in the Norse world. This is one of  the three defining elements of the campaign mentioned earlier. The level of magic allowed will be determined by that. In the  historic campaign there will most likely be no magic. The  fantastic and mythic campaign will each allow for increasing  levels of magic. The chapter discusses how best to handle this.  It also provides information on two specific types of magic. The  two new types being introduced are shapeshifting and rune magic.  It also has material on the magic items that could possibly be  lent by the deities.

The eighth chapter is the Norse Bestiary. Much as with magic the  Norse campaign will have limited fantasy elements in the way of  creatures. Unless playing a fantastic or mythic there will not be  any races other than humans. The creatures allowed in will depend  on this as well. There are discussions on creatures that could be  allowed under each and even then it is somewhat limited. It  discusses Dwarves and Alvar (Elves) as well as Trolls and Giants.  It then deals with the supernatural creatures including Grendel.  It then finishes off discussing divine creatures, dragons and the  undead.

In chapter nine the topic of discussion will be friends and foes.  The chapter discusses the other various peoples that the Norse  would or could have dealings with in a campaign. These range from  the Saxons to Arabs to Inuits. As explorers or raiders the  ability to interact with most of the world was an option.

Chapter Ten takes a nautical theme. This was as much as anything  part of the Norse world. The chapter discusses the ships that  would be common for characters to use and be on. The next topic  discussed is ship handling and sea battles. The final portions  of the chapter deal with actual sea voyages and with river  travel. The sidebars here deal with some interesting topics that  could be used outside the genre. The rules on storms at sea seem  very much something that could be used by any DM.

In the final chapter we get some information on adventure  threads. In keeping with the different types of campaigns we are  presented with hooks for each of the three types based on magic  level. Most of these are specific to the Norse world but some  could be adapted into other campaigns with some work while some  are generic enough to adopt as is.

The book ends with a glossary, bibliography including movies and  an index. In this case the newer version might be a bit better  but that is just conjecture. The book is a good read even if it  is never going to be used but then I have always been fascinated  with the Norse world so your mileage may vary.

From the back cover:

"Loot! Pillage! Burn!"

"From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, deliver us!" So prayed  the Irish monks.

To the victims of a Viking raid, the Norsemen were bearded giants  with bloody axes. But the Viking was much more. He was a skilled  navigator and a brave explorer and trader. He was a fighter to  whom honor and reputation were far more important than life. He  was a free man in an age of petty tyranny. He was a dreamer whose  songs and stories live even today. And yes, he was a bloody- handed sea rover who took what he wanted!

This book is a complete guide to the Norse world. It includes  maps, historical background, and details on society and religion.  A separate chapter discusses Norse magic and runes. The new  edition also provide templates for playing the magical races of  Viking lore as player characters, and expands the number of  campaign options available.

You can game any sort of Viking campaign, from fully realistic to  magical and cinematic. Create a historical campaign, with sea  battles, duels and bloody raids – or become a legendary berserker  for mythic adventures with Thor and Odin!

You may live, you may die. No man knows his fate. But act bravely  and the skalds will sing of your deeds forever.



Spell:

Summon Pests


Level: First
Range: 6"
Duration: One Round/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 2 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

When this spell is cast the magic user causes a large number of  small mystical creatures to appear. These will in most ways  resemble fireflies but are not living creatures.

The summoned creatures will be made to pester one creature when  summoned. These creatures will surround the target and cause them  a high level of distraction. In addition to obstructing view they  will bite and sting the target. These will cause no damage or  have no affect other than to distract.

While being distracted the target will suffer a -2 to all rolls  (except where a +2 would be worse). The target is not entitled to  a saving throw for this except when casting spells. Due to the  nature of the distraction spell casting will not be possible  unless the target makes a saving throw versus magic. A saving  throw must be made each time a spell is being cast by the target.  Fails and saves to not carry forward from round to round.

The material component of this spell will be the remains of some  pest or annoying insect. The remains will be destroyed with the  casting of the 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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dragon #52, Wracking Pains

Dragon #52 hits us right off the bat with a great cover by Boris  Vallejo. I have always appreciated his art as he is after all one  of the most iconic fantasy artist of all times. Most of his work  has never inspired my imagination like the one of this cover. The  cover just lays the groundwork though.

Looking through these old issues are really often bittersweet. It  is nice to relive some of the memories but then it hits home that  it may never be this good again. It is possible that in 30 years  someone the age I am now will be saying the same things I am now  but just like comics and TV sometimes the best stuff will most  often always be the older stuff.

The first article in the magazine is one dealing with clerics. It  is actually a set of three related article written by two  different authors. The three articles drive home to me how much  clerics often become divine magic users more than agents of their  deities. Played right a cleric should not be wandering dungeons  with nonbelievers unless it directly serves the agenda of their  church. Even then they should be trying to convert or at the  worst admonishing those who do not believe.

The next article is by none other than J. Eric Holmes who is  discussing the basic set of his creation as well as that of Tom  Moldvay. The article is broken up though by another article which  I would normally hate except in this case it is commentary by Tom  Moldvay. These two articles alone make the magazine one to own.  If it has not been done I think gaming companies should scour the  older publications for insight into games design like this and  make it part of a company manual.

The next offering may be one of the articles I used most while I  was running a campaign set in Greyhawk. It is Leomund's Tiny Hut,  written by Lenard Lakofka, it is one of the regular columns in  the magazine. This topic is birth tables for the world of  Greyhawk. It starts with the tables for human characters along  with possible alignments from each location. It then provides a  table and sub-table for demihumans with the primary table being  what be considered demi-human lands and the sub-table being the  possible locations where demi-humans might also be born. It then goes over the languages that might be spoken by  inhabitants of each realm in an exhaustive manner. It then ends with an appendix by Gary  Gygax concerning the human racial types in Greyhawk. Just a whole  level up of awesomeness here!

The next article deals with undercover jobs. The information on  salaries will be dated as it was written thirty years ago. It is funny to see those numbers though and how the levels for each  profession have shifted some. The item that is still useful is  that it rates each profession as far as their travel potential.  This plays a role in what profession they may want to be hidden  in. How may conferences can a elementary school teacher really  play off that they are going to.

Next is the cover story article on Boris. This is a nice read  but as I said earlier he has never been a favorite of mine and I  bought these magazines way back when for gaming purposes. Not a  selling point for me but it might be for some.

The next article was one of my favorite parts of issues from  Dragon from that era. It is the Giants In the Earth series. This  one deals with island enchanters. The two topics of this offering  are Prospero and Circe. I had not noticed until writing this that  the author for this is Katherine Kerr who has gone on to write a  number of well received fantasy series.

Next is a short Gamma World scenario called Cavern of the Sub-Train. It is intended for beginning to intermediate level players  and deals with them exploring a recently discovered subway  system. I do not think that I ever ran this and I for the life of  me can't imagine why. I will have to remember this if I ever get  a chance to run 1e Gamma World again.

Following another regular column, the Dragon's Bestiary, we are  presented with an article on the history of siege warfare. I  recall as a teen that this was most likely my first real exposure to this type of information. We discussed sieges in history  classes but never with the detail on what was involved just that  it happened.

We are next presented with an article that was in response to a  readers letter from an earlier issue. I wonder how many letters  were sent in as a result of just announcing that. I have spoken  ill of prestige classes many times so I hate bringing up these  but the article presents three variants of bounty hunters. One is  a merger of rangers and assassins. The second  is a hybrid ranger  and thief class and the latter is a subclass of fighter. I prefer  the middle offering but feel like a hypocrite in even saying  that. I did roll one up as a player at one time I think :(

There are a number of other normal offerings in the magazine that  I won't write about. I do want to mention the Minarian Legends  though. This series has to be on of the most overlooked gems from  that time period. It takes the world from the Divine Right games  and expands it in such a way that it could be used as a campaign  setting. Something I still might get around to doing sometime.

Note: Missed yesterday due to an Internet outage. Actually it was  cable, phone and Internet. The story about not putting all your  eggs into one basket came to mind often yesterday!


Spell:

Wracking Pains


Level: Third
Range: 9"
Duration: 6 Rounds
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: Halves

This spell allows the magic user to cause a series of increasing  pains to occur in the target creature. The spell will cause  increasing levels of damage as well as hinder the target.

The spell will start by doing 1s4 for the initial round of the  spell. The creature will be entitled to a saving throw and if  made they will suffer half damage rounded up. The spell will  cause a progression in the possible damage by one dice type each  round (d6, d8, d10,d12 & d20). The target is entitled to a save  each round to halve the damage.

In addition to the damage the spell will hinder any actions that  the target creature may be attempting. The saving throw made each  round for damage will determine how the creature is affected. For  each round after the first if the save is made the creature will  suffer a -2 to all to hit, damage and saving throw rolls. They  will also suffer a +2 to their effective armor class. If the save  is failed then it becomes a -4 to all rolls but the +2 will  remain the same. The spell will not prevent any actions just make  them less effective or harder to accomplish.

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, October 26, 2011

The Eternal Boundary, Locate Creature

Planescape is a setting that I have not had all that much  experience with. It was released late enugh into the 2e that I  was in one of the down periods of my role playing history. I also  had the misfortune of most of it being released during the "Magic  Years" as I like refer to that time period. Most of the old role  playing group I played with at the time had become enthralled  with M:tG.

Being an old school gamer in my mind the other planes were always  something you did at higher levels. The fact that Planescape was  a whole campaign setting and not just for higher levels actually  escaped me for the longest time. I am not sure that would have  mattered but I just wanted to share that. I have been lucky  enough to pick up everything for the setting at reasonable  prices. Everything except the Sketchbook which I will never own.

The Eternal Boundary is the first published module for the  Planescape setting. It was released in 1994 and was written by  Richard Baker III who has penned many items for TSR/WotC getting  his start under 2e with Dark Sun and Planescape but also  responsible for the SRD for d20. The module was intended to serve  as an introduction to the setting of Sigil and was written for  four to six characters of 1st to 5th level.

The module does a good job of what it sets out to do. It  introduces the characters to the city of Sigil in a way that will  allow them to explore without getting into too much trouble. It  also introduces them to the idea of Factions which will be a  major portion of any Planescape campaign. It even lets the  players make a foray onto one of the Elemental Plane of Fire. It  even gives them a possible base of operations in The Black Sail  Tavern.

The appearance of the module as with most of the Planescape  material is well done. It will have some of the inherent  problems that were part of the second edition of the game but  that can be overlooked for sake of the setting. The module allows  the DM to let the players go where they want in Sigil without  having to force them from encounter to encounter. The Sigil  portion is open ended. There is a progression in the module but  it is laid out without having to railroad the characters.

I really wish I had been able to experience setting when it was  new. It offered a fresh take for the system like perhaps no other  setting has done. It was Spelljammer different without the  seeming too contrived and it offers a level of grittiness like  Dark Sun without locking the players into what was always a  little too drab for me.

I didn't want to give too much away about the module so I will  leave it off here. The module is a great introduction to a  setting that may be one of the best that TSR has ever released. I  am not sure it will ever replace Greyhawk as my favorite but it  was a breath of fresh air as far as settings go. The only problem  is that with being as good as they are and the print runs being  much smaller in many cases the products for the setting can get  really expensive even hitting three figures at times.

From the back of the module:

"Welcome to the Cage, friend. You'll want to watch your back in  Sigil - it seems every cutter here's got a way to peel a clueless  basher, and you're no exception. Besides, there's something  happening down in the Hive that's got the factions in an uproar,  and word is you're the cutter to look into it. Barmies and  bubbers have been waking up in the Dead Book, but they haven't  been staying there. They've been returning to Sigil with minds  restored, telling tales of the Eternal Boundary. But the air's  turning foul here in the Cage, and there'll be blood spilled soon  if someone doesn't learn the dark of things, an quick!"




The Eternal Boundary is a PLANESCAPE adventure for a party of  four to six characters of 1st to 5th levels. Players are  introduced to the city of Sigil - the Cage, as some call it.  Inside this crossroads to the planes, a sinister plot unfolds,  leading the heroes into the most dangerous and desperate part of  town - the ramshackle slum known as the Hive. Do your player  characters have what it takes to confront the Eternal Boundary -  and pass beyond?

Spell:

Locate Creature


Level: Second
Range: None
Duration: One Hour/Level
Area of Effect: One Creature
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: One Round
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic user is able to locate a specific type of creature. The creature being sought may not be what would be considered a normal animal. The creature must be one of a mystical or mythical nature. Anything considered a Monster will qualify.

For the spell to work effectively the caster will need to be in an environment where the creature might normally dwell. This is not a requirement though as if the players know that there is a specific type of monster in the sewers this would work. For situations where less specific information is known being in the correct possible type of location will help.

When the spell is cast the magic user will know the correct cardinal compass point to start looking. The spell will only find a direction if the appropriate type of creature is within less than a days travel on foot. The caster will periodically need to spend one round concentrating to further define the direction. The closer they are the more correct the direction feeling will be.

The material component of this spell will be a piece of flesh or other body part of the type of creature being sought. The component is not used up when the spell is cast.

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, October 25, 2011

Chronomancer, Mimic the Dead

Chronomancer is a supplement released by TSR for the 2e AD&D  system in 1995. I am not going to spend a whole lot of time  writing about this product. I own the supplement only because I  am cursed with the completist affliction :).

Time travel in movies and stories are great. I am sure there are  even certain games where the idea works well. The idea might work  with Tri Tac's Fringeworthy and I know GURPS has a supplement for  it as well. In a fantasy RPG I am don't think it belongs. This is  just my opinion so your mileage for Chronomancer might vary.

Chronomancer describes a new class of magic user who's specialty  is the use of spells that are temporal in nature. I now a few of  the spells I have posted deal with this in a minor way but  nothing along the lines of what is put forth for the new class.  This is also 2e so there are the early stages of prestige classes  in here though they were called kits under 2e.

Normally a book like this will have something that the DM can use  in it's 96 pages even if they are not going to use it as  provided. In most cases this may come down to the spells, magic  items or monsters. Well the spells are mostly all time related  and though there may be one or two that could be ported overall  this is not the case. Next in looking at magic item they all seem  to fall into the fantasy tech realm. Even as good as Expedition  to the Barrier Peaks was I prefer my fantasy and science fiction  to not cross that much so strike two. Finally we have monsters  which for this are again all riddled with the time motif so they  won't work in a normal campaign...strike three.

All of this is really my bias. The product may be useful to many  and there could be campaigns were this concept plays out well. I  for the life of me just can't see how being able to go forward  and back in time can allow for a game with any continuity and not  getting a little over powered.

Again for the for the record though I love it in movies, TV and  fiction. Just not in my fantasy game.

From the back of the book:

You have all the time in the world - and now you don't.

The final and most dangerous fantasy frontier lies not in space,  but in time! At last, the dimension of Time is open to those few  wizards who would risk everything - even their very existence -  to visit ancient and forgotten lands, or see the unbelievable  wonders and horrors of the future. These few wizards are  Chronomancers, and this optional 96-page AD&D game accessory  reveals the secrets of their lives. New spells, new powers, and  new realms - as well as terrifying monsters - are brought to  light in this stunning work. Take time to study the mysteries of  chronomancy - before someone else takes that time from you.



Spell:

Mimic the Dead


Level: Fourth
Range: None
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: Caster
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 5 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user allows themselves to temporarily become one of the living dead in form. The caster will  have all of the physical attributes and special abilities of the  undead they are going to mimic but will retain they own mind.

The type of undead that the caster will be able to mimic is  determined randomly to a certain extent. When the spell is cast  the magic user will make a roll as if they were a cleric  attempting to turn undead. Their roll will determine what undead  they can mimic. They can mimic any undead up to they type the turn  roll would have worked against. For determination of this roll  the magic user is treated as a cleric three levels lower than  their own level.

The duration of the spell will be based on the level of the  caster and the type of undead as well. If the caster would have  been able to turn or destroy the undead type chosen automatically  then the duration of the spell will be 2 turns per level of the  caster. If not then the duration will be 1 turn per level.

While in the undead form the caster will have all of the  abilities and benefits as stated earlier. They will also have all  of the vulnerabilities as well. Should the caster be turned as  undead while in this form they will be affected as if undead  except for the case where they would be destroyed. If this is  called for then the spell is immediately broken and the caster  will need to make a saving throw. A successful save means the  caster only loses 1/4 of their remaining hit points while a  failed save means they lose 1/2.

The material components of this spell will be a small piece of  remains from any type of undead creature and a small vial of  grave dust from an unconsecrated grave. Neither of these are  destroyed with the casting of the spell and may be reused.

It should be noted that if the caster is able to have obtained a  pint of ale from a place called "The Winchester" the roll to  determine level of undead will be at +4 - just kidding.

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, October 24, 2011

AEG- Monsters, Summon Piper

I previously reviewed Gods and talked about how it would be useful  for a HM wanting to use Monsters in their campaign. Monsters is  actually the book that addresses that option directly. I am not  sure I would ever want to run or participate in a campaign made  up strictly of monsters. I was in an "evil" campaign once and it  turned into who can commit the biggest atrocity.

In a limited scope I can see how adding some monsters/creatures  as a race might be useful. It might even be that in certain  campaigns that what are evil creatures normally are now peaceful  creatures that coexist normally with the other races. Monsters  does not take this route though so it would be up to the GM to  make some changes.

Monsters was released by AEG in 2002 under the d20/OGL platform.  The book is done in B&W with a limited amount of art but what is  used is really quite good and used to compliment the material and  not as filler. The book is 152 pages long and contains a lot of  material. Though it was originally released with a $24.95 price  sticker it can be picked up for a song now.

Monsters is broken down into six chapters. The chapters are as  follows:

The Age of Man
Monster Races
A New Breed
Anti-Heroes
Outcasts
From the Hands of Giants

The first chapter deals with what would be considered the normal  monster races that already exist in the in the d20 environment.  This sections gives an overview of the races. It addresses their  society and how they interact with other races. The capsules give  the DM an idea on how the races might function in the world as a  whole if used. The section is a good read even if the book is not  going to be sued as is.

The second chapter si where the book lays out the various races  as if they are going to be used as races in the game. The section  takes each of the races and provides overall information on them  as a race and then racial traits. The information provided about  them as a race is Personality, Physical Description, Relations,  Alignment, Their Lands, religion, Language, Names and  Adventurers. It then provides a description of a tribe from that  race to give the GM some ideas.

Chapter three presents the GM with new races that they might use.  Some of these are interesting but may too unique for most  campaign worlds. Many of these are crossbreeds from the  previously listed but there are new races entirely as well as  variants of the previously provided races. This section provides  the GM two options. the first would be to use as suggested. but I  think the option of introducing them as new monsters in the  proper format is a better option. Something that is rearing its  head after lurking in secret for centuries.

The next chapter is not a bad chapter but it is one of the  reasons I am not a big fan of the d20 3.x system as whole.  Chapter four deals with feats which I do ot have a problem with.  These I understand the need for as part of the system as whole.  The chapter does include a number of new Prestige Classes. There are actually nine new prestige classes provided. I have never been  a fan of the idea of prestige classes. To me this has always been  like getting a mini splat book in every new d20 product.

Chapter five deals with the idea of a a monster campaign. If you  have an inkling of running such a campaign this will give you a  solid idea on how it might be done and some of the pitfalls you  may encounter and how they can be avoided. This may be the most  useful chapter in the book though chapter three with the new  races offers it some strong competition. There are parts of this  chapter where the advice can be applied to a traditional  campaign.

Chapter six provides the GM with spells and magic items that  would be geared towards a monster specific campaign. With the  spells this is the case and I did not find any of the spells all  that interesting or useful. The magic items provided are better  and there are even monster artifacts provided. I can see using  these in reverse where the players need to find and then destroy  the monster artifacts. It also provides a Monster manual style entry for each from chapter three.

I can see a use for this book and am glad that I have it in my  collection. I am not sure it will ever get used for the stated  purpose but there are races that can be taken and used in a  normal campaign with a little work. It also provides the GM with  new races that can be sued as adversaries in a normal type of  campaign and then finally it provides some new magic items as  well as artifacts that be used as ongoing adventure fodder as  previously mentioned. The book can often be picked up for less  than a $1 online and even with a few bucks in shipping this is  worth the price.

From the Publisher:

Where reality ends, fantasy starts and at the heart of fantasy  lies monsters. Roaming bands of mercenary monsters run along side  their human and elven compatriots, searching out adventure and  making names for themselves. Orcs, minotaurs, and all the rest  are packed into one book. And now that you have Evil, GMs can run  full monster campaigns. Details about monster culture,  psychology, and adventuring provide GMs and PCs with enough  information to run an entire party of trolls, ogres, ettins,  orcs, goblins, and more. Rules for mixed races, new feats, and  skills only monsters know. New prestige classes, rules for PC  monster races, and new magic await.

From the back cover:

TOOTH * CLAW * FANG

My people have stood watch over this land for centuries. There  was a time when wars between our kind and the ogres were  commonplace. Savage, brutal campaigns left both sides demoralized  and broken, But, in one season, each would be prepared to fight  again. This was always the way of things.

The ogres have moved on, but the need for watchful eyes has not  passed.

Our brothers are savage and warlike, but we are not. Our cousins  make enemies with everyone around them, while we stand vigilant  and hopeful. Our kin take offense at the slightest  misunderstanding, provoking war with nations twice their size and  strength. It seems that no matter where we live, conflicts arise.

Our hope is to find a place where we belong and our children can  live in peace.

-Gr'gthyr, Gnoll Warden

THIS IS A GUIDE TO EXTINCTION

This sourcebook contains everything a GM or player needs for  campaigns involving monster races as PCs. It includes all of the  information you need for playing orcs, trolls, and all manner of  monsters as player characters. Additional rules for new races and  cross-breeds are also included.

The beasts within are yours to command.

THE WEAK SHALL BE CULLED

    * New feats
    * New spells and magic items
    * Rules for monster PCs
    * 9 new prestige classes
    * New monsters races as adversaries
    * 17 new races and original cross-breeds



Spell:

Summon Piper


Level: Third
Range: 6"
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: 1 Creature + 1 Creature/Level
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

When this spell is cast the magic user summons forth a mystical  being who will serve as a piper to lure away a number of  creatures. The piper will only be able to exist for a limited  period of time in the world of the caster though.

The piper will be able to pull away one creature for each level  of the caster. The caster targets which creatures will be  affected though they must be in hearing range of the piper and  must be able to hear the pipers music. Those selected by the  caster will be affected by the spell for at least two rounds.

After the initial period each creature affected is entitled to a  saving throw every third round. The first saving throw will be  made at -4 and then next at a -2. Future saving throws will be  made normally. The piper will continue leading the victims away  for a number of rounds equal to the casters charisma score.

The material component for this spell is a small flute like  instrument. The flute is not used up with the casting of the  spell. The cost of this item will be 100gp.

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, October 23, 2011

Dragon #184, Zephyr

There are covers of Dragon Magazine that stick out in my mind.  Most of these are for positive reasons either because they are  that good or they spur imagination. This one is one of those few  ones that stick out for another reason. It is in no way a bad  piece of art it is just so different than any other I can recall.  I have also always thought that the patron looked a bit like Jack  Nicholson.

I saw this last night while flipping through some scans and  decided I would write about another magazine. I try to limit  these. It was odd that this was the one I found because there has  been some recent talk on villains and not so long ago about being  a good GM. This issue has articles on both of these topics as  well as a few others.

The issues first article is "Courts and Courtiers" and it deals  with NPCs for royal courts. It provides a list of possible unique  personalities that one might find in the court. It also suggests  using the "Foils" article in Dragon #136 which I will have to check out.  It then provides a random chart for court activities and a rather  extensive list of expert hirelings that could be connected with  the court as well as their costs. If you game involved nobles in  any way this will be information to check out.

The next article deals with giving the evil NPCs an even break.  There are some great tips here to make even the most basic of bad  guys more challenging for a party. It focuses on spell casters  but then who doesn't include an evil magic user or cleric in a  dungeon now and then. Most of the spells are low level and in  some cases involve turning tricks players use back upon  themselves which I have always been a favor of. I always told  players if you can have or do it then the bad guys can as well.

The next article was one that really struck a cord with me. I  hate the fact that in many sessions I have played in even the  important NPCs end up being nothing more that stat blocks. The  most memorable events in my gaming history are where there was  role and roll playing involved. It puts for the idea of the seven  sentence NPC. I am going to sue this for every NPC I need to  create from now on. The DM should write a single sentence  describing NPC for each of the seven topics. I will list the  seven topics below which I hope does not violate copyright. I  will quote one of the samples they provide as well.

Occupation & History
Physical Description
Attributes & Skills
Values & Motivations
Interaction With Others
Useful Knowledge
Distinguishing Features

"Baron "Wardog" Muckdigger is the lord of a small land holding in  east Sembia, of which he is the seventh heir. He is a short man,  clean shaven with a very upright posture. Wardog is a 9th-level  fighter famous for his incredible stamina (Con 18) and his  leadership abilities (Cha 15), as well as his alleged ability at  musical composition (his works are described as being more like  the sounds of war than actual music). Beside composing music, the  baron's greatest love is war, and he will use almost any excuse  to take up arms against anyone he thinks might prove an  interesting adversary. The baron has a rather blunt and direct  way of dealing with people, but mixes it with enough charm to avoid being abusive. He knows a lot about military tactics,  different military organizations and how to defeat them, but  virtually nothing about the back-room politics in Sembia (or  music, for that matter). The baron always talks in a loud voice  with his head stuck right in your face, so you can smell the  heavy garlic on his breath."

The next article deals with villains, as opposed to simple NPCs,  in your campaign. The article calls them reoccurring NPCs but what  is a villain but that. The "good" villain is the one that though  perhaps thwarted finds a way to escape and return again. They  will also need to be fleshed out being something more than a stat  block. Using the Seven Sentence platform above would be a great  start but perhaps make it a paragraph on each. It is also  possible that what starts out as a NPC will become the villain  through happenstance. The villain does not even need to be one  that the party is trying to kill but one that has motivations  opposed to that of the party or one of the players. The article  does a much better job than me in describing this and I think any  DM should give it a read.

The last article of note in the magazine was "The Referee's Code  of Honor". It deals with some rules that will help with the  relationship between the DM and the players. This will help make  the DM and the campaign better. Some of the rules I might tweak  but then maybe I am not as good a DM as I think I am. Below are  those rules but if you are a DM give the full article a read.

1) Always treat your players with respect.
2) Never take a character away from a player.
3) Don't take on more than you can handle.
4) Be reliable outside the game.
5) Make the game fun for the players and yourself.
6) Take pride in your work and also in the group.

The rest of the magazine is full of normal features and a piece  of fiction. There were also a high volume of advertisements in  the magazine. I have put forth that there was a decline in the  overall quality of Dragon over time. This one hit on some high notes but the ads occupy more space than the articles or seem to  at least. In the end this is an issue to own for the articles I  describe. It can be picked up for a few bucks or perhaps less if  bought in a lot so give it a look over.


Spell:

Zephyr


Level: Fourth
Range: 9"
Duration: One Day
Area of Effect: 1 Target/Level
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
Saving Throw: None

With this spell the magic user allows for a greatly increased  movement rate. The spell is intended to used outdoors though  there might be some instances where it would work in a  subterranean environment.

The spell will allow the targets to travel at a speed that will  allow them to travel a distance that would take them a week in  just one day. The distance traveled will be lessened if there are  any delays or obstacles that take more than a few rounds along  the way. The spell will also eliminate the chance for random  encounters as the speed being traveled out will make encounters  unlikely.

The spell can target both those on foot and those mounted. The  caster can mix these as desired though the travel rate for each  target is based individually on their normal travel rate. The  spell will not allow the use of wheeled transports as the  vehicles will not be affected by the magic and will not hold up.  This spell can be cast in an aquatic environment as well as on  land.

The use of this spell is limited though as it puts a serious  strain on the target. After use of this spell the target must  rest two full days before it can be used again. If used mounted  there is nothing to prevent the use of fresh mounts though.

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, October 22, 2011

B8 - Journey to The Rock, Shadow Walk

There are modules that you find to be hidden gems or forgotten  treasures. There are then those that for some reason you knew you  just had to have and you knew that they would be something you  would be using again and again. and then in reality that was not  the case. I am afraid that in the case of B8 " Journey to The  Rock" the latter and not the former is the case.

"Journey to The Rock", released in 1984, does sport a cover by  Elmore which is never a bad thing though this is not one of my  favorites of his. The module is also a departure in the B series  that it includes a fair level of wilderness adventure. These  departures are not always bad as was it was done in B6 though  that had its issues as well. I had read somewhere that the module  was based off of a tournament adventure which makes it very linear in its flow which will be a negative to many.

The module has a few other issues. One is the fact that a fair  portion of the module will not get to be played. The idea of the adventure is that the party has three paths to get to their  objective. Unless they split up two of these won't get used in  the module though the DM could save them for later.

One other concern that came to me while looking it over was the  lack of real material there. The module is 32 pages long which is  of average size for modules from that time period. Then I started  looking at the content. There are four full page illustrations in  the module but there are no smaller illustrations so that might  be within the normal range. There are also four pages dedicated  to handouts and pregenerated characters. There is a one page  players map and one page dedicated to post module adventure  ideas. There are three pages for the ToC and the introduction and  two pages dedicated to new monsters. This gives us a total of 15  pages that are not adventure at all.

Once you get to the actual adventure portion of the module there  is one page dedicated to the start of the adventure and four  pages dedicated to The Rock. That leaves 12 pages that are split  between the three paths. This will work out to eight pages of  material that can't be used in the module without some series  redesign. Doing some quick math this gives us what is basically a  9 page adventure.

After spending all this time beating it up I have to say that the  adventure idea is not bad. It is more of an execution issue and  taking the fact that, if what I read was right, and that it was  designed as a tournament module the 9 pages would be about right  for a two to three hour session. In the end is it worth picking  up. I will have to say that I am not kicking myself for having it  but I am not sure it was the best gaming investment I ever made.  It does seem to sell for a bit more than others in the series but  the print runs got smaller after B6 as I recall so scarcity is  the issue there. I see it got between $15 and $25 most of the  time so you might get a better bang for your buck buying some of  the newer stuff released online.

From the back of the module:

"To a wizard, knowledge is power, and the wizard Lirdrium Arkayz  wants to know the mysterious secret of The Rock. Many have tried  to discover it - but The Rock keeps its secret well. The wizard  offers a rich reward to anyone bold enough to solve this dark  mystery.

But the road to The Rock leads to danger and hidden peril -  dangers that hae claimed the lives of many brave adventurers.  Rashness and folly will lead to quick death, but riches await the  clever and the brave. Have you the wits, courage and skill to  survive the Journey to The Rock?"



Spell:

Shadow Walk


Level: Second
Range: 3"
Duration: 2 turns + 1 Turn/Level
Area of Effect: Caster
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 4 Segments
Saving Throw: None

By means of this spell the magic user is able to merge themselves  with the shadow of another creature. The effect of this will be  to allow the caster passage to where ever the target creature  goes. Unless something similar to a True Seeing spell is used the  caster will not be detectable and Detect Invisibility will not  allow them to be seen.

The spell does have its limitations and possible peril though.  The caster is limited to casting this on a creature that is able  to and is actively casting a shadow. The caster is also bound to  the shadow and is at the mercy of the creature as to where they  go. The caster can break the merger at any time and will appear  at a distance from the creature equal to what they were when the  spell was cast. They will appear in a spot that is "safe" from  environmental effects but perhaps not other dangers.

There is also another possible danger connected with the use of  this spell. If the creature enters an area where they are not  casting a shadow the DM will need to make note of this. For each  round after the first that there is not a shadow being cast there  is a 5% chance that the caster will lose the connection. When  this happens there are two possible outcomes. There is 50/50  chance that the caster will either have the merge broken as  described above or be cast into the demi-plane of Shadow. 

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, October 21, 2011

The Apocalypse Stone, Babble

The Apocalypse Stone is a means to end or forever change a  campaign world. Let me start by saying that if this was something  I came up with for my own campaign I would have thought it the  most clever idea in the world. I actually did something similar  with the Codex of the Infinite Planes in a campaign. As a retail  module this might not be the best idea.

Before I ever knew what the module was about I fell in love with  the title and the cover art is so grim you have to want to know  more about it. I had thought it was a module dealing with either  Hell or the Abyss for some reason. Though the nether planes and  the those of light end up getting involved it is in the end it is  all about the end of the world.

I don't want to give too much away but some spoilers may follow.  The basic premise is that the players get tricked into giving  away the stone that holds the world together. They are then given  the task of trying to undo what they allowed to happen before it  gets to a point where it can't be stopped or undone. The villain  in this is classic in their motivation but maybe a little too  angst ridden for my taste. The means used to trick the players is  one I love though.

Given that this was released in 2000 and was one of if not  perhaps the last 2e module I have to wonder if it was intended to  allow campaigns to end so new 3e ones could begin. I have found  nothing to market it as such but the timing and the purpose of  the module seem to match up pretty good. I guess it could be  happenstance but I tend to want deeper meanings in the events I  notice.

Like I said the module was released for 2e and it is 96 pages  long. The idea is one that this is not something that a DM will  just want to throw into their campaign unless the end it to reset  or end it. I thought a good use for it might be to run it in such  a way that the players are living out the end of the world as it  previously happened. The first thought was having it occur while  researching the Rain of Colorless Fire in Greyhawk or something  like that but try and do it in a way they did not know it was  actually an historical event. I then added the twist in my mind  that maybe it wasn't so historical or that they were actually  there somehow and they might be pawns in some larger cosmos level  event or that they might not know their full potential/history.

In the end the module might not be worth buying for everyone. If  you are tired of the way things are going and you want to end the  campaign or change things up enough to make a fresh start of it  then buy it. There are some good points of the module that could  be used elsewhere but overall it has a purpose and it is hard to  use things from it beyond that purpose. I am really on the fence  when it comes to recommending it.

From the back of the module:

"The end times approach...

To everything there is a season. Every campaign has to come to  and end sometime, so why not go out with a bang? The Apocalypse  Stone is an epic adventure to challenge high-level characters,  but beware - it will destroy your world!

This adventure has it all: gods and devils, plague and  pestilence, rains of fire, and world-shattering conflicts. Here  is an opportunity for PCs to display undreamt-of heroism...or  fall to ultimate defeat.

The Apocalypse Stone is a tool for Dungeon Masters to present  extremely challenging encounters for high-level parties, to wrap  up a long-running campaign...or both.

This adventure can be used with your own game world or any  ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS setting."



Spell:

Babble


Level: Second
Range: 9"
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: One Target
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 1 Segment
Saving Throw: Halves

When this spell is cast the magic user will make the target  creatures speech become incomprehensible to any that hear it. The  target themselves will be able to understand what they are saying  but will not be able to understand what others are saying.

The spell will only affect the communication with others. The  casting of most spells will not be affected unless it involves  communication with the target or a summoned creature. Some abilities such as turning undead could also be affected at the  discretion of the DM. Attempts to write by the affected target  will yield gibberish as well.

The duration will be a period of one turn plus one turn per level  of the caster and an additional turn per point of intelligence of  the caster. The target is entitled to a saving throw and if made  the duration of the spell will be halved. Spells or other  abilities that allow for comprehension of languages will not work  as there is no language just garbled communication.

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, October 20, 2011

White Wolf Night Edition #3, Spell Blank

White Wolf Night Edition was a free periodical that was produced  amazingly enough by White Wolf. It was intended to support and/or promote their products. I do not see where it was mailed so it had  to be distributed through game and comic shops.

The copies I have were obtained in the secondary market. I know I  ended up purchasing just them in an eBay lot some time ago. I  wanted to see what they were and most likely overpaid but I got  six of them and paid less than $5 including shipping. The issue  above is #3 and it was bi-monthly. The next issue I have is #6  and it had moved to quarterly by then. The last issue I have is  #18 and that was fall of 2000 so I know it ran for at least that  long.

Being close to magazines these are something I find fun to read.  It is also nice to be able to see what was planned by the company  and then compare it to what actually happened. I guess in the end  it really just clutter though as it offers no really measurable  gaming support. In a society where one of the most profitable  businesses is self storage units and PODS I guess I am not the  only one that keeps stuff like this!



Spell:

Spell Blank


Level: Fourth
Range: 6"
Duration: None
Area of Effect: One Caster
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: Special

Whith the casting of this spell the magic user will accomplish two things when involved in a hostile situation with another spell caster. The first is that they will be able to know the mind of the other caster. The second is that they will be able eliminate one or more spells from the others caster's arsenal.

When the spell is initially cast the magic user will be able to see what other spells that the target has memorized. This spell will only work on targets that memorize spells and not one that only have spell like abilities. The DM will need to present the caster with just the list of spells that have left not what might have been memorized and already used and not their full list of available spells.

After getting the list the caster will then be able to pick a spell and have it wiped from the mind of the victim. If this spell is fourth level or lower then there is no saving throw. The spell will simply vanish. If the spell is higher than fourth then the victim is entitled to a saving throw. If the initial spell is eliminated then the caster can pick another to have vanish. Regardless of this spells level the victim will get a save. If made the spell is not lost otherwise it will be lost as well. This process will continue until a save is made. Saving throws after the second are made with a progressive +1 until the process stops.

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, October 19, 2011

The Sword of Justice, d20, Comfort

The Sword of Justice published by Monkeygod Enterprises in 2002  is a D20 adventure designed for 1st and 2nd level characters. The  premise of the module is one that has not been used in the form  presented bt the underlying theme has been used before. The  module works better beig designed for lower level characters than  it would if it were being used for higher levels.

The premise is fairly straightforward. The party is accused of a  murder which they did not commit. They are given two days to  prove their innocence. In most cases a "Speak with Dead" spell or  any other spell along that line would solve the problem. The  problem is that in Om Amarna spell casting in prohibited in  public and a curse causes many spells to backfire does not allow  for this.

The adventure does not have an part that the players have to go  through in order. The module consists of a series of encounters  and location that the players could run into while trying to  prove their innocence. The city itself is fleshed out enough for  the adventure and could be used in the future though I don't  think I would use it as a base of operations. The module includes  a means of tracking travel time within the city so as to keep the  two days idea part of the adventure.

The module introduces a new race the Arocha along with what seems  to be the required d20 prestige class. The writing is done well  enough though I am never one to really judge on that. I want the  idea and some stat blocks and the rest I often find myself  winging. There are some serious plot holes and the GM will need  to work through or around these.

Overall it can work as provided as a one shot but even then would  need some tweaking. I am not sure it would fit well into an  existing campaign unless it was reworked by the GM some or he had  a section of the world this could just be thrown into without  disrupting the rest. When released the price was $13.95 so it was  on the higher end and that would have hurt it. The module can be  picked up fairly cheap so that helps it now. I think it can be  mined for ideas and even used as it so I would say pick it up on  a dare and give it shot.

From the back of the module:

Two Days to Live!

Welcome to Om Amarna, and the annual Horse Festival. It is a time  of celebration, drinking, haggling, and thanksgiving.

Celebrate while you can, because soon the peace will be  shattered. And in its wake will come danger, suspicion, and  tragedy.

In this first adventure in the cursed land of Tieros, beginning  characters will be forced to work together in a race against time  to find critical answers in a crowded, diverse, and paranoid  city. Answers that will satisfy the Dark Guard and the Cult of  Justice. Answers that will save their own necks from the gallows.

The Sword of Justice introduces Tieros, a land cursed by the acts  of an ancient hero, bound by common fate, and diverse in culture  and belief.

In this adventure characters will become familiar with an exotic  new PC race, the dangers of practicing magic in Tieros, the  fanatical Cult of Justice who worships Law itself, and the  ubiquitous Dark Guard, the military power that protects and  enforces peace.

Will you survive your first adventure in Tieros, or will it claim  your life?




Spell:

Comfort


Level: Zero (Cantrip)
Range: None
Duration: One Day
Area of Effect: Caster
Components: V,S
Casting Time: One Round
Saving Throw: None

This spell will allow the magic user to be comfortable in any  normal level environment that they might find themselves in. The  spell is limited in the range of extremes and the nature of the  environment that it will protect the cast from though.

The caster will find that they will be comfortable in what would  be standard ranges of temperatures they might encounter. They can  operate and be comfortable in a range of 0 to 120 degrees. The  spell does not provide any special benefits other than being comfortable though. The caster will not be protected from any other hazards in  the environment other than the temperature. Toxins or poisons in  the atmosphere will still affect them as will spells of a magical  nature involving temperatures.

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, October 18, 2011

B7 - Rahasia, Reset

When a module has been printed by two different companies in  three different formats can you can assume one of two things.  That one of the companies had nothing better than to copy steal  another company's work or that the module is just that darn good.  In the case of B7 Rahasia the latter is the case.

Originally published in 1979 by Daystar West Media in their Night  Ventures line Rahasia was written by Laura Hickman and is most  often thought of as the first module written solely by a female  writer. When TSR purchased Daystar West Media they released the  module again in 1983 as the first in the RPGA line of modules. In  1984 it was merged with Black Opal Eye (RPGA2) and released as B7  Rahasia. It also then later appeared in the B1-9 compilation  though I am not counting that as a different release.

The module is different in a number of ways from the other  modules in the B series. The setting of the module though  cantering around an elven village has a very definite Arabic  flavor to it. Another item is that for a very specific reason the  module does not focus on killing things. The focus needs to be on  stealth, roleplaying and creative problem solving. The name of  the module Rahasia is Indonesian for secret and there is perhaps  a reason for that being used.

The module is only 32 pages long but most of it is actually  dedicated to the major area of the adventure. The adventure is  large enough that I would suspect it will last two good sessions  for normal party and it might last even more depending on the  players. There is combat to be had but again the module is going  to focus more on problem solving and players who enjoy combat  more might be a bit put off by some concerns the module will  raise.

I am a fan of most of the B series modules. The level range for  this is not my favorite but all of the B series modules seem to  make it enjoyable enough to be a low level character that I think  that I have run and/or played them all. I would hate to have to  pick which of the B series would be my favorite but I think B7  would have to be in the running is at worst in the top three. But  then they are for the most part all better than much of what is  commercially released today. If you can find this pick it up.


From the back of the module:

Grey Mountain lies deep in the lush elven forest. The temple  there was a haven of meditation and learning - until taken over  by an evil cleric known as the Rahib.

Far under the mountain, he paces before the temple's great altar.  A brown-robed servant rushes in and falls to his knees. Trembling  at the sight of the Rahib's black panther. "Rahib, adventurers  came to the village as the sun rose - the strangers now protect  Rahasia"

A scowl crosses the Rahib's face. "I must have Rahasia! Attack  again tonight." As the servant scurries away, a deep growl rises  from the giant cat.

Gripping the panther's leash, the Rahib paces again, speaking out  load. "We must dispose of these strangers quickly; the secret  beneath the temple will not wait much longer."

For character levels 1-3



 Spell:

Reset


Level: Eighth
Range: None
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: 6" Sphere
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes their party to travel backwards in time. This will reset them to a specific  point in time. The caster will pick the point in time when the  spell is cast.

The caster will need to pick a point in time that is no farther  back then their intelligence score plus three in rounds  (minutes). When the spell is complete the casters party will  immediately be reset. The part will have knowledge of what has  transpired previously. There is nothing to say that if they  change their course of action that other things won't change as  well. Anything that the party may have acquired in the first run  through the timeline will need to be removed and any items used  restored.

The spell will have some negative side effects though due to the  nature of what it does and the powerful magic involved. When the  party is reset they will need to make a saving throw versus  magic. If they save then they will only be stunned for one round  while those that fail will be stunned and disoriented for two  rounds.

The magic user will not be stunned but will suffer other effects.  They will be aged five years by the powerful energies involved in  the casting of the spell. They will also need to make two rolls.  The first is for the spell itself as the magic for this spell is  bound powerfully to its inscription. There is a 5% cumulative  chance per use that the spell will vanish from the spell book  after casting and will become such that it can't be memorized by that caster for a  period of one year. The other will be a saving throw that if  failed will cause the caster to lose 1d4 points of intelligence.  These will be regained at a point per day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hero's Journey: Castle Dunmere, Escape

I have mentioned before that one of the problems with d20 and the  OGL was that it allowed everyone who had a passing interest to  become published get published. This has been good in many cases  for the OSR movement. When you look at the 3.x world this has not  always been the case. There may have not been too many true clunkers but there has been a fair percentage of mediocre material  released.

Hero's Journey: Castle Dunmere is an example of what I just  described. It is in no way a bad product it is just average in  nature. There is nothing that makes the module stand out as great  or even a great value. It fills a role simply as an adventure for  characters level 5 to 7.

The module is set in the land of Myrra which is not unique in any  real way. They have changed the names of the races but that is  about it. The material presented for the adventure is done well  enough but nothing that will make it stand out. The art is  actually on the substandard side in my opinion and the cover  price was $8.95 for a 32 page module which was average to high.

As for the scenario itself the premise is one that has been  tried before and it in the end lack anything that is going to compel the players to undertake the mission except greed. Now  greed in a roleplaying game, for lack of a better word, is good.  It will usually work with most players. If it doesn't then the GM  will need to put on their conductors cap and yell "All Aboard".  The fare is standard ending in a four level crawl.

I really wish I could say better things but at least nothing has  been truly negative. Since it was released in 2001 this was part  of what became a flood of 3.x released product. The good news is  that you had no lack of choices the bad new is that you had too  many choices. If there was anything that can be said to have come  from that it is perhaps the community that developed online to  help others become aware of the chaff that was being sold. I  normally don't do this but I would say you can pass on this  unless you want to have the whole series of Hero's Journey or are  using the world of Myrra for your own.


From the back of the module:

Secrets abound at the famous Dunmere Castle. The locals stay away  from what they claim is a haunted estate.

Now the owner of the house, Count Carlisle himself, has gone  missing. His disappearance is being blamed on an old legend  surrounding the castle; that of Countess Carlisle's ghost  haunting the old manor. Sightings of the Countess are on the rise  and the town is terrified.

Is the legend about Castle Dunmere true? There's only one way to  find out.

Enter Castle Dunmere!

A fantasy adventure for character levels 5-7.




Spell:

Escape


Level: Fourth
Range: None
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: One Location
Components: V,S
Casting Time: 3 Segments
Saving Throw: None

When this spell is cast the magic user causes a series of  mystical footprints to appear. These will be visible only to the  caster and their party. They will show the most direct path to a  location that the caster will specify when the spell is cast.

The spell will allow the caster to declare one of three specific  locations when the spell is cast. The first will be the closest  uninhabited safe place. The second, if in a dungeon, will be the  location of the nearest exit or entrance to the next level up or  down. The third location will be the path to the exit from the  current location regardless of where it might be in regards to  distance or level.

The caster is actually calling upon an extra-planar being when the  spell is cast. These creatures do not exist on the same plane as  the caster but will have unerring knowledge of any location  summoned to. It should be noted that they take the shortest path  which may not always be the safest.

Casting this spell is not without its cost. The creatures  summoned feed on spell or life essence. If the first option is  selected the creatures will exact payment of one random spell  from the mind of the caster. If the second option is selected  then the creatures will pull a spell at random and take one  quarter of the casters remaining hit points. The last option will  result in no spell loss but they will take one half the caster  remaining hit points.

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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