Any post from me has been a long time coming. It's been a pretty busy month.
You all know from previous posts that I like my games to have a simple simulationist quality. As of late I find myself thinking about adventuring gear and the wear and tear that it takes. This, of course, includes weapons and armor. I believe that I've come up with a very basic rule that will help to keep things simple while still making them "feel" like they are real and happening. My objective is to bring a simulationist immersion to this part of play, while keeping the rule simple to use. Without further ado, here is a rough sampling of the rules.
1. All adventuring gear can be in one of four conditions:
Good, Worn, Damaged and Ruined
This is called the condition track
These conditions are self explanatory.
2. All types of materials have a base saving throw:
Magic Items (case by case at Referee's discretion - not damaged under normal circumstances)
Referees may give bonuses or penalties depending upon situations or damage caused by specific hazards (i.e. wooden items catching fire) as they see fit.
3. To keep gear in good condition, PCs must perform maintenance or upkeep in between adventures/on the road etc. If it is deemed that the PCs possess the skill to upkeep their gear, they can (with proper tools) do so themselves. As a note, if a PC can use a given weapon, they know how to perform basic maintenance of that weapon. The same goes for armor. This include oiling and sharpening blades, oiling and cleaning armor, etc. If whetstone and oil are owned, this can easily be done while camping and on watch. If it is deemed that a PC knows how to upkeep other gear and has the proper implements to do so, that is fine as well, however, this must be kept track of by the Referee for time keeping purposes. It takes a great deal of time to take care of equipment.
Alternatively, players can also have items professionally repaired, replaced etc. while in town for 20% of the value of the PCs total adventuring gear, more at the Referee's discretion if any gear is in Damaged condition. Ruined items cannot be repaired.
4. Normal wear to gear: Gear will naturally deteriorate to lesser conditions if it is not upkept, per point three. Outside of this, all gear that is used during a session must make a saving throw at the end of the session. If the saving throw fails, that piece of gear moves down the condition track by one step.
Gear that specifically takes damage must make a saving throw or move down one or more conditions along the track as well. This is based upon a variety of conditions, catching fire, items specifically targeted or damaged by foes etc.
5. Weapons and armor are subject to the same rules as adventuring gear, but may also be subject to wear and tear from especially hard hits (giving or taking maximum damage etc.) at the Referee's discretion.
Let's get right to it and get into the nitty gritty of these things. The idea of possession has been fairly well understood since the release of The Exorcist in 1973. Possession, of course, is the act of a spirit (demon, ghost, etc.) dominating and controlling an individuals body. Obsession is an attack by a spiritual entity or magical creature from without the individuals body. This is often a form of mind control in which the entity holds sway over the victim. Often the obsessed will become literally "obsessed" with it's attacker, often falling into to cultus of said entity doing the entities bidding by accomplishing tasks that the obssessor cannot accomplish by itself.. This features prominently in many of the Hammer Horror Dracula films. In literature the character R. M. Renfield, from Bram Stoker's Dracula, is an obsessed follower of Dracula.
Klove, an obsessed servant of Dracula - from Hammer Films Dracula, Prince of Darkness
It has always struck me as odd that these things are so often either neglected in D&D and it's simulacra, or simply cast aside by the use of similar spells (obsession, in the vampiric sense, being typically attributed to a charm person spell.) Here I present you with my house rules for possession and obsession.
Any spirit, demon or devil may attempt to possess a victim. To do so the spirit must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the possession with a penalty equal to the spirit/demon's hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion. If the possessor succeeds and the victim fails his save, the possession is successful and the spirit has full control of the victim's body. Once per hit die per day the possessed may attempt to stop his body from taking an action attempted by the possessor spirit. This attempt suffers are cumulative penalty of -2 for each week that passes. This does not break the possession. Only an action denoted as an exorcism by the referee may break the possession. The spirit may relinquish control as it sees fit, but after gaining control, may always take control again at any time, presuming that a successful exorcism is not performed.
An obsessed vampire cultist helps a new vampire rise - from Hammer Films The Brides of Dracula
Many creatures, from demons to greater vampires and any other entities that the referee deems may cause an individual to become obsessed. Obsession may be attempted in various ways dependent upon the individual entity. In some cases obsession is caused by a gaze, in others telepathic communication (powerful vampires and demon princes have this ability) or something as simple as a touch. An entity attempting for cause obsession in a victim must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the obsession with a penalty equal to the entities hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion, just as in the case of possession. If successful the creature causing the obsession gains a telepathic link to the obsessed by which it's suggestions can be made, even over a great distance. In the early stages the obsessed can attempt to fight the suggestions. This is done by making a saving throw, modified by a penalty of the obsessors hit dice. This may be done once per day per hit die of the obsessed. An attempt to break the obsession may be made a number of times per week per hit die of the obsessed. Success is determined in the same manner as attempts to fight suggestions Each failed attempt adds an additional penalty of -1 to the next attempt. If the total penalty reaches the hit dice of the obsessed character, they become an utter thrall of the obsessing entity, unless exorcised.
Not a lot of time to get a post up this week, but the week isn't done. To ensure something for Octhorrorfest this week, I figured I would share one of my favorite Michael Whelan pieces, Lovecraft's Nightmare parts 1 and 2. When looking at weird fiction and weird fantasy, I find these macabre images highly inspirational. The tree in particular has produced many similar trees in my campaign worlds, one being the center piece in an adventure that some readers are familiar with called "Fear of the Dark.
It is well known that those bitten by a vampire, shall rise as a vampire. There is often confusion about how this works. From a folkloric standpoint, the affliction/curse can be transferred from a bite or drinking the blood of a vampire. In many games, especially D&D and it's derivatives, anyone killed by a vampire will become one, under the Master's control. But how do the metaphysics of the affliction actually work?
When a vampire bites someone an unholy "venom" enters into the victim's bloodstream. If the victim dies while this "venom" is still active, they will rise as a vampire under the control of the vampire who had originally cause the wound. This is what gave rise to the idea that a victim will become a vampire after being bitten a given number of times (typically three.) In these cases the vampire feeds upon the same victim night after night until they are drained of blood and die, then rising as a vampire themselves. Of course, dying in any way while the "venom" is in the victim will cause them to rise as a vampire.
Curing the Affliction
There are at least two ways to cure the affliction, if caught before death. In either case, a saving throw or constitution check (referee's discretion) to overcome the affliction. The first way to remove the affliction is to apply a poultice made of 3 parts garlic to 1 part silver to the wound every hour until the "venom" is neutralized. This would require a save/check each time the poultice is applied.
The second cure requires holy water. This method is demonstrated by Van Helsing in the film "The Brides of Dracula" from Hammer Horror. First, the bite must be cauterized with hot steel. Following this holy water should be poured over the wound. The holy water instantly removes the affliction when this ritual cure is performed.
We all know that the original cleric's "turn undead" ability comes directly from the famous scene in Hammer's Horror of Dracula in which Van Helsing creates a makeshift cross to drive the count back into the sunlight, destroying him.
Turning undead has become a staple in D&D starting at the very beginning. But there is something else, directly from the horror inspirations of Appendix N itself, that allows protection and, possibly turning. I am speaking, of course of the Elder Sign. At the moment, I am only going to focus on the hand gestures and the version of the sigil as referred to by H.P. Lovecraft himself. I am ignoring Derleth's pentagram version outright.
We know that some Elder Signs (yes there are likely multiple) are used to ward of the terrors presented in Lovecraftian fiction.
"In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs." H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth
"At another house, where people were stirring, he asked questions about the gods, and whether they danced often upon Lerion; but the farmer and his wife would only make the ElderSign and tell him the way to Nir and Ulthar." - H.P. Lovecraft, The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
Here we have a case for the ability of an Elder Sign, or THE Elder Sign being able to ward off "evil" in some way. One of these is obviously a mark of some sort. It is referenced as being like a swastika. I believe that this means that it is runic in nature, as opposed to a more stylized sigil. The second is obviously a hand sign, and is mentioned as such in other works, though not in a protective manner. This again leads me to believe that there is more than one Elder Sign, but I digress.
One such Elder Sign, and I believe it to be a protective one, is actually drawn by Lovecraft himself in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith.
“Again thanking you in Tsathoggua’s name for the recent shipment, & hoping to see more items from your pen ere long, I append the Elder Sign & the Seal of N’gah, given in the Dark Cycle of Y’hu.”
He then signed his name as “Ec’h-Pi-El” and drew both of the figures mentioned above. We are here only concerned with the Elder Sign. Which he drew this way:
Interestingly, Lovecraft's Elder Sign, IS a way of writing a specific rune! See the chart of FUTHARK Runes below.
The 18th Rune, Berkanan/Bjarkan, when written as "tree script," is a clear depiction of the elder sign. This cipher makes hatch marks denoting the row of the rune on the left side of the "trunk" and the column of the rune on the right. This rune means "Birch" and as such is often related to birth, healing and protection/sanctuary. That's right. The rune that looks like the Elder Sign is a protective rune. Interesting, no? It is no stretch of the imagination to see this Elder Sign as one which can ward of eldritch horrors.
The hand sign (also due to the rune's placement in the FUTHARK "alphabet") is one, I believe which holds three fingers downward (row) and two upward (column.) There is, again, a real world parallel to this. This parallel is the Mano Cornuto, or "Sign of the Horns," which many will recognize as the "Metal Sign." In folklore this has long been believed to ward of evil and curses, such as the evil eye.
Turning the Outer Dark
So, we have this little bit of folk magic to drop into a game. How does it work and what is the ruling on using the Elder Sign for turning creatures of the Outer Dark? Very simple. Any character of any class may attempt to turn the outer dark. Use the cleric's turning table from your chosen game for this.
When a character attempts to turn and eldritch horror they must first make a "fear save" (use save vs. magic with no modifiers) to pull it together enough to accomplish the task. If they succeed they make the Elder Sign (hand sign) To determine what level the turning is at, take the number that the save is made by and divide it by 2, rounding down. The turn attempt is made at this level. Example, a Shoggoth shambles down the hall toward your thief. The thief makes the Elder Sign and rolls her saving throw. Her save is 13 and she rolls 17. This is 4 higher than the required save. Dividing the result in half, we get a turning level of 2. Roll a D20 on the turning table to see how many hit dice are turned, just as a cleric turning undead. The thief in this instance rolls a 13, allowing her to turn 3 HD worth of eldritch horrors. The Shoggoth has far more hit dice, and is thus unaffected. Very unfortunate for your thief. Hope you had the will on your character sheet filled out.
Graven Image: The Elder Sign
Now, on to inscribing the sigil form of the Elder Sign. Anyone can create this charm in exactly the same fashion that anyone can use the hand sign. Engraving stone, wood etc, with a successful check of course, will make the amulet effective for 1 day per level of the character who creates it. The Elder sign can be inscribed upon anything. If carried, no eldritch horror (of designated hit dice) may attack the bearer (unless attacked first, thus negating the properties of the sign.) Additionally, if hung over a threshold, eldritch horrors may not enter into it. A magic-user capable of crafting amulets may also create such a talisman, but the hit dice affected are not rounded down, and the effects of the amulet are permanent unless dispelled.
It's that time of year again folks. To kick off the Hallows season, I'm going to give you something vile for your villains! The Rites of Lycanthropy! Where statistics are needed, Swords & Wizardry rules are used.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. -The Wolf Man (1942)
Now it is well established in lore that one can be come a Were(insert animal here) through a curse or through infection, typically through the bite of a lycanthrope. What happens if a character (pc or npc) seeks in insanity, vengeance or greed, to become a lycanthrope through choice? Is it possible? Of course it is. Most things are possible through ritual magic, in a fantasy game.
If a character is so driven, and discovers this method, the ritual is quite simple, though there is a price to be paid. The desire to become a lycanthrope is, in itself a chaotic inclination. The Taint of Chaos is upon any who undertake such a rite. The ritual entails a magical ointment, a Demon Prince or Duke of Hell willing to offer their "help" as a patron in the transformation and an age old incantation. Needless to say, any undertaking this rite become chaotic in alignment.
First, the candidate must gather all of these ingredients and heat them in a cauldron to produce the ointment. How easy these herbs and other ingredients are to obtain is up to the referee. The gathering of the first ingredient itself is a vile and chaotic act.
* fat from disinterred children * hemlock * aconite * poplar leaves * soot or cowbane * sweet flag * cinquefoil * bat's blood * deadly nightshade * oil
*a belt of the skin of a wolf (other animal) to be worn as the only article of clothing during the ritual
The candidate must then draw a thaumaturgical circle upon the night of the full moon and petition the dark patron that they have chosen to call upon, once the ointment has boiled. An offering appropriate to the patron should be used to entice the demon/devil. Then the incantation is given:
"Make me a werewolf! Make me a man-eater!
Make me a werewolf! Make me a child-eater!
Make me a werewolf! Make me a woman-eater!
I pine for blood! human blood!
Give it to me! Give it to me tonight!
(name of demon/devil)! Give it to me, and heart, body, and soul, I am yours!"
A saving throw is made. If successful the patron hears the plea. It is the referee's decision as to whether or not the otherworldly being actually appears and aids the candidate. If successful, at this point, a pact will be made between the candidate and the patron. If the patron accepts, it shall bestow the "gift" of lycanthropy upon the candidate.
It is with great pleasure that I announce that U-Con 2015 Preregistration is now open! We have 45 OSR events as of this moment and expect many more before registration closes! That's right! You can still submit events. Drop dead deadline will be October 6th. Preregistration is open until the same. To preregister, and check out games on all of our tracks, click the U-Con link: right here!
For those that are too lazy to click the link, here are the OSR events as they stand now. Don't hesitate, we already have several sold out events!
9a 4615 Dungeon Crawl Classics: Skymasters of the Puple Planet, GM: Jim Wampler, 8 players, No XP/Average, Friday 9a-1p. Your 5th level DCC RPG characters were swept to The Purple Planet many moons ago — long enough that you now rule your own tribe of bestial Kith. But over time the environmental conditions on the planet you now call home have worsened, and when a magnetic beam sweeps you to the northern pole you discover why. There’s something very wrong with the ancient biosphere factory located there, and if you and your friends don’t confront the dangers lurking inside and repair it, there’ll soon be no world left to rule. Come play this special DCC RPG adventure released especially at U-Con! Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4669 Stuper Powers!: Apocalypse...NOW?!, GM: Tim Snider, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 9a-1p. Doctor Dredd and his evil team of villains have taken over Washington DC! They plan to start World War III unless your team of "D-list" heroes are able to stop them. Will your ability to "Induce Slight Headaches" and "Turn Things Plaid" be enough to thwart Armageddon? (Nah...probably not...) General Audience (13+) $3.00
4432 Swords & Wizardry/D&D : Oppose the Prophecy, GM: David Perrin, 6 players, No XP/Average, Friday 10a-1p. Your party is hired/brought together to oppose the Elven Prophecy which foretells of "Elven Unity". The party travels over land & mountain to decimate the "outsiders" that seek to kidnap the lost heir of the Drow Throne. All materials & pre-gen characters provided. No experience needed, but it will help. The system will be taught as play progresses. Adults Only (18+) $3.00
4435 Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition: Ahoggya Ark, GM: John Till, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 10a-2p. Humans, mutants, & thousands of disgusting Ahoggya, trapped together on an out-of-control generation ship! If you like Metamorphosis Alpha, Tekumel, or are Ahoggya-curious, this adventure is for you! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4592 Dungeon Crawl Classics: Halls of the Minotaur, GM: Laura Rose Williams, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 1p-5p. From author Harley Stroh (description from the cover of module #35A): “A villainous minotaur has been terrorizing the village for months, slaying villagers at random and slipping away with stolen children. A heroic paladin comes to the rescue, pursuing the minotaur to its lair in the Thornswild Forest. When the paladin fails to return, it falls to the village farmers, mere commoners, to discover his fate and to save the village from the minotaur’s depredations. The trail of the knight leads the heroes past deadly kobold traps, natural dangers, packs of feral dogs, and to the foot of a mysterious basalt tower in the heart of the woods...” (From Goodman Games) “The adventure Halls of the Minotaur was originally published in the limited-run boxed set DCC #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms.” This module was written for the d20 v.3.5 ruleset, but I will try to convert it to DCC…FOR THE KINGDOM! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4670 Ghostbusters D6: Ragnarok-A-Bye Baby, GM: Tim Snider, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 1p-5p. Judgment Day may be at hand! In the center of all the chaos and destruction, one place seems untouched – The Wee Tots Nursery School. Could this be the Antichrist’s day care center? The Ghostbusters are mobilized to save the world (and perhaps change a diaper or two)! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4693 Swords & Wizardry: Gateway To Adventure: GC1: It Lurks Below!, GM: Ryan Thompson, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 1p-5p. A mournful girl has begged you for aid. Her father, keeper of the city’s vast sewer system, has disappeared. The city guard will do nothing and she suspects foul play or something even more sinister. Join in this urban adventure in a massive sewer system built among the remains of an ancient city. A module from Michgan's own Pacesetter Games & Simulations. Pre-gens provided Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4938 Starships & Spacemen 2E: Star Trek - City of the Giants, GM: Andrew Moss, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 1p-5p. As an intrepid Star Fleet away team in the Original Series era, explore the enormous dead ruins of a cosmic city suspected to be the capitol of a long vanished race. Pregens will be provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4436 Fate: Strange Stars, GM: John Till, 5 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 3p-7p. Welcome to the Strange Stars, an old-school space opera setting. We’ll use the Fate Strange Stars rules, available from Hydra Collective, since I’m their author. For more on the setting, visit: http://sorcerersskull.blogspot.com. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4424 Labyrinth Lord: A Random Dungeon Crawl, GM: Forest Ray, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 8p-12a. No one knows what the Dungeon will be like not even the Labyrinth Lord. Dungeon tiles will be drawn at random as will monsters and treasure. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4654 Star Frontiers: Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes, GM: Walter Schirmacher, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 8p-12a. The atomic stardrives ignite, whipping steam into the toxic atmosphere. Before long your ship will lift off, stranding you - unless you stop the Mutiny on the Elanor Moraes! Come play the classic Star Frontier adventure using the classic rules. No experience needed and the rules will be taught. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4826 Dungeon Crawl Classics: DCC Dark Sun, GM: Andrew Moss, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 8p-12a. Play slaves crushed by the oppressive yoke of the sorcerer-kings in this adaption of D&D setting Dark Sun for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Can you escape or will you be ground underfoot? Pregens will be provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4859 Swords & Wizardry : Swords and Wizardry Invades Michigan--The Maze of Eternity, GM: Bill Webb, 20 players, Some XP/Simple, Friday 8p-2a. There is no school like the old school! Late Night Swords and Wizardry with grognard GM Bill Webb of Frog God Games. Travel back to the dawn of the game where character generation took 2 minutes (which is good, because you die a lot!), there was no such thing as a spot check, dwarves and elves were classes, not just races, and a +1 sword was a wonder! In this session, expect a dungeon crawl adventure where you better bring your imagination and your thinking cap. Drawn from Bill’s devious mind, expect lots of puzzles, traps and unkillable monsters. The adventure this year is focused on solving a chess match of riddles of a lich’s tomb complex, hopefully defeating it and claiming the treasure. Oh yeah—most of the player characters are first level! You can roll up characters at the table. Rules (the very few that there are) will generally follow those in Swords and Wizardry White Box and Bill Webb's book of Dirty Tricks (available online at the Frog God Games website--and the rulebook pdf is free!). All character generation is 3d6 in order, although stats cap at +1/-1 on bonus and penalty, and are thus, mostly irrelevant. Bill's games are well known for having high fatality rates and extremely difficult puzzles and traps. If you play in both sessions, experience points and treasure carry over to the next night. If you have a character from Dallas or PaizoCon’s events (or bring yours from this year next year), the same applies. You never know who might show up at Bill's table. There are occasional special guests with names you just may have heard before. Games start promptly at 830 (800 if you need a character), and run until Bill falls over or runs out of whiskey. Kids are welcome (there will be a couple there already), as long as they can handle the time of night and have basic skills. Bring a 20-sided die, a few 6-siders and a miniature or three. All other materials provided (BYOB). Prizes: First to die, MVP (voted by players), Best Roleplayer, Best Rollplayer Family Friendly (7+) $4.50
4899 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: R1: The Great Race, GM: Bill Barsh, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 8p-12a. Come play a U-Con Special Release! Publicly run for the first time and release for purchase at U-Con 2015! For more than 100 years the Great Race was held in the Kingdom. Participants from the nine islands competed in the month long race around the Great Waste. But when the pharaoh’s son was lost, the race came to an end. Now, 50 years later, a new pharaoh wishes to restart the legendary race. But the ancient Horn of Rah must be recovered from the Valley of the Kings in order to start the race. Pregens/Level of Characters: 3rd to 5th Level; Provided Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4431 D&D/Swords & Wizardry : The Shrine of the Silver Dragon, GM: David Perrin, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 9a-11a. Campaign designed for players ages 6-11 year old. Parents/guardian encouraged to accompany youth. The Silver Dragon Shrine is seeking help to save its greatest treasure. The adventuring party will travel to the ruined stone Dwelling of the Giants to retrieve the treasure. Watch out, you may learn something. All materials & pre-gen's provided. No experience needed. Rules modified for player's experience and/or age. Family Friendly (7+) $1.50
4503 1E AD&D: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Part 1, GM: Shawn Dry, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 9a-1p. Invade and plunder the lost Arch-mage Iggwilv's domain...if you dare! Experience the beginning of this classic Gary Gygax module during this morning session; playing in the later sessions is not required, but you are welcome to stay all day and enjoy the entire module. Pregens provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4589 Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC): High Tide at GonGoLoor Bay, GM: Clayton Williams, 5 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 9a-1p. A cry is heard in the dead of night. It came from the Mayor’s house at the end of the street. You all rush down to see what the commotion is about. You happen upon the mayor in the middle of the street; he is crying and wailing: “They took him, the beasts took my boy, please help me!” “What took him?” exclaims one villager. “Ugnh” *sniff* “Sea...sea creatures...they went down the well.” A kidnapping, a dark ritual, sea monsters. Do you want to be more than a peasant? This is your chance. You, too, can be a hero! Join other villagers and adventurers as you try to survive High Tide at GonGoloor Bay. This adventure calls for 3-5 players (12-16 0-level Peasants, 6-8 Level 1 Heroes, or 4-5 Level 2 Heroes) No experience necessary, 0-level pre-gens will be available. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4618 Mutant Crawl Classics RPG -Game With the Creator!: Assault on the Sky-High Tower, GM: Jim Wampler, 8 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 9a-1p. While undergoing the Rite of Passage, you and your level-0 friends are swept hundreds of miles away from your hothouse jungle home via a Tube-Thing, only to emerge in a gloriously-tended mile-wide garden. Dead in the center of this wondrous parkland, you see an intact sky tower of the Ancient Ones. Surely enough technology and glory await you to rule your tribe, if only you can survive the “Assault on the Sky-High Tower.” Come get a sneak preview of the new DCC RPG-compatible game from Goodman Games! Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4668 Mutant Future: Thundarr the Barbarian: Warlord of the Sacred Library, GM: Tim Snider, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 9a-1p. Lords of Light! Drakexx the Unstoppable has established a stronghold in the forbidden Congers Library where thousands of Ancient texts are stored. What use does a warlord have with these tomes, and what secrets does he hope to unlock? The tribal shaman of the village of Linkon has tasked Thundarr, Ookla, and Princess Ariel with stopping and driving out the mindless brute! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4788 Metamorphosis Alpha (1st ed): Red Shirt Metamorphosis, GM: Larry Hamilton, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 9a-1p. You wake up under emergency conditions. This is really bad news. You are supposed to wake up for preparations to land at the final destination. However, in addition to being part of the security detail for the landing, you are also a member of the emergency security detail. You feel the subtle and not so subtle benefits of needing to wake up from cryo sleep fast. Slow wake up leaves you weak and dehydrated with a massive headache. However, you don't feel bad. Due to massive doses of vitamins, supplements, a tad bit of adrenaline, and specialized drugs with their own set of dangers, your only discomfort is dry mouth and a strange lingering metallic taste. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4861 Swords & Wizardry: Swords and Wizardry Invades Michigan—No Parking, Violators will be Toad, GM: Jillian Webb, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 1p-5p. There is no school like the old school! So you think you are smarter than a 13-year old girl? Remember, this kid has grown up playing games and going to conventions since she was born. She currently has a nearly 100% kill rate at convention games--that and a bunch of tentacles. A true old-school GM even at a young age, Jillian plays by the rules, and simply provides opportunities for player characters to kill themselves. Jillian’s adventure this year is secret even from us (she is not telling), but it involves an ancient, ruined city in the center of a large lake. One large building stands intact in the center of the city, said to hold a rich treasure. Is it a hotel? You can check out anytime you like…but you can never leave! You can roll up characters at the table. Rules (the very few that there are) will generally follow those in Swords and Wizardry White Box and Bill Webb's book of Dirty Tricks (available online at the Frog God Games website--and the rulebook pdf is free!). All character generation is 3d6 in order, although stats cap at +1/-1 on onus and penalty, and are thus, mostly irrelevant. Jillian’s games are famous for being very fun and fast paced events, with a high level of GM—player interaction. In fact, they are usually the first filled at the several conventions she regularly attends. Don’t let the cute teenager fool you—she is a highly skilled and knowledgeable GM with years of experience under the tutelage of Bill Webb and Matt Finch. After all, this is the CEO in training for Frog God Games, and she has a reputation to uphold! Kids are welcome along with adults as long as they have basic skills. Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4425 Stars without Number: The Escort Run, GM: Forest Ray, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. The Escort Run is an adventure for Stars without Number science fiction Role Playing Game. The players picked s are the crew of a Starship and have picked up the job of escorting three children of a well to do family in the Three sisters Sector from their home on Cynthia to the Three Sisters Academy on Angela. Sounds like easy money but nothing is ever that simple. This is a Level 1-3 adventure and will be good to for those new to stars without number. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4428 DCCRPG: In the Court of the Crimson King, GM: Peter Schwab, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. A veteran group of 1st level roughnecks have already seen their share of treasure and glory. Now, they seek the fabled Crimson King who, it is said, can make true the deepest wish of anyone who is granted audience with this fabled ruler. Take the lyrics of the song "In the Court of the Crimson King" and mash them up with the Wizard of Oz and you have a 1st level DCCRPG hex crawl of psychedelic proportions. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4470 Tekumel: EPT clone: Fresh Off the Boat, GM: Brett Slocum, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. After a disaster, your entire tribe pulls up stakes and moves across the ocean to the sparkling gem of Jakalla, The City Half as Old as the World. Is civilization all it's cracked up to be? Can you survive in an urban metropolis? Will you see what lies beneath the streets and live to tell about it? General Audience (13+) $3.00
4504 1E AD&D: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Part 2, GM: Shawn Dry, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 2p-6p. Invade and plunder the lost Arch-mage Iggwilv's domain...if you dare! Experience the middle of this classic Gary Gygax module during this afternoon session; playing in the morning and evening sessions is not required, but you are welcome to stay all day and enjoy the entire module. Pregens provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4671 Cryptworld: Wasted, GM: Tim Snider, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. It's a raucous Saturday night at "Sweet Oblivion," the roadhouse on the outskirts of town. But this night of revelry will turn to horror when Death stops in for a nightcap. Can you survive The Night of The Living Dead (Drunk)? General Audience (13+) $3.00
4825 Fantastic Heroes & Witchery (D&D retroclone): Sword of the Samurai, GM: Andrew Moss, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. In this samurai adventure utilizing the FH&W retroclone, a martial arts tournament turns deadly, and your lord tasks your group with figuring out what went wrong. Investigate the streets of Nakamaru. Pregens will be provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4898 Swords & Wizardry: Ursined, Sealed, and Delivered, GM: Gabriel Carlson, 5 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 2p-6p. Brave a frigid wilderness in pursuit of treasure and excitement! Befriend werebears! Talk to seals! "Usrined, Sealed, and Delivered" is a fantasy adventure written by Dennis Sustare for the "Swords & Wizardry" tabletop RPG. Dennis Sustare is regarded as one of the early luminaries in tabletop fantasy RPGs, and this adventure is a little bit of a time-periscope into the early days of the hobby. Pre-generated characters of 4th level will be provided. Newbies welcome! WARNING: this session will incorporate a number of house-rules. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4427 Mutant Future : Into the Steam Tunnels, GM: Forest Ray, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-12a. You have stumbled on to some old buildings with strange tunnels running underneath of them. Exploring them may bring you some wealth or it may bring pain or both. For characters level 1-3. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4469 Warriors of the Red Planet: Princess Zira & the Jungle Ruins, GM: Brett Slocum, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-12a. On the way to a peace conference, Princess Zira and her entourage are kidnapped. Survive the trials of Ayo-Xatl, a ruined city in the jungle, including cultists of the Outer Space Goddess, Vu-bats, and the legendary Beast of Ayo-Xatl. Experience Tekumel during the Latter Times, only a couple thousand years after the entire star system was sucked into a pocket dimension, in this Sword and Planet adventure. Using the new Warriors of the Red Planet rules, a D&D clone for Sword and Planet roleplaying. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4505 1E AD&D: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Part 3, GM: Shawn Dry, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 8p-12a. Invade and plunder the lost Arch-mage Iggwilv's domain...if you dare! Experience the end of this classic Gary Gygax module during this evening session; playing in the earlier sessions is not required, but you are welcome to stay all day and enjoy the entire module. Pregens provided. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4653 Palladium Fantasy: Slavers in the Northern Wilderness, GM: Walter Schirmacher, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 8p-12a. Slavers from the Western Empire have stolen Governor Septimus son, along with a number of other pups. Being Wolfen, you won't stand for this offense. And as the main guard group in charge of security, your hide is on the line. Retrieve the pups, or face the consequences. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4718 007 James Bond: The Carthage Protocol, GM: Adam Muszkiewicz, 6 players, No XP/Average, Saturday 8p-12a. When British and American intelligence agents go missing in North Africa, your team of specialists is brought in to get to the bottom of it! Against the backdrop of the Cold War and the swinging 60's, this session is a spy thriller that cashes in on the instability of the post-colonial era. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4860 Swords & Wizardry: Swords and Wizardry Invades Michigan—Ragnarok?, GM: Bill Webb, 20 players, Some XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-2a. No school like the old school! Late Night Swords and Wizardry with grognard GM Bill Webb of Frog God Games. Travel back to the dawn of the game where character generation took 2 minutes (which is good, because you die a lot!), there was no such thing as a spot check, dwarves and elves were classes, not just races, and a +1 sword was a wonder! This session is a wilderness adventure that starts with the players landing their longship on a strange island for repairs, having been blown off course by a storm. What they find is beyond the worst terrors of anyone nightmares. What evil lurks in the heart of the forest? Dark shadows and stone beasts from the end of time lead the way! You can roll up characters at the table. Rules (the very few that there are) will generally follow those in Swords and Wizardry White Box and Bill Webb's book of Dirty Tricks (available online at the Frog God Games website--and the rulebook pdf is free!). All character generation is 3d6 in order, although stats cap at +1/-1 on bonus and penalty, and are thus, mostly irrelevant. Bill's games are well known for having high fatality rates and extremely difficult puzzles and traps. If you play in both sessions, experience points and treasure carry over to the next night. If you have a character from Gencon, Dallas or PaizoCon’s events (or bring yours from Friday night’s game), the same applies. Bill's games are well known for having high fatality rates and extremely difficult puzzles and traps. If you play in both sessions, experience points and treasure carry over to the next night. If you have a character from Dallas or PaizoCon’s events (or bring yours from this year next year), the same applies. You never know who might show up at Bill's table. There are occasional special guests with names you just may have heard before. Games start promptly at 830 (800 if you need a character), and run until Bill falls over or runs out of whiskey. Kids are welcome (there will be a couple there already), as long as they can handle the time of night and have basic skills. Bring a 20-sided die, a few 6-siders and a miniature or three. All other materials provided (BYOB). Family Friendly (7+) $4.50
4897 Swords & Wizardry: Guardians of Grimmsgate, GM: Gabriel Carlson, 5 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-12a. Deep in the wooded wilderness, the village of Grimmsgate is an outpost town right at the edge of nowhere. The village’s half-ruined temple of Law, dilapidated inn, drunken blacksmith, exiled trader and a few fur-trappers are enough to keep the bloody-minded denizens of the dark forest at bay, but nobody really expects the village to still be there in another ten years. What great evil and what fabulous treasures are to be found in these lands? A brave band of adventurers might make their fortunes here. Or perhaps they might never return… Grimmsgate is an introductory adventure for the Swords & Wizardry tabletop roleplaying game. No experience necessary; newbies welcome! Pre-generated characters will be provided. (Text largely taken from the Frog God Games website.) General Audience (13+) $3.00
4900 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: C2: The Goblyn Crown, GM: Bill Barsh, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Saturday 8p-12a. Come play in a special U-Con 2015 release! This module is made available for the first time ever during U-Con 2015! Be among the first to play it! Ages ago, the Phantom King managed to gather all the hordes of humanoids under the power of his Goblyn Crown. The king sent his forces throughout the civilized kingdoms in search of something that has never been revealed. The forces of good gathered an army and assailed the Phantom King while his vast armies were far afield. In a horrific battle the Phantom King was defeated. His armies scattered upon his defeat and memory of the king faded from the world. But now, a strange wizard seeks knowledge of the Phantom King. For what purpose does this wizard seek out knowledge of the Phantom King? Family Friendly (7+) $3.00
4478 D&D/Swords & Wizardry : The Shrine of the Silver Dragon, GM: David Perrin, 6 players, No XP/Average, Sunday 9a-11a. Campaign designed for players ages 6-11 year old. Parents/guardian encouraged to accompany youth. The Silver Dragon Shrine is seeking help to save its greatest treasure. The adventuring party will travel to the ruined stone Dwelling of the Giants to retrieve the treasure. Watch out, you may learn something. All materials & pre-gen's provided. No experience needed. Rules modified for player's experience and/or age. Family Friendly (7+) $1.50
4591 Dungeon Crawl Classics: Halls of the Minotaur, GM: Laura Rose Williams, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 10a-2p. From author Harley Stroh (description from the cover of module #35A): “A villainous minotaur has been terrorizing the village for months, slaying villagers at random and slipping away with stolen children. A heroic paladin comes to the rescue, pursuing the minotaur to its lair in the Thornswild Forest. When the paladin fails to return, it falls to the village farmers, mere commoners, to discover his fate and to save the village from the minotaur’s depredations. The trail of the knight leads the heroes past deadly kobold traps, natural dangers, packs of feral dogs, and to the foot of a mysterious basalt tower in the heart of the woods...” (From Goodman Games) “The adventure Halls of the Minotaur was originally published in the limited-run boxed set DCC #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms.” This module was written for the d20 v.3.5 ruleset, but I will try to convert it to DCC…FOR THE KINGDOM! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4810 DCCRPG: In the Court of the Crimson King, GM: Peter Schwab, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 10a-2p. A veteran group of 1st level roughnecks have already seen their share of treasure and glory. Now, they seek the fabled Crimson King who, it is said, can make true the deepest wish of anyone who is granted audience with this fabled ruler. Take the lyrics of the song "In the Court of the Crimson King" and mash them up with the Wizard of Oz and you have a 1st level DCCRPG hex crawl of psychedelic proportions. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4473 Swords & Wizardry: Gateway To Adventure: Palace of the Vampire Queen, GM: Ryan Thompson, 10 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 1p-6p. Play the 1st Published Module with a clone of the Original Rules! The Vampire Queen has taken the Princess of Baylor. Can your party brave her dungeons and retrieve both the princess and untold treasures? As re-published by Michigan's own Pacesetter Games and Simulations! General Audience (13+) $3.00
4426 Other Dust: The Evacuation , GM: Forest Ray, 6 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 2p-6p. The Bad news is this: Your village is doomed. The good news is another village is willing to take your people in. More bad news there are some who want to kill your people and take their stuff. Your job is to make sure everyone arrives alive at their new home. This adventure is for characters level 1-3 General Audience (13+) $3.00
4445 Delving Deeper: In Search of the Unknowable, GM: Adam Muszkiewicz, 8 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 2p-6p. Who knows what secrets await in the depths of Quasquetherion? In this homage to a classic module, we'll take gaming back to 1974 and explore a freaked-out, W.S. Burroughs-meets-David Lynch dungeonscape! Some house rules to speed up play, taught at the table along with on-the-fly character generation. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4590 Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC): High Tide at GonGoLoor Bay, GM: Clayton Williams, 5 players, No XP/Simple, Sunday 2p-6p. A cry is heard in the dead of night. It came from the Mayor’s house at the end of the street. You all rush down to see what the commotion is about. You happen upon the mayor in the middle of the street; he is crying and wailing: “They took him, the beasts took my boy, please help me!” “What took him?” exclaims one villager. “Ugnh” *sniff* “Sea...sea creatures...they went down the well.” A kidnapping, a dark ritual, sea monsters. Do you want to be more than a peasant? This is your chance. You, too, can be a hero! Join other villagers and adventurers as you try to survive High Tide at GonGoloor Bay. This adventure calls for 3-5 players (12-16 0-level Peasants, 6-8 Level 1 Heroes, or 4-5 Level 2 Heroes) No experience necessary, 0-level pre-gens will be available. General Audience (13+) $3.00
4641 OSR Discussion Panel: Old School City Scapes Roundtable Panel, GM: Ryan Thompson, 60 players, No XP/Simple, Friday 6p-8p. Come gather round and take part in a round table style panel with the OSR Track's Guest of Honor, Bill Webb (Frog God Games,) Industry Insider, Jim Wampler (Goodman Games,) our track's sponsor John Reyst (PFSRD.com,) along with Tim Snider (Goblinoid Games) and Michigan's own Bill Barsh (Pacesetter Games.) We will discuss cities and their importance in old school gaming from the earliest days to the OSR as it is today. Time permitting discussion and Q&A will be allowed with the audience. Hosted by Gamers & Grognards' Ryan Thompson and RPG Podcaster Adam Muszkiewicz (Drink Spin Run) Family Friendly (7+) Free!
4901 Dinner with Bill Webb, GM: Bill Webb, 10 players, Some XP/Simple, Saturday 6p-8p. It is our Guest of Honor's Birthday! Come celebrate with us. Attendees are responsible for their own meals/drinks. Family Friendly (7+) Free!
I have long been fan of the Shields Shall Be Splintered rule, though I have not used it in actual play when I am running a game. I also like Talysman's rule that shields absorb damage rolls of 1. HOWEVER, I am an asshole Referee and don't think that this should be automatically allowed. Therefore:
Any creature using a shield can attempt to fend of a blow with said shield absorbing damage dealt. Any damage roll of 1 (and only 1) may be absorbed by a shield with a 4 in 6 chance of success. This reflects successful blocking with the shield.
The wielder of the shield (upon being damaged) can attempt to splinter their shield, absorbing all of the damage dealt. This causes the shield to splinter and become useless. There is a 2 in 6 chance of success to absorb all damage. On a failed roll (3 - 6 on 1d6) only half of the damage dealt is absorbed.
Additionally, if a rule is used allowing a character to make a shield bash attack (such as the "Sword & Shield Combat Style" in the aforementioned Goldenrod Guide) the wielder of said shield can splinter it on a successful attack (again rendering the shield useless) causing it to deal an additional 1-6 damage.
If a shield being splintered is magical it gains a 2 in twenty chance to survive per +1 point of magical bonus. Thus a +2 shield survives splintering (still absorbing damage) on a roll of 1-4 on a d20.
My rule for helms is far more specific and applies only in two specific situations (one requiring the use of critical hit rules.)
Any creature wearing a helmet may make a roll to avoid damage that would normally take them to 0 or fewer hit points. There is a 1 in 6 chance of success. Success, in turn, causes a 2 in 6 chance of the helm being damaged and becoming useless or damaged. Additionally if critical hits are being used in a game there is a 2 in 6 chance that a helm prevents the critical hit and only normal damage is dealt.
Well, those are my thoughts. And that, as they say, is that.
Continuing our adventure into the art of Michael Whelan, we move on to another piece of Appendix N literature. That being the excellent "pulp" science fantasy of Edgar Rice Burroughs. In particular we will take a look at Whelan wonderful Barsoomian covers and illustrations from the "Mars" series. Enjoy, and hopefully these will offer some inspiration for your Warriors of the Red Planet campaign!
The next few inspirational posts (now called Appendix Nspiration, see what I did there?) will be devoted to the art of Michael Whelan. The first of these is truly drawn form Appendix N. Michael Whelan did a series of iconic covers for Michael Moorcock's Elric novels. Many of these are also recognizable by fans of 70's and 80's Metal, as they were picked up as album covers.
Elric himself holds a special place for me (though I presume this to be true of many old school gamers.) I have always identified strongly with the forlorn albino sorcerer, emperor of his people. He wasn't of the best health, needing special medicines to survive, when first we meet him. When I first read Elric of Melnibone I was young, and rarely in the best health. I was out of school several times a year for more than a week at a time with all manner of illnesses. I had an interest in the spiritual, the occult and all things fantasy. This character strongly appealed to me. Because of my interests, I was not looked on favorably by family or many of my classmates (though I had several loyal friends. Another common factor with this character. Elric's views were different than the dark society from which he sprang. My views were quite different from my peers as well. As I said, I strongly identified with this albino sorcerer. I love his exploits, and they shaped much of my early roleplaying experience, as much, if not more than Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander (more on these at another time.)
I was exposed to the art of the Brothers Hildebrandt at a very early age, though it wasn't until I was twelve that I truly began to discover (and devour) the are of Michael Whelan. Much of his art shaped my gaming at the same time as I was discovering Moorcock. So, it is that I give you a combination of the two, in today's Appendix Nspriration.
UPDATE! We are past our official deadline and extended deadline. This is LAST CALL for getting events submitted before pre-registration and ticket sales open! Get your events submitted by Thursday evening 9/17/2015 and I may still be able to get you in. Event submission officially ends on October 6th, but if your events are not registered by tomorrow night, your event will not be available during pre-registration for ticket sales or visability. So, if you have any ideas for a game at U-Con this year, get it in.
It's announcement time folks! It's official. The OSR Track at U-con in Ypsilanti Michigan is set to go this year! I will, again, be filling the roll of OSR Track Coordinator. Last year went very well and we had quite a draw for a first time track. I have been given permission to expand upon the old school gaming goodness that we can accept within the track this year (based partly on the discussion had during the roundtable that occurred in our seminar last year.) If you haven't listened to the seminar, go ahead right over here on Save or Die!
With that in mind, I proudly announce that event submissions are officially open! Go ahead and register your events right here. If your event will qualify for the OSR Track (or any other tracks) please explicitly make that known in the comments box. I will be organizing the track events myself this year, so I will attempt to keep everyone's events precisely in the slot that they want to run in.
What qualifies as an OSR event this year? Well, let me tell you good people about the plethora of awesomeness that you can submit to me. Firstly we have D&D. But not all D&D of course (pssh, we have to have some type of integrity you know. Not to mention leaving some games for the other tracks.)
All TSR Era D&D qualifies,
AD&D 2nd Edition
Other TSR Era Stuff:
Gamma World (TSR editions)
Other Early Era RPGs/Supplements:
Early Chaosium products (RuneQuest, Elfquest, Sandy Petersen era Call of Cthulhu etc)
RuneQuest (yes I know I mentioned it before)
Tunnels & Trolls (all editions)
Dragonquest (all editions)
Chivalry & Sorcery
Pacesetter System Games (Chill, Time Master etc.)
Did I mention RuneQuest?
Middle Earth Role Playing (I.C.E.)
Rolemaster (er... if you must?)
The Complete Warlock
Rapier & Dagger
Cyborg Commando (Did he really just say Cyborg Commando?)
WEG D6 Star Wars
WEG D6 Ghostbusters
The Fantasy Trip
Pre 2000s Palladium Games (TMNT, Palladium RPG, early RIFTS etc)
If I missed your favorite, contact me and make sure, but it will likely be fine to run.
Swords & Wizardry
For Gold & Glory
Spellcraft & Swordplay etc.
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Adventurer Conqueror King
Fantastic Heroes & Witchery
Castles & Crusades
Adventures Dark & Deep
Warriors of the Red Planet
Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying Game etc.
Again, this list is hardly exhaustive regarding all of the great Old School RPGs in the world. If you have one you want to run and it isn't here, just let me know. Let's make this thing huge. I want to give your favorite Old School game a place to live and breathe.
It's been some time coming, but I am pleased to present you with the first of the Inspirational posts. It was my intent to do these as a Wednesday thing, but I thing that I'll just post them as inspiration hits. The first will also be the last of all things Hildebrandt for a while. So, without further ado, I give you The Brothers Hildebrandt Atlantis 1982 Calendar in all of it's glory. Sword & Sorcery? Got it. Sword & Planet? Got it. 1950's era Sci Fi? It's there. Mammoths? Yep. Dinosaurs? Fuck yeah. It's all there. Maybe we should make a community campaign setting out of this thing. I think it would be a good White Box meets White Star game.