Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Carl's Creatures pt. 2 - Shadow Octopus

(See pt. 1 for the general intro)

In part the second I want to introduce a really scary monster that I have not actually had a chance to inflict on my party yet.  Having just blogged about attribute attacks on my other blog, this seemed especially apropos.  Had my Mutant Future party continued to head out into the dry sea instead of investigating a magical portal tree, they might have run into this bad boy if the dice rolled just wrong...

Shadow Octopus

HP: 75 - 100
AC: 4
Size: 3' long head, 9' from tentacle tip to tentacle tip when not extending shadow tentacles
Movement: Swim: 150', Land: 30', Sudden Jet Escape: 300' movement for 1d4+1 rounds (must rest motionless for 1d4 rounds after using this ability)

Attacks: 8 x DEX15 range 50' (shadow tentacles) (see my blog post about attribute attacks on my other blog to make sense of this)

Damage: 1 temporary Dexterity attribute drain (lost attributes regain at the rate of 1 per hour outside of the dry sea, but never return in the dry sea or in any other area of strong shadow concentration) + the shadow octopus gains a corresponding point of Dexterity (making subsequent Dexterity attribute attacks more likely to succeed...)

The shadow octopus lurks invisible and nearly insubstantial in the shadowy currents of the immaterial sea.  It can extend its tentacles out to 50', stretching impossibly far, and twinkling ghostly lights from the rims of each suction cup.  It lures prey with the curious glimmering, separating comrades until it begins draining the very quickness from their muscles.  With each point of Dexterity that it drains through its tentacle attack, it becomes more colorful and corporeal.

Special Abilities:  Roll its 8 attacks in two sets of four labeled A-D as shown on the drawing above.  If both tentacles in a matched set hit, the shadow octopus can choose to instantly teleport the two targets into the space occupied by the other (no save to avoid).

When the shadow octopus reduces any target to 2 or fewer Dexterity,it can immediately attempt to engulf the target with a CON15 ATT.  If successful, the target is destroyed and the shadow octopus regains 50 HP.  If this attack fails, the shadow octopus can forgo its tentacle attacks in subsequent rounds to repeat the attack.

Special Defenses: The shadow octopus can only be damaged by mutations, magical attacks or magical weapons.  Normal physical damage has no visible effect on it.

If the shadow octopus is reduce to 20 or fewer HP, it will emit a 50' radius shadow ink cloud, obscuring all normal and magical vision for 1d4 rounds while the shadow octopus uses its sudden jet escape movement ability to disappear into the darkness.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where does magic come from, Pa? (And how does it work?)

As much as I am a free-wheeling, seat-of-the-pants, gonzo, over-the-top DM, I actually have an underlying desire to have it all make sense.  I make up the weirdest monsters you cannot imagine, but there is always a perfectly reasonable explanation for how they came to exist and what they are doing where the party ran into them.  Evolution is a crazy thing - give it enough time, and throw magical abilities and pressures into the mix, and everything is fair game.

At the same time, I try very hard not to let any more slip out about the method in my madness than the characters would have learned in play.  I love nothing more than listening to the group after a session as we are all wrapping things up, getting our stuff, grabbing another slice of pizza, finishing the beer and soda... I love testing my poker face as they throw hypothesis after hypothesis out there, sure that THIS TIME they have finally figured it all out.

I don't care if the players know how it all makes sense, and sometimes they don't either.  But sometimes they do, and they start prodding and asking and pretty soon they start figuring out that there are underlying logical principles and secrets to uncover.  This is especially the case when it comes to magic.

I have never been willing to accept "its just magic" as a good explanation for magic.  I need something that is not self-referential.  I need to fit magic into the logical framework of my rpg multiverse in a way that can translate across different systems.  I need magic in the Mutant Future to work the same way as it does in my D&D 4e game.

Magic is a name for the ability to manipulate energy directly without bothering with a stage by stage transformation of the current form it is taking.  You and I have to painstakingly flake away wood with a knife to carve a perfect miniature poodle - a magician can just cause the energy forming the wood to take the form of a wooden poodle.  Or the energy in the air to take the form of a living poodle.

The question isn't where does magic come from, it is where does energy come from?  And while I have answered that in my own campaign cosmology, I don't believe it needs to be answered once magic is understood to be simply another form of energy manipulation that follows rules (albeit different ones) just like dropping a ball or lighting a match.  You don't need to know where energy comes from to accept that there is energy in the universe and it can be manipulated.  You just need to know how to do it.

There are many different forms that energy can take.  There are many different ways to manipulate it directly.  These are magical traditions.  Some claim that the ultimate source of their power is divine, others that it comes from hours of meditation on musty tomes, memorizing arcane formulas.  Some promise magical power at the cost of sacrificing your immortal soul.  Most cultures have at least one cooking tradition that imbues magical properties into food.  There are those who have taught that magical energy can be manipulated through controlled physical activity, graceful movements that trigger magical effects.  Others invite ancestral spirits inside themselves and assert that the spirits are the ones doing the magic.  All are correct.  Each is one way to manipulate energy, one small facet of the truth.

I have created and explored many different optional magical systems for characters in every edition of D&D that I have run.

Creatures often have magical powers as well.  Where does the magic come from in this instance?  Intelligent monsters have their own cultures and are little different from humans in that regard.  Magic often comes from diet in the case of animals, and from the land in the case of plants.

Animals feed on magical plants and seek out magical elements and trace minerals to lick at.  What they do with this magical energy, how they evolved the ability to perform that particular manipulation of energy and why that ended up being a competitive reproductive advantage varies from species to species.  The greatest diversity in form and magical function is to be found (not surprisingly to those in the insect know) in the Insect Kingdom.

Plants absorb energy directly from the sun and the earth.  Plants contain more genes than animals.  Many of these genes code for plant structures that produce magical effects; plants are always the greatest factories of the multiverse, both chemically and magically.

When I create creatures or jot down notes on areas for my campaign worlds, I also might jot down some notes about organs and their uses in the case of animals, or uses for various plant parts.  These components can be discovered and eventually utilized by the clever player.

As a result of this, the last few sessions in my 4e game I have seen my players dissect several genetically engineered, partially-robotic insect warriors, harvest their energy-retaining cell tissues, remove the blasting systems from two insect-robot legs, hook the cell-tissue up to the "dark organs" that they had harvested sessions ago from the larval spawn of an elder god to create a magical energy circuit (they had already discovered that the dark organs would accept energy in almost any form as an input, and would then generate invisible broadcast power that could be used to power devices within a short range), in an attempt to make two laser cannons (the bugs shot off a nasty blast of energy when they were alive, and the party wanted in on that action once they were dead!).

Roll your Nature and Arcana checks, guys...

Of course they succeeded wildly.

At the end of last session there was talk of mounting what have proved to be rather unwieldy and impractical weapons for melee combat (although they certainly did a ton of damage the couple of times anybody ever managed to get a shot off that hit anything) onto the party's hot air balloon.  The party is talking of recruiting some of the Yanomamo to accompany them as gunners on the hot air balloon.  Oh shit.  I just realized that I never posted about the session Beautiful Bob talked a bunch of lonely miners into making him a hot air balloon.  Maybe next time...

Carl's Creatures pt. 1 - Thraxian Hive Soldier

I collect monster manuals.  I never use them, but I collect them.  Every now and then I might page through one looking for inspiration, but that really doesn't happen often when I am actually running a game, which I have been doing pretty solid now for the last three years.  So why do I buy monster books if I never use them?  I dunno.  I guess I like monsters.

My campaign worlds always end up becoming more and more bizarre through a process of accretion.  I make up some weird ass shit, my players do things I didn't expect, I riff of their actions and come up with more weird ass shit, and pretty soon there are so many original creations in play that the standard D&D monsters just don't get into the game anymore.

I make up at least 95% of the creatures that my players encounter in game, be it Mutant Future or D&D 4e (the two games I am currently running).

I end up scribbling out crude illustrations for most of my creations, and I thought it might be fun to share some of them with y'all.

- Disclaimer -  I am making no effort to present these according to the standard stat block for either Mutant Future or 4e.  I use THAC0 for my Mutant Future critters, at least in part because I don't use HD (instead writing down a HP range when creating creatures).  I may not use the correct syntax for the 4e creations.

Carl's Creatures

part one

Thraxian Hive Soldier 

(for Mutant Future or any pre-3e version of D&D)

(I love this picture, because it started out as a quick sketch so the players could get a better idea of what the alien bugs looked like, and then one of the players at the table doodled on it and shaded it.  Apparently, Thraxian Hive Soldiers are polka-dotted!)

HP: 100-150
AC: 2
THAC0: 9
Movement: 150'
Attacks: 4 or 1
Damage: 2d6 x4 (tentacle arms) or 4d12 (bite) or by weapon (see below)
Saves: Level 12

Thraxian Hive Soldiers can survive in a vacuum without sustenance for years, if that gives you a better picture of these tough son-of-a-bugs.  Although fond of and brutally effective in hand to tentacle combat, Hive Soldiers also carry disruptor pulse weapons.  These resemble a large circular shield grasped with all four tentacles (these contain an extremely dense and heavy power core, and each weapon weighs nearly 200 pounds!), concave side facing the target, which emits pulses that molecularly destabilize the target.

Disruptor Pulse Weapons: Range 1000', half damage to 4000', damage: 5d6, special: Save vs. Energy Attacks or the target suffers an additional 5d6 damage at the beginning of its next turn.  This continues until the save is made.  When not in use these weapons are slung over the back of the first body-segment of the Hive Soldier.

Little is known of Thraxian Hive Society; it is unclear if the bugs are telepathic, or use scent and chemical markers to communicate, or if they are simply so single-minded of purpose and unified in goal that they can act with incredible synchronized precision without any need of communication at all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ethnographies! A DM's best friend

I admit it.  I have totally lost focus.  I had a specific purpose in mind when I started this blog.

I wanted a blog that I could freely publish on without having to censor myself.  I wanted a place where I could reveal the unfinished side of the DM's screen, the teetering construction of notes, drawings and inspiration that existed  in the moments before game night.

I wanted to talk about the thought processes that led to the fun times.  I am a good DM.  I say that without false modesty, and with a confidence that can only be won with the experience of pulling off the successful juggling act literally hundreds of times.

My other blog had become a place that only reflected the amazing polished creation, the session, the actual living drama, the flesh of the god of RPG's.  The ongoing story, narrated by players and DM alike.

No, I wanted a blog that I could publish the unfinished bits and pieces to, without fear that a player might stumble across the blog and learn the secret before I figured out where exactly to insert it into the ongoing campaign.

As it has happened, this blog has kind of become my default 4e blog, because I was just beginning to dabble in playing and DMing D&D 4e when I first started writing this blog.  This has meant that I have, indeed, been censoring this blog so as not to blow some major secrets of the campaign.  It has also resulted in some session recaps, which are (of course) exactly the finished process kind of stuff that I was trying to avoid with this blog.

I want to get back to the unfinished and process-oriented goals of this blog.  This will probably mean less material directly focused on the unfolding events of my 4e game, and more posts on my observations as a DM and wanna-be game auteur.  Or maybe it will mean that I quit giving a shit if any of my 4e players see this and post anyway!  Maybe a simple warning at the beginning of a post.

But enough about that.  Today I want to talk about ethnographies.  An ethnography is a written description of a human culture distilled from the research of an anthropologist.  You can find ethnographies at any used book store in a college town.  They almost invariably look like the one below, varying only in the subject matter and the color of the cover.

I collect ethnographies, and I think any DMs reading this out there in blogland would be wise to do so as well.

You see, the thing is, people are crazy.  You may think you have a wild imagination.  Your late night inspiration, your fantasy creation, pulled from literary inspirations, movies, from past campaigns... sorry to tell you, it doesn't hold a candle to the real thing.

With that in mind:  Ethnographies are the DM's best friend!

They will typically be about 100 pages in a format very similar to the LBBs.  They will contain a distillation of a human culture which can easily be grafted onto any race in your campaign world.  They contain a cosmology, not just gods and spirits, but a description of how the divine is viewed, and interacted with, and impacts day to day life.  They will tell you about a human adaptation to an environment, culturally and technologically, that enables the culture to derive sustenance from the land.  They will contain descriptions of ceremonies and feasts.  They may contain titillating details of secret societies, fraternal organizations, magic spells and witcrcraft.  But most importantly, they will teach you that EVERYTHING that we take for granted as "normal" would most likely be completely different in a monstrous or alien culture.  What does brother or sister mean?  I assume that you and I share a similar definition for that term.  What does marriage mean?  Are humans immortal (can they die from natural causes)?  If it surprises you that the answers to all of these questions vary dramatically across human cultures, than I suspect the fantasy cultures and monsters in your RPG life are probably far too vanilla.

I use my ethnographic collection much more often than I use my vast RPG library, and I have never paid more than $10 for a single one (and most were far cheaper, if you don't mind a dinged up cover or high-lighter covered text).  As an example, the players in my 4e campaign have been getting to know the Yanomamo indians of Brazil and Venezuala as they are presented in Napolean Chagnon's famous ethnography, Yanomamo: the Fierce People (at the time of my typing, this link leads to an page for the exact same edition I own, pictured above, used, 11 copies, starting at $1.90!).  

The party has been staying in a Yanomamo village for several weeks of game time, and one party member has even completed the ritual fasting and drug taking requirements to become a shabori (sort of like a shaman, basically someone who has invited a spirit or hekura to live inside him [this is a male tradition] which can then be exhorted to cause harm to enemies or protect allies).  I have implemented the Yanomamo cosmology with the 4e mechanical engine quite easily and effectively.  Hekura cost the permanent loss of a healing surge when they call your chest their home.  They grant an encounter power that can be used as a minor action, and in my game, that encounter power is related to the particular manifestation of energy that the hekura represents.  I tend to use real world sources as inspiration, not doctrine, so I riffed on the idea of hekura a little bit.  In my 4e world, hekura are tiny spirits that each represent one particular form that energy can take - so there are lightning hekura, curative hekura, disease hekura, fire hekura, dance hekura, song hekura, etc.

This post has almost made me want to do a series of posts drawing from my collection of ethnographies. A distillation of the ethnography into the bits that are most interesting for game play.   I would probably start with the Igbo of Southeast Nigeria.  Or possibly the Mardudjara aborigines of Australia.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why you roll the dice.

My 4e game has become such a whirling engine of death, destruction and cultural exploration that any kind of meaningful session recaps are next to impossible.  There is simply too much going on.

Loyal blog leaders may remember that early on in my adventures as a 4e DM my players found four shrunken heads in a clay basket.  When the party removed the shrunken heads from the basket (which turned out to be an anti-magic basket [if there is one thing I actually hate about 4e it is the treatment of magical items, so I make up my own and have also used a ton of magical plants] that temporarily nullified any magical effect of level 20 or lower within the area enclosed by the sides of the basket), the heads and the party formed an uneasy relationship that has maintained, more or less, to this day.

The exception would be that one of the skulls, Xbalanque, the self proclaimed Keeper of Secrets, disappeared of his own volition a while back.  In exchange for Xbalanque raising a deceased party member, the group agreed to carry a skull-corder enchanted by Xbalanque into a temple they were exploring so Xbalanque could see the carved glyphs that covered the walls (an intense field of magical energy that permeated the temple prevented the shrunken heads from animating within it).  Xbalanque made a point of teaching the party the glyphs that signified the beginning of a long date in the Chitlan calendar, and instructed the party to make sure they recorded everything in a room that contained dates.

The party later learned that an ancient form of celestial magic native to the region is tied to particular dates when cosmic alignments happen.  Vast structures, so large that their shape could only be identified from high in the air, were designed by long dead hands to harness celestial energy and activate when the stars came together in just the right order.  And they had handed the keys to this system to Xbalanque.

Luckily for the party, events in my Mutant Future campaign recently have resulted in the stars "going out" in my 4e campaign, as the 4e campaign world is currently being removed from space and time.  As the stars disappear, the celestial power that makes the monumental magic constructions work has also failed.  A magically engineered insect army that had arisen from the ground under the command of Xbalanque now rampaged out of control on the other side of the mountains from the party, and a lone squad of the insects (I have code named them "Brood X" until the party learns more about their origins) was sent out by Xbalanque, controlled with a magical jade mask mounted on the head of one larger member of the soldier caste.  The party intercepted this group of giant insects as it headed straight for Gadoro island at the confluence of the two rivers that drain the highland areas of the rainforest that the party has called home for the last fortnight.

The party has been getting more and more self-righteously angry at Xbalanque for several sessions now, as he has been totally incommunicado since his disappearance.  You see, as much of a prick as Xbalanque was, and as much of a shrewd bargainer he was when it came to prying out some bit of information from him, the party had grown used to having the long dead sorcerer's shrunken brain to pick.  The party had bent over backwards to accommodate him, had given him everything he had ever asked for, and they have never quite forgiven him for just ditching the party.  Worse, the other shrunken heads had shaken the party with tales of Xbalanque's megalomaniacal tendencies.

Their worst suspicious were confirmed when they discovered that the giant four legged metallic insects that had been carving a path of destruction through the jungle were controlled by their old friend.  Xbalanque did not stop his insects as he barked through the jade mask that he had no time to stand and parlay.  He had to get through the hole in the roots of the universe and undo what had been done.  The stars must shine again.  I am losing control... losing power... I don't have much time

And then Xbalanque ceased communications through the jade mask and the party suddenly found themselves confronted with a bunch of out of control killing machines.  If a soldier lands all four legs strikes in a round and rolls decent damage, it can drop some of the party members in one round.  The smaller bombardier caste were annoying with their chemical heat aura, their stinking gas clouds and their energy laser slices, but in the end their damage output paled next to the whirling blades of destruction that were the soldier caste Brood X.

The last two sessions have been bug hunts.  The title of the blog post comes into play due to a peculiarity of the soldier caste of Brood X - any soldier can spontaneously become a new brood mother, gaining the allegiance of all Brood X members closer to it than the old brood mother, and gaining the capability to broadcast a new brood of tiny larvae across the landscape in a great explosion.  The party did not know about this capability.  The exact mechanic is tied to a recharge 6 power I gave the soldiers called "X Blast".  A close burst 5 targeting all enemies in the burst with a single roll for 5d6 damage and curing all allies in the burst of the same amount - but if a natural 20 is rolled on the attack, all soldier Brood X allies recharge their X Blast and use it as an immediate reaction.  If any of those soldiers also roll a natural 20, it spontaneously becomes a brood mother, exploding in a magical blast that first destroys all Brood X insects within 500' and then sucks all that energy back into the new hive mother, who swells, shedding her legs, sticking her head into the ground and raising a steadily growing giant sack of squirming life into the air.

So while the party was dicking around out in the jungle, licking their wounds after their first bug combat, I was rolling to see how often the power recharged as the remaining soldiers rampaged through the landscape, then rolling X Blast attack rolls and looking for natural twenties.

It only took 13 total rounds of player actions (including a five round short rest) before I got the double 20 combination on a recharge 6 power and a tremendous explosion occurred to the south.  A new brood mother had formed, and the pair of soldiers the party had been hunting suddenly reversed course and headed back toward the explosion. The party hightailed it there themselves and beat the incoming soldiers, gaining several rounds to attack the hideous pulsating blob they found in the middle of a totally leveled blast clearing.

And that is why I am glad I actually rolled the dice to see when the new hive mother occurred instead of just going with the statistical average time.  You never know what will happen when you roll the dice.  And often, what happens is sheer dramatic genius.  If I had gone with the average time, it would have been hours until the new brood mother formed, and by that time the party would probably have hunted down quite a bit more of them in the mean time, reducing the probabilities even further.

As it was, we had a great session that ended with the last two Brood X insects psychically dominated by Beautiful Bob and serving the party as mounts as they returned to the native village they have been calling home.  And for once, the party saved the area they were adventuring in instead of scarring it forever!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Random d20 Chart of Magical Plants for 4e

Here is a d20 chart of magical or otherwise useful plants for 4e.  This is lifted directly from a spreadsheet a player in my campaign compiles and updates between sessions.  All abbreviations and effects are as notated by him based on what I said at the table; as my notes are scattered and disorganized, his spreadsheet has more or less become a better resource than my original notes!  For simplicities sake I have left out the unique effects created by combining different plants.

 d20 Roll -  Type     -      Effects                          -                      Side Effects
  1. Cidna Berries - Restores 1 Healing Surge - None
  2. Vine Milk Ingest - +2 init, +2 AC, +2 to Hit for 2d6 rounds. - Nausea for 1 round. -2 Hit and -1 dmg.
  3. Leaf - Cure any ongoing poison damage and if taken after poisoned, neutralize previous poison damage. - None
  4. Vile Smelling Fungal Growth Ingest - +10 to any ritual check with Arcana for 1 hour.   -4 Will Defense for duration.
  5. Odiferous Sap - Use as incense - Close Burst 1: +2 Hit and Damage for encounter. -   None
  6. Leaf (Evergreen) Grants Sv. To end Domination with a +4 bonus.-  None
  7. Seeds (Licorice) +5 Streetwise and Diplomacy for 1 hour. Hangover for 1 hour aftereffect: -1 to all rolls. -  none
  8. Sap Coat Gear - +2 AC/Fort for encounter. -2 Reflex for duration.
  9. Brush with Spongy Core Spongy Material - Minor Action - Clamp spongy material over a wound to stop poison. Consume - Susceptible to coercion: -5 Will Defense.
  10. Oily Solution When heated the oil turns anything it is coating invisible. +10 stealth, lasts 1 encounter. - None
  11. Sap (Evergreen) Incense - +5 Insight and Knowledge checks. Blissful Aftereffect: -8 to Initiative(stoned)
  12. Ebene Tree - Cambium Layer of Bark Powdered and Dried - Snuff - Enter spirit world for 2d4 hours. Can't return to physical world in that time. - None
  13. Hisioma Seed Ground Seed - Snuff - Returns spirit body to self. - None
  14. Ryath Root Healing - Spend a healing surge, but gain 2d4hp. - None
  15. Fungus - Grew out of network of mycelium. Super fast growing. Edible. Only needs water and innate magic to grow. High protien. 1 inch cube fills a mason jar with just a few drops of water. More magic and water equals a MUCH faster growth. - None
  16. Sweet Red Berries Minor Action - Grant a 2nd Second Wind once per encounter. - None
  17. Leaves and Root (Wolfsbane) Infusion - Contact Poison. +10 poison damage on contact and ongoing 5 damage (Save Ends). One application lasts one encounter. - None
  18. Flowers (Wolfsbane) Used to create a wash - Potency degrades quickly in light - Coat item and it becomes a +1 magic item for one encounter. Requires total immersion. 1 flower create 1 gallon of wash. Twice the uses if you can keep it unexposed. Newt people coat their ritual knives in the wash. - None
  19. Seeds (Wolfsbane) Used by Newt female casters to invoke their patron witch spirit. - None Known
  20. Fruit (Cucumber Like) Slices placed over eyes - Invoke spirit projection. You control spirit, fly 60 miles per house, lasts 2d6x10 minutes. Have to get back to body before duration runs out or your soul may be lost. DM rolls time and gives a 20 minute warning. Cucumber lasts d6+1 days after being cut open. - None

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010


    So, masochist that I am, I stopped in at my favorite comic shop/gaming store today even though I had no loot to spend.  WHY!!! WHY!!!

    Why do I do this to myself?

    Why did somebody bring in a bunch of old Victoria Games James Bond 007 modules in boxes with cool maps and player handouts and stuff?  There was Gold Finger, and a couple of other ones, and they looked really cool, and they had all the handouts and tokens and everything in the box and I REALLY REALLY WANT IT MOM CAN I HAVE IT!!!  Its only $10, and I know I already have the 007 game, but the bundle comes with the game AND the modules and they are SOOO COOL!!!

    I want it so bad!

    I am going back tomorrow credit card in hand, bastards.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Gaming Ritual: Weekly Group Email

    I took over the DM reigns of my 4e group on only a couple of days notice a while back.  I grabbed an old campaign world that I had made in high school off the shelf, jotted down some ideas and hit the ground running.  One thing about this campaign that I have really enjoyed are the weekly emails that a player in the group sends out, briefly hitting some of the highlights of last session and setting the date for next week.  I am going to share these emails in a couple of posts, on the off chance they are amusing to someone else besides me.  This first batch gets us from the beginning of the campaign to partway through "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan", a 2e adventure that I ran backwards from end to beginning as an old fashioned, trap-filled dungeon crawl.

    On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 8:58 PM, Carl Nash wrote:

    "Ok, I am definitely going to DM tomorrow and I have a plan

    The players will start the session by getting off the boat in the "new world", a newly discovered land mass across the ocean from the established D&D default setting.

    A small town (New Hope) carved out of the jungle on the shores of a large bay and a mining operation on a mountain up the river are the only specks of civilization.

    Expect the unexpected.  Lost Valleys with all kinds of messed up stuff that Time Forgot.  Dinosaurs.  Witch Doctors and Jungle Creepy Crawlies.  You know, your garden variety Trip to the Amazon on Acid...

    This could be a one shot or an ongoing thing that we can come back to whenever Shashi can't run the existing campaign.

    See you tomorrow night!

    DM Carl"

    The following are the weekly emails that one of the players in the campaign (who also has been good enough to post on this blog from the perspective of his character in the campaign, a female albino minotaur) sends out.

    Monday, February 15

    "Heya hey!

    Well it's that time again...I'm sending out the weekly e-mail to see how this weekend is for everyone and what day is best for roleplay this week, if any. I feel we can't deprive our "workers" of our presence for too long, lest they revolt. Besides, our bugbear cleric may get antsy and I'm not going anywhere near that. Anyways, what day is good for everyone? I'm up for even doing Sundays if people decide that those are better days. So far I have better luck with this character, I only almost lost my face, but I still have both legs! (so far). Let's see what Hammer can drudge up off the bottom of random river water, other than giant crocodiles. I could really go for some peanut butter to compliment that honey.

    Get back to me when you can, I generally try and have a set day by Thur at the latest, preferably Wed.

    -Mike P. "

    Monday, February 22, 2010


    The title explains it all. Just sending out the feelers to see who is up for making it to roleplay this weekend. Let me know what days you are all available so we can get a solid day set in stone. I am really enjoying the debate over the native religions and different groups/forces at war. Let's hope next time we don't wind up fighting an "acidic tar" four-armed hillbilly. Congratulations to those who reached level two! (Now you can protect the rest of us from the alligators). Let's all follow in those foot steps and see what the path reveals.

    Kickin' ass, by getting my ass kicked,
    -Mike P."

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    "Heya all!

    And so our adventure continues, blazing a trail through the vast amazon, spelunking dark caverns full of altars to dark gods, and voodoo heads that turned Vomar (aka Jamey) into their bitch! All in all an exciting session and I'm much enthused to jump into the mine looking for four-armed white apes! The last one wasn't enough to dash my spirits (although it did a good job of dashing our intestines across the landscape) lol. So I say, stock up on lanterns, hard hats, and mutton. It's time to go exploring! Last one to the mine cart is a rotten egg! Besides, how bad can a hideous, giant, salivating, black as the abyss, human-handed, and spiny spider be?

    Famous last words by:
    Mike P.

    P.S Which days are good for all of you?"

    Monday, March 15, 2010 

    Well it's about that time again to check and see what all our demon slaying, town saving peeps are up to. What day is good (if any) for all of you this week? Let's see if we can't get some shrunken head lovin' to get rid of this STD. I knew we shouldn't have tag-teamed that mummy Vomar! At least it's down and out (for now) and all we have to worry about is what lies ahead and the giant human-handed spider behind! So let's all meet up and roll our save vs death check!
    -Mike P.
    P.S - Shashi might be once again joining us. I hear tales of a bullywug(sp) assassin, at least. "

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    "Heya all!

    Well I think Friday was set out as the best time for people to show up to this next D&D session, but I wanted to get this e-mail out there in case anyone had any objections to that day. Please let me know if you do! Also, I hope you are recieving this Carl as I updated your e-mail on the list...I guess you really can't tell me if you aren't. At any rate, last week was awesome! We spent so much time trying to figure out that crazy room of elements, only to stumble into ANOTHER crazy room with gelatinous cube mirrors. Also, our clerics seem to be the most daring and "courageous" (see also: Foolhardy) people in the party. One of them dives down to take on a spider with baby heads and razor sharp arms...the other runs off down a secret passage and gets engulfed by a gelatinous cube! Sheesh, I think our barbarian was hardly able to keep up! As for everything else though, I guess it pays off to be a master of interpretive dance and huge diplomacy! I'd like to welcome our newest pet to the party: Giblets the Gibbering Mouther. Thanks to our half-elf cleric who apparently has a lot of experience fitting in and rolled an amazing 30 on his d30 roll. Apparently he does have everything under control when he says so and walks into a room of death. Hope to see you all this weekend!
    -Mike P."

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Magic Mushrooms

    Two random charts: One for the primary effect and one for the side effect of a magic mushroom.  I will spare you guys the addiction and overdose charts for now.  This is pasted from a spreadsheet, so the formatting is a little funky:  Duration of the effect follows the short description.  Sub charts follow the primary charts.  I grant non-commercial rights to use these charts in private games.  I retain all other rights.

    Roll on both charts.

    Primary Effect Chart (d30):

    1. Cures 3d6 HP worth of damage. instantaneous
    2. Grants one extra attack per round. 2d6 rounds
    3. The mushroom secretes a contact poison which does 50 damage (Save vs. Poison for 1/2 damage) instantaneous
    4. The ingester grows to 10 x her original size.  HP and Strength double, Dexterity is halved and AC receives a -4 penalty. 1d4 hours
    5. The ingester shrinks to 1/10 her original size.  HP and Strength are halved, Dexterity is doubled and AC receives a +4 bonus. 1d4 hours
    6. The ingester receives +8 to one randomly determined attribute and -4 to another.   2d10 rounds
    7. The ingester receives 15 temporary HP which disappear in 1 hour if not used. 1 hour or less
    8. Sticky sweat: +2 bonus to AC and the ability to stick to and climb on vertical surfaces and ceilings. 4d6 rounds
    9. Spore breath: The ingester takes 2d6 damage and can spray a 15' cone of spores that do 10d6 damage (Save vs. Poison for 1/2 damage) to all in their path.
    10. The ability to see in darkness as if it were daylight 2d6 hours
    11. Irresistible aroma: +2 to Charisma and most members of the opposite sex are strongly attracted. 1d4 days
    12. Magic Resistance: A percentage chance that any magical attack or effect will completely fail to work against the character.  Roll 1d10 on the Magic Resistance sub-chart. 1d10 rounds
    13. Grants the ability to see invisible and shadow creatures, and to discern the true nature of illusions. 2d12 rounds
    14. Doubles movement rate. 1d4 hours
    15. Breathing is unnecessary.   1d4 hours
    16. Cures all diseases. instantaneous
    17. Cures blindness. instantaneous
    18. Cures deafness. instantaneous
    19. Cures muteness. instantaneous
    20. Ingested poison: roll 1d10 on the poison types chart in Mutant Future, a kick-ass post-apocolyptic RPG freely available in text format from Goblinoid Games.
    21. Turn into a shadow (cannot be targeted by physical attacks, can slip through even the tiniest cracks, all equipment is transformed but no other physical objects can be picked up, carried or manipulated while in shadow form) 1d12 rounds
    22. Time slows: +2 to AC, +2 to hit, +2 to Dexterity, 1 extra attack per round. 1d4 rounds 
    23. Dried mushroom functions as a grenade: roll 1d10 on the Mushroom Grenade sub-chart. special
    24. If cultivated on a body within 1d4 hours of its death, this mushroom will re-animate the body as a free willed zombie with all of its former memories minus the last 4d6 days.  The mushroom-zombie sustains itself by consuming magical radiation, and can only "live" for 1d4 days without it.   special
    25. Body becomes slightly lighter than air.  Without at least 10 pounds of ballast, the ingester will slowly float away at the rate of 20' per round. 1d4 hours
    26. Immune to fire and heat damage. 2d6 rounds
    27. Immune to cold damage. 2d6 rounds
    28. Ingester must tell the truth. 1d4 hours
    29. Roll on the Side Effect Chart instead.
    30. Roll twice on this chart, ignoring any result of 29.  This result may be rolled more than once.
    Side Effect Chart (d20):
    1. Sleep (15 minute onset time). 1d4 hours
    2. Sharp Headache: 1d6 damage and -1 to all attacks. 1 hour
    3. Blind in daylight, sensitive to low light 1d4 days duration
    4. Nausea and intense vomiting.  No other actions possible. 3d6 rounds
    5. Double vision results in a -2 penalty to hit. 4d6 rounds
    6. Persistent diarrhea.  Effects adjudicated by the GM. 3d4 days
    7. Skin turns a random color (roll 1d10 on the Skin Color sub-chart) 3d12 days
    8. Deafness (roll 1d6 on the Deafness Duration sub-chart) special
    9. Strong odor is emitted (roll 1d6 on the Strong Odor sub-chart) 1d6 hours
    10. Clumsy: -4 to Dexterity 1d4 hours
    11. Strong intoxicant: -5 to Intelligence and Wisdom 1d4 hours
    12. Weakened:  -4 to Strength 1d4 hours
    13. Save vs. Poison or the ingester must attack the nearest living creature (must save again each round). 2d4 rounds
    14. Blindness (roll 1d6 on the Blindness Duration sub-chart) special
    15. Muteness (roll 1d6 on the Muteness Duration sub-chart) special
    16. All of the ingester's hair falls out over the course of the next day until the ingester is completely hairless. Hair begins to regrow in 1d4 weeks
    17. Intense visual hallucinations: -4 to hit.   3d6 hours
    18. Terrible nightmares: No benefits can be gained from resting, and the ingester takes 3d6 damage each time she begins to dream after falling asleep. 1d4 days
    19. Roll on the Primary Effect Chart instead.
    20. Roll twice on this chart, ignoring any roll of 19.  This result may be rolled more than once.

    Magic Resistance Sub-Chart (d10):
    1. 15%
    2. 20%
    3. 25%
    4. 30%
    5. 40%
    6. 50%
    7. 60%
    8. 70%
    9. 80%
    10. 90%
    Mushroom Grenade sub-chart (1d10):

    Duration Note: Clouds left by a grenade dissipate naturally, lingering longer in still, contained areas than outside.
    1. 15' radius cloud of smoke
    2. 10' radius spore cloud; Save vs. Poison or sleep for 2d6 rounds
    3. 10' radius blast for 4d6 damage
    4. 10' radius spore cloud; Save vs. Poison or hallucinate for 1d4 hours
    5. 10' radius blast for 6d6 damage
    6. 500' radius flash of light (Save vs. Energy Attacks to avoid 3d6 rounds of blindness if looking at the light)
    7. 10' radius blast for 8d6 damage
    8. 25' radius magical darkness (permanent)
    9. 10' radius blast for 10d6 damage
    10. 10' radius spore cloud (Save vs. Magic to avoid petrification)

    Skin Color sub-chart (d10):
    1. Red
    2. Orange
    3. Yellow
    4. green
    5. Blue
    6. Indigo
    7. Violet
    8. Black
    9. White
    10. Tie-died swirl of every color.

    Blindness/Deafness/Muteness Duration sub-chart (d6):

    1. 1 hour
    2. 1d4 hours
    3. 2d6 hours
    4. 1 day
    5. 1d10 days
    6. permanent
    Strong Odor sub-chart (d6):

    1. Skunk: -10 to Charisma 
    2. Rotting Meat: -5 to Charisma, carnivorous and scavenging predators attracted.
    3. Syrupy sweet: swarms of insects are attracted.
    4. Shadowy Aroma: The shadow world draws closer.
    5. Aggressive pheromone:  The ingestor must make a successful Charisma attack to avoid being attacked by any creature that comes within 15' of her.
    6. Fear pheromone:  Any creature coming within 15' of the ingestor must make a Save vs. Poison or flee for 1d4 rounds
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