Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Few More for Gorgonmilk's Gem Table

Gastrolith of the Bugbear Worm God
This perfectly 1-inch diameter sphere of highly polished purple fluorite came from the gizzard of purple worm which had been worshiped by a bugbear warren for generations.

The worm itself was killed by a band of intrepid retired adventurers now working as interior designers when they were completing a makeover of Danny the Lich's 384 room, six-level dungeon in Lancashire. They accidentally broke into the warren when moving a wall and were immediately confronted by a tribe of angry bugbears and the largest purple worm ever recorded in Lancashire. With a bit of quick thinking and the use of several +2 wallpaper paste trowels, they quickly dispatched the bugbears and subdued and gutted the worm, finding in its gizzard thousands of small stones bubbling and slowly dissolving in the worm's acidic fluids. This stone alone was untouched by the worm's acids.

The Gastrolith normally glows with subtle flow of pale purple light which grows bright as the sun if bugbears are present. Any bugbear seeing the stone will immediately begin vomiting uncontrollably and will to its knees in supplication. If the stone is touched to a bugbear's forehead, it will be polymorphed into an owl bear and be under the control of the stone's holder No one knows where the stone come from or who created it, although ancient bugbear tales speak of a mighty Owlbear Army raised in this way by Gagleeon the Foul, the bugbear warrior-shaman of legend—"Dhuur daan tuukaan dan duulaal duun daan maal or Duul'daakhaar ac kuun, maan dan khruun ghuugaan ac a dec khruur akelaan ac ol ac or khruur akelaan a rhaar tuul rhaakluugaan an"

Anyone holding this stone may also summon and control 1d6 smaller purple worms or 1 gargantuan purple worm—including the animated skeleton.

Bezoar of the Jackal
This polished green stone is actually a mass of calcified fur retrieved from the stomach of a jackal that once belonged to the first high priest of the God of Thieving Lies. Unlike most magical bezoars which protect against poison, this stone has the ability to turn any liquid it touches into a poison so deadly that it is said that one drop is enough to kill a tarrasque (this has not been confirmed). However, if the liquid contains but a trace of vanilla, the bezoar will not be able to transform the liquid to poison.

Rumor has it that if the bezoar is dissolved in a solution of sugar, citrus oils, cinnamon, vanilla, and phosphoric acid mixed in roughly equal parts (the exact recipe is unknown), the stone will dissolve and from the gelatin-like fibrous mass a wizard may attempt to resurrect the jackal with a 25% chance of success. If successful, the jackal will appear similar to a giant hellhound and will do the wizard's bidding.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gloves of Dwarvenkind

Gloves of Dwarvenkind
These dwarven-made gloves are used by dwarves to protect their hands when working their wondrous forges beneath the earth. Made of light mithril chainmail lined with the skin of stillborn ewes and imbued with unknown dwarven spells, they are impenetrable to heat or flame or radiant ray attack and can only be destroyed by being cast into the dying sun of Arnoff or Carcosa.

They are rarely seen above the underworld, as dwarves have long kept their existence secret. However, the lucky adventurer might find a pair (or, most often, just a single sparkling glove) in abandoned dwarven settlements.

Several single gloves—all left handed—have been spotted about the realms over the ages. Many dwarves say these spottings are all of the same glove, one lost by the legendary dwarven warrior Vlarnan Thundergaff, who lost his left arm attempting to steal a red dragon's fire gland on a bar bet (the story goes that he won the bet but the dragon survived and after his gland regenerated, he took revenge by killing an entire mountain kingdom of dwarves somewhere up north over the Brumeridden Mountains, near the town of Dingle).

Only two complete pairs of these gloves are known to exist outside of dwarven possession. One pair is under examination at the Wizard College, where the mages are trying to untangle the knot of ancient dwarven spells which give the gloves their special abilities. The other was last seen in the possession of a halfling thief in the Walthamthorp Barony.

Dwarves do not like to see the gloves used by anyone other than dwarves. They will barter and bribe to regain their possession and return the glove(s) to the dwarves' forges. All dwarves are under a blood oath to attack any orc, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, gnoll, or bugbear with even a single glove in their possession.

More Entries for Gorgonmilk's Table of Magical Gems Found in the Eye Sockets of Animated Skeletons

Hastur's Tooth
This pale, dull trillion-cut topaz is the size of a dwarf's thumb knuckle and radiates a thin, sickly yellow pulse of light that is invisible unless in the darkest of rooms. All who lay eyes upon Hastur's Tooth must Save vs. Insanity or be overcome with madness for 1d6 rounds and run away screaming and spouting gibberish. Those who fall under the gem's effects will see horrible visions of cities beyond the rifts of time and space, filled with the spectacle of the Old Gods feasting on the liquified fear of their conquered subjects. These feverish dreams will occur for several nights, perhaps even enough to interrupt spell preparation.

Those who make their save against seeing the tooth must then make a Save vs. Death Ray every 4 rounds they are within the presence of the gem or take 1d12 radiation damage for each failed save. Anyone touching the gem with bare flesh must make this save every 2 rounds.

The gem may be safely handled only by those wearing Gloves of Dwarvenkind.

The gem grants the possessor the ability to Speak to Elder Gods once per month with a 50% chance of success, at the cost of permanently losing two points of INT each time this is attempted (whether successful or not).

The Gall of Blackwood
This black lump of unfinished coal contains an uncut diamond worth 7,500gp. Good luck getting it out, though, as this lump of coal has been cursed by Starblack Blackstaff of Blackwood, the legendary vivimancer supreme.

The skeleton in which the Gall is lodged has all the abilities of a 7th level Vivimancer, and will attack with all the strange and disturbing spells it has available, including summoning spells. The skeleton itself is a quasi-magical construct having no inherent intelligence; it has been imbued with a shard of Blackstaff's own soul which directs its actions from beyond the veils of death. The Gall can only be retrieved by destroying the shard of Blackstaff's soul—which requires at least a +2 silver weapon and a Holy Word spell or scroll.

If the Gall is retrieved and the diamond removed from the coal, the unfinished gem will act as a Lens of Sublime Refraction when held against the right eye, and as a Gem of Seeing if held against the right. Placing the gem in the mouth will allow the PC to polymorph at will into any creature with equal or lesser hit dice. Swallowing the gem when polymorphed will cause the polymorph to be permanent, even if the gem is retrieved via purging or passing.

But remember, the gem is cursed. Each time the gem is used in any of the above manners, the PC permanently loses 2 hit points. Additionally, anyone who claims ownership of the gem becomes the target of a band of bounty hunting trolls bound by Blackstaff for all eternity to seek the re-interment of the gem in a skeleton's skull--preferably the PC's.

The Turquoise Teat
This longish, highly polished turquoise stone was originally part of a small statuette of Curdle, the Petty Goddess of Blind Milkmaids. If the stone is stroked in a manner similar to that of milking a cow, an inky-black, milk-like substance will burst forth from the stone in thick, sticky ropes. This gel-like substance writhes in the air as if alive, twisting and smoking but not bursting into flame. Anyone touching this "milk" will experience 2d6 of burning damage. Any character attempting to drink this fluid before it hits the ground must make a Save vs. Sanity. Failure means the character removes all armor and weapons and runs away screaming gibberish for 1d6 rounds (which might attract nearby monsters).

Should the character make a successful save while attempting to drink this liquid, the black milk will allow the PC to go 1d8 days without rations and also allows them to heal at twice the normal rate during that time period.

Eye Teeth of the Mouthless Tongues
These are two small children's teeth, highly polished and engraved with intricate carvings of The Mouthless One and her minions.

Removing these precious jewels from the skeleton will summon 10d1000 mouthless tongues, which will attempt to retrieve the gems. PCs must make a Save vs. Insanity based on their CON. Failure means the PC is violently, nauseously ill and suffers a –3 penalty to any and all rolls for 1d4 rounds.

Successfully retaining the Eye Teeth of the Mouthless Tongues grants the possessor the ability to speak and understand all languages at will, but only if one tooth is shoved deep into each ear. Additionally, there is a 30% chance that once a year The Mouthless One will send her minions to attempt the gems' retrieval.

1d20 Table of Choice Course Dinner Menus (a found table)

Scrolling through Barkham Burrough's Encyclopedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, I found the following table that is perfect for tavern menus. This work is in the public domain, so I have no ethical qualms about presenting it here. Obviously feel free to substitute New World foods that don't fit in your fantasy world's milieu.

1d20 Choice Course Dinner Menus

1. Rice Soup, Baked Pike, Mashed Potatoes, Roast of Beef, Stewed Corn, Chicken Fricassee, Celery Salad, Compote of Oranges, Plain Custard, Cheese, Wafers, Coffee.

2. Mutton Soup, Fried Oysters, Stewed Potatoes, Boiled Corn Beef, Cabbage, Turnips, Roast Pheasants, Onion Salad, Apple Pie, White Custard, Bent's Water Crackers, Cheese, Coffee.

3. Oyster Soup, Roast Mutton, Baked Potatoes, Breaded Veal Cutlets, Tomato Sauce, Baked Celery, Cabbage Salad, Apple Custard, Sponge Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

4. Macaroni Soup, Boiled Chicken, with Oysters, Mutton Chops, Creamed Potatoes, Stewed Tomatoes, Pickled Beets, Peaches and Rice, Plain Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

5. Tapioca Soup, Boiled Halibut, Duchesse Potatoes, Roast Beef Tongue, Canned Peas, Baked Macaroni, with Gravy, Fried Sweet Potatoes, Beet Salad, Cornstarch Pudding, Jelly Tarts, Cheese, Wafers, Coffee.

6. Vegetable Soup, Boiled Trout, Oyster Sauce, Roast Veal, with Dressing, Boiled Potatoes, Stewed Tomatoes, Corn, Egg Salad, Snow Cream, Peach Pie, Sultana Biscuit, Cheese, Coffee.

7. Potato Soup, Oyster Patties, Whipped Potatoes, Roast Mutton, with Spinach, Beets, Fried Parsnips, Egg Sauce, Celery Salad, Boiled Custard, Lemon Tarts, White Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

8. Veal Soup, Boiled Shad, Caper Sauce, Porterhouse Steak, with Mushrooms, Pigeon Pie, Mashed Potatoes, Pickles, Rice Sponge Cakes, Cheese, Canned Apricots with Cream, Coffee.

9. Giblet Soup, Scalloped Clams, Potato Cakes, Lamb Chops, Canned Beans, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Salmon Salad, Charlotte Rasse, Apricot Tarts, Cheese, Coffee.

10. Vermicelli Soup, Fried Small Fish, Mashed Potatoes, Roast Beef, Minced Cabbage, Chicken Croquettes, Beet Salad, Stewed Pears, Plain Sponge Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

11. Oxtail Soup, Fricasseed Chicken with Oysters, Breaded Mutton Chops, Turnips, Duchesse Potatoes, Chow-chow Salad, Chocolate Pudding, Nut Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

12. Barley Soup, Boiled Trout, Creamed Potatoes, Roast Loin of Veal, Stewed Mushrooms, Broiled Chicken, Lettuce Salad, Fig Pudding, Wafers, Cheese, Coffee.

13. Noodle Soup, Salmon, with Oyster Sauce, Fried Potatoes, Glazed Beef, Boiled Spinach, Parsnips, with Cream Sauce, Celery, Plain Rice Pudding, with Custard Sauce, Current Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

14. Lobster Soup, Baked Ribs of Beef, with Browned Potatoes, Boiled Duck, with Onion Sauce, Turnips, Stewed Tomatoes, Lettuce, Delmonico Pudding, Cheese, Sliced Oranges, Wafers, Coffee.

15. Chicken Broth, Baked Whitefish, Boiled Potatoes, Canned Peas, Mutton Chops, Tomatoes, Beets, Celery Salad, Apple Trifle, Lady Fingers, Cheese. Coffee.

16. Sago Soup, Boiled Leg of Mutton, Caper Sauce, Stewed Potatoes, Canned Corn, Scalloped Oysters, with Cream Sauce, Celery and Lettuce Salad, Marmalade Fritters, Apple Custard, Cheese Cakes, Coffee.

17. Vegetable Soup, Broiled Shad, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Pork Chops, with Sage Dressing, Parsnip Fritters, Macaroni and Gravy, Cauliflower Salad, Rhubarb Tarts, Silver Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

18. Chicken Soup, with Rice, Codfish, Boiled, with Cream Sauce, Roast Veal, Tomatoes, Oyster Salad, Boiled Potatoes, Asparagus, Orange Jelly, White Cake, Cheese, Coffee.

19. Macaroni Soup, Fried Shad, Tomato Sauce, Roast Mutton, Mashed Potatoes, Boiled Tongue, with Mayonnaise Dressing, Fried Parsnips, Canned Beans, Lemon Puffs, Cheese Cakes, Fruit, Coffee.

20. Scotch Broth, Baked Halibut, Boiled Potatoes, Breaded Mutton Chops, Tomato Sauce, Spinach, Bean Salad, Asparagus and Eggs, Peach Batter Pudding, with Sauce, Wafers, Cheese, Coffee.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More Petty Classifieds

A THOUSAND USES FOR SOUR ALE! Since ancient times sour ale has been known to ward off ill health and prevent evil wards. Send for a FREE scroll to find out how! Send 12sp to cover courier costs to Upturn Potsherd, Barthian Way, Narlick.

FATHER GILGARTH restores luck, love, health, and happiness. Narwith Abbey, east door. Reasonable prices.

PSYCHIC READINGS by Malach the Black. Find out who plagues your soul. Helps with love life, health, job, and relationships. Immediate results or no charge. Flargeth Alley, Kingskeep, Brookshire.

ROSEBRIAR THIMBTHWIT can change your life overnight. Send 25sp and emergency prayer request via courier to Dimswit Ditch, Doorchester.

I WILL BUY YOUR TRINKETS! See Timberbull in Stall 17, Marketsquare.

HEMPSTEAD'S CURE-ALL! Doctor Hempstead, the healer's healer, has right potion to cure your ills. Hempstead's Cure-All is excellently adapted to carry off morbid excretions, restore and amend the appetite, and prevent sickness of the stomach and severe headaches. See Doc at Ye Old Emporium in Narlick for a free sample to cure what ails you!

BECOME A COURIER AND SEE THE REALMS! Our business is booming and we need couriers to expand our reach! If neither orcs nor trolls nor blighted dark can keep your from your oath-sworn route, we want to talk to YOU! Stop by our offices in Kingskeep today to learn how Kingsworn Couriers can help you achieve your dreams!

WANTED: BROKEN WANDS & STAVES. Bargard Billquarrel will buy your broken and discharged wands and staves for top dollar, no questions asked. See Stall 72, Marketsquare.

Some Entries for Gorgonmilk's Table of Magical Gems Found in the Eye Sockets of Animated Skeletons

Gorgonmilk's latest community project is located here. Here are my first entries.

Sharded Jale
Pulling out this gem results in a 1-in-10 chance of an aspect of the Jale God manifesting within 20 feet. He will demand the return of the gem to its rightful eye socket upon pain of an impossible Quest (Save vs. Spell –4). The gem itself is worthless to any possible buyer or trader, and the if the gem is given away, it will find its way back into the PC's possession within an hour.

However, if the PC gouges out his own eye and replaces it with the Sharded Jale, he will receive the gift of hindsight, being able to simultaneous see what is behind him and in front of him at the same time; his brain will automatically adapt to this new vision system with no ill effect. Once the gem is inserted into the eye socket, it is bonded to the PC's flesh until death.

Umber Diamond
Removing these causes the skeleton to transform into (roll 1d6):

1) Ghoul
2) Ghast
3) Vampire
4) Mummy
5) Zombie
6) Wight

The transformed skeleton will have all the stats and abilities of the creature whose shape it takes, but upon defeat will crumple into a pile of broken, dusty bone fragments. This effect can be repeated by placing the Umber Diamond in the eye socket of another (humanoid) skeleton, ad infinitum.

The gem itself is worth a mighty price to the right buyer; several wizards would kill for it.

The Heart of Net'al Ya'al
This black-red blood diamond burns with the agony of a million tortured souls. Created in one of the lower rings of the Hell Planes, this was once the crown jewel in a demon lord's coronet and was lost to the ages during the fabled Firlith incursion of the fifteenth ring and the resulting schism of the demonic order. It was lost for ages before being found in a Hellwraith's temple in the Golarion Mountains several centuries ago, when it was stolen by a troupe of nomadic acrobat assassins.

The gem will melt the bare flesh of any human, dwarf, or halfling, causing 2d20 fire damage. Additionally, merely possessing the diamond causes incessant nightmares regardless of alignment; clerics and magic-users will find they cannot rest if they own the gem. The nightmares are so intense that they cause 1d12 psionic damage for each night the gem is in a PC's possession.

Elves are unaffected by these effects, as they have no souls.

If the gem remains in a PC's possession for more than a week, there is a 2 in 6 chance that a prince of Hell will appear to reclaim the gem.

The gem is an ultra rare item. DM can assign value accordingly.

Sapphire of Atonement
Weighing roughly 5gp, this oval-shaped uncut green sapphire causes any flesh that touches it to wither and rot without any hope of recovery except for a Resurrection spell cast by a same-aligned cleric of twice the sufferer's level. Virgins are immune to this effect.

Silver Crystals of the Gnomish Giants
These pair of ice-blue spinels, one slightly larger than the other, are magically imbued with the ability to make the possessor grow or shrink three times his size. To grow larger, the larger crystal must be held in the right hand and the smaller crystal held in the right; to shrink, the crystals must be held in the opposite configuration. Upon the utterance of the command phrase "Uckfay isthay, iyay'may outyay ofyay erehay!", the PC will change size. To return to normal size, the PC must drop one of the crystals.

Alas, despite these crystals' name, they cannot be used by gnomes.

The Plain Opal
This translucent opal looks perfectly worthless. And it is. Unless you happen to be a male one-legged, bearded thief-acrobat assassin. If you are, then you are in luck, as this opal will regenerate your missing leg and improve your dexterity to a natural 18—but only if you slice open your scrotum and replace one of your testicles with the opal.

Been Away for Awhile

Life decided to kick me and then kick me again when I was down. In the past two weeks, I've had to deal with both vehicles, the home air conditioner, the dryer, the dishwashing machine, and the sewer line all breaking down at roughly the same time. And then I had two temporary dental crowns detatch (and one break) before having the permanent crown installed. And, of course, September is the busiest month for shuffling kids to and from school & activities. And I was trying to keep on top of grading papers late into the evening at the same time. It proved too much for me to handle. Something had to give and I gave up grading papers at home and my hobbies for the past few weeks.

I'm not saying I'm back, but I thought I'd chime in and say that I am still alive and kicking. And in that spirit, here are some links to some free HackMaster stuff from the KenzerCo website:

HackMaster Basic Free
HackMaster Basic Quick Start Rules
Interactive Critical Hit Booklet

Bestiary Samples from the Hacklopedia of Beasts
Animating Spirit
Leech Man
Sturm Wolf

Beneath the Little Keep
The Hunt for the Red Wolf
The Mysterious Shrine
Temple of Existential Evil Supplement
Training Dungeon
While Palette, Ivory Horns

Fan Scenarios
Danger in Drakesville
Mikeeze Wurld Monsters (which I compiled with Michael's permission)

The Blue Cod
Frandor's Keep Area Map
Shadeesh Bay
Teleene Map (orginal)

Battlesheets (some include maps and illustrations)
Beneath the Little Keep Battlesheets
Demon Tower Battlesheets
Hidden Shrine Battlesheets
Lost Caverns Battlesheets
Slaughterhouse Battlesheets
Slavers Battlesheets

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lazy World Builder Tip: Adapt the Federal Writers' Project City Guides

During the Great Depression, the Roosevelt Administration came up with a way to put unemployed writers, historians, and other researchers to work for the federal government: these down-on-their-luck wordsmiths churned out guidebooks for various major cities, states, and vacation spots.

You can find many of them at the Internet Archive:

You can find many of these in facsimile editions on Amazon (just search for "WPA Guide" or "Federal Writers' Project"). But the versions at the Internet Archive are superior in one way: you can grab just the text and edit the hell out of them to fit your game. Here's an example using the Montana guidebook:

Montana is too large and diverse for definition or characterization in general terms. Children in its schools are taught that the name Montana means "mountains," but many of them see only prairies rolling to the horizon. They are told that Montana is still a great ranching State, where cattle graze and cowboys ride, but some of them, as in Butte, see only ore dumps, great dark sheds, and barren buttes.

To the dry-land farmer in the eastern part of the State, Montana is a vast agricultural plain checkered with brownish fallow land and fields of green wheat that ripen to a dusty gray-gold in August; or it is a drab waste seen through a haze of wind-blown soil. For him the mountains of the western part exist chiefly as the goal for some long- defer red vacation.

And here's how I plagiarized and mashed it around to create some background for a minor in-game location:

Monfortia defies definition or general characterization; a small kingdom ruled by an aging monarch, it has seen better days and does not know it is in a death-spiral of irrelevance. Children in its villages and thorps are taught that the name Monfortia means "The Place of Man's Fort," as the land is said to be the cradle of all civilization in the Known World.Many ancient, shining ruins are scattered throughout the lands and, it is said, these ruins hold rich treasures from the dawn of man within their shattered stones. But many of these children see only pasture land or wheatfields rolling to sky's edge. They are told that Monfortia is still a great agricultural power, where aurochs, sheep, and goats graze, and in many places this is true. But most children, as in Slagston and Knife's Edge and Killorcsnau, see only slums, street orphans, ore dumps, endless streams of chained slaves, encampments of men and half-men wearing blood-streaked Monfortia armor and streams diverted to temper the once-famous firesteel still produced below the earth, now with none of its legendary rust resistance.

To the scrub farmers in the eastern part of the kingdom, Monfortia is an endless barren plain dotted with brownish land grown fallow and struggling fields of summerwheat ripening to a dusty amaber at Fallharvest; or it is a suffocating waste of wind-blown soil seeking vengeance during Seasonstorm. For the farmer, the mountains to the western edge of the kingdom exist merely to taunt him to consider a vacation he knows he will never take or to punish him for dreaming his life could be better. Yes, for now when the farmers look to the mountains it is not out of hope, but out of fear. For their king has fallen under the lust-spell of a beautiful beast who slunk down from the crags--and they worry that more may be coming. And there are.

All the guides hosted at the above link are in the public domain if you live in the U.S.--which means you can legally do whatever you want with texts, including changing it and publishing it. Of course, ethically, you should give credit to the original source if you do.