Saturday, December 31, 2016

On the Ecology of the Vårmen

I made this thing, statted for B/X or Labyrinth Lord. It's not playtested, but what the hell:

This is just a picture of the first page. Click below for the linkage!

On the Ecology of the Vårmen (Google Docs)

On the Ecology of the Vårmen (pdf on Dropbox)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

List of D&D Module Walkthrough Maps by Jason B. Thompson

Wizards of the Coast updated the backend software on their site again and a lot of links now 404. I had bookmarked many pages of Jason B. Thompson's walkthrough maps that now error out. I spent some time plumbing the depths of Google to come up with direct links to the highest quality images still on WotC's servers, including the new maps for Fifth Edition adventures.

Here is the list:
5e - Port Nyanzaru: Carousing Capital of Faerûn as Explored in Tomb of Annihilation
5e - The Barber of Silverymoon adventure
5e - The Barber of Silverymoon

5e - Storm King's Thunder: Hold of the Storm Giants
5e - Curse of Strahd
5e - Out of the Abyss

A1 - Slave Pits of the Undercity
D3 - Vault of the Drow
C1 - The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
G1 - The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Round 1
G1 - The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, Round 2
G2 - Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
G3 - Hall of the Fire Giant King
I6 - Ravenloft
S1 - Tomb of Horrors
S2 - White Plume Mountain
S4 - The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
T1 - The Village of Hommlet
X1 - The Isle of Dread

BONUS #1: Unearthed Arcana Toons
Thief Acrobat

BONUS #2: The Dragon Toons
The Map of Dragons
Black Dragon
Blue Dragon
Green Dragon
Red Dragon
White Dragon

BONUS #3: LotFP Walkthrough
The God That Crawls

BONUS #4:  5e Yugoloths
Yugoloths 1
Yugoloths 2

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AD&D 2E "Lite" for Free via Beamdog Game Manuals

Want quick and free access to a light version of AD&D 2e rules and a few free gazeteers of the Forgotten Realms? Gotcha covered! Just download the following game manuals available on the websites for the enhanced editions of Beamdog's Baldur's Gate series of AD&D PC Games:

Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition
Adventurer's Guide - Contains all the rules you need to play

Sword Coast Survival Guide - Gazetteer of the Sword Coast

Baldur's Gate II Enhanced Edition
Amn Survival Guide - Gazeteer of Amn

Mastering Melee & Magic - Contains all the rules you need to play

Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition
Feature Guide - The actual game manual; skip it if you don't need an overview of the cRPG

Survival Guide  - Gazetteer of the Icewind Dale settings

Mastering Melee & Magic - Contains all the rules you need to play

Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear
Adventurer's Guide - Same file as listed under BGEE, above

Survival Guide - Same file as the Sword Coast Survival Guide, above

Field Report - Gazetteer of the Dragonspear setting

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crowdsource Project -- Barbarian Prince Hex Hack!

Remember Barbarian Prince? Sure you do! Here's the map. It's free to download on the Dwarfstar Games website, located here:

The map is still under copyright by Dwarfstar Games, so go grab a copy for yourself.

Man, that map is perfect for an old school sandbox! Time for a crowdsourced project!

Here's the link to a Google Sheet: 

This is a list of all the numbered hexes, the terrain, and any special features.

Your job is to fill in an encounter for each hex. Please fill in your contact info and a link to your social media account of choice.

I'll leave the sheet up or maybe we could turn it into an awesome website like the Hexenbracken.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

6 Unformed Biomasses

6 Unformed Biomasses

1. piglike suckling things with a dozen three-toed stumpy legs and without eyes, they are guided by smell, constantly snuffling and leaving a trail of snot behind them as they gnaw and shit dirt and rock in search of their favorite beetles; they are immune to all poisonous arthropods.

2. armless monkey-faced bear-things scrabble sideways in sand, fused paw-tail useful only for digging nests leeward in dunes; their mouths are filled with rows of nubbed teeth continuously ground down by gnawing on mollusk shells. They cannot stand the smell of their kind's blood.

3. Ball of human fingers massed around a five-eyed, two-mouthed kewpi-like face undulates with cilia-like grace across the forest floor, one mouth whistling a jaunty sea shanty while the other mouth savors what the fingers provide; it can whistle any song it absorbs from brains it tastes.

4. featherless venom-toothed limp-winged goosething drops from trees on wagon trains in search of cats and newborn babes; it swallows them in one liquid movement, carrying the carcass in a gullet pouch until dissolved and vomiting the bones bleached yellow-black; they lap milk from sleeping wet nurses and when killed their gizzard stones burn to the touch for untold years.

5. fist-sized lumps of pale lizard-like flesh cling inside cave walls, avoid direct light, shuffle in the sun's shadow as one rheumy eye blinks hydrochloric tears; if soaked in milk, they shriek and shrivel and the eyes split and reticulate into a jellied mass that, fried in bear fat, tastes of truffles and ambergris.

6. nine-pawed goat-horned mush-faced mandibled ant-thing mews piteously when startled and shows no fear of predators; a supreme tracker, its teats leak pleasant-tasting numbing aphrodisiac fluorocarbons that impart branching visions of moments yet to come. Impervious to flame, they melt when dead into pools of tasteless tar.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bookface Lives! Inspirational Reading for the Inner Gamemaster

Bookface has been quiet for a very long time. But he now emerges to recommend some inspirational reading. . .

The best sourcebook on gnomes money can buy. Get it here. 

Shrooms are funny until your gnome eats one and dies. Get it here.

All you really need to know about fantasy tropes, circa 1967. Get it here.

All you really need to know about fantasy tropes, circa 2006. Get it here.

Space & shit, circa 1986. Get it here.

Space & shit, circa 1998. Get it here.

Your hedge witch's big book o' cures & cantrips. Get it here.

Pliny the Elder's first edition Monster Manual, by way of the Middle Ages. Get it here.

A contemporary cryptid collection, organized by continent. Best monster? Troll Monkey. TROLL. MONKEY. Get it here

This book is actually pretty cool, but it came out a few years after DiTerlizzi's Spiderwick Chronicle tie-in field guide (which I also recommend but is not in my office at the moment). The author blogged about his struggles with the publisher in getting this published over here back in 2013.

The only gazetteer you really need. Get it here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Slapdash Crude Experiment

click to embiggen

I made this fooling around with, an online flowchart/org-chart maker. It's a clunky interface (LibreOffice is better), but it hooks into Google Docs & Google Drive for auto-backups. However, it's impossible to export individual elements out -- you can copy & paste in, but not copy & paste out into an ODT or Word file. Ultimately this has limited usability for me, but it was fun to play around with.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Check Out Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player

Have you seen +Scott Malthouse's solo RPG game Quill? In essence, it is a letter writing game, where you take on the role of a character trying to convince a distant NPC to undertake some action, and you score points based on attribute rolls and how many specific words supplied in each scenario you include in the letter.  Here's how Scott puts it in the intro to the game:
In a typical game of Quill the aim is to impress your recipient into responding favourably to your letter. You will accomplish this through deft use of language and presentation, rolling dice to determine whether or not you succeed in using the right words, the best descriptors and the most beautiful penmanship. Once you have completed your letter – one which you will actually physically write yourself – you will count up your total score and discover how your letter has been received.
It's a neat little game that is both a creative writing exercise and a clever way to create plot seeds or adventure hooks for other games. There are four scenarios presented in the main rulebook (which is only 16 pages long). On Valentines Day, Scott released a supplement called Love Letters which contains an additional 5 scenarios to test your persuasive abilities.

You can find some examples of actual play here at the Quill Roleplaying Society G+ Community.

And here, I offer 2 homebrew scenarios of my own design:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Reverse Mask of the Jale God

illustration by Greg Gorgonmilk

The Reverse-Mask of the Jale God
This unique artifact is said to be a perfect  reverse cast of the face of the Jale God's most-used human avatar from a lost aeon. Various rumors conflate the origin and powers of the Mask, but one thing the stories all agree on: the Mask warps the wearer's mind in unpredictable ways.

Origin Rumors
1.  The Jale God so loved his human avatar that when she died, he captured her face to adorn the wall in his innermost bedchamber, where it is said she spent her last days attended by the Jale God's retinue. The Jale God is said to have only done this twice before.

2. Once, the Jale God ruled a kingdom now lost to memory. Drunk on lime wine, he allowed a sculptor to mold his face to create a bronze cast to adorn his throne room. When presented with the finished cast, he so despised it that he had the sculptor burned alive in a furnace with the bronze mask strapped to his face. When the ashes cooled, all that remained was the Reverse Mask.

3.  After the fall of the Cerisian Empire, the Eidolons of Fear and Hate were lost for a generation. A poor farmer's son discovered them in a small cave in a forest glade when he was out gathering wood. When the boy held both Eidolons in his hands, their power pulsed and corrupted his flesh. Taking the Eidolons, he fled his village and took refuge in a temple of the Jale God and after many years became the chief priest of that sect. When the priest died, it is said that the Jale God himself visited his funeral pyre to kiss his beloved's face, which instantly crumbled to reveal the Reverse Mask. The Jale God took the Eidolons when he returned to the Ethereal Realm.

4.  The Jale God once wore the skin of a condemned man turned inside out to a masquerade ball. When the dance was over, he discarded his costume in pursuit of his latest paramour. A rag-and-bone man collected the skin, which he divided into sections with a rusty shear: Mask, Torso, and Limbs. When the ragpicker was done with his cutting, the shears turned silver and his hands were necrotic. He sold the Mask to an alchemist for a pittance; what became of the Torso and Limbs has been lost to time. The alchemist, recognizing the power of the Reverse Mask, locked it away in a warded chest. Years later, the alchemist burned down his shop during an experiment with powdered atacorn horn and when sifting through the ashes discovered the chest was gone. 

5. Long ago, the Jale God argued with a cockroach over the best way to moult. The Jale God felt it was more beneficial to flex and burst, whilst the cockroach believed it was best to turn a carapace inside-out, like a serpent. The two challenged each other to try the other's method. The Jale God went first, peeling off his skin as if removing a jerkin. The cockroach grabbed the discarded skin and scurried away. The Jale God laughed and cursed the cockroach and all his descendants to moult by bursting until the end of days. The cockroach mounted the Jale God's skin in his burrow, portioning out a section of the skin to each successive generation as a reminder of the curse. Eventually, nothing was left but the Mask, which was discovered by a bug collector in a recent era.

6. A prince once persuaded the Jale God's avatar to serve as his royal mistress while the queen attempted to find a bride for the prince that would result in a favorable political alliance. For three years the queen tried to make such an alliance, but the Jale God interfered in each negotiation to ensure his avatar's continued favor. Eventually the queen, thinking her son too enamored with the mistress to commit to marriage, decreed that the mistress be beheaded at the next day's dawning. When the axe cut the mistress's head from her body, she did not die; her head kept talking and blinking and proclaiming her love for the prince. The queen, repulsed, demanded the head be burned at the stake, over the prince's protests. But the flames did not stop the mistress's entreaties and the prince, leaping from his parapet, rescued his lover's head from the flames and fled the castle and was never heard from again. Years later, a traveller discovered the remains of an old hermit and the preserved head in a small cabin in the woods; the skin on the head crumpled when he touched it, revealing the Reverse Mask, which leapt up and adhered itself to his face. The traveller went mad and when he drowned a few weeks later the Mask was lost in murky waters.

Rumored Powers
1. The Mask grants the wearer the ability to peer into the Ethereal Realm and spy on a single random godling. There is a 25% chance the godling notices the intrusion and confronts the PC. The wearer must make a Save vs. Spells or become permanently plagued with an hour-long vision lag: they see what other PCs see an hour after they see it.

2. The wearer gains 4 random Vivimancer spells and are able to cast these spells for 1d12 days before their body begins to rot and fall apart in large chunks of necrotic flesh. When they are reduced to a state similar to an animated skeleton, their body tissues slowly grow back -- but major organs randomly shift locations (the stomach may be where the colon was, the liver may have shifted to the braincase, etc.). The PC must make a Save vs. Disease or be permanently brain damaged by this process, losing half their INT but gaining the ability to read the mind of any lesser intelligent humanoid at will.

3. The PC must make a Save vs. Death Ray or suffer a severe system shock that reduces all stats to 3 but grants the PC the ability to shift planes at will, taking up to 3 other PCs along for the ride as long as they remain in skin-to-skin contact. The PC is reduced to black and white vision and can only speak in Goblin. This effect lasts 3d6 weeks.

4. For 1d6 days, the PC gains clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis, and the ability to speak with the dead who have died within three hours. The PC's head shrinks to half its normal size and their eyes turn completely black, grey, or radiant purple, and they sprout 3 3-point antlers. If the antlers are shorn and ground into powder, anyone who inhales this mixture will gain the ability to see across planes for 1d12 hours; however, this snuff is highly mentally corrosive and results in a permanent –5 to CON and –3 to WIS. The user must make a Save vs. Disease or suffer the loss of all known languages, including the Common tongue.

5.  The wearer gains the ability to see through the eyes of the Jale God for 2 minutes. They must make a Save vs. Spells or go completely and irrevocably insane, reduced to (metaphorically) a quivering puddle of mortal jellyflesh incapable of logical, reasonable thought and action. If the Save is successful, there is a 25% chance the PC becomes the Jale God's new human avatar for this age.

6. The Reverse Mask grants the wearer astral projection; however, when their spirit is out of their body, the spirit of a giant hermit crab takes over their flesh and will not vacate for 1d6 days. 

7. Any biological cast-off from the wearer's body becomes a 1HD creature (hair, urine, skin flakes, spit, blood, etc.). These beings obey the wearer for 1d6 hours (roll for each creature) before turning on the wearer and attempting to re-merge by invading any available orifice. The wearer must make a Save vs. Disease for each attempt at re-merging. Failure results in –1 to STR for each creature that successfully merges. STR can only be recovered by 3 hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep for each creature that merged.

8. The PC sees every living creature without its skin and gains the ability to see through all illusions. They must make a Save vs. Spells or suffer –3 to INT for 1d6 days, at the end of which time the effect becomes permanent and their INT recovers. 

The Mask itself is made of rigid human veins and arteries which visibly pulse with fresh blood of no known origin. Anyone who wears the mask must make a Save vs. Insanity or have their Intelligence permanently reduced in half (this penalty stacks).

Once the power of the Reverse-Mask is triggered, it collapses into a fine black dust and will not appear in the mortal realm again for 100 years.