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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cloak of Asps

This ornate, knee-length cloak of serpent skin glistens and glitters as it moves, each scale of the carefully prepared hides catching the light like tiny sequins. The many individual skins are sewn into a larger representation of six entwined serpents. Tiny beads of turquoise and obsidian are worked into the pattern, creating a beautiful (Superb quality) garment. Attempts to discern the item's magical properties will reveal Great protection and poison magic, and Superb alteration magic at work. A Great test of divination magic will unlock the secrets of the cloak.

The Cloak of Asps imbues the wearer with the following powers and abilities:
  • Good protection bonus from physical attack.
  • Great resistance to poison damage.
  • Mantle of Vipers - The serpent images on the cloak animate, becoming six living serpents protruding from the wearer's back and shoulders. Each serpent attacks anyone within striking distance of its master, inflicting Good physical damage and injecting the target with a Great strength poison. Each serpent has Good toughness, and if slain becomes inert for one week. This power lasts 6 rounds and can be invoked once per day.
  • Serpent Form - The wearer can change their physical form to that of a large serpent, gaining all the physical abilities of a snake, including a Great potency poisonous bite. All carried items are transformed along with the wearer. Serpent Form lasts one hour and can be invoked once per day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Alternate Reality: d4

The bracket has been updated to include all this weekend's games. A monumental battle between Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 is shaping in the Grue / Rust Monster brackets, while in Black Pudding a surprising True20 upset the (perhaps over rated) D&D 4th. Meanwhile in the belittled Flumph bracket Classic Traveller continues their steady charge to the final game.

My number one pick, Classic Traveller looks to have a good shot at the title, though local favorite Shadowrun fell before the D&D 3.5 juggernaut.

Thanks again to Zachary over at RPG Blog II for starting up The Great RPG Tournament. As always if you see a transcription error, please let me know.

Grim Monday: Poison!

I've already talked about diseases and parasites and curses so it's time for a bit on poisons.

There are many kinds of poison, differentiated by effect and method of delivery. They can be injected (needles, darts and other weapons), ingested or inhaled (there's a reason for poison tasters after all), or absorbed by touch (especially nasty for the treasure hungry). Depending on their toxicity they can be annoying, debilitating or painful. Some are faster to act, while others take days or weeks of accumulation to show their effects. Below are a few samples. Throughout these descriptions I've used the term resist to indicate a resistance check versus the potency of the poison described. Use whatever method suits your game system.

Laris - A contact poison distilled from the seeds of a tropical vine. Laris is a sticky white liquid that dries to a shiny film when exposed to air for any significant length of time. When it comes in contact with skin the film dissolves and enters the bloodstream, causing immediate paralysis (Great resist). Effects can last 3-6 days depending on the dose received. Washing a poisoned object with a mild acid (vinegar will do), destroys the poison. Wearing gloves eliminates the threat of contact. Because it is non-lethal, long lasting, and easily removed, Laris is commonly used to protect chests, vaults and strongboxes.

Matunus - A rare ingested poison made from the fleshy caps of a common temperate mushroom combined with the mild venom of a rare snake. Matunus is a dark red powder with a faint bitter taste. A single dose has no effect, but regular ingestion causes toxins to build up in the victim's system. Each day the poison is ingested requires a resist check, beginning at Poor and increasing one rank per week so long as the poison is included in the victim's diet. Once the victim succumbs they begin to suffer from general physical weakness and dizziness, suffering a Fair penalty to all actions. This penalty increases by one rank for each week the poisoning continues. If the poison is removed from the victim's diet the penalty is reduced one rank per month as the poison slowly leeches from their system.

Cyna - A dangerous injected poison harvested from the berries of an evergreen shrub found in cold climates. Cyna is a gelatinous green liquid with a with a sharp odor. When injected into the bloodstream it immediately affects the victim's nervous system, causing uncontrollable convulsion for 1d4 rounds (Great resist). The victim will be disoriented and confused for 1d4 rounds after the convulsions end. Convulsions reoccur every 30 to 40 minutes for six to eight hours after initial exposure. There are stories that certain native tribes use Cyna mixed with a sacred herbal compound as a hallucinogen.

Urtiva - A common injected and ingested poison made from easily available plants (though the proper recipe is difficult to follow). Urtiva is a thin yellow liquid with no taste or smell. It is often called Blackout, as its primary effects when injected or ingested is to cause unconsciousness, memory loss, and temporary blindness. Victims must resist (Great) to avoid the first two effects and make a second resist (Superb) to avoid the third. Memory loss is permanent and begins two to three hours before exposure and lasts until consciousness is regained. Blindness lasts eight to ten hours after exposure. The victim will remain unconscious for two to four hours. Urtiva is often used by thieves or muggers to neutralize their victims and remove any chance they will identify their assailants.

Hambrani - An uncommon contact and inhalation poison made from the distilled pollen of a rare cold climate flower. Hambrani is a black powder or solid at cooler temperatures, but vaporizes when warmed above 80 degrees (F). Even a tiny amount will create a poison cloud 10' in diameter. Direct contact with the powder or inhaling the vapor requires an immediate resist (Superb) or begin suffering searing pains beginning at the point of contact and quickly spreading to the victim's entire body. The victim suffers Good damage each round they are exposed to the poison plus four rounds. The Hambrani "poison bomb" consists of a solid piece of the poison molded into a ball of clay. When tossed into a fire or other heat source, the expanding Hambrani splits the clay shell and poisons anyone nearby.

Friday, March 27, 2009


"Come for the festival?"

That line served as the intro for my players when they arrived at a new town. It led to a fun-filled session offering a nice vacation from the campaign's generally grim and gritty tone.

Adventuring types are used to traveling vast distances and facing danger for great reward, but sometimes they need a change of pace. Sometimes they need a festival! I'm sure many readers have enjoyed a Renaissance Festival or similar celebration. For years I was lucky enough to be near the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Now I get to enjoy the Feast of the Hunters' Moon here in Indiana. Why not let your PCs enjoy the same thing in your game? The festival session can provide a social play interlude while still offering the game's combat monkeys a chance to roll some dice.

First, let your players know about the festival ahead of time. If they're uninterested, perhaps it's not a good fit for your group. If they're interested, let them know up front that the session might be a bit less structured than usual.

Pick a theme. There are plenty of events that deserve a festival, harvest time, a holy day, winter solstice, a royal birthday, or the anniversary of a great victory all make good reasons. All you need is an excuse for the party. Once you have your theme picked, figure out where it will be held and who will be its primary sponsors. The festival should be near a population center of some kind, but allow plenty of room for merchants, events and activities. The sponsors should set the tone and flavor of the events.

Next figure out the activities and events that match up with your festival concept. When creating activities, particularly competitive activities, be sure you keep your PC's capabilities and interests in mind. I've always tried to come up with at least one activity per character. Activities need not be obvious contests. Characters can be contributors to the festival as well. A healer might be asked to help with the wounded from the grand melee. The bard might be asked to perform in (or judge) a poetry contest. The goal is to insure every character has a chance in the spotlight. Here are some ideas for events and activities:
  • Combat: duels with padded weapons, archery competition, axe or knife throwing, wrestling matches, team melee, grand melee, jousting.
  • Skills: arm wrestling, log toss, weight lifting, bar bending, foot race, horse race, log cutting, drinking contest, eating contest, greased pig chase, gambling, ring toss, sporting events, riddles, horse shoeing
  • Performance: dancing, poetry, singing, acting, juggling, acrobatics, sword swallowing, fire breathing, magic and illusion, sleight of hand, freak show
  • Judged events: craft items, harvest products, artwork, beasts, brewing, baked goods, performances
  • Special events: auctions, awards, religious services, military exhibitions, weddings, coronations, music exhibitions
Next, figure out who attends. A festival is a great way to introduce your characters to new NPCs and new adventures. Perhaps the local lord is watching the tournament, looking for new talent. A merchant from a distant town might bring unusual goods and news of far places. Locals might be more open and friendly once the ale begins to flow. Festivals are a great time to make new friends and learn more about the locale.

As GM this means some extra work to insure there are NPCs to talk to and news to share. When planning a festival I always review the local NPCs and insure they have something to talk about. I also create a half-dozen strangers and a dozen rumors to give the PCs something fresh to think about. A festival can also bring out the less savory side of human nature as pickpockets and con men make their presence felt. The discovery of theft can spark a nice chase through the crowded festival grounds, a different sort of activity for the group!

With the bare bones of your festival laid out, plan out a schedule of major events. As you lay out the main phases of the celebration, come up with a general tone and feel. A day-long festival might look something like this:
  • Pre-dawn - Set up. Cook-fires are started, tents go up, wares are laid out. Chill morning air combined with sleepy merchants and laborers makes for a quiet, perhaps grumpy, atmosphere.
  • Invocation - Opening ceremony. Whether it's a religious ceremony, a procession, or just an opening bell, put everyone on notice that the festival is open. The warming rays of the sun and the rousing cheers of the crowd create a lighthearted, festive mood.
  • Morning activities - Plan a few morning events that will give some structure to your PC's day. Be sure you allow time for shopping and socializing. The cheerful atmosphere continues, punctuated by the bold voices of hawkers and performers attempting to garner attention.
  • Big event - Set up a major contest or activity to punctuate the day. Ideally this would be something your PCs can participate in. The morning's cheer gives way to a bit of alcohol fueled rowdiness. Those with delicate sensibilities might be offended by the rough crowd.
  • Afternoon feast - What's a festival without a feast? Food and drink, along with more activities, shopping and socializing. Feasting (along with the worst offenders being tossed into the stocks), calm the crowd. The heat of the afternoon sun makes the thought of a nice nap in the shade a tempting thought.
  • Celebration - A dance or religious celebration winds down the festival, allowing merchants and vendors a chance to close up and join the fun. Fresh celebrants breathe life into the party as the sun sets. A few drunken souls make trouble, but it's generally kept to the edge of things.
  • Closing ceremony - A final word to wind down the party. The long day winds down in relative peace and quiet as exhausted celebrants find their way home.
Once you have a structure for the festival, plan out a few chance events to throw some variation into the mix. A runaway horse careening through the crowd, a lost child, a fleeing thief, a wily card shark, or a gang of drunken laborers can each hook the party with a distraction.

A last bit of preparation is to put together some guidelines for how your contests work and what rewards the characters might receive if they win. Keep things short so players don't get bored. Simple contests can be nothing more than a skill test or three. Combat contests are a bit more complex, but can be shortened by limiting them to first blood or something similar. You want the PCs to enjoy the entire festival, not get beaten to a pulp. When your PCs win, give them something concrete to commemorate their victory. Also remember that contests at festivals can give rise to stories of their own. A character's prowess can open the door to new opportunities or new challenges.

Finally, think about the day after. Aside from hangovers and cleanup, the day after could provide some nice adventure hooks as merchants and travelers head for home or their next stop on the trade route. An impressed festival attendee might seek out the PCs with an interesting opportunity. Just because the party is over doesn't mean the fun ends. There's always the next festival to think about too...

I hope this article will inspire you to host a festival of your own. I think you'll find it an enjoyable change of pace from the usual adventure fodder. It also allows you to show off aspects of your game world that might not shine in the usual adventuring / exploring cycle of play. If you do run a festival, come back and let me know how it plays out!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Giant Shrews

Over on Jeff's Gameblog the question was raised:
"Under some versions of D&D gnomes have the ability to communicate with "burrowing mammals". Do rats count? What about giant rats? Were-rats? Osquips?"

My mind immediately turned to shrews. Giant shrews. Giant undead shrews.

"Pah!" Your thinking, "They're only shrews."

Famous last words. Shrews are voracious predators, consuming 80-90% of their own body weight each day to sustain their metabolism. Some are venomous, per Wikipedia: "The venom contains various compounds and the contents of the venom glands of the American short-tailed shrew are sufficient to kill 200 mice by intravenous injection." Lastly, some use echolocation to find their prey.

So, burrowing, ravenous, poisonous, echo-locating, giant undead shrews. I'm sold. Heck drop the undead and I'm still sold!

Giant Shrew

These voracious predators are a scourge upon the land when they appear. Giant shrews are three to four feet in length and covered with smooth gray fur. Their rat-like appearance (diminished by their tiny eyes and very short tails) might cause those unfamiliar with the species to mistake them for giant rats. A mistake the unwary adventurer will quickly regret when the giant shrew attacks.

Giant shrews are incredibly vicious, quick to attack anything that moves, always feeding their never-ending hunger. They are nearly blind, but their Epic quality hearing and ultra-high pitched voices allow them to easily locate their prey. Their high metabolism gives them a Great movement rate, and their strong claws allow them to burrow at Average speed. Giant shrews attack with two Average claw attacks and a Good bite attack. Should their bite attack succeed the wound will be drenched with poison (Epic toxicity) which does Great damage for 2d6 rounds. Slain victims are devoured on the spot, right down to bones, teeth and nails. Any organic goods carried will also be devoured.

Giant shrews are usually found alone or in family groups of two adults and five to seven young. Young are just as voracious as adults, but all combat values are reduced two ranks. Shrews live in wide-spread networks of one foot diameter tunnels dug through soil or soft rock with many passages to the surface or any caverns or man-made tunnels in the area. Random non-organic items may be found scattered in their domain.

  • Great movement rate, Average burrowing
  • Terrible vision, Epic hearing, Great echolocation
  • Fair toughness, Average armor, Good evasion / dodge
  • Average claw attack (2x)
  • Good bite attack with Epic toxicity poison doing 2d6 rounds of Great damage.
Undead Giant Shrew

Giant shrews are not above eating carrion, and graveyards often serve as rich feeding grounds. Undead shrews are created when giant shrews consume the flesh of other undead, their over-revved metabolisms absorbing and consuming the necromantic essence of their victim. Undead shrews lose some of their great quickness and energy, but retain their native hunger.

Undead shrews appear much the same as their mundane brethren, though they quickly begin to show signs of decay. They gain one or more attributes from their undead meal, but their native poison loses some of its potency.

  • Good movement rate, Mediocre burrowing
  • Terrible vision, Superb hearing, Great echolocation
  • Fair toughness, Average armor, Fair evasion / dodge
  • Average claw attack (2x)
  • Good bite attack with Great toxicity poison doing 2d6 rounds of Fair damage.
  • Undead aspect, one of: paralyzing touch, draining touch (strength), or life drain

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Blade of One Thousand Fangs

At first glance this sword could be mistaken for some sort of practice weapon, as its straight 30 inch long blade is encased in a heavily padded, green silk sheath. The blade's carved ivory hilt, jet pommel, and ornate but functional gilded steel guard reveal it to be something more. The weapon's sheath cannot be removed by mundane means, attempts to cut or damage the smooth silk simply slide off.

Identifying the magical properties of the blade will reveal Great damage and accuracy enhancement and Superb protection and necromancy at work. A Great test of divination magic will reveal the blade's secrets.

The magical sheath protecting the blade vanishes with a mental command from the owner, revealing a rod-like, steel blade completely covered with jagged red and black fangs, each one to four inches long, sticking out at every conceivable angle. The blade's sheath reappears with a mental command, or if the hilts are released.

The sword has the following powers and abilities:
  • Great accuracy bonus when used in battle
  • Any blow struck by the blade inflicts horrific bleeding wounds, resulting in Great damage and causing continued bleeding until treated.
  • Each time a successful attack is made one of the blade's fangs breaks off in the wound. This fang will continue to burrow and twist its way into the unfortunate victim, inflicting Poor damage each round until it is removed. Removing a fang is a Good test of medical skill. A fang left in a victim for 12 rounds will work its way to vital organs, inflicting Great damage on the 13th round, then dissolving away.
  • Lost fangs are regrown at the rate of 1d4 per day. The blade will hold a maximum of one thousand fangs. If all fangs are used up, the blade's magic is destroyed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gloves of the Cat Burglar

This item consists of a pair of very thin gloves of the finest gray-dyed leather, sewn with silvery threads of giant spider silk. A faint skein of iridescent lines shimmers across the palm-side of the left glove while a similar pattern of black lines is barely visible on the right. The gloves radiate Good alteration and evocation magic. Unlocking the secrets of the gloves is a Great test of divination magic. The gloves have the following powers:
  • Grant a Good bonus to skill tests requiring fine motor skills (picking locks, finding and removing traps, transcribing a document for example). This passive bonus is active whenever the gloves are worn.
  • The left glove can be commanded to glow with a faint light, sufficient for the wearer to work by, but invisible from a distance of more than 30 feet. The light can be turned on or off at will with a mental command, but will glow for no more than two hours per day.
  • The right glove can be commanded to exude a powerful contact poison (Great strength) that can then be applied with a successful touch attack against the target. The poison causes immediate unconsciousness lasting 2d4 hours. This power can be invoked up to three times per day, each invocation providing one dose of poison.
  • Thrice per day the bearer can project their gloved hands up to 30 feet, allowing them to manipulate objects as if they were standing next to them. The user's vision shifts along with their projected hands allowing them to see what they're working on. Once projected the hands are stationary, moving no more than an arm's reach from their initial position. Each invocation of this power lasts ten minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Alternate Reality: d16

The bracket has been updated to include all this weekend's games. The Traveller Conference remains strong, and the showdown between Mongoose and Classic in the Flumph bracket should be a great game. In the Black Pudding bracket Call of Cthulhu continues to play with their traditional tournament strength, advancing easily to the d16, while the Big D&D remains strong with three teams advancing.

My number one pick, Classic Traveller, remains in the running, but my homer pick Epic Role-Playing fell easily to Savage Worlds, possibly goaded by some trash-talking at the snack machines pre-game.

Thanks again to Zachary over at RPG Blog II for starting up The Great RPG Tournament. As always if you see a transcription error, please let me know.

Grim Monday: The Tomb Guardian

Cultures that inter their dead with grave goods face the constant threat of grave robbers. Hidden tombs, complex traps and powerful guardians are just some of the means used to protect the deceased and their valuables. Today's Grim Monday features a potent guardian construct, perfect for the well protected tomb.

The Tomb Guardian appears to be a human-sized, exquisitely crafted statue, often gilded, painted, and/or set with gems. The subject of the statue varies depending on the local belief system; the most common forms are guardian creatures or protective deities. As an art object a Tomb Guardian statue has Epic value. Tomb Guardians are always placed so they obstruct a passage or doorway. They are often posed in a warding or defensive position. If checked for magical properties the statue will radiate Superb necromantic and enchantment magic.

The magic of the Tomb Guardian has two purposes. It traps the soul of any sentient creature that touches the statue, projecting any previously trapped soul into the former body of the new occupant. It also places any trapped soul under a powerful compulsion to protect the contents of the tomb. Resisting the entrapment and the compulsion are Epic tests of willpower. Any soul freed from the entrapment remains compelled, though an additional resistance check can be attempted each day with the difficulty dropping one rank per week.

A freed soul will use any means at its disposal to prevent further intrusion into the tomb it protects. The soul will be able to use any physical abilities of a possessed body but retains its own mental abilities. Note that long imprisonment within a Tomb Guardian often causes insanity, so negotiation is usually not an option. If a possessed character is slain the possessing soul is freed from the compulsion and released. The character's original soul remains trapped within the statue. If their physical form can be restored to life, their soul can be restored with an Epic test of necromancy. Note that the restored character will still be compelled to protect the tomb. Breaking the compulsion is an Epic dispel test.

If the Tomb Guardian statue is destroyed (requiring Legendary physical damage or dispel magic) any trapped soul is released and departs as if its original form was slain. Destroying the statue also destroys any remaining compulsions.

Note that imprisonment within a Tomb Guardian is often considered a fitting punishment for tomb robbers. A soul freed from imprisonment could provide valuable information, assuming it is sane and communication is possible.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alternate Reality: The Great RPG Tournament

Over on RPG Blog II, Zachary has started up The Great RPG Tournament, riffing off the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. Since he was kind enough to make use of my momentum rule suggestion I thought I'd take his bracket and give it a twist. Instead of running the tournament using dice, I'll use the results of the actual tournament to play out the RPG bracket. I'll be curious to see how closely the final games match up.

Here's the results after the first round of play: Alternate Reality Bracket. Note the clean sweep by Traveller Conference, the strong showing by the Big D&D (three of five advance), and the Rust Monster 13 over 4 upset.

Personally I'm hoping for a Grue region showdown between Shadowrun and Epic Role-Playing (go Boilermakers & Terps), though my money's on Classic Traveller to take the tournament.

If anyone spots any errors in my transcription of results, please drop me a comment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seeds of Renewal

Today being the first day of Spring, I thought I'd put together an appropriate item for the season.

These items are found in a small linen pouch or a sealed jar containing 3d6 Seeds. The Seeds themselves are unremarkable save for their large size (each is the size of a grown man's thumb). Each collection of Seeds will contain at least two varieties of Seed (choose or roll randomly). Discovering the use of any Seed is a Good test of divination magic. Individual properties of each type are outlined below:
  1. Sunflower - Easily recognized by its hard black and white streaked shell, the Sunflower Seed radiates Great alteration magic. Planted at dusk and watered with a cup of fresh spring water, the Sunflower seed will grow to full height and size overnight, insuring clear and pleasant weather in a 20 mile radius for one day. The plant withers and dies at sunset.
  2. Corn - This fat yellow kernel radiates Great alteration magic. When planted in soil enriched with manure this Seed springs instantly to full height, producing 2d6 heavily laden ears of grain. Each ear produces enough grain to feed a single mount for a day. Once harvested, ears last one week. The plant withers and dies at sunset.
  3. Holly - This bright red berry radiates Great protection magic. Plant in dry soil, then draw a circle up to 20 feet in diameter around the site. Immediately a low hedge will spring up, enclosing the inscribed space. This hedge is so dense as to prevent small creatures from passing, and provides Good protection against the entry of spirits or enchanted creatures. The hedge withers and vanishes at sunrise.
  4. Apple - These hard brown seeds radiate Great alteration and healing magic. When planted near running water this Seed sprouts into a miniature apple tree, producing 2d6 bright red apples. Each apple serves as a full day's food and provides a Good strength cure for any disease or poison afflicting whoever consumes it. Once harvested apples last one week. The tree withers and dies after one hour.
  5. Pepper - This pale, flat Seed radiates Great evocation magic. When planted under the light of the noon sun this Seed immediately sprouts and grows into a sturdy pepper plant bearing 2d6 small red fruits. Each fruit may be thrown up to 30 feet, exploding in a burst of flame for Good fire damage in a five foot radius. The plant withers and dies at sunset.
  6. Nightshade - These white, rounded seeds radiate Great alteration magic. When planted at midnight under a new moon they instantly grow into a small, pale plant bearing 2d6 round, purple fruits. Each fruit contains one dose of an odorless, tasteless ingestion poison of Great strength. The poison remains potent for one week. The plant withers and dies at sunrise.
  7. Acorn - The acorn radiates Great necromantic magic. Soak this Seed in a cup of human blood overnight, then place it in the mouth of a slain comrade laid out on holy ground. Over the course of a week a mighty oak will grow from and consume the remains. At the end of the week the tree will split in half, revealing the resurrected companion, fully restored to health.
  8. Pumpkin - The tan, oval pumpkin Seed radiates Great alteration magic. When planted at midnight of the Spring Equinox and watered with the blood of a sacrificed lamb this Seed will sprout into a robust vine bearing 1d8 pumpkins. After one week the pumpkins may be harvested and split open. Each will contain one new Seed of a random type. The plant withers and dies at midnight, one week after being planted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chalice of Storms

This sizable cup is about 18 inches high and 10 inches across. The bowl of the Chalice is formed from a single piece of pale green nephrite, elaborately carved and shaped into the form of two entwined dragons surrounded by lightning-filled clouds above and storm-tossed seas below. The dragon's tails form two looped handles, while the dragon's heads form a single spout on the side of the bowl. The base of the Chalice is purest silver, formed into a swirling mass of cloud and water. As an art object the Chalice has Epic monetary value. Attempts to discover the magical properties of the Chalice of Storms will reveal Epic quality alteration and evocation magic at work. A Superb divination test will unlock the item's secrets.

To use the Chalice, the owner fills the bowl of the vessel with seawater, then, while standing under the open sky, utters a word of command and drinks the contents, imbuing themselves with the Storm Aura for one hour. Invoking the power of the Chalice automatically intensifies the weather within a ten mile radius one rank (see Intensify Weather below). Storm Aura grants the following powers and abilities:
  • Weather Protection - The user gains Superb resistance to any weather-based effect (heat, cold, lightning, wind). Any damaging effects caused by these sources is halved (passive effect).
  • Lightning Strike - While outdoors the user may call down a bolt of lightning to strike any visible target. The bolt strikes the chosen target for Epic damage, and strikes any nearby target (10 foot radius) for Superb damage. This power may be invoked up to six times over the course of one hour.
  • Vortex - The user may summon a 15 foot high, 10 foot wide vortex of screaming winds, which appears in front of them. Once summoned the vortex can be directed to move up to 90 feet per round, so long as concentration is maintained. The vortex will raise a scouring cloud of dust, flatten small buildings, and hurl objects into the sky. Creatures crossing paths with the vortex are blinded by dust and sand, are pummeled by flying objects (Good damage), and, if man-sized or smaller, are blown off their feet. Damage against flying creatures is increased by one rank (to Great). The vortex vanishes if the user's concentration wavers. A vortex may be summoned up to three times over the course of one hour.
  • Intensify Weather - The user may increase the intensity of the current weather in a ten mile radius one rank for each ten minutes they spend concentrating on the task. Note that all aspects of the weather are intensified, the user cannot pick and choose specific effects. Weather will always tend towards the most destructive weather pattern that fits the current climate and season. Ten minutes concentration could turn a clear, sunny day into an overcast drizzling mess or a mild thunderstorm into a tornado bearing monster storm for example.
The Storm Aura can be dispelled from the user (an Epic test of dispel magic). If this happens the energies of the Aura are released as bolts of lightning that randomly strike 3 targets within 60 feet for Great damage. Attempting to invoke the power of the Chalice more than once per day will inflict Superb electrical damage upon the owner as the energies released by the ritual overload their body.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Paquin's Spellbook

The black name of Paquin was first introduced in last month's article Paquin's Deceiving Circle. The spells below represent some of Paquin's works from the end of his career, when demonic influences tainted his magic.

Paquin's Ghoulish Touch
When the caster invokes this spell their hands begin to glow with an eerie greenish light. When the caster next touches a living target they drain life from it and heal themselves a like amount (base Fair damage). In combat this requires a successful touch attack. This spell has a maximum duration of 6 rounds, and ends once a target has been drained. This spell has no effect upon non-living creatures (undead, constructs, some supernatural beings). Casting this spell is an Average test of necromantic magic.

Paquin's Vortex of Terror
When cast this spell creates a 30' high, 10' radius vortex of disorienting, flashing black and white images of hideous death, dismemberment, and destruction. At the beginning of each round the vortex moves 10'-40' in a random direction (1d4x10 for distance, 1d8 for direction). Any individual touched by the vortex must succeed at a Good test of will or flee in panic and horror for 1d8 rounds. The caster is unaffected by the vortex. The spell has a range of 100' and a duration of 8 rounds. Casting this spell is a Good test of evocation magic.

Paquin's Fire Tornado
When cast this spell causes one or more fiery tornadoes, 30' high x 5' radius, to spring into being at the location(s) specified by the caster. At the beginning of each round the tornadoes will move 20'-80' in a random direction (roll 1d4x10 for distance and 1d8 for direction twice each). Anyone a tornado passes over takes Good damage from the flames. Anyone standing within a tornado for an entire round takes Superb damage from the flames. A Great resistance test reduces the damage taken by half. This spell has a range of 100' and a duration of 8 rounds. Casting this spell is a Great test of evocation magic. An additional tornado is created for each level of success achieved beyond the base requirement.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Lamp of a Thousand Steps

This item was inspired by the short story Babylon: 70 M by Donald A. Wollheim. The story in turn, was based upon the Mother Goose rhyme: How many miles to Babylon?

How many miles to Babylon?

Three-score and ten.

Can I get there by candle-light?

Yes, there and back again.

If your heels are nimble and light,

You will get there by candle-light.

This small clay lamp appears to be nothing more than a mundane object found in many homes. It is bowl-shaped with a sturdy handle attached to the base and a stubby spout for a wick protruding from one side. The rim of the bowl is worked with a simple pattern featuring an image of the sun and the moon in pursuit of each other. One side of the bowl bear the image of a man with winged shoes walking beneath a starry sky holding a lamp before him. The other bears the image of a horned, winged serpent. The item radiates Great alteration magic, and appropriate divination will reveal the process required to unlock the item's power.

The lamp allows travel over great distance at a rapid pace. To invoke the item's power it must be filled with fine lamp oil and lit at sunset. With the lamp in hand the bearer must envision a destination within 100 miles and begin walking. They must walk the entire time the lamp is lit without pause, insuring the flame continues to burn as they travel. The lamp bearer may bring along up to four companions, who must remain within the lamp's illumination (a scant 10' radius). Those traveling via the lamp's power will be surrounded by darkness full of shifting shadows and faint noises. After four hours walking all travelers will reach the chose destination, always arriving at sunrise of the day following their departure.

Should the flame go out or a traveler falter or step outside the lamp's illumination, the guardian of the lamp will appear from the darkness, attacking anyone who has violated the item's rules of use.

The guardian is a horned, winged serpent, 20 feet long. It's black and green scales provide it with Superb physical protection and its magical nature grants it Epic magical resistance. It has Great attack capability with piercing horns and a lashing whip-like tail, while it's wings raise great clouds of blinding dust. Anyone slain by the guardian will be permanently lost in the plane of twisted shadows traversed by the lamp's magic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grim Monday: Curse of the Mistaken Face

As I mentioned in my post on Saturday, I'm going to be dedicating Monday's articles to curses, tricks and traps, suitable fodder for this day's 'back to work' nature. Welcome back, hope you enjoyed your weekend, here's a curse to start the work week off right!

The Curse of the Mistaken Face is fitting punishment for lies and deceit. With no obvious manifestation the victim may not realize they are afflicted by a malediction for many days, making this curse popular as a means of anonymous or secretive revenge. The subtle nature of this curse makes it difficult to detect, requiring a Great test of divination magic to identify and a similar test of protection magic to dispel.

The victim of this curse suffers a subtle loss of identity. The curse first affects interactions with those who know the victim slightly or not at all. It's power grows over time, eventually affecting the victims closest relationships. The manifestations of the curse are:
  • Witnesses to the victim's positive deeds will attribute them to someone else. Thanks and rewards will be given to others. Other names will be used in stories and tales.
  • The victim will be fingered as the perpetrator of any negative deed carried out in their presence. They will be mistaken for the fleeing thief or the instigator of the tavern brawl.
  • Casual acquaintances will forget the victim over time. Past deeds and associations will be forgotten or attributed to someone else. The friendly bartender will treat them as a stranger, the priests of the local temple, cultivated with offerings, will forget their face.
  • The victim's name will be misspelled in any written document or publication. Legal documents will be challenged and reports misattributed.
  • Messages sent to the victim will be lost or delivered elsewhere (including messages sent by magical means). Meetings will be missed, opportunities lost.
This curse should manifest itself at least once per day, either directly (as a reaction to the victim) or indirectly (as an effect on an associate or acquaintance). Each week the effects should strike closer to home. After a month the victim and their closest friends and allies should be thoroughly confused and befuddled by the curse.

If the curse is lifted relationships return to normal, though stories, complications, and documents created while the curse was in effect remain.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Looking Backwards

I'm approaching three months writing this blog, My how time flies. I decided it was time to review what I was doing and see where I could improve things. Overall I've had a slow but steady upward trend on readership (yay!). I get quite a few reads via the RPG Bloggers feed. Comments and feedback have been pretty sparse, making it difficult to judge how useful readers are finding the material here.

I'm considering two changes to my content in the coming weeks. The first is a weekly feature called Grim Monday. No one likes Monday so I figured I'd add to the day's dismal reputation by focusing on curses, traps and other nasty tricks. It seems like a natural fit.

Second, I'm considering switching to a more numeric format, using stat blocks that are more in tune with D&D and d20, which is where most of these items have seen play anyhow. I liked the idea of using Fate/FUDGE style descriptors when I started, but with crunch-focused articles it seems like cross-purposes. If I made this change I'd go back through existing items and re-stat them.

Lastly I'm considering a larger-scale project as a focus for articles. I haven't given this a lot of thought yet--perhaps a sandbox starter campaign or a combined wilderness/dungeon setting.

For those of you playing along at home: What do you think? What do you like? What don't you like? What would you like to see more of?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gee, what a surprise (not really)

Unsurprisingly, I'm a fighter. I spend most of my time behind the screen, but when I get to play, front line combat is my role of choice (both in tabletop and online gaming).

D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

The Curse of Crows

It's Friday. Friday the 13th. What better day to write up a nice curse to plague someone?

The Curse of Crows is usually pronounced upon someone as retribution or punishment. It is a subtle curse, causing no direct harm to the recipient. Instead the victim of this curse is followed by crows. Initially there will be one bird in attendance, but each day the victim remains in one location their numbers increase by 1d4. Should they travel a significant distance only a single crow will follow, but others will swiftly gather once a destination is reached.

Crows remain at a distance for the most part, and will nimbly dodge hurled missiles. Area of effect damage can kill the birds quite easily, but they always return. Crows exhibit the following behavior:
  • If the victim is sleeping outdoors they will constantly call to each other, making rest difficult. Should sleep be achieved the victim will awaken to a crow sitting on their gear, their mount, or themselves.
  • Any time the victim enters or leaves a structure the crows will begin cawing and take flight, preparing to follow them.
  • Any building occupied by the victim will be plagued with crows. The bird's constant cawing, scavenging and defecation will make them unwelcome visitors in any civilized area.
  • When a large group has gathered (ten or more crows), they will attack and kill any small animal they find (rodents, birds, small pets) and deposit them as near the victim as possible.
Each day a victim stays in one location there is a 10% cumulative chance the local populace will recognize them as the source of the curse. Once this link is recognized the victim may be shunned, banished or driven away. Each week under the curse's effect there is a 5% cumulative chance the victim will become unstable for one to four days, alternately chasing or hiding from the pursuing crows.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Delver's Delight

The ultimate tool for dungeon adventures!
The perfect gift for the budding explorer!
Satisfaction guaranteed or you money back!

These slogans appear on the cheap tin case containing this magic item (usually found with the remains of a slain adventurer at the bottom of a pit trap). Contained within the case is a green metal rod approximately one inch in diameter and twelve inches long. A slender groove is marks the rod lengthwise. Three broad silver rings are spaced along the rod's length, each engraved with a series of equally spaced symbols. Each ring rotates, with stops cut so each symbol can be 'dialed in' to the inscribed groove. If checked for magic the item radiates Great alteration and conjuration magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal the item's command word.

To activate the magic of the Delver's Delight, the user must rotate the rings into a specific pattern, then speak the command word. Aligning the rings requires one round and a light source. In a pressure situation a test of recollection might be appropriate. The item can be activated three times per day. Once a power is activated it must run its course before the Delight can be used again. All created items radiate Fair conjuration magic. The following combinations are possible:

Tool Transformation - transform into one of the following tools for two hours:
  • 10' steel pole
  • Grappling hook and 50' of rope
  • Thieves picks and tools
  • 15' wooden ladder
  • Flint and steel
  • Wooden bucket
  • Metal mirror
  • Spyglass
  • Shovel
Protective Transformation - transform into one of the following weapons or armor for two hours:
  • Long sword
  • Dagger
  • Short bow and quiver with 20 arrows
  • Light crossbow and quiver with 20 quarrels
  • Spear
  • Mace
  • Halberd
  • Helmet
  • Shield
Camping Comfort - produce one of the following items, each lasting eight hours or until used:
  • A comfortable bedroll
  • Food and drink to provide a good meal for six people
  • A small charcoal brazier with fuel
  • An alarm bell and mallet
  • A waterproof, two-man tent
  • A lantern with fuel
  • Grain and water for four horses or mules
  • A small cask of ale
  • Four comfortable stools
Magical Aid - creates one of the following magical constructs of variable duration:
  • Guardian hound - a small magical hound that will bark a warning if anything approaches within 30' of its point of creation. Lasts eight hours.
  • Impressive staff - a six foot long staff of black wood inscribed with golden runes of power and bound with ornate bronze fittings. The staff glows with an aura of power. It functions as a mundane staff and lasts for two hours. It looks impressive!
  • Wandering eye - an invisible floating eye which moves 90 feet per minute and provides the creator with sight wherever it travels. Lasts ten minutes.
  • Phantom coins - a good-sized pile of golden coins that look and feel real. Coins will be of any known denomination and last four hours.
  • Messenger bat - a tiny bat which can carry a message of up to 20 words and deliver it to a named target within range. The bat travels three miles per hour and lasts eight hours.
  • Flaming sword - a standard one-handed sword with ornate golden hilts and pommel. The blade is enveloped in the illusion of flames but is in all ways mundane. Lasts two hours.
  • Sneaky rat - a mundane looking rat that can be commanded to steal one known item, located within 300' of its point of creation. The named item must be small enough that a rat could carry it. Lasts two hours.
  • Crystal ball - a six-inch crystal ball that allows scrying of any known location within five miles, transmitting both sight and sound to the user. Lasts ten minutes.
  • Tricky snake - a slender six-foot long snake that can be commanded to trip or snare anyone passing within ten feet of the point of its creation. Lasts two hours.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Runic Quiver

The Runic Quiver is made of a single piece of smooth, silvery-gray hide with a faint scaled pattern to it. The mouth of the quiver is wrapped with a band of flexible black metal engraved with a repeating pattern of four runic symbols. The cover flap is made of the same gray hide and bears a 2 inch wide circle of the same black metal. Checking the quiver for magical properties will reveal Good evocation and alteration magic at work.

Each sunrise the metal disc on the quiver's cover will fog over briefly. The owner can speak one of the four runic symbols (earth, air, fire, water, in an appropriate language for the campaign), causing the symbol to appear in the seal. The symbol remains until its power has been invoked three times, or the next day's sunrise, whichever occurs first.

Once a rune is in place, the bearer can pull an arrow from the quiver, speak the name of the current rune, then fire the arrow to generate a special effect, three such arrows can be fired each day (these arrows are destroyed when used):
  • Air - When this rune is spoken the arrow turns into a bolt of lightning that streaks forth from the bow in a path 90' long and 5' wide. The bolt does Good electrical damage to anything within the path.
  • Earth - This arrow can be shot normally, but if it strikes natural earth or stone it causes an explosion of rock and earth that strikes all within a 10' radius for Good damage.
  • Fire - When this rune is spoken, the arrow bursts into three flaming missiles as it leaves the bow. Each missile is treated as a separate attack, and causes normal damage plus Fair fire damage if it hits.
  • Water - When this rune is spoken the arrow turns to steam as it leaves the bow. It creates a dense wall of fog, 90' long and 10' wide in its wake.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Silken Net of Spiders

The Silken Net is a silvery cloak of net-like fabric, woven in a pattern resembling a spider's web. Close examination will reveal the garment is actually made of spider silk. The cloak will shape itself to fit its owner, able to adjust its shape to fit the smallest halfling or the largest human. The fabric is exceedingly tough, even a sharp knife will not sever its weave. If examined for magical properties the cloak radiates Good protection, evocation and enchantment magics. A Great test of divination magic will reveal the cloak's activating command word.

When worn the robe conveys the following upon the wearer:
  • Good physical protection and resistance to poison.
  • Immunity to webs of any kind, including magical webs.
  • Once per day the wearer can cast a Good strength web up to 60' that will cover a 10' radius area, snaring anyone within for 1-8 rounds.
  • Once per day the wearer can charm up to 4 spiders (up to and including giant varieties) for 1 hour.
  • Once per week the wearer can summon 1-4 giant spiders to serve them for up to one hour. The summoned spiders vanish when slain or time expires.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Bag of Dagos

"Do you feel lucky?" This is the inscription embroidered into the side of this inconspicuous, green linen bag, tied shut with a black leather drawstring. Those with a religious background might recognize the bag as the legendary gift of the gambler god Dagos, said to be both a blessing and a curse, depending on one's luck of course.

This magic item radiates Good illusion magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal its command word. Once per day the owner can draw forth a single item from this bag (1d20). Items that are not used up vanish within four hours.
  1. Doh! A creature of the GM's choice springs forth, hostile and ready to do battle.
  2. A small cask of fine ale (2 gallons).
  3. A fine meal for 8 in a picnic basket.
  4. A carrier pigeon complete with message sleeve. Whispering a person's name to the bird will cause it to seek them and roost on their shoulder if within 100 miles.
  5. Pair of war dogs spring forth and loyally protect the bearer for for their duration.
  6. 10 gold pieces are pulled forth. These are not subject to the four-hour time limit.
  7. A deck of cards and set of poker chips.
  8. A coil of fine silken rope, 100' long.
  9. A 10' long steel pole of finest quality.
  10. A pile of dry firewood, tinder and kindling sufficient to burn for four hours.
  11. A set of fishing gear appropriate to the nearest body of water, including bait.
  12. Four comfortable stools.
  13. A lamp with four hours of lamp oil. There is no way to refill the lamp and it vanishes when emptied.
  14. A fine sword of the type most useful to the bearer. The weapon non-magical and provides a Fair bonus to damage and accuracy.
  15. A pair of fine silver dice and a backgammon board.
  16. A chess set.
  17. A fine umbrella.
  18. A pot of fine coffee or tea, as appropriate to the bearer.
  19. A complete set of warm outerwear, coat, cloak, hat, boots, and gloves, sized for the bearer.
  20. Dealer's choice, pick either the most or least useful item for the current situation.
Edit: Minor fixes to make durations consistent with main description.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Did Someone Say Mega-dungeon?

The Grognardia article on Dungeonaday stirred up some pretty interesting comments about an RPG blogger mega-dungeon project (thanks to The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope for pointing those comments out). "What a great idea" I thought, "but what a monster to organize."

After sleeping on it (or rather not sleeping on it, since I kept waking up with thoughts of mega-dungeons floating in my head), here are a few random thoughts on how such a thing might be coordinated.

(Edit: Looks like Grognardia took the bull by the horns here)

I'd define a level as the unit of contribution, using something like Chgowiz's one page dunegon template as the map space each level uses. I'd also define the vertical thickness each level takes up so there's some sort of geometric sense to the whole thing. Once I had a level defined I'd define a layer as a grid of M x N levels and apply labels to each axis, then I'd stack up a whole bunch of layers to form the structure of the entire mega-dungeon. The whole mass ends up being a giant cube of one page dungeon levels. Pick axis labels that match well with a spreadsheet program and it becomes pretty easy to track level ownership using a multi-sheet spreadsheet. Even a fairly small layer size creates a huge level count, ten 10x10 layers is 1000 levels!.

The top layers need some special attention since they provide the entrances from the outside world (assuming a standard sort of top-down dungeon crawl). It's probably worth defining some levels here as empty, representing areas on or above the surface. Others might be allocated as 'open air' dungeons, ruins, tombs and the like that are above ground.

Once there's a structure to hang levels on builders can start planning. Since there are many people involved, I'd implement some minimum requirements for each level being built. Builders would need to know the connectivity (in all directions), theme, construction (caves, dwarven mines, etc.) and primary inhabitants of neighboring levels. I'd set some minimum connection count to insure adventurers can traverse the whole mass. I'd also think some sort of bleed-over wandering monster list would be a good thing.

Of course there are many other elements that have to go into this, creativity and teamwork being two big ones. It may be worth laying out some very broad themes for portions of the mega-dungeon (the north half of layer three is primarily catacombs). Individuals might want to stake claim to connected groups of levels to implement grander plans than those allowed by the base level plan. A central bestiary and treasure list might be a good idea for ease of reference.

In closing, man what a great idea! I'd love to help.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Belt of the Swashbuckler

This item appears to be nothing special, a simple brown leather belt with decorative bronze plates sewn along its length, and fitted with a matching bronze buckle. There are two scabbards of matching leather stiffened with bone fitted to the belt, one suitable for a long sword, the other for a dagger. Checking for magical properties will reveal the item is enchanted with Fair protection and alteration magic. A Good test of divination magic will reveal its magical properties, activated by a command word:
  • The belt provides a Fair protection against physical or magical harm.
  • The scabbards will adjust themselves to fit any blade of similar size and shape (i.e. any sort of one-handed sword and dagger).
  • Thrice per day the wearer can recall a blade drawn from either scabbard to their hand from anywhere within 60' (including thrown or dropped weapons or from the scabbard itself). The weapon instantly appears in the wearer's hand ready for use.
  • There is a small hidden compartment in the sword scabbard. This compartment may hold up to ten pounds of very small items (coins, gems and the like).
  • The belt and any contents weigh next to nothing when worn.
  • Once donned, only the wearer can remove the belt or any of its contents.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Things in the Sewers

I found these random tables and sewer map in a set of notes uncovered in my scanning project. They're a peek back into my gaming from the early 80s. The sewers ran beneath the small city of Gujur, and were inhabited by a tribe of Wererats who secretly controlled most of the illegal activity in the city. I never got a chance to run this dungeon, the group it was planned for headed off in a completely different direction. One of the hazards of sandbox play.

Wandering Monsters

01-15 Wererat (1-2)
16-35 Giant Rat (1-10)
36 Carrion Crawler (1)
37 Ghoul (1)
38-52 Giant Centipedes (2-12)
53-55 Black Pudding (1)
56-60 Giant Frog (1-2)
61-65 Green Slime (1)
66-75 Giant Leech (1-3)
76-78 Ochre Jelly (1)
79-88 Muck Worms (1-3)
89-93 Slip Worms (1-3)
94-100 Slime Vines (1-3)

Note the last three entries were creatures of my own making. Muck Worms were giant carnivorous earthworms, Slip Worms were living traps, and Slime Vines were mini-Tanglers.

Things in Pools

01-07 Skull
08-14 Miscellaneous Bone
15-21 Rusty Gauntlet
22-28 Corroded Sword
29-35 Rotten Cloth
36-42 Rotten Sack with 1-8 GP
43-49 Ring 10-100 GP
50-56 Bent Dagger
57-63 Rotten Boot
64-77 Empty Vial
78 +2 Dagger (*)
79 Potion Fire Giant Strength (*)
80 Potion Invulnerability (*)
81-85 Roll Twice
86-100 Nothing
(*) Singular item, ignore subsequent results.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Dragon Slayer's Shield

The Dragon Slayer is a near legendary figure these days, a wandering warrior who dedicated himself to eradicating dragons from the known world. As suicidal as that career choice might sound, the Dragon Slayer was responsible for the death of many great wyrms. His success was based on the strengths of his small band of specialists and his ability to gain support of local military organizations when called upon. No fewer than seven dragon defeats are credited to the Dragon Slayer's hand.

The Dragon Slayer's Shield displays the trophies of some of the Slayer's most prominent victories. The shield itself is made up of four distinct components which could be separated and used individually.

Dragon Bone Body - The body of the shield is formed from the pure white shoulder bone of a dragon, cut into a round form about two and a half feet in diameter. It has a central hole cut for a boss, and is fitted with a white, dragon bone handle.

The body radiates Superb protection magic and provides Great protection from physical harm. It has Epic toughness, able to withstand blows from the strongest of foes without harm.

Scale Boss - The boss of the shield is formed from three black dragon scales cut to completely cover a mithril form.

The boss radiates Superb protection, damage, and accuracy magic. Like the shield body, the boss has Epic toughness. A shield blow struck with this boss attached gains a Great bonus to both damage and accuracy.

Hide Shield Cover - The shield cover consists of three pieces of dragon hide (red, white, and blue), cut and sewn to fit the shield. The hides are covered in very fine scales, which radiate outward from the central boss. Each color covers one-third of the shield's face.

The cover radiates Superb protection magic. It provides Great resistance to fire, cold, and electrical elemental attacks. It has Epic toughness, turning blows and blades with ease.

Bone Rim - The rim protector consists of slices of dragon bone cut into strips, stained black, and sewn to a leather backing. The whole laced to the shield's edge.

The rim radiates Superb divination and protection magic. Like the rest of the shield's components it has Epic toughness. Its divination magic will cause the rim to pulse with faint red light when draconic beings are within 100'.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Transmuting Band

These magical rings are potent elemental wards. Each Transmuting Band is a silver band worked into a pattern of over-lapping, polished discs, and set with a pair of precious gemstones, one larger than the other. The gemstones featured depend on the ring's enchantment. If examined for magical properties the ring radiates Great protection and alteration magic.

Each Transmuting Band absorbs one form of elemental damage, transmuting and reflecting it as another. The type of damage absorbed and reflected is determined by the two gemstones set into the ring. The larger primary stone determines what is absorbed, the smaller secondary stone how it is reflected. The primary and secondary stone are never the same.

Primary Stone - If the ring's wearer is attacked by the listed form, the ring absorbs up to Great damage. If the attack is greater than the ring can absorb the remaining energy inflicts damage as normal. The ring only absorbs damage that would affect the wearer, area of effect damage will still affect others, even if the ring absorbs some or all of its damage.

  • Ruby - Absorbs fire
  • Emerald - Absorbs water
  • Topaz - Absorbs earth
  • Sapphire - Absorbs air
  • Amethyst - Absorbs electrical
  • Aquamarine - Absorbs cold

Secondary Stone - In the round after an attack is absorbed the ring reflects the absorbed energy as listed below. Note that the ring's wielder is unaffected by any of the effects listed. Their allies may not be so lucky.

  • Ruby - Wearer gains a flame aura that inflicts Average damage on anyone in melee range.
  • Emerald - Mist billows forth from the wearer, surrounding them in a 10' radius cloud, obscuring all vision for 1-4 rounds.
  • Topaz - Diamond-like shards of earth burst from the wearer, striking the four nearest targets for Average damage.
  • Sapphire - Howling gust of wind jets forth in a 5' wide, 20' path in front of them, knocking down small foes, pushing back man-sized foes, and picking up and blowing away small objects.
  • Amethyst - Discharges a Good strength bolt of energy that strikes the nearest target.
  • Aquamarine - Ice shards spray from the wearer, striking all within a 10' radius with an Average strength cold attack.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Butterfly Axe

The double-bit, long-bearded blade of this axe gives rise to its name. The two-handed Butterfly Axe's symmetric blades are forged from fine steel with a deep blue sheen. Each is etched with a fine pattern of silvery lines forming a swirling eye-shaped pattern in the upper and lower half of the blade cheeks. The bleached oak haft is fitted with reinforcing bands of steel and ends in a heavy, spiked knob, making the Axe a very heavy weapon. A knowledgeable weapon-smith will be able to determine that the axe is of Dwarfish manufacture.

Identifying the magical properties of the item will reveal:
  • Good accuracy enhancement
  • Great damage enhancement
  • Great necromantic enhancement
  • The Butterfly Axe radiates neither good nor evil

The axe has Good accuracy and damage bonuses in combat. When used against goblin-type foes the damage bonus is increased to Great. Each foe slain by the Butterfly Axe provides the wielder with a Fair temporary bonus to health. This health bonus does not heal existing wounds, and all temporary health gains vanish when combat ends, possibly leaving the wielder unconscious or dead.