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Monday, August 31, 2009


This over-sized buckler has a hideous appearance. Its face is covered by a pallid mass of quivering flesh three inches thick. This resilient surface is pocked with curiously crusty slits and grooves, and the whole mass seems to shift and move of its own accord. The back of the buckler is a rather plain affair of heavy limewood bound with iron and leather. If examined for magical properties the item radiates Superb animation and alteration magic and Good healing magic. A Superb test of divination magic will reveal the ritual required to bind the device to its owner.

When wielded by a properly attuned person and the proper command word is spoken Fleshwall comes to life. The slits and grooves balloon outward into hideous tentacles, each bearing a fanged mouth, a needle sharp stinger, or a black, pupil-less eye. These tentacles extend in a five foot radius around the wielder, and can affect any opponent within melee range. Despite their size the magic of Fleshwall negates any weight or maneuver penalty caused by the tentacles. The tentacles have the following properties:
  • Mouth - Does an Average bite attack once per round. A successful bite inflicts normal damage and remains attached for one round draining a Good amount of blood. At the end of the following round Fleshwall sprouts a new random tentacle.
  • Stinger - Does an Average sting attack once per round. A successful sting inflicts Poor damage, but paralyzes the target unless they make a Good resistance check versus poison.
  • Eye - Each round the eye gazes at a single foe. If the target fails to resist vs. Willpower, they are panicked for three rounds, dropping any held items and fleeing at a run.
When the tentacles are invoked 1d4+4 random tentacles will appear. Each tentacle has Fair toughness. Destroyed tentacles retract into the main body of the shield. If all tentacles are destroyed, Fleshwall becomes inert for one day. When used without invoking the tentacles, Fleshwall serves as a mundane shield.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Seeker's Tome

This thick tome is bound in bright yellow leather inscribed with runes of divination and scrying. The volume's spine, edges and corners are reinforced with tarnished copper plates that are fastened to the binding with black rivets. The Tome contains 79 pages of the finest vellum, each bearing an ornate hand-drawn border rendered in purple ink on one side, a dense hash of magical runes on the other. If examined for magical properties the Tome radiates Epic divination magic. A Superb test of divination magic will reveal the Tome's powers.

Binding the Page - The owner of the Tome selects a blank page, names a sentient being, and speaks a command word. An image of the target instantly appears upon the page, showing their current appearance and locale. Blocking this effect is a Superb test of anti-scrying magic (and the page remains blank if the block is successful). Once used in this manner the page is forever bound to the chosen target, and can be used in conjunction with the Tome's other powers. This power can be invoked at will, though a blank page is consumed with each successful invocation.

Scrying Touch - Using a bound page, the owner of the Tome can establish a scrying connection to the portrayed target. This connection lasts ten minutes and provides a view of the target and their immediate locale. Blocking this effect is a Superb test of anti-scrying magic. Once the connection ends the page retains the last image of the target. This power can be used up to five times per day, but a single page can only be activated once per day.

Sending - The Tome's owner uses a bound page to establish a mental connection to the target. Sending lasts five minutes and allows two-way mental communication between owner and target. The either party may attempt to use other charm or psychic magics through this link once it is established, though the Tome's owner gains a Good bonus to all such attempts. Blocking a Sending is a Superb test of anti-scrying magic. This power can be used once per day.

The target of a Scrying Touch or Sending can attempt to permanently break the linkage between themselves and the Tome. Breaking the link requires a Legendary success at dispel magic while a connection is active. If a link is successfully broken the associated page turns black and becomes forever useless. A link can be reestablished using a new Binding the Page, but the target gains a Fair bonus to block the attempt.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sun Gliders

These cliff-dwelling lizards are four to six feet in length. At first glance they are unremarkable, but closer study shows they are worthy of some caution.

Sun Gliders inhabit rocky outcroppings and cliff walls in desert environments, making their dens in cooler crevices and caves. Their pebbled brown hide blends in well with their typical habitat, making them difficult to spot when they are not moving, which is most of the time. Sun Gliders are lurking predators, stationing themselves above food or water sources, then pouncing upon prey that passes below. They take their name from their habit of resting on sunny cliffs, and their ability to flatten their body and glide through the air for significant distances to land on unsuspecting prey. Victims are dispatched with a combination of heavy claws and a venomous bite, though the creatures are not strong fighters, preferring to strike, then let their poisonous bite do the work.

Sun Gliders have the following characteristics:
  • Average toughness.
  • Great climbing ability.
  • Good poisonous bite.
  • Fair camouflage in rocky or sandy environments.
  • Fair gliding capability for short distances.
Sun Gliders are generally regarded as pests by most sentient races. Though they usually will not bother human-sized targets, preferring smaller prey, a weakened individual might be a attacked. Sun Gliders generally live in small groups, though there does not seem to be any form of cooperation between members. It is rumored that the venom sacs of an adult Sun Glider can be milked, producing 1-3 doses of Good strength injected poison.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Bloodwing appears to be the remains of a dessicated bat that have been dipped in a pitch and preserved. The only features not covered with the black coating are the creature's gleaming eyes and razor-sharp fangs. Though it looks fragile the object is quite sturdy. Bloodwing has a wing span of approximately one foot. If examined for magical properties it radiates Superb alteration magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal its enchantment.

To activate Bloodwing's powers the owner must sink its fangs into their own chest near the heart. Once attached the device (creature?) will drain blood from the owner equal to an Average wound, taking three rounds to do so. Once sated, Bloodwing will grant its owner Superb flight ability and Great echolocation ability for one hour. During this time Bloodwing remains attached, dropping free and becoming inert for three hours once the hour has passed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quake Sphere

This magical item is a perfectly smooth three inch sphere of orange stone shot through with deep red veins. The sphere's surface is silky, almost slick to the touch, and it weighs heavily in the hand. The sphere is contained within a lambswool lined, black leather bag with a simple drawstring closure. If examined for magical properties the sphere radiates Superb evocation and alteration magic, while the pouch radiates Fair enchantment and divination magic.

The bag's enchantment is rather straightforward. Once attuned the bag will always seek out its owner, by chance encounter or minor enchantment. Those that fall under the enchantment of the bag will not be tempted to examine it or its contents. Instead they will be unwittingly drawn to the bag's destination.

The sphere itself is a much more potent item. Once the proper command word is known (revealed by a Superb test of divination magic), the owner can activate the sphere. Once activated the sphere will spring from its owner's hand and begin to bounce, gaining speed and mass with each impact. The sphere can be directed to strike foes or objects, striking with Great accuracy and deadly force. The sphere's impact has the following progression:

Roundvs. Foevs. Object

After 15 rounds the sphere returns to its owner's hand. Once a target is selected the object's owner is free to carry out other actions, though changing targets requires a round of concentration. The sphere moves at Superb speed, so changing targets (within reason) is instantaneous. The sphere's power can be invoked three times per day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grim Monday: The Curse of Shrieks

This curse was originally created as a punishment for those convicted of murder. The accursed is plagued by the death shrieks of their victims which randomly replace the normal sounds of everyday living. The curse manifests itself twenty or more times a day, with no regard for the original sound's volume. The faint chirping of a cricket, the laugh of a boisterous bar patron, or the voice of a merchant negotiating with a customer are all equally likely to be turned into a hideous shriek.

There are two versions of this curse. The original form can only be applied to someone that has slain another sentient being, and requires a drop of the dead being's blood to cast. The second, less potent form can be cast upon anyone. The former version requires Legendary dispel magic to remove, while the later can be dispelled with a Superb test.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Random Tables

When I'm building encounters, dungeons or NPC groups there's often a need to fill the pockets of minor creatures or characters with a bit of gear and loot. Now it's pretty easy to give out some basic coin or other valuables, but what if you want to add in some special items? An extra gem, a nice piece of jewelry, or even a bit of magic? One of the ways I do this, particularly if I'm designing large groups, is with a random table.

Now some people have problems with using tables for treasure, but I'm not one of them. I don't use them to hand out important items, but for a bit of color, they work quite well. Here's my standard random treasure table, used with percentile dice:

01-50 Nothing special
51-75 Double normal coins
76-90 Decent gem or jewelry
91-95 Potion, scroll or other one-shot magic
96 Minor magic item *
97 Valuable gem or jewelry *
98 Valuable information (map, key or document) *
99 Very valuable gem or jewelry *
00 Good magic item *

* Singular item, cross off once used, treat subsequent rolls as Nothing special.

Note that each entry in the table is roughly half as likely as the previous, and the most common results are a bit of extra coin or a sparkly, so you're not really giving away anything spectacular using this method. It's also easy to adjust the entries to add more special results. The same table layout works well for random encounters outdoors:

01-50 Nothing special
51-75 Harmless encounter (wild beast, minor obstacle)
76-90 Minor nuisance (predatory beast, significant obstacle)
91-95 Major encounter
96 Unique creature *
97 Unique creature *
98 Unique obstacle *
99 Unique obstacle *
00 Hidden location *

In fact this table works well for almost anything in a sandbox-style game when you haven't prepared material to cover something the player's are trying to do (especially in a system without skills to cover every contingency). The table can be generalized to:

01-50 Nothing special
51-75 Minor result
76-90 Medium result
91-95 Major result
96 Unique result *
97 Unique result *
98 Unique result *
99 Unique result *
00 Unique result *

So there you have it, random tables that aren't completely random. Hope they're useful to someone out there!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This large, oval amulet hangs from a thick bronze chain. The amulet is cut from a slick black stone that seems to shift and pulse of its own volition. This aspect is enhanced by the subject matter depicted on the amulet, a writhing mass of worm-like creatures, each with a single baleful eye instead of a head. Tiny flecks of ruby decorate the carving but overall the piece has a rather repulsive aspect. If examined for magical properties the item radiates Superb enchantment and alteration magic. An aura of evil surrounds the item. A Great test of divination magic will reveal the powers of the item.

Once per day the item's owner can draw forth one of the worms depicted upon the amulet. This hideous creature can be implanted upon a victim with a successful touch attack, instantly vanishing into the target's body, where it will remain until activated by the amulet's owner. An implanted worm can be detected with a Superb test of divination magic and destroyed with a Superb test of dispel magic. Up to a dozen worms can be active at once. Should the amulet change hands, previously implanted worms remain active, and the new owner instantly knows who they infest.

The owner of the amulet can use an implanted worm to make a Great potency suggestion to the victim. This suggestion reverberates in the victim's mind, requiring a test of resolve to avoid carrying it out each day. Should the target resist, the worm punishes them by culling their worst memories and replaying them over and over in the victim's head. Continued resistance will have a Fair chance of causing some form of mental instability in the victim for each day they resist.

Once the victim carries out the suggestion the worm is consumed. The victim is freed from the compulsion and left to deal with the consequences of their actions. Any mental instability caused by resisting the worm's effects may become permanent if the victim fails to make a Great resolve check.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Actual Play: A Turn

I've been running a play-by-email game for about a year now. The setting is Pre-WWII with a good helping of weird science, pulp and gun play involved. Things are winding down a bit, but I was pretty pleased with this turn, in which the group attempts to escape the secret Nazi base located somewhere beneath the ocean off the coast of Alaska. The party has managed to escape direct confrontation with the guards, rescue the two scientists who were kidnapped by the Germans, and start a really nice fire. So much for the sneaky approach. Here's the turn:

Everyone dives for cover at the sound of the grenade hitting the floor. Truck manages to stumble behind a crate, Sonoma easily vaults behind another. Elsie and Anders pull Bennett and Eisenstein into cover and Hi ducks back into open barracks door. Unfortunately Scars manages to dive straight into the side of a crate instead of over it, while Kane tries to follow Hi and ends up on the wrong side of the door. Those at the head of the group can just make out something moving in the smoke in front of them, and some shouting in German, just before the grenade goes off. The explosion seems muffled, the results indeterminant.

As the echoes die away Truck lumbers to his feet and charges across the hall to the cover provided by the crates along the right wall. He raises the heavy Bren and fires a burst up the hall, angling for the nearest doorway as Scars struggles to his feet and Sonoma waves the others
forward, then advances toward the left-hand door.

The sound of the Bren drowns out further conversation, but not the rifle fire from the sub pen doorway. Bullets riccochet down the hall and one slams into the unlucky Scars, hammering back into the crates [hurt wound].

"Move it!" shouts Sonoma to the others, grabbing Scars and pulling him across the hall to Truck's position of relative safety. Sonoma draws his pistols and lays down cover fire as the others begin to creep past, practically crawling through the dense smoke. Scars groans and rolls onto his belly, pulling his Tommy gun into firing position and bleeding all over Sonoma's boots. The exchange draws a scream from the sub pen, this time the German rifles are joined by the chatter of an SMG. One round splinters the monorail room door while a second catches Kane in the upper
arm [hurt wound]!

Anders, Elsie, Bennett and Eisenstein manage to crawl through the door into the smokey darkness beyond, leaving Sonoma, Scars and Truck on the right side of the hall and Kane and Hi on the left. "Bastards!" groans the ex-Marine as he stares at the bullet hole in his arm. "Good thing it's not my throwing hand." He pulls the pin on one of the remaining grenades, counts to six, then pitches it through the shattered doors leading to the sub pen. The pineapple sails unerringly through the door, bounces gently off the hand rail and comes to rest in the middle of the shallow ramp leading down into the pen. One of the Germans has time to shout something
before it goes off, but none have a chance to react.

The explosion this time isn't muffled at all, and the German guns fall silent. "Move!" shouts Kane, scrambling for the door, Hi in close pursuit.

Across the hall Truck and Sonoma grab Scars and practically drag him towards the monorail warehouse.

The five men pile through the door into choking smoke. Truck's quick glance through the sub pen doors does not reassure the big man. "The soldiers near the door are all down, but more are coming! And that sub is burning. REALLY burning! Let's go!"

Stumbling along the south wall, the group heads for the rail head. Sonoma in the lead, followed by Kane, helping Scars, Elsie and Anders with Bennett and Eisenstein, Hi and Truck to the rear. The smoke is thicker here and you are nearly blind as you fumble your way past piles of crates. Elsie gives a little shriek when she steps on one of the dismembered corpses laying on the floor, and Truck sends a hydraulic lift careening across the floor when he backs into it.

Behind you the red glow of the burning sub flickers through the smoke, or is that someone moving? It's impossible to say. To be sure Truck lays down a burst of Bren for luck.

It seems an eternity, but you finally stumble through the big sliding doors and into the darkness of the monorail chamber. The air here is a bit clearer, though your eyes still burn from the thick diesel smoke hanging in the air. Sonoma helps Scars into the waiting car and lays him down. The
gangster looks pale and a dark stain coats the left leg of his overalls.

"Elsie help Eisenstein and Bennett into the car, let me tend to Kane so he can set the charge."

Anders moves quickly to the engineer's side, but Kane shrugs him off, already digging into the bag for the satchel charge. "This won't take a minute. You can tend to this on the ride."

Anders sighs, then rips a strip of the tough overall fabric free, pulling a gauze pad from the first aid kit, he grabs Kane's arm half-shouting "This will take considerably less time. At least it will slow the bleeding til it can be properly tended." Working quickly he crudely bandages the wound, pulling the strips tight to stauch the flow of blood.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Goblin Hunters

Goblins are pretty common fare in fantasy gaming. Here's a small encounter with some potential hooks for additional adventure.

The encounter takes place in a wilderness setting, though no specific terrain is required. There should be sufficient cover (trees, scrub, or rocks) to allow for a surprise confrontation. There should also be sufficient game around to justify the hunting party's presence.

The Goblin Hunters
  • 10 beaters - these goblins are arrayed in a broad V-shaped formation, and advance in unison, funneling any game toward the bottom of the V. The beaters are armed with cudgels and short bows (Average skill). Since their goal is to drive prey toward the hunters, they're not particularly quiet as they advance. Each beater carries a small whistle, which they can use to alert the others of danger.
  • 4 archers - strung out at the base of the V-formation these hunters pick off any game flushed by the beaters. They're each armed with a short bow (Fair skill) and 20 arrows. 5 of their arrows have red fletches and are treated with a soporific poison (Average test of resistance or suffer a Fair action penalty for 1-6 rounds).
  • 2 skinners - these goblins follow the archers, finishing off any wounded prey and loading it onto the crude travois they pull. Each is armed with a sharp knife (Fair skill).
  • 1 hound master - "Murgel" is a short, squat goblin who stinks of his hounds. He has Good animal handling skills and Fair strength. He carries a heavy cudgel (Average skill), but prefers to use his fists (Good brawling).
  • 2 large large wolfhounds commanded by Murgel, that the goblins hold in reserve to deal with large or aggressive prey. The hounds are vicious creatures with Good toughness and bite attacks and Great running speed and endurance.
  • 1 head hunter - "Garch" is a clever goblin with Good woodland and hunting skills. He is armed with a Good short bow (Good skill) and carries a whistle that he uses to alert and direct the beaters. Garch has good judgment and Fair bluff skills, and will avoid or negotiate his way out of encounters that are out of his league. He's not above a bit of banditry however, and a weak party could well find themselves out of luck.
The most likely encounter is accidentally running into one of the beaters. The goblin will attempt to flee and sound the alarm, alerting the rest of the hunting party. The remaining beaters will fall back to the main party, then investigate the threat under the direction of Garch.

Garch will use sound tactics to put up the best fight possible if it comes to blows. Murgel will commit the hounds to battle early, focusing their attacks on the weakest-seeming member of the opposition. He'll reluctantly sacrifice the hounds as a diversion if the goblins are clearly out-gunned.

Should the adventurers prove victorious, any slain goblins will have a few bits of copper and silver, and little else of value. Garch wears a tarnished bronze armband of Fair value, and Murgel has a thin gold ring, also of Fair value.

Potential Followups

  • The goblins are part of a larger group, who have set up housekeeping in a supposedly haunted wood nearby, using a small cave network as their home. They wish only to live in peace.
  • The goblins are part of a larger war band passing through. The main force is a few days behind and the hunting party has been establishing food caches along their planned path. The war band is intent on pillaging a nearby settlement for loot and slaves.
  • Murgel's gold ring is actually an old wedding band. The inscription provides a clue to the former owner, long dead. Their son, however, is a minor noble in a nearby province.
  • One of the goblins has an ancient map of the locale drawn on fine calf's hide. Several trails have been marked in a crude hand over the original map. There's also a large skull and crossbones marked on a nearby hill.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vermin Seed

This item appears to be nothing more than a small velvet pouch or bag, moth-eaten and tattered, but still intact. The mouth of the faded brown bag is held shut with a black leather lace. A small, tarnished bronze medallion is sewn into the fabric, its face decorated with the silhouette of a mouse or rat head. If tested for magical properties the bag radiates Great alteration magic.

The bag contains from 1-12 large, golden-yellow, oval seeds an inch or so in length. Any time there are less than 12 seeds within the bag 0-2 new seeds will appear overnight. The bag's owner may pluck forth one or more seeds and toss them to the ground where they instantly dig into the ground and disappear. The soil will immediately begin to churn and rise, and one to three rounds later a huge swarm of vermin will crawl forth. The exact type of vermin is left to the discretion of the GM, but should be something native to the locale. All vermin summoned have two things in common: they're hungry and they're diseased.

The summoned creatures will quickly spread out and search for food sources, destroying crops and stored food, establishing nests in any convenient location near the source of their summoning. Summoned vermin are normal creatures, and will continue to plague the area unless driven out or destroyed. Any creature within a vermin infested area has a Good chance of contracting a disease from tainted food or being bitten. Vermin are easily killed if they can be found, but unless Great efforts are made to eradicate them, the residual population will cause them to reappear within a month.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Blood Seekers

The Blood Seekers are a matched set of five needle-like throwing daggers. Each narrow, five-inch long blade is fashioned from the finest steel and polished to a mirror-like finish. Each hilt features a minimal ring-shaped guard and a slender handle made of dull white bone and fastened with silver rivets to the tang of the blade. When discovered The Blood Seekers will be contained within a slender case of polished white bone, which can be easily slung over one shoulder by means of a broad gray silk strap. The Blood Seekers and their case radiate Superb alteration and combat magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal their enchantments:
  • The daggers themselves are Superb quality weapons, enchanted with Great accuracy, range and damage enhancing magic (though they are not particularly suited to melee combat). They have Legendary toughness and should be considered unbreakable for most purposes.
  • A successful attack with one of the daggers against a living foe causes the weapon to stick in the resulting wound, causing Fair damage due to blood loss for three additional rounds. Once satiated the dagger teleports itself back to the case where it transfers the blood drained to its owner, healing a like amount of damage. Daggers that miss or strike unliving foes return after three rounds without doing any additional damage.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mind Eaters

These minuscule parasites feed on the mental energies of living creatures, gradually draining away their victim's mental capacity, leaving a mindless husk. They appear to be nothing more than an over-sized tick, though they have an extra set of legs, and are sickly shimmering green in color. They lurk near naturally occurring sources of magical energy (some say they are the larval form of some more advanced creature that requires a magical environment to breed) and are drawn to any source of warmth that happens past. They feed on any warm-blooded creature, though they favor those with greater intelligence (and seem to have an innate ability to sense this). Mind Eaters radiate a faint magical aura and are easily slain if noticed. If they manage to hitch a ride upon a suitable host unnoticed they will attach themselves to their victim with an anesthetic bite, preferably near a major nerve bundle. The base of the neck is a favorite location. Once attached they will drain one unit of mental energy per day for ten days, then drop away to digest their meal. The mental energies drained can be determined via the following table:
  • 01-50 Memories - A strong memory vanishes from the victim's mind, completely consumed by the Mind Eater.
  • 51-75 Knowledge - The victim loses a single skill, becoming as inept as a beginner when attempting to use it. The victim will be aware of the skill loss.
  • 76-90 Emotion - The victim loses the ability to feel a specific emotion.
  • 91-100 Personal Bond - The victim loses all memory and emotion tied to a specific personal relationship. The person lost becomes a stranger to the victim.
The victim of a Mind Eater can recover their lost mental energies by consuming a concoction made from the remains of the consuming creature, assuming no more than a week has past since the energies were consumed. The creation of this potion requires a Superb test of lore, and a Great test of healing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Grabbing Sphere

This plain gray sphere is made of an unknown substance. It is three inches in diameter, its surface resilient and warm to the touch. The sphere radiates a faint hum, which changes pitch slightly if the sphere is squeezed. Testing the object for magical properties will reveal Superb alteration magic A Great test of divination magic will reveal the command words required to activate the device. The Grabbing Sphere has three command words:
  • Word of Flotation - The sphere expand to one foot in diameter and take flight, hovering a few feet behind its owner and following them at Fair speed. Any inanimate object touched to the sphere will be held in place as if gripped by someone of Fair strength with the pull directed 'down' towards the center of the sphere. This force will defy gravity. A glass full of water stuck to the sphere will remain full, no matter how the sphere rotates or turns. The sphere will support up to 250 lbs. before it becomes overloaded and sinks to the ground, immobile. This word can be used at will and lasts as long as desired.
  • Word of Flight - The sphere expands to three feet in diameter and hovers one foot off the ground. The owner and a passenger can step aboard the sphere and command it to fly with Great speed and maneuverability with a word. To the riders the sphere's surface always feels as if it were down. This power can be invoked thrice per day and lasts one hour per invocation.
  • Word of Entrapment - When this word is spoken the sphere will streak to a chosen target with Epic accuracy, growing to eight feet in diameter as it does so. Once it strikes it 'sticks' to the target with Legendary strength, essentially rendering them helpless. Only a single target ogre-sized or less is affected. If the sphere misses its target it will readjust its course and attempt to strike again after a one round delay, this behavior continuing until the target is captured or the duration of the effect expires. This power can be invoked once per day and lasts one hour.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Goblin's Eye

Goblin's Eye is a rather ugly piece of work. It is shaped to resemble a complete eyeball, though it will take a few moments study to see the resemblance. The 'white' of the eye is a blob of petrified and dessicated pitch-black tar, crudely formed into a globular shape and shot through with silvery specks of mithril. The iris is a roughly smoothed moonstone that features an orange-yellow inclusion in the center that forms the pupil of the eye. It is difficult to say whether the entire piece was created by hand or a natural oddity. Whatever its origins, the piece now radiates Superb alteration and enchantment magic. A Superb test of divination magic will reveal the process required to unlock the item's powers, though only someone willing to perform the required ritual will comprehend the item's powers.
To unlock the item's powers the owner must sacrifice one of their own eyes. Goblin's Eye must be placed within the empty socket, where it will begin to graft itself to the owner's body immediately. After a week of healing the Eye will be fully integrated and reveal its capabilities to its new owner gradually. Once grafted the Eye can only be removed with a Legendary test of dispelling magic and surgery in combination. Goblin's Eye grants the following powers to its owner:
  • True Sight - the owner gains perfect vision capable of seeing invisible objects, revealing hidden openings or traps, and piercing illusions with ease. Maintaining the Sight requires concentration, no other actions other than speech and minimal gestures can be carried out while using this power. It is a passive ability and can be used at will.
  • Shadow Eye - the owner can pluck out a shadowy copy of Goblin Eye from their own skull. This Shadow Eye is a physical manifestation, though it is nearly invisible. Once drawn forth the Shadow Eye will relay a mental image of its surroundings to the Eye's owner (30 foot radius). It can be placed upon a solid surface or simply left floating in the air. The Shadow Eye can be drawn forth three times per day and lasts two hours per use. Only one Shadow Eye can be active at once. While a Shadow Eye is active no other power of the Eye can be used.
  • Greedy Gaze - The Eye's owner gains a Superb ability to appraise mundane objects. A moment's study revealing the monetary of anything they see. This power can be invoked at will.
  • Piercing Vision - Once per day, the owner can focus their gaze to look through solid objects. This power pierces stone, wood and most metals with ease (though lead will block this power). Piercing vision lasts ten rounds when invoked.
  • Goblin Awe - Over the course of time deep understanding of goblin culture and society will filter into the owner's consciousness, along with perfect command of the goblin language and its many dialects. Goblins that encounter the Eye's owner will be awed by their presence, providing a Superb advantage in any negotiation or social conflict.
Using Goblin's Eye has some significant consequences:
  • Once in place the Eye will gradually alter the host's body to resemble that of a goblin. This alteration begins with the flesh nearest the Eye, gradually turning skin greenish or gray, altering bone structure and musculature. The process is gradual, taking several years for complete conversion.
  • When invoking Greedy Gaze the owner must succeed at a Good test of resolve or succumb to their own avarice. Lying about the value of objects to obtain a lion's share of wealth for themselves.

RPG Bloggers Network - Reader Survey

Edit: This is not an official RPGBN survey. My bad. Updated to more accurately reflect what this really is.

A member of the RPG Bloggers Network is conducting a reader survey, sharing the results with all the bloggers in the network. It's a great way to give us a bit of an idea about what you (if you're reading this, you're part of the network's readership) want from our blogs. Please take a few minutes and give us your thoughts!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Torc of the Healer

This neck garb is an elegant, flexible gold band from which hang overlapping rows of delicate leaf-shaped gold scales, each set with a small topaz or emerald. The band itself is shaped to resemble a vine or branch with smooth bark. The piece has Superb value as a piece of jewelry in addition to its magical properties. Legends says there were once five such torcs the gift of a long forgotten healer's deity. The Torc radiates Superb healing magic and Great protection magic. It has the following magical properties:
  • The Great protective magic of the Torc cause blows directed at the wearer to either miss completely or do minimal damage (Great defensive bonus).
  • So long as the wearer is not engaged in combat themselves, any foe must make a Great test of resolve to attack them or choose another foe. Any offensive action on the part of the wearer defeats this protection.
  • The wearer gains a Superb resistance bonus to all forms of disease, poison or other natural maladies.
  • All healing magic performed by the wearer gains a Great potency bonus.
  • Five times per week the wearer can heal a significant malady: blindness, deadly poison, deafness, physical deformity, or other long term affliction.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Diaspora Now Available

Diaspora, the hard SciFi RPG based on the Fate RPG, has been released. I've been looking forward to this for quite a while, and I wanted to share the news!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Maw of the Elements

The Maw is a cauldron-like container cut from a single massive chunk of silver-gray hematite. The entire surface of this heavy bowl is engraved with elemental runes arranged in a seemingly random pattern. The interior of the cauldron is polished to a brilliant, smooth finish, and seems to radiate faint warmth. The bowl is about 20 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. It rests upon an intricately carved stand fashioned from burled camphor wood. Each leg of the stand is carved to represent an elemental of the four elements: earth, air, water, fire. If the item is examined for magical properties it will radiate Legendary alteration magic. An Epic test of divination magic will reveal it's capabilities.
The Maw functions as a sort of magical smelter. When any non-living item is placed within the bowl it will fill with a bubbling black liquid, completely covering the contents. This liquid will remain for four hours, churning and bubbling within the container, then recede, leaving the remains of the item behind. Items so treated are reduced to their component elements, with half their volume consumed to fire the smelting process. Living creatures cannot activate the process, though touching the bubbling liquid within the pot causes Great burn damage to anyone so foolish as to make the attempt.
  • The air and fire components escape into the atmosphere during the smelting process, though a clever alchemist might come up with a way to capture these fleeting vapors.
  • The water components form a pool in the bottom of the container.
  • The earth components will be piled within the pool as clods of soil and chunks of pure metal.
The item to be smelted must fit through the mouth of the smelter, though the Maw's interior has a seemingly infinite capacity (an entire ten foot long spear can easily be placed within for example). The process of smelting will often reduce the value of items placed within. Gems will be reduced to common soil, valuable liquids become water, poisonous vapors, and a few dried flakes of chemicals. Metals are a different matter, and the Maw can be used to turn old and rusted weapons into ingots of pure iron, albeit at a loss.
Magical items placed within the Maw suffer the same fate as their mundane counterparts unless they succeed at a resistance check based on their most potent enchantment (Epic success required to resist the Maw's effect). There is a 50% chance that smelting a magical item will release a 60 foot diameter cloud of magically energized gas during the process. This cloud will inflict a magical alteration upon anyone or anything within the area, depending on the primary enchantment of the item smelted. The exact nature of this alteration is left to the whim of the GM, and may be permanent or temporary as desired.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are We Killing Ourselves?

I'm taking a bit of a departure from my usual fare today, so apologies to the regulars here (all three of you).

This article in the New Scientist RSS feed caught my eye. It's only a brief summary of a longer article in the magazine, but the basic premise held forth by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of the National University of Singapore:

"The over-abundance of connections reduces diversity and keeps radical ideas from taking hold."

My first thought when I read this was "That's the gaming world!"

Three thoughts followed:
  • Consider if you will the vast amount of energy expended in the blog-sphere defending various styles of RPG play. In the end has it added anything to our hobby? Many of the proponents of various play styles can't even agree on a definition of what they're arguing about. Other than generating an endless stream of blog and forum posts, has the debate added to the industry?
  • Speaking of forums, are these gathering places providing value to our hobby or are they creating armed camps of monolithic thought? I don't frequent many forums these days, so I'm not up on what sites are defending which flavor of the month, but the fundamental question "Is the debate adding to or detracting from our hobby?" is worth asking ourselves.
  • Lastly: old-school vs. new-school, not as a style, but a mindset. While there are certainly differences in play-style between the two groups, I think there is also a fundamental mindset difference. In the early days of our hobby, most players, GMs and developers worked in vastly greater isolation than today's always on, Internet-connected society. My own roots are in the pre-Internet era. When I started playing our "game store" was a KB Toys, and our gaming group was three people who all lived in a small rural town in Maryland. Is it any wonder that our play developed a unique character and that we, the players, gained a strong sense of personal ownership in that play style? Does today's new-school player have the same personal investment in their gaming style, or has the proliferation of connections homogenized the gaming world?
So what conclusion can we draw about this subject? I'm not sure one can be made. But maybe someone will read this and the next time someone posts up an idea for a campaign or system modification, readers will be inspired not to suggest changes, debate the old/new school flavor, or flame the idea. Maybe they'll offer up a word of encouragement and push the original poster to develop the idea further.

“Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth”
--Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


This item consists of a pair of dove-gray slipper-like shoes made from the finest velvet and soled and trimmed with soft black leather. A narrow strap adorned with a plain silver buckle secures the shoes in place, and a delicate pattern of silver beads across the toe provides a bit of decoration. Shadowfoot radiates Great alteration and illusion magic, and a Good test of divination magic will reveal the item's powers:
  • Shadowfoot will adjust to fit any humanoid wearer from the tiniest faerie to the largest giant.
  • Shadowfoot provides the wearer with a Good bonus to their hide attempts, so long as they are at least partially obscured by something's shadow.
  • When shadows are present the shoes allow the wearer to alter their appearance, taking on the aspect of the shadows and whatever is casting it. Hiding under a tree might allow them to appear as a shadowed branch, while hiding in a torch-lit bar would allow them to take the shape of a cask of ale or a part of the stone pillar. This power provides a Superb bonus to hiding and can be invoked thrice per day, lasting ten rounds per invocation.
  • The wearer can walk through shadow, instantly transporting themselves from one location to another with a full round of concentration. To invoke this power the wearer must stand within a shadow and concentrate for one round, at which time they will vanish and reappear at their chosen destination. The destination must be connected to their starting location by an unbroken area of shadow, and be visible to the wearer when this power is invoked. Once transported the wearer must take a round of action to reorient themselves to their new location. This power can be invoked as often as desired.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grim Monday: Insidious Plants

Today's article includes a few seemingly innocuous plants that are something quite different in reality. Nobody expects trouble from a plant, do they?

Peeper Moss
This low growing, moisture-loving moss commonly grows in rocky areas near streams, springs or bogs, clinging to rocks and fallen trees. Its usual form is a clump the size of a spread hand, with a number of stringy tendrils rising from a central mass. Each of these tendrils ends in a globular appendage which bears a strong resemblance to a partially opened eye. These appendages give the plant its name.
Unfortunately for travelers, the plant is an ideal target for divination magic. A skilled mage can establish a scrying link to moss colonies with very little effort (Great bonus to divination magic using a pinch of the plant to establish a link with the original colony). Once a link is established a single round's concentration allows the mage to view the area from the colony's point of view. This link remains even if the plant is transplanted, making it both a boon and a hazard.

Wire Vine

This dark green, slender vine grows in open fields and prairies, its tough low-growing stems and thin, grass-like leaves giving it enough resilience to survive grazing herds. It grows in broad spidery networks of vines that blend in with native grasses, making it difficult to spot.
Wire Vine is a scavenger plant, feeding on any organic matter that touches its wide-spread network of vines. When it senses a food source it will immediately send forth tough, fast-growing tendrils to take advantage of the situation. These tendrils can grow two or three feet in a few hours, quickly penetrating and entangling anything left within their reach. Though living creatures are usually not threatened by this behavior (though an incapacitated individual might be), anything else left on the ground will be consumed within a few hours.

Mimic Fruit

Not a true plant at all, much less fruit, Mimic Fruit is a puffball-like fungus that forms hanging colonies on fruit trees that exactly resemble the tree's normal produce. These colonies are normally benign, but if disturbed, they collapse and spray forth a cloud of spores in a ten foot radius, causing temporary blindness and disorientation to anyone within the area of effect (Good resistance check to avoid these effects).

For more vegetative goodness see the previous article featuring the Carnivorous Water Lily.