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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Well it's been five months since the last real post here, I guess it's time to officially close the doors. What was originally intended to be an extended summer vacation stretched into a long hiatus, and at this point my gaming is not really matching up well with the stated goals of this blog. A few things:

  • I have no plans to take down the blog, and I don't think Blogger removes inactive sites, so there's no need to panic if you're using something here as a reference. It should remain for the foreseeable future.
  • I'd like to extend a big thank you to the various folk who have followed and commented upon the stuff I've posted here. Feedback from readers was always a big motivator for continuing this project. THANKS!
  • I have a vague plan to start a new blog with a broader focus sometime in the near future.  It'll cover traditional RPGs as well as MMOs, computer games, and various other forms of entertainment and media. Once I figure out what I'm doing I'll post up a link here for anyone that might wish to check it out.
That's about it. Thanks for reading! Good gaming!


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Black Seed

The creation of a fanatical order of dark druids intent on preserving the wilderness at any cost, the Black Seed can be a terribly destructive force. It is a small cylinder carved from some unknown wood, its surface pitted and scarred with bore marks and burls. A ring of gray stone is affixed to one end of the cylinder, and attached to this is a thin black leather thong which allows the cylinder to be worn as an amulet. If examined for magical properties, the Black Seed radiates Epic nature magic. An Epic test of divination magic will identify the power of the object, though it may not reveal the consequences of using this power.

The Black Seed has a singular power, thrice per day its owner can call forth a half-dozen tiny black seeds that trickle forth from the various burls and wormholes in the object. When cast upon the ground these seeds instantly bury themselves and begin to grow at a tremendous rate. Unplanted seeds vanish after one hour.

Each seed sprouts into a creeping weed-like plant that sends forth runners and shoots both above and below ground. These magical plants twist and bind around any cultivated plant they encounter, choking root, stem and branch in twisting, jagged tendrils. A single plant matures in a few hours, covering ten or fifteen square feet. Once mature, the plant blooms and goes to seed in the space of half an hour, each plant producing dozens of seed pods that pop open and spray their seeds up to thirty feet away, beginning the cycle anew.

Once it has cast its seed each mature plant metamorphoses into a secondary phase. Rigid, bamboo-like trunks shoot up from the ground, each sending forth dozens of thorn-lined, angular branches in all directions, creating a nearly impenetrable barrier. These plants are quite tough, requiring a heavy axe blow to sever a branch. Even fire is of little use against them, as it sears the surface but does not penetrate the plant's hard green trunks. This phase of growth culminates in a dense tangle of thorny growth, a dozen feet high, covering a vast area.

These spiky plants mature in the space of a single day, each sending forth dozens of massive blossoms that fill the air with a nauseating stench. Anyone exposed to the smell must make a Great test of toughness or be driven away, overcome by illness. These blossoms last a few hours, then quickly go to seed. Much like the original weed-like plant these seeds spray forth to cover a large area, though they are much less malevolent in nature. Each pod produces a dozen or more seeds of different types, each a species native to the area. These seeds root themselves among the creeping weeds and spiky hedges, then grow at an accelerated rate for one day before reverting to a more natural growth pattern.

A single seed will spread to cover up to a square mile before the potency of its magical growth fades. As the natural plants begin to grow the tangle of weeds and spikes begin to wither and die, collapsing into an organic sludge rich in nutrients. In as little as three days cultivated farmland can become a tangled scrub of wild grasses, underbrush and small trees, well on its way to becoming native forest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


These foul nature spirits inhabit desolate pine forests in the cold reaches, preying on any living creature that passes through their domain. Each Needle-kin is a about two feet in height, resembling nothing so much as a whipcord thin, fur-less monkey covered in hundreds of dead pine-needles. Their eyes gleam with an evil yellow sheen and they are armed with both fangs and claws. They move through the trees of their domain with unnatural speed and grace, easily keeping pace with their prey.

Needle-kin form loose packs, each inhabiting an area of two or three square miles. Any living creature passing through their territory is hunted down and slain with brutal efficiency. Needle-kin hunt both by sight and sound, herding their victims into dead ends and impassible terrain, then attacking in force. They have the following abilities and characteristics:
  • Great climbing ability - Needle-kin can traverse trees quickly enough to keep up with a running man.
  • Superb endurance - These foul spirit creatures are tireless in their pursuit.
  • Great vision and hearing - Their supernatural senses easily detect any prey within their territory. Their senses give them Great tracking ability.
  • Good claw and fang attacks - Needle-kin swarm their foes, inflicting bleeding wounds on anyone they strike. A successful bite attack requires the victim to make a Fair test of toughness or be Chilled, reducing movement speed by one rank for three rounds.
  • Good toughness - Despite their small size and apparently lack of protection, Needle-kin have tough, bark-like skin. Their partially magical nature grants them Good resistance to magical attacks, though Fire-based magic inflicts an extra rank of damage.
  • Flesh-needles - Each Needle-kin can launch the pine needles that cover their skin at foes like tiny missiles. each Flesh-needle inflicts Fair damage when it strikes, and the victim must make a Fair test of will or suffer a round of dizziness and disorientation. Needle-kin can fire up to three such missiles at a single target per round, and have an unlimited supply.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Curse of the Spilled Bag

This annoying curse was originally created by priests of a lost order who were constantly cheated by the local merchants and lords. Unable to compete on the secular side, they chose a form of divine retribution instead.

This curse has a rather subtle effect. Anything carried by the victim has a tendency to slip out of whatever container it is stored in and drop to the ground. The curse's magic conceals any fallen items from the victim as they fall, making it likely they will be long gone before they are missed. The curse activates itself randomly 1d4 times per day. Each activation affects 1d10 like items (coins, foodstuffs, etc.)

The curse is subtle enough that it requires a Superb test of divination magic to reveal its presence. Once detected it requires a Great test of dispelling magic to remove it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


These quasi-elemental creatures inhabit the still, dark waters of stagnant lakes and swamps, their nearly invisible centipede-like forms creating scarcely a ripple on the calm surface of the waters they inhabit. Each three-foot long Ripplepede has a slender body lined with thousands of feathery legs. At the head end a cluster of rigid, hooked spines line a circular mouth opening, while the tail ends in a three-pronged, flexible tail. Their transparent, nearly liquid forms skitter and crawl across the surface as they search for the rare metals they consume for sustenance. Ripplepedes are most comfortable in contact with water, but can travel on land for an hour or more with no ill effects. They travel in groups of five to ten individuals, roaming the waterways and shorelines of their habitat in search of food.

Ripplepedes have no interest in living creatures, but are drawn to any source of metal they detect. They can sense any sizable aggregation of metal within 300 feet. Their hooked jaw spines exude a potent solvent that dissolves away metal on contact, leaving a gelatinous goo the creatures suck up with their tube-like mouth. A single Ripplepede can dissolve and consume a pound of metal each round if left undisturbed.

Ripplepedes have the following characteristics:
  • Fair toughness - Their quasi-elemental nature makes these creatures somewhat resilient. They gain a one rank bonus to defense versus mundane weapons, but magical weapons quickly disrupt their rather delicate bodies.
  • Ripplepedes swim at Superb speed, but on land they crawl along at Poor speed.
  • Ripplepedes are almost transparent, giving them Superb stealth in water, Great stealth on land.
  • If disrupted in contact with a sizable body of water, Ripplepedes regenerate to full health within one day.
  • Ripplepedes consume metal by touch, dissolving and consuming about one pound of any metal, iron, gold, silver, etc. each round. Treat this attack as Great strength acid for purposes of determining resistance, though it does not affect any other substances.
  • Ripplepedes have little in the way of combat capabilities. They can strike at foes with their three-pronged tails with Fair accuracy inflicting Average damage, but they prefer to avoid combat. If discovered on land they will flee toward the nearest body of water and use their superior swimming ability to evade any pursuit.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This artifact is a left-handed glove made from the finest maroon silk sewn with hundreds of feathers from various species of birds and trimmed with rows of tiny seed pearls. The glove is sized for a fairly small human hand, and extends well past the wearer's wrist over the forearm when donned. If examined for magical properties, it radiates Great nature and enchantment magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the item's powers.

When worn Flockhand allows its owner to command any sort of avian creatures with a simple command word. When activated any bird within a 100 yard radius immediately comes to the wearer and begins circling as part of a great flock overhead. This flock can be directed by pointing or gesturing with Flockhand. The birds will move as desired as swiftly as possible. Flockhand's owner can command the creatures to attack if desired but the default behavior is to swarm and swirl around any creature they encounter, obscuring vision, panicking beasts and confusing intelligent foes. Flockhand's power can be invoked at will, and lasts so long as concentration is maintained. Birds fall to the ground after 10 minutes of continuous control, exhausted.

If Flockhand is used to incite birds to violence, they attack with beak and claws as natural creatures. The GM will have to make a determination as to the effectiveness of the assault based on the types of birds in the flock.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Staff of Limbs

This rather plain staff appears to be nothing more than a convenient piece of wood cut as a temporary staff by some traveler in need. Each end of its bark-covered length has been carefully trimmed and is slightly rounded by wear. The item's only decorative element is a strip of sweat-stained leather wrapped around the shaft, forming a convenient grip. Despite its plain appearance the Staff radiates Superb alteration and nature magic, and a Great test of divination magic will reveal its enchantment.

The Staff of Limbs can be used as a weapon in combat, serving as a quarterstaff and providing a one rank bonus to both accuracy and defense as it naturally flexes and twists in the bearer's hands to block and strike. The Staff's enchantment gives it Superb toughness, making it very difficult to damage or break.

Six times per day the Staff's wielder can call forth a fence of dead, twisted branches which surround a single target, trapping it within their grasp. This wall has Superb strength and is a permanent creation. The wall is susceptible to both fire and force. If set alight it burns with fierce heat for three rounds, causing Good fire damage each round. It requires three Superb tests of strength to batter an opening through the wall.

Twice per day the Staff's owner can speak a command word and plant it in the ground, immediately causing the staff to sprout into a mighty oak, 60 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter. A series of natural hand and footholds lead up into the tree's branches, where a natural platform large enough to hold six people comfortably sprouts hangs in the greenery. This tree remains in place until the Staff's owner speaks a second command word, instantly reverting the item to its normal form.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dead Mothers

These undead apparitions appear when a woman dies in childbirth, but her infant survives. They are shadowy female forms with long dark hair, usually dressed in fine robes or gowns of brocaded silk or wool. They only appear during the nighttime hours, moving gracefully from shadow to shadow. They could almost pass for human except for their faces, which are no more than blank white ovoids, pierced only by shadowed black pits where their eyes would be. Each Dead Mother carries a short wand or rod woven from reeds and twigs.

Dead Mothers are driven by one purpose, to find a child to accompany them into the afterlife. They prowl the edges of civilization, peering through windows and creeping into unguarded halls and rooms, looking for a newborn child to steal. Should they find such a child, they begin to stroke it with their reed wand, pulling the infant into their own shadowy realm. The Dead Mother must carry out this minor ritual on three successive nights to successfully claim the child as their own.

Dead Mothers are immune to all physical attack. They can be driven away for one night by exorcism magic or ritual (requiring a Great test of such magic to succeed). Anyone seeing a Dead Mother must make a Great test of will or be fascinated by the creature's graceful, almost dance-like, movements. Males suffer a one rank penalty to this test. When in the presence of a vulnerable infant, any female blood-ancestor of the child is immune to this fascination effect and can drive off the Dead Mother for the night simply by gazing upon their blank, white face.

Infants that are exposed to the midnight light of a full moon become immune to the appetites of Dead Mothers, and for this reason children born before midnight on such a night are considered blessed. Parents often invite a newborn's grandmothers to stay with them until the child can be properly protected to assist with guarding the infant from the depredations of these sorrowful undead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Planter of Endless Growth

This rather plain planter is made from terracotta clay. It is approximately two feet in diameter and a foot and a half in height. A relief pattern of leaves, branches and vines, highlighted with various earth-tone glazes, covers the entire exterior. The Planter's rim and base are further adorned with a coiled rim covered in gold leaf. If examined for magical properties the Planter radiates Superb alteration magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the item's sole enchantment.

To activate the Planter's power, it must be filled with fresh soil, which has been drenched with a pint of freshly drawn blood (the equivalent of an Average wound). A single mundane seed of any type is then placed within the planter and a command word spoken. When this process is complete the seed instantly sprouts and begins growing at a fantastic rate. A typical annual plant (flowers, vegetables, etc.) grow to full maturity in a few rounds, a tree or shrub takes six or seven. Once matured, the plant blossoms and produces fruit in a single round. The plant remains in this state for one hour, after which it shrivels and turns to gray dust, consuming the soil used to activate the Planter as well.

Any produce harvested from the resulting plant is wholesome and nutritious, providing the equivalent of a full meal. Once harvested the produce is subject to the normal effects of time. Delicate fruits or vegetables last a few days, more robust items lasting a few weeks.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Blade of a Thousand Edges

When first discovered this weapon appears to be some sort of club or baton. When in its passive state the Blade resembles a shaft made from a thousand or more layers of variegated metals, iron, steel, copper, and bronze. This shaft is firmly welded to a basket-shaped steel guard and thin, leather-padded hilt. A small bloodstone decorates of the pommel of the otherwise rather plain weapon. If checked for magical properties the Blade radiates Great animation and combat magic. A Superb test of divination is required to determine the process required to activate the weapon.

The Blade is useless until its powers are activated by a brief ritual, which involves the item's owner speaking a command word and holding the weapon's bloodstone pommel against their own flesh. The Blade will drain an Average wound's worth of blood from the wielder, then spring to life. The metallic layers that form the striking portion of the blade unbind and spring apart, forming a snake-like blade of spinning, shimmering, razor-sharp blades held together by flickering threads of deep red light. From command word to fully active Blade takes a full round.

Once active the Blade can be wielded as a normal weapon, but it strikes with a will of its own, twisting, spinning, extending and contracting like an enraged serpent. The Blade has the following characteristics in battle:
  • Great bonuses to accuracy and damage.
  • Any blow struck by the Blade causes Fair bleeding damage.
  • The swirling lash-like blade automatically parries up to two blows per round. Parried blows suffer a three rank penalty on their accuracy.
  • Any mundane weapon parried by the Blade has a Good chance of being sliced apart by the contact, it's fragments and pieces incorporated into the Blade's own matrix.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Army of Clay

This artifact is a collection of small clay figures, each about three inches high. The figures are primitive, but bear a certain elegance of design the belies their crude form. Each is coated with layers of brightly colored powdery glaze, chiefly blue, green and red. There are several types of figures in the collection:
  • Swordsmen - These figures are depicted wearing heavy green armor and helmet and wielding a stabbing sword and tall rectangular shield. Each figure's shield bears the faint red outline of a spread-winged bird of prey. There are 18 of these figures in the collection.
  • Spearmen - These figures wear lighter blue armor and wield a heavy two-handed spear. They also wear cloaks decorated with the same red bird of prey device as the Swordsmen's shields. There are 18 Spearmen in the collection.
  • Archers - These figures wear the same armor and cloak as the Spearmen, but wield a short recurve bow and have a long knife at their belt. A quiver of arrows hangs from their shoulder. There are nine Archers in the Army.
  • Charioteers - There are only three of these figures in the Army. Each depicts a chariot pulled by a pair of white-glazed horses fitted with red barding. A driver tends the reigns while a second javelin wielding figure stands behind him in the chariot. Both are wearing lightweight armor and cloaks similar to that worn by the Spearmen.
The entire Army is contained with a shallow chest of black oak fitted with bronze hinges. The interior is lined with a thick layer of padded leather, which holds the figures securely when the lid is closed. A simple latch holds the chest closed. The figures radiate Epic alteration, combat and animation magic. A Superb test of divination will reveal their purpose, but an Epic test of research in ritual magic is required to unlock the process required to active the Army.

The Army is a terrible weapon of war. When the proper ritual is performed each figure comes to life, slowly growing until they reach their full height of about 15 feet, a process that takes several minutes. Once fully grown their commander can indicate their foe which sets the Army on it's inexorable path. The army moves as a unit, each figure assuming a position within the ranks and striding toward the target at a steady pace with military precision. As they approach they change formation to suit the terrain and tactical situation. Once set upon their course the Army marches until they engage the targeted foe, fighting until either their foe is destroyed or they are shattered.

Each figure in the Army is a terrible engine of destruction, fighting with Epic skill. The Archers and chariot-riding Javelineers fire and hurl magical missiles that can crack stone walls with ease. Each figure has Epic toughness and armor and Great resistance to mundane weapons. The figures are immune to fire- and cold-based attacks. Figures continue to attack so long as they have limbs to strike with. Should a figure be rendered inert it will shrink to its original three inch height. All figures revert to their small size once the battle is won or all figures are destroyed. Any figure, or portion thereof, returned to the containing chest, will regenerate into a complete figure in one month's time.

Activating the Army is a Great test of ritual magic. It requires the ritualist to sacrifice the life of a blood relative and douse the Army in their blood. This ritual can be carried out once per moon at most.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blake_lennon/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Eye of Achra

This legendary artifact is a perfectly sculpted human-sized eye carved from a piece of white opal. The Eye's iris and pupil are represented by a curious circular flaw in the stone, black within green. The craftsmanship of the Eye is exquisite, and a knowledgeable jeweler could identify the work as Dwarven in origins. Legend says the Eye grants anyone brave enough to place it within an empty eye socket perfect vision and a penetrating gaze, but there are darker stories that tell tales of madness and woe that have befallen anyone that has tried to wear this artifact.

The Eye is a fairly potent magical object. If examined for magical properties it radiates Superb alteration and illusion magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the item's enchantments:
  • When the Eye is placed within the empty eye socket of a human-sized creature it instantly bonds to flesh. After attuning itself to the wearer for about a week, the Eye's powers come to life.
  • The Eye provides perfect vision to the wearer, fully replacing their missing eye and even removing any sight defects previously suffered (such as near- or far-sightedness).
  • The wearer gains dark vision. Under normal nighttime conditions they see as if it were day. The Eye allows vision even total or magical darkness, though these conditions reduce visibility to that of a bright moonlit night.
  • The Eye's wearer can see hidden or secret objects, even those concealed by magical means. Using this power requires concentration. The wearer can scan a ten foot square space each round.
  • The Eye allows its wearer to focus on very distant objects or tiny details, bringing them into perfect focus and clarity. Focusing like this requires unbroken concentration, and each round spent focused on an object brings it into greater clarity. Breaking off this power requires one round of recovery to bring the Eye's vision back to normal.
The Eye bears a subtle curse, one hidden by the illusion enchantments placed upon the item. A Legendary test of divination will reveal the presence of the curse, but its nature is impossible to detect by magical means. One month after the Eye becomes active the wearer will begin to suffer from the effects of the curse, which manifests itself once or twice per day. The curse causes a subtle shift in the faces and features of those around the wearer. A simple smile becomes a sly look, a greeting between two friends becomes a whispered plot, a passing look becomes a threatening gaze. The curse most often affects the appearance of the wearer's closest companions, but if none are present, even total strangers may be affected. These alterations are illusion only, though the GM should present them to the wearer as fact.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Dividing Coin

This object appears to be nothing more than a simple gold coin, its markings and features eroded by time and constant use. An assay will show it to be made from the purest gold. A careful examination of its markings will show the faint outline of a face on one side, and a wheel-like icon on the other. Magical examination will reveal the Coin is enchanted with Superb quality alteration magic. A Superb divination will reveal the command word required to activate the Coin's magic.

When the command word is spoken, the Coin duplicates itself, creating a second gold coin of equal value. This coin is of equal quality to the original, though the minor flaws and nicks on each coin's surface are slightly different. This command word can be used once per hour, creating up to 24 new coins each day.

Any created coins that remain in the possession of the original's owner vanish at midnight. Coins traded or given away have a 5% chance of becoming coins of lesser value each night at midnight. Gold become silver, silver become copper, and copper become lead slugs. This chance is additive across all coins in a single person's possession, and affects all owned duplicates. For example if someone owns ten duplicate gold coins there is a 50% chance they will all become silver each night at midnight. The original coin is never affected by this.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vortex of Souls

This legendary artifact is made from the spiraling, horn of some long-extinct sea creature. It's twisted, white length is encrusted with barnacles and coralline growths, each carefully preserved beneath a layer of polished gold leaf. The horn rests upon a framework of polished black steel formed and shaped into a twisted maze of branches and vines that wrap securely around its length. The horn's hollow interior is sealed with a thick, hinged cap made from the same material as the supporting frame. The device radiates Legendary abjuration and protection magic. An Epic test of divination will reveal an extra-dimensional rift contained within the artifact.

The Vortex contains an alternate reality, a dimensionless place where physical matter does not exist and all forms of energy are negated by the very nature of this bizarre realm. The Vortex was originally created as a sort of extra-dimensional prison. Any living creature drawn into the Vortex loses all material form, reduced to little more than a floating consciousness lost in a void of pure white nothingness. The Vortex negates all magical, divine, mental or physical energies within its bounds, making escape from within impossible.

Should the Vortex's seal be opened without proper preparation, any sentient creature within 100 feet will be drawn into the void. A Legendary test of will must be made each round to avoid this effect. All held or carried items are drawn into the void along with the creature, instantly becoming insubstantial and powerless. Left unattended the Vortex will reseal itself in 1d10 days.

The enchantments surrounding the Vortex negate all attempts at divining its operating principles. Only research into the device's history will reveal the mechanism required to protect oneself against the Vortex's effect. When it was first created, a number of medallions were fashioned that provided a defense against the Vortex. Discovering the existence and appearance of these medallions requires a Legendary test of historic lore. Researching the location of each medallion requires three Epic tests of research. Of course the researcher must have access to appropriate materials and references to carry out this research. There are no fewer than three, but no more than seven of these medallions. Any sentient being wearing a medallion is immune to the Vortex's effect.

It is rumored that several medallion wearers can open the Vortex and call forth one of the banished, a ritual requiring exacting knowledge of the desired target. There is, of course, a chance that this summoning will allow 1d4 other entities to escape the Vortex. Anyone returned from the Vortex reappears in exactly the same physical state as they departed.

The GM should determine a single method by which the Vortex of Souls can be destroyed. They should also determine what happens to the contained souls when the container is shattered.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Storm Scream

This heavy dagger has an 18-inch long, single-edged blade with a slightly curved tip. The blade's pale, silvery-blue metal is etched with a pattern of overlapping clouds and lightning that runs from haft to tip. A swirling guard of the same silvery-blue metal provides the wielder with some hand protection, while a grip of gray leather provides a firm grip. The dagger's pommel is decorated with a polished sapphire that contains an endless cascade of tiny sparkling bolts of energy. When not in use the blade is protected by a simple scabbard, also of gray leather, inscribed with the same clouds and lightning pattern as the weapon's blade. When drawn the weapon emits a continuous howling shriek, like strong wind blowing through a narrow crevice or crack.

Storm Scream radiates Epic evocation and weather magic. It's scabbard radiates Superb protective magic. A Great test of divination will reveal the two item's enchantments. Storm Scream's scabbard provides its wearer with complete protection from the dagger's effects. The dagger itself has no intrinsic combat bonuses, but any creature that touches the weapon is subject to the effects of the weapon's primary enchantment. To determine the exact effect use the table below:
1DrenchThe target is soaked from head to toe with gallons of chilly water, as if they had stood in a torrential downpour for five minutes. Any open flame they were carrying is instantly doused and they are chilled by the cold water (suffering a one rank penalty to all actions if outdoors in cold weather). Any cold attack used against the target within the next five rounds does an additional one rank of damage.
2HazeThe target's vision is clouded by a misty haze, like dense fog. All skill checks and combat actions suffer a one rank penalty. Subsequent Haze results are cumulative. The effect lasts ten rounds.
3FrostThe target is struck with a bolt of pure cold, that coats all items and gear with an icy glaze. This effect does Good damage and there is a Fair chance the target will drop anything carried due to the slick icy coating. The icing effect lasts five rounds.
4MaelstromThe target is surrounded by a twister of howling wind, that knocks them off balance and deafens them for five rounds. Any physical maneuver suffers a one rank penalty and only the loudest shouting will penetrate the howling noise.
5ScorchThe target is scorched by the light of the sun, suffering serious sunburn. This effect causes Average damage, but severe discomfort for three to four days afterwards. Any creature affected by sunlight struck by this effect suffers the equivalent of a full day's exposure to the sun in an instant.
6ThunderboltThe target is jolted with a burst of electrical energy that inflicts Great damage and stuns them for 1d4 rounds.
The effects of Storm Scream can affect any number of targets in a round. All that is required is a touch.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Blue Glow

No one is quite sure what the Blue Glow is, magical remnant, extra-dimensional being, or time-space anomaly. It appears and disappears with no apparent pattern, showing up for a few minutes on one occasion, shadowing someone for days on another.

The Blue Glow appears to be nothing more than its name implies, a faint blue glow radiating from some hidden light source. The Glow varies in both size and shape, appearing as a single palm-sized area to several dozen glowing patches scattered over a hundred foot radius area. The source of the Glow is always obscured by some mundane object, the corner of a building, a tree or stone, or a piece of furniture. When it first appears the Glow is very faint, gradually gaining intensity as it remains undisturbed. If approached the Glow fades away, often reappearing in second spot even as the first fades.

The Glow's elusive nature make its characteristics very difficult to determine, an Epic test of divination magic may reveal the... whatever it is, radiates a sort of anti-magic, causing even a potent divination spell to quickly collapse upon itself. The Glow appears to have no physical manifestation, and whatever controls its form and function detects and avoids even the most potent forms of magical scrying. No one has ever seen whatever source produces the Glow, leading some to speculate that no such source exists. Magical defenses, such as warding circles and protection spells, seem to have no effect on the Glow. The only true defense seems to be rigorous observation of the surrounding area.

The Blue Glow has a singular unique property. If it remains in the vicinity (approximately 30 feet) of any magical effect for more than an hour it consumes one rank of magical energy from each device or source. All sources of magical energy are affected by this draining effect. In the case of items with charges or use limits, the Blue Glow reduces or permanently destroys a portion of the stored charge. In the case of permanently enchanted items, the draining effect is temporary, lasting one week per rank of energy drained. Note that living creatures can also be affected, causing magic using creatures or spell casters to temporarily lose access to their magical powers.

The Glow will remain in the vicinity of magical energy sources until it has drained 2d10 ranks of magical energy, then it will vanish, reappearing in a new location in 2d10 weeks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Blastirab

The Blastirab is a dangerous inhabitant of sandy beaches and shallow bays. In general form it resembles a gigantic, hulking crab, a many-legged monstrosity complete with heavy nipping claws. The creatures range in size from six-inch hatchlings to twelve-foot wide terrors. They are fearless predators, attacking any living creature that strays near their sandy burrows with claws and jets of sandy, gooey water they spit from their strangely tube-like mouths.

As mentioned Blastirabs live in sandy coastal areas, preferring warm waters to cold. They dig burrows lined with sticky sand just below the tide-line, using them as hiding places for their ambush hunting tactics. Blastirabs have well developed gills paired with primitive lungs that allow them to survive out of the water for several hours at a stretch. Blastirabs have few natural enemies, though their tasty flesh makes them a target for well organized humanoid hunting parties.

Blastirabs have the following characteristics:
  • Superb armor plating. The creature's thick shell makes it a very tough nut to crack. This plating covers the creature's entire body. It can even retract its stalk-like eyes beneath its tough carapace.
  • Good ambush skill. When hidden away in its den the Blastirab is very difficult to spot. Its shell is often covered with barnacles and sea growth that make it look like nothing more than a rock or coral outcropping.
  • Great claw attack. The creature can attack a single target with its heavy paired claws. Any creature hit with both claws in a single round will automatically be crushed and torn in each subsequent round.
  • Sand Spit. The Blastirab can spit forth a mixture of sea water, sand and sticky saliva in a narrow jet 30 feet long with Great accuracy. Any target struck by this jet takes Fair damage, is blinded for 1d4 rounds, and must make a Good balance check or be knocked off their feet. The sticky goo clings to the target, slowing movement by one rank with each application. The Blastirab can spit forth this jet once every three rounds and can target anyone within range, it's long tubular mouth giving it a great deal of control.

With apologies to friends who can't type "blasting crabs" in IM.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Encasing Brooch

This jeweled brooch is rectangular in shape. It's gridded form consists of 12 square-cut diamond arranged in a three by four matrix, held together with a frame made from petrified wood. When discovered the Brooch will invariably be clinging to a scrap of cloth or leather, its magical fasteners holding it in place until released with a command word.

The Brooch radiates Superb alteration and protection magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal its magical characteristics:
  • As mentioned the Brooch will magically fasten itself to any piece of clothing with a touch and a word of command. It will remained fastened until released by another command word.
  • When a second command word is spoken the Brooch will shoot forth a beam of pure white light that divides and expands in a series of geometric twists and reflections, creating a large scale representation of the Brooch itself. After one round this light image solidifies into a four foot by six foot grid-like construct of petrified wood made up of 12 cells. Each cell is about a one and a half foot cube, framed with wood and faced front and rear with a thin slab of clear diamond.
  • With a command word and a touch, any of the panels can be opened, revealing the contents of the cubic storage area behind it. Items can be freely added or removed from these storage areas so long as space permits.
  • The construct will remain in place until a sealing command word is spoken, which causes it to vanish back into an array of light and motion, eventually shooting back into the Brooch as a single beam of white light.
Any item placed within a storage space is held secure and safe. Objects within the cubes experience no sense of movement or passage of time and all natural and magical processes cease within the Brooch's confines.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Wolves of Shiral

This supernatural pack has been mentioned in legend and story for decades, a black stain of terror that has touched every culture with its dark presence. Though the reasons and stories surrounding the appearance of the Wolves varies, their description is constant, a pack of gray-furred beasts, each the size of a pony, armed with dagger-like teeth. Legend claims the Wolves are peerless hunters, tracking their prey by smell and sight, their slit-pupil, yellow eyes cutting through the blackest night or thickest fog.

The Wolves of Shiral are native to another plane of existence, a grim, shadowy realm where they are little more than predatory beasts. They can only appear in the mundane world with assistance. There are three ways the Wolves can be called forth from their native plane of existence:
  • Summoning Ritual - The Wolves can be called forth with a carefully prepared ritual. Researching this rite requires access to a Superb quality library of magical lore. Due to the Wolves' terrible nature this lore is often kept locked away by powerful organizations, so anyone seeking this information must navigate a maze of bureaucratic red tape and organizational obstructionism. Fully researching the ritual requires four Epic tests of ritual lore once the appropriate materials are at hand. The actual ritual requires a Superb expenditure of coin on tools and components, which include diamond dust for inscribing magical sigils, a silver-bladed dagger to carry out the requisite human sacrifice, a silver chalice to the victims blood, and a red silk robe laced with silver thread to protect the ritualist. The actual ritual requires three Epic tests of ritual magic on the part of the ritualist, though carrying out the ritual at the proper time (midnight on the night of a new moon) reduces the difficulty of these tests to Great.
  • Wolfhead Stone - This unique artifact was found by Dwarf miners in ages past. It is a nugget of pure silver the size of two fists, its tarnished form  bearing the shape of a snarling wolf's head. No hammer or fire has been discovered that can affect this relic. Legend says the Dwarves set the nugget in a heavy gold setting suspended from a silver chain. Anyone that obtains the Stone can call forth the Wolves by bathing it in the blood of a human sacrifice at midnight on the night of a new moon.
  • Altar of Doom - In a haunted wood stands a monolithic altar to some unknown god. Black power radiates from this site, tainting the surrounding woods with fear and shadow. Legend says that anyone with the will to brave these dark woods and sacrifice themselves upon the black altar can summon forth the Wolves of Shiral to exact revenge upon their enemies.
When a successful summoning is carried out the nine Wolves appear, ready to hunt down and slay anyone named by their summoner. The Wolves have the following characteristics:
  • Epic toughness and endurance. The Wolves move with Great speed over all terrain, hunting by day or night with equal ease. Their tough bodies are immune to mundane weaponry and they have Superb resistance to all forms of elemental damage.
  • Their Superb senses cut through the foulest weather or deepest dark, unraveling complex trails or obscuring spells with ease. The pack's own trail is obscured by Superb magic that disguises their passage and misdirects spells seeking their location.
  • The Wolves are immune to spells of warding or protection. Any attempt to return them to their own plane of existence before their mission is complete suffers a three rank penalty.
  • When their prey is located the Wolves attack with Epic strength razor sharp fangs and claws, inflicting terrible bleeding wounds that heal at one-quarter the normal rate.
  • The howls of the hunting pack reduce the strongest soul to shaking terror. Anyone within 60 feet of the pack must make a Superb test of will every three rounds or suffer a cumulative one rank penalty to all skill tests.
The Wolves are as capricious as they are deadly. After they have carried out their assigned task there is a 20% chance they will turn on their summoner. This chance rises by 10% for each day the pack has been active.

Note that there is only one pack, and if someone attempts to summon them while they are already active the original summoning breaks, causing the pack to seek out and destroy both summoning parties.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sky Mountain

This relic of a distant past hangs in the air like a black stain. Sky Mountain is a massive slab of native rock, ripped from the ground and hung in the heavens like an ornamental jewel. The Mountain is about a half-mile across, it's relatively flat top gives way to sheer cliffs that are riddled with caverns and tunnels leading to the rock's maze-like interior. Seven massive, mile-long tentacles made from gray, rubbery flesh laced with slabs and spines of black stone hang from the Mountain's belly, giving it the appearance of a monstrous, bloated jellyfish hanging in the sky. In the midst of these tentacles a huge, spherical blue crystal protrudes from Sky Mountain's underside, pulsing with potent magical energies.

The interior of Sky Mountain is honey-combed with tunnels, rooms and passages. There are three main sections to this interior maze:
  • Outer Maze - A twisting collection of smaller caves and tunnels connecting the many cave openings that line Sky Mountain's outer rim of cliffs. The Maze circles the entire slab and serves as home to hundreds of flying, gargoyle-like creatures constantly circle and wheel about the Mountain's cliff-like sides. The Maze is mostly self-contained, with only a few passages linking it to The Wards.
  • The Wards - These broad, open caverns connect the seven wall-connected towers that rise from the back of Sky Mountain, forming a quarter-mile wide defensive ring. The Wards provide access to each tower and link together the many hidden barracks, armories, storage chambers and living quarters that lie beneath the Sky Mountain's central plain. Each of the Ward's seven towers is guarded by forty-nine golem-like creatures armed with sword-clawed limbs and electrically charged spines. The Wards connect to the Outer Maze via a few narrow passages and to the Inner Sanctum via a single gate-guarded tunnel.
  • Inner Sanctum - Positioned over the Sky Mountain's central crystal power source, the Sanctum is both central fortress and command center. The Sanctum features a single seven-sided chamber. Its floor is formed by the Mountain's crystal heart, and a single massive throne, formed from the crystal itself, rises from the center of room.
Sky Mountain is a Legendary artifact, its magical energies defying description or categorization. Mastery of its secrets is the work of a dozen years careful study and experimentation, requiring diligent research and access to many sources of magical lore. It's known properties include:
  • Sky Mountain flies at Fair speed (though with Poor maneuverability), traveling 15 miles per day as directed by its master.
  • The artifact has Legendary toughness. Most forms of attack are simply ineffective against its massive form. Siege weapons might cause minor harm, but Sky Mountain can, via its huge tentacles, consume raw stone and earth to repair itself.
  • Swarms of Gargoyle-like creatures inhabit the Outer Maze, defending the artifact against all invaders. Each of the seven hundred gargoyles flies with Superb speed and skill, and fights with Good strength claws and teeth. Gargoyles have Good toughness and Great magical resistance. Destroyed gargoyles disintegrate and fall to the earth beneath the Sky Mountain, leaving a trail of tainted, polluted soil where no living thing grows. Destroyed gargoyles regenerate within the caves of the Outer Maze by some unknown mechanism. 1d10 new Gargoyles rise each day to replace any that have fallen in battle.
  • Guardian golems protect the Wards. Each golem has Superb toughness and strength, inflicting terrible wounds with their sword-like claws. Any creature approaching within ten feet is subject to electrical discharges from the many spines protruding from each golem, inflicting Good damage each discharge. Like the Gargoyles, golems regenerate while within the confines of the Wards, repairing damage and replenishing numbers to maintain a constant force of forty-nine creatures per tower.
  • The Tentacles hanging beneath the Mountain are terrible weapons, capable of leveling fortifications and structures with ease. Each Tentacle strikes with the force of a battering ram, leveling a ten by ten by ten foot cubic area of stone construction with each blow. The Tentacles can also burrow into the ground and form a sort of natural bridge, allowing troops to travel down their length from the barracks beneath the Wards. Each Tentacle has Legendary strength and toughness.
  • Anyone attempting to master the Sky Mountain's powers becomes symbiotically tied to the artifact, unable to leave the confines of the Inner Sanctum, the Wards, and the Outer Maze.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Legion Killer

This artifact is a massive crossbow, almost too heavy to be wielded by one person. Its heavy lath is made from a curved piece of mithril-laced blue steel fitted with a heavy string woven from the hair of a giant. The crossbow's stock is cut from a single slab of oak, its grain shot through with glittering shards of some crystalline stone. A complex crank (obviously of Dwarf manufacture) provides a mechanism for cocking the device. Legion Killer is enchanted with Epic combat and alteration magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal the command word required to activate its unique power.

Legion Killer has the following characteristics:
  • Its mechanism is so powerful that it takes two full rounds to cock the weapon.
  • Once cocked, Legion Killer self-loads with a magically created quarrel of steel-tipped oak fletched with slabs of clear stone crystal. The weapon has Superb accuracy and range bonuses, and each quarrel that hits inflicts Good damage before vanishing the round after it strikes home.
  • Once loaded, Legion Killer begins projecting a magical charge into the fitted quarrel. The accumulated charge causes the quarrel to split into multiple missiles when fired, each bolt striking a unique target within the weapon's field of fire. The number of quarrels created increases with the duration of the charge, each round doubling the number of quarrels created: two after one round, four after two rounds, eight after three rounds, and so forth, to a maximum of 1024 quarrels after ten rounds.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movies I Would Play

There are plenty of connections between movies and RPGs. They're both concerned with character and story, and both are forms of entertainment, albeit one is active, one is passive. I happen to watch a lot of movies, mostly because I have given up on cable/broadcast TV as a form of entertainment. Between Netflix and services like Hulu I can satisfy my passive entertainment itch pretty well, especially now that Netflix supports streaming on many gaming consoles. About the only things I miss on regular TV are some sporting events, like March Madness.

Anyhow, I often find myself comparing movies to games, and thinking about which movies would make good games. Here are the movies I would play in a heartbeat. The movies themselves may not be great works of art, but most games aren't either.

Pulp Action: The Mummy

The Mummy (Widescreen Collector's Edition)I seem to drift back to this movie for gaming inspiration on a regular basis. There's so much to love. A nice little historic vignette to open things up. Great introductory scenes for the interesting and varied main characters. Strong but not overwhelming NPCs. Burning boats. Ancient ruins. Cursed treasure. Romance. Gun fights. Evil undead. Tricks and traps. Witty banter. The list goes on and on. If a game I ran turned out as engaging and entertaining as this movie, I would die a happy GM.

One of the greatest features of this movie is every single character is fully engaged. The main characters have differing motivations and stakes in the story, and each pursues their own goals with gusto. The NPCs, from the spineless Beni, to the foul prison warden, to the secretive museum curator, are well developed and interesting, without overshadowing the leads. When the GM and players engage with this level of intensity, it raises the entire game to a higher level.

Sadly the subsequent movies in the series were much less entertaining. The second retains some of the fun of the first, but after that... well, it's just not the same.

Horror: Alien

Alien (The Director's Cut)
Don't let anyone fool you. Alien is a horror flick. Sure it takes place in a Science Fiction setting, but the heart of the movie is all about the horror. The movie is a suspenseful ride punctuated by a few scenes of pure terror. I think the only reason Alien would be tough to game is the body count. With only a single survivor, I think many players would be frustrated as the death toll rises. but as a one-shot survival game it could be quite entertaining.

One of the things I like most about Alien is the underlying grittiness of the movie. There are no slick, high-tech solutions, only improvised solutions and quick thinking. The PCs are forced to deal with the fact that they're facing an unknown force that they may not be able to defeat. Once the ferocity of the Alien is exposed they, quickly change their strategy from opposition to escape. They also split the party, with expected results.

Western Tombstone

TombstoneWesterns often focus on single characters instead of ensemble casts, but Tombstone, ostensibly the story of Wyatt Earp,  has a collection of colorful main characters. From the game-perspective this movie is about much more than gunfights. The characters and their relationships are the true focus. This includes bonds between the main characters themselves as well as their ties to their enemies.

I view Tombstone as a great example of party creation. The main characters (including the late arrival Doc Holiday), all have strong ties to the rest of the group that assure cooperation. The characters are also well-developed and competent. One could also argue the Tombstone GM engaged in bait-and-switch tactics, since the initial story is about retiring and settling down. In my view this is a good example of bait-and-switch, and it's clear the GM talked to his group beforehand, since the swap became a central focus of the story.

So there you have it, three great games... er movies. If you haven't engaged in the 'what would this be like as a game' exercise, I encourage you to give it a try. After all, movies have been telling us stories far longer than we've been sharing them via RPGs. We could learn a thing or two from the film craft.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Snapper Worms

These giant predatory caterpillars lurk in primeval forests and jungles, creeping along the branches of giant trees and vines in search of prey. The Snapper ranges in size from two to twelve feet long, Their smooth gray-skinned bodies are slender and cylindrical, with six stubby gripping legs at the rear and six sharp claw-like legs at the front. The creatures head is little more than a pair of huge compound eyes and narrow nipper-like jaws.

Snapper Worms are the larval form of a short-lived giant moth. The innocuous gray moths live only long enough to mate and lay eggs before dying. Typically eggs are laid in early Spring. Two foot long Worms emerge after a very short gestation, voraciously feeding on both animal and plant matter, In late Autumn the now gigantic Worms burrow into loose debris and weave a tough silken cocoon, where they hibernate through the cooler months, emerging as adults the following Spring to begin the cycle anew.

The cocoons of Snapper Worms are prized for the tough silk strands that make up the protective shell. Hunting parties with specially trained dogs seek out the buried cocoons in early Winter, spearing the helpless larva and stripping away the outer husk, which can be used to make tough armor or very strong rope. The wings of the short-lived moth form are prized as a dye base.

Snapper Worms are omnivorous. They voraciously consume all manner of leaves and flowers, preferring young shoots and buds. They are also quite capable hunters. Their typical tactic involves anchoring themselves to a large branch or trunk and extending their body outward, mimicking a branch. When prey, any creature smaller than themselves, wanders near, they lunge forward, grabbing their victim with claw-like front limbs and biting with sharp jaws.

These hungry creatures have the following attributes and characteristics:
  • Average toughness - Snapper Worms have rather soft bodies, making them vulnerable to physical attack.
  • Great stealth - When in their ambush posture the creatures are very difficult to spot until they strike.
  • Superb vision - The creature's huge compound eyes provide it with an excellent sense of its surroundings.
  • Great claw and bite attacks - On their initial attack the Snapper Worm gains a two rank bonus to attack accuracy and can strike with six claw attacks and one bite. On subsequent rounds they strike with up to two claws and one bite. All attacks must be directed at the same target.
  • Numbing bite - Any successful bite attack by a Snapper Worm injects a Good quality poison into the target's bloodstream. This venom numbs the target, making them clumsy and slow. Unless a Good resistance check is made the victim will suffer a one rank penalty per bite to all skill checks.
  • Silky webs - Snapper Worms can spin silk fibers, strong enough to support their own considerable weight. They use these strands to pull themselves into the forest canopy. A Worm will typically have a strand available as an escape should an ambush go awry.
Snapper worms were inspired by the humble Geometridae moths. Weird Animals are always a good source of inspiration!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


"Ugly" is the first word that springs to mind when first viewing this crudely fashioned two-handed mace. The weapon's haft is fashioned from a thick length of crudely hewn wood wrapped with rusty steel bands. Its business end is made from a jagged, bloodstained, section of some gigantic thigh bone, which has been crudely fastened to the haft with heavy cords of twisted leather. Though the weapon's construction seems somewhat haphazard it is quite solid when wielded, its enchantment lending strength and stability to its structure. The Bonegrinder is rather large, requiring at least a human-sized wielder, but no great strength is required, appearances to the contrary.

The Bonegrinder radiates Superb combat magic. A Great test of divination magic will reveal its magical properties, though no particular invocations are required to take advantage of its capabilities. The weapon has the following properties:
  • Fair accuracy enhancement. As mentioned the weapon is, despite appearances, well-constructed and well-balanced.
  • Great damage bonus. Even the weakest wielder can inflict terrible blows with this weapon. Creatures that are primarily made of bone, skeletons, bone golems and the like, take triple damage from Bonegrinder.
  • Bonebreaker - Any exceptional success on an attack results in a bone breaking blow, disabling the target of the attack. The GM should determine what constitutes an exceptional success, but as a guideline, any critical hit or three rank margin of success should activate the Bonebreaker effect. The resulting disabling wound should require at least a Great healing test to negate. Creatures without skeletons (jellies, oozes and the like) are immune to Bonebreaker.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Nexus Arch

This ancient arch of crumbling stone is the sole remaining artifact of a lost city, its simple form rising over a dessicated wasteland of sand and dust with only an occasional block of carved stone breaking up the monotonous landscape. The Arch could pass as an architectural oddity were it not for the sonorous, insect-like buzzing noise that surrounds it. Should the site be examined for magical properties, Legendary extra-dimensional magic will be discovered. The aura of a living extra-dimensional being may also be detected, buried beneath the Arch. A secondary source of Epic divination magic lies buried in the sand and stone near one side of the Arch.

The Arch is a portal through time, space and dimension. The secondary source of magical energy is a controlling device which allows communication with the time elemental snared within the Arch's matrix. Any living creature passing through its aperture is instantly whisked away to a new locale. Passing through the opening without first attuning it sends the individual to a random destination, with multiple individuals passing through the arch at the same time reaching the same destination. Operating the tuning device is a significant challenge, requiring sufficient knowledge of the desired destination and a potent will to focus this knowledge into a coherent mental image the empowering elemental can use to stabilize the portal's destination. It is at least a Great test of locale lore to form the appropriate mental image, and a Superb test of will to maintain this image for the three rounds required to establish a more stable connection. Once a connection has formed it will remain attuned so long as the user maintains concentration, and for three rounds after they cease. This allows any number of living beings, including the user, to pass through the Arch to a single destination.

With a nod to The City on the Edge of Forever.

Photo: Jackie Skeate via Stockvault

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Amazing Buildings

I've recently accumulated a number of links to some really odd buildings and structures. I thought I'd share them as a source of inspiration. For more of this sort of thing, I recommend Village of Joy and Web Urbanist. Occasionally Oddee will feature similar stuff, but they also post a lot of borderline grotesque / sensationalist material as well.

The Stone House

The Church of Hallgrímur

Paoay Church

Chapel of St. Gildas

Kerala House Boats

Great Mosque of Djenné

Bubble House

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bottle of Endless Foam

This large greenish blue glass bottle is encrusted with dust, grime, and mineral deposits that obscure any markings or features on its surface. Its narrow mouth is sealed with a heavy lead seal held in place with a swing-arm mechanism that is clamped around the Bottle's neck. If studied closely under a strong light a swirling, pale brown liquid can be seen within the Bottle's glass walls. The Bottle radiates Superb evocation magic, and a Great test of divination will reveal the command words required to activate its powers.

When the Bottle is uncapped a stream of foam will begin to pour forth. The exact nature and volume of the foam is determined by the command word spoken.
  • Ichor - If no command word is spoken the Bottle pours forth a sticky, pale brown foam. This foam is more a hindrance than a hazard, though it could drown someone if it were deep enough. Anyone within the Ichor will be covered with the sticky substance, which soaks clothing, gear and skin within a single round. Anyone so soaked suffers a one rank penalty on all actions due to the foam's sticky nature.
  • Wisp - This thin white foam forms itself into puffy, globular blobs that harden into a resilient, but extremely light pillows of foam. These blobs float on water and potentially serve as comfortable seats or beds.
  • Mesh - This thick gray foam pours forth in a thick stream ten feet long, It immediately hardens on impact into a resilient but tough solid with Good strength. Mesh can be used to block openings, temporarily fill holes, or snare and trap foes. Breaking free of Mesh foam requires a Good test of strength.
Each round the Bottle is open it produces a ten cubic foot volume of foam. It can be resealed at any time by replacing the cap, but will continue to pour forth foam until so sealed. All foam produced lasts one day before vanishing completely. Each form of foam is flammable, burning with dull heat and leaving no trace when consumed.

Image Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/reef0799.htm

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Stepping Stones

When discovered the Stepping Stones appear to be nothing more than five smooth pebbles of reddish sandstone, each about two inches across. They are contained within a metallic pouch made of thousands of tiny interlocked steel rings, held closed with a red silk drawstring. If examined form magical properties, the Stones radiate Superb alteration and animation magic. A similar test of divination magic will reveal their magical properties and the command words required to operate them.

Once the command words are know the Stones' owner can bring them to life. Each stone instantly grows to a two foot wide boulder and begins floating in the air. The Stones can be commanded to move with a thought, generally aligning themselves in a linear pattern a comfortable stride apart, beginning at their owner's feet. They form a stable walking surface and their owner can traverse them with ease, his or her feet stabilized by the magic of the Stones. Others may also tread the Stones, though they gain no magical assistance and must make an Average reflex check per round of movement to avoid slipping and falling off.

The owner can command the stones to form a path over chasm and gaps and ascend or descend as they desire. As the owner advances the rearmost Stone moves to the front position, creating an endless floating bridge. The owner can rearrange the Stones for their own travels with ease, but maintaining Stones in position for others requires a Fair test of willpower each round they are in use. Each Stone will support about 500 lbs. before the supporting magic will fail, instantly causing all stones to revert to their small form and fall to the ground.

The power of the Stones can be invoked twice a day, remaining active so long as their owner maintains at least minimal concentration on their workings. Should the owner be knocked unconscious or be totally distracted the stones revert to their small form and fall to the ground.

Each Stone has Great toughness. Should a Stone be shattered, a new Stone will appear in the bag one week later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shift Change

I'm going to be slowing my posting schedule here for the next few weeks. There are a couple reasons for the change. First, I'm feeling a little burned out right now, and a short break will do me some good. Second, it's Spring, and the weather is excellent, so I'm going to get out and enjoy it while I can. I was quite the slug this Winter and I really need to get out and get some exercise! Third, I've started a second blog, which is consuming some of my writing energies.

I've been maintaining a five to six posts a week pace for over a year now. I expect to drop this to three or four posts a week for the next month or so. Don't worry, the blog isn't going away! I already have a couple weeks of posts queued up, and expect to maintain that lead with a slower pace of posting. As Spring turns to Summer I expect things will pick back up to the usual five to six posts a week pace.


Monday, April 26, 2010


This terrible artifact was constructed by the Dwarfs in ages past as a weapon of last resort. There has only been one recorded instance of Townkiller being used in battle, a situation that quickly revealed the device's terrible potency.

Townkiller is a forty-foot long juggernaut of metal and stone. Its worm-like body is made up of a dozen segments of magically hardened obsidian laced together with a steel matrix. Dozens of multi-jointed, adamantite  limbs sprout from these segments, each five or six feet long. At the forward end a ring of gleaming diamonds surround a circular maw lined with dozens of smaller limbs and dagger-like adamantite fangs, the whole forming a funnel-like opening. The bottom of this funnel glows with white-hot energy. At the rearward end Townkiller tapers to a small, spout-like final segment.

The artifact radiates Legendary protection, animation and evocation magic along with Epic divination magic. Discovering the mechanisms and magics that drive the device is a Legendary test of artifice, and requires access to a Superb quality library of Dwarf-lore.

When activated, Townkiller's operator can command the device to attack a single specific location within 100 miles. Townkiller will immediately come to life, burrowing through earth and stone at Great speed; it's many limbs dig through stone as if it were soft soil, while the heat of its central maw, powered by the trapped might of no fewer than four magma elementals, melts any obstacle to molten lava, which is ejected from the device's rear. When it reaches its target, the device will immediately seek out the nearest man-made structure and begin consuming it with adamantite limbs and fiery maw. Townkiller can destroy a normal house-sized structure in a few rounds, while larger structures, stone fortifications and the like, are consumed at a rate of 1000 cubic feet per ten rounds. Townkiller will not cease operations until all structures within a one mile radius have been turned to molten stone and burning ash. Once active the device cannot be stopped by any known force until it has completed its task. There is no off switch.

Townkiller can also be commanded to simply move. It travels to its destination at Great speed, leaving a tunnel lined with melted stone in its wake. The device can easily travel 50 miles per day.

The artifact is effectively indestructible. It's adamantite and magic enhanced body shrugs off physical and magical damage with ease. Should someone accomplish the Legendary task of causing physical damage, the magical matrix encasing the device can heal any damage suffered at the rate of one rank per week. The GM should determine a unique method of destruction as suits their campaign setting. A good place to start might be extreme cold, such as the breath of a white dragon or a trip to a frozen elemental plane.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weird Animals

There are some really, really, messed up creatures in our own world. When I see stuff like this, I don't feel so bad about some of the things I make up.

Warning, link NSFW (language mostly)

The World's 50 Freakiest Animals

Some good inspiration mixed in with some... "Wait.. WHAT?"

There's also Bogleech's biology page, which features another array of real-life inspiration.

Sleep well!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Survivor's Rope

This length of silky, dark green rope is about 20 feet long. Twisted from some unknown organic substance, it is thin and light, but very strong and flexible. Careful study will reveal the Rope is twisted from dozens of thinner cords, each of which is, in turn, made up of dozens of finer threads. A magical examination will reveal the Rope is enchanted with Superb alteration and enhancement magic. The multi-function Rope has several command words which activate its various features. A Great test of divination magic will reveal one of these words.

The Survivor's Rope has the following characteristics:
  • It has Superb toughness and strength. The Rope is capable of holding up to 5000 lbs. weight, and only a Superb blow will damage its twisted fibers. The Rope heals any damage done to it at the rate of one rank per week.
  • When in use the Rope blends with whatever surface it is placed upon, requiring a Superb test of perception to spot and avoid.
  • Coil - The Rope instantly ceases any previous command and slithers back to its owner's hand, where it quickly coils itself for storage.
  • Magic Knot - When this command is spoken the Rope will securely tie one of its ends to the nearest object with a magically strong knot. This command can be used multiple times to suspend the rope between two or more objects. Magic Knots can be untied with a second command word.
  • Tanglefoot - When laid out on the ground, this command causes the rope to rise a few inches into the air and become rigid. Any creature passing over the Rope has a Good chance of being tripped. A second use of the command word returns the rope to its normal pliable condition.
  • Spider's Snare - When this command is given, the rope's strands separate into a net of thin cords which spread themselves over a 15 foot wide circular area. Any creature that crosses this area will be snared within the net's many coils and held immobile with Superb strength. The Rope does no damage, and a repetition of the command word causes it to return to its normal form.
  • Fisherman's Weave - When cast into a natural body of water and this word is spoken, the rope spreads into a 15 foot wide mesh of fine, glittering fibers. Any nearby fish are drawn to the sparkling lights and instantly snared by the many threads of the Rope. A repetition of the command word causes the Rope to pull itself from the water and deposit its catch at its owner's feet.
  • Secure Slumber - When this command word is spoken the Rope transforms itself into a comfortable mesh hammock that attaches itself to the nearest two trees or similar objects. The hammock is large enough for two people to sleep comfortably, though the Rope provides little warmth or padding.

Image Source

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tower of Green Lights

This ancient coastal tower, raised by an unknown race of builders, stands at the end of a granite jetty that guards the mouth of a well-protected bay. The stone walls of the jetty itself have been replaced many times over the years, but the brilliant green stone of the Tower itself remains untouched by the passing years. The structure is about 25 feet high and ten feet in diameter. A single narrow door made from the same bright green stone that makes up the Tower's walls is outlined with a white marble frame on the structure's shoreward side. The top of the Tower is ringed with a railing of verdigrised bronze featuring a series of horizontal horns or spires that protrude three feet from the edge of the walkway. A pole surmounted by a large triangular spike, also bronze, tops the tower. Within the structure a narrow two-foot wide stair winds from lower door to narrow roof, where a bronze trapdoor seals off the Tower's interior from the elements.

The structure's main door and the trapdoor above are sealed, with no sign of hinge, latch or handle. The structure radiates Epic quality evocation magic and Superb protection magic. An Epic test of divination magic will reveal the Tower's secrets.

The doors of the Tower are protected by a potent warding spell. Speaking a command word will cause both doors to swing open for three rounds, allowing free passage to the top of the tower. The walls of the Tower are curiously slick, any attempt to climb the walls suffers a three rank penalty on all applicable skill checks. Furthermore the protrusions extending from the Tower's railings will discharge Superb strength electrical discharges into anyone that attempts to cross the circle they inscribe. These bolts will target both climbers and fliers. Up to four bolts will discharge each round, one per possible target.

Each night the Tower's central spire glows with brilliant green light from dusk to dawn. This light cuts through fog and bad weather with ease. Anyone within five miles of the Tower can spot this signal light. Sages believe the Tower was originally constructed as a lighthouse. Anyone standing on the top platform with knowledge of the Tower's command words can extinguish this light with a spoken order, the light remaining off until a second command word is spoken or sunset the following night.

Someone with knowledge of the Tower's command words can also invoke its more dangerous power. By touching the central spire and speaking an appropriate command, anyone can summon forth a tremendous lightning bolt that can be directed against any target within one mile of the seaward side of the tower. This bolt discharges in a ten foot radius at the target location, doing Epic damage to creatures and Superb damage to any structure or vessel within its area of effect. One such bolt can be called forth per hour, but no more than seven such bolts can be summoned during a single day.

Image Source: http://www.offrench.net/photos/gallery-3_photo-982.php

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sack of Eyes

This magical artifact is a large sack, perhaps a foot across, made from slick, slightly sticky-feeling leather. The distasteful material is stained in random patterns of dull red and purple, like bruised flesh. No stitch or suture mars it's dull, quivering surface, the only features evident being a loop of the same sticky leather designed as a strap or handle, with a puckered opening next to it. The Sack is roughly spherical, though its surface is bumpy and gives, like warm gelatin, when pressed. The artifact radiates Epic alteration and necromantic magic. A Superb test of divination will reveal its magical characteristics.

To make use of the Sack's powers its owner must plunge their hand into the bag's orifice as they speak the command word required to activate its magic. The interior of the bag is filled with a thick, blood-warm liquid, a portion of which, as the command word is spoken, congeals into a living eye that floats into the owner's grasp. Depending on the command word spoken, the eye produced can have one of the following aspects:
  • Regenerative Organ - This organ is a fully functional human eye. If placed within an empty eye socket within five rounds it instantly bonds itself to its new host's body, becoming a fully functional eye. The newly installed eye has a red iris and a slight cast, which does not affect vision, but does present a somewhat daunting appearance. The recipient suffers a one rank penalty on initial impressions based on appearance.
  • Undead Watcher - This eye is a bit small, with a dead gray iris and bloodshot sclera. The Sack's owner can place this eye anywhere. With a full round's concentration they can shift their gaze to see what the Undead Watcher can see. The Undead Watcher is static, and easily destroyed if noticed, but its small size makes it difficult to spot.
  • Parasitic Eye - This eye has a golden-brown iris with a vertical slit pupil. Gooey tendrils dangle from its bulk, dripping noxious, thick liquid. The Sack's owner can attach this eye to living flesh, where it bonds instantly. The eye provides no benefit to its host, but the owner can, with a round of concentration, shift their gaze to see what the Parasitic Eye sees. Damage to the Parasitic Eye is suffered in equal measure by the host. Only a Good damage cut will remove the entire Eye from the host's body. Any fragment remaining will regrow to a complete eye in 2d6 days.
One eye can be pulled from the Sack each day. Any number of eyes may be active at once. If more than six Undead Watchers or Parasitic Eyes are active at one time, the owner must make a Good will check each hour or have their vision forced to one of these eyes for 1d10 rounds.

Image source: 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Trend

Never let it be said I am inconsistent.

Previous results have showed similar results. Like this. And this.

See there's a reason I'm usually the GM.

Monster Mash(Up)

Nevermet Press is running a week-long Monster MashUp contest that may appeal to some of you. The rules are simple, write a short fluff entry about the pictured beast and submit it via their site. They have some pretty cool prizes in the lineup too, including some custom brass dice, a signed copy of Open Game Table Volume 1, and several PDF prizes.

Take a look, the contest and entry form are here: http://nevermetpress.com/the-monster-mashup-contest/

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flesh Gnawer

This heavy, two-handed war club is over five feet long. It is carved from a single piece of dense yellowish wood. The haft of the weapon is wrapped with rough and scaly green hide. The business end of the club is thicker and rounded, with heavy studs of solid black obsidian arranged in spiraling lines all along its surface. Each stud is carved with the image of a gape-jawed, fanged demon head surrounded by a tangle of wiry tentacles. Flesh Gnawer radiates Epic combat and animation magic, along with a faint aura of evil.

Despite it's wooden construction, Flesh Gnawer is practically unbreakable. It requires Great strength to wield effectively however. Anyone with lesser strength suffers a one rank accuracy penalty and can only swing the weapon every other round. A blow struck by this weapon inflicts Great damage.

Each time a successful blow is struck with Flesh Gnawer 1d4 of the obsidian studs animate and sink their teeth into the target, each becoming a tiny demonic being that clings to its victim with barbed tendrils as it gnaws and chews its way inward. Each tiny Gnawer inflicts Fair damage per round so long as they remain embedded in living flesh. Gnawers can be attacked and destroyed with melee attacks or spell damage. They have Good toughness and armor and Superb resistance to elemental damage. A Great test of dispelling magic directed at the victim will destroy all attached Gnawers. They can also be ripped free and thrown to the ground, where they fall inert and turn to black dust after one round, though this inflicts a Fair wound on their victim.

Flesh Gnawer has 100 studs fitted to its surface, which vanish when they give birth to a demonic Gnawer. The weapon regenerates 2d6 studs each day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Page Dungeon Contest 2010 - Winners!

They've been announced here. The PDF is also available.

I wonder if they'll post up an archive of all the entries?

Edit: Full archive is now available on Alex's site here. I've also made both files available here, along with last year's archives and the original One Page Templates.