Friday, December 31, 2010

XRP products of 2010

I thought it would be interesting to see what we've published in 2010.

In Print:
4e: 4e Freeport Companion
Pathfinder: 1 on 1 Adventures # 12, 13, and 14.
1e (OSRIC): Advanced Adventures # 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.
Sorcery & Super Science!: Sorcery & Super Science! Core Rules.

PDF only:
Sorcery & Super Science!: Creatures 1, 2, and 3; Objects 1 and 2; Characters 1; The House of Blue Men.

So in total we printed 9 different products, favoring 1e over others and in PDF we put out 7 more products, all for Sorcery & Super Science!

Not a bad year. Next year it's looking like we'll have more print products and fewer PDF products, but we'll wait and see.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ZZZ Quick Guide to North America: Done

Yes it is. Took longer than expected, but it's done. Cover by Cladio Pozas.

Formula Folio

The first of the clerical spells - much simpler inks for more common items.

For the ink required to scribe a clerical bless scroll

1 oz. of giant octopus ink
1 oz. of holy water
1 small emerald, powdered
1 dram of saffron

In a blessed silver vessel, mix all ingredients at midday. Decant into a crystal container and store in complete darkness. Bring out crystal container containing ink every day for 7 days for one hour to absorb the noon-day sun. Makes enough ink for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm a bum.

Didn't get out of bed until 11:45 today. Woke up and had lunch. Spent a hour or so reading from The Complete Far Side.

I am a bum and I couldn't be happier. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tome of Tomes

Lets take a step back from the game design navel-gazing... :)

Calary: A Study in Politics
Author: Slee Lowrie
Race: Human
Dimensions: 6x5x2
Weight: 2 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: History, politics & genealogy
Value: 25 gp

The long and complicated life of The White Duke William Calary of Willmote is recorded by his adoring biographer, Slee Lowrie in this detailed work. It is heavy with praise and light with criticism, but a secret code lies hidden within the work. Once deciphered, this code portrays an entirely different picture of the Great Duke and his political machinations spanning four centuries. Given the Duke’s renowned ability of code-cracking, Calary: A Study in Politics is viewed by many as a giant slap in the face against the inflated ego of a pompous nobleman.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Final Thoughts on Modules (for now)

One final thought about module design from the publisher perspective. More modules are read than played. It seems pretty obvious, being that not every module purchased is played at the table, but it should inform the author about his or her audience. Or, I should say, two audiences. Modules should read as well, or better, than they play at the table. They need to inspire a GM enough to get the GM to take the player group through the module.

So if you're thinking about publishing a module, remember that your largest audience is the one only reading the module. There's more to it than just how well it plays at the table.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

There are Two Games

Before getting into game design mumbo jumbo - A Merry Christmas to all readers. I hope today's as you would like it to be. We actually got snow during the night, so we're having a white one.

I ended yesterday's post with for a Game Master, there are two games. Meaning, IMO, that there is the game that exists when everyone's over and playing and the dice are a' rolling, but there is also the game that exists when the GM is alone and exploring the world, prepping it for the players to come later and follow in the GMs footsteps.

I think this is so because the nice thing about rpgs is that they're all based upon the idea of wide-open creativity. The game isn't just the rules, isn't just the success or failure of objectives - there's no one way to "win" and more importantly, there's no one way to play. IMO, this wide-open creativity extends to the discovery of the world and if the GM views this process as one of be an explorer of the world, not a creator and not in terms of X is here, Y is here, it is possible to actually play the game alone. Especially if one uses dice to throw in that randomness that makes exploration so much fun.

I think that most of us blogging about the game GM the game. We play also, of course, but I suspect that most of us first consider ourselves GMs and then players. I think GMs have fallen in love with being explorers of worlds that no one has ever seen before. I think this process of exploring our own personal worlds is one of the main reasons why we talk and think and write about the game when we're not at the table. We're actually playing the game in this process.

I believe that it is this love of exploration that separates GMs from players. A GM is forever desiring to be down in the dungeons, lantern in hand, peering into the darkness, excited by what lurks just outside of vision. Forever enjoying the experience of "Wait til the group sees this!"

As a publisher, when I'm reading a manuscript under consideration for publication, one of the things I'm looking for is that "Golly Gee Willikers! This is an awesome exploration!" feel. I want to feel that the author's as excited at his discovery as the players are going to be at theirs. It's an important consideration in my evaluation of a module, and it's something I try like hell to make sure is in the modules I write.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More Thoughts on Module Writing

Yesterday's post can be summed up in one sentence: Be an explorer of the world, not a creator.

It's a simple sentence, but there's a lot of assumptions in it. Firstly, it implies the type of play that I prefer - world-focused. World-focused play (as opposed to character-focused play) is based around the idea that this pretend fantasy world really exists, and the characters are explorers and dwellers within that realm. The player characters are no more special than their abilities and actions make them; they are no more special than any other dweller of the world.

Character-focused play, on the other hand, puts the characters as the center of the universe, and the setting alters to fit them. Character-focused play, IMO, is most-explicitly seen in some character-dynamic crpg worlds, wherein when a character ventures throughout the world, the level of "random monster" challenges they meet scales based upon what level the characters are. The implication here being that the world alters itself based upon the character.

Of course, neither of these two viewpoints are really accurate. The only accurate viewpoint is "This is only a game, not a world that exists independent of character power, nor a world that adapts based upon character power. There is no world, only game." This I call game-focused play. I'm not a big fan of game-focused play. I find accepting it as the primary driver results in an "it doesn't have to make sense" gaming experience that I find unsatisfying. IMO, it's the source of ancient red dragons in 10x10 rooms and monsters that never have to poop or drink or eat. I believe that one should remember that it's only a game at all times, but not take that as your primary design aesthetic.

Be an explorer of the world, not a creator. A simple sentence with a lot of implications. The big one, the one implication that really is an eye opener however is what I'll write about tomorrow. For a Game Master, there are two games.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thoughts on Module Writing

Yesterday, I wrote an encounter area for Down the Shadowvein and I thought I should share some of my thoughts concerning writing modules - or at least how I write modules. :)

IMO, D&D (and most other rpgs for that matter) is primarily a game of exploration. Sure you may kill something and take its stuff, but first you go to a (hopefully) exotic local to do so. You may not even have to kill anything to get some stuff if you're clever. The whole trope of the game is one of entering a fantasy world, where things are different and magic is real. It's exploration first, everything else second. This means that (almost) every module should take the players someplace interesting. How or why its interesting varies greatly: could be that the area itself is intriguing or that the story bringing the players to the location makes the location interesting. That's the main thing for me. Interesting things to see and do - "interesting" combat and loot is secondary.

Since the game is about exploration I believe the best way to write a module is to use that same idea in the creation process. The author needs to be exploring the world right at the moment the figurative pen hits the figurative paper. This authorial exploration of a pretend world is the driving factor behind what I consider good adventure. When I write I'm there, lantern in hand, peering into the darkness, trying to decipher what already exists in that fantasy world and transcribe it to the page.

Yesterday, while writing an area for Down the Shadowvein (area C30 for those who care to know) I went through that old familiar process of discovering what was already there. In the process something entirely unexpected happened and the area is made much more interesting because of it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Down the Shadowvein

Well, it seems like I've done it again. I've went and had a good idea that's proving too long for the space restraints I put upon myself for an Advanced Adventure and bitten off more than I can chew. As anyone who has written for us knows, I place a 12k word limit on an Advanced Adventure as I want them to be short, sweet, and to the point - just like the modules of yore. Being the boss, however, means that I can make exceptions for myself and it seems like the adventures that I'm interested in writing (like #10 The Lost Keys of Solitude & #15 Stonesky Delve) are always over that limit. I can't help but feel a bit hypocritical to my authors, but hey, take the perks where you can in this business, I say.

Anyway, back to the subject. As I'm sure you all know, Matt Finch's excellent adventure #1 The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom has a river in it called the Shadowvein, and the PCs may approach the location either from the surface down or from the river up. Nice that. So this Shadowvein's inspired me to write an adventure called Down the Shadowvein, detailing what lies surprise, surprise, surprise down river of The Pod Caverns.

I started with a map (the way to go, IMO) and it quickly got out of control. See, my other inspiration for the adventure is the Giants series (The classic, IMO) wherein the PC enter the underdepths and explore (The D series). I made the map in a similar style and voila, I've bitten off more than I can chew. Now it's looking to be the first two-part series of adventures in the Advanced Adventure line, or it's going to be one big horking adventure.


But damn, I love the map. And the idea of a lower-level descent into the underdepths tingles my little geeky heart.

The Valley of the Mage

A nod and a wink, if you know what I mean...

94. The Valley of the Mage
Wizard State: The Mage
GTSL: 4750

The Valley of the Mage is a small kingdom, no more than 15 miles in length, but it plays a very important role to all The North-Central States, for much of the trade that enters the north comes up via the Mississippi River. The Mage forces all ships from the south to unload onto Mage ships which travel up the river to unload to ships waiting along the northern border of The Valley of the Mage. The Mage has transport contracts with the major trading companies doing this trade and he (or she for that matter - we don’t know) takes a small cut from the goods as taxation. Many have tried to bypass The Valley by forming caravans traveling beyond its southern boundary in The Midcoast Madness, but all have failed utterly.

The most unusual thing about The Valley of the Mage is that it is populated entirely by elves. Yes, the pointy-eared 5-foot-tall elves of legend. All other muties are killed for entering The Valley if they go beyond the loading and unloading zones. As such, we know almost nothing about the territory within. If you’re just “passing through” you can pay an escort fee and a group of elves will blindfold you and lead you to your destination.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Formula Folio

The last of the protection scrolls and their more complex inks. I'm working on the 1st level Clerical inks right now. I'm going to try and make higher level scrolls have more complex inks than lower level scrolls. The contrary part of me wanted to reverse that, but the contrary part of me isn't often right so I decided against it. :)

Protection from Undead
For the ink required to scribe a protection from undead scroll

1 oz. giant squid sepia
1 oz. of holy water
1 small piece of amber, powdered
1 small carnelian, powdered
1 small piece of jade, powdered
1 dram of silver shavings from a holy symbol
1 dram of powdered wight’s skull
1 stalk of asparagus
I gallon of purified water

In a silver vessel, bring purified water to a boil and add the asparagus. Lightly boil for 4 hours. Remove from heat and strain. Reduce remaining water to 1 oz and transfer to a golden container. Bring holy water into mix and add all other ingredients except the sepia. Transfer to crystal container and let sit in the sunlight for a month’s time. Decant and add the sepia. Makes enough for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Whispers of The Summoner

A new whisper track...

The Summoner’s Misty Servant (Basic): Activating this whisper calls forth a small misty figure about the size of a young child. The misty servant performs any actions as commanded by the sorcerer in both the spirit and letter of the command, and should be considered to have 1 in all primary abilities. The servant can fly at 5/44 and can carry up to 300lbs. while doing such, but anything over 50lbs. slows the misty servant down to 2/18. The servant lasts for 1 hour. Activating this whisper costs 2 Fortune.

The Summoner’s Smokey Messenger (Intermediate): Activating this whisper summons a smoky, flying form vaguely resembling a vulture. The smokey messenger will take a single message of up to 10 minutes length to any living creature within 1,000 miles in less than 5 minutes. The vulture cannot be harmed in any manner and can pass through all but air-tight barriers. The vulture lasts long enough to perform its task. If it cannot, it dissipates after 1 hour. Activating this whisper cost 4 Fortune and requires a source of smoke, although one as small as a cigarette will suffice.

The Summoner’s Radiant Steed (Advanced): Activating this whisper conjurers a radiant, winged steed. The steed performs any actions as commanded by the sorcerer in spirit and letter, and should be considered to have 2 in all primary abilities, excepting a Strength 8. The steed may carry two people and up to 1,500lbs. while flying at a speed of 30/264. The steed has difficulty hiding and is somewhat conspicuous as it travels. The steed lasts for 4 hours, but the last 20 minutes must be spent brushing down the steed, or the steed will demand twice the amount of Fortune for the next summoning. Activating this whisper costs 6 Fortune and requires the sorcerer have a hair brush.

The Summoner’s Demonic Advisor (Ultra): Activating this whisper summons a demonic advisor who faithfully answers up to 6 questions providing the sorcerer supplies a pound of sulfur or a pound of flesh and two pints of blood from an intelligent humanoid. Activating this whisper costs 10 Fortune. Activating this whisper without the above offerings is not a wise idea

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brainy Bison

Here's another critter found below the shattered moon. I don't know why I like this one so much, maybe because its a good mix of sublime and silly.

Brainy Bison
Mutated bison (Intermediate)
C4 A1 S7 F4 R4 I1 W1: Ego 20: Health 32: Fortune 22
Movement 20/176

Description & Information: Among the large herds of bison found on the plains lurk intelligent and powerful protectors. Brainy bison appear as normal bison, but their brain case is enlarged, making a noticeable hump just behind their horns. Brainy Bison are telepathic and keep in constant communication with each other. There are typically a dozen or so brainy bison per bison herd. Brainy bison mate with normal bison and the offspring has roughly half a chance to be brainy. It’s speculated that eventually large herds of brainy bison will roam the plains and rolling hills below the shattered moon.

Intrinsic Powers
• Brainy bison can telepathically communicate with any creature it can see. After communicating on a regular basis for months, the bison can “locate” the creature when it is out of sight and communicate up to distances of 10 miles.
• Brainy bison may attack with a powerful charge and trample, dealing +9 bludgeoning damage and a +3/ rank 10 combat condition. They need at least 40 feet of charging to perform this attack.
• When not charging brainy bison may attack with a horn butt, dealing +5 piercing damage and a +4/ rank 6 combat condition.

Limited Use Powers
• Ego Assault (2 per day): A brainy bison can assault the very ego of any creature within its telepathic communication range. Such assaults always hit, dealing 10 Ego damage. Additionally, the victim needs to succeed on a rank 6 Willpower conflict or fall into a coma lasting 1-100 minutes. A target behind a force shield is somewhat protected from this attack, taking only 5 Ego damage and having no chance of a coma.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Church of Parkour Highlights

The Church of Parkour
The largest institution below the shattered moon, at least in North America, is the church of Parkour. The church divides itself into two bodies: the thinkers and the doers. The thinkers are doers who choose to progress beyond doing and they pass along the philosophical aspects of the religion to the young who are too young to do. This results in many of the doers possessing highlights of The Thinkers as they learned them as children and will teach them to more children once they are too old to do. The doers actively practice the 3 holy tenants of the church through movement: Be Strong to be Useful, Think Like Children, Reclaim Humanity.

The Doers
Art of Movement (Basic): You have learned and practiced the basic arts of movement from the church. Your movement increases to 6/53.

Art of Endurance (Intermediate): You have learned how to move for extended periods. You can travel for much longer than others without becoming tired or fatigued. You gain a +3 to any roll concerning endurance.

Art of Overcoming (Intermediate): You have learned to bypass obstacles that would prevent most others from passing as long as you have enough distance to get a running start. You gain a +1 to any roll involving moving or difficult terrain.

Art of Thought (Ultra): You have learned to spin your mind in a constant circle of repetitive though, protecting yourself from mental effects. You gain a +1 to any roll preventing mental control. If you do not roll, your opponents receive a -1 on their rolls.

The Thinkers
Art of Quietness (Basic): You have learned the art of being quiet as you move. You gain a +1 to all rolls concerning moving quietly. If you do not roll, your opponents receive a -1 on their rolls to hear you.

Art of Stillness (Intermediate): You have learned the art of non-movement - the art of remaining still. You gain a +1 to all rolls concerning stillness. If you do not roll, your opponents receive a -1 on their rolls to notice you.

Art of Cleverness (Intermediate): You have learned to almost anticipate what is forthcoming. When spending Fortune related to any Church of Parkour activity (typically a church run) you spend at a 3 to 4 ratio - meaning that for every three points you spend, you receive 4 points in benefit.

Art of Obstacles (Ultra): You have learned to make it harder to follow you as you run. At the cost of 5 Fortune, you can create an obstacle behind you that brings pursuit to a dead stop for 2 turns.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tome of Tomes

Well, our cable connection seems to be working great now. I have no idea what they did, but it took 3 of them, a ladder, and 30 minutes. They had to open the box on the telephone pole and make adjustments. Now that that drama's done, lets have a tome as a little welcome back to the world of reliable internet service.

Barks of the World and their Medicinal Properties
Author: Akyn Aizle
Race: Human
Dimensions: 12x12x6
Weight: 20 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, brass plaques
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Flora, supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Trees, medicine
Value: 200 gp

The definitive work on the medicinal uses of tree barks throughout the world, Akyn Aizle is found in most libraries and in almost all medical libraries. The work is the “go to” work for the subject and if something isn’t found in this massive tome, it’s surely of an uncommon nature or perhaps something newly discovered. Barks of the World and their Medicinal Properties is well-illustrated, but many of the entries rely solely upon description.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Connection Issues

Sorry for no updates recently, we've been having some connection issues. Not surprising given the snowy/icy stuff we've been getting so early in the year, but things look to be good again and we've got a cable guy coming over this afternoon to give everything a look over. Come back tomorrow for some new stuff!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Formula Folio

This next protection formula always struck me as a bit odd. There's just not that many things that possess in the game, so I'm not really sure how useful it would really be. But, since it's in there, I'm doing it.

Protection from Possession
For the ink required to scribe a protection from possession scroll

1 oz. giant squid sepia
1 oz. of blood from a night hag
1 heart of a cambion
1 miniature tower carved of ivory
1 oz. of acid of four spar
1 oz. of bull bone, powdered
1 oz. of giant bee’s wax

In a glass container lined with giant beeswax, dissolve the ivory tower using the acid of four spar. Add the heart and dissolve. Then add blood and dissolve. Let mixture sit overnight during a full moon. Introduce the powdered bone and then the giant squid sepia. Makes enough for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tome of Tomes

I've got some snow shoveling to do this morning, so no time to chat. :)

Weeds of the Cold Marshes
Author: Cauld Plowterie
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x10x1.5
Weight: 4lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Common
Fields of Study: Flora
Special Knowledge Categories: Weeds
Value: 50 gp

An excellent overview of common weeds found in cold marshes, Cauld Plowterie’s Weeds of the Cold Marshes is considered the standard introductory text on the matter.  It is inevitably found in any sound library concerned with temperate and sub-polar flora.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Begins

We've had a weird winter here in Coshocton, Ohio. Technically, it's not winter yet, but we've had snow on all but 2 days of this December so this last 3 weeks or so of fall sure seems like it. Right now, the rain has just turned to snow again and it's coming down with significant speed and we're expecting snow for the next 3 days as well.

Good thing I don't have to go anywhere - my work commute is from upstairs to down.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The ZZZ Society Highlights

Every secret society below the shattered moon grants special trained powers to their devotees. These powers are gained through careful study of the tenants of the society, or through directly doing the bidding of those tenants. Unlike the highlights generated at character creation, most secret societies have a full 4 thresholds of esoteric knowledge, but some of the more primitive have the traditional minor or major.

The ZZZ Society
The “Triple Z” has many members, most of which are not aware of more than a few other members. The ZZZ society runs in a fault-tolerant covert cell structure designed to mitigate leaks and reduce the ability for a hostile party to climb its way back up the chain of command. The ZZZ always seeks to be covert and discrete as they provide the most impartial assessments of all the various governments and leaders as well as the status of settlements and knowledge.

ZZZ Source (Basic): You have been recruited by a ZZZ contact to provide information to ZZZ researchers. For your services, you have free access to all published ZZZ materials and a single yearly request of the society. This request can be of material aid or of information.

ZZZ Researcher (Intermediate): You receive information from sources (usually at dead drops) and do what fact checking you can to determine the quality of the information. For your services, you have 2 yearly requests of material aid or of information.

ZZZ Contact (Advanced): You often travel throughout a geographical region and recruit new sources to the ZZZ society. Optionally, you may be assigned dangerous duties to investigate information researchers have been unable to verify, but which seems important. For your services, you have 4 yearly requests of material aid or information and you draw a salary of 4,000 bv per year.

ZZZ Editor (Ultra): You are in control of editing all the information for the ZZZ society on a particular geographic location. Occasionally, you will be sent on dangerous missions that even Contacts refuse to perform. You have 12 yearly request of material aid or information and you draw a yearly salary of 12,000 bv.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jelly Salamander

A critter that turns you into a jelly drug? Ah, hells yeah....

Jelly Salamander
Mutated giant salamander (Basic)
C2 A0 S0 F3 R-4 I3 W0: Ego 4: Health 10: Fortune 4
Movement 2/18 (swim at double)

Description & Information: Jelly salamanders are a dull red color, with brown overtones on the underbelly. They grow up to 5 feet long and weigh in at up to 80 lbs. Like their non-mutated cousins, jelly salamanders feed upon insects, fish, amphibians, and crabs and shrimp. The jelly salamander, however, also predates upon large mammals, turning them into a red jelly which is devoured by the salamander over a period of days.

This jelly is quite tasty (kinda like a cherry/raspberry mix) and a powerful, addictive drug when dried and powdered. Consuming more than a gram of red powder adds +1 to Strength, Agility, and Reason. Every consumption has a cumulative 3% chance of addiction. Addiction results in a loss of -1 Strength, Agility, and Reason after not consuming the jelly for more than 3 days. The addiction is broken after a month’s time or after a series of 3 successful rank 12 Fortitude conflicts over a period of 3 days. Red powder is big business below the shattered moon, with syndicates feeding their enemies to the salamanders as a common form of retribution or revenge.

Intrinsic Powers
• Jelly salamanders are tough little buggers, reducing all physical damage by 1 point per hit.
• Jelly salamanders inflict a toxic bite. A successful hit does no damage, but the victim must succeed against a rank 10 Fortitude conflict or be turned into tasty jelly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Everyone needs some correction below the shattered moon. Well, except for those snooty "pure" sorcerers.

Preservative spirit (Intermediate) 15
C2 A3 S1 F4 R7 I5 W4: Ego 40: Health 20: Fortune 26
Movement 4/35

Description & Information: In its natural form, an architect appears as a spectral C60 molecule. Made flesh, it looks like a normal human, but unusually thin and stark. Architects preserve the order of the universe by making continual corrective changes and become extremely angry when disturbed in their work, focusing their corrective powers upon the errors in their fleshy vicinity. These corrections are inevitably painful for the common mutie.

Intrinsic Powers
• Architects attack by correcting genetic errors in their target. This attack is made using the architect’s Reason, as opposed to Combat. A successful hit deals +8 mental damage and renders the target unconscious unless they succeed at a rank 7 Fortitude conflict. Unconsciousness lasts for as many hours as the target has Intuition. Humans of pure genetics cannot be harmed by architects.

Tome of Tomes

I'm up at an ungodly hour, at least for me. One of the few perks of being your own boss in this industry is that you *don't* have to wake up before sunrise. Alas, it's still dark out and the brain in slow and desirous of caffeine. Ever wonder how to make a pod-man? :)

Upon the Generation of Pod-Men
Author: Pluff Droubly the Younger
Race: Human
Dimensions: 8x10x1.5
Weight: 4 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment, iron clasp and lock
Rarity: Very Rare
Fields of Study: Flora, supernatural & unusual
Special Knowledge Categories: Fungi, dweomercraft
Value: 500 gp

This foul tome describes the care and maintenance of the pod-man plant as well as the evil ritual used to convert a human into a superior pod-man. The ritual can be performed by any creature of 6HD or more with a 5% chance of success per every point of intelligence of the ritualist. Performing the ritual is very risky however, as there is a cumulative 1% chance per use that the ritualist himself transforms into a superior pod-man with no knowledge of his prior self. However, the reader of the tome will be unaware of the risk, as the author fell victim to the danger before recording it for posterity.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Formula Folio

Here's another formula for you. We've got two more protection scrolls to do before starting on the inks used for spell scrolls. For those I'm planning on making the lower-level spell inks easier to prepare and generally less expensive/less rare than the higher-level spell inks.

Protection from Petrification
For the ink required to scribe a protection from petrification scroll

1 oz. giant octopus ink
1 gargoyle’s horn
1 gorgon’s hoof
1 jellyfish stinging tendril
1 dram of mercury
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of parsley
1 gallon of purified water

In a ceramic container, place purified water and bring to boil over an oak fire. Once boiling, add gargoyles horn and gorgon’s hoof. Cover, completely seal in red clay, and place clay-covered container under a fire of pine wood for two days. Let cool and remove, break seal and pour gluey mixture into a cast iron pot. Add all other ingredients and mix. Re-seal with black clay and place under an oak fire for one day. Remove, break seal and dispose of any remaining solids. Makes enough for 3 scrolls. A cockatrice feather quill is required.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tome of Tomes

Here's 41 for the shelves. I'm thinking about doing an index of all the subject matters by title for the books. It would make stocking a sage who specializes in "Humankind" (for example) easier, methinks. I think I'll do it, but it'll be one looonng Excel sheet. :)

The Wide Book
Author: Unknown
Race: Human (presumably)
Dimensions: 16x4x1
Weight: 3 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Uncommon
Fields of Study: Humankind, demi-humankind, humanoids & giantkind
Special Knowledge Categories: History, legends & folklore
Value: 25 gp

The Wide Book is a collection of shorter works concerning the Mountains of Xur, the hills called The Skathernes, and areas near these geographical features. The book is broken into segments arraigned in no discernable order; stories, poems, and snippets of history concerning the peoples of the land of their histories.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tome of Tomes

It's been over a week since the last Tome, so lets start Sunday off with a book about the body. I believe it's our 40th book in the series.

The Veines of the Human Bodie
Author: Gurl Barken
Race: Human
Dimensions: 14x12x1.5
Weight: 5 lbs.
Materials: Leather-bound, woodboard, parchment
Rarity: Very Rare
Fields of Study: Humankind
Special Knowledge Categories: Biology
Value: 1,250 gp

A work of truly ancient origins, not much is known concerning Gurl Barken; his heritage and nationality remain shrouded by time. Barken’s work however, is one that stands the test of time, featuring many detailed illustrations concerning the circulatory system of humankind. The book is very difficult to copy and is thusly quite rare.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Formula Folio

Thanks for a the birthday wishes all. Had a fun 39th and hopefully the next will be just as good. Let's continue on with the Formula Folio series.

Protection from Magic
For the ink required to scribe a protection from magic scroll

1 oz. giant octopus ink
2 drams of powdered bone from a disenchanter
2 drams green slime
1 oz. stirge blood harvested directly after feeding upon a magic user
1 large jacinth, powdered
1 dram of cinnamon
1 dram of holy water

In a ceramic container, place the green slime and the powdered jacinth. Put over heat until the slime is destroyed. Add cinnamon and the disenchanter bone dust. Mix thoroughly. Add octopus ink and place within a glass container. Expose to sunlight for 3 days. Decant into a silver container and add the blood of a stirge who has just feasted upon a magic user. Mix and heat until bubbles form. Remove from heat and add holy water. Makes enough for 2 scrolls. Any special quill is suitable.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Today is my 39th birthday

So no real gaming related stuff today. Went into Columbus and got some tasties from Whole Foods that I can't get locally and picked up a book about early-medieval Indian history as well as X2 Castle Amber. I haven't had a chance to read Castle Amber as an adult and even when I had a copy as a kid, my copy was missing the first 2 and the last 2 pages (a single sheet, in other words) so I never really got to read the whole thing anyway.

Now I play some Civ IV and eat red beans and rice. Yum!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review of Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom

James over at The Underdark Gazette has reviewed Advanced Adventures #1: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom. In summation he closes with:

The overall atmosphere of the dungeon is pleasantly eerie, with some welcome touches of horror and that aforementioned weirdness, which Mr. Finch does so well! It evoked the kind of mood that I associate with the creepier sort of fairy-tale.

The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom hits all the right notes and plays them sweetly, indeed. Buy it! Buy it Now! Then Run It and let us know how it went! 

I'm glad to see he liked it and really liked reading the game-play summation from the gentleman in his comments section. It's a great adventure - one that I've heard several fun play summations about. But, I'm a biased source, no? :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Underworld Trio

The above trio (click to embiggen) are found in the upper levels of the underdepths, living the life of itinerant traders. They'd be a good add to any campaign wherein the under ground world is explorable by more than high-level characters. All three can be found in Malevolent & Benign. Art by Claudio Pozas.

SIZE: Small (3-4 ft. tall)
MOVE: 90 ft.
DAMAGE: By weapon
RARITY: Very rare
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 2 or 4-12
TREASURE:  In Lair: 1-6k cp (25%), 1-6k sp (40%), 1-6k ep (40%), 1-10k gp (55%), 100-400 pp (25%), 4-40 gems (60%), 3-30 jewelry (50%), any 3 magic items (30%)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic neutral
LEVEL/X.P.: 4 / 175 + 3/hp

General information: Renowned as traders in the subterranean realm, noja are a welcom sight in underground cities, carrying fungi, lichens, and other exotic wares. Their carts are pulled by a pair of undals, and they often keep 1-4 wyrdwolfs to help guard their trade goods. Noja females are known for their shrewd intellect, and noja males for their penchant for mischief. They have darkvision to 240 ft., although they prefer to use lights.

Noja shun combat, preferring trickery and magic to actual confrontation, but they can be quite adept at fighting if pressed and have a remarkable hardiness. They typically use daggers (1-4) and small bows (1-3) in physical combat.

Female noja can use the following spells: at will - augury, cure serious wounds, detect magic, feather fall, grease, haste, silence 15 ft. radius; 3 times per day -  message, sleep, tongues; once per day - confusion. Male noja can use the following spells: at will - audible glamour, detect magic, light; 3 times per day - cure light wounds, phantasmal force; once per day - improved phantasmal force, phantasmal killer. All noja spells are considered equivalent to those cast by a 10th level caster.

Languages: Noja speak their own tongue, as well as common and undercommon.

Physical description: Noja are hairy little humanoids standing 3-4 feet tall with dark brown skin covered in thick black hair. In many ways they resemble diminutive bugbears, but they favor wearing home-spun clothing in outrageous colors.

SIZE: Large (10 ft. long)
MOVE: 150 ft.
DAMAGE: 1-8, 1-8, 2-12
LEVEL/X.P.: 3 / 155 + 4/hp

General information: Sometimes called the cattle of the deep, the undal is a large, peaceful, herbivore that grazes on mushrooms, mosses, and lichens. The noja have a long tradition of domesticating undals, using them for draft animals, food, and trade. Wild undals roam the deep and are highly prized for their thin but warm fur and their impressive horns. They are generally agreeable animals once domesticated, but wild undals can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Undals enter combat with a devastating charge dealing 4-24 hit point of damage plus 1-8 points of damage from their vicious thumb spikes as they trample over their target. Once close, they flair about with thumb spikes and horns.

Physical description: The undal is a large quadruped that roams subterranean lands in large herds. The most distinguishing characteristic of the undal is its majestic crown of horns. Unlike antlers, the undal’s horns do not branch but grow from its head like hair. They have a very dense, but thin, coat. Usually white in color, some rare undal are coal black. They have sharp thumb spikes growing out of their ankles just above their long-toed feet.

SIZE: Large (9 ft. long)
MOVE: 180 ft.
DAMAGE: 1-2, 1-2, 2-8
LEVEL/X.P.: 4 / 230 + 6/hp

General information: The wyrdwolf is a fierce pack hunter in the subterranean realm. A wyrdwolf has small claws and a jaw full of sharp fangs, but is most notable for its glowing eyes. Although rarely encountered, wyrdwolves have an unsavory reputation among underground dwellers, as they tend towards belligerent and aggressive behavior. Wyrdwolves possess darkvision to 60 ft.

A wyrdwolf attacks with savage biting and clawing. It will usually begin combat with its strobe gaze attack, hoping to disorient foes to make it easier to rip them to shreds. All creatures within 40 feet of a strobing wyrdwolf must make a save against spells or be blinded for 2-5 rounds.

Physical description: Wyrdwolves are 9-foot-long canine-like predators. They have glossy black coats of warm fur that cover thick, leathery, bone-white skin. They have small claws and glowing yellow eyes.

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