Friday, August 29, 2008

Alas, Poor Wiskbat

The Wilderlands OD&D PbP I've been playing came to an abrupt end this week. While I'm disappointed, the DM's reasons for shutting down the game are entirely unassailable. If he starts the game anew I'll sign up but quick.

In the meantime, here's my first ever OD&D character, Wiskbat Tinker, half goat-footed Irish Clurichaun, half itinerant peddler out of Sholem Aleichem. Not sure where I got the idea to mix in Yiddish slang and proverbs with his dialog, but it sure made him fun to play.

Wiskbat is about 4 1/2 feet tall, with a wild mane of hair and bristly sideburns held down by a grubby cloth hat. A pair of hobnail boots conceal his hooves. His grin is usually brown with tobacco juice; he carries a pipe but always seems to misplace his tapers, so he just chews the leaf. His personal habits are slovenly and his gear generally poorly kept, though his blades are sharp. His fellow elves oft said of him, pinching their noses, "There's an apt rhyme for young Tinker, and it sure ain't thinker."

He holds to no gods, but is not uncommon found on his knees in the gutter after after a night's debauch. Whether this can be called a form of prayer is disputable.

MP3: Klezmatics, Mizmor Shir Lehanef (Compact Disc - Download)
AKA "Reefer Song." I feel certain Wiskbat would approve.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wandering Upchuck Table

Or, What Happens If You Eat the Tainted Meat?

A chart used in my Encounter Critical Play-by-Post game, God City Sandbox.


3. Mutation, permanent. Use EC chart or variant

4. Madness, permanent. Roll on EC Psychic & Magic Diseases/Curses chart

5. Dreadful daymares. Incapacitated and raving for 2-8 rounds

6. Mutation, temporary. 24 hours less ADA score

7. Madness, temporary. As AD&D confusion spell for 1-6 rounds

8. Skin turns random color. Roll d8 on ROYGBIVX. X=roll twice and combine. Lasts 20 days less ADA score

9. Hallucinatory projections. Stars, birds, skulls, punctuation marks, etc appear to orbit victims head for 2-8 rounds. Vigorous head shaking or a slap in the face will dispel.

10. Tummy ache. No further effect.

11. Allergic reaction. 1. Hives 2. Rash 3. Sweating 4. Narcolepsy 5. Chilblains 6. Double vision 7. Giggling 8. Boogie fever

12. Convulsive heaves. 1 hp damage, saving throw to avoid fainting

13. Debilitating hiccups. -5% to all ability chances for 1-6 hours. Creative hiccup remedies may cure at JM's discretion

14. Severe halitosis, 5' radius. 10% penalty to all LEA abilities for 2-12 hours. Basic dental hygiene counters this effect

15. Sudden growth of chest hair. Permanent, subject to depilatories. Roll basic ADA roll for chance of 1-6% addition to Consume Alien Food chances

16. Insane, ravenous hunger for favorite food. Acquiring it becomes the victim's monomaniacal passion, overriding all other concerns

17. Projectile barf. Literally; roll 3-30 on ranged weapon chart to determine range and damage. Roll ADA x2 on % or fire uncontrollably. D4 ammo, must be used up within a day.

18. Upchuck of Luck or Suck. Roll on AD&D Wand of Wonder chart

MP3: Jack Walrath - Meat! (Out of Print - Hella expensive used compact Disc)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gaming out the Earholes

Been a little quiet this month at Malevolent & Benign. Can't help but feel a little guilty (how vain, right?) but I guess that's what RSS feeds are for.

Truth is, my muse has deserted me. She was all like "You don't appreciate me" and I was all "Is this about that thing with Calliope? We were drunk, and nothing happened" and she was all, "Well Melpomene has a different story" and I was all like "I need to work on my writing" and she was "Oooh, your writing? You mean your blog? The Diary of a Mad Geekboy?" and I was "I can't believe you said that" and she was "Damn right I said it. You think you're Gary damn Gygax or something?" and I was "I need my space" and then she totally went off on me in Greek and moved out to stay with her sisters.

Well, no, nothing like that really. Just too busy with gaming stuff to write much about gaming stuff:
  • Playing in a semi-biweekly 3.whatever cum Pathfinder game (character: Runt, obese half-orc wizard with a 5 Strength). Fun, if a bit loosey goosey, but...
  • ...the DM just invited me to his main group, playing a 1st through 3rd edition hybrid, starting this weekend. I'm pretty excited about that.
  • In addition, I'm in the excellent PbP game Scott/Driver's been writing about at Wilderlands OD&D (character: Wiskbat Tinker, stinky goat-footed elf)
  • And just today I took over an Encounter Critical PbP we've been trying to start up. The Journey Master has been incommunicado for a week, so I did as Thrazar would, seizing the game by the lapels and lashing myself to the reins. Into the great blue yonder, wahooo!
All that, and I've gotta get back to work on my EC project, Gods From Outer Space, and at some point Rondo and I are gonna work on something together, and Fight On! #3, and...

...and you know what? It's awesome. I feel like a real live gamer.

P.S. I just won a copy of Arduin Grimoire #1 this afternoon, literally (and by literally I don't mean figuratively) in the last 10 seconds of the auction! Rawk!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Useless Post

Blogging on a Friday afternoon is pretty useless, especially the weekend of GenCon. But hey nonny nonny and what the hell. Storyteller of Beneath the Screen posted notes on a not-quite-cursed magical garment, the Robe of Useless Items. Cursed magical treasures seem to have faded from the official versions of D&D in the last couple editions, and that's a shame. Pranking players with tricky magical items is a great way to mess with their expectations. So I salute the spirit of Storyteller's post.

He asked for suggestions for a Greater Robe of Useless Items, and I'm happy to oblige:

Bottomless Inkpot and Stylus, filled, naturally, with invisible ink and requiring some unreasonably rare, costly and/or dangerous substance to reveal the writing.

Bronze Dog: When commanded to Sit, this bronze statuette animates into an enormous mastiff. The dog is untrained, and gentle as a kitten. Any efforts at training the creature as a mount or war dog will be doomed as it reverts to bronze each evening and forgets all it learned. It can be taught basic tricks like rolling over, begging or shaking hands -- but not fetch.

Nesting-Box of Holding: A simple metal coffer which is entirely filled up by a slightly smaller Box of Holding, which contains a still smaller Box, and so forth. Each box collapses with a loud clatter on removal of the box within.

Strumpet Trumpet: When sounded, this serpentine horn plays a lewd wah-wah ditty, summoning 2-5 ladies of ill repute (or hustlers of unwholesome habit, as you like it) who will loudly proposition all and sundry, insulting those who refuse their advances (and rolling those who yield to them for all the coin they have). Repeated soundings of the horn or any assault on the strumpets summons their pander, a fearsome efreet.

Xeno's Rope, a coil of sturdy rope capable of extending to just short of whatever length is needed.

Now We're Feeling Zombified

Another excerpt from my Encounter Critical project, Gods From Outer Space, which matches handily with Jonathan of The Core Mechanic's RPG Blog Carnival. For those wandering by who might be unfamiliar, you can find a review of the gonzo gamer's wonderland that is Encounter Critical here. Visit the game's webpage here to download the game for nil, nada, zip, zilch, zero -- that's free, dig?

Zombies of Vanth

Redhead Zombie Hotrod Vixen, Monstersbymail.comOne of the least understood races of Vanth is the zombie. Symbiotic spores from space? A black magic curse spreading across the land? Cannibal spirits in human form? Or merely victims of a severe life deficiency? The answer is unknown -- as is often the case on the planet Vanth, seekers after the truth are advised to hedge their bets and mark their answer sheet 'all of the above.'

Despite common myth, it is known that they are not undead like vampires and mummies, since strictly speaking true zombies are never alive in the first place. Their curious biology has so far been impenetrable to scientific inquiry. They do not breathe and have no pulse yet they require sustenance and are as vulnerable to magic and disease as other humanoids. They breed true among their own colonies, but have been known to mate with all of the common races of Vanth.

Most Zombies dwell in the Holdings of their Unnamed Princess, who is said to be an ancient yet ageless Warlock. Her appetites at the banquet table and in the boudoir are legendary and strange. Her Holdings are notably rich, and caravans happily brave the Goblin Hills and the Empire of Darth Viraxis to trade with the zombies. Despite the fortunes to be made in the Princess's lands, the prudent merchant is never without a steel skullcap to discourage the wilder and more ravenous of her subjects.

Known as the Burial Playground of the Eastern Shore, the green and rolling coast of the Zombie Holdings is a vast cemetery. The hillsides are kept in perfect order, a tidy necropolis of stones and monuments from every faith and kindred stretching for fifty miles or more. Folks from every corner of Vanth come here to enjoy the beaches and bury their dead.

Zombie Player Characters

Ability adjustments:
-1 DEX, -2 LEA, +1 ROB, +1 STR.
In addition a zombie gains +30% to Consume Alien Food, +15% to Survival, and +5% to Psi-Resist. All true zombies have the mutation Cannibal Urges; zombie hybrids have a 50% chance of this mutation. How assiduously they resist their hunger is up to the individual but it's worth mentioning that zombies must consume raw living flesh to properly balance their diets.

In some cases a non-zombie character may be resurrected as a zombie hybrid. For instance, a character with the Zombie Gene mutation will rise as a zombie hybrid if he or she is reduced to 0 Hit Points and survives. More rarely, a zombie rebirth might occur due to curse, affliction or necromantic locales. In these circumstances the JM might require the PC to adventure for a time as a simple living dead (HP 1-12, DAM 1-4, Save 10%, low Intellect) before achieving full zombiehood.

MP3: Oingo Boingo, Dead Man's Party [Party 'til You're Dead Mix] (Compact Disc - Download)
MP3: Green Monster, Zombie Party Rock (Myspace)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fight On Outtake: Omeneiros Goblins

I considered writing this up for the short article I wrote for Fight On #2, but it's so strongly influenced by Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile that I didn't feel right publishing it under my own name. Nonetheless, what with all the goblin talk recently from Noisms and Ripper X, I thought I'd type up a variation of my own.

Omeneiros Goblins

Though they are no stronger on average than ordinary goblins, omeneiros clans are usually found much deeper in the underworld than their kin. Hobgoblins shun them and even bugbears give them wide berth. Though they can be fierce fighters, omeneiros goblins defend their warrens mainly through cunning, craft and illusion. Shifting walls, strangely angled rooms and tricks of perspective distort distance and scale in their maze like lairs. A dwarf's knowledge of stonework is of use only 1 chance in 6 in these surroundings, and an elf is no better than the other races at detecting an omeneiros secret door.

Even more deadly to those who confront them is the omeneiros goblins' innate skill with illusion and fear magic. Intruders in the goblins' warrens must save vs. spells once per hour or be subject to disturbing waking nightmares -- half-seen visions and whispering voices which cause penalties to hit, damage and morale (as a curse spell). Furthermore, a group of seven or more omeneiros goblins radiates a panicking aura akin to a confusion spell: each round their foes must save or (2d6) 2-5 flee for one round; 6-8 do nothing, cowering in fear; or 9-12 attack the nearest creature, whether friend or foe.

Omeneiros goblin clans are organized along lines similar to their lesser kindred, with stronger subchiefs and guards according to their numbers. Larger groups are led by chieftains or clanmothers who cast spells as magic-users of up to 7th level in ability. Chieftains, clanmothers and the strongest warriors will be Fevercloaks, who go to battle girded with horrific illusionary bodies. Each takes on a unique visage -- serpentine spiders, huge jewelled scorpions, flayed ogres and grotesquely mutated goblin forms have all been observed. Fevercloaks attack as 3-6 HD monsters, doing damage by weapon type, though to all appearances they attack with the claws, fangs or stingers of their chosen form.

Painting by Minerva (Daniel Higgs)

Fevercloaked Omeneiros clanmother

Those who behold a Fevercloak in its nightmare form must save vs. spells or be stricken with fear. Creatures under 2 HD will flee for 2-8 rounds, and be shaken even on a successful save, taking a -1 penalty to attacks and damage; those of more than 2 HD will be shaken only on a failed save (cumulative with the waking nightmare effect described above). If a Fevercloak hits with a natural 20 its foe must save vs. death magic or collapse in terrified paralysis, apparently dead as far as the victim's companions can tell.

When slain a Fevercloak reverts to its normal goblin form. In addition, they appear in their normal forms when viewed in a mirror. This may give a smart party the idea of attempting disbelief if confronted by another of its ilk. While the illusionary form will persist, disbelief will allow an additional save against the Fevercloak's fear effects.

Yagatz Moon-Eyes, sample Fevercloak: AC 5 (chainmail), HD 4, hp 24, MV 60' (20'), #AT 2, D 1-6/1-6 (2 short swords), Save M-U 4, ML 9.

In Cloaked form Moon-Eyes is a spindly horror, a shriveled goblin torso crawling on elongated spiderlike legs and arms. A drooling toothless mouth mumbles obscene limericks as he scuttles into battle. Huge cloudy eyes stare from a shrunken and malformed skull, and a pair of slashing chitinous mandibles thrust forth from enormously distended nostrils.

MP3: Leviathan, Vexed & Vomit-Hexed (Compact Disc, search "Tentacles of Whorror" - Download)
"Fear steals a voice / The price paid for dreaming / This is the cloud that lumbers across vision / A canopy of paranoia threatening light at its sting / Visions of existence appear and recede".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Warlock Mimes: BHMK excerpt

Silent Killers

Tall and long-limbed, the warlock mimes are slender humanoids of unknown species and origin. They dress in close fitting white and black striped clothing. Like all members of the Black Hole Metal Kult their faces are white and etched with black runes and symbols, but in the case of the mimes this is not corpespaint but their natural complexion. They never speak, but their faces are incredibly expressive and they move with exaggerated yet fluid gestures. Their eyes, however, are blank and untouched by emotion.

The mimes are a mystery even to the leaders of the Kult, who rely on their mystical abilities but do not fully trust them. One is male, the other female. The other kultists speculate they are brother and sister, or lovers, or both, but none know for sure. One thing that is certain is the sadistic enthusiasm with which the mimes participate in kultic rites.

As noted, the warlock mimes never speak or vocalize in any way -- indeed they make hardly a sound at all, moving in near complete silence at all times. Their spells and magic are worked using somatic gestures only (The unabashed JM is encouraged to act this out, and might even consider charades if an attempt to parley is made).

Ximox, the male, knows the spells Fire Blast, Trapped in a Box (victim is trapped in an airless, slowly shrinking cube), and Howling Wind (blast of wind impedes movement). Xomix, the female, knows Spectral Body, Masque of the Mummen (mask projects incapacitating emotion such as maniacal laughter or sniveling terror against one foe), and Mocking Mirror (imitation of one foe's actions is so annoying and distracting that it causes a penalty to all attacks, skills, and saves).

Art by Christian Conkle, the Evil Schemer!  Click through for his webpage

The Warlock Cafe

MP3: Varis, Roussin, Torchinsky, & Mahieux, Reve Bohemien (Compact Disc)

This room is furnished in the style of a charming streetside cafe, with a cobbled floor and tables and chairs to seat up to ten people. Sunbeetles in glass jars give the room a sunny afternoon glow. A vase of cut flowers stands on each table, and potted ferns and ficus trees add a touch of greenery. A low raised stage takes up the eastern third of the room. A concertina rests there on a stool. At any given time there will be from 2-7 people here, seeming at first glance to be having a lovely time.

A closer look will show that everything about the room is a horrid lie. The cracks between the cobblestones are stained with gore, and the no amount of cut flowers can completely cover the stink of old blood and filth. The cafe guests are here for the depraved sport of the warlock mimes, who amuse themselves by subjecting their captives to torture and pantomime (which are not, of course, mutually exclusive). The food and drink is drugged to make the captives docile and prone to suggestion. Though they remain conscious of their actions the guests are compelled to do whatever they are asked. Their eyes are glassy, and their feet are nailed to the floor.

After the warlocks perform for them, the captives are sacrificed to the space gods.

The warlock mimes will be found here 30% of the time. They will attempt to hypnotize and interrogate anyone unknown to them using Ensorcel and Read Minds. Those found to be enemies will be attacked using spells. Note that a party may not even be aware of any danger until the mimes strike. Their spellcasting blends seemlessly with their pantomime, appearing to be no more threatening than the attentions of any normal street performer.

MP3: Dead Raven Choir, The Silence (Compact Disc: search 'Selenoclast Wolves')