Undead Stock art and reviews

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Just released this week ( and in time for Halloween) is my latest bundle of stock art : Undead available from DrivethruRPG for $4.99.

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I have been doing a lot of work these past months for Gabor Lux’ Echoes from Fomalhaut, and in particular for his upcoming Tegel Manor inspired megadungeon, Castle Xyntillan, and the still-in-development In the Shadow of the City God

in the shadow

 

Two of his most recent items, The Nocturnal Table currently available as a pdf from Drivethrurpg and featuring work by Mathew Ray, Stefan Poag, and Peter Mullen as well as myself, along with EFF#6: The Rising Tombs which has art by myself and Stefan Poag also, both are suited for describing convoluted weird cities at night. As my own game takes place in such a place, I found this rather interesting. The random encounters in the Nocturnal Table go way beyond the old DMG city encounter tables, and into some very strange places. Otherwise boring encounters with nameless NPc’s are richly described run ins with peculiar named personages, each with a distince flavor. There has been a lot said about demonstrating an implied setting by examining the encounter tables instead of dropping in extensive exposition, for example, regarding OD&D. The Rising Tombs does this with minimal descriptions and small notes, and leaves the reader to connect the dots.  In one part of the city, in a sealed community where the swells reside, it is always night with a perpetual full moon. This is atmospheric, but there are some supporting features; The city is ruled by a powerful illusionist, and also the rich folks are near immortal and addicted to potions of longevity… or they may be vampires.  The under layers of the city evoke a bit of the depths of  Dwimmermount, without dumping pages of history up front.  There are, by way of anticipating adventurers who want to burn down the tavern, mentions of an enormous machine that extends into the depths, that might explode like a megaton warhead if tampered with, and the side note that one must wear “sacred vestments” (radiation suits) to safely enter the lower levels of a dungeon. Not only are the routes to this area from a  cheap hotel that H.H.Holmes might have built, or through the green room of a collapsing Theater haunted by a phantom… or through a temple of a rat/plague god. These are not your typical entry by sewer dungeons, and definitely not like either  my  or Hasbro’s  taverns with conduits to the underworld.  Gabor Lux, (known on forae as Melan), for all his resentment against the Sworddream style of OSR derived play, is firmly in touch with the parts of our hobby that are gonzo and rooted in Weird fiction.  It is no secret that I like that style of gaming, as I grew up reading my dad’s virtually complete Appendix N library (assembled as it was printed, in crumbling 35 cent paperbacks, most of which I have been reacquiring from used booksellers), and while a good amount of both Gabor’s and John Stater‘s products are procedurally generated, they go into some far out places that I am happy to illustrate.  That headless undead in my stock art bundle is based on one of the encounters in Nod zine, although I forget what issue.  I own copies of about eight issues I did illustrations for, but there are 26 other issues of the same grade of super detailed and strange hexcrawls.

Meanwhile, in my game, there have been some odd developments.

The group travelling with the  demon hunting celestial Kalima  have decided to try and summon her back to the world after a demonologist they were fighting banished her with a hurled Spellstone. I was thoroughly expecting that they would be glad to be rid of such a DM PC, but no plan escapes an encounter with players unscathed. They are enlisting the leader of a Kali cult named Molaram to help in the summoning…

My Wuxia group has traveled into the megafauna rich land of Veroigne, nominally to collect a rice harvest for the Sahudese population back in Northport, and have encountered the odd ecosystem of the rice grower’s village.  Swarms of stirges rise out of the rice paddies, but are chased away from the workers by a sacred giant dragonfly, from whom the party received a blessing, much the way the other group in the area had their ranger blessed by the Stag of Veroigne, who was somewhere between the Forrest Spirit of Princess Mononoke, and Bambi’s father. Both groups have seen tracks of giant rabits being stalked by dire wolves.

The group that were hired to hunt a rampaging beast have instead decided to try and take over an abandoned castle, which brings me around to an issue developing around my Juniors group. They have been trying to establish themselves with real property (excepting those among them who have Social Stigma:Criminal, who cannot directly own real property in Northport) and I have been using the Base Perk as a leveled one.  Base normally gives you a place that you don’t have to pay rent that is about as good as what you might have, but with a status level of 2 levels lower than your own.  At status 0, that is not much to talk about, in this case, a peasant’s hovel or tenement row house in disrepair. I suppose in other settings it would be a back booth in a diner or a leaky basement apartment.  Making it a leveled perk lets you raise it by one status level per point invested, which means that at 3 points, it is a clean, functional status 0 home.  This group of PC’s are trying to control the housing above an entrance to the dungeon and in particular, to a magical gate.  I had originally had them invest in independent income, but that was only netting half a silver a month per point at average wealth, so I converted those points to base. The Initiate in the group has been attracting followers (not yet bought as allies) who have been doing things like basic carpentry, weeding, whitewashing…etc, that have resulted in the area being upgraded.  A lot of the things I have been thinking of here were sort of echoed in Necropraxis’ blog about Stronghold Achievements for low level characters.

I miss things like the Mansion advantage from GURPS VtM, and the leveled advantage Sanctuary, from the defunct Advanced Goblins & Grottoes setting from Otherwhere dot org, (sadly even beyond the reach of the internet wayback machine). That one let you build anything from the Batcave (large, secret, secure) to something like the airships of Girl Genius.

Minicon Recap

  • Last weekend at Manhattan Minicon, I ran and completed The Redoubt of Hades over two play sessions.

Players were Greg, who I met for a pickup game of GURPS Infinite World, and who has played through two of my other con games, Beneath the Fallen Tower, and Shame of the Deepguard. He played Jelani the halberdier, and made great use of called shots to the neckJelani Character Sheet 187 for Greg

Next was Andre, who has played several characters in my online game, Northport, including the goblin priest of the Erl King, Zeelzeel Shadowspear.  He was torn between Marlo, the thief of indeterminate gender, and Zeelzeel’s necromancer cousin, longtime NPC Razakeel Shadowcloak , who had some zombie allies. He ended up settling on Marlo, due to his love of knives.

Marlo Character Sheet 187 for Andre

Mark, enthusiastic and new to GURPS, was also attracted to Razakeel, became torn between Ofelia, the Sleep centric mage from Shame of the Deepguard, and Thornstripe, a movement and missile mage, equipped with both fireball, and the now off-book Winged Knife. He succumbed to the sweet lure of pyromania, which worked well against the undead being faced.

Thornstripe character sheet 187

Nick briefly contemplated an adventurer, but decided to complete the classic quartet and wonderfully played the cleric Sister Clarissa

Sister Clarissa 187

(Note: her will is 13, not 11)

Nick is French, and my campaign is set in a caricature of medieval France, so there were some awkward moments as I mangled the names of some of my NPCs. He took everything in stride and was hilarious in his depiction of the charitable but severe priestess.

“Good morning Heretic, we are here to enter the Undercity.”

The adventure started in the common room of the Adventurers Guild, which is my conceit for accommodating a West Marches style of play.  They were called upstairs by Bellarius (high elf Agent from DF15), the secretary of Camilla the Quest Coordinator (Agent+Adept) who brought them to her, where they also met with Plutocrat Remulos of the Hadereum (cleric+a couple of social lenses with rank and wealth), Margeaux le Manifique (the apparent sole survivor of that poorly managed expedition by a bad player), and Karlow the orc working for the Department of Acueducts and Sewers.

Due to increased cult activity in the Undercity, several members of the hadereum (12 cultists and 2 initiates) had entered to rededicate a long abandoned temple of Hades in order to strengthen the presence of law amid the chaos below. Two weeks ago (a week before Margeaux returned) they went dark, and a guarded caravan of food and supplies sent to them disappeared.

The route from the Hadereum has been blocked, as something large (the bhole {super dire Rotworm} that came through the Ymid’s Bone Gate) collapsed part of the tunnels. Margeaux’s story suggests another route, and Karlow will be their guide.

Margeaux is accompanied by the ghost  dof her dead husband Claude, who really wishes their wedding vows had included “to death do we part”, and she talks to him, suggesting he keeps himself hidden with the Plutocrat present. (The Hadereum likes everyone to stay dead where they belong)

Claude spells out something in water drops from a glass nearby “Anything to get away from you!” Which is spotted by Thornstripe on a critical perception roll, allowing the mage to see the shimmering form of the spirit.

Sister Clarissa, having higher purpose: slay undead starts chanting an exorcism, which is interrupted by Remulos, who asks her to refrain from her non-pagan ways in his presence (Sister Clarissa is a Triunist, and comes from the Bishop of Sonne, who is currently paying Adventurers to fight wights in the abandoned Monastery).

They proceed to Ashbury’s Abattoir , meet the crew their, and find their way to the ladder well left unsecured when Margeaux’s group had lowered their dwarf sized iron golem down it. This caused grumbling from Karlow, who closed the hatch. Now on the second level, they ran into the terribly hungry and frightened young speaking Otyugh (IQ6) in a catchment room, trying to keep out a handful of horde zombies who fell to fireballs, thrown knives, halberd work, and True Faith. (The zeds had been released from impromptu burial chambers by evil cultists with the Brotherhood of the Dead perk).

Karlow grumbled some more, fed and locked it in its pen and the catchment room., And they determined that the local Sewer employee had been killed by a member of  Margeaux’s group…

They dove into a room that recently held dead to avoid a horde of plague zombies, and Jelani rolled a critical strength failure trying to push the door closed, and instead pushed something out…

Just the TiP

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After this encounter, they entered the pool room, where Margeaux’s party met their demise, (along with a crowd of undead whose corpses were  the scattered about)  along with the reanimated remains of her party. The guild was paying them to recover their guild badges, so they collected all but Timeon’s. When confronted with the puzzle of lighting fires atop the pylons, the mage fireballed one, and critically failed another, stunning himself.

Lighting both pylons (in a very Legend of Zelda way) caused the fountain to spill gold coins into the mildly caustic water (the golem had rusted through in a week). Unfortunately, not lighting them simultaneously (which two people with torches could have done) released The Thing in the Pool, or as my players called it, “just the TiP”. It was a multi-tentacled elder thing that had a fear aura, and laid heavily into the party. We even used a bit of Gaming Ballistic’s Fantastic Dungeon Grappling when dealing with the TiP wrapping tentacles around Jelani before it could eat her.

After it was defeated, with both haste and great haste being cast, and both the gold and the golem’s orichalcum maul, which Sister Clarissa took despite lacking the requisite strength.

They exited the pool room into a nearby storage room where Timeon was holding out, using one ancient barrel of rations for food, and another for used foods, and he shot Marlo with his crossbow, and the tribe accepted him as a member, finding out while resting and healing that he had been unwilling to re-enter the pool room for fear of the Void Brute that Frer Noe had summoned to kill the previous party, and  because he broke his lockpicks on the outer door. Once some fatigue was recovered (including some from Lend Energy) they exited the anteroom by means of Karlow’s key, and ran into a horde of plague zombies

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True faith and great haste again ruled the day, as they cleaved,  mauled, stabbed, shot, and fireballed their way through the fleeing horde, and ended up Fantastically Grappling a cultist who had been herding the dead.

The second cultist ran ahead and opened a door, releasing three New and Improved Wights.

Unlike my previous versions, which were unkillable with an Achilles heel of Silver or Magical Weapons, these had Injury Resistance (50%) to attack forms other than fire and silver or enchanted weapons. Skeletal undead take 2x from crushing weapons, which cancel out the injury resistance, allowing Sister Clarissa to pound the wights, which is good, because two out of three resisted true faith.  Jelani was closed with after missing a neck shot with her halberd, and was the first to suffer energy drain (FP) from the wights. Marlow made a head shot count, and Karlow stepped in, and was eventually overrun, losing enough FP to end up in a HP lowering Death spiral.

Weakened and afraid of Karlow turning, they took out the wights.

Soon after, they rescued the worshipers trapped in the Redoubt, and headed home.

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Recent play and more

shame of the deepguard map

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to run Shame of the Deepguard at Manhattan Minicon V . Thanks again to Lydia, Devin, Dan and Greg!.

The game was a 125pt Dungeon Fantasy objective oriented adventure. It started off in a bar, operated by a couple of the rescued NPC’s from Beneath the Fallen Tower; Wade the merchant (now a mere minstrel after his last venture was robbed by hobgoblins), Ebbet the halfling, and Valdor the dwarf. Playing were Marlo the thief, played by  Lydia, Ofelia the Mage, played by Dan, and an unnamed fighter played by Devin, along with Greg’s returning even archer, Griff. They were met in the tavern by Gillen Whitmore, a one eyed veteran guard and crossbowman, who they all immediately began referring to as Rooster Cogburn.IMG_20190212_0001.png

Originally Noah was supposed to reprise Erik the Cleric of Nodens, but he was at another gaming event at a new FLGS. We need more of those things! As a result, I gave everyone an extra healing potion.

Once Gillen laid out what he needed (brave adventurers to help him retrieve more silver than he could carry) they suspiciously signed on.  As the pregens were already kitted out, they left immediately.  Unlike BTFT, this was to be more dungeon, less hex, so that had one encounter along the way: a hunting party of Hobgoblins, carrying a deer and a boar on two spears.  They got a few shots in, failed to Sleep the 13 HT hobgoblins, and cut them down swiftly, partly enabled by a critical miss that self-disarmed a glaive wielder, and by the combination of the overseer wasting attacks whipping his men forward, and the hobgoblins all out attacking due to a combination of bloodlust and intolerance of elves.

This gave them a taste of what to expect, and when they arrived near the abandoned mines, mostly played out, but still workable buy the goblin slaves of the hobgoblins, they quickly saw the wisdom of going into the mine by way of the hidden back door rather than the front, which was a fortified gatehouse full of archers and a murder hole with boiling lead.

From the back door, which Gillen opened with a meteoric iron key folded up behind his eye patch, thoroughly grossing them out, they fairly quickly dispatched the hobs at the guardpost, taking a little longer to bring down the squad leader. The hobgoblins again tried to dogpile the elf, and he needed two sets of healing potions by the end of the next fight.

The reinforcements from area 4 came after them, and Gillen used his key to open the locked and dusty armory, and they left by the back way and ambushed the hobs.  At this point, Griff’s luck ran out. What a difference better armor makes! This time, a couple hobs were put to sleep.

I passed Gillen’s sheet over to Griff’s player, and let him know about the ulterior motives of that character.

The next move was toward the bridge, where they ran afoul of some foul bats. These were dispersed by sleep and a couple of crossbow bolts and sword swipes, but for some reason they decided to run across in the near dark, and first the fighter, then Marlo fell off the side. He snagged a grip on the edge of the bridge, and then they caught each other’s hand and he made a strength roll to get them both up to the bridge, where they proceeded a little more carefully.

In a cavern across the bridge, they parleyed with some gargoyles, thank’s to Ofelia’s diplomacy skill and the offering of Marlo’s wheel of cheese, and they got some intel on the local heavy, a fire slorn grown from an egg left behind by the departing Deepguard who had cached several one pound ingots of coin grade silver. The hope was that the mine had enough silver in it would deflect Detect Earth Spells, much as the back door was fronted with a thin sheet of meteoric iron to make it undetectable.

Unfortunately at the time, I forgot about the trace silver in the mine and let them detect it.

They beat the slorn by stabbing it in the eyes and dodging its fiery breath just in time for the rest of Gillen’s crew to ride up on them as the con came to a close and the Jersey street library kicked everyone out, so we didn’t get to play through the attack of the Deepguard.

 

Similarly, they never headed south into the mines, where they would have found the goblins slaving away at smelting silver out of lead-alloy, and seen the extravagance of the Hobgoblin women.  and their bears. Bears? Usually AD&D hobs are encountered with Flesh eating apes, but as I made my Hobs to be Hussars, I thought bears would suit better. I hadn’t populated the place with the hobgoblin young,  and if I get around to an OSR release (because I am not a licensed 3rd party DFRPG content producer like Doug Cole (Hey! go pledge his kickstarter. Right now. I will wait)), I will probably flesh that out a bit.

I got to learn a few interesting things aboutsmelting and silver mining from wikipedia, and the addition of a dwarf as one of the pregens was going to help spread some of that out, but the dwarf player backed out along with a few others.

 

right here, you can snatch up my con documents, which should only make you want to go and buy a copy of DFRPG right now, and while you are at it, pick up DF 15 Henchmen while you are at it, if you like 125 point play. If you want to see my templates for 75 point play, check here.

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

 

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Beneath the Fallen Tower now in print

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Because I don’t know how to embed fonts, this is built out of screenshots. Here’s hoping it does well! I may have to drop the price a bit, but there is a limit as to how low they will let me sell it for. Grab it here.

You can get the pdf on Drivethru

Since I can’t bundle accross platforms, I can get my publisher to send you a coupon for the pdf if you buy the print version. I will have to work out a deal for those who already bought it.

 

I am planning to run this adventure using my rules for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy level 0  (using 75pt pregens, and maybe following up with a 125pt adventure after) at an upcoming gaming con, provided I can clear it at work.

If you like my work, and want to get my art earlier than my publishing schedule, check out my Patreon!

Return of the Blue Baron

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I recently contributed a puzzle room to a collaborative Dungeon project, grab it here for free!

Also keep in mind that I have demonic stock art for sale here

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I recently git a chance to play some tabletop GURPS, in an Infinite Workds game, where I played a Technomancer.

Here is my character:

Milton was an employee of Necrotech, and had served as a handler for Z company during the war in Viet Nam. In 1987 he was involved in an experimental dimensional gate project that ended up opening a rift, a catastrophe  that eventually led to him being recruited by ITWAS.

 

Milton Collins

Attributes: 140 Adv: 135 Dis: -100 q:-5 Skills: 35 Spells: 45 Total: 250

ST: 11 [10] DX: 12 [40] IQ:14 [80] HT:11 [10]

HP: 11 [0] Per: 14*[0] Will: 14 [0] FP: 11 [0]

T/S: 1d-1/1d+1 BL:24 lbs

BS: 6.75 MV: 6 Dodge:10 brawl parry: 10 knife parry:10

Advantages: [135]

[50] Gadgeteer

[5] Gizmo

[25] Magery 2

[5] Resistant to Metabolic Hazards

[15] Unfazeable

[15] Combat Reflexes

[15] ISWAT law enforcement Powers

[1] good with undead

[1] Cultural Familiarity: Vietnamese

[3] Vietn3 spoken: Accented /written:broken

 

Disadvantages: [-100]

[-20] Constant Hazardous Duty to ISWAT

[-15] Weirdness Magnet

[-5] Sense of Duty, Companions

[-10] Lifebane (exposure to excess necromantic radiation)

[-10] Nearsightedness,  mitigated by glasses

[-10] Clueless

[-5] Flashbacks

[-5] Light Sleeper

[-10] Addict, Marijuana

 

Quirks:[-5]

Really into Vietnamese food, noisy eater, creepily comfortable around dead things, claustriphillic, bites his nails

 

SKILLS: [35]

Soldier IQ/E [1] 14

Parachuting DX/A [1] 11

Survival, Jungle Per/A [1] 13*

First Aid TL7+1 IQ/E [1] 14

Guns TL7+1 DX/E [2] 13

Brawling DX/E [1] 12

Knife DX/E [1] 12

Throw knife DX/E [1] 12

Beam Weapons TL7+1 [1] 12

Innate Attack (lightning) DX/E [1] 12

Hazmat NBC TL7+1 IQ/A [1] 13

Computer Programming TL 7+1 IQ/H [1] 12

Research TL 7+1 IQ/A [2] 14

Speed Reading IQ/A [1] 13

Mathematics IQ/H [1] 12

Physics IQ/H [1] 12

Weird Science! IQ/VH [4] 13

Occultism IQ/A [1] 13

Thaumatology IQ/VH [1] 13’

Thanatology IQ/H [1] 12

Engineering, Electronics TL7+1 [4] 14

Electronics op, Sensors TL7+1 [1] 13

                       Necrotech TL 7+1 [2] 14

                        Parachronic TL 8 [1] 13

 

Spells [45]

Knowledge:   Detect Magic [1] 14

                     Seek Magic [1] 14

                     Identify Spell [1] 14

                     Analyze Magic [1] 14

Light & Dark: Light [1] 14

                     Continual Light [1] 14

                     Magelight [1] 14

Movement:    Apportation [1] 14

                     Locksmith [1] 14

P&W :            Missile Shield [2] 15

                     Magelock [1] 14

Healing:         Lend Energy [1] 14

                      Recover Energy [2] 15

                      Lend Vitality [1] 14

M&B               Find Weakness [1] 14

Fire                 Ignite Fire [1] 14

Water              Seek Water [1] 14

Earth               Seek Earth [1] 14

Air                   Purify Air [1] 14

                       Create Air [1] 14

                       Odor [1] 14

                        No-Smell [1] 14

                         Stench [1] 14

                         Lightning [1] 14

                         Resist Lightning [2] 15

E&C                  Sense Life [1] 14

                         Sense Foes [2] 15

Necromantic      Death Vision [1] 14

                          Sense Spirit [1] 14

                           Summon Spirit [1] 14

                           Zombie [1] 14

                           Control Zombie [1] 14

                           Skull Spirit [2] 15

Technology          Seek Machine [1] 14

                            Reveal Function [1] 14

                            Glitch [1] 14

                             Malfunction [1] 14

                             Machine Summoning [1] 14

                              Machine Speech [2] 15

Gate                       Beacon [1] 14

                              Seek Gate [1] 14

                              Scry Gate [1] 14

                              Control Gate [1] 14

Equipment

Electronics toolkit $200

Military fatigue jacket,

Cargo pants, tie dye shirt

Combat boots $80

Dufflebag $40

Re-cased Mac with roll-up keyboard, box of magelocked floppies,$1200

Human skull                    

Assorted electronic components

Hazmat suit $200

Additional equipment acquired in game were a 10pt manastone, a bong made iut of Trinitite that boosted the mana kevel, and a lead jar containing 5 .38 rounds of SPDN. We had a great time, and I want to play again, but am not sure when I can.

 

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