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.

A resolution to part of a campaign, and some play reports

For several years, I have been running a Wuxia pastiche campaign within my Northport setting.  The population of Northport is quite mixed,  having a large number of goblin artisans (the goblins have lived in the city since its founding a few thousand years ago), humans, orcs, and a fair amount of mixed folk, given the situation to the east, where the nation of Shevnia lost a war with orcs because of a lost paytrain for their army, sort of like the post goblin war of Lesserton & Mor.  There are nations with different cultures to either side of Northport, which is set in an area inspired by Banestorm, in the old empire of Aral, with Valdassya to the west, and Shevnia to the east.  In addition to the Aralaise speaking Orcs, Goblins, and humans, there are two other communities: Little Shevnia to the east, and Little Sahud to the west.  I was sort of looking at Tredroy as an inspiration for part of this.  (Of course my city was also informed by the advenure Banrnacus, City in Peril. from Dragon Magazine # 80, as mentioned on my last podcast, along with my frequently recommended Ruins of the Undercity)

I know that using a pan-Asian pastiche like Sahud in my campaign is pretty crassly not PC, but I had a request by several players armed with google translate and wikipedia articles and a general knowledge base of cheesy kung fu films that wanted to play in that kind of setting. With apologies to the large number of people who may be offended by this kind of colonial cultural appropriation, this is how the long running conflict between Sakemoko , the patron of these characters, roughly 450 points:

Sakemoko is a squire+treasure hunter+ 50pt genin lens
with born warleader 3 ,charisma +2, social regard 2: respected,
(Social stigma minority, code of honor: bushido, sense of duty to
Sahudese,) guild rank 4, status 2 filthy rich
Large ally group of catfolk ninja office:master of funerals,
He also has several points in independent income based on
His involvement in numerous side businesses

and Akira Aku No, his enemy, roughly 500 points

half oni boss, head of rival ninja clan

Brute +treasure hunter+ 50pt wizard lens+ 50pt ninja lens+
 infernal + half ogre, has bloodlust, berserk

Both of these figures had extensive ally groups, each having at their service numerous ashigaru, and rival ninja clans.

The Team consisting of Chye Isuel, an ashigaru with some distant dragonman heritage, Chou-Zen Mou, an elder infused wizard specialized in lightning spells, Ales Konstantin, a Shevnian Squire+Adept, Iskander, a Valdassian martial artist (the player was using mostly 3e to build him), Tanaka Kojimaru, a Samurai warrior poet. Jin the Yak and Airis Moonshadow were no longer with the group.

Along with them were Di San Ge Er Zi the one eyed Ashigaru, and a number of mercenaries they hired away from Akira Aku No’s mercenary recruitment drive  for promises of better pay, the swordsman Xu, and his partner Chung Wang (Thank you Jackie Chan) as with most of my npc’s, I give a super brief stat block pulled usually from DF15 until more details are needed.

Chung Wang is a Brute
St 15 DX 12 IQ 10 Ht 12
Hp 15 per 10 will 10 fp 12
T/s 1d+1/2d+2
Bs 6 mv 6 dodge 9 parry 10
DR 3 torso 5

Skills brawl 13
Two handed sword 14 tetsubo, 2d+4 crushing
Gluttony, overconfident, compulsive carousing, greedy

 

Xu is a Skirmisher
St 11 dx 14 iq 10 ht 11
Hp 11 per 10 will 10 fp 11
T/s 1d-1/1d+1
Bs 7.5 mv 7 dodge 11 parry 12
Dr 3
Combat reflexes, ambidexterous
Extravagant, impulsive, compulsive carousing
Ambitious, suspicious, jealous

Broadsword 16 1d+2 cut
Shortsword 12 1d cut
Karate 12
Fastdraw katana 15
Fastdraw shortsword 15

Light lamelar and helmet with ear and neck protection,
Cheap ornate katana and wakizashi

Having decimated the forces of Akira Aku No on the initial raid to recover the tea set containing a divine being or two, and then by robbing his casino, the oni blooded boss had to resort to hiring mercenaries, including, initially Xu, and Chung Wang and a couple of naginata wielding ashigaru, along with Ale’s enemy, Bresnark, a magic user equipped with Rain of Stones and also accompanied by a Created Brute Warrior, who was defeated and robbed of his mundane gear by Iskander and Tanaka. Bresnark could probably have been taken out, except that he has plot protection as an enemy, and has to be defeated by Ales.

During the assault on Sakemoko’s compound, with rooftop ninja archers and assorted poorly armored mooks attacking the gate, a couple of ninja’s got in ( one disguised as a new ashigaru hireling, who was spotted as odd by Di San Ge er Zi,) and  poisoned the food stores in the kitchen  and then through poison shuriken at the two ashigaru it was hired with. They then led a chase through the complex, cutting holes in shoji paper walls and hiding in the rafters before being cornered in the library, where they were cornered and threatened to burn the place down (Ales stepped in and used Extinguish Fire) They were locked in irons, from which they made an escape, and were eventually hunted down.  Chou-Zen had eliminated another ninja who had been on the roof, by casting grease and causing them to fall into the koi pond in the courtyard. Another one was dispatched after the shoji walls were all collapsed and it had no place to hide. The poisoned Ashigaru were treated by the house physician, Yodoko no Hana, who is based on Ehi Shiina from Audition

Yodoku  no Hana (poisonous  flower)
125pt sage, with Alchemy, poison, physiology first aid, physician,
 herbary and
esoteric medicine, Psychology diagnosis and surgery and detect lies,
but no modular
 book learned wisdom. (Instead, she has the ninja lens)
She has callousness, sadist  and curious and has torture, pressure secrets and
 massage? She is attractive  and immune to poison and has high pain tolerance.
 She makes poisons and potions
That cause sensitivity and reduce will

In the end, Sakemoko siezed a coveted office, MAster of Funerary Services, from Akira Aku No, who had botched things when his barrels of salt packed dead waiting shipping to the homeland were animated by a toxifier demon, and arranged for all of the funerals of the people who had attacked him, and even gave stipends to the families, building him more Social regard.

Akira Aku No appeared a day later with a full procession including dragonmen and musicians, and sued for peace, saying that he was relocating to Little Shevnia for a beaurocratic job, and sold off his remaining interests in Little Sahud to Sakemoko.

From here, the crew will be heading to Veroigne, a region south of Northport where rice is grown for the Sahudese of Northport.

Veroigne developed in the campaign because a new player wanted to play a member of royalty and his husband, captain of his guard. I had little trouble building them, except for the general absence of Social Status in DF, and settled on giving him a couple of levels of Courtesy Rank. The two, both handsome  Chivalrous knights, had a backstory that created some campaign setting. By not accepting an arranged marriage, Baronet James forfeited the barony to his sister Loraine, who had married Marcel Pequenaud, the baron from a neighboring comunity that had serfs, while most of the Veroignese had died during the plague forty years ago, leaving the small barony struggling.  Pequenaud is a horrible ruler, and most of the family retainers loyal to Sir Percival and James have become Robin-Hood like bandits dedicated to protecting the peasantry from the Barons predations. As his soldiers are largely collecting taxes, Several other PC’s from Northport (Kirpich Rockson the Priest of Grom, Syvanus the elven archer/thief/wizard,  Marlena the Seasoned Apprentice and Snorry Rosslovich the Seasoned Guard, all of whom searched for the lost paytrain in the Shevnian Hexcrawl, along with Dionysus the faun swashbuckler, Aethul the ranger, and Balir Ironhide the Dwarf are on their way to hunt the Terrible Beast of Veroigne, which is terrorizing the peasantry.  Along the way they have met a party of Dolmenwood creatures,  a moss dwarf, a woodgrue, a frost elf and a grimalkin, and had little issue with them except for the compulsive playing of the woodgrue, that affected a party member or two, and a fantastic creature, the Stag of Veroigne, which gave Aethul a blessing when he approached it nicely. Killing it would have brought on a curse, which would have intensified if they had eaten it. It would have resurrected itself like Frey’s Goats the next day had they done so.

As to what James and Percival were up to in Northport? Thjey joined up with a pair of warrior /wizards, Sederic and Grimaldi to hunt down the racketeering Connard DuMenteur (Asshole the Liar) who had informed the Guard of Vilgar’s underground fighting operation at the very start of the campaign, back in August of 2013.  Connard had a fortified building with all access to the undercity cut off, so as to prevent an attack from below.  Among his personal crew of kneecappers and fingertakers who collected money for him were five brutes (including Lourdad and Chienne LaChatte, a gigantic elder infused brute that collected fingers as trophies.

After bashing through the brutes, one surrendered (Lourdad) and they went after DuMenteur. He had holed up in his Magelocked lower appartment, and had time to load up on paut, and  set up a trap. He opened a secret door that lead into an L-shaped closet, and hid in an alcove behind an arras, and waited for them to break in the door. They had been using sense foes earlier, but they all blindly ran into the close, and had it Magelocked behind them, and were stuck for an hour. when they got out ( the door was stone, and the knights were in front, unable to squeeze past to attempt to break down the door), Both DuMenteur and Vilgar were waiting for them, having come to a financial arrangement. ( I have a lot of bosses parlaying).  Grimaldi and Sederic of the cursed, dancing sword went on to do some advertising work for the underground tavern, standing watch while some laborers nailed signs.

 

Another group, the one that had negotiated a truce with the ogres in the winecellars and are travelling with a four-armed demon hunting celestial descended from a servitor of Kali had tracked down a couple of cultists who were on their way to buy cuttlefish. The cultists of Saturnos the Devourerer have an initiation rite in which the supplicant dyes their robes in cuttlefish ink by placing it in a barrel with them and agitating the squiddos by drowning a cat. This leads to the typical markings of the cultists, blackened hands and scratches all over their faces.  Typically, they are led into what they think is a sex cult with offers of carnal relations with succubi and incubi, and up until now, the assorted groups of PC’s had thought they were dealing with a demon cult, especially due to all of the petty demons and Demons of Old that they had faced. They were forgetting about the Demons from Between the Stars… As it was discovered by this group, which included Oly the thief, who had funded the paytrain Hexcrawl with loot from fighting the cult when Ludlow the Munificent  accidentally blocked their ceremony and created a gate to Hell, Mancini the Guild agent (Agent+Treasure Hunter) and his guard ally Norman, Aoife the Leprechaun Druid who was on the mission to negotiate with the Trolls and entered the Library of Flax, Ardenas Barehand, who had been involved with Oly  in stealing the Jugga Trophy from the Orcish Dojo, along with Kalima, they discovered what the cultists were really about.

 

Note: Kalima has been edited with info from DF20 Slayers

Kalima - 300 pt celestial avatar of Kali

Att 80
Adv 149
Dis -50
Q-5
Sk 44
Sp  32
Total: 250

Attributes: ST 15 [0]; DX 12 [20]; IQ 13 [60]; HT 13 [10].
 Damage 1d+1/2d+1; BL 39 lbs.;
HP 15 [0]; Will 14 [0]; Per 13 [0]; FP 14 [0];
Basic Speed 7.00 [-10]; Basic Move 7 [0].

Advantages:
Celestial [75]
 (ST+1, dx+1,iq+1, ht+1, will+1, fp+1, bs +.5, attractive ,
  fit, spirit empathy, celestal nimbus,divine gifts,
  Divine curse (preferred enemy of demons) weakness to evil areas)
Half Ogre [20]
 ST+4 [40]; IQ-1 [-20]; HT+1 [10].
 Advantages: Damage Resistance 1 (Tough Skin, -40%) [3]; Fearlessness 1 [2];
 Night Vision 3 [3]. Disadvantages:Appearance (Ugly) [-8];
 Social Stigma (Savage)
2 extra arms [20]
Higher Purpose, Slay Demons [5]
Sharp Teeth [5]
power Investiture 2 [20]
signature gear, spear [3]
Charms [5]
Vampiric bite [30]
Blessed Touch [1]
Demon Sniffer [10]
Hell Vision [15]


Dis:
Unattractive [0]
Honesty [-10]
Pacifism, Cannot harm Innocents [-10]
Sense of Duty [-5 ](Adventuring Companions)
selfless [-5]
Bloodlust [-10]
Bad Temper [-10]


Unnatural Features 3, (3rd eye, Black glossy skin, flame red hair)
Q usually wears only silk loincloth, coral bracelets and anklets,
 marigold wreath, likes to dance


Charms
Aura
Invisibility
Turn Spirit
Final Rest
Eviscerate

Skills:
Brawling 8 15
Wrestling 4 13+2
Spear 12 15
Garrotte 4 13

Theology 2 12
Thanatology 2 12
Hidden Lore, Demons 4 14
Meditation 2 12

Intimidation 1 15
Detect Lies 1 11
Diplomacy 1 11

Stealth 1 12
Observation 1 12
Dance 1 12

Spells:
Protection from Evil 4 15
Invisibility 4 15
Final Rest 4 15
Aura 4 15
Turn Spirit 4 15
Eviscerate VH 8 15


Equipment: Spear Pussiant +1 vs Demons
Currently wearing a bolt of reddish linen as a sari.

When they followed the cuttlefish seekers back to their lair, finding their signature trap, Evil Runes that drain FP,  and stealthily took them and a couple petty demons out, they found a large crowd of cultists about to sacrifice a demon of old! the demon, along with some petty demons participating in the ceremony, immediately attacked Kalima, a favored enemy. The feeling was mutual, and she drained health on a couple, like her ancestor, and the demon ripped free of his silvered chains and flew up to attack her (he had berserk). She killed him by eviscerating him and eating his heart.  Unfortunately for the PC’s all of the deaths (and there were many) enhanced the ceremony in progress, the summoning of an Elder Servitor.  It took a lot, including Ardenas using Winged Knife on the cult champion’s silvered greatsword to kill the servitor but they did. The cultists of the Devourerer, who started the campaign by killing everyone who had the spell divination or any kind of oracular ability, are Cultists of the Elder Gods!

This was noticed by the Ymid, with his Sense Weird ability, but he was two bothered by the destruction of his skiff ( a nifty little contragravity craft he had parked on the other side of the Bone Gate) by a Bhole passing through the gate. Yaay there is now a super Dire Rot worm  somewhere in the dungeon (pencilling in a purple worm encounter). The Juniors group will be fetching alchemical components for the repair of the skiff. Additionally, they have just acquired some cultists of their own; some serfs fleeing Veroigne who were met on the road by thatr gorup, who are all worshipers of Vejovis, the roman defender of injustice, worshiped by Nodwin, the Initiate travelling with the Juniors group.

Now for some art updates:

 

 

These two are going to be in Gabor Lux‘s Echoes from Fomalhaut 5.

I am also working on a bundle of Dungeon entrances:

 

 

Links coming soon when I get a few more drawn.

In the meantime: Support my Patreon!

Buy my Stuff!

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I am an affiliate of Drivethru, all of those links are affiliate links, except for the SJ Games stuff that goes to their website.

 

Also, I just won a contest on another blog. I should run one here… It is a great blog, Geek Girls Rule. I have two at home, I know it to be true.

Recent Commissions

I have been tied up lately with a number of art commissions.

These are for the next issue of Gabor Lux’ Echoes from Fomalhaut  and Diogo Noguera’s Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells, which just finished successful crowdfunding. I have also been working on a few peices of Egyptian themed art for Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor , and a little something for John Stater, that appeared in the latest issue of Nod

Naturally my gaming rate of posting has suffered, and I lost an entire group of players. They were an exceedingly efficient group of killers, and included a halfling Alchemist, another halfling assassin, an air infused elven Swashbuckler armed with long knives, a dwarven crossbowman built on the musketeer template, a leprechaun demonologist, and his polearm weilding soldier of hell, Khozapukt.

They were quite good, but could not tolerate my hideously slow posting, or the brevity of some comments that they had waited days for. It might have been easier for me to keep up if I hadn’t been running ten separate games, or had downtime at work.

Let’s see, the Juniors rescued the curiously friendly elder thing they had encounterd previously, from giant spiders, as original depicted in James Garrison’s free module Clatterdelve (currently under revision), and Clarence Montague, originally a 62pt lantern bearer hireling from DF15, became a 125pt PC spellcaster (light based magic and ignite fire) and adopted a smol spoder (giant spider as per DF5, buying pet status first, and working toward familiar status a few points at a time).

Another group, hunting bandits for bounty, have scattered some beggars.

A travelling demonology shop has opened up variously as needed, and is staffed by a demologist with some illusion skill and a few demonic allies of PC’s- if you are summonable and aren’t constantly present, you must be someplace else…

Another group, previously tasked with resolving the problem of a band of ogres that had moved into the formerly troll occupied winecellars, have been tasked by the Hadereum with escorting a demon hunting celestial being. She is a descendant of an avatar of Kali, and while her opinions on undead and demons (kill them all and send them back to the underworld) conform to those of the plutocracy, the rest of her religious views do not, and the party is escorting her on her demon hunt so as to keep her from proselytizing.

The crew at the abbey has been heaving wights into the sunlight, and they finally have started using a sack of silver plates to pulverize the undead.

The lich killing treasure hunters in Shevnia are almost home, but ran into patrols of Bouda hunting one of their enemies, the were lion Monorith, a holdover from my first Northport game from 2002, and a group of orcs now in the military. The bouda were only interested in the werelion, the group still has to conceal the several pounds of silver they have with them.

The wuxia crew has been joined by a ronin, and are preparing for a final assault by their Omo’s enemy, having robbed his casino and slain dragonmen, Ashigaru, and a Dodomeki, as previosly discussed.

Broderick has returned to play, and his team of fortune hunters are somewhere on the second level of the undercity.

The Hadereum sponsored team has uncovered cult murders and has discovered slorn breeding pens under temple hill.

Demons and survivors

About a year ago, my Wuxia DF group fought a bunch of conjured petty demons. As they had a celestial in the party, the demons attacked the BBEG’s troops in order to get through to her.  Di San Ge Er Zi, also known as Number three son, is one of the hardened guardsmen who survived the fight and quit working for his evil boss, becoming ronin. This is one of those cases of an NPC rolling exceptionally, and being found to have been underestimated, as per page 31 of DF15. I first discussed the Battle Hardened template for guards here,  and this is how he turned out, later making a bit of an alliance with the PC’s, and another group of PC’s who dealt with the effects of the unleashed toxifier reanimating all of the salt packed corpses…

Di San Ge Er Zi

125 pts
ST 13 [30]DX 12 [40] IQ 10 [0] HT 12[20]

T/S 1d/2-1 naginata 1d+2 imp or cr/ 2d+2 cut or 2d+1 cr
Hp 12 per 10 will 10 FP 12 DR 3 overall
Bs 7 mv 6 [5] dodge 10 parry 10
ADV:
15 Combat reflexes,
10 High pain Tolerance
4 Hard to kill +2
5 Higher purpose, slay Demons
1 Sacrificial Parry,
1 teamwork
1 Guild membership
Cultural Familiarity: Sahudese
0 Sahudese Native/Native
1 Aralaise Spoken only, broken.
DIS:
-15 One Eye
-1 Distinguishing feature (scars accross forehead/cheek)
-10 Social Stigma: Minority (Sahudese)
-10 Code of Honor: Soldier’s
-10 Enemy: Akira Aku No’s men

Brawling 1 12 wrestling 1 11 knife 1 12
Naginata (Polearm) 16 16
2 handed sword 8 14
staff 8 14
shortsword 2 12
Tactics 2 9
Armory: melee weapons 1 9
Carousing 1 12 gambling 1 9
Demon Lore 1 9
Climbing 1 12

Equipment:
Jingsah (DR 3)
Lamelar Armor DR 3 (Torso, arms, legs)
Cheap shortsword
basics in a pouch.
boots DR2

This is a survivor of a Demonic attack. Two demons faced in play included a Not-so-petty demon, who was gravely wounded by a couple of axe blows by one of the 125 point characters, who fled the fight by becoming intangible, and then was chased off with a turn spirit spell cast by Razakeel. (it later re appeared and was slain)

demon2.png

Not so petty demon
St 15 dx 12 iq 10 ht 12
Hp 18 per 12 will 10 fp 15

T/s 1d+1/2d+1

Claw 2d cut
Bite 2d cutting

Im to met hazards im to mind control high pain threshold
Very rapid healing
Night vision 5 sharp talons sharp teeth, striking st+2

Monstrous, bully, callous, sadist, bloodlust
Cannot harm innocents, selfish, social stigma monster
Intimidation 14 brawling 15

Can assume spirit form (intangible )for 10 min for 5fp

Affected by True Faith, Pentagram.
Speaks in backwards Armenian

(All of my demons can speak the language of whoever has ever summoned them, and can do so backwards.) At this point, he probably has the one eye disadvantage as well.

Dodomeki

In folklore, Dodomeki or Birds eye women, were a type of oni who had been thieves in life, and have hundreds of bird’s eyes on their arms as a punishment reflective of the small square holes in the center of coins, also called bird’s eyes.  In Northport, the Sahudese use large  quarter size copper coins with small holes, worth $4 each. The Aralaise locals use dime size coppers wort $1. A string of cash is consists of 20 of these coins looped on a copper wire, and are worth $80, the same as a gold coin.

For their second raid on Akira Aku No’s holdings, the Wuxia adventurers made a raid on his casino, which is in the basement of his restaurant, which I made very similar to the one in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They caused a bar fight for diversion, and made the trip to the casino down a hidden stair accessible form the balcony level.  There, after a ninja led bit of surveillance, they discovered that there was a “box” area where customers exchanged cash and coin for paper betting slips and painted ceramic tiles, and could cash out. Periodically, a team of naginata wielding guards accompanied by a pair of dragon blooded brutes would wheel out a meteoric iron strongbox with a one way lid (like a mailbox), and collect the receipts from the box. From there the loot was taken back to a counting room.  The dragon men had keys to the box room, and to the shackles worn by the women in the counting room, and to their quarters. The magic proof strong box and a larger puzzle chest, also reinforced with magic proof locks could only be opened by the keys held by the supervisor of the counting room, a Dodomeki. Within the room, the money from the strongbox was counted and tied into small bag, and then transferred to the large chest. Eventually, Akira Aku No and his men would come through the undercity to collect the week’s receipts and haul them off with a large party of armed men.  The chest was a puzzle, the kind that needs either direct instruction or woodworking 20 to open, much like the puzzle box in Lost Inheritance.

My stats on the dodomeki are a little limited, as her HT was barely of consequence due to the highly specific means needed to kill her.

Dodomeki, Demon

ST 12 DX 14 IQ 12 HT 12

HP 12 WILL 12 PER 17 FP 12

DR 0/4 on hands MV 6

Claw 1d+1 impaling

Shriek: causes 1d6 sonic damage, affliction:Deafness, resisted by HT
Must have eyes put out and be be decapitated and wrapped in red silk
or have all of the eyes covered with pierced coins to be killed

Traits:

Immune to metabolic hazards, immune to mind control, high pain threshold,
Very rapid healing, Penetrating voice, 360 vision,
weakness to touching coins. (Takes 1d Fp/second when in contact with them)
Compulsive behavior, counting small things, Bully, Callous, Sadist, Cannot Harm Innocents. Affected by True Faith, Pentagram. Truly evil, will not negotiate.

Can only be killed by having her eyes put out and her bird eyes wrapped in red silk. This will kill it, but will cause the body to erupt into two hexes of starlings, doing damage as a swarm of strix.

 

Reviews and Mail

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This great batch of  25 mm plastic figures come to me from Mike Monaco, of the Swords & Dorkery blog. Last summer I correctly guessed how deep into a mammoth cave system Mike was able to descend, and he sent me these. He had them packed up to go on a shelf in his garage, and just stumbled upon them. They are really great and appropriate to my current game. The dude with the blue shield looks like Haskell the Crafty, and the uge ensemble of naginata wielders resemble both one of my player’s Wuxia character, Chye Isuel (Translates to mean “Mountain Dew”) as well as a crew of guards with sacrificial parry and teamwork I had put in place to specifically block the attacks of the 17 ST, Tetsubo wielding Yakuza enforcer Jin.

Naturally, their planned deployment in x-parrying his tetsubo failed miserably; The players had just defeated a crowd of ninjas attacking from murderholes in the ceiling of their lair; a mixture of gas grenades and explosive fireballs striking ninjas festooned with bandoliers of nagtatapos smoked out the ninjas… and injured party members who had climbed up into the rafters with the ninjas as the attacks were made by the rest of the party.  We are pbp, and hours had gone by between posts, but they still dove into the areas as they were being firebombed.  Nearby they found a door without any metal fittings, and labeled in Sahudese with an advisement that fire was not welcome.  The players quickly figured out that this might be the armory where the black powder for preparing nagtapos were stored, and wisely decided to fire an explosive fireball at the room…

Had the spellcaster not been talked out of this plan, the adventure would have ended abruptly as the tunnels collapsed.  Entry into the ninja’s lair had been difficult enough. I had one character, who had some area knowledge and urban survival swearing that good rolls to those skills would let him find a handy manhole cover that would lead directly to the target location.  He was displeased to learn that good rolls would advise him that A) Tunnels existed in this part of the city, and B) where the locked buildings with official access for the Department of Sewers and Aqueducts were, but would not create a door by searching, as it might in Dungeonworld.

The actual entrance was inside a guarded warehouse with a basement, but not accessible through the basement, only through a trap door under a crated marriage bed surrounded by barrels full of salted corpses being shipped back to Sahud for burial. Definitely not a casual find…

So, with the squire/adept still holding a fireball he had burned HP to raise, the crack troop of coordinated Naginata wielders rounded the corner, ready to nerf the Yak, and got roasted instead, although not before Shima made an appearance…

Shima is a minor villain, who had organized a diversion of brawling laborers, that the party slaughtered, who is basically an honorbound sumotori brute with power blow, and one of the few npcs I had handy who could have ended the yak early. he had his hand smashed by Jin’s tetsubo, although it was since restored by another character currently in another thread.

The other groups are converging; Hitomi (now npc’d after the player bailed), travelling with a telekenetic mentalist, a Chye Isuel the errant knight/minstrel and the overbuilt nymph bard (run by the same player who has Gorgath, and is equally weaponized) are now linking up with the Juniors group, along with the last remnants of the team trying to rescue the goblin kwik and orc cheerer, mostly so I can render the groups npc free, as I am forever losing players but trying to keep the story going.

Deep underground, the group negotiating with the trolls had launched an assault on the city of the People of the Pit, defeating a giant berserker pit person, and discovering the mental abilities of an Unknowable thing which was whisked away by a giant tentacle from beyond when I rolled an 18 on a mental blast attack. Everyone gets colorful crits.

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Meanwhile in other mail  related news, I now have the two core books of John M. Stater’s Blood & Treasure 2e, and cannot wait to get a physical copy of Nod 30!

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All three of these items are thick with my illustrations, and this issue is so full of clever gonzo old school references, from Robot monsters to excellent rules for character race generation. Plus, it is worth the 3.99 just to get the backstory on how these three races from the Undiscovered Country relate:

trio

John Stater isn’t just prolific, he is very imaginative and funny. I was paid for this work already, I make nothing from his future sales, save that they make him flush enough to continue to buy work from me, but there is a lot of good art of mine in his publications.

Another set of publications I advocate for are the wonderfully pulpy issues of Cirsova Zine. I grew upo reading my way through my Dad’s collection of Sword and Sorcery books; when I got my DM’s Guide, I didn’t have to search for too many items from Appendix N, he had most of them.  The collected authors of Cirsova 1 and 2 do an awesome job of bringing back the feel of adventure fiction penned around the future ruins of earth. Great stuff, all of it, and check out the blog – I am tempted to drop an ad for my work into issue 4.

 

 

Divination Driven Plotting and a lesser Divinity

In the warped Wuxia based mini campaign set within my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game Northport, I had introduced a Wu-Jen Character named Yoshimura Furawa, who had just arrived by boat to replace a recently murdered sage and oracle in the court of Sakemoko. Sakemoko is a past master of the Adventurer’s Guild, known primarily for instituting a system of moveable shoji-like walls to allow the basements of the guild to be reconfigured as different mazes and mock dungeons for proficiency runs. These events were heavily bet upon, as there were usually three areas set up simultaneously, with random teams being assembled out of the characters of whatever players I had at the time, and made the guild quite flush during his tenure.  The current guild also garners a significant amount of its income from gambling, which is why the current unrest amongst the Jugga teams and the raid on Vilgar’s pit fighting den have hurt them. This led to mini adventures where adventurers scouted out and secured a new venue for Vilgar, and just managed to steal a jugga trophy from the orcish Televodnica (Gym or dojo) to barter with Pallido, a hobgoblin  Qwik who is on the spectrum (Single minded, Stubborn, Shy, Eidetic memory, hard to kill, hard to subdue), but is the only person who knows where the missing Goblin Qwik and Orcish Cheerer are hiding out.

Part of an earlier story arc dealt with Chaos cultists of Saturnos killing all of the oracles in town,and stealing their divination tools in order to conceal their larger plans (still a mystery to players, although they know that there is a lot of demon summoning going on).  Theis led to the death of Sakemoko’s sage, and the theft of his copy of the Classic of Changes.

I have used Tarot to plot the motivations of some npc’s in a few previous games, although by no means as well as Pantheon Press does it with Fortune’s Fool, so it was tone appropriate to use the I Ching to richen the flavor of my cultural appropriation. After fighting off Ninja and one petty demon, the characters, consisting of Jin, a ridiculously strong Yakuza (built as a Veteran  Brute);  Ales Konstantin, a spellsword (Squire Adept); Airis Moonshadow (a Catfolk Ninja); Chou-Zen Mou (an elder thing infused, wildly talented  wizard), Iskander the mundane martial artist (Skirmisher plus knight lens and bits of magery zero and extra skills but no Chi Abilities) managed to escort Furawa from his ship to Sakemoko, but not before the ninjas had stolen a magical Sake set from his cabin.

The Sahudese employ weather wizards like Fuwara (Who is built like a wizard Priest (druid)) to navigate and assist in regulating the weather in their trans oceanic voyages.  He holds a divine office as a lesser functionary in the Celestial Bureaucracy (Power investiture/ social regard, rank, duty) and part of his job is to oversee the imprisonment of a particular Oni. (Known to the players as a Terrible, Fire Breathing Ogre From Hell), who currently resides inside of a silver and jade sake service, serving as the heating element.

One thing I have learned from looking over wikipedia and game systems other than AD&D that attempt treatments of Eastern mythologies, is that all of the monsters have jobs and responsibilities within the hierarchy of spirits; Oni have responsibilities and duties, and are not mere random encounters.  So this Oni had a job, and was punished for being overzealous in its execution, which I think might have been to light Joss sticks and instead he burned all of the furniture.  Sakemoko’s enemies include the Horde ninjas of the Kusarimashita clan, who are aligned with Akira No Aku, a magically endowed gangster whose organization was loosely based on that of Lo Pan, with servitors of all manner of multi-lens abilites, including someone who is a demonologist. I rule that conjuring a demon or other entity from an area of entrapment can bypass the safeguards that hold them in place. In this case, it is with a magical jade amulet that Furawa may lend them, if the Oni is in fact released, a violation of his sentence.

I have had a lot of fun using Google translate to put words in the mouths of my NPC’s and otherwise make those who spend points on languages feel like they got their money’s worth. (For example, my trolls speak in Estonian, partly because it has the right frequency of j’s and i’s together) In this case, it lead to a ruling that demons can always speak the language of their summoner, along with that of any previous summoners, and they can speak it backward as well.  This resulted to some recent activity for the cult busting 125 point characters being applauded for spilling so much blood in inverted Armenian (If Google Translate would do it with Aramaic I would have used that), and the petty demon that the Wuxia crew ran into saying “You’re not the boss of me” in arabic before turning to spirit form.

So they asked Furawa to divine how their mission to retrieve the Sake service would go, and I electronically tossed some coins using the link above, and got Hexagram 11, Tai, or peace, which in the abbreviated version I read, implied a peaceful and prosperous marriage of heaven and hell.  Well then. I had Hell, in the form of the Oni, but what to do for heaven?

I immediately had Furawa cast Detect Life(Celestial) and he got two results; One was the Celestial Cleric of Helios, Melchizidek, currently on an expedition deep underground to fight the elder thingy People of the Pit on behalf of the trolls, and the other about a mile off in the temple district.  Northport was originally a downward built goblin settlement (and then some) and was recolonized by the Romans, and most of the temples date back to them, so there are a few miles of overgrown, marbleized concrete domed and pillared shrines. Some are very active, like the Hadereum, where the bureaucratic plutocrats, priests and acolytes of Dis Pater collect taxes, and others are abandoned and some, while still popular, are minimally populated.

One of these was the temple of Priapus, managed by a faun Initiate, Harro, who was in distress, partly at being laughed at by the plutocrats for allowing his temple to be defiled, as he said, by a four armed invisible blue woman.As the plutocrats left, the party, or most of it arrived.  Chou-Zen Mou was delayed, having chosen to spend some CP on new spells. [My method for learning involves paying the guild magic shop owner, Speilgud, to cast the spell, and he has to make a teaching roll, and the student has to learn  by making a Thaumatology roll. Spielgud critically failed a teaching roll, causing Chou-zen to learn a version of counterspell that was +2 vs the spell he was trying to learn and -1 vs other spells.]

Harro the Faun was lying, saying that his temple had been desecrated, and then suddenly, as he was touched by the invisible being, he was forced to tell only truth; the sanctity in his shrine had actually increased, and he was jealous of her interaction with the marble statue.

Now, no one in my group is under thirty, most closer to fifty, (Really, we use a text only BBS system on RPOL.net), but make one dick joke and it was like they were all in middle school again.

In any case, the divine being Furawa had detected manifested herself.

Kho Khilana
Descendent of Divine Servitor of Fertility [460]
ST 13 [20] DX 13 [40] IQ 13 [40] HT 15 [40]
HP 13 Will 14 Per 13 FP 16
Basic Speed 7.5, Move 7, Dodge 7 
Advantages:
Celestial [75] (ST+1, dx+1,iq+1, ht+1, will+1, fp+1, bs +.5, 
           attractive , fit, spirit empathy, celestial nimbus,divine gifts,
            Divine curse (preferred enemy of demons) weakness to evil areas)
 2 extra arms [20]
 extra eye, blue skin 
invisible (switchable) [50], Immune to met hazards [30] 
beautiful [5], power Investiture 2 [20] Temp tol 10 [10]
DR vs fire 10 [30] unaging [15]
Languages: Hindi [native/native] [0]
           Sahudese [Accented/Accented] [4]
           Aralaise [accented/Accented] [4]
 Charms:[7]
 Aura
 See secrets
 Magesight
 Essential Food (creates small octagonal cakes with random flavors)
 Fertility (Reverse of strike barren)
 Truthsayer
 Relieve sickness

Disadvantages:
impulsive[-10], truthfulness[-5], Lecherousness[-15] gigantism [0]
oph:nudist [-5],cannot harm innocents [-10], Oblivious[-5]
unnatural features:Blue skin, third eye, extra arms, 7 feet tall [-5]

Aura, Magesight and see secrets are functions of the third eye,
 Each hand can perform one of the other effects. 
4 in languages St 13 DX 13 IQ 13 HT 15 
Spell skills are all 15 [4pts each], Dancing[2] 13, sex appeal [1] 17
 Sexual Art [4] 13 stealth [2] 12, Wrestling [2] 13(+4), karate [8] 14, 
judo[8] 14, singing [1]15, Breath control [8]15, Theology! [8] 13 

Kho Kilana is the descendant of a servitor of a fertility god, 
and has some of her father's aspects. She has a good working knowledge of divine
genealogies, so as to avoid having relations with the high percentage of the 
nine million gods who are blood relatives. She visits the shrines of other
fertility gods with regularity but has no interest in revisiting the temple
of Priapus on the southern Isle of Telemankas, as the statue of the god there
 is made of Sandstone.

Speaking only the truth, she answered some basic questions about herself, and upon hearing that they were referring to the being trapped in the Sake Service as an Efreet, she demanded to be brought to Furawa to have it explained to her how the Celestial Bureaucracy would have dominion over such a foreign entity. It will be up to the diplomacy of Sakemoko to determine if she agrees to assist, and up to a bunch of die rolls as to how.

 

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.

As an unrelated note, I won a copy of the Borderland Provinces as part of Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day. and it is amazingly dense. I intend to post a full review of that once I finish reading it. It was also laid out by Chuck Wright, who is currently in need of help. I donated to that, and also put up a set of my stock art pdf’s as incentive for others to give over in Tenkar’s Tavern. My patreon support of Erik Tenkar has brought me a lot of traffic so I am thankful of that.I originally made an offer of just the three pdf’s I had at the time, Characters, Wizards and Dungeon Scenes, but since I have added a new one, I am adding that too. This work may seem familiar, I originally agreed to do some free art for exposure, and I am wise enough now to cash in. It’s only $1.49.cover.png

 

A new theme, The Revenant,and thoughts on hexcrawling

As I indicated in my last post, I made a few recent additions to my vast and sprawling PDF library, and a number of them had a certain theme. Two were from Lord Gwydion’s blog, The Flying Swordsmen and Chanbara. Along with those generously free downloads, I purchased Ruins & Ronin, and I already had Kabuki Kaiser’s Mad Monks of Kwantoom.  While I don’t own GURPS Japan or China, I did own the 3e version of GURPS Fantasy, that had its own hodgepodge piece of misconstrued cultural appropriation in the land of Sahud. Languages in Northport’s greater world are borrowed from that of Yrth; Northport is in a pseudo-medieval France called Aral, and the inhabitants speak Aralaise.  To uncomplicate the broad number of real world cultures and languages being roleplayed by a bunch of people on line who I suspect are only as familiar with them as I am, and to maximize the usage of points spent linguistically, I am  going the lazy route and following suit.

Much like my mid-eighties forays into Oriental Adventures, this shift toward the world of  Wuxia in my DF game began with a player (of a shadow elf Sorceress) asking to play a ninja.  Pictured above are her character, Airis Moonshadow, a catfolk ninja; Chou-Zen Mou, an Elder Spawn Wizard; Jin, a Yakuza enforcer. Together with some other fantastical characters, built on templates from DF 15, including Iskander, a skirmisher with added lenses and slightly boosted stats and second sight, entering from Valdassya, and Ales Konstantin, a Shevnian Squire-Adept.

I am going to gather them together under the aegis of a former Adventurer’s Guild Master, Lord Sakemoko, a character I first introduced to players back in 2002 when my game was on Playbyweb. Sakemoko is the highest ranking member of Sahudese society in Northport, and oversees a lot of their importing. Here is the hook: a Ship’s sorcerer (Sahudese ships all have weather workers to travel as far as they do) has had a silver and jade sake service stolen from the ship by a rival clan of ninja, and they must retrieve it. The item is magical… and once I had one ninja, I had to add others. We will see how this develops.

 

Meanwhile , my juniors group, who collectively said NOPE when faced with entering the dreamlands via the gate activated by the Ymid, have moved on into the undercity, making their own doorway with a crowbar, and wandering into one of the Doomchildren that escaped the previous street collapse caused by oversealous use of the Whimsy spell and getting blown up by it.  After healing and recovery, they managed to walk into more cultist leavings, some fatigue draining evil runes written on the floor in sacred squid ink, by virtue of sending  the two characters with infravision ahead to scout…

My Saturnine cultists aren’t pointy hatted ones like Peter’s, part of their initiation is to dye a homespun robe in a barrel of cuttlefish which they get to ink by drowning a cat in the barrel. Therefore, my cutlists have dark sepia robes, black hands and scratched up faces. Many of them go on to cut off their toes in order to spend time with succubi conjured by group ritual, for the purpose of generating Doomchildren.  It is a growing organization.

My group investigating the Jugger team abuses have once again demonstrated that while characters with equal points aren’t necessarily equal, characters within the same niche dominate like characters with lower points. To wit, a 62 point guardsman can trash a 250 ppint wizard if he gets the drop on him, but guards, brutes and skirmishers don’t stand a chance against full blown martial artists. We had two of them, a human who studied under the “Unified School” and the orc run by the player who invented Smasha.  The human was nearly undone by the third character he fought with, wiping the floor easily with the other two but the orc, built with high Strength, was able to wade through a few brutes without risking injury. I had the martial artists entering the orcish dojo be ritually greeted with the lowest students and work their way up until the leader of the dojo was satisfied with their performance enough to talk with them, much like Peirs Anthony did with War.

My other group has returned to the depths to negotiate trade with the trolls they had proved themselves to earlier, and had discovered that the trolls were very glad to  have bacon in their lives. So much so that we had three days of posting pig related puns before it was announced that the People of the Pit had struck again…

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People of the Pit

Which brings us to the Group on the Hexcrawl. The other night I watched the Revenant, which was terribly beautiful, brutal and sad all at once. Please go see it, if only to watch Leo get mauled by mama bear. Seriously, all I could think of was how many HT rolls he was making during this picture.It was a gorgeous example of what goes wrong in the wilderness, and what the hell was wrong with frontiersmen: everything.  The abuses and betrayals that went on in this picture were astounding. Made me feel like I have been pulling punches on these guys.

So the expedition into war torn Shevnia is run by Oren, an Agent/treasure hunter originally played by the same guy who has Grend, the smasha enthusiast in the other thread, and Jin the yak in the new group.  Along with him are Stringfellow Hill, (a bard), Danos (a mountain elf thief), Syvanus (a second hand woods elf Archer with Scout/Wizard and Scout/Thief lenses) , Kiprich Rockson (a modified Earth priest with elementals in tow), Snorri Rosslovich (a Seasoned Guard) and Marlena Dubouis (a Seasoned Apprentice). They were being stalked by a pack of assorted bandits types who joined them when the party demolished a squad of Gnolls and impressed them with their skills.  The expedition had been mounted after they stole a map leading to a possible resting place of a fabulous treasure;the missing pay train of two months back pay in silver of an entire contingent of the Shevnian army that turned coat when the money never showed. The PC’s figure on about twenty to thirty pounds of silver coins, the loss of which caused the loss of the war and the partial takeover of Shevnia by the orcs, about forty years ago during the height of the black plague.

Having a handful of questionable people with them was more of a concern to them given this destination in mind, than the wizard type riding around the countryside on top of a supercolossal Earth Elemental.   The bard came up with a beautifully rolled and expounded performance of a song about their “true” aim, recovering the topaz encrusted crown of the king of a lich army, and it was convincing enough to make the bandit types clear off and risk tangling with the giant elemental.

Of course,  believing strongly in player agency, especially when someone in the party has a fate bending trait like weirdness magnet, I had them stumble across a menhir dedicated to the turncoat soldiers who died when a long gone king was summoned to protect the land… reminding them that every lie has some truth in it, and that they might be closer than they think to another adventure. A three foot crown flaming with topazes the size of plums? Maybe not. An eighteen inch crown set with topazes the size of plum stones? Maybe. An army of liches? Maybe a lich with an army. Maybe.