Saturday, May 29, 2010


An idea I had for a starting area for a campaign setting awhile back. Thinking of adding it to my new homebrew setting. This was inspired by the "Small Gods" article in Dragon Magazine #293 as well as Noisms Crayfish God.

Appleton is a small hamlet of around 20 families living in a remote set of foothills in the borderlands. The primary crop being Apples(hence the name of the settlement). The community rarely receives any visitors, except the one trading caravan at the end of every fall, when a single train of merchants comes to trade for the apple-wine, applejack, and cider that the area produces. The most unusual aspect for the area is that it has no churches or even shrines to the major gods of the dominant nations in the region. Instead, the village worships the towering old apple tree that sits atop a small cave at the very back of a small draw about an hour's walk from the settlement.
The apple tree itself is at least 400 years old, but still strong and healthy. N0body is exactly sure WHEN the tree gained sentience or quasi-deity status, but it had it when the first of its human priestesses first discovered it.
The priestesses, called "Apple-maidens" are all descended from that initial priestess, the mother passing the title on to the daughter when she grows to old to continue her duties. There is never more than one Apple maiden at any time.
The Apple-maidens are rarely granted spells by the tree, and for the most part, that doesn't bother them. The apples that grow upon their deity are said to have mystical abilities themselves, although what the abilities are at any given time, it's hard to say.
The Apple tree was the first of it's kind in the area, and all the other apple trees in the area are its progeny. The other trees have not shown any indication of being anything more than normal apple trees, though the products made from their produce could command high prices if the area wasn't so remote.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Climate/Terrain: Any cursed inhabited lands
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Solitary, Pair, or flock
Activity Cycle: Diurnal
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Animal through Semi(1-4)
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral Evil
No. Appearing: 1-12
Armor Class: 7
Movement: 3, Fly 12(C)
Hit Dice: 1/4
Thac0: 20
No. Attacks: 1
Damage: 1 or 1d2
Special Attacks: Poison
Special Defenses: None
Magic Resistance: None
Size: Small(' wingspan)
Morale: Unsteady(7)
XP Value: 15

Doomkins are the result of raising chickens on cursed lands, or perhaps a little too close to wizard towers. The look like large chickens or roosters with a scorpion's tail.
Combat: Doomkins attack in a flurry of pecks and scratches, that do a total of 1 point of damage each round if they're attacks manage to successfully hit. Their only other attack is to use their stinger. If the stinger connects, the victim must make a save vs. poison(at a +4 bonus) or be paralyzed for 1d6 hours.
Habitat/Society: Doomkin only willingly associate with other doomkin, killing any and all other creatures on the farms in which they were born. There is only a 1 in 100 chance that any chicken hatched in cursed areas will be born a doomkin. If the doomkin manages to escape it's initial home, it will try to join up with other doomkins. Oddly enough, Kobolds actually revere doomkins and are known to leave offerings to placate the wrath of the creatures(it never actually works, but the kobolds either don't realize this, or don't care).
Ecology: Doomkins are not natural creatures, and thus play no actual role in any normal ecosystem. The one up side to Doomkins is that they never breed in the wild, though there are reports of truly insane wizards using arcane means with which to propogate the species. Whether or not this has been successful is unknown.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Ze bulette expressed a desire for lower level monsters, and given that I have a ton of them I've never bothered to stat up, expect new monsters to be a recurring theme for a bit on this blog(at least while the characters in my current campaign are still low level). This is a creature that I've introduced into many of my campaigns, but here it is in 2nd edition stats a bit more fleshed out than normal.


Climate/Terrain: Temperate Hills/Forests/Mountains/Swamps/Coastal
Frequency: Rare
Organization: Solitary, Pair, or Brood
Activity Cycle: Diurnal
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Animal to Semi(1-4)
Treasure: Q(but only when in a brood nest)
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 1-8
Armor Class: 7
Movement: 6, Fly 18(C)
Hit Dice: 1/2
Thac0: 20
No. Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage: 1/1 or 1d2
Special Attacks: Poison
Special Defenses: None
Magic Resistance: None
Size: Small(3' wingspan)
Morale: Unsteady(7)
XP Value: 15

Wyrdrakes are small Wyvern-like creatures no bigger than a large fox. They do not seem to be able to communicate.
Combat: Wyrdrakes rarely attack people, except when it's a mated pair. Their normal prey includes rats, rabbits, birds, and the occasional small deer or fox. Wyrdrakes usually begin their attack from the air, swooping down from nearby trees, boulders, or rooftops, and raking their prey with their talons. For most smaller prey this is usually enough. For larger prey, the Wyrdrake will likely land(possibly on the opponent if both claw attacks hit) so they can bite. Any bitten creature is susceptible to the venom of the Wyrdrake. Wyrdrake venom, in it's natural state is rather weak, granting anything gnome sized or larger a +4 bonus to the save. The Wyrdrake's venom, if the save is failed, will suffer from numbness in the afflicted body part, causing a 1-3 point penalty on appropriate checks.
A Wyrdrake defending its nest or young fights with a +2 bonus to attack, and +5 bonus to morale checks.
Habitat/Society: Wyrdrakes combine aspects of dragon and raven. They are scavengers and hunters of small prey when alone. Sometime between their 5th and 7th year, most Wyrdrakes find a mate. The two build a nest either in a large tree or abandoned building. It's at this point when Wyrdrakes become aggressive towards larger prey. The two Wyrdrakes will coordinate attacks to take down weak looking lone humanoids. In addition to the meat they get from the humanoid, the Wyrdrakes steal any shiny objects they can carry, taking these items back to their nests. Every spring(when their aren't already young present) the female Wyrdrakes will lay 3-12 eggs. Each of these eggs is worth 500-600 gp on the open market as Wyrdrakes may be used in the same manner as Falcons if trained properly. The eggs will hatch within 3 weeks of being laid, but the young mature slowly, being a full year before they leave the nest with the parents to learn to hunt, but it will be another 2 years before the parent Wyrdrakes drive the young ones off. Wyrdrakes are also hunted for their venom glands, which if distilled, can be allow for the manufacture of Type O poison. Their hides may be cured, but it would take about a dozen of them to make a full set of leather armor.
Ecology: Wyrdrakes are a part of the natural world, but are on the verge of extinction due to over-hunting. Wyrdrakes may be summoned by the Find Familiar spell.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wicker Men

Wicker Man
Climate/Terrain: Any
Frequency: Very Rare
Organization: Band
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: None
Intelligence: Non(0)
Treasure: Special
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 1-20
Armor Class: 8
Movement: 6
Hit Dice: 1/2
Thac0: 20
No. Attacks: 2
Damage: 1d4
Special Attacks: None
Special Defenses: Resistance to piercing weapons
Magic Resistance: Special
Size: Medium(5' tall)
Morale: Special
XP Value: 30

Wicker Men are the alternative to animating skeletons. They're slow, do not speak, and considerably weaker than skeletons in terms of combat effectiveness. The trade off is that a well funded lower level mage can make many of these creatures to serve him.
Combat: Wicker men only attack if their orders include combat. Like skeletons they may only understand simple instructions. Wicker men attack by bashing opponents with their wooden arms. On an attack roll of 20, their arm splinters, resulting in 1 less attack for them each round. Piercing weapons only do half damage to them. Electrical attacks have no effect. Fire effects do double damage. Being mindless constructs, Wicker men immune to enchantments, charms, and hold spells. They are also immune to fear and never roll for morale. When a Wicker man is reduced to 0 hp, it falls to splinters on the ground, along with the 3 gems used to animate them.

Create Wicker Man
1st level Wizard 1st level Cleric Spell
School: Enchantment, Necromancy Sphere: Plant
Range: Touch Components: V,S,M
Duration: Permanent Casting Time: 1 turn
Area of Effect: Special Saving Throw: None

By use of this spell, a wizard may turn 5 cp worth of common sticks, along with 3 gems(two of which must be the same type and each worth at least 10 gp) into a wicker man. The wicker man follows the commands of the Caster until destroyed, or until one of the gems are removed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Armor of the Berserker

My all time favorite Manga is Berserk. In it, the main character, Gatsu(Guts), is given a hell hound headed set of cursed platemail. The armor turns off the victim's sense of pain, allowing the person wearing it to push themselves past their mortal limits. Below is an altered version I'll be introducing into my campaign to try to get the fighter to put the War back in warrior(rather than having the wizard keep taking point).

Cursed Armor of the Berserker
Black platemail armor, with a savage looking Hell Hound headed helm. The armor physically radiates an aura of rage, detectable by any intelligent being. Creatures under 1 HD must make a Save vs. Paralyzation or react as if subject to a fear spell to the creature wearing this armor. All social rolls made while wearing this armor are at a -4 penalty, except for Intimidation, which are made at a +2 bonus.
When first putting on the armor, the character must make a save vs. Death Magic, or permanently lose a point of Constitution as the armor consumes some of the users life force. The process is very painful, and the character is unable to take any action for 1d6 rounds.
When the character is first subject to an attack, whether it succeeds or not, the player must make a save vs. spell or be subject to a berserker rage. The wearer may willingly fail the roll, but if he passes, he must make another save every time he is hit.
When the character enters a berserker rage, the DM should take note of the character's current hp. From this point onward, the player does not know the current health of his character. The character automatically gains a +1 bonus to attack, and +2 to damage.
Every time a blow lands against the wearer, the wearer gains a +1 cumulative bonus to attack and damage(stacks with the initial bonus), this can occur no more than 1/round. This bonus continues to stack until combat is over. On rounds where the character is not harmed by attacks, the armor itself causes 1 hp of dmg.
While in this state of berserker rage, the wearer is immune to pain, fear, or charms. He also does not drop at 0 hp, but continues fighting until he reaches -10 hp(and falls over dead) or all targets are dead.
The wearer attacks the closest target(friend or foe), running through walls of fire if necessary to reach his target. The primary target is whoever struck the first blow against the wearer.
The armor may only be removed in one of Four ways. The first option is that the wearer is killed. Usually however, by this point the character has suffered such extensive damage that there is only a 25% chance that any sort of raise dead/resurrection spell would work. Reincarnate works normally however. The second option is a Wish/Miracle spell, which allows the character to remove the armor normally. Putting the armor back on however, would result in the character being under the curse again, taking another point of Con dmg. The third option is for the character to receive a Remove Curse Spell. This spell allows the character to make a new Save vs. Death magic. If passed, the armor may be removed. If the save fails, all further saves to remove the armor are made at a cumulative -1 penalty.The last option involves a quest in which the wearer must face his own inner beast. If the wearer wins, the armor may be removed and worn without any penalties, and the wearer will only be subject to berserker rage when he desires to enter it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rules Light Houserules

We have a new to tabletop RPGs player in my "regular" gaming group, so I decided we should use a stripped down version of the 2nd edition rules set. Got rid of weapon speed to affect initiative. Also got rid of the proficiency system, and am using common sense to dictate encumbrance. There are two additional rules however that aren't in the game that I'm currently using.

I didn't want character creation to take all night, so I made a ruling stating that both the initial players(both playing humans) understood common. I also told them the additional number of languages they could automatically know. When they came across a group of orcs, I let them make an intelligence check to determine whether or not they know orcish. Those who pass, understand orcish and fill up one of their language slots. I also stated(because the warrior could only automatically know 1 additional language beyond common) that if the character wanted to learn additional languages, they'd have to be taught in game, which could take a lot of in-game time.

Trollsmyth had a really awesome idea about this very topic. However, I felt it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Each time a character with a shield would be hit by an attack or attack spell(magic missile, lighting bolt, a breath weapon against appropriately sized shield), the character may choose to use his/her shield to absorb the damage.
The shield type determines how many blows the shield can be used to block in this fashion. Bucklers may block 1 melee or projectile each round, Small shields 2 melee or 1 projectile each round, Medium/Kite shields can block 3 melee or projectile attacks each round, and Large Shields can block 4 melee attacks or 6 projectile attacks each round. Tower shields are a special case in that they can block all attacks be they projectile or melee in a round, but only if they come from a single direction. Magical shields may block 1 more additional attack for each +1 bonus they have.
When a shield absorbs the damage, the shield needs to make a save. For simplicity, I just use the PC saves, whichever one feels appropriate at the time based on the damage being absorbed, but item saves could work too based on the materials the shield is made out of. If the save is passed, the shield survives the blow and may be used again. If it is failed the shield instead breaks, and must be repaired or replaced. Damage only gets through the shield if the save is a natural 1, or the attack roll was a natural 20(in which case, the shield breaks anyway). Magical shields gain a bonus on their saves equal to their +X.
The trade off is that the PC no longer gets an AC bonus from the shield(unless it's a magical shield).
In addition to all this, a character able to use shields may sacrifice all the blocks in a round with any shield except Tower to make an additional attack with his/her shield. The damage is Buckler 1d3/1d2, Small 1d4/1d3, Medium/Kite/Large: 1d6/1d4