Sunday, July 20, 2014

[Planescape] Skwugs

I've been re-reading The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker. In a section discussing amphibian and reptile hunting adaptations, Bakker describes a large frog species capable of devouring rats and birds. The frogs achieve this by being effective ambush hunters. The species also has saliva that acts as an anesthetic, quickly subduing a prey item so that it can be gulped down.

     Skwugs were inspired by this section of the book as a kind of amphibious goblin, but not nearly so nasty. Like the frogs in Bakker's book, skwugs have an anesthetic saliva that they can spit at foes to stun them. Once subdued, the victims can be robbed and poked at. The saliva also has powerful hallucinatory properties.

     The skwugs are native to the Outlands near the Great Spire. They reside in a marshy area and mostly keep to themselves. They worship a gigantic purple toad in the middle of the swampy area and try to appease him with the items they steal from passers-by. He bestows his favor upon them by devouring a dozen of their number each full moon. The toad then belches a mighty hallucinogenic cloud that engulfs the entire tribe.

SKWUG
Alignment Neutral
No. Appearing 4d4
Armor Class 6
Move 6
Hit Dice 1-1
Hit Points 3
THAC0 20
No. of Attacks 1
Damage 1-2 (bite)
Special Attack Poison (see below)
Special Defense Leap (see below)
Size Small
XP Value 30

     Poison Attack: Skwugs can spit a gob of saliva up to 30' at a single target with a +4 to hit. The target must save vs. poison or fall to the ground paralyzed for 1d4+1 rounds. The poison is quite potent, so after the paralysis wears off, the victim will trip balls for 3d6 rounds. Roll on the hallucination table below. (1d6)

     1) Victim thinks he can fly. He begins running here and there, flapping his arms wildly. Kaw kaw!

     2) Victim loves everyone and everything. Many bro hugs given.

     3) Victim's consciousness is elevated and many truths of the Outer Planes are revealed. A permanent +1 to Intelligence is gained.

     4) Non-stop giggling and laughing ensues. The victim struggles to take things seriously from that point forward. A permanent -1 to Intelligence is sustained.

     5) Victim emerges from a stupor and can now speak with giant frogs, skwugs and bullywugs. Ribbit!

     6) Victim strips naked and wants to swim with his new friends. Watch out for leeches.

     Perhaps there is a market for skwug saliva?

     Defensive Leap: A skwug can leap 9" in an instant, a technique it often employs to escape danger.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

[Planescape] Denizen of Pandemonium

I was reading about the howling madness of Pandemonium in my old Planescape box set. It's an infinite network of tunnels. Through it whips a screaming, insanity-inducing wind. It's always dark. Desperate lunatics scramble through the madness, slaughtering at will and violating one another in unspeakable ways.

     It's not unlike real life. Like Gaza, Ukraine or Iraq.

     Below is a filthy, deranged resident of Pandemonium. His horns and tail speak of an Infernal bloodline. With tieflings, you never know.

     Denizen of Pandemonium: Armor Class 9, Hit Dice 1. Hit Points 5, No. of Attacks 1, Damage 1d6+1 (spear), Save as Fighter 1, XP Value 20, Alignment CN(e)

     Upon meeting the party or lone PC, the denizen will pursue one of the following courses of action:

     Roll 1d4
     1) aggressive fornication
     2) incoherent babbling
     3) cannibalism
     4) murder

   

Friday, July 11, 2014

[Savage Worlds] Spider Billy

All new arrivals find themselves standing in the middle of a two-lane highway with thick woods on each side. It's dark and bitterly cold. Lurking nearby is a rotten little fiend the locals call Spider Billy. He makes his home in a miserable little shack cobbled together from sheets of metal siding and wood pallets. When he hears someone out on the road, he rushes out to give chase.

     Spider Billy appears to be about 13 or 14 years of age. His has freakishly long arms and legs. His eyes are black and he's covered in filth. His greasy hair is about shoulder length and he grins maniacally with a mouth full of jagged teeth. His appearance is extremely unsettling, so a Fear check (Spirit roll) is in order. See page 97 of the SW Deluxe Explorer's Edition.

     Billy carries a broomstick topped with a jagged blade. He loves to skitter after new arrivals, poking and prodding them with sadistic glee.There's no reasoning with Billy. He's out of his damned mind so it's fight or flight. Please note that an encounter with Billy need not be lethal. He has no reason to fight to the death. Billy simply loves to terrify and will quickly retreat - or not engage at all - when faced with superior foes.

SPIDER BILLY (Wildcard)
spindly little freak

Attributes
Agility d8
Smarts d4
Spirit d4
Strength d6
Vigor d8

Derived Statistics
Pace 8"
Parry 6
Toughness 6
Charisma -4

Edges and Hindrances
Edges: Fleet-footed
Hindrances:  Mean (m), Ugly (m)

Skills
Climbing d8, Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Stealth d10

Equipment
Bayonet (Strength + d6)/Parry +1/Reach 1-2

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Conversion Experience: Southern Bastards

Esaw, the big 'neck in the foreground, will be detailed at a later date.

SECOND STRING BUBBA
Not Starting Material, Rebel Pride!

Good (+2) at: Football, Stomping People's Asses
Bad (-2) at: Independent Thought
Stress: [_] [_]

Extras: A baseball bat provides a free shift when used in combat; A football helmet provides a free shift when the thug is resisting an attack.

     When Coach Boss needs someone to be put down, he sends out his linebackers coach, Esaw, along with a few second stringers. (He can't risk having any of his starters hurt.) The young men are big, but dumb, and do not act without Esaw's direction.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Don't Go in the Basement


While watching the Tour de France, I sketched a simple, two-story home that may serve as a base of operations for the PCs. The cellar has a secret door which leads down to the city's expansive sewer system. My idea is that the PCs are new residents of the house and will not be aware of secret door's existence.

     The housekeeper knows, but she keeps her mouth shut as she's heard stories of the Things that are down there. The last things she wants are PCs opening the secret door and letting God knows what in. Who wants to get eaten by a sewer monster while polishing the wood floors?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Morning Coffee Map

Someone feels that they have been wronged, so they travel to a hidden shrine to pray to a deity of vengeance. Being capricious, the deity may exact vengeance on behalf of the petitioner. Then again, he may inflict the desired punishment on the person who has been been wronged instead of the wrong-doer. The deity likes to remind people that revenge is a dangerous, unpredictable beast.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Baldur's Gate

11" x 17" pen and ink map of the Balddur's Gate

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mail Call

Today I received the most radical booklet from Matt Jackson. It is hand-bound, the corners are trimmed, as are the pages, and the paper quality is simply stunning. As you flip through it, you feel the time and effort that went into its production.

     Matt is gracious with his praise in the introduction, but it is really he who has become the inspiration. Anyone who follows his work can attest to the steady progression of his mapping skills. In "A Collection of Presentations, Cartographical in Nature", we are treated to many examples of his artwork and creative text. I cannot wait to read it tomorrow while I am waiting for the night sky to explode.

     Well done, Mr. Jackson! Stellar work!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mail Call

First up is a nifty single-sheet zine from Matt Jackson. Titled "10' Pole" it presents the city of Bethmoora, which is perched on the edge a titanic pit called Ghorl Nigral - or - The Black Pit. A significant portion of Bethmoora's economy is derived from servicing (and perhaps taxing?) adventuring parties who are lowered into the pit via an elevator. I really look forward to seeing future issues.


     Next, an awesome micro-adventure arrived from Tim Shorts. It's printed in color, laminated and has on overall effective graphic design. The adventure would be a lot of fun to run as it features a red herring and something of a moral quandary for PCs with a conscience. A GM armed with several of these cards would never be at a loss for some last minute adventuring.


     I also received a nifty chess zine, but Master Cylinder fell asleep on it so I can't show it to you. It weirds me out when his eye is half open and lolling about. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This Machine Kills Fascists

Henry the Guitar
Woody Guthrie was on to something when he painted "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitar back 1941. His message inspired many later musicians, such as Glen Campbell, who wrote "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces it to Surrender" on the calfskin head of his banjo.(*)

     Some, like Greil Marcus, questioned the patriotic message on Guthrie's guitar. He argued that a guitar is neither a machine nor is it capable of killing anyone.(*) Moreover, it raises the question that perhaps protest music is rather pointless. Nevertheless, there's no denying that music plays a profound, inspirational role in many lives.

     For the purposes of this blog and its role-playing themes, I'd like to suggest a way that music can be used by player characters in a manner not unlike D&D bards. Mechanics-wise I am thinking of Labyrinth Lord.

     Once per day, a character that has as part of his background an ability to play an instrument can declare that he is using music to grant a fellow player +4 to any single roll, such as damage, to hit, a saving throw, etc. The once per day limitation represents the fact that the performance is truly inspired and not easily duplicated at a later time.

     However, this ability comes with a few drawbacks. Obviously, the PC must be in a position to play his instrument. Secondly, doing so requires a full round and during that time the musician is more easily hit by opponents. He will not enjoy the benefits of a shield or dexterity bonus to armor class. Finally, the player character must specify how his performance relates to the recipient and the task at hand. For example, a halfling who plays the fiddle might play a jarring, scratchy tune to snap the brawny fighter out of a haze (+4 to saving throw) as a witch attempts to cast Charm Person while flirting with him.


*Wikipedia