Mutant Frogs of the Neverglads

Few explorers brave the Neverglads, that vast expanse of toxic tropical wetlands that has swallowed up the ruins of several ancient cities, several of which boasted impressive biological and chemical industries. As the End of All Things spread havoc across the world, industry safeguards failed and the Neverglads became a mutagenic hellscape covering more than 11,000 square miles (28,500 square kilometers). The natural and mutant hazards found within the Neverglads are legion. The farther one travels into the region’s heart, the wilder the terrain becomes. Poisonous quicksand, mutant pythons, giant alligators, bizarre temporal ripples, dangerous plants, savage tribes, billions of disease-carrying pests, and xenophobic secret societies are only some of the more well-known dangers.

Ojoran

Ojorans are probably the most common amphibian in the Neverglads. They appear as small tree frogs, most growing to no more than three or four inches long. An ojorans most remarkable feature is its bulbous single eye. In general, ojorans are inoffensive creatures. They prey on small insects, not on explorers. Timid, even skittish, ojorans avoid contact with other creatures, usually via their adaptive and variable coloration. Ojorans are prodigious climbers as well, easily able to retreat to the heights of the trees that grow throughout the Neverglads. All of this should be construed as saying that ojorans are harmless. They often congregate in large groups, especially during mating season. While the poison slime that an ojoran’s pores secretes is not especially toxic, more than a few careless explorers have succumbed to the effects of blundering into dozens of ojorans.

No. Enc.: 2d6 (12d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60′ (20′)
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 1d2 hit points
Attacks: 1 (poison slime)
Damage: 1d6
Save: L1
Morale: 6
Hoard Class: None
XP: 8

Mutations: Chameleon Epidermis, Dermal Poison Slime (Class 1), Increased Balance

Ranaserp

Compared to ojorans, ranaserps merit caution, even fear. A ranaserp appears to be a strange hybrid of frog and serpent, but of impressive size as the adult ranaserp reaches lengths of 18 feet. This six-legged amphibious predator has a sinuous, powerful neck and a highly venomous bite. While not particularly quick on the run, it moves with great silence, striking by surprise whenever possible, doing so 4 times out of 6. Ranaserps prey on all manner of creatures, preferring warm-blooded animals (mutant or otherwise).

If two ranaserps are encountered, they are 85% likely to be a mated pair, in which case it is 50% likely that an additional 2d8 immature offspring are nearby. Despite this mutant’s amphibian ancestry, ranaserps are protective of their young. Typically the female stays near the den to guard the young while the male hunts, swallowing poisoned prey whole to regurgitate later the partially digested meal for the immature ranaserps.

No. Enc.: 1d2
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90′ (30′)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+3 plus 5d6 poison
Save: L3
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,320

Mutations: Gigantism, Natural Weapon (fangs), Toxic Weapon (Class 5), Thermal Vision

Ranenferm

In truth, the ranenferm is not a mutant frog. It instead is a mutant fungus that prefers to use a giant amphibian as a growth medium. (Nota Bene: Use standard giant toad stats for “ordinary” giant frogs to duplicate the mutant shown in the picture.) A ranenferm without a host is immobile. It uses possession to bring a potential host close enough for its vegetal parasitism to take effect. After this, the ranenferm need no longer maintain mental domination of the host via possession. Also, the host organism becomes harder to kill as the ranenferm’s hyphae spread into the host’s tissues, muscles, bones, and nervous system.

Ranenferms are highly intelligent and malicious. They communicate with their own kind via a form of telepathy, but their mental processes are so alien that communication with other lifeforms appears impossible. Of course, it could be that ranenferms simply view other creatures as beneath contempt, thus refusing to communicate to such “inferior” specimens. Whatever the truth, ranenferms pose a serious danger to travelers within the Neverglads, and communities both near and within that region often exhibit justifiable alarm about even perceived signs of ranenferm “infection”. Fire is the preferred method of treating those believed to be playing host to a ranenferm.

No. Enc.: 1d4 per host organism
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: As host organism
Armor Class: As host organism + 1 per ranenferm
Hit Dice: As host organism + 1 Hit Die per ranenferm
Attacks: As host organism
Damage: As host organism
Save: Equal to total Hit Dice
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX
XP: As host organism modified by additional Hit Dice and mutations

Mutations: As host organism, plus Metaconcert, Possession, Prehensile Tendrils (Simple), Vegetal Parasite

May 26th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Three Unusual Magic Weapons

Three new magic weapons for you to put into the hands of enemies to see if your players’ characters can earn them the hard way.

Borya’s Needle

Ornate, light, and nimble, Borya’s Needle is a +1 short sword that weighs as much as a dagger. A hit from Borya’s Needle that inflicts 5-7 points of damage on a living creature causes a slender steel needle to grow from the sword’s quillons. Upon command instead of a melee attack, the wielder may cause one or more of these needles to take flight as Magic Missiles. This remarkable blade cannot produce more than five needles per day.

Borya the Nimble was an Elven Fighter/Magic-User with a reputation for roguish and romantic exploits. Stories claim he owned several remarkable magic items, including a pocket watch that could slow time, a silken handkerchief that could alter its user’s facial features, and, of course, Borya’s Needle, the elegant rapier which bears his name. Borya finally met his match in a battle of love and wits waged against Cassia, the queen of dryads whose beauty is rumored to be so great that even a fleeting glimpse of her leads to longing, then to obsession, and finally to insanity. At Cassia’s request, Borya cast his fabled blade into the Verdant Whirlpool and then attempted to win Cassia’s love by refusing food or drink from one new moon to the next. Consequently, Borya the Nimble wasted away from hunger and thirst. The last word that passed his cracked, parched lips was the name of the dryad queen.

The Hideous Scimitar

Beautiful, inlaid with precious metals, and superbly balanced, this dread weapon was not forged for mortal hands, but instead was crafted in a cursed forge fueled by coals stolen from a hellish plane as a badge of office for a fiendish commander. Each day, for the first 10 combat turns the Hideous Scimitar is wielded in melee, it functions as a +2 scimitar. At the end of the tenth round of melee that day, the blade changes, becoming tarnished and gore-streaked no matter how well it is cleaned. For the next 10 combat turns after this change, any living, mortal creature damaged by the Hideous Scimitar must make a saving throw to avoid contracting a deadly disease (the effects of which are left to the Referee’s discretion). At the end of the twentieth round of melee fought that day with this weapon, the blade becomes even more horrible. It becomes pockmarked and scabrous, and its lesions ooze noxious fluids. For the remainder of the day after this second change, wounds inflicted by the Hideous Scimitar cannot be healed by magical means (a Remove Curse or similar effect can negate this effect).

Mortal creatures are not meant to wield the Hideous Scimitar. Each combat turn during the time the scimitar causes disease that a mortal uses this weapon, the wielder must make a saving throw or suffer 1d4+1 points of damage in the form of spontaneous gashes and bruises. During the time the scimitar causes wounds that cannot be magically healed, the wielder runs the same risk, but the damage suffered increases to 1d6+1 points per combat turn per failed saving throw. Tales claim that a mortal who dies from the baleful effects of wielding the Hideous Scimitar forfeits his soul to the infernal power that first created this weapon.

Stonebreaker

Carved from the heart of a stone brought to the Material Plane from the Plane of Elemental Earth, Stonebreaker weighs 20 pounds and must be wielded with two hands. It functions as a +3 weapon that inflicts 1d8+4 points of damage in melee (including its magical bonus). In the hands of a Dwarf, Stonebreaker‘s full might is revealed. Goblins and orcs cannot look directly at a Dwarf who wields Stonebreaker in battle, which causes those creatures to suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls against that Dwarf. What’s more, a Dwarfish wielder of Stonebreaker inflicts double damage (2d8+8) against Chaotic giants and all sorts of earth elementals.

The fabled Blind Masons of Kadiphonek carved Stonebreaker for King Bofnar Stonedelver at the start of the War of the Boundless Vaults. Stonedelver led his companions, the dread Ironbreakers, into battle after battle against the orcs, goblins, giants, and elementals that sought to unlock the Boundless Vaults. In Stonedelver’s hands, Stonebreaker turned the tide against the vastly outnumbered Dwarfs time and time again. After days of savage battle, Stonedelver stood victorious, but he succumbed to his injuries before he could be treated. Stonedelver and Stonebreaker were buried in the Catacombs of the Kings. Centuries later, after a succession of weak and quarrelsome kings, Stonedelver’s domain fell to a new threat, and Stonebreaker reportedly fell into the hands of drow priestesses.

Nota Bene: From now until the end of May, all Spes Magna Games PDFs in the category of OGL OSR are on-sale for 50% off their normal prices. Huzzah! You can check out the affected titles by clicking here.

May 17th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Some Love for Druids

Before we get to the new druid spells, an important announcement: From now until the end of May, all Spes Magna Games PDFs in the category of OGL OSR are on-sale for 50% off their normal prices. Huzzah! You can check out the affected titles by clicking here.

And, now, some love for druids!

Gnauskaia’s Arid Brotherhood

Spell Level: Druid, 3rd Level
Range: 30-foot radius around caster
Duration: 1 hour

By means of this spell, the druid summons a 1d4+1 small dust devils to perform simple tasks. These whirling masses of dust and hot air can fetch and carry things, open doors, blow small objects about, et cetera. Each continues its assigned task until it is given another command. A dust devil conjured by this spell cannot exert a force of more than 20 pounds, nor can it attack or move beyond the spell’s range.

Laununill’s Muddy Lexicon

Spell Level: Druid, 1st Level
Range: Normal reading distance
Duration: 10 minutes

The druid pours a quantity of water and mixes it with dirt while casting this spell. For the duration of the spell, words spoken within range appear in the mud scribed in the secret tongue of the druids. Written words may also appear in the mud if the source of the writing is touched to the puddle. Once the druid reads the words, they fade away.

The Spell of Centrifugal Aurora

Spell Level: Druid, 4th Level
Range: 20-foot cylinder
Duration: 1d6+1 turns

A cylinder of roaring wind and cracking electricity with a 20-foot diameter whirls about the druid. Each round, any creature within the cylinder other than the druid must make a saving throw. Failure means the creature is sucked through the vortex of wind and lightning, suffering 1d6 points of damage from being buffetted about and another 3d6 points of damage from lightning blasts before being thrown to the outside of the cylinder.

May 16th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

The Pholcids of Orgimchak

Orgimchak is an area of ancient woodland near Hasharot. It is a former royal forest that covers 2,476 hectares (which equals a bit more than 6,100 acres), and contains areas of woodland, grassland, heath, rivers, bogs, and ponds, spread lengthwise about 12 miles and being no more than 3 miles east to west at its widest point. In most places, Orgimchak is considerably narrower as it lies on a ridge between the valleys of the rivers Tizma and Choqqi.

As early as last century, Orgimchak was a valuable area for wildlife and foraging. Today, Orgimchak is accursed. Its oak, beech, and hornbeam trees produce prodigious, twisted branches so heavy that their weight often cannot be supported by the parent tree. As a result, large amounts of dead wood in the forest supports numerous rare species of fungi and invertebrates, many of which are dangerous, even deadly. Unusual numbers of rats and adders live in Orgimchak, and even the small breed of deer native to the region tends to be fiercely aggressive. Orgimchak’s boundaries include over 100 lakes and ponds. Most of these bodies of water are small but deep. The fish within these lakes and ponds are abundant, but few are considered edible by any but the most hungry. The fish from Orgimchak’s ponds and lakes have an unwholesome, greasy flavor.

The evil that infects Orgimchak took root gradually. For a time, the notorious and brutal Rihard Turvin maintained a hideout within Orgimchak. He waged a campaign of brigandage, kidnapping, and arson for months before authorities from nearby Lounoun tracked Rihard to his lair and slaughtered him and his followers. Since that day, Orgimchak has become a nexus for violent crime. No fewer than four children have been murdered and their bodies dumped in Orgimchak by at least two killers. At least nine other murder victims have been found in the forest. Most of these heinous crimes have occurred in the past decade, but the earliest murders took place more than 40 years ago. Who knows how many other bodies remain undiscovered in Orgimchak?

To this day, bandits and orcs regularly use Orgimchak as a hideout. More serious threats, such as ogres and trolls, infrequently stalk the forest, and stories of ghosts seeking either revenge against or consolation from the living have long been set in Orgimchak. Perhaps the deadliest inhabitant of this cursed forest are pholcids, a terrifying combination of giant spider and undead monster.

A pholcid is an intelligent, magical giant spider that uses a humanoid skull as a shell, exchanging one skull for another as the pholcid grows or as the skull becomes damaged. A pholcid cannot be harmed by normal weapons, and it moves with stealth and speed. It prefers to attack by surprise, most often casting its webs at its victims before closing to bite. A pholcid’s web fills an area 5 x 5 x 10 feet. This monster’s web is as strong as a Web spell, and a pholcid may project its sticky fibers 1d4 times per day.

Pholcid: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 bite (1d4 + poison); Move 12; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 5/240; Special: 3 in 6 chance to surprise prey, hit only by magic or silver weapons, lethal poison (+2 saving throw), webs.

May 12th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

The Skull of Good King Vaclav

Good King Vaclav was the son of Stanislaus I, the penultimate king of Hemiboa. His grandfather, Boris I of Hemiboa, was converted to the Via Lucis by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Vaclav’s mother, Dragoríma, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief, but she was baptized into her husband’s faith at the time of her marriage. Vaclav’s paternal grandmother, Dulmila of Hemiboa, oversaw his education, Vaclav excelled as a scholar and at an early age was sent to the college at Weisblud.

When Vaclav was thirteen, Stanislaus, who had become king just a few years before, died and Dulima became regent, a move which enraged Dragoríma so much that she arranged to have Dulima murdered by assassins. Reportedly, these killers strangled Dulima with her veil. After this, Dragoríma assumed the role of regent, and immediately initiated measures against the Via Lucis. When Vaclav came of age, he wrested control of the government from his mother and countermanded the persecution of the Via Lucis. Vaclav had Dragoríma exiled, and then went on to put down a major rebellion led by Duke Mouřik, one of his wicked mother’s paramours.

Eleven years into Vaclav’s reign, a group of nobles allied with Vaclav’s younger brother, Boreslav, plotted to kill Vaclav. Boreslav invited Vaclav to the celebrate a holy day with a feast. Three of Boreslav’s lackeys attacked Vaclav during dinner, stabbing the young king several times before Boreslav ran Vaclav through with a lance. The kingdom fell into civil war shortly after Vaclav’s murder. Even now, Hemiboa remains fractured and unstable.

Vaclav was widely hailed as a martyr saint almost immediately after his death. Although Boreslav tried to dispose of the body in the wilderness, followers loyal to Vaclav retrieved the corpse and hurried into a Weisblud, which has since become the center of Vaclav’s cult. Vaclav’s skull ranks chief among the saint’s relics. For decades, it was kept under guard in Weisblud’s cathedral, but just a few years ago thieves stole it. Vaclav’s skull remains missing to this day.

All manner of stories surround the lost relic. Some claim descendants of Boreslav paid to have the skull taken, and that these evil scions use the relic in profane rituals. Other tales say the thieves were killed crossing into the Recondite Frontier and that the skull was lost in a rain-swollen river. In and around Weisblud, the most common legend holds that the skull vanished when the thieves left the city with it. Angels took the skull up into the mountains above Weisblud, hiding it in a cave. When a time of great evil befalls the city, Vaclav himself will descend from Heaven, take up his skull, and lead an army of the righteous dead to reunify Hemiboa and place a rightful heir on the throne.

In the hands of a faithful cleric of the Via Lucis, the Skull of Good King Vaclav acts as a bronze horn of Valhalla. Evil characters who so much as touch the skull lose 1 full experience level, dropping to the lowest possible number of experience points to hold the level. If the evil character is a cleric, he must also atone in an appropriate manner; until then, he cannot cast cleric spells higher than 1st level. The Skull is rumored to have other powers as well, which may be chosen from Artifacts and Relics Powers/Effects Tables (see pages 162-164, Dungeon Masters Guide). The Skull of Good King Vaclav reportedly has these powers/effects: Minor Benign Powers x2, Major Benign Powers x1, Minor Malevolent Effects x2, Major Malevolent Effects x1, and Prime Powers x1.

April 26th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »