Posts Tagged ‘ 1E AD&D ’

Day 5: Snow

In the distant south, steaming jungles vanish as rocky highlands become dominant and the climate grows cooler until the world turns in little more than sparse evergreen forests, rocks, ice, and snow. Those few clans that scratch out a life from this inhospitable land call it Arktinis, a word that translates into Common meaning something like “home” or “suffering”.

Legends say that once upon a time Arktinis was a warm land full of wild game, sweet water, and abundant berries and nuts. Whether it was a frost giant shaman’s curse or an ice-devil-haunted portal to some frigid hell, winter came to the land, and it hasn’t left since. Arktinis is truly cursed, and few travel far into its interior and return again to tell the tale. Those rare survivors bring back stories of fearsome monsters, such as trolls that breathe fire and giant furred serpents with venom that turns blood to ice. The interior is difficult to navigate, and sources of food and potable water are scarce.

Foraging & Not Getting Lost: In the interior of Arktinis, Wisdom (Survival) checks to forage and to not get lost are made with disadvantage. Should a party become lost due to a failed Wisdom (Survival) check, it takes 1d12 hours before the party’s navigator can repeat the Wilderness (Survival) check in order to get back on course.

Freezing Cold: The temperatures in Arktinis seldom rise above 0 degrees Fahrenheit for long. Whenever the temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cursed cold of Arktinis must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw, made with disadvantage, at the end of each hour to avoid gaining one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, but creatures wearing cold weather gear (thick coats, gloves, and the like) do not. Creatures wearing cold weather gear must still succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to avoid gaining one level of exhaustion, but they do not suffer disadvantage when doing so.

A creature can be immersed in frigid water for a number of minutes equal to its Constitution score before suffering any ill effects. Each additional minute spent in frigid water requires the creature to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw, made with disadvantage, or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw.

Treacherous Footing: Slippery ice is difficult terrain. When a creature moves onto slippery ice for the first time on a turn, it must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, made with disadvantage, or fall prone. Thin ice has a weight tolerance of 3d10 x 10 pounds per 20-foot-square area. Whenever the total weight on an area of thin ice exceeds its tolerance, the ice in that area breaks. All creatures on broken ice fall through.

Of course, the monsters native to Arktinis never suffer the negative effects of the region’s curse. Speaking of those monsters, those who die of starvation or exposure in Arktinis may rise again as Evils-That-Devour.

1E Stats
Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1-12
Armor Class: 8
Move: 12″ (see below)
Hit Dice: 1+1
% in Lair: 25%
Treasure Type: B (x1/2), T
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-3/1-3/1-6
Special Attacks: Rake for 1-3/1-3, surprise 1-4
Special Defenses: See below
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Size: S (3′ tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defens Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value: III/52 XP + 2 XP/hp

The horrid evil-that-devours appears as an emaciated, dessicated humanoid creature the size of a young child or halfling. It moves quickly and silently, surprising targets 4 times in 6. It attacks with its claws and fangs. If both claws hit, it rakes with its back claws for two more attacks for 1-3/1-3 points of damage. The evil-that-devours moves across snow and ice at normal speed. It is immune to cold, poison, charm, and sleep.

5E Stats
Small undead, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 22 (5d6+5)
Speed 30 ft.
Ability Scores STR 10 (+0), DEX 15 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 6 (-2), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 7 (-2)
Skills Stealth +4
Damage Resistances necrotic
Damage Immunities cold, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Iceborn: The evil-that-devours treats ice and snow as normal terrain.


* Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage.

* Fangs: Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8) piercing damage.

* Voracious: The evil-that devours is always starving. If it hits with its bite, it grapples (escape DC 12) its target. Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the evil-that-devours cannot use its fangs on another target. The evil-that-devours can use its claws, but it makes melee attacks with disadvantage against a target other than the one it is feeding on.

While attached, at the end of each of its turn as a bonus action, the evil-that-devours cause its target to lose 4 (1d8) hit points due to blood and tissue loss (no attack roll necessary). The evil-that-devours can detach itself by spending 5 feet of its movement.

December 5th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

December 2: Cinnamon

Since at least 20 centuries before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, people have used cinnamon. It was a gift fit for a king or even a god. Its sources in places like India were carefully guarded secrets, and cinnamon growers exported this valuable spice via merchants who had no hand in the spice’s growth and harvesting. Wikipedia claims that Herodotus wrote that cinnamon sources were guarded by winged serpents, but Wikipedia errs. It is frankincense that is guarded by winged serpents, as Herodotus makes clear by writing, “For the trees which bear the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of varied colours, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree.”

Herodotus notes that Arabian merchants cannot say where cinnamon comes from or from what tree the spice originates. “Where the wood grows, and what country produces it, they cannot tell”. Herodotus relates that cinnamon’s origin might be Phrygia. The cinnamon sticks are harvested only after large birds have used those sticks to make their nests. The nests “are fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock, where no foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to get the cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and asses and beasts of burden that die in their land into large pieces, which they carry with them into those regions”. The merchants then “withdraw to a distance, and the old birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat and fly with them up to their nests; which, not being able to support the weight, break off and fall to the ground. Hereupon the Arabians return and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from Arabia into other countries.”

So, to sum up, somewhere cinnamon trees grow. The location of those trees is a secret guarded by cinnamon growers. Cinnamon sticks are presumably cut and left to dry during the harvest season. At this time, large birds take the sticks to build nests on sheer cliffs. The middlemen cinnamon merchants lay out fresh meat beneath the cliffs. The large birds swoops down, carry the meat back to their nests, but the nests cannot support the meat’s weight. The nests fall and break, and the merchants collect the cinnamon sticks.

No wonder cinnamon was so valuable!

Pliny the Elder says in The Natural History that cinnamon cost 10 denarii per pound, but that price is controlled by a single monarch who restricts the supply in order to inflate the price, which once caused cinnamon to sell for 1500 denarii per pound, although this extreme inflation may have been the work of barbarians who burned the cinnamon forests or due to “the south winds that prevail in these parts [that] are sometimes so hot as to set the forests on fire.”

Fixing the relative value of ancient units of currency is tricky. During the period of the Roman Republic (approximately 509-27 B.C.), a legionary was paid about 0.3 to 0.6 denarius per day, but he probably had pay for his own food. In other words, using Pliny’s lowball price for cinnamon, one pound of the spice would cost about a legionary’s entire month’s pay. The 1E DMG sets the salary for a heavy footman as 2 gp a month; therefore, a pound of cinnamon costs 2 gp, which is what the 5E PH sets the price at on the Trade Goods table.

Unfortunately, inflation has ruined the cinnamon market in 5E. Maintaining a modest lifestyle costs 2 gp per day, which is twice what an unskilled worker made per month in 1E. According to the 5E PH, soldiers are among those who live modest lifestyles. This means a soldier makes 60 gp per month, which is 30 times what he made in 1E. It only seems fair in keeping with cinnamon’s history that the spice’s price should increase as well. In 1E, a pound of cinnamon costs 2 gp. In 5E, due to edition inflation, that same pound of cinnamon costs 60 gp.

Also, about those birds: Here’s the cinnamologus for you to use.

1E Stats
Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 2-12
Armor Class: 7
Move: 6″//24″
Hit Dice: 3
% in Lair: 75%
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-4/1-4/2-8
Special Attacks: Dive attack
Special Defenses: Eyesight
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: M (4′ tall, 12′ wingspan)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defens Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value: III/65 XP + 3 XP/hp

Cinnamologi build their nests out of cinnanom sticks, adhering these nests to cliff walls with a mixture of mud and grass. Their eyesight is such that they are never surprised unless encountered in their lair or at night. If they attack by diving 50 or more feet, they add +4 to hit probability, do double claw damage (2-8/2-8), but get no beak attack. They can carry up to 1000 gold pieces at half speed.

Cinnamologi are aggressive raptors that prey on a variety of animals smaller than they. These birds also scavenge carrion. If a nest holds young (25%) or eggs (50%), cinnamologi attack any creature that approaches too close. There will be 1-4 young or eggs per nest, and one nest per pair of cinnamologi. The nest of cinnamologus weighs about 500 pounds, and roughly half of that weight is cinnamon sticks.

5E Stats
Medium beast, unaligned

Armor Class 13
Hit Points 55 (10d8+10)
Speed 15 ft., fly 60 ft.
Ability Scores STR 12 (+1), DEX 17 (+3), CON 12 (+1), INT 2 (-4), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +4
Senses passive Perception 14
Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Keen Sight: The cinnamologus has advantage of Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Dive: If the cinnamologus moves at least 50 ft. in a straight line toward a target and then hits it with its talons attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 8 (2d6+1) slashing damage. If the target is a creature not larger than the cinnamologus, the target must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.


* Multiattack: The cinnamologus makes two attacks: one with its talons and one with its beak.

* Talons: Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d6+1) slashing damage.

* Beak: Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8+1) slashing damage.

December 2nd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

December 1: Wait

Over in the OSR Google group, Iacopo Maffi suggested folks create an OSR Christmas calendar. He also suggested a specific theme for each day. Here’s my first day, presented in both 1E and 5E flavors.

In the woods not too far from the village? Strange happenings. Animals are more skittish, and no one has heard birdsong for at least a fortnight. Nights seem darker, colder. Animals are more skittish, and no one has heard birdsong for at least a fortnight. On the nights of the full moon, an impossible metal tower rises among the trees. A monstrous women dwells in the tower. What does she look like? Who knows? We know she’s there. Everyone has heard her hellish screams echoing in the tower’s bulbous superstructure. Those brave enough to approach the tower during the night when the moon is full have heard pounding and scratching, trying to break free. What are we doing about it? We’re farmers and herders. What can we but wait?

Rapunzhel is the tormented revenant of a young woman drowned in a water tower due to a cruel prank perpetrated by several of her classmates in the 1960s in a small town in southern Georgia. The water tower became unmoored from any specific reality, and now it shifts from world to world, seemingly at random. The tower always appears near a rural community of modest size. It remains for several months, but only becomes visible and material during the nights of the full moon. Most nights, Rapunzhel remains trapped in the tower, raging against her fate and her captivity. She always manages to escape, however, and, driven by her mad rage, she fills the night with blood and horror. When dawn breaks after her rampage, she and the tower vanish, shifting to another world.

Rapunzhel is a water-bloated corpse, moist and rotting. Her white hair writhes and flails, twisting and stretching and seeking. Her weeping eyes blaze with feral hatred.

1E Stats
Frequency: Very rare (unique?)
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 5
Move: 15″//15″
Hit Dice: 8
% in Lair: 90%
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 2 + special
Damage/Attack: 1-6/1-6 + special
Special Attacks: Entangle
Special Defenses: See below
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: M (5-1/2′ tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defens Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value: VII/1,075 XP + 10 XP/hp

Rapunzhel attacks with her talons and her wildly flailing hair has grown to impossible lengths in her undeath. Her hair attacks up to 1d4 medium-sized targets within 10 feet. A small-sized target counts as 1/2 a target, and a large-sized target counts as two targets, et cetera. Targets struck by her hair must make a saving throw versus paralyzation or become entangled in a mass of squirming, constricting hair. One per round on its turn, an entangled target may attempt to escape the hair by making a successful bend bars/lift gates check; otherwise, the target takes 1d4 points of damage from constriction. A creature not entangled in hair may use an edged weapon to cut the hair, which is AC 5 and takes 8 hit points to cut through; all hit points must be inflicted by same creature.

Rapunzhel cannot be harmed by nonmagical weapons. Once per round, when she is missed by a melee attack, Rapunzhel may immediately teleport without error to another spot she can see that is no farther than 9″ away. Being undead, she is immune to sleep, charm, poison, and effects that require a living target. She swims quickly and easily, and she has no need to breathe. Rapunzhel can be turned as if she were a vampire.

5E Stats
Medium undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 127 (15d8+60)
Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
Ability Scores STR 18 (+4), DEX 16 (+3), CON 18 (+4), INT 10 (+0), WIS 15 (+2), CHA 13 (+1)
Saving Throws Dex +6, Wis +5
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, poison
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages English
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)


* Multiattack: Rapunzhel makes three attacks: twice with her claws and once with her hair.

* Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage and 7 (2d6) necrotic damage.

* Hair: Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained. Rapunzhel’s hair continues to constrict each grappled target once per round at the end of Rapunzhel’s turn for 1 minute or until the target escapes.


* Defensive Teleport: Once per round, when a creature misses Rapunzhel with a melee attack, Rapunzhel may teleport up to 20 ft. as a reaction, doing so at the end of the turn of the creature that triggered this ability.

December 1st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Oruka

My entry for James Holloway’s first Monster Man contest.


Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 5-20
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12″/15″
Hit Dice: 3+3
% in Lair: Nil
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 1-6
Special Attacks: Slice
Special Defenses: Two-dimensional
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Semi-
Alignment: Neutral
Size: S (1′ diameter)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defens Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value: IV/110+4/hp

Oruka are strange, ring-shaped creatures with dim intelligence that are native to the Astral Plane, but partially exist on the Prime Material Plane at the same time. Their senses extend into both planes simultaneously. They move by rolling or by flying. On the Astral Plane, oruka are maneuverability class A, but on the Prime Material Plane they are much clumsier (maneuverability class E).

Oruka have height and width but no depth. They can make a sideways turn and become invisible, detectable only via true seeing or similar means. In this state, oruka can move (but not attack), passing through the thinnest of spaces as long as the space is wide enough to admit the oruka’s diameter. With another sideways turn, an oruka becomes visible again, and these creatures can make one sideways turn per melee round. When an oruka is turned and invisible, it cannot be affected by any attack that does not also reach into the oruka’s other plane of existence. When visible, oruka suffer triple damage from piercing and slashing weapons.

Oruka attack by slicing through their targets, which are treated as AC 10. Dexterity and magical bonuses modify the target’s AC, but armor itself provides no protection.

Oruka travel in flocks that move about in elliptical paths, searching for food on the Prime Material Plane. These monsters seem to be carnivorous given their aggressive behavior, but exactly how they feed is not clear. Scholars theorize that oruka somehow absorb blood from prey that they slice.

November 21st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Likes, Dislikes, and Craziness

So, my son Christopher is going to, for the first time, take the reins as DM for our twice-monthly Saturday game. He wants to run 5E. If he’d have said this a few months ago, I’d have probably balked, but entirely out of ignorance and a general distate for trying new things that aren’t edible or alcoholic.

In more recent months, however, I’ve had a chance to play 5E, first in Austin at Tribe Comics & Games. (More about this here.) My assessment of 5E after that one game was, “It’s not going to make me rush out and buy 5E books or find a local 5E game to play in. Not really my cup of tea any more.” True to my word, I did not rush out buy any 5E books. I did buy the Player’s Handbook shortly before my second foray into 5E.

Since then, I’ve played 5E a bit more, most recently at the Lone Star Game Expo up near Dallas. My appreciation for 5E has grown. I’m still not really sold on the organized play aspect of 5E, largely for the same reasons that I stopped bothering with Living City and RPGA before they both went belly up. Perhaps I’ll write about those reasons later.

As I just said, my appreciation for 5E has grown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things that I’d like better if they were done differently.

“Like what?” you ask.

Fair enough. How about this? 5E is a step back toward the old school, but it’s not a big enough step in some ways. I still don’t like the one-XP-table for all classes that was introduced with the d20 System. A thief, or rogue, should not require the same XP to advance in levels as does a magic-user, meaning a wizard.

I’m also not a super fan of d20 System multi-classing, where a magic-user/thief would pick which class to advance in each time he earned enough XP to go up a level. I like XP being divided evenly between the classes.

That said, there is one thing I do like about 5E XP advancement, and that is the idea that levels 1 and 2 are sort of like apprentice levels. It takes 300 XP to reach 2nd level, 900 to reach 3rd, and then a big jump to 2,700 XP to reach 4th.

What happens when I drive about 50 miles each day getting to and from work is I have time to think, or more accurately, time to let my mind wander. During one of my mental meanderings, I mused about combining 1E style level advancement (including multi-classing) with 5E. Let’s compare what the rogue and wizard would like using my crazy idea.

Notice that I kept the apprentice levels. Like I said, I like that idea. Then, for 3rd-level XP, I took the maximum XP for 1st-level from 1E, and added that value to 900. Thus, a 1E thief is 1st-level until he 1,250 XP, so 1,250 + 900 = 2,150 XP to reach 4th level. After that, I sort of followed the XP patter from 1E by doubling the previous level. I know the ratios don’t follow this pattern all the way up, but I didn’t feel like doing that much math today. Using this chart, a rogue advances in levels more quickly than a wizard, which I like (and, no, I don’t really care about balancing the classes so that their equal at every level because (A) that’s impossible and (B) that’s not old school).

Now imagine, if you will, an elf rogue/wizard. At 1st level, he’d have the abilities of both classes because he’d be an elf rogue 1/wizard 1. He’d roll HD and average the results to find hit points, be able to use rogue armor and weapons, cast spells, et cetera. He joins an adventuring group. 500 XP later, his single-classed comrades are comfortably 2nd level, but he’s still a rogue 1/wizard 1 because he has to split his XP evenly between his two classes. When he’s earned 5,000 XP in total, he’s a rogue 4/wizard 3 since each class has 2,500 XP applied to it. A single-classed wizard would be 4th-level, and a single-classed rogue would be 5th-level.

Crazy? Probably, but it’s a craziness that I liked in 1E.

November 16th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »