Posts Tagged ‘ A to Z 2014 ’

Z Is for Zoetic

zoetic: (adj.) of or pertaining to life

The Maisha of Dunia have achieved widespread fame for their peaceful ways and medical skill. Dunia itself is slightly smaller than Terra at a distance that gives the world a cold climate. The polar regions are inhospitable to human life, and even the middle latitudes prove uncomfortable much of the year. The Maisha cultivate coniferous vegetation which humans tend to find unpalatable but nutritious. Other agricultural staples include a wide variety of lichens and fungi, many of the latter grown in subterranean farms. Dunia’s population stands in the hundreds of millions, mostly Maishas, but the world does play host to a significant number of off-worlders.

Atmosphere: Breathable mix
Temperature: Cold
Biosphere: Human-miscible
Population: Alien civilization
Tech Level: 4 with specialties
World Tags: Pilgrimage Site, Psionics Academy

Maisha live at a tech level comparable to most of human space, but they excel in the field of medicine, including some medical psitech. The pretech manufactories that produce these wonders are zealously guarded by the Maisha, and Dunian medtech is an enormous source of income for the world and its citizens.

Maishas are insectoids, somewhat resembling humanoid grasshoppers. They have difficulty with human languages. Few humans have learned any of the various Maishan dialects at much more than a basic level, for the human mouth and pharynx cannot adequately produce many of the subtle clicks and chirrups that comprise Maishan phonemes. Maishas are herbivorous, and they tend to find the idea of consuming animal flesh repulsive in the extreme.

Maishan society is matriarchal and oligarchic, and a single religion dominates public and private life. Zoeticism is a deceptively simple faith that emphasizes preserving life and respecting the innate dignity of intelligent species. Due to Zoeticism’s influence, Maishas tend to be pacifists. They reject the use of violence as a means of gaining advantage or in the pursuit of justice. Zoeticism teaches strongly against the rightness of revenge.

The Grand Zoetic Temple in Mji, Dunia’s capital city, attracts visitors from throughout the sector. Many come just to see the site, and the Maishas welcome these interstellar tourists with open arms. A few off-worlders, however, seek enlightenment, hoping to rid themselves of burdens both physical and psychological. The most skilled devotees of Zoeticism, all of whom are Maishas, practice Pona, a semi-psionic discipline that aims at mental, spiritual, and physical perfection through ascetism, meditation, and the martial arts.

Pona is a martial art (as described in the excellent Mandate Archive Collection 2011). Maisha can buy skill levels in Pona as a class skill, while non-Maisha purchase skill levels in Pona at non-class skill point rates. This applies even to non-Maisha warriors.

Weapon Groups: Unarmed only
Level 0 (Novice): The novice can maintain the vital life processes of a mortally wounded creature with a touch. This functions like the biostasis psychic power. A non-psychic adds 2 points to his System Strain when using this ability, regardless of its success. A psychic adds half as much System Strain. Also, the novice’s unarmed strikes inflict 1d4+1 points of damage. This damage is non-lethal and a victim reduced to 0 hit points is either unconscious for 1d4 minutes or helplessly restrained by the martial artist, at the artist’s discretion.
Level 1 (Intermediate): The martial artist becomes resistant to harmful substances, gaining a +2 bonus to all saving throws versus diseases and toxins.
Level 2 (Master): The master’s strikes do 1d8+1 points of damage. This damage is non-lethal and a victim reduced to 0 hit points is either unconscious for 1d4 minutes or helplessly restrained by the martial artist, at the artist’s discretion. The master may perform a nerve strike as an attack, taking a -4 penalty on the roll. If the attack roll succeeds and the victim the fails a Physical Effect saving throw at a penalty equal to the master’s Combat/Pona skill, the victim suffers double non-lethal damage from the attack.

A Maisha’s exoskeleton gives it a natural Armor Class of 7. Otherwise, despite their appearance, they are comparable to humans in most respects. Even the largest Maisha tend to be small by adult human standards. Maisha cannot have a Strength greater than 14 or a Dexterity of less than 14. A Maisha cannot be a warrior.

Normal Maisha
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1/2
Attack Bonus: +0
Damage: 1d2 punch
Skill Bonus: +1
Saving Throw: 15+
Movement: 30 ft.
Morale: 7

Pona Master
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attack Bonus: +3
Damage: 1d8+1 unarmed
Skill Bonus: +3
Saving Throw: 13+
Movement: 30 ft.
Morale: 10

This Pona master is also a psychic. She has mastered levels 1, 2, and 3 of the Biopsionics discipline. She has up to 4 levels in as many as two other disciplines. She uses her mastered powers freely, and she has 11 power points for triggering her other discipline(s).

April 30th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

Y Is for Yappy

yappy: (adj.) inclined to talk foolishly or at length

Most ettins, two-headed giant-like creatures, dwell only in remote areas in underground lairs, for these monsters prefer darkness. They revel in savagery and live at a level barely above the Stone Age. Some, however, have greater than intelligence, and they develop something more like a civilized attitude.

These advanced ettins lack the base savagery of their less intelligent relatives. Many advanced ettins possess skills such as metalworking or agriculture. This is not to say that advanced ettins cannot be cruel, even evil. Sophistication and culture do not preclude moral depravity. Indeed, most advanced ettins cannot be trusted unless dealt with carefully, preferably from a position of strength.

An advanced ettin’s most remarkable trait are his two personalities. Both heads have their own intelligence, name, personality, et cetera. These two heads do not always get along with each other, and they tend to carry on lengthy, often strident conversations with each other. The monster’s left head controls the right side of the ettin’s body, whereas the right head controls the other side.

Even though an advanced ettin has a single body (and corresponding hit point total), it acts as if it were two different creatures. Often, one head focuses on thrown weapons, acting during the Movement and Missile portion of the round. The other head concentrates on melee attacks, or, rarely (10% chance), casts spells. An advanced ettin spellcaster is able to cast 1d4 1st-level Magic-User spells, 1d3 2nd-level Magic-User spells, and 1d2 3rd-level Magic-User spells.

Advanced Ettin
Hit Dice: 10
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Attacks: 1 weapon (2d8) plus 1 weapon (3d6)
Special: Surprised only on a 1, two personalities
Move: 12
Saving Throw: 5
Alignment: Neutrality or Chaos
Number Encountered: 1d3
Challenge Level: 11/1,700 (13/2,300 for spellcaster)

April 29th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

X Is for Xanthic

xanthic: (adj.) of, relating to, or tending toward a yellow color

Here I am, almost through a month of alphabetical adjectives focused on old school gaming. Most of this month’s posts have focused on Swords & Wizardry and Stars Without Number, but every Saturday and Monday have been devoted to various old school games, such as the first editions of Gamma World and Top Secret.

Today, however, I’m going for a newer game from 2009. It might not be old-school old school, but Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria does the pulp-era, sword-and-sorcery genre better than most games out there. The hardback clocks in at about 100 pages of muscle-flexing barbarian goodness. Seriously. Check out Beyond Belief Games. Mr. Washbourne puts out some great products. If you like BoL, you should definitely check out Dicey Tales, which “was created with the goal of giving the fan of the Barbarians of Lemuria (BoL) role playing game a chance to explore a variety of pulp genres while still remaining firmly within the BoL rules set.” Dicey Tales does two-fisted, square-jawed pulp heroes the right way.

But enough of that. Let’s get to a monster.

The Xanthic Monarch serves Morgazzon, the Demon of Madness. For more than a century, rumors have whispered about the Xanthic Monarch’s domain, Vicha’a, a ruined city deep in the Jungles of Qush, perhaps in the foothills of the Mountains of Axos. How reliable these rumors are is highly suspect, for no one who isn’t completely mad claims to have seen Vicha’a’s demon-haunted streets that twist and turn between dimensions.

If the Xanthic Monarch survived the fall of the Sorcerer-Kings, he may truly be immortal, and he certainly commands soul-searing magic. Perhaps even the fables about his xanthic sigil are true, but this seems unlikely, for otherwise the Xanthic Monarch would surely rule from the throne of some major city, surrounded by thousands enslaved to his will by the sigil’s power. In the middle of all of the rumors and tales, many of them contradictory, one fact is certain: xanthic sokwes hunt the region of Qush near where the jungle allegedly hides Vicha’a.

Xanthic Sokwe

A xanthic sokwe resembles a great ape, but its fur is a deep yellow, and its terrifying face twists into demonic expressions of hatred and rage. These monsters are cruel and remarkably strong. Most seem to be little more than savages, but a few exhibit unnerving signs of intelligence. These elite xanthic sokwes merit the strongest caution.

Strength: 6
Agility: 1
Mind: 0

Combat Abilities
Attack: bite +1 (damage d6+1), 2 claws +2 (damage d6)
Defense: 2
Protection: d3 (tough hide)
Lifeblood: 16

For an elite xanthic sokwe, increase Mind to 1 and add Appeal 0. Divide 6 points between Brawl, Melee, Missile, and Defense, with no more than 3 points added to any single category. Divide 2 points between two careers, usually savage, tracker, warrior, druid, or torturer.

April 28th, 2014  in RPG 1 Comment »

W Is for Wiggly

wiggly: (adj.) tending to move or cause to move with jerky movements, esp. from side to side

I know this has been said before by many, but it bears repeating: Star Wars isn’t a very good movie. It has not stood the test of time and, in my case, I feel that is because I’m no longer 10 years old. The subsequent movies only got worse, and the last few were barely watchable to awful. None of the big screen Star Wars movies have been well-written or well-acted. (Of course, even the worst of them is still better than best Transformers movie, but I digress.) I’m firmly convinced they remain marketable because other people are now 10 years old while still other people wish to hang onto that wide-eyed, uncritical age. I don’t fault people for this. If you like Star Wars, good for you. May the Force be with you.

There is, however, one good thing that came out of Stars Wars, and that’s Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game by West End Games that came out in 1987. It uses WEG’s d6 system, and it is a hoot to play, although I never played it much. When I did, my character was an alcoholic failed Jedi who, more than anything, just wanted to be left alone, but since the Empire wouldn’t do that, he crawled out of the bottle to join the Rebellion.

A few years ago, AntiPaladin Games released Mini Six, based on the OpenD6 System. Mini Six is an OGL product, and you can get the PDF for free at this link. That’s pretty awesome.

All of which finally brings me to today’s critter: the dreaded Mongolian death worm, suitable for Mini Six. Keep your eyes on the sand and tread carefully.

Mongolian Death Worm
Scale: 0D
Might: 2D+2
Agility: 4D+1
Wit: 0D
Charm: 1D
Skills: Brawling 3D, Spit Acid 3D (3D damage), Stealth 4D
Special: Target’s bitten by a Mongolian death worm must pass a Moderate Might roll or be poisoned. Poisoned victims suffer 3D damage. Mongolian death worms can burrow through sand at full speed.
Static: Dodge 13, Soak 8

April 26th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

V Is for Veracious

veracious: (adj.) speaking or representing the truth

“Heed my words! The Cerise Queen demands you accept only two dogmas. First, the only sin is failure. Second, everything not forbidden is compulsory. Abide, and the Colony welcomes you. Dissent means rejection and destruction.”

That message, delivered by an intelligent alien species native to Myrmidia to the human colonists of Thessalia II, signaled the beginning of the end. The colonists had come to Myrmidia, attracted by its untouched natural resources and rich soil. Thessalia II thrived almost from the get-go, and the colony grew to include more than 500 families.

The colonists quickly mounted a defense against the Myrmidians. At first, it seemed as if the colonists had little to fear. Their postech armaments proved more than a match for the ant-like aliens. Unfortunately, initial surveys seriously misjudged the size of the Myrmidian population. The surveys also failed to account for the vast psychic powers wielded by Myrmidian queens.

Myrmidian culture, divided into dozens of mutually hostile Colonies, is a telepathic collective. Except for each Colony’s queen, no individual Myrmidian is reckoned of any importance at all. The queen’s will rules over all, and her slightest whim carries the weight of undeniable truth. For Myrmidian workers and warriors, their queen embodies truth. She is incapable of deceit or error, and to disobey the queen is unthinkable. Maybe even literally unthinkable.

Thessalia II fell to the Cerise Queen in a matter of hours once the full force of the Colony was brought to bear. Most of the human colonists died, sliced to pieces by powerful mandibles for food in the birthing caves. The Myrmidians took others captive, adding them to the host of workers.

Atmosphere: Breathable mix
Temperature: Warm
Biosphere: Human-miscible
Population: Alien civilization
Tech Level: 3
World Tags: Tyranny, Warlords

Myrmidian Worker
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 2
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: 1d6 bite
No. Appearing: 10d10
Saving Throw: 14+
Movement: 45 ft.
Morale: 9

Workers appear very much like terrestrial ants, but much larger, growing to lengths of four feet.

Myrmidian Warrior
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4
Attack Bonus: +5
Damage: 1d8 bite/1d6 sting
No. Appearing: 2d10
Saving Throw: 13+
Movement: 30 ft.
Morale: 11

Warriors grow up to twice the size of workers. They attack with oversized mandibles and a venomous sting.

Myrmidian Warrior Venom: Toxicity 8, Interval 10 minutes, Virulence 2, Damage 1d8. The first failed saving throw inflicts no damage but instead paralyzes the victim.

Myrmidian Queen
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 10
Attack Bonus: +8
Damage: 1d10 bite
No. Appearing: 1
Saving Throw: 10+
Movement: 15 ft.
Morale: 10

A Myrmidian queen is larger, tougher, and slower than others of her kind. Each queen is the mother and absolute ruler of all Myrmidians in her colony with a maximum range of a few dozen miles. She is in constant telepathic contact with all of her children. A queen possesses powerful psychic abilities. A typical queen has mastered up to level 8 in Telepathy as well as up to 6 levels divided between two or three other disciplines. Most queens have 5d4+15 power points.

April 25th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »