Posts Tagged ‘ AD&D ’

The Flu Bug

I write this as someone who lost about 36 hour this week to what the doctors claim was the flu, but what I know was actually an invisibile monster.

The Flu Bug
Frequency: Uncommon
No. Appearing: 1 (see below)
Armor Class: 8
Move: 15″/30″
Hit Dice: 1
% in Lair: Nil
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 4
Damage/Attack: 0
Special Attacks: Disease
Special Defenses: See below
Magic Resistance: See below
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral
Size: S (about 1′ diameter)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/X.P. Value: III/61 + 1/hp

The flu bug is a dreaded monster that appears seasonly in many parts of the world. It skulks about, usually airborne, relying on its natural invisibility and amorphous form to squeeze through small spaces in order to infiltrate buildings where people live and work. The worst part about the flu bug is that killing it might make it all the more dangerous.

Since flu bugs are normally invisibile, they gain the advantage of subtracting 4 from “to hit” dice rolls of all opponents unable to detect them. Flu bugs can attack while invisible. They do so striking with their frail-looking arms. These attacks inflict no damage, but the creature struck must make a saving throw versus poison with a -1 penalty per successful attack by the flu bug that round. Failure means the creature contracts a disease. Once a flu bug has infected a victim, the flu bug dies, having fulfilled its purpose. Flu bugs that die this way do not spawn (see below).

Flu bugs can be harmed by normal weapons, but they are immune to most magic. Spells that cure wounds or disease affect flu bugs. A cure wounds spell causes damage to a flu bug equal to the amount the spell would normally cure. A cure disease slays the flu bug immediately (no save), and prevents the flu bug from spawning. Otherwise, when a flu bug is killed, it spawns a number of new flu bugs equal to the original monster’s hit points unless the area in which the flu bug died, including everyone and everything it came into contact with, is thoroughly sanitized. These new flu bugs spawn in 1d4 hours, and gain 1 hit point per hour thereafter until they reach whatever their maximum hit points might be.

The disease caused by the flu bug is debilitating and potentially fatal. Each day for the 3-8 days, the victim suffers these effects:

* A cumulative 10% loss of hit points due to weakness and fatigue.
* The loss of 2 points from both Strength and Constitution due to joint pain, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
* The loss of 1 point of Dexterity due to dizziness.
* Difficulty concentrating due to high fever, imposing a 10% cumulative chance of miscasting spells.

Total bed rest helps mitigate these effects, making it only 50% likely that each will occur each day of the illness. Victims are also highly contagious. Double the normal modifier for “exposure to carrier of communicable disease” (from +10% to +20%, as explained on page 13, Dungeon Masters Guide). A cure disease spell removes the disease from the victim, but does not remove the effects of the disease. Those fade at the same rate by which they accrued.

March 17th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Urticating Hairs!

Inspired by a Facebook post by Joe Pizzirusso in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons group, here comes two special abilities for more scientifically accurate giant spiders. If you want more information about the discovery of a new species of tarantula, check out this NatGeo article. Also, this is not the first time I’ve visited monstrous arachnids. Check out these older posts:

* The Spiders from Mars, monstrous foes for Fate Accelerated Edition.
* Plague of Spiders, a terrifying Third Magnitude spell for Barbarians of Lemuria.
* The Pholcids of Orgimchak, magical spiders for Swords & Wizardry.
* Day 17: My Animal/Vermin for assorted spider facts.

But enough of that. Giant spiders stalk hereafter.

Everyone knows that giant spiders are web builders who construct their webs “horizontally or vertically so as to entrap any creature which touches the web.” Of course, a giant spider’s bite packs a poisonous punch. “A victim must save versus poison or be killed.” All of this is explained on page 90 of the Monster Manual. Go ahead and check. While you’re at it, look at the glorious full page illustration on page 91. See those bristles and hairs on the giant spider fixing to pounce on the unsuspecting adventurers?

Those are urticating hairs, which aren’t really hairs. Instead, they’re bristles covered with microbarbs, and they’re a defensive adaptation. When bothered or angered, a giant spider shakes and scrapes its legs together and across is abdomen. This kicks up a cloud of urticating hairs in a 1/2″ or 1″ radius around the spider (50% chance of either). The cloud lasts for one to three rounds, depending on air conditions (shorter duration in wind or rain, for example).

Creatures other than giant spiders caught in a cloud of urticating hairs must save versus paralyzation. Failure means the creature has inhaled some of the hairs while other hairs have embedded themselves in the creature’s eyes and skin. This is not a good thing as it renders the victim blind and in pain for 1d4+1 turns. The pain part is simulated by suffering 2d4 points of damage per turn unless the victim remains very still.

Rarely, a giant spider’s urticating hairs grow sturdier and sharper. The saving throw against these sorts of urticating hairs is made with a -2 penalty, and the victim suffers the aforesaid effects for 1d6+1 turns. What’s more, a combatant who attacks such a giant spider with a weapon no longer than 2 feet must make a saving throw versus paralyzation if the combatant’s attack roll fails. An attacker who fails this saving throw is jabbed by 1d8 urticating hairs. Each hair inflicts 1 point of damage.

If you add either or both of these abilities to a standard giant spider, adjust the spider’s XP value accordingly. Here’re my recommendations:

Standard Giant Spider Level/XP Value: V/315+5/hp
With Urticating Hair Cloud: +75 XP
With Sturdier Urticating Hairs: +40 XP

July 2nd, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Even More Monsters

Today offers three more monsters, one each for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Mutant Future, and Swords & Wizardry, respectively. Enjoy!


Not all halflings are “hard-working, orderly, and peaceful citizens”. A few embrace lives of sloth, disorder, and violence. These aberrations seldom last long in the typically lawful and good villages of their fellow halflings. Exile or even execution for their crimes are the most common consequences. Very rarely, such a wicked halfling returns from the grave as a dringwr, a terrible undead monster that loves nothing except for inflicting pain and causing sorrow. Of course, a dringwr prefers to prey on halflings, but its spiteful nature delights in harming any living creature that it can. A dringwr can summon and control dogs, calling 3-18 such animals to arrive in 2-12 melee rounds. It also moves with great stealth, surprising other creatures 4 times in 6. A dringwr cannot be harmed by normal weapons, and it makes all saving throws as if it had 6 Hit Dice. In combat, it attacks with its talons and fangs.

Of grayish-green complexion, a dringwr tends toward rust-red or black hair coloration. Its eyes are solid white. It dresses in drab trousers and coat, and often uses a hooded cloak to hide its obvious undead appearance. Short, ragged fangs line its gums, and its fingernails and toenails hook like talons. A dringwr speaks whatever languages it knew in life.

Dringwr: Freq very rare; # App. 1-6; AC 5; Move 9″; HD 2; % in Lair 35%; Treasure B; # Atk 3; Dmg/Atk 1-3/1-3/1-4; SA summon/control dogs, surprise others 4 in 6; SD +1 or better weapon to hit, save as 6-HD monster; MR standard; Int Very; AL CE; Size S; Psi nil; Lvl/XP III/52 +2/hp.


Eight-legged with a flat tail, growing to the length of a man’s arm, fleshy with a rippled and leathery back, its blunt head featuring antennae and multiple small black eyes, the horrid demodex attacks with its spiked, oval mandibles. This mutant monster feeds on skin and sebum, the oily or waxy matter secreted to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair of mammals.

Demodexes are aggressive and voracious. They use their remarkable olfactory abilities to detect and track mammals, which are their preferred prey given the demodex’s unusual diet. A demodex’s attacks can cause an allergic infection in mammals. Such a victim has a 2% cumulative chance per point of damage suffered from a demodex to develop such an infection. Treat allergic infection as a disease with the following statistics: save modifier -1; infection duration 1d12 days; affected stats DEX -2, CHA -1 (if visible); damage/day 1d4.

Demodex: # Enc. 2d4; AL N; MV 120′ (40′); AC 6; HD 2; Atks 5 (4 claws, bite); Dmg 1d4/1d4/1d4/1d4/1d6; SV L1; Morale 7; Hoard None; XP 38; Mutations Allergic Infection, Increased Smell.


Skacinas are brutish humanoids with a thick, wrinkled hide. A peaked, heavy plate of bone tops a skacina’s heavy skull, which is supported by powerful neck and shoulder muscles. These creatures live in rugged hills and mountains, and make their lairs in natural caves or abandoned structures built by others. Skacinas practice only the crudest of crafts, making simple tools from hide, bone, wood, and stone. While they are not particularly intelligent, skacinas are territorial and prone to violence.

For some reason, skacinas are immune to petrification. Some sages conclude that these monsters have a distant origin on the Elemental Plane of Earth. This theory seems to gain support due to the fact that skacinas often kill captured trespassers by crushing them beneath large rocks or by burying the captives alive.

Skacina: HD 3; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 head butt (1d4) and weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; AL C; CL/XP 3/60; Special: immune to petrification.

June 15th, 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 »

Going Beyond the Wall

In case you missed the announcements on G+ and Facebook, I’ve a few new, free PDFs of content for 1E AD&D ensconced in my Google Drive. Enjoy!

The Abbey of St. Martin: A short adventure.
AD&D Monsters: Alp to Xana: A dozen new monsters.
AD&D Monsters: Apsara to Zebez. Three dozen new monsters.
The Bard: Alternate class for 1E AD&D.
The Recondite Frontier: Campaign region.
Sveti Gardarkena: Another campaign region.

I’m starting a 1E AD&D campaign on 10 January. As part of character creation, I put together these house rules, and also purchased Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (abbreviated BTW hereafter) and Further Afield by Flatland Games solely because I’d heard good things about that system’s character creation process.

Going Beyond the Wall

During this Christmas season, I hosted a dinner-and-gaming night featuring spaghetti and BTW. I’d prepped by printing out a blank village map, a spooky scenario pack (from the free Across the Veil addon), four character sheets, and a list of playbooks (click here for a sample playbook).

Nota Bene: As you explore BTW products, you’ll quickly notice that most of them are free. Flatland Games sells the rulebook and rulebook expansion (linked two paragraphs above), and then offers playbooks, scenario packs, et cetera, for free. Nifty!

BTW Character Creation

We started with character creation. Each player picked a playbook from the list, and then I printed only those playbooks. The soon-to-be created party of adventurers included a halfling outrider, a landless noble, an elven highborn, and a student of the dark arts. Next up, the players made up their PCs. Character creation was a snap. The only confusion came from players not reading their playbooks carefully.

Each playbook (and there are more than 30 published by Flatland Games) follows the same format. A playbook starts by giving some background information for the character being created. For example, the Assistant Beast Keeper playbook starts with, “The old witch in the village took a liking to you when you were still young, and you now keep her animals for her. While what you do may seem inconsequential, the witch seems to consider you to be vitally important, and favors you above all others. You dream of a more exciting life.” The playbook then tells the player what his character’s starting ability scores are. These ability scores are the very familiar Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

After this, the player rolls the appropriate die on each chart to answer a question about this character. These questions cover childhood, known non-player characters, background events, and so forth. Each roll modifies ability scores, perhaps gives a skill or class ability, and so on. With a bit more than a half dozen rolls, the players end up with 1st- or 2nd-level characters (some playbooks lead to more experienced starting characters) complete with basic backgrounds, skills, spells (where applicable), starting equipment, et cetera. All of the characters know each other, and each has even shared some sort of life-changing experience with another character.

BTW offers three character classes: warrior, mage, and rogue. Each playbook feeds into a particular class or multi-class. For example, the Village Bear above creates a warrior-rogue. Three classes seem a bit limited, but the inclusion of multi-class options widens the field, and the playbooks do a good job and making sure no two warriors (for example) are the same. This really hits the Old-School groove well. In AD&D, what made two fighters different from each other wasn’t their class abilities, but instead was the backgrounds and personalities created by the players.

Based on my one game session, BTW’s best feature is character creation. Hands down. No contest. I fully intend on using BTW playbooks (with some minor tweaking) for character creation with my upcoming AD&D campaign.

Let’s Make a Village

After this, we put together a quick map for the Village of Lambsheim. Character creation includes village creation. Playbook prompt players to add elements to the village map. These elements focus on both non-player characters and locations. With our table of four players, Lambsheim started as a mostly blank piece of paper and grew into a village with eight important locations and eight important non-player characters.

All-in-all, character and village creation took about an hour. We ended up with four developed heroes and a pretty good idea about the heroes’ village, to include some village history that was at least implied by the results from the playbooks.

The Call to Adventure

While the players did their thing, I perused The Opened Veil Scenario Pack. BTW bills itself as offering something other OSR games do not, namely the “tools to play the game almost immediately and with little prep” (to quote the main rulebook). The books elaborates, “Using special Character Playbooks and Scenario Packs, a group of players with a single gamemaster should be able to play the game with absolutely zero prep in about three to five hours, from making characters to tasting a glorious success or a bitter defeat.” Our game session found this to be accurate, but with a caveat about the Scenario Pack. BTW requires little prep so long as someone else has done the prep required for a Scenario Pack.

Nota Bene: Even if the gamemaster does have to put together his own Scenario Pack, the format for such is less work intensive than, say, writing a standard adventure. (For example.) A Scenario Pack also requires far less reading than a standard adventure, and each Scenario Pack lends itself well to a more improv style of play that has built in hooks to get the players motivated.

Back to our session. As necessary details, such as nonplayer character names, emerged from the use of playbooks, I filled in the blanks in the Scenario Pack. Once my tables were completed, a few rolls of the dice generated the specifics of the adventure we would play. I had the hook, the source of the problem, the nature of the problem, and hints about complications and solutions. The Scenario Pack even included some player-generated recent events. Ready to go, we started the game in the inn (of course!).

The scenario played out as a combination of undead street fighting, a haunted jail mystery, a town drunk with looted coins, a betrayal between noble families going back two generations, several watchful spirits, a pack of zombies in the barrows, and a short but brutal fight against an ambitious wight.

The Short of It

All in all, the players had a good time. Everyone agreed that the character generation system was the highlight of the game. Kerry, who played the student of the dark arts, complimented the magic system’s distinction between spells, cantrips, and rituals (although rituals did not come up during play). The game’s systems for combat, skills, and saving throws are easy to grasp and should be at least almost instantly familiar to anyone who has played OSR-style games (or the original games that inspired them).

BTW’s system for cantrips, which work as regular spells but require an ability score check to avoid negative consequences, has found its way into my AD&D house rules. So too has the skill system. The rules expansion, Further Afield, includes rules for starting a “player-driven campaign” that is a “shared sandbox.” I’ve skimmed these rules. I like them, and they too will find their way into my AD&D campaign.

In short, the campaign creation rules are like a larger-scale version of the village creation process, but with the added wrinkle that elements added by the players to the world function as bits of character knowledge subject to degrees of inaccuracy. Just because a player’s gifted dilettante rogue-mage thinks there is a ghost-haunted tower near the foothills a few days to the north doesn’t mean that character’s knowledge about the tower or its location is entirely accurate. Degree of accuracy is determined by an ability score check using either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma (depending on how the character acquired the knowledge).

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a great game. Our playtest included good times, good food, and I spent more time cooking than I did prepping for the game.

December 31st, 2015  in RPG 3 Comments »