Posts Tagged ‘ AD&D ’

Magical Enervation & Invigoration

Recently, Matt Jackson had a thought about magic in Old School games. “If magic is to be powerful, magic should be dangerous, have consequences, and not always just be perfect,” Jackson wrote. Seems reasonable to me. Then, for some reason, I thought of Fate Dice. If you’re not familiar with Fate Dice, they’re like normal dice, but instead of numbers, their sides are either blank (equal to zero) or else are marked by a plus sign (equal to +1) or a minus sign (equal to -1).

When playing Fate (which you should do at least a few times because it’s a hoot), you roll four Fate Dice (4DF) and total the sides. About 23% of the time, you’ll end up with a zero. About 20% of the time, you end up with a +1, and another 20% of the time you get a -1. You end up with a +2 or -2 about 12% of the time, respectively; +3 or -3 about 5% of time, respectively; and +4 or -4 about 1% of the time.

Enough explanation. Back to Matt Jackson’s observation about magic. Imagine, if you will, a spellcaster, Zot the Wondrous, a 4th-level magic-user.

Confronted by charging lizardmen in a dark, humid cavern, Zot casts web. Zot’s web normally has a range of 2″ and lasts for 8 turns. Zot’s player picks a center point for the spell, hoping it ends up in the middle of the lizardmen. He then rolls 4DF, and gets a -1 total. The web goes into effect as if Zot was a 3rd-level magic-user. The caster’s desired center point for the spell ends up 1/2″ closer than expected, and the web lasts for 6 turns instead of 8. Later, Zot casts magic missile at a gelatinous cube. The player rolls 4DF, and gets a +2. Zot’s magic missile goes into effect as he were a 6th-level magic-user, which means he fires three missiles instead of two.

These increases or decreases to effective casting level can change the odds of the caster overcoming magic resistance. Normally, Zot’s caster level boosts a magically resistant monster’s magic resistance by 35%. If he had cast magic missile at a creature with magic resistance instead of a gelatinous cube, the monster’s magic resistance would have been boosted by only 25% instead of 35% because of the +2 increase to Zot’s caster level. What’s more, increases or decreases to caster level also change the spell’s effective level. In other words, Zot’s web against the gnolls would be treated as 1st-level spell and his magic missile against the cube would have been equal to a 3rd-level spell (a level of spell Zot would not normally be able to cast as a 4th-level magic-user).

Magical Enervation

When Zot’s spells take effect at a lower casting level, it is because of magical enervation. The ebb and flow of magical energies is somewhat unpredictable, and spells often end up at least slightly weaker. If a spell’s adjusted spell level ever equals zero or lower, then the caster does not lose memorization of the spell. For example, if Zot’s web had gone into effect as a 0-level spell, Zot would have not lost memorization of web after casting.

Magical Invigoration

When a spell takes effect at a higher level than normal, the caster experiences magical invigoration. Furthermore, if the spell’s effective level increases to a level the caster cannot normally access (as happened to Zot when he cast that magic missile), the caster must make a saving throw versus spell to avoid being stunned a number of rounds equal to the number of levels of increase applied to the spell. Thus, Zot would have to make that saving throw versus spell to avoid being stunned. If he makes the saving throw, Zot isn’t stunned, and he loses memorization of magic missile as normal. If Zot fails the save, he is stunned for two rounds, but the surge of magical energies burns the spell back into his memory; therefore, Zot does not lose memorization of magic missile.

July 9th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Teeth in the Darkness

First, some news: I’ve released the playtest version of The Grimm’s Fairy Hack via DriveThruRPG. It’s listed as Pay What You Want with a suggested price of $2. Of course, as a purchaser (even if you choose to purchase the game for free), you’ll automatically receive updates to TGFH, to include the final, for-sale version. In TGFH, a based on The Black Hack roleplaying game, the players take on the roles of children from our real world who find themselves lost in a dangerous, magical realm. These playtest rules include all the information you need to get started exploring your own versions of grim tales.

And now a monster inspired by an entertaining film starring Finn and half of Firestorm.

Teeth in the Darkness
Frequency: Very rare
No. Appearing: 5-30
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12″
Hit Dice: 2-5
% in Lair: 35%
Treasure Type: O, P, R
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-4/1-4/1-6
Special Attacks: Add 1/2 HD to damage rolls
Special Defenses: See below
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low to Average
Alignment: Neutral evil
Size: S to M (2′ to 5′ at the shoulder)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/X.P. Value: 60+2/hp (2 HD); 110+3/hp (3 HD); 185+4/hp (4 HD); 290+5/hp (5 HD)

Found in caverns and ancient forests, the teeth in the darkness are intelligent predators that run in packs, hunting much like wolves. These creatures lope about most of the time on all fours, and they are skilled climbers but do not swim well. Their forelegs are longer than their rear legs, giving them an appearance somewhat like an gorilla. The teeth in the darkness have no eyes (and are consequently immune to attacks and illusions that affect the sense of sight). They have highly developed olfactory senses as well a form of echolocation that uses clicks, grunts, snarls, and surprisingly human-like screams; some of the teeth in the darkness’s vocalizations cannot be detected by normal hearing. The teeth in the darkness use these same sounds to communicate with each other. Due to their unusual senses, the teeth in the darkness are surprised only a on 1 (in 6), and they track prey by scent like a bloodhound.

In the dimly lit and shadowy conditions, these monsters are almost impossible to see as long as they keep their mouths closed to conceal their bioluminescent fangs. They move silently with cunning. In the dark when they cannot be seen, they surprise foes 5 in 6 times. Even in lighted conditions, they still surprise foes 3 in 6 times due to their stealth. The size of these monsters (and HD) varies with age and sex. Males are generally larger when fully grown. Regardless of size, they are quite strong. Add one-half the monster’s HD (round up) to damage rolls with its bear-like claws and glowing fangs. Their fur is blacker than black, and it does not reflect light. This makes it difficult to accurately judge their position at distances farther than 15 feet, especially when they are moving; this trait imposes a -4 penalty on “to-hit” rolls with ranged attacks.

July 4th, 2017  in RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

Ledpauks & Rojîyans

Ledpauks are monstrous spiders that are difficult to immediately distinguish from the more common web-building giant spider. In combat, however, the differences between giant spiders and ledpauks become evident, revealing why the later are the more dangerous monster. Ledpauks are immune to fire, even magical fire such as a fireball. The bite of a ledpauk is poisonous. A victim must save versus poison or be killed. Ledpauks spin their sticky webs horizontally or vertically so as to entrap any creature which touches them. The web is as tough and clinging as a web spell. Any creature with 18 or greater strength con break free in 1 melee round, a 17 strength requires 2 melee rounds, etc. Webs spun by ledpauks are are invulnerable to fire. Worse still, these webs grow instantaneously upon contact with fire. If a torch, flaming oil, or a fireball contacts the webs, they row 2,4, or 8 times their size as they “feed” on the heat.

Ledpauk
Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1-4
Armor Class: 4
Move: 3″*12″
Hit Dice: 4+4
% in Lair: 70%
Treasure Type: C
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 3-9
Special Attacks: See below
Special Defenses: Immune to fire
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Any evil
Size: L
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/X.P. Value: V/320 + 5/hp

The link at the top of the next stat block takes you to another excellent illustration by Domenico Neziti.

Rojîyan
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Claw (1d6)
Special: See below
Move: 15
Save: 15
HDE/XP: 6/400

Rojîyans are embodied spirits sent to punish sinners. Each rojîyan is attuned to a particular sort of sin, such as one of the seven deadly. A rojîyans can always detect such a sinner out to a range of 120 feet. These monsters are immune to all non-magical weapons. Against sinners to which they are attuned to punish, rojîyans drain 1 level per hit, and they take only one-half damage from the sinner’s attacks. Rojîyans are immune to sleep, charm, and hold effects.

April 3rd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

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 »