Posts Tagged ‘ Swords & Wizardry ’

Koschei the Deathless

In my last post, I introduced Buyan, a magical island found in Slavic and Russian folktales and myths. Today, we meet Koschei the Deathless. If you’d like to read a tale featuring this villain, here’s a link to a PDF of “The Death of Koschei the Deathless” taken from The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.

So tall he towers over the tallest men, emaciated yet vigorous, unkempt hair and beard grown into ragged and long strands, completely naked. Koschei the Deathless, sorceror and kidnapper, lives in a decaying fortress lost within a rugged highland forest. From this lair, Koschei rides out mounted on his remarkable steed, one of Baba Yaga’s magical horses given to Koschei by that monstrous witch. Koschei abducts women, especially the wives of aristocrats. He locks them up in his fortress’s dungeons, guarded by frost giants and winter wolves, often for no reason other than to enjoy slaughtering those who come to rescue the ladies.

Only Koschei’s deathlessness overshadows his legendary wrath and cruelty. In ages past, Koschei took his soul and hid it within a needle. He put the needle inside an egg. A duck carries this egg in its body, and, in turn, a white-furred hare holds within its body the duck. Koschei locked the hare inside a sturdy chest constructed from iron, crystal, and gold. He buried the chest beneath the roots of an oak tree that grows in Buyan’s forested wilderness. As long as Koschei’s soul remains protected, Koschei cannot die. No force mundane or magical can kill him.

Anyone fortunate enough to locate the oak tree, dig up the chest, and open the container must still contend with the hare, which then races away, seeking to evade capture. If pursuers catch and kill the hare, the duck bursts forth and flies away. Should the duck be caught and killed, the hunter can extract the egg and use it to control Koschei, who sickens and loses his great strength and his sorcerous powers. Cracking the egg open to get the needle breaks this control and restores Koschei’s might, but breaking the needle instantly slays the villain.

Koschei’s steed, which he addresses only with various insults such as “jade” and “nag”, has magical powers. It gallops faster than any mortal horse, and it speaks several languages. It tracks victims for Koschei with its remarkable sense of smell, and no one has ever thrown the horse off their trail. Koschei also possesses at least one amazing magic item, a normal-seeming handkerchief which, when waved three times, transforms into a strong bridge long enough to span any river or chasm. Once Koschei crosses the bridge, it reverts to a handkerchief.

This link takes you to a PDF containing game stats for Koschei the Deathless, making this miscreant usable for Dungeon World, Fate Accelerated Edition, Mini Six Bare Bones Edition, and Swords & Wizardy. Koschei’s stats for Barbarians of Lemuria appear below. Huzzah.

Koschei the Deathless
Attributes: Strength 4, Agility 0, Mind 3, Appeal 0; Brawl 2, Melee 3, Missile 2, Defence 0
Careers: Gaoler 2, Hunter 1, Scholar 1, Sorcerer 3
Lifeblood: 12
Protection: 0 (no armor)
Weapons: Scimitar d6+6
Special: Koschei is deathless as long as his needle is intact. He ignores all damage to Lifeblood.

Koschei’s Horse
Attributes: Strength 3, Agility 1, Mind 2
Offence: Attack with hooves +2; d6 damage
Defence: 2
Protection: d3-1 (tough hide)
Lifeblood: 20
Special: Koschei’s horse speaks several languages. Its swiftness is legendary. It can accurately track a target via scent.

July 26th, 2015  in Product Development, RPG 2 Comments »

Vodyanoi & Rusalki

From the waist up, a vodyanoy appears as a naked old man, but its frog-like face, tangled greenish hair, and covering of algae and muck over fish scales surely prevents anyone from mistaking this creature for human. What’s more, it has not hands but instead webbed paws, and in place of its legs extends a powerful fish’s tail. A vodyanoy’s eyes burn like red-hot coals.

When not swimming, it usually rides along its river on a half-sunken log, making loud splashes. When angered, a vodyanoy breaks dams, destroys water mills, and drowns both people and animals alike. Consequently, those who live along the banks of a vodyanoy’s river make sacrifices to appease the monster. Vodyanoi also drag down people to their underwater dwellings to serve as slaves.

For Barbarians of Lemuria

Attributes: Strength 4, Agility 0, Mind 1

Combat Abilities: 2 claws +1, damage d6-1; Defence 1; Protection d3-1 (scales); Lifeblood 10

Special: Vodyanoi breathe water as well as air. Against man-made structures, vodyanoi can exert enormous destructive power, comparable in many ways to the effects of a catapult.

For Dungeon World

Group, Hoarder, Intelligent
Claws (d8+2 damage, forceful)
6 HP
2 Armor
Close
Special Qualities: Amphibious
Instinct: To dominate its territory

* Destroy a man-made structure
* Drag victim to the bottom
* Swim silently and swiftly

For Swords & Wizardry

HD 4+1; AC 5 (14); Atks 2 claws (1d6); SV 13; Special breathe water, destroy man-made structure; MV 6 (Swim 12); AL C; CL/XP 5/240

The rusalka, an unquiet undead monster, was in life a young woman who either committed suicide by drowning due to an unhappy marriage or who was murdered by drowning, especially after becoming pregnant with an unwanted child. A rusalka must suffer its tortured existence in or near the body of water in which it both died and was reborn.

This undead creature is not invariably malevolent, for it may die in peace if its death is avenged. Nevertheless, a rusalka’s main activity is far from benign. It seduces by either by looks or by voice young men, who the monster then leads into the depths of its waterway. Therein, the rusalka entangles its victim with her long red hair and submerges, dragging the would-be lover to his death.

For Barbarians of Lemuria

Attributes: Strength 2, Agility 2, Mind 2

Combat Abilities: grappling hair +2, damage d3; Defence 2; Protection d4-1 (lacks any vulnerable organs); Lifeblood 10

Special: Rusalki appear as beautiful, red-haired maidens to mask their true, more horrific appearance. If engaged in seductive efforts against a male hero, the hero must attempt a Hard Mind action to avoid being charmed by the monster.

For Dungeon World

Devious, Group, Intelligent
Entangling hair (d4 damage)
10 HP
0 Armor
Close, Reach
Special Qualities: Undead
Instinct: To kill young men

* Appear beautiful
* Ensare in its entangling hair
* Inflame the passions

For Swords & Wizardry

HD 8; AC 3 (16); Atks Entangling hair (1d3 then constrict); SV 8; Special appear human, charm male, constrict (1d6), undead; MV 9 (Swim 9); AL C; CL/XP 11/1,700

June 3rd, 2015  in RPG 2 Comments »

Bosch-Inspired Monsters

Yndspeers appear as a bizarre avian-like humanoid roughly the size of a dwarf. A yndspeer is devoid of feathers except for a crest on its head and a tuft growing downward from its abdomen. Rather than wings, a yndspeer has stubby arms and hands. Males also sport wickedly sharp, upward curving barbs on their legs half way between the knee and ankle. These creatures cannot fly, but move rapidly along with a herky-jerky gait. Despite their somewhat comical appears, yndspeers are mischievous and cruel.

HD 1+1; AC 7 (12); Atks barbed spear (1d6); SV 18; Special spears lodge in victim (save negates); MV 12; AL C; CL/XP 2/30

The lyuwvis — a bizarre hybrid of frog, lion, and fish — hunts coastal marshlands. In the water, it swims sluggishly; on land, it hops about on its legs or else scoots through muck and mud on its belly. What the lyuwvis lacks in grace, it makes up for in strength and tenacity. This monster grows to the size of a large hound, and its powerful jaws inflict terrible wounds. The lyuwvis spits a noxious mixture of mud, saliva, and mucous before it attacks. Those struck by this foul substance find their reflexes impeded (as a Slow spell; save negates).

HD 3+2; AC 5 (14); Atks bite (1d6+2); SV 14; Special noxious spit; MV 6 (Swim 6); AL N; CL/XP 4/120

May 31st, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

A Great Cause & Little Baby Sings

Did you know that you can buy both Erik Jensen’s Bonespur Glacier and Jason Paul McCartan’s The Tomb of Bashyr as an OSRIC game system, double-feature module? Well, you do now.

Best of all, this double-feature module helps fund a worthwhile charitable effort: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This link takes you the pay-what-you-want version. There’s also this $4.99 version. I’ve purchased my copy, and you should too. It’s a great pair of adventures written for a great game that help support a great organization.

And now, a new magic item!

Little Baby Sings

This strange toy, cast from metal into the shape of a crawling infant and painted with bright colors, features eight oblong buttons on one side. The first seven buttons are numbered; the last is labeled with a musical note.

The toy’s holder can press a numbered button and then the musical note button to produce a magical effect. The exact effects vary as it seems as if no two of these items are identical.

Possibilities could include such effects as these:

1. A single humanoid creature of 4 or fewer Hit Dice within 30 feet is dazed and loses its next action.

2. For one round, the use can make a rope move as commanded.

3. A single creature of 5 or fewer Hit Dice suffer from severe fear for 1d4 rounds.

4. An illusionary duplicate of the holder appears and lasts for 1d4 rounds. The duplicate mimics the holder’s actions.

5. Secret doors within 30 feet are revealed.

6. For the next minute, the holder can walk across water or other similiar substances as if they were solid ground.

7. Ignite a flammable object within 30 feet.

May 23rd, 2015  in RPG No Comments »

X is for X-tra Time

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(See what I did there?)

Took advantage of some extra time this morning while my students were in computer to start writing Unenägu. First step: Start to clarify how these new rules differ from that on which they are based. Here’s a sample:

Unenägu, like Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, requires two sets of players who differ in kind. The first is the Referee, and the second are the Players. The bulk of the first part of what follows aims primarily at the Players, who each must create a Player Character (PC), who becomes one of the characters in the shared story played out at the table during a game session.

What’s the Same?
If you’re reading these words, I’m assuming you have your own copy of Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. You’ll need to refer to it. Unenägu doesn’t repeat information from Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox any more than necessary. For example, you’ll not find much in the way of items and equipment in what follows. Those guidelines are in Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, and I didn’t feel the need to retype them. Still, I do want to point out briefly what Unenägu doesn’t change, so here goes.

Rule Number One is still rule number one. This is your game now. Feel free to change it, add to it, subtract from it, et cetera. One of the beautiful things about old-school games is that they are about rulings not rules. This is especially important for the Referee. When something happens in the game that the rules don’t cover, make a ruling and move on.

Unenägu also uses all the same dice as Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. Attribute scores remain the same, and experience point (XP) calculations are unchanged. Likewise, hit points, starting gold, and alignment remain the same (unless, of course, you want to change them).

What’s more, the three basic character classes — the Cleric, the Fighter, and the Magic-User — work in Unenägu just like they do in Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox. So, too, do Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings.

What’s Different?
Unenägu adds new class options related to PCs who are Visitors, those special children who have left behind the real world and entered the Realm of Dream. As Visitors, these children are aware that they now live in a dream, and they can manipulate reality, which, in game terms, is reflected in the use of Oneiric Points.

In addition to Humans, Dwaves, Elves, and Halflings, PCs who are not Visitors may be Talking Animals. The fables and fairy tales from which Unenägu draws inspiration often include animals with human intelligence and characteristics. Some Talking Animals appear very much like normal animals, while others are more anthropomorphic (such as Puss-in-Boots).

Lastly, a few non-Visitors PCs who have exceptionally high ability scores (14+) may perform Legendary Feats. A Fighter with an exceptional Strength might be able to twist iron chains asunder, whereas a Halfling with an exceptional Dexterity may be able to race up a wall.

April 28th, 2015  in Product Development 1 Comment »