They Who Want In

The provenance of They Who Want In, a cursed painting depicting a slightly grotesque doll and an expressionless boy standing in front of a door composed largely of glass panes, has long been a mystery. Unconfirmed reports say an obscure artist named Gaspar Laurence painted the image. Laurence can neither confirm nor deny these reports as he died after a massive stroke while an inmate at the Binkley Asylum for the Criminally Insane in the late summer of 1963. The painting hung for a time in the swank apartments of actor Bradford Hughes. Hollywood legend has long claimed the painting inspired Rod Serling to create Night Gallery, which aired for four years on NBC. (“The Cemetary”, part of Night Gallery‘s pilot, featured a frightening painting that possesses characteristics attributed to They Who Want In.)

When Hughes committed suicide in 1976, the painting appears to have vanished. It was next reported in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Feldman, who claim to have found the painting in an antique shop while on vacation. They purchased the painting as a gift for Alice Feldman, their ten-year-old daughter. Little needs to be said about the horrific murder-suicide at the hands of Mr. Feldman followed by the arson that destroyed most of the Feldman home but somehow left the painting intact. The case is quite famous, and it has been thoroughly documented by no fewer than three authors.

Resourceful investigators may discover that Gaspar Laurence was born Gaspar Peruggio. He emigrated to the United States from Florence, Italy, shortly after World War II, changing his name in order to break from his past as a Nazi collaborator and dealer in stolen art and artifacts. He was also an avid occultist who had extensively studied several tomes related to the Mythos. In one of these tomes, Laurence learned dark secrets that enabled him to paint portals leading to and from realms of madness and despair. They Who Want In is one such painting.

At night, the painting draws on the psychic energies of those in its proximity. It stores some of this energy, and uses the remainder to create potentially terrifying effects. Anyone who spends more than an hour near the painting must make a POW versus POW struggle. The painting has 18 POW. If the victim fails this struggle, he loses 1 point of POW, which the painting converts to a Magic Point, and the victim must then make a SAN roll. SAN loss from this effect equals 0/1d4.

When the painting has accumulated 3 Magic Points, its deadlier effects begin to manifest. Those in proximity to the risk POW loss every 2d6 hours. The painting also spends Magic Points, always at night. The painting’s powers and their Magic Point cost are summarized below.

1 Magic Point: Cause a figure in the painting to move. Anyone viewing this risks 1/1d4 points of SAN.

2 Magic Points: Cause several figures in the painting to move and make noise. Anyone experience this risks 1/1d6 SAN.

3 Magic Points: Cause either the doll or the boy to leave the painting and assume corporeal form. Anyone encountering either creature risks 0/1d4 SAN, unless they know the creature’s origin, in which case they risk 1/1d6 SAN. Treat either creature as a ghoul. If killed, the figure reappears in the painting.

3 Magic Points: Become immune to fire and slashing damage until the sun rises.

5 Magic Points: Teleport itself to a different location. Stories say that at least once the painting has used this power to return to torment its owner after the owner had tossed the painting in a river.

December 3rd, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

Cro’s Breath of Life

This month, I want to try to write and post a series based on the theme of sinister gifts. Speaking of gifts, I couldn’t help jumping into Erik Tenkar’s big bag of OSR goodies. Spes Magna Games is contributing the following gifts to the 12 Days of OSR Christmas:

1. A complete collection of all Spes Magna Games OSR OGL PDFs.

2. Dead-tree copies of A Guide to the Astral Plane and The Glory of Rome Campaign Sourcebook, two classic TSR tomes.

And now, the first of this month’s thematic posts.

When speaking of the Havoc, those four Deities of Chaos, few dispute seriously that Cro† is most to be feared (as well as trusted, Cro’s faithful would add). Those who serve Cro well may receive special gifts from the Lord of Contraries. Perhaps the most dreaded (and desired) of these gifts is the Breath of Life. When you breathe into the lungs of someone you’ve recently killed, they return to life. Roll+CHA. *On a 10+, choose 2. *On 7-9, choose 1.

* Your victim doesn’t remember the minutes leading up to their death.
* Your victim doesn’t return to life immediately.
* Your victim’s personality isn’t damaged.

Cro, the God of Truth, Chaos, and Opposites. Cro always speaks the truth. Cro always lies. Cro stands firm against what is evil. Cro revels in evil, his hands stained with innocent blood. Cro is all things, and all things are Cro.

December 1st, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

Three New Enchantments

It’s been a while since I’d updated my little site here. I’d went from 17 August all the way through 23 November without a single post. That might be a personal best for website neglect. So, to try to make up for my shocking lack of concern for the Internet, here’s my fifth post since and including Monday. Today, I revisit Christopher Pound’s wonderful random Vancian spell names for three new spells, one each for three different game systems.

Pieritz’s Aqueous Apprehension for Barbarians of Lemuria

Pieritz, Grand Sorcerer and Dread Suzerain, grew tired of those who objected to his heavy hand as a ruler, secure in his belief that his lessers could not fathom his methods and motivations, which surely meant they lacked any standing to criticize Pieritz’s decisions. So, he drew down from cold stars a powerful enchantment, and wove this magic into the sands of the beaches of an archipelago off the coast of his realm. These rugged islands, covered with rocky ground and thorny scrub, became places of exile that need no guards. Once a visitor’s foot touches any of the ensorcelled beaches, Pieritz’s Aqueous Apprehension wriggles in, creating a dread of water that grows stronger in direct proportion to the amount of water the victim faces. Two hands cupped to dip into one of the scummy pools that dot the islands? A tightness in the gut and a slight tremor of the jaw. Faced with the expanse of sea surrounding the island? Screaming terror so great that perhaps clawing out one’s own eyes to never encounter such a fearful sight again.

Magnitude: Third
Cost: 15
Requirements: The Stars ARE Right
Minimum Cost: 11
Difficulty: Demanding (-6)

Eznin’s Spell of Irrepressible Gall for Dungeon World

Eznin, a wizard who bristled at the conventions of polite society, crafted this annoying little spell to create scandal and strife in the Summer Queen’s court. It worked like a charm, leading to one divorce, two duels, and an arrest warrant insisting on Eznin’s immediate imprisonment beneath the infamous Three-Walled Tower.

Level: Wizard 1, Enchantment, Ongoing

The person (not beast or monster) you touch while casting this spell has the gall to say the most inappropriate, offensive things. This spell lasts until the target is subjected to a violent response.

Berus’s Doltish Religion for Swords & Wizardry

Berus long nutured a hatred for clerics, viewing them as drones buzzing about on errands for meddlesome powers.

Spell Level: Magic-User, 5th Level
Range: 240 feet
Duration: Permanent until dispelled

This spell that affects only Clerics. The saving throw against the spell is made at a -4 penalty, and if the saving throw fails, the targeted Cleric abandons his deity in favor of an increasing bizarre set of doltish beliefs, such as in the healing power of stinging nettles or the divine nature of oats. The Cleric consequently loses the ability to cast spells or affect the undead as long as under this spell’s effects.

November 28th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

The Bajang

Evil and intelligent, the bajang, a type of lesser spirit, lives in tropical jungles, where it delights in terrorizing settlements. Wicked magic ties the bajang’s lifeforce to a single tree in the forest in which it dwells.

In its true form, the bajang looks like a stunted, stocky human with a blunt nose, wispy hair, and pale brown skin. Its beady orange eyes glare malevolently, and a permanent evil sneer creases its wide, lipless mouth. Instead of fingers, it has bony claws, and its feet resemble the talons of a vulture. The bajang can also take the form of a small wildcat, and its victims most often encounter the bajang in this form. As a wildcat, it has light brown fur and retains its distinctive orange eyes.

A vicious and devious fighter, the bajang delights in attacking the wounded, weak, or otherwise helpless. This monster seldom negotiates, and it may be incapable of telling the truth even to save its own life.

For Barbarians of Lemuria

Attributes: Strength 2, Agility 2, Mind 1

Combat Abilities: 2 bony claws +1, damage d6-1 plus poison; Defence 1; Protection 0; Lifeblood 12

Special: The bajang can turn into a small wild cat at will. It uses magic as if it has two ranks in the magician career. Bajang poison forces the victim to make a Hard strength roll to avoid suffering from painful cramps that impose a -1 penalty to strength and agility for 1d6+1 minutes.

For Dungeon World

Intelligent, Magical, Medium, Solitary, Stealthy
Bony Claws (d10 damage, messy)
16 HP
0 Armor
Instinct: To terrorize the weak
* Ambush even the alert
* Form of a wild cat
* Weave enchantments of disease and loss

For Swords & Wizardry

An opponent struck by the bajang’s claws must make a saving throw or succumb to the monster’s poison, which inflicts wracking pains that cause a -1 penalty on all saving throws and attack rolls for the next 1d6 + 1 rounds. The poison’s effect is cumulative; each failed saving throw increases the penalty and adds one round to the duration. In its natural form, the bajang can cast control winds, hold person, and locate object three times per day each. It can cast cloudkill once per day.

In wildcat form, the bajang retains the Armor Class, Hit Dice, movement, and hit points of its original form. It attacks three times per round, inflicting 1-2 points of damage for each successful bite and front claw attack. If both forepaw attacks are successful in the same round, it can attempt two rear claw attacks for an additional 1-2 points of damage each. A bajang cannot cast spells while in wildcat form.

HD 6; AC 2 (17); Atks 2 claws (1d4 plus poison); SV 11; Special 10% magic resistance, change form, poison, spells; MV 12; AL C; CL/XP 11/1,700

November 27th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

“This forest sucks!”

The humid night breeze rustled the leaves, which shifted just enough to reveal the corpse’s pallid arm.

“Look,” the thief said, pointing.

The thief’s companions followed the finger with their eyes. The leaves covering the body rustled some more, revealing more of the corpse.

“What caused all those wounds?” the fighter said.

“I have a better question,” said the wizard. “Why are those leaves starting to swirl about when the wind hasn’t picked up?”

The pile of leaves, as if they heard the wizard’s query, roared into a vortex of autumn colors before they raced toward the adventurers.

“We’re in trouble,” said the cleric, gripping his holy symbol.

Vampire Tree

The tree itself is immobile, but its leaves fly in swarms at night, hunting for prey much like vampire bats. When a swarm of leaves has drank their fill, they fly back, reattaching their swollen bodies to their branches to pump the blood into the tree. A vampire tree possesses dim intelligence, and its leaves have rudimentary visual and auditory senses combined with keen olfactory powers. A vampire tree fears fire, and will never send its leaves near flame.

For Barbarians of Lemuria

A full-grown vampire tree has hundreds of leaves. The stats below are for the tree’s leaves. The tree itself has no attributes or combat abilities.

Attributes: (for a batch of 10 or so leaves) Strength -3, Agility 3, Mind -1

Combat Abilities: Batch of Leaves +4, damage d6-1; Defence 4; Protection 0; Lifeblood 5

For Dungeon World

Large, Solitary
Flock of Leaves (d8+1 damage, 2 piercing)
20 HP
1 Armor
Close, Reach
Instinct: To drain blood
* Blend into woodlands
* Control flying, blood-sucking leaves
* Fill the air with danger

For Swords & Wizardry

These creatures use their leaves as weapons, releasing the leaves from the branches to fly toward prey. The leaves attempt to attach themselves (attacking as 12 HD monsters) to a body. When attached, they suck blood, doing 2d4 points of damage per attached leaf. Damage is automatic after the first successful attack, each attached leaf continuing to drain 2d4 hit points per round. The leaves are AC 9, and each has only 2 hit points, plus any hit points drained from the victim. The leaves will return to the tree when any being travels more than 120 yards from the parent tree or when the creature has no blood left. The tree can only control 10 leaves at a time. Vampire trees save vs. fire at a -2 penalty, and take +1 extra point of damage for every die of damage done by flame.

HD 12; AC 0 (19); Atks 1d10 leaves (2d4); SV 3 (18 for leaves); Special never surprised, vampiric leaves, fire vulnerability; MV 12 flying (leaves only); AL C; CL/XP 16/3,200

November 26th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »