Fenestra of Baleful Ectypes

The dreaded Fenestra of Baleful Ectypes, a cursed magical mirror, hangs on a mildewed wall in Myrrha, a ruined villa once home to an exceedingly wicked senator named Woodruff. A man of perverse tastes, Woodruff’s reputation for cruelty has only grown since his death. His slaves were the most frequent targets of his vile appetites.

Of these slaves, the most famous is Cloe, who Woodruff forced Chloe into being his mistress after cutting off one of her ears. As revenge against Woodruff, Cloe baked a birthday cake containing extract of boiled and reduced oleander leaves, which are extremely poisonous. Her plan backfired.

Only Woodruff’s wife and two daughters ate the cake, and all died from the poison. Woodruff had Cloe hanged by her wrists from the vaulted ceiling in the front hall so that she could see her slow, torturous death in the mirror. Shortly after Cloe finally expired, Woodruff’s other slaves revolted and killed their cruel master before escaping into the hills around Myrrha. The Fenestra functions much like a crystal ball, allowing its user to see distant places and even times. Doing so is not without risk, for the mirror’s magic taps into Vioo, that barren, dark realm that exists on the other side of mirrors and mirror-like surfaces.

For Dungeon World:

When you use the Fenestra of Baleful Ectypes, roll+INT. *On a 10+, choose 3. *On a 7–9, choose 2.

* You see what is transpiring at the place you want to view.
* You see what is transpiring at the time you want to view.
* You do not take -1 forward the next time you use the mirror.
* You do not attract unwelcome attention.

For Swords & Wizardry:

The Fenestra of Baleful Ectypes functions much like a crystal ball. Its user may see what is transpiring in whatever location he desires to see, over a considerable distance and even through the veils of time. When a user taps into the scrying powers of the mirror, he must make a saving throw. Failure means the mirror’s magic ripples uncontrolled, and the user attracts the attention of one or more of Vioo’s wicked denizens. Certain spells and other precautions may be used to prevent being seen through the Fenestra. Usable by: Magic-Users.

December 26th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »


Few villains inspire as many lurid tales as Chernubles of Munigre, which is odd considering how little is known of him. Munigre cannot be found on any reliable map. Chernubles’s crimes are so many and varied as to be contradictory. Piecing together commonalities, we learn that Chernubles possessed the strength of four beasts of burden and that he never cut his hair. Consequently, his black hair reached the ground, sweeping it behind him as he walked.

Munigre’s descriptions seem even more improbable. This benighted realm is said to be a desert waste. There the Sun never shines, and no rain ever falls. No plants grow there. The rocks that litter Munigre’s barren terrain are all completely black. Given these details, and assuming their accuracy, many claim Chernubles was a devil rather than a man.

Numerous tales about Chernubles also speak of Grammimond, the villain’s magic sword. Several enchanted blades have been called Grammimond, but perhaps a black, gold, and silver scimitar has the strongest claim. None who have seen this Grammimond in action have reason to doubt its power. Most who have wielded this Grammimond have regretted their association with this sword.

When you attack with Grammimond in melee, roll+STR. *On a 10+, you deal your damage +1d6 to the enemy and avoid their attack. At your option, you may choose to do +1d8 damage but an ally is exposed to the enemy’s attack or has something unfortunate happen to them. *On a 7–9, you deal your damage +1d4 to the enemy, but choose 1.

* The enemy makes an attack against you.
* The enemy makes an attack against an ally.
* Something unfortunate happens to a nearby ally.

December 8th, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

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 »