The Henker of Galgenbaum

The hanged undead of Galgenwälder are not the only defense present in Galgenbaum. Aside from the town watch, mostly volunteers who patrol certain neighborhoods in small groups armed with clubs and whistles, there are the bailiffs, court officials with some martial training who are empowered to determine guilt and mete out minor punishments on the spot for lesser infractions of the law or offenses against the public order.

More serious threats to law and order might be met by a Henker backed up by a squad of guards and possibly some of the watch as well. A Henker is a religious official who answers only to Galgenbaum’s Mayor-Justices. Each Mayor-Justice has several Henkers under his or her command. Because of their devotion to the gods of law and due process, a Henker possesses certain magical abilities that help defeat and punish scofflaws. Whereas the guard is authorized to only mete out minor punishments, such as a fine or a mild beating, a Henker enforces the law with stiffer penalties, up to and including summary execution.

A Henker is recognizable by the distinctive uniform of black leather, white gloves, high-collared cloak, and hangman’s hood. He wears a noose around his neck as a badge of office. In combat, a Henker fights with a stout rope, one end of which is tied into a noose. He can strike with the rope, using it as a bludgeon or a whip.

He may also command the noose to ensnare a foe’s neck, after which he releases the rope, which snakes up into the air, jerking the foe several feet off the ground. A successful saving throw avoids this attack; otherwise, the foe takes 2d6 points of damage each round from strangulation. The rope can be severed as normal, and the Henker can command the rope to cease its attack.

Once per day each, a Henker may use Darkness 15-Foot Radius and Fear. A Henker is immune to sleep and hold magic.

Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Attack (Damage): By weapon (1d6)
Move: 12
Save: 14
Alignment: Law
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240
Special: Darkness, fear, hangman’s noose, immune to hold and sleep

May 17th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Willkommen!

One of the roads leading away from Galgenbaum travels for about two miles and ends in Galgenwälder, a rugged draw. Instead of trees, Galgenwälder is crowded by gibbets from which hang those condemned by Galgenbaum’s zealous magistracy. Not only are those hanged in Galgenwälder condemned to death, but ancient and carefully worded contracts between the magistracy and several minor death gods also condemn the hanged to undeath. Any of Galgenbaum’s Mayor-Justices can call and command the hanged dead of Galgenwälder. The nature of the undead called depends on how much time has passed since the criminal’s death.

For the first 1d3 days after death, those hanged serve Galgenbaum’s as zombies. After this, for the next 1d3 days, the criminal’s body starts to bloat. Bloody foam leaks from its mouth and nose. This sort of undead is much like a zombie, but its bite may cause disease. After this stage, for the next 1d4 days, the criminal’s body turns various shades of green to red. Internal organs fill with decomposition gases. These sorts of zombies expel a cloud of debilitating stench when pierced or cut. After ten days, a criminal’s body is too rotted and damaged to call into service as a zombie, but doesn’t mean the danger to those who threaten Galbenbaum’s public order has passed. For another 1d6 days, the criminal’s cursed spirit lingers in Galgenwälder as a shadow.

The Mayor-Justices of Galgenbaum welcome merchants and travelers, encouraging them to enjoy the town’s many fine amenities. The ale-houses along Flusstraße are especially friendly, catering to visitors from throughout the region.

But don’t forget: Galgenwälder waits only two miles away, and the dead are contractually obligated to help enforce the law.

May 16th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Obedience of Faith

Also from September 2012, represented here with a few edits.

In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul of Tarsus writes about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5, to be specific). In the original Greek, that phrase has the same structure as the English phrase “the city of Houston.” In other words, faith is another name for obedience. Obedience and faith are synonymous.

The theological implications of this synonymous relationship are beyond the scope of this modest blog. I’m not a preacher or a theologian. I’m just a teacher in a small, classical education charter school. Nevertheless, the equivalence between obedience and faith drawn by Paul is instructive.

One of a teacher’s more challenging tasks is keeping a room full of kids on-task, relatively quiet, and exhibiting an acceptable level of politeness. With a score children in a too-small room, each student with his or her own wonderful personality and foibles, this is often easier typed than done. Youthful enthusiasm doesn’t seem to easily tolerate the expectations of public education, which often must seem more like a full-time job than a wonder-filled journey of discovery. My students’ school day runs from about 8:00 a.m. to about 3:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, with about an hour-long break for recess and/or lunch. That’s almost eight hours a day, five days a week, mostly spent in classrooms with the same 19 other people.

Is it any wonder nerves can get a bit frazzled?

In my experience, discipline problems are more prevalent in the earlier weeks of school. I’ve often wondered why, and recently I think I’ve hit on at least part of the answer, which brings us back to the equivalence between obedience and faith. I ask my students to do a variety of things all day long. Many of those things can seem daunting. Write a paragraph about how Latin adjectives and Latin nouns must agree in terms of gender. Sit still and be quiet while I rave about D. H. Lawrence’s use of alliteration. Read the next chapter of Don Quixote. Et cetera.

When a student fails to follow these sorts of instructions, that lack of obedience may indicate a lack of faith. But a lack of faith in what? Well, most likely, the lack of faith is in me as a teacher. If I’ve not earned a student’s trust, it only makes sense that that student may be more inclined to disobey my instructions. The disobedience could also point out that the student lacks faith in his or her own abilities.

If I am to expect obedience from my students (which I do expect), I must earn my students’ faith, their trust. I must respect them while demanding excellence and while encouraging them to demand the same from themselves.

May 16th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Jake Kiboko, Private Eye

Every now and then, I hit these annoying funks during which I manage to accomplish little other than go to work, do family stuff, and eat and sleep. I certainly can’t seem to muster the energy and ethusiasm for my writing projects, which is my lame excuse for not having finished The Four Color Hack, releasing another Dangerous Place, et cetera. I’d love to say I’m getting back on track, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. Of course, I can just take Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s advice, modified a bit. Bonhoeffer’s words were something to the effect of, “Those who believe, do; those who do, believe.” In other words, stop sitting around wallowing in whatever it is I’m wallowing in and do something. From action comes conviction.

The other day, I was doing some image searches and came across pics of Hip Flask, a comic book character of which I’d not heard before. Check him out. Of course, I thought that his look would make a great character for Atomic Sock Monkey‘s Trust & Justice.

Here’s Jake Kiboko, another hero made using T&J:

Background & Origin: Jacob Kiboko, university student and emigrant from Embu, Kenya, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, worked as a safari guide during his summers, showing tourists the wildlife of his native country. During one such safari, a chemical spill at a plant upstream from Kiboko’s campsite dumped mutagenic substances into the river. A pod of hippos caught in the effluence became enraged and charged through the campsite. Kiboko was gored by a hippo while pushing a tourist out of the angry beast’s path. Kiboko was seriously injured and nearly died. After his lengthy recovery, Kiboko returned to the U.S., intending to resume his studies. Gradually, however, he noticed changes. He put on weight. He grew in height. His very bone and muscle structure changed from day to day, accelerating as the process became more advanced. In short, Kiboko transformed into a humanoid hippo. He has since taken some time off from being a student in order to figure out how to live his life in his new form.

Motivation: The city is my territory, and I’m territorial.

Qualities: Expert [+4] Private Detective, Good [+2] Almost a Zoologist, Good [+2] Boxing, Good [+2] Jovial Personality, Poor [-2] 8-Feet Tall & 1,500 Pounds

Powers: Good [+2] Semi-Aquatic, Good [+2] Super-Strength, Good [+2] Thick Skin

Stunts: Expert [+4] Block the Way (Thick Skin Spin-Off, 4 Hero Points); Average [+0] Charge! (Super-Strength Spin-Off, 1 Hero Point)

Vulnerability: Intense solar radiation

Hero Point Pool: 5/10

May 2nd, 2017  in RPG 2 Comments »

Holy Disguise

And behold, two of them went, the same day, to a town which was sixty furlongs from Jerusalem, named Emmaus. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that while they talked and reasoned with themselves, Jesus himself also drawing near, went with them. But their eyes were held, that they should not know him. (The Gospel According to St. Luke 24:13-16)

Holy Disguise
Spell Level: Cleric, 1st Level
Range: Touch
Duration: 12 hours

By means of this spell, the Cleric appears to be a normal sort of resident or traveler native to a particular region. Those who see the Cleric do not notice any special vestments, holy symbols, et cetera. Furthermore, abilities that detect alignment show the Cleric to be of the same alignment as the detector. Even those who personally know the Cleric do not recognize him unless he performs a certain action or says a certain phrase, the nature of which is determined when the spell is cast. This spell in now way disguises the Cleric’s actions or grants any knowledge of languages or customs.

April 30th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »