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Ethereal Brain

7 May

Ethereal Brain

A well-fed Ethereal Brain (click for larger image)

Ethereal Brains begin life as sacs adrift in the Ethereal sea. Once they hatch, the brain portion is about the size of the human brain, but over time, as they feed on the memories and knowledge of other creatures, they can grow to enormous size. There are no know limits to the size of an Ethereal Brain. One as large several kilometers in diameter has been reported by several planar-traveling wizards, but the sighting has not been reconfirmed. Ethereal Brains wander endlessly in search of new and exciting input.

Ethereal Brains will latch onto any creature with animal intelligence or above and stun it with its tentacles (Save vs Stun at a minus -3). Once the victim is stunned, the Brain will copy all of its memories and knowledge… a process that takes 1 hour per point of intelligence of the creature that is its victim. The Ethereal Brain will then release the victim and it will become unstained in d6 rounds. After the “feeding” has been discontinued, the victim will be temporarily reduced 1 life-level for 24 hours. Most Brains are Lawful Neutral and do not try to purposely kill those they feed from.

Ethereal Brains are not usually malevolent and feed only for survival and an innate curiosity that drives them ever onward in the pursuit of knowledge and experiences, which its victims contain (as well as that which it gathers itself during its travels through the Ethereal and sometimes Prime Material planes).

Ethereal Brains can live potentially for millions of years, unless some other mishap befalls them. They can communicate telepathically with most sentient beings, if they so choose. Sometimes an Ethereal Brain will trade knowledge with a being, if it believes that it has an exceptionally rare bit of information will be gathered from the exchange. The willing “victim” will still suffer the temporary life-level loss. The trade time is equal to 1 round per skill level of Knowledge being traded. While the odd insane or malevolent Brain might try to steal more, the knowledge trade is usually abided by strictly, given the Lawful nature of most Ethereal Brains.

Extremely adept Ethereal Brains can cause the recipient of memories to believe they were their own. A memory recipient may also be caused to “relive” a memory experience of someone else, if the recipient is either willing or stunned by the Brain’s tentacles.

The Brains range from 1 (very young = less than 1000 years old) to 100 (ancient) Hit Dice.
They will use their stun ability as a defense and some are known to have Psionic attack capability.


From the D&D Wiki:

The Ethereal Plane is coexistent with the Material Plane and often other planes as well. The Material Plane itself is visible from the Ethereal Plane, but it appears muted and indistinct, its colors blurring into each other and its edges turning fuzzy.

While it is possible to see into the Material Plane from the Ethereal Plane, the Ethereal Plane is usually invisible to those on the Material Plane. Normally, creatures on the Ethereal Plane cannot attack creatures on the Material Plane, and vice versa. A traveler on the Ethereal Plane is invisible, incorporeal, and utterly silent to someone on the Material Plane.

The Ethereal Plane is mostly empty of structures and impediments. However, the plane has its own inhabitants. Some of these are other ethereal travelers, but the ghosts found here pose a particular peril to those who walk the fog.

It has the following traits.

▪ No gravity.

▪ Alterable morphic. The plane contains little to alter, however.

▪ Mildly neutral-aligned.

▪ Normal magic. Spells function normally on the Ethereal Plane, though they do not cross into the Material Plane.
The only exceptions are spells and spell-like abilities that have the force descriptor and abjuration spells that affect ethereal beings. Spellcasters on the Material Plane must have some way to detect foes on the Ethereal Plane before targeting them with force-based spells, of course. While it’s possible to hit ethereal enemies with a force spell cast on the Material Plane, the reverse isn’t possible. No magical attacks cross from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane, including force attacks.


BRAIN! (audio file)

Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

5 May

Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

I was talking with a player in my game yesterday about getting together again after a hiatus, since school will be over for me in two days (YAY!)


Here is how the conversation went:

Jeff: We should get a session going in a week or two, since I am done with school soon. You guys were on the sea voyage home… I guess I could say you were blown off course to the South polar regions. I hope you guys like scraping lichen off of rocks with your teeth. Roll a twenty-sided die to see if you break your teeth on the rocks.

Steve: I know you, you will say I broke them no matter what I roll. But I have a “Stone Teeth” spell, so I’ll use that.

Jeff: Yeah, but you didn’t say what kind of stone, so roll to see which type of stone your teeth become. I hope you get Granite!

Steve: Oh darn! I got Sandstone!

Jeff: I can see it now, your Ranger is breaking his teeth on rocks trying to be all Ranger-like in the Antarctic and the Barbarian will be eyeing the NPC Rogue saying: “He looks tasty. I know he eats well!”  Hmm, I wonder if the Rogue has “Lichen Scraping” as a survival skill.

At least it won’t be like some other game systems, where you just sit around the whole time battling a single Skeleton.

Steve: Yeah, we will just be figuring my teeth out the whole session!


Tasty Lichen

Just in case I am mean enough to send those guys off to the bottom of the world, I did some quick research on lichen, some of which ARE edible:

          “Of all the plants, lichens are best adapted to survive in the harsh polar climate. Some lichens have even been found only about 400 km from the South Pole. Lichens have proliferated in Antarctica mainly because there is little competition from mosses or flowering plants and because of their high tolerance of drought and cold.    

          On icy rock, lichens have the same strategy as plants have developed in the sand of the Sahara: they form an “oasis”. Like in the desert they miss water. They have only a chance to survive, if they settle in an area with a convenient, damp microclimate. Since what stops lichens to spread over the whole of Antarctica is not so much the big cold as the lack of water. For this reason they don’t settle in a place with the most sunshine, but in recesses and cracks between rocks. They like scanty soils, created by weathered rocks. They often quicken this process with secretion of acid.

   Snowflakes are captured in the cracked rock and melt on the dark lichens, so they can absorb the vital liquid.”

mmm… I am thinking of a Lichen Soup recipe as I read this. Unless the players have their characters trap penguin or they do some fishing, it seems it may be a long Winter ahead for them until the birds come to breed along the shores of the South polar region in the Spring!

I am such a mean Dungeon Master.

-Jeff
“Retro”

Lovecraft, Lir and the Celestial Bird

3 May

Lovecraft, Lir and the Bird of Heaven

Many myths have linked birds to the arrival of life or death. With their power of flight, these winged creatures were seen as carriers or symbols of the human soul, or as the soul itself, flying heavenward after a person died. A bird may represent both the soul of the dead and a deity at the same time.

The seagull is associated with Lir, a Sea-God in Celtic lore. Like many birds, the seagull flies between the earth and the “heaven” world, bringing messages from the Gods to mortals. Gulls are highly intelligent with a complex social structure developed partly to ward off predators and can represent feelings of safety and the security of home in certain dream interpretations.

Lir was the Father God of the Sea.  His son Manannan ruled the waves after him.  He is associated with the Welsh God Llyr.  The myths of Manannan and Lír are a relatively late addition to Irish Mythology and accounts of these gods only begin to appear in medieval times. It would seem that the medieval writers merged the character of the Sea God Lir (Llyr-Wales) known across the Celtic influenced lands with the Tuatha de Danann king Lir.

Game Notes on the Bird of Heaven:

The “Celestial Bird” or “Bird of Heaven” in the H.P. Lovecraft tale The White Ship is undoubtedly a seagull.

In game terms, the Celestial Bird is a large seagull, with a wingspan of 6 feet. It goes constantly before the White Ship. The two seem linked and the Bird unerringly appears to guide the White Ship to its destination in the Dream Lands or other realms.

The Celestial Bird’s cry is haunting and dream-like, captivating all normal creatures that hear it (unless they save vs mesmerization), soothing them as the White Ship rolls along the cosmic sea. The Bird of Heaven seems to float if there is no wind and it rarely flaps it wings in flight or when changing direction.

As it hovers above, the Bird will alert the crew to any potential threat. Should harm come to the Celestial Bird or should it show hesitation in its course, it is an ill omen, portending certain doom to those who sail on the White Ship, unless something intercedes to change matters for the better.

Z = Das Ende!

30 Apr

Well, here we are at the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

I certainly enjoyed it. Sometimes it felt like a wicker cage, sometimes it felt liberating, but it was definitely worth it!

To end the Challenge, I want to post something that is a beginning, not an end:
I made a new video that is a very basic introduction to Fantasy Roleplaying Games as Mythopoesis. It is not meant to be complete or detailed, but is a very simple overview of the subject material. I may revise it later, but here it is as it currently stands.

Here is to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and on to new things in the Blogosphere and in the OSR…

Fantasy Roleplaying Games: A Mythopoetic Experience
(This is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter. It is meant to be introductory only and does not contain details as to many pertinent details of certain aspects due to media constraints.

No favoritism of games or game systems is implied by any of the art work appearing in this video… it is a Fair Use video for educational purposes only)


Encounter: Easter Chicken

24 Apr

I won’t post much today, but wouldn’t this make a cool encounter in a children’s RPG story adventure? We know the one driving is the Easter Bunny, but that chicken could be a neat  “monster”.

Easter Chicken

Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: Normally 1, though a brood of 6 to a dozen has been reported
Armor Class: 4
Move: 3″
Hit Dice: 4
% in Lair: 50%
Treasure Type: Special (candy eggs)
No. of Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage: Scratch/Scratch/Peck – d4/d4/d6
Special Attack: Deafening Cackle (once per day – Save vs Stun)
Special Defences: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Large 7-9′ + wingspread
Psionic Ability: Nil

Easter Chickens lay one candy egg per day
(roll d6 for type)

1- Giant Jelly Bean Egg (assorted flavors)
2- Dark Chocolate Egg
3- White Chocolate Egg
4- Milk Chocolate Egg
5- Marshmallow Egg
6- Creme Filled Egg

This large, flightless fowl is not very intelligent and tends to run wild if set loose or frightened. It will defend itself if attacked, but generally just gets into trouble or wanders around if found free roaming. The Easter Chicken has a loud voice and will cackle, gobble, chirp, etc. much of the time, which tends to attract predatory animals & wandering monsters if in an environment where they may be found. They can be trained to pull Easter Egg wagons and similar conveyances if treated well.

Happy Easter 🙂
-Jeff

Where all worlds meet… Sci Fantasy

21 Apr

It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.” – Rod Serling

Science fantasy (also known as Sci-Fantasy):  a mixed genre within speculative fiction drawing elements from both science fiction and fantasy.

Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series is a prime example of this genre. Star Wars, with its quasi-mystical “Force”marginally qualifies. The Edgar Rice Burrough’s Martian series novels are in a subgenre of Science Fantasy called “Sword & Planet”.

Among roleplaying games there are numerous Science Fantasy RPGs or RPGs that have elements of Sci-Fantasy to them. I will mention a few of them

Deodanth (future Elf), Phraint (alien insect warrior) and a Human Rune Weaver battle together!

The Arduin Grimoire trilogy is one of the earliest RPGs to incorporate Sci-Fantasy. The Phraint (an alien insect warrior), Deodanth (amoral elves from the future) and Techno class are still fun to play. I was speaking with a fellow Old Schooler at the local hobby shop recently. He remarked how crazy it was to be in an Arduin campaign, because: “It was great to open a chest and have it start spraying machine gun bullets at you!” I then remarked: “Ahhh, the Lost Techno’s Treasure!”  We both laughed, remembering a similar incident.

Hey babes! Wanna ride?

RIFTS is one of the best in this category and has a decent balance of both future Earth science and fantasy magic. Whether you were a power-suited Glitter Boy or a Magic Casting Ley Walker, a good group of RIFTS players knows how to make action happen!

Both Arduin and RIFTS are currently in print, so the Old School goodness can be experienced at will.

Gamma World had a flavor of sci-fantasy to it. The fact that TSR made the original version had it oozing with sci-fantasy hints. Shadowrun, though more Cyberpunk Fantasy, are other popular games that incorporate Sci-Fantasy to them. There are many others, but I just wanted to get the Gamemaster’s mind thinking of the Old School open-ended possibilities that existed and still exist in gaming. I love all things science fiction and fantasy – especially when it is both and their are dice involved.

The Multiverse is filled with many possible worlds… some real, some only dreamed of in the imagination… until you cross over into them!

-Jeff
“Retro”

[post edited and updated with video]

Queen of the Fairies

20 Apr

Queen of the Fairies

Like many ancient myths, there is no clearcut or authoritative version of just who the Queen of the Fairies is and what her nature is like. The name of the Queen of the Fairies changes according to different adaptations. She has no name in the oldest times, but has been associated with Morgan Le Fey in Arthurian legends and Shakespeare called her Titania. Oberon (also spelled Auberon) is often considered her consort and the king of the fairies in medieval and Renaissance literature.


William Blake’s Oberon, Titania and Puck With Fairies Dancing

Titania. Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third of a minute, hence;
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders 
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.

(A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Act II. Scene II. Another Part of the Wood)

The Queen of the Fairies is a beautiful, cunning and commanding Fey creature of great magical power, able to assume any shape she pleases. She is sometimes said to ensnare mortal for her purposes, as in the Queen of Elfen legend of the Scottish Lowlands. Humans ensorcelled by her sometimes become a “tithe to hell”, which reflects the conflict between Christianity and Paganism in those days.

In a sylvan setting in an RPG campaign, she could be a figure that lies behind happenings or has agents among the woodland creatures and her various subjects. She appears to mortals only when she desires to be seen. It would be very difficult to trap or threaten the Queen of the Fairies, as her own realm is one of particularly fey magic and possibly a dimension all to itself, where she is in absolute authority. She seems to be favorable to whom she will and as equally capricious.

Certainly the Queen of the Fairies is a fascinating and mysterious figure for any campaign, the mythology of whom has only been scratched here.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in