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Flying Platypus of the Future!

9 May

Saving Humanity Just Because!

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)

Vigilante NPC: St. Francis

26 Apr

Vigilante NPC

Crime lords fear the name of this saint of the people. The common folk are grateful for his help. The authorities are consternated that this upholder of good undermines their reputation, yet they cannot deny his effectiveness on the streets. The person in question is the robed vigilante they call “Saint Francis”.

St. Francis is a crime-fighting vigilante that is found only in one major, highly populated city in the campaign. I have used this NPC vigilante in a couple of RPGs.

Originally, he figured in a Cyberpunk campaign set it San Francisco, California in the year 2056. Later, I recycled the NPC for another urban campaign that took place in a very large medieval city in the typical fantasy genre Roleplaying game.

The GM can play it so that, while hard-hitting, the vigilante causes only non-lethal damage to his opponents or alternately as a gritty decimator who leaves few, if any criminals left alive. St. Francis comes out of nowhere, moves decisively and then fades away again, never speaking a word.

He wears the habit of the Friars Minor and attacks using weaponry suitable for the campaign. In a medieval one, a staff and hand-to-hand combat is sufficient. In a modern or futuristic setting, depending upon the violence level of St. Francis that the GM chooses, the weaponry could be the same as before or could include things that cause great havoc -usually involving cool explosions and the fiery vengeance of righteous fury!

The root cause of the motivations of St. Francis are unclear, but when he strikes, he thwarts anyone from petty criminals to highly organized street gangs and criminal organizations. Always, the motivation seems to be to protect the average citizen that falls prey to the activities of these individuals and groups. St. Francis only engages in his vigilantism at night.

St. Francis can be either an actual Franciscan monk or a loner that plays the persona for unknown reasons (defrocked monk, a devout lay religious , etc.) Typical choices of a lair of the vigilante are determined by how he is used in the campaign, but they could include: a ruined monastery, underneath a church or serving actively as a monastic cleric during the day.

St. Francis may be considered anathema by his religious organization because of his actions, but he is genuine in his desire to protect the innocent and bring criminals to justice. If there is corruption in the Church, those involved in it will want to expose and suppress him.

I have had great fun having this NPC pop up when least expected in my campaigns. He can be a great hook for drawing in PCs that have their own motivations to fight criminals.

-Jeff
“Retro”

An anathema has fallen
On this poor humanity
The dark world is falling asleep
The moon has hidden the sun

And the sky is becoming cloudy
Like arms which are opening
Spreading darkness
All over our damned world…

Talismondé, the Capital of Arduin

23 Apr

Talismondé, the Capital of Arduin

The capitol city of Arduin is the largest of the cities in the nation, with a seasonal population of 600,000. The city has a long and distinguished history and its foundations extend well beyond the formation of the Accords of Arduin (The treaty between nations that formally ended the Nexus Wars and defined not only the new country of Arduin but also formalized how the Arduin Nexus would be governed).

The city is a hub, just like Arduin is a nexus. All things, great and small eventually find there way to the city; Talismondéans say all things come to Talismondé, whether they want to or not. Perhaps the saying is true, and perhaps not, but Talismondé is indeed a city among cities, where diversity and difference is the rule not the exception. Songs in dozens of languages can be heard in taverns, the smell of foods from different cuisines mix in a heady fog of exotic spices, and beings of all colors, sizes, garbs, and types meet and mingle on the street. The Hermetic Order of Wizardry maintains a large lodge in the city and keeps watch on what happens within the walls of Talismondé.

area around Talismonde' - click for larger image

The magical city of Talismondé is worthy of a campaign in itself. Everything and anything happens here. Just like the Arduin Nexus draws in beings from all over the Multiverse to it, Talismondé draws to itself adventurers and beings of all sorts and kinds. Its streets are full of history. Untold mysteries happen each day.  The air is filled with the voices of myriad races, and the skies full of flying beings, both magical and natural, that bedeck the air like mystical stars or gems.

Only the strict laws against illegal magic and the ever-vigilant city guard prevent things from (usually!) getting out of hand. While justice is swift in Talismondé, the ruling King and Queen of the nation of Arduin, whose castle is at the heart of the city, are beneficent and enlightened. As the guardians of the realm  and of the Nexus, they must be wise.

If one is looking for adventure, ancient vaults beneath the city hold unrevealed treasures to this day. Political intrigue abounds and cloak-and-dagger plots to control the Nexus by secret societies are always a threat. This bustling place is a hub for delvers, princes and alien creatures. Cosmopolitan, exotic and sometimes dangerous, Talismondé is where history is made – or often repeats itself!

-Jeff
“Retro”

The Arduin Grimoire Trilogy (and more) at Emperor’s Choice

Weird Spacecraft #2

22 Apr

The previous post on Weird Spacecraft was focused mostly on older Science Fiction ideals. Cylindrical rockets are not the only type of craft to exist in Science Fiction. In some settings, a spacecraft would never see atmosphere, so having it aerodynamic is not a necessity. As I mentioned earlier, the culture of the star faring race will affect the design and function of a spacecraft in a game.

The Warhammer 40K Universe is one where culture definitely affects the shape and design of ships. I bought Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic when it came out. It is now a defunct game, but for tabletop space warfare, it was one of the best. The Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader RPG, set in the Warhammer 40K milieu, may bring interest in incorporating that back into the table. Even if it doesn’t the ship designs become very important in that game.

I love the Eldar ships. They are elegant, work on principles that are different than other race’s spacecraft and introduce a rudimentary cloaking. Here is one of the smaller attack ships, more akin to a fighter than anything.

The Orks are not so elegant in design, but their ships are sturdy, if less advanced, but make use of their hulks even for ramming – a very Orcish tactic indeed!

This Ork fleet looks terrifyingly functional. The prows of the ships hint at the damage a several kilometers long Hulk could do when it tears into your vessel!
The cries of “Abandon ship!” might not be far away if you get too close to one of these without proper agility and firepower to protect you.

The Imperial ships of the Humans are many times like Gothic cathedrals in space, reflecting the cult of Emperor worship and the Crusader-like mentality of those that serve him. For the god-emperor, these mighty vessels protect the colonies of man among the stars, attempting to reclaim and reunite all humans under his mighty rule.

The box cover from the Battlefleet Gothic game tells it all. Here the Imperial fleet is coming out of warp, ready to do battle, because as the motto of the game goes, “There is no peace among the stars”.

The other races of have their own designs, some of which are truly alien.

I haven’t had a chance to play Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader for some time, but I hope to put my rulebooks back to use soon. The images of ships in the publications by Fantasy Flight make me want to ply the space lanes for a few credits, while “avoiding any Imperial entanglements” – wait, that’s another universe, but hey, they all tend to meld in my sector of the Multiverse!

Click image above for more info about Rogue Trader

-Jeff
“Retro”

A Grateful Thanks to Bard at The Clash of Spear On Shield

22 Apr

Several of us were recently given the Stylish Blogger Award by Bard at The Clash of Spear on Shield. I am a huge fan of his blog, so when I was one of those chosen, this was quite the honor. I know that some people don’t think much of these things, but I think it is the thought that counts most.

I don’t know if my blog is “stylish” except that it has my own developing style. Hopefully, soon I will find my “voice” for this blog and I think it is slowly happening. I am very thankful for the support and recognition Bard has given to it in its short history so far. Interacting and sharing ideas and creations about roleplaying, especially Old School games, is all I wish to do with this blog. Any suggestions, comments or criticisms regarding my blog are appreciated. I am open to the entire OSR community’s feedback and appreciate the diverse points of view.

There are four rules attached to the award:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award
(note: Bard started out with seven, with more to be added later, and I must start slowly here, also)
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award

Rule One: Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.

Thank you from the heart, Bard, for your kind Stylish Blogger Award.
Your blog, The Clash of Spear on Shield (great Tolkien title, btw!) is a source of inspiration to me. You bring a unique contribution to the OSR and we have some similar interests that resonate with me. Thank you for your kind comments and support!

Rule Two: Share seven things about yourself.

1)    I am a father of one son who has recently turned 18. It is strange for me to think that he is now a young man, when I remember like yesterday that he was a little child that I carried around as he slept. I love my son and am glad to be a father. There is nothing quite like having a child to love and be loved by.

2)    Vocationally, I have been sort of a Jack-of-All-Trades, never working in the fields that I went to school for (Philosophy & History). Maybe one day I will teach, like I dreamed of. I am not ruling it out, yet and am back in school studying for that goal. I have worked in computer technical support, as a behavioral counselor for the developmentally disabled, as a MN State Administration employee, commissioned sales and several other jobs. I seem to adapt to interesting situations as life offers opportunity.

3)    I do not watch much TV and rarely go to the movies these days. I prefer mostly Sci-fi / fantasy and History when I do. In books I am heavy on History, Mythology and Religion/Philosophy, with fantasy & sci-fi mixed in. Walks or hiking and fishing for relaxation are also times for me to think. I would do more stargazing if it weren’t for the light pollution around here. I used to do quite a bit of it when I was younger and in a darker area. Even though I do enjoy lots of quiet time, I still like to go out dancing, especially to Retro 80’s nights, which is no surprise to my friends, who call me “Retro”.

4)    My natural personality is Introverted, but I became an Extrovert by necessity in my youth – this makes for some odd tension in how I view things and in my actions. I always feel like there are several possible variations of “me” because of this – it has come in handy at times, because I am fairly mutable in situations if need be.

5)    Gary Numan is my favorite musical artist. I have been a fan of his Electronica strangeness for almost his entire career. I saw him in concert twice at some smaller venues. Both times I was right upfront at the stage. After his 2007 visit to Minneapolis, he signed a CD for me. He is really a cool, mellow person, and his music has been a great influence in my life.

6)    I have written poetry since I was a teen. We know that most teen poems suck, but I hope mine are at least a little better by now. I wish I had more time to devote to reading poetry, much less writing it. My favorite three favorite poets are Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas and W.B Yeats – all three being Romantics.

7)    I am just a regular guy that likes people and experiences. One day I would like to travel more again. Seeing even more people and places only makes life more interesting. If I could, I would follow my wanderlust until I dropped, which is a typical Sagittarius thing.

I will do more passing along of the award later, but immediately nominate RPG Lady. Her blog came immediately to mind, because she is sharing her relatively new experiences as a role-player and fledgling GM. She is finding her own likes and dislikes about systems and genres and sharing her ways of developing her characters and NPCs that is an honest and fresh approach. http://rpglady.wordpress.com/

She also has another blog dedicated to her writing, as she is a fiction author.

Thanks again, Bard – I appreciate your vote of confidence and will pass the award along more as time goes on.

Peace/Pax
-Jeff
“Retro”

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]