Tag Archives: AD&D

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)

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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)


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…

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

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

Purple Worm Poster

19 Apr

Debtors Prison

19 Apr

The Debtors Prison

Every large Medieval & Renaissance city had one of these.
(I’ve created a map of one for you to use in your games below using the Random Dungeon Generator by drow http://donjon.bin.sh/  … it took some tweaking to get one that seemed to work, but that tool is great for on-the-fly needs)

Debtors Prisons were used to incarcerate those that owed and could not pay taxes or fines to the local authorities, gambling debts and other financial obligations that they were unable to make good on.

Throughout history, jails were mostly dark, overcrowded and filthy. All types of prisoners were often times herded together with no separation of men and women, the young and the old, the convicted and those awaiting sentence; the sane and the insane.

During Europe’s Middle Ages, debtors, both men and women, were locked up together in a single large cell until their families paid their debt. Debt prisoners often died of disease contracted from other debt prisoners. Conditions included starvation and abuse from other prisoners. If the father of a family was imprisoned for debt, the family business often suffered while the mother and children fell into poverty. Unable to pay the debt, the father often remained in debtors’ prison for many years. Some debt prisoners were released to become serfs or indentured servants until they paid off their debt in labor.

Debtor’s prison was like banking overdraw fees: you don’t have any money left so we will charge you for it. Debtor’s prisons were a money-making machine. In my game, I charge each prisoner a copper piece prepay just for the privilege of staying at the prison. This includes one meal of gruel. Anything other than that also costs money, including blankets, better food, stay of execution, etc. As long as someone pays for the prisoners monthly expenses, they will be given the possibility to have these “luxuries.” These costs are added to the original debt and any other fines the magistrate has imposed.

While in debtors prison, those that are able to can do certain tasks or even be “rented” to local nobility for a time, in order to work off their debts. The guards and the warden always take a cut of everything, so the cost of going to prison usually ends up double the original judgment against the prisoner. If a prisoner cannot pay their fees, they will end up executed or will meet an “accident” at the hands of another prisoner – which helps pay off that prisoner’s own debts!

Entire families would often live there with their imprisoned head-of-the-household. The prisoners had to pay for everything: food and lodging, to get out of shackles, etc. If you were lucky enough to be given living quarters with window-access to the street you could beg money from passers-by. Some prisons even had a grille built in to a wall so it was easier for prisoners to beg. Many prisons had an exercise yard called the racquet ground, so prisoners and their families could get some fresh air.
Here is the layout of a debtors prison:

click for larger image

1- Wardens Area

The Warden works and relaxes in this area, when he is not harassing prisoners. The room has a desk and chair for the Warden and a bench for those that are brought before him.

Several arcane torture devices are also in this area. Whether they are for show or are actually used is up to the GM.

2- Ruffians’ Cell

The worst of the worst prisoners are placed here and those who are on Death Row or awaiting prosecution for capital crimes. 6d6 prisoners will be housed here at any time.

If you end up here, things are not looking so good for you!

3 – The Exercise Yard

This area is open to the sky, but is a sunken courtyard (20 feet below ground with 20 foot walls above ground level.

Here prisoners, except those in the Ruffians’ Cell, can walk and get fresh air. Exercise time lasts about 20 minutes, unless it is a special occasion. Inmates are always supervised by 1d6 guards while in the exercise yard.

4- Processing Room

Here all new prisoners are documented and any possessions that are not allowed are taken for “safekeeping”. Those lucky enough to be released are debriefed here… usually with a stern warning to keep their mouths shut and to never come back.

Guards use this as a commons area when they are just coming or going off duty and also as a place where chain gangs, etc await transportation in and out of the prison.

5 – Work Room

Those prisoners housed in the Main Cell that are not given duties outside of the prison during the day are allowed to earn their keep here. Crafts to be sold and a variety of simple household items are made in this area. Prisoners can work 8 hours a day to earn their wage.

The wages earned here are usually barely above the daily costs of staying in the prison. Working here will probably not get one out of debtors prison, but will maintain the cost of daily living expenses the authorities charge.

6 – Main Cell

In this area, 6d6 debtors and other petty criminals will be housed. This is not an area for the most violent, but sometimes unpleasant events do occur.

The chance of getting a disease while housed in either the Main Cell or the Roughian’s Cell is 2% per day. Both cells are filthy and stink. The cell is dark and dank.

The only air and light in these cells comes from several small windows  covered by iron grating. The ceiling is 20 feet high. Candles are a highly prized object among the prisoners.

7 – Guard Station

This is the hub of the actual incarceration area. 2d6 guards are here at any time, with others coming and going from time to time. The guards tend to keep to themselves, unless performing their functions of exercise, feeding and work periods. Prisoners who bribe or are otherwise on good terms with the guards get preferred treatment. Those that aren’t on the preferential treatment list often wish they were.

8 – Kitchen & Storage Area

All of the work and kitchen supplies, etc and everything needed to run the prison are housed here. A cook hired to make the daily meal for the prisoners (and a separate one for guards and special treatment prisoners) works here.

“The Stairs”

At the end of the long tunnel is a stairwell going down… to what is the object of rumors among the prisoners. Even the guards do not know. Only the Warden has been seen going down them and what lies below the prison he is not telling.

The entire complex is surrounded by a 20 foot wall of stone or timber (as the  GM chooses).
While there might be worse places to end up, the debtors prison is still potentially deadly.

NOTE:
Anyone trying to tunnel should have a Random Encounter chance (1 on a d6, roll another d6 for the encounter):
1 Giant Rat
2  (1d3) Undead Skeletons – these were previous prisoners
3  2d6 copper coins
4  Carrion Crawler
5  Giant Ant
6  Jackpot! Secret tunnel out of prison!

-Jeff
“Retro”

Take a look at this fairly recent decision to not allow D&D in a prison:
No D&D for US prison inmate serving life