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Monday, March 31, 2014

Dirty Dungeons & Dragons Stories Volume Two

Disclaimer: This blog post contains extremely dirty stuff in it. Please click away if you think you might be offended! Obviously it is not safe for work.

If you haven't read Volume One, you should start there so you know where we're at..

One thing I should talk about here is the fact that in early high school, our group was made up of all-male players. All straight guys, as far as I know. So when a sexual situation came up in the game, yes, it was four or five dudes running through it.

I know a lot of male players don't want to do this kind of thing. Some people don't want sexual stuff in their games. I understand that, and that's fine with me.

Some other straight guys might feel that the whole thing might be a little "gay". I don't care about that. It doesn't make me uncomfortable. I don't care if you're gay or if you think I'm gay. I know what I like. I am not sitting there jerking off at the table.

To me, this is a goofy exercise. The fun of D&D sex is in the "are we really going to roll for this?" sentiment. The response to that is: Of course we are going to roll a d20 for this. It's D&D!

I don't make players roll for their penis size/breast size, whatever. They get to pick it. That's because I once played a Rifts character named Harold. He was a 40 year old paunchy unshaven guy who wore hawaiian shirts all the time. He could set fires with his mind (I had a hard time coming up with cool Rifts characters, obviously). I decided to roll Harold's penis size. My result: 1 inch long, 6 inches wide. I called it "the plate".

Dirty D&D Story #3: Clarissa's First Date

Our heroes! Clarissa is in the upper left.
In the year 2009 I was running a 4th edition D&D campaign. We were playing through the Revenge of the Giants campaign book. Clarissa was a female fire genasi sword mage played by a guy. Over time, the players of the group urged Clarissa to mess around with this orc guy in the city (in my campaign, some orcs are "civilized" and live in cities with humans, elves, dwarves, etc).

The players of the group got really excited about the idea, as the player of Clarissa was funny and there was just something about the idea of him playing a female in a sexual situation that was hilarious. Over time, players were practically begging him to do it.

Finally, he relented.

If you recall, 4th edition had a thing called the "skill challenge". It was a vague system of skill rolls, in which a certain number of successes were required to achieve your goal. Some people hated the skill challenges. Most would agree that the system wasn't perfect.

I had been tooling around with the idea of a sexual skill challenge for quite a while. Outside of the game, the other players would talk to me about Clarissa's sexual skill challenge, and they would contribute ideas. I would take notes, and eventually I had the whole thing down on paper. It was absurd how much effort was put into this goofy thing.

We played out the whole date. There was dancing at a bar. There were altercations with citizens who felt that a genasi should not be dating an orc. Clarissa had a dance-off with a half-orc female who wanted to steal Irongrad from her. Clarissa rolled extremely well, and incorporated a mock slap in the face to the would-be rival. The half-orc got served.

Clarissa and Irongrad ended up in a giant tree at night. I had a funny friend who I had ordained as the "Prime Minister of Night-Time Skill Challenges". Once Clarissa and Irongrad started to mess around up in the tree, I asked my Prime Minister what went down next. He responded with a rapid-fire list: "Head. Titty Fuck. Dry Hump."

So rolls were made, endurance checks, etc. During our earlier brainstorming sessions, we'd realized that Clarissa had an innate power called firepulse - she could let out a fiery explosion in a close burst. Welp. At the culmination of the Nighttime Skill Challenge, there was a fiery orgasm, a massive explosion, and they fell out of the tall, burning tree and nearly died.

It was probably the best thing from the whole campaign (and that includes the fight with Orcus at the end of E3).

Dirty D&D Story #4: The Temple of Fra

"...drawing your party as surely as a lodestone draws iron."
In 2011, I converted the Temple of Elemental Evil to 4th edition. A female player made a character named Fayte Bonesunder, a kind of over-the top female Conan. She rode a skeletal horse and was mortal enemies with the undead  dragon called Dragotha, who she swore to destroy one day.

When the campaign started, I gave them an energetic reading of the Gygaxian intro text. From that day forward, Fayte's player would often quote this line to me in a dramatic voice: "It is certain that both vast treasure and horrible death await, so you must gain the one while cheating the other."

The group also thoroughly enjoyed finding the following books in the temple:

The Tenets of Chaotic Evil:

Volume 1 - Double Dealing
Volume 2 - Self-Advancement
Volume 3 - Treachery, etc.

At one point, our heroes needed to back out of the Temple of Elemental Evil and go to a city. And at the city, they decided to visit... the Church of Fra. Fra is the goddess of sexual healing from the earlier post.

The church had a garden with a lake that swans lived in (this was an allusion to how the priests of Fra traveled through space in spelljamming swanships). There were two buildings - The Hall of the Innocents and THE PLEASURE DOME.

Fayte Bonesunder: The Legend
Inside the pleasure dome was a big, pillowed area where a healing orgy occurred at all times. Fayte decided to mess around with a cleric of Fra named Star Lightning. He was a githyanki covered in scars.

Fayte also had many scars, as she was the ultimate badass. She blew Star and rolled for it (of course). She rolled... a natural 20. This began a trend, a stunning series of high rolls. For whatever reason, whenever Fayte Bonesunder had sex, she rolled ridiculously high. The dice told the story. Fayte Bonesunder was a devil in combat and a demon between the sheets.

So Fayte is holding court in this orgy room, just going nuts with her rolls. She said she "made violent love like a mad barbarian". Fra herself took notice, and blessed all in the pleasure dome with uhhh... healing squirt which rained down from the Fra mural painted on the dome above.

Fayte became something of a legendary character, and somehow ended up as the consort of Graz'zt the demon lord (who, yes, she gave a critical blow job to).

This also introduced Fra, goddess of sexual healing, to my "new era" players. She quickly became one of the most popular gods in my campaign. Fra would go on to become the focus of my Skull and Shackles campaign, which was ultimately derailed by all of these pornographic shenanigans.

I should note that the player of Fayte Bonesunder was probably the best D&D player I'd ever sat at a table with. She could figure out any trap in milli-seconds. It was unreal.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dirty Dungeons & Dragons Stories Volume One

Listen close, trusty companion. Today I'm going to talk about some dirty stuff. Sexual stuff. "Perverted" stuff. So if there's even a chance you might be offended, please turn away.

In addition, this is not work safe. Run, before your boss sees you!

Those of you who remain, I salute you. You are going to read some intense stories. Sweaty stories! Tantalizing stories! Maybe even some homoerotic stories! Bah gawd, we are going to break some ground here, people. Strap yourself in. Maybe put on some goggles.

Let us start from the beginning. It was around the year 1991 when some high school kids, high on 3 liter generic-brand root beer and fritos, were playing 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The best DM I've ever played under was running an epic Spelljammer campaign. In case you don't know, Spelljammer is D&D in space. The ships were powered not via technology, but by magic.

Dirty D&D Story #1: The Statue of Fra

One day, we're on our spelljammer ship, flying through space. A statue of a beautiful female halfling was floating toward us. How long had it been adrift? Who knows? We pulled it on board.

It was way too much like this
This statue was a magic item. If you said a command word, the halfling came to life. And she was an "item" of the church of Fra. Fra was a goddess of "sexual healing" that the DM had made up. The clerics healed you through sex.

Well, this was a "magic item" most of the party wanted. My character didn't, as he was the sworn guardian of a woman who was prophecised to one day become the goddess of good (she did). She was also his girlfriend.

We were aware how offensive it was to claim a "woman" as nothing more than a sexual magic item. But it was played off as silly, and when I would DM, I most certainly was willing to switch it up on them.

The quietest player in the group immediately wanted the statue. He got her. He hid her in a secret compartment in his cabin in the ship, and even placed magical traps to protect her from the other PCs.

Shy Dragons breathe "don't look at me" gas
He did not "use" her for healing. No, his character loved her. He took care of her. He bought her gifts. This player had a bit of a history of this kind of behavior in the game. It really seemed like he loved and cherished the statue in real life, and was very angry at the idea that the other heroes would try and get "healing" from her. It was like this was his actual girlfriend.

Anyway... the thing with this statue was, it was a magical creation. It's purpose was to heal! And it healed through fornication! It would happily do so upon request to anyone, up to 3 times per day, if memory serves correctly.

It was only a matter of time before some of the other party members infiltrated the cabin, braved the traps, and had a threesome of healing~! The quiet player was enraged. And I am talking enraged and aghast in real life! Vengeance was swift and violent.

As we were spastic high school kids, inter-party combat was distressingly common. Somehow, the party survived this tumultuous time.

The statue of Fra opened my eyes to a whole unexplored side of the game. Sex in D&D could be fun! It was frequently hilarious! For me personally, it was a safe way to explore the entire idea of romance and "adult" relationships. I was terrified of women at that time. 

My parents had a terrible relationship. I literally would wonder to myself why anybody would ever get married. I would watch the nasty things that my mother did to my father and I would swear that I would never end up in that situation. The easiest way to do this was to avoid relationships entirely. I hid from girls in the world of D&D for years.

Until, of course, a female joined our high school group. That is an entirely different story.

During that era in high school when we played D&D all weekend, every weekend, there were a number of girls who were interested in me. I once received a 10-page letter in the mail from a girl who had a crush on me. She had done drawings of us having sex. She used a label maker and attached labels to the letter that said things like "I want to suck your dick".

A lot of high school guys would frame this letter and mount it on their wall. They'd show it to all their friends. Me, I was terrified. I threw it in my closet, told no-one, and never looked at it again. I also avoided this girl like the plague (which was very difficult - she once actually showed up at my house).

I had another situation where a girl sent word that she wanted to go to the prom with me. Now, out of all the girls in high school, she was the one that I found the most attractive. And yet I was overcome with fear. I rejected her! The night of that prom, you know what I was doing instead? You got it: PLAYING DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.

Flash forward to 2007. I was running a toy store. I would tell my employees D&D stories and it wasn't long before they asked to play. I have found that most people in "real life" don't understand D&D and once they hear about it, they whisper to you that they want to try it.

Dirty D&D Story #2: The Sperm Blade of Penetration

This is an art commission of the heroes
So I have two players, one male, and one female. We're playing a little campaign. The heroes need the blood of the villain. With his blood, artifacts can be made to destroy the uber-powerful bad guy.

Now, my idea for this scenario was that the bad guy's followers drank his blood at church services as if it was holy water. I assumed this would lead to a scenario where the heroes infiltrated the evil church and somehow stole or obtained the blood.

But the female player (who played the halfling pictured to the left) looked at me and asked, "Does it have to be blood?".

She proceeded to concoct a plan to use the bad guy's semen to create artifacts to defeat him.

What followed was a legendary session of D&D where she went to the bad guy's tower, seduced him, blew him in a hot tub, stealthed her way out of the evil tower and brought the semen back to a magic forge.

Two magic items were created: The Sperm Girdle of Potency and The Sperm Blade of Penetration.

It was one of the most fun and hilarious things I've ever done in D&D. To this day, she still says to me, "Does it have to be blood?".

This incident ushered in a new era of dirty D&D for me. Players flocked to my games as they heard tales of orgies, barlgura douche jars and a pirate ship sailing a sea of semen. It was hilarious. It was fun. And the thing that continuously shocked me was that it was the female players who kept pushing the envelope. They demanded more and more - until it literally took over one of my most recent campaigns.

There was a lot going on there. I'll give details in future installments.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Six People I Want to Play Dungeons & Dragons With

I took this blog idea from the great Rule of the Dice blog, which has helped fill the void for me while tenfootpole is on hiatus. Rule of the Dice author C.D. Gallant-King is awesome because he plays a lot and has a metric ton of good stories to share.

I am always looking for fun people to play D&D with (it's the main reason I keep running the sometimes-awful D&D Encounters at the game store each Wednesday). The players don't need to know the rules, they just need to be fun people who aren't going to get all weepy if they roll a 1 on a 20-sided die. And they have to show up on time and pay attention. A good imagination is mandatory, too.

The Dungeon Master

Alan Moore

He is perhaps the greatest comic book writer of all time. He's the author of Watchmen, Killing Joke, and my personal favorite, Promethea. He wrote the Joker's origin. He is a real life magician, he has a bassy voice with an english accent, and he wears a silver ring on every finger. This man is a DM whether he knows it or not. He also believes that our culture is turning to steam.

You know he'd write his own adventure, and you know it would be awesome. He might do some stuff like in the Smax miniseries, where the heroes go on a quest to kill the world's first dragon (a cat with a third eye) which lives in a cave of skulls. And, you know, you'd marry your sister or something (hey, read the comic).

The Players 

Allison Brie

She played AD&D on Community. She is on Mad Men, my favorite TV show, and she is fantastic (also severely under-rated) as the ultra-competent and effective wife of my hero, Pete Campbell. In real life, she seems to be a lot of fun to be around. She comes off as funny and kind. She is beautiful on the inside and the outside. She would be 10 minutes early to the game and she'd probably bring some kind of fun, weird chips for everyone to try.

Her Character: She can play a slightly haughty lawful good paladin in her sleep. She'd be the party leader, and she would not tolerate any uncivility from the rest of the party.

James Earl Jones

He seems like such a nice, laid back guy. And let's face it, he has more geek cred than almost anyone on the planet. He is the voice of Darth Vader! He might be one of those players who plays the game more for the social aspect of the gathering, but that's OK. Every once in a while, his character would shine. Sooner or later, there would be a tragic situation where we'd all beg him to shout out, at the table, an earth-shattering "NOOOOOOOOO".

His Character: He's a chaotic good cleric. He seems like he'd be more than happy to heal and let the other players do the heavy lifting. You know he'd roll out a field of dreams-style pearl of wisdom every once in a while, too.

Ronda Rousey

She is the UFC women's bantamweight champion. She is an olympic silver medalist. She has never lost a mixed martial arts fight. Ronda is known for her devil-may-care attitude and her incredible dedication to training. Her passion tends to boil over, which has caused some fans to root against her. All I know is, she would show up on time to every session and she would be very focused on the game. This is not a person who does anything half-assed.

Her Character: Ronda has often declared her love for Vegeta of Dragonball Z, an abrasive anti-hero. I would imagine that her character would be similar. She'd be a Neutral (maybe even Neutral Evil?) fighter or monk who lives by her own code and doesn't take crap from anyone. She'd be fiercely loyal to her companions, and would stop at absolutely nothing to destroy her enemies.

Monte Cook

He is one of the architects of 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, and more recently the author of the massively popular Numenara RPG. He knows more about D&D and RPGs than almost anyone, and seems like a great guy to boot. I have always admired his creativity. He's written some of my favorite adventures, including A Paladin in Hell and Labyrinth of Madness (which will be the penultimate adventure in my current campaign). He may be the only player alive who could possibly match wits with the ingenious schemes Alan Moore's villains would cook up.

His Character: This one is easy. He'd play his character Malhavoc the wizard. From what I understand, Malhavoc is very powerful and a bit of a loose cannon. Something tells me, though, that Ronda Rousey and Allison Brie could keep him in line.

I found a little info about Malhavoc from a Reddit AMA thing Monte did about 6 months ago: "....it was a character I played when I was a teenager in D&D. He was an elf wizard named Malhavoc with a complex backstory. Over the course of the game, he betrayed all his friends, but eventually grew as a character due to various events, had a change of heart and rescued them from the predicament he had put them in. He had a romantic relationship with an NPC, built a stronghold, had a confrontation with his long-lost father, discovered his half-brother (whom he hated)... oh, and you know, fought some monsters and explored some dungeons too."

Joel Hodgson

(They tried to kill him with a forklift)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a show about a guy and some robots making fun of movies. It was hilarious. Joel was our sleepy-eyed host, who was always coming up with gadgets for his "invention exchanges" with the mad scientists down on earth. Joel seems like such a fun, funny, laid back guy. Who wouldn't want to be pals with him?

His Character: Seeing how Joel is so into prop comedy, I kind of think he'd make a gnome artificer-type character that rides a giant space hamster. If anybody could pull one of those off, it'd be Joel. He'd also be the sober yin to Ronda's raging yang.

If someone put this group together and filmed it, they'd make 2 billion dollars. Just saying. They'd at least recoup their losses. Almost no question.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The D&D Next Zombie Dragon

"Motown Philly back again!"
I called Wizards of the Coast today regarding my game store's D&D Encounters situation. As I mentioned in a previous post, the store did not sanction this event through the system, so we received no materials for it. I bought the .pdf out of my own pocket. Apparently, if this had been sanctioned, we'd have been sent a code to download the .pdf at no cost to me.

That doesn't bother me all that much. I don't mind buying the .pdf. I like to support wizards. But seriously, I want my free dice and whatever other swag they would have sent!

So I called wizards and talked to a nice woman. Basically, there is no way to properly go back and sanction these events. She said that I could make some files, export them and email them to wizards for them to manually enter them in a roundabout way, but it sounds like even that would not set us up in an official capacity. Basically, our store just plain missed out. Until the next season starts, I'll be reporting these as if they were random homebrewed games run in the store.

I tried! At least I got Dead in Thay set up.

Tonight I am running my zombie adventure. I have cooked up a 5e/D&D Next Zombie Dragon. I am using ideas and stats from the D&D Next playtest white dragon, and the "Winged Putrescence" zombie dragon from the 4th edition Draconomicon.

Looking through my old 4e books is very eye-opening. There's such a laser focus on cool encounters. It's so helpful to me, as encounter design (and specifically, "boss fights") are one of my weaknesses as a dungeon master.

I was also looking through my Dungeon Magazine .pdfs from the 4e era. There's so many adventurers I skimmed through and never looked back on. I don't even remember many of them! There's a heck of a lot of material there just lying dormant.

This monster is made to battle very low level characters. Once I run it I can decide if any of the stats need changing. I may edit this post and update it tomorrow with notes on how it went and to change the stats for a final version.

Anyway. Here it is:

Zombie Dragon
 
AC 14 Hit Points 60 Speed 20, Fly 20
Str 20 Dex 7 Con 12 Int 6 Wis 8 Cha 7
Alignment: Neutral Languages: Common/Draconic
Immunities: Disease/poison/frightened/sleep

Brittle: When a PC scores a critical on the Zombie dragon, a body part is severed. Roll a d10 on this chart

1: Head/Neck
2: Right Wing
3: Left Wing
4-6: Torso
7: Right Leg/Ankle/Foot
8: Left Leg/Ankle/Foot
9-10: Tail

Putrid Stench Aura: Start turn within 25 feet, make a DC 10 CON save.  Fail: -2 to hit. Success: Immune to stench for 24 hours.

Multiattack: One bite, one claw.

Claw: +6, 5 damage and grabbed
Bite: +6, 8 damage and DC 12 CON save or infected

(Recharge 5-6) Trioxin Breath: 60 foot cone of gas DEX save DC 12 Success: Target dodges the attack Fail: 8 damage, slowed and infected (become a zombie in one hour).

- The Zombie Dragon is a bit more intelligent than a typical zombie. It is driven by hunger for brains. It can speak a few words here and there (mostly it says "brains" in draconic, which is "shishini" according to this site).

- It is smart enough to learn things here and there, and maybe ever detect an ambush or trick.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

D&D Next Zombie Modifications

Tomorrow night I will be running my zombie adventure for my D&D Next campaign. Our heroes have just finished up the Dungeon of the Bear and are ready for their next challenge.

The scenario is simple. The PCs are looking for a bad guy. They track the bad guy to a village. The bad guy uses a ritual to unleash a zombie plague on the village. I want this all handled in a single session. It's a short tribute to all the zombie movies I've been watching lately, and then we will move on.

D&D Next zombies have a cool little mechanic. When they're reduced to 0 hit points, they make a CON save. The DC is 5 + the damage. If they make the save, they have 1 hit point. It works well.

But I decided to shake things up a bit. For this adventure, these zombies will operate using some of the rules in the All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG. The PCs will have a choice - target the zombie's head (disadvantage to do so), or attack and roll a d10 on this chart to see where you hit the zombie:

1: Head/Neck
2: Right Arm/Wrist/Hand
3: Left Arm/Wrist/Hand
4-6: Torso
7-8: Right Leg/Ankle/Foot
9-10: Left Leg/Ankle/Foot

The zombie doesn't die until a head shot reduces it to 0 hit points.

If a zombie hits a PC, they must make a DC 8 CON save. If they fail, they are infected! They will become a zombie in an hour or so.

The town is Duponde, which is the village from Dark Legacy of Evard

The outbreak will hit shortly after the PCs arrive and meet the townspeople. Some of the townspeople are based on characters from the movies:

Choke on 'em!
Marshal Grimbold: Head of the town watch, he is based on the jerk military guy from Day of the dead. I will try to have him deliver a freaked out fantasy version of this speech: "I'm running this monkey farm now, frankenstein! And I wanna know what the fuck you're doing with my time. If we're just jerkin' off here, I'm gonna have my men blow the piss out of those precious specimens of yours and we're gonna get the hell out of here and leave you and your high-falutin' asshole friends to rot in this stinking sewer."

Brother Zelan: A cleric who will be a lot like the mad doctor from Day of the Dead. He's more interested in figuring out how the zombies work than turning them.

Krugan: The dwarf who runs the general store. He's a goof-ball worried more about his business than anything else, like the owner guy from Return of the Living Dead. I'm going to do a thing where this guy is known for making alchemist's fire, and secretly has a gigantic vat of it in his basement.

I'd also like a couple of "signature" zombies, like the tarman and the half-zombie lady from Return of the Living Dead. 

I will have on that looks sort of like the tarman, but is shrouded in liquid shadow. He will be the corpse of Vontarin, the wizard villain from Dark Legacy of Evard, who cursed the town to slide into the Shadowfell.

I found a cool image online of a zombie dragon. This is Dungeons and Dragons, right? And I wanted my heroes to face a dragon each and every level in this campaign. So zombie dragon it is! We'll say there was one killed decades ago by twon heroes and its' corpse decorated the interior of a hero's tomb or something.

Our heroes will have three objectives:

1. Obtain the symbol of light from the church. It has special radiant powers, and can be used to destroy the shadowstone, the item that has caused this plague.

2. Destroy the shadowstone with the symbol of light, which is held by the bad guy.

3. Stop the zombie outbreak! The best way to do this is to blow up the vat of alchemist's fire in the general store. This will cause a massive explosion that would destroy the entire town. They'll probably have to make a trail of flammable liquid to the outskirts of the city, which will be pretty epic to do in the middle of a zombie outbreak.

I'll be open to any other idea they have as far as defeating the zombies. If the heroes decide not to destroy every last zombie with an epic explosion, I'll have Lucinda the NPC insist on doing it with or without them. Then I'll roll for her to see if she succeeds or fails. Either way, she'll probably die. It'd actually be pretty interesting if she died.

I'll be running this tomorrow night. I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Scourge of the Sword Coast: The Spider Steeder Incident

Fire in the Hold! ... no? No good?
I had an awesome DCC RPG session this past Monday. The details are here.

This blog post is not about DCC, however. It is about the dreaded Scourge! You know, the D&D Encounters game for which I am motivationally-challenged.

I sat down yesterday and did some more pdf flipping. I also skimmed some session reports from other sites. Dungeon's Master is such a fantastic resource for D&D Encounters. If you ever run one of these things, you should definitely bookmark that site.

What I gathered from this half-assed research was that I messed up. Firehammer Hold wasn't supposed to be traveled to until "three other sites" had been adventured in. To me, when the heroes went to Julkoun, there's going to be some evidence of where the citizens were taken. I mean, you've got maybe hundreds of enslaved people tramping through the forest on foot, right?

I cooked up a little fix for myself. Firehammer Hold's final room is this device that you stick the Delimbyr Bloke into. So, I decided I would just have the heroes find that thing and realize they needed to get the bloke next - which actually they should have gotten first.

A quick "search" command of the pdf showed me that the bloke was in Harpshield Castle - a place over-run by orcs. So, I prepared it and printed out some color player maps with certain DM details photoshopped out.

I really like the dungeon locations in this adventure. The heroes are free to approach them however they like. The problem for me is that this style requires a lot more time and thought on my part.

I run two other games. Encounters is not a particularly rewarding experience for me. I often feel like I do not get a return on my investment. The last thing I want to do is to spend 6 hours preparing stuff that ends up sucking or being ignored by players who don't even care enough to bring dice or a pencil.

So I got to the store and people were in a good mood. It is getting nicer out and it makes people happy.
Like SUVs, steeders roll over with alarming regularity

Our heroes killed some duergar slavers, freed some prisoners, explored some caverns. We rolled along quite nicely until... the spiders.

Yes, some duergar had spider "steeders". Giant spider mounts! My players immediately wanted to "tame" them. OK, cool, sounds fun. Not an easy task, especially without a ranger in the party and especially considering our heroes are killing their owners right in front of them.

But hey, give me some good rolls and more importantly, clever ideas on how this could work, and it will happen!

So in the middle of combat, half the party is singing to the spiders while others try to knock them out. The singing doesn't go well.

They try feeding them. Not much luck there.

Then, the hack and slash fighter gives a spider a potion of healing, to heal its' wounds! Now we're talking! And on top of that, he sings to it. Another player does the same. It was really fun to see how excited the players were about this. Two spiders had been befriended.

Another player wanted to tame the third and last spider. He came up with no ideas at all, trying to just get a good Charisma roll for some vague action. I repeatedly tried to explain to him that I'd need to hear how he was going to convince a hostile monster to befriend him. But he didn't seem to get it.

He rolled his die a few times. All his rolls were bad. Finally he rolled a natural one. I told him at that point it seemed clear to his character that these spiders just plain hated him.

This player became weirdly furious. He told me that he wanted to roll again. I said the spiders had made their decision. He tried to roll again anyway, even though I told him it wouldn't count. He rolled low. He rolled again (things were getting weird at this point). He rolled low. He rolled again!! He rolled low!

He then walked into the bathroom and punched a wall.

Then he sat at the table and sulked while his uncle tried to soothe his jangled nerves.

This is a phenomenon I have.. ahem.. encountered.... over and over and over again in D&D. By my estimation, 25% of Encounters players can not handle rolling poorly. They get angry. Often they have a significant other with them who is used to this behavior, and tries to calm them down, which usually makes them angrier.
It's not fair! The DM knows my PC is afraid of snakes!

I have never understood this behavior. Why are you playing this game if its' basic conceit infuriates you? Who cares if you roll low? Indiana Jones "rolled low" all the time. He'd fall through a roof onto a pile of snakes. And then he'd stumble into an adjacent cart with a lion in it and whip himself in the face! Guess what? Indiana Jones is awesome!

It's like people want to "win" d&d. They want to hit every time. They want no chance of failure. The idea that their character would look "stupid" or "weak" enrages them.

It seems to boil down to three words: "It's not fair". And every time I encounter this, my reaction is the same. Yes, you are correct. Life is not fair. This is a game and you rolled a 3. Maybe soon you'll roll a 17. If not, who the hell cares? Do you really think the DM is going to let the entire party die on account of everyone rolling 4's and lower? Has that ever happened? And if it did happen, wouldn't the group talk about it for years to come as the craziest battle ever?

After this momentary set-back, our heroes rode their spider-steeders through the dungeon trying not to let the sulking bring down the mood. There were more fights, lots of danger, but our heroes were victorious.

The players really want to keep using these characters. I told them they could use them through the next one, Dead in Thay, if we leveled slower. The players were very happy with this idea.

Then they proposed the idea of having proteges that they could hand off some of their gear to for future encounters seasons. I love that idea (which is a Knights of the Dinner Table staple) and rubber-stamped it.

Next time - Harpshield Castle!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Zombie Dungeons & Dragons Adventure

I am Batroc! Zee Lee-pair!
My Dungeon Crawl Classics group got halfway through The One Who Watches From Below last week (There's a very good review of this adventure here). I posted about the latest DCC session here.

The author of the adventure was nice enough to give me some advice on possibly using the villain as a patron, which one of the party wizards wants to do. The wizard will have to cut out her eyes...!

Tonight I will be running my D&D Next game. Our heroes should finish up the Dungeon of the Bear. I had a bunch of choices about what dungeon to use next - maybe the Barrowmaze, or maybe The Many Gates of the Gann.

I've decided, instead, to run a home-brewed scenario. If you've been reading this blog in the last week, you know that I have been watching a lot of zombie movies. I've decided to go ahead and run a zombie adventure.

Coolest looking zombie ever!
Our heroes will go to a town in search of one of the villains of my campaign. The heroes will sleep in the inn or wherever in the town. During the night, our villain casts a ritual that begins a zombie plague. When our heroes awaken, boom, it is zombie time.

I'm still working out the details, but I'll probably set it up where our heroes will need to get to three locations in the town as the outbreak gets worse and worse. I'll try to have them make some tough choices on who to save, like in the Walking Dead video game.

I like the idea of the town being totally wiped out. And the heroes can have a showdown with the evil wizard at the climax. All of this in one tight session! I think it could be really awesome.

Chris Perkins advises that when you have an outside inspiration, you should try to incorporate it into what you are doing in your campaign currently. I'm going to give it a serious try. I am pretty excited.

I'm going to need to sit down and cook up some zombie tropes that should be included. I'd like there to be some barricading, definitely. There should be rain, and a cemetery with zombies digging themselves out of their graves. I am thinking that our evil villain raises the zombies from the cemetery and sicks them on the town.

I'd like to include a couple of memorable zombies if at all possible, like the Tarman and the half-lady from Return of the Living Dead. Not sure if I can come up with something suitably clever. Please feel free to email me ideas or examples from your own games.

I want the zombies to be slow-moving. While I find the ones who run fast scary, I think as a player I'd enjoy the slow ones more. It feels less dangerous, and the game becomes more about choosing your path, and to a degree, choosing when you engage the enemy. Although, of course, eventually the zombies will bear down on you in great numbers. But the PCs will have time to plan. Our heroes' fate is somewhat in their own hands.

While writing this I realized that I have been spelling "cemetery" wrong for my entire life. I tried to watch a zombie movie called Cemetery Man the other day, but it bothered me. I was offended by the "hero" hitting on a woman whose husband had just died. I can't root for a schmuck like that!

I'll let you know how the game goes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Best D&D Adventures of All Time Part 2


Here is part two of my choices for the greatest D&D adventures of all time. Part One is here. As I said before, the thing that is most important to me when it comes to a module is exciting ideas. All of these adventures are ones that I have run.

The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga


I know a lot of people prefer the 1st edition version of this adventure, but The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga is the first "version" of the hut that I read and I loved it. In fact, I love it so much that I haven't read it in 15 years and I can rattle off all of my favorite parts.
  • Getting In is a Challenge: The hut is surrounded by 64 necrophidius golems which will utterly decimate the heroes if proper protocol is not adhered to.
  • Weird Rooms: There are many doors in the hut. There is one where, if you open it, you've opened a door to your own intestines.
  • Pit Fiends: There is a room containing pit fiends playing tag with fireballs.
  • Godzilla: There is a controversial room where, well, basically Godzilla is stomping on Tokyo. Your PCs are Godzilla-sized. Will they battle the mighty lizard?! What happened here in my game was that the PCs scooped up and kept handfuls of tiny fleeing Japanese people. They were put in a little bottled city. Over hundreds of years, they procreated and now I have a race of tiny people descended from them in my campaign world known as the akaname.
This adventure is insane and a lot of fun. I have since run the 1st edition version, "The Dancing Hut" from Dragon Magazine, and found it lacking. The original version leaves out way too many details. I prefer the 2nd edition version (and the 4e version by Craig Campbell).

Zenith Trajectory (Dungeon Magazine #102)


I am going to go ahead and say that this is my favorite actual dungeon of all time. I've never enjoyed reading or running one more.

To get to the dungeon of Bhal Hamatugn, you have to cross a misty underground lake. Kuo Toa may swim up from underwater to try to flip your boat. If that happens, you're in an underwater combat with them and you are in big trouble.
  • Huge Battle on the Steps: You may have to battle hoards of Kuo Toa minions on the steps of the prehistoric-fish-shaped-entrance. Some have sticky shields that your weapons might get stuck to (what a cool idea).
  • The Black Dragon: You will likely do battle with the hilarious and creepy black dragon Dhorlot who has been impregnating kuo toa females to create hybrid creatures. Dhorlot is something of a ladies man.
  • Crazy Final Battle: You will fight the insane dwarf who sits on a throne of stitched skin in a room full of twitching, headless corpses hung from ropes.
Legacy of Io (Dungeon Magazine #172)


Legacy of Io has a really world-shattering story. Tiamat, the evil god of dragons, killed Bahamut, the good god of dragons. Bahamut had a contingency plan which involves our trusty adventurers. They must travel to Hestavar, a city where angels and devils co-exist. From there, we commence with the awesome:
  • The Angel-Making Devil: The heroes must face off with a devil who grows baby cherub sidekicks out of his stomach.
  • Prism Bombs: There are librarians of Ioun who throw prism bombs and can transform their foes into weasels
  • Artifact: The adventurers might obtain the Arrow of Fate, an artifact made from Io's Blood.
  • Epic Battle: They must battle the exarch of a primordial in a "hole in an ocean"
This one had a real Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade feel to it. I loved that movie and I loved every second of this adventure.

Tempest Rising (Skull & Shackles Adventure Path)


Skull & Shackles is one of the greatest campaigns I have ever run. This adventure is about the heroes proving themselves as worthy pirate lords. To do so, they enter a pirate ship race known as the Free Captains' Regatta. The prize: An island. The race is beyond awesome.
  • Dagon's Piss: Our heroes must navigate sandbars and "Dagon's Piss" (a swirling wash of ocean currents). 
  • Magic Hurricane: They'll have to face off with a dragon turtle and pass through a magical hurricane known as the Eye of Abendago.
  • Lightning Elementals: They'll brave a lightning storm and a lightning elemental and then maybe end up in the final stretch racing their hated foe, Captain Barnabus Harrigan of The Wormwood.
Of course, there are miniatures of all the prominent monsters and NPCs of Skull & Shackles because Paizo is awesome.

This was one of the most fun things I've ever run in d&d. My players won the race in the final stretch by tossing their heftiest crewmember overboard.

Intrigue at the Court of Chaos


In Intrigue at the Court of Chaos, the adventurers stand before five massive entities of Chaos. The Court of Chaos includes god-like creatures such as Noohl the warlord, Dzzhali the undead bride, and Magog, the guy with a 2-trunk face that ends in seven-fingered hands! The Court wants our trusty heroes to go to the Plane of Law to steal an ancient artifact.
  • The Long Ox: They will have to pass by the 30 foot long ox, Taurziel. This made me laugh more than almost anything else in D&D ever.
  • The Floating Diamond: They will have to enter the floating diamond known as The Cataphract and complete 5 challenges!
  • Utter Chaos at the End: The group will need to decide which member of the court to give the egg to. The party may tear themselves apart making this decision!
This adventure is an absolute pleasure. So creative, so fun. There is nothing in this world I like saying out loud more than "THE CATAPHRACT."

And there you have it. The greatest adventures of all time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Scourge of the Sword Coast: Warhammer vs. Ponies

Yay, it's time for Scourge of the Brony Toast!
I tried to get in the right mindset for Encounters tonight. Really! I did! But preparing this module is agony. I haven't read the whole thing and I just can't bring myself to do it.

2 hours before the game, I sat down and flipped through the pdf. I discovered that, apparently, my players are supposed to have the Delimbyr Bloke before they come to Firehammer Hold. Basically, they'll need to stick it in some thingamajig to turn it into a kind of cool item that summons astral dwarves. I decided I'd just have the PCs get to the final room, realize they need the bloke, and go do that quest. They can bring it back to Firehammer Hold and get their astral dwarf-maker.

I finished preparing Firehammer Hold. I like the Duergar. I like the idea of rescuing the prisoners who are forced to mine. It's very classic and yet a scenario I haven't run much. That said, I just have no enthusiasm for this material.

But I tried to go in to the store with a positive attitude. I tried to care. This must be just a fraction of what high school teachers feel each and every day. Those poor bastards.

Our brony was in attendance. And our pegasister has joined us officially as well (I learned a new word, see?).

Behind us were tables of Warhammer players. They are dudes in their 20's to 40's. They are competitive, they're probably stoners, and the last thing they want to hear while they're tape-measuring distances is some high school kid squealing every pony and video game reference he can recall.

Maybe I'm just used to this kid's voice. But there came a point tonight where a few of the warhammer players sort of teased our brony's high-pitched, excited pony references. This is not the first time. They haven't gotten too mean yet, but I may have to jump in.

Later, the warhammer-ers started playing music on their laptop. I told them to turn it down.. I mean, I'm trying to run a game. They did. I eventually realized they were probably trying to drown out the brony. I don't blame them. He wasn't shouting, but his voice carries and these guys were playing at a table directly behind us.

Our heroes went to Firehammer Hold. There's multiple exterior entrances. The first one is sealed,  and you need a knock spell or a siege engine to open it. The party paladin went to the second entrance, which was wide open. But the rest of the party was fixated on getting the first door open. Yes, even though there is a second entrance right there.

They began to dig into the cliff wall next to the door with one pick, a few warhammers, and... a rock. They did it all day, exhausting themselves. They made almost no progress. The paladin character just kind of watched them, baffled. They tried to dig for 6 hours.

As night fell, I had 8 duergar came out of that door carrying the bodies of 4 dead prisoners. They were going to bring them to the mass grave (as per the adventure text). I had them come through that door (yeah even though it was bolted shut... I guess they de-bolted it) just to get things moving, and because it amused me. I am pretty sure the players were set to try to dig through the cliff face with basically their bare hands for days.

A big fight broke out. I had the duergar each spend an action to grow a foot tall. I was worried that the dwarves would get slaughtered by basically giving up an entire round enlarging, but their ACs are so high that it worked fine. They have an AC of 18.

Our heroes got hurt bad, but killed the duergar. The PCs already needed a rest. They had to rest after the first room of the dungeon. And so they rested right there in that very room where their loud fight was. More duergar from a room down the hall jump in, and our heroes take further damage before killing them.

The heroes begin to explore the complex. They come to a door. Brony has a throwing hammer which is attached to a bungee cord (yes I gave up a long time ago, obviously). He wanted to smash the door open with it. So I shrugged and had him roll. He kept rolling bad, so the hammer hit the door, made a loud noise, made the monster inside angry, but didn't smash it open.

Then the party's hack and slash fighter grabbed the brony's character and threw him at the door. He rolled really high. The brony exploded through the door and landed spread-eagle right in front of a giant cave lizard. It bit him in the leg. The brony player spazzed out and actually walked over to the hack and slash guy and punched him in the arm. I warned him not to do that again. He actually did try to do it again later in the night and I told him to stop it.

Am I the only person dealing with stuff like this? I can't be, can I?

So the heroes wander the dungeon with no plan or pattern. They get set on fire. They fight hordes of duergar. They were smart enough to take down the overseers right away (who get two attacks and an extra action on top of that!).

They worked their way into the mines. The party cleric dove into a 20 foot deep pool. He swam to the bottom, hoping to find treasure. The hack and slash guy took the opportunity to pee in the pool, temporarily blinding the cleric with his cloudy urine.

The PCs discovered a room with caged pits holding prisoners and a couple guards. We stopped there for the night.

Upon coming home, I checked in to the DCI reporting software and I see that these games that I have been running and telling you about are not being reported by the store. Which means that the free dice and stuff that the players and I could get will likely never be sent.

Further, I see that the store has not sanctioned the next season, which is called Dead in Thay. I went ahead and sanctioned it. I have repeatedly offered to do things like this for the store, but they don't seem to want me to do it. The manager is a great guy, he just has too much on his plate. I want to do it for him, for free. It only takes a minute. This happens every few seasons. Sometimes, if I don't report the games, they don't get reported at all. I am going to have to call wizards tomorrow to get this sorted out.

The Best D&D Adventures of All Time Part 1


I just finished running the DCC RPG adventure Intrigue at the Court of Chaos and I have decided that it is one of the best adventures I have ever run. It's fun, it's creative and it is pretty much everything I want in a D&D adventure.

This got me thinking about where it would rank amongst my very favorite adventures. I've decided to compile a list of my favorites to present to you. This compilation has got about 10 or 12 entries, so I've decided to present them roughly in the order of oldest to newest.

Some of these are not technically "D&D" modules, I just call most fantasy stuff "D&D." Some of these are supplements with more than one adventure in them. All I care about is good, exciting ideas. It's so rare for me to actually enjoy reading an adventure. Usually, it is a chore! These are the exceptions:

White Plume Mountain


White Plume Mountain is a "funhouse" dungeon full of inventive encounter areas and iconic magic items. I ran this when I was a kid and butchered it. I was able to redeem myself by running it for 5e in 2014. The dungeon is hilarious and I can't get over how it is only about 14 pages long yet it took four sessions to get through! My favorite parts:
  • The Frictionless Room: You have to cross pits full of rusty razor blades that can infect you with super-tetanus.
  • The Spinning Hallway: A tunnel that is striped and spins. I don't want to spoil it. It is very amusing.
  • The Boiling Mud Platform Room: You have to cross a room by jumping on platforms over a pit of boiling mud. It was one of my favorite sessions in a long time
  • Blackrazor, Whelm and Wave: Three iconic artifacts!
 Five Coins For a Kingdom


All right, hold on to your face. In Five Coins for a Kingdom, your home city is suddenly torn up out of the ground and begins hurtling toward the sun! To save it, you have to collect five magic coins and travel to an outer plane called "Eloysia," a plane full of matter known as the plenum. There are air bubbles in the plenum, where there are floating islands that people live on. You can travel between them by riding 300 foot long fish called auratas. You can direct an aurata to move by stomping on the back of its eyelid.

Anyway, some islands are chained together by massive miles-long chains. Your PCs lead an army into battle on one of these chains!

This is the most epic thing ever.

Rogue Mistress
 

Rogue Mistress is an entire campaign made for the Stormbringer game. I had no trouble converting it to Spelljammer. It does suffer from a bit of railroading and an annoying super-npc who steals the focus from the players, but any DM can fix that. Let me list some of the insanely awesome things in this book:
  • Demon Hearts: The evil Pollidemia removes the hearts of the heroes and replaces them with demon hearts. They can have demon heart attacks that give them weird demonic mutations. To remove the hearts, they must scour the planes for an artifact known as the planar knife.
  • Flying Ship: The heroes travel on a flying ship with a sweaty-boobed spanish lady and a frog demon.
  • Planar Webways: They must make their way through a planar tunnel full of weird spider monsters. The center of this place turns you inside out. You don't die, and you better keep moving because there is this titanic spider that doesn't want you in there.
  • My Most Popular Villain: Pollidemia the Wicked is by far the most popular villain in any of my campaigns, ever. I have been using her for 15 years of real life time and she has never gotten stale. Her undead lovers, fire-bellied zombies, are just a bonus.
To be perfectly frank, this is probably my absolute favorite RPG product of all time despite the fact that I don't even play Stormbringer.

Bane of the Shadowborn (From Dungeon Magazine #31)


Bane of the Shadowborn is set in the demi-plane of Ravenloft. The heroes must collect four keys, each tied to an element, to free the spirit of a woman named Lady Shadowborn from the grip of an evil sword called Ebonbane.

This one gave me another popular lasting villain for my campaign, and a player of mine ended up creating a descendant of Lady Shadowborn as a character that had a very memorable run.

Ebonbane can create symbols, is a +4 vorpal sword, it can control the weather around Shadowborn Manor, and it can animate blades. It can actually turn the group's weapons against them!

This was a great adventure that had a huge impact on my campaign world.

A Dozen and One Adventures


Al Qadim is a sorely under-rated setting. The A Dozen and One Adventures boxed set gave me so much more quality material than in any other product I've ever bought. I actually had to buy a second box of this because I used the books so much that they were falling apart. Here's some of the greatness:
  • Sakina Falls: A dungeon/headquarters guarded by a magic waterfall. To get inside, you had to split the water by saying "Sakina, move aside!" This place became my party's home for most of my 118-session Al Qadim campaign.
  • Outbrag a Genie: An adventure where a PC must defeat an efreet in a boasting contest. Topics include: The power of your magic items, the type and number of enemies defeated, and "skill in romance." If the PC wins, he or she may be granted a wish.
  • Severed Head of a Lich: "The Head" is the name of the severed head of a lich situated on a floating pillow. Inside The Hall of Lost Kings, his home, is this description: "The floor is covered with beautiful carpets on which kneel hundreds of human bodies, wearing magnificently embroidered tattered robes. These are the assembled corpses of Muluk's ancient Caliphs, frozen in silent reverence to their lord."
  • The Astrolabe of Entrapment: This item contains 12 genie prisons arranged in an elaborate mechanism inside its revolving metal sphere. Only one genie prison is active per month. During that time you can summon the genie and make it do your bidding. You can, of course, also use it to trap genies!
It is insane how much awesome material is in that box. I ran an entire campaign based on it and I used maybe half of what was in there.

Dawn of the Overmind


This is the third part of the Mind Flayer Trilogy, which was pretty much awesome from start to finish. It is linked to The Illithiad, which is in my opinion one of the best sourcebooks ever. The mind flayers are draining the power from the sun and the adventurers must travel to a world ravaged by the mindflayers to stop it. There is a ton of great stuff in here:
  • Gith: Our heroes meet and maybe battle Gith forerunners. The Gith are the slave race that the githyanki and githzerai evolved from.
  • Get Mind Blast: The PCs find tumerogenesis tanks, which may have helped create/evolve the gith races. If you are insane enough to climb into one, you may cause your eyes to implode or, if you're lucky, gain the mind flayer ability to use mind blast!
  • Laethen: A tea that causes you to go through "ceremorphosis." Roll to see if your personality survives this. If so, you wake up in the body of an illithid. "The biggest hurdle this pseudo-illithid must overcome is brain hunger."
  • Epic Final Battle: You fight a 20 foot tall exarch/"proxy" of Ilsensine, god of the mind flayers.
It is unreal how many cool concepts Bruce Cordell came up with for these adventures. The entire trilogy is grossly under-rated.

Believe it or not, we haven't even finished 2nd edition yet! Soon we'll rank the rest of 2e and then get into 3.5, pathfinder and of course my beloved 4th edition (yes, there were good 4e adventures, you scallywag!). Click here to continue to Part 2.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Zombies in Dungeons & Dragons

"Blah blah time is a flat circle, I do quaaludes, etc."
It has been a busy few days, intrepid explorers! I ran my D&D Next game on Sunday night, and Dungeon Crawl Classics on Monday night.

I watched season one of True Detective. It was getting hyped up by a lot of people so I figured I'd try and jump on the bandwagon. It's ok. I don't want to spoil it, but they set up a lot of plot threads that do not get paid off. Even though there's only 8 episodes, the show feels more complicated and meandering than it needs to be.

I've also been watching a lot of zombie movies. I do not have my finger on the pulse of our culture, so I couldn't tell you if zombies are considered played out at this point of time (Though I'd imagine World War Z was a strong "jump the shark" indicator). I do hear a lot of groaning about The Walking Dead and how it peaked in the very first episode. I don't know, I don't really care about TV and movies like that, except when it comes to Mad Men. Pete Campbell is my hero.

I have this dream of running a D&D zombie campaign. You know, the usual situation where you wake up and half of your neighbors are zombies - but I want to do it in a fantasy world. Maybe some powerful necromancer casts a spell to kick it off or something. That would be fun.

Each zombie movie has their own version of zombies:

Return of the Living Dead
The history of these films and George Romeros' is pretty interesting. Romero went for more of a satirical approach in his films (I still find it very amusing that zombies are naturally inclined to go to the mall). These "Return of the Living Dead" films are more comedic and fun.

The zombies in this movie are very different than I expected. For one thing, they can talk. They are somewhat intelligent. The premise here is that the living dead are in constant pain, and the only thing that eases the pain is to eat brains.

This movie has a very iconic pink-haired woman who I immediately stole for use as an NPC. There's also probably the coolest-looking zombie I've ever seen on film. It's this weird tar-covered skeleton creature. It looks really freaky.

Planet Terror




This is one of Robert Rodriguez's grindhouse tribute films. The "scratchy film" effect gets real old. And man, I hate seeing Quentin Tarantino act. I like some of his movies, but I do not want to see him on screen. He is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

The zombies in this one are created by infection. They are covered in pus-filled boils. I didn't really care for these zombies at all. I like the "walking corpse" type. The boils don't add anything except a bit of a gross-out factor.

The movie does have some amusing NPCs in it. The stripper-with-the-machine-gun-leg is kind of cool. Actually, syringe-specialist-nurse-bisexual-mom kind of steals the whole movie.

Deadgirl
Do not watch this film if you are squeamish! If you don't like A Clockwork Orange, you won't like this. I probably would have turned it off if I didn't know what it was about ahead of time.

The zombies in this one do not care who you are - they will eat you. It can lead to some very interesting twists. I do appreciate this film's cynical, depressingly realistic outlook.

As far as RPGs go, Dungeon Crawl Classics does some cool things with their monsters, but they don't do much with their zombies. Heck, ghosts have a cool chart and zombies get two paragraphs.

D&D Next zombies are actually really cool. They basically get a save when they should be dropped to 0. If they make it, they have one hit point. This is scarily effective and gave my D&D Encounters group big problems a few sessions back.

Speaking of Encounters, I'll be running that tomorrow. I guess I better start wading through that pdf.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The MOST AWESOME D&D Spelljammer Monsters (Appendix 1)

My scrying orb reveals that your cousin is taking a shower
Ho there, space sages! Do you like monsters? I know that you do. I am getting a tickly feeling just thinking about it. De-glaze those eyeballs, for it is time to check out a bunch of SPACE MONSTERS for your campaign!

I love AD&D 2nd Edition. And I love many of the settings: Al Qadim, Planescape, and especially Spelljammer.

As I prepare for next year's D&D Next Spelljammer campaign, I thought it would be best to look through the first of the Spelljammer Monstrous Compendiums to see which monsters should be used, and which should be avoided or used solely to trot out for the PCs to laugh at and abuse.

And so I present to you, The Most Awesome Spelljammer Monsters (from Appendix 1)

Yes that is a HIPPOMAN SCREAMING

Fractine

What is that tumbling and folding through space heading right for my ship? Why, it's a giant mirror! Hmmm, if I focus, I can see my past, my future, and my innermost weaknesses in it.

Argh! It's falling on me, passing through me, causing damage as well as a special effect, such as:

- Teleporting me in a random direction
- Sending MY MIND TO ANOTHER PLANE
- Turning me ethereal!
- Distorting my form like lengthening my limbs or flattening me out.
- Switching a part of my body with that of my friend over there! Yes, if I make an INT check I can still control that limb.

I attack it but the damage is reflected back on me!

So awesome. Once it devours enough of your hit points, it leaves. I'll probably use this as a random encounter while the heroes are flying their ship through space.

Radiant Golem


Why did that kid hand me a bar of soap?
This muscly, genitalactically-challenged fellow is 15 feet tall, 6,000 pounds. He is Neutral with good tendencies (that's a 2e thing). He has a black body and a blue aura. He can telepathically speak with most creatures.

He might punch you for 6d10. Can only be hit by +4 or higher. Oh, and he radiates a death aura. If you're within 10 yards of him for 24 hours, you lose d6 hit points permanently.

He drifts from sphere to sphere trying to find friends. He does not know about his aura, or believe that it exists. He simply assumes that living things die very quickly.

What a sad creature. He's kind of like the '80's Bill Bixby Hulk.

Argos


Dude you left it in my cavity two months ago
This blobby guy is a giant amoeba with one central eye and 100 smaller eyes and mouths. It can cling to walls or ceilings and can fly slowly. They have a few limb-like pseudopods that end in mouths,

They smell like flowers! They are 10 to 20 feet wide/tall. You can store gear in temporary body cavities (!!!!). Their digestive juices ruin these things in 2-3 weeks.

It can attack you with d3 mouths or weapons.
On a natural 20, it swallows you whole. You must cut your way out while taking damage from the digestive juices.

The eyes of an argos have special powers! It an focus d10 eyes on a target. The 100 eyes share 20 powers.

Some of the powers include blindness, heat metal, slow, and turn flesh to stone. Most of them are relatively safe, like clairvoyance and ESP.

The central eye can use one of three powers per round: Alter self, color spray or ray of enfeeblement

The argos are ravenous creatures driven by hunger. If it doesn't eat for a week, it can hibernate for up to a year by crystallizing its outer shell and forming a chrysalis (what a cool thing to stumble on).

Zodar

Snake Eyes goes to Camelot
Walking suits of armor made of star-stuff. They can speak three times in their lives.  Inside the armor is muscle fibers (ugh). Super strong and fast.

They are very powerful, and are impervious to magic!

Three times in their lives, they can cause any spell to occur by casting it. They can also cast a wish spell one time.

They may be tied to the protection and maintenance of crystal shells. Zodar are loners. I just like these guys because they are mysterious. Their secret purpose can tie into your game in any number of ways. Plus I get a kick out of the zodar waiting a really long time in the campaign and then finally speaking, only for it to be something funny or stupid.

Giant Space Hamster

I will MESS YOU UP
Behold! Bear-sized hamsters from outer space! They can store up to 200 pounds of food in their cheeks. "Food" meaning YOU!
But do not fear, compatriot. They are friendly! They live in huge hamster ranches on gnome colonies. Some gnomes have made massive colorful pipe systems for them to crawl around in (I once ran a dungeon inside a giant space hamster tube system).

Their meat is delicious! What is their meat called? Well... this is where you either love it or hate it. Space hamster meat is known as..... "spaham".

You know what else? There's an entire PAGE of racial variations! Your senses shall be reeling when you come face to face with a:

Sabre-Toothed Giant Space Hamster
Invisible Giant Space Hamster (Invisible about an hour per day, even when attacking!)
Yellow Musk Giant Space Hamster (Can emit a gas cloud that blinds)
Ethereal Giant Space Hamster (Not actually ethereal. It is translucent and its' skeleton can be seen.)
Tyrannohamsterus Rex! (No attacks! weighs 75 tons! Scares easily!)
Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen (They say he is super-smart. He can cast spells. And he HATES GNOMES)

My Shadow Pantheon game has been pushed back a couple days. That gives me more time to tinker with the dungeon, as well as to finish my notes on He Who Watches From Below. See you tomorrow, faithful reader!