Friday, July 31, 2015

More on Chaosium's Reaquisition of Runequest

Loz post's about what this all means on the Design Mechanism Boards here. I really appreciate the full disclosure; Pete and Loz have always been great at explaining what is going on and why/where/how. A quick summary, with my diatribe shotgun commentary:

1. Runequest 6 will go away in 2016, to be replaced by Chaosium's Runequest which will no longer be generic, and will fully incorporate Glorantha as it's core setting. Fans of Glorantha will rejoice at last (it's been long in coming) while fans of the more generic mytho-historical default Runequest going back to Avalon Hill's edition in 1983 will be disappointed. My concern is that over the last 32 years a significant fanbase for Runequest developed that identify the game with its mechanical and historical rigor as a generic system and not as a vessel for Glorantha. If the Chaosium Runequest is still fully able to support a non-Glorantha environment, I will be happy; if it requires a little work or is too distinct a product of its setting then I will have to sit this one out.....I get that Glorantha is appreciated, and I appreciate that; but I am an old gamer dude and my world/setting investment lies elsewhere.

2. Loz and Pete can continue to support RQ with supplemental material through the Design Mechanism. This is good...have you seen the RQ6 supplements? They are stellar books, meaty and ambitious. Monster Island and Mythic Britain are two of the best books I own.

3. Loz does not know the status on Chaosium's existing games, i.e. Magic World, the only one occupying the same creative/genre space as Runequest. Good news I suppose is if the new RQ is specifically a Glorantha-focused rule set (welcome back to 1978 I guess) then maybe Magic World will continue to exist for those who prefer a non-Gloranthafied edition of the BRP system.

4. The new RQ will be mechanically identical to RQ6 (or close enough I guess). This is good; it's probably the best iteration of BRP on the market, and frankly a future revision of BRP should --in my opinion-- borrow more from RQ6 than from CoC 7th. Or do what it always does and provide all the options for both.

Four Interesting Announcements Spewing out of GenCon ...So Far

#1. Moon Design now is part of the ownership group of Chaosium. This means "The band is back together," according to Petersen when referring to Glorantha and Runequest. Indeed. Which leads to...

#2. There will be a new edition of Runequest coming, according to witnesses -- but don't panic yet! Design Mechanism will still be doing it. Alas, this is probably a stake in the heart for the lighter fantasy RPG Magic World that I love so much. Maybe they will ditch that crappy font in RQ6 that makes the book a serious annoyance for me to read. Yes, I probably have some form of SPD, but I'd love to be able to do something with Runequest and that font....oh gods those little curlique ts that loop back....the humanity...

#3. Vampire: The Masquerade will get a 4th edition. This will be the edition to fully and truly start edition wars for WoD fans, apparently. I'll probably get it.

#4. Pelgrane is doing the Delta Green RPG?. I bet they are!!!! Will it be Gumshoe-powered. Fuuu....

Pulp Adventure: Simulation vs. Spiritual Intent

Spiritual pulp -- the descendant which has fallen far from the tree but I think still counts

One thing I've learned in the last couple weeks of designing and running some pulp adventures is that there's an interesting schism in the market, that I am identifying as the "simulationist" vs. the "spiritual" style of pulp gaming. The distinction, I've realized now, is very important for a few reasons:

Simulationist pulp tends to reflect the genre as it was; a sort of mirror on the 30's era of fiction, comics and film that spawned practically everything that has come since. It's about emulating the feel, style and tropes of the pulps as they were.

Simulationist pulp is what most dedicated Pulp adventure game systems focus on: Amazing Adventures, Astounding Adventures, Pulp Hero, Thrilling Tales and Hollow Earth Expedition are all examples of this genre. The intent here is to emulate the pulp heroes of that era and their adventures, often even the tropes which include lots of bad science, a general disregard for the politics of the era in favor of comic-book level fantasy images of the era, and possibly even some variant on even the really archaic staples of that period such as helpless women and rampant racism that is only obvious in the lens of the modern viewer looking back.

Spiritual pulp is actually what most of us are thinking of when we use Indiana Jones as an analogy for the pulps. It's also Star Wars and a host of other modern takes; this is what pulp transmigrated into, in a sense: modern takes on the pulp genre, but also rife with the advances and tropes of modern gaming.

Spiritual pulp is really about extracting the most compelling elements of the genre in order to create a game that follows in the tradition of pulp adventuring, but with a modern attitude and the benefit of historical and scientific hindsight. It can and often does let you explore the 1930's but from the lens of the modern viewer, which often means you can't just drop wild native tribesemen with witch doctors into a setting without also figuring out who those tribesmen are and what their local mythology actually is. You can have strong female figures, something almost (but not entirely) nonexistent in the original fiction. You can build stories around modern concepts of science and fantasy that are distinctly pulp in the sense that they involve crazy, wild adventures and action, often with the two-fisted action at the fore. However, spiritual pulp doesn't have to be in the 30's, and rarely is in most cases. It maintains modern sensibilities in almost every case, eschewing the cultural moors and limits of 30's era pulp fiction such as sexism and racism in favor of modern reinterpretations....not merely "modern attitudes in the past" but often exploring the reality of what was going on back then instead....that the women in pulp fiction, to take an example, were often idealogical depictions of the young male fascination with women in the 30's and not actual depictions of how many women might have thought or behaved in the context the pulps placed them.

Anyway.....just some observations on the pulp genre I've run in to while messing with it. One thing I did learn is that I much prefer spiritual pulp gaming over simulationist....and I did start this exercise off looking at a simulationist approach. As it turns out, I think I may just be too "modern" to pull it off and feel comfortable with the result.

Simulationist Pulp

Spiritual Pulp that adheres as closely as it can to the traditional period
while inverting as many old school tropes as it embraces

Savage Worlds vs. BRP for Pulp Action

I ran part one of a two-part BRP Astounding Adventures game Wednesday. The session was fun, but I realized as I was playing that there are, in fact, other systems that will do pulp better than BRP, and with more bells and whistles. Specifically: Savage Worlds.

Don't get me wrong...Astounding Adventures is a great resource. But if you believe that system can support play, then it's a no brainer: the Fast! Furious! Fun! methodology of Savage Worlds works best for pulp action, no question about it.

After we wrap the second session on this, I'm going to suggest we jump over to Savage Worlds. It's's built to handle the kind of high octane madness pulp can dish out. BRP can do it, sure....but it's just not quite as bang-em-up as I know Savage Worlds can be.

Hmmmm....maybe I'll have my players convert mid-session. Must ponder.....

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Backing the Castles & Crusades Mythos Kickstarter

Dammit, this is getting to be a bad habit for me...I'm backing another Kickstarter. But: the Troll Lords are very consistent and reliable in their Kickstarters, and their books for the last couple of years now have been stellar productions. Also, I bought Codex Nordica which Brian Young (the author of the three books in this KS) wrote, and it's really, really good stuff; I'll be snagging Codex Celtarum soon.

C&C Mythos is actually a KS for 3 books: Codex Germanica, Codex Slavorum and Codex Classicum. Together it sounds like you could have the full workings of an ancient mythic Europe campaign. Now, if they are contextually like Codex Nordica then you can expect a series of books laden with the flavor and mythology of each setting, and an emphasis on the academic historical could in fact use Codex Nordica for a straight up traditional historical game if you like, but its really aimed at something larger than life and more mythic; the world as traditional Vikings thought it was, rather than just what historians knew it to be.

So...Mythos. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pulp adventuring: Astounding Adventures kicks off tonight

My Wednesday group has reached an intermission in the ongoing D&D 5E campaign so they are about to embark on a BRP Astounding Adventures game....once it's done and over I'll have some pulp-era adventures to post on the blog. It's been interesting prepping for the game, and I wanted to comment that the adventure generator tool in Astounding Adventures is really handy. It's also sparked my interest in seeing what the second printing and additional books for the Amazing Adventures (SIEGE-powered pulp game) look like now that they are out. I had wanted to back that one when it was a Kickstarter but couldn't justify the expense at that time, unfortunately.

Aside from the AA book for BRP I am also cribbing material from GURPS Cliffhangers which is an excellent resource for any pulp gamer, as well as GURPS Place of Mystery, which I borrowed ideas from for a couple of the scenarios I worked out. Tonight's game, however, will take everyone off to the Solomon Islands in the South Seas.....a rough and tumble locale for pulp 30's gaming if ever there was one!

Anyway, going to be fun....I think, outside of some period campaigns I've run using GURPS and CoC in the past I've never actually run a 30's style hardcore pulp adventure game before, except for a one-shot I did in True20 ages ago, and of course the mid-80's era when I ran a lot of Indiana Jones (the TSR game).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Primeval Thule for 5E Kickstarter

Here's one I think I really do need to back. From Sasquatch Studios, the recent producers of the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign module for D&D 5E, Primeval Thule is a pulp fantasy lost-world sort of setting, lavishly illustrated and well worth checking out. I have seen the Pathfinder edition which a friend of mine received as a backer, and I heard they had a 13th Age version that was released to mixed reviews, but the 5E edition looks gorgeous and has some great content.

Check out ENWorld's sample monster pages here. I'm ready to start using beast men right now, and love the style and format shown here:

Anyway, I think my risk-aversion to Kickstarters is overcome by Sasquatch's prior work for WotC, which is actually a pretty decent module I may well run soon. Their record of success is demonstrable and at the $75 level I get a print hard cover in addition to the PDFs so count me in. Most important of all, though, is that when the KS clears I will actually have discretionary income for frivolity that is not earmarked for something important! That, right there more than anything, is why I can back this.

Anyway....22 days to go as of this posting.

Demon Bone Armor for Dungeons & Dragons 5E

Demon Bone Armor
Uncommon (+1), Rare (+2), very rare (+3), requires attunement
Armor Type: any heavy

The demon bone armor looks like black lacquered plate mail, composed of ebon demon bones gathered on the fields of battle where dark fiends were summoned and defeated. The wearer of the suit may use a reaction to gain resistance against fire and necrotic damage for 1 minute (this ability may be used once per day). In addition, the demon bone armor can greatly enhance the damage the target deals. The bearer of the armor may expend one or more hit dice when dealing damage. The hit dice are rolled like normal but added to the damage total as bonus necrotic damage. Hit dice expended in this fashion are harder to recover; at the end of an extended rest the armor wearer must make a DC 13 Constitution save or the hit dice cannot be recovered at that time and he must wait until another extended rest to try again.

Demon bone armor seeks to subvert the soul of its wearer as well. If the attuned warrior wearing the armor ever is reduced to zero hit points and has no hit dice left for the day, then when making death saves each failure counts twice; if the warrior dies, the armor consumes him and shift to the Abyss, where the warrior's soul is converted into a lower order demon (or better if the DM sees fit).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide Announced

It looks like we will have another hardcover book for D&D 5E in November: The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. From the description, this book serves several purposes:

A Forgotten Realms tome of the Sword Coast region

A player's companion with new options for all classes (FR flavored, I am guessing)

A tie-in to the Sword Coast CRPG that will likely be in full swing by that time

Either way it's good to see a book from WotC that isn't a super-adventure, if only because I don't know how many more super adventures I could buy that I have no intention of running.

Check out the announcement here. It's going to retail for $39.95 and will be out 11/3/15.

Hastur the Unspeakable for Dungeons & Dragons 5E

With all apologies to my players, this was what showed up on Wednesday's game. I tried to simplify the Pathfinder version a bit while skewing more toward the CoC 6th edition entry. I figure Hastur in a sword & sorcery manifestation will lean more toward a terrifying manifestation of inimical evil...his mask/cloak is a later manifestation in his overall mythos, but has become sort of iconic so I kept a reference to it below.

Dropping an iconic Old One into a D&D session is a quick reminder that D&D and Cthulhu Mythos really don't mix. Not fantasy and mythos, mind you....those can work quite well; but D&D specifically is a flavor of fantasy that does not come naturally to the mythos. The prospect of a campaign in which daredevil heroes have fought rakshasa, death knights and small armies of devils hits a hard wall when the players realize they are fighting something that is effectively a puzzle piece....a creature than can and will destroy or turn them into its minions, while they desperately try to figure out how to unsummon it. 

Anyway, I'm thinking that to get back to the more visceral elements of my Pergerron setting I'll be returning to a Magic World powered campaign, and let D&D return to Chirak, Enzada and Lingusia, which are all comfortably home to adventurers who stand a chance against the vile chaos.

Hastur the Unspeakable (Great Old One)
CR 30 (155,00 XP)
CE medium humanoid Aberration (Great Old One)
Initiative +10
Aura: Unspeakable Presence (DC 24 Save vs. Sanity score; failure imbues target with one random form of temporary insanity; fail by ten or more and it is long term)
AC 25 (dexterity plus natural)
HP 493 (34D8+340)
Resistance: resistant to all non-magical forms of bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage
Immunity: poison, disease, cold, necrotic, mind-affecting spells, paralysis
Magic Resistance – Hastur rolls advantage on all spell saves.
Speed 80 feet flying/hovering
Multiattack – Hastur can strike with any combination of up to four tattered lashes, Dreams of the Yellow Sign, or terrifying visage.
Melee Attack- tattered lashes +16 to hit (reach 10 feet, one target) 8D8+7 slashing damage and target must make a DC 24 Con save or take an additional 1D8 bleeding damage each round (save ends).
STR 24 (+7), DEX 30 (+10), CON 30 (+10), INT 30 (+10), WIS 30 (+10), CHA 30 (+10)
Saves: Str +13, Dex +16, Con +16, Int +16, Wis +16, Cha +16
Languages: aklo, telepathy 100 feet, tongues at will
Senses: superior darkvision, true seeing (constant), Perception +16 (passive 26)
Skills: all at attribute value plus proficiency (see saves)
Archmagus: Hastur is a spell-caster of 20th level ability with access to all wizard spells.
Dreams of the Yellow Sign: once per day Hastur may touch a solid surface to inscribe the Yellow Sign upon it. The sign will last at least one year, but is only visible when certain stars shine right upon it at night, specifically the star Aldebaran, which may be visible in any number of night skies. Any who view the sign must make a DC 24 Wisdom Save or become Dominated (as per the spell) by Hastur. Once a save is made, the target does not have to make another save for 24 hours regardless of success or failure. Once dominated, the target behave as Hastur wishes. Each day the target remains dominated it will see out the sign, and each time it fails a further save it loses 1D6 Charisma (this Charisma will be restored with a long rest if the spell is broken with a successful save). Should it reach 0 Charisma, will immediately become a vessel for Hastur to manifest within. The sign can be removed with a wish spell.
Terrifying Visage: if Hastur reveals his true form to a target that victim must make a DC 24 save vs. Charisma or be paralyzed for 1 minute and take 8D12 psychic damage. When the paralysis lifts the target may make a DC 21 Wisdom save or become frightened and flee for 1 minute.
Immortality: as an elder god of the outer darkness of space Hastur is shockingly resilient; most manifestations of the god are said to be mere projections of a portion of its power, but it is also spoken of a robe and mask which, when donned, prompt a DC 24 save vs. Charisma, or the bearer of the robe and mask transform into a new vessel for Hastur. Likewise, those who succumb to the Yellow Sign can also become vessels of the dark god’s power. It is unknown if Hastur can be killed in any conventional sense of the word; his existence crosses boundaries of time and space that defy death.

Legendary Actions (3 points per round); used at the end of any character’s turn
Additional Lash – for 1 point Hastur may use tattered lash.
Conversion to the Yellow Sign –for 2 points Hastur may manifest the Yellow Sign before a target and if it fails a DC 24 save vs. Wisdom it is subject to the effects of Dreams of the Yellow Sign as above.
Possession – for 1 point Hastur may evaporate and appear fullow formed in the body of a target which has fallen to zero hit points; target is killed. This body may be within sight range.

Dread Manifestation – for 3 points Hastur may summon 1D8 byakhee or other minions to his bidding. Th minions roll for initiative and act immediately.

Hastur the Unspeakable is one of the more mysterious and terrifying of the Greater Old Ones, a dark god which moves through the cosmic void of space, sometimes aided by the dreaded byakhee who regard him as a fearsome divinity. Other humanoid and monstrous beings on many worlds worship him, but his following among men is smaller than his legacy. The Yellow Sign is a known artifact or symbol of the god, but its exact connection to Hastur is regarded as a mystery; its appearance often herald’s the god’s presence, however.

In the world of Pergerron, Hastur has a vile interest in manifesting on the planet in the flesh, for he intends to seek out an infernal device located beneath the Amber Sea, which his followers understand to be some sort of terraformer powered by the cosmic energy of the Yellow Sign. Once Hastur succeeds, all beings of the world will be puppets to the dark god, and the world will be colonized by the byakhee.

Adapted from the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 and Call of Cthulhu 6th edition. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Removing At-Will magic from D&D 5E

D&D 5E has a lot of basic similarities to older editions of D&D in terms of its overall ease of access and core simplicity. It does not, however, emulate the struggle of 0E, 1E and 2E era wizards all that well because at-will magic is diametrically at odds with the idea that magic is potent but suffers from attrition. The 5E rules do account for some of the other limiting factors in prior editions (to varying degrees) such as material, somatic and verbal requirements....but cantrips remain "free."

The DMG provides some guidelines on gritty rest rules that turn short rests into day rests and long rests into week-long affairs. This caps magic recovery significantly but has no impact on at-will magic and in fact could accidentally turn wizards into cantrip gunslingers if your campaign's pacing outstrips the gritty rest rules. There are also spell point mechanics, but those achieve different results than I'm thinking about here....which is to dial back the at-will magic entirely.

There are two ways you can get 5E back to a 0-2E era style of spell casting fairly easily, the "minimum use" method and the "limited" method we'll call them. Here's the house rules I'd suggest:

Minimum Use Cantrip Method: the # of cantrips you get per level is also the number of cantrip slots you get per day; and these slots expend. A character with 4 cantrips under this method prepares up to 4 cantrips and then can cast up to 4 of them per day in any combination. I'd allow the caster to use higher level spell slots to cast cantrips if he really needed to (though for no additional effect unless the DM feels very kind).

Limited Cantrip Method: in this version, the # of cantrips you get per level determines how many you can prepare, but each cantrip can be cast that many times per day as well. So a character with 4 cantrip slots can prepare four cantrips, and each one can be cast four times. This provides more flexibility and casting ability before going for the darts, crossbows and daggers.

There's one more option, which I'll call the Limited Pool Method: in this one, it works like the limited cantrip method above, but you pool your total cantrip if you have 4 cantrip slots by level, multiply that number my itself to get the total number of cantrip slots available (16 in this case). You can then expend those slots on any prepared cantrips in any if firebolt is more useful to you than anything else, you can cast it up to 16 times and forget the other cantrips.

Even if you don't use limited cantrips and stick to the rules as presented, I suggest a good house rule for those who value a shred of verisimilitude is to say that the total # of cantrip slots times 10+level is the maximum realistic number of times per day a cantrip can be abused. This will put a stopper to warlocks who decide they want to deplete the pigeon population every round with their eldritch blasts. No one's specifically tried to abuse this (other than myself, on a couple occasions!) but it's my top gripe with at-will magic: it's clearly a mechanical contrivance to make the spell casters more generally useful with non-depleting magic, but the Unfortunate Connotations for the game world are something to ponder when spell-casters everywhere can indiscriminately cast destructive magic at a whim, up to ten such spells per minute, in to perpetuity.

Anyway, I don't think any of the three methods above would break the game one bit. They would both allow you to get your 5E game back to a style where spell casters do eventually run out of magic and need to pull out some melee and ranged weaponry, and make the "mundane/physical" interaction of the casters a bit more relevant. It helps improve the resource management of the characters as well. As DM you need to keep in mind that the player characters have a reduction in the per-round potential of their casters, so they will behave a bit differently and the overall challenge the group will face counts for more as a result.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frog God's Hex Crawl Chronicles on Sale Today

The sale is part of the daily deals email from Frog God Games, but the code (assuming it works for anyone) is: DD-HEXCH-2843 and the Hex Crawl sales page is right here. There are seven chapters to pick from in flavors of Pathfinder or Swords & Wizardry, although no print options anymore (at least not on FG's main site). These modules came out several years ago and are really exemplary for being accessible hex crawls, a great way to learn about this style of exploration play.

For newer content you'll need to go to Land of Nod and look in to what J.M. Stater is up to these days, as he's sort of the King of Hex Crawl adventures in my book, and his OSR Nod magazine is pure gold.

I admit: I picked up my copies in Pathfinder format. Thinking I might introduce my Pathfinder cronies on Saturday to Hex Crawl Chronicles.....they'll get to play Pathfinder again, and I can run some fun hex crawls that are engaging and require minimal prep on my part. Win for everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The City Under the Mountain - a D&D 5E Compatible Kickstarter

Stumbled across this after reading about it on ENWorld: a 5E module being Kickstarted which is part 3 of a series of modules, the third part of which is for level 6 characters. The creator has already produced the first two modules, and his Kickstarter goals are modestly aimed at PDF releases with decent art for already completed product. It sounds good to me, and for $17 US you can get all three modules in the campaign (so a level 1-6 adventure run) so I'm in. Anyway, check it out here.

Co-mingling Dungeons & Dragons and Castles & Crusades

A week or so back my giant order from Troll Lord Games showed up, which included a number of books I had not previously owned: Codex Nordica, Rune Lords, Haunted Highlands, Bluffside and Town of Kalas among others.

The modules are a piece of cake to adapt to Dungeons & Dragons 5E, and the mechanical process I use for other OSR titles (namely Swords & Wizardry Complete) would work just fine here. What's interesting is that I realized that using some of the other C&C content --including classes, spells and other concepts distinct to the game-- might actually be fairly easy to borrow or adapt as well. At the core, both systems are very similar, with D&D and its bounded accuracy mechanic, whereas C&C operates with it's SIEGE mechanic, which distinguishes between good (prime) and bad (secondary) stats, that set different difficulty values accordingly. C&C uses level to boost class abilities, and D&D uses level to boost proficient abilities. C&C sets primes by class and race; D&D sets saves with proficiency by class (though some special traits may dictate from race). The similarities are thick.

Because of this, converting C&C material in to D&D looks pretty basic. For example: take the assassin class. Anytime you have a SIEGE-based mechanical use in the class, just convert it to proficiency. Anytime you have bonuses, just use the rule of thumb and convert the bonuses either directly or (if they seem too large) turn them in to advantage. When converting C&C primes, just turn them in to proficient saves for the class in D&D. You won't get a hard conversion....most class options in C&C have fewer options than 5E classes do, but they'll be more than playable. Also, extend the hit dice of the C&C class to level 20 instead of the C&C method which locks hit dice in around 9th-10th level.

You probably won't want to do this for more than quick on-the-fly NPC conversion, as virtually all of the C&C class options have D&D analogs. Some of the C&C stuff, such as Rune Lore, the Book of Familiars and the Codex Nordica setting include unique character options that might be worth considering for conversion....I'll have to look more closely at them, and think a bit on how one would do it.

You might also ask: why not use C&C as the base system and modify D&D 5E content to fit? Ironically, the answer is because 5E's core mechanic is simpler but with more features....C&C lacks a bit of the nuance that 5E has with skills, backgrounds and its general proficiency mechanic, but actually figuring out a save or check in 5E takes less effort (in fact no effort) to explain to a player, and is very consistent. Not, mind you, that C&C is that complex, as it really isn't; but the 5E system's inherent advantages due to the bounded accuracy concept make it more me, at least.

Anyway, if you would like a list of five C&C books that are out right now which you would find are great enhancers with minimal conversion effort to your D&D 5E campaigns, check out the following:
Engineering Dungeons (a great resource for designing dungeons; may be redundant with the 5E DMG which also has great rules for such, but I think the two will compliment)
Engineering Castles (does for castles what the prior book does for dungeons, and will be more useful for this reason since the 5E DMG doesn't talk about that as much; secondarily useful for fleshing out castle projects your PCs might invest in)
The Castle Keeper's Guide to the Haunted Highlands (one of the best module series for C&C now turned into a full-blown campaign region)
Town of Kalas Adventure (very well written town setting, full of flavor and useful stuff)
Codex Nordica (classes will require work, but use my OSR creature conversion rules for the monsters, and the rest is just exceptionally interesting Norse/Scandinavian mytho-historic setting material)

Obligatory Peter Bradly cheesecake art; C&C....last bastion of the +5 chainmail bikini

Saturday, July 18, 2015

D&D 5E Saturday Creature Factory: Manananggal vampire women

Time to get back to D&D 5E! No better way to do that than to kick off the Saturday Creature Factory again...

CR 5 (1,800 XP)
CE medium undead
Initiative +3
AC 16 (+3 natural and +3 dexterity)
HP 85 (10D8+40)
Resistance: half damage from normal bludgeoning, piercing or slashing attacks that are not magical or silvered.
Immunity: psychic damage, charms/domination effects, poison, disease; does not breath
Vulnerability: radiant, light blades (see below)
Speed 30 feet; fly 100 feet
Multiattack – the manananggal may make 1 bite and 2 claw attacks with one action.
Melee Attack – bite +7 to hit (reach 5 feet, one target), 1D8+4 piercing damage and if target is grabbed it takes 1D2 Constitution damage from blood drain (see below).
Melee Attack – claws +7 to hit (reach 5 feet, one target) 1D8+4 slashing damage or manananggal may grab the target (escape DC 14).
STR 19 (+4), DEX 17 (+3), CON 18 (+4), INT 12 (+1), WIS 16 (+3), CHA 18 (+4)
Languages: common, Abyssal
Senses: darkvision, perception + (passive 10)
Skills: Deception +6, Stealth +5
Light Sensitive: manananggal are sensitive to sunlight and effects which mirror it (such as the daylight spell) and are at disadvantage on all actions while exposed to direct sunlight.
Vulnerable to Light Blades: light finesse blades deal double damage to manananggal which are magically susceptible to the fine light metal of the weapon for supernatural reasons.
Special Vulnerabilities: manananggal dislike garlic and salt, and will avoid it if possible though no specific harm comes to them. They are susceptible to the strike of a stingray barb, which if fashioned in to a weapon (such as a whip) can deal normal damage but the manananggal then suffers disadvantage on its next attack roll until the end of its next turn.
Separating Flying Undead Torso: by day, a manananggal looks like a normal living human or elven woman, and does not detect as (nor act) undead. At sunset the manananggal’s torso rips away from her legs/lower torso and takes flight, transforming into a terrifying half-bodied vampiric entity. In this form the undead is aware of attacks against her lower torso, which shares the same hit points; destroying the lower torso requires applying garlic and salt to the separation point, and doing so will prevent the upper body from grafting at dawn, causing it to turn to dust--so the manananggal takes special care to separate somewhere safe. Physical damage to the lower torso can cause the manananggal to dissipate into a mist which then seeps in to the earth to revive fully  formed at dusk the following evening; only by tainting the lower torso with garlic and salt, preventing reunification, will the creature perish.
Spells: Manananggal are often warlocks and sorcerers, and all manananggal have access to the following spells with a spell attack modifier of +6 and a spell save DC of 14:
At Will: chill touch, dancing lights
3/day: darkness, sleep, ray of enfeeblement, fear

The manananggal is an undead Phillipino vampiric beast whose name derives from an original meaning of “separate” in reference to its ability to rend its own body in two pieces to take flight as it transforms at dusk. The manananggal. It intensely dislikes garlic and salt, and is damaged by light weapons, as well as the barb of the stingray.

The lore of the manananggal is that it exudes black proboscis-like tongue to drink the blood of sleeping victims. It favors pregnant women, drinking the blood of their unborn children’s hearts.

By day the manananggal goes about its business, oblivious to its own existence as an undead being, though whether this is a magical effect or a ruse is unknown. They can thrive in remote villages for years sometimes, drinking only enough blood to weaken many of their kin over time without killing them, though villages plagued by such undead predators are noted for a high rate of stillborn children, unusual sickness, and  a sense of “wrongness” in the region.

When a manananggal wears out its welcome or has dwelt in one region for too many years it will quietly leave and seek out a new territory on which to prey.

Sources: Wikipedia, base stats adapted from the Pathfinder Bestiary 3 entry

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Gathering of Wizards Revised - a Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Solitaire Adventure for Very Tough Wizards

The Gathering of Wizards Revised – a Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Solo Adventure

This module appeared in an early issue of The Sorcerers Scrolls, probably around 1985-1986, and has been unpublished since. I had a print copy from an effort in 1992 to recover old data on my dying computer and that was it, so the following text has been hand-typed. I have attempted preserve as much of the original as possible except where my modern aesthetics were forced to intervene, which turned out to be often, so think of this as a right proper revision…especially since it expanded from 31 paragraphs to 59!

Fun Fact: this module is supposed to take place about eight centuries before all the other Lingusia-based solo adventures although it doesn’t explain that anywhere in the original.

The following solitaire is open to wizards, specialists and paragons of levels 2 or better in DT&T; and yes, even a high level wizard should find a challenges here. During the solo you spend WIZ to power spells; track this. Each time you progress one paragraph regain 1 WIZ unless the paragraph tells you to regain more. 

If you encounter foes, they usually list weapons; use the attack value based on MR, but the dice and adds never drop lower than the weapon being used. A foe with MR 40 and a scimitar, for example, starts at 5+20 dice and adds, but if reduced to MR 20 it still fights with 4 dice (but adds drop to 10).

Don't forget to track XP earned (DT&T page 63) for saves rolled and monsters defeated (equal to MR). 

If you are using an earlier edition of T&T you should have little problem with using this module; the core conceits are all the same and I just moved some cheese around a bit to update it.

To begin the adventure, start at paragraph 1.

1.  It has been several weeks since you met with the wizard Andrathlor in the city of Hyrkania, where he brought you to the darkened council chambers of the Wizard’s Guild (The so-called Order of the Blue Robes). There, your mysterious peers initiated you into the ranks of the Blue Robes, making you an official guild-sanctioned wizard. It was here that you learned to use your arcane ability from your homeland to tap into the unlimited resources of Lingusian magic. Since then you have continued to meet weekly with your fellow guildsmen, whenever necessary, to discuss present matters, summon planar entities for obscure questioning sessions, conjure demons to guard the guild tower and other such matters.

Indeed, activities in the guild are almost addictive as your burgeoning native talent is dramatically enhanced by the secret ways of the Blue Robes.  Such is it that on this night your guildsmen have called a meeting to discuss recent declarations of the Hyrkanian Emperor, Palomar, declaring that all wizards in the city must present themselves before him in the Royal Hall, so that they may be assigned –almost incredulously—bodyguards. So it has been ordered by the Sacrimori himself, the high priest of all gods, Naril, lord of the sun. What nonsense!

This, of course, makes no sense whatsoever. To any of the guild mages, as until now most of them have been strongly disliked by the general public thanks to the efforts by the temple, and the priests of the High Temple have been their political enemies at every turn. Thus it has been decided that the meeting tonight will be held to discuss the emperor’s command –and whether or not it must be obeyed.

Gathering various paraphernalia and casting components, you begin jour journey to the Wizard Guild Tower. If you would like to use some sort of spell to get there then go to 2. If you prefer to walk then go to 3.

2. If you have a conveyance spell which teleports or flies such as “Blow me to…” or “Fly Me” which can take you at least a mile then spend the points and cast it. Traveling by magic means you go to 4; if you can’t cast such a spell go to 3.

3. As you walk through the darkened streets of Hyrkania, wondering why the guild only meets on moonless, fog-shrouded nights make a level 2 save vs. Luck.  If you make the save, then your journey is uneventful (go to 4). If you fail, then something happens (go to 5). Note that you may reduce the save by 1 level if you choose to cast Zingum to speed your pace and avoid risky areas and alleys.

4. You touch down at the Wizard’s Tower of the Blue Robes. Entering through the wide chamber where the doors are propped open, you see that the wide room is poorly lit, with only a few lamps flickering faint light. Along the walls are various arcane objects, ranging from shelves full of chemicals and potions to cauldrons, braziers, enchanted masks and more. The tower is actually the dominion of the wizard-lord Alpharust Jodakin, a Takkain sorcerer of eastern origin, and his eclectic taste in décor shows. It is rumored that he is not only the leader of the guild, but the most powerful wizard in the city, more powerful than all other mages in Hyrkania combined.

One by one the guildsmen trickle in, until all have arrived….or have they? You glance about and see that Andathlor, who recruited you, and Megathruo the cambion are missing. Before you can investigate Alpharust calls the meeting.

“We have a problem,” Alpharust says in his curious accent. “The emperor has fallen to the lies of our enemies, and I worry that his proclamation spells doom. I propose that we summon a demon of knowledge, that we may question it about the intentions of our emperor and our foes who have his ear.”

The council begins to vote. If you raise your hand in favor of summoning a demon to interrogate, go to 6. If you would like to suggest using a different spell of divination then go to 7.

5. Roll a 1D6: on 1-3 go to 8; on 4-6 go to 9.

6. Everyone in the room agrees that this is a wise decision; the eastern demons Alpharust can summon have been a great boon in the past. The group then proceeds with the summoning. Alpharust and the elder mages focus on the summoning spell and the lesser mages such as yourself provide support and spell power to enforce their casting. If you know the summoning spell go to 32 now. Otherwise, you contribute 2 WIZ to the spell effect to power the summoning.

As the spell takes effect a demonic form becomes visible in black and purple smoke which wells from the depths of a yawning maw in the center of the pentagram drawn by the elder guild lord. As the demon manifests make a level 3 save vs. Intelligence. If you succeed, read on; if you fail go to 33. If you fail go to 12.

7. Wise choice! The other wizards all agree with your suggestion, and so they look to cast the most powerful dinivation spell known….looking to Alpharust, he digs deep through his tomes and produces an ancient code. “This was the Fifth Codex of the Fifth Night of the Death Trolls,” he says. “ In it is the spell with which one may be speak with the gods. A…”Dear God” spell, if you will.” He chuckles as he recites the spell and calls upon the reinforcement of the guild mages. You expend 2 WIZ for your part.

An ominous darkness fills the chamber, and the flickering lamp light evaporates. A voice speaking the primordial tongue rolls out of the darkness, translated only by the chamber’s magic. “I…AWAIT….YOUR….QUESTIONS…” it echoes ominously. Everyone looks at you…..

Alpharust looks at you as well. “It seems the voice has chosen you to ask the questions….”

What will you ask first?

To ask the voice, “Should we heed the call of the Emperor?” go to 34.

To ask the voice, “Is the summons of the emperor a trap?” go to 15.

8. As you travel the darkened streets a gang of 1D6 brutish thugs emerge from a side street, threatening you. They are armed with short swords and cudgels. If you would like to make a break for it the go to 16. If you would like to cast a spell go to 17. If you would rather confront them and see what they want go to 18. Finally, there is probably a city watch patrol near by…you could always scream for help (go to 19).

9. You pass through the richer quarter of town where your ally Andrathlor dwells. As you walk down his street you are shocked to see red orcs –thyzakon—setting fire to his house, and in the upper story windows you see the flash of battle magic! You can attack the red orcs right away (go to 20< or cast “Fly Me” or a similar levitation spell to reach the windows upstairs to join the duel of magic (go to 21). You may also go straight to break down the front door (22).

10. You return to the tower, only to find it engulfed in flames, a horde of demons rampaging! You are too late… may take the fight to the demons

11. You hear the sound of crackling energies, followed by a slithering, hissing noise from what sounds like the heads of dozens of giant snakes. You bash through the doors exiting the chamber and seconds later are pelted with rubble and debris as you hear first the shocked cries of your allies, then a second of silence followed by the rending and crushing of stone. You can flee now to your room at the inn (go to 23), turn and attack whatever demon appeared (go to 12), or you can cast Ghostly Going and then turn to attack your foe (go to 25).

12. Before your very eyes the Demon God Lazar appears, a ten foot tall snake-headed demo whose very body is comprised of thousands of writhing serpents. You know Lazar well from your studies, for he is the Abyssal lord of serpents and petrification….make a level 4 save vs. Luck. If you make it you turn your gaze away an instant before all of your allies are petrified in stone. If you fail, he shatters you and all the rest of your companions with a thundering crack of his great obsidian club. If you succeed then you may turn and run (go to 11) or fight (24).

13. The cost to banish this demon is 160 WIZ…yes, you read that right. Can you pay that amount? If not, go to 12. If you can, then the spell takes hold and the demon is forced back in to the Abysss before it can manifest. For a brief moment you see writhing serpents in humanoid form….and realize this was Lazar, the Stone Death, a demon god of serpents and gorgons. It was a VERY close call.

Your fellow guildmates owe you their lives. No one is certain why the spell failed; it should have summoned a lesser knowledge demon, not a demon god. Alpharust pulls you aside. “You have more talent then you realize,” and he presses in to your hand a glimmering blue stone. The stone is a Blue Diamond Power Battery that can store your WIZ in power within it. “I expect more greatness from you, dear mage.” He leaves.

You may now return to your inn room at 14, or go to 35 to investigate why your ally Andrathlor did not appear earlier.

14. You arrive at the Blue Balrog Tavern, which also has some cheap rooms in the back with hourly, daily and weekly rates (no maid service, though). In the morning, you awakened refreshed and mysteriously still alive. After bathing and eating you are ready for the next day. You may proceed to the Emerald Palace to answer the emperor’s summons (26) or or you may ignore the summons and decide you and you alone know what is best for you (27).

15. The voice responds, “NO.” Go to 36.

16. Make a level 2 save vs. Speed. If you succeed then your bony wizard legs carry you as fast as they can and you arrive at the Wizard’s Tower in time to make a quick escape (go to 4). If you fail then the thugs rapidly catch up to you and you must face them (go to 17).

17. Fire off a combat spell first and deal the damage before regular combat begins; each thug is MR 32 (4 dice +16 adds) and is armed with a short sword (3 dice) and cudgel (3 dice); they don’t drop below 3 dice for hit totals due to the weapons. Each round of combat total spell damage to them first per the spell description. If you survive, then walk, crawl or drag yourself to the Wizard’s Tower (4). If you perish, make a level 2 save vs. Constitution (against your normal score, not your injured score). If you succeed then they overlook that you still have a pulse; go to 40. If you fail,  then they did notice you still have a pulse and a swift barrage of cudgels finishes you off.

18. Make a level 1 save vs. Intelligence. If you roll a 3 (2 and 1) on this go to 45. If you fail normally then as you ask the men what they want they rush you and get a free strike in; you have only enough time to cast a defensive spell if you have one available; go to  17 if you live. If you make the save then you realize these are not muggers, but assassins! You may fight normally (go to 17), flee (go to 16), or call for help (19).

19. You shout for help, trying not to sound too desperate and girlish as you do. A block away a squadron of guards heeds your call, and comes rushing to your aid! The thugs flee quickly, not wanting to tangle with the fully armed and armored warriors. Make a level 1 save vs.Luck. If you succeed, go to 46. If you fail, go to 47.

20. You charge in to the red orc firestarters. The red orcs are MR 28 each, and armed with burning torches that double as clubs (3 dice plus 1D6 fire damage) and scimitars (4 dice). You may open fire with whatever combat magic you have; they have no ranged weapons however, so if you cast Fly Me first then you have range on them and they will flee after the first round.

If you slay or drive them away, you may Fly Me to the window (21), or bash your way through the front (22).

21. You fly through the window in time to see Andrathlor battling his last as a party of six infernal Bone Demons slash him to bits, though Andrathlor made a good accounting for himself as six others lie in burbling pools of molten flesh on the floor.

The demons turn to you: fight them! All six are MR 38 each (4+19), not strong, but each one has Magic Resistance so you must make a Level 1 save vs. WIZ to overcome their resistance; these demons are covered in bony spikes, and deal spite damage on every 5 and 6 they roll in their attacks. The demons are immune to fire damage but take double damage from cold. As you burst in to the chamber you can get one spell off for free before regular combat begins.

If you are defeated, make a level 1 save vs. Constitution and go to 40 if you succeed. If you win, rush to Andrathlor’s side at 51.

22. You reach the front door, which is heavy and locked; make a level 3 save vs. Strength to bash it in, otherwise if you have a spell that will aid you in passing the door cast it now. If you are unable to enter, then you are forced to listen to the screams on the second floor as your ally perishes and the building goes up in flames. You resume your journey to the Wizard’s Tower at 52.

If you break the door open, you rush upstairs in time to see six hideous white bone demons slay Andrathlor. The demons evaporate into smoke as they return to the Abyss, leaving Andrathlor dying on the ground.  Go to 51.

23. You return to your inn, and quickly hide under the bed covers. In the morning, you awaken to news on the street that the Wizard’s Guild of the Blue Robes have been assassinated….not news to you, really.

You may proceed to the Emerald Palace to answer the emperor’s summons (26) or or you may ignore the summons and decide you and you alone know what is best for you (27).

24. Lazar is a beast to fight. Each round you have to make a level 4 save vs. Luck to avoid his petrifying gaze (reduce this to level 2 if you blindfold yourself, but note that affects sight-directed magic without some item or other spell to substitute for sight). Lazar is MR 250 (26+125) and has 12 points of natural armor protection. Each point of spite damage he deals induces poison from a snake bite, which requires a level 1 save vs. Constitution (per spite damage!) or you are poisoned and take 1 additional spite per round until you can bind your wounds (which take a full round a a level 2 save vs. Intelligence).

Lazar is initially recovering from his opening attack on your now petrified comrades, so you have one round to cast a defensive or offensive spell. If you can cast a spell that speeds you up first you can stay ahead of him, as well; he will hurl stone wizards at you if you do this each round (He has Dexterity 30 for ranged attacks, and each wizard is a 10 die missile strike).  However, Lazar can levitate and fly at will so Fly Me won’t let you escape. After five rounds of fighting Lazar will immolate everything with a hellbomb burst  (for 130 damage).

If you somehow live through this (and it is possible if you’re tough enough) then the demon lets out a strangled wail of defeat and evaporates in smoke, the dark aspect of the god returning to the Abyss. You may look about the ruins of the Guild Tower, and realize it is a total loss….everyone is destroyed. Go to 41.

25. Your body falls to the ground as your astral form gazes upon the form of Lazar, Demon God of the Death Gaze, lord of serpents and gorgons. In the astral realm Lazar is immense, a grotesque beast a hundred feet tall, with a humanoid form wreathed in thousands of snakes. His serpentine head is crowned by two shimmering yellow eyes, from which beams of petrification constantly sweep. As he shatters the petrified forms of your allies, you realize you have second to act before he notices your crumpled body….you see a silver cord of energy connecting Lazar to a whirling pool of darkness. You think this is his planar tether…..make a level 4 save vs. Wizardry. If you succeed, you may attempt to sever the cord and see what happens (go to 54). If you fail, he spots you and your astral form is sucked into the void of his Abyssal Soul Gem around his neck, trapped for eternity as demon food (go to 59).

26. You make your way through the sunny but still smoky streets of Hyrkania’s great capitol until you spot the Emerald Dome, an immense relic from the bygone days of the empire’s lost glory. After presenting yourself before the Royal Guard you are escorted to the Emperor’s Hall, where a procession of many souls, including other mages who have been summoned (and lived through the night) await the Emperor’s proclamation. The High Sacrimori,  a stern priest with a suspicious gaze, studies the chamber as you enter. Go to 28.

27. You have survived for two whole days in Hyrkania during the Great Purge. Take 500 XP for reaching this point, along with the experience gained for making saving throws and defeating foes. Congratulations! 

28.  When at last the emperor deigns to address the mages in the chamber, he looks upon you with a stern eye. “Word is out,” he says, “that the vile cultists of Lazar, demon god of the Stone Death I am told, have declared that all mages of the emperor must be killed.” He clears his throat. “Last night, many appear to have died in a pre-emptive strike against all mages. If you are so valuable that such evil must seek your doom, then I see now that wizards do indeed have value in my empire. As such, I have called upon my trusted confident, the Sacrimori, to offer a solution.”

The Sacrimori looks like he has swallowed a rotten egg. “The Emperor has….charged the Temple of Naril…with your protection.” He sounds exasperated. “So it is, and so I offer you our finest warriors, Solarian Knights all, to serve as your bodyguards.”

The knights enter the room and one by one are assigned to the mages so summoned. When you meet your night, roll as follows:
Gender: Roll 1D6: odd female, even male
Name: choose your own or roll:
1D6 (male): 1-Davin, 2-Erik, 3-Astos, 4-Daraphon, 5-Kalvin, 6-Draegos
1D6 (female): 1-Torvas, 2-Lakuna, 3-Tericia, 4-Eritria, 5-Tawny, 6-Devorah
Class: The solarian paladins are all chosen from paragon stock!!! They are Level 4 paragons.
Stats: STR 40, DEX 18, CON 32, INT 12, WIZ 18, CHA 18, LK 12, SPD 12 (+34 adds)
Spells: solarian paladins know all level 1 spells plus Poor Baby and Vorpal Blade.
Weapons and Armor: Solarian paladins train with the medium sword (4D6) and knight’s shield (5 hits, doubled). They wear plate armor (16 hits, doubled).
Personality: 1-dour, 2-grim, 3-perky, 4-reverent, 5-naïve, 6-irritated
Special: solarian paladins are gifted with a special sight; they can make a saving throw vs. the level of an undead or demonic/fiendish target to piece any disguise and see them for what they truly are.

You now have a bodyguard, albeit a faithful servant of the Temple of Naril. Go to 27 as the emperor’s court disperses for the day.

29. As you travel through the dark streets, you are attacked by a vicious horde of parademons, monstrous dog-like mutants hunting for anyone with a traint of magic about them. There are 6D10 of them in the mob and each has an MR of 22 (3+11). They are immune to fire damage, and if you take 5 or more spite damage from the mob in a round you need to make a level 3 save vs. Constitution or contract Abyssal Rot, a terrible disease which reduces your Charisma by ½ and makes you look like a horrid undead creature (anything which remove curses will cure this affliction).

If you die, make a level 1 save vs. Constitution and go to 40 if you make it, otherwise you perish. If you survive and defeat the horde, then seek refuge in your rented quarters (23).

30. You are escorted to a comfortable detention room with facilities in the Emerald Palace. In the morning the guards escort you, and several other wizards taken into custody, to the hall of the emperor. As they take you there, the guards mention that terrible things happened in the night. “Hordes of demons slaughtering every hedge wizard and oracle they could find; assassins killing peddlers of potions and high mages alike. Madness! They’re calling it the Great Purge already. Terrible stuff.”

You ponder what wizards could have done in the empire to deserve such doom when you arrive at the emperor’s hall (go to 28).

31. Megathruo nods. “Wise choice.” You depart for ways unknown. Megathruo will remain by your side for as long as you adventure. He is a Half-Demon wizard, level 4, STR 18, DEX 22, CON 15, INT 34, WIZ 42, CHA 13, LK 25, SPD 10 (+29 adds), with all level 1-3 spells and a sax (2D6+4). He is a reliable fellow who’s personality is best described as “quirky but loyal.” Now head out of the city at 27.

32. As you prepare to use the Summoning spell, cast collectively you feel the magical force pulled from you. You find that it will cost 12 WIZ for your portion of the casting as a major contributor, but as you cast make a level 3 save vs. Intelligence….if you succeed, you realize something is off (go to 33). If you fail, then the casting completes (go to 12).

33. Something does not seem right! The demon manifesting does not look like the knowledge demon you expected. You may continue to finish the ritual (go to 12), avert your gaze and run (go to 11), or if you know Banishing you may cast it now and go to 13.

34. The voice responds, “YES.” Go to 36.

35. You come across the burning wreckage of Andrathlor’s house in the upper commons of the city’s rich quarter; not even a bucket brigade is present, but most of the fire is out now….almost as if it was a quick flash-fire, as magic tends to make….

You may continue to your inn ( go to 37) or investigate further (go to 38). You may also return to the tower to report what you have found (go to 10).

36. The guild mages seem satisfied. As they break for the evening, intent on heeding the emperor’s summons, Alpharust pulls you aside. “You have more talent then you realize,” and he presses in to your hand a glimmering blue stone. The stone is a Blue Diamond Power Battery that can store your WIZ in power within it. “I expect more greatness from you, dear mage.” He leaves.

Will you go back to the inn where you’ve been staying (14), or head out to determine why Andrathlor did not show (35)?

37. As you resume your journey to the inn where you rent a room make a level 3 save vs. Luck. If you make it go to 23, if you fail go to 29.

38. You find evidence of charred human remains, probably Andralthor based on the gold teeth that have melted in the heat. The charred reains of blackened bones and oil-like smoke are unusually odd….roll a level 2 save vs. Intelligence (I you have a talent for the occult or arcana add it). If you make it, go to 39, if you fail then you find no further clues; go to your room at the inn (37), or report what you have found to the tower (10).

39. The smoky oil and black bones are the mark of demon corpses, which slowly disincorporate as the essence of chaos returns to the planes. With no further clues, head back to your room at 37, or return to the wizard’s tower of Alpharust to report what happened (go to 10).

40. You awaken in a gutter, lying next to a dozen other corpses gathered by the corpse-gatherers during the night. A hunchbacked worker a few feet away is whistling an odd tune while pulling bodies from a wagon. “Busy night,” a nearby ratkin on a kask mutters as he breathes deep from a corn-cob pipe. You seem to have recovered enough; you have 1 Constitution right now, enough to be conscious.

Do you lie still until they leave (go to 44) or sit up and surprise them (42)?

41. You make it back to your room at The Blue Balrog Tavern and Inn, only to find it has been rented out already! The barkeep, a burly half-ogre named Morn looks surprised to see you. “I thot y’all died last night, wasn’t ya meetin’ yer Blue Robe buddies?”

You explain you got mugged and he shakes his head. “Yer damned lucky then!” He explains that the entire council of guild mages died last night, turned to stone and shattered by an unknown source. “My advice is yer keep that luck’a yours runnin’ and get outta town, friend.”

Morn feeds you a hot meal and lets you wash up. You may proceed to the Emerald Palace to answer the emperor’s summons (26) or or you may ignore the summons and decide you and you alone know what is best for you (27).

42. The ratkin and the corpse hauler are shocked, indeed! Make a quick level 1 Save vs. Charisma. If you succeed, then they both relax as the hauler pacifies the ratkin’s endless screams of “Zombie!!!!” but if you fail go to 43.

“Thought you was a right goner, we did. Didn’t take nuttin from ya’s, we saw what yer spell book and robes, figured someone would be along soon to claim you, if ya didn’t rise from the dead like just now.” You thank them and head out….go to 41.

43. The corpse hauler and the ratkin are used to zombies spawning from their haul and attack! The corpse hauler is MR 38 (4+19) and he wields a mean shovel (4 dice). The ratkin is a MR 44 (5+22) rogue with an attitude and two saxes (2+5 each). If you take a moment to make a level 3 save vs. Charisma you can convince them you are a very terrifying undead and they will flee instead. If they do flee or you defeat them, go to 41.

44. Eventually the corpse collectors leave for a new haul. You slip away, limping from your injuries. Go to 41.

45. “Hi there sir, we are collecting for the Sanderon Oprhanarium, where hundreds of orphaned half-orcs and half-dwarves are waiting for kind and generous noble families to recruit them for wait staff. Would you be willing to make a donation?” The man looks at you earnestly, a big smile half-full of teeth greeting you.

As you reach for your purse to offer some coin, their cudgels suddenly rise and strike. “On second thought, never mind. We’re just gonna haff to help the orphanarium another way!” You are dealt a severe beating totaling 30 points of damage per thug. If you are still alive go to 16!

46. The guards warn you to watch out, there’s been an unusual level of violence this evening. You arrive safely at the Wizard’s Tower (go to 4).

47. The guards recognize you are a wizard. “You have been summoned by the Emperor, and there is an unusual level of violence on the streets aimed at spell casters,” the watch captain explains. “I insist that you come with us for your own protection.”

If you accompany them without question go to 30. If you want to give them a slip, you may do so the old fashioned way (go to 48) or via magic (go to 49). You can also always fight them at 50.

48. Make a level 3 save vs. Dexterity. If you make it, you escape into a dark alley and lose the guards; go to 4. If you fail, they catch up to you. The watch captain insists you accompany them, and via physical force they drag you to a detention room in the Emerald Palace (go to 30).

49. If you have Hidey Hole or a similar concealment spell cast in and make good your escape! Go to 4. If you do not, then try it the old fashioned way (go to 48).

50. Each guard (there are 12) is MR 44  (5+22) and armed with great swords (5 dice) and plate armor (11 hits). If you live, go to 4 but make note that the Hyrkanian City Watch will probably be looking for you soon!

51. Andrathlor has an ounce of life left, though his intestines are all over the place. “The demons….they have turned on us….warn the others….” And then he dies. You can go to the Wizard’s Tower, but now more informed. Go to 52.

52. You touch down at the Wizard’s Tower of the Blue Robes. Entering through the wide chamber where the doors are propped open, you see that the wide room is poorly lit, with only a few lamps flickering faint light. Along the walls are various arcane objects, ranging from shelves full of chemicals and potions to cauldrons, braziers, enchanted masks and more. The tower is actually the dominion of the wizard-lord Alpharust Jodakin, a Takkain sorcerer of eastern origin, and his eclectic taste in décor shows. It is rumored that he is not only the leader of the guild, but the most powerful wizard in the city, more powerful than all other mages in Hyrkania combined.

One by one the guildsmen trickle in, until all have arrived….or have they? You glance about and see that aside from Andrathlor, whom you know the fate of, one other named Megathruo the cambion is missing. Before you can investigate Alpharust calls the meeting.

“We have a problem,” Alpharust says in his curious accent. “The emperor has fallen to the lies of our enemies, and I worry that his proclamation spells doom. I propose that we summon a demon of knowledge, that we may question it about the intentions of our emperor and our foes who have his ear.”

The council begins to vote. You may call out and warn them of what happened to Andrathlor (go to 53) now.  If you are curious as to what nightmares are imminent, then you may raise your hand in favor of summoning a demon to interrogate (go to 6). If you would like to suggest using a different spell of divination then go to 7.

53. “Guildmaster, I must warn you: Andrathlor was slain, by demons and red orcs. Before he died he warned me that the demons have turned against us.”

The mages are shocked, and a babble begins. “Silence!” Alpharust calls out. “We must still answer the question of whether to honor the summons of the Emperor. In light of this revelation, I propose we use divination instead.” Go to 7.

54. You blast or cut the silver cord and in a flash it is severed; the physical and astral form of Lazar is severed from his tether to the Abyss. The astral form of Lazar turns its gaze upon you,  and a thousand serpentine voices hiss at you, “You should not have done that, mortal…” make a level 3 save vs. Luck. If you make it, Lazar’s astral form disincorporates (take 400 XP and go to 55). If you fail, his gaze falls upon you and your astral form is drawn into his demonic soul gem, trapping you forever more (go to 59).

55. You awaken in your body as you escape Lazar from the astral realm. Nearby, his physical form in the real world has degenerated into a writhing mass of serpents. You look around at the ruins of the tower and the shattered remnants of the guild and flee! Go to 41.

56. You attack the vicious horde of parademons, monstrous dog-like mutants hunting for anyone with a traint of magic about them. There are 6D10 of them in the mob and each has an MR of 22 (3+11). They are immune to fire damage, and if you take 5 or more spite damage from the mob in a round you need to make a level 3 save vs. Constitution or contract Abyssal Rot, a terrible disease which reduces your Charisma by ½ and makes you look like a horrid undead creature (anything which remove curses will cure this affliction). You have the advantage in the first round of battle and may make a full attack (spell or otherwise) against them.

If you die, make a level 1 save vs. Constitution and go to 40 if you make it, otherwise you perish. If you survive and defeat the horde, then after a thorough search you find that many of your fellow guildmates are dead, slain by the surpise attack. A glimmer of hope is found in the form of a teleportation circle, recently used….and it looks like several bodies are missing, so your hope is that Alpharust and some of your fellow mages escaped.

With nothing else to see, you may seek refuge in your rented quarters (23) or flee the city immediately (57).

57. As you depart the Capitol through the Great Western Gate, a figure emerges from the shadows. “Ah, I’m not the only one to live,” it’s Megathruo, the cambion mage.

“What are you doing alive?” you ask suspiciously.

Megathruo shrugs. “I saw what was happening…mages everywhere killed in their sleep, while divining, while even summoning previously loyal demons. It was a nightmare. I fled, and I think only the taint of demon blood in my veins threw the parademons off my scent. I smelled too much like one of them….. In any case, there is safety in numbers. I will travel out of this accursed place with you if you like.”

You contemplate. Will you accept Megathruo as an ally and traveling companion (31), or turn him down (59)?

58. Megathruo nods. “Well, I wouldn’t trust myself either.” And with that he disappears into the shadows. You ponder the encounter, wondering if he had escaped the purge due to some act of betrayal as you march your way out of the city, done with this thrice-cursed realm. Go to 27.

59. As you find yourself an errant soul trapped in a demiplane of evil where Lazar’s soul reigns supreme, your very essence leaked away to power his infernal godhood, you may make a Level 8 Save vs. Dexterity. Each time you fail you lose 1D6 WIZ permanently, drained by Lazar, and then you must repeat the save; when you reach zero WIZ your soul disincorporates. When or if you succeed at a luck save you suddenly awaken one day to the light….a bright white light! You have a pasty, fresh new body, with fresh new physical stats but the same Intelligence and Luck scores and whatever is left of your Wizardry. Standing over you are a trio of adventurers, who just discovered the Soul Gem of Lazar and accidentally freed you when they rubbed the gem.  “By the gods!” says the dwarven warrior named Aurangabad. Next to him the dark elf Flavious shakes his head. “Did not expect that.” Finally the wizardess Saitana leans over. “You, my friend, are very lucky….how long have you been trapped in that gem?”

After a short discussion you realize that your companions are saying it is the year 2,090 of the reign of the great empire….some eight hundred years since you were trapped! Lazar’s cult was driven of f to the degenerate Isle of Serpents, and they have just freed you. Congratulations on your revival. Gain 400 XP and your saviors will give you 500 GP to buy new equipment and get you back on your feet. If you lost so much WIZ that being a wizard is a tough proposition, you may change class to Warrior or Rogue now.