Monday, December 27, 2010

Sticker Shock

I converted the two .jpg images I posted for the Moathouse into PDF format and took those down to a local Fed Ex Office (formerly Fed Ex Kinkos) to see about getting a color print of them.
Unfortunately, due to the size of the files and the fact that Fed Ex charges about $7 per square foot, it winds up being somewhere over $100. That was a bit of a shock and disappointment.

Oh well, I guess I will have to just draw out the map on a square grid without all the pretty details and color.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Moathouse

I want to extend my good holiday wishes to the my readers. Posting has been light lately and to make up for it, I am posting links to a really nice set of maps I found online of the infamous Moathouse from the AD&D Module T1: The Village of Hommlet. It's scaled for a 1" square grid, nice if you are using minis. The grid is hard or nearly impossible to see on some parts of the map, especially the courtyard of the Moathouse. That could be remedied by drawing out the grid by hand or making a transparency sheet with a 1" grid which overlays ontop of the map. I'm tempted to take these files to a Kinkos and see if they can print out a color poster map.

Moathouse Map

Moathouse Dungeon Level

In my 4E game, the party is making their way into the Witchlight Fens, where I am using the Moathouse map as the base of operations of a human witch and her Cult of the Elemental Eye allies. We tentatively have a game coming up next week on Thursday, so I am making my preparations.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gelatinous Cube!

Over at the Warlock's Home Brew, you'll find tips to make your own Gelatinous Cube. If you are lazy and not good with tools like I am, Bliss posted a link to a person on eBay selling fake ice cubes. I did not know such a thing existed until now. This looked to be the perfect mini for the iconic dungeon cleaner.

Yes, I know that WoTC has a Gelatinous Cube mini, but the prices on the second-hand market are "recockulous" (as a friend of mine has a knack for saying), around $40.00+!! I paid $10.00 which includes shipping and I get TWO of these bad boys. They measure 2" x 2", which is the scale for a Large-sized creature in D&D 3.0 to 4E.

Behold my new Gelatinous Cube...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Disappointed about the Green Hornet Trailer

Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet? Seriously?!? I'm disappointed that the long awaited Green Hornet movie is going to be more of a comedy by the looks of the movie trailer. And that the producers of the movie decided to cast comedic actor Seth Rogen in the lead role as the Green Hornet, only confirms this is going to be a comedy. That's too bad, as I was looking forward to a more serious tone to the movie, with a better dramatic actor.

The classic Green Hornet TV show from the 1960's will still be better and cooler than this updated farce.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dry Spell


I've sort of hit a wall creatively with the Xhuul setting for the Gamma World game. I've been having a hard time coming up with "weird" locales around the main set-piece of Hlatl, the City of the Black Crater. I have been tinkering around with some maps, but I haven't put together anything I really like. And I haven't been able to come up with anything interesting in the city of Hlatl either. I still have several creatures and mutants for the Xhuul Bestiary I haven't posted yet. Xhuul was really a side project. I was hoping to run it at our local monthly Hobby Day at some point. Not so much as an ongoing campaign, but as a 'pick-up' game or one-shots.



I think part of the creative drain is the fact that my D&D 4e campaign is starting up again and with more players (total of 6 now) and I have been putting more focus it. The game was put on hiatus back in February this year as one of the players got busy with work and family commitments, and I really wanted to have all the original 4 players to continue their adventure together. That never materialized as the months flew by, until recently when I decided to recruit 3 additional new players and continue the campaign.


We had our first game last weekend Sunday (well, first for the new players, and fourth for the original core players). Two of the original players couldn't make it, so the party was without thier Shielding Swordmage and Cleric. Having no character in the Leader role with healing abilities really put the hurt on the party. One of the new players' characters was killed in the second encounter. It was kind of a bummer, but it was a 'Perfect Storm' of events that just didn't work out for him.


Anyway, everyone had fun and it was good to get the game running again. We should have everyone at the table next Sunday, so things should go a little more smoothly for the PC's.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary: Bothoth

BOTHOTH
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-4
SIZE: Medium
HD: 4 (d8)
MOVE: 20ft
AC: 13
ATTACKS: Spores (1d8)
SPECIAL: Mutations
SAVES: P
INT: Animal
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Plant
TREASURE: None
XP: 130 +4/hp

This mutated fungus is man-sized and is mobile. It is covered with 4-16 bulbous pods that release toxic spores when pierced. Any attack made against a Bothoth by a piercing or slashing weapon has a 70% chance of releasing spores. Blunt weapons only have a 20% chance of releasing spores, but such attacks do no harm to the Bothoth itself. The Bothoth can rupture the pods and therefore eject the spores at will. The Bothoth secretes a poisonous sap (Intensity 8 Poison) that will affect all that make physical contact with it that does not wear protective clothing. Bothoths live within or near the many Pod forests of Xhuul.

Spores: 4-16 pods that can release spores upon being hit with weapons or released by the Bothoth at will. The spores do 1d8 points of damage and burrow into flesh and take root. Make a CON save or succumb to a disease that prevents healing of damage until cured.

Contact Sap Poison: The Bothoth secretes a contact poison equivalent to Type 2 poison.

New Sense (Life Force): The Bothoth can detect living creatures within 100'. They sense the shape and location of their targets via energy emissions from the skin surface.





Note: Image used with permission by Grograou ofhttp://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Memory is Weak, the Blogsphere is Strong (I hope)

Somewhere is my blog surfing, I ran across a blog post where the author had a solution to making connections between a party of characters. He had a chart which is supposed to be rolled on to figure out a player character's relation to the player sitting on that player's left. Once determined, then the next player who was sitting on that player's left then rolls on the chart to find his relationship to the player on his left. Rinse and repeat for all players.

I thought this was a neat idea and now I can't remember which blog I read it on. If any of you have ran across the same post, please let me know.

Thanks

Friday, November 12, 2010

Punch Me!

No really, punch me because I must be dreaming. Wow. This movie Sucker Punch has everything!! Hot girls. School uniforms. Guns. Swords. Giant Samurai. Zepplins. Bi-planes. WWI trenches and soldiers. A Dragon. Martial Arts. Robots. Mecha. Oh and did I mention hot girls? This movie is like every video-game rolled into one. You can't go wrong with the guys who did Watchmen and 300.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary: Nysithu

NYSITHU
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-4
SIZE: Medium
HD: 3 (d8)
MOVE: 30ft, 50ft swim
AC: 15
ATTACKS: 4 claws (1d6)
SPECIAL: Mutations
SAVES: P
INT: Low
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Mutant
TREASURE: 1
XP: 70 +3/hp

These man-sized manta-ray like creatures live in or near lakes, rivers and mudflats. On land, they slither along the ground like a snake. They are adept swimmers. They are quick, agile and their hide is thick. They have 4 long spindly arms that end in sharp claws that they use to attack intruders with. They have a greatly expanded lung capacity that serves to doubles the amount of time they can stay underwater. They do not have gills and cannot breathe water. Nysithu have developed photsynthetic skin which provides all nourishment they need from sunlight and other bright sources of light. The downside to this is that they have developed sensitivity to non-organic energy sources which causes them pain. This sensitivity has also made them vulnerable to extreme heat.

Energy Sensitivity(D): Nysithu are sensitive to non-organic energy sources and will experience pain within 30'. Nysithu take 1hp damage/round from nearby Power Cells, Robots and communication devices do 2hp/round.

Heat Reaction(D): Nysithu take double-damage from fire and heat-based attacks.

Kinetic Absorption: Nysithu negate the first 10points of damage from any physical blunt force (such as Maces, Clubs), or force effects(magic missle). Peiring weapons do 1/2 damage but their damage isn't absorbed. Energy weapon damage is applied normally.

Photosynthetic Skin: In darkness, the Nysithu move at 50% normal speed and are -4 to initiative. They suffer an extra 1d6 damage from heat and cold attacks. They heal 3hp/day from sunlight.

Multiple Body Parts (4 arms),

Modified Body Parts: Enhanced lung capacity. Can stay underwater twice as long as normal.

Heightened Precision: Add 1d8 damage to attacks because of their ability to find weaknesses in their opponents.



Note: Image used with permission by Grograou ofhttp://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Monday, November 8, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary: Hlosh

HLOSH
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-4
SIZE: Medium
HD: 2 (d8)
MOVE: 30ft
AC: 18
ATTACKS: Weapon
SPECIAL: Regeneration 2, Spell-like abilities, Twilight vision.
SAVES: M
INT: Superior
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: 2
XP: 27 +2/hp

These alien creatures are surrounded by a tough transparent membrane that protects them from harm. This membrane allows the creature to extend it's 3 manipulator appendages and 4 locomotive appendages in order to interact with the outside environment. It is believed that membrane is some kind of bio-organic encounter suit which is under pressure with the native atmosphere that keeps the Hlosh alive. These alien creatures are usually encountered in ruins where they are found exploring. They sometimes capture other creatures for study. They usually carry strange alien devices and weapons to protect themselves.

Regeneration: Hlosh regenerate 2hp/round. If they are reduced to 1/4hp, thier membrane is considered breach at which point their regeneration stops. They will die within a minute after their membrane is breached.

Spell-like Abilities: Hlosh can use the following spell-like abilities 2/day. Hold Person, Sleep, Blink as a 2nd level Sorcerer.

Twilight Vision: 60 ft range.



Note: Image used with permission by Grograou ofhttp://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday D&D Slog-a-thon

This weekend, I went to a local hobby shop, Brookhurst Hobbies in Garden Grove to play in their homebrew D&D 4e campaign. They had 3 tables with a DM on each running a game with about 5 players per table. The DMs all run different adventures but all within the same shared-world. The premise of the game is that the characters belong to a Mercenaries Guild that hires out its members for various missions in service to the local merchants and notable city officials of the city of Brookhaven.

This was my first game, so I had a 1st Level Longtooth Shifter Seeker. I basically channel primal magic through the use of spirits into my Longbow and arrows. The game was delayed in starting because several players showed up with no characters and had to spend time making them, which isn't easy to do when some are brand new to D&D 4e. This kind of annoyed me as I think such people who show up unprepared really disrespect those who showed up on time with character in-hand.

Anyway, so the adventure finally starts. We have a 1st Level Dwarf Cleric, a 1st Level Half-Orc Fighter, a 2nd Level Deva Wizard, a 1st Level Halfling Thief and my Seeker. Apparently, this adventure was designed for a 3rd Level party and we were told we might have a tough time. Understatement of the Century.

The Guild has sent us on a mission to go into an abandoned section of the city of Brookhaven, to escort a Mage into some catacombs. The catacombs has a ley-line running through it which has become tainted with necrotic energy, which the mage will then conduct a ritual to cleanse it. So, this tells me that this is going to be mostly Undead we will be fighting.

The First encounter was pretty easy. All minion Zombies that we easily trashed. The DM did a good job describing the chambers that were piled with bones and skulls like many of the Ossuaries in Europe.

The Second encounter was challenging but a pain in the ass. The DM made some custom undead creatures called Tortured Corpses. They could fire from their fingers, shards of bone that did necrotic damage and slowed you down. They fired on us and then retreated down the hall to where it ended and then scuttled up a 10' vertical wall to a tunnel that continued near the ceiling where they sought cover. We discovered that the last 20' of the hallway before it dead-ended was covered in caltrops. These things were immune to the caltrops so the undead were able to move at full speed when they retreated to their perch. For the characters, unless you only moved 5' per round to avoid the caltrops, you would take damage and be forced to end your movement. The melee-based characters were kind of screwed in this encounter as they were being fired upon by the undead who had a height advantage and could attack at range, while they had to slowly make their way down the hall. The few of us who had range couldn't really do too much damage as there were 4 of these things. We finally managed to close the distance and the Wizard managed to get a few area attacks in which helped kill a few of the things. The melee characters mopped up the rest.

The Third Encounter we could have avoided altogether, however we failed a Skill Challenge to breach a stone door that had a puzzle-lock. We did manage to get the door open by the use of brute force, but this alerted the Big Bad Evil Guy, who braced the door closed. There was a contest of strength to see if we could push the door open, but we rolled miserably and the door was finally forced shut and braced. We had to go the other way.

This encounter was just brutal. It was essentially a small maze, thereby severely reducing line of sight due to alot of turns and obstructing walls. Lurking within the maze were 4 Tomb Wraiths. They have phasing abilities so they could fly through the walls and attack and then they would flee afterwards making it very difficult to counterattack. The real shit-kicker to this was when they attacked, they weakened you, so you would do half damage on a hit. Combine that with their Insubstantial property which automatically halved any damage, so you were effectively only doing a quarter of your damage. And these things regenerated each round! Did I mention there were 4 of these things? Oh yeah, the DM told us afterwards that he removed one from the encounter! Thanks alot. Several times during the fight at least one member of the party, including myself fell unconcious. The poor cleric had a hard time trying to help us stay alive. I think this encounter took 2 hours to play through at least. We finally managed to defeat these things, but it wasn't easy and I'm suprised none of us died. I almost did.

The final encounter was with the Big Bad Evil Guy, who pulled off his parting taunts to us before he disappeared into mist, leaving us to deal with a large-sized Corruption Corpse with wings that kept out of reach of the melee characters. Most of us were immobilized by a huge area effect power the thing threw at us, called Grasp of the Grave. Basically hands erupting friom the ground grabbing our legs to keep us from moving. Only two characters managed to not be in the zone when it triggered. This encounter dragged on for for about another hour and a half as this thing had about 250 HP and it too regenerated!!

I'll have to give kudos to the DM for having the monsters make use of terrain to their advantage, but I think these creatures were very over-powered, given our level. I think the DM was expecting one player to show up who had a Mace that could unleash Radiant damage that severely hurts Undead and interrupts their regeneration. But that player never showed. None of us in the party had any powers that would unleash radiant damage except the Cleric, but that was a Daily power, so that wasn't too helpful for most of the adventure, since he could only use it once.

It's still bad design to focus an adventure that succeeds with a very narrow skill or power set. And knowing that most of the group were 1st Level characters, the encounters should have been scaled appropriately. This adventure took 6 hours to complete when it should have taken 4 hours. We probably could have finished sooner if we had started on time waiting for characters to be created. The game was mostly frustrating and a brutal slog-a-thon. By the end of the encounter with the Wraiths, I was getting really tired and wanted to pack it in. I didn't care if I lived or died at that point. I really wanted to go home and get something to eat.

Don't get me wrong, I like 4e D&D. This is not a complaint with the system. It's a complaint of the design of the adventure. I was made aware that the general details of each adventure were posted on the website for the campaign. Had I known the general gist of each of the 3 adventures, I would have made 3 characters. I would have played a much different character that the one I used for this adventure. One that could spam Radiant damage thats for sure.

Xhuul Bestiary: Canthak

CANTHAK
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-6
SIZE: Medium
HD: 3 (d8)
MOVE: 30ft
AC: 13
ATTACKS: 2 Fang-claws (1d6)
SPECIAL: Poison
SAVES: P
INT: Animal
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Plant
TREASURE: None
XP: 30 +3/hp

This 2-meter long mutated spider-like fungus, is a mobile plant. It's body is supported by a series of wickedly sharp spider-like legs. The main body arches up which is dominated by two very large piercing fang-like claws. Attacks from it's fang-like claws inject a corrosive poison that breaks down organic matter. A successful CON save resists the poison. A failed save reduces the victim's CON score by 1 each turn until it reaches zero upon which the victim dies and their body breaks down into an organic sludge. This sludge is what the Canthak consumes through their lower body segments.


Note: Image used with permission by Grograou of http://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary: Ashshatha

ASHSHATHA

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-2
SIZE: Large
HD: 10 (d8)
MOVE: 40ft
AC: 20
ATTACKS: 2 Hand Slams (2d6)
SPECIAL: Eye of Death, Entangle,
Invisibility, Telepathy
SAVES: M
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Abberation
TREASURE: None
XP: 2250 +10/hp

These creatures appear as extremely tall humanoids with over-sized arms and a dark black cyclopean eye. Their bodies are transparent. Ashshatha are sentient energy beings made mostly of ectoplasm. They dwell in forest regions and stake out a region that they protect. It is unknown what they eat, if anything. It appears that they do have a mouth slit, but they do not seem to speak or use it to eat. It is theorized that they may in fact be the ghosts of some unknown race that perished in the cataclysm. They take half damage from physical attacks, but full damage from energy-based attacks.

Eye of Death: This attack can be used up to 1/day. Those hit with the attack must make a CHA save or be killed instantly.

Entangle: The Ashshatha can use the Druid spell Entangle 1/day as a 10th level Druid

Invisibility: The Ashshatha can use Invisibility 2/day as a 10th level Wizard

Telepathy: Ashshatha communicate between themselves and other creatures by use of telepathy.


Note: Image used with permission by Grograou of http://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Xhuul Bestiary: Hologua

HOLOGUA
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-2
SIZE: Large
HD: 10 (d8)
MOVE: 60ft fly (hover)
AC: 13
ATTACKS: 4 Tentacles (1d10), Bite (2d8)
SPECIAL: Grab, Twilight Vision
SAVES: P
INT: Low
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Abberation
TREASURE: None
XP: 1650 +10/hp
These creatures look like 6-meter diameter floating jelly-fish, with large pupil-less eyes, and dangling tentacles beneath. The Hologua float by way of an internal gas bag which is filled with a lighter-than-air gas. They propel themselves by drawing in air and expelling it, much like a squid does in water. The Hologua dwell in mountainous regions where they float among the updrafts. When hungry, they grab prey with their tentacles and draw it up to their fanged mouths which then try to devour their meal. Their large eyes give them good distance vision and they are able to spot prey from 2 kilometers away.
When attacking with their tentacles, if two or more hit the same target, the target must make a successful STR save or be held immobile in the Holoqua's tentacles. The the following round, and any round the victim remains held, the Hologua will draw the target up to it's fanged mouth where it will have a +4 to hit with its bite.



Note:Image used with permission by Grograou ofhttp://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The New 4th Edition Character Builder

I got this email today for the new D&D 4e Character Builder. It's going to be a web-based program which you have to log into the D&D website to use. You can save your characters to their database. The old Character Builder will no longer be updated once this new CB launches on Nov. 16th 2010. One nice feature is that you'll be able to create Dark Sun characters. There is also an option to create D&D Essentials characters. I copied the screenshots they sent me. I still don't see an option to export a file into other formats (such as PDF).


Dear D&D Insider™ Subscriber,
On November 16, Wizards of the Coast will launch a brand new web-based version of the D&D Insider Character Builder. The current downloadable version will remain functional, but will no longer be available for download or updated with content after the new version goes live. Here are the highlights of the new Character Builder:
• New Design: Completely redesigned from top to bottom in Microsoft Silverlight as a robust character creation wizard.




• No Download: The Character Builder is served from the D&D site.
• PC and Mac Compatible: Requires an Internet connection and Silverlight plug-in.
• Access is easy: Just enter the D&D site, login, and launch the Character Builder from the Tool Box or the Character Builder tools page.
• Characters in the Cloud: All characters you create are saved on our database. No need to save Character Builder files on your hard drive anymore.
• File Import: You can easily import your characters created in the previous version to the new Character Builder.
• Previous Data: Includes all character-building data you enjoyed in the previous versions.
• New Data Releases: Dark Sun and D&D Essentials data will debut with the new version.
If you have any questions about the new Character Builder or your subscription, see the
FAQ or contact a Game Support Representative.

I'm only a DDI subscriber for a little while longer. I cancelled the auto-renew and won't be resubscribing to DDI. I'll use my current Character Builder and keep doing so for my own homebrew games.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Buzzkill

This Saturday, October 23rd, is the D&D Gamma World Game Day, which is the official release event for the game. My FLGS, Brookhurst Hobbies is running this event which I signed up for on their Meetup website. I'm subscribed to the daily digest of posts from their discussion boards and was shocked and saddened to find out that in order to play in the event, each player is required to purchase one of the Gamma World Booster packs. Booooo!!!

This seems to go against the grain of most of the Game Day events that I have played before. There has never been a requirement to buy anything. I'm just interested in playing the game and see if I would like it. It's like going to a car dealership and wanting to take a test drive of a car you're interested in and they make you buy the gasoline to do so.

So, what if I go to the store, buy a booster pack and decide that after I play the game that I don't like it enough to buy a copy?. What the hell am I going to do with the stupid cards I was "forced" to buy in order to play? It looks like a bad marketing strategy on behalf of Brookhurst Hobbies, thats for sure.

I will just have to decide not to go. Oh well, I can deal.

15 Games in 15 Minutes

So I noticed this little "meme" has been going around the blogoverse, so I decided to post my own 15 games. I tried to focus on the ones I had the most experience with and had the most influence on me in the past and currently. They are:

1) D&D (all versions)
2) Champions
3) Gamma World
4) Call of Cthulhu
5) City of Heroes
6) Neverwinter Nights
7) Pool of Radiance
8) Traveller
9) Stormbringer
10) Palladium Fantasy Roleplaying
11) The Mechanoid Invasion
12) Heroes Unlimited
13) The Fantasy Trip
14) Starfleet Battles
15) Mythos

I'm as much a computer gamer as I am a gamer of traditional pen-and-paper RPGs.

And if it was a "16 games in 15 minutes", I would add "Awful Green Things from Outer Space".

Monday, October 18, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary project

Posting has been very light lately. The reason being is that I'm currently assembling a "Mutant Manual" for the Weirdlands of Xhuul. I will compile it as a PDF and post it up as a free file when I get done with it. I could probably post the individual Xhuul Bestiary entries as blog posts, but from what I could gather from Blogger's stats on posts, those blog entries did not generate any or relatively few page views. So I will stick with the plan as a separate file for now.

I've been struggling with the presentation of the stats. One thing about 2nd Edition Gamma World mutant stat blocks that bugs me is the presentation of the 3 movement rates. The first value is Kilometers/March Turn, the second is Meters/Search Turn and the third is Meters/Action Turn. Let's face it, I hate the metric system to begin with, let alone having to calculate the various values of movement between the different types of Turns.

I think to save myself some time, I will just put a value of Meters/Action Turn because most likely when you encounter a mutant creature, it's most likely going to want to eat you and that is going to be in combat anyway.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Minis Spotlight: Lords of Madness


I picked up a box of WoTC's pre-painted plastic minis from their newly-released Lords of Madness set. I've slowed down in my minis purchasing, but this was purely an impulse buy at my FLGS Brookhurst Hobbies in Garden Grove. I think the price is a bit steep of $22.00 for a box of 6 minis. Albeit you get one Huge mini, a Large mini, and four Medium sized minis. However, there is an appeal to the "Crackjack Box Toy Suprise" feeling I get from buying one. You just don't know what you are going to get.
From left to Right: Heroslayer Hydra (Huge), City Guardsman (Medium), Stone Giant (Large), Trapped Chest (or Mimic) (Medium), Rot Grub Swarm (Medium), Brain in a Jar (Medium).

I think I lucked out with this box, because I really did want the Trapped Treasure Chest and Brain in a Jar minis. And I got both in the same box! The chest can double as a Mimic. The Brain in a Jar i just think its cool because it reminds me of the Migo Brain Cylinders from H.P. Lovecraft.



Saying Goodbye to 4E RPGA Play

I've been playing D&D 4th Edition mostly through a local RPGA group. The last time I played was a few months ago at a weekly RPGA game on Monday nights in Anaheim. The games are run out of a renovated Knights of Columbus Hall. Its a good place to play all kinds of games and its a good place to meet new players. I like the RPGA model of being able to drop into a game without the need for total commitment to a ongoing campaign.

I like the 4E system for what it does. Its a balanced system and is good for Organized play such as the RPGA. I also like it because if you are DMing a home game/campaign, prepping the game is so much easier than 3.5 was.

My current grudge is mostly with all the rules and powers errata Wizards of the Coast has been churning out. It has basically made the printed books practically worthless if used to try to make a legal character for RPGA play. In order to do so, you would need to reference and cross-reference pages of errata, printed out from a .PDF, that Wizards provides through monthly updates on their website.

Now if you have a DDI subscription (as I did), you get all the rules updates automatically updated into the Character Builder and Monster Builder. Thats all nice and good, but what if you no longer have a DDI subscription? You are pretty much screwed if you want to play a legal RPGA character then.

So I finally got fed up with this whole thing and cancelled my DDI subsciption (I bought a full year subscription, so I can use it until the end of November).

As for 4E? I will just play non-RPGA games and hopefully find a group that doesn't feel compelled to have the latest rules updates. I was DMing a 4E campaign that was put on hold because of one of my players had other real-life commitments. There has been some chatter of getting the game started again, sans that player and get some new players to fill in the ranks. I've been slow to get that ball rolling.

This past week-end I met some of the other players in the RPGA group I have played with and found out that the whole RPGA group has dropped out with the release of the Essentials line of products. As this would have repurcussions for RPGA play, I think they all got fed up as I did. I think the Marketing Dept, at Wizards better put down the bong. How many times do they think they can sell you the same old horse before people wise up and stop buying their products? I understand they do this with their Magic:The Gathering card game, releasing new cards and invalidating cards previously purchased as illegal for tournament play. I have to wonder about the people who still continue to buy those cards. Fortunately for me, I never got into Magic:tG. I've held a grudge against that game for the dissolution of my role-playing group I used to play in with my friends. They all got into it when it was first released and I just didn't understand the appeal.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Xhuul Bestiary: Grey Men


GREY MEN


NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-6
SIZE: Medium
HD: 5 (d8)
MOVE: 30ft
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Weapon
SPECIAL: Regeneration 10, Darkvision, Skeletal Enhancement, immune to charm and mind-control effects.
SAVES: P
INT: Low
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral
TYPE: Humanoid
TREASURE: 1
XP: 280 +5/hp,br>

The Grey Men are artificially grown in the alchemical vats within the Great Black Ziggurat in the city of Hlatl. They are genetically programmed to be completely loyal to the Grand Hlat no Mental Mutations can override this programming. They have been created to act as the city's guardians and special military forces. They also serve as the personal guard of the Grand Hlat. They appear as 2 meter tall male humanoids with a light grey skin tone. They are physically athletic in build and are completely hairless. They have small black bead-like eyes, slitted nostrils and a large gash-like mouth. They are usually marked with a bar-code like tatoo that helps to identify each one. The Grey Men who actively patrol the city or stationed at the gates usually wear chainmail armor and are armed with longswords and crossbows.

Xhuul Bestiary: Xycil


XYCIL


NO ENCOUNTERED: 3-18
SIZE: Medium
HD: 1(d8)
MOVE: 30ft, 20ft (climb)
AC: 14
ATTACKS: Bite (1d4)
SPECIAL: Mutations
SAVES: P
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Mutant
TREASURE: 2
XP: 11+1/hp


The Xycil are a relatively peaceful spider-like mutant species that maintain the infrastructure of the city of Hlatl. They are usually found in groups cleaning up trash and debris, repairing structures, or tending the fungal farms. They are not encountered as much on the streets of Hlatl, but are very common below the streets. When the Xycil are not working, they return to their hive where they rest until needed.

It is unclear to most how the Xycil communicate. It is not common knowledge that they are telepathic. They use this ability to communicate with each other and never with creatures outside their species. Witnesses have seen them vibrate their legs and body movements and believe this is how they communicate. Xycil do not like to interact with humanoids and usually avoid or ignore them. If confronted by hostile action, they retreat immediately.

Xycil has the following mutations: Telepathy, Heightened Precision, Web Generation, New Body Parts (hands). Mutations function at 1HD where applicable.

Weird Alien Vajay-jay

This is probably NSFW, so use caution when checking out the link below. I am constantly amazed of the unbridled content of the Interwebz. Its like the "box of chocolates" line from Forrest Gump, you never know what you are going to get or find. For Better or Worse.

While doing a Google search for "Spider Aliens" images, I find this and I should say, it doesn't suprise me. I'm sure there is probably a market for this stuff. I mean c'mon, if Captain Kirk could bang all those alien women, it must be okay. Right?

So, I'm sure its only a matter of time before the red model "Dejah Thoris" Fleshlight becomes a reality. Probably after the John Carter Warlord of Mars movie is released. But I'm suprised there isn't a green model "Orion Slave Woman" Fleshlight already. Star Trek has been around for a long time in TV syndication...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hlatl, City of the Black Crater

The campaign centerpiece for my Xhuul setting is Hlatl, City of the Black Crater. Hlatl is one of the first and oldest cities to be built after the Great Cataclysm. Over time, the city has been built up over previous ruins.

The city is at the bottom of a large crater, which was built upon a rocky tor that rises up from the crater bottom. The crater consists of basalt and onyx, which has been quarried to build the many structures of the city. Hlatl is one of the first and oldest cities to be built after the Great Cataclysm. Over time, the city has been built up over previous ruins.

The land surrounding the crater is a vast dry, rocky desert of black sand dunes and rocks of basalt and onyx.

Originally, the base of the crater was dry and was dotted with old ruins. About 30 years ago, the crater began to fill with water after a series of earthquakes. The tremors created a fissure to some underground source of water that began to rise to the surface. The newly formed lake submerged many of the old ruins at the crater bottom. A few ancient towers remain above the lake surface. Along the shores of the lake, there are still some remains of the old ruins not claimed by the waters. A fetid swamp has taken root along the shores made of purple reeds and fungi and iridescent mosses. This new source of water has attracted creatures of all types that lurk in the swamps and stalk the black sandy shores.

The rising waters around Hlatl was cause for the construction of four massive bridges of black basalt and onyx to connect to each of the city's main gates. Also, to keep the water level within the crater at a steady level, a pumping station was constructed with pipes running up along the crater wall and over the rim, sending the excess water away into the black sandy desert. This run-off water over time has created an artificial river.

Hlatl is built primarily of basalt stone. All other materials such as wood have been transported by trade caravans. The city is ringed by a great outer wall. Inside the city there are various wards, which are separated by inner walls. The city's topography is on a gentle incline which rises from west to east. At the highest apex is the Black Ziggurat, an immense multi-tiered structure of Ancient construction. The Black Ziggurat is made of a black stone and crystal material that resists all harm from conventional means. It is home to the city's ruler, Kigloth the Mad.

Kigloth is reclusive and the day-to-day administration of the city's affairs is conducted by the Hands of Hlatl, a zealous order of fanatics devoted to the will of Kigloth. Public order and laws are enforced by the Kigloth's vat-grown homonculi, the Grey Men.

Since the city of Hlatl was built up over previous ruins, there are a myriad of old tunnels and catacombs beneath the city. These places are ripe with danger, but also ripe with rewards for those willing to brave the depths. There are several levels beneath that make up this underworld. The upper regions are generally storage areas, fungi farms, sewage treatment and pumping machinery for the city's water supply. These regions are usually patrolled and maintained by the city's labor force of mutant spiders known as the Xycil. The Xycil are the most adept since they can climb and scurry along the tunnels with ease, gaining access to areas normally difficult for humanoids. The Xycil are intelligent, but they do not speak any language known to most humans. They seem to communicate with each other by vibrations they make with their legs and also body movements. They can use tools as they have a set of manipulative hands on their thorax. They are not aggressive to humans and if confronted by violence, they will usually flee.

The lower regions is where greater dangers live. One such is Ramoskeph. A powerful sorceror, he sees the region as his "living" laboratory. He has access to alchemical vats that he uses to create all kinds of mutant and necromantic horrors to roam the dark halls, as guards and pets. Ramoskeph is not entirely sane, while his lucid moments are rare, he usually only has enough focus to complete his latest "creation" before he moves onto something else. Ramoskeph is a thin man of dark complexion. He wears silk robes that hang loosely from his wiry frame. His head his distorted into an elongated shape. He wears fine jewelry and gold rings and he has a long beard which is tightly woven with gold braids into a point. He has oversized ears and his eyes are pupiless dark orbs. He has many servants and slaves.

However, his creations have been a nuissance and a danger to the Xycil and have occasionally found their way into the streets of Hlatl.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sorcery in Xhuul


Wizard (Sorcerer) characters start out knowing a few spells in their spellbooks as per Castles & Crusades rulebook pg.23. Sorcerers start with a number of Power Points equal to their INT score. These power points allow them to cast their spells. Each level of experience adds 1d4 Power Points. 0 level spells (cantrips)can be cast anytime, and do not cost Power Points. Generally, the cost of casting a spell is the number of power points equal to the spell level. The effects of the spell are limited by the Sorcerer's level.

Some spells will have alternate names for better flavor to fit the setting.


Sorcerors & Sorcery in Xhuul

Sorcery had survived the cataclysm that befell Xhuul. Those few cultists that did not die during the great war passed on the knowledge to their descendants or wrote it down in foul tomes. Much of this knowledge has been lost as some descendants who were taught the spells fell victim to the harsh Xhuulian wilderness, or the books themselves misplaced or hidden, then subsequently forgotten. Given that sorcery was taught by the alien gods and their servitors, it came at a high price to the sorceror's mind and body.

The act of casting spells can sometimes make changes to a Sorceror. Any spell cast by the sorceror has a 5% chance (1 in 20) of causing an Affliction. A roll is made on the Afflictions Table. Unless specifically noted on the table entry, the afflictions last 1d10 x10 hours.

Afflictions over time can greatly debilitate even the most powerful sorcerors. This is why many seek to find ways of ridding themselves of their afflictions. The common method of this is to transfer these afflictions, even temporary ones to others. The 4th level spell Shiggoboth's Spell of Transferance is commonly used by sorcerors for this purpose. However that spell comes at a cost of 1d4 CON.

Afflictions Table
1d100   Effect
01-35   Nothing happens.
36-37   Eyes change into that of a beast's
38-39   Tentacle-like growths appear around mouth
40-41   Grows large pointed ears
42-43   Teeth become fanged
44-45   Eyes glow green
46-47   Hunched-back
48-49   Scaly skin like a reptile or snake
50-51   Skin becomes slimey
52-53   Lose all hair
54-55   Large, oddly-shaped head
56-57   Hermaphrodite
58-59   Body covered in short fur
60-61   Albinoism
62-63   1d4 extra eyes appear randomly on body
64-65   1d4 extra mouths appear randomly on body
66-67   Eyes become large and bulging
68-69   Tongue becomes forked like a snake's
70-71   Gives off a fishy odor
72-73   Hair replaced by long fleshy tentacles
74-75   Eyes become multi-faceted, like an insect's
76-77   Odd skin color (blue, green, yellow, red)
78-79   Ages 1d10 years
80-82   Has delusions or hallucinations (GM determines what it is)
83-84   Paranoia
85-86   Unusual Allergy (metal, water, silver, wood etc.,) causes skin to burn on contact
87-88   Strange sexual desires (exhibitionism, necrophilia, teratophilia, nymphomania)
89-90   Uncontrollable tremors/shakes.
91-92   Phobia
93-94   1d4 bony growths appear randomly on body
95-96   Legs fuse into worm-like lower body
97-98   Grow 1d10 extra digits on hands or feet.
99-00   Mute


Casting Spells and Power Points

The sorceror has a limited pool of energy in which to cast spells, as these are taxing to the mind and body. The character's starting Power points at 1st level is equal to their INT score. If a Sorceror uses all their Power Points, he/she is exhausted and cannot perform any activity besides rest. They can move at 1/2 speed, but cannot make any other kinds of attacks or actions. Power Points are regained at a rate of 1pt per hour of rest. Most sorcerors prefer to drain power from magic items that can store Power Points within them, instead of using their own personal Power Points. Some sorcerors prefer to drain power from their minions or enemies to fuel their spells.


Gaining More Spells

Gaining new spellsa re as per rules in the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New banner art for Xhuul

I wasn't liking the plain look of the blog so I decided to whip up something to jazz it up a bit. I spent more time looking for the art piece and the font than anything. My meager skills with Photoshop aside, I think it turned out okay.

Overview of Xhuul

Xhuul Prehistory
Long ago, in a distant star system dominated by a red giant star, the planet Xhuul was devasted by a great struggle between alien god-like beings. The people of Xhuul who worshipped these alien gods were humans who originated on Earth that were transported there by magical gates or by alien creatures that carried them, spanning the great interstellar distances in a short amount of time. Most of the humans were insane cultists of these gods, however a few were not. These were usually prisoners, slaves or sacrificial victims taken to Xhuul. The details of the cataclysm that befell Xhuul, the knowledge of these alien gods, their civilization and technology has been lost, buried and forgotten.

Xhuul Today
What remains are the descendants of the humans that survived. They live in a few isolated, walled, primitive cities. Each of the cities is ruled by a powerful sorceror, mutant or warrior of great might. These rulers usually have powerful items of magic or technology in their possession that guaranties their position. The people go about their day-to-day lives, usually beneath the notice of such luminaries. However, a few have loftier goals, these are adventurers who seek fame and fortune. Outside the cities there is a large expanse of dangerous wilderness crawling with alien creatures, Cyguggothic emanantions, necrophagic clouds, undead and mutants. There are arid deserts, fetid swamps, fungal forests, montains and badlands. Hidden within this wilderness are ruins of the lost ages of Xhuul. Rumors of treasures, ancient technology and powerful magic await those foolhardy enough to leave the safety of the cities and brave the howling wilderness beyond. There are also things out there best left undisturbed.

Xhuulian Heavens
The sky of Xhuul during the day is dominated by a red giant star, known as Ygos by the astrologer-scientists of the ruling courts. Xhuul has three moons; Zhlolat, Sartha and Phugo. Zhlolat is a reddish moon, believed to be a desert world. Sartha is green in color, with a heavily clouded atmosphere. It is believed to be covered in steamy jungles. Phugo is black in color. It is believed that the surface is mostly basalt and obsidian. Legends say the souls of the dead travel there. The surface is scarred by giant cracks, most likely great fissures and canyons.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gamma World Acquisitions

I have been fortunate enough to win 2 Ebay auctions a couple days ago. One auction was for the 1st Edition Gamma World rulebook, which I scored for around $10.50. The other was the 1st Edition Gamma World Referee's Screen with the Erol Otus artwork, and 4 Modules: The Legion of Gold, Famine in Far-go, Cleansing War of Garick Blackhand and Mind Masters. That was for $38.00, so I think that was a good deal. They are currently on their way to me and all I can do is wait. I once owned the referee's screen and both the Legion of Gold and Famine in Far-go modules a long time ago, but I got rid of them in some fit of madness.

I am unfamiliar with the other two modules, so hopefully I'll be able to use them in the Xhuul game. No doubt there will be necessary changes to be made to fit those modules into the Xhuul setting. For instance, Famine in Far-go's mutated chickens have no place in Xhuul, I'll have to come up with suitable replacements.

Diary of Inhuman Species

I found this wonderful website Diary of Inhuman Species. The images of the creatures is about dead-on to what I have been imagining the flora and fauna of Xhuul to look like. Its very evocative of the alien nature of my Gamma World campaign setting. Many of the illustrations are Cthulhuesque in appearance and I will most likely want to stat up some of these beings for my campaign.


Some of my favorites:
















Note: Images used with permission by Grograou of http://diaryofinhumanspecies.com/WordPress

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the Naming of Things

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure if I should be referencing creatures/beings that are copyrighted by others. Maybe I'm paranoid or overthinking it too much. I don't plan to market what I post here for any monetary gain. I just want to share ideas and hopefully inspire others as I have been from blogs that I read. Anyway, I'm using a handy Lovecraftian Name Generator to name creatures and places within the lands of Xhuul, to give it a more unique feel than borrowing from already published sources.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cyguggothic Emanations

Cyguggoths were a servitor race of the Old Ones. They were large shapechangers that shifted form constantly, forming tentacles, pseudopods, orofices, eyes etc., They were monstrous beings, usually unleashed by their masters to commit large-scale destruction.

In the distant past, a new form of weapon was created that used pieces of Cyguggoths, vibrated at a particular frequency. Given the nature of the Cyguggothic flesh to change shape and the vibration, a new kind of radiation was created that could spontaneously mutate any living creature. Not all creatures survived this exposure. Some could be severely burned or be killed outright by the formation of cancerous growths and tumors. Others survived, with strange new abilities or deformities.

Areas of Cyguggothic emanations are hard to detect as is is an invisible energy. Certain mutations make be able to detect such areas. A good indicator are visual clues to the surrounding environment which may be warped or twisted. Given the strangeness of the lands of Xhuul, this is still no guarantee.

Coming into contact with an area of Cyguggothic Emanations requires a Saving Throw vs WIS. This will allow one to notice the strangeness of the area and avoid the body warping effects. A Failed save causes some damage and possible gain of mutations. A successful save resists the effects. Saving Throws are made once each 10 minutes of exposure.

Cyguggothic Emanation Random Intensity Table
1d100   INT   Effect
01-25    1    1d6 damage
26-41    2    2d6 damage
42-55    3    3d6 damage
56-69    4    3d6 damage and 20% chance for Mutation
               (50% Physical/50% Mental)
70-84    5    3d6 damage and 30% chance for Mutation
               (50% Physical/50% Mental)
85-90    6    4d6 damage and 40% chance for Mutation
               (60% Physical/40% Mental)
91-94    7    5d6 damage and 50% chance for Mutation
               (60% Physical/40% Mental)
95-96    8    6d6 damage and 60% chance for Mutation
               (70% Physical/30% Mental)
97-98    9    7d6 damage and 70% chance for Mutation
               (80% Physical/20% Mental)
99-00   10    8d6 damage and 80% chance for Mutation
               (90% Physical/10% Mental)


Note: I wanted a different spin on radiation. Instead of nuclear radiation being the cause of mutation, I wanted it to be something with a Lovecraftian flavor. Another inspiration source similar to this would be Warhammer Fantasy's Chaos taint/gifts.

Necrophagic Clouds

One of the hazards of Xhuul is a Necrophagic Cloud. A remnant of a horrific biological weapon unleashed hundreds of years ago, this black/purplish cloud can turn anyone exposed to it into a undead creature. The undead creature loses all ability to use any mutations. It will attack any living creature it can see to feed upon it. Any creature that survives an attack by a necrophagic zombie will not turn into one.

A Necrophagic Cloud can come in varying degrees of intensity. Anyone caught inside the Cloud must make a Save vs CON. Adjust the saving throw by the intensity of the cloud (1-10). A failed save causes creature to suffer an Energy Drain of 1d2 levels. Creatures reduce to 0 levels becomes an undead creature equivalent to a Zombie. A successful save causes 2d6 damage. Saving throws can be avoided if the creature is equipped in some manner that protects them from exposure (i.e. force field, haz-mat suit, or magic). Saving throws continue each round the creature is inside the cloud.

NECROPHAGIC CLOUD
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1
SIZE: Large
HD: n/a
MOVE: 10ft
AC:10
ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL: Energy Drain
SAVES: P
INT: n/a
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Biological Weapon
TREASURE: None
XP: 0

Necromutants

Necromutants are the result of a lifeform infected by a Necrophagic Cloud within an area of Cyguggothic emanations. The creature is turned into an undead being with the hunger for living flesh. Necromutants usually have a greenish cast to their skin. Any fur they may have had, quickly falls away to reveal the sallow green skin stretched tight across their skeletal frame.

Any physical mutations the creature had prior to transformation are carried over, making Necromutants very unpredictable in their capabilities. For encounters, roll 1d4 Physical Mutations (even defects!) and apply them to each Necromutant. They usually travel in small packs searching for living creatures to consume.

NECROMUTANT

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 2-9
SIZE: Medium
HD: 2 (d6)
MOVE: 30ft
AC: 12
ATTACKS: 2 claw (1d3), bite (1d6)
SPECIAL: Mutations
SAVES: P
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
TYPE: Undead
TREASURE: 1
XP: 22 +2/hp

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome to Xhuul, watch your step and beware of the Necromutants!

For a while I have been wanting to run something old school. I've been inspired by some blogs that I read to do just that. Originally I was going to set the game using Gamma World, but then I discovered Castles & Crusades and decided to use that system and just port over Mutations from Gamma World (of course scaled down to work withing the lower hit point thresholds).

The world of Xhuul is a far-removed planet in a star system with a giant red sun. Other inspirations to the setting come from H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, such as dark cults of alien gods, fungi, strange alien creatures and magically created beasts of myth.

This is a work in progress and this blog will detail the ideas and house rules as I create them.