UL BANNER

9/01/2014

Dungeon Science | Special Conditions In Sub-Phylacterial Environments

Once the spellcasting considerations are satisfied, the wizard proceeds to the next, equally important step: the making of a phylactery, a vessel to house his spirit. The phylactery usually is a small boxlike amulet made of common materials, highly crafted. Lead or another black or dark gray material is frequently used.  
Inspection of an amulet may reveal various arcane symbols carved into the interior walls of the box, and those grooves are filled with silver as pure as the mage can find. These amulets are never made of wood, and rarely of steel. Brightly colored metals, such as gold, are infrequently used. (Mirinalithiar's account is extremely unclear, but it may not be the color that is the problem. The relative softness of the material and its subsequent likelihood of being injured may create this restriction.)  
The mage understandably has no desire for anyone to learn what ritual is being undertaken, or the appearance of the arcane symbols and etchings he must use. Thus, the mage alone will melt and forge those precious metals, as well as learn whatever other crafting skills are necessary to design and construct the phylactery.
~ Van Richten's Guide to Liches 

So you're inside a phylactery. Well done.
Some environmental conditions to consider:
  • Shoddy Workmanship: Everything -- the furniture, the food, the very stones that make up the lich's keep will dissolve into colorless marshmallow goop if the object takes at least six points of magical damage. Some liches may augment that durability to suit specific purposes or areas. For instance, the walls of a cell inside a dungeon would naturally be of higher concentration. At a glance this may suggest that tunneling through the sub-world would be no real challenge. Actually that would be highly problematic -- without taking time-consuming precautions, you and your party would quickly find yourselves drowning in the thick goop this sort of activity would generate.
  • Ambient Moral Ambiguity: Alignment doesn't "work" here. Any ability or item that requires a specific alignment will work for any of the above. Or none. It just won't care anymore, ok?
  • Psionic Weather Patterns: Mental leakage from the minds of its occupants pools inside the boundaries of the sub-world and congeals into a stewing vapor. Weeks of accumulation will result in the formation of sickly, gloaming thunderheads that squeal and rant unintelligibly above. Any who dream during these periods risks mental dislocation and may awake to find that they occupy another party member's body or no body at all. Such a situation could cause a chain reaction of body-swapping and body-ejection of which no good can come.
  • Spell Materialization: Any spells you're carrying in your head are visible inside a phylactery. They take semi-translucent forms that vaguely resemble balloon animals and obscure types of ocean life in a myriad of colors and gloamings. They do not speak or produce audible chatter of any sort until the very moment they are cast, screaming in ecstasy as they transmute into their incantated effects. While they are in their uncast, inert state spells will cling to their magic-user like infantile creatures hanging on their mother, licking his skin with their squeaky balloon-tongues and twisting playful knots into his beard. Any wizard who sees a manifested spell-creature will immediately know its identity if that spell is part of his own repertoire.

8/31/2014

Dungeon Layout | MEMNÖDÖRÖR'S LAIR

A lich's metaphysical hideout inside his phylactery. Why would the PCs go here? Well, we have it on good authority that -- during his living years -- Old Memno secreted a lot of occult lore here. It would be a shame not to take a look...

CLICK TO MAKE IT BIG, BERK

Layers

  1. Observatory and Mnemonic Garden (skrying pool)
  2. Gallery of Mirrors, Pineal Psychophage (mind-flora)
  3. Flawless reproduction of Memno's childhood home in a barren, halflit vault
  4. Throne room staffed by mindless phantoms serving phantom meals
  5. Audience Chamber
  6. Upper Akashic Library
  7. Lower Akashic Library
  8. First Vault
  9. Infested Grotto and Unfinished Second Vault
  10. Psychic Jungle, formerly Dungeon
  11. Dislocated Space
  12. Crypt of the Chained One (sealed off)
  13. Flooded Cyst

More coming. Not sure what artist posted that water texture to the Cartographer's Guild, but it's awesome!

8/30/2014

Underworld Lore | The Mogricantic Bulbstaff (Magical Item)

I was talking about mogricants. Here's more information on their most recognizable accouterment, the bulbstaff. Fun for the whole adventuring party! Avoid anything that makes it shine with aching greenness!


Pricing Products -- Open Letter to OSR Publishers


Let it be known that the GGMLK fully supports the practice of switching up prices on products. I won't feel bad if I bought one of your books and then find you're selling it for $10 less a month later. I wouldn't have bought the book if I didn't feel the earlier price was fair. The point is, if I buy your work I am supporting your creative endeavors and want to fund them -- for the selfish reason that they bring me joy and palpate my imagination glands in some way. By all means, DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO to make more sweet books, maps, cards, dice, whatever. I'm cool with it, man.

Excelsior!

GG

Underworld Lore | The Mogricant

  • Ability Requirements: INT 9, WIS 11
  • Magic-User Class: Use the Experience, Hit Dice and saving throw advancement tables associated with the generic Magic-User class.
  • School: Transmogrification -- An offshoot of Transmutation, its magic is steeped in the laws and metaphysics of the incorporeal world. Mogricants are infatuated with transcendental meditation, Ley Lines, dreams, magic mirrors and ghosts. They traffic with spirit animals, talking (ouija) boards and occupied phylacteries, among a myriad other devices and elements of the art of subdivination[1].
  • Organization: Coteries of "brother" and "sister" mogricants sharing common goals, sometimes assembled to oversee a subdivinatory college[2] but usually found as lodges occupying a shared living quarters inside walled towns. The most renowned of these was the Lodge of the White Fly in the Town of Mymwetch before it disbanded several decades ago.
  • Symbols: The Septegram, the bulbstaff (staff equipped with a glass bulb that reacts to the presence of incorporeal beings by giving off varying colors of light -- the colors indicate the type and potency of beings in the immediate area) 
  • Peeves: Being mistaken for necromancers; sleeping outdoors.

The Mogricant is a traveler who does not like to travel. If he can manage it, he will leave his body at home and investigate the outside world through a magical conveyance called a phasm -- a sort of artificial body woven from ghost-flesh. It is not very strong, but a convincing phasm can pass for a normal person if used discretely. The mogricant can "wear" this disguise in the material world, but most often his interests lie in the examination of the incorporeal plane of ghosts and spirits, where his phasm functions just as well. 


MOGRICANTIC SPELLS
The Black Oath
Circle of Obfuscation
Craft Phasm
Detect Vestige
Entrap Incorporeal
Ghostlight
Power Word: Non Sequitur
Shift Locality
Sidereal Transference
Subdivine Presence
Transubstantiation
Visible Servant





_________________________
[1] Subdivination: The art of culling (sometimes useless) information from the confused babble of the spirit-world though the use of talking boards. Advanced subdivination allows the practitioner to assemble servitors with distinct identities from the vaporous pool of incorporeal consciousness.
[2] Subdivinatory College: A school dedicated to the principles of subdivinatory investigation and transmogrificational practices.

8/29/2014

RPG History | Dungeons & Designers (book series) Kickstarter

I don't know/care who author Shannon Applecline is -- aside from a vague comprehension of his/her connection to one of those big tabletop discussion sites/fora -- but like Jon Peterson's epic Playing at the World I will quickly devour any work that sheds light on the the early history of role-playing games because my imagination secretly wants to make babies with the Original Fire that brought the early D&D campaigns into being.

There are four books covering four decades of RPG history, but you needn't buy them all if you have little/no interest in learning about what happened to dice games in, say, the 90s -- and who does, really? I opted for the two book option, for example. 

8/28/2014

Dungeon Architect Cards Kickstarter

A deck of cards to enable spontaneous dungeon creation at the table. If you enjoy that level of improvisation, then you should get in on this action.


8/24/2014

Underworld Lore | Gangbangin' in the Dungeon

"Seriously, don't knock it till you try it, man.
I can tell your sister is into it."
Random encounters with bands of NPC adventurers while scouring nameless catacombs for loot and glory are a silver piece a dozen. I want to make a clear distinction between such groups and what I would call a dungeon gang.

Gangs are larger organizations, possibly composed of the remains of smaller NPC adventuring groups. They've actually made themselves a niche in the megadungeon's eldritch ecology and actively compete with the area's monster denizens for resources and territory. Each gang is a hierarchy that works something like this:

  • a Boss at the top who is usually the most ruthless of the lot
  • a small circle of trusted underbosses who handle the gang's regular operations
  • a crack squad of low-level magic-users, usu. called a clutch (under the direction of an m-u underboss who hoards the gang's magical lore and is stingy with his spellbooks) -- this is a solid line of employment for mediocre magic-dabblers, who are often traded between gangs like professional athletes
  • anywhere from thirty to three-hundred lackeys and bravos, many of them humans but with a solid 5% to 10% being of other races; lackeys usually perform non-combat related tasks such as lockpicking and moneycounting; bravos are thugs who patrol the gang's domain and prey on wandering PCs

Some OSR guy somewhere -- maybe Jason Sholtis? -- had a table for dungeon gangs I think. I'm considering expanding on that idea for UL #5. I'm thinking of something like a

DUNGEON GANG GENERATOR

with a bunch of possibilities for weirdo gangs, their colors and emblems, areas of the megadungeon they might occupy, etc.

8/22/2014

Rafael Chandler's NSFW is PWYW

As a general FYI/in case you hadn't heard...

Cover by Jason Rainville
You have less than three days to get in on this IndieGogo thing.

J. Raggi and associates make some pretty slick, sick books through his Lamentations of the Flame Princess imprint. In what can only be a major planetary conjunction, James has collaborated with one of the OSR's most inventive monstersmiths, Rafael Chandler -- he of Teratic Tome fame -- to create a new hardback called No Salvation For Witches. I have purposely avoided learning too much about the contents of this book, so all I can tell you with certainty is that the contents of the book will deal with events in LotFP's pseudo-historical Europe. 

To top it all off, the book is PWYW. If you pay more than the average contribution (I'm guessing its around 15 Euros), you get a be-ribboned version of the hardback to save your place in its obscene pages!

8/19/2014

UNDERWORLD LORE | Download #4 (It's Free)

Sweet suffering syllogisms! The last legs of layout on this ish were a real gauntlet. As stated previously, I wanted to stop at 76 pages, but there was just too much material that needed to be included. UL #4 clocks in at 84 pages and -- man, let me tell ya -- Open Office Writer was not very happy about it. There are a few errors here and there that I'd love to go back in and correct, but the ODT file is looking crazy when I open it back up. Thank the groovy god of zines that the PDF is functional! I can guarantee that #5 is not going to be as gigantic as this baby.

CLICK THE COVER BELOW 
TO DOWNLOAD UL #4
an OSR community-generated zine

35.2 MB ZIP ARCHIVE
CONTAINS PDF + COVER FILES

FYI: The cover files are sized 8.5" x 11" -- DO NOT RESIZE THEM when you print 'em out. You may get a warning that the files exceed the printable area -- THIS IS A LIE. Well, sorta. There's nothing that needs to be printed beyond the "printable area" -- it's just blank space around the edges.

APOLOGIES TO MY BOY MATTHEW SCHMEER -- Classifieds didn't make the final cut, but they shall return in #5!

CORRECTION: On page 25 I claim that the Chthonic Codex comes with dice. It doesn't!