UL BANNER

8/31/2011

Alignment: How autocrats can shape the local setting

It stands to reason that a powerful king in command of a wealthy kingdom -- one with all the usual subordinates and connections and intellect that a powerful king must have -- would set the tone for his kingdom. His personal standards would be reflected in the way he ruled, I imagine. Thanks to Gary Gygax we have a useful shorthand way of expressing those standards.

THE RULING BODY'S ALIGNMENT
AND ITS POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON SOCIETY

Lawful Good: A stern but just approach to legal matters. Cities are policed, property rights are enforced, and evil deeds are punished. [Drawbacks: Individual liberties may be suppressed in favor of the group. Codes of conduct likely to be seen as overweening by outsider standards.]

Neutral Good: A laissez-faire environment that serves the common weal. Characterized by a high degree of social independence and innovation. [Drawbacks: Society tends to have pronounced stratification of power according to the wealth or merit of the individual. Less protection for the common man than that found in an LG milieu.]

Chaotic Good: Hands-off leadership approach. A community that runs itself without the need for edicts and mandates. [Drawbacks: Little in the way of public services. Small (if any) public/community-owned space. Public disputes settled at street-level.]

Lawful Neutral: A rigid, arbitrary bureaucracy. Laws are clear and defined and -- while occasionally ridiculous -- must be upheld to sustain a paradigmatic sense of order. [Drawbacks: Little tolerance for spontaneity and therefore bland and unartistic. Curfews are likely and night-life is non-existent.]

True Neutral: What happens in Neutral Land stays in Neutral Land. Government is passive and disinterested. What few laws exist are not enforced. [Drawbacks: Thievery quite common. Low productivity and corresponding low standard of living.]

Chaotic Neutral: Ruling body is likely to be insane. Urban areas resemble war zones. Most people impoverished. Only a civilization in the loosest sense of the term. [Drawbacks: Only the most foolhardy merchant would come to such a place. Scavenging is a way of life.]

Lawful Evil: Dystopia. Inflexible laws that serve the ruling class and punish those on the bottom. A police state with well-stocked dungeons. Public excruciations a common form of entertainment. Dangerous to be a stranger here. [Drawbacks: Anything worth taking will be taking from you -- legally. The common man is furtive and untrustworthy.]

Neutral Evil: A society where all vices may be indulged if you happen to be wealthy. The commonfolk live in wretched squalor and are subject to the whims of their fickle and cruel masters. What rules there are can be altered at a moment's notice to suit the needs of those in power. [Drawbacks: Compassion and honesty are not considered virtues here. Outsiders are generally unwelcome.]

Chaotic Evil: A hellish, depraved and disorganized mess. Not a true civilization at all but rather a common space where evil things congregate. [Drawbacks: High mortality rate. Probably few resources or none at all.]

Community Project: Goblin Goodie #13

In the spirit of randomness, I was thinking it might be fun to do a table-within-a-table-within-a-table. To this end I propose that result #13 on our delightful Goblin Market D30 Table be not just one thing but an array of possibilities. Here's the idea:

13. Longtoe's Miscellany. Longtoe Greenteeth (purportedly a distant cousin of old Jenny) is a well-known and oft-seen figure at the Market. While he presents himself as an honest dealer in "strange and occasionally ostentatious magics" he is really nothing more than a dealer in stolen wizard-goods of the minor variety. He usually brings two or more such ill-gotten items to a particular market and always asks for far more than they are actually worth. Shrewd adventurers have a 3% chance per point of INT to talk him down to a third of his asking price. Roll a d20 on the table below no more than 1d6 times to see what items Master Greenteeth has on him today.
  1. A crown of acorns that banishes all foul odors from a person's body, but is terribly uncomfortable to wear, as it always sizes itself to be about one size too small for its wearer. Prolonged use can cause headaches. [Matt from Land of Nod]
  2. Wax earplugs that cause the wearer to hear only what they want to hear. Extracting them afterward can be difficult, especially from oddly shaped or hairy ears, and sometimes the wearer will then suffer the opposite effect - hearing only what will upset or distress them. [PCB]
  3. The Long Fork. This strangely twisted fork can be used to untie the lies of men, politicians, & strangers. The fork can also be used to twist the truth in strange & interesting ways.The fork will work 5 times a day after which only minor white lies can be really worked over. [Needles]
  4. Goblin Mustache Wax. This arcane colored wax will grow the most outrageous mustaches on any surface that wax is spread on in 1 round. Goblins will often pay for the privilege of having these handle bar monstersities. They gain +2 to Charisma, humans using the wax will find that the mustache will be one color while their normal hair is changed to a shocking reddish day glow orange or yellow. [Needles]
  5. The Nose Goblins of How. The goblin How is known for his nasal creations & these 12 inch long creations are no exception. Once the command word is spoken ("bogie") the nose goblin will animate as a 2 hit dice golem. These creatures will serve their master faithfully unless destroyed by running water. How can always make more if you know How. [Needles]
  6. The Princess Frog. This dried frog corpse radiates a strong dweomer. All it needs is raise dead and a kiss from a prince, and you'll have your very own princess. Guaranteed, or your money back. [Beedo]
  7. An invisible bottle of invisible ink. Price: 24cp. [Matt Schmeer]
  8. Fermented Mule Milk of Wonder; guaranteed to restore a bald head to a raging mane of silken black locks. Roll 1d6 for side effects:

    1. Rapunzel Effect - the hair keeps growing at 1 foot per day no matter how much gets cut off.
    2. Mule Musk - all mules and hinnys within 20 feet of the PC become sexually aroused and attempt to rut with the PC.
    3. Sunnyside Up - the PC remains bald on top, but sprouts hair everywhere else.
    4. Fallout - the PC loses all body hair excepting the scalp, including eyebrows & eyelashes.
    5. Murk of Doom - The PCs loose all eye color and special eye-sight abilities (infravision, etc.) for 1d8 days.
    6. Hee-haw. Everytime the PC laughs, the PC sounds like an ass.

    Price: 9sp [Matt Schmeer]
  9. Flamebrick. A deep red, marble-like rock about the size and shape of a dwarf's fist, a flamebrick has the ability to bring a tankard-size volume of water to boiling, but only if the flamebrick is immersed in water contained in an iron pot or skillet. Price: 5 gp [Matt Schmeer]
  10. The decapitated head of a small fey-creature delicately cocooned in the purest hand-wound spider silk and suspended over an octagonal smoked mirror edged in flaking black metal. Up to three times a day this device can answer questions expressed in one of the various goblin tongues as though it were casting the appropriate divination-spell. However prolonged exposure to this device results in a cumulative -1 to ones reaction with all Fey-blooded beasts and beings for every lunar month it is kept in ones possession. An insidious glamer hangs about the thing, making it difficult to let it go (Wis check at -2), and it also acts as a locus that attracts free-floating nightmares that often deprive the owner of their sleep, keeping them more susceptible to the whims and unsavory intentions of the cruel device... [NetherWerks]
  11. Groggie. A minor found and bound spirit formerly of another goblin, perhaps a lost innocence, a freed inhibition or a discarded conscience, occasionally also magically stolen from another creature. The groggie gifts understanding of the complex behaviours of realms beyond goblindom, boosting by a given number of degrees either intelligence, wisdom or charisma, the precise characteristic depending on the groggie's nature and the needs of the moment. This is a boon which tends to be used regardless primarily within goblindom in order to better outmanoeuvre rivals. With each use roll 1d6 and consult the following table.

    1 - The spirit is growing ever less, and its future effect is reduced by one degree, and by one additional degree if far in time and space from its origin and a like goodness.
    2-3 - The spirit is tired as in 1 and exerts a soporific effect on the user, reducing concentration and potentially inducing sleep.
    4 - The spirit cries out for mercy; if used again within the next day, modify the result of future rolls on this table by +1.
    5 - The groggie - consciously or not, who can say? - draws the attentions of a far greater spirit of the nether realms...
    6+ - The spirit escapes, into either a) a nether realm, in which case also apply 5, or b) the possession of the nearest living thing, binding itself to the item most reflective of its original owner.

    The number of degrees of initial effect is d3, plus 1 per full 100 gp of price, rolled after purchase. The price is related to the nature of the object to which the groggie is bound as well as its power, but is usually 3d10x10 gp. [Porky]
  12. The Underpants of Pthruuu. These slick green underwear garments add +1 to charisma to any goblin wearing them for seduction rolls. To all other races the wearer is at -2. The underpants also occasionally talk to themselves in a strange Latin American Dialect that no one understands. There are 8 to a package. 12 pennies. Many owners try to get rid of these after awhile. [Needles]
  13. The Stuffed Chimera. CLICK
  14. The Mocking Crystal. A crystal of purest cut quartz that is so achingly beautiful that it hurts. The fey spirit that lives within will give the most hideous insults to a person's self esteem that it actually does a point of damage every 4 insults. The spirit uses the voice of Don Rickels, Roseanne Barr, & many others. The crystal also knows many secrets of the arcane & for those who listen it will whisper incredible secrets as well. 20 gold coins will buy it for awhile & then you'll want to give it back. [Needles]
  15. The Watch of Uncounted Time. This strange time piece holds a spirit of time within. The watch looks like a mechanical puzzle made of gears & spun night dreams. Once a day it will add an hour on to the user's day. With a simple depression of the button you have the hour you need to get something done. The watch simply steals it from your life one hour at a time! The watch sells for 30 gold pieces. [Needles]
  16. The Octagon Of Sir Christopher. This strange wooden octagon box contains the head of Sir Christopher, a most honorable hero to the goblin world. He who slayed the multi-headed Worm of Omm, the ravager of the Leering Troll, the protector of the Realm of Undreamt Dreams, etc. The head has true sight & will rapidly know the true intent of any politician it sees. It shall show all of his faults, vanities, & secrets. Many in the goblin world want to see this thing lost forever but it can be yours for 20 gold pieces. [Needles]
  17. A dirty, tattered, paper fan. Close inspection reveals a delicate depiction of the holder's last crime. [Telecanter]
  18. 1d4 White Plums of Perfection. These small, nearly ripe white plums are perfect. They look perfect. They smell perfect. They feel perfect in the hand. Anyone who has seen the White Plums of Perfection will never be able to look at a normal plum in the same way again. They will always remember fondly the White Plums of Perfection they once glimpsed or held in their hands. Unfortunately, they taste like feet. If not eaten within 1d20 days, the White Plums of Perfection will become the White Prunes of Purgation. Anyone eating *all* the White Prunes of Purgation will immediately start smelling like a malodorous, maggot-infested pile of raw sewage. This will result in a -5 to CHA. After 1d20 days, the smell dissipates, and the character will find themselves with a permanent +1 to CON. Price: 75 gp [Matt Schmeer]
  19. Koojoo's Phalanges. 1d12 gnarly old bones taken from the left hand of a long dead criminal that have been inscribed and etched with a seemingly random pattern of scratches now worn smooth from all the hands of gamblers who've tempted their fate by using these accursed things in lieu of legitimate dice. When cast each die will gladly produce the number(s) specified by the user, but in return for this assistance, the finger bones drain the user of an equal amount of hit points as the number(s) needed to win. At least the first 1d4 throws are at that rate, it doubles every other throw afterwards. Denying the bones their due will produce no numbers whatsoever--literally the numbers will no longer be visible on the surfaces of the dice and everyone viewing them will receive a -4 penalty on their reaction rolls...some gamblers have died for the sake of one last toss of these dice... [NetherWerks]
  20. The "witch's friend" pot-stirrer. A simple ladle or spoon enchanted to stir a pot by itself -- ideal for the busy witch who wants to get a second cauldron started while the first is cooking! It's started and stopped by a special rhyme, which Longtoe didn't quite catch, but he's sure he got the gist of it. Which could be a problem as, once started, the stirrer lives only to stir pots - while active it will fight against attempts to remove the contents of its pot, growing increasingly agitated and stirring faster and faster. What would happen if such a ladle were cast into a well, a pond, or (heavens forbid!) a lake is anyone's guess. [PCB]
Longtoe hisself

8/29/2011

Adam Hughes' Mary Jane = Win

Like the Franks Cho and Frazetta, Adam has a flare for depicting sultry women. His MJ is no exception.







Gorgonmilk on Gothise

So I was checking traffic sources today, as I am wont to do obsessively occasionally. Imagine my surprise when I saw that a gothic scene social network called Gothise had dethroned Jeff's Gameblog as my #1 traffic source. While I'm about as fashionable as any nerdy, black-rimmed-glasses-wearing manchild you might pass on the street, I am down with the gothicks in the musical sense. Gorgonmilk's favorite bands/artists include COIL, Skinny Puppy, Zoviet France, Depeche Mode, Pink Industry -- all of which might fall under or slightly askew of goth's black umbrella. 

Anyway, Ggmlk appreciates the traffic and is now befriendable on Gothise.

Three dudes I want to brap with.

8/28/2011

Setting: Make Mine Murky

The DM's greatest tools are his authority over the gameworld and his ability to limit/expand the players' knowledge of it. Etch that on a stone terminus and refer to it when you get the desire to say too much. 

I think it's natural for us to want to create borders around our imaginary worlds. Doing so increases their comprehensibility, both to ourselves and the players. Like them, WE want to understand what's going on in this strange place. 

But consider the possibility that too much of this comprehensibility stuff may be a bad thing.

The best sort of player is a worried player. Not to the extent that she's ready to commit suicide if Black Leaf should bite it, of course. But nervous enough to put her whole mind into the game. If she feels dread, if she's concerned with the fate of her character, then she is immersed and you've done your job.

Instead of elaborating on the game world's minutia and potentially burying the players in background, IMHO the DM should be concerning himself with how to create the right level of tension. This certainly isn't going to happen by telling the players too much [increasing comprehensibility] about their environs in a second-hand way. If anything, such details should be difficult to fully obtain -- and slippery [potentially inaccurate or perhaps only partly true]. Travelers exaggerate. Old wives lie. Peddlers bend the truth as it suits them. The players should not know whether or not the world truly be round or flat, whether the sun be merely a disk or a giant orb of exploding gas. In order to lay the groundwork for dread, this sort of concrete knowledge should be fragmented and obscured before it reaches the player. Keep them guessing. Ram home the idea that first-hand experience is the only thing they can fully rely on.

I admire James M's approach to this stuff in his Dwimmermount campaign. Raw information about the world is revealed through gameplay. Stumbling across cultural artifacts and analyzing them as a byproduct of the dungeoncrawl allows the DM to toy with player knowledge. The goal here should be to create a healthy level of paranoia and skepticism. These things will go much farther to increase the believability of your world than all those reams of notes gathering dust in your filing cabinet.

8/25/2011

Community Project: Stuff You Might Find at the Goblin Market (D30 Table)

Goblins are not known for being especially intelligent in the musty, wizardy-sense of the term. However, they are crafty and can be quite shrewd. Every once in a while, when the conditions are just right, they get together to hawk their wares. While there is a certain degree of goblin-to-goblin trade occurring at such markets these events are in the main intended for outsiders. A goblin market will spring up in a location that is far from the eyes of the Man, as goblins tend to deal in items that are generally considered unsavory, dangerous or too cryptic to be entirely trusted. The typical customer is one who is not averse to the magical, one who is seeking something outside the scope of what is offered in the stalls of the town's commons.

Goblin markets have a strict no-returns policy. It's a serious case of buyer beware, as these creatures have a way of making things seem much more desirable than they actually may be. Minor, illusory enhancements are not at all uncommon.

FEED US YOUR GORP!
  • Fill in the blanks in the table below by commenting. Designate a result number to go with your entry. 
  • Results 1-20 should be various weird objects and foodstuffs of minor effect (if any). This is the cheap and common stuff that is nonetheless useful in some way. Shoppers expect these things to be at the market.
  • Results 21-30 are eminently eldritch and should have big price tags -- tags that may not demand coin at all but other things that goblins would especially covet.
  • Specify the appearance, units of measure (if any), purpose and side-effects of your sale items. And don't forget the price!
  • This table is designated open-source gaming content. No rights reserved. 
  • Names of contributors with links to their respective blogs (if any) will appear next to their entries.  

 ------------------------------------------------
D30 TABLE OF GOBLIN MARKET SALE ITEMS
  1. Goblin Pellets. Smelly little black balls, taste bitter-sweet but will feed an empty stomach, if you can hold them down. Come in lots of ten, a copper piece for all, and if eaten requires a save versus poison to avoid bringing it back up. [Simon Forster]
  2. Assorted Bone Relics of dubious and heretical saints. [Trey]
  3. A Worn Codex full of startlingly realistic color images of smiling people posing in odd clothing. It's emblazoned with the legend: "SEARS CATALOG" which may or may not have meaning. [Trey]
  4. Pouch O'Glass. It's glass, it's broken glass, you know? It sells very well, as a matter of fact. It's just broken glass, you know? If you hold this up, you know, you see colors, every color of the rainbow—-prisms, and that stuff! There's a label on the pouch that says "Be careful - broken glass!" (Coincidentally, the goblins sell a lot of products in the "Pouch O'" line.. like Pouch O' Nails, Pouch O' Bugs, Pouch O' Vipers, Pouch O' Stinking Cloud--all of which are conveniently out of stock at this moment, thank you very much.) One Pouch O'Glass costs 1d8 cp on overcast days; 1d8 sp on sunny days. [Matthew Schmeer]
  5. Goblin Black-bread. This charcoal infused dough is baked into small hard biscuits. They can be eaten to stop the effects of poisons (basically a neutralize poison). The bread is colored bluish-black and is sometimes mistaken for just moldy biscuits. On a roll of 1-2 on a d6 the character was sold a moldy biscuit and not true Black-bread and must save vs. poison or suffer 1d4 damage (O' the irony). [Mike D]
  6. A bundle of 23 Mismatched Socks tied together with twine. Made of various materials and all conditions. From new silk stocking to filthy wool and stinky cotton filled with holes. Maybe good for a makeshift coinpurse or impromptu puppet show.  [Nemo235]
  7. Swine Pudding. Goblins call this food, but the average passerby may have doubts. It is a delicacy among goblin farmers for its ability to keep them fed during grueling days. Stores that sell this meaty pudding smell like a fetid hog yard. Eating it is a horrible, yet tolerable, experience. After consuming swine pudding, your breath will smell unholy for 1d2 days. You take a -4 penalty on all social interaction checks for the duration of the stench. Also living creatures with a sense of smell who are adjacent to you when you're speaking to must save versus breath weapon or become violently ill immediately. On the up side, the person who consumes swine pudding doesn't need to eat for two days, though that may be due to loss of appetite. [Nate]
  8. Fetcher. A trained small creature, usually one considered vermin or a pest outside a goblin tribe. The creature is trained to enter pockets, packs and places otherwise inaccessible even to a lithe and determined goblet. Unfortunately, given the nature of the trainer - often a soured, vengeful goblin with little love for fellow living things - and the nature of the food - the cheapest pellet crumbs or worse - the fetcher may be insubordinate, aggressive, even disease bearing. Success may turn out to be dependent on the owner's intelligence or strength, quite possibly endurance, but more likely luck. Price depends very much on the good behaviour of the fetcher during the pitch, and is usually 2d6x10 cp. [Porky
  9. Trollnip. It`s like catnip, only for trolls... May allow a save vs. spell, or not. Trolls may get amorous intentions under the influence of trollnip.[rorschachhamster]
  10. Monkey on a Stick. This goblin delicacy is famed the world over. It is essentially a big juicy piece of rancid monkey rump jammed on a spit that is then naturally cured through an intricate smoking process that goblin cooks do not divulge even upon pain of death (although it is rumored to involve sandalwood, wolf-in-sheep-clothing entrails, manticore slobber, and the toenail clippings of gnomes). Often served with a minty mango-lime-kumquat whipped cream dressing, this delightful concoction is known to be a powerful restorative. Those buying Monkey on a Stick and consuming it within in 1d4 days will receive a 1d6 permanent increase in HP. However, if Monkey on a Stick is consumed five or more days after purchase, the eater must make a Save vs. Poison or take 1d20 damage due to intense diarrhea and internal bleeding. Monkey on a Stick is an expensive foodstuff: 1d24 gp per piece. Goblin cooks do not haggle over pricing for this dish, given the intricate nature of the cooking process. [Matthew Schmeer]
  11. Fried Elf Ears. A delicacy that goblins go crazy for, and cheap too. Only a silver piece per ear. It is said that eating one enhances your hearing, for a time: 1 in 6 chance of tripling listening of the eater, for 1d6 turns (10 minutes). [Simon Forster]
  12. Crackpopper. A fragment of a stolen and magically infused common item used to open a doorway to a remote destination by means of its insertion into a crack in any surface. The nature of the original object determines the nature of the destination, and the size of the fragment the potential distance from the present point, although size clearly also affects range of available cracks. Large crackpoppers are quickly divided down into shards and thence into slivers by the sneakier tribes prone to using them as currency, reducing range in the case of fine splinters to the very same surface or worse, with this worse being known as 'backpopping'. Price is dependent on size and the nature of the local landscape, higher in urban areas and mountainous regions, but in mixed terrain usually 1-4 sp per yard travelled. It is, however, often lower than might be expected as the stallholder's assistant is scurrying to the likely destination with a large club, ready for the test run... Larger fragments are usually not on open sale, but change hands in the bloody scuffling of bitter goblin schemes. [Porky
  13. Longtoe's Miscellany. CLICK
  14. Dreamscatterer. When hung from a window or door, this fragile-looking assembly of bone and sticks, held together by weird looking turquoise paste that never loses its stickiness (or its odour of snails) will disrupt the magical field that ensures the correct dreams go to the correct sleepers. Anybody in the room will receive the dream of somebody else within a mile’s radius. If there are no humans within that area, the sleeper dreams that they are a randomly determined animal. Price: 1d6 silver pieces. [Daddy Grognard]
  15. Letter of Indignation from the Goblin King. For 10cp, Ormondonghrr the Lesser will part with the letter he stole from his permanent file stored in the Goblin Archives. Evidently, Ormondonghrr the Lesser was employed as a boot licker for third son of the Side-Duke of Grinichsy, a lesser noble in the Goblin King's court, and the Goblin King didn't think he was licking boots fast enough. Ormondonghrrr the Lesser really would like the whole episode to go away now that he's been promoted to chief underwear washer and back hair groomer of the Second Earl of Pensy. The chief archivist knows the letter is missing. So does the Goblin King. [Matthew Schmeer]
  16. Sack of Cats Eye Marbles. It's a sack full of 5d20 cats eye marbles. Every 30 days, a yowling meow will issue from the sack. When this happens, all cats (great and/or domestic) within 1/2 hex will be called to the PC's location. Upon arriving at the PC's location, the cats will surround the PC. (Attacks against these cats play out like normal combat). Cats will continue to show up until the PC removes a marble from the sack and places it on the ground, at which point one of the cats will pick it up in its mouth, and all the cats will leave. This behavior will continue until the sack is empty. If the PC tries to empty the sack any other way—by dumping the marbles, trading the marbles, losing the marbles during a a game of ringer, etc.—the PC will find the sack is full again the next morning, as if the marbles never left. Price: 15 cp. [Matthew Schmeer]
  17. Fruit of Goblin Orchards. A plate heaving with an assortment of succulent fruits (apples, quinces, greengages, dewberries, bullaces, pomegranates, damsons, billberries, etc), all plump, bright skinned, and fragrant. Most surprising results, considering the typical goblin nest is surrounded by poor soils (their secret is that their orchards are feed on goblin-manure). Anyone smelling or viewing the platter must save vs spells; those who failing are overcome with desire to eat the fruit. The taste of the fruit is very sweet and for days to come the victim will think of nothing else. However, no matter how often they check back at the markets, they cannot find the fruit again, even if it is within plain sight of other people. The price is a tress of blonde hair, but the goblins are known to force their fruit on someone who fails to show interest in purchasing it willingly. [PCB]
  18. Goblin's Milk. Despite its name this salty and lump-filled beverage is not the same stuff coming from the teats of mothering she-goblins. Rather it is the yeasty, concentrated secretions of the subterranean pill bug. While it is extremely high in nutrients -- a small quaff will fuel the average adventurer for an entire day's span -- most folks (goblins included) find the stuff to be extremely unpalatable. The drinker must make a CON save or find himself retching for the next 1d6 hours [note that no food or drink can be consumed during this period]. Goblins and their relations have an easier time with the stuff, but not by much. Cost is 8 gp per flask. [G. Gorgonmilk]
  19. A Goblin’s Kiss. Yagodah the Goblin Hag will bestow a kiss on the recipient’s right cheek. The kiss acts as a Polymorph Other spell, immediately transforming the recipient into a goblin for 2d24 days. As a goblin, the PC gains the special attack known as the Goblin’s Kiss. The price? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Still, Yagodah is rumored to be in need of a basilisk’s tooth from the King in Yellow’s personal collection, but she might also accept a hellhound’s claw from the court of the Crimson King. [Matthew Schmeer]
  20. Porkies. Who could resist the charming little figurines that the stallholder is selling? In fact, if you can resist them, he’ll wheel out his daughter, who – he says – makes them. They are supposed to be pigs, he tells you, but to be honest, they look like the sort of pig a goblin would dream about when he’s had too much bad applejack. Claws, thorns, teeth like shards of broken glass. If you buy one, nothing will appear to happen until you are in the middle of a social situation where tact and diplomacy are needed. At which point, roll a d12 for the following contribution from the porkie (effects last for the duration of the social situation in question).

    1 – a loud belch rings out and a smell of sulphur rises from the area of your nether regions.
    2 – both parties start speaking in very strong foreign accents
    3 – you find what the other person is saying side-splittingly funny
    4 – when you speak, the words come out of the porkie’s mouth
    5 – a talking cat that only you can see walks onto the table and starts making rude but very funny comments about the other person
    6 – your shadow begins to voice opinions contrary to your own
    7 – you can understand the language of mice and they have some very interesting things to say
    8 – the other person’s utterances provoke uncontrollable crying
    9 – the porkie fights its way to the table and demands first rights on all food
    10 – you hear the other person’s utterance not as words but as the clucks of a chicken
    11 – you develop an insatiable appetite for garlic and ripe cheese
    12 – both parties cannot speak but must sing instead.

    Price: 2d8 copper pieces. [Daddy Grognard]
  21. Spectacles with Color Lens. Brass wire frames with round optics, the right side a pale blue and the left a rosy pink. Looking through the right lens (but only the right)allows the wearer to see things as they truly are (True Seeings). Looking through the left (and only the left) allows the wearer to see things as they wish them to be. [Trey]
  22. For the Love of Money. An odd-looking stone, carved with tiny figures of goblins in very amorous poses. The stallholder swears that carrying this stone in your purse or pouch will lead to riches! And so it does – the magical field of the stone causes the coins in your purse to become very aroused and keen to start mating with other coins. Impregnated coins will give birth to a litter of 1d8 baby coins within 1d12 hours. Unfortunately, there is a 55% chance that the offspring will be of the same metal as the lower denomination coin, 15% the higher, 10% a strange mix of metals that nobody has seen before and is of course not legal tender and 20% feral coins which will endeavour to get themselves lost as soon as possible (save vs. magic daily for each coin or they mysteriously disappear, never to be seen again). Price - suspiciously cheap at 1d4 copper pieces. [Daddy Grognard]
  23. Bag of Shh With A Red Ribbon On It. A sack with a bright red shiny ribbon on it. Horrible smells issue from the bag. Inside a Venomous Shh sleeps & will attack the fool opening the bag dragging them off to who knows where. 1d6 cps. [Needles]
  24. The Other Stench. A black plumed bird of a very surly nature. The bird is called Polly (in fact every stench is.) They are used for hunting fairies. They will demand the first fairy seen & then point out any others. Sprays a nasty oil that will hinder any fairy's flying ability unless a save vs is rolled. 5 cps. [Needles]
  25. Vorpal Needle of Bone. A very, very sharp needle that is made from the pinky bone of a fairy royalty. These needles are used to knit the dreams of 5 or 6 goblins into a rip roaring nightmare that is loosed upon a sleeping group of humans. The needle is constantly being passed around by goblins & sold. 10 cps. [Needles]
  26. Black Flask of Aunty Mimi. An unbreakable flask of black glass that will SCREAM for 1d6 rounds unless asked to be quiet. The flask will pour out a dram of goblin wine or meed made from mold, river slime, & fish guts. The flask must be passed around while singing & passing gas. 5 cps but only answers to the name Dave on Tuesdays. [Needles]
  27. The Dark of the Moon. A bottle of shadows, collected from the dark side of the new moon. If applied to the body, you will become invisible for 1d4 weeks, and be able become that way for an hour a each day for the rest of your life. However, if drunk, you will no longer cast a shadow, for it has become bound to you. You may now hide in shadows as a thief of three levels higher than your own, and turn your body to shadow for an hour a day, for the rest of your life, allowing you to creep under doors, through tiny cracks, and avoid harm from weapons that are not +4 or greater. How did the goblins get this? Who knows. There is a 10% chance that they will try to cheat you, selling you a bottle of normal shadows, in which case you only gain the benefits for 1d3 months before they wear off. They do sometimes sell these on their own, however, and they are only half-price. Cost: 6d10X100 GP, or a special request. [C'nor]
  28. The Eroticon of Hshrangle. Anthropodermically bound codex of erotic vignettes and advice on the amorous arts from Hshrangle the Well-Endowed, a hobgoblin of unusual...uh, proportion. Contained herein are helpful notes on the seduction of several non-human monster species which likely dangerous if practiced, but wholly accurate. It's worth 500gp in a decent book market, but 3000 or more to certain fetishistic collectors. [Trey]
  29. Time-Stopper Watch. This broken but untarnished copper pocket watch is a miniature mechanical prison for an angry godling of time. Once per 24 hours, the carrier can wind the watch, and enjoy the effects of Time Stop. However, after the effect wears off, the carrier is immediately (no save) affected by Temporal Stasis that can only be dispelled by the spells Freedom or Wish/Miracle. The clock is not affected, and can be looted from the carrier. [Aarneus]
  30. Molar Tooth of a Dead God. Who knows where it comes from, but the goblin swears it's real. If you stick it in your mouth, replacing your own tooth, you will touch the divine spark inherent in that old, yellowed and rotted molar. And all it'll cost is your arm... Effects: grants the ability to cast spells as a 1st-level cleric once/day (or adds to your level). Side-Effects: ungodly tooth ache, -2 to all rolls; will attract the dead god's followers after a year and a day, and they want the tooth back. [Simon Forster]

8/24/2011

Poll Time: Results

Looks like the goblins took this one by a fairly wide margin! The community project begins tomorrow, so stay tuned.


8/22/2011

Klaus Serling, our Editor-in-Chief



GREETINGS PEOPLE OF THE SURFACE
What follows owes something to Zak S's impressive rethink of Fiend Folio monsters. For your consideration: A list of alternate universe AD&D beasties, INDEED a veritable cabal of horridly skewed mutations. Creatures that once hailed from the finger-oil-softened pages of Gary Gygax's beloved Monster Manuals I and II... 

that is, before they crossed into a place known as... 


~ Humbly,
~~ Your Editor,
~~~ K. Serling
~~~~ 24 COCKBURN LANE
~~~~~ DEMON'S HEAD, MALBOLGIA  66666 

A
AERIAL SERVANT aka VAPOR-SLAVE: Once a member of a gaseous race of jale-hued automata. Magic-users telepathically drill into the minds of these aethereal creatures in order to bring them into thralldom. Once the gas' mind is breached it becomes the servant of its wizard master. Aerial servants can teleport inert objects of M size and smaller vast distances. They are telepathically bound to their masters and thus can act as remote-controlled sensory organs.

ATOMIES: Sentient particles too small to be perceived individually by the average human. They make up all matter in every known plane of existence. The atomies are always in motion, like a sky filled with countless swarms of battling and buzzing bumble bees. In toto, the fluctuations of the atomies are the ebbs and flows of Time itself, which does not move in a straight line from beginning to end but in wild spirals and jagged terminus points. 

NEXT: B! 

8/21/2011

This will change your life [Featuring He-Man]

Skeletor hates your self-esteem



Community Project Poll

Sword & Sorcery's obsession with the Ebb and Flow of Civilization

WEIRD, right?
Any discussion of Sword & Sorcery inevitably touches on the work of Robert E. Howard. Most of you guys and gals reading this are probably intimately familiar with the man's work, so I need not mention the Conan, the Kull, the Bran Mak Morn, etc. 

Michael Moorcock and Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber and M. John Harrison, Karl Wagner and Clark Ashton Smith -- all of these guys have utilized and at times played with and/or expanded on Howard's themes. Some of them are right up in the foreground:
  • A semi-civilized, semi-barbaric and Balkanized landscape
  • A one-two punch style narrative in which a hero (or anti-hero) faces off against some monstrous and/or supernatural menace
  • Fear of the alien/foreign as a source of tension
  • A flawed but powerful protagonist
These are all more or less vital elements of a traditional S&S tale. Today I want to cover another one that I feel is just as essential as those I listed above:

THE RISE AND FALL OF CIVILIZATIONS and WHY THAT'S A DOWNER

REH was an extreme pessimist, I gather. I haven't read de Camp's notorious Howard biography just yet, so my current impression of Howard the human is based entirely on his letter-exchanges with H. P. Lovecraft, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and Mark Finn's excellent BLOOD & THUNDER. REH seems to have had a highly romantic disposition with a downward trajectory that would probably be dubbed bi-polar by most modern alienists and professional witch-doctors. 

This impression of the world and himself naturally leaked into his work. Like his contemporaries HPL and J. R. R. Tolkien, Howard's imagination spawned worlds in turmoil, struggles between man and man, man and the monstrous, man and time. Time and its deleterious effects on the world was one of Howard's favorite themes. Kull's world is sandwiched between globe-altering disasters. Conan's Hyborian Age comes next and eventually falls to the uncivilized Picts. Both ages see the rise of man to artistic and scientific/sorcerous heights. Both also usher in his total devolution to sub-humanity through violence. So no matter how far up mankind climbs, he eventually falls -- only to rise up again and begin the cycle anew. Basically Howard is telling us, "Don't become too used to what you have now, because it will all be taken away." And in Hyboria and elsewhere this "taking away" happens before our eyes: Nations fall or find themselves in a state of slow decay, sometimes simultaneously. The world is doomed.

It's a romantic notion in the Byron-y sense and one that is easily ported to D&D. It's probably fair to say that this thematic setup has found its way into most fantasy RPG settings in varying quantities. Two especially strong examples would be TSR's DARK SUN and Bard Games' TALISLANTA

It's entirely possible to amp up this theme in an existing campaign by hacking away at the strongest roots of civilization in the game-world. 
  • Orc warbands are in the process of destroying mankind's last city.
  • The Emperor has died and there is no consensually agreed-upon heir (see GAME OF THRONES).
  • A supernatural disease (zombie-ism?) has mankind on the ropes.
The more desperate the crisis, the more pessimistic things should become. All those friendly inns have been reduced to cinders, their families and livestock thoroughly raped and dead (not necessarily in that order). The agrarian system has taken a major hit and -- guess what -- there is no readily available source of food. Hunter-gathering becomes the only means of survival. Trust is not something granted lightly -- and why trust someone you're just going to kill and eat anyway? All the halflings, kender, ewoks, fauns and satyrs are dead or deeply hidden, so don't expect any friendly faces to pop up and save your Jedi-ass in the wilderness.

That's my take anyway.

Poor book, great design

8/19/2011

Poll Time: Update

So far the poll to determine the next Community Project has accumulated 28 votes. I say we close this thing at 40 votes or next Wednesday. Whichever comes first. So far the Goblin Market idea has garnered the most votes [14]. It'll definitely be a fun one to knock out if it wins. Goblins -- at least in my imagination -- straddle a lot of weird dichotomies. They're cunning but also stupid, bestial but also man-like, child-like but also very old, creepy but also comical.


8/18/2011

Question for the biology guys and gals


Spiders can only grow so large (on Earth) due to the pressure of gravity on their exoskeletons, right? Which is presumably why we don't have giant spiders running around terrorizing the countryside. But is it biologically possible for an ENDOskeletal "spider" to exist here? A creature with eight muscular legs -- maybe one that uses a sticky natural filament to make traps in caves and stuff? Feasible or no? 

P. S. Don't forget to check out the Community Project Poll.

8/17/2011

Poll Time: Our Next Community Project

Alright! It's time to weigh in on what you think the next OSR Community Project should be. There are three possibilities (so far) listed on the poll below.



What should the next OSR Community Project be?


Here are the general ideas behind each of the options:
  • Demented Doxies: A rogues gallery of colorful whores and guttersnipes to populate the red light district of any mid- to large-sized D&D city.
  • Malfunctioning Magic Devices: A malign assortment of senescent and decaying enchanted items to amuse, befuddle and terrify your hapless PCs.
  • Goblin Market Sale Items: Thirty things you are likely to find for sale in a typical goblin market.

Orson Welles: Totally Wasted

Skeletor: Motivational Speaker

Are your players pussies? Find out with Dungeon-Funk

Yesterday I posted a link to the new Dungeon-Funk PDF. Now I'm thinking I should have offered some sort of disclaimer. So here goes:

WARNING! Do not download this product if...
  • You play with dudes who get upset when their low level characters bite it.
  • You're constantly nerfing encounters so that the PCs don't have to think their way through combat.
  • Your players consider the notion of disease in a D&D world to be unfair and a violation of their sacred trust in you, their not-so-dreaded DM who's true purpose is to bend over and gratify their wish-fulfillment fantasies. 

8/16/2011

The Three-Legged Dzega

THREE-LEGGED DZEGA
The three-legged dzega is an intelligent desert-dwelling pseudo-reptile. These creatures reach adulthood around their fortieth year . At that time they are nearly thirty feet long and ten feet wide. Their neckless and tapering crocodilian heads project from a scale-covered, flat and spade-shaped body supported by three stilt-like legs ending in vacuum-powered suckers. The dzega's tail is a fan of stiff, black bristles. Their eyes have slowly atrophied to tiny black beads over the course of aeons and may be considered vestigial. The dzega's main sensory apparatus remains a mystery, as it has no visible organs of smell or hearing. It is perfectly capable of responding to the idle chatter of passerbys, but it typically prefers to ignore outsiders and views them as a nuisance.

After it completes several unknown and highly guarded rites of passage, a dzega attains the status of "stone-walker" and is allowed to participate in the movement of the Cypher's Wall from its original location in the Black Razor Desert to the new construction in the dimly lit Decrepitudes of Xoth. A stone-walker hauls a massive part of the wall on its back for nearly six-hundred miles, is fed meat and tended by the cloaked men of Jiste, then heads back to the desert for another chunk. A dzega will only drop its load under the most dire conditions. They are slow to anger but will become unstoppable killing machines when the success of their task is threatened. 

Dzega (Adult)
NO. APPEARING: 1 - 12 [1d12]
HIT POINTS: 10d8 + 100
ARMOR CLASS: 0 [scaly hide]
DAMAGE PER ATTACK: 2d6 + 5 [bite]
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 80%
INTELLIGENCE: Average
SIZE: L

ILLUSTRATION BY XALTOMAS P. GORGONMILK (AGE 6).


Download the "D20/D30 TABLE OF DUNGEON-FUNK" pdf


Matthew of Rended Press comes through for us once again with his PDF-ization of this tasteful and most non-vulgar of OSR community projects. 

Learn what it means to roll up the dreaded NUMBER 17 and ponder the esoteric lore surrounding The Black Blessing of Nibbith-Abn

An essential bit of OSR imaginalia that the Ggmlk is proud to be a part of. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO MATT AND ALL THE WEIRD DUDES WHO CONTRIBUTED! Your imagination is appreciated.

8/12/2011

Vornheim by Zak S. [2011, I Hit It With My Axe and LotFP]

Vornheim is a beautiful, byzantine mess of a kit for running a fantasy city that evokes all the bizarrerie and depth of those crazy places dreamed up by Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance.  

It sounds like total fucking hyperbole, I know. I would probably think the same thing if I hadn't seen a copy of this little (8.5" x 6") tome yet.

I've been engrossed in this thing since I opened it. I'm not as regular a reader of Zak's blog as I probably should be, so I was a bit blown away by lines like this, from the intro to Vornheim on page 6:
"Associations and small conspiracies metastasize and meld throughout Vornheim like shadows in torchlight, making it difficult, in the interlinked enormity, to clearly divide one from the next."
Right away I started to "see" Vornheim. It's this rickety -- in some cases partially or wholly dilapidated infrastructure, not only in the physical sense (the city itself), but in the social (the people who live there) and metaphysical (the invisible forces that influence it) as well. A senescent city-elemental of Gormenghastian proportions.

My favorite illustration is probably the "Typical Tower" on page 34. He's made the building into an urban sub-enclave. Apartments are sandwiched between shops and inns, butchers and law offices. There are furnaces near the top that exist to transform snow into water that must turn the whole place into a dripping, dank and moldy stone labyrinth. Towers are connected by bridges. And the whole structure is topped by a stately (probably quite drafty) home for some wealthy personage.

Keep in mind that this thing is full of art. It's a big part of why I love this thing so much. If the original edition of Carcosa had a flaw (and it only had one possible flaw, IMHO) it's that it didn't have interior art aside from the setting map in the middle (which is awesome btw). Zak did some great pieces for this, not least of which is the map on the inside of the dust jacket. 

You can get it from Noble Knight Games or direct from LotFP. At a run of only 2000 copies, this book is also a great investment.

This totally raises the bar, you realize. I want to make something half this interesting. Seriously. 

Make more books, Zak.


8/11/2011

Harry = Hitler




I like how at the end the Flanders-like guy assumes that the viewer has been convinced by this paranoid fantasy.

"Blood sacrifices" is listed twice for emphasis.

The Black Leaf Method: How to Scar Your Players For Life


Jack Chick helped make D&D interesting, you know? He contributed to its mystique.

8/10/2011

Metalocalypse: Rock n' Roll Clown

It's Murderface's birthday.

Detroit Metal City




Soichi Negishi is a shy young musician who dreams of a career in pop. Dreams don't pay the bills, so he's ended up as the lead singer of a death metal band, "Detroit Metal City." In stage costume he is Johannes Krauser II, rumored to be a terrorist demon from hell, to have killed and raped his parents, to wield his giant death penis with abandon, etc. One of his songs suggests that his fans should murder everyone, in a comic parody of the genre. Negishi despises DMC and all that it stands for, but he can't walk away. As DMC's star rises Negishi tries to satisfy both worlds, but can't. Is this the kind of band and music Negishi was destined to play?
This anime is completely fucking hilarious. If you're the sort who enjoyed Metalocalypse you should check it out.

Star Wars Reunion



One of the weird things about the Star Wars films is that they manage to capitalize on some great, archetypal characters but completely neglect and/or misuse others. Exhibit A: Boba Fett, right? I think the majority of the fans of Empire Strikes Back expected a little more from the character than a cheesy death inside a giant desert vagina.

I distinctly remember being disappointed when they revealed the identity of this mysterious bounty hunter in RotJ:



I still really dig the isectoid look of that helmet and the great vocal sounds it emitted.

This was a little weird for me:


This development made up for prior turns of events:


Slave girl outfits are a good thing, friends.

Bonus DragonCon cosplay:




AnnaLyne McCord


The Internet is the greatest document of human thoughts and behavior ever.

EVAR.


8/09/2011

1985 Marvel Subscription Counts

Snatched from the wonderful Marvel Comics of the 1980s blog.


Observations:
  • G. I. Joe? Reeeally? Not a fan. I mean I owned the toys (I was seven in 1985) and watched the cartoons, but the comic had nothing on Marvel's other stuff.
  • Power Pack had subscribers?
  • Groo!


    1 of the 3 Spider-books out in '85.

    Conan on the cover of Overstreet

    Fairly decent redraw of Barry Windsor Smith's cover for CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1.


    John Byrne's Uncanny X-Men #141 cover meme

    Prototype: Iron Fist splash page
    Uncanny X-Men #141
    Variant: What If? #13
    Star Trek TNG
    Iron Man by Bob Layton

    Hawkeye & Scarlet Witch
    Young-ish Obi Wan

    Art Adams Love

    A smattering of covers, sketches and miscellaneous bits of the work of Arthur Adams (b. 1963).