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Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, Part 5. Plays Well With Others

The Other Side -

I touched briefly on this with my posts on Building a Darklord, Castle Amber, and Horror Adventures, but one of the key strengths of  Ravenloft has always been its mutability.  It can go anywhere, it be what you need it to be and while some might bemoan its pastiche of horror literature stereotypes, that same familiarity allows it to work in a lot of ways with other books and games.

While I am perfectly happy, indeed happier now, that Ravenloft is more amorphous and less of a "world" there are plenty of sources out there if you want to expand it beyond what lives in between the book covers now to a larger world.

Here are some resources I am planning on using to make my Ravenloft campaign (whenever I can get that going!) a little more personalized.

Ravenloft and Cthulhu

While this seems to be a "no-brainer" just slapping Cthulhu into a game almost never works.  Sure there are some great monsters here, but the real value-add here are the sections on running a cosmic horror game.  This is a great overall resource, and a fantastic one when running an adventure in Bluetspur.

Ravenloft and Fantasy Horror

I mentioned already the utility that Pathfinder's Horror Adventures provides in setting up some details for a Dark Fantasy Horror game.  The 3.x d20 system in Pathfinder is similar enough to the 5e one in Ravenloft to provide plenty of ideas with a minimum of conversion needed.   If you must have them, the Fear, Sanity, and Corruption rules can be ported over to 5e Ravenloft.  Even some of the Feats can be used (but used sparingly).  Spells and Magic items can be ported over almost as is really. 

In fact, I have found it so useful in the last few days that I have moved it from my "Pathfinder" shelf to my "Horror" shelf.

BlackRose

Going back to some of the earliest posts on this blog are my ideas for a BlackRose game.  Now with the new 5e Blue Rose out, it is practically begging me to use it for this.  For me, the ideas behind BlackRose have changed a bit.  I think a Domain that is similar to Aldea, but maybe more of one of sadness.  Not Aldea, but using a lot of the ideas and rules.  Something more akin to my Kingdom of Rain.  Which has one foot planted squarely in Blue Rose and another in a melancholic sort of Folk Horror that would find a home in Ravenloft.  I ran an adventure under the title "Kingdom of Rain" a while back. It was a little Aldea, a little bit Innsmouth, and a little bit Alton, Illinois.  There are some solid Fey elements to it as well; I introduced my River Hags here.  A version of Kingdom of Rain is set to be published under the name "Witching Weather," so watch this space for more on that.

Ravenloft and the Runewild


Speaking of fey lands, the Runewild from Sneak Attack Press also provides a bit of a wilder fey world with tinges of Horror and Dark Fantasy.  If you ever wanted to expand on the Domain of Tepset then this is a fantastic source.  Again, as with the Horror Adventures and Blue Rose, there is material here that can be dropped into Ravenloft "as is" with very little modification.  The Runewild also help build up that "dream-like feeling" I like to use in Ravenloft before hitting characters with the Nightmares.

My Kingdom of Rain lives in the intersection of the triquetra-shaped Venn diagram of Ravenloft, Blue Rose, and Runewild.  I can also use this for expanding my new Domain with The Snow Queen as the Darklord.  Though do I REALLY want my Kingdom of Rain converted to a Dark Domain?  I'll have to suss that one out as I go through my books here.

Ravenloft and Ravenloft


Sounds odd, but most of the grief the new book is getting online is "it's not like the old Ravenloft." Ok, fine. If you must, make it like it.   Most of the Ravenloft books are fluff anyway.  Grab what you want from any of the old books and reuse it.  Want Viktor back instead of Viktra? Ok, do that.  I might create a Domain where they are both there and there is an intense rivalry between them.  I am thinking Father and Daughter.  Their creations of course are caught in this battle.  Rival evil scientists. Using their creations to get at the other.  Both wanting to capture their opponents' creations to learn their secrets. Viktor is intensely jealous of his daughter fearing her creation Else is superior, all the wile claiming she knows nothing that he did not teach her.  Viktra hates her father for never sharing his work and finds Adam to be an abomination.  

The more I type this, the more I like it.  Go all Hammer Horror for Viktor and Giallo horror for Viktra.  Set them on different sides of Lamordia where their minions search the countryside for parts for their experiments and to hopefully capture one of the more successful ones of their rival Darklords. 

It's one part Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), one part Lady Frankenstein (1971), and one part War of the Gargantuas (1966).  All set in Fantasy Gothic Horror Switzerland. Sprinkle in a little bit of Reanimator and I am good to go. 

Horror is my favorite seasoning for most games.  Ravenloft lets me do this with everything.

Monstrous Mondays: Goblin, Mad Hatter

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Goblins are ubiquitous in many game worlds.  In some, they are a constant threat, in others a nuisance. The goblins of Lord of the Rings are pretty far removed from the ones of Labyrinth, or even the fairy tales of Grimm.  But they are always a good foil for low-level parties.  In my games goblins tend to be more Chaotic Neutral. Not evil really, but maybe a little naughty time to time.

No one though will ever confuse the Mad Hatter Goblin for anything than what it is, pure evil.

goblin and victimGoblin, Mad Hatter
Small Humanoid (Fey)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil [Chaotic]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
  Small 2d6+2* (9 hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6
Special: Cause Fear
Size: Small
Save: Monster 2 
Morale: 8 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 9 (0) Dex: 17 (+2) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 10 (0) Wis: 8 (-1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The Mad Hatter Goblin gets its name from the gruesome way it displays the remains of its kills,  by stacking the severed heads of its victims on top of its own head.   These goblins appear as do other goblins, save for maybe slightly larger.  They have a look in their eyes that speaks of desperation and maybe no small amount of madness.

Each time a Mad Hatter Goblin makes a kill they remove the head from the body.  The goblin then takes the heads of previous victims and ties them to the top of the new head and then all of these are tied to the goblin's own head.  The oldest, and most decayed, heads are at the top.  The sight of a mad hatter is such that anyone under 4 HD/level must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or be stunned in fear, unable to move or react for 1d4+1 rounds.    The mad hatter will go after these targets first.  Creatures greater than 4 HD/level are immune to this effect.

Mad hatters are both reviled and respected in a goblin community.  The number of heads one has is their level of prestige. When one mad hatter encounters another there is usually a duel of some sort.  The loser gets to contribute their head to the victorious mad hatter's collection.

The only treasure kept by a mad hatter is their collection of heads.

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

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The tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has been so deeply embedded in our society that retellings are not just inevitable, they are ubiquitous.  Among those, there are going to retellings that differ from the classic, Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory retellings.  Some might even improve on the tales.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), is not one of those.  It's not that it takes so many liberties with the tale, that is expected.  It's the liberties are fairly nonsensical and some are just bad.  For starters, while Charlie Hunnam is ok as Arthur, he is really much too old for the role.  

Jude Law reunites with his Sherlock director Guy Ritchie and gives us a decent enough Vortigern, but I felt he wasn't really giving the part all he could.  

Supergirl's Katie McGrath appears as Elsa, Vortigern's wife, making this her second dip into the Arthurian legends. She had played Morganna in "Merlin" (I'll be getting to that soon).  

Djimon Hounsou appears as Sir Bedivere. Frankly, I enjoy every role he has played, but I felt he was phoning this one in. I also felt Eric Bana was miscast, but honestly, I am not entirely I have seen him in anything that I liked him in.  Even his Nero in Star Trek seemed a little off to me.   

The movie feels like it has too much "Games of Throne" or "Vikings" envy.  To that end, Aidan Gillen appears as Sir William, but all I could see was Little Finger. At least he was using his real accent here. 

Of course, there were other things I could pick on, like there being Vikings in Britain at all at this time, or even Chinese people at this point; figuring this was between 550AD and 1040AD.

There is more, but not enough to write about, to be honest.  Interestingly enough my wife, who doesn't care for the King Arthur story, really likes this one.  

What good can I grab from this?  Well, I liked Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey as the Mage, Merlin's apprentice.  I always felt Merlin needed to have a couple more apprentices.  I'll also talk about this when I discuss "Cursed."

Gaming Content

Back in Jr. High, I was playing in a D&D game (Basic/Expert) set in Medieval Britain in the time of Arthur.  Of course, as most Jr. High games in the early 80s were, this one devolved rather quickly on who was going to kill Arthur and claim Excalibur as their own.  I grew tired of that campaign rather quickly and instead wanted to play in Middle Earth.   

But ever since then I have been very, very curious about the RPG Chivalry & Sorcery.  Seeing ads in Dragon Magazine only added to the mystery of the game.  I am going to have to spend some time with that.

Another bit of content, something that I think comes for the later retellings of the Knights of Camelot, is the notion of the New Religion (Christianity) vs. The Old Ways (Paganism).  We saw this in Excalibur and it was a central focus of The Mists of Avalon (which I also hope to talk about).  This movie did not feature it all that much, but the thought was still there.  I like this sort of interaction and love putting it into my games when I can.

Blue Rose as an Old-School Setting?

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Last month I put up my review of the new Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide, which allows you to play a Blue Rose game using D&D 5th Edition.

Now. I love Blue Rose. I love D&D 5e.  But I also love my old school games.  To be blunt, I am an old gamer and these games fill me with nostalgia.  Can I run a Blue Rose game using the systems I have here?

Short answer? Yes!
Longer Answer? HELL Yes!

Everything I need is right at my fingertips. So how would I do it?  Let's have a look.  Now I have talked about how to take Blue Rose and run the AGE system like an old-school-style game already.   Here I want to talk about how to take your old-school rules and run them like a Blue Rose game.

Old School Blue Rose

Setting

Grab the first Seven chapters of the Blue Rose Adventure's Guide and use them as-is. Append with details from AGE or True 20 as needed.  I mention the True 20 since some things will be easier to convert from that.

Classes

Blue Rose True 20 and AGE have only three classes, Adept, Expert, and Warrior.  Blue Rose Adventure's Guide has all the classes from D&D 5.  Older versions of the game don't have all of these. No problems let's see what we do have.

In the Blue Rose Adventure's Guide, we have the following Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Thief, Warlock, and Wizard.

By using the "Advanced" versions of both Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord, plus a couple of my witch classes, we could cover every class.  It pains me to even say it but we might not even need my witches here!

True20 / AGE D&D 5e OSR / Basic  Warrior  Barbarian  Barbarian(LL-A)  Expert/Adept  Bard  Bard (OSE-A)  Adept/Warrior  Cleric  Cleric  Adept/Expert  Druid  Druid  Warriror  Fighter  Fighter  Warrior/Adept  Monk  Monk (LL-A)  Warrior/Adept  Paladin  Paladin  Warrior/Expert/Adept  Ranger  Ranger  Adept  Sorcerer  Magic-User  Expert  Thief  Thief  Adept  Warlock  Witch  Adept  Wizard  Magic-user

Ancestry, Culture, and Backgrounds

What old-school games call race we will now break up into Ancestry, Culture, and Backgrounds.

Essentially we can map them like this, rules-wise:

Humans are Humans, Night People use the rules for Half-orcs, and the Vata are essentially Elves rules-wise.  Sea folk are humans with some perks, I'd use the half-elf rules for them.  Small Rhydan can use the rules for halflings and medium Rhydan use the rules for Dwarves. Alter movements and attacks as needed.

Monsters

Every monster in the Blue Rose books has something similar to it in the D20 SRD.  This is an artifact of the Blue Rose True20 days.  If it is in the SRD then there is likely an Old-School version somewhere. I could do a search, but I am pretty confident that every monster in the BR-AGE core can be found somewhere in the Old-School world.

Relationships

Blue Rose pays a lot of attention to how the characters interact with others.  This absolutely should be part of an Old School Blue Rose game too.  Here though mechanics and rules will have to give way to good roleplaying and XP bonuses for characters who play their roles well.  While some old-schoolers may balk at this idea, seeing the characters as only a collection of numbers, the truth is the role-playing aspects that both Blue Rose and D&D5 players love so much today were already all there back in old-school play.  Some of us did it then and didn't need the rules to tell us how or why.

Still, I would offer some XP bonuses for good in-character inter-personal relationships. Especially the bonds.  OR if I REALLY wanted to get old school, XP penalty for not doing it.

Blue Rose + White Box = White Rose?

I might also replace the Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment with Light-Twilight alignment.  Effectively there is not much difference in terms of how one plays a character, but it would give a different feel. 

Everything Else

In truth what I have above covers nearly everything.  What remains can be handled by the DM/Narrator in their own games.  I have already talked about how to use Blue Rose in conjunction with several old-school adventures.

My family really enjoyed playing Blue Rose so I might add some more elements of this game to my old-school games.

The Dragon #11 Vol 2.5

D&D Chronologically -

Fairly good issue.

  • A bit of a tirade by Gygax against people who don’t like the fact that TSR is protecting its copyrights. Special shout-out to companies doing it right by either licensing or creating their own new ip like Games Design Workshop with En Garde and Traveller. Also has a bit of a historical run-down and background to the initial publishing of D&D. Mentions ongoing work to develop it with the publishing of Basic, the Monster Manual and two forthcoming volumes, which may be ready around summer 78!
  • Variant article by Kuntz with rules for brawling – basically a bunch of tables and dice rolls with the goal of knocking out the opponent and not actually causing any hp damage.
  • Article by Thomas Filmore that encourages you to role play your character by thinking up a background and quirks and most importantly doing this for each new character you play, ensuring you don’t carry over stuff from previous characters.
  • First appearance of “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll” by Kuntz. Most excitingly mentions the Monster Manual is at the printers. Also that work on AD&D is progressing, with some small snippets like the fact that Fighters will use a 10 sided die for hit dice. Also Monsters & Treasure Assortment Set 3 is being worked on. Odd mention of Brian Blume working on an outdoor map – not sure what became of that. Update on expansion of D&D overseas.
  • Oh boy, here comes one of those articles with extremely convoluted rules – about fighting with quarterstaffs by James Ward. Would make fighting as exciting as doing your tax return.
  • A short unfavourable review of the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit film.
  • A new complete boardgame – Snit’s Revenge, the sequel to Snit Smashing.
  • And at last, an ad for the Monster Manual!!!

Next up? Yes, the Monster Manual!

Date Information

Of interest to me, the Hobbit film was broadcast on Nov 27. Which means the earliest the complete contents of this issue was finished would have been the following day. Which means when they say this is the December issue, it really means it would have come out in December! (Unlike modern magazine publishing where they push everything forward a month – eg a December issue coming out in November.)

Review: Witch+Craft, a 5e Crafting Supplemental

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Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli movies?  Well, I am and the authors of Witch+Craft, a 5e crafting supplemental are as well. And this book proudly and openly displays that love.  But I am getting a little ahead of myself. 

I backed this project as a Kickstarter a while back and it came with the book, PDFs, and all sorts of great add-ons like wallpapers and spell and magic-item cards (PDFs).

So I am going to be reviewing the hardcover book and the PDFs from the Kickstarter.  I am uncertain if the PDFs from DriveThruRPG are 100% the same or not. 

You can purchase the hardcover from the publisher's website and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG or also from the publisher.

Witch+Craft, a 5e Crafting Supplemental

Witch+Craft is a full-color hardcover 214-page book.  The theme of the book is decidedly high magic, and a style of high magic infuses all aspects of the lives of the people of this particular vision of the 5e fantasy universe.  This book is exactly the opposite of "grimdark," wherein magic is everywhere and it is a tool to be used to make things better.   I state this upfront because that is the pervasive philosophy of the book.  It works, and it is a great one to have.  But it will have to fit your style of gaming and campaigns.  I knew this on the onset, and lets be honest, the cover gives this away, but if this is not your kind of game there is not a lot (there is some!) that this book can give you.  

That all being said this book is a fantastic resource for anyone that has ever said "can I use magic to make BLANK?" Where BLANK is anything and everything from clothes that clean themselves, to self-sorting spell components, to fire that heats but won't burn, to well...half a thousand things I have heard from my kids in their 5e games.

While I may have started this review with who this book is not for, who it absolutely IS for is anyone that has ever played an Artificer in 5e or an Alchemist in Pathfinder 2e.

What this book doesn't have, despite the name, is a Witch class.  Ah well. 

Witch+Craft table of contents

Introduction

We get the basics of this book. In bold letters right in the first line of the first paragraph we get : 

This book is about making things.

You have to appreciate this. Some RPG books are never quite as clear as to what they are about. This book is also about rounding out your character with Trade Classes.  Though Trade Professions would likely be a better term. You can take these along with your Fighter, Wizard, or whatever levels. I will get into more details in a bit.

Chapter 1: Domestic Magic

Part 1 of this chapter covers the basics of crafting. The six-step process is listed and then detailed. 

  1. Blueprint. You propose a project.
  2. Challenges. The GM imposes a Difficulty Level based on the specifications of the project. They will also list the base materials required to make the crafting attempt at all. (7 levels total)
  3. Preparation. You may prepare for the project in order to improve your chances of success.
  4. Craft Action. You begin the project, rolling to qualify your success.
  5. Fine-tuning. After the rolls are in, you may choose to expend bonuses to alleviate any potential flaws.
  6. Appraising. When all is said and done, the item is created, and its features and flaws known.

The rules here a pretty simple and even elegant in their own ways.  It does add to the 5e system as a new sub-system.  So while old schoolers will not even blink an eye it does feel "added on."  Now this is not a bad thing.  It feels like the best system for detailed craftwork, as opposed to say "just roll a d20 and beat this DC."

Part 2 deals with Trade Class basics.  This is just a tracking system on how you get better with crafting.  Class is kind of a misnomer here since it is not a D&D Class.  Trade Profession might have been a better choice.  These professions/classes can progress through Tiers (not levels) and have different kinds of media they work in; crystals, drafting, living arts, metals, textiles, and wood.

Part 3 covers Techniques. Or how you can do things.  This also covers tools.  They are presented like feats but are attached to the Tiers. For example "Green Thumb" does more or less what you think it does.  The prereq is "Living Arts or Wood."  While presented like a feat, it does not have any "combat" advantages.  Certainly lots of role-playing advantages.

Part 4 is Picking Your Trade Class.  Here are the actual classes/professions. They are based around the media above.  So someone that works with crystals could be Glass Blower or a Mason or a Jeweler. The builds cover what other materials you can work with, what tools you have, and starting techniques.  Each media get three example builds.

Chapter 2: Cape Verdigris

Cape Verdigris is a setting where all of this crafting and domestic magic can be seen in use. It lists places of interest, guilds, shops, and many major NPCs. It is designed to be added to pretty much any campaign world. 

Chapter 3: A House of Plenty

This is a 40-page complete adventure of a different sort.  The goal here is to restore an old manor house to it's former glory using the crafting skills they have learned in this book.  So in TV shows, you are trading Sci-Fi or Shudder for HGTV. There is something interesting here and I really admire the authors' choices here.  

Chapter 4: Spells

This chapter covers 12 new spells to use in conjunction with the rules.  

Witch+Craft tspells


Chapter 5: Familiars

Also what it says on the cover, this introduces 10 new familiars. Many are fey, others are animals. Greater familiars are also presented here. If you wanted a soot familiar like the ones in "My Neighbor Totoro" or "Spirited Away" then this chapter has you covered.

Witch+Craft

Chapter 6: Items

Not just magic items but a whole bunch of mundane and domestic magic items as well.  The blanket of napping is an easy favorite. 

Witch+Craft items

Appendices

Here we get a collection of various stats. 

Appendix I. The NPCs from Chapters 2 and 3 get their writeups here. Why not with the chapters? Easy, in the chapters, you are supposed to be focused on who these people are how you interact with them, NOT what their combat stats are. 

Appendix II covers unusual trades like healers and wandmakers.

Appendix III has various boons and flaws of the items crafted. These can be minor, major or magical/dangerous for boons and flaws respectively. 

Appendix IV is a list of crafting obstacles.

Appendix V cover crafted treasures

Appendix VI is Awakened Objects. So lots of monster stats here.

Appendix VII covers the stats of various objects; HP and AC.

There is a very attractive character sheet in back. The next few pages cover all the designers and artists that helped make this book possible.  There is also a list of Kickstarter contributors. Sadly there are a few typos here with some names cut off, some listed more than once.  Mine isn't even listed at all. 

There is also an index and the OGL statement.

The book really fantastic and joy to look at.  The art is great, the layout is wonderful and very easy on the eyes.

The audience for this book is a little slim.  There is nothing in this book really that would help in combat, defeating the next big bad (unless he challenges you to a bake-off) or any of the things that people typically associate with D&D.  This is much more of a narrative presentation with a lot of role-playing potential.  

One of it's strengths though design-wise is that since the crafting system is not inherently tied to D&D5 is can be lifted out and added to other games with only minor tweaking.  For example, Chapters 1 to 3 could be lifted out and added to something like Blue Rose AGE edition with a little work.  

I would like to recommend this to Old-School gamers. I could something like this working well with a game like Old-school Essentials or The Hero's Journey. But even those games tend to be combat-heavy at times and really don't have much in the way of the need for various crafting. Not to say that some groups or players wouldn't, it's just not universal.

This book is best for the younger D&D 5 player that got into D&D after a steady diet of Minecraft and the ones that loved crafting items in MMORPGs. It is also great for any DM that wants a better handle on making items of any sort.

Witch+Craft


Review: Old-School Essentials Adventures

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One of my fondest memories of gaming has to be the Summer of 1982 playing this weird-ass hybrid of AD&D first ed and D&D Moldvay/Cook B/X. I think I played every weekend to be honest.

While a lot of games have come really close to this feel, the one that now comes the closest has to be Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

Old-School Essentials Adventures

There are a lot of great clones out there but right now nothing is scratching my old-school itch quite like OSE.  I got my Kickstarter package a bit back and while I was engrossed with the rules of the new books, I utterly failed to give much attention to the two included adventures. That is until I started hearing people talk about them more online.  I went back to them and you know what?  They are really kind of great.

For this review, I am considering both the hardcover copies I got with the Kickstarter and the PDF copies from DriveThru RPG.

Both books are 48-page, full-color books. The maps are printed on the inside covers with encounter areas labeled on the maps.  The books are A5 format (5.8" x 8.3", 148mm x 210mm).

The Incandescent GrottoesThe Incandescent Grottoes
by Gavin Norman

This is an introductory adventure designed for characters level 1-2, written by OSE creator Gavin Norman with art by Nate Treme. 

The adventure could be considered a dungeon crawl along the lines of Keep on the Borderlands, but like so much of OSE it taps into how the games were played rather than written. The dungeons of IG *could be* like the Caves of Chaos, but more accurately they are played like Caves of Chaos were played back then.  What do I mean?  Well, there is a demonic cult here, The Cult of the Faceless Lord. There are factions within the dungeon and how they interact. Plus goals for the various groups of monsters. There are tables of treasures and random occurrences to make exploring this dungeon something players can keep coming back to. 

The rooms and areas a very nicely detailed and the whimsical art really adds to the dream-like qualities of the adventure.  There is even a dragon waiting for the characters at the end!  Ok, it is not a very powerful one, but to 1st and 2nd level characters it is powerful enough.  There are some new monsters (the aforementioned dragon) and lots of great encounters.

While there is no overt meta-plot here, one could easily see this as some sort of introduction to a cult of Juiblex vying for control of the Mythic Underworld. 

A bit about the name.  I can't help but notice that a 1st level adventure into the "Mythic Underground" can be read as "I(n) Can Descen(d)t."  I am sure this is intentional.

Halls of the Blood KingHalls of the Blood King
by Diogo Nogueira

Diogo Nogueira has been racking up an impressive list of RPG publications and getting him to pen an adventure for OSE is quite a score.  And the adventure is pretty much what I hoped it would be like.

This time the artist is Justine Jones. If the art of Incandescent Grottoes is dream-like then the art here is nightmarish.  I mean that in the most positive way. 

The adventure is set up in a manner similar to other OSE adventures. We get maps with major encounter areas, descriptions and relationships of the major factions/NPCs/Monsters.

The adventure itself is a castle of a vampire lord for characters of 3rd to 5th level.  

Detail-wise this adventure lives somewhere between the sparse-ness Palace of the Vampire Queen and the detail rich Ravenloft.  I don't want this to sound like there not a lot of detail here, there is, but there is no over arching epic here.  This is great since it allows you to take this adventure and work it into your world much easier.   For example with a tweak or two here and there I could make this "Halls of the Blood Queen" and add it rather nicely to my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  This would work out well since I am using OSE for that.  The only thing stopping me is I have so many Vampire Queens now!  But still, it would be fun and very, very easy.

The adventure is also rather good and looks like a lot of fun.

If these are examples of how adventures for OSE are going to be written in the future then OSE is going have a nice long shelf life.  While neither adventure is revolutionary in design or concepts they are really good adventures.

Monstrous Mondays: Bonnacon

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Bonnacon

Spend any time reading Medieval Bestiaries you will run into all sorts of fantastic animals such as dragons, unicorns, griffins, and the bonnacon.

Ah. The majestic bonnacon. It is a large bull-like creature with inward-turned horns, the mane of a horse, and it attacks by shooting flaming caustic dung at you.

Wait. What?

Yes, the bonnacon (also called bonasus or bonacho) is a great mythic beast that has appeared in numerous bestiaries.  Its horns are useless for defense, it instead will shoot caustic feces out of its anus while it is running away.

It was first described by none other than Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia.  This history is a great source of monsters.

And there are some GREAT pictures of this awful beast.

Bonnacon
Bonnacon
Bonnacon
Bonnacon
Bonnacon

Bonnacon
Large Beast (Magical)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral [Unaligned]
Movement: 150' (50') [5"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
  Large 2d10+2* (13 hp)
Attacks: 1 head butt or special
Damage: 1d6
Special: Caustic dung
Size: Large
Save: Monster 2 
Morale: 6 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)

Str: 14 (+1) Dex: 12 (0) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 4 (-2) Wis: 7 (+1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The bonnacon is a large bull-like creature.  It is typically red or brown in color with a long horse-like mane running from its head, down the back of its neck.  They have two large bull-like horns, but they are turned inside and thus provide no effective means of protecting the creature.  The bonnacon is also spectacularly stupid, even judging it compared to other heard animals.

The bonnacon can attack with a head butt but would rather run away. It will use its only special attack at this point. When retreating the bonnacon will eject burning, caustic dung from its anus.  This dung will stick to clothes, skin, and just about everything.  When hit the victim must save vs poison or take 4d6 hit points of damage; save for half.  The dung will continue to burn any skin it touches causing 1d6 hp of damage per round.  A previous save means that no skin was touched.  The only way to remove these caustic feces is to wash them off with at least a quart of water.  A running stream or a decanter of endless water is also good.  Thankfully a bonnacon can only use this attack once per day.

The meat of the bonnacon is vile and rank. Goblins, who can eat anything, will not eat the meat of this animal. It does however eat a lot on its own. So a small herd (1d4) can destroy up to 40 lbs of grain or plants per day each. 

The Dragon #10 Vol 2.4

D&D Chronologically -

  • Now 36 pages.
  • A bit of a reorg in the structure of the magazine to clarify whether something is official or a variant.
  • An article suggesting characters should only get XP from treasure as they spend it. Interesting idea, rather boring article.
  • A report on Gencon X held in August.
  • An article with tables to roll up random terrain info – like how steep a slope is and other exciting things like that. Yeah, that’s sarcasm.
  • A more arresting article with lots of tables to create totally random monsters – not wandering monster tables – rather totally unique monsters never dreamt up before. You could get a large blue lawful undead flying creature with antennae that’s hostile to Hobbits and can only be destroyed by running water!
  • A fantastic article by Richard Gilbert about designing dungeons – specifically coming up with a reason for the dungeon’s existence and even more specifically who the dungeon builder was. Answer that question and the design almost builds itself.
  • Yet another tedious article adding more tables to randomly roll up things for your character like height/weight, hair length, etc etc.
  • A tragic article about the process of gaining experience levels that I think is an attempt at humour but I think is also serious.
  • Snit Smashing! A cut-out boardgame. I have a vague memory of playing this back in the day. It actually has reasonable mechanics.

Wow, that was a big issue.

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