Monday, January 13, 2020

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year - Shadow Drow

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

In keeping with winding down my efforts toward home-style rules, here is a new baddie that is playable with Advanced Labyrinth Lord™ and Other OSR Rule Sets.

The Shadow Drow is a regular elven drow integrated with the Plane of Shadow, from which the shadow drow may plot and launch attacks. Compared to normal drow, the shadow drow are faster, more difficult to detect, have additional resistances to cold, and once per day can shift to or from the Plane of Shadow.

Shadow Drow
No. Enc.: 2d4 (6d6)
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 180'
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 2 + 2
Attacks: 1 or 2 (weapon)
Damage: As weapon
Save: F2
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: V x 5, XI x 2
XP: 67

Shadow drow are depraved and evil demon-worshipping subterranean creatures merged with non-corporeal darkness. Shadow drow hate the life energy of living things from above-ground.

Like regular drow, they tend to be 5’ tall and slight of build, but their skin, hair, and eyes are of dark, swirling shadow. Although shadow drow seem somewhat ghost-like, they are not truly undead creatures. As a consequence, shadow drow are not susceptible to the cleric ability to turn undead. However, like undead, shadow drow are unaffected by charm or sleep spells.

Shadow drow also have cold resistance and are impervious to all forms of ordinary cold. Further, damage from other kinds of cold is reduced by –2 per die of damage. These kinds of cold include cone of cold, wall of ice, and the intense cold of frozen sea. If exposure to such cold requires a saving throw, it is made at +2 to the dice roll.

Shadow drow have 120’ infravision and are completely silent and difficult to observe in any conditions other than full daylight granting them a +2 to armor class. When in bright light including sunlight they suffer -2 to hit and -2 to DEX, and if abruptly exposed to light are blinded for 1 round. They will surprise on a surprise check roll of 1-5 on 1d6 and are themselves surprised only on 1 on 1d8. Shadow drow can also Plane shift self to or from the Plane of Shadow once per day.

Shadow drow typically attack with short swords or darts which are coated with poison. Victims must save versus poison at -4 or fall unconscious for 1d4 turns. Shadow drow can use the following spell-like abilities once per day: dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire. All shadow drow save versus magical effects with a +2. In addition, shadow drow of 4th level or higher have the following spelllike abilities once per day: detect magic, know alignment, levitate, and fear. Finally, female shadow drow are more powerful than males, and once per day have the abilities of clairvoyance, detect lie, dispel magic, suggestion, mirror image, and regenerate 2 hit points per round (slain if brought to 0 hit points).

In a group of 10 or more, a male 3rd level fighter will be present. In a group of 20 or more, a female cleric/fighter of 6th level will be present. If more than 30 are encountered, a female cleric/fighter of 7th or 8th level will be present, and a male fighter/magic-user of 4th or 5th level will be present.

There is a 5% chance per level that a shadow drow has a magic item.

Labyrinth Lord™ is copyright 2007-2018, Daniel Proctor. Labyrinth Lord™ and Advanced Labyrinth Lord™ are trademarks of Daniel Proctor. These trademarks are used under the Labyrinth Lord™ Trademark License 1.2, available at

Saturday, November 9, 2019

City Running Troika!

(City Running Troika! available at DriveThruRPG)

So, I'm leaning away from being in the rules business and Troika! popped up for me.

The system is ultra simple. Each character has three attributes:
  • Skill, which is the number added whenever a character tries to do something;
  • Stamina, which score defines altogether general health, sturdiness, and hit points; and 
  • Luck, which is kind of a catch-all saving throw that decreases the more you use it.
Then, actions are further bumped with advanced skills and spells. Each advanced skill and spell has a numerical value to it, typically 1 or 2 or, more rarely at the beginning, 3. This numerical value gets added to the skill attribute whenever the character takes some action.

Up to three skills or spells used since the last rest can be improved +1 when the character has completed a rest and has an opportunity for reflection. This is done by attempting to roll greater than the total skill points for the advanced skill or spell. (A character can also learn new advanced skills or spells if there is someone more experienced to train her.)

Characters get their beginning advanced skills, spells, and an often bizarre backstory by rolling for a random background. 36 backgrounds are included in the rulebook, but there are many, many, many sources for Troika! backgrounds. is a good resource for backgrounds, both free and to purchase.

The rulebook comes with an introductory adventure that takes place in a fancy hotel within the City of Troika. The author of Troika!, Daniel Sell, has published several discrete details of city locations, but, perhaps intentionally or perhaps because Troika! is a young game and more will be forthcoming, there is not a comprehensive overview of the city itself. 

I read that Daniel Sell got some inspiration for Troika! from a series of stories by M. John Harrison published between 1971 and 1984 about Viriconuim, a shifting, dystopian, post-apocalyptic future Earth.

Looking for role-playing material on Viriconium lead me to Logan Knight.

Logan Knight, under the Creative Commons non-commercial license, publishes a large number of random city tables for his own setting that are based on Harrison's Viriconium city.

Originally for my personal Troika! game I am running, I assembled a good number of the setting tables and adopted them to Troika! After running the random scenarios for a few sessions, I came to believe that Troika! players in general would enjoy the resource.

I edited a nice edition and tried to get through to Logan Knight to see if he had any concerns about my publishing and could not get a reply (there was a comment on his website about getting a new job). Anyhow, with his work being under Creative Commons non-commercial, I went ahead and released City Running Troika! for free on both DriveThruRPG and

Hopefully Troika! players will discover and enjoy the product, and also hopefully Logan Knight won't be pissed off.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Underport - Revisionist Version

(Underport side view)
Believe it (or not) I am actually still working on "Metropolis of Chaos" sequel to "Underport: Abyssal Descent," but I just needed a project that was less mentally taxing.

When I put out Underport several years ago, my group was still using a 1st/3rd editions hybrid that seems sooo needlessly clunky now. One of the comments was that the author (me) seemed to lose gas at the lower levels, which I did. Writing high-level basically 3rd ed. stat blocks over and over was a pain in the ass.

Another comment was that the maps were, perhaps endearingly, super hard to follow. (I scanned my original pencil drawings in as black and white to gain definition.)

As a result I am going to revise Underport for the gently modified 5th ed. version, "Advanced Knights of the All Mind, 9th Edition." I intend to strip down the stat blocks, colorize maps, and add the long lost 9th level...

As it is said, writing is rewriting!

Monday, May 13, 2019

WIld Space

Good grief, I cannot let well enough alone...

Daughter the Cooliosis permitted us to game in the garage of her and new Coastie Husband. On the fly for characters (more for what cool miniatures I had rather than any meta-considerations) they each ended up as starfaring folk from a futuristic technology - essentially though a half-giant from Dark Sun flavor and a Rifts juicer.

Of course I'm running the gently modified 5th ed. rues from Advanced Knights of the All Mind 9th Edition, and further we just wing things on that first night, but I need to draft up a race, character, and background info.

So here it is, Wild Space, a free fan conversion with some of my fluff thrown in.

P.S. As an added bonus, I placed for the overall sci-fi milieu Judges Guild Wilderlands setting into Judges Guild Gateway Quadrant for Traveller! I found the Judges Guild Traveller adventure module "Marooned On Ghostring," about misjump that discovers an unexplored planet which happening to be the 4th planet out (just like the Wilderlands Ghenrek IV). THAT'S IT!

I just figured the "Ghostring" scenario a ruse to hide the true magical nature Ghenrek IV and there you are...

Friday, March 8, 2019

Gonzo Monsters - Star Spyder

The star spyder is another Dave Hargrave beastie appropriated this time from the old 1975-77 BBC television show Space 1999, a monster from the episode "Dragon's Domain."

The Star Spyder originally appeared in The Arduin Grimoire Volume III, "Runes of Doom."
Below is a video college of the creature that inspired Dave from the television show...

And Here is the Star Spyder as depicted on the cover of "Runes of Doom":

(Art by Greg Espinoza.)
My 5th edition adoption of Dave's creature for The World's Most Popular Role Playing Game:

Star Spyder Huge aberration, Amoral evil
Armor Class 22 Arms, 20 Body, 13 eye (natural armor)
Hit Points 160 (20d12 + 20) Speed 40 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 20 (+5) CON 12 (+1) INT 7 (-2) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Arcana +7
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagikal attacks
Damage Immunities Charm, cold, confusion, poison, sleep, sonics
Condition Immunities Frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Challenge 14 (11,000 XP)
Penumbral Door. Instead of moving like a normal creature, the star spyder can shift to a different plane, move there, and shift back to the plane where it came from.
Plane Shift. Once per hour, the star spyder can magikally teleport to a different plane of existence. The star spyder does not have to know the plane or its nature. When it uses this ability, it will intuitively avoid planes with an environment too harsh for it to survive. The star spyder can take up to four creatures with it provided these creatures are in physical contact with it. If a creature is unwilling to travel with the star spyder, it must make a successful DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be taken along anyway. The DC is reduced by 2 for every additional unwilling creature.
    Multiattack. The star spyder makes a psychic charm attack and 4d6 arm tentacle attacks per round. If two arm attacks hit the same target, it is grappled (escape DC 14) and the dimensional star spyder can use its dimensional leap.
    Psychic Charm. The star spyder targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the star spyder, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magik or be charmed by the star spyder. The charmed target moves toward the star spyder and it is a willing target for the star spyder's arm attacks.
    Arm. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (1d12 + 4) slashing damage plus 13 (2d8+4) constriction damage thereafter. The star spyder regains hit points equal to 1 hit point for every 2 hit points of damage caused. Also, the constriction comes with continuous suction (reverse cyclone) each turn. All under 3 HD cannot resist being seized. If the target is 3 HD or greater, it must make a grapple escape DC 16 or the target is seized. Those seized are dragged under the star spyder's mouth, where the victim’s body is consumed by radiation and heat in 2 melee rounds. Those killed in this manner are 100% irrecoverable.
    Dimensional Leap. The star spyder teleports, along with any equipment it is carrying and any creature it is grappling, up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.
Description: Star Spyder looks like a bright light that makes observation difficult. When in danger of being killed, it teleports away. This creature is so rare as to be only a dim legend.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Gonzo Items - Pulsonic Disruptor (Hell Hand)

Whew, I have been off-the-grid from posting for some time as I am cramming to complete my 5th ed. conversion of the Arduin dungeon "Caliban" (1979) in time for DunDraCon 43 where the game is scheduled for 6:00pm Friday, February 15th.

You'll find this here "Pulsonic Disruptor" in Caliban's magik item cards, and it's an exemplary Dave Hargrave item in the sense it is a clear example of how Dave happens across something in a movie (or book, TV show, etc.) and then imagines it into something gameable.

"Laserblast" is a 1978 American science fiction film about an unhappy teenage loner who discovers an alien laser cannon and goes on a murderous rampage, seeking revenge against those who he feels have wronged him. The extremely low-budget film was directed by Michael Rae and produced by Charles Band, who is widely known for producing B movies. Starring Kim Milford, Cheryl Smith, and Gianni Russo, the film features Keenan Wynn and Roddy McDowall, and marked the screen debut of actor Eddie Deezen. 

Anyhew, the laser cannon, in addition to blasting apart just about anything, also turn its owner into a murderous green-skinned monster. I can tell you from my games of yore there is nothing better than super powerful items with nasty side effects and watching PCs wonder, "Well, I probably shouldn't be using this, but we seem to be close to TPK so...."

Here is the laser cannon in action:

And here is the "Pulsonic Disruptor" (you'll notice some "Laserblast" similarities in Dave's write-up):

(The original "Pulsonic Distruptor" art by Michio Okamura)
Pulsonic Disruptor (Hell Hand)
Weird Technology item, very rare

Power Source: Nuclear Pellet
Maximum Charges: 177
Range: 110/440 yards
AC Penetration: 23
Damage per shot: 25 hit points
Size: fits all normal sized humanoid arms.

Powers: This weapon, once put on, is irremovable by anything less than a “full wish” unless its power source runs down. All hit by it are dizzy, nauseated and stunned for 1d10 melee rounds (20% chance) or are at -4 attack/defense for 10d6 minutes. The device's own AC is 20 and it is immune totally to any form of sonics. Cold or heat only does 1/4 damage to it. For every shot fired from it there is a 2% cumulative chance the wearer will be driven insane from the "back lash." At any rate the radiation from this technological device will do the same in a year! It's a “no win” situation.

Description: This 6-pound sleeve-like tube that fits over a forearm is composed of Titanium, Gadolinium, boron filaments and some silver, and Usually appears metallic blue overall.  The Disruptor's value is 250,000 gold pieces.