Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gonzo Item - Powered Exoskeleten

(The artist for this was Greg Espinoza, a truly remarkable talent!)
This "techno" artifact is another creation by David Hargrave from his 3rd Arduin dungeon scenario, "The Citadel of Thunder." Sadly, Hargrave's dungeons are all out of print, so, unless you can find a reasonably-priced used copy, the dungeon scenario is not commercially available.

However, here is some goodness from that work!

There are on and off again a lot of argument about technology, especially futuristic technology, in The World's Most Populat Role Playing Game. Our group always paired technology and magic, and had several folks running "Technos" (as that class was know from the Arduin Grimoire) over the years. Including the indomitable Barbarian-Techno, Grady.

Powered Exoskeleten (aka "Bone Walker")


    1. Operating Charge 100 hours;
    2. Movement 240' (note: max move burns operating charge at 25x normal rate);
    3. Ability to leap 30';
    4. Strength equivalent to 25 (hit for 4d10+7);
    5.  Dexterity equivalent to 25;
    6. Armor Class 23, hit only by +1 or better weapons or strength greater than 20;
    7.  Hit Points 200 (abilities reduced 10% per each 25 hp taken over the first 50).

Description: This "techno" artifact is composed of Titanium, boron filament, plasteel, etc., powered by a nuclear battery, and is more than 150 years old. It weighs 250 lbs. and is 8 1/2' tall. It will fit all humanoids from 4' to 7' tall.

Value: 100,000 gold sovereigns

Friday, August 31, 2018

Gonzo Monster - Air Squid

"Air Squid" art by Carol Rode (1977)
The Air Squid is a fantastic, yet simple creature created by Dave Hargrave (of "Arduin" fame) for the first "All the World's Monsters" edited by Steve Perrin and Jeff Pimper for Chaosium and published in 1977. Players of Arduin probably remember the more explosive, hydrogen-filled "air sharks."

Air Squid

Hit Dice: 6d8+6 to 12d8+12. Movement: Fly at 30'. Dexterity: 7-12. Intelligence: 2-12. Armor Class: 13. Alignment: Chaotic Neutral.

Attacks: 12 tentacles 1d8 hit points constriction damage. 1 beak 1d10 hit points bite damage.

Description: Giant, helium-filled squids which "swim" through the air. Usually sky-blue in color with great, dull-white eyes. 35 to 75 feet long. Their lairs are on mountain peaks.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Gonzo Items - The Helm of the Heinous

The Helm of the Heinous from "Booty and the Beasts" (1979) written by Erol Otus, Mathias Genser, and Paul Reiche III. (There are no commercial editions of this book available, including no used copies I could find. Someone posted a digital version here.)

The Helm of the Heinous

  1. Speak With Dead (no matter what their state of composition may be); 
  2. Solicit aid from Demons whenever they are met (Demons will not obey all of the wearer's commands, but will take suggestions if they like them); and
  3. Fire beam of sickly yellow light (Usage: 3x per day, Range: 240', Target: single, Save: yes, Effect: If the target fails saving throw, will attempt to commit suicide using the most effective means available. If the victim succeeds on saving throw, will lapse into unconsciousness for 1-6 melee rounds).
Additional Effect: 60% chance any undead will not attack the wearer.

Description: This rare and arcane piece of magic is sought with fervor by all manner of evil beings, for it possesses several magic attributes, none of them trivial. The Helm of the Heinous will only serve those who work toward evil ends and will not function for anyone else.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Gonzo Monsters

So, there were some gonzo-strange critters and toys back in the day that probably could be used as is with most of the retro-clones and OSR-style rules systems to add a little flavor to your games now and again. However, since our group is basically running the Advanced Knights of the All Mind 5th ed. mod (not even a "hack"), we need a little update.

What I would love is if Emperor's Choice, for instance, would get it together to publish a nice 5th ed. or OSR-style monster manual of Arduin uglies. Heck, I would put it together myself if they would let me Kickstart it.

During the meanwhilst what I would like to do is just share a translation from time to time of what some of the stuff from yore might look like in an updated form of 5th ed./Advanced Knights and toshare a little of what's out there if you dig a bit.

Here is my first foray, The Cerebro Demon from "The Necromican" (1979) written by Erol Otus, (yes, that Erol Otus) Mathias Genser, and Paul Reiche III. (Only used print editions are commercially available here starting at well over $800, someone posted a digital version here.)

The Cerebro Demon. 

Hit Dice: 10d10. Movement: Crawl at 7.5', or fly at 30'. Dexterity: 18-22. Armor Class: 16. 

Attacks: 8 large tentacles 3d6 hit points damage.

Psychic Attacks: Project Knowledge Not-Meant-to-be-Known DC 20 Wisdom save (Succeed: Stunned 1 melee round, Fail: Victim goes permanently and gibberingly insane). Control Will DC 20 Wisdom save (Fail: Completely under control of demon will do will do anything demon tells to do). Zap Brain DC 20 Wisdom save (Fail: Death). 

Special Abilities: Communicates telepathically, immune to all psychic attacks, 75% resistant to magic and techno, teleport without error.

Description: This demon travels freely on the ethereal and astral planes and can attack from these planes with its psychic attacks. It is highly intelligent and can understand virtually any order, no matter how complex. Its small tentacles can manipulate the most delicate machinery and magical apparatus, but are useless in battle. It knows everything that humans were not meant to: Cthulhu's face, the Old One's telephone number, etc., and one of its psychic attacks is projecting this knowledge into a human mind. The demon can also use its telepathic powers to control the will of any being. Finally, it can zap the brain of an opponent causing death if the opponent fails saving throw. The cerebro demon communicates telepathically and is immune to all psychic attacks.

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Cha-Checklist for Game Judges

Character Checklist for All Mind & Compatible Games
Here is a character checklist that details several pertinent aspects of an adventuring party you're running. To tell the truth, I haven't used this during a game hardly at all. Where it comes in super-duper handy is when a player loses or forgets their character sheet.

Anyhow, click the link below for a copy of the checklist from my Dropbox:

5th Ed. All Mind for Judges

Whew so only a month to process the All Mind 5th ed. book for judges. Again, so's nobody is thinking this is in any way an original work (other than the "art" which is all me), I basically took stuff from the 3rd ed. SRD v.3.5 and the 5th ed. SRD v.5.1 plus added some other various stuff.

As always, I really am not trying to reinvent the wheel here, I am looking for a style. Plus something I can mess with from time to time as our group adventures using the new rules, which, by the way, you are welcome to download from this link (now $5 PDF on DriveThruRPG):

One thing that was sorta nice is the SRD has monster rules included that pretty much run the gamut. If you don't find exactly what monster you need there are plenty enough elements to run with 'em. ("Blink" -anything comes to mind as a useful option.)

Now that I've gone through all the 5th ed. rules (formatting these was a pain in the ass because copy and pasting from WotC PDF came out 1 WORD PER LINE), there are some kind of themes that are apparent to me at least that probably other folks may have mentioned.

One is that combat seems to cause more damage in general, but it is fairly simple to heal back up a characters hit points. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. It encourages greater risks in combat and less time looking for a place to hole up while healing. One thing, though, there may still be a problem with spell-casters needing to rest to regain their spells.

What else... I do like the monster stat format. The format sticks with main attributes of creatures and not a lot of information you really don't need to have a battle.

Anyhow, our first session with the new rules is June 16th so we shall see.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

All Mind for 5th Edition

My goodness! Spending two months copying and pasting from a System Reference Document isn't the thrill it used to be. Primarily because this 5th edition mod really is just because my gaming group won't (or in some cases are unable to) invest in new books, and only secondarily because we are only adding a couple older-style variants (6-sided party initiative, crit/fumble tables, some overland movement details, etc.).

What I need, as an end result, is a document that I can flesh out for our game style and some play testing on how things go. So this player's tome is not going on Drive-Thru until the playtests and I have content to go along with it. Thus, you can download it for free (now $5 on DriveThruRPG) if you want to check it out:

Maybe you can see from the character sheet below that I am still seeking a very simple, 70's motif. Ha, which gets sort of lost in the very asymmetrical and unaesthetic "Skills" section...
As I prepared the copy I did marvel how some of the ideas from 5th ed. coincided with what I was shooting for in The Vacuous Grimoire. I had to add a variant rule option for advantage/disadvantage only because there are members in our group who get a rush over everything coming down to a single... die... roll... Rolling two d20s to determine an outcome would just be anticlimactic, the option is to roll a d6 then subtract or add depending on whether disadvantage or advantage. See how it plays. Heh, maybe I should use a d8.

Again, the next deal is to work on some content. I received a lot of good feedback over my last herculean effort to transcribe Underport. Basically I can simplify the production by minimalizing creature stats and leaving the book somewhat system neutral. Gads I spent soooo much time drafting 3rd ed. stat blocks...

Ok, keep on choogling!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

DunDraCon et al...

(2am wrap of another Friday night DDC game.)
I ran at DunDraCon #42 a Vacuous conversion of "Night of the Walking Wet" by Jennell Jaquays, Randy Cox, & Tamara Wieland (originally published by Chuck Anshell and Judges Guild in two parts of "The Dungeoneer," issues 5 & 6, in 1977). These "official" games I run on Friday night each year, although typically because it's a con I permit just about any edition D&D player character, let me sort of playtest my rules and scenarios.

This year, however, I did find that most everyone brought a 5th edition character. While 3rd and 5th are mostly compatible, like hit die, damage, and AC, there are some key differences in saving throws, spells and healing.

Another thing I noticed when we ran our regular game Saturday night, that folks who dropped by looking for a game kind of high-tailed it upon learning we had a 3rd edition hybrid.

Given that 3rd edition is almost 20 years old now, and kind of has a bad rap for being too crunchy, and I don't want to be left behind from playing with new players, I wondered how I might integrate 5th ed. into my Vacuous tomes.

Well, lo and behold, it appears a couple years ago Wizards released a 5th ed. SRD!

Basically, it appears to be a reference of new 5th ed. rules using terms that fall under the old Open Gaming License (ha, which is pretty smart considering some aspiring thinker, given the retro-clones of older versions, would have considered cloning 5th ed. from the OGL anyway).

There are at least two main high points I see from 5th ed. that our game might go with: 1) 5th ed. totally limits skill points and how you keep track of them, which is what we eliminated from our 3rd ed. game anyway; and, 2) monsters are built as monsters - not constructed the same as characters.

Har, one year out and I am already looking at The Advanced Vacuous Grimoire!

(I wanted to add bathing in dragon's blood anyway...)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year / How We Rolled...

My 2017 X-Mas gift to y'all included on the inside cover the above picture related to a dungeon scenario, "The Planet," created by Postman Bob and myself. We ran this adventure over nights May 15th, July 10th, and August 21st in 1993. The monster entries have been updated to current rules, but otherwise the linked document is just about all we used to run three nights of balls to the wall gaming. (Well, that plus improvisations, of course...)

If memory serves, the party somehow ended up on the Starfleet vessel, the Farragut, which had been pretty much destroyed by a Klingon Bird of Prey. The heroes soon discovered this asteroid floating nearby was some sort of ship or creature.

The Klingon Bird of Prey was being used in some way by the ship/creature, the force door opening to the giant cilia was very, very bad, and several party members obtained Klingon armor in this adventure.

Ha, ok now it's your turn to run with it.