Saturday, August 28, 2021

Kamadan - My Edition


Kamadan

Fearsome leopard, a mane of snakes sprouting from its shoulders
  • Breathes a sleepy miasma.
  • Drags slumbering victims back to its den to feast on dreams.
  • Attacks with claws, jaws, and fangs as a last resort.
  • Dream-pearls form round particularly indigestible dreams in its stomach. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Fiend Folio Review R-S

Here we go again! 


Retriever
A funky fellow, the different eye rays feel cobbled together, I would likely narrow the range of what they do if I reinterpreted, the spider aesthetic is good, cleaver arms used while the ray's are recharging good, all together I warmed up to this one a lot more on second reading. I adore this line, 'demons sometimes mount howdahs on the back of a retriever and ride the creature to the hunt' it pushed me over from being eh, to being yah! The name is odd tho, since it seems to come out from the singular line about being servants of demogorgon.

The Gallery: Art of Russ Nicholson: It needs to be said.. Some Fiend Folio  then

Revenant 
An undead with a purpose! Besides aimlessly shambling around. Silliness aside its nice to see an undead that comes back for matters of unfinished business, a classic staple of undead in folklore. The particularities about it being driven by sheer will power, and not necessarily being evil (and thus immune to turn undead) are wonderful and suggests that players can perhaps reason with it. Strangulation as method of choice, but being guileful enough to use other tactics. Retainment of some abilities from life. Just a solid entry all around.

Rothé
These are really just underground yaks but I like them regardless. Feels like something some medieval travelogueist would write about"'... and in the mountain caves there dwell short, yak like creatures that the locals do call rothé, which are shy beasts with an aversion to the rays of the sun...."

Sandman
I feel like you shouldn't be allowed to write a creature whose whole gist is putting you to sleep and then not have any weird dream adventures or mind eating happen. The Sandman could be great, but sadly falls extremely short here. I would steal its aesthetic and put it to better use.

Scarecrow
Bit of an odd one, but a decent monster. I enjoy that its 'charm' effect is one of fascination. Needs a bit more idea fuel and intractable elements for players.

Old School FRP — A screaming devilkin resembles a flying baby whose...

Screaming Devilkin
Is described as looking like a mephit. Art does not look like mephitic art (for the better I think, why have a entry that just looks exactly like another one). The pain howling screaming is rather neat in that it complete drowns out all player voices entirely. Yet another 'always attacks' monster though, disappointing if not crippling since it should provide for a fun one off combat encounter. 

Shadow Demon
It's just a demon themed evil shadow. Normal shadow weaknesses and strengths. Eh I'm just meh on it. Maybe someone else has a more favorable look at it.

Sheet Ghoul
.... how does corrosive nose acid tie into an evil bedsheet....
Well its a decent enough sub-monster to go with the sheet ghoul.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 269 | RPGnet  Forums

Sheet Phantom
Something tells me this and the scarecrow came from someones halloween one-shot. Its got a good combat gimmick going for it, attacks hurting its victims its draped over is a nice touch. The details about it perhaps being an undead form of cloaked are fascinating though bizarre and not to my tastes at all. Surprisingly I find myself giving this one a four out of five.

Shocker
Zap! Nice aesthetic, good abilities, lacking in behavior. I think it should have something more interesting to either do, or drop when dead. Give it an agenda, or a more unique treasure than gems. The 'others postulate the existence of an electromagnetic plane' line is good fun. Reminds me of the dune stalker, similar pulp sci-fi energy (in no small part due to the same artists illustrations).

A skeleton warrior resembles a lich, but is the undead form of a powerful  fighter dressed in remnants of fi… | Skeleton warrior, Old school, Black  and white artwork

Skeleton Warrior
Love this sucker, quality design right here. Could use streamlining like most of the entries (all this dross of ranges and what) I love the risk of losing the circlet and having the skeleton warrior straight up attack, as well if the warrior is being used by an opponent it creates further fun (I would be tempted to let the skeleton warrior communicate some way (perhaps writing?) to make for fun ethical dilemmas in controlling it). Their creation is a nice vague hook that could be nicely tied into a setting in some way or another. All in all one of my favorite entries.

Skulk
Fascinatingly weird entry, cuttlefish human sub species that hide from most society which will kill them if found out. Surprised no one has adopted this one for their edgy loner persecution characters (update: I have been informed they were a player race in 3e (?). This entry feels like it was written by anti-skulk bigots, 'their cowards who murder whole families in their beds!'. Fear-mongering the lot of it.

Slaad
Chaos frogs chaos frogs chaos frogs. I'm wobbly on the slaadi symbols/head jewels, on one hand it makes for a neat method of control/summoning beyond true names. On the other they shouldn't require specific spells to remove. Unfortunately, though I adore them, the actual slaad entries are a bit lacking in distinction and unique gimmicks being rather same-y. 

(also it bothers me that the entries are not in their hierarchal order but rather alphabetical).
(also also all the dross about different percentage chances of gating in other slaad types is neat but a bit clunky)

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Blue Slaad
The blue/red rivalry is nice. The blue slaad only having defensive psionic has interesting implications for the other slaad (though not really expounded upon). Besides that there's three meh spell-abilities (which I must say I greatly dislike, an entity should have any abilities shortened to spells be tied into their character, not just pegged on with no discernible ties to their theme/gimmick).

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Death Slaad (the lesser masters)
Four is quite a small number! I feel like they should have a more coherent aesthetic (perhaps with individual differentiation (like the nazgûl)) if their so powerful yet small a group. I'd enjoy grabbing onto the detail about swords and expanding upon it since most of the other slaad don't seem to use weapons (except in human form?) and the mental picture of a hulking frog with naught but a loincloth and massive sword (heheh) is a good one. More spell-ability lists... sigh.

Slaad - Wikipedia

Green Slaad
Sadly lacking in unique gimmick or abilities, instead having a pile of a spell list. The illustration makes me think some kind of bureaucrat/consular/merchant-ly sort. The bit about reincarnating as a blue slaad if killed I think should be expanded to all the Slaad reincarnating as a color lower when killed.

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Grey Slaad (the executioners)
Unfortunately not as evocative as the name, pretty eh all around, not much I can even spin off of. Its all essentially just 'they will have spells and maybe some magic items'.

Deep Dive - The Slaadi — Dump Stat Adventures

Red Slaad
Decently set up, has more aesthetic coherency than the bloated spell lists of the others. The pellet bit is weird though evocative, feels like it should either just be venom/poison or you should be able to try and dig out the pellet with a knife or whatnot. Details on a Wish spell allowing for forcing it into obediance but only with other spells is weird but I guess it made sense in the milieu of ad&d's rules.


Ssendam - Lord of the Insane (slaad lord)
Giant amoeba with a brain inside. Beautiful. The black sword is interesting (potentially could tie into the death slaadi swords if you went that route). Sadly another spell list. Interesting idea that he always gives his name, very arrogant announcement like I presume. I think this entry has a lack of solid coherency/vibes/personality but the giant amoeba form is neat enough so I'll bump it up to a three star.


Ygorl - Lord of Entropy (slaad lord)
Hrm, aesthetics feel out of wack with rest of slaad and ssendam. Always being in shadow is neat. Sickle is a neat enough signature weapon (though feeling out of place with the rest of the slaad again). Sigh... spell lists.... the dragon steed is cute.

Snyad (pestie)
Pretty neato, solid behavior, most of the aesthetic draw is owed to Russ Nicholson's art, suggested interaction with mites is fun, feels like you could fit it into a dungeon 'ecology' easily. Small thieving humanoids are rather generic (this could easily just be goblins if this is how you wanted to do goblins) but it sails by with just enough of its own uniqueness. 

Pin on Fiend Folios & Monster Manuals

Son of Kyuss
Excellent, could use some polish, cutting back of the ad&d dross and percentiles with disease infliction and what (its mostly just the intersection of the monster and ad&d rules which necessitates quantifying elements of the monster, so to be expected), but the base is sturdy as cement. Walking corpses full of worms that jump out at you to turn you into one of them. Probs one of the best undead, pity it doesn't see more use (that I know of). Specially since there's an excellent implied hook with the name.

Stunjelly
Ehhh, it's not bad? Its kind of just another tricksy ooze variant but it is sort of unique, disguising itself as a wall and paralyzing then trying to envelope. But its just a variation upon the basic gist of a translucent gelatinous cube  (which is mentioned in the very entries text). I might be being too harsh on it.

Sussurus
Fascinating entry here, another one with pulp sci-fi vibes. The dronesong effect on undead is neat, unexpected, and potentially very very gamible for players. Attacking oxygen consuming flame is also a nice touch that forces players to figure out how to interact with this beastie. I would love to throw this in as a random encounter in a bit of a gonzo game. It'd feel at home in the ultraviolet grasslands. 


Svirfneblin (deep gnome)
I found myself liking these fellows surprisingly, the excellent illustration helps, as well as several interesting tidbit such as their stun-gas darts (an excellent mental image there, of short underground folks flinging darts which explode in puffs of colored smoke). I like also, the mention of having to pay hefty bribes to escape earth elementals. But besides bits I can string out into more interesting features, most of the entry is decent at best. Lots of percentiles for things, some okay behaviors, more spell abilities, etc.

Symbiotic Jelly
A very d&d monster, existing within the context of treasure hoards and monster killing to acquire them. I personally don't like it, but it's a fairly solid monster as written. With a clear motivation, and some decently interesting tactics to achieve thereof with its charming of monsters and illusions of treasure and weakness.

My analysis so far has been rather slapdash, but if there's one thing Im hitting on it's the importance of a Gimmick for any entity. That being of course a combination of aesthetics, behavior, and abilities all tied up in a core idea of the creature which can be spun out and extrapolated upon. 

The Skeleton Warrior is a good entry because it has a solid gimmick with its control circlet, skeletal demeanor, and desire for freedom. The Green Slaad is a poor entry because it doesn't have solid gimmick, just a generic list of spell abilities. And so on and so forth.

We're getting near the homestretch!

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Grenadier - GLOG Class


Class: The Grenadier


Burly and dexterous. The only two requirements for a grenadier. That and guts enough to be first over the wall hurling explosive death left and right. Just don't cut your fuse too short. It'd be a pity having to pick all your bits up.

Starting Items: Sack Of Grenades, Slowmatch, Buff Coat (as leather), Sidesword, Fancy Cap

Starting Skill: 1) Siege-works 2) Clout 3) Scrambling 4) Parade

A - Lobber, Close-Quarters
B - Perfect Timing
C - Fierce Figure
D - Blast-proof

Lobber

Barring major mishap, hurled projectiles always land more or less where you mean to throw them.

Close Quarters

You are adept at the tussle and grapple of fighting in ditches, tunnels, and battlements. Tight spaces present no challenge to you in combat.

Perfect Timing

Your fuses are cut to the precise second, you know just when to throw that bomb. When it comes to timing things you are flawless.

Fierce Figure

You cut a ferocious look, spark spitting grenade in one hand, wickedly sharp sword in the other, and a smoldering smile beaming out from under powder burns and rubble dust. Common soldiers and such cutthroats must check morale upon your entrance.

Blast-Proof

You can shrug off any explosion with a cough, groan, and minor singeing. What doesn't instantly splatter you makes you tougher after all.


Optional Grenade Rules

Roll on the hand grenade throwing table then roll for damage.

Hand Grenade - (2d6, blast)

Throwing Table - (2d6)
2 : explodes in your hand
3 : drop it in front of you
4 : lands short
5-9 : on target more or less
10 : lands long
11 : gets thrown back
12 : dud/fuse goes out

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Miscreated Creatures Review


Today is a review of Nick LS Whelan's Miscreated Creatures (of which I was graciously given a pdf copy) a monster book of some forty seven pages and twenty unique entities. 

How it shall go is that I'll give each entry an x out of five star rating then describe my thoughts...

 1 star - abysmal, I detest it
 2 star - meh and lacking 
 3 star - decent enough but doesn't capture me personally
 4 star - quite good but could use some tweaks
 5 star - perfect as is 

With that let's begin! 

Overall Thoughts

The book suffers most (in my opinion, I tend to value conciseness) from the often rather lengthy backstories filled with names that don't really matter or mean anything to the reader and which occasionally make it tricky to fit things into a world. However, the style still has its charms and broadly I found none of the entires to be terrible, at worst they were decently made and I personally just didn't find them inspiring. 

The 'mechanical' segments for each entity which describes its behaviors in various circumstances is one of the strongest elements I find and a readily pillagible template for anyone writing their own monster manual-esq construction.

Piece By Piece Breakdown


Voice of Despair
Starting off strong we've got a necromantic herald. I adore the aesthetics at play here of the slithering femur bone chain construct with stretched leather face flanked by skeletal minions. If one is not inclined to use the dark arbiter its a fairly easy matter of assigning the creature some other overlord. Combat wise things are excellently dynamic, with skeletal minions, and various unique ways the Voice acts (I particularly like that it will burrow and hide in soft soils if it can, emerging later). As well, while the Voice doesn't have too many motivations of its own, its got enough personality to make a decent and enticing social encounter. 

Tungle
Another strong entry, a bit of a backstory (a running theme we'll see, not exactly superfluous as it lends to understanding the creature, but the players are unlikely it interacts or find out its exact origins) and a wonderfully soldi base. Strange pathetic little tangle of flesh that hates people and attacks them with shadow puppets. The behaviors it employs and the nature of the shadows make for delightfully dynamic combat. I quite like that it defaces corpses, funny, telling of its personality, and an excellent tell for its presence. 

Tribunal
Aesthetically the Tribunal doesn't quite do it for me and its backstory is a bit convoluted. Normally I would fit a more cosmically strange/ethereal creature in for arbiter of ancient outdated cosmic laws, however my aesthetically predilections aside its well made. Presenting a strongly social encounter players must navigate. Its given a crap toon of abilities that make it a beast in combat because it's supposed to be a titanic lizard thing of death that serves god's will which I think has the pleasant effect of encouraging parley at low levels, much like a dragon. Once again minions are at play, always good those. And I quite enjoy the trio aspect of its personality, makes conversations more fun. Making the tribunal so incredibly hard to kill does feel a might bit overkill in some regards but I think since most of the 'overkill' bits would generate more opportunities for play (like servants of god coming to retrieve and revive its body) it works.

Sweaty Fingers
Well that illustration makes me visceral uncomfortable (in a good way) arrogant, self obsessed, greasy essentially just humans. Thematically strong though I would have liked some more social organizations or peculiarities to add some oomph. As it stands they feel like aesthetically/thematically reskinned humans. Good but not great. Needs just a bit more. 

(Minor sidenote: I think the language around 'narcissism' for the entry could change since in reality people with NPD aren't automatically evil terrible people and one does not need to posses empathy to behave like a good person. Some quick language changes should work like swapping empathy for compassion. Since narcissism is more colloquial known I don't think this is the big of showstopper, just a thought) 

Sprat
Now this is a wizard-did-it combination horror done right, I'd honestly put this right up there with owlbears and it fits delightfully in with them, filling a 'pack hunting magical abomination' where owlbears fill a 'giant brute' position. The list of diseases to be inflicted is a delight with each one being quite evocative and creative (though rather terminal at times) and their behavior is well fleshed out with several tantalizing hooks and implications that can be expounded upon in play.

Pacifist
A good encounter but somewhat tricky to incorporate, I wonder if allowing them to be summoned by wizard types and like would prove more utilitous. Things get interesting looking at the list of potential weapons stuck in it, as it shows a hypocrisy in the creature. As well, I can see a good deal of fun coming out of players and their opponents arguing back and forth trying to convince the creature which side it should fight for.

Muldar
These otherworldly game pieces don't really do it for me as an entry, I think you could have fun with them in a game, perhaps as a weird encounter in some gonzo world, but I don't think there's enough interactivity or inspiration to justify a full padded out entry. Would work better as smaller one paragraph thing. That said it's not a bad entry, just not justifying itself in my opine.

Medimisiac
Possibly my favorite, a fucked up possessed corpse in a coffin that drags itself along murdering doctors by sinking them into the ground till they suffocate alive. Amazingly solid vibes, unique combat, I think the only improvement I would suggest is that the medimisiac should ask for doctors in a broken sort of way, to give players a hint of what it's after and generate some interaction (and give em a 'oh shit' moment if they pass the creature and later hear about healers being murdered) All together I love the creature.

Mechanoman
An excellent one off encounter it does make, arriving in a blaze of chaos with a clear mission. But I have trouble imagining how to use it scenarios beyond showing up, wrecking shit, and then being defeated/leaving without getting rather creative and straying from the text. All together however I can see myself dropping this fellow into a game and just running with it. Chrononauts with missions are always a delight.

Marionetteer
A neat backstory (though it could be pared down to 'the lonely, purposeless construction of a wizard') with a strong aesthetic. Behavior is well defined though not particularly generative of hooks on its own (I think it would make for a good encounter when thrown into a dungeon however where its friendly nature would make it an excellent potential ally faction among others). Also I want to give the marionetteer a hug. Poor thing needs friends.

Lizunders
I really like the idea here, however it doesn't grab me. Much like with the Muldar the basic premise is good, but much of the entry feels like padding, it could easily be condensed down and maintain evocativeness. 

Giant Tiddy
What it says on the tin :P Very strong personality and aesthetics. Minions are always great, and the method through which the tiddy tries to make the players dependents makes for some excellent roleplaying potential. Its death effects area nice capstone touch. Might be tricky to incorporate into a setting but if you're building things with the intent of putting this thing in your all good. Solid entry.

Gevono
The backstory is rather overwrought with specific names and what not, but the premise is solid. A being invisible to god should play delightfully if you can work it into your world. Her interaction with her followers is also excellent, with many simply following her chaos to loot and kill at their whim. Aesthetically I don't quite vibe with her but the spiral of arms is an excellent start, and tearing enemies limb from limb is deliciously brutal. I like her death throes that turns her into a singularity. 

Flip-Face
Combination personalities are always good fuel for games. The theme of abandoned art is delightful but I don't feel that flip-faces features tie into the subject too well. It would be cool if it like mustard unfinished works of art to attack or it followed its purpose and opened up before clamping onto peoples faces suffocating them. Funnily Flip-Face feels like a pokemon to me.

Faithful Progeny
It took me two read-throughs to grasp these fellows, and I do enjoy the premise but eh, feels like another case of a good idea padded out with not a lot of interaction. Funnily enough they feel a fit for UVG, retuning the wisps to be psychic ghosts of these ancient monuments and fitting the progeny's hatred for humans into UVG's whole diversity of peoples makes it work much better I think. 

Dynamite Lady
My favorite after the medimisiac, magically created assassin driven by a sulfurous heat who relentlessly hunts down target and explodes afterward is just such a solid package, and wonderfully easy to drop into a game world. The 'fan cult' that follows the dynamite lady around is also an excellent touch, I know exactly how to characterize those and they add further dynamism to dealing with this entity. Sole critique is that I personally don't particularly like the art for this entry. Otherwise fantastic.

Dave
Always here for clones, the tables are useful, facilitating easy generation of a bunch of different Dave's. The entry does lack a bit of a coherent hook, leaving matters rather up to the reader but in this case I don't think its to bad since its presented as a more tangible mystery. (perhaps I am biased however, as I find a clone army of Daves funny).

Buzz Swarmington Esquire 
An excellent example of how juxtapositions makes for more memorable, unique, and dynamic entities. Rot, filth, and decay but with the sensibilities of aristocracy. Swarmington is well set up for easy placement as a faction, strong goals, methodology, and personality. It would be quite simple to toss him into a world prime for interaction with players. I particularly like that his goals are transformative, so properly played along he could have substantial impact in a game. (also he feels like a good fit for an electric bastion land game).

Baby Thief
A very evocative and rightly creepy creature, but even with the generous backstory I found myself having difficulty imagining using it in play without substantial effort into incorporating it. Theres not much intractability I find. I think that in the hands of someone who 'got' this entry it could make for some good game play, but alas I am not that. The entry is solid in its aesthetics, behavior, and theme however.

Automated People Pruner
This is one of the entries that is decently crafted, but rather odd to fit into a world. Its behavior provides for an interesting encounter (made further interesting by its malfunction) but the backstory is an odd fit since it implies much but there's little for players to find out. If one were doing a quite gonzo world it could work decently as a random encounter, but I think it needs some more hooks. Running it with a more alien morality system could be fun.

***

Overall my personal favorites were the Medimisiac, Tungle, Sprat, Dynamite Lady, Voice of Despair, and Buzz Swarmington Esquire. With several runners up. Its a solid book overall definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Achaierai - My Edition


Achaierai

Devil bird possessing a spherical head-body atop four mighty legs
  • Brought up from some infernal realm long ago by onerous summonings. 
  • Moves with long, speedy strides.
  • Attacks with its clawed legs each one as tough as a bull.
  • Its soft head-body is held high above most blows, and its legs are metallic.
  • In dire straits it vents a cloud of caustic black smoke and flees.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

King Of Cats

Why Medieval Cats Look Like… That | by Rae Paoletta | Tenderly

King Of Cats

Feline potentate, ruler of all cats domesticated and wild. Your words are law, your declarations fact, your paw iron. Not that that means much, cats being an unruly bunch with little regard for authority.

Meine: Arrogant (moreso than most cats)
Items: Big ol' Fancy Crown 

Loyal Retainers
  1. A one eyed calico, cunning in strategy and war, your general.
  2. A treasure hoarding hairless, your master of coin.
  3. Chubby black cat, your lethargic master of assassins and secrets.
  4. Sweet looking tabby cat able to win anyone over, your propaganda minister.
  5. The dog, a grinning fool and traitor come to serve you.
  6. The human, your long suffering royal advisor.
Grand Agendas
  1. Construct a palace of great comfort and many high places to perch. 
  2. Bring low the arrogant lions, show them their place beneath your kingship.
  3. Wage war on the Lord of Birds and his subjects.
  4. Illegalize the foul drug catnip.
  5. Destroy your rival, the Rat King.
  6. Aquire funds to fuel your decadent lifestyle of belly-rubs and fine fish.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Dark Creeper - My Edition


Dark Creeper

Short, light hating thieves hidden under many-layered cloaks, turbans, and wraps
  • Are greatly pained by bright light and will whisper a spell to extinguish all lamps, torches, and fires near them when going about their thievery.
  • Kill only when necessary, preferring to 'repossess' desired items by subtler means, if forced into violence they will freely employ hit and run tactics and the numerous magical items they have acquired.
  • Hide stolen matchboxes, pilfered magical trinkets, and other items in their copious pockets.
  • Violently combust upon death.
An odd people from the far-off City of Dreams. Can be found in small cadres pursuing esoteric agendas for their shadowy masters. Sporadically work with others if it suits their purposes but prone to suddenly abandoning allies. Occasionally one might meet their agents hunting a rogue cadre.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Sword Gremlin

Nathan Dupouy 

Sword Gremlin

You are a short, nay tiny little thing, a child? a goblin? specifics don't matter, what does is that you have a huge fuckoff sword, and a disposition to use it.

Meine: Purposeful & Urchin-y
Items: scrappy clothes, huge sword + scabbard, a memento

What allows you to wield such a massive sword with such ease?
  1. Magical enchantments upon its blade.
  2. A helpful spirit's hand.
  3. Sheer willpower.
  4. You're stronger than you look.
Why do you wield this sword?
  1. An ancestral mission you must complete.
  2. Revenge for a wrong committed.
  3. You enjoy fighting a lil' too much.
  4. To return it to its original owner, a mighty warrior.
What unique feature sets this sword apart?
  1. It speaks to you, consoling and chiding.
  2. The blade writhes with flame.
  3. It tugs you through the air, almost as if it could fly.
  4. Only it can cut your skin.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Fiend Folio Review M-Q

YOU THOUGHT IT HAD BEEN FORGOTTEN BUT ITS BACK
Phew this book is longer than I remember.

Magnesium Spirit
Seems extremely overpowered, pretty much no means of interaction besides fighting (and tbh it doesn't sound like it make for a good fight) could be much improved if perhaps the spirit still did its whole 'fight to take over a host body' shtick but then has to take time preparing its complex ritual to return it home. Giving players options to disrupt, negotiate, etc...

Mantari
Its a flying manta ray that murders people... well its not the worst... not very interesting either.

RETRO REVIEW-AD&D Fiend Folio (1981) - Forum - DakkaDakka | Roll the dice  to see if I'm getting drunk.

Meazel
Solid. A tricksy foe, signposting via 'sacks full of bones' near their lairs, a unique attack (garroting, which suits its sneaky ambush demeanor well). Could use one or two more bits. Maybe a specific item that they go after/want to steal? Or some interaction with another creature/people (besides just 'they want to kill it').

Meenlock
Creatures which transform (or try to anyway) characters are always great, and this one's got a strong location to go with it, neat tactics (paralyzation + trying to extinguish light), the hunting is good. Biggest flaws is that 1) why would adventurers go to shaft (besides curiosity) 2) the transformation into meenlock should have more intractability, perhaps proceeding slowly in stages so it could be stopped?


Mephit
I love mephitis, their serve excellently as like 'elemental imps' and their cheerfully vulgar demeanor is wonderful, they'd make a good greek chorus to throw into a game. I particularly love this bit "if they can obtain them... they will wear clothes of the most garish design and colour possible." Oh and of course this "They are often seen puffing upon smoking rolls of exceedingly foul-smelling dried vegetation" (mephit's smoke weed y'all)


Mezzodaemon
I like Mezzodaemons their a bit messy and lack a strong identity but a kernel of excellence is there, and the bug fella illustration is amazing. Mostly the entry needs focus, I've rewritten it a few times myself choosing to play various abilities. 

Mite
This is just another Meazel but with more traps? The two should just be rolled together.

The Necrophidius from Fiend Folio - by Alan Hunter | Advanced dungeons and  dragons, Dungeons and dragons, Fantasy art

Necrophidus
Magical dancing skeleton snake that dances you to death love it. Silly and awesome.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 232 | RPGnet  Forums

Needleman
Excellent, pulpy creature that's not what you'd expect. I'd run this thing so players assume its some ghoulish zombie thing stumbling through the woods then NEEDLES. Very fun. 

Nilbog
Could be fun to make players carefully think out their actions to get rid of this nuisance, or couple it with some 'normal' goblins who're using this one's abilities to their advantage. Though I would make it so the actions players take are reversed, rather than them being compelled to do things so they retain their agency. Feels very goblin all around. I like it.

Nonafel 
Solid beastie if only a combat encounter mostly, you should be able skin it and use its fur to mimic the duplication ability.

Norker
??? Its just an aesthetically different kind of tough hobgoblin ???

Nycadaemon
They don't really have anything unique to them. Just a kind of generic higher level demon/devil.

Ogrillon
What if an ogre but with next to no of an ogres unique traits.


Osquip
These things are grotesque and I love them. Could use some more interactive bits though. Maybe people train them as attack animals. Maybe they hold vendettas. Something to add some more interaction.

Penanggalan
Wayyyyy to much text >:P great otherwise, classic monster (seriously though why is there so much text for this one?????).

Pernicon
Love insects, water finding antenna, pincer attack that sticks fast even when they're dead. All solid.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 251 | RPGnet  Forums

Phantom Stalker
The illustration is a bit at odds with the text, looks more like some kind of pulp biotech spaceman rather than an elemental spirit. I'd flavor things more ifrit like (and steal the illustration for other purposes) but otherwise this one's pretty neat. Bound spirit to a wizard, clause that makes it hunt the party down after its masters death. Could use a clear way to communicate this to the players however, maybe the wizard and the spirit have a big glowing sigil on their heads that any wizardly sort could tell is a 'revenge' charm or something like that.

Poltergeist 
Ghosts always have lots of potential though the passage squanders it a bit by just having the ghost 'attack' and drive away any who comes near its haunt. Needs more interactivity.

Protein Polymorph
This is just a more shoggoth-y mimic.

Quaggoth
Hairy ape people? Theres really not anything unique here that distinguishes them from any other pulp style hairy ape person. The illustration and name are nice enough I guess.

💯 {Staff Pick} - [Let's Read] AD&D 1e Fiend Folio | Page 255 | RPGnet  Forums

Quipper
I kinda like these things for some reason, they have a good name. But otherwise they're pretty bland, bitey fish. Meh. 

Qullan
Insane naked savages (implied to be inhuman as well by the text) who do nothing but attack on sight are... not great to put it lightly :I The confusion ability is kinda of neat, might steal that and build some kind of special magically cursed warrior out of it. Otherwise I'll pass on this one.

Slowly, we are inching towards the end.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

MMnMM & Apotheosis Janitors Review: Into the Wendiverse

The following is a review of two new games written by Wendi Y. (who is definitely not a close friend of mine, biasing this review, nope) both games use a unique house system created by Wendi, lacking a name for this structural frame she has brewed up I shall be calling it the Wendiverse.

It takes a mixture of traits from OSR, PbtA, FKR, and others, creating an intriguingly innovative framework in the process. I personally particularly like the Needs, Wants, and Beats mechanics/procedures which quite nicely allow for characters to have a freeform 'character arc' without many of the traditional drawbacks in trying to accomplish such a feat.


Marvelous Mutations & Merry Musicians

Or as its abbreviated MMnMM :P a wonderful setting (and system) book for a gonzo post-post apocalyptic world of wandering musicians and strange musical magics. 

I love the setting, its delightfully over the top and fun but loose so you can toy with it.

Mechanically the Wendiverse framework is lightweight, taking after games like Messerspiel with a dice pool based resolution system, but taking a sort of story focused bent embodied by the Needs/Wants/Beats mechanics. This in particular I think has a lot of potential, you can even chop out the numbers/dice and it works fantastically. I've been stealing it for my own stuff since I read it. The mechanic lets players direct and decide their characters own development and potentially character arcs without manhandling the game  or stepping on other players toes.

If I must make one criticism, its that it doesn't have as clear player goals as Apotheosis Janitors at start. However the premise of 'wandering musicians' lends itself well to the creation of conflict, and there are ample tools within for generating adventure.

And of course the whole thing is fantastically, nay, decadently filled with images of Wendi's own conjuring and creation. I fucking adore the mushroom man playing an accordion and the purple octopus saxophone player. 

Oh did I mention the pdf is completely free? Because Wendi is awesome.

MMnMM also currently has an adventure jam (or should I say a Bop) happening.


Apotheosis Janitors 

This game has the delightful premise of being the acolytes of a 'god', who is fact an ascended mortal, charged with the dirty work of wiping away the evidence of your god's non-godly origins. For me this is a very strong premise for a game as it immediately gives a strong thoroughline.

This game is the first of the Wendiverse (and co-made with ContrabandRimer) and you can see framework beginning to take shape. It lacks the Beats mechanic of MMnMM but has its own unique system tidbit for praying to your god. As well as tools for building your cult and its doctrines. Furthermore, the book features a factions section which provide loose templates for notable factions of the game world which can be easily customized while retaining the same shape and theme. I particularly like the way these factions are formatted.

And of course Apotheosis Janitors is also free and decadently layed-out.

Closing Thoughts

The Wendiverse framework is quite versatile for engaging in a variety of worlds with its play style, and easily hackable to boot since most of the work is merely in writing up the setting details. And both of the games written so far are wonderfully evocative and easy to pick up and play. I really hope to see this system being used more in the future.

Wendi is at this moment working on another project, an urban fantasy game focused on what are traditionally considered monsters through a queer lens. It's looking quite fantastic already and has even more tools for building the world than MMnMM or Apotheosis Janitors.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Slushpost Mark 5.


Slosh swoosh goes the slush.
  1. Peacocks are prized by illusionists, their bluster and 'eyed' feathers fit quite the metaphorical bill when it comes to their deceptive magic.
  2. A giant underground lake that is entirely one massive gelatinous ooze/slime. It is sentient and speaks by vibrating its massive surface like a giant jello speaker. Philosophical by nature, the creature enjoys conversation and ponderation. Perhaps the players must convince it to tense up its surface so they can walk across.
  3. Ignatius Agni Ferrous, the godling of flame, fire, and smelting. 
  4. There are statues of the tyrant sorcerer-king everywhere, as way posts, road signs, in random fields, many for some reason seem to have their eyes gouged out, this is because the sorcerer king spies on his kingdom through the eyes of the statues.
  5. Elves are a type of lungfish cloaked in glamours to appear human-esq.
  6. Road priests with plumb lines and surveyors tools making sure things are level.
  7. Road gods in great road palaces in the spirit realms, the maintenance and traffic of a road determines the gods prestige/appearance/retinue and etc...
  8. The grave goods you are buried with determine your wealth and comfort in the afterlife. Likewise, stealing grave goods will change the status of someone in the afterlife. Pillage a king's tomb and vwoop they become a pauper in the afterlife. Also/or dead people will manifest helpfully to those who gave them proper grave goods/the bigger the treasure buried the more helpful they can be, this applies even to enemies, they are honor bound to help you.
  9. Background: A zoologists who studies the ecology of superorganisms, specifically corporations and states, those huge living systems.
  10. A culture where polycule partner chains (partner A - partner B - partner C) form the basis of a family unit, family units are very wide but not necessarily deep.
  11. Space travel based on constellations, depending on whose you use you get access to different routes.
  12. The first humans were made of dough by the gods.
  13. Burglar is an incredibly underutilized word.
  14. Maces and thwack sticks as an important cultural weapon.
  15. Despite the stereotypical 'blood for the blood god' sounding name, the Broken Vein Cult is actually famed for its hospitals, surgeons and addict support programs.
  16. Big ferrets instead of guard dogs, writhing around on the ends of their leads.
  17. Unweight - a floating/anti-gravitational liquid substance.
  18. Gutter Vampire.
  19. "Wrong side of the grass" as an euphuism for being dead or in some cases being undead.
  20. Oyur, a half frozen land of war-goat riding reavers trapped between the polar lords of the north, and the empires of the south.  
  21. The city of Mahket.
  22. There are five seasons; blooming, sporefall, scorching, dimming, and blackness.
  23. A mystery cult where their esoteric secrets are special math, not magical math, just fancy calculus and stuff that know one but them knows.
  24. Item: A hunk of limestone, nearly a cube, 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter, riddled with fossils and possessing a great big cleft down the side. When wetted it bleeds Cambrian wildlife. Scuttering trilobites, waving crinoids, mollusks, sponges, brachiopods all pouring out of the fissure. It ceases once dry.
  25. Every year at noon on the solstices, a great tower rotates it's way up out of the earth, by midnight it will rotate back down.
  26. Yoinkershins, tiny thieving creatures, spidery and batlike, that snatch up items of interest (shiny things mainly) and store them in extra-dimensional nests. Used by trans-dimensional travelers in a similar manner to how sailors spy birds to tell if land is nearby.
  27. Steal the statues of the gods (which are the literal gods, or their abodes at least) to imprison and hold hostage a peoples gods.
  28. A culture where women dress drab and men dress colorfully and fancifully like birds of paradise.
  29. It is common practice for opponents engaging in honorable battle to play a round of cards first, both to perhaps deescalate tensions and resolve the conflict without blood shed and to determine who shall get to have the first blows. This tradition originated as part of one on one duels but nowadays even king's will meet before a battle to play a game.
  30. The clothing of choice for sophont bat-people is clearly the waistcoat. It has pockets, it allows for ornamentation, but it doesn't interfere with their wings. Bats. In waistcoats. Get on it people.
  31. An ancient city of mechanical men stuck in their routines but also subtly evolving, breaking forth. People come to the city to pillage it and study it. On occasion some of the mechanical men leave to explore the world. 
  32. Arquebusiers, their matchlocks swaddled in oilcloth and held high above their heads, wade through a bog past towering ruins of glass and steel. Their frog-folk guide weaves the mist out of their way and closes it behind them in a sticky mist web to block their pursuers.
  33. The king has commissioned a new headpiece, a metal 'crown' first of its kind.
  34. The current monarch and her royalist forces have been overthrown by the parliamentarian army and its dreadful dictator-general who reigns with terror over the land, the peasants stir in dissent against both regimes.
  35. The king has been shipwrecked, presumed dead, a crisis of secession has sprung forth. But the king is not dead in fact, what will happen when he returns?
  36. Frog/salamander/fish folk must apply moisturizing goop to themselves to keep from drying out.
  37. A tall city of spires and bridges, deep in its underbelly among the middens, the gong farmers are one of the city's biggest factions, threatening to stop their work and see the upper echelons overflowing with refuse and waste if their demands are not met.
  38. Bandit camels... wizard camels... shapeshifting camels... camels...
  39. Wooden (or perhaps metal) slat tokens carried & worn that represent social status/worth. Kept track of by bureaucrat-priests who assess your worth based on arcane ledgers.
  40. A mountain, neatly bisected by perfectly straight walled canyon. The work of an ancient super weapon. Far in the distance another mountain similarly bisected. And another. And then a great gouge in the earth, now filled with water.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Three Strange Cities


Bilbiring Town

It sits on the border of two provinces, appearing only at night as a black city of glistening stone and shining golden lights. It is said its inhabitants are descended from shape-changing spirits who intermarried with humans, this heritage distinguishes them with the conspicuous lack of a nose. Each third night of the month all the local townsfolk from the two provinces to either side of Bilbiring row their boats, laden with goods, out to the glistening black city to do trade and make merry love with its inhabitants.

Smeerenburg

In the cold north waters, far from shore, through the mists, following the smell of boiling blubber on the breeze, you can find the city. Its harbor crowded with strange ships, the clapboard houses rising up around the tryworks, brothels, and blacksmiths. Odd blubbers are sold here. Products of things which one might hazard to call whales. And even odder are the many manners of whaler, cloaked in oilskins which conceal atypical bodies.

Esrever

It is a country of reverse spires sunken into the ground, and of inhabitants who walk backwards and speak backwards and proceed through all of their life in reverse. Visitors are provided with charms, little necklace bells which ring before you shake them, that allow for interaction, though it remains a headache inducing process. Folk who peddle in the arts of harm oft covet the blades of Esrever, able to wound before a blow is made. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Some Alternate Histories

I have copied Throne of Salt once more.
  1. Repressive measures fail to curtail the Luddite movement, it spills over onto the continent.
  2. Moveable type printing flourishes in medieval India.
  3. Arab sailors discover the new world.
  4. The Monitor's guns manage to successfully sink the Merrimack. 
  5. Alexios I Komnenos decides against requesting aid from the Pope.
  6. The Zanclean Flood never happens and the Mediterranean remains dammed off from the ocean.
  7. The Arno river is successfully diverted.
  8. Rome delenda est.
  9. The Egyptians actually concretely write down where the hell the Land of Punt is.
  10. William the Bastard and his invading Norman army are drowned by an unexpected channel storm. 
  11. Horses remain undomesticated.
  12. Edward Lowe fails to invent cat litter.
  13. The Suez canal project fails due to lack of support, Suez Canal Company goes bankrupt.
  14. Camels invasive to North America.
  15. A successful Franco-Mongol alliance against the Caliphates is achieved.
  16. Adolphe Sax fails to escape to one of his numerous brushes with death. 
  17. The Ottomans win the Siege of Vienna.
  18. Saboteurs successfully destroy the Eiffel Tower at its opening.
  19. Iceland is settled by Basques.
  20. Atahualpa is warned against meeting with the conquistadors and instead ambushes them in the night, killing almost all of Pizarro's army and seizing their arms and armour. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Bundling Inventory

kyleferrin:
“Taking a quick break from adventuring to check the mail
”

An idea for a sort-of slot based inventory system I struck upon. Currently still in WIP phase.

A Bundling Inventory

All characters have 8 (or maybe 10) slots in their inventory. All items take up one slot. However you can 'bundle' items together if it would make sense to do so. Bundled items take time to retrieve and un-bundle. There are no fixed rules for this, use common sense and reference from your real life. For example you could use your helmet to carry a flask of holy water and some river stones. Or you could bundle three spears together to fill only one slot. A backpack might fit a good number of small items.

Assume that people do not have pockets (for most of human history people have not in fact had pockets in their clothes), so everything must be worn, carried, or held in something else.

An Example Inventory Of Some Dungeoneer --

1. Maille Hauberk
2. Skull of Saint Thomas (magic)
3. Shortsword
4. Backback; Soap; Journal; Purse; Bedroll; Torches; Stolen Gem
5. Helmet; Bag of Marbles; Flask of Holy Water
6. Knife; More Knife
7. Rope, 50ft
8. 

Thoughts on how to improve this?
(art is Kyle Ferrin

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Collaborative Biopunk FKR Setting


A collaborative (me and my good friend Wendi!) setting in the vein of d66 Classless Kobolds' challenge.

***

Genre: biopunk post-apocalyptic


Context: Ever so long ago the old world of metal and machinery faded away into this landscape of growing, thriving, modifying mechanorganic beings. Picture abandoned skyscrapers covered in organ-vines, cities built in the shells of long-dead Leviathans, seemingly bottomless caverns made of pulsing flesh. Biotech gone wild.


Almost all the tech you’d think of as made of shiny steel has its organic equivalent here, or has been taken over and twisted by a myriad of lifeforms in their own image. Here, the post-apocalyptic landscape is not the home of robotic overlords, nor a barren desert wasteland, but a vibrant, biting world where wildly different biomes overlap in seemingly random patterns while humans try to coexist with the remnants of a prior civilization that relied entirely on biotechnology and organic manipulation. Feisty meat wizards, lonesome spider shepherds, durable gut-rope harvesters, wandering mantis bladesmen, and so many others, all are welcome in this world. Because nature is anything but boring.


Random Tables: 

d12 modifications, mutations & quirks

1

1d6 eyes where they don’t usually belong

2

Chitinous exoskeleton with added pincers

3

Wings made of flesh (flightless, glide-only)

4

Ballistic Projectile teeth

5

Poly-ceramic armoured skin

6

1d6 extra limbs

7

Extra caustic hardened gut

8

Prehensile tail/s

9

Rebreather Parasite

10

Venom spit-sacs

11

Manipulatory tentacles/tendrils

12

A fungal colony that lives inside your brain and serves as a companion intelligence (not very smart)


d10 random encounters

1

Migrating lichen-beast forest

2

Questing spider-shepard

3

A pack of tripping mushroom-zombies

4

Parasitoid-infested old world Metal Demon

5

A mutated sapient flying snake

6

Veiled monks of the Genome Goddess, preachy

7

MEAT-MONGER of the Butchers Guild, suspicious

8

Caravan riding elephantine crab hybrids

9

An euphoric Sarcomancer

10

A group of desperate Corpse-Harvesters


d6 things you find in a Sarcomancer’s lair

1

Sentient tumour, mildly annoyed

2

Rapid-growth hormone spray

3

Scalpels and bonesaws

4

Detailed instructions on how to make a flesh golem

5

Ooze helper companion

6

Map to a place deep inside the Larvae Fields


d20 tech you can find here

1

Living buildings, self-repairing and -growing, but hungry

2

Radio-communication parasites

3

Adaptable, multi-use slime mold

4

Wasp gun

5

Spider-sheep silk textiles

6

Sentient, whispering bio-suits

7

Mining-modified plant roots

8

Portable Banshee sonic weaponry

9

Chitin-ceramic blades

10

Ant-derived wound stitchers

11

Gland-farming 

12

Pheromone Control Units

13

Kraken and Leviathan class sentient submersibles

14

Jellyfish Minefields

15

Squid-helmets

16

Meat Puppet Live Theatre

17

Fungus spore explosives

18

Ancestral memory storage in brain-banks

19

Bioluminescent plant light-sources

20

Single use implantable tapetum lucidum


https://surrealismtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/moebius-aka-jean-giraud-32-of-41.jpg


d8 places to visit

1

Cathedral of Decay

2

The brain-dead body of an ancient god, not dead but dreaming

3

Lady Long’s Lizard Lovers Lair

4

The Bottomless Caves of Flesh

5

The ruins of a pre-war biotech weapon manufactory

6

A cemetery of Failed Chimeras

7

Lichen Ribcage Forest

8

The Pit of the Ever-Glowing Slime


Tropes: 

  1. Biopunk is -punk. This means: radical, antifascist, anticapitalist, antinormative, DIY-inclined, loud, political. It’s about making the world a better place, not killing creatures and looting corpses (nothing wrong with that, just not what this is about). It’s about punching nazis, tearing down structures of oppression and having fun while doing it.

  2. Body-Modification. Forget those neonliberal tropes of “changing your body makes you less human” shit. Biopunk is all about doing whatever you want with that sack of flesh you’ve got. Want some boobs? Go get them. Maybe some horns, or a tail, maybe some prosthetic tentacles? No problem. Mutation is not an unwanted consequence, a sign of corruption or the horrible effects of magic gone awry - it’s a choice.

  3. Organic instead of metallic. Instead of machines, try to think about what their organic counterparts could be. Make up weird biotech. Think of fleshy pits instead of the same old rocky caverns. Life is weird and fascinating, try to push that up to 11. Why firearms when you could have flesh-eating squid launchers?

  4. Humanity is part of nature. Forget the nonsense anthropocentric idea of a nature/humanity divide. We’re part of it, even if we try to pretend we aren’t. And in this post-apocalyptic example, this is way more obvious and literal. What separates you from nature if you live in a symbiotic relationship with a sentient fungus? If all those skyscrapers are now so overrun with organ-vines that they’ve become part of its organism? If your ship has feelings, how do you treat it? This kind of setting invites us to questions like those. Your sword may be a sentient, pacifist companion. Your dead friend could suddenly come back, but different.

  5. The Weird and the Other are not necessarily scary, but fascinating. Why fear the unknown? The Weird and the Other here are things to be explored, things that shatter our understandings of the world. Embrace them.