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    The Raid


    The Raid


    Bodvar, Heidrek, Hersir and Olaf are the first four over the castle walls into the keep.


    Bodvar is an older warrior and leader of this raid. He is a tall mad, as are most of the Norsemen with him. His bear is plaited and white, though some blond can still be seen among the silver. He is an experienced warrior, still strong and quick, but also well trained and skilled with sword and shield. He bears a blade from eastern lands but his shield is plain. His armor is said to have been crafted by dwarves, the links do not rust and they dull the edge of swords as if the mail were stone. His helm is from the south and east. A great captain wore it and Bodvar looted it from his corpse after defeating him in desperate combat. His cloak is made by elves and the pin he wears is of gold that gives him strength.


    Heidrek stands behind his warchief. A lifelong companion to Bodvar and is his trusted lieutenant. He is immensely strong though not as quick as his friend. He too is grey and his hair is cut so short beneath his helm that only the tattoo on his skull of a raven in flight can be clearly seen. His axe returns to his hand if thrown, a thing of awesome magic, and his sword glows a bluish light if enemies are near. It always holds a keen edge and never dulls. The helm was crafted for him and always can he see in darkened rooms. No flare of light can blind him or illusion fool his eyes while he wears that helm. He bears no armor except a tunic soft as silk but strong as the breastplate of a Roman chief. His shield is made from the bones of great birds. It is light as a feather and like a feather it causes Heidrek to land if he should fall or jump from a height.


    Hersir is shorter than his companions. Once a thrall to Bodvar but long ago he proved his worth and paid his debt of servitude. Now he is one of the Warchief's sworn companions. His hair is dark, the grey just streaking his beard. He is furtive and quick, agile and a shadow in the darkness when he wants. Hersir acts as a scout. First upon the wall and through the door. His spear belonged to Hjalmar, a great man among his people, but he lived long and sat upon a throne when the Raven King called him to die in battle. Bodvar raided his hall and Hjalmar fell to Hersir's knife between the shoulders as he turned to run. Hersir claimed his spear, true and sharp enough to pierce a Dragon's hide. His sword looks plain but at word it will dance before and fight as a battle-brother beside him. His dagger is a terrible weapon said to have been taken from the cold realm of Hel. A cut from the blade can freeze a man in place. It smokes like warm breath on a cold day when it is drawn. His shield was crafted by fire spirits and no touch of flame will harm Hersir while he bears it. His armor is simple padded stuff, but strong as chain and light as a thin shirt. His helm is taken from a mounted warrior chief of the Dumnonii. When wearing it no stone, bolt or arrow can touch him.


    Olaf is thin, but wiry and still strong though he is older than the others. He was a boon companion to Bodvar's brother and serves him loyally, but he has heard the Raven King's call and no seeks glorious death in battle. His gear and weapons are simple. His shield is always on his back as he wants the honor of seeing his deathwound and his slayer. His sword, his sword is of great power. It can shear through armor as if it were cloth. It is called Dvergar's Kiss and it sings a song that gives strength to Olaf and all his companions when it takes a life or severs a limb. Olaf does not plan to return from this raid.

    Posted: 09-29-2020 08:09 pm
    The Sorceress of Karn


    The Sorceress of Karn


    The banks of the Crystal River stand high during the summer drought. Higher still are the walls of Karn, city of pleasure and delight. Karn has no single ruler. So prolific are the mages, necromancers, sorcerers, wizards and enchantresses within its walls that a parliament of magic presides over Karn and the surrounding lands. The greatest of these wielders of magic is chosen to rule for a single year before passing the scepter (a simple unenchanted iron rod that bears no mark and whose power resides only in the strength that the parliament allows those who have been chosen to bear it).

    This year, the year of the Feathered Serpent, the renowned enchantress D'lana has been chosen as ruler, a sign of her personal ability and the growing strength of her guild. While all members of the parliament practice the craft only the most skilled are welcomed among the Dreamshapers, a young guild, but growing with a vitality that many of the old and well-established guilds have lost.

    Posted: 09-29-2020 07:00 pm
    The Catacombs of Ptolemides (revised) - 1


    The Catacombs of Ptolemides (revised) - 1


    Ptolemides was once a proud Hellenic city-state, but the world shook, the great island kingdom of Atlantis sank beneath the waves and Ptolemides found itself cut from the world that it once knew. Today, though the exact when and where of Ptolemides is a question much debated by the cities philosophers, the city seems becalmed on the edge of a great void, a crossroads of places and times unimagined. The seas have changed and beyond the farmlands that surround and feed the city are the mists and into the mists few will go, and out the mists come strangers.


    Beneath the city are the catacombs. The dead were taken and interred among the passages for centuries, but it is no longer used, no longer safe. The temple of Thanatos has somehow become lost amid the endless winding passages and chambers. Some say that they feel his presence even in the sewers and deeper chambers of the city. Some say that they have seen the God himself, though few believe. Those that see Thanatos do not return.


     "And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings, Sleep and Death, awful gods. The glowing Sun never looks upon them with his beams, neither as he goes up into heaven, nor as he comes down from heaven. And the former of them roams peacefully over the earth and the sea's broad back and is kindly to men; but the other has a heart of iron, and his spirit within him is pitiless as bronze: whomsoever of men he has once seized he holds fast: and he is hateful even to the deathless gods." (Hesiod)


    The people of the city rarely go to the catacombs, but the strangers are drawn to its stygian depths. Ptolemides accepts these strangers as it has accepted the changing sky where the stars dance and the moon is too bright, and too near. Walls have been built around the precincts of the city where the entrance to the catacombs can be found. A tax is charged for entrance, a tax on the strangers and their goods, and a tax on what the strangers take from the catacombs, those that return.


    Among the people of the mists word has spread of the riches to be found in the catacombs of Ptolemides, of the dangers and the challenge. Those seeking wealth, adventure and renown make the trip to Ptolemides. The city thrives on the coin they bring, but looks down on these people of different worlds and different times.


    The know entrance to the catacombs is a gated cave set in an empty hillside. Once the temple of Thantos sat upon that hill, but in the night when the world shook it vanished and left only the open cave behind. Around the cave are now shops and inns that serve those who would enter the cave. Here can be found rest and gear, weapons and armor, temples to strange gods and shrines covered in offerings for those who have not returned. The cave itself is guarded by soldiers of Ptolemides and a tax is collected on all those who would enter. There is a second gate deeper into the cavern, and here those who would seek to leave the catacombs must pay a tithe on all that they have gathered from below. The entrance is well guarded and fortified, not only to bar the way of travelers and collect the tax, but also to protect the city from what might emerge from below.


    Here begins the revised adventure The Catacombs of Ptolemides

    Posted: 09-28-2020 01:29 pm
    Thurn


    Thurn


    The old dwarven fortress, Thurn, lay abandoned for over a century; its gates thrown down and overgrown; its halls ringing empty with the ghostly sound-memories of its past. It had fallen to an attack that came from within and without, from beneath the earth and from the sky. Age old enemies aligned against them. Proud and alone they fell.


    The halls were well looted but parts of the mountain fortress were brought down atop the heads of the victors when the final traps of dwarven engineers were sprung and much of the famed treasures, the great hoard of gold, and jewels were buried with the dead in an avalanche of stone. Over the years many came and searched, some found, some died, some disappeared, but most left Thurn emptyhanded enriched only by disappointment.


    Then came the Orcs of the Red Dwarf Skull. Twofist Headhammer had been chieftain for a half a dozen years, though he had not counted the passing of time; strength and brutality were his strongpoints, not reflection or thought. Instead seasons came and went and Twofist marked them only by the victories he had won and the heads he had broken, the skulls added to the shamans' story-spears that told the tale of the tribe and gave courage to its warriors.

    Each story-spear held a half score skulls, their bony pates carved with crude orcish runes, the sockets for their eyes holding red-dyed stones of wakefulness, ever alert to the approach of foes. Clamped between their evergrinning teeth were the mummified hands of orcish dead; a reminder to all the cost these beheaded foemen had made the tribe pay.  Only the skulls of those who had slain a tribesman in combat were worthy to be added to a story-spear.


    Atop the chieftain's spear was the oldest of the fleshless and grinning heads; a thick-boned dwarven skull, yellow as a horse's tooth. It sat alone at the base of the spear-blade, crude black stone that glistened like water and bled rust. It seeped across the ancient dwarven skull staining it a deep brownish red. What runes there might have been on that skull could not be seen, the blood of the stone masked them long ago. No written word was needed to tell the tale of the chieftain's story-spear. The spirit of the long dead chieftain whose withered hand was clamped firmly in the dwarven king's teeth and the spirit of the dwarven king himself would speak when the moons were full and the shamans told the story of the spears danced the summoning ritual before the gathered tribes.


    Change has come to the wandering tribe of the Red Dwarf Skull. Twofist heard the call of a great earth-spirit, felt the chilling touch of the countless dead beneath the mountain and claimed the empty halls of Thurn for themselves. He sits upon the broken rock throne of the dwarves and dreams. Soon he will awake.


    The Tribe of the Red Dwarf Skull


    Chief Twofist Headhammer:


    Twofist is a large orc, but more than just big, strong and brutal, he has an instinctual cunning and he is called by something greater than himself. He knows no fear and fights without mercy. He values the lives of his warriors as coin but he is generous with his enemies willing to spend his followers if needed for victory. Now he sits upon the ancient dwarven throne like a miser, hoarding the strength of the tribe while he dreams and what he dreams would shame a dragon. He can sense the wealth buried beneath the mountain, it calls to him, stronger than bloodlust, stronger than the spirit urge to breed, stronger than the ghost-brew of madness given by the shamans. His dreams speak of uniting the orcish tribes that wander, the scampering goblins that infest the nearby caves and hills. He dream of conquest and an army of slaves from the human lands to dig and dig till their bones floor the halls and their skulls pile high as the mountain.


    Weapons:


    The Chief's Story-Spear


    The chief's spear is a magic blade. It bleeds rust and a touch will taint weapons and armor. The taint spreads fast and will affect non-magical weapons and armor after a successful strike causing them to suffer a -1 modifier to hit and damage or a +1 to AC. This accumulates every round till the weapon or piece of armor becomes a useless lump of rust. Enchanted items of +1 or +2 have a saving throw against the taint. A save means no effect and even if the save is failed that taint does not spread on enchanted items, but every strike by the spear will require another save and each failed save adds to the damage that the taint will cause. Items of +3 or with major enchantments are immune to the taint.

    Weapons that successfully hit the chief while he carries the spear are subject to the taint.


    The spear defends the chief adding a +2 benefit to his AC and radiating a 10ft protection from Good. It is a +2/+4 against dwarves weapon and all orcs who are within sight of it gain +1 to hit.

    The tribe is organized is this manner;


    Chief

    Head-Shamaness (All Shamans are female)

    Sub-Chief

    Clan Shamans (each keeps the individual clan's story-spears)

    Clan Leaders (Currently there are 9 clans within the tribe, most are interconnected families but one tribe is composed of orcs who have left other tribes to join the Red Dwarf Skull tribe. The last clan is composed of a hodge-podge of goblinoid creatures who are allied with the tribe but not actually part of it. They have no story-spear but  do have their own shamans).

    Posted: 09-27-2020 03:42 pm
    The Smoking Mountain


    The Smoking Mountain


    The badlands south-east of the Empire was once a prosperous realm dotted with freeholdings, towns, small cities, manors, fortresses and farms. A curving range of mountains protected its own eastern border; a broad and fast moving river came down from those same mountains in the north and formed a lake which separated it from the dense forests and the wildlands and tribes that dwelt within that leafy demise. To the west the small kingdoms not yet aligned with the Empire posed no threat and the south opened on the Salt Sea.


    Then the world shook, the mountain screamed, the sky darkened. Ash fell like snow and a river of fire flowed from the east swallowing all in its path. At first the land died; crops, animals, people, cities, towns and fortresses. None could survive near the mountains, few survived even within sight of the cloud wrapped peaks, now plumed with black and the glint of burning red inside.


    Seasons passed, a year, then another. Travelers began to cross the old roads, land at the southern ports, explore the empty and ruined keeps and manors. Farmers returned to the edges of the old lands and discovered fields of grain growing wild and thick, flowers like a cascade of a hundred springtimes, animals more plentiful than had been seen in the east since the legends of the first men who'd discovered the western lands. But though the land flourished it was no longer man's, no longer empty and what had come to claim this flourishing land were creatures that no tale had ever told of, no legend or dream had ever conceived. From the depth of the earth had spewed creatures, things, monsters who now thrived in the open air and bright sunshine. Hunted and danced in the moonlight, wondered at the stars, and now lusted for the world which man had thought of as his own.

    Posted: 09-26-2020 07:35 pm
    The Hunt for Delos Quinn

     The Hunt for Delos Quinn


    The Duke of Gillead sends his bailiffs after the notorious thief and highwayman Delos Quinn.


    Ganiff Breithem leads his men through the Finnen Woods in pursuit of Delos Quinn who escaped from the cells beneath Heartstone Keep the day before his execution. The party consists of two local foresters as trackers and half a dozen armed baliffs. The foresters are father and son, the father an experienced woodsmen and archer while his son is still learning the trade. Ganiff's men are veterans of both melee and brawl, but none, not even Ganiff himself, are well versed in the use of the bow.


    Delos on the otherhand is not a woodsman but knows his way around the crossbow, which three of his compatriots have provided for him. The four have set an ambush just within the entrance to a small glade where the ground rises and spring near the top feeds a small waterfall and pond. 

    Posted: 09-26-2020 11:34 am
    The Faceless Brotherhood


     The Faceless Brotherhood


    An unlikely trio of two dark elves and a winged man guard an etheric gateway between the void and the material plane.


    Travelers who by choice or by accident find themselves passing from our world through the multi-dimensional planes will sooner or later encounter the Faceless Brotherhood. These creatures, for only some are men or even humanoid at all, have had not only their features removed but also their identities. They have no mouth or ears and their eyes are only pits that glow with a bright light that flares and bleeds colors like a prism of flesh.


    Most often they are found at gateways. Offerings of true value, from gems to the true name of a demon or a story or even a wordless song, will guarantee safe passage. At times they will suddenly attack an individual or even a group, at others they will not raise a finger even at the cost of their own existence. On their deaths they burn from the inside out and all their possessions as well.


    Upon the nameless, infinite and sometimes unsubstantial planes between one dimension and the next can be found temples, fortresses and monasteries populated by the Faceless Brothers. Patrols and even small armies of them can be encountered, but what they are up to, what plans or goals they may have, are mysteries known only to themselves. 

    Posted: 09-25-2020 10:29 pm
    Blood, Lace, Steel, Honor and the Outer Dark - Musketeers 3

    Etienne L'Fleche examines the clock in the great hall of Castle Bois De Coeur.


    The Clock in the Hall


    Soon after the disappearance of Lady Adele the clock in the great hall began running backwards, as did several maids and pages who tried to touch the hands of the ancient timepiece. Lord Anglais, the husband of Lady Adele, sealed off the hall and summoned the musketeers immediately.


    An investigation of the clock found the workings to be carved from bone and woven braids of hair. Within the body of the clock an entrance to a foul tunnel was found; A circular passage that twisted down into the bedrock below the castle itself.


    The musketeer Etienne sent word to his partner Leon, a theologian, alchemist and master of white magic and back to the chapter house in the provincial capital.


    As with the pit beneath the floor of the castle's cellar, a foul and musty odor issued forth from the winding tunnel. Using great caution and a number of peasants bearing torches, Etienne and Leon wormed their way down into the dank whole. At the bottom the found a wide chamber littered with rounded stones and a black stream that disappeared in either direction through a water-carved passage of stone.


    When the pair approached the sluggish and viscid liquid the sound of stone rubbing against stone erupted all around them.


    " Vipera Seoanei," moaned Leon."It would have to be Vipera Seoanei."


    "Looks like snakes to me," said one of the peasants before Etienne slapped him in the head.


    Posted: 09-25-2020 07:08 pm
    Blood, Lace, Steel, Honor and the Outer Dark - Musketeers 2


    The Hole in the Floor


    A maid of Lady Adele D... and the Musketeer Etienne discover a hidden chamber beneath the cellar floor.


    The Lady Adele D... of Bois De Coeur disappeared in the middle of a Fete during Midsummer's day and has not been seen since. Unbeknownst to any in the castle, except for the chief groom, Lady Adele was a worshiper of the Old Ones from beyond space. Every dozen years during the summer solstice the Lady sacrifices to the One Who Speaks With Fire allowing her access to powerful magicks of a particularly destructive nature. She intended to lead her fellow worshipers in the start of the ceremony, a great bonfire at the center of an ancient grove.


    The chief groom of Bois De Coeur had other plans. While he had no objection to the terrible fate of the young village maiden who was to be the central figure in the horrific summer rite lead by Lady Adele, he, as a worshiper of the Horse Goddess, could not allow the burning and transformation of the young stallion the cult was also preparing to sacrifice to their fiery deity.


    With the subtle preparation of the grove, a dilution of several essential elements in the ritual and the help of a particular noxious green stone revealed to him by his equine goddess, he managed to change the focus of Lady Adele's sacrifice onto herself and her followers.



    Now the Musketeers and their theological brethren have been called in to investigate. Divination has pointed to the local forest and the bowels of Castle Bois De Coeur.  

    Posted: 09-25-2020 04:10 pm
    Blood, Lace, Steel, Honor and the Outer Dark - Musketeers 1


    Blood, Lace, Steel, Honor and the Outer Dark - Musketeers 1


    In the province of A... the enemies of the Gaelic nation are more than just swordsmen or soldiers, for in that deeply forested realm the merely mortal evils of the world are outmatched by the ancient, the unearthly and the infernal.  As always it falls upon the musketeers, protectors of Gael, to rout out all that threatens their blessed realm with steel blade, lead shot, or stone talisman.


    Here can be seen a young musketeer and his theologian companion struggling with a corrupted swordsmen, once of the imperial guard, but now in the service of warlock (being throttled by the learned hands of the theologian). The warlock's servants are many and few are human, though the former guardsman was the most visible of those that guarded his body. The musketeer and theologian have caught them along the forest road linking the provincial capital with the port of N...

    Posted: 09-24-2020 05:08 pm
    A Noise That Seemed Afraid Of Silence


    Beyond the coasts of Sange is an island in the Sea of Twilight. The sea itself is a place of beauty and terror, but the island, which has no name, is a place of ending. When the people of Sange weary of all things they seek this island for there is no true ending in Sange only life followed by life.


    The Sea of Twilight can only be sailed by Death and finding the dead in Sange is a hard thing. To kill a man or a woman, an animal or thing that is not quite any or none is possible but death lasts only an instant and the spirit of those of Sange flys free like a gleam of silver moonlight before it is gone to find life again.


    The spirit of the dead must be caught in a cage of mirrors baited with a dream; A dream of power of love, anger, tears, betrayal, revenge or remorse. The cage is capped with the frozen eye of a mage and the breath of despair. Then the body of the dead will be at the command of the holder of the cage and the journey to the island can begin.


    There is a fear that has come to Sange. Dreams have become nightmares and the land, though always hard and often cruel, has lost the wonder, pleasure and enchantment that made unending life a joy instead of a wearisome burden or horrific punishment. The soothsayers, the oracles and the prophets speak of the island on the Sea of Twilight and say that only there can the answer to this curse be found.


    Someone or some group of someones must make this journey, find Death to sail the ship, cross the Sea of Twilight and walk upon the island from which no one has returned. Great dreamers are called to this quest from all of Sange, dreamers brave and strong, of the mind and arm, heart and spirit before the darkness which has settled upon the land has ended every song, silenced every voice, broken the spirits of those who have lived a thousand lives and made Sange into a prison of nightmare and torment.

    Posted: 09-24-2020 02:06 pm
    Hyperborea - Darkness be The Burier of the Dead


    "Must we start our fight

    Groaning over corpses?

    Come what may

    Let us enter the ford

    To meet death before the hosts

    With bloody spear-blade

    Or the savage sword

    If our time has come."

    Cuchulainn - from "The Tain"


    With the destruction of Galla chaos spread among the Galla Hills and among all the Keltic people as the struggle for who would become Over-King now that Srubdaire the ruler of Galla was dead. Four men contend to sit beneath the blessed tree where the ruler would be enthroned and crowned with leaves of oak. Scathach and Uathach and Aif and the man called Son of Daman.


    Many times in the past had the division between Kelt and Kelt brought misery to the people and enemies down upon the Keltic lands as they fought between each other. The holy druids had united from clan to clan, tribe to tribe and the law of oak and stone prevailed over the foolishness of chiefs and kings.


    The fight for the Crown of Leaves, as the title of Over-King is called among the Kelts, is now formalized and the combatants meet with only a small company of bodyguards and followers to engage in combat at sacred fords where the waters will wash away the blood spilled by Kelt fighting Kelt. Pugnacious and always ready for a fight every village headman and chieftain of a minor tribe set forth to do battle much to the dismay of the druids and wise men among the clans.


    It was on Bealltainn night that the witch-fire was firsts seen. The Druids had set the holy fire at Ur-Uisneach, the blessed hill, and as the fire was lit an unholy blaze was seen far up the slopes of the mountains to the east. A chill wind was felt and a howl like the cry of lost souls was heard. An inauspicious omen, but one that proved itself too readily while the Keltic lands reeled and their leaders struggled for power.


    Like a swarm of beasts the Picts fell upon the eastern valleys. What power, what cursed magic they had used, none can say, but from the far north-west of Hyperborea they have come to raid and plunder the Keltic people. The Son of Daman has set aside his quest for the Crown of Leaves and struggles alone with only his own followers against the Picts. His horsemen have left a bloody furrow across their advancing line of raiders but he alone cannot stop them.


    Here is a quest for heroes to stand perhaps beside the Son of Daman or, at the urging of the Druids, find the source of the Witch-Fire among the eastern mountains and cut off the tide of Picts who now press against the disunited defenders of Galla.
    Posted: 09-24-2020 11:47 am
    The Black Monolith


    The Black Monolith


    On the foothills of the Kimmerian Steppes near Lake Novagrad, where the people of the Rus have settled, there is a darkness which haunts their land. Legends speak of a ship of fire which created the great lake, and of the Norse God Ullr creating the Chain of Nod with his skis as he fled from some unnamed horror, the streams of the Chain which feed the lake from the tall mountains, but the fear that is whispered among the settlers within the hills and valleys is of a Stone Monolith that sits upon the last hill before the coming of the mountains near to a cavern of immense size and evil repute. This is the Black Monolith which is older than the settlement of the Rus, older than the Kimmerians, if such stories can be believed. Any of the old race of Hyperboreans will avow no knowledge of this stone, but neither will they journey nearer than the southern edge of Lake Novagrad and even then none will stay longer than it takes to complete what business they may have before moving on.


    The village of Stregoicavar sits on a small promontory at the south of the lake. It is here that the people cower within their shuttered houses at night, here where the fear of the Stone Monolith and here where the adventure begins...

    Posted: 09-23-2020 09:26 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Minions of the Moon


    North of the Hellenic City-State of Ptolemides, beyond the forest of the Crowned Beast (but known to most as the Foxwoman's Domain), lies a pool of liquid silver metal that is death to touch. Around this pool can be found white-clad devotees of a new cult that has followers in both Khromarium and Ptolemides and seems to be spreading like fire among dry leaves to every city and large town in all of disparate Hyperborea. These are "The Minions of the Moon" and they worship both the Moon as a divinity and the silver pool as the Moon's avatar upon the earth.


    It is rumored that at both the waxing and waning of the moon human sacrifices are performed which the cultists call 'The Silver Death' and the victims are submerged in the liquid metal pool. The bodies are said to be held by chains and drawn back from their fatal bath now withered and hardened like iron. Their spirits are then purposed to walk the environs of the people serving the will of this new lunar divinity. The reality is much more deadly.


    These sacrifices have become servants of the silver metal pool, which is a living entity fallen to earth millennia ago. It is an animal creature without need of sustenance and without language. It can rise into a wave and move, sometimes at great speed, but will always return to the basin where it now resides connected by a cord of liquid metal to a crystal-like object buried deep within the earth below. These servants act as automaton akin to those of Iron but with several differences (See New Monster).


    The truth behind the cult is the discovery of the crystal by a notorious thief from Rusland, Mikhaliov Fydrovich, who , fleeing from a monstrous guardian of a Ptolemides merchant's treasure, came across the pool of liquid metal and the fragment of crystal which lay almost within the pool itself. The body of a dying manticore had come in contact with the pool and with the crystal Mikhaliov was able to summon it to his defense and defeat the guardian Daemon which pursued him. Much to his disappointment the silvered form of the manticore fell to dust within a few weeks time.


    Mikhaliov was not one to let a good thing go and his quick mind immediately formed the idea of the cult and "The Minions of the Moon". Originally all the members were thieves or the like, but the cult has taken on a life of its own and only the original core (and some select recruits) now know that the cult is false.


    Worshippers of Lunaqqua are the dire enemies of the cult and minor war of assassination and retribution is being waged between the two.


    New Monster


    Automaton, Silver Metal [MON]

    No. Encountered: 1-6

    Alignment: Neutral

    Size: Varied, most common size is M

    Movement: 40

    Dexterity: 16

    Armor Class: 5

    Hit Dice: 4+2

    No. Attacks: varied most commonly 2 (Pummel) (see Notes)

    Damage: 2d6/2d6

    Saving Throw: 14

    Morale: NA

    Experience Points: 750


    Silver Metal Automatons are formerly living creatures (most notably human but to a much lesser extent any creature existing in Hyperborea  and even some that do not) whose flesh and bone has been consumed and replaced by the creature that is the pool of liquid metal. They have only an animal intelligence regardless of their former intelligence as a living creature and a life span of under two months. At the fullness of the moon above Hyperborea they must return to the liquid metal pool where they merge with the creature or harden into a solid piece of dull grey metal and fragment into a powder that will eventually sift away to nothingness.


    These Automatons can be controlled by a fragment of crystal that is now set within a small medallion (and worn by the Master of the Minions of the Moon. They will obey basic commands when within a 60foot radius but otherwise act as an extension of the pool of liquid metal with a completely alien set of reactions and desires. (They my stand still and let themselves be hacked to bits, walk into a fire, off a cliff, attack wildly, etc... )


    NOTE: Silver Metal Automatons that are formed from monstrous creatures retain and physical type of attacks including number and damage of attacks of the formerly living creature with a +2 damage per attack. All other stats remain as per the basic listing (AC, Dex, Etc.. ) for any form the Silver Metal Automaton may take regardless of previous HD or abilities.


    NOTE: These Automatons are not constructs and are much quicker, moving with a high grace and dexterity, than magically created Automatons. Part of their AC comes from a bonus for high dexterity.


    NOTE: Sacrifices to the pool of liquid metal can only be done at the waning and waxing of the moon. At other times anything entering the pool is simply absorbed into the liquid metal. Even at these time there is a 75% chance that anyone or thing of flesh placed into the pool will simply be absorbed.


    NOTE: These Automaton's can regain full HP by resubmerging themselves within the pool, but will also regenerate 50% of their total HP every night when the moon rises (up to their original HP total). If reduced to 0 HP they turn into a grey metal and fall to dust.

    Posted: 09-23-2020 04:58 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Alchemist


    In all of Khromarium there is perhaps no single individual better known and yet still an enigma than the man known only as 'The Alchemist'. That he is a mage of great power is undisputed, but his origins remain unknown as does his name.


    Years ago a strange ship sailed into the docks of Khromarium; a ship without sails, without crew, and with only a single occupant. It was a small ship but the man who emerged from its hold seemed too old to have crewed even such a vessel no bigger than the long boat off a galley. When he turned and lifted the ship in his hands and then proceeded to fold and refold the vessel till it was smaller than his hand, smaller than his fingers, so small that those watching had to look away as what they watched became more than wondrous; it became disturbing to the senses of what should be and what should not.


    This was the arrival of the Alchemist. Not a display of raw power, but power was there, subtle and practical. He appeared as an old man of white beard and hair, not tall, perhaps shorter than average, not fat, nor thin, nor so old to appear feeble. As he turned to walk along the quay a staff of smooth white wood appeared in his hand as if a branch, straight and unblemished, grew from a dark core of nothingness.


    The Alchemist settled near the Street of Trade where it crossed the Quarter of Craft before emptying into the Sea Market where the goods fresh from the holds of ships were sold and the pens of exotic animals and slaves were kept. He found an old building that had suffered in the Cold Riots many years before, partially ruined with a roof holed by fire and walls stained with smoke. A small crowd of layabouts, longshoremen, traders and sailors had followed at a respectful distance from the docks where he had arrived and watched as he step lightly across the overgrown yard littered with debris and enclosed by a short iron fence. The doors of the building had been nailed shut but they parted at the touch of the Alchemist's hand and closed silently behind him.


    A flash of light burst from the windows and the holed roof, out the top of the broken chimney. The light suffused the walls, swept across the yard, caressed the iron fence, the broken gate. When the light faded the iron gate was black, the yard bare except for a carpet of wildflowers and herbs, the walls of the building a rich brown, the windows glassed and shuttered, the roof whole and the doors more solid and dark bound with what might be silver and etched with runes that none could read, and open as if waiting visitors.


    The Alchemist stepped from his new abode and shut his door behind him, locking it with a small silver key and turned toward the nearby market. He shopped, and talked of small things, and laughed. He hired servants to watch his door and tend his garden and cook his meals. The Alchemist seems never short of gold and what he cannot find for sale he hires adventurers to find for him, and within his brown-walled home he sells potions and pills, salves and solutions which will dissolve steel but not harm flesh.


    The Alchemist is liked, respected and somewhat feared by his neighbors on the Street of Trade, but he is well-regarded and a source of pride for proud Khromarium.

    Posted: 09-23-2020 04:32 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - Outside the Khromarium Gate


    romarium is vast and older than man. Streets and towers and catacombs that wind their way into the bowels of the earth like a wyrm gnawing at the heartstone of the city. So vast is Khromarium that losing oneself in its twisting paths can become being lost in passages of time and space and dimensions not hospitable to man. It is said that the center of the city can never be found, always there will be another tower, ruined manor, gaping pit where the dank sewer waters gush down and down and down, another street or alley to follow deeper and deeper along ways that should not be trodden if there is any wish to return.

    But Khromarium is a city filled with life as well and the precincts that surround the walls and its many gates are lit with fires both mundane and magical. Cleanly swept are the corridors of the wealthy and powerful or littered and stinking with the refuse of the outcast poor and discarded souls. Merchant squares abound, strange passengers from stranger lands view wares from coach or palanquin. Street musicians play and thieves ply their trade. Courtesans demurely pass brothels where their less fortunate and less expensive fellow professionals bare their own bare and berouged wares from doors and balconys.


    Outside the gates of Khromarium can be found philosophers, beggars and scribes. Soothsayers, hedge-wizards, and shamans can be found in abundance, but any with more earthly goods are shooed away and into the well-taxed environs of the city walls by the passing guardsman and mounted patrols of the city. The business of the mind, the soul, and the mystical is conducted along these thoroughfares by any but the well-established masters of these professions, beggars and mendicants excluded.


    Tellers of fortunes, popular among the Kimmerians and people of Rus, have small tents inside the city gates, while a more well-regarded practicer of divination can be found sitting upon a waxed or oiled cloth on the verge of the great road close to the iron and wood portals of the city. There is a hierarchy and tradition among the traders in the ephemeral outside of the gates and woe-betide any who would usurp another's spot of buttocks smoothed grass that may have been occupied for generations or passed down from journeyman to apprentice from time immemorial. 

    Posted: 09-23-2020 03:32 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Blunt Monster With Uncounted Heads


    Deep within the forests of the Coast of Scars can be found the ruins of a small stone tower. Its foundation stones are very old and show the marks of fire and of war. How many times the tower has been tumbled and rebuilt none can say, but a few stories of its latest incarnation remain though the upper most levels are cracked and roofless.


    Of late a man has come to dwell within this ruin. He is thin and austere, robed as a priest or a sage or crafter of spells. His name is not known, though some call him 'The Mage' or the more lengthy 'The Summoner of Small Daemons'. And that last name is very apt.


    All about this man run the smallest of Daemons, run, dance, fly and cavort about him as if around their heart's desire. Should any approach this man with malice in their hearts these Daemons turn from merriment to a vicious defense. Even the greatest of the Devil-swine which haunt the woods give him and his horde a wide berth for those that have not have met their fates buried beneath a thousand small teeth and claws and a thousand more waiting for their chance to blood themselves on their larger kin.


    'The Mage' seems pleasant enough, but his flock of small Daemons deters visitors of a more wholesome sort. With each passing day it seems a few more of these tiny Daemonic forms join the throng which surrounds the old tower though some are always flying or scuttling afar to do their adoration's bidding. And as time passes the fewer Devil-swine there are to be found in the woods, though the nearby City-State of Dorset, long overrun with these foul piggish Daemons and their progeny, seems to be swelling in compensation.


    How long it will be before 'The Mage' turns his attention to this Daemonic concentration, if that is his ultimate goal, none can tell, but it has been long years since the Coast of Scars has been as clear and safe from the swine-men or their Daemonic masters as it has become due entirely to this unnamed man and his abhorrent following.

    Posted: 09-22-2020 06:51 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Robe That Terror Wears


    A cold wind blows from the sea and with it she steps upon the shores of Hyperborea. The storm walks with her and seeking life she brings the frozen death to the land. Her touch is blue ice as are her eyes. Innocent, the curse she bears is a slow moving doom that no spell, no sword can touch.


    In the frozen wasteland that she leaves behind her a shadow moves. Her tormentor follows casting chains of ice upon the dead. To save the land is to save her and face what she cannot.


    Already the path she has taken is filled with white death. Villages are stilled, silent tombs whose doors are opening as a greater evil emerges into the cloud-wrapped day. All is darkness as if evening had swallowed the noonday sun.


    From the northern shores of  Hyperborea comes the call for help as an endless winter begins to swallow the land. A woman walks alone ahead of the desolation, but is she cause or merely, as she claims, related by those few who have survived her encounter, merely a victim chased by darkness, swallowed by madness and running, running, only a few paces before the storm.


    The villages along the Striped Gulf beg for help as their neighbors are caught within the approaching darkness. None have returned of all those who have searched for answers. Only the woman who walks ahead of the storm.

    Posted: 09-22-2020 05:25 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Great Spirit of the Woods


    Amid the dark recesses of Hyperborean forests rests the God-King of ancient days. So old that he is nameless or if named it is forgotten before Atlantis drowned or the passage to Old Earth was lost in the mists which surround Hyperborea. He is known as the Great Spirit of the Wood to his followers and the woodland beasts and sentient monsters that dwell within his green boundaries.


    He rarely shows his face beyond the heart of the woodlands, but a few incautious travelers have seen it, dark and brooding, his hair a dirty white entwined with leaves and branches but worn as a living crown. The Great Spirit does not take desecrators of his sacred groves or deep heartland lightly and the doom that may fall upon such are torments that can last an age, bound within the flesh of a great tree, living as the tree lives, but exposed to the pain of all that comes to the woods; the bite of axe, the touch of fire, the rot of age and devouring teeth of insects.


    The Great Spirit calls to not only the trees and plants of the woodland, but to all those creatures, including man, who live within. He is no peaceful ruler and roots fight for nourishment from the soil and sunlight from the sky, beasts stalk the weak, the weak burrow and gnaw at the roots of tree and plant, the dead nourish the living, and so it goes on and on, the turning wheel of time, life and death, overseen by the Great Spirit, lord of all that transpires. 

    Posted: 09-22-2020 04:34 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Gateway of Cruel Desire


    Cold is the path of the dead and colder still is the heart of the Necromancer. And yet there is a passion that lurks within this twisted breed of mage that drives them forward into the darkest and most loathsome of places; none more so than the tomb-temple to be found on the Isle of Ghul.


    The gateway is ancient, older than the Necromancer that rules the isle, and in a language that only the daemon's of the abyss can recognize, though they curse and shun the place, a story of power, lust in all its meanings, and torment is spelled out in the carven entranceway to this labyrinth. Twisted and endless are the passageways of the Tomb, lost is the temple, and lost as well are the souls of all who have fallen within this accursed charnel house. The carven gateway is beautiful and the massive doors of bronze, green with verdigris, sit open, the outer chamber is marble and granite, a dried fountain with sculptures of water nymphs surrounding its bowl, but from the open grill of its drain, too small for any human to utilize, come the screams of the dead, and the massive doors are shut, silently without warning, and no spike or iron or blockade of stone can prevent their closure, not to open again till the sun has set and risen once more.


    Hiding behind a marble bench in a room further into the labyrinth will be found a young girl, emaciated, scarred from torture, wild-eyed and clad in rags. She will speak in a language that only the aid of sorcery will make clear, and pleas for help. Her tormentor is within the tomb, he has set her here to hunt down and torture. She has no idea how long she has been within the tomb, she has never seen the temple, but she is of flesh and blood, though weak and starved. She can lead any who would follow her to a secret room entered through a series of levers held as spears and swords among an array of statues that bear an uniformity of look but of no make recognizable to any living in this age of the world since the fall of Atlantis.


    Inside the chamber is a clear pool and drinking from it will heal wounds but alleviate hunger any more than the taste of unenchanted water would. This has been her refuge.

    Stepping back outside this room will find the scowling visages of half a score of animated warriors. Defeating them, now flesh and blood themselves, will be no easy task, but the rewards are the armor and weapons of these doughty foes. The tomb goes further...

    Posted: 09-22-2020 02:50 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - This Feast of Battle



    War has always been a living thing among the Kimmerians and their half-breed kinsmen. The Kimmerian-Kelts are an offshoot of centuries of warfare between the clans of the Kimmerians and the tribes of the Kelts. The mixed breed children born of these wars, the raids, the rapine, the endless chain of murder and revenge, have been rejected by both sides. Sometimes abandoned to nature and never more than starving and mistreated outsiders existing on the refuse of either society these unwanted children slowly banded together and formed their own tribes but as a single clan. Their hatred for their pure breed kindred has welded them into a single sprawling family where every member is a brother or sister regardless of tribe or chieftain.


    Recently this unity of purpose has become embodied in the spirit of a single man. Zhalov of the Yellow Beard has become the first of their clan to unite all of the Kimmerian-Keltic tribes under a single ruler. Born of a Kimmerian slave held in Keltic lands Zhalov broke his shackles and escaped his servitude fleeing into grasslands of Vol. Hunted by a warparty of Kelts he turned on his attackers time and again but was slowly forced into a stony outcropping which sat on the verge of the mire that is the Lug Wasteland. At last he was cornered and in his fight among the stones he slew six of the surviving warparty and sent the last few Kelts fleeing his wrath. Wounded and with a storm approaching Zhalov sought shelter among the rocks and found a crevice no wider than his own shoulders which he crawled into.


    When the light of dawn touched him Zhalov was surprised to find that he was not alone in his shelter. The crumbling body of some ancient warrior shared his cave. Beside the body was a sword whose edge crackled with lightning when he touched its hilt and a strange weapon that was nearly the death of him. At first he could not decide if the strange device was a weapon or some tool of the ancient man who had died in the cave. Its shape was odd and it had the look of something that might be used as a crutch with a smooth metal end that fit nicely beneath his arm diminishing down to a length of hollow round metal. Peering inside the hollow he could find nothing.


    Zhalov was weak and badly wounded, but the cave had the feel of death to it now and he would stay there no longer. With the use of his new found metal stick he pulled himself back through the crevice and into the sunlight. The stones around him were slick and in his descent he slipped, his hand clutched at his metal stick and found the odd strip of metal that projected from its side. Suddenly the stick erupted in a flair of lightning which shattered the rock nearby. Zhalov was sprayed  with tiny flecks of stone but he felt them not and only stared in wonder at this powerful weapon he had been banging against the stones.


    Weeks later Zhalov was riding deep within the grasslands of Vol on the horse of a Kimmerian who fell to his lightning blade. He found himself looking at a swirl of horsemen in the distance. It was a dark year for the half-breed tribesman of Vol. The Kimmerians were raiding in force, slaying the old, enslaving the young, riding off with what loot they could find and the horses and herds of their victims. In a blaze of blue fire Zhalov rode down upon the Kimmerians. His thunderstick causing fear and panic as he approached, his lightning sword unstoppable. The prophecy of the great savage fighting man had been fulfilled and the feast of battle had begun.

    Posted: 09-21-2020 09:57 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - Riding the Wolf


    When the Rus found themselves transported to Hyperborea many of their traditional ways immediately changed. The Boet, a group of warrior-hunters finely attuned to living in the wild, were possessed by the spirit of the Vukodlak; an ability akin to lycanthropy. While they could not change themselves into the aspect of a wolf they became attuned to the nature of wolves and discovered a monstrous form of wolf lurking on the outskirts of their towns and settlements. Whether these were wolves from Rusland altered by the powerful magic which caused the dislocation from old Earth to Hyperborea or whether these beasts were already in Hyperborea the Boet do not know and these wolves cannot tell them, though along with their gargantuan size the wolves have gained the power of speech, their memories begin with their first encounters of the Rus and their adoption of the Boet.


    According to Vas'Ka, the pack leader of all the wolves in Rusland (anywhere the Rus settle is called Rusland) the Boet just smell right and a bond of friendship and even brotherhood has sprung up between the two.


    Never much for horses and more at home in the thick forest or the hills and mountains the Boet were always poor horseman, but with the coming of the great wolves they now ride in packs through the forest and steppes that surround Hyperborea's Rusland or scrabble through the stoney hills and inhospitable heights on their borders. The great wolves are as big as ponies, but stronger and heavier, their bodies all muscle and dense bone.  The Boet ride them when there is a need for haste though most often a pair of human and great wolf can be encountered hunting the forest or patrolling the roadways between town and village or camping on some hill, sharing their days catch.


    Boets tend to wear a shirt of fine chain sometimes with a sleeveless vest of leather over the metal. Many will wear a cap of iron, steel or leather, but just as many disdain such and grow their hair long which they tie back and tuck under the collar of their armored shirt. They are almost never found without bow or sling, but they tend to favor a spear and a short sword as weapons.


    Their new wolfish affinity has given them keener sense making it easier for them to track animals or enemies. They can be killed or wounded like any other man, but heal twice as quickly. The can speak to animals though they speak Rus to the great wolves and the great wolves can growl out a few short words of Rus back to them.


    The great wolves of Rusland are several times the size of a normal wolf, the largest are truly the size of horses and even the smallest is big and strong enough to carry a normal-sized Boet. Their senses are slightly less keen than that of a normal wolf but still greater than a man's. They bond with their human companions and will fight to the death against any who would attack them. On the death of a Boet companion the great wolf will pine and grieve, and let its life pass away within three days of the loss of a companion.


    The bonding ceremony between Boet and great wolf is called Riding the Wolf and the pair set out on a tour of Rusland. This is celebrated by a massive hunt with dozens of Boet and great wolves participating culminating in a feast where the families, wolves and human, join in to eat what the hunt has gathered.


    Most Boet and great wolves are encountered alone, but that is only the cautious nature of the hunters. There will usually be from three to five other Boet and great wolves somewhere nearby waiting to see if they have encountered friend or foe. In any case there will always be at least one pair of wolf and rider that is does not reveal themselves. These Boet are a suspicious lot outside of their own kind, which is the main reason they and the Rus have prospered in this strange land of Hyerborea  that is now their home.

    Posted: 09-20-2020 05:55 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Temple of the Blind


    The Temple of the Blind


    In the Red Desert men have found fortunes in mines of silver, iron and copper, but the cost is often their lives, as the sages have written and the families of the men lost to this cold wasteland will attest. Men do not live in the Red Desert but things that hold themselves as men do. Beast like creatures that ape the ways of men haunt the steppes and high grounds, walk the bottoms of dried out seas where the bones of ships can be found, the detritus of ages past; lost fleets and lone vessels from different times and places. Ships of wood, ships of bone, ships of metal that could never have floated, ships of glass; their shattered hulls flaring like beacons when the sun's rays break through the dismal perennial clouds which roof the wasteland.


    Then there are the sightless men and their temple city with the vast blind effigy of their god which sits amid the cavernous homes of their metropolis. Sightless they are with smooth flesh where their eyes should be, but doubly keen are their other senses. They can hear the breath of their enemy, the sound of every move. It is said that the wind which blows across the desert is the dying words of their stone god and with it they can hear what a man could see. Hear shapes and the space between the leaves of a plant, hear the distance between walls of their home and the table where the sit to dinner, hear the roughness of the ground, the edge of a cliff, the half-buried root that would trip a seeing man.


    The sightless men are disdainers of magic and have no liking for those who practice the arcane art. They are a pious people and many dedicate themselves to the worship of their dead stone god. They are strong warriors and amazing with any weapon that is thrown, especially the use of the sling. They have an affinity with stone.


    Their homes are colorless and dark except where a random streak of some unintended, unseen brightness has been added. They have no liking for fire and seem immune to the heat of the day or the frosty chill of the night. They delve deep into the earth of Hyperborea and trade precious metals and gems with men who dare the wasteland. They are always greedy for weapons or items of metal which they do not produce themselves. They weapons and items that they craft for themselves are stone, crystal or bone.


    While they appear almost human their flesh is rough and scale-like, they have no hair and their teeth are a single ridge of bone that grows throughout their life and must be worn down usually by an oblong of stone they use as a file or rasp.


    The sightless men are dangerous to deal with though once they have established trade with a man they will deal fairly, but they are constantly looking for men and dangerous beasts to sacrifice to their god. The method of sacrifice is said to be truly horrific as the sightless men eat their victims alive within the confines of their temple, first pummeling them with thrown stones, then setting upon the near senseless captive in a maddened pack and consuming the body utterly till nothing is left but cracked bones upon a blood soaked floor.

    Posted: 09-17-2020 05:13 pm
    A. Merritt - Some Ideas and Descriptions From His Stories - The People of the Pi

    A. Merritt - Some Ideas and Descriptions From His Stories


    SPOILER WARNING!


    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of A. Merritt 's prose.


    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set Forum I have begun sifting through my collection of A. Merritt for ideas.


    1). The People of the Pit


    Blue Shaft of Light - [MON]

    The City in the Pit - [TWN]

    Eblis - [NPC]

    Fear Dust - [ITM]

    Five Peaks - [MT]

    Frozen Hand of Cloud - [ITM]

    Gate of Ghouls - [PLC]

    Gateway to the Pit - [GTE]

    Ghosts of Winds - [MON]

    Golden Band - [ITM]

    The Green Stairway [PLC]

    Lao T'zai - [NPC]

    People of the Pit - [MON]

    The Pit - [PLC]

    Sanctuary Caves - [PLC]

    Shan Nadour - [NPC]

    Snaky Red Trees - [ITM]

    Thick White Liquid - [ITM]

    The Thing in the Pit - [MON][Deity]

    Whispering - [SPL]



    Blue Shaft of Light -

    Five Peaks -


    "North of us a shaft of light shot half way to the zenith. It came from behind the five peaks. The beam drove up through a column of blue haze whose edges were marked as sharply as the rain that streams from the edges of a thunder cloud. It was like the flash of a searchlight through an azure mist. It cast no shadows.


    As it struck upward the summits were outlined hard and black and I saw that the whole mountain was shaped like a hand. As the light silhouetted it, the gigantic fingers stretched, the hand seemed to thrust itself forward. It was exactly as though it moved to push something back. The shining beam held steady for a moment; then broke into myriads of little luminous globes that swung to and fro and dropped gently. They seemed to be searching."



    Fear Dust -

    Lao T'zai -


    "My mouth was as dry as though Lao T'zai had poured his fear dust down my throat."



    Eblis -

    Frozen Hand of Cloud -

    Gate of Ghouls -

    Shan Nadour -


    "It makes me think of the frozen hand of cloud that Shan Nadour set before the Gate of Ghouls to keep them in the lairs that Eblis cut for them."



    Ghosts of Winds -

    Whispering -


    "From the North and high overhead there came a whispering. It was not the rustling of the aurora, that rushing, crackling sound like the ghosts of winds that blew at Creation racing through the skeleton leaves of ancient trees that sheltered Lilith. It was a whispering that held in it a demand. It was eager. It called us to come up where the beam was flashing. It drew. There was a note of inexorable insistence. It touched my heart with a thousand tiny fear-tipped fingers and it filled me with a vast longing to race on and merge myself in the light. It must have been so that Ulysses felt when he strained at the mast and strove to obey the crystal sweet singing of the Sirens."



    Golden Band -


    ""I was filing the band about the waist. It was gold, but it was like no gold I had ever handled. Pure gold is soft. This was soft, but it had an unclean, viscid life of its own. It clung to the file. I gashed through it, bent it away from the body and hurled it far off. It was - loathsome!"


    "...I saw that around my waist had been fastened a yellow ring of metal. From it hung a chain and this chain passed up over the lip of the high ledge. I was chained to the altar..."



    Gateway to the Pit -

    People of the Pit -

    The Pit -


    ""The people of the pit," he said. "Things that the Devil made before the Flood and that somehow escaped God's vengeance. You weren't in any danger from them - unless you had followed their call. They can't get any further than the blue haze. I was their prisoner," he added simply. "They were trying to whisper me back to them!""


    ""The road passed between two high rocks that raised themselves like a gateway."


    The crawling man paused.


    "They were a gateway," he said. "I reached them. I went between them. And then I sprawled and clutched the earth in sheer awe! I was on a broad stone platform. Before me was a sheer space! Imagine the Grand Canyon five times as wide with the bottom dropped out. That was what I was looking into. It was like peeping over the edge of a cleft world down into the infinity where the planets roll! On the far side stood five peaks. They looked like a gigantic warning hand stretched up to the sky. The lip of the abyss curved away on each side of me.


    "I could see down perhaps a thousand feet. Then a thick blue haze shut out the eye. It was like the blue you see gather on the high hills at dusk. And the pit - it was awesome; awesome as the Maori Gulf of Ranalak, that sinks between the living and the dead and that only the freshly released soul has the strength to leap - but never strength to cross again.


    "I crept back from the verge and stood up, weak. My hand rested against one of the pillars of the gateway. There was carving upon it. It bore in still sharp outlines the heroic figure of a man. His back was turned. His arms were outstretched. There was an odd peaked headdress upon him. I looked at the opposite pillar. It bore a figure exactly similar. The pillars were triangular and the carvings were on the side away from the pit. These figures seemed to be holding something back. I looked closer. Behind the outstretched hands I seemed to see other shapes.


    "I traced them out vaguely. Suddenly I felt unaccountably sick. There had come to me an impression of enormous upright slugs. Their swollen bodies were faintly cut - all except the heads which were well marked globes. They were - unutterably loathsome. I turned from the gates back to the void.""


    "I can't describe those carvings! No human being could - the human eye cannot grasp them any more than it can grasp the shapes that haunt the fourth dimension. Only a subtle sense in the back of the brain sensed them vaguely. They were formless things that gave no conscious image, yet pressed into the mind like small hot seals - ideas of hate - of combats between unthinkable monstrous things - victories in a nebulous hell of steaming, obscene jungles - aspirations and ideals immeasurably loathsome -"


    "...the haze began to thicken and glow; the cylinders shine more brightly. I knew that it was dusk in the world above and I felt that with dusk my time of peril had come; that the   thickening haze was the signal for the awakening of whatever lived in this pit."


    "...There began to grow around me a murmur. It was everywhere - and it grew and grew into a great whispering. I peeped from the side of the stone down into the street. I saw lights passing and repassing. More and more lights - they swam out of the circular doorways and they thronged the street. The highest were eight feet above the pave; the lowest perhaps two. They hurried, they sauntered, they bowed, they stopped and whispered - and there was nothing under them!"


    "... that was the terrible part of it - there was nothing under them. Yet certainly the lights were living things. They had consciousness, volition, thought - what else I did not know. They were nearly two feet across - the largest. Their center was a bright nucleus - red, blue, green. This nucleus faded off, gradually, into a misty glow that did not end abruptly. It too seemed to face off into nothingness - but a nothingness that had under it a somethingness. I strained my eyes trying to grasp this body into which the lights merged and which one could only feel was there, but could not see."


    "...Something cold, and thin like a whip touched my face. I turned my head. Close behind were three of the lights. They were a pale blue. They looked at me - if you can imagine lights that are eyes. Another whiplash gripped my shoulder. Under the closest light came a shrill whispering. I shrieked. Abruptly the murmuring in the street ceased. I dragged my eyes from the pale blue globe that held them and looked out - the lights in the streets were rising by myriads to the level of where I stood! There they stopped and peered at me. They crowded and jostled as though they were a crowd of curious people - on Broadway. I felt a score of the lashes touch me -"


    "...And now the reddish mottled gleam began to deepen. Outside arose the humming and through the circle that was the entrance came streaming the globes. They ranged themselves in ranks until they filled the Temple. Their whispering grew into a chant, a cadenced whispering chant that rose and fell, rose and fell, while to its rhythm the globes lifted and sank, lifted and sank."


    "...All that night the lights came and went - and all that night the chant sounded as they rose and fell..."


    "...The red glow faded, the lights streamed out; the whispering died. I was again alone and I knew that once again day had broken..."


    "...the lights came again. All through the night the whispering chant sounded, and the globes rose and fell. The chant seized me. It pushed through me until every nerve and muscle quivered to it. My lips began to quiver. They strove like a man trying to cry out on a nightmare. And at last they too were whispering the chant of the people of the pit. My body bowed in unison with the lights - I was, in movement and sound one with the nameless things while my soul sank back sick with horror and powerless. While I whispered I - saw Them!"


    "...Saw the lights?" I asked stupidly.


    "...Saw the Things under the lights," he answered. Great transparent snail-like bodies - dozens of waving tentacles stretching from them - round gaping mouths under the luminous seeing globes. They were like ghosts of inconceivably monstrous slugs! I could see through them. And as I stared, still bowing and whispering, the dawn came and they streamed to and through the entrance. They did not crawl or walk - they floated! They floated and were - gone!""



    The Green Stairway -


    ""A stairway led down into the pit..."


    "...it seemed not so much carved out of the rock as built into it. The slabs were about six feet long and three feet wide. It ran down from the platform and vanished into the blue haze."


    "...I went down the stairway..."


    "The steps ran along the side of the rock at a forty degree pitch. As I went down I studied them. They were of a greenish rock quite different from the granite porphyry that formed the wall of the precipice. At first I thought the builders had taken advantage of an outcropping stratum, and had craved from it their gigantic flight. But the regularity of the angle at which it fell made me doubtful of this theory."


    "After I had gone perhaps half a mile I stepped out upon a landing. From this landing the stairs made a V shaped turn and ran on downward, clinging to the cliff at the same angle as the first flight; it was a zig-zag, and after I had made three of these turns I knew that the steps dropped straight down in a succession of such angles. No strata could be so regular as that. No, the stairway was built by hands!""


    "...A few feet beneath me the stairway jutted out into a Titanic arch, unearthly as the span that bridges Hell and leads to Asgard. It curved out and down and straight through the top of the highest pile of carven cylinders and then it vanished through it. It was appalling - it was demonic - ..."


    "...I crossed the span. I went down through the top of that - building. Blue darkness shrouded me for a moment and I felt the steps twist into a spiral. I wound down them..."



    Sanctuary Caves -


    "At regular intervals I had passed the mouths of small caves. There would be two thousand steps and then an opening, two thousand more steps and an opening - and so on and on. Late that afternoon I stopped before one of these clefts. I suppose I had gone then three miles down the pit, although the angles were such that I had walked in all fully ten miles. I examined the entrance. On each side were carved the figures of the great portal above, only now they were standing face forward, the arms outstretched as though to hold something back from the outer depths. Their faces were covered with veils. There were no hideous shapes behind them. I went inside. The fissure ran back for twenty yards like a burrow. It was dry and perfectly light. Outside I could see the blue haze rising upward like a column, its edges clearly marked. I felt an extraordinary sense of security, although I had not been conscious of any fear. I felt that the figures at the entrance were guardians - but against what?""



    The City in the Pit -

    Snaky Red Trees -


    ""There is a city you know. But not such a city as you have ever seen - nor any other man who has lived to tell of it. The pit, I think, is shaped like a bottle; the opening before the five peaks is the neck. But how wide the bottom is I do not know - thousands of miles maybe. I had begun to catch little glints of light far down in the blue. Then I saw the tops of -  trees, I suppose they are. But not our kind of trees - unpleasant, snaky kind of trees. They reared themselves on high thin trunks and their tops were nests of thick tendrils with ugly little leaves like arrow heads. The trees were red, a vivid angry red. Here and there I glimpsed spots of shining yellow. I knew these were water because I could see things breaking through the surface - or at least I could see the splash and ripple, but what it was that disturbed them I never saw."


    "Straight beneath me was the - city. I looked down upon mile after mile of closely packed cylinders. They lay upon their sides in pyramids of three, of five - of dozens - piled upon each other. It is hard to make you see what that city is like - look, suppose you have water pipes of a certain length and first you lay three of them side by side and on top of them you place two and on these two one; or suppose you take five for a foundation and place on these four and then three, then two and then one. Do you see? That was the way they looked. But they were topped by towers, by minarets, by flares, by fans, and twisted monstrosities. They gleamed as though coated with pale rose flames. Beside them the venomous red tress raised themselves like the heads of hydras guarding nests of gigantic, jeweled and sleeping worms!"


    "...I was standing high up in - I can't tell you in what, I'll have to call it a room. We have no images for what is in the pit. A hundred feet below me was the floor. The walls sloped down and out from where I stood in a series of widening crescents. The place was colossal - and it was filled with a curious mottled red light. It was like the light inside a green and gold flecked fire opal. I went down to the last step. Far in front of me rose a high, columned altar. Its pillars were carved in monstrous scrolls - like mad octopuses with a thousand drunken tentacles; they rested on the backs of shapeless monstrosities carved in crimson stone. The altar front was a gigantic slab of purple covered with carvings."


    "...I was out on a street that stretched on into dim distance between rows of the carven cylinders."


    "Here and there the red trees arose. Between them rolled the stone burrows. And now I could take in the amazing ornamentation that clothed them. They were like the trunks of smooth skinned trees that had fallen and had been clothed with high reaching noxious orchids. Yes - those cylinders were like that - and more. They should have gone out with the dinosaurs. They were - monstrous. They struck the eyes like a blow and they passed across the nerves like a rasp. And nowhere was there sight or sound of living things."


    "There were circular openings in the cylinders like the circle in the Temple of the Stairway. I passed through one of them. I was in a long, bare vaulted room whose curving sides half closed twenty feet over my head, leaving a wide slit that opened into another vaulted chamber above. There was absolutely nothing in the room save the same mottled reddish light that I had seen in the Temple..."





    The Thing in the Pit -


    ""And as I stood I grew aware of something that lay behind the lip of the altar fifty feet above me. I knew it was there - I felt it with every hair and every tiny bit of my skin. Something infinitely malignant, infinitely horrible, infinitely ancient. It lurked, it brooded, it threatened and it was - invisible!"


    "Behind me was a circle of blue light. I ran for it. Something urged me to turn back, to climb the stairs and make away. It was impossible. Repulsion for that unseen Thing raced me onward as though a current had my feet.""



    Thick White Liquid -


    ""...I saw beside one of the pillars a yellow bowl filled with a thick white liquid. I drank it. If it killed I did not care. But its taste was pleasant and as I drank my strength came back to me with a rush..."



    ADVENTURE IDEAS:


    I have already used some of these ideas in the post titled: Listener to the Sphinx, but there is so much material in this short story that I barely touched on what can be done with it.


    In 'Listener to the Sphinx' I touched on the great stairway leading down into an abyss and the caves as both sanctuaries and portals to other times and places, other worlds, other dimensions. After sorting through all the ideas in 'The People of the Pit' I will be expanding on these for my campaign.


    The great stairway will lead to the City in the Pit, the Slug-like creatures that can whisper and charm a man to be their slave, and the great Unseen Deity/Monster that they worship. The stairway acts as a portal and leads to a rift between dimensions that these Slug Beasts inhabit. They are constantly seeking slaves and sacrifices to their Unseen god but have been unable to ascend the stairway itself. The wards are fading though, and expeditions of these creatures will soon be seen on the surface of Hyperborea.


    The Thick White Liquid is the sap from the Snaky Red Trees. It strengthen and heals any human but weakens their ability to resist the charmed whispering of the creatures.


    The Golden Band is both an enchanted item and a living creature fashioned from the body of a living Slug Beast. It acts to enhance the enthrallment of their slaves so that they will do their bidding even at the cost of their own lives.


    The Slug Beasts range in power according to the light of they emit from their heads. Purple is the weakest while Red light is emitted from the strongest of these monsters. They have the ability to float, though not at great speed unless close to a surface. They can even float quite fast across a liquid surface, but are very slow if flying above. Their main power is their ability to charm creatures and people. The more Slug Beasts who concentrate their power together, the stronger the charm. Otherwise they are able to conduct physical attacks with the whip like tentacles each possess. Damage is slight but these tentacles have the power to stun or paralyze an opponent. The weakest of the Slug Beasts require multiple strikes with their tentacles in order to stun. Those who project the purple light can only attack with 3 tentacles at a time, but the strongest can strike with 18 tentacles (they all possess 20 tentacles ringed about their body). These tentacles are surprisingly delicate and can be destroyed with very little damage.


    Biting is also another attack form. The weaker Slug Beasts are also the smaller, the Purple creatures only 3 or 4 feet high and 1HD monsters. While the Red Slug Beasts are up to 15 feet high and are 12HD monsters, possessing several abilities, including the ability to cast spells.


    They are intelligent creatures capable of using tools but they wear no armor and use no weapons except those they naturally possess. They are wonderful alchemists and produce potions and balms of all sorts as well as poisons. They normally keep these in vials made of bone (human and otherwise) or great golden metal storage jars they craft from the living bodies of the weaker Slug Beasts.


    There are six known types of these creatures which project light along the primary color (Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red from weakest to strongest), but it suspected that the Unseen Deity/Monster they worship projects a light that cannot be seen by human eyes, and their young project a light that is also invisible (Infrared and Ultraviolet respectively).

    The Great City of The Pit is vast and rests on a plane of existence inimical to human life. There are no mountains but a vast jungle filled with living plants surrounds the massive city on most sides and a wasteland of mud and fens with some open expanses of thick yellow liquid are at its one edge. There are no vertebrate creatures in jungle or wasteland, but life of sorts abound, with abominable creatures of slime and plants that slither and wind like beasts through the distorted and abhorrent growth of the jungle.   

    Posted: 09-15-2020 03:31 pm
    Tale of Brave Ulysses


    The Hellenic people of Hyperborea have carved out small city-states amid this chaotic and eldritch land, but they have not forgotten their past and no legend has greater meaning to a people lost from old Earth than the tales of Ulysses. In the centuries since they crossed the seas and found themselves trapped in this cold hard country countless ships and sailors have been lost striving to find a way to return to their fair Mediterranean home.

    Even today a great expedition is being prepared in the city of Ptolemides and adventurers and explorers from all over Hyperborea have come to join the legendary captain Eudoxus in this journey. Eudoxus has ventured further in his galleys than any other captain in Hyperborea, even the vaunted Norsemen of Vikland have not sailed as far... and returned.

    Eudoxus is a popular man with the Hellenic people of Ptolemides as well as his crew, but he has never denied a place in his galley to any man who can prove his worth, Hellene or outsider. This expedition is no different and unlikely shipmates are to be found among his crew. Any man strong enough to pull an oar is welcome if the know the sea or the sword for Exodus brings with him a strong warband as well as his sailors. Woe betide the fate of any Viking raider, pirate or slaver who thinks to attack the Phlegethon, Eudoxus' two-decked galley, but the size of the vessel is unlikely to attract the wolves of the sea that so often prey upon the merchantmen of Hyperborea.

    While the expedition is formidable and one which many think will finally overcome Eudoxus and his Phlegethon there is a steady stream of volunteers for his crew and many men of renown are said to have already signed aboard and sworn their oaths to Eudoxus. Though he still needs to fully crew his massive ship he has enough men to set out on a shorter journey, the location of which remains a secret known only to Eudoxus and the most loyal or experienced members of the expedition, he has never sailed out without returning with wealth and stories of heroic proportion as well tales of danger and sometimes the heads of his conquests to prove it. It will be only a handful of days before Eudoxus sets sail and those seeking gold and glory must make haste if they wish to sign aboard the Phlegethon and sail into legend. 

    Posted: 09-13-2020 10:15 pm
    Tesla and the Unknown Region

    Tesla and the Unknown Region


    "Darest thou now O soul.

    Walk out with me toward the unknown region,

    Where neither ground is for the feet nor any

    Path to follow?"


    One day Nikolai Tesla walked out onto his stage between his machines of tamed lightning and in a blinding flash disappeared from Old Earth forever.

    The gulfs of space are not empty. No, they are filled with a horror older than time, beings that should not be and are inimical to man. Their gaze which is not sight wanders the galaxy peering deep into the darkness as easily as they stare into the blinding core of a sun. Some have fallen to Earth and the hint of their shadow haunts the dark corners of the mind. Others have crawled between what is and what was and what may come venturing forth in madness and ecstasy. And in Hyperborea many of these dark powers are worshiped as Gods though they care not thirsting only for the souls of men and lusting after torment and despair.

    The men of Old Earth have touched they veil that hides these beings delving deep into the grinding spheres too small for the eye to detect or summoning the lighting and chaining the elementals to dance for their pleasure. Nikolai Tesla was one of these men, a powerful wizard that changed the substance of the world by tearing apart the veils and thrusting his mind into the white light of creation. In his hands he wielded the power of light and fire and awoke the beasts which lurk.

    In a confrontation that removed him from the world of modern man he broke the spine of the daemon summoned against him and fashioned a gateway from its unearthly flesh powered by its own hellish spirit. His gaze sought a refuge and in the mist shrouded land of Hyperborea that exists beyond time and the geography of any but the mind he stepped from Old Earth and into the ageless realm.

    A new Wizard walks the streets of Khromarium. Tesla came upon Hyperborea with nothing but power and with his power he has fashioned himself a citadel in the ancient ruins of the great city. His tower blazes with globes of fire, with chilling lightnings that can crawl across the ground, across the flesh of man without burning, without ending. His power is great but his needs for metal, for this Hyperborean magic he has discovered, for his automations that guard his laboratories, all are great and many a merchant and adventurer has profited greatly in their dealings with striding giant of light and raw power.

    Tesla has stepped from Old Earth through the Unknown Region into Hyperborea and shaken the foundations of all. Opportunity abounds, he can be a generous master, a

    Posted: 09-13-2020 08:43 pm
    Listener to the Sphynx


    Listener to the Sphynx


    In Hyperboria the Plateau of Leng holds many mysteries. It is not a place for men or even those who walk as men, but amid its wind swept desolation can be found the ruins of man. No record tells of the men from old Earth's Aegypt dwelling in that terrible place, but the statues and obelisks of that ancient land can be found jutting from the surface of the cold and barren tundra.

    A cult of wild-monks, driven mad by their nearness to the dark and malevolent entities which dwell atop the high plateau, speak with the statues of man, God and monster and they listen for a reply which is more than the moaning of the wind. These mad men speak of a lost city, of the terrible otherworldly music that floats down on the wind from the plateau to the low hills, of the things whose shape twists the mind and the bodies which must be gathered and burned by touch since none can see such things and live.

    The monks have no name for their order and their dwelling place is usually no more than a hide or ragged blanket used as a cover from the brutal winds and merciless sun of the desolation of Leng slung from the edge of ruined stone, boulder or ditch. There is a secret temple buried beneath the baked earth of the plains of Leng near the foothills too close to the edge of the plateau to protect the sanity of man. The markings are the most ancient of hieroglyphs of Old Earth's Aegypt and the story they tell of the rise and exile of their God-King Sutekh burns the soul of any reader as a surely as a brazier of coals would burn the flesh.

    The temple, which the monks call The Hall of Mati, is protected by some terror known only as The Things of the Night. Whether these be the blasphemous soul-rending creatures which haunt the Plateau of Leng or some other foul and wondrous beings brought from the depths of Stygian darkness beneath the sands of Aegypt and transported to Hyperborea no man knows, not even the monks who worship these living nightmares. The Things of the Night have no care for the monks though they do no more than torment them and haunt their dreams rather than devour their souls as they do to any who would profane the temple.

    Inside the temple are chambers kept meticulously clean by the monks; chambers for worship and contemplation, a library of scrolls and books of all types and languages. A cadre of blind monks tends the temple and records the knowledge gained from their more wild brethren who wander the desolation around them seeking answers from broken fragments of Aegyptian Gods and effigies of guardian monstrosities that litter the wasteland. The temple descends down into dark gulf by way of a series steps carved from a greenish stone. The mouths of myriad small caves are set next to the steps and on the outer edge, unprotected by rail or balustrade, lays an abyssal pit that seemingly has no end. As the steps are descended the roof of the cavern first disappears in a bluish haze then a darkness which becomes lit by a field of stars that roof no earthly heaven. a whispering is said to descend from these stars, beautiful and enthralling, and the bodies of men who died of thirst or exposure, for the stairway into the pit is colder than the mere chill of ice or snow, can be found staring up at this alien expanse with sightless eyes and the look of ecstasy frozen on their lifeless husks. Only the sanctuary of the caves can protect a man when he is called by the whispering from the stars, and even then he will never be free of the longing for the voices which called to him from the dark.

    The caves upon that perilous stair are sometimes no more than a bare chamber but at other times they are portals to other places and other times. The monks are said to have charted hundreds, perhaps thousands of these caves, a chart that varies with the changing of the alien stars seen above. With their knowledge they travel beyond Hyperborea and within Hyperborea. They have visited ancient Mu, Lemuria and Atlantis, Aegypt before the coming of man when the beast-headed Gods walked the deserts alone, they have walked among the stars. They search for items of vast power said to be the sceptre of Horus called the Giver of Winds and a crystal tablet marked by the hand of the Falcon-God himself.

    These things not even the wise and powerful suspect of the nameless wild monks of Leng. Though many wonder what they hear from the lips of their broken stone idols or how they survive the mad desolation and eldritch terror of such a cursed and unholy place. 

    Posted: 09-13-2020 12:15 pm
    Historical - The Origins of Humanity


    According to the Baklunish humanity was created in what is now the trackless southern deserts of Zeif. It is true that the vast wastelands of sand that are the south and west of Zeif once contained ancient empires that died before the Suel Imperium was ever born. Ancient Zeif contended with both but the Baklunish speak of a savage time when humanity wasn't much better than the animals they consumed and only the annals of the demi-human races can confirm this bestial time before the history of humanity had truly begun.

    What record is there beneath the sands of Zeif that yet may exists to prove these stories? The sand-swept ruins of these other empires appear from time to time. If one were to delve deep beneath these do the bones of the first humans await to be found?

    Posted: 09-12-2020 07:11 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - A Crown of Snakes and Flowers


    A Crown of Snakes and Flowers


    When the doom finally came upon the great city of Kor the King was lost, his body and the crown of Kor never found. It is said that the nameless beast, which no power seemed able to stop, slew the king and consumed his body leaving only a bloody bag of flesh behind, but there are rumors that the king escaped through tunnels beneath the city which led beyond the walls into the dense surrounding forest.

    Escaped or slain, he was never seen again but within the forest of Koth (called Trogos by the native tribes of ape-men and fish-eyed troglodytes) the crown of Kor, adorning a worn and ancient skull, has been described as the center of an inhuman and barbaric shrine. The crown is of reddish gold formed into bands of snakes and flowers, and so the shrine is a strangely bright affair of flowers laid in offering while snakes writhe about the rotting bodies and man and beast beneath their floral coat.

    Tribes of the frog-like reptilian trogs surround the shrine, and their fondness for snakes has led them to cultivate true monstrosities as pets. What other relics of mighty Kor may be found if this truly be the lost crown, and are the worn bones and fleshless skull the pitiful remnants of its once powerful king?   

    Posted: 09-12-2020 06:47 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Hanged Man


    The Hanged Man


    The roadsides of Hyperborea are dotted with hanging trees, gallows or gibbets, rarely unoccupied. These are often places of the unconsecrated dead and in consequence are avoided or quickly passed by the common folk of the locale, but it is not unusual to see a cleric setting wards, a patrol of warders and workmen removing one malodorous corpse to make room for a fresh one, a wandering skald, a lurking necromancer's apprentice, a pair of body-snatchers, or among the Rus, a dispossed drifter called a Zhulik serving some vile purpose of the local Koldun ( a type of Witch/Necromancer/Soothsayer) as depicted here.

    The Hanged Man serves as a warning to rebels, outsiders and any troublemakers and the spaces on the gibbet are all too readily filled. The symbol of The Hanged Man is found in many lands of Hyperborea among thieves as a simple twist of rope or as a small doll-like figure of cloth among certain dark cults of murder and assassination. Among the Norse it is banned emblem and those found with it are subject to the punishment of Ullr. 

    Posted: 09-12-2020 11:36 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - Older Than The Memory of the Dead


    Older Than The Memory of the Dead


    The foundations of Khromarium are set deeper and more firmly than bedrock. They touch upon the boundary of the black abyss and the nightmare dreams of the Elder Gods who were never worshiped by man. More terrible than the bodies of the Dead that Walk are the Blue-men who inhabit these frail shells of humanity.  That they themselves are corpses of some ancient and unknown race speaks of a terror the passing ages has allowed to endure.

    The Blue-men are corrupters and desecrators. They delight in pain and the torture of the living. They trample the ceremonies and rituals of the Gods beneath their feet and scatter the offerings of the pious. Rarely seen, the Blue-men are powerful and draw energy from the power of priests and mages. The drain the life from strong warriors and wear their skin as a cloak to mask their decaying limbs. They find their ways into the very bones of men.

    When and where they will appear is unknown. They prefer moonless nights but will come out in the brightest day. Singly they are a terror, but in groups of three or four they are a devastation. Wherever they come from it is deep beneath the great city, among the tunnels that wind down and down beneath the earth, swallowed in darkness, older than the memory of the dead.

    Posted: 09-12-2020 11:34 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - Bearers of the Dead


    Bearers of the Dead


    One of the more bizarre cults of Hyperborea is the Priesthood of the Burden. When and where they first arose is a mystery and who their patron deity may actually be, if they have any at all, is unknown. Each priest is a strong man or woman, they have need to be, for each morning when they rise they pray to their deity and strap onto their back the bones of the dead. Are these the bones of a loved one? An enemy? A worshipper of their unknown God? Only members of their order know and none will say.

    They have no temples, no shrines, though they are often seen among tombs or graveyards. They offer no prayers and give no sermons though they sell their services and gain coin through the power granted to them. The members of the priesthood may be found in Khromarium, Ptolemides, Yitharium, almost anywhere in Hyperborea carrying their gruesome burden upon their back where-ever they go.

    Posted: 09-12-2020 11:20 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Blood of Medusa


    The Blood of Medusa

    The Hellenic people came to Hyperborea long ago. They came in single galleys and large fleets, the greatest were those lost coming home from the ruin of Troy swallowed by the capricious will of the Gods and the dark waters that separated the living world from the realm of the dead. They found a land much different than their sunny warm homeland but they also found other Hellens and they found both their monsters and their Gods. It is said that Apollo has walked in Hyperborea since the dawn of time and wild Pan has left Old Earth to dwell here for long ages. So too dwells the Medusa or the Gorgon as they call her here.

    The Medusa in Hyperborea is not she of Old Earth legend, but these Medusae are her kin. Her sisters or her children. They are found on the many islands which dot the cold Hyperboread sea, they inhabit the peaks and passes of the great mountains which split the continent and rise toward heights greater than man has ever climbed. As deadly as their Old Earth namesake, they leave the smashed fragments of common men and heroes, frozen by their gaze, amid their lairs and hidden dens.

    The bravest of men hunt these fiends, fair in body and face, but foul in spirit with a nest of vipers for their hair. To slay a medusa is to earn more than fame. Even dead the power of their gaze remains in their own cold, dead eyes. And the blood of a medusa will grant a man flesh that can turn a blade, healing that can return a man from death, or reflesh men turned to stone.

    It is said in Ptolemides that the son of the last Hellen king is a frozen statue in the lair of a Medusae Queen and that to free him will see the lost glory of the Hellenic people and the fortunes of Ptolemides return to a golden age not seen since the coming of the heroes in the long ages past. Much gold and much more speculation is now spent on where this Queen may reside but the common belief is that the great captain Eudoxus and his expedition is bound for an isle shown only on a parchment-skin map held in trust by the priests of Apollo.

    Posted: 09-10-2020 09:55 am
    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperborean Campaign Alternative - Part 4


    L1A10) This long room, no wider than the outer halls, is lined with tables alternating against the north (top of the map) and south (bottom of the map) walls. The small 10ft northerly nook of this generally east-west room is lined with shelves. This room was lit by several glass lanterns hung set near the ceiling which arches close to ten feet above the floor. These lanterns could hold oil and all are still about half fool (and presently unlit). They can be taken down simply by removing them from a hook and chain arrangement near the ceiling. There are 4 lanterns in total.  Once they were enchanted with the spell 'Continuous Light' but that enchantment has long since faded.

    In the long room several of the tables toward the middle have been overturned and debris scattered, but those tables nearest to the door and those near the small bend in the chamber are upright

    There are two tables near the door that still have the remains of small items.  Several small hand tools with rusted ends (worth 5 silver in total as salvage to a dealer in such delicate instruments) a scratched glass oval that was once a powerful magnifying glass now worthless except for starting fires in strong sunlight, and a jumble of 5 pieces that would make an Atlantean LazPistol but it is missing its power back. The LazPistol must be assembled to function. A functioning LazPistol would be worth thousands of gold and even the parts in this condition would be worth 100gp a part to the right dealer.  The LazPistol parts strongly resemble those of a hand crossbow except that these are all made out of metal with no wooden stock. Since the players characters are unlikely to have ever seen a LazPistol these parts can be casually described as those of a hand crossbow.

    The second table is scattered with a number of square cylinders (the housing for LazPistol powerpacks) but they are simply hollow metal tubes with no interior components. A large table vice is attached to the edge. It weighs over 25lbs and is worth 10 silver to any smith. A selection of fine files has rusted to the wall and the rack they were set in rendering them relatively valueless.

    The player characters will notice a scattering of bones on the floor with the largest concentration amid the overturned tables. The bones are from at least a dozen human-sized skeletons. No flesh remains on these bones and anyone with knowledge of such things will notice the rounded ends of the longer bones denoting boiling in some metal cauldron. Amid the bones are a handful of rusted weapons. 3 Longswords, 5 maces, 1 warhammer, and 2 crossbows.

    There are also a dozen metal rings of iron etched with runes. These metal rings are about 8 inches in diameter and will radiate magic if detected. They are a magical item concocted by Zelligar long ago. Tired of interference by holy men, shamans and clerics he devised a means of rendering his lesser undead creations immune to their Turn Undead abilities.  With his iron slave collar his animated creatures were under his control alone.

    At the end of the room near the small north facing door is an empty weapons rack (though a small compartment at the bottom of the rack contains sharpening stones, metal polish and spare strings for crossbows). There are also shelves on either wall of the 10ft area around the door. The floor is littered with small boxes and bits and pieces of metal squares, tubes, sprockets, springs and whatnot. There is 50lbs worth of the stuff and a metal craftman would gladly pay 5 silver per pound for these bits and bobs.

    NEW MAGIC ITEM: Zelligar's Iron Slave Collar

    Using arcane knowledge granted to him from his researches in Quasqueton Zelligar crafter his iron slave collars. These collars can fit around the neck of any humanoid undead, but his iron collars only function on skeletons and zombies allowing them complete resistance to the Turn Undead ability of clerics. Each of these iron colors is etched with the same runes, is made of a reddish tinged iron and weighs around 3lbs. There is a 10% chance that when a Turn Undead is attempted against a wearer of the collar that the collar will explode causing 1d6 damage to everything is 10ft radius and completely decapitating the skeleton or zombie.

    These collars would bring a bounty of 50gp each to clerical authorities in Ptolemides or Khromarium, but any Necromacer would pay at least 100gp each for these collars.

    NEW WEAPON: Atlantean LazPistol

    An Atlantean LazPistol resembles a hand crossbow but without a bow and made entirely of a light grey metal. Said to have originally been brought down from the stars by travelers to fair Atlantis in the distant past and imitated by the legendary Atlantean weaponsmiths, these LazPistols are exceedingly rare and hard to replace. They have an effective range of 50ft, may be fired twice per round and do 1d6+3 damage. Their powerpacks come in two sizes 25 bolts and 50 bolts. If left in the sun these packs will recharge at a rate of 5 bolts per day. LazPistols are valued in excess of 10,000 gold and powerpacks at 500 and 1,000 gold respectively, but they are rarely offered up for sale. 


    Posted: 09-09-2020 06:52 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Harvester of Kor


    The Harvester of Kor


    Kor, magnificent Kor, vast and ancient Kor, capital of old Hyperborea. Ruined Kor, infested with semi-intelligent man-apes of Hyperborea like worms in a carcase festering in the sun. Kor of towers that scrape the clouds, of magic that lifted men to the sky and touched the moon, Kor of dark-despair and haunted madness. Kor that was, whose foundations are of emerald that cannot be cut or shaped by any means that man can bring to bear. Kor with doorways that cannot be opened, wickedly curved and shaped, squat and peaked for the entrance of beings that were never human.

    A monster came to Kor that could not be named. It ate the souls of men, and their hearts, licked clean their bones, and left a bloody pile of empty skin behind. The armsmen of Kor, with their armor of diamond that could not be pierced, their golden bracers that gave them the strength of ten, their curved blades of blended steel that would cleave shields in a single stroke, these heroic men fell one by one to the nameless beast that stalked by day and at night breathed out its fetid nightmares through the streets of the ancient city.

    And Kor died, its people fled, its king's flesh hung from the gates of his palace like a flag, an empty sack that screamed from a hollow mouth. The high-priest of Kor whose Gods are forgotten burnt himself alive on a pyre of sacred tomes and cried aloud for vengeance even as the fire ate his flesh and burned his name from the knowledge of men.

    When his ashes were long cold and scattered by the winds which played joyfully among the empty streets of Kor the Harvester came down from the dark between the stars. In the shape of a man he met the nameless beast and chased it deep beneath the dungeons of the city. Tied to this earth for an aeon which to him is the single beat of his heart, he walks the streets of Kor.  It is he who opens forbidden doors, he who takes his tithe of blood from among the beast-men, he who they fear beyond their own  Xathoqqua, and he who awaits to find again the hidden nameless thing and fulfill his oath so one day he can again return to his cold and distant home in the darkness of the sky.

    Posted: 09-02-2020 04:15 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Tomb of Isabella


    The Tomb of Isabella


    Isabella of Khromarium is a princess of sorts of that eternal city. Her family was as old as the stones of the Great Council Hall where the rulers of Khromarium sat and extolled laws unto their more savage brethren. But Isabella is gone from the city, dead some say, murdered so that her wealth might pass to her relations, as she is the only child of her parents. Other suspect her lover who they also say Isabella rejected in favor of an older suitor more in keeping with her class and station, Or did her pale beauty attract the attentions of a powerful noble or the reclusive Malygris the greatest and most wicked mage in all Khromarium who is said to have an eye for such young maidens as Isabella. But what has truly happened to Isabella remains a mystery.

    Demosthenes, Isabella's one-time suitor is the scion of a wealthy family. He is a duelist and not an adventurer so he has sought out the services of such to find his darling Isabella. Through bribery and torture he has managed to find a clue to his Love's where-abouts.

    On the outskirts of the Ruling Quarter where all the Councilor families have their mansions are the crypts and tombs of Khromarium's oldest families; Isabella's chief among them. It is here that Demosthenes has been told that his Love was taken. He himself is above breaking into her families crypt and delving into the darkened passageways to search for her, but he will provide servants to move stones and carry torches. He warns that the crypts are no simple affair but are instead passages going back to the earliest reaches of the city and perhaps older even than man's occupation. He wishes them luck and urges them to haste since every hour he is parted from Isabella is a torment.

    At least the fop's gold is good and burial crypts of the wealthy promise decent pickings in burial loot if nothing else.

    Posted: 09-02-2020 09:52 am
    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperborean Campaign Alternative - Part 3



    L1A6) As the PCs approach this alcove they will hear a loud groaning as of someone in pain. A glance inside will show an empty alcove except the ever familiar stone lips of a magic mouth on the back wall. It will give a deep groan as the PCs watch and force itself to say;

    "Passss worddd" before snapping its lips shut.

    If questioned the magic mouth will say;

    "Tooooo Mannn-eee... Tooooo Mannn-eee..."

    It will then try to disappear and remeld with the wall (and secret door) but fail and reappear with a deeper groan and then pinch its lips shut. It will not speak again, but will let a groan escape every few minutes.

    If the players try to detect a secret door and succeed they will find one at the back of the alcove. It appears to be of the same stone as the surrounding walls, but there are indications of a hidden keyhole (this lock can be picked but is already unlocked) and hinges along the one side. The door is actually made of stone though only half as thick as the walls. There is nothing to pull on this side of the door but if 50+ points of strength are used to push at the door it will give an inch then slam shut. The PCs will each have a 1in6 chance (a 6 on a d6) of noticing a faint putrid smell when the door is momentarily opened but it is quickly lost amid the general smell of damp and mold that permeates the corridor.

    This door is very strong and bound together with magic, which lessens its weight allowing it to be opened as a normal wooden door. Trying to destroy the door is impossible without monstrous strength (such as that of a giant) or with magical weapons. Even then it would quite an undertaking to chip away the stone with an edged weapon, though a magic mace or sledge would have better results).

    Once opened this door can only be locked again with a key

    NOTE: The Password is 'Zenopus' but the door is already unlocked.

    L1A7) As the PCs approach this alcove they will see a pair of stone lips appear. The lips will say;

    "Password!" in a loud, clear and authoritative voice.

    If given the password (Password is 'Suponez') there will be the sound of a click, the magic mouth will disappear, and the secret door will be unlocked (though not revealed unless it is discovered by searching for secret doors). It can be pushed open.

    If given the wrong password the mouth will begin shouting very loudly;

    "INTRUDERS! INTRUDERS!" over and over again for 3 turns before resetting.

    Once opened this door can only be locked again with a key

    This door is very strong and bound together with magic, which lessens its weight allowing it to be opened as a normal wooden door. Trying to destroy the door is impossible without monstrous strength (such as that of a giant) or with magical weapons. Even then it would quite an undertaking to chip away the stone with an edged weapon, though a magic mace or sledge would have better results).

    Even a casual glance into the alcove will reveal a small round object in the corner, though a light source is required. On examination it will be revealed to be the head of a man with the top of his head caved in and the slightly slick insides of his empty skull revealed. The man has a weasely face and beady brown eyes. His scalp appears to have been torn open and pushed aside before his skull was broken and partly removed.

    L1A8) The corridor and alcoves here are awash with congealed blood. The smell of putrification and corruption is overpowering and PCs will need to save vs their constitution on a d20 (their con or less) or suddenly be overwhelmed with the need to vomit (DM's feel free to edit this out if it is too graphic for your game). Examination of the alcoves and corridor immediately in front of both is a disgusting and messy job. Anyone doing so will be covered in decomposing blood and be left literally red-handed, the smell will also linger.  But those doing so will discover;

    The head of a two-handed axe with the haft broken off near the head. It can be repaired easily.

    A scattering of coins 7gp, 23sp, and 15cp.

    A torn leather pouch with 1gp, 2cp still in it. If the pouch is carefully examined a small inner pocket will be discovered contain 5 small diamonds worth 25gp each to any semi-honest merchant.

    A dagger with its tip snapped off (-1 to hit)

    The broken foot-long blade-half of  a longsword (good as an iron spike at least).

    A blood-soaked book with all but the middle 3 pages ruined. It will make a normal man's head spin to try and read it, but it is the remains of a spellbook. It contains the following spells:

    Level 1; Flaming Missile

    Level 1: Light

    Level 2: Fire Web

    The rest of the book is ruined and cannot be deciphered,

    L1A9). From the entrance the short flight of stairs rises to just over the height of a man. The stairs themselves are bloodied but the general dampness of the air and slickness of the stones has gradually allowed the blood to pass and collect in area L1A8.

    As the first PC or PCs ascend the stairs they see a scene of some carnage. First one than another body hoves into view. They are at a small cross-section of corridors with one path straight ahead and two others on either side dwindling off into darkness or stone walls with the hint of other openings revealed along the way by the light of their lanterns, magic or torches. Directly ahead the corridor has two doors at either side and the crumpled form of a man in armor is huddled near to the left-hand doorway.

    The body of another armored man is head-first toward the stairs and the PCs can see his bloodstained head and ravaged face,; the flesh torn and mangled as if an animal had gnawed at it.

    Two more bodies are on the floor about 10ft to the right, both armored men, tangled together in death.

    One man in dark robes is propped against the wall near the right-hand door in the corridor straight ahead of the stairs. His arms and head dangle lifelessly and he is bent at the middle but still upright.

    If the PCs poke, prod or shoot any of the bodies before approaching closer than 5ft the body will utter a low, guttural moan and begin to push itself to its feet. This will take 1 combat round in which the PCs may attack freely and at +4 to hit.

    If the PCs approach closer than 5ft there is a 50% chance that the body will lurch forward and make an attack on the PC using eithers its pummel or bite attack. Otherwise the body will utter a low, guttural moan and begin to push itself to its feet. This will take 1 combat round in which the PCs may attack freely and at +4 to hit.

    After the first of the Living Dead has been roused all 5 of the bodies will rouse at the same time and attack the nearest PC.

    These creatures a new type of monster created by Zelligar called 'Living Dead'.

    NEW MONSTER:

    Living Dead

    No. Encountered 1d100

    Size: M

    Movement: 15

    Dexterity: 3

    Armor Class: 10 or by armor type

    Hit Dice: 1

    No. Attacks: 1 (pummel or bite)

    Damage: 1d8 Pummel or 1d4 bite

    Saving Throw: 16

    Morale: 12

    Experience Points: 48

    Special:

    a). Always attacks last, Takes 1 combat round to awaken if not moving, Cannot run

    b). Immune to poison, fear, charm, paralysis, & cold based attacks

    c). Arrows, bolts and piercing/thrusting weapons only do 1hp damage if they hit.

    d). Natural '20' considered head-shot and immediately kills living dead

    e). Multiple Living Dead will attempt to Overbear see [AS&SH] V.3 Combat actions, unarmed combat

    f) Immune to clerical Turn ability (as they are not undead, but are more akin to a very weak flesh golem).

    g) Electrical attacks heal damage and can even temporarily increase the Living Dead's HPs. HPs can be increased to double normal amount. Lasts for 1 day.

    Zelligar sought to create an army of flesh golems cheaply and experimented with his necromantic abilities to raise the dead. These were his first attempts and were mildly successful, but far too weak for his needs. Still, the made useful servants.

    L1A9) continued...

    All Living Dead have 8hp. They are recently converted to the Living Dead and are a bit slow to respond to noise so any noise made by the PCs before reaching L1A( is ignored.

    Body #1) A living dead in chainmail armor clutching a broken sword (the top half of the blade is found at L1A8). He has suffered terrible wounds to his face and throat and is missing the little finger of his left hand.   He is AC5

    ITEMS:

    A gold ring is on his right hand. Worth 2gp but his family in Khromarium would pay handsomely for its return.

    His chainmail is slightly damaged and rusty but still serviceable.

    Body#2) A Living Dead with head wound. He appear to have been a Norse or a Kelt, at least the white and red stripes of his pants declare him to be.  He is in serviceable chainmail but bears no weapons.  He mumble something about "brainnzzz" as he attacks but is other silent. He is AC5 In combat a natural 18, 19, or 20 will strike his damaged head and kill him on the spot.

    ITEMS;

    A worn, but serviceable chaimail shirt.

    Body#3) A Living Dead in chainmail with a sheathed dagger at his belt and a coin-purse. This body still has a few pieces of equipment left in a brown sack hanging over its left shoulder. He is AC5. Half of a long plaited beard of golden hair dangles from his face but the other half has been torn out by the roots. He is AC6

    ITEMS:

    A slightly damaged (brings AC to 6 instead of 5) chaimaail shirt.

    A dagger +1 (non-magical, but very finely made)

    Coinpurse with 18gp, 5sp, 12cp

    In the sack can be found a metal canteen of water laced with raw alcohol, 1 week's worth of Iron Rations, a 10ft length of wire, a 50ft coil of role and an Iron Hamee.

    Body #4) A Living Dead in ruined chainmail. No weapons. His armor has been yanked to pieces and ruined. He is AC10

    Body#5) A Living Dead in dark robes. The robes have tiny glyphs sewn cunningly into them that are not visible under casual examination. The robe is magical and gives +1 to saving throws versus fire or fore magic. The body has had its throat torn open and is unarmed. He is AC10

    Posted: 09-01-2020 04:12 pm
    Inspiring Illustration - The Priestess of New Delphi


    The Priestess of New Delphi


    She sits upon her raised chair her feet high above the ground, as they never touch the ground; not if she is to receive visions from Apollo Helios. Priestess, prophetess and bodily host to the essence of the God she reaches toward him, toward his avatar, the Sun, as she reaches toward truth, and above the earth, never touching its soil, she will remain till the end of her days as priestess.

    At the end of her days, when age and infirmity take away her ability to receive the God within her, the priestess steps from her chair and passes the bowl of seeing, which contains a deep red and potent wine, and the living stem of the tree of life, to the youngest of her handmaidens who then ascends the golden chain, never again to set foot upon the ground till the end of her days. 

    Or so it should have been.

    The Priestess of New Delphi dwells within a sacred cave. A golden chair with the feet of a lion is raised high so that the Priestess's feet dangle freely, never chancing that she may touch them to the cold stone floor, and thereby become tainted with the base earth. Beneath this chair the stone floor is split, and from this crevice pours forth a subtle smoke that loosens the mind and allows the visions of the Priestess to pass wordlessly from the greater realm wherein dwells Apollo Helios to those supplicants deemed worthy (normally worthiness is judge by the weight and worth of the supplicants offering) to receive her prophetic sight.

    Or so it should be.

    Recently a darkness has crept into the sacred caverns and ominous are the visions granted to Apollo's Priestess. Beneath the caverns of New Delphi a slumbering power has awakened and mixed with the sense altering drafts from below now comes the stuff of nightmares.

    New Delphi is a wealthy and powerful holy site for the Hellenic people, but they themselves cannot disturb the sacred ground. Only outsiders may journey beneath the caverns of New Delphi and seek out what taints the dreams and visions of the Priestess. Success will bring great reward and the gratitude of the worshipers of Apollo and his Priestess. Failure may well mean a lost and lonely death, if not worse, beneath the cold stone of New Delphi.

    Posted: 09-01-2020 07:08 am
    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperborean Campaign Alternative - A Note On Mag


    A Note On Magic Mouths


    The magic mouths at L1A3 and L1A4 control the iron bars which block the passageway at L1A5. Upon finishing their warning they are meant to raise the bars for 5 Turns then drop them again. (The bars will automatically raise for 5 Turns if anyone passes the alcoves at L1A6 & 7 heading toward the front gate).  Unfortunately the magic mouths have become slightly deranged during their years of solitude and have developed a bit of a pugnacious attitude and something of a Scottish accent.


    After their initial attempt to follow their original instructions as to what to shout at intruders they simply give up and leave the bars raised permanently, but now shout insults at anyone who passes them by,


    Here are some of what they may shout and an insult generator.


    1). Run Away, ye Pansys!

    2). An where dae ye think you're goin'?

    3). Back to ye own country!

    4). Suck mae wally!

    5). Freedom! Freedom!

    6). Up yers, ye coot.

    7). Ye bloustie ol'callyack

    8). Ach, stick it up yer trakkans

    9). Stitch this, jimmy!

    10). Ere's a kiss for ye, ya off-lookin minger


    Insult generator:


    Most of their insults begin with Ye or Thee, then roll 1d100 three times.


    1-2). bampot

    3-4). bassa

    5-6). bauchle

    7-8). bawheid

    9-10). boggin

    11-12). bowfin

    13-14). clag-tail

    15-16). clapped-in

    17-18). clatty

    19-20). cuddie

    21-22). diddy

    23-24). doaty

    25-26). dobber

    27-28). doolie

    29-30). doowally

    31-32). eejit

    33-34). feartie

    35-36). ginky

    37-38). glaikit

    39-40). gomeril

    41-42). gommy

    43-44). hackit

    45-46). haggis

    47-48). heidbanger

    49-50). hing-oot

    51-52). honkin

    53-54). jessie

    55-56). keech

    57-58). lavvy-heid

    59-60). maddy

    61-62). midden

    63-64). midgie-raker

    65-66). minger

    67-68). numpty

    69-70). nyaff

    71-72). oof-lookin

    73-74). plookie

    75-76). puggled

    77-78). scabby

    79-80). scadge

    81-82). scaffbag

    83-84). scunner

    85-86). shaan gadgie

    87-88). skelly

    89-90). soapdogger

    91-92). tosser

    93-94). tumshie

    95-96). wally

    97-98). wally, wally

    99-100). Reuse previously rolled word or double use next word if first roll.

    Posted: 08-30-2020 03:45 pm
    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperbanore Campaign Alternative Part 2



    WILDERNESS AREA OUTSIDE OF QUASQUETON


    The wilderness around Quasqueton is dangerous but in a more natural way than the dungeon. There are no human settlements now closer than 30 miles and no roads or even large trails leading to the hill. There are animal trails and a small stream about two miles from Quasqueton which runs from north to south and empties in a marshy area. There is a chance that the players will find a beaten trail through the woods, not fresh, but as recent as a few weeks past, someone using bladed tools or weapons widened an animal trail in the direction of the hill. This chance becomes near certainty when the gates of Quasqueton are found since the cleared trail leads to the gate. Backtracking along this trail the players will find that it splits in two. One way leads back to the small stream, the other to a campsite.


    The Campsite


    At some point a few weeks before the PC's arrive someone, several someones, established a small camp at the base of the hill. It has been destroyed and only torn and muddy canvas, broken wooden casks and some metal debris such as a dented pot, iron chain, a cask of iron spikes (48 rusty iron spikes salvageable from the dirt and forest loam).  Exploration of the campsite will reveal that a building once stood in this place, the fallen stone walls covered by bushes and vines but its foundation, still forming a square with the campsite in its middle, shows the dimensions of a mid-sized structure.  Even if the campsite is not explored in detail there is a 1d3 chance of one of the players hearing the sound of burbling water and only a dozen feet into the woods a small spring can be found.


    NOTE: Before setting off on their quest the PCs will be supplied with 1 pack mule for every 3 PCs. 1 full month of iron rations per PC. 1 medium-sized tent for every 3 PCs. Sundry camping gear which the DM may decide to detail or allow the PCs to request, but anything within reason should be allowed. The one item of true note is a compass-like device which always points in the direction of Quasqueton, but whose pin spins in happy little circles within the dungeon itself.


    A wilderness encounter table has not been included. This is a forested area and forest animals and animal-like monsters dwell within it. The players characters cannot expect any animals or goods left unattended to remain unmolested but the main focus of the adventure is the dungeon and not the wilderness.


    A ROLEPLAYING RECOMMENDATION:


    It is recommended, but such advice can easily be ignored, to have the players generate 3 player characters each before starting the adventure. 1 PC can be left behind to hold the horses and guard the camp, while two others journey into the dungeon. If one or even two PCs are killed during a game session a third will be readily available to take up the fallen torch and keep the game moving forward without too much backtracking. Then one or two new PCs can be rolled up and be ready to be worked into the campaign.


    THE GATES OF QUASQUETON


    LEVEL 1

    NOTE: Keyed areas are simply marked 1. , 2. , etc... on the map, but are listed in the text as L#A# (Level#Area#)

    NOTE: Passageways: All Passageways on level 1 are made of smooth, largish blocks of stone of varying size. Floors and walls are slightly slick. Passageways are unlit but have wall sconces to hold torches every twenty feet on opposite walls. Unless otherwise noted.

    NOTE: Doors: All doors on level 1 are wooden with iron pull-rings on either side. Hinges are set into the wall and copper hinge-plates protect the wood around the hinges. All doors have keyholes and are locked. Unless otherwise noted.

    L1A1). The entranceway to the dungeon appears to be no more than weathered cliff face of blackish slate, except that a section of dirt and vegetation has been cleared in front of a shallow cave-like opening and a stone-faced door, the exterior rough unhewn rock , the interior smooth and finished, stands open. Examination of the door will reveal 3 rusted iron spikes driven into the rock preventing the door from closing.

    The passage is an even 10feet wide and 8feet high. The air is damp and musty and tinged with the smell of corruption.  The passageway is unlit though sconces for torches are set every twenty feet on opposite walls. During the early morning sunlight will illuminate the first 20feet dimly but further than that and the hall is black as a very black pit.

    L1A2). (Trapped Door). A sturdy wooden door with tarnished copper hinge-plates and a rusted iron pull-ring with a small key-hole beside it. This door has old cracks running down its face, but they do not weaken its structural strength. It is a very large door, as are all the doors in the dungeon, made of thick heavy wood. It opens inward but is jammed shut. There are black stains running down the edge of the door from just above the keyhole (blood) and at the foot of the door are several wormlike objects that are a fuzzy-green with white showing through (the severed fingers of the corpse at L1A3).

    TRAP: The pull-ring is trapped with a magic trap (it will radiate magic if detected). Anyone touching it will receive 1d6 electrical damage and a 50% chance of being knocked on their ass and stunned for 1d3 Turns. This damage and effect will occur each and every time the pull-ring is touched.

    The door may be pushed open with a combined strength of 24.  It is not locked, merely swollen shut. If attempts are made to break down the door axes, maces or sledgehammers will make the door gong like a drum and awaken or alert and guards or inhabitants from L1A3 to L1A13. It will take 3d6 Turns to knock open the door

    Attempting to burn down the door with a normal fire will be unsuccessful as the door is damp from the moist atmosphere and the hall is poorly ventilated. Such a fire will force any PCs who need to breathe air out of the tunnel and send a plume of black smoke from the passageway out the front door to hang above the hill like a big bat-signal in the sky.

    Once the door is open examination of it will reveal that there are gouges along the hinges where iron spikes were driven-in and removed and dark black streaks (blood) along the inside of the door from just above the keyhole.

    L1A3) (Magic Mouth) There is a large pool of damp congealed blood on the floor (the floors are damp and slick but not awash with water so the blood has not dried but neither has it washed away) in the alcove, on the walls, a bit on the ceiling and in the passageway between L1A3 and L1A4. The upper torso of a thinnish man in torn leather armor is tossed into the corner. At first glance he looks more like a bundle of rags. He has no lower body, head or fingers on his right hand. If anyone steps into the passageway opposite the alcove or into the alcove itself a pair of stone lips (magic mouth) will appear and speak the following words:

    "Who Dares Enter This Place And Disturb the Sanctity of its Inhabitants?"

    Then with only a slight pause a voice from L1A4 will be heard to say:

    "Htead Niatrec Ot Demood Srerolpxe Yhdrahloof Fo Pourg A Ylno!"

     Then from L1A3:

    "You're Saying It Backwards Again, You Idiot!"

    Then from L1A4 (with an apologetic voice):

    "Sorry, Sorry, My Bad. Woe To Any..."

    Then from L1A3:

    "Wait, Wait, I'm Supposed to be Saying That Too!"

    "Woe To Any... O Bugger It."

    And the stone lips in L1A3 Disappear.

    If searched the torso has only a ruined set of leather armor on its half-person.

    L1A4) If the PCs slip into this alcove without stepping into the passageay or L1A3 a pair of stone lips will appear on the back wall. It will remain silent for a moment and then say:

    "You're Supposed to Talk With Him Across the Hall First."

    If the PCs fail to leave the alcove the voice will say:

    "Off With Ya. I have Nothing More To Say."

    And if the PCs still haven't left it will begin to whistle tunelessly.

    In the alcove PCs will see the severed lower body of a thinnish man dressed in dark trousers and wearing soft leather boots. Dark stains are congealed on the floor and walls. The lower body is tossed in the corner of the alcove.  The boots are salvageable and might be sold for a few silvers. A sheath is built into the side of the left boot and contains a throwing knife.

    L1A5) A set of thick iron bars block the passage. If the PCs have listened to the message from L1A3 the bars will be raised. If not they are lowered and locked in place. It will require a combined strength of 60 to lift and hold the gate. If strength is withdrawn and the point value is less than 60 the gate will come smashing down with a change to do 1d12 damage to anyone underneath and a 25% chance to pin a PC to the floor.

    NOTE: The Magic Mouths will reappear whenever anyone approaches from the front gate, but have grown lazy and surly in the years they have been left alone.  They won't bother lowering the iron bars again and will only yell rude insults at anyone passing their alcoves from now on.

    Posted: 08-29-2020 01:37 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Dark Rider


    The Dark Rider


    Bilibin is a throwback among the tribes of the Rus who live on the edge of the Kimmerian steppes in small cities and large towns. The Rus were latecomers to Hyperborea and the lands and people are disturbingly strange to them. They left behind their gods when they arrived in the aftermath of a great storm that swept them from their conquered home and deposited several town and villages in this strange land, so now most have become followers of Hyperborea's multitude of deities; from Hellenic Apollo to sloth-bodied Xathoqqua. But it is to Nerthus that Bilibin pays worship; she who is a Goddess of peace but demands the sacrifice of men.

    It has been long since the last believer in Nerthus dwelt among the Rus, who seem determined to forget their past and somehow adapt to all the ways of Hyperborea without seeming rhyme or reason. Bilibin is said to have encountered the Goddess in her chariot and become her lone priest. His aim is to return the Rus to her worship and he isn't above killing them all to do so.

    While he is a true-believer in Nerthus, Bilibin is not a cleric but is instead a powerful Warlock, having been both a warrior and a mage in his younger years. He now rides throughout the land of Hyperborea but returns again and again to his people, the Rus, bringing with him death and destruction to all who fail to return to the worship of Nerthus.

    For the most part he is falls upon travelers and small villages and beheads all those who he sees as heretics to the true faith. His actions have earned him the title of the Dark Rider, the bringer of  death and he has little success in his work of conversion. 

    Posted: 08-26-2020 01:24 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Witch-Queen of Yithorium


    The Witch-Queen of Yithorium


    Long ago the Witch-Queen and her band of mercenary followers reclaimed the ruined city of Yithorium and made it their own. Now it is the City-State of Yithorium and the Witch-Queen rules all of the surrounding land. She is plagued by the resistance of the desert nomads who are the main occupants of the Zakath desert which completely surrounds the small city-state.

    Recently a war-leader, Balthus, a Hellinic/Krimmian half-breed waged war upon the city state and besieged the city. The Witch-Queen herself descended upon the siege lines in the night and took the head of Balthus which she animated and placed above the gates of her city where it moans out in pain and cries tears of blood upon those below. (The tears of blood are sought after and collected by servants of magicians, necromancers, priests and merchants, though the guardsmen always take their cut to look the other way. The tears fall at irregular intervals and catching them requires the blocking of traffic so it is a difficult occupation).

    Today there are scattered bands of Balthus' army throughout the city-state and the Witch-Queen is hiring adventurers and mercenaries to track them down and exterminate them. 

    Posted: 08-23-2020 11:26 am
    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperborean Campaign Alternative - Part 1


    B1 In Search of the Unknown - A Hyperborean Campaign Alternative Using the Astounding Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea setting.

    Background:

    Years ago Zelligar the Uncaring, a Necromancer/Alchemist of great renown, and his loyal henchman Rogahn the Bald, constructed a vast underground dwelling, laboratory and fortification they called Quasqueton. This labyrinth of rooms and passages was built far from any towns or settlements, deep within a forested land and dug into a crested hill that commanded an excellent view of the surrounding area. Zelligar valued his solitude since his experiments were dark and dangerous and while the life or death of any other than himself mattered not to him, he did not like interference in his affairs.

    It is said that the construction of Quasqueton took decades and cost the lives of hundreds of laborers. Zelligar found that animating the corpses of the slain greatly added to the efficiency of his workforce; his surviving workers began to slip away only to be hunted down by Rogahn and added to Zelligar's unliving crew. What other enchantments Zelligar used to construct his fortification no one can tell, but as they neared completion powerful beasts, demons and daemons and monsters of all sorts were seen aiding in the building of the seemingly numberless halls and chambers carved from bedrock deep within the forested hill.

    For years both Zelligar and Rogahn disappeared from the knowledge of men. The few workers who survived told tales of the labyrinthine passages, the deep chambers, the finding of passages old and abandoned that joined with the fresh work of Zelligar's fortress-laboratory. They spoke of things best not seen by man, and some, those who had worked on the deepest levels of the complex, refused to speak at all, only hinting at terrible and unnatural things that sang in the darkness and stripped the souls from men.  

    And then one day a band of bloodied mercenaries appeared in the nearest towns, with a husk of a man as their leader. Drained and withered, Rogahn stayed among the townsfolk, who were filled with questions, only long enough to buy supplies and any fresh mounts he could find before riding away, putting as much distance as he could between himself and his former home, Quasqueton.

    In terse words and sepulcher tones Rogahn warned the townsfolk that they were far enough away, that beasts and monsters now stalked the upper halls, but something woken by Zelligar from beyond the void between the worlds ruled the deep chambers, something older and far more evil than man. Beware the singers in the darkness he warned and rode away.

    That was years ago and both Zelligar and Rogahn are folktales now among the people of the surrounding land. The very name Quasqueton is forgotten by the people, but not by those who have studied ancient texts, who search for power no matter how dangerous, evil or unnatural it may be. It is known by few that Zelligar built upon that hill not by chance but by design. Power drew him there to a place where power once had dwelled and been swallowed by the earth in ages before man had even come down from the trees.

    Those seeking such power and lived have learned caution, and it is not they who will breach the doors of lost Quasqueton and walk its long forgotten halls. No, they have hired mercenaries and sought adventurers to be their stalking goats. With old maps and minor enchantments they have equipped the brave and foolish. Now Quasqueton awaits and what rewards or terrors may be found cannot be said for the adventurers are in search of the unknown. With luck the unknown may not find them first.

    DMs INTRODUCTION:

    This is an introductory adventure for a party of 6-8 1st level characters. If retainers or hirelings are used it is recommended that they be unskilled 0-level torch holder types. As the party delves deeper into the halls of Quasqueton the dangers will increase as should the experience level of the party, their wealth and the quality of any followers or hirelings.

    Quasqueton is both a modern dungeon built by Zelligar and a series of ancient tunnels and chambers built by mages and monsters of old and deeper down, because Quasqueton is a very deep dungeon, are places where man did not dwell, passages carved or shaped by things; horrors that should not be and are best not encountered, and rewards, well, the reward of survival, perhaps mere earthly rewards of gold and gems and items of great power, but the cost even for the survivors may be more than they ever receive in return.


    Posted: 08-23-2020 08:39 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Pale Magician


    The Pale Magician


    They say, in Hyperborea, that if you want to find a necromancer you look in a graveyard but if you want to find a magician you go to Khromarium, and in Khromarium the magician to find is young Zorathus called the pale magician.


    There are more powerful sorcerors, witches and mages within the great city, but each can be dangerous to deal with, each will use those who come to them, and normally the cost of dealing with them is high. Zorathus has power enough and each day seems to gain more, and lose some part of himself.


    It is said he never leaves his small tower, an ancient ruin older than man, except in the moonlight. Zorathus has the look of one whom the sun has not touched, but he is not a creature of the night. Instead call him a creature of dreams, for it is in dreams where he truly dwells. And the cost of dealing with Zorathus is not in coin but the dreams of those who come to him. A small price to pay many think. One dream for a spell or enchantment, a scroll of minor power, the varied skills of a sorceror for a dream. The greater the dweomencraft required the cost in dreams increases, deeper dreams more powerful dreams, dreams taken and never to come again.

    Zorathus's servants speak of a door in the ruined tower that appears only in the moonlight, a door through which their master takes the dreams he collects, but where it leads and what use he makes of other mens' dreams none know.

    Posted: 08-22-2020 02:12 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - A Plague of Wolves & Ravens


    A Plague of Wolves & Ravens


    Across the wastes of Hyperborea a lone figure emerges. Swathed in robes no one can say if this be a man or a woman. The figure appears in the distance and a blackness seems to hover near them; and the ravens come. But then the earth seems to move like a wave around this silent pilgrim and the wolves lope by. Hundreds of them.

    They are a killing, scavenging plague that sweeps across the land. All creatures flee before it. Entire villages are decimated by it with scant few survivors who hid in attic or cellar, barricaded against this unstoppable menace.  They are an army and they are winning their war against mankind. They think as an army thinks. They run when a power greater than theirs opposes them. They attack when their opponents are weak. They conquer, but leave only well picked and gnawed bones behind them.

    Posted: 08-22-2020 01:57 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations Tales of Brave Ulysses


    Cream
    "You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever, 
    But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun. 
    And the colours of the sea bind your eyes with trembling mermaids, 
    And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses, 
    How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing, 
    For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips. 
    And you see a girl's brown body dancing through the turquoise, 
    And her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea. 
    And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body, 
    Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind. 
    The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers, 
    And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter. 
    Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell, 
    And you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sands 
    With tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured 
    By the sirens sweetly singing. 
    The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers, 
    And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter. 

    The Hellenic people of Hyperborea have carved out small city-states amid this chaotic and eldritch land, but they have not forgotten their past and no legend has greater meaning to a people lost from old Earth than the tales of Ulysses. In the centuries since they crossed the seas and found themselves trapped in this cold hard country countless ships and sailors have been lost striving to find a way to return to their fair Mediterranean home.

    Even today a great expedition is being prepared in the city of Ptolemides and adventurers and explorers from all over Hyperborea have come to join the legendary captain Eudoxus in this journey

    Posted: 08-22-2020 12:11 pm
    Inspiring Illustrations - The Tree of Crows


    The Tree of Crows


    On the shores of Hyperborea the lost fleet of Erik the Red came ashore long years ago. Only Ullr, the god of glory, was able to make the journey through the mists which cut off Hyperborea from old Earth. It is said that Ullr blinded the eyes of Erik and lead him to this place, lost to the All-Father and the reward of Valhalla.

    Erik's people landed among a chain of islands they named Vikland, but Erik himself was never found. The skalds say that Erik turned back toward the mist when his eyes were opened and he saw how he had been tricked by Ullr, but an island rose from the sea and his ship was raised unto a great height. From the wood of this ship sprang a tree and this tree is the birthplace of crows, the eyes of the All-Father,

    When the tree is found again by Erik's people the crows will come to Vikland, great death, glory and the return of heroes, for the All-Father has never forsaken his people or the harvest of heroes he needs for the last battle. 

    Posted: 08-22-2020 09:56 am
    Inspiring Illustrations - Horse in a Boat


    Horse in a Boat


    The people of the north still venerate the ancient pictograph drawings of their ancestors and the drawings still have power even though the stories they told have been forgotten.

    The skalds and priests can draw power from these drawings and commune directly with the various northern deities; the Raven King, the Stormhammer, the Fox-God, the Green Goddess, etc... so while each of these locations is considered holy no single deity claims them as their own.

    Shamans are said to have been able to draw forth visions of the events depicted in the crude drawings so that their entire tribe could experience them. Some individual creatures or items of power or even heroes from the past could be brought forth, for a time, to help the shaman or the tribe before fading away to their place in the long ago.

    Part of the early path to power for a shaman is said to have been through waking quests that involved stepping into the past or to dreamscapes whose gateways were these carvings and paintings on the ancient rock walls.

    Posted: 08-21-2020 09:59 am
    The Hall of Song, Geoff before the Giants


    The Hall of Song, Geoff before the Giants

    Geoff is last home of the western Flan, those of the mountains and forests. In Geoff the people call themselves the Cydonn and Flan is the name that the outsiders, the Suel and Oeridians, use.

    Geoff is known to its people as the land of song and in the years before the coming of the Empire from the south and the horse-warriors from the north it was a bigger place. The Cydonn had lands further east and south and their tribal cousins, the Gortys and the Arteniens beyond that.

    But in those long-ago days already other people had carved out what they called 'kingdoms' and though the Suel and Oeridians called them Flan, they were not of Cydonns or their blood.

    All these songs were lost except among those of Geoff and scattered across the land were halls of song where the bards and more common minstrels would contest with each other, gather apprentices and keep the old songs alive. Before the giants came.

    Posted: 08-18-2020 07:56 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories - 7



    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories
                                                                                                
    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.



    7). The Planet of the Dead

    Altanoman [NPC]
    Antarion [NPC]
    Chamalos [PLC]
    Haspa [NPC]
    Phandium [PLC]
    Saddoth [TWN]
    Thameera [NPC] female
    Urbyzaun [TWN]

    He was standing on a road paven with cyclopean blocks of grey stone - a road that ran interminably before him into the vague, tremendous vistas of an inconceivable world. There were low, funereal, drooping trees along the road, with sad-colored foliage and fruits of a deathly violet; and beyond the trees were range on range of monumental obelisks, of terraces and domes, of colossal multiform piles, that reached away in endless, countless perspectives toward an indistinct horizon. Over all, from an ebon-purple zenith, there fell in rich, unlustrous rays the illumination of a blood-red sun. The forms and proportions of the labyrinthine mass of buildings were unlike anything that has been designed in terrestrial architecture; and for an instant, Melchior was overwhelmed by their number and magnitude, by their monstrosity and bizarrerie...


    He, Antarion, a renowned poet of the land of Charmalos, in the elder world that was known to its living peoples by the name of Phandiom, had gone on a brief journey to a neighboring realm...


    ...and glad that he was now approaching his native city of Saddoth, where dwelt her dark and splendid palace of past aeons the beautiful Thameera, whom he loved.


    ...the world where in he walked as Antarion was incomputably old, and the ages of its history were too many for remembrance; and the towering obelisks and piles along the paven road were the high tombs, the proud monuments of its immemorial dead, who had come to outnumber infinitely the living. In more than the pomp of earthly kings, the dead were housed in Phandiom; and their cities loomed insuperably vast, with never-ending streets and prodigious spires, above those lesser abodes wherein the living dwelt. And throughout Phandiom the bygone years were a tangible presence, an air that enveloped all; and the people were steeped in the crepuscular gloom of antiquity; and were wise with all manner of accumulated lore; and were subtle in the practice of strange refinements, of erudite perversities, of all that can shroud with artful opulence and grace and variety the bare uncouth cadaver of life, or hide from mortal vision the leering skull of death. And here, in Saddoth, beyond the domes and terraces and columns of the huge necropolis, like a necromatic flower wherein forgotten lilies live again, there bloomed the superb and sorrowful loveliness of Thameera.


    He and she were the last representatives of noble ancient families, whose untabulated lineage was lost in the crowded cycles of Phandiom. Like all others of their race, they were embued with the heritage of a complex and decadent culture; and upon their souls the never-lifting shadow of the necropolis had fallen from birth.


    Thameera was even more sensitive, more visionary by nature; and hers was the ultimate refinement that is close to an autumnal decay. The influences of the past, which were a source of poetic fruition to Antarion were turned by her delicate nerves to pain and languor, to horror and oppression. The palace wherein she lived, and the very streets of Saddoth were filled for her with emanations that welled from the sepulchral reservoirs or death; and the weariness of the innumerable dead was everywhere; and evil or opiate presences came forth from mausolean vaults, to crush and stifle her with the formless brooding of their wings. Only in the arms of Antarion could she escape them; and only in his kisses could she forget.


    Antarion was once more admitted to the presences of Thameera by slaves who were invariably discreet, being tongueless. In the oblique light of beryl and topaz windows, in the mauve and crimson gloom of heavy-folded tapestries, on a floor of marvelous mosaic wrought in ancient cycles, she came forward languidly to greet him. She was fairer than his memories, and paler than a blossom of the catacombs. She was exquisitely frail, voluptuously proud, with hair of a lunar gold and eyes of nocturnal brown that were pierced by fluctuating stars and circled by the dark pearl of sleepless nights. Beauty and love and sadness exhaled from her like manifold perfume.


    They saw below them the ruinous and forgotten roofs of Urbyzaun, which had lain unpeopled for more than a thousand years; and beyond the roofs, the black unlustrous lake surrounded by hills of bare and eave-corroded rock, that had once been the inlet of a great sea.


    ...the crumbling palace of the emperor Altanoman, whose high, tumultuous glories were now a failing legend...



    Beneath the black midnight that hung above them like an imminence of, unremoving wings, the streets of Saddoth were aflare with a million lights of yellow and cinnabar and cobalt and purple. Along the vast avenues, the gorge-deep alleys, and in and out of the stupendous olden palaces, temples, and mansions, there poured the antic revelry, the tumultuous merriment of a night-long masquerade, everyone was abroad, from Haspa the king and his sleek, sybaritic courtiers, to the lowliest mendicants and pariahs; and a rout of extravagant, unheard of costumes, a melange of fantasies more various than those of an opium dream, seethed and eddied everywhere.


    Late in the evening, Antarion left by a postern door the tall and gloomy mansion of his forefathers, and wended his way through the hysteric whirling of the throng toward Thameera's palace. He was garbed in apparel of an antique style, such as had not been worn for a score of centuries in Phandiom; and his whole head and face were enveloped in a peculiar physiognomy of a people now extinct. No one could have recognized him, nor could he on his part, have recognized many of the revellers he met, no matter how well-known to him, for most of them were disguised in apparel no less outre, and wore masks that were whimsical or absurd or loathsome or laughable beyond conception. There were devils and empresses and deities, there were kings and necromancers from all the far, unfathomed ages of Phandiom, there were monsters of medieval or prehistoric types, there were things that had never been born or beheld except in the minds of insane decadent artists, seeking to surpass the abnormalities of nature. Even the tomb had been drawn upon for inspiration, and shrouded mummies, worm-gnawed cadavers, promenaded among the living. All these masks were the screen of an orgiastic license without precedent or parallel.


    ADVENTURE IDEAS

    I have plundered 'The Planet of the Dead' for ideas concerning the isle of Ix, the city-state of Yithorium and a festival for the Zangeriosans.


    Ix

    Unspeakable Ix is a land of dark dreams and brooding evil. The isle at the rim of the world reaches far beyond any geographic boundaries and the great cyclopean roads that cross the isle run interminably into a 'vague, tremendous vista of an inconceivable world'. It is as if all the dead cities, necropoli, forgotten and abandoned temples, monuments and mausoleums of not only this world but also of untold alien worlds, bizarre and monstrous, can be found stretching endlessly into a distant horizon. That Ix sits not only on the rim of this world, but countless worlds and times, Wandering into these lands it easy to become lost and few who venture forth are ever heard from again.

    But it is the living cities of Ix that those from Hyperborea first encounter; Great Saddoth, the capitol of Altanoman's small empire, the city-states of Charamol and Phandiom, and Urbyzaun, ruinous and crumbling, which lies on the outer edge of the kingdom, where the undead servants of necromancer's outnumber the living. Evil dwells in this land whether in the cities of the living or the dead.


    Yithoriam

    Thameera, witch-queen of Yithorium, was once a princess of Saddoth. Her father, Altanoman necromancer-king of Saddoth, conqueror and ruler of Phandiom, Chamalor, and Urbyzaun, the last city-states of the living upon the isle of Ix, had dark sacrificial plans for his beloved daughter. With the help of her lover, the poet Antarion, she escaped and fled the isle, but Altanoman cursed them both. His power over the dead and death itself was boundless and so he cursed his daughter and her lover with eternal life. Thameera is immortal but each day is a torment, only with Antarion does she truly feel and though his curse is a kind of immortality he lives for only a month inhabiting the body of a man of his lineage before fading again to exist in a nightmare realm of the necromancer-king's devising.

    Thameera's immortality has 'turned her delicate nerves to pain and languour, to horror and oppression' and without Antarion such is her rulership of Yithorium. Constantly she looks for ways to break Antarion's curse, though she has come to welcome the endless youth of her own immortality.

    Yithorium is now a rich city, but it is tightly controlled by the witch-queen and her soldiers. There are parts of her city that are still no more than the ruins which Thameera and her band of mercenaries found long ago, but slowly she is rebuilding Yithorium, house by house and street by street.

    There is a constant need for workers, both in the city, clearing and rebuilding, and in the mines where Thameera gathers her wealth. Adventurers of all types are sent to explore the ruins and all such are welcome, but the laws of the city are strict and the punishment for breaking those laws can be months or years working in the mines. Any male entering the city who bears a resemblance to Antarion will find himself invited to a private interview with the witch-queen, but eventually any relationship that develops will end badly.

    Thameera is always eager for news regarding Ix or her father, the necromancer-king.


    Zangerios

    In Port Zangerios and the Zangerios Islands they celebrate the first night the Green Death came upon them in an orgiastic, night-long masquerade that flows through every town and especially the streets of the City of Masks.

    This festival is called 'The Night of Death', but while the people of Zangerios honor the dead upon this day, the night is a celebration of life at its most primal. Children born nine or so months from this day are considered blessed with life but no one examines their parentage too closely.

    From the most lowly beggar to Governor Haspa himself, all can be found in masked costumes ranging from rags to the most elaborate, unheard of, and extravagant. From the last rays of the sun through the deep of the night till the first glimmer of dawn, the celebration illuminates the streets in a river of multi-colored lights like a flood of jewels spilled from the coffers of a dragon's hoard.

    The revellers rule the streets on this night and the laws are few. Murder and robbery are frowned upon, but appearing without mask or costume can quickly become a sentence of death if the fickle, cruel, drugged and drunken mob has its way. Those who do not wish to participate in the celebrations bolt their doors, shutter their windows and pray for dawn.
    Posted: 08-13-2020 12:06 am
    The Catacombs of Ptolemides - IV




    AREAS 16-18

    These areas of the dungeon are filled with thick and clinging spiders' webs (except for where noted). The passages and rooms average 10ft in height except for room 16 whose ceiling arches to a 15ft peak at the center. The walls are smooth stone. Entrances to passageways are arched and framed in stone. Doors are thick, hard wood with iron bands and hinges hidden in equally thick beams used as frames. The average door takes 300hp of damage to knock down. 

    The spiderwebs  are thickest near the ceilings and thin near the floor. They obscure vision and make it hard to move. Vision is down to 10ft even with a bright lightsource. Movement is also slowed down to 10. Fighting within the webs is at -2 to hit and damage for all weapon types except for piercing weapons which receive no penalty. 

    The webs are sticky and clinging, but not strong enough to hold up more than a hat or a small dagger. 

    The webs are unusually moist and have a sickly sweet smell. An open flame will cause the lower webs to crinkle and blacken while emitting a thick smoke, but to set them afire requires an open flame to be held to them for at least 2 combat rounds or the use of magical means.

    If the flames do catch fire the results will be spectacular and a bit explosive.

    NOTE: 

    The upper few feet of the webs near to the ceiling are heavily permeated with fumes from enchanted embalming barrels (A new item noted below). Any open flames which reaches reaches to the ceilings, such as a torch thrust above 8ft or burning webs, will cause the fumes to ignite in a greenish flame. Anyone within the 10ft block where the fire began must Save versus Dexterity or receive 1d8 damage (The save will reduce this to 1d4 damage and the character will have dropped to the ground). There will be a 1 in 6 chance that the fire will ignite clothing, hair, etc... though a successful Save versus Avoidance will negate any potential damage. 

    If the webs are ignited there will be several effects:

    Flames will spread through Area16-18 at a rate of 20ft per combat round. 

    All Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders will take 1d8 fire damage.

    All Pickled Zombies (New Monster) outside of their embalming barrels will be ignited. 

    All seals on embalming barrels will crack though the barrels will not automatically open.

    All open doors will slam shut unless prevented.

    The cracked walkway at 16b will collapse. Specific damage and effects are noted under 16b's description.

    Area 18a will explode. Specific damage and effects noted under 18a's description.


    AREA 16-18 cont...

    Wooden embalming barrels are stored throughout this area. Several of them have been cracked open and are releasing a sickly sweet stench whose fumes have filled the webs along the ceiling.

    This entire area is home to a large colony of Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders. They have been attracted by the fumes coming from the cracked embalming barrels). All Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders in this area are slightly poisoned and inebriated do to the inhalation of these fumes. They are at 1/2 hp and are -3 to hit.

    NEW MONSTER:
    Zombie, Pickled
    No. Encountered: 1d6
    Alignment: Chaotic Evil
    Size: M
    Movement: 20
    Dexterity: 3
    Armour Class: 6
    Hit Dice: 2
    No. of Attacks: 1 (Pummel or Bite)
    Damage: 1d6 Pummel or 1d3 Bite
    Saving Throw: 16
    Morale: 12
    Experience Points: 52
    Treasure Class: J,K,L,M

    Pickled Zombies are the result of unhallowed corpses left inside enchanted embalming barrels. These barrels (combined with a specific fluid) are normally sealed with a clay and wax ward that inhibits reanimation, but over time or if the seal is damaged, the bodies placed in these barrels will reanimate as a slightly weakened form of a normal zombie.

    In appearance these Pickled Zombies are undecayed. Their flesh is moist and covered in a viscous goo which exudes from their pores, mouth, nostrils and other bodily openings. This goo smells sickly sweet and the fumes which come from it are flammable though the goo is not. Anyone trying to grapple with a Pickled Zombie will be at a -2 disadvantage. They are literally as slippery as a greased pig.

    Special:
    2 or more Pickled Zombies will attempt to grapple or overbear an opponent. If they are able they will then stuff the victim in an enchanted embalming barrel in an attempt to create another zombie. It takes at least a week for a body to ripen in a barrel and emerge as a Pickled Zombie.

    Pickled Zombies are immune to fire based attacks. If exposed to flame, magical or normal, they will ignite with a shimmering blue flame, but the viscous goo that they exude protects them from fire damage. A burning Pickled Zombie does an additional 1d4 per attack with a 1 in 6 chance of setting their opponent afire for 2 combat rounds (at 1d4 damage per round). Save versus Avoidance for no damage. This blue flame will last around a Pickled Zombie for 1d6+3 combat rounds unless reignited by another flame source.

    Pickled Zombies smell sickly sweet and attract spiders of all sorts. The fumes are a mild poison to spiders as well as an intoxicant. A spider exposed to these fumes for more than a week will be poisoned at 1/2hp and intoxicated for a -3 to hit penalty.

    NEW ITEM:

    Enchanted Embalming Fluid
    This fluid is normally found in conjunction with Enchanted Embalming Barrels and Pickled Zombies. Though it can be found on its own, it has a shelf life of only 2 weeks before losing its potency when not in a Enchanted Embalming Barrel or Pickled Zombie. It is a mild poison which will reduce most non-magical creatures to 1/2hp if exposed to it for more than a week. It is a greenish, thick liquid that emits a powerful sickly sweet smell. This smell attracts spiders from as far away as 60ft+1d10x10ft

    NEW ITEM

    Enchanted Embalming Barrel
    These were designed years ago to preserve the bodies of the dead for a more elaborate interment. Each was sealed with a priestly ward set in clay and wax around the barrels lid after the body was placed inside. Unfortunately these wards decayed after only a few months and were easily damaged. A body placed in an unwarded Enchanted Embalming Barrel will become a Pickled Zombie after a weeks marination. 


    AREA 16
    3 poisoned Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders reside in this area. They will attack anyone passing through the center section of the room.

    In the South-West corner of the room there is an over-turned hand-cart with a broken wheel. Beneath the cart is a large wooden chest. The chest is unlocked and has inside a large quantity of spoiled trail rations, 3 skins of dank but drinkable water (1 quart each), a glass jar  with a waxed top containing 1 pint of moonshine. In a secret compartment at the bottom of the chest are 2 healing potions and 1/2 a dozen empty potion bottles.

    Along the North wall are 6 Enchanted Embalming barrels, 4 of which contain Pickled Zombies.

    AREA 16a
    These corridors contain webs, Pickled Zombies, poisoned Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders, and Enchanted Embalming Barrels,

    For every 20ft of corridor there is a 1 in 3 chance of encountering the following:
    1). 1d2 poisoned Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders
    2). 1d3 Pickled Zombies
    3). 1d3 Enchanted Embalming Barrels that are:
    a). Empty 
    b). Sealed with the body of a corpse - Treasure Class - L,K,M
    c). Unsealed with a Pickled Zombie
    4). The drained hulk of some creature
    a). A dog
    b). several rats
    c). The body of a man in leather armor. He clutches a short-sword in his withered hand. A small case on his belt contains ink, quills, parchment and a partially completed map of this level.
    d). A man in robes. He wears an enchanted +1 silver dagger on this right arm. Inside his robes in a hidden pocket there is a tube containing a scroll of Burning Hands and another scroll of Flame Missile.
    e). The body of an Giant Ogre-Faced Spider on its back with its legs curled around it. It is not dead, only dead drunk and poisoned like its fellows. It will spring to life if awakened.

    AREA 16b
    This 10ft section of hallway is piled with a score of Enchanted Embalming Barrels. At some point these were used as a make-shift platform to reach the ceiling. Some took a hammer and chisel and did substantial damage to ceiling, even gouging a few holes to the passage above. The barrels have no fallen and several are cracked open and oozing a greenish viscous goo. 

    The heavy fumes in this spot have attracted 1/2 dozen Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders who lair in this passage. They are both poisoned and drunk like their fellows in other areas. 

    If exposed to open flame these webs will ignite with a powerful explosion. Anyone in the 16b square will suffer 3d8 damage (Save versus Breath Weapon for 1/2 damage). Anyone in the two adjacent squares will suffer 2d8 damage, Save versus Breath Weapon for 1/2 damage). 

    If an explosion occurs the ceiling will crumble and now have a 5ft diameter ragged hole (or from above a 5ft diameter hole in the floor of that passage). All barrels in and around 16b will split apart and 8 flaming Pcikled Zombies will crawl from the wreckage.

    AREA 17
    This room is littered with smashed barrels, the dismembered bodies of 5 Pickled Zombies and 7 dead Giant Ogre-Faced Spiders. The door to the East is open, but has been severely damaged and hangs only from an upper hinge. The secret door beyond is closed and a bar has been dropped across the inner side to keep it shut.

    The webs in this room have been hacked apart at 6ft high and lower, but the upper webs are still thick and permeated with embalming fumes. These webs will ignite if exposed to flame but will cause only 1d3 damage to anyone beneath them and a Save versus Dexterity (which will mean dropping to the floor) will negate any damage.

    AREA 18a
    This small room is jammed with Enchanted Embalming Barrels, the Southern 10ft square is packed floor to ceiling with over 25 barrels alone. All the barrels are cracked and leaking fluid.

    The door to this room is shut but not locked. Anyone opening the door will need to Save versus Breath Weapon or become immediately nauseated and subject to vomiting. Each combat round that this door is open or anyone is within the room, a Save must be made. This door is partially cracked and leaks fumes from the concentrated source within. If the hall outside the door is ignited then area 18a will explode violently.

    The door will be shattered and cause 1d10 damage to anyone standing in the 10ft block front of it (in the 18b hall). Anyone inside the room will suffer 3d8 damage. After such an explosion the room will contain only a large amount of shattered barrels and body parts. If anyone sifts the wreckage they may find 280gp, 584sp, 2,000cp and 12 30gp gems. To recover these items by mundane means will be slow and disgusting work.

    AREA 18b
    The Northern door to this hall is shut with a bar across it, but is also nailed shut with iron spikes from the other side.

    The Eastern door leading to area 18a is shut and the door is cracked

    The West door is open.

    This small hallway is filled with webs. See area 16a for possible encounters.

    Posted: 08-12-2020 12:42 am
    Masilda the Rhennee Seeress and the Werewolf King


    Masilda the Rhennee Seeress and the Werewolf King

    The barges of the Rhennee are ubiquitous along the Velverdyva and among them is perhaps no figure of more renown then Masilda. Her powers of divination are sought by merchants, princes, soldiers, sailors and adventurers of every hue. But her abilities come at a price for her visions show a true fate, most often dark and unavoidable
    .
    The path of the Ranger-Lord, Lokanth, of the Gnarley Forest whose destiny it was to inherit the mantle of the Werewolf King allowed for no alteration despite the visions and warnings of Masilda.

    The dark and misted woods of the Gnarley hold terrors and secrets within their borders that are older than the coming of men to the Flanaess. Rangers watch the edges of these thick-forested valleys and thorn choked groves but within them time itself twists and turns among the ancient trees and most who enter never return. Lokanth lost his son to such a malignant section of wood along the northern run of the Gnarley, Wer-haunted and legendary among the rangers and the elves. In his desperation he sought the vision of Masilda and her words brought him no surcease only the telling of his fate which could not be changed.

    Posted: 08-09-2020 09:57 pm
    The Catacombs of Ptolemides - III




    9a). At both of these spots marked in the corridor there is a large pool of dried blood. Between these marked spots on the map and location 9b there are smears and drops of blood streaked across the stone floor in the direction of area 9b.


    9b). This area is layered with debris; wood that has been splintered, cloth torn into strips, even vegetation such as roots and wild vines. The debris is spread across the room and several feet thick. At a point near the center of the room a man's foot and lower leg is half buried under this mess.


    If anyone pulls at this foot it will resist slightly then pull away revealing a foot with a leg severed a few inches above the knee. If the leg is pulled free or if anyone searches or disturbs the debris 2 swarms of baby giant ticks will erupt from their layered nest and attack. There are a total of 5 baby tick swarms within this room. After the initial 2 that attack, another 1 will form and attack whenever anyone disturbs the debris or tries to search.


    If the debris is searched carefully, a long, messy and disgusting job, they will discover the upper body of a man in chainmail, a severed hand with a gold ring with ruby chips worth 10gp, a chipped and dulled longsword that radiates magic, which is -1 to hit but +2 to damage, and 32gp, 15sp and a small bag containing 5 uncut diamonds which appear to be cloudy crystals but are worth 50gp each.


    New Monster:

    Tick, Giant (Baby Swarm)

    No. Encountered: 1d6

    Size: S

    Movement: 25

    Dexterity: 12

    Armour Class: 9

    Hit Dice: 5

    No. Attacks: 1

    Damage: 1d4

    Saving Throw: 10

    Morale: -

    Experience Points: 50

    Treasure Class: -


    A swarm of baby giant ticks represents 40 of these little monsters. Each is about 3 inches long and has 1hp. Any damage to the swarm represents the actual number killed in the attack.


    Special:

    Fire will keep them at bay

    Piercing weapons do only 1hp damage per attack

    If reduced below 16 in number the swarm will dissolve and the surviving baby giant ticks attempt  to skitter away.




    10). This circular niche off the west side of the corridor contains a fountain and a small pool that is about 2ft high and the diameter of the niche. The water pours from a pitcher in the hands of a statue of a voluptuous naked woman. The water is collected in the circular pool at the statues feet. Followers of Lunaqqua will receive a blessing following their first drink of this water. This blessing will give them a +1 advantage in all dice rolls for the next 6 game turns. Subsequent drinking at this fountain will be refreshing but does nothing but dispel thirst.


    Anyone desecrating this fountain (which includes attempts to damage it) will receive a curse of lycanthropy unless a save versus magic succeeds.


    An overturned wooden bucket is at the edge of the stone pool.



    11a). The door to this room is ajar. It can be barred from inside the room but no crosspiece is in evidence. It can be locked but the key is nowhere to be found.


    11b). Three long tables are set side by side toward the center of this area. On each table is a nude body, two men and one woman. An overturned metal tripod and metal basin is near the west-most of the tables and half-burnt coals, now long cooled, have spilled from it. (The coals can be gathered and will burn for an hour, giving off a good deal of heat but very little light). Under the coals is a dagger made from a chunk of obsidian and wrapped with leather. It radiates magic if detected.


    New Item: This is a Dagger of Mordezzan. It is a +1 magic weapon, but its main use is in the creation of animated skeletons and the production of Skins of Mordezzan. The dagger can make incisions in dead flesh that when complete will animate up to 3 skeletons per day. These skeletons will be at the command of their creator, except they will take no actions against a follower of Mordezzan who wears a Skin or bears the symbol of Mordezzan. A follower of Mordezzan who is a cleric or necromancer may wrest the command of these skeletons if they are of higher level.


    New Item: The Skin of Mordezzan is the specially prepared skin of a sacrificial victim. It radiates evil and is worn by a follower of Mordezzan granting him the same armour class as that of leather armour, provides +1 to saving throws, and protection against paralysis, cold based and charm spells and abilities. Arcane markings are placed on the victim's skin, then they are submerged in a vat of enchanted liquid, then a Dagger of Mordezzan is used to remove the skin. Anyone trying to wear a Skin of Mordezzan who is not a follower  must save versus poison of suffer 1d6 hp damage per combat round (save for half damage) and will suffer 1d6 hp damage per combat round until such a save is made even after the suit is removed. (Only 1 saving throw is necessary once the Skin is removed, but a save must be rolled each turn the Skin is worn.


    A giant tick sits on top of the man's body on the center table. It has been poisoned while trying to drain the body. The tick is at half-hp and -1 to hit and damage. The bodies of 4 dead giant ticks are scattered around the floor north of the tables.


    If anyone examines the bodies they will find arcane markings on the flesh that a necromancer will recognize as part of a ritual to animate the dead. Each body has bone deep incisions and it would take little effort to remove the skeletons from the surrounding flesh.


    11b). A set of spikes on the east wall holds 7 human skins. These are completed Skins of Mordezzan. No trace of internal organs or bones are in evidence.


    11c). The drained and dry body of a man in a dark blue robe is crumpled here. If searched it is revealed that he wears a Skin of Mordezzan beneath his robe, but it is damaged beyond repair showing many knife wounds in the back and head of the Skin and the man almost completely severed, hanging together only by the skin at the back of the neck.


    12). The west wall of this room is lined with skeletons who stand motionless until someone approaches within 20ft, opens the northern doors or who attacks them from a distance. There are 9 skeletons lined up in two rows facing the west wall. In each of their hands is a human thigh-bone, one end spiked with nails, which they use like a spiked mace, damage 1d6. A stack of boxes three high is on the north wall and the south. Each box contains 2 skeletons. These will attack if the crate is open. These skeletons will obey the commands of anyone in a Skin of Mordezzan and will not attack anyone showing a symbol of Mordezzan.


    12a). This door is shut but not locked. It can be barred from inside the room. The wooden crosspiece is on the floor near the door.


    12b). This door is shut but not locked. It can be barred but no crosspiece is in evidence.


    13). There is a large vat in the center of this room 5ft high and 10ft in diameter. The walls of this room are set with iron spikes and the bodies of 12 men are hanging upside down from the spikes. Each has been marked with arcane symbols and the sign of Mordezzan. Their bodies show lines of deep incisions head to toe.


    An iron chain hangs from a pulley above the vat. Inside the vat is a thick, dark liquid that radiates magic if anyone detects such. The liquid is a primary ingredient in creating a Skin of Mordezzan, and a flask of it would be worth 5gp to an alchemist, Necromancer or seller of spell components. There is enough liquid in the vat to fill 1,000 flasks.


    If anyone peers into the vat an Undead Minion of Mordezzan will reach out from the liquid and try to first grapple with the character then drag them into the vat. If this is successful the character will be attacked by 5 Undead Minions of Mordezzan


    If the attempt to grapple the character fails, all 5 Minions will burst from the vat, pulling themselves over its edge and attack.


    At the same time the Minions attack the bodies on the wall will begin to writhe and shake. In 2 combat rounds 5 of the bodies of the wall will have had their skeletons pull free of the flesh that surrounds them. They will drop to the floor and attack. 2 combat rounds after that 5 more will pull themselves free and 2 rounds later 5 more till a total of 15 skeletons have left their skins hanging on the walls. The empty skins are not yet enchanted and are merely dead flesh.


    New Monster: Minion of Mordezzan Undead Type 3

    No. Encountered: 1d6

    Alignment: Lawful Evil

    Size: M

    Movement: 40

    Dexterity: 10

    Armour Class: 7

    Hit Dice: 2

    No. Attacks 3(Claw/Claw/Bite)

    Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6

    Saving Throw: 15

    Morale: 10

    Experience Points: 41

    Treasure Class: S,T


    Minions of Mordezzan are similar to ghouls but lack the ability to paralyze their prey. At one time they were loyal members of the Mordazzen cult and wore sacred Skins of Mordezzan. Upon the death of the cultist this Skin bonds with their own flesh and they rise after a short time as an undead Minion of Mordazzen.


    Special:

    Immune to poison, paralysis, fear and cold-based attacks

    Protection from evil holds them at bay


    14). This chamber has walls covered in torn, blood spattered and shredded tapestry. 2 of these hangings have gold thread woven into them and are worth 25gp each, even in their mangled condition. In the south-west corner is a pile of broken wood made up mainly of chairs but some larger furniture of unknown type as well. Along the north wall there is a table, swept clear but covered in dried blood, as is the floor around the table. Against the east wall there is an overturned and smashed cabinet. Mixed in with the cabinet are torn books and scrolls and broken glass.


    If the cabinet is searched there is a 50% chance that a hidden drawer at the bottom of a splintered shelf will be found. The drawer is locked and a thief can attempt to pick it. If the secret drawer is smashed open the two glass vials in will be smashed.


    The drawer contains 2 potion vials and a small spell book.

    Potion #1 is of Healing

    Potion #2 is of Fire Resistance


    The small book holds 3 spells; Animate Carrion, Extermination, and Skeleton Servant.


    14a). A bench runs along the south wall of this alcove. Huddled against the east wall on the bench are two figures in blue robes. If approached closer than 10ft these 2 Undead Minions of Mordezzan will attack. If attacked from a distance they will also attack.


    14b). This alcove at the south end of the main room is hidden from casual view by a torn tapestry. There are pegs running down the west wall and 5 dark blue robes are scattered beneath them on the floor.


    Most noticeable is the Undead Minion of Mordezzan, stripped of its blue robe and nailed to the south wall with iron spikes. The creature is at only 5hp but is still animated and struggles to free itself.


    15). This door is locked and barred shut from the east side of the door. A glyph has been carved into the wood of the door. If shown around the city above it will be found out that it is the mark of Ptolemides Thieve's Guild, but such questions will be noted and the Thieve's Guild will be informed. 

    Posted: 08-08-2020 08:35 pm
    The Catacombs of Ptolemides - II



    2). The center section of this hall is blackened from a recent fire and there are also signs of battle, but one that happened long enough ago for the stink of burning flesh to have faded to a mere memory.


    2a). The secret door at this location has been made to look like part of the wall, but it is partially ajar and anyone searching this area will have a +1 chance of noticing it, while any thief passing within 10ft will have the same chance at detecting the secret door as if they had performed a search. If a thief actively searches for a secret door at thus location they will automatically find it.


    The door opens inwards away from area 2 but pushing at it will not open the door, It will take a combined strength of 25 to move door and then it will only open wide enough for 1 person to squeeze through at a time. What anyone slipping through the door encounters is described in area 5.


    2b). This secret door is fully open. If shut it is undetectable with the wall and will latch itself closed. It opens inward to the small room and can be opened or closed from the inside. The latch can be picked, or magicked open, or forced with a test of strength, or battered down if 300hp damage is inflicted on the door.


    2c). In this area there is a wide burnt space centered around a smashed lantern. Within the burned area are the bodies of 3 dogs and a man. They have all been rat-gnawed and what remains of them has been crisped by the fire.


    If searched the man's body has a fire-blackened dagger in his fist and a shortsword in a serviceable sheath beneath him. The remains of his belt, again underneath his body, has a set of thieve's picks and tools in a leather case attached.


    The pack he wore was burnt by the fire and gnawed apart by rats. If it is touched it can be lifted waist high before coming to pieces and the contents spilling out on the floor. Inside the pack is a congealed pile of twenty lead sling bullets which can be picked apart and reused, a hammer with a charred handle that will snap at the head if used, 12 iron spikes, a knife in a gnawed leather sheath, 12gp, 23sp, 18cp (once in a small pouch but now loose. The entire mess will come cascading down and scatter across the floor. This may, at the DM's discretion, attract the creatures from area 4.


    3). The stairs from all 4 entranceways to this area lead down in the direction of the map arrow so that the floor of this chamber is 15ft lower than the surrounding halls and passages. The roof is also higher and angles upward to meet a single, large beam in the ceiling. From floor to roof is a 40ft distance.


    Hanging from the ceiling beams are 3 giant ticks. 1 tick will drop upon the first person to pass more than 5ft into the room from any of the sets of stairs. The other 2 giant ticks will leap down the following combat round. All 3 ticks will jump down if attacked.


    In the corner along the west wall is a pile of debris which includes the carcases of 2 dogs, sucked dry of fluids by the ticks, as well as the drained bodies of several giant rats. The exoskeletons of 5 giant ticks are also scattered among the debris.


    While the ticks possess no treasure their exoskeletons are worth 5gp each if sold to an alchemist or dealer in spell components. Each exoskeleton is 3ft in diameter and weighs several pounds.


    4). This room may once have been used for storage and along the west wall can be found the broken staves of barrels as well as their rusted iron bands, broken bottles and glass fragments. If someone sifts through this they will find 1 unbroken bottle of lamp oil.


    More recently this room appears to have been used as a campsite. There are half-a-dozen blankets and bed rolls spread out along the south wall and some gear such as armor, cloths and weapons along the east wall. If anyone approaches the south wall they will see that 3 of the occupants are still wrapped in the bedding.  On close examination, within 10ft, it will be apparent that the occupants are long dead, their faces dried and withered.


    These 3 adventurers have, at some past time, succumbed to wounds received from zombies and are now zombies themselves. They died while sleeping and were abandoned by their comrades. When inactive they return to their bedrolls and attempt to find the sleep they are now denied.


    If anyone comes within arm's reach of any of the bodies the corpse's eyes will flash open and the zombie will attack. If attacked themselves they will awaken and attack. Loud noise may also rouse these zombies and they may proceed into area 2 to investigate.


    The zombies themselves are wearing only the clothes they had on when they died. Their gear and weapons, that were unwanted by their comrades, were left piled against the east wall.


    In this pile can be found 3 dagger and sheaths, a hand axe, a halberd, scale-mail sized for a large man, chainmail sized for an average man, a helm, a shield, 2 backpacks.


    Backpack #1 contains: A skin of spoiled wine, trail rations which are now a hardened rotten lump, a small throwing dagger in a sheath (+1 to hit if thrown due to exceptional craftmanship, non-magical), 50ft of tightly coiled rope, a half-dozen iron spikes and a small mallet.


    Backpack #2 contains: A flask of whiskey, rotted trail rations, a set of prayer beads, a pair of thick gloves such as a smith might use (non-magical but helpful when dealing with sharp or hot objects) a polished steel mirror in a soft cloth bag, and at the very bottom, a small gold signet ring worth 15gp, but if asked about in the environs of Ptolemides it will be discovered that the crest is of a local family and a 100gp reward is offered for its return.


    5). This good-sized room may once have belonged to watchmen of servants. Its most recent use has been as a nest for giant ticks. A large fire was set in its center and the cracked and worthless exoskeletons of a dozen ticks are scattered among the ashes.


    The west door is shut but unlocked. Both this door and the southern secret door can be barred shut, but the crossbeams to both are missing.


    5a). The bodies of several dogs are jammed against the southern secret door. These dogs have been dead for some time but were obviously killed by sword or axe. There is even a broken arrow head lodged within one body. If the bodies are removed the door opens and closes without problem.


    6). There is a 3d6 chance of encountering 2 giant ticks battling 5 wild dogs when entering this juncture for the first time. These animals will battle each other or any other creature that enters the fray. If 2 of the dogs are killed the remainder will run for the northern passage (and then east if followed). The ticks will battle to the death.


    At any future time entering this juncture there will be a 1d6 chance of encountering a single wild dog which will immediately run away up the northern passage or on a roll of '2' or '3' on a d6, the chance of encountering a pack of 6 wild dogs that will attack the party and retreat to the north if half their number are killed. This encounter can happen again and again unless the source of the wild dogs is discovered and actions taken to prevent further attacks.


    7). This long hall is filled with long niches cut into either side of the passage. Each niche contained the body or bodies of the dead, but that was long ago and now only the fragmented remnants of those bodies can be found. Fire has scorched this long hall and ash and bone fragments are brushed up against either wall though a clear trail down the center of the floor shows recent use.


    This hall has become a resting place for giant ticks.


    7a). At each of these points 1d3 giant ticks are located within the niches. These ticks have all filled themselves with the blood and precious bodily fluids of their many victims, rat, dog, human, etc... and are slower to react than their more hungry kin (-1 to surprise rolls). They will still spring out and attack anyone passing in the hall or examining their niche, as will any ticks in an adjacent 10ft section.


    7b). Someone dropped a heavy wooden box at this point. The lid has snapped and the box was overturned. If a 30ft area of hall is cleanly sifted 312cp, 31sp and 3gp can be found among the thick ash and bone fragments.


    8). 2 giant ticks have taken up residence in this area. The will lurk around the corner near the ceiling opposite whichever way the party is approaching. If undetected they will attack the last person in the group to pass near to them.

    Posted: 08-07-2020 05:18 am
    The Catacombs of Ptolemides- I



    Continued from Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories - 6a

    The Catacombs of Ptolemides

    Rooms and passages in the catacombs normally have ceilings roughly 10 feet overhead and sconces or holders where torches or lanterns can be set, but are no torches or lanterns will be found unless specifically mentioned. Light must be provided by the player characters otherwise the catacombs are lightless black (unless the described areas mention illumination).

    The initial area is formed from carved stone with wooden supports for the typical entranceway. 

    1). The platform that the characters are standing on is circular and a little over 20ft in diameter. Large torches (taking two hands to hold) are set around the edges of the platform in metal standing brackets welded to the platform. These torches will burn for a full hour before guttering and going out. A slow but continual circulation of air bends the flames from the torches slightly to the west.

    As the platform nears the last 10ft to the floor the PC's will see skeletal bodies in ancient armor affixed to the north, south and east walls. Iron spikes are set into each 10ft section of these walls the bodies of these long dead warriors have been thrust upon the spikes with enough force to pierce the ancient verdigris encrusted chest plates they all wear. 

    Several large mallets, some of wood, and some shaped from human thigh bones, are scattered near to the walls, and these can be used to beat upon the armor of the dead hanging upon the walls. If hammered for more than three combat rounds this noise will alert Tomeron's servants who man the winches above and they will begin to draw up the platform. If the room is dark a circle of light will appear 50ft above as the iron cover is first lifted before the chains take up the slack and the platform begins to rise. It will be several combat round before the platform begins to rise after the winches begin to turn but then the platform will be drawn up 10ft every 3 combat rounds. No amount of shouting will get Tomeron's servants to stop or bring the platform back to the ground once they have begun drawing it up, unless it is the command of Tomeron himself.

    If anyone begins beating on one of the chest plates, tries to remove the armor or searches the bodies, a normal sized rat (stats as per the ASSH rulebook) will leap from the mouth of the dead body and attack. 1 combat round after this attack, 6 rats will begin to pour from the various bodies and attack the PC's. 6 more will appear the following combat round, and finally 6 more after that in the next combat round for a total of 19 attacking rats. 

    If more than 8 of their number are slain the rats will flee toward area 1b where a rat-hole has been gnawed at the bottom of the secret door. 

    The 20th Rat

    There is one rat that will not take part in the combat but will be the last rat through the hole at area 1b. If it is attacked it will continue in its attempt to flee. If it is slain and the body examined it will be revealed as some type of autonomaton formed of wood and metal enclosed in the pelt of a rat.

    *Clockwork Scout
    No. Encountered: 1 or 1d6
    Alignment: Neutral
    Size: S
    Movement: 15
    Dexterity: 12
    Armour Class: 4
    Hit Dice: 1
    No. Attacks: 1
    Damage: 1d4
    Saving Throw: 17
    Morale: -
    Experience Points: 15
    Treasure Class: -

    Clockwork Scouts are part of a mechanical species developed during the height of Hyperborean civilizations in ages past. They have survived and can be found mainly in the ruins of Hyperborean centers of learning and sorcery.

    Clockwork Scouts have a rudimentary sentience but what will and independent thought they might have is subsumed by the greater purpose and willpower of more powerful members of their species. They have no known language but can somehow communicate all the have seen, heard and experienced to there more powerful Clockwork beings. 

    Each clockwork scout is shaped into a skeletal version of a small animal and covered with such creatures fur, flesh or hide.

    While a Clockwork Scout possess no treasure of its own their non-functioning bodies can be worth from 10 to 50gp depending on the type of damage. A function Clockwork Scout is easily worth over 250gp.

    *The Clockwork Scout is from Frog God Games 'The Tome of Horror Complete S&W version' though slightly altered for my Astonishing Swordsmen campaign.

    1a).  The dead body of a mangy dog is crumpled in the upper corner of the south facing passage. It is a thin and rat-eaten corpse, mainly skin, hair and bone. If closely examined a fragment of blue cloth can be found in its clenched teeth.

    1b). This is a secret door that has been well-crafted to appear as a section of the north wall. It even has one of the old dead bodies and an iron pike set into it. At the bottom edge of the door the rats have gnawed a small hole. If a lightsource such as a bullseye lantern is directed through the hole a space or chamber can be seen on the otherside.

    The door is stoutly build and an iron bar is set in place. It will take at least 300hp of damage to batter down the door. Any noise may attract a wandering monster but will not in itself signal for the platform to be raised. 

    (To be continued...)

    Posted: 08-06-2020 02:29 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories - 6a

    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories - 6a


    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.

    6a). The Epiphany of Death
    (Written January 25, 1930)

    Ptolemides, Catacombs of [PLC]
    Ptolemides, City of [TWN]
    Tomeron [NPC]

    "Somehow, Tomeron seemed never to belong to the present; but one could readily have imagined him as living in some bygone age. About him, there was nothing whatever of the lineaments of our own period; and he even went so far as to affect in his costume an approximation to the garments worn several centuries ago. His complexion was extremely pale and cadaverous, and he stooped heavily from poring over ancient tomes and no less ancient maps. He moved always with the slow, meditative pace of one who dwells  among far off reveries and memories; and he spoke often of people and events and ideas that have long since been forgotten."

    "I cab readily recall, however, the studies to which Tomeron had devoted himself, the lost demonian volumes from Hyperborea and Mu and Atlantis with which his library shelves were heaped to the ceiling and the queer charts, not of any land that lies above the surface of the earth, on which he pored by perpetual candlelight."

    "He maintained that life and death were not the fixed conditions that people commonly believed them to be; that the two realms were often intermingled in ways not readily discerned, and had penumbral borderlands; that the dead were not always the dead, nor the living the living, as such terms  are habitually understood."

    "Carrying torches, we left the mansion of Tomeron and sought the ancient catacombs of Ptolemides, which lie beyond the walls and have long been disused, for there is now a fine necropolis in the very heart of the city. The moon had gone down beyond the desert that encroaches toward the catacombs; and we were forced to light our torches long before we came to the subterranean adits; for the rays of Mars and Jupiter in a sodden and funereal sky were not enough to illumine the perilous path we followed among mounds and fallen obelisks and broken graves. At length we discovered the dark and weed-choked entrance of the charnels; and here Tomeron led the way with a swiftness and surety of footing that bespoke long familiarity with the place."

    "Entering, we found ourselves in a crumbling passage where the bones of dilapidated skeletons were scattered amid the rubble that had fallen from the sides and roof. A choking stench of stagnant air and of age-old corruption made me pause for a moment but Tomeron scarcely appeared to perceive it, for he strode onward, lifting his torch and beckoning me to follow. We traversed many vaults in which mouldy bones and verdigris-eaten sarcophagi were piled about the walls or strewn where desecrating thieves had left them in bygone years. The air was increasingly dank, chill and miasmal; and mephitic shadows crouched or swayed before our torches in every niche and corner. Also, as we went onward, the walls became more ruinous and the bones we saw on every hand were greener with the mould of time."

    ADVENTURE IDEAS

    The Catacombs of Ptolemides

    The city of Ptolemides was once a proud Hellenic City-State, but after the advent of the Green Death it shrank to less than half its previous population. Of that half only the ruling elite and the King's guards are pure Hellens. The rest of the city is a mix of various races, the bulk of whom are common men of a hodge-podge heritage. The only recognized temple is of Apollo, though its following is small, but all the gods have their worshipers, their shrines and their hidden temples.

    Within the city only the sections near the outer gates and the central citadel are occupied, while entire quarters are abandoned and walled off, for Ptolemides is also a city of the dead.

    When the Green Death came it swallowed the city whole and only those within the citadel survived. These survivors were overwhelmed by the number of the dead, and in houses, manors, tenements and even the streets, the bodies were left unhallowed to putrefy and rot. But these unshriven spirits soon began to walk, to haunt the dead quarters of the city, and to prey upon the living.

    Gates were shut, all entrances to these dead quarters walled off, closed and guarded. The priests of Apollo joined the city guard in a desperate attempt to drive back the dead. Then, more welcome than they have ever been, came the necromancers, and the greatest of these was Tomeron.

    When Ptolemides was first settled, when the foundations stones were first set, these early Hellens found the catacombs, and what they believed, perhaps rightly, was the entrance to the underworld, the land of the dead. These passages were old and endless, already filled with tombs and ancient bones and passages that went deep into the earth. For generations the bodies of the dead were placed reverently within vaults and mausoleums and niches cut into the walls. Over time the nearest of the passages were filled, and the tunnels were followed further and further while a slow sense of evil and darkness crept nearer, and the dead were no longer left undisturbed.

    A great necropolis was built at a small distance from the city and the catacombs of Ptolemides were sealed. The Green Death came, and the dead walked, and then came the necromancers, and with them Tomeron.

    Tomeron has unsealed the catacombs and from the abandoned manor where he now lives, in a dead quarter of the city, he directs others; magicians, thieves, priests, fighters, adventurers, fools, to do his bidding and search the catacombs. Of what is brought back to the surface Tomeron has his tithe, but always he seems disappointed, as if what he is truly looking for is never found.

    NOTE: Here begins my conversion of TSRs 'Legendary' boxed set, the Ruins of Undermountain. I will just be using the maps for the most part (because my cartographic skill is so poor) but I've always loved this particular dungeon crawl and it will be a pleasure to convert for my Astonishing Swordsmen campaign.

    Tomeron, as I plan to use him, is a high level Necromancer. Ptolemides, a small human city, old, but not as ancient as Kor or Khromarium.

    Reaching Tomeron's manor is best done in daylight. What was once the artisan's quarter of Ptolemides is now a walled and guarded ruin. Only one gate into the quarter is left open, though rumors say that the Guild of Thieves knows of a secret way. 

    A small fortress has been built before the gate to this quarter and a toll of 5gp per person is collected to let anyone inside. A toll of 20gp per person is collected to let anyone back out again, and a tax on any treasure of 1 coin, armor, weapon, or valuable, is levied by the king.

    There are three gates and a wide circular tunnel that lead to this dead quarter. The outer gate within the fortress will first be opened and as the party approaches the 2nd gate, this outer gate will be closed. Then the 2nd gate will be opened and when the party reaches the gate to the dead quarter, that gate too will close. Finally this 3rd gate will open and the party will be allowed to enter what was once the Artisan's Quarter. 

    If anyone wants out there is a bell that can be struck near the gate and a basket will be lowered from the wall to collect the 20gp return fee. After dark the guards will ask for extra coin to allow escape from this quarter, and some will not respond at all, preferring to lock and bolt their doors rather than face what might be ringing the bell.

    Once outside the small fortress a returning party will be lead to a counting house next door to the fort and there the tax will be levied.

    Shops catering to adventurers have sprung up on the avenue leading to this gate and a large inn called 'The Dirge' sits on the far corner from the fortress. It is common for a last drink to be bought here before entering the gate and all manner or business is transacted within this tavern. Hirelings hired, rumors gathered, notices left and what-not.

    The dead quarters of the city are very grim and dangerous places, and Tomeron's is no exception. Most buildings are in ruins and many are unpleasantly  occupied. rats, bats, vermin and spiders infest these buildings, as well as all manner and kind of undead. The main street is kept warded, at least during the day, but at night the undead roam and there is little shelter to be found.

    Several necromancers do live within this quarter and far down its streets can be found an almost-palace that is their guild hall, but these buildings are guarded and sturdy and do not welcome visitors. 

    Tomeron, on the other hand, welcomes adventurers at anytime. His manor is in a large walled compound three blocks from the gate. The doors to his house are always open and lead to a large entrance hall. Tomeron himself will come to greet all those wishing to journey to the catacombs. 

    Inside this hall is a large staircase leading to a dimly lit upper floor, but the players will not be invited to see it more clearly. On its balustrade sits a pair of gargoyles, perhaps mere statues, but their unmoving features are grinning and malevolent. A half-dozen uniformed footmen are nearby, pale men with the stench of carrion about them, and the black beneath the stairs seems filled with something more awful than darkness.

    To the left of the entrance-way is a set of double-doors. These open to a long, wide passage that turns and turns as it leads down, and finally comes to a broad square room. A quick estimates shows a ceiling vaulting out of site, and a room at least eighty feet wide as it is eighty feet long. Some tables and chairs are at the north end, at its center is a large round pit covered by an iron plate. Massive chains lead from the plate to four crank mechanisms spaced evenly around its sides.

    "I take one coin in five and such items, jewels, gems and such-like as take my fancy. No more than one in three. If you agree and are prepared, that is your way to the catacombs," Tomeron points to the pit and the iron plate which covers it.

    If the party agrees and wants to proceed Tomeron will speak a sharp command and four tall and heavily scared men will approach the cranks and begin raising the iron plate. Suspended by chains beneath the plate is a platform. Once the iron plate has reached the ceiling the platform will be even with the edge of the pit and a panel will be  extended to act as a bridge. Once the party is on the platform the panel will be removed and the platform lowered into the pit.

    Tomeron  will call down to the party, "From here your adventure begins. Beat upon the armor of the dead to signal your return."
    Posted: 08-05-2020 04:41 am
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions - 5c


    2nd Floor

    1). The smell of burnt flesh is pervasive through this area. The ceiling is nearly fifteen feet high.

    1a). Stairs going up to the Top Floor. Only a dull greenish light illuminates the top of the stairs.

    1b&c). Stairs going down to the First Floor. This stairwells are unlit and are dark as a tomb.

    1d). This area is lit by a burning flame held in the palm of a huge statue of a demonic bat-like creature which stands at the center 10 foot section of the south wall. Around the floor are scattered remnants of a hasty camp. A roll of bedding with blood stains, some scattered food (enough for 1 days rations if gathered up and the consumer is none to particular in what they eat) and a broken bone amulet of Pictish design (once this allowed control of the flesh automaton's on this level of the dungeon and the one outside the temple at the top of the stairs. It has been destroyed by acid and physical damage).

    The statue stands 10 feet tall with sweeping wings sculpted up to the 15 foot ceiling. The face of the statue displays an evil grin and one large red gem (1,500gp value) the size of a fist. The left eye-socket of the statue is empty and weeps a dark viscous  (and flammable) goo that has run down the face and body of the statue (and hardened to the body like a stream of wax down a candle but of a consistency more like clay). The right eye holds the gem. 

    At the clawed feet of statue us a charred corpse, its arm outstretched ending in a fingerless palm.

    If the body is searched, a fairly disgusting process, a set of thieves lock-picks will be discovered hidden cunningly inside the belt. 

    If the gem is pried from the statues eye-socket a loud click will be heard and a stream of burning goo will be projected in a stream 10ft long from both eyes, while at the same time, a cloud of flammable gas will exhale from the statue's mouth and fill a 10ft diameter sphere directly in front of the statue. The cloud of burning gas will inflict 2d12 damage (1/2 dmg if saved against) to anyone within the area, while the burning goo will inflict three rounds of burning damage (again, 1/2 damage if saved against) to anyone caught buy the discharge. 1d12 the first combat round, 1d8 the second and 1d4 the 3rd. Only the first rounds damage can be saved against and items may, at the DMs discretion, on the burning victim, may also need to a saving throw or be destroyed or damaged.

    The goo dripping from the eye or eyes can be collected. About enough to coat 3 arrowheads can be collected in an hour or 6 in an hour if both eyes are now leaking the goo. If exposed to air for more than an hour the goo dries, though this clay-like substance will also burn and about a 1lb of it can be scraped from the body of the statue.

    2). This hall is composed of 10ft alcoves sealed off with a greenish crystal. Each crystal wall is strong enough to withstand 10,000hp damage before shattering. within each alcove can be seen the unmoving body of an Elder Thing.

    Upon opening the door from area 1 the players are presented with a scene of horrific carnage. The bodies of two Elder Things have been torn limb from limb (though some body parts are missing). A thick, dark red blood is spattered across walls and floor. From area 2b comes a steady pounding noise.

    2a). This shattered alcove is empty except for a covering of crystal shards. These shards are a natural bane to all shoggoth and shoggoth-like creatures. They can be used as sling stones and will act as magic +2 to hit/damage sling stones if used against such creatures, though they will do no or little damage to normal creatures. In addition, the possession of 5 or more of these fragments will act as a +1 item of protection against shoggoths and related creatures.

    2b). From this location comes the steady pounding of 2 flesh automatons as they relentlessly assault the wall of greenish crystal. They have already caused over 9,000hp damage against this wall and it will shatter in 1d10+10 minutes. Upon shattering it will release an Elder Thing and both flesh automatons will immediately attack the creature. 

    If interrupted in either attacking the wall or the Elder Thing, both flesh automatons will turn and attack whoever interrupted their actions (ignoring the useless attacks of the Elder Thing), and continue attacking anyone on this level, before turning back to their assault on the wall or the Elder Thing.

    The Elder Thing will attack anyone within reach and will attack and pursue them till it is destroyed or prevented by some other means.

    2c). As per 2a except that among the crystal shards within the alcove may be found a hand-sized five-pointed object of dark green soapstone. This object acts as a +3 item of protection against shoggoths and shoggoth-like creatures.

    2d). This alcove appears empty but behind the crystal wall is a portal that leads to a hidden vault deep within the Spiral Mountain Array. (The vault is merely a 100ft by 100ft space until the key to its exit can be found, which is not yet available in this adventure). If the wall is shattered a stream of Elder Things will pour out, one every combat round, if they can force themselves out of the alcove. 20 of these monsters will come pouring forth, the last will bear a malfunction crystal-tipped iridium rod of the Great Race. After 1d6 uses the rod will emit a crackle of blue electric light for 3 combat rounds then explode, disintegrating everything in a 20ft diameter sphere.

    2e). This is a massive gelatinous cube that fills the hall and stretches some 70ft end to end. It still attacks as a 4hd monster but has 10 times the hit points of a normal cube (not really a cube then is it?). It usually circles the corridor endlessly and is fed by sacrifices by the ape-men. It has 3 times the normal treasure (the ape-men are not very thorough when looting their sacrifices). Currently the monster is cowering in this corner of the hall after having about 30% of its mass destroyed by magical attacks and suffering a violent bout of indigestion (see 2f).

    2f). At the center of this gelatinous cube is suspended the body of a flesh automaton. It was swallowed before orders could be given and it is a sort-of standby mode. If freed from the cube it will attack anyone within sight, nearest first, and pursue them anywhere within or without the temple until destroyed.

    (To be continued)

    Posted: 08-04-2020 07:51 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 5b


    Tsathoggua


    "...we forthwith started to explore a left-hand avenue, which, though it had been laid out with mathematical directness, vanished at no great distance among the fronded trees. Here, somewhat apart from the other buildings, in a sort of square that the jungle had not yet wholly usurped, we found a small temple of antique architecture which gave the impression of being far older even than the adjoining edifices. It also differed from these in its material, for it was builded of a dark basaltic stone heavily encrusted with lichens that seemed of a coeval antiquity. It was square in form, and had no domes nor spires, no facade of pillars, and only a few narrow windows high above the ground. Such temples are rare in Hyperborea nowadays; but we knew it for a shrine of Tsathoggua, one of the elder gods, who receives no longer any worship from men, but before whose ashen altars, people say, the furtive and ferocious beasts of the jungle, the ape, the giant sloth and the long-toothed tiger, have sometimes been seen to make obeisance and have been heard to howl or whine their inarticulate prayers."


    "...the black interior of the temple yawned before us, and from it there surged an odor of long-imprisoned mustiness combined with a queer and unfamiliar fetidity."


    "...the place was paven with immense quinquangular flags of the same material from which its walls were built. It was quite bare, except for the image of the god enthroned at the further end, the two-tiered altar of obscenely figured metal before the image, and a large and curious-looking basin of bronze supported on three legs, which occupied the middle of the floor."


    "I had never seen an image of Tsathoggua before, but I recognized him without difficulty from the descriptions I had heard. He was very squat and pot-bellied, his head was more like that of a monstrous toad than a deity, and his whole body was covered with an intimation of short fur, giving somehow a vague suggestion of both the bat and the sloth. His sleepy lids were half-lowered over his globular eyes; and the tip of a queer tongue issued from his fat mouth. In truth, he was not a comely or personable sort of god, and I did not wonder at the cessation of his worship, which could only to have appealed to very brutal and aboriginal men at any time."


    "What unimaginable horror of protoplastic life, what loathly spawn of the primordial slime had come forth to confront us, we did not pause to consider or conjecture."



    ADVENTURE IDEAS (Continued from 5a)


    As the drums begin to beat scores of ape-men rush from the surrounding ruins. A group of eight with an alpha male leading run toward the stairs. It will take them no more than to melee rounds to cross the stones paves of the square and reach the bottom of the stairs, and only another melee round to rush up them and engage anyone at the doors at top.


    NOTE: After the first group has begun their charge other small groups of 1d6+6 ape-men (with a 25% chance of an alpha male leading them) begin to make their way behind them or pull themselves up the walls on all side. As an example, for the first 11 melee rounds ape-men will rush up the stairs or make their way around the sides of the ziggurat ever other melee round, 5th round, 7th round, etc... and on the 9th melee round since the ape-men first charged the stairs, a group of six and an alpha male will climb to the top of the ziggurat above the doors and be able to jump down on the next melee round.


    NOTE: These ape-men need make no morale cheeks and are immune to any charm spells. The are already under the complete swat of Xathoggua.


    If anyone makes it inside the top floor, after opening or smashing down the doors, they will find that the ape-men will not enter. If the entire party is inside the top-floor room the ape-men will disappear from view, moving down the stairs, around the corners of the walls, or peer down from the roof above. Anyone steeping beyond the doors or sticking their head out will be pelted with 30+ thrown stones each melee round for three rounds and then attacked by a rush of ape-men. In no case will an ape-man step within the temple and any that do will go wild, frothing at the mouth, and then collapse in a shuddering semi-conscious heap. Such ape-men will only awaken if they are brought outside the temple or at the sound of a gong being beaten somewhere below (this will be dealt with in a future post).


    Top Floor


    The interior of the top floor is dank and slimed with a glowing greenish substance that has the smell of rotting vegetation and a slightly acidic quality that will burns the skin and stains and disfigures cloth and hide. It does add enough light to see within the chamber if there is no other illumination.


    1a-1g are pedestals with what appear to be iron statues (or broken fragments of iron statues) of humanoid appearance. Each is of a warrior though their shape is slightly disturbing, legs appear too long, the chest narrow and sunken, the arms oddly jointed and the fingers numbering more or less than a humans. Such faces as can be seen are a strange combination of toad, bat and giant sloth. Each statue is exactly detailed and the work masterful, though slightly horrific and bizarre.


    It can easily be seen that each of these statues have received severe damage, and several have been almost completely destroyed, and one appears to be missing. A closer look shows that they are covered with slowly moving fragments of metal as if they were swarmed by some infestation. A few moments will reveal that these fragments are minding the fragments, rebuilding the missing pieces and reconstructing each damaged statue.


    These statues are a new creature for my campaign.


    The Iron Men of Xathoggua


    No. Encountered: 1

    Alignment: Neutral

    Size: M

    Movement: 20

    Dexterity: 5

    Armor Class: 4

    Hit Dice: 8

    No. Attacks 1 (Plus Special)

    Damage: 3d8

    Saving Throw: 11

    Morale: -

    Experience Points: 4,000

    Treasure Class: -


    Constructed by Hyperborean sorcerers in the distant past, the Iron Men of Xathoggua are similar to automaton's of iron. Each is dedicated to Xathoggua and can be commanded by the deity at will (overriding any other commands). Each Iron Man is constructed by a single priest of Xathoggua and controlled by a scroll of a silver-like metal. Only a single controlling scroll can ever be possessed and such a scroll allows command of only a single specific individual. Anyone trying to possess and use more than one scroll will cause those iron men to attack the user. An iron man must be within sight of someone using a silver scroll and their voice must be able to be heard (an Iron Man has average hearing).


    The art of building the Iron Men is now lost, but they are well nigh indestructable. Built from a magnetic black iron which fell to Hyperborea from the dark void of space, the priests of Xathoggua enchanted the alien metal, turning it into a viscous liquid and through their dark arts imbuing each with the life essences of ten powerful warriors and ten colonies of foul green slime, and a quantity of their own blood.


    An Iron Man can be shattered with normal weapons, but the metal, even smashed to fragments, is drawn to each other with a force strong enough to pull free from the grip of a strong man. These pieces will find each other even across great distances. It would require great magic or the heat of a mighty forge to destroy this metal.


    Allowed to reassemble itself an iron man will 'heal' at a rate of 3hp/turn. When it has reached half its hit points it will be able to function once more though only able to move at half speed and deal half damage, (it will still be able to carry out its special attack).


    Special:

    Immune to charm, sleep, hold and other mind-affecting sorceries.

    Electrical attacks slow the Iron Man for 3 rounds

    Fire attacks due 1/2 damage or no damage if saved.

    Acid attacks do no damage


    Every 5 melee rounds the Iron Man can vomit a green acidic substance up to 10feet striking a 5foot diameter sphere of space. This attack will cause 3d6 damage.


    Each Iron Man is constructed with an flanged mace gripped in one hand with its other hand free.



    Top Floor (continued)


    1a) This Iron Man is utterly destroyed. The fragments are slowly shifting together but have only reformed the feet.


    1b) This is an empty predestal


    1c) This Iron Man is partially reformed and able to function. It's armor is chipped and cracked. The top of its head is missing and the glowing green liquid sloshes out over its face as it moves. It cannot use its special vomit attack.


    NOTE: All surviving iron men will attack if anyone approaches within 10feet. If any of the iron men are activated then all are activated and will go on the attack (this includes only the iron men at locations 1c, 1e & 1f).


    1d) This Iron man is only half complete. Its body has been rebuilt up to its lower chest. Inside its bowl-like interior is a pool of acidic slime. This glowing green slime may be collected in glass or metal containers. A jar's worth, if used as a missile or poured onto someone, will do 1d10 damage. There is 5 jars worth of slime that can be recovered.


    1e). This iron man is at three-quarters hit points and functional. Its body is cracked and missing small pieces, through which leak the green acidic slime, but it is still able to perform its vomit attack. See 1C for the NOTE regarding the functional iron men.


    At the feet of this Iron Man is the body of a half-Pict sorcerer. The body has received grievous wounds and its right hand is missing. There is a +2 Dagger of Venom concealed in his left boot (5 doses of poison remaining) and 5 100gp gems sewn into each cuff of his pants (10 gems total). His belt has been cut and pockets turned out, but there is a large silver serpent-shaped buckle on his belt worth 50gp with a hidden compartment containing 3 doses of poison for his dagger. In a half-destroyed pack that still hangs over one mutilated shoulder, there is an acid-eaten spellbook which still contains 2 1st level spells and 1 2nd level spell (to be determined by the DM).


    1f) This iron man is at half hit points and its special vomit attack functions normally. See the NOTE at 1c concerning this monster.


    If activated this iron man will step forward, perhaps off its pedestal and reveal the squashed hand of the Pictish sorcerer whose body is at 1e. There are 2 rings on the broken fingers of this hand. One is in the form of a snake with emeralds for its eyes. It is of ancient craftmanship and worth 250gp to the right buyer. The other is a Ring of Shooting Stars. NOTE: This ring is made of an opposing metal to that of the iron men and the wearer of such a ring will be the focus of any attacks.


    1g) This iron man is completely shattered. All it appears to be is a squirming pile of metal fragments oozing a glowing green liquid slime.


    2) The stairs leading down to the 2nd floor.


    (To Be Continued)

    Posted: 08-03-2020 06:45 pm
    Michael Moorcock's 'Elric' List of Names - 1

    Michael Moorcock's 'Elric' List of Names - 1


    Here is a list of names from Michael Moorcock's 'Elric' series of books. I'm using them primarily for my home campaign of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

    I have compiled these names from the books 'Elric of Melnibone' & "The Sailor on the Seas of Fate'.

    M = Melnibonean


    Agak
    Arioch (Duke of Hell)
    Ashnar
    Aubec (M)
    Avan Astran
    Brut
    Carolak
    Cymoril (M) Female
    Dyvim Tvar (M)
    Gagak (Female)
    Gratyesha (Female)
    Grome (Earth Elemental)
    Hashgan
    Hown
    Ilian
    J'osui C'Reln Reyr (M)
    Magnum Colim (M)
    Niopal (M) Female
    Niun
    Nnuuurrrr (Insect)
    Orland
    Pyaray (Chaos Lord)
    Rackhir (Phumite)
    Sadric (M)
    Saramal (M) Female
    Saxif D'aan (M)
    Smiorgan
    Straasha (Water Elemental)
    Tendric
    Terndrik
    Urlik Skarsol
    Valharik (M)
    Vassliss (Female)
    Yyrkoon (M)


    Elric of Melnibone

    Arioch (Duke of Hell)
    Aubec (M)
    Cymoril (M) Female
    Dyvim Tvar (M)
    Grome (Earth Elemental)
    Magnum Colim (M)
    Niopal (M) Female
    Niun
    Orland
    Pyaray (Chaos Lord)
    Rackhir (Phumite)
    Sadric (M)
    Saramal (M) Female
    Smiorgan
    Straasha (Water Elemental)
    Valharik (M)
    Yyrkoon (M)


    The Sailor on the Seas of Fate

    Agak
    Ashnar
    Avan Astran
    Brut
    Carolak
    Gagak (Female)
    Gratyesha (Female)
    Hashgan
    Hown
    Ilian
    J'osui C'Reln Reyr (M)
    Nnuuurrrr (Insect)
    Saxif D'aan (M)
    Tendric
    Terndrik
    Urlik Skarsol
    Vassliss (Female)
    Posted: 08-03-2020 01:31 am
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 5a


    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories

    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.

    5a). The Tale of Satampra Zeiros

    (Written Nov 16 1929, first published in Weird Tales Nov 1931)


    Commoriom - [TWN]

    Polarion - [PLC]

    Satampra Zeiros - [NPC]

    Tirouv Ompallios - [NPC]

    Uzuldaroum - [TWN]

    White Sybil of Polarion - [NPC]


    "I, Satampra Zeiros of Uzuldarium shall write with my left hand, since I have no longer any other, the tale of everything that befell Tirouv Ompallios and myself in the shrine of the god... (see post 5b), which lies neglected by the worship of man in the jungle-taken suburbs of Commoriom, that long-deserted capital of the Hyperborean rulers. I shall write it with the violet juice of the suvana-palm, which turns to a blood-red rubric with the passage of years, on a strong vellum that is made from the skin of the mastodon, as a warning to all good thieves and adventurers who may hear some lying legend of the lost treasure of Commoriom and be tempted thereby."



    Commoriom

    Polarion

    White Sybil of Polarion


    "Now Commoriom, as all the world knows, was deserted many hundred years ago because of the prophecy of the White Sybil of Polarion, who foretold an undescribed and abominable doom for all mortal beings who should dare to tarry within its environs. Some say that this doom was a pestilence that would have come from the northern waste by the paths of the jungle tribes; others, that it was a form of madness; at any rate, no one, neither king nor priest nor merchant nor laborer nor thief, remained in Commorion to abide its arrival, but all departed in a single migration to found at a distance of a day's journey the new capital, Uzuldaroum. And strange tales are told, of horrors and terrors not to be faced or overcome by man, that haunt forevermore the shrines and mausoleums and palaces of Commoriom. And still it stands, a luster of marble, a magnificence of granite, all a-throng with spires and cupolas and obelisks that the mighty trees of the jungle have not yet overtowered, in a fertile inland valley of Hyperborea. And men say that in its unbroken vaults there lies entire and undespoiled as of yore the rich treasure of olden monarchs; that the high-built tombs retain the gems and electrum that were buried with their mummies; that the fanes have still their golden altar-vessels and furnishings, the idols their precious stones in war and mouth and nostril and naval."


    "...we saw in the moonlight the gleam of marble cupolas above the tree-tops, and then between the boughs and boles the wan pillars of shadowy porticoes. A few more steps, and we trod upon the paven streets that ran transversely from the high-road we were following, into the tall, luxuriant woods on either side, where the fronds of mammoth palm-ferns overtopped the roofs of ancient houses.


    We paused, and again the silence of an elder desolation claimed our lips. For the houses were white and still as sepulchers, and the deep shadows that lay around and upon them were chill and sinister and mysterious as the very shadow of death. It seemed that the sun could not have shone for ages in this place- that nothing warmer than the spectral beams of the cadaverous moon had touched the marble and granite ever since that universal migration prompted by the prophecy of the White Sybil of Polarion.


    "I wish it were daylight," murmured Tirouv Ompallios. Hos low tomes were oddly sibilant, were unnaturally audible in the dead stillness."


    ADVENTURE IDEAS:


    The Treasures of Satampra Zeiros


    The city of Kor is dead but for the bestial life of the ape-man. While some parts of the city have been rebuilt by a few thousand of these strangely human-like and advanced creatures, most of the city remains locked in jungle-choked ruin. The oldest and more outlying areas of Kor are home to a more savage breed of ape-man as well as the beasts of the wild, the giant-sloth, clouds of giant bats, the sabre-tooth...


    In the comfort of the old inn, the Silver Eel, Satampra Zeiros the One-Handed, tells of the great treasures to be found in a nameless and forgotten temple located in the abandoned suburbs of Kor, and of the map he is willing to sell for a substantial amount of gold, and a share in the treasure itself.


    While Satampra's map is accurate, if slightly out of date, the treasures he speaks of, the eyes of the dark idol in the abandoned temple (rubies as big as norsemen's shields) and the collected offerings of millenia piled at the idol's feet, are not simply there for the taking. The temple is not abandoned, and the dark idol is not nameless. The wild ape-men of Kor, driven from the rebuilt center of the city by their more evolved cousins, have opened the doors to this ancient, squat stone temple and have found a god.


    The passage to Kor, according to Satampra's map, is down the river Vol and onto a small tributary that ends at a collection of broken stone piers near the east of the city at the edge of the old suburbs. This basin is home to a water snake of gigantic proportions. Vasha, her ancestors altered by the power of ancient mages of Kor, is a stupendous creatures several times the size (and hit dice) of a normal water snake. She is of moderate intelligence but high cunning. She will not risk herself unless she is sure of success, though she is willing to sacrifice her progeny (what else are children for?) in great numbers. These water snakes are double the size and hit dice of normal water snakes and infest the half-submerged ruins immediately surrounding the pier.


    Vasha lairs in a cavern beneath the basin. It was several passages and chambers (including a hidden chamber where the research was done on her ancient kin). Her nest has an escape tunnel that leads to the Torg inlet which she will not hesitate to use. Vasha is a big coward at heart. Vasha is immune to charm spells and abilities and her children are highly resistant.


    The overgrown houses, shops, barracks and boulevards have abundant animal life. Exploration of these ruined buildings will result in numerous encounters with wild animals defending their lairs. As with Vasha's children these animals are highly resistant to charm spells and abilities, but they are no more aggressive than any other wild beasts of Hyperborea (at least for now).


    If the players have Satampra's map it will show a path through the jungle and ruins that leads through, what one were, major streets of the outer city. These paths lead to a clearing. These paths are suspiciously clear and show signs of recent passage.


    The clearing, at the end of a short three mile journey through the ruins, is a paved square with an old and worn squat black building made of basalt blocks. It is a short, three-tiered, ziggurat with a set of stairs leading directly to a pair of double doors at its top level. There are at least fifty bodies scattered about the square. Two of the largest clumps of the dead, comprising about a dozen bodies each, are charred and smoking. The others appear to be chopped, battered and broken. Other than a few exceptions the dead are ape-men, some clad in dark mangy capes (giant-bat skin).


    The first non-ape-man body appears to be a youth, fair-haired perhaps nordic or kelt, the hands of an ape-man with a split-skull clutching his legs and the headless body of a second ape-man nearby. The youth has had his throat torn out. On his back is a large open pack which still contains food and some camping gear. He has an ordinary belt knife and clutches and unbloodied spear.


    The second human body can be found at the foot of the ziggurat, a viking warrior. There are a half-dozen ape-man bodies around him, slain, apparently, by a large axe clutched in his right hand. A close examination of his body shows that his arms and legs are swollen and tinged with green. He wears an enchanted shirt of chainmail and his axe is also magical and runecarved.


    There are no other visible entrances to the ziggurat other than the double-doors at the top of the stairs (although 2 secret and hidden passages are among the ruined buildings bordering the square). The long flight of stairs up to the doors is festooned with ape-man dead with a large pile of bodies before the doors. These bodies will need to be cleared before any attempt can be made to open the doors. As the players reach to drag away the last body an automaton of flesh springs up, tossing aside the corpse of the ape-man. It is only slightly damaged and will attack anyone approaching the door or directing ranged attacks against it.


    The doors are shut with iron spikes and a crossbar from within. It will take 449 hp damage to batter them down. As the first blow against them falls (or if they are opened by any means) drums from the surrounding ruins begin to sound.


    To be continued...

    Posted: 08-02-2020 08:03 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 4


    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories

    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.


    4). The End of the Story
    (Written Oct 1, 1929 First Published in Weird Tales May 1930)

    Nycea (Lamia) - [NPC][MON]

    "She was not tall, but was formed with exquisite voluptuous purity of line and contour. Her eyes were of a dark sapphire blue, with molten depths into which the soul was fain to plunge as into the soft abysses of a summer ocean. The curve of her lips was enigmatic, a little mournful, and gravely tender as the lips of an antique Venus. Her hair, brownish rather than blond, fell over her neck and ears and forehead in delicious ripples confined by a plain fillet of silver. In her expression, there was a mixture of pride and voluptuousness, of regal imperiousness and feminine yielding. Her movements were all as effortlessness and graceful as those of a serpent."

    "...if you could behold her as she really is, you would see, in lieu of her voluptuous body, the folds of a foul and monstrous serpent."

    ADVENTURE IDEAS:

    The abbot of an ancient monastery sends out a call for help (via messengers throughout the region and to others of his order). Men from the nearby town have begun vanishing and now even some of his own monks have disappeared. One of the monks was bearing a minor relic which has allowed the abbot to divine its general location; in a wood of evil repute only a half-days march from the monastery. Within the wood are the ruins of a castle and it is within these ruins that the abbot believes the relic can be found, and perhaps the missing men.

    The forest is home to giant ticks and toads, wolfs and weasels, snakes and spiders, all of whom seem determined to keep the players from reaching the ruins. There is a wildly overgrown path that shows signs of recent passage, the woods themselves are marshy and filled with tangles and briars, making it rough and slow going.

    The ruins are no more than overgrown rubble except for a wide cleared area near their center (once the great hall of the castle). At the center of this clearing is a well-like circular stair that descends into darkness. Around these stairs dance a strange group of men, ape-men and men of Leng (about a half dozen of these satyrs). All are diseased, the ape-men and men of Leng with patchy, matted fur and all with weeping sores. Most are at half their normal hit points. If come upon unawares they will be dancing wildly about the stairs, two of the men of Leng playing pipes. But it is hard to reach the center clearing without rousing another dozen of the ape-men who rest among the thick growth and rubble. This rubble provides them with 3/4 cover and the ape-men will hoot, holler and throw stones (which are plentiful). If these ape-men are roused the men of Leng and others will scatter among the stones and do their best to keep any from reaching the stairs. All have been charmed by Nycea and will fight to the death with a smile upon their lips.

    At the bottom of the steps is a maze of passages and rooms, the walls wet and crusted and a thick smell of corruption and decay ever present. Within the corridors and rooms stalk a pair of Manticores and nest of wererats who laired here before the coming of Nycea and now hide from her minions.

    Nycea herself lairs deep within the ruins near an primordial well that descends unto a dark lake (an escape route for the ancient lamia). She is truly ancient, stronger with more hit dice and powers than a normal monster of her kind. She possesses several magical items, most notably an orb that allows her to scrye the surrounding land and use her powers to charm select males who will sneak away and come to her. Those so charmed bear the mark of Nycea visible only to others charmed by her, which allow them safe passage to her lair. Unfortunately Nycea is the carrier though not victim of a dread disease which she spreads to her more intimate minions. The disease causes 1d4 hit points of damage per day through fevers and weeping sores.

    Nycea surrounds herself with charmed minions (all male) and snakes. Snakes, snakes, snakes, they adore Nycea and are drawn to her. snakes of all kinds surround and protect her.

    The charmed monk with the relic (the fingerbone of a powerful cleric) wears this item about his neck in a lead cylinder. If opened it provides protection (10ft radius) to Nycea's charms and if she is struck in combat by this finger bone she will be dispelled in an explosion of light. The finger bone will disappear and reappear in the monastery.

    while it is possible to defeat Nycea I like the idea of her as an illusive enemy that may haunt the players in future adventures.
    Posted: 08-02-2020 04:07 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 3


    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories

    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.


    3). The Last Incantation
    (Written Sept 23 1929, Published in Weird Tales June 1930)

    Malygris (Mage) - NPC
    Meros Valley - [PLC]
    Nylissa - [NPC]
    Poseidonous - [PLC]
    Susran (capital of Poseidonos) - [TWN]
    Zemander (stream) - [RVR]

    Malygris
    Poseidonous
    Susran

    "Malygris the magician sat in the topmost room of his tower that was builded on a conical hill above the heart of Susran, capital of Poseidonis. Wrought of a dark stone mined from deep in the earth, perdurable and hard as the fabled adamant, this tower loomed above all others, and flung its shadow far on the roofs and domes of the city, even as the sinister power of Malygris had thrown its darkness on the minds of men.

    Now Malygris was old, and all the baleful might of his enchantments, all the dreadful or curious demons under his control, all the fear that he had wrought in the hearts of kings and prelates,were no longer enough to assuage the black ennui of his days. In his chair that was fashioned from the ivory of mastodons, inset with terrible cryptic runes of red tourmalines and azure crystals, he stared moodily though the one lozenge-shaped window of fulvous glass. His white eyebrows were contracted to a single line on the umber parchment of his face, and beneath them his eyes were cold and green as the ice of ancient floes; his beard, half white, half of a black with glaucous gleams, fell nearly to his knees and hid many of the writhing serpentine characters inscribed in woven silver athwart the bosom of his violet robe. About him were scattered all the appurtenances of his art; the skulls of men and monsters; phials filled with black or amber liquids, whose sacrilegious use was known to none but himself; little drums of vulture-skin, and crotali made from the bones and teeth of the cockodrill, used as an accompaniment to certain incantations. The mosaic floor was partly covered with the skins of enormous black and silver apes; and above the door there hung the head of a unicorn in which dwelt the familiar demon Malygris, in the form of a coral viper with pale green belly and ashen mottlings. Books were piled everywhere; ancient volumes bound in serpent-skin, with verdigris-eaten clasps, that held the frightful lore of Atlantis, the pentacles that have power upon the demons of the earth and the moon, the spells that transmute or disintegrate the elements; and runes from a lost language of Hyperborea, which, when uttered aloud, were more deadly than poison or more potent than any philtre."

    Nylissa

    "...the girl Nylissa whom he had loved.


    ADVENTURE IDEAS:

    Rather than an adventure about Malygris I see this grim mage as a source for many adventures. In my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign I will have him as one of the most powerful magicians in Hyperborea. He will be a font of knowledge esoteric, sorcerous and nefarious with many agents across the land to assist him. The players can become his paid agents, or cross paths with them, or act as hired adventurers sent to find some rare item or component while Malygris sits in his tower and dreams dark dreams.
    Posted: 08-01-2020 10:44 pm
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 2

    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 2



    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.


    2). SADASTOR

    Charnadis (Demon) - [MON]

    Lyspial (Siren) - [MON]

    Sadastor (Planet) - [PLC]

    Charnadis

    Sadastor

    "...I found a vast and winding valley that plunged even deeplier into the abysses of this dreadful world. It was walled with perpendicular cliffs and buttresses and pinnacles of rusty-red stone, that were fretted into a million bizarrely sinister forms by the sinking of the olden seas. I flew slowly among these cliffs as the wound ever downward in tortuous spirals for mile on mile of utter and irredeemable desolation, and the light grew dimmer above me as ledge on ledge and battlement on battlement of that strange red stone upreared themselves between my wings and the heavens. Here, when I rounded a sudden turn of the precipice, in the profoundest depth where the rays of the sun fell only for a brief while at noon, and the rocks were purple with everlasting shadow, I found a pool of dark-green water - the last remnant of the former ocean, ebbing still amid steep, insuperable walls. And from this pool there cried a voice, in accents that were subtly sweet as the mortal wine of the mandragora, and faint as the murmuring of shells."

    Lyspial

    "...I am a siren, and my name is Lyspial. Of the seas wherein I swam and sported at leisure many centuries ago, and whose gallant mariners I drew to an enchanted death on the shores of my disastrous isle, there remains only this fallen pool. Alas! For the pool dwindles daily, and when it wholly gone I too must perish."

    ADVENTURE IDEA

    The Treasure of Sadastor

    In a deep valley the demon Charnadis hides his treasure hoard on an isle at the center of a red lake. Each new moon the demon sacrifices a beautiful maiden so that he may remain on this plane of existence. Prevent the sacrifice and Charnadis will be dispelled and his treasure will be for the taking.

    If only it were that simple.

    At the center of a small lake of accursed water in the valley of Sadastor lies the isle of Lyspial, a vampiress-siren. She is bound to her lake and isle and must feed from the blood-red waters. It is she who sacrifices any that can be brought or lured to her isle. At its center is a small manor house and behind the manor a tall ash-tree. From this tree she hangs her victims by their heels while their blood and life essence flow from their slashed throats. A channel runs from the tree down to the waters of her lake.

    Charnadis is the willing paramour and servant of Lyspial. The great winged demon has servants of his own, both human and demonic. The humans, members of a cult which worship Charnadis, spread rumors of the treasure of Charnadis and gather slaves to be sacrificed to Lyspial. But Lyspial hungers for men and women of strength and power as well as the blood of slaves, so that the rumors that bring treasure hunters and adventurers are as desired as a steady flow of life and blood of lesser men and women. Charnadis also steals a few succulent maidens for his own desires and for Lyspial to sacrifice.

    The valley of Sadastor is home to a tribe of wild-men who worship Lyspial. They live in a series of caves that honeycomb the valley. They are armed with poisoned blow-pipes and arrows, nets, jars of enchanted smoke that make men sleep, etc... to aid in the capture of anyone entering the valley. They do not attack the human cultists and the slave caravans which they recognize by certain signs and emblems that the cultists use and wear within the valley.

    Charnadis has at his command lesser demons and his human cultists.

    Lyspial has at her command Charnadis, his servants, the tribe of wild-men and all within the valley. Within the lake there are many lacedon ghouls, the tree and the top of the manor is home to several harpys, and Lyspial has charmed several adventurers (future sacrifices) who attend her within her small manor-house and will fight for her.

    The manor has many small luxuries and treasures but in a chamber beneath her bedroom is a treasure vault containing a respectable amount of gold and jewels and a number of magic items, weapons and armor gathered from slain adventurers. A greater gorgon guards this treasure.

    Posted: 08-01-2020 02:30 pm
    REH's Conan stories list of names and ethnicities

    REH's Conan stories list of names and ethnicities


    (Hopefully I haven't missed to many names or gotten the ethnicities wrong)


    Abbreviations of Ethnicities

    Acheron = Ach

    Aesir = Aesir

    Afghul = Afg

    Aquilonian = Aq

    Argossean = Arg

    Bakalah = Bak

    Brythunian = Bry

    Corinthian = Cor

    Dagonian = Dag

    Hyrkanian = Hyr

    Keshan = Kes

    Khauran = Kha

    Kothian = Kot

    Kozaki = Koz

    Kshatriyan = Ksh

    Kushite = Kus

    Kutchemesian = Kut

    Messantian = Mes

    Nemedian = Nem

    Ophirean = Op

    Pelishtim = Pel

    Pict = Pict

    Shemite = Shem

    Stygian = Sty

    Tlazitlans = Tla

    Turanian = Tur

    Vanir = Vanir

    Xuchotlan = Xu

    Yimsha = Yim

    Zamboulan = Zamb

    Zamoran = Zam

    Zingaran = Zin

    Zuagir = Zu


    Acheron

    Xaltotun - Ach


    Aesir

    Gorm - Aesir

    Horsa - Aesir

    Niord - Aesir

    Wulfhere - Aesir


    Afghul

    Yar Afzal - Afg


    Aquilonian

    Albiona - Aq

    Altaro - Aq

    Arpello - Aq

    Ascalante - Aq

    Athemides - Aq

    Balthus - Aq

    Dion - Aq

    Epemitreus - Aq

    Gromel - Aq

    Hadrathus - Aq

    Namedides - Aq

    Numedides - Aq

    Orastes - Aq

    Pallantides - Aq

    Prosepero - Aq

    Publius - Aq

    Rinaldo - Aq

    Servius Galannus - Aq

    Soractus - Aq

    Thespius - Aq

    Tiberias - Aq

    Trocero - Aq

    Valannus - Aq

    Valeria - Aq

    Valerius - Aq

    Volmana - Aq

    Zelata - Aq


    Argossean

    Bracus - Arg

    Demetrio - Arg

    Galacus - Arg

    Strom - Arg

    Tito - Arg


    Bakalah

    Aja - Bak

    Bajujh - Bak


    Brythunian

    Aratus - Bry

    Natala - Bry


    Corinthian

    Ivanos - Cor

    Muriela - Cor


    Dagonian

    Khosatral Khel - Dag

    Yateli - Dag


    Hyrkanian

    Amurath - Hyr


    Keshan

    Gorulga - Kes

    Gwarunga - Kes


    Khauran

    Ivga - Kha

    Krallides - Kha

    Salome - Kha

    Taramis - Kha

    Valrius - Kha


    Kothian

    Almuric - Kot

    Arbanus - Kot

    Constantius - Kot

    Khossus - Kot

    Sergius - Kot

    Shupras - Kot

    Strabonus - Kot

    Taurus - Kot

    Thespides - Kot

    Tsotha-Lanti - Kot

    Vateesa - Kot

    Yasmela - Kot

    Zorathus - Kot


    Kozaki

    Olgerd Vladislav - Koz


    Kshatriyan

    Bunda Chand - Ksh

    Chunder Shan - Ksh

    Devi Yasmina - Ksh

    Gitara - Ksh


    Kushite

    Ajaga - Kus

    Ajonga - Kus

    Laranga - Kus

    Shukeli - Kus

    Yasunga - Kus


    Kutchemesian

    Thugra Kohotan (Nathok) - Kut


    Messantian

    Publio - Mes


    Nemedian

    Alcemides - Nem

    Amalric - Nem

    Arideus - Nem

    Arus - Nem

    Aztrias Petanius - Nem

    Demetrio - Nem

    Dionus - Nem

    Enaro - Nem

    Kalanthes - Nem

    Kallian Publico - Nem

    Nimed - Nem

    Numa - Nem

    Octavia - Nem

    Posthumo - Nem

    Promero - Nem

    Tarascus - Nem

    Taurus - Nem

    Zenobia - Nem


    Ophirean

    Akkutho - Op

    Amalrus - Op

    Khossus - Op

    Livia - Op

    Olivia - Op

    Theteles - Op

    Tina - Op


    Pelishtim

    Bit-Yakin - Pel


    Pict

    Zogar Sag - Pict


    Shemite

    Belit - Shem

    Gebal - Shem

    Gilzan - Shem

    Khumbanigasa - Shem

    Servio - Shem

    Zargheba - Shem


    Stygian

    Ctesphon - Sty

    Kutamun - Sty

    Rammon - Sty?

    Tascela - Sty

    Thalis - Sty

    Thoth-Amon - Sty

    Thothmekri - Sty

    Thothmes - Sty

    Thutmekri - Sty

    Tuthamon - Sty

    Yara - Sty?


    Tlazitlan

    Chicmec - Tla

    Olmec - Tla

    Tachic - Tla

    Techotl - Tla

    Tecuhltli - Tla

    Topal - Tla

    Xamec - Tla

    Xecelan - Tla

    Xotalanc - Tla

    Yanath - Tla

    Yasala - Tla

    Zlanath - Tla


    Turanian

    Alafdhal - Tur

    Ghaznavi - Tur

    Jehungir Agha - Tur

    Jelal - Tur

    Jungir Khan - Tur

    Kerim Shah - Tur

    Khosru Khan - Tur

    Yildiz - Tur

    Yezdiderd - Tur


    Vanir

    Bragi - Vanir

    Heimdul - Vanir


    Xuchotlan

    Tolkemec - Xu

    Yimsha

    Khemsa - Yim


    Zamboulan

    Aram Baksha - Zamb

    Ghanara - Zamb

    Nafertari - Zamb

    Totrasmek - Zamb

    Zabibi - Zamb


    Zamoran

    Shevatas - Zam


    Zingaran

    Belesa - Zin

    Beloso - Zin

    Galbro - Zin

    Gebbrelo - Zin

    Sancha - Zin

    Tranicos - Zin

    Valbroso - Zin

    Valenso - Zin

    Zaporavo - Zin

    Zarono - Zin

    Zingelito - Zin


    Zuagir

    Djebal - Zu


    Misc. and Unkown

    Akivasha - ?

    Astreas - ?

    Athicus - ?

    Joka - ?

    Murilo - ?

    N'Gora - Island Kingdoms?

    N'Yaga - Island Kingdoms

    Nabonidus - ?

    Ortho - ?

    Pelias - ?

    Petreus - ?

    Satha - Giant Snake

    Thak - Ape-Man

    Tiberio - ?

    Vathelos - ?

    Yag-Kosha (or Hogah) - from the green planet Yag

    Yelaya - ?

    Zang - ?

    Zarallo - ?


    Compiled from Del Rey's The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian


    The Phoenix in the Sword

    Ascalante - Aq

    Ctesphon - Sty

    Dion - Aq

    Epemitreus - Aq

    Gromel - Aq

    Numa - Nem

    Numedides - Aq

    Pallantides - Aq

    Prosepero - Aq

    Publius - Aq

    Rammon - Sty?

    Rinaldo - Aq

    Thoth-Amon - Sty

    Trocero - Aq

    Volmana - Aq


    Frost-Giant's Daughter

    Bragi - Vanir

    Gorm - Aesir

    Heimdul - Vanir

    Horsa - Aesir

    Niord - Aesir

    Wulfhere - Aesir


    The God in the Bowl

    Arus - Nem

    Aztrias Petanius - Nem

    Demetrio - Nem

    Dionus - Nem

    Enaro - Nem

    Kalanthes - Nem

    Kallian Publico - Nem

    Posthumo - Nem

    Promero - Nem


    The Tower of the Elephant

    Taurus - Nem

    Yag-Kosha (or Hogah) - from the green planet Yag

    Yara - Sty?


    The Scarlet Citadel

    Ajaga - Kus

    Akkutho - Op

    Amalrus - Op

    Arbanus - Kot

    Arpello - Aq

    Athemides - Aq

    Khossus - Op

    Namedides - Aq

    Pelias - ?

    Satha - Giant Snake

    Shukeli - Kus

    Strabonus - Kot

    Tsotha-Lanti - Kot


    Queen of the Black Coast

    Belit - Shem

    N'Gora - Island Kingdoms?

    N'Yaga - Island Kingdoms

    Tito - Arg


    Black Colossus

    Amalric - Nem

    Khossus - Kot

    Kutamun - Sty

    Shevatas - Zam

    Shupras - Kot

    Taurus - Kot

    Thespides - Kot

    Thugra Kohotan (Nathok) - Kut

    Vateesa - Kot

    Vathelos - ?

    Yasmela - Kot


    Iron Shadows In The Moon

    Amurath - Hyr

    Aratus - Bry

    Ivanos - Cor

    Olivia - Op

    Sergius - Kot

    Yildiz - Tur


    Xuthal of the Dusk

    Almuric - Kot

    Natala - Bry

    Thalis - Sty


    The Pool of the Black One

    Sancha - Zin

    Zaporavo - Zin


    Rogues in the House

    Athicus - ?

    Joka - ?

    Murilo - ?

    Nabonidus - ?

    Petreus - ?

    Thak - Ape-Man


    The Vale of Lost Women

    Aja - Bak

    Bajujh - Bak

    Livia - Op

    Theteles - Op


    The Devil in Iron

    Ghaznavi - Tur

    Gilzan - Shem

    Jehungir Agha - Tur

    Jelal - Tur

    Khosatral Khel - Dag

    Octavia - Nem

    Yateli - Dag

    Yezdiderd - Tur


    Compiled from Del Rey's The Bloody Crown of Conan


    The People of the Black Circle

    Bunda Chand - Ksh

    Chunder Shan - Ksh

    Devi Yasmina - Ksh

    Gitara - Ksh

    Kerim Shah - Tur

    Khemsa - Yim

    Khosru Khan - Tur

    Yar Afzal - Afg


    The Hour of the Dragon

    Akivasha - ?

    Ajonga - Kus

    Albiona - Aq

    Altaro - Aq

    Amalric - Nem

    Arideus - Nem

    Beloso - Zin

    Demetrio - Arg

    Gebal - Shem

    Hadrathus - Aq

    Laranga - Kus

    Nimed - Nem

    Orastes - Aq

    Publio - Mes

    Servio - Shem

    Servius Galannus - Aq

    Tarascus - Nem

    Thespius - Aq

    Thothmekri - Sty

    Thothmes - Sty

    Tiberias - Aq

    Tiberio - ?

    Tuthamon - Sty

    Valannus - Aq

    Valbroso - Zin

    Valerius - Aq

    Xaltotun - Ach

    Yasunga - Kus

    Zelata - Aq

    Zenobia - Nem

    Zorathus - Kot


    A Witch Shall Be Born

    Alcemides - Nem

    Astreas - ?

    Constantius - Kot

    Djebal - Zu

    Ivga - Kha

    Khumbanigasa - Shem

    Krallides - Kha

    Olgerd Vladislav - Koz

    Salome - Kha

    Taramis - Kha

    Valrius - Kha

    Zang - ?


    Compiled from Del Rey's The Conquering Sword of Conan


    The Servants of Bit-Yakin

    Bit-Yakin - Pel

    Gorulga - Kes

    Gwarunga - Kes

    Muriela - Cor

    Thutmekri - Sty

    Yelaya - ?

    Zargheba - Shem


    Beyond the Black River

    Balthus - Aq

    Soractus - Aq

    Tiberias - Aq

    Valannus - Aq

    Valerius - Aq

    Zogar Sag - Pict


    The Black Stranger

    Belesa - Zin

    Bracus - Arg

    Galacus - Arg

    Galbro - Zin

    Gebbrelo - Zin

    Strom - Arg

    Thothmekri - Sty

    Tina - Op

    Tranicos - Zin

    Valenso - Zin

    Zarono - Zin

    Zingelito - Zin


    The Man-Eaters of Zamboula

    Alafdhal - Tur

    Aram Baksha - Zamb

    Ghanara - Zamb

    Jungir Khan - Tur

    Nafertari - Zamb

    Totrasmek - Zamb

    Zabibi - Zamb


    Red Nails

    Chicmec - Tla

    Tascela - Sty

    Techotl - Tla

    Tecuhltli - Tla

    Tolkemec - Xu

    Olmec - Tla

    Ortho - ?

    Tachic - Tla

    Topal - Tla

    Valeria - Aq

    Xamec - Tla

    Xecelan - Tla

    Xotalanc - Tla

    Yanath - Tla

    Yasala - Tla

    Zarallo - ?

    Zlanath - Tla

    Posted: 08-01-2020 11:32 am
    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 1

    Clark Ashton Smith - Some Ideas and Descriptions from his Stories 1


    SPOILER WARNING!

    If you have not read this story TURN BACK NOW! or risk losing forever the unspoiled appreciation of Clark Ashton Smith's prose.

    Inspired by the rules and setting of the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyberborea boxed set and the discussion of the same on the OD&D Forum I have started sifting through my collection of Clark Ashton Smith for ideas.

    The Abominations of Yondo

    (This story first appeared in print in the April 1926 issue of Overland Monthly but the typescript is dated February 5th 1925)

    Cactus-Forest [WD]

    Fungi, Monstrous [MON]

    Insects, Long-Legged [MON]

    Lake, Weird [RVR]

    Monstrous Thing [MON]

    Ong (Lion Headed) [Deity]

    Ong, Inquisitors of [ORG]

    Vipers, Pale-Green [MON]

    Yondo, Desert of [PLC]


    Cactus-Forest

    Ong

    Ong, Inquistors of


    "It was noon of a vernal day when I came forth from that interminable cactus-forest in which the inquisitors of Ong had left me, and saw at my feet the grey beginnings of Yondo."


    Yondo, Desert of


    "The sand of the desert of Yondo is not as the sand of other deserts; for Yondo lies nearest of all to the world's rim; and strange winds, blowing from a gulf no astronomer may hope to fathom, have sown its ruinous fields with the grey dust of corroding planets, the black ashes of extinguished suns. The dark orb-like mountains which rise from its pitted and wrinkled plain are not all its own, for some are fallen asteroids half-buried in that abysmal sand. Things have crept in from nether space, whose incursion is forbid by watchful gods of all proper and well-ordered lands; but there are no such gods in Yondo, where live the hoary genii of stars abolished, and decrepit demons left homeless by the destruction of their antiquated hells."


    Cactus-Forest

    Fungi, Monstrous

    Vipers, Pale-Green


    "...in that fantastic wood, I had found no token or memory of spring; and the swollen, fulvous, dying and half-rotten growths through which i had pushed my way, were like no other cacti; but bore shapes of abomination scarcely to be described. The very air was heavy with stagnant odors of decay; and leprous lichens mottled the black soil and russet vegetation with increasing frequency. Pale-green vipers lifted their heads from prostrate cactus-boles, and watched me with eyes of bright ochre that had no lids or pupils. These things had disquieted me for hours past; and I did not like the monstrous fungi, with hueless stems and nodding heads of poisonous mauve, which grew from sodden lips of fetid tarns; and the sinister ripples spreading and fading on the yellow water at my approach..."


    Insects, Long-Legged


    "I went forward, sinking at each step in a loathly softness, and followed by certain long-legged insects that I had met among the cacti. These insects were the color of a week-old corpse, and were as large as tarantulas; but when I turned and trod upon the foremost, a mephitic stench arose that was more nauseous even than their color."


    Lake, Weird


    "Topping one of the any mound-like ridges, I saw the waters of a weird lake, unfathomably dark and green as malachite, and set with bars of profulgent salt. These waters lay far beneath me in a cup-like basin; but almost at my feet on the wave-worn slopes were heaps of that ancient salt; and I knew that the lake was only the bitter and ebbing dregs of some former sea. Climbing down, I came to the dark waters, and began to lave my hands; but there was a sharp and corrosive sting in that immemorial brine, and I desisted quickly, preferring the desert dust that had wrapped about me like a slow shroud."


    Monstrous Thing


    "It was then that I heard a diabolic chuckle on the hillside above me. The sound began with a sharp abruptness that startled me beyond all reason, and continued endlessly, never varying its single note, like that mirth of some idiotic demon. I looked up, and saw the mouth of a dark cave, fanged with green stalactites, which I had not perceived before. The sound appeared to come from within this cave.

    ...with all the rapidity of nightmare, a monstrous Thing emerged. It had a pale, hairless, egg-shaped body, large as that of a gravid she-goat; and this body was mounted on nine long, wavering legs with many flanges, like the legs of some enormous spider. The creature ran past me to the water's edge; and I saw that there were no eyes in its oddly sloping face, but two knife-like ears rose high above its head, and a thin, wrinkled snout hung down across its mouth, whose flabby lips, parted in that eternal chuckle, revealed rows of bat's teeth."



    In the few short pages of the Abominations of Yondo there is much more about the desert and its horrific denizens. Asteroid pits, ruined cities and ruined temples, mausoleums broke and surrounded by rotting cypresses. Shadow creatures, beckoning statues, vapors with the sickening odor of corruption, empty suits of armor marching across the desert, mummies of ancient kings ridden by ape-like demonic beasts with distorted bodies.

    An obvious scenario idea is for the players to be driven through the mutated cactus-forest with the desert of Yondo their only means of escape, but Yondo can be the setting for many adventures. The story is a description of Yondo's horrors but it hints at greater terrors and perhaps great rewards for those who would dare explore its shattered fanes and ruined necropoli.

    Posted: 07-31-2020 04:55 pm
    Gygax's Letter in Alarums and Excursions #15


    Gygax's Letter in Alarums & Excursions #15

    Dear Lee,

    Hereafter you will find comments regarding A&E 14 done in the order in which the material they pertain to appears in the zine. This is bound to cause a rather disjointed missive for which I beg your kind indulgence in advance.

    Your stand regarding future publication of variant material is most appreciated, for we do not particularly feel happy to see some rehash of our copyrighted material. With regard to commercial sale of material pertaining to D&D, I can state that TSR is absolutely opposed to the practice in those cases where there is infringement upon our copyright. In the case of your supplemental material, I cannot say but will certainly tend to look more favorably on an enterprise of yours you have been most careful and conscientious regarding the rights of TSR. Please let us take a loot at the material if you wish to go ahead.

    Rick Schwall played in "Greyhawk Castle" once or twice, but he either was with a very small group -- I do not recall -- or his memory is not good. Rob and I do not bother to place adventurers on any sort of graph if the group is three or less. All placement is easily kept track of with so few players involved in combat. When more than three persons are in a party, we always require that they align themselves in a march order, the leader be in the front rank, and changes in marching order be noted. The party keeps one copy of this, and they must furnish us with a duplicate. When combat takes place we sometimes use miniatures, otherwise paper and pencil, to record positions, actions, hits given and hits scored. My favorite grid for character positions in combat is a large sheet of staggered squares covered with acetate. Colored china markers are used to show positions, moved, etc. When running large groups through a tournament scenario, such nice touches must be done away with in the interest of time.

    Lee, no matter how carefully something is written, and I am not thereby claiming D&D was written with a view towards deletion of ambiguities, there will always be some person at work to twist the content to their own ends. A classic case is the Avalon Hill game STALINGRAD, which stated the German player could place up to 8 factors of German units in Finland. As the rules did not mention Rumanian units, some of these clever fellows put them into Finland too! I take exception to the statement that I am not able to write very clearly. Correctly put forth in a form asserting that D&D was not written without loopholes or carefully would be quite acceptable. When I treat historical subjects, rules are written in a far different manner. Specifically to the point, magic-users are not allowed to wear any form of armor or use any form of weapon other than daggers. We have amended our treatment to allow them to use staves as weapons as well. Characters able to operate in two or more classes at once do not fall under the injunction against armor and weapons. Thieves can use nothing better than leather armor, and they may never use a shield. They may use only daggers and/or swords, magical or not. I would allow them to use a garrot or sling in some cases. Likewise, I would allow the use of a fine chainmail short of magical nature. The point is that the DM should make such decisions. (Ooops, I just blamed you for something evidently written by Glenn Blacow... Sorry!)

    Glenn has quite a few novel concepts. Evidently he believes a dungeon should be rather like a fun house, with a monster behind every door and so much magic available you can't keep track of the enchanted swords without a scorecard. Anyway, I personally dislike refereeing for expeditions above six persons, but demand usually force me to take more. The largest party we ever took into "Greyhawk Castle" was 16 --- and four actually survived to tell of it. And that without 75% occupancy and no more than a half-dozen traps on a typical level. In any event, from your statements, Glenn, I do believe you could handle play in my dungeon -- or even Arneson's -- and do well, but how can the clean-up crew be considered "helpless"? An encounter with an ochre jelly dropping from the ceiling can be rather devastating.

    Rumors concerning the way we play D&D seem to be flying about all sorts of places, and unfortunately most of these bits of information are only partially correct at best. Dan Plerson says that we are rumored to play competitive D&D with group against group. It so happens that when we get the campaign into high gear, there is considerable competition between three or four factions, and they find it enjoyable to attack each other when the opportunity arise -- and they do play to make such opportunities. As a DM I find this quite suitable. It does not occur frequently. It almost never happens during dungeon expeditions. Here is how we have things set up:

    The game world is a parallel earth, but the continents are somewhat different. Most of our campaign activity takes place on what corresponds to North America, on the eastern half of the continent. The "Blackmoor" lands lie far up on the northeast coast. "Greyhawk" is in the central portion. There are a few other independently run campaigns located on this map. There are also some other dungeons related to the "Greyhawk" campaign located at some distance from the free city of Greyhawk. Players in our campaign may freely play in "Blackmoor", but to get there they must adventure cross country. With one or two other campaigns, we do not allow any cross-campaign play other than this, for these is too great a disparity of DMing. The territory within 500 or so miles of our main dungeon is mapped out at 5 miles to the hex. Territory within 50 miles of Greyhawk city is mapped more closely, and monster locations are indicated. The entire world is mapped out in rough form, with notes regarding typical encounters in given areas as well as particular special places, for hardy souls who wish to go forth to seek their fortunes.

    Charlie Luco is quite correct. Kuntz and Ward should have known better than to fly in the face of an already published monster, and the Rakshasa business is now too late to correct. The whole of GODS' needs correcting due to the mis-stripping done at the printer. When we do this, we will probably enlarge the format to 8 1/2 x 11, add a lot more material and make necessary corrections at the same time. Rakshasas will stay as they are in SR, and the indian demons will be properly indicated to be something else altogether.

    Mr. Konkin's ethos is rather strange in equating good with law and chaos with evil, but becoming embroiled in a philosophical discussion is the last thing in the world I need, so let's skip it.

    I do not believe that Wayne Shaw has ever played in an actual "Greyhawk" expedition, although he may have been involved in a tournament game sponsored by TSR which I had a hand in devising. From his comments, I am forced to suppose that the good man does not care to think, and his answer to problem solving is to kill. At least he got the wrong impression. I invite him to set up an appointment to have a go at the real thing, and let us see if he "naturally" slays the creatures he encounters. I lose all patience with sophomoric players of this sort; they belong in a Monty Hall dungeon.

    It seems that Dungeons & Beavers players are getting paranoid. We did not design GODS' simply to shame them or whatever. The supplement was written to conform to the major type of play going on in the country. If the beings therein do not fit into their particular manner of play, it is easy enough to ignore the whole work -- or add a zero to the hit points each can take. Yes, fellows, I find 20th level to be absolutely incredible, for you won't get it in the games hereabouts -- or in most other places which I hear in talking with DMs. It makes good players angry to hear about umpteenth level characters when they have had to play two actual years, carefully and intelligently, to rise to tenth level or so.

    A good example is the Origins I dungeon -- incidentally drawn from a similar tomb designed by Alac Lucion. Very few of the players who engaged in the tournament were able to think out the problems. In a test run, Rob Kuntz, in his game persona as a 13th level (evil) lord went through the entire tomb in four hours actual time. He took 14 orcs and a couple of low-level flunkies with him. He lost all the party, but his character personally looted the lich's tomb and escaped with the goodies. Rosenberg is wrong, for there were a number of ways to get out the place, although only two to get out with anything except your skin. I hope that in the future I will be able to have more individuals try "Greyhawk Castle." It's not as tough as "Blackmoor," but I think it might give some few an enjoyable time.

    Thanks for sending A&E along! I hear you missed GenCon West I, but I hope that you'll make II and I'll see you there. Arneson went to this year's event, and it is my turn to go in '77

    Best regards,

    E. Gary Gygax

    NOTE: I will be adding the comments from A&E #14 that Gygax is responding to, probably within the next few days.

    Posted: 07-31-2020 04:32 pm
    Origins 1 ToH review from A&E #4


    I had hoped that this would be a retelling of a Castle Greyhawk adventure, but instead I soon realized that this poor group of adventurers (complete newbies for the most part) had wandered into The Tomb of Horrors. I have retyped this as I found it, spelling errors included (I just hope that I've added none of my own).


    From: Alarums & Excursions #4 September 1975

    Billy Balrog's Own Fanzine number three
    By Mark Sawnson

    ORIGINS I occurred this past weekend. This zine is con report, adventure description and critque and a multiple game review. Since it review a few details of a Dungeon that Gygax will be running as Gencon in mid-August it should not appear until the September A&E, regardless of how late the August one is, (unless it doesn't appear until September.)

    We drove down from our gathering point in Conn. last Friday (july 25) New Jersey is still the Blasted Lands and Baltimore, outside John Hopkins, is a slum. $13 was very. low for 2 nights, even if they were un-airconditioned "coffin singles." The food in the cafeteria was acceptable, since there were no decent nearby cheap restruants a Good Thing,and I haven't heard of any problems with the campus administration. The minatures play was rare, but Dippy, Iron Ships & Wooden Men (or vice versa), and all sorts of board games abounded. After I picked the wrong method of finding two German Pak 75/L40's I was out of the armor minature play and devoted myself to kibutzing on one and all.
    (Above report dedicated to giving Pelz something to complain about even harder than D&D - which follows.)

    THE DUNGEON that Gary had brought along was being run in a tournament - all parties with identical characters (ranging from a MU 12 to a Fighter 4 - with strength of 18. As characters were assigned in alphabetical order I ended up as a 6th rate Magic user- supposedly the weakest in the group. Four of the fifteen had any previous experience. I grabbed the callers spot and announced the imposition of military discipline. Judging by the way the game went, Slobbovian army.

    As I started to say- there were no wandering monsters (damn few monsters at all, in fact), plenty of traps (too many) and very few experienced players. It was run by Gary's son, who devoted no effort to keeping the characters in character. However, we did just as well as the other Friday night group- with 13 expert adventurers, that many would be callers- and perhaps just a shade to much caution.

    We were to loot a tomb, hidden under a hill. Paul Bean having chosen our spells while I described D&D to the 11 novices and Gary's son wrote out the character descriptions (why they didn't make up several sets on 3x5 cards beforehand passeth understanding - to busy is the probable explanation.) No names were assigned to the characters. The remaining two experienced players- New Yorkers I think, retired into a corner to determine their own equipment. It quickly bacame obvious that they had tabbed me as the bossy type and didn't want to argue. The situation- which was dire- demanded such behavior, however. A little more assistance would have been usefull. Paul and I made a bad mistake at once- not being used to playing with single use spells we did not take enough multiple copies of the more usefull ones. Everyone had a magic item or two- I had levitation boots- in this dungeon the most usefull thing in the whole group. We had two magic users (12, 6), 2 clerics (10,6), 7 fighters (8 Palafine,3x7,6,5,4), 2 thieves (9,5)(Hobbit thief=5: in the other party they started down the tunnel to the tune of "Thieves aren't lawful, Hobbits aren't Neutral; where do Hobbit thieves come from" a case of that sub-Game- Grossing Out the Dungeonmaster). And 2 elves (M6 F4, M4 F4 C4!) No time to investigate Elvish clerics- and Gary's son was running things "by the book".

    My fabulous career as caller began as we first entered the right hand entrance and emerged slightly ahead of the ceiling. We then tried the right entrance- and were trapped as a wall slid too behind us. Our Passwall spell got us out. (In the other party , tale-end Charlie responded to this event by "drawing sword and bow." His march position was readjusted. They hadn't realized no wandering monsters either.)

    Finally we entered the central entrance, and headed down the 20' wide passage. The walls were plastered and covered with murals. 40' down there was a picture of two dogheaded beings holding a coffer- which stuck out of the wall. I decided that we could do without Anubis's kin and continued. Our elves reported no secret doors or traps. Ten more feet and out #2 and #3 fighters fell into a trap and lost minor bickerings with three poisoned, 5' spikes each. Poor quality elves we have hear, thought I. We dragged them out. Should our Patriarch raise them from the dead? After 5 hours in the Barren Lands my condition might have been described as numb. With a hazy idea of saving the spell for later I ordered them dropped back into thee pit for later recovery. Neither the Paladin nor the Patriarch protested. The Dungeonmaster did not tell them they should have (both were neos.) No one suggested that we take their useful equipment along with us (one had a bag of holding.) At this point I ordered a Locate Traps spell used- a bit late- and we avoided two more pits on the way down to the end of the corridor- 60'. Still plastered walls, still the elves detected no hollow spaces or hidden doors. What a time to pick defective elves!

    At the end of the passageway there was a devil mouth- with an open, black mouth. Things shoved in did not return. On the left there was a door with a blue haze covering it. anything that went partway in came back, Things that went in all the way did not. Paul, a F7 and the only other useful person on the expedition to this point volunteered to investigate the door. He went through and the Dmaster took him outside. In a bit, I decided it was time to charge through all together. (How do you run a 15 man expedition- (all characters were male) why, most of the players are an attentive audience.)

    Our Patriarch and the 7th level Dwarf decide to stay put, and went outside. the game room. We found ourselves inside a 10' square, 30' high room, without doors and possessed of 3 levers. At this point I announced that we were all driving spikes into the walls and standing on them. Various conditions of levers were tried. All three down resulted in the floor opening for a stimulating view of a 100' drop. At this point the Dmaster told that the levers had started in the neutral position. all three were put up, the ceiling opened and we climbed up and into a 3' high and wide crawlway.

    At this point the cleric and dwarf were brought in and decided to enter the screen behind us. Somehow the floor had reopened behind us and we had one small and one holy mound of flesh 130' down from where we were. By this point I had a feeling that this was not going to be the most successful adventure of the tournament.

    We crawled up the passageway, discovered a room above a trapdoor with wooden, golden and silver chests; containing a massive skeleton, 10 snakes and a magic ring with white dust inside. The hobbit thief tried it on, deciding not to remove the powder and promptly died. We wiped it off and took the ring along.

    We got out along the crawlway. The room was plastered, the elves detected nothing and I had not yet grasped that a 1/2" of plaster was elf proof. Gygax's elves have to see secret doors, reasonable but not what I am accustomed to. We came back up in a pit with two old friends in it. I suggested departure. The rest of the party wanted a crack at Anubis's cousins- resulting, after a lever in a30' pit being found- from which Paul was extracted with only bruises.

    Someone else had a brilliant thought- what's behind the plaster? We broke some and found a door. Blasted insensitive elves! Down a corridor and discovered two super-gargoyles, which were disposed of with difficulty- they being 8th level and no one on our side remembering whatmagic they had. Finally, a lightning javelin did the trick, while it was demonstrated once more that "Charm person" does nothing to gargoyles. (The rest of the party had not gotten the idea and ordered their characters around to a limited degree.) Two colars at 500 GP were thus acquired- our only treasure, it turned out.

    Now through a maze of 10' square rooms with walls that pivoted vertically, horizontally, slid up,down,and sideways. Each direction had to be individually specified. The party agreed and our 18 (80%) fighter started making holes in the wall instead. This git up to another 20' corridor, with more plaster to break, thence into a crawlspace (thank Ghu for no wandering monsters!" which got us to a chapel. Blue altar-which our Paladin warned us not to touch (26 point lightning bolt as it turned red, so I learned from another party later) and an orange mist door. Our sixth level cleric walked into it. A female anti-cleric promptly emerged and threw a curse. "I'm attacking her with my +3 mace announced our sole living cleric operator. Gently the situation was explained to him. The Dmaster decided the curse had been hurled at the Paladin. Who picked the misguided female up and hurled her into the orange doorway; from which emerged our cleric with a sore jaw.

    At this point we got a five minute warning and things started to move fast. The fing into a slot on the opposite wall (there went a 5' diameter protection ring, said the Dmaster.) Out along a 10' corridor, down a flight of stairs as three more panic- a landing, doors east and west...

    "Games over" said Gary. Another, later party, possibly aided by rumors or led by someone who understood pits, elf proof plaster and the unpopulated nature of Gygax's dungeon- got th whole treasure. Sigh.

    From this experience I deduce a couple of lessons.

    1) Don't run D&D as a tournament. 2) Always shatter plaster unless you are in the dungeon of nasty minded people such as I who might put poison gas behind it. 3) Play a Gygax game if you like pits, secret doors and Dungeon Roulette. Play a game such as in A&E if you prefer monsters, talking/arguing/fighting with chance met characters and a more exciting game. of course, the game may not have been typical, but Gary can defend himself. I felt no real desire for a second, similar game.

    Posted: 07-31-2020 03:19 am
    Gygax's Letter from Alarums and Excursions #8


    Alarums & Excursions #8 A Letter From E. Gary Gygax

    There was an interesting comment in the October ish which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. This veritable pearl of wisdom dropped from the learned lips of one "Barry." [Well, not really. It actually occurs in PERCEPTION 2, pages one and two written by Dick Eney. It is addressed to Barry who had condemned "xeroxing D&D rules instead of paying for them" in an earlier issue. Future allusions to "Barry" will be changed to "Eney" by the typist. -- LG.]

    Now in all fairness, I must preface my remarks with the admission that I once said something very like what this good fellow did with regard to "pirating" of miniature figures. Jack Scruby wrote a rebuttal which made me look a tad foolish and set the matter straight. So now the shoe is really on the other foot and it pinches a trifle.

    Leaving aside the question of legality -- and it is illegal to copy works held under copyright, of course -- I must set you all straight about costs. The production of a game or rules set entails very many expenses beyond the base printing cost, and I must say that the printing cost of D&D runs quite a bit above the six bits that Eney mistakenly asserts is the cost. (If, in fact, he can have the three booklets printed, the separate charts also done, and assembled, the box made and wrapped, and the whole put together and shrink-wrapped for that price, he should contact me immediately and let me know the name of the printer!) However initial printing cost is not the only consideration. First, a substantial sum of money must be raised in order to pay for from 3,000 to 5,000 copies of the print run, and a place to house all these sets must be found. Then material to handle orders, wrap them and ship them must be arranged for, as well as someone to do the actual work. Records must be kept. Taxes must be paid. Royalties must be reported and paid to authors and artists. Salaries must be paid. Overhead must be paid. And there is always the good old discount! We offer them, hobby stores get them (and most folks would rather go and pick their materials up immediately than wait for a mail order), and distributors get very substantial ones. They're all necessary and beneficial -- except that in some cases the authors make more money on a run than TSR does! That's fine as long as the overhead and fixed expenses get taken care of, but it doesn't consider what is to be done for new productions.

    As A&E has not hesitated to point out, TSR deserves to gain some profit for its venture. Frankly, we do not think anybody else would have been willing to hazard what we did in pioneering the fantasy game field. In this same vein, we have many other new designs which we wish to publish, but each entails a considerable amount of time, effort and capital. TSR employees all receive minimal wages in order that the firm will have enough excess to produce new material. To correct the learned Eney, D&D, GREYHAWK, CHAINMAIL et al., most certainly are bread and butter to five or six TSR employees (including myself, my wife and our five children). They are also the bread and butter of those who look forward to new material from TSR.

    This whole matter irritates me more than a little when I think of the time and effort I have put into it for the past few years, the work all of the TSR people have put in with an average remuneration of something less than two dollars per hour, while some nit babbles about matters he has absolutely no conception of! (As I was careful to preface this whole thing with the admission that I once did the same with regard to the costs of miniature figures, I trust no personal offense will be taken.)

    Again, Eney seemingly shells out a buck for A&E without qualm or complaint because it contains something he enjoys greatly. Doesn't D&D deserve the same regard? I think so. It is illegal to copy D&D. It is unethical. And in the final analysis, it might mean real loss to great numbers of people. That isn't to say that there is the least objection to copying parts of the books for your own use or for that matter if some individual is too damn poor to afford the cost of his own copy of D&D, it is better he get a Xerox than not be able to play. But how many copies are simply made so as to profit the fellow illegally duplicating his D&D? Or how many are made in order to save the money, so as to use it for some other form of entertainment? It all boils down to the question about whether or not the laborer is worthy of his hire. Evidently Eney does not think so. I appreciate A&E's stand with regard to this matter and letter is written primarily to vindicate it, for I doubt it will turn those with a dishonest bent from whatever course they choose.


    From Alarums & Excursions #1 by Barry Gold

    Lee and I, as publishers of Alarums and Excursions, recommend that you buy the rules to Dungeons and Dragons if you don't already have them. Xeroxing somebody else's copy is unethical and illegal too. If you are going to get involved enough in the game to build your dungeon, you should at least spring for $10 for the rule books. If you aren't making your own dungeons, you don't really need the books - some other player can tell you how to make and play a character. So there is no excuse for making a bootleg copy and depriving Gary Gygax, the game's inventor, of his fair share.

    The latest prices we have are D&D $10, Chainmail $5, Greyhawk $5, dice $2.50 per set --- one each D4, D6, D8, D12, D20. Chainmail is the predecessor of D&D and is useful for resolving missile fire in melee. Greyhawk is the first supplement, with new spells, monsters and treasure.


    From Alarums & Excursions #5 October 1975 Depth Perception 2 By Dick Eney

    BARRY: There are mutterings of Discontent over your comment anent(Sp?) depriving Gygax of his fair share by xeroxing Dungeons and Dragons and, by extension, Greyhawk and Chainmail. as I believe that I (hem hem) am unlikely to be tagged as one of the irresponsible hippie types trying to tear down the fabric of our Free Enterprise system, maybe I'd be the right one to state them.

    Firstest, let us Define Our Terms. D&D, Greyhawk, and Chainmail are fanzines (and there are more than a few Fanzines with better artwork and proofreading). That is, they are something that is published in connection with Gygax's hobby and for fellow hobbyists; they are not his bread and butter and so we don't have to make a baseline calculation of what brings him in a decent annual salary, as we would with a fulltime professional. On the other hand, we do have to him justice and make sure that a work which has brought us so much pleasure doesn't wind up costing him something out of pocket. All X so far?

    Now let's make a cost guestimate. Volume I is 36 pages and a heavy cover, II is 40 pages and a heavy cover, and III is 36 pages and a heavy cover. Pages are four to a quarto sheet, so there are 18 standard-size sheets and three heavy covers. Let's assume something I don't really believe for a moment: that he hadn't the information to shop around for a price break or quantity discount, and paid the prices for commercial instant-print lithography, i.e. got badly ripped off. Nevertheless, even paying premium rates like that, 1000 sets of D&D -- that is, of all three booklets together -- should have cost him about $733.80. If he printed 2000 at once it would have been nearer $1268.80 (or $624.40 per thousand). Greyhawk, similarly, should have stood him $341.20 per thousand; if he got 2000, then $583.00 total (or $291.50 per thousand). Any of you can check this with your friendly neighborhood instant-print lithographer, so I won't bother with the calculations here. I did run it past George Scithers, who gets similar-size print runs for AMRA; he gets distinctly better prices for the whole operation including commercial stapling, even though AMRA uses odd-size special-order paper, runs half-tines, and is far superior in quality of repro to D&D.

    Personally, I paid the full list price for Dungeons and Dragons and Greyhawk both, just as I did for other stuff like Warriors of Mars and intend to do for War of Wizards and Empire of the Petal throne and probably more. Presumably many of the rest of us did or would do the same, as a point of honor. But when somebody charges me $10 for an item that should have cost him less than 75c, that's a markup of well over a thousand percent (unless I punched the wrong buttons, it comes to 1264% for D&D and 1366% for Greyhawk. all in all, I am not about to dump on Xerox fandom on the grounds that Gygax is being screwed every time that green light flashes.

    NOTE: Comment by Sherna Burley From Alarums&Excursions #7

    Dick Eney: I find your calculation of Gary Gygax's profit frightening. You have overlooked a couple of factors, though. First, the box probably costs quite a bit (no; about 15c retail -- R.E. [Dick Eney]), and its label costs something too. Second, and more important, I bought my copy from a friend, a (fan) dealer, who was able to give me a discount. This means that, whatever Gygax gets for this set, it is not always the full $10. When there are all those overhead costs, including postage on his mail orders...

    As a (partial) beneficiary of Xerox, I am glad to think, however, that he does make quite a bit more profit than seems reasonable, even if not the 1264% you calculated. (Let it be noted that I bought D&D and GREYHAWK, and would not have had the money to buy a new set to replace my lost V.I of D&D.) [I've never seen any offer of single volumes; does anyone know if they are replaceable other than by this sort of bootlegging? -- R.E. aka Dick Eney]

    Posted: 07-30-2020 10:41 pm
    Regional Products of the Flanaess - Cloth and Fur


    Blue = Fur
    Red = Cloth

    As can be seen the origional resource map shows a strong interconnection between areas exporting fur (almost all the northern realms with the exception of Blackmoor and the Snow Barbarians. The same is reasonably true regarding cloth production and export.

    Fur in this case can be guessed at as referring to heavy winter furs rather than the inclusion of pelts, skins or hides.

    Cloth production and especially exportation seems much more questionable. It is so widespread that it makes me wonder who is buying the exports?

    Posted: 07-30-2020 05:19 pm
    Alarums and Excursions Mini-Review From Strategic Review #6 Feb 1976


    Alarums and Excursions Mini-Review From Strategic Review #6 Feb 1976

    Alarums & Excursions is a group project collated and edited by Lee Gold... The rates vary from issue to issue, so get them from Lee. It consists of contributions from numerous people, and deals solely with D&D. It is an excellent source of ideas, inspirations and fun. It provides a forum for debate and controversy (some of it is to be taken with a grain of salt, as one or two debates are woefully lacking in background on the topics. For some time now it has seen discussions of printing costs from people that are either ignorant concerning the topic, or incredibly naive). Printing in a single issue can range from terrible to very good. For all of its faults, it is far and away the best D&D 'zine, and well worth reading. See for yourself why it rates a MAJOR TRIUMPH.

    NOTE: The comments regarding printing costs appear to be in response to a comment which first appeared in Alarums & Excursions #5 in the portion labeled Depth Perception 2 by Dick Eney. He writes in response Barry (Barry Gold, I believe, and this mention regarding xeroxing the D&D rules written in Alarums & Excursions #1)

    From Alarums & Excursions #1 by Barry Gold

    Lee and I, as publishers of Alarums and Excursions, recommend that you buy the rules to Dungeons and Dragons if you don't already have them. Xeroxing somebody else's copy is unethical and illegal too. If you are going to get involved enough in the game to build your dungeon, you should at least spring for $10 for the rule books. If you aren't making your own dungeons, you don't really need the books - some other player can tell you how to make and play a character. So there is no excuse for making a bootleg copy and depriving Gary Gygax, the game's inventor, of his fair share.

    The latest prices we have are D&D $10, Chainmail $5, Greyhawk $5, dice $2.50 per set --- one each D4, D6, D8, D12, D20. Chainmail is the predecessor of D&D and is useful for resolving missile fire in melee. Greyhawk is the first supplement, with new spells, monsters and treasure.

    From Alarums & Excursions #5 October 1975 Depth Perception 2 By Dick Eney

    BARRY: There are mutterings of Discontent over your comment anent(Sp?) depriving Gygax of his fair share by xeroxing Dungeons and Dragons and, by extension, Greyhawk and Chainmail. as I believe that I (hem hem) am unlikely to be tagged as one of the irresponsible hippie types trying to tear down the fabric of our Free Enterprise system, maybe I'd be the right one to state them.

    Firstest, let us Define Our Terms. D&D, Greyhawk, and Chainmail are fanzines (and there are more than a few Fanzines with better artwork and proofreading). That is, they are something that is published in connection with Gygax's hobby and for fellow hobbyists; they are not his bread and butter and so we don't have to make a baseline calculation of what brings him in a decent annual salary, as we would with a fulltime professional. On the other hand, we do have to him justice and make sure that a work which has brought us so much pleasure doesn't wind up costing him something out of pocket. All X so far?

    Now let's make a cost guestimate. Volume I is 36 pages and a heavy cover, II is 40 pages and a heavy cover, and III is 36 pages and a heavy cover. Pages are four to a quarto sheet, so there are 18 standard-size sheets and three heavy covers. Let's assume something I don't really believe for a moment: that he hadn't the information to shop around for a price break or quantity discount, and paid the prices for commercial instant-print lithography, i.e. got badly ripped off. Nevertheless, even paying premium rates like that, 1000 sets of D&D -- that is, of all three booklets together -- should have cost him about $733.80. If he printed 2000 at once it would have been nearer $1268.80 (or $624.40 per thousand). Greyhawk, similarly, should have stood him $341.20 per thousand; if he got 2000, then $583.00 total (or $291.50 per thousand). Any of you can check this with your friendly neighborhood instant-print lithographer, so I won't bother with the calculations here. I did run it past George Scithers, who gets similar-size print runs for AMRA; he gets distinctly better prices for the whole operation including commercial stapling, even though AMRA uses odd-size special-order paper, runs half-tines, and is far superior in quality of repro to D&D.

    Personally, I paid the full list price for Dungeons and Dragons and Greyhawk both, just as I did for other stuff like Warriors of Mars and intend to do for War of Wizards and Empire of the Petal throne and probably more. Presumably many of the rest of us did or would do the same, as a point of honor. But when somebody charges me $10 for an item that should have cost him less than 75c, that's a markup of well over a thousand percent (unless I punched the wrong buttons, it comes to 1264% for D&D and 1366% for Greyhawk. all in all, I am not about to dump on Xerox fandom on the grounds that Gygax is being screwed every time that green light flashes.

    NOTE: Comment by Sherna Burley From Alarums&Excursions #7

    Dick Eney: I find your calculation of Gary Gygax's profit frightening. You have overlooked a couple of factors, though. First, the box probably costs quite a bit (no; about 15c retail -- R.E. [Dick Eney]), and its label costs something too. Second, and more important, I bought my copy from a friend, a (fan) dealer, who was able to give me a discount. This means that, whatever Gygax gets for this set, it is not always the full $10. When there are all those overhead costs, including postage on his mail orders...

    As a (partial) beneficiary of Xerox, I am glad to think, however, that he does make quite a bit more profit than seems reasonable, even if not the 1264% you calculated. (Let it be noted that I bought D&D and GREYHAWK, and would not have had the money to buy a new set to replace my lost V.I of D&D.) [I've never seen any offer of single volumes; does anyone know if they are replaceable other than by this sort of bootlegging? -- R.E. aka Dick Eney]
    Posted: 07-29-2020 08:25 pm
    Reference List of Various Fanzines from 1970's

    Reference List of Various Fanzines from 1970's

    Here is a list of references to various fanzines

    A&E = Alarums&Excursions
    DRG = Dragon Magazine
    SR = The Strategic Review

    Abyss (DRG#50)
    Alarums & Excursions (SR4)(DRG#50)
    The American Wargamer (A&E11)
    APA-DUD/Pandemonium (DRG#50)
    APA-L (A&E1)
    APA-NESFA (A&E9)
    Apprentice (DRG#22)(DRG#3)
    AZAPA (A&E8)
    Battle Report (SR3)
    The Beholder (DRG#50)
    Conquest (Divine Right PBM)(DRG#35)
    The Cosmic Balance (A&E11)
    Dankendismal (SR6)
    Europa (A&E11)
    The Fantorgn Scrolls (A&E12)
    Fire the Arquebusiers! (SR6)
    Great Plains Game Players Newsletter/Gamelog (SR4)(DRG#33)
    Kranor-Rill (SR4)
    Liaisons Dangeruses (SR4)
    The Lords of Chaos (DRG#50)
    Morningstar (DRG#50)
    News From Bree (A&E11)
    Owl & Weasel (SR6)
    Phoenix (DRG#22)
    Quick Quincy Gazette (DRG#50)
    Ryth Chronicle (A&E11)(SR6)
    Spartan (A&E5)
    The Stormlord (DRG#50)
    Trollcrusher (DRG#50)
    The Wild Hunt (A&E9)(DRG#50)
    WSFA Journal (SR4)
    Zepplin (DRG#50)
    Posted: 07-29-2020 05:17 pm
    Gygax's letter from AlarumsandExcursions #2


    Here is the text of a letter by Gary Gygax published in the fanzine Alarums and Excursions issue #2 from July 1975. There are a few comments regarding the original Greyhawk campaign, but it is mostly about the philosophy, at that time, about the D&D game system.

    NOTE: As I read through A&E#1 I keep finding comments which Gygax responded to in his letter in issue #2. I wish I'd noted them all at once, but I actually read issue #2 and jumped the gun at transcribing the letter and posting it before going through issue #1. I will keep updating this post the issue #1 to provide context. On reading later issues of the Strategic Review I have found that issue #1 of A&E seemed to have a profound influence on how Gygax developed the game, especially the magic system. I plan on reprinting those articles since they seem to be part of the same conversation and an important part of the history of D&D.


    Dear Lee;

    Hello! and our thanks for the two copies of A&E. Brian Blume takes care of SR, and he immediately made off with one copy of your zine, so you can rest assured of the trade arrangement.

    It certainly is a good feeling to have so many persons enjoying something one had a hand in creating. I have been a sf and fantasy fan since age 12, a wargame enthusiast since age 10 and began designing and writing about 1965. The games and rules are fairly successful these days, but I have yet to sell a sf or fantasy story, and that will be my next real project -- in a year or so when I have time to rewrite my favorite fantasy novel in hopes of something more than the usual rejection slips.

    In case you don't know the history of D&D, it all began with the fantasy rules in CHAINMAIL. Dave A. took those rules and changed them into a prototype of what is now D&D. When I played in his "Blackmoor" campaign I fell in love with the new concept and expanded and changed his 20 or so pages of hand-written "rules" into about 100 ms. pages. Dave's group and ours here in Lake Geneva then began eager and enthusiastic play-testing, and the result was the D&D game in January of 1974. It is an ongoing game, as the GREYHAWK booklet shows, and when Dave hands me the ms. for BLACKMOOR I am sure that there will be more alternatives yet. I have personally worked out enough material lately to do still another supplement, and the heaps of material sent in by fans would certainly fill another -- besides providing a good bit of material for publication in SR. So as long as players desire, TSR will continue to provide more D&D goodies (although my partners bemoan the fact that this tends to deprive the historical end of out operation.)

    If you have seen WAR OF THE WIZARDS, you are aware of how imaginative and creative a man Professor M.A.R. Barker is. We have arranged, finally, to publish his masterwork, EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE. Professor Barker has been at work on his fantasy world creation for something like 40 years! It shows in his work. I hardly know where to begin in describing EPT. First, I must liken the whole of the Professor's work to JRRT's (and I understand that Professor Barker has a novel which he hopes to complete soon!). The whole of the game EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE is perfectly thought-out and logically structured. Its form was influenced by D&D (and I am greatly flattered about that) although its author had been testing various other forms prior to the publication of D&D.

    I will not describe the world of 'PETAL THRONE, for Professor Barker does that himself, far better than I could hope to, in his game. Suffice it to say that we have spared no expense to do it justice when TSR publishes it. The box will be about 9" x 12" with a full-color illustration of the city of BeySy on the cover. The Professor is also one heck of an illustrator, and he did that map in a medieval style with building erections, larger-than-life figures of men, and so forth. In addition to a rules book (about the same number of words as D&D, possibly quite a few more) done in two-column, 3 1/2 x 11 size with a plastic ring binding so it will open flat to any section, there will be three full-color, plasticized mapboards (similar to the one found in STAR PROBE). Two are the map of the world, and the other is the city of Jakala. The first two are done with permission, on SPI hex maps, while the latter is done on a slightly smaller hex grid. The unfortunate part is what the whole will cost -- the $20 price range -- but we plan to make the separate parts available so that much cash won't have to be laid out all at once. We expect the work to be available by 15 July.

    We also have a wonderful "parlor" version of D&D dungeon adventures coming up fairly soon -- great for when there are only non-addicts to play games with, for the family, or when there is only an hour or two for play. The game is well done, and its components are top-quality, and we expect it to be popular for many reasons -- not the least of which is it will help D&D enthusiasts demonstrate to the uninitiated why they love fantasy games.

    I sang through both of the tunes in "Music to Loot Dungeons By". Good show!

    There seems to be considerable confusion amongst your contributors -- particularly those who tend to be in a flap about incomplete or unpalatable solutions (to them) of D&D rules/questions/problems. The game is complex and complicated. When it was released, it was by no means in a final (or even polished) form, but were we to sit on it for another few years in order to get it that way? Can a broad fantasy game ever be finished? Of course we could not hold off publication, for it was too much fun to keep from others.

    Dave and I disagree on how to handle any number of things, and both of our campaigns differ from the "rules" found in D&D. If the time ever comes when all aspects of fantasy are covered and the vast majority of its players agree on how the game should be played, D&D will have become staid and boring indeed. Sorry, but I don't believe that there is anything desirable in having various campaigns playing similarly to one another. D&D is supposed to offer a challenge to the imagination and to do so in many ways. Perhaps the most important is in regard to what the probabilities of a given situation are. If players know what all of the monster parameters are, what can be expected in a given situation, exactly what will happen to them if they perform thus and so, most of the charm of the game is gone. Frankly, the reason I enjoy playing in Dave Arneson's campaign is that I do not know his treatments of monsters and suchlike, so I must keep thinking and reasoning in order to "survive". Now, for example, if I made a proclamation from on high which suited Mr. Johnstone, it would certainly be quite unacceptable to hundreds or even thousands of other players. My answer is, and has always been, if you don't like the way I do it, change the bloody rules to suit yourself and your players. D&D enthusiasts are far too individualistic and imaginative a bunch to be in agreement, and I certainly refuse to play god for them -- except as a referee in my own campaign where they jolly well better toe the mark. Let us consider the magic-user question.

    We allow magic-users to employ the number of spells shown on the table, so a 1st level m-u gets exactly one 1st level spell to use once before he must go back to his books and prepare to use the spell once again -- or a spell once again. To allow unlimited use of the spell is to make the m-u's too powerful. There is a better solution, of course; one I have been aware of since the first. That is to utilize a point system based on the m-u's basic abilities and his or her level. Spell cost is then taken as a function of the spell and the circumstances in which it is cast and possibly how much force is put into the spell. All that would have required a great deal of space and been far more complex to handle, so I opted for the simple solution.

    Again, as a case in point, Ted Johnstone says I have trouble telling which rules are so completely obvious that he doesn't need to explain them. That, dear friends, is a statement which could only be made by someone who has never authored a set of rules or a game! Many of the rules which are completely obvious to me are totally obscure to others. I can say in complete truthfulness that I have had to explain each and every section of the rules to some players, either in person or by letter.

    I desire variance in interpretation and, as long as I am editor of the TSR line and its magazine, I will do my utmost to see that there is as little trend towards standardization as possible. Each campaign should be a "variant", and there is no "official interpretation" from me or anyone else. If a game of "Dungeons and Beavers" suits a group, all I say is more power to them, for every fine referee runs his own variant of D&D anyway.

    I recall that I told Bob Sacks that in Greyhawk we do not have existing religions included, for this is a touchy area. We have such groups as "The Church of the Latter Day Great Old Ones," Church of Crom, Scientist", "Brethren of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgle", and so on. Gods sometimes intervene. There are some artifacts and the like which aid clerics. In general, however, clerics are powerful enough without much aid, for they have quite a few advantages and work up very quickly. Fighters are really the ones whom everyone should be irate about, for they have the hardest time of it, if not backed up by other classes or by lots of other fighters or blessed with the most powerful of magic gear.

    How does one use gunpowder weapons in the confined spaces of the dungeon? What happens to ears? Blackmoor has some gunpowder usage but the filthy stuff won't work in Greyhawk's world.

    By the way, a score of 18 is only the usual top limit for humans in Greyhawk. We have monsters with intelligence scores well over 18, and one player is about to work out a deal which will jump his to not less than 19.

    Please inform Ted that I too subscribe to the slogan "D&D is too important to leave to Gary Gygax." Gosh and golly! Whoever said anything else. However, pal, best remember that it is far too good to leave to you or any other individual or little group either! It now belongs to the thousands of players enjoying it worldwide, most of whom will probably never hear of you or your opinions unless you get them into THE STRATEGIC REVIEW. As soon as we can manage it, we intend to have expand SR, publish bimonthly and include a letter column.

    Thanks again for sending A&E. It was most enjoyable. Watch out though, that it doesn't start D&D down the road of DIPLOMACY fandom with its constant feuds, bickering, invective, etc. Now tell the fellows to pick on Dave Arneson awhile -- after all he had as much to do with the whole mess as I did!

    Regards, E. Gary Gygax

    NOTE: To provide some context for part of Gygax's reply I am adding this comment by Ted Johnstone from Alarums&Excursions #1 (Addendum - I believe I have misattributed this comment, as Gygax perhaps did as well, and it is by Mark Swanson in reply to Ted Johnstone instead of a comment by Ted Johnstone himself).

    TED JOHNSTONE - My comment on the non-existence of a "Charm Monster" spell was a symptom of my usual disease of firstdraftitis. I've read the rules but haven't memorized them. Two points. // Howver, on a larger subject, I am a supporter of the slogan "D&D is too important to leave to Gary Gygax." Gary has produced other games in the past. The problem has been that they are not interesting in their full form. They tend to be flawed by simple, bad solutions to complex problems. Thus, in Gary Gygax's game, A MAGIC USER GETS TO USE EACH SPELL ONCE A DAY.

    If a first-level magic user gets to charm one person a day with no other magical acts permitted, Gary's version of the spell is entirely appropriate. As is the "No saving throw against sleep," the lack of restrictions on how often a character can be healed, etc. (The rule can be found, vaguely, in book three, and explicitly in Gary's magazine, #3.) As I said, Gary has trouble telling which rules are so completely obvious that he doesn't need to explain them. Welcome, brother heretic, or were you planning to do it that way? This problem, how to limit the magic users, is second only to the question of what are the characters doing as defining the games. Gary Gygax says that a Medium has one spell a day, a seeress gets to cast to a day, etc -- and they are all out on a treasure hunt. It's a simple solution, but I don't like it.

    NOTE: Further context reference for Gygax's reply concerning player attributes above 18. Comment is from Alarums & Excursions #1

    TOM DIGBY: Somebody mentioned talking about things in D&D jargon and mentioned that "Kimball Kinnison has about a 16 intelligence." These attributes are obtained for a character by rolling three six-sided dice, with a possible range of 3-18, a mean of 10.5, and a standard deviation of about 2.96... The Mensa cutoff is the 98th percentile and comes out to 16.5 intelligence. The normal curve has one person in a thousand about 19.5 though, somethingyou can never get with three dice. This may mean that there are a number of people in fandom whose intelligence is greater than can exist in a D&D world.

    NOTE: Even further context. I believe Gygax's mention of Dave Arneson's role in creating D&D stems from this comment by Barry Gold in Alarums & Excursions #1.

    From Alarums & Excursions #1 by Barry Gold

    Lee and I, as publishers of Alarums and Excursions, recommend that you buy the rules to Dungeons and Dragons if you don't already have them. Xeroxing somebody else's copy is unethical and illegal too. If you are going to get involved enough in the game to build your dungeon, you should at least spring for $10 for the rule books. If you aren't making your own dungeons, you don't really need the books - some other player can tell you how to make and play a character. So there is no excuse for making a bootleg copy and depriving Gary Gygax, the game's inventor, of his fair share.

    Posted: 07-29-2020 05:10 pm
    Gygax's letter from AlarumsandExcursions #2


    Here is the text of a letter by Gary Gygax published in the fanzine Alarums and Excursions issue #2 from July 1975. There are a few comments regarding the original Greyhawk campaign, but it is mostly about the philosophy, at that time, about the D&D game system.

    NOTE: As I read through A&E#1 I keep finding comments which Gygax responded to in his letter in issue #2. I wish I'd noted them all at once, but I actually read issue #2 and jumped the gun at transcribing the letter and posting it before going through issue #1. I will keep updating this post the issue #1 to provide context. On reading later issues of the Strategic Review I have found that issue #1 of A&E seemed to have a profound influence on how Gygax developed the game, especially the magic system. I plan on reprinting those articles since they seem to be part of the same conversation and an important part of the history of D&D.


    Dear Lee;

    Hello! and our thanks for the two copies of A&E. Brian Blume takes care of SR, and he immediately made off with one copy of your zine, so you can rest assured of the trade arrangement.

    It certainly is a good feeling to have so many persons enjoying something one had a hand in creating. I have been a sf and fantasy fan since age 12, a wargame enthusiast since age 10 and began designing and writing about 1965. The games and rules are fairly successful these days, but I have yet to sell a sf or fantasy story, and that will be my next real project -- in a year or so when I have time to rewrite my favorite fantasy novel in hopes of something more than the usual rejection slips.

    In case you don't know the history of D&D, it all began with the fantasy rules in CHAINMAIL. Dave A. took those rules and changed them into a prototype of what is now D&D. When I played in his "Blackmoor" campaign I fell in love with the new concept and expanded and changed his 20 or so pages of hand-written "rules" into about 100 ms. pages. Dave's group and ours here in Lake Geneva then began eager and enthusiastic play-testing, and the result was the D&D game in January of 1974. It is an ongoing game, as the GREYHAWK booklet shows, and when Dave hands me the ms. for BLACKMOOR I am sure that there will be more alternatives yet. I have personally worked out enough material lately to do still another supplement, and the heaps of material sent in by fans would certainly fill another -- besides providing a good bit of material for publication in SR. So as long as players desire, TSR will continue to provide more D&D goodies (although my partners bemoan the fact that this tends to deprive the historical end of out operation.)

    If you have seen WAR OF THE WIZARDS, you are aware of how imaginative and creative a man Professor M.A.R. Barker is. We have arranged, finally, to publish his masterwork, EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE. Professor Barker has been at work on his fantasy world creation for something like 40 years! It shows in his work. I hardly know where to begin in describing EPT. First, I must liken the whole of the Professor's work to JRRT's (and I understand that Professor Barker has a novel which he hopes to complete soon!). The whole of the game EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE is perfectly thought-out and logically structured. Its form was influenced by D&D (and I am greatly flattered about that) although its author had been testing various other forms prior to the publication of D&D.

    I will not describe the world of 'PETAL THRONE, for Professor Barker does that himself, far better than I could hope to, in his game. Suffice it to say that we have spared no expense to do it justice when TSR publishes it. The box will be about 9" x 12" with a full-color illustration of the city of BeySy on the cover. The Professor is also one heck of an illustrator, and he did that map in a medieval style with building erections, larger-than-life figures of men, and so forth. In addition to a rules book (about the same number of words as D&D, possibly quite a few more) done in two-column, 3 1/2 x 11 size with a plastic ring binding so it will open flat to any section, there will be three full-color, plasticized mapboards (similar to the one found in STAR PROBE). Two are the map of the world, and the other is the city of Jakala. The first two are done with permission, on SPI hex maps, while the latter is done on a slightly smaller hex grid. The unfortunate part is what the whole will cost -- the $20 price range -- but we plan to make the separate parts available so that much cash won't have to be laid out all at once. We expect the work to be available by 15 July.

    We also have a wonderful "parlor" version of D&D dungeon adventures coming up fairly soon -- great for when there are only non-addicts to play games with, for the family, or when there is only an hour or two for play. The game is well done, and its components are top-quality, and we expect it to be popular for many reasons -- not the least of which is it will help D&D enthusiasts demonstrate to the uninitiated why they love fantasy games.

    I sang through both of the tunes in "Music to Loot Dungeons By". Good show!

    There seems to be considerable confusion amongst your contributors -- particularly those who tend to be in a flap about incomplete or unpalatable solutions (to them) of D&D rules/questions/problems. The game is complex and complicated. When it was released, it was by no means in a final (or even polished) form, but were we to sit on it for another few years in order to get it that way? Can a broad fantasy game ever be finished? Of course we could not hold off publication, for it was too much fun to keep from others.

    Dave and I disagree on how to handle any number of things, and both of our campaigns differ from the "rules" found in D&D. If the time ever comes when all aspects of fantasy are covered and the vast majority of its players agree on how the game should be played, D&D will have become staid and boring indeed. Sorry, but I don't believe that there is anything desirable in having various campaigns playing similarly to one another. D&D is supposed to offer a challenge to the imagination and to do so in many ways. Perhaps the most important is in regard to what the probabilities of a given situation are. If players know what all of the monster parameters are, what can be expected in a given situation, exactly what will happen to them if they perform thus and so, most of the charm of the game is gone. Frankly, the reason I enjoy playing in Dave Arneson's campaign is that I do not know his treatments of monsters and suchlike, so I must keep thinking and reasoning in order to "survive". Now, for example, if I made a proclamation from on high which suited Mr. Johnstone, it would certainly be quite unacceptable to hundreds or even thousands of other players. My answer is, and has always been, if you don't like the way I do it, change the bloody rules to suit yourself and your players. D&D enthusiasts are far too individualistic and imaginative a bunch to be in agreement, and I certainly refuse to play god for them -- except as a referee in my own campaign where they jolly well better toe the mark. Let us consider the magic-user question.

    We allow magic-users to employ the number of spells shown on the table, so a 1st level m-u gets exactly one 1st level spell to use once before he must go back to his books and prepare to use the spell once again -- or a spell once again. To allow unlimited use of the spell is to make the m-u's too powerful. There is a better solution, of course; one I have been aware of since the first. That is to utilize a point system based on the m-u's basic abilities and his or her level. Spell cost is then taken as a function of the spell and the circumstances in which it is cast and possibly how much force is put into the spell. All that would have required a great deal of space and been far more complex to handle, so I opted for the simple solution.

    Again, as a case in point, Ted Johnstone says I have trouble telling which rules are so completely obvious that he doesn't need to explain them. That, dear friends, is a statement which could only be made by someone who has never authored a set of rules or a game! Many of the rules which are completely obvious to me are totally obscure to others. I can say in complete truthfulness that I have had to explain each and every section of the rules to some players, either in person or by letter.

    I desire variance in interpretation and, as long as I am editor of the TSR line and its magazine, I will do my utmost to see that there is as little trend towards standardization as possible. Each campaign should be a "variant", and there is no "official interpretation" from me or anyone else. If a game of "Dungeons and Beavers" suits a group, all I say is more power to them, for every fine referee runs his own variant of D&D anyway.

    I recall that I told Bob Sacks that in Greyhawk we do not have existing religions included, for this is a touchy area. We have such groups as "The Church of the Latter Day Great Old Ones," Church of Crom, Scientist", "Brethren of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgle", and so on. Gods sometimes intervene. There are some artifacts and the like which aid clerics. In general, however, clerics are powerful enough without much aid, for they have quite a few advantages and work up very quickly. Fighters are really the ones whom everyone should be irate about, for they have the hardest time of it, if not backed up by other classes or by lots of other fighters or blessed with the most powerful of magic gear.

    How does one use gunpowder weapons in the confined spaces of the dungeon? What happens to ears? Blackmoor has some gunpowder usage but the filthy stuff won't work in Greyhawk's world.

    By the way, a score of 18 is only the usual top limit for humans in Greyhawk. We have monsters with intelligence scores well over 18, and one player is about to work out a deal which will jump his to not less than 19.

    Please inform Ted that I too subscribe to the slogan "D&D is too important to leave to Gary Gygax." Gosh and golly! Whoever said anything else. However, pal, best remember that it is far too good to leave to you or any other individual or little group either! It now belongs to the thousands of players enjoying it worldwide, most of whom will probably never hear of you or your opinions unless you get them into THE STRATEGIC REVIEW. As soon as we can manage it, we intend to have expand SR, publish bimonthly and include a letter column.

    Thanks again for sending A&E. It was most enjoyable. Watch out though, that it doesn't start D&D down the road of DIPLOMACY fandom with its constant feuds, bickering, invective, etc. Now tell the fellows to pick on Dave Arneson awhile -- after all he had as much to do with the whole mess as I did!

    Regards, E. Gary Gygax

    NOTE: To provide some context for part of Gygax's reply I am adding this comment by Ted Johnstone from Alarums&Excursions #1 (Addendum - I believe I have misattributed this comment, as Gygax perhaps did as well, and it is by Mark Swanson in reply to Ted Johnstone instead of a comment by Ted Johnstone himself).

    TED JOHNSTONE - My comment on the non-existence of a "Charm Monster" spell was a symptom of my usual disease of firstdraftitis. I've read the rules but haven't memorized them. Two points. // Howver, on a larger subject, I am a supporter of the slogan "D&D is too important to leave to Gary Gygax." Gary has produced other games in the past. The problem has been that they are not interesting in their full form. They tend to be flawed by simple, bad solutions to complex problems. Thus, in Gary Gygax's game, A MAGIC USER GETS TO USE EACH SPELL ONCE A DAY.

    If a first-level magic user gets to charm one person a day with no other magical acts permitted, Gary's version of the spell is entirely appropriate. As is the "No saving throw against sleep," the lack of restrictions on how often a character can be healed, etc. (The rule can be found, vaguely, in book three, and explicitly in Gary's magazine, #3.) As I said, Gary has trouble telling which rules are so completely obvious that he doesn't need to explain them. Welcome, brother heretic, or were you planning to do it that way? This problem, how to limit the magic users, is second only to the question of what are the characters doing as defining the games. Gary Gygax says that a Medium has one spell a day, a seeress gets to cast to a day, etc -- and they are all out on a treasure hunt. It's a simple solution, but I don't like it.

    NOTE: Further context reference for Gygax's reply concerning player attributes above 18. Comment is from Alarums & Excursions #1

    TOM DIGBY: Somebody mentioned talking about things in D&D jargon and mentioned that "Kimball Kinnison has about a 16 intelligence." These attributes are obtained for a character by rolling three six-sided dice, with a possible range of 3-18, a mean of 10.5, and a standard deviation of about 2.96... The Mensa cutoff is the 98th percentile and comes out to 16.5 intelligence. The normal curve has one person in a thousand about 19.5 though, somethingyou can never get with three dice. This may mean that there are a number of people in fandom whose intelligence is greater than can exist in a D&D world.

    NOTE: Even further context. I believe Gygax's mention of Dave Arneson's role in creating D&D stems from this comment by Barry Gold in Alarums & Excursions #1.

    From Alarums & Excursions #1 by Barry Gold

    Lee and I, as publishers of Alarums and Excursions, recommend that you buy the rules to Dungeons and Dragons if you don't already have them. Xeroxing somebody else's copy is unethical and illegal too. If you are going to get involved enough in the game to build your dungeon, you should at least spring for $10 for the rule books. If you aren't making your own dungeons, you don't really need the books - some other player can tell you how to make and play a character. So there is no excuse for making a bootleg copy and depriving Gary Gygax, the game's inventor, of his fair share.

    Posted: 07-29-2020 05:10 pm
    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Dancing Lights


    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Dancing Lights

    5). Dancing Lights

    Amedian - Kukeza Taa (Ku-Ke-Za Ta)

    Bakluni (Ancient) - Dae Ezeklar (Da Es-Ek-La-Re)

    Drow - Tenklo Fe'K (Te-No-Klo Fe-Ek)

    Dwarven - Daenda Lys (Da-En-Da Lis)

    Elven - Daenzin Valoe (Da-En-Sin Va-Lo)

    Flan - Zo'lza Damaeza (Zo-El-Ze Da-Ma-Za)

    Fruz - Daenda Loez (Da-En-Da Loz)

    Giantish - Tazenda Leeta (Ta-Zen-Da Le-Te)

    Gnomish - Daenda Leaten (Da-En-Da Le-Ten)

    Oeridian - Tanzuesek Ogny (Tan-Zu-Is-Ik Og-Ne)

    Olman -Nataam Veakkukae (Na-Ta-Am Ve-Ak-Ku-Ka)

    Suel - Korum Luminar (Ko-Ram Lu-Me-Nar)
    Posted: 07-28-2020 06:12 pm
    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Comprehend Languages

    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Comprehend Languages

    4). Comprehend Languages

    Amedian - Koo'lwa Looga (Ku-El-Wa Lu-Ga)

    Bakluni (Ancient) - Delere Anlamak (De-Le-Ri An-La-Mak)

    Drow - Er'tato Nelven (Er-Te-To Ne-El-Ven)

    Dwarven - Forsta Saipro (For-Sta Sa-Pro)

    Elven - Immareta Kaelta (Im-Mar-Ta Ke-El-Ta)

    Flan - Teingata (Te-An-Ga-Ta)

    Fruz - Ski'a Tungamal (Skee-Ya Tun-Ga-Mal)

    Giantish - Verstane (Ver-Sta-En)

    Gnomish - Begrypen Tane (Be-Gri-Pen Ta-En)

    Oeridian - Poneat Azikeah (Pon-At Az-Ek-Ah)

    Olman - Molekeah Perintu (Mo-Li-Ka-Ya Per-In -Too)

    Suel - Lingus Comprehendere (Le-Eng-Us Com-Pre-Hen-Der)
    Posted: 07-27-2020 04:16 pm
    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Charm Person


    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Charm Person

    3). Charm Person

    Amedian - M'Tu (Em-Tu)

    Bakluni (Ancient) - Kekeklek KeSe (Kek-Ik-Lik Ki-See)

    Drow - Varsa Zem'l (Var-Sa Se-Mel)

    Dwarven - Cade Per (Ca-Da Pe-Re)

    Elven - Haen Kelo (He-En Ki-Lo)

    Flan - Daen (De-En)

    Fruz - Hela Mae (He-La Ma)

    Giantish - Care Per (Ca-Re Pe-Re)

    Gnomish - Care Aryrzo (Ca-Re Re-Rez-O)

    Oeridian - Obyana Keloveka (Ob-Ya-Ne Ke-Lo-Ve-Ka)

    Olman - Al'k Nap'r (Al-Ak Na-Par)

    Suel - Lapreme Peres (Le-Por-Em Per-Res)
    Posted: 07-26-2020 08:13 pm
    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Burning Hands

    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Burning Hands

    2). Burning Hands

    Amedian - Moto Mikono (Mo-To Me-Ko-No)

    Bakluni (Ancient) - Eller Yan (El-Er An)

    Drow - Kezeben Yg (Ke-Ze-Ben Eg)

    Dwarven - Barende Haende (Bar-En-De Ha-En-De)

    Elven - Potava Kaes (Pa-Ta-Va Ka-Is)

    Flan - Lama Do (La-Ma Do)

    Fruz - Breande Haende (Bre-An-De Ha-En-De)

    Giantish - Brende Hade (Bre-An-De Ha-De)

    Gnomish - Barende Haende (Bar-En-De Ha-En-De)

    Oeridian - Zaen Ruke (Za-En Ruk)

    Olman - Kayel Erem (Ka-Il Er-Em)

    Suel - Arden Manus (Ar-Den Man-Us)
    Posted: 07-26-2020 02:22 pm
    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Affect Normal Fires

    This was a project I was working to list all the vocal elements for spells. It was a certain level of detail that I had starting getting into when I began writing stories about Greyhawk but it also helped with game-play in giving magic-users something to do other than just saying they cast magic missile; I had have them say the vocal component of the spell.


    Languages of Oerthly Magic - Affect Normal Fires

    1). Affect Normal Fires

    Amedian - Kutire Moto A Kaed (Ku-Tir -Ee Mo-To A Ka-Ed)

    Bakluni (Ancient) - Angenlare Etkill (An-Gen-La-Ri Et-Kil)

    Drow - Befola Sol Tuzek (Be-Fol-A Sol Tu-Zek)

    Dwarven - Paver Barde (Pa-Vir-Ka Bar-De)

    Elven - Vaketta Tulpall (Va-Ket- Ta Tul-Pal)

    Flan - Defare Tintanat (Di-Far Tin-Te Nat)

    Fruz - Ar Ae Elelga Elde (Ar A El-Il-Ga El-Da)

    Giantish - Yswerkan Barde (Us-Vir-Ken Bar-De)

    Gnomish - Envode Barde (In-Vod Bar-De)

    Oeridian - Veat Porove (Vi-At Po-Rov)

    Olman - Catraba Ti Patikkum (Ca-Ta-Ra-Na Ti Pa-Tik-Kum)

    Suel - Igne C'Da Ef (Ig-Ne See-Da Af)

    I think Ive worked out my language equivalents if anyone wants to work up some of these for themselves. 

    Amedian - Swahili
    Bakluni (Ancient) - Turkish
    Drow - Magyar
    Dwarven - Danish
    Elven - Finnish
    Flan - Irish
    Fruz - Icelandic
    Giantish - German
    Gnomish - Dutch
    Oeridian - Russian
    Olman - Tamil
    Suel - Latin

    These are just the base for the very slightly altered languages. It helps me a great deal in fiction but it is also helpful DMing and adds a good reason to have a comprehend languages spell on hand. I chose them with a few ideas in mind. The Suel always remind me of ancient Rome so Latin. The giants, dwarves, fruz, and gnomes always feel linked to me. Elves and Drow should have some link but strained over the centuries that have separated them so Finnish and Magyar.

    Posted: 07-25-2020 11:36 pm
    City of Greyhawk Random Dwelling Generator #1



    1) Single story 20x30 home with cellar and attic.

    A common building often found in the:

    Beggar's Quarter
    Brewer's Quarter
    Clerksburg
    Carftsman's Ward
    Foreign Quarter
    Labor Quarter
    Low Quarter
    River Quarter

    It is less commonly found in the:

    Garden Quarter
    Hutsham
    Slums
    The Shacks
    The Strip
    Thieves Quarter
    Trade Areas
    University Area

    It is rarely found in the:

    The Halls
    High Quarter
    Plaza D'Haut

    As with most homes found in the city:

    Cellar:

    The cellar is normally a dirt floor whose walls are constructed of stone slabs or boulders. Two wooden support beams help to hold up the wooden floor of the first level. This is typically used as a storage place for food (jars of preserved fruits and vegetables, meats, herbs, etc...), beverages, normally kegs or barrels of ale or beer, sometimes smaller barrels or bottles of stronger drink. These cellars are normally dank and musty, mice are common, but rats can be found (more likely to be encountered in the Beggar's Quarter, River Quarter, Hutsham, Slums, The Shacks & The Thieve's Quarter).

    In some areas, most notably in Old City Quarters, as well as the High Quarter, Trade Areas and the River Quarter, these cellars will be floored with stone and access to the sewer system beneath the city is common through grates or metal-lidded passages.

    The First Floor:

    Stone is easy to come by in the City of Greyhawk so most dwellings have either their first story walls constructed of stone, or of stone halfway up (three or four feet) and then wood.

    Exterior doors are stout, often studded with iron nails or banded in bronze or iron in the Plaza D'Haut, Thieve's Quarter, River Quarter, Hutsham & The Shacks. These doors will often have a simple iron lock, and all will have staples and a bar ready to be dropped in place on the inside.

    In the Beggar's Quarter and the Slums doors are commonly found broken or in disrepair. Most have a set of iron staples so that the door can be barred from the inside, but, for the most part, doors will have a simple wooden latch (in these quarters anything as valuable as a lock will most often have been pried or cut from an unprotected door.

    In all other quarters exterior doors are stout, and capable of being barred from within but normally do not have locks.

    First floor windows do not normally contain glass. In the Plaza D'Haut, Thieve's Quarter, River Quarter, Hutsham & The Shacks iron bars are often found. A double set of shutters is often in place, both capable of being bolted or barred from within.

    In all other quarters first floor windows normally have a single set of shutters capable of being barred from within. In both the Beggar's Quarter and the Slums shutters are often missing or broken, with boards nailed into place over the empty window-frame.

    First floor interiors normally consist of a single 10x15 bedroom. The rest of the first floor is a small area set around the fireplace with perhaps a cabinet for food, a stone sink, water-barrel, small table and chairs. There is a back door immediately across from the front in most dwelling with cellar stairs to onside and attic stairs to the other. Ceilings tend to be six to ten feet.

    Second Story

    Second stories are wood construction. In areas where the first floor windows are barred, so too are attic windows. There will also be shutters, normally a single set capable of being barred, latched or bolted from within. Even in the Beggar's and Slum Quarters these shutters are often found intact.

    The two upstairs rooms are often bedrooms, but sometime used for storage. A trapdoor and ladder allow access to the roof and the area around the chimney stack often has a table or work-bench.

    The roof is wooden with curved brickwork tiles. A gutter runs along the edges front and back. In the Beggar's Quarter and the Slums these roof tiles are often missing and the roof sagging or warped.

    The Exterior

    The back of most homes has an outhouse with a honey-pot and a shed containing gardening equipment (most tools of any value are kept indoors). The fence is most frequently made of wooden boards.

    Most Greyhawkers grow food in their small plots of land. Larger areas will likely have a few hens and henhouse, goats or a pig or two.

    At each corner of the house a gutter runs down to a water-barrel. Plumbing or wells are rarely, if ever, found in these dwellings.

    Occupants

    These homes are inhabited, for the most part, by small families of two parents, three to five children and a grandparent or great uncle/aunt. These are dwellings of peasants and commoners who have some form of employment.

    In Hutsham and The Shacks these dwellings are often in good repair and occupied by the more well-to-do of the down-and-out of Greyhawk. They are sometimes used as guardposts, or homes of overseers and minor bosses.

    There are likely to be found 2-5 1st Level Fighters or Thieves with a 2nd level Fighter or Thief in charge.

    Walls surrounding these dwellings in Hutsham and The Shacks will be 8 to 10 feet high of stone with broken glass or spikes on top, or tree-boles with spiked tops. A door or gate in the back fence is likely. Yards may contain a shack or shed with 2-4 0-level servants living within.

    Posted: 07-25-2020 03:26 pm
    A Thief in the Tome of Horrors - Aberrant

    A Thief in the Tome of Horrors - Aberrant

    A Thief in the Tome of Horrors
    (Or Converting this Monster of a Book to 1eAD&D)


    Aberrant

    Frequency: Rare
    No. Appearing: 2-12
    Armor Class: 4
    Move: 12"
    Hit Dice: 8
    % in Lair: 50
    Treasure Type: C
    No. of Attacks: 1
    Damage/Attack: 2d8
    Special Attacks: 1 (Thrown Object 1d10 dmg) Range 20/40/60 (To Hit +0/-1/-3)
    Special Defenses: None
    Magic Resistance: None
    Intelligence: Low
    Language: Debased Suel
    Life Expectancy: 30 years (maturity age 12-14)
    Size: 14 feet Tall - Extended Reach - These giant size creatures have an extended reach making it likely they can strike first against normal and small sized opponents.

    Physical Appearance:
    See Tome of Horrors Complete (S&W version) - Addition Description - Hair Brown or Black, Eye Color Same, Skin Color light brown to pale but normally grey or streaked with dirt.

    Ecology:
    Aberrants are a form of giant mutation developed after the great Suel/Bakluni war and the Rain of Colorless Fire. While often confused with Giants they are actually descended from human stock. In all respects such as what they can eat and how they breed and give birth they retain human characteristics.

    Aberrant tribes will normally consist of 2-12 adult males, 3-18 adult females and 12-64 children. The men hunt and gather while the females do most of the work around the tribal dwelling. Adult females are consistent with the stats for adult males though with only 6HD on average and 1d10 damage from their attacks. Aberrant females will ferociously protect their young.

    Females conceive about once per year and the infant mortality rate is about 50%. The leading cause of death for female Aberrants is childbirth.

    Aberrants are extremely primitive. They build little though they do make use of cloth or hide for shelters and crude structures from the wrecks of wagons or buildings. These are extremely flimsy lean-to type structures that can be stripped down and taken with them in a few moments (mainly the cloth and rope or vines). Since most weapons and items they come across are not their size they mainly use crude clubs and stones for throwing. Occasional a human-sized sword may be found among them as a knife, but used more as a tool than a weapon.

    World of Greyhawk Location:

    Aberrants can be found along the hills and lower mountains circling the Sea of Dust as well as the Dry Steppes along the Sulhaut Mountains and the southern Crystalmists. They have been seen at the crux of the Jotens and the Crytsalmists at the birth of the Davish River, though not in great numbers and along the southern Jotens, the Crytsalmists and the Hellfurnaces in the Yeomanry. Sightings of Aberrants have been made in the Tors and along the arm of the Hellfurnaces as far as Hokar and as far south as the strip of land west of Jekla Bay and even where the Amedio Jungle runs against the Hellfurnaces in the far south.


    Cyst Fist's Pass (Near the Hornwood - Geoff)

    The trepidations of the Giants and their invasion of Sterich and Geoff shifted many a tribe and monster from their normal hunting grounds. Perhaps non-more so than Furgristle and his tribe of Aberrants forced north through the high mountains and down to the hills surrounding the embattled land of Geoff. Frost giants from the Jotens and tribes of Ogre's pushed these deformed and primitive creatures from their caves and now this small band raids through the forest of the Hornwood in preparation for the winter to come.

    (See Tome of Horrors complete S&W version for the adventure hook)


    Alfric watched the shaft fly true as it brought down the last of the deformed monsters. The two humans with him had feathered the giant creature with a half-dozen arrows already before it fell.

    "Four..." said Oswin, a middle-aged man clad in mottled green and brown. He stood a foot taller than Alfric and pulled a longbow as big as the elf.

    "The others appear to be out hunting," Alfric replied as he moved forward, another arrow nocked and ready.

    The smell of roasting horseflesh was strong. Stronger even than the stink of unwashed bodies, the pile of refuse that stained the hillside and the rot of badly cured hides and decaying meat.

    "Where has that little bastard gotten to?" asked Kellen, the third of their party. He was about the height of Aelfric but wide with broad shoulders and back. He'd slung his bow and drawn a long chopping sword, some type of falchion with a single-edge.

    "I'm up here," cried a hushed voice high with panic. "Get me down!"

    As the trio crested the hill they could see a large fire-pit and the carcase of a horse blackening on a spit above it. Nearby a tree stripped of most of its branches still held a single arm reaching out toward the fire and a crude wooden cage dangling about a dozen feet from the ground. Inside a peculiar little bird hopped about. Clad in the skin of an owl-bear a bruised and beaten halfling danced about pulling at the stout wooden bars.

    "Hugh!" cried Aelfric. "How you managed to survive when the rest of those merchants ended up being eaten..."

    "Those stupid giants. It was that owlbear hide," Hugh called back. "They think I'm some sort of birdman... I don't know, but they think it's funny. They'll be roasting me soon enough. Get me out of here!"

    "What we need is a ladder," said Kellen.

    Oswin looked from Aelfric to his blocky nephew. "You'll do," he said. "Get up on his shoulder Ael and see about cutting down our little bird."

    "Make it quick! Make it quick!" Hugh chirruped. "There are a dozen more of those monsters around."

    "Cut your squawking," grumbled Kellen, but up above him Aelfric went to work with haste on the vines that bound the cage together.
    Posted: 07-25-2020 10:27 am
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 6

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 6

    #5 Kalib, human male, (5th Level Fighter) twin brother of Kalife
    STR 18/89, INT 8, WIS 8, CON 17, HP 41, AL LE

    AGE 30

    Physical Description:

    Kalib has a fringe of dark hair around this head but is otherwise bald. He has a heavy, black beard and mustache. 6"4' tall he is very heavy and very muscular, muscle-bound actually. He has tattoos over his right arm and shoulder. Across the right side of his chest is the tattoo of a demon showing half of its face. He has a large wide scar starting at the top ofhis forehead and running across the left side of his head.

    He wears a large black poncho when on a raid with a chainmail shirt underneath. The poncho is simply a thick piece of cloth dyed black with a hole cut for his head and a belt across his waist. Over his face he wears the mask of a grinning pig-like face.

    His normal wear is worn farmer garb. He dislikes his chainmail shirt and only wears it on raids or when Black Harris tells him to.

    Background:

    Kalib was born on a farm in Furyondy, His mother died in child birth and his father took it out on Kalib and his brother Kalife. At age12 the pair beat their father to death, gathered what money and belongings were on the farm and left.

    They were quickly caught and placed in a prison where they were even more quickly sold as workers for a nobleman's farm. The life actually suited them. The nobleman was smart enough to recognize strong arms and weak minds, and violent tempers.

    At age 16 the pair had grown from oversized murderous children togigantic musclebound adults. The nobleman had them trained, as much as possible, in the art of combat, and kept them on as bodyguards, and since he dabbled in the free market of the underworld, as enforcers as well.

    After a few years the pairs' brutal methods became too much for the nobleman and he passed on his dangerous employees to a traveling merchant and fence for stolen goods. In their early twenties they ended up working as hired thugs living in the Old Town of Greyhawk, which is where they met and joined up with Black Harris.

    Personality and attitude:

    Kalib is loyal only to his brother and Black Harris. He and his brother have a surprising fondness for cats, dogs and horses and will not abide any form of cruelty to these animals.

    If his brother is killed Kalib will stop whatever he is doing and will cradle his brother in his arms weeping and crying piteously. He will not defend himself and the shock will reduce his intelligence and personality to that of a five-year old's.

    Equipment:
    Chainmail shirt (+2)
    Two handed sword +2/+3 versus Hill Giants (He is completely unaware of this aspect of the swords enchantement)
    Draft Horse named Matilda

    #6 Kalife, human male,( 5th Level Fighter) twin brother of Kalib
    STR 18/99, INT 8, WIS 8, CON 17, HP 41, AL LE
    AGE 30

    Physical Description:

    Kalife's appearance is similar to his brother's but he has no scar and his tattoos cover the left side of his body, a duplicate of Kalibs. He is a little more muscular but it is only apparent when the two are standing side by side.

    He also wears a rough cloth poncho on raids with a shirt of chainmail underneath and a mask shaped like a donkey's with one ear is missing.

    Background:
    See Kalib

    Personality and attitude:

    Kalife is very quiet and he only talks to his brother or Black Harris. He will support either in any situation. If his brother is killed he will go into a berserk rage, ignoring wounds, and attacking his brother's killer with fanatical strength (+4 to hit/+7 to damage). He will then go on to attack anyone not a brigand who is nearby. Afterwards, If Black Harris is around he will follow him everywhere and not want to be separated from him. If both are dead he will run off and live like a wild-man or beast, and his effective INT will drop to 3.

    Equipment:
    Chainmail +2
    Two-handed Bastard sword +2/ +3 versus the Undead (as with his brother he has no idea that the sword has any special enchantment except that he doesn't need to sharpen or polish it (which suits him fine).
    Draft Horse named Sara
    Posted: 07-24-2020 08:18 pm
    Minstrel Tales Riddles Storm on Land

    Minstrel Tales Riddles Storm on Land

    Riddles

    These are a collection of Anglo-Saxon riddles. The authors are unknown and the prose can be a bit obscure but they fit so well into my Greyhawk campaign that I have used them often.

    Storm on Land

    Who of men is ready-witted and wise enough to say
    Who drives me forth on my journey,
    When I arise in my strength, exceeding furious,
    When I resound in my might?

    Sometimes I move with malice through the land,
    Shatter the people's halls, spoil the houses;
    The sky rises up, grey over the roofs;
    There is noise on oerth, the death-pang of men.

    When I stir the wood and the druid's groves,
    When covered with water, felling trees
    Bearing upon my back, the dwellings of men,
    The coverings of the oerth, the beasts of the land.

    Say who it is who covers me,
    Or what I, who bear those burdens, am called.
    Posted: 07-24-2020 06:44 pm
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 5

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 5

    #4 Zeffin, human male, (Level 2 Cleric) Salin's assistant
    Wis 16 HP 12, AL LE, AGE 18


    Physical Description:
    Zeffin has the fair-haired pale-skinned looks of a Suel. He wears a closely trimmed beard and mustache. His hair is also trimmed very close to his head. He has the fine scarring, though a bit less, as that of Salin. In his case, though, it is much more noticeable. His scars show as redish lines against his pale skin, and the more recent have a purplish look to them. He is tall, 6", broad-shouldered and thin-waisted.

    On raids he wore a chainmail shirt and black pants with a white, featureless face mask. He has a black ceremonial robe with a grey skull on its chest. He now wears this on raids over his chainmail. In town he dresses in his armor and plain grey or brown pants.


    Background:
    Zeffin is from Sterich. His family is old and established. Minor nobility. They are western nobles and after years of conflict with the humanoids of the Crystalmist and Joten Mountains they began to make deals with these creatures of evil. First it was simply allowing passage so that raiders would not attack their land, soon their descendants began acting as fences for goods which these raiders brought with them. Finally they embraced the evil which they hadallowed past their borders. Zeffin is part of a growing cult of Hextor among his father's family and retainers. He was assigned to assist Salin by the superiors of his order.


    Personality and attitude:
    Zeffin is a sadistic and brutal individual. He is fond of torture and would rather save a few of their victims to practice on. Occasionally the band will take a prisoner and squeeze information out of them. The brothers Kalife and Kalib had been in charge of this information gathering but Zeffin proved to have a greater skill and exuberance for such work. He is loyal to Salin and has a touch of hero worship for the successful cleric.


    Equipment:
    Chainmail
    Shield
    Horseman's mace
    Heavy Warhorse: "Beast", Black, with white streaked forehead and 3 white socks
    Posted: 07-23-2020 04:36 pm
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 4

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 4

    #3 Salin, human male, (Level 6 Priest of Hextor)
    Str 16 Int 10 Wis 16 Con 15 Dex 12 Chr 12
    HP 35, AL LE, AGE:24


    Physical Description:
    Salin is a tall man, 6"3' with a slim sturdy build. He has a swarthy complexion and thick black hair. He has a fine network of scars over his entire body due to the practice of ritual scarring. It is part of the faith of Hextor as it was taught to him by his family and his temple. These scars form a very light spidery pattern covering his entire body. He continually adds to this with scars earned by his abilities and for participating in certain ceremonies. While to the uninitiated these scars are meaningless, they would tell a sage learned in the ways of this cult of the deity the story of Salin's life as a priest and disciple of Hextor.

    Normally Salin only wears his black robes decorated with rings of grinning white skulls during ceremonies. During raids he wears a plain black robe and a white skull mask. Now he wears his robes of priesthood during raids, though he still uses the white skull-face mask. Beneath his robes he wears an enchanted shirt of chain and a steel skull cap under his mask.

    In towns and villages he dresses as a fighter in his armor and plain, serviceable trousers.


    Background:
    Salin is a Perrinlander by birth. His father, a mercenary, was a devotee of Hextor. Salin felt a strong calling toward Hextor and was accepted as a novice, swearing an oath of blood and steel on his 14th
    birthday.

    Salin has only been a part of Black Harris' band for the last six months (still before the breakup with Red). He was recruited by Harris in the Principality of Ulek. Salin had been involved in a mission in the Pomarj and was reporting in to his superiors at the city of Gryrax. After hearing from a young mercenary devotee, Bismon, about Black Harris and consulting his superiors, Salin volunteered his services. While not a follower himself, Black Harris respects the powers of a cleric and the warlike nature of Hextor, and gladly brought Salin into his band.


    Personality and attitude:
    Salin views Black Harris as a project and a potential warrior of Hextor. Red Hanlan never showed the proper respect, and his chaotic nature irritated Salin's sense of discipline. Then Salin came up with his plan, and introduced Tess, an agent of the temple, to throw discord into the friendship of these two men. Something has gone wrong. At first the plan went beyond his expectations, but Tess was supposed to assassinate Red Hanlan at her earliest opportunity. Now she seems to have gone rogue and become his partner and paramour. Salin desires the death of this traitoress with almost as much fervor as Black Harris. Her failure to complete his plan will be a mark, a physical mark, of shame.


    Equipment:
    Spells
    1st) Curse/Bless, Command, Cause/Cure lt.wnds, Dark/Light, Cause/Remove Fear.
    2nd) Chant, Enthrall, Flame Blade, Hold Person, Spir.Hammer.
    3rd) Animate Dead, Prayer, Pyrotechnics


    Chainmail +2
    Hammer of Pain:
    This Warhammer, usable only by those of an evil alignment, acts as a +2 weapon to hit and damage. 3 times every 24 hours its user can cause a jolt of pain which will stun an opponent for 1-3 rounds of combat (save vs rods and the victim will merely suffer a -2 on their chance to hit on the next combat round). There is a 10% chance that the pain will be inflicted upon the user every time this special ability is used (non-cumulative). Stunned victims cannot attack, cast spells, lose all dexterity bonuses and add 2 points to their AC (AC2 = AC4 while stunned)

    Warhammer ( used for spiritual hammer spell, Salin keeps 2 a dozen of these among the pack animals.

    Set of razor-edged knives and sharpening stone ( Salin will never use these as a weapon, they are for ritual scaring only)

    Heavy War Horse : Blood, a dark reddish-brown coated stallion.
    Posted: 07-23-2020 04:13 pm
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 3

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris Part 3

    #2 Falil, human male, (Level 4 Magic User) Lyndos' aid
    Int 17 Dex 16 HP11, AL NE, AGE 35


    Physical Description:
    Falil is short 5"4', dark haired, fullbearded and stout. He is surprising quick and agile. He has an intricate tattoo on his forearm. It contains in code the words which will activate the magic wand he carries. He has a terrible memory.

    He wears a black hood on raids, just a simple black cloth bag with eye and nose holes cut into it. Over his normal old brown robe he wears a large black cape.


    Background:
    Falil is the son of a Sterich merchant. His only interest was in magic and since he showed noaptitude for the family business he was apprenticed to a local mage of minor power. While studying with the mage a magical construct went awry killing the mage and the two other apprentices. Falil was accused of their murder but was actually innocent. He fled and was found by Black Harris sleeping along the bank of the Javan river. At the urging of Lyndos they spared the apprentice mage. Under the vigorous tutelage of Lyndos, Falil has proven to be an apt student, handy with languages and copying scrolls.


    Personality and attitude:
    Falil is devoted to Lyndos. He is a lazy unassuming character who would liked to have simply lived out his life on his father's estate.


    Equipment:
    Falil is able to memorize 1 less spell/ level than he would be allowed for his intelligence. He knows only those spells which Lyndos will teach him. He has no spell book of his own but normally has memorized;
    Sleep, Magic Missile & Invisibility


    Sling
    20 steel bullets
    Wand of Magic Missiles (12 charges)
    Mule, Henry
    Posted: 07-23-2020 02:36 am
    Encyclopedia Magica Revised : Anything Item

    Encyclopedia Magica Revised : Anything Item

    Encyclopedia Magica Revised : Anything Item

    It is said that in the dungeons beneath the ruins of the Mad Archmage's castle every item of magic and every spell can be found...

    Anything Item

    (Original Version):
    Unearthed Arcana, Encyclopedia Magica Page #21

    Somewhere between the third level below the lake of quicksilver and the gaping maw of living stone that was the entrance to the fourth the party found the workshop. The seven survivors of their party, which once numbered a dozen, found themselves on a wide landing in the middle of a broad set of stairs busily binding the wounds of those the archway had bitten when Gwen, a dwarven warrior-maiden noticed a chip on the wall. It was no more than the size of a pebble taken from the corner of a massive black near the bottom edge of the landing they rested upon.

    "Kal," she called to the gnome illusionist who led them, "do you have that vial of quicksilver we found above?"

    "Certainly, my dear," the old gnome fished into one of the dozens of pockets which lined his robe. Under his breath he spoke a Word and the small vial with the rough stone cap appeared in his fist. "Here. What use do you see for it?"

    "That cap," Gwen answered. She bent and held it near the small chip in the stone wall. "It matches..." she began to say but as she brought the vial within a foot of the wall it sprang from her hand like a steel needle to a loadstone.

    The capped end fit perfectly and joined the stone block with a klick. The quicksilver immediately flowed along the joins between the stones in a silver-metal line which formed an arching door. Silently the wall opened slowly inward.

    "What have we here?" Kal wondered aloud.

    The small party of explorers entered the room beyond the secret doorway. Inside they found a long chamber lined with benches and peghooks on the walls above them. Heavy aprons of varying type were on the pegs mixed with strange hats and hoods, thick gloves and goggles, some with dark lenses, some green, yellow, red or even clear. Beneath the bench were boots of different size, but all with soles padded deeply with cork.

    A large double-door was set into the far wall. It opened at a touch, in fact one door came slamming down off its hinges with a boom that made the entire party jump. Harold, their thief, looked back at the other with a sheepish grin, then moved inside the room now revealed.

    It was a fairly large room, wide, but still longer than its width. Several lanterns were hanging from the ceiling, still shining forth with undimmed light from enchanted stones. The rest of the room was blackened by fire and layered with scattered debris. All except one small workbench against the far wall which appeared in the light to be untouched.

    "Wait," whispered Kal holding the thief back, "could be a trap."

    "One that has already gone off by the look of things," Harold replied.

    Whatever had caused the destruction had happened long, long ago, but still the magic lights burned overhead in a few of the remaining lanterns. Harold crept about the room while the Cuthbertian priest chanted from the safety of the doorway. The grace of the Saint revealed no dangers while Harold's search found only slagged metal, some of it precious, fragments of gems and a large amount of soot stained shattered glass. The only whole object was a small rod of quicksilver held by a crystal vice.

    "What is it?" Harold asked Kal who had come to stand beside him.

    Kal reached beneath the collar of his robe and drew out a medallion, a small metal disc with a ruby at its center. He rubbed it between his palms as if to warm it. A red glow shone brightly for a moment, the bones of his hands suddenly visible beneath Kal's flesh, then faded quickly so that the tanned leather of the gnome's old skin hid the medallion once more in his hand. Sagging for a moment, then forcing his shoulders back, he held the medallion to his eye and gave a startled gasp. The disc fell from his fingers and dangled on its golden chain.

    "Ahhh..." Kal uttered, "that is what it first looked like."

    "What? What?" Harold asked in an excited voice, he had a sudden vision of gold coins pouring into his hands.

    Kal's eyes were half-lidded and he looked a century older, but he smiled at the thief.

    "A very powerful item indeed. It can become any small object the holder desires, enchanted or mundane. It appears unused, untouched, perhaps freshly created and abandoned here..." Kal trailed off and looked about him at the wreckage all around. "What, waste, what knowledge lost, what power in this room and gone..."

    Harold grinned back. "How much do you think we can get for it?"

    ***

    Anything Item (Revised)

    Only discovered in its original form once in the annals of the wise ( a cylindrical bar two inches in diameter and one foot long. It is composed of an enchanted metal appearing to be quicksilver, but bitterly cold to the touch, with an uncomfortably slick texture).

    If the command word is known it can instantly transform into any non-consumable small object either enchanted or mundane (though of limited duration, 1 use or 1 hour and neither relic or artifact) that the possessor has held before (i.e. the has once held a ring of free action but not a rod of lordly might, he can transform the anything into a duplicate of the ring, but not the rod).

    If the item has a single use effect the Anything Item can be used for that one effect. If it has a permanent effect (such as a Helm of Underwater Action) that effect will last for 1 hour. (i.e. if changed into a +3 dagger, the +3 bonus would last for only 1 hour before becoming a dagger with no bonus at all). If commanded to become a mundane item it remains in that form until commanded to change.

    The Anything Item can be changed into a specific form only once, then can never take that form again. It can be commanded to change only 3 times by an individual and will remain in the last shape it is commanded to duplicate till someone else takes over ownership and commands it to change once again. The object cannot be traded back and forth. Once it has been used by a new owner the old owner, even if only 1 change was commanded, has lost ownership of the item forever.

    Powers
    1. May transform into any non-consumable small object magical or mundane upon command.
    2. The Anything Item radiates magic regardless of its shape or magical or non-magical abilities.

    Limitations
    1. Can only duplicate an object that has been previously held by current owner.
    2. Can only perform a single magical effect of duplicated object
    3. Enchantment disappears after one hour even if duplicated objects magical effect or ability has not been used (i.e. a Horn of Valhalla duplicated but not used becomes a mundane horn after 1 hour). A duplicated item with a permanent magical effect or bonus also becomes a mundane item after 1 hour.
    4. No item can be duplicated twice. (i.e. If a previous owner changed the Anything Item into a Ring of Free Action it can never be changed again into a Ring of Free Action regardless of new ownership).
    5. An individual can only command the Anything Item to change a maximum of 3 times. The next owner can command a change a maximum of 3 times and so on.
    6. Once used ownership is established, but should a different individual take hold of the Anything Item and command a change then they are the new owner and the previous owner may never again command the item to change, though anyone may make use of the changed item (within the limitation of class restrictions) if given by the current owner or taken from them.

    Saves As:
    The Anything Item saves as Metal, Hard (+5) at all times and in any form. If damaged it turns into a small pool of quicksilver which evaporates in a single hour.

    In the Greyhawk Campaign;
    Only 7 of these Anything Items are known to exist. No mage claims the ability to construct these items.
    Posted: 07-23-2020 12:36 am
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris 2

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan and Black Harris 2

    Lyndos, human male, (Magic User level 7)
    Str 8, Int 18, Wis 11, Con 10, Dex 12, Chr 11
    HP: 22, AL LE, AGE 33


    Physical Description:
    Lyndos is pale with thin ash-blond hair. 5"9' and skinny. He is clean shaven but his fine thin hair is hardly noticeable even if he does not shave. He has no scars or tattoos.

    Lyndos wears a dark hooded cloak on raids, he has a mask which looks like a grinning devils face horns and all which he wears under the hood, (he salvaged it from a group of wandering entertainers that the band ambushed on the road in Keoland).

    In towns or away from the brigands he dresses in dark blue robes with occult signs, actual charms woven into its make-up, ( a charm against detection and a charm of protection +1) He wears a dark blue, wide-brimmed hat to protect his fair skin from the sun.

    Background:
    Lyndos has served as Black Harris' lieutenant for the last three years and outside of Smashnose has been with the band the longest, (a total of four years). His mentor Stesil Hin, a mage of great experience and evil, had an estate outside of Hardby. After catching Lyndos borrowing spell components Stesil expelled him and Lyndos left Hardby only seconds ahead of one of Stesils' lightning bolts. Luckily Stesil failed to notice the old traveling spellbooks which Lyndos had borrowed earlier.

    Down on his luck, Lyndos survived hand to mouth in the City of Greyhawk. Without cash or connections Lyndos owned only his stolen spellbooks, a bare minimum of components and a single set of worn pants, shirt and shoes. Then he met Black Harris and he has followed him ever since.


    Personality and attitude:
    Lyndos is meticulous but lacks patience. His greatest desire is to expand his knowledge of all things wizardly but he does so regardless of the cost in pain and suffering to others. Lyndos had been in on the planning of all the major raids for the past few years. The sudden change in Harris' attitude toward the band's attacks and his lack of care in matters of security have forced Lyndos to make plans of his own.

    While he bears no sense of loyalty to Harris he has been amply rewarded in the past and greatly profited due to his membership in the band of brigands. He receives all books, scrolls and magical items which are meant for a mage's use as well as a senior member's cut of all treasure. But now he feels that the rewards are coming at too high a risk and his counsels are ignored. He is gathering his resources and his courage, awaiting a time to break with the band unless he sees a change come over Black Harris and a return to the old ways.

    Equipment:

    Lyndos has a secret cache of spellbooks hidden away in Veluna City. He only carries a traveling spellbook while raiding.

    Travelling Spellbook:
    1st) Alarm, Comp. Languages, Detect Magic, Identify, Magic Missile,
    Read Magic, Shield & Sleep
    2nd) Flaming Sphere, Invisibility, Knock, Mirror image, Ray
    Enfeeb., Web
    3rd) Fireball, Haste, Hold Person, Lightning bolt, Pro.Norm.
    Missiles,
    4th) Imp. Invisibility, Minor Globe Invuln., Wizard eye


    Ring +2 of protection
    Staff of Shielding:
    This staff allows the user to cast the shield spell twice every 24 hours at the casters current level of experience.
    Sling
    20 +1 sling bullets
    10 Silver sling bullets
    3 glass spheres holding dust of sneezing and choking, held in an ivory container that has a carrying strap.
    Dagger +1

    Riding Horse: Mare, named LuLu.
    Posted: 07-23-2020 12:32 am
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 1

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 1

    Oerthly Encounters


    Red Hanlan & Black Harris


    This pair of Brigands has been highly successful raiding across the lands west of Greyhawk, such as Furyondy, Veluna and Bissel, as well as the lands of the Yeomanry, Keoland, Ulek and Gran March. Recently, however, they have parted company and now Black Harris pursues his former partner. Red Hanlan now rides with his new partner Tess Bywater or "Laughing Tess" as she is called.

    Periodically after a successful raid or series of raids the band would split up, each going their separate way, to enjoy the ill-gotten gains of their labor. Some traveled in pairs like the brothers Kalife and Kalib, but most set off on their own. At an appointed date the band would gather again and it was common for both Red Hanlan and Black Harris to return with a string of new recruits.

    Having successfully left a bloody trail of robberies and murders along the paths and roads between the Dreadwood in Keoland to the Lorridges in Bissel, the evil band gathered together once more in a small but growing market town named Fountainspring set within the heart of the Kingdom of Furyondy. Red Hanlan came with a half dozen followers but Black Harris brought along only Tess. While in town the raiders were on their best behavior, but as the reunited group celebrated one last time before leaving town Tess killed a long time member of the band who 'insulted' her. Black Harris and Tess had a shouting, then throwing, match and finally Tess stormed off, with Red Hanlan. Later that night a now staggeringly drunk Harris broke down the door to Red Hanlan's room and the struggle which ensued wrecked the tavern and scattered or killed those who supported Red Hanlan.

    Since that time Red has been on the run. Only Tess followed him from the broken tables and smashed chairs of the Inn.

    Black Harris has sworn a dark oath of vengeance, but while his followers understand his desire they have more practical concerns, namely loot. Always bloodthirsty and merciless Black Harris has raided and robbed with a brutal cunning. Now he has grown careless. Robbing only to pacify his followers, his thoughts are turned to tracking down and exacting a painful retribution on his brief one-time lover and his faithless former partner. Previously the band would raid only after studying the layout of the land and the composition of the merchant caravan or train, though they would not hesitate to waylay a small party or individual whose bodies would be hidden among ditch or bramble, unlikely to be seen again. Now they strike without preparation. So far they have been lucky and their casualties have been
    few, but their luck is not likely to hold.

    Red Hanlan has been on the run since that night. Nearly overtaken outside of Littleberg, he has since laid low, living rough along the edge of the Gnarly Forest. Once a ranger of Geoff, Red has used the skills learned in his early days to pick hidden and secure camps and hideouts for the band amid the wild. Now he uses these skills to hide from Black Harris.

    Black Harris chases Red Hanlan. He will pursue him wherever the trail will lead. Red cannot remain hidden forever but will appear again, while Harris will follow carelessly in a wake of death and destruction till he is pulled down like a mad beast by the forces of order in the lands he afflicts or till he at last runs down his quarry, Tess and Red Hanlan.

    The Brigands:

    As an early precaution against detection the brigands took to wearing masks and black clothing on raids and making sure to dress differently if they were in a town or village. Several months before the group split apart they attacked a group of wandering players. The loot was poor but it contained many different theatrical masks which the brigands adopted. Unfortunately Black Harris and Red Hanlan also adopted a policy of no quarter. No survivors, no witnesses. It proved highly successful from their point of view. Merchant caravans and travelers simply vanished, their wagons, baggage and bodiesabandoned in woods or rough terrain. The careful and merciless tactics of Red Hanlan and Black Harris have kept their identities separate from the raiders who plague an area for a few weeks then disappear only to reappear leagues away in a different country or kingdom.


    Black Harris, human male, Ftr Level 9
    Str 17, Int 12, Wis 12, Con 17, Dex 12, Chr 10
    HP 89, AL LE, AGE 36
    Physical Description:
    6"2', Thin and wirey. Brown hair and eye, brown mustache. Scars over his left eye, on right cheek, wide scar across upper right chest. Tattoo of a grinning skull on right bicep, an eagle holding a bloody dragon in its claws on his left.

    On raids Harris wears black. black boots, pants, a black tabard over his chain mail and a black plume from his helm. He was a man of careful habits and grooming but now is lax and usually needs a shave. His mustache once neatly trimmed is on its way to becoming a soup strainer. While in towns or villages Harris would always wear colorful and fancy clothes of fine quality. In his current obsessed state he wears whatever he puts his hands on, leaving such garments on till their stench is strong enough for him to notice.

    Background:
    Called 'Black Harris' because of his grim and merciless nature. It's rumored that he grew up in the Hold of the Sea Princes and spent part of his life as a pirate but no one knows for sure. He is merciless but maintains a rough and comradely discipline among his men. He demands obedience but does not play favorites and will not break his word. His followers know that they can expect honest and fair dealing from him but cruel and swift punishment if they should cross him or violate the oaths that they have sworn to Harris. He has deep respect for magic both wizardly and divine and will go out of his way to recruit practitioners of these arts.

    Personality and attitude:
    Harris is now obsessed with the desire for vengeance. Once a careful and cunning planner he now simply rides in with the full strength of his band and overwhelms any guardsmen or outriders, then falls upon the body of the caravan or merchant train. He cares nothing for what treasure or valuables are harvested from these raids, though he still takes his cut. He uses this wealth only to pay informants or recruit more men in his quest against Red Hanlan. Only his lieutenant, the wizard Lyndos, and Lyndos's aid Falil, object to Harris's current actions.

    The evil priest Salin, a follower of Hextor, approves of this direct action, "Attack, Attack, Attack!" is his motto.

    Black Harris has a taken a step from evil into madness and the light from his fiery obsession burns in his eyes.


    Equipment:
    Chainmail +2
    Saber +1 of wounding. (1d8s-m 1d8-l)
    Shield +1
    helm
    Lance +2
    Gauntlet of crushing grip:
    This single gauntlet can be commanded by the wearer to attempt to crush anything in its grasp 3 times every 24hours. It can easily crush a flagon or snap an unenchanted blade. An arm or ankle would be pulped and perhaps severed. This gauntlet crushes slowly, taking 4 rounds to fully close. With a resisting opponent the user of the gauntlet must make a successful To-Hit. On the first round no damage is inflicted, the gauntlet merely grips what it will then proceed to crush. On each following round 1d6+7 pts of damage will be inflicted. The victim has the opportunity to pull away from the grip if they save vs their Dex on the first round for no 1d6 damage. Each subsequent round the victim will get a more difficult save, first at -2, then -4, and finally -6 as the gauntlets fingers sink deeper into their flesh. If successful they receive half damage as they pull away from the crushing steel fingers of the gauntlet. The gauntlet will not damage enchanted items. Its fingers would not even scratch enchanted plate mail but a shirt of chain, while itself undamaged, would not keep what is between its links from being pulped.


    War Horse:
    Obesdian, is the fourth Heavy War horse of that name which Harris has ridden. As its name implies it has a glossy black coat.
    HD: 4+4 AC7 HP:31
    6 potions of extra healing (private stock)
    1 potion of Hill Giant Strength
    1 potion of speed


    Black Harris's Band


    #1 Lyndos (level 7 Magic User) Harris's lieutenant
    #2 Falil (Level 4 Magic User) Lyndos's aid
    #3 Salin (Level 6 Priest of Hextor)
    #4 Zeffin (Level 2 Cleric) Salins assistant
    #5 Kalib (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalife
    #6 Kalife (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalib
    #7 Smashnose (Level 4 Fighter) 1/2 Orc
    #8 Travis (Level 5 Thief) leads thief contingent within band
    #9 Costos (Level 3 Thief)
    #10 Halvas (Level 1 Thief)
    #11 Dursus (Level 1 Thief)
    #12 Bismon ( Level 3 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #13 Quisson (Level 2 Fighter)
    #14 Tras (Level 2 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #15 Arrash (Level 1 Fighter)
    #16 Cruther (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #17 Sasor (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    Posted: 07-23-2020 12:31 am
    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 1

    Oerthly Encounters Red Hanlan & Black Harris Part 1

    Oerthly Encounters


    Red Hanlan & Black Harris


    This pair of Brigands has been highly successful raiding across the lands west of Greyhawk, such as Furyondy, Veluna and Bissel, as well as the lands of the Yeomanry, Keoland, Ulek and Gran March. Recently, however, they have parted company and now Black Harris pursues his former partner. Red Hanlan now rides with his new partner Tess Bywater or "Laughing Tess" as she is called.

    Periodically after a successful raid or series of raids the band would split up, each going their separate way, to enjoy the ill-gotten gains of their labor. Some traveled in pairs like the brothers Kalife and Kalib, but most set off on their own. At an appointed date the band would gather again and it was common for both Red Hanlan and Black Harris to return with a string of new recruits.

    Having successfully left a bloody trail of robberies and murders along the paths and roads between the Dreadwood in Keoland to the Lorridges in Bissel, the evil band gathered together once more in a small but growing market town named Fountainspring set within the heart of the Kingdom of Furyondy. Red Hanlan came with a half dozen followers but Black Harris brought along only Tess. While in town the raiders were on their best behavior, but as the reunited group celebrated one last time before leaving town Tess killed a long time member of the band who 'insulted' her. Black Harris and Tess had a shouting, then throwing, match and finally Tess stormed off, with Red Hanlan. Later that night a now staggeringly drunk Harris broke down the door to Red Hanlan's room and the struggle which ensued wrecked the tavern and scattered or killed those who supported Red Hanlan.

    Since that time Red has been on the run. Only Tess followed him from the broken tables and smashed chairs of the Inn.

    Black Harris has sworn a dark oath of vengeance, but while his followers understand his desire they have more practical concerns, namely loot. Always bloodthirsty and merciless Black Harris has raided and robbed with a brutal cunning. Now he has grown careless. Robbing only to pacify his followers, his thoughts are turned to tracking down and exacting a painful retribution on his brief one-time lover and his faithless former partner. Previously the band would raid only after studying the layout of the land and the composition of the merchant caravan or train, though they would not hesitate to waylay a small party or individual whose bodies would be hidden among ditch or bramble, unlikely to be seen again. Now they strike without preparation. So far they have been lucky and their casualties have been
    few, but their luck is not likely to hold.

    Red Hanlan has been on the run since that night. Nearly overtaken outside of Littleberg, he has since laid low, living rough along the edge of the Gnarly Forest. Once a ranger of Geoff, Red has used the skills learned in his early days to pick hidden and secure camps and hideouts for the band amid the wild. Now he uses these skills to hide from Black Harris.

    Black Harris chases Red Hanlan. He will pursue him wherever the trail will lead. Red cannot remain hidden forever but will appear again, while Harris will follow carelessly in a wake of death and destruction till he is pulled down like a mad beast by the forces of order in the lands he afflicts or till he at last runs down his quarry, Tess and Red Hanlan.

    The Brigands:

    As an early precaution against detection the brigands took to wearing masks and black clothing on raids and making sure to dress differently if they were in a town or village. Several months before the group split apart they attacked a group of wandering players. The loot was poor but it contained many different theatrical masks which the brigands adopted. Unfortunately Black Harris and Red Hanlan also adopted a policy of no quarter. No survivors, no witnesses. It proved highly successful from their point of view. Merchant caravans and travelers simply vanished, their wagons, baggage and bodiesabandoned in woods or rough terrain. The careful and merciless tactics of Red Hanlan and Black Harris have kept their identities separate from the raiders who plague an area for a few weeks then disappear only to reappear leagues away in a different country or kingdom.


    Black Harris, human male, Ftr Level 9
    Str 17, Int 12, Wis 12, Con 17, Dex 12, Chr 10
    HP 89, AL LE, AGE 36
    Physical Description:
    6"2', Thin and wirey. Brown hair and eye, brown mustache. Scars over his left eye, on right cheek, wide scar across upper right chest. Tattoo of a grinning skull on right bicep, an eagle holding a bloody dragon in its claws on his left.

    On raids Harris wears black. black boots, pants, a black tabard over his chain mail and a black plume from his helm. He was a man of careful habits and grooming but now is lax and usually needs a shave. His mustache once neatly trimmed is on its way to becoming a soup strainer. While in towns or villages Harris would always wear colorful and fancy clothes of fine quality. In his current obsessed state he wears whatever he puts his hands on, leaving such garments on till their stench is strong enough for him to notice.

    Background:
    Called 'Black Harris' because of his grim and merciless nature. It's rumored that he grew up in the Hold of the Sea Princes and spent part of his life as a pirate but no one knows for sure. He is merciless but maintains a rough and comradely discipline among his men. He demands obedience but does not play favorites and will not break his word. His followers know that they can expect honest and fair dealing from him but cruel and swift punishment if they should cross him or violate the oaths that they have sworn to Harris. He has deep respect for magic both wizardly and divine and will go out of his way to recruit practitioners of these arts.

    Personality and attitude:
    Harris is now obsessed with the desire for vengeance. Once a careful and cunning planner he now simply rides in with the full strength of his band and overwhelms any guardsmen or outriders, then falls upon the body of the caravan or merchant train. He cares nothing for what treasure or valuables are harvested from these raids, though he still takes his cut. He uses this wealth only to pay informants or recruit more men in his quest against Red Hanlan. Only his lieutenant, the wizard Lyndos, and Lyndos's aid Falil, object to Harris's current actions.

    The evil priest Salin, a follower of Hextor, approves of this direct action, "Attack, Attack, Attack!" is his motto.

    Black Harris has a taken a step from evil into madness and the light from his fiery obsession burns in his eyes.


    Equipment:
    Chainmail +2
    Saber +1 of wounding. (1d8s-m 1d8-l)
    Shield +1
    helm
    Lance +2
    Gauntlet of crushing grip:
    This single gauntlet can be commanded by the wearer to attempt to crush anything in its grasp 3 times every 24hours. It can easily crush a flagon or snap an unenchanted blade. An arm or ankle would be pulped and perhaps severed. This gauntlet crushes slowly, taking 4 rounds to fully close. With a resisting opponent the user of the gauntlet must make a successful To-Hit. On the first round no damage is inflicted, the gauntlet merely grips what it will then proceed to crush. On each following round 1d6+7 pts of damage will be inflicted. The victim has the opportunity to pull away from the grip if they save vs their Dex on the first round for no 1d6 damage. Each subsequent round the victim will get a more difficult save, first at -2, then -4, and finally -6 as the gauntlets fingers sink deeper into their flesh. If successful they receive half damage as they pull away from the crushing steel fingers of the gauntlet. The gauntlet will not damage enchanted items. Its fingers would not even scratch enchanted plate mail but a shirt of chain, while itself undamaged, would not keep what is between its links from being pulped.


    War Horse:
    Obesdian, is the fourth Heavy War horse of that name which Harris has ridden. As its name implies it has a glossy black coat.
    HD: 4+4 AC7 HP:31
    6 potions of extra healing (private stock)
    1 potion of Hill Giant Strength
    1 potion of speed


    Black Harris's Band


    #1 Lyndos (level 7 Magic User) Harris's lieutenant
    #2 Falil (Level 4 Magic User) Lyndos's aid
    #3 Salin (Level 6 Priest of Hextor)
    #4 Zeffin (Level 2 Cleric) Salins assistant
    #5 Kalib (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalife
    #6 Kalife (Level 5 Fighter) twin brother of Kalib
    #7 Smashnose (Level 4 Fighter) 1/2 Orc
    #8 Travis (Level 5 Thief) leads thief contingent within band
    #9 Costos (Level 3 Thief)
    #10 Halvas (Level 1 Thief)
    #11 Dursus (Level 1 Thief)
    #12 Bismon ( Level 3 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #13 Quisson (Level 2 Fighter)
    #14 Tras (Level 2 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #15 Arrash (Level 1 Fighter)
    #16 Cruther (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    #17 Sasor (Level 1 Fighter) Follower of Hextor
    Posted: 07-23-2020 12:31 am
    Oerthly Encounters The Thief in the Night

    Oerthly Encounters The Thief in the Night

    Oerthly Encounters


    The Thief in the Night


    Taldas Fei is a thief who specializes in burglary, especially the robbery of merchants, adventurers and any likely residents of a tavern, hostel or inn.

    He will first stay as a guest under an assumed identity, a merchant, warrior, scribe, etc... always a different persona for a different town or village. Then he will carefully and cautiously explore his surroundings, keeping careful record of each room, door, window and lock. He will stay long enough to learn the local gossip and become a familiar face to the residents but avoids close contact with other travellers.

    Taldas will never attempt a burglary on his first stay at an inn or tavern. He will first prepare the ground, then leave and return at a later date adopting the persona which he dedicates to that particular locale. He will, in larger towns and cities, sometimes take on a second, third, or more, persona if he feels that he can get away with it. Taldas gathers information and has a journal which he carries with him and a master journal which he has safely hidden away in his only permanent residence, a house in the City of Greyhawk. This journal contains notes and maps about each place that he has prepared. It also has notes on merchants, caravan routes, wealthy travelers, ceremonies and festivals as well as rumors and gossip about everything from dragon's hoards to the possible marriages of the nobility or wealthy; anything which might have potential for relatively unsecured treasure to find its way into first, one of his prepared inns or taverns, then into Taldas's pocket.

    Taldas performs his burglaries only at night and will not be in residence when he does so. Instead he will have left the inn or tavern the night, or perhaps even a few days, before if he feels that his target will be safely ensconced within for that much time. After dark Taldas will return and enter through a carefully studied way; an upper window or roof access, the doors through which kegs of beer are rolled into the cellar, etc... Whichever way that he has discovered is the most vulnerable and unattended. He will then make his way to the room of his victim and attempt a robbery, hopefully without violence.

    Taldas is aided in his craft by three magic items.


    #1 Ring of Silence

    This ring, when activated, creates a sphere of silence around the wearer in a 5ft radius. No sound of any kind passes from outside or into this sphere. It can be activated once every 12 hours for a duration of 30 minutes. It can also silence an individual, the wearers choice, within a 15ft range of the wearer for 10 minutes once every 24hours. These functions cannot be performed at the same time and the durations of these effects cannot be altered by the wearer.

    #2 Gloves & boots of Spiderclimb

    These magic items must be used as a set, a wearer missing a hand or foot could not activate their power. These are made from a slim, silky material and will fit any humanoids from small to large stretching or conforming to the size of their hands or feet. They must be worn directly against the skin of both hands and feet but luckily provide protection against sharp or piercing objects such as broken glass, razors or caltrops. They have no effect on crushing blows. Once all four items are donned they immediately begin to function and will only cease when either one part of the set is removed from the -wearer or if the wearers limb is severed. This set grants the wearer the same abilities as the magic-user
    spell spiderclimb.


    #3 Catseye pendant

    This pendant is of gold in the shape of a cat's head. Two green gems form its eyes. This pedant allows the wearer to see with a much greater degree of night vision (range 80 feet) as well as the ability to see well in direct or sudden bright light. When activated the wearer's eyes take on the form of a green-eyed cats. This pendant can be activated three times every 24hours for a 1 hour duration.


    Taldas is patient and methodical. He is intelligent and chooses his targets with great care. He is unlikely to rob a powerful magician or priest and will back away from an excessively well-guarded item.

    He approaches his craft almost as an art-form and is no throat-slitter or bash-and-grab thief. He would fight or even kill to escape from capture but will first just try to run away. He carries several defensive items to aid him in this. He might have any one or several of these on hand at any time.


    #1) A pouch containing small steel sling bullets. Taldas is adept with the sling but would also use these to toss behind him and hopefully trip up his pursuers.

    #2) A glass bottle of oil, he would use this only to make steps or floor slippery not to set fires.

    #3) A pouch of caltrops. Not something Taldas would normally carry but he might if going after a high reward high risk item.

    #4) A coil of strong twine or preferably wire. He would string these along a stair or passageway at ankle height.

    #5) a glass jar filled with bees, wasps or hornet, depending upon their availability.

    #6) several rags rolled into balls soaked in lantern oil and dipped in wax. If lit these will produces thick smoke but are unlikely to start a fire.

    #7) a glass jar filled with glass marbles (if available) otherwise this will be a glass jar lined with wax filled with steel sling bullet. These marbles or bullets will also be greased. These would be used before the regular sling bullets.

    While attempting a burglary Taldas will dress in black, wearing a black cloth mask and hood as well as a small pack and a belt with equipment. He wears no armor but has a +2 ring of protection. He carries a sling and a half-dozen throwing knives. Taldas has 1 packet of dust of disappearance which he will only use in a dire emergency. He also keeps a scroll tube on hand with a tattered an ancient map inside. If captured he will claim that it is a map to a lost treasure which only he can interpret correctly. A small section of the map is missing and Taldas will swear, truthfully that he has memorized it. Taldas picked up the map several years ago. It shows the lands along the western borders of the Duchy of Geoff, but he has no idea where it leads to. Notes on the map make mention of an ancient burial ground of a sorcerer king and of vast treasure, but Taldas is a burglar not an adventurer and prefers to get his treasure the old fashioned way, by stealing it from sleeping merchants.

    He is of average height and appearance with blue eyes but otherwise his hair and general appearance are continually being altered. In Greyhawk, when he resides at home, he has sandy blond hair and a fair complexion, clean shaven and shorthaired and appears to be in his mid-thirties.


    Taldas Fei, Human Male Thief level 7
    Str 13, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 11, Dex 17, Chr 16
    HP 29
    Skills (without armor)
    Pick pockets 25
    Open Locks 95
    Find/Remove Traps 95
    Move Silently 25
    Hide in Shadows 90
    Detect noise 15
    Climb Walls 70
    Read Languages 0
    Posted: 07-22-2020 11:12 pm
    The Frost Giant Jarl - Grugnur's Lament Part 1


    The Frost Giant Jarl - Grugnur's Lament

    "I told you that chain would come in handy," Talberth said with an I-Told-You-So half-smile on his lips.

    Several nasty looks came from the assembled party and the wizard-elf Telenstil put a hand on his old apprentice's shoulder. 

    They were a bleeried-eyed and worn looking group. Blood-spotted banadages were on most of them and three of the five dwarves looked like they were about to collapse.

    "It's freezing..." chattered the halfling among them even though he was well wrapped in a bear-skin cloak cut down to his size. A small orc stood beside him wearing his bear-skin like a blanket with holes cut for his arms and legs. He wore a belt made of thick rope and two shortswords were sheathed at either side with a pair of daggers crossed at his middle.

    Two of the dwarves were in well-fited, finely crafted mail. One bore a warhammer that was etched with cryptic dwarven runes while the other held a double-headed axe, short handled and of obvious dwarven craft. 

    "I still don't trust orcs," the axe-wielder commented in the old, old dwarfen tongue. 

    "You can trust that one well-enough," commented one the thin and greyhaired dwarves. Ginnar, for all that he was the hammer-wielder's younger brother looked older than their father after months of captivity in Nosnra's steading. "Little Rat ran errands for me from the forge to my friends and those rebel orcs. He was so small the giants didn't seem to notice him."

    "Those giants," said one of the ex-slaves beside Ginnar, "worse than any orc."

    "He's been adopted by Harold," Galar said firmly. He set his warhammer down and rubbed his hands together. As eldest and a priest to boot his word was final. "Be polite."

    Around them the strange mix of humans and humanoids began to move. They were in some huge cavern, though to the giants it must have seemed low-ceilinged if wide and round. The magic chain which had transported them here glowed with a nimbus of blue-white light and provided illumination if  not warmth. 

    At the one end of the cave were piles of crates and the walls were hung with the skins of huge animals. A blackened circle showed where a fire was once lit and wood remained in it ready to be kindled into flame. Fuel in the form of cold, dried logs was piled against another wall. 

    As they watched the huge human ranger withdrew a tinderbox from his belt and started some dry moss aflame inside a little frame of twigs. Quickly a lively dance of fire was growing as he bent and fed it larger and larger sticks and splinters of wood.

    The halfling-thief and his apprentice Little Rat, the orc, began to pry open boxes at the back of the cave.

    The sylvan-elf Ghibelline approached the dwarves with a smile on his lips. "I told you we would be free one day Ginnar."

    "That  you did, lad," Ginnar replied with a smile of his own, "But I never believed we'd live to see it."

    "We almost didn't," said a deep voice beside them.

    The dwarves looked at the figure smaller than all of them and older. Ivo was a gnome from the Kron Hills and a crafter of illusions more powerful than any they had seen before.

    "It was good fortune to find you beyond the walls and outside that dungeon of Nosnra's," Ivo continued.

    "There is something loose down there even the giants were afraid of," said Serleg, one of the two Hill Dwarves rescued with Ginnar.

    "Even that bastard, Fehrig, that flame-haired Fire Giant, came up from the forges and dragged us along with him," added Feg, Serleg's brother.

    "I wish that I could have collected the blood-debt that one owes," grumbled Serleg.

    "We'd meant to collect from many a giant, especially Nosnra," said Ivo, "But here we are."

    "And where is here?" asked Ginnar.

    "If what we'd read about that chain is correct," answered Ivo, "We are in the land of the Frost Giants. The great glacier, the home of Grugnur, the Frost Giant Jarl, and we mean to deal with him as we dealt with Nosnra. Only, perhaps, a bit more dead."

    ***

    The fire only occupied a portion of the large ring left by the giants who had used the cave. It brought light and dancing shadows. A cloud of smoke rose to the ceiling and disappeared above a large animal skin, some hairy mamoth-sized creature as big as a barn. Harald, the old ranger, had found a large passage beyond that turned and twisted, screened by two more hangings before opening to a land of glaring ice and rock beyond. A quick scout of the area showed no tracks so he returned quickly.

    The rest of the company, five dwarves, a halfling, a gnome, two elves, three humans and  a small orc were sitting around the fire warming themselves and cooking things on sticks.

    "So, are we truly in the glacier lands?" asked Nyradir, the dwarven warrior.

    "Yes," replied Harald tacturnly. His face was grim as approached. 

    "I am sorry Harald," said the old elven-mage. Telenstil knew how Harald had longed to stay, even if alone, to hunt down Nosnra or more likely die in the attempt. Only his loyalty to his companions had made him enter the ring of chain when they had enacted its enchantment, bringing from the hills to these cold, cold mountains.

    "We will need to keep watch..." Harald began.

    "I will go," spoke up Ghibelline. The sylvan elf rose to his feat and Gytha the priestess of St. Cuthbert rose with him. 

    "I will accompany you," she said and a quick smile touched Ghibelline's lips while across from them a bitter twist flashed across the tall human mage's features and then was gone.

    "The ice glares in the sun," warned Harald, "watch your eyes. It can blind."

    "I was raised in the same hills as you," Gytha replied, but she squeezed the ranger's arm as she passed him by.

    "No matter how bright the sun will not blind or dazzle my eyes," said Ghibelline. "And after the dark of Nosnra's dungeons I still dream of the sun," he said, 'and the stars."

    The pair disappeared through the woolly curtain which helped protect the cave from the bitter cold. The fire had already taken the deadly chill from the air and the small mountain of fuel left by the giants promised that it would not run out soon.

    "Elves and halflings have the best eyes for the daywatch," said Ivo, "and the dwarves and I can handle the night."

    "We have some hours till dark," said Harald. "I will rest now but once it is dark I will set out and find this next nest of giants."

    "Not you alone," said Telenstil, "I still have my ring to help us and we have enchantments."

    "Galar no trouble, find giants," said Nyradir. "I wish Berronar would let you speak their language all the time," he said to the cleric in their mountain tongue.

    "That is no small thing to ask," Galar replied.

    "I can speak well enough for the pair of ya," Ginnar told the two dwarves.

    "Master elf," Ginnar said to Telenstil both with politeness due an elder and the respect due to a rescuer who saved him from slavery, torture and inevitable death, "My brother be a priest of Berronar, and in the God's good graces, so I doubt not he can find a true path to these giants."

    "Yoyur brother, yourself and your companions are very welcome," said Telenstil, "But you need not accompany us..."

    "Feg, Serleg and myself be better smiths than fighters, but still we are fighters," replied Ginnar. All three now stood and faced the others. "We go where you go. Your foes are ours," he said putting his thumbs in his belt and meeting the others eyes, "truly, these giants are our foes of old for all our kind, mountain or hill."

    Telenstil stood and bowed to the three dwarves. "You are most welcome. We have much to avenge and even more to learn from these giants. For now let us take our ranger's advice and rest. Tonight we will begin."

    Posted: 07-09-2020 02:40 pm
    She Speaks A Scarlet Mist

    She Speaks A Scarlet Mist



    Who can say when the blood of man was polluted with the foulness of undeath. From what blackened and defiled corner of the Oerth where first they arose is unknown. Every corner of the globe speaks of them, Bruja, Dachnavar, Draugir, Chang Kuei, Mara, Striga, Vampire.

    In the Flanaess it is the same, in any decent land they are hunted and outlawed. Vampires are social creatures that form a family with a patriarch or matriarch ruling over them, but these paternal figures feel no love or attachment for their offspring and will use them for their pleasure and their defense willingly sacrificing all those they deem their 'children' for their defense or even simple gain. At times they will tire of their family and will slaughter them all gathering their tainted blood in great casks like wine to be aged and consumed at a later date.

    Vampires always choose the strongest or most beautiful or talented humans to be their victims and future 'children'. Around this family are collected groups of ensnared servants or 'thralls' as the Fruz from the northlands call them. These are half-drained victims of the vampires who are ensorceled into fanatical loyalty to their vampiric masters.

    While vampires may be found in ruins, catacombs or graveyards, they often join the society of large cities such as Greyhawk or Dyversas long as they can remain undetected. Some have taken over northern halls or holdings of the Sea-Barons or villas in the Great Kingdom.


    There are rumors and traces of a vampiric brood gathering in the vast metropolis of Greyhawk and the local guard as well as a some of the ruling Oligarches are interested in rooting them out. While a small bounty is placed on the capture or heads of any proven thralls, a much greater reward can be gathered for the bodies (living or dead, but living pays better) of any of the Vampiric family. The Lord or Mistress of the clan would garner the greater reward but such a capture or even a defeat of one of these monsters is deemed unlikely.
    Posted: 06-25-2020 01:33 pm