Friday, April 19, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 17 of 52 - Missile Mirror


The Missile Mirror is a handy defensive item for spell casters, although any character can benefit a little from it.

The mirror is about 4" in diameter and has a rune of a satyr in a sun on the back. The front is concave and silvered. Used as is, the reflected image is distorted. It is intended that the user "black" the silvered surface over a candle, place it on a tabletop and fill it with water. This produces a crystal clear reflection. The device reveals some of it's magic by repulsing the candle black on command. The black residue forms a small pelt and can be dumped out. It can be used to make paints, inks, dyes or cosmetics. The pellet will have a value of one copper, so it is not a good source of money but will replace a candle or few.

Possession of the Missile Mirror will improve the owner's AC by 1. Anyone can benefit from this. Holding the Mirror out towards missile fire will improve a spell caster's AC by 3 (total). Additionally, spell casters will have a 40% magic resistance to magical missiles AND if successful at foiling such an attack, it has a 20% chance of reflecting the spell back on the caster.

Foiling magical missile attacks uses one charge. Reflecting magical missile attacks uses two charges. The Missile Mirror has 16 charges. The rays of the sun are a visual indicator of these charges and will pit and dent when a charge is used. If all of the charges are used up, the Missile Mirror will still provide a -1 to AC for simply having it and will still be a useful mirror.

The Missile Mirror can be recharged by a silversmith of great ability. By repairing the pits and dents on the rays, they are restoring a charge. While the mirror can be damaged by abuse, an attempt at recharging it will never damage it. Failure to restore a charge causes the smith's patch to bubble and hiss before being absorbed into the mirror's structure. The materials needed to repair each ray is 20 silver pieces or a like-sized slug, bar or ingot. The makeup of such repair materials doesn't matter, only the size or volume counts. Some people use spoons.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - The Bands of Roland
Week 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory
Week 16 of 52 - Defender's Boss
Week 17 of 52 - Missile Mirror

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

52 Weeks of Magic - 16 of 52 - Defender's Boss

The Defender's Boss is an unusual magic item. When found, it is approximately 4 inches around. It has an image of a lion painted on it and has a loop on the back as if it belongs on a chain or necklace. If worn in this fashion, it will improve the wear's AC by 1. If the wearer is a fighting type (ranger, paladin, cleric, etc.) who can normally use a shield, the Defender's Boss can be willed to grow to a maximum of 4 feet in size and it will act as a +1 shield. This is in addition the previous benefit of 1, for a total of two.

If the boss is used correctly and placed in the center of a shield, it will fuse to it and that shield will now be +3 and always magical. The shield will have the same ability to grow or shirnk as a the boss does.

If the shield is destroyed either by magic or a massive force, the Boss in entitled to it's own saving throw and if it succeeds, it will pop off the destroyed shield and be ready for use again in one day. If a smith or armorer attempts to remove it, it will respond to their desires and come off in their hands. No tools required nor will it lose it's powers.  

If this device is used by an assassin class character, it will not confer the bonus to AC for mere possession nor will it operate as a normal shield. When an assassin attempts to use it as a shield, it will grow to a full five feet in diameter forcing them to hold it with both hands or drop it. If held in this fashion, it will provide cover AND a +2 to AC. While recalcitrant to use by assassins, it will shrink or grow on command. 

If the boss is rammed into an opening smaller than it's diameter when fully deployed, the shield will squirm so that the boss is facing the character. If the shield is destroyed trying to expand, the boss will fall off the holder's hands. It does not want to be lost. Doing this will cause the item to lose it's magic for 7 days. 

If the lion symbol is painted over, any damage to the shield or boss will cause the paint to blow off, reveling the lion. 

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - The Bands of Roland
Week 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory
Week 16 of 52 - Defender's Boss

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The 3 Toadstools and #tenmonstersetting

Shane Ward, over on MeWe suggested a great starter idea for world building. Pick a book then pick 10 monsters to populate your world. On Shane's blog, The 3 Toadstools, he added a 10 categories based on feedback from the MeWe community:

  1. semi-intelligent humanoid
  2. undead
  3. ancient fey race 
  4. giant/ogre/troll race
  5. great wyrm or lizard
  6. aerial
  7. Aquatic
  8. dimensional  
  9. classic mythology
  10. chthonic
I grabbed my classic red book and came up with the following list: 
  1. Orc, many tribes in the mountains. 
  2. Wight, found on the plains. They inhabit burial mounds. 
  3. Pixie, live on the edges of forests and will turn over characters to the Sprites within if there is trouble.  
  4.  Ogre, a large semi-nomadic tribe. They trade fresh food to the Lizard men. They have a tiny range from north edge of 'Potumus Bay to the Grand Plateau in the mountains. They winter on in the caves at the edge of the Grand Plateau.  
  5. Black Dragon, only one and he inhabits a lonely crag. He eats orcs and hippos and avoids men and ogres. 
  6. Sprite, typical fey folk who are nicer than Pixies who live just outside their forests and meadows. Slightly more organized than Pixies, they can dish out what approximates for justice according the fey if someone messes with the Pixies or Sprites.   
  7. Lizard Man, a single tribe located on, in and around a high tarn. Relatively peaceable, they will trade metals for fruit.  
  8. (None in the book) I selected a Djinni. Actually, a family of Djinn. Two boys, three girls and mom and dad. They live below the dragon's crag. They guard a cave which leads to the realm of air, but no one but Djinn can see the gate. 
  9. Pegasus. A seemingly, a singular creature. They live far to the north, beyond the mountains and a few get blown off course from time to time. While lost, they will visit the many tarns and lakes in the area. They have no fear of humanoids and can sometimes be found grazing with domesticated horses on the plains.  
  10. Giant Ants, a pest of urban settings. They often invade towns in the spring, via sewers. A massive headache to clean out. 
9 out of 10 creatures from one book isn't bad. It totally works for my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. I can't wait to get these ideas into that world. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

World Building with Worldographer

I'm working on a new map for the Peninsula of Plenty campaign using Inkwell Idea's Worldographer. The software is remarkably easy to use and makes the whole experience of world building a wonder rather than a pain. I went whole hog on this purchase and selected the $99.00 bundle plus Hexographer 1E World Style Icon Set. 

Right now I am tinkering with the different icon sets and have a mishmash of icons. I hope to correct this and work entirely with the 1E World Style set for everything. 

One of the nicest parts of the software is that once you have your geography set, where towns, rivers and road go make more sense. I've blogged about the 'Potamus Bay area before, but didn't realize how much was missing from the region. I detailed just a handful of settlements, but I envisioned an area that was both old and wild. That means more, but smaller settlements. The map now displays six settlements around the lake. A navigable river cause most people to refer to the lake as a bay, it actually is a lake next to a bay. 

The southern most ruins is actually a double ruin. There was massive wooden manor house that had been burned to the ground, but a smaller stone folly remains largely intact. It has been settled by kobolds. They call themselves Tribe of Minwan after their king. Thirty-six miles to the west is the largest settlement in the area ruled by a Gerent. The area is nominally controlled by the Empire, but due to the lack of luxury, the local ruler is permitted to rule as he see's fit. Along the western edge of the lake are two manors, one which supports a town and the other which is a fortified house. On the eastern side, the north-most habitation is a small village which has sprung up around a miller and blacksmith family. The tiny house on the southeast of the lake is an ancient fortified house made of stone. It is tiny but well populated. 




All this information basically wrote it's self as I used the software to make improvements to ideas I had kicking around in my head.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Handy Post - Handling Hands

Ah, we all have that player that wants grab an advantage. The easiest advantage to seize upon is being ambidextrous. Two hands, two attacks. Right?

Well... by the rules, sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Ok, let's look at a scenario where someone actually needs both hands. A boxer. This is the default ruling that opens up the whole "left hand AND right hand as an advantage" line of thought. It is pretty natural to swing one hand then the other. It's like walking or breathing. My house rule is that left and right punches or kicks have no bearing on the game. There is no penalty if someone kicks left and punches right, even in the same round. The motion lends itself to the practice.

What about a sword fighter? Well, to be honest, fighting men probably bust their wrists a lot, so it would not be implausible for them to train as if ambidextrous. Archers train heavily and off hand shooting would be something they would explore as a gimmick or challenge. Wizards and clerics casting spells probably causes them to do the same.

So, most of your characters should be ambidextrous... to an extent. It might be plausible for a wizard to write with either hand because all of their magic is focused on hand movements, but a fighter isn't going be especially noted for writing, period. Fighting, the focus of most games, should not incur a penalty for using the off hand. Hockey players, baseball players and other athletes typically have the ability to use their off hand, sometimes even with the wrong type of tool because they are professionals. And all RPG characters are professionals, so the logic neatly follows.

However, using your off hand for other, uncommon tasks should incur a -2 penalty. Say, painting a picture with the off hand, especially when your character isn't a professional artist.

What the players are really asking for is a second attack because the character has two hands. The rules are punishing, a significant penalty because this is a gimmicky move. And unfortunately, these rules get abused by both players and DMs. When should it apply?

When the player is demanding a cheap and easy advantage for goofy reasons the negatives should apply.

History is full of cases where people walk into combat with two weapons. The player abuses this fact. A soldier with a sword and dagger will likely use one item to parry and one item to attack, which one depends on the circumstances. And it's fluid, they switch back and forth. For example, a swordsman may make an obvious "attack" with the sword only to swing the dagger in because the sword was blocked. That is one attack, the sword wasn't really swung with the intent to hit, merely to tie up the opponent's attention and weapon. The DM should be aware that this was relatively common, so she or he shouldn't want to invoke this penalty at this time.

How do you simulate this?

Option one: Average weapon damage. If a character has two daggers, then they do (1d4+1d4)/2. If they have a long sword and dagger, they do (1d4+1d8)/2. At first glance this looks odd. How can a dagger do 5 points of damage? We have two weapons and there is a small chance that both land hits, but one of them was far less effective than the other because it wasn't swung with intent. To this end, if a 20 is rolled, both weapons have hit but instead of double damage, the player merely rolls damage once for each weapon and adds them together. It could be great or could be poor.

Option two: Have the player declare which is the parry weapon, forcing them to roll for damage with the other weapon. In this case, the player has the option of either weapon and is technically declaring which hand they are using without saying so much. Damage rolls for a 20 are back to the normal double. Technically, they are handling two weapons, but don't have a chance with one of them. 

If they player insists they can swing both weapons at the same time, this is when you start piling on the off hand penalties. They aren't entitled to two attacks because they aren't skilled enough. So add those penalties up.

Now, what happens if the character IS entitled to two or more attacks? Nothing in the rules says that the player can't swing one mace 3 times in a round, nor does it say they can't kick someone as an attack in lieu of swinging the mace. Let them do it. Options one and two can be combined with this, if the character is so armed.

How do you handle two weapon attacks in your campaign? Let me know in the comments.

52 Weeks of Magic - 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

This weeks foray into magic is both a thing and a process.

The Shape of Memory is a ritual used by spell casters to better focus themselves to learn. The ritual invariably creates a small token of magic, "The Shape" but the actual item created is highly personal. This object, when consumed allows a spell caster to recast an orison, cantrip or first level spell as if it was on their memorized list of spells. It can be used immediately or saved for later. The spell must be currently on their list of known and memorized spells. The creation of the item does not cause the caster to lose the spell from their memory. The spell cannot be transferred from a scroll or book to "The Shape", it must be current in their mind.

Consumption is a qualified statement, the object may be eaten, drunk, burned, crushed, etc. The actual appearance of the object can be anything but tends towards care-free or whimsical items. Origami birds, a strange pattern inked on paper, a tint loaf of bread or muffin, a candy, a shaped wax candle, a tincture of herbs to drink, etc. In fact, the item produced will be as far away from the actual effect of the spell as possible, as if the caster was doodling mindlessly during the creation process.

The creation process usually takes all day as the magician makes choices about creation, but is not an all day process. The item has some worth, say a few coppers, but no one would call it art. The life time of such an object is usually 1 week unless special care is taken. Typically, the creator will have no more than 2 or three of these items available for use and sometimes the caster will use one to create a new one.

Any spell effect 1st level or under can put into the object, however most users will imbue the item with a knowledge based spell such a read magic or detect like spell. This is a practical consideration as usage requires an action which is best done while sitting or at least not looking at a target. The spells effect is immediate even if the consumption process takes longer. Usually such spells cannot be used in combat as the user is forced to make a non-combative action to activate it, but in rare instances it can be effective in combat. For example, throwing a paper token into a campfire can allow the user to immediately cast magic missile or light.

These items will NOT allow a different caster or non-spell caster to cast a spell but their use can cause confusion in this process. For example, a cleric who wishes to heal someone via this device may share a bite of a candy or loaf, but the target's action has nothing to do with the process. In fact, some people may find this action too weird to agree to, such as burning a token or eating a bit of candy. Only the caster's desire to do so is required.

This creation process is tied to the idea that there are many days where a caster will not utter a single prayer or spell and can save it for later.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - The Bands of Roland
Week 15 of 52 - The Shape of Memory

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

World Building Vignette #4 - Peninsula of Plenty - New Races

Two weeks ago, I featured a magic weapon called the Rattlebone, a gnollish mace. In the Peninsula of Plenty campaign, there are actually 5 kinds of Hyaenidae. From largest to smallest, they are:
Spotted
Striped
Brown
Aardwolf
and Flind.

There are also Wild Gnolls, who have a copper age culture but otherwise are identical to one of the other four basic kinds. They are viewed with disdain by the civilized gnolls, except Flinds who find them useful. In this campaign, the Flind appears to be an admixture of Aardwolves and one other kind of Hyaenidae.

The Aardwolf is the most civilized of the bunch. They are fixated on food and language of all kinds and tend to be good cooks. In the wilds, they can eat anything but prefer insects. They can be value guides to players.

The Flinds tend to be leader types found in tribes of Spotted, Striped and Brown Hyaenidae or informally, gnolls. Striped gnolls have an affinity for grey wolves which will act as pack mates sometimes. Brown gnolls have a special talent for confusing or driving off Spotted gnolls, which they intensely dislike. Brown gnolls are wary of dogs and Striped gnolls have a shared animosity with foxes of all kinds. Aardwolves live in tiny, family sized pack-clans unlike the others. They rarely mix with Flinds but sometimes will care for an elderly one.

All gnolls believe their own creation myth, which revolves around the sacrifices of two heroic humans and two hyenas which fused them into a single creature in order to survive the ordeals. They believe that it is their destiny to reforge the pack-clan and return to a state of bliss as human and hyenas, again.

Many human and demi-humans doubt this creation myth and instead choose to believe that gnolls were created by a mad worshipper of Yeenoghu. Gnomes and trolls are the exception, they believe in the gnoll creation myth whole-heartedly. Kobolds find this story horrifying and tend to believe the pack-clan myth.

Female gnolls are dominant in the pack-clans. Some of them are given special titles at birth: "Clan Heart" or the more unusually "Heart of Hearts". This second term would be better translated as "King of Kings" or as the gnolls see it, "Queen of Queens". Male pack-clan members may be granted the title "Revered" for special service to the pack. Gnolls do not understand the human title "King of Kings" and would not give an impossible title to a mere male. Male gnolls do not have any concept of siring pups and are called "mate" by the non-dominate female pack-clan members, as in "clanmate" or "packmate". Fighting males receive the first title, while wily and intelligent males receive the second.

World Building Vignette #3 - Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table

The Peninsula of Plenty is different than most settings. Humans and elves are competing cultures on the Peninsula. The elves are the most powerful colonizers on the continent. They came from over the sea and the human Empire views them as hostile invaders. The elven Kingdom of Nace is vastly outnumbered by humans but is much more powerful than humans as they embrace magic readily.

There is a pecking order to the races, based on their order of arrival on the Peninsula. When humans arrived, gnomes were already well established. The oldest gnomish texts declare that kobolds were actually the first race on the continent, but only recently developed any meaningful culture. Dwarven myths tell of a great migration to the largest mountain on continent and merely note that the kobolds and gnomes were ever present. It is unclear if this was by land or sea, or entirely underground. Half-Orcs arrived just after the humans via a shipwreck, while half-elves appear to have suffered the same fate. Both races have never had a great population and rely on both the elves and dwarves to survive. The last two arrivals were the halflings and gnolls, who are fleeing a great war to the north.

The cause of the war between the humans and elves was slavery. The outcome of that war was that humans will not enslave non-humans... or else. This war occurred 2 centuries in the past and accidentally saved the Empire from economic disaster. What is left of the Empire is struggling to reclaim land depopulated in the war and resist invaders from the north while trying to juggle a rising abolitionist movement. Humans who live in rural areas tend to be very relaxed about other races and sometimes will cede nominal control to invaders rather than resist. There are exceptions, but rural people are pragmatists.

The last two invasions were the halflings and gnolls. Humans view them as a nasty barbarians, if not animals. Since the war with the elves, humans have no intention of taking prisoners or slaves from the halfling or gnollish peoples. This attitude has the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms readying for war.

Three races are very special on the continent: half-elves, half-orcs and kobolds.

The half-orcs are insular when it comes to breeding and only marry their own kind. However, they are claimed as citizens of both the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms, as their past actions have saved both from conflict and disaster. They are considered keepers of the peace, justices or knights to each kingdom.

The elves believe that the half-elves might not be half-breds at all, only shipwrecked people who went native. Humans hate half-elves as they believe the mixing of races is deeply unnatural.

Kobolds are special because it seems they come in two kinds, the civilized race and the terrifying stuff of nightmares. Humans have a mythos of small house spirits like the Kobolds and the idea that they could turn evil on them is repugnant. The civilized race has adopted some strange characteristics from humanity. They behave as stylized humans, living in tiny villages and worshiping equines of all kinds. They have a deep misunderstanding of the Empire's equestrian class of citizens. They literally believe that these people are some sort of were-equine and not merely someone who can provide a horse in defense of the Empire. Their odd behaviors and the fact that they are emulating humans vexes others. They tend to view all other races rather positively in the hopes of gaining trade partners. They are someone bothered by the fact that gnolls prey on both kobolds and more importantly, horses. Kobolds have a special love of halflings and their ponies, while halflings view them as savages who might eat the baby or the family dog.

Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table
Race Dwarves Elves Gnomes Gnolls Half-Elves Halfling Half-Orc Human Kobold
Dwarves Preferred Neutral Neutral Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Hatred Hatred
Elves Neutral Preferred Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Apathy Apathy
Gnomes Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Preferred Preferred Goodwill
Gnolls Apathy Apathy Tolerated Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Tolerated Goodwill
Half-Elves Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Apathy
Halfling Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Hatred Apathy
Half-Orc Hatred Preferred Goodwill Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Neutral Apathy
Human Apathy Hatred Goodwill Apathy Hatred Neutral Neutral Preferred Apathy
Kobold Tolerated Tolerated Goodwill Neutral Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Preferred Tolerated

Sunday, March 31, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 14 of 52 - Bands of Roland

Band of Roland
Price: 30,000 gp
Body Slot: None
Caster Level: 18
Aura: Incredible conjuration
Activation: None
Weight: 1 lbs
The Band of Roland is a strange magic device. The device comes in a leather bag about 18” around and 2” thick. Within the bag is a twisted band of white metal inscribed with the word “Roland”. The band is twisted in such a way that it forms three loops within the bag. When the loops are uncoiled, the band expands to 4 feet and is a permanent gate to a location underground. One side of the band is an entrance to the room underground while the back side turns opaque and impenetrable. The space is clearly carved into the bedrock somewhere on the prime material plane and has a source of clean air. It is 4 feet tall and wide and 12 feet deep.
The interior of the room is heavily warded against magic, especially scrying, so items placed within the room cannot be found by magical means, except when the band is uncoiled.
It is completely safe to enter the space so long as one does not manipulate the ring at the same time. If the band is placed face down the floor or recoiled, characters will be trapped inside the room until someone picks up the band. They will also notice that the opening will pull objects and people “down”, but only if in contact with that surface. If the band is coiled, the opening vanishes, as does all light inside the hole. The most dangerous mistake to make is to enter the room and pull the band in after one’s self. The white band only shows the interior of the room, so if the band is placed in the room no escape is possible without other magic.
If escape is necessary, please see the History section for the possibility of rescue. Escape is possible with any sort of magic similar to teleportation.
Uncoiling the band is a free action as it is spring loaded, closing it takes an action and placing it the bag is a full round action. The band seems to fight being put in the bag. When uncoiled, the band can be used two handed as a makeshift tower shield.
Characters who attempt to use knowledge skill checks or spells to identify the purpose of the band will only discover/remember that Roland was a tyrant who passed away about 50 years ago. No one misses him at all.
Incredible conjuration; CL 17; Craft Wondrous Item, gate, see History and Creation sections for other limitations on creation. Price: 30,000 gps, weight 1 lbs.
The History of Roland and his band:
Tyrant Roland had many sets of bands created. The white band is a “sending band”. These were distributed to his underlings as a means of paying tribute. The underling would place treasure within the space and Roland would collect it from time to time.
Roland installed a black “receiving band” mounted in the wall of his treasury, facing a hole dug into the wall. Black bands are not coil-able like the white bands and are always "open". At predetermined times, Roland’s men would remove the black band from the wall to collect tribute sent via the white band. At first, the black bands were placed on the floor, face down, to prevent his underlings from seeing who retrieved the treasure. Anyone who attempts to step though the band in this position will become “pinned” to the floor by gravity that is inconsistent with his or her local gravity. This is easy to escape by rolling along the surface and would only be harmful if someone ran or charged into it without looking. It is pretty obvious from looking at the opening in the white side band that there is a surface in the way. Probing or touching a surface in this fashion is possible and not remotely dangerous. 
A prince staged a coup by outfitting a squad of crossbow men inside the room to kill whoever took the treasure. This failed and Roland retaliated by having deep shaft dung into the floor of his vault. The black band was placed over the mouth of this shaft as a surprise for anyone attempted to enter the room before or after tribute times. 
Roland’s son was far less bloodthirsty than his father was and after disposing of Roland in the very trap he made, he ignored the bands for many years. On rare occasions, his men rescued people trapped within the rings. The new king used information from the trapped to collect information rather than tribute from his father’s former underlings.
The name of Roland’s son is lost to history, but his child, Roland the Reformer is well known. The Reformer has no interest in taking tribute using the bands, but is somewhat voyeuristic in his use of them. He had his father buried in the hole in the floor of the vault, and there is a large gold and wooden throne upon it, holding the unnamed king's crown as a tribute to family. (The Reformer is unwilling to wear a crown.) The royal vault holds the bodies of two kinds now and Roland the Reformer is known to visit the vault to think. It is more of an office than a tomb or vault.

The Reformer is known for collecting coins and will “steal” from the band vault to add to his personal collection of coins. The Reformer will also rummage through possessions found room, in an effort to discover the whereabouts of the owners. He is more interested in single coins that are rare than coins in quantity. He will read journals, diaries and maps, but always returns them.

He attempts to locate the users using his own knowledge of geography. If he locates someone in harm's way, he will leave trinkets in with their possessions. Such items are under a 100 gps in value and often of dubious usefulness. Bottles of liquor and wine, and sometimes other small tokens of esteem. In the rare instance that two groups are using the space, he will draw a line between each users items and a series of glyphs. The glyphs usually translate to something indicative but odd such as: "Seaside Man" or "Desert Drifters". The users will be baffled by the King's division of property.

In this endeavor, he removes the black ring from the wall and turns it around so he will not become trapped inside or ambushed. The effect of this is, characters have a 1% chance per use of seeing the interior of Roland the Reformer’s vault. Invariably, Roland’s treasure is always bigger and more interesting than the characters treasure. The throne and crown are obviously burial markers and is often easily seen through the white ring. 
On Creation

If a player character attempts to create a Band of Roland and is unaware of the black band, he or she will be tapping into Roland’s collection of black bands and the item will work as described above. If the character is aware of the system, they can create their own pairs of bands for twice the cost. Once created, a pair of bands will link together permanently. Characters will be able to select the destination by the placement of black bands. Remember, the black bands cannot be coiled and when not in use they are an opaque barrier.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone
Week 14 of 52 - Bands of Roland

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 13 of 52 - Gnollish Rattlebone

The Gnollish Rattlebone is a +1 neolithic, magical mace. Constructed of wood, bone and slate, the Rattlebone makes an unnerving clattering sound when swung, as if the whole thing will come apart. Much of the magic in this mace is needed to merely hold the thing together. It weighs 10 to 15 lbs. and most non-gnoll characters will need to swing it 2 handed. It does 1d8+1 damage.

The item has additional properties. In the hands of anyone, swinging or shaking the mace will remove the fear caused by undead in a radius of 25". If held by a cleric, it improves their ability to turn undead by one level. In the hands of a gnoll, it will turn undead as if the wielder was a 3rd level cleric.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna
Week 12 of 52 - The Obice Cardeam
Week 13 of 52 - The Gnollish Rattlebone

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another and Gnolls might be the subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 
Title: Crash on Volturnus
Code: SF-0
Author: Mark Acres, Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles
Rule Set: Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn
Year: 1982
Pages: 30
Number of characters: 4-8
Levels: 1
Rating: ★★★★★

Crash on Volturnus is one of my favorite modules. The player start of as passengers on the Sierra Dawn, where they first encounter trouble en route to Volturnus. After an epic battle and escape, players move on to phase two, an incredible hex crawl on the planet of Volturnus culminating in a final(?) battle with the pirate forces on the planet. Aided by the local inhabitants of the planet, surely the players will win the day.

This module was released with the Alpha Dawn rules set and to my knowledge, was not released independently of that set. I received my set of Alpha Dawn rules peice meal and ended up with two copies of the module. The whole boxed set includes giant maps and wonderful counters, which makes SF-0 a snap to play.

Crash on Volturnus is the first module in the series and was followed up by SF-1 and SF-2. The other SF series modules are unrelated, but are valuable as they are set up for characters to continue their adventures in new settings. The series was also brought back to life by the Endless Quest book Villains of Volturnus in 1983. It was published in relatively short time frame making the series rock solid in game play and feel.

Having played SF-0 several times, there are few game breakers built in to the scenario. First, when the escape pod crashes, the characters only have time to get the survival packs. Several of my players started out with standard equipment packs and used the coveralls as a makeshift backpack tied across their chests before seating themselves. Since the equipment was attached to them, I couldn't justify taking it. The players also started with 4 medical kits, which made them neigh unstoppable in combat. They kept pulling back to heal. Of course, these were the same players who tied their equipment to their chests. I kept running them against random encounters to try to eat up resources, but that was unfulfilling. Eventually, I figured I'd let them run in god-mode and kill everything and everyone. Many of the challenges they faced were thinking scenarios and not fighting scenarios, so it really didn't change the outcome. 

All and all, I found this one module to be the best of the best for Star Frontiers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The whole shebang is available over on DriveThruRPG.

Alpha Dawn with SF-0
SF-1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery
and SF-2 Starspawn of Volturnus

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners Update

Updated an image or two.

I have uploaded a new version of Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners which includes more than 50 character professions. The update addresses some issues with the text, many typos and some minor changes to mechanics.

Now included with the download is a very old school character sheet. The sheet is two sided has 8 blocks for character information. The first four blocks are the familiar entries and the back page contains 4 blank lined blocks for notes.


The attribute block has a handy way of recording unavergaed die rolls in each corners of each stat.

Additionally, the sheet is plain black and white to allow for sketches and coloring right on the page. My suggestion is to attack these white spaces with a highlighter so you can quickly determine which character is which.

If you have already download this item, simply check your email for the update or log into RPG Now or DriveThru RPG and click the library tab to get the update.

Thank you again for downloading my book.