Tuesday, August 1, 2017

We Reap What We Sow

Please bear with me as I digress from the normal RPG content that graces this blog, in favor of a post that I just felt like I needed to write.

Let me go back a few years to a time when, as a freelance designer, I spent a good portion of my day working consistently with my laptop at a specific Starbucks location. When you spend that much time at a specific Starbucks, you get to know the other regulars pretty well. Among the folks I met there were a pair of brothers, both in their 60s. One brother owned some oil properties that provided some ongoing (albeit minor) income, as well as bought/refurbished/sold old Martin guitars and old Mercedes diesels. The other brother was a little older, not in great health, smoked pretty heavily, and was generally supported by his younger brother.

I knew these two moderately well (I knew the older one much better), but they were really just very familiar acquaintances, not really friends. Apart from Starbucks coffee and sandwiches, we never shared a meal or had a drink together. We only ever saw each other at the coffee shop.

The older brother died suddenly, and the younger brother was in need of some financial assistance to cover the unexpected costs of his brother's burial (there was no funeral proper). He had reached out to me (and I assume several others) to lend him a couple of hundred dollars, which grew to $500 by the time he had finished explaining his situation. He gave me a post-dated check in return. He told me that he would have oil revenues at the first of the month and would be able to cash the check then. I had a little money to spare (very little at the time), and I really didn't know the younger brother all that well, but I really liked the older brother and wanted to make sure that his burial arrangements happened. So I wrote the check.

I went to his bank just a few days after the 1st to try to cash the check, but there were no funds. As I understood it, the account was set up specifically to receive the oil income, then divert to his normal account, so I'm sure all the funds (that may have been there) were already diverted to another account.

The following month, I kept my regular Starbucks schedule, and for as regular as he had been, I didn't see him at all. So I tried again to cash the check the following month. Again, insufficient funds.

The one thing I cannot explain to you is how angry I got. I left messages on his voice mail--they went unreturned. I left angrier messages, again unreturned. I seethed. I felt genuinely toxic with hate--absolute hate. I shared my story with others and it just filled me with more hatred. I have never in my life felt that kind of disdain for a human being... and I did not like it. I did not like what it was doing to me. I did not like the way it made me feel.

I realized that my feelings weren't doing anything to make the situation better, so I decided I had to let it go.

I'm not saying what he did wasn't shitty... and that at least a phone call to explain would have been nice... but I also realized that what I was doing wasn't making anything better, and it was only breeding more contempt in the world. And we all know that's one thing the world just doesn't need right now.

I cannot explain to you how good it felt it to just be done with the toxicity I was creating. It was me who sowed the anger. It was me who sowed the hatred. It was me that sowed the ground that made me feel progressively shittier and shittier.

I did try one more time to cash the check (literally on the last day the check was going to be good, per its date). Miraculously, it cleared, and the teller gave me $500 in cash. In return, you're probably not going to believe this, but it's absolutely true... I only kept $300 and put the other $200 back into his account. I was trying to put myself in his place... I wasn't sure what he needed, but the $300 was all I needed. Besides, $200 is how much I would have been happy to donate for the older brother's burial (without return) if the younger brother had asked for such a contribution in the first place. I also thought of the $200 as penance for my deadly sin of wrath.

Since I let that contempt go, I have never again been perturbed even in the slightest by the story, even as I recount it now.

Yes, there are shitty people in this world, who do shitty things. But if we're shitty in return, how does that help?

My wife used to teach middle school religion at a Catholic school, and above the door insider her room, so that the kids could see it when they exited the room and went into the world, there was a sign that read, "Who does it serve when I ______?"

Before you throw your contempt and disdain out into the world for people to commiserate with, ask yourself, "Who does it serve when I ______?" And, then, if the answer is "my own hatred or ego," maybe there's a better way to frame it.

What do you think would have happened if I reached out to the younger brother on one of those voice messages and instead said, "Hey, man, I know that it's probably still a tough time, and there's no pressure on my end, but I thought it my be good if we could touch base so we know things are all still good."

Unfortunately, I'll never know because it was too late to unsow the contempt I'd already sown.

To this day, I have not seen the younger brother again.

Friday, July 7, 2017

d30 Feature of the Week: d30 Mummy Variations

Last week, the d30 Ghoul/Ghast Generator was the winner of the "Which Undead d30 Chart Do You Want to See" vote by a slim (single, tie-breaking vote) margin, with 2nd place as a tie between mummies and spectres... so mummies it is!

Click here (or on the image below) to download
a free PDF of d30 Mummy Variations PDF from MediaFire.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Some Collected New Magic Items

Those who are circled in with me on G+ know that, for a few weeks I have been posting a new magic item every day to my "New Magic Items" collection. At some point (several months to a year from now) I plan to collect them and publish them. However, every once in a while I will collect the recent creations and post them here (at the blog). So to get you caught up, here they are in reverse chronological order (most recent first).



Spectral Tonic

This potion is usable by anyone.

Upon imbibing this potion, the drinker's visage changes to appear as if they'd become a spectre. This is an illusion that cannot be disbelieved by others. The imbiber does not become incorporeal, and retains their normal abilities.

Anyone taking a sip of this potion when finding it to determine its nature has a 50% chance of mistaking it for spectral brew.



Spectral Brew

This potion is usable by anyone.

Upon imbibing this potion, the drinker becomes incorporeal and appears as if they were a spectre. In this form, a +1 or better weapon is required to hit the character, the character can move through non-magical objects and fly at the same movement rate as a spectre, and the character is able to surprise on a 1 to 4 (on 1d6); otherwise, the character retains their normal abilities. 



Ghostly Accord

This item may only be used by those characters permitted the same items as magic-users.

This piece of parchment appears as a contract between two unspecified parties. When read aloud, and as the two parties to the contract the caster uses his or her name and the name of a nearby undead spirit (e.g., a specific ghost, spectre, or poltergeist; within a 120' range of the caster), a truce is forged between the caster and the undead spirit. As long as the caster or the caster's associates do not harm the spirit, the spirit is bound to not harm them. The spirit is not, however, prohibited from being a nuisance or making it more difficult for the caster and the caster's associates to achieve a goal.



Club of Cruelty

This magical weapon is not allowed to characters that are forbidden the use of bladed weapons.

This club, carved from dark ebony wood, features a surface so highly polished, it almost appears as if lacquered. It strikes normally as a +1 weapon, doing 1d4+1 on a successful hit. However, on a natural "to hit" roll of "20," metal spikes magically protrude from the club, doing an additional 1d4 damage before retracting back into the club.



Hydra's Arrow

This item is usable by any character permitted to use a bow as s weapon.

The shaft of this delicately crafted arrow appears to be composed of several smaller intertwined strands of young (green) wood. When fired, the arrow "splits" into multiple (1d4+1) +1 arrows directed at a (single) target creature. A separate "to hit" roll is required for each arrow, but each successful strike lands for 1d6+1 damage. If fired into melee, arrows that miss have a chance of striking creatures engaged with the original target. Recovery of the resulting +1 arrows (after combat) is at the DM's discretion. Once the arrows have split, they cannot be recombined.



Climber's Armor

This item may be worn by any character normally permitted to wear leather armor. However, it provides additional boons to those with thieving abilities.

This stone-gray suit of leather armor features a rope-like motif at its edges. For characters with the ability to Climb Sheer Surfaces (like thieves), it provides a 2 level bonus to such attempts; for all others, it provides the ability to Climb Sheer Surfaces as a 2nd level thief. Additionally, it provides those with the ability to hide in shadows a natural chameleon-like camouflage while climbing, enabling them to be "hidden" while climbing (made as a standard Hide in Shadows check). 



Shadow Shield

This item may be used by any character permitted to use a shield.

This rectangular shield of dark iron is incredibly light and easily handled, despite it's rather bulky appearance. Its face features a vertically-elongated diamond overlaid through its middle with two interlocking rings (the triangle represents shadow and the circles represent light and dark—shadow being the place where light and dark meet).

The bearer of this shield becomes naturally cloaked in shadow, benefiting from a –2 Armor Class bonus in all indoor and underground situations. (The benefit does not apply in full daylight or outdoors).

Additionally, the bearer of the shield may shadow walk at will, stepping into a shadow and traveling through the Shadow Plane to another shadow within a 60' range.

Finally, if standing still and concentrating, the bearer of the shield may create a 30' radius of magical shadow, with all “to hit” rolls in the affected area suffering a –3 penalty. 



Prismatic Necklace

This item is usable only by magic-users and those with access to illusionary magic (e.g., gnomes with illusory magic).

This 10" silver chain features seven glass beads, each approximately ¼" in diameter and differently colored (from left-to-right in the following order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

Each bead may be used up to five times per day. If used individually, they may be "simultaneously used multiple times" (e.g., the 1d6 damage caused by the red bead may be stacked with another use of the red bed for a total of 2d6 damage). Beads of different colors may be used in combination, but in such cases the effects of a single bead color may not be stacked (e.g., if using the red and green beads in combination, only a single use of each of those beads is permitted at the same time). The range of any effect is 60', and the effects of each bead are outlined below:

Red: The target takes 1d6 fire damage on a failed save vs. spells, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Orange: The target takes 1d6 acid damage on a failed save vs. spells, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Yellow: The target takes 1d6 lightning damage on a failed save vs. spells, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Green: The target takes 1d6 poison damage on a failed save vs. spells, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Blue: The target takes 1d6 cold damage on a failed save vs. spells, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Indigo: On a failed save vs. spells, the target is confused (as the spell) for 1d6 rounds. A successful save negates the effect.

Violet: On a failed save vs. spells, the target is stunned for 1d6 rounds. A successful save negates the effect.

If all 7 colors are used at the same time, the target is automatically blinded for 1d4 rounds.



Medicine Spoon

This item is usable only by clerical spellcasters of lawful or neutral alignment (non-evil), but any class or creature may benefit from its curing properties.

When this decorative gold spoon is filled with purified water and prayed over by a clerical spellcaster for 1 uninterrupted turn, the water becomes a dose of a potion that will cure disease (as the spell). This ability of the spoon is usable 3×/day.

Holy water will not be transformed, nor will water that has not been purified.



Wand of Spell Stealing

This item may only be used by characters able to use those items as magic-users.

This item is carved from ebony, with a core of red dragon bone.

It works similarly to a ring of spell storing (storing a limited total number of spell levels), but gains spells by stealing them from an arcane caster within a 120' range. As a spellcasting action, the wielder need simply point the wand at a target and speak the trigger word, and the wand will absorb a randomly-selected spell of the highest level storable in the wand, remove it from the target's memorized spells for the day, and store it in the wand. If a spell of that level is not available, the wand will randomly steal a spell from the next level down. If no spell is available small enough to fit in the wand, the attempt fails automatically. The target is permitted a saving throw vs. spells to avoid having a spell stolen.

To determine what spells have been stored in the wand requires 1 round of concentration while holding the wand. A spellcaster of any level may use any spell stored in the wand, regardless of the stored spell's level.

Casters are permitted to steal spells from themselves or others who are willing (no saving throw required) in order to store spells for future use.



Ringwood Rings

Ringwood rings are normally usable only by clerics or druids. Some rings may be usable by other classes at the DM’s discretion.

These signet style rings are carved from the center core of a young tree, and the flat surface of each ring’s face features the innermost concentric circles of the tree’s trunk. The properties of each ring depend on the type of wood from which the ring is carved, as outlined below:

Alder: +1 to Charisma; +1 on saves vs. fear and psionic domination

Apple: +2 on reaction rolls

Ash: +1 to Intelligence; +1 to Wisdom; read languages 3×/day; cure disease 1×/week

Basswood: +1 Charisma; charm person 3×/week

Beech: commune 1×/week; heals 1d3 hp per day

Birch: dispel evil 1×/day; slows aging by 25%

Cedar: dispel evil 1×/week; protection from evil (personal) 1×/day; protection from evil 10' radius 1×/week

Cherry: intuition (–1 AC and +1 “to hit” bonuses); doubles the range of all detection spells; speak with animal 1×/day

Elder: protection from evil (personal; always in effect); banishment 1×/day; +1 on all saves vs. magic; heals 1d4 hp per day

Elm: half the normal rest time required after moving/traveling; all opponents save vs. magical effects with a –1 penalty

Hawthorn: +1 to all psionic saving throws; +1 to saves vs. fear; banishment 1×/day

Hazel: locate object 1×/day; polymorph self 1×/day; polymorph other 3×/week

Honey Locust: immunity to non-magical diseases; cure disease 1×/day; +2 reaction bonus when dealing with opposite sex

Ivy: +1 to Strength; –3 AC vs. elementals

Lilac: phantasmal force 1×/day; automatically disbelieve illusions

Maple: heals 1d6+1 hp per day; telepathy (at will) to 120' range

Oak: heals 1d6+1 hp per day; surprised only on a 1 (on 1d6); find secret doors on a 1-3 (on 1d6)

Poplar: +1 to all save vs. magic; opponents save vs. magical effects with a –1 penalty; as ring of spell storing (stores up to 10 spell levels)

Walnut: teleportation 1×/day; commune 1×/week

WIllow: cure disease 1×/day; resurrects as 2 levels higher



Mystic's Mala

This item is usable only by psionic characters.

A mystic's mala is a string of 108 wooden prayer beads tipped with a tassel. The item is designed for chanting or mentally repeating a mantra 108 times. By spending 3 turns (30 minutes) meditating and repeating a mantra 108 times, the character recovers 1 PSP per psionic level, up to the character's maximum. This meditational time is outside of the character's normal meditation (after a full night's rest to restore PSPs). The beads are usable only once per day; once any character has used them for the day, they cannot be used again by anyone until the following day.



Morphstriker

This item is usable by any character class, as long as it is in a form allowed to that character class. For example, a cleric may hold it while it is in the form of the dagger, but may not use it. The cleric may then wish for it to transform into a mace, and use it once it does.

This +1 weapon appears as a finely crafted, but relatively unadorned specimen of any basic/standard handheld melee weapon type. The wielder simply need hold the item and wish for a different weapon, and it will instantaneously transform into that form. It may become as small as a dagger or as large as a pole arm, and may take the form of a slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning weapon.



Fiendish Mantle

Alignment and class restrictions for use of this item are at the discretion of the DM.

This hooded overgarment is sewn from deep red velvet and often crackles with static electricity (a byproduct of the magic coursing within it).

The mantle provides the same resistances and immunities normally possessed by an abyssal demon: half damage from cold, fire, electricity, and gas; no damage from magical energy (e.g. magic missile), poison, or silver; and a +1 or greater weapon is required to hit the wearer.

When the wearer pulls the hood over their head, they polymorph to assume a fiendish appearance (of their choosing at the time the hood is drawn) of approximately the same size and form (e.g., a bipedal humanoid approximately 5'10" tall would appear as a bipedal fiend approximately 5'10" tall). If the wearer chooses to take on a particularly horrifying appearance, all living creatures in a 10' radius must save vs. spells or flee in fear for 2 turns. The wearer may change back to their normal form by pulling the hood down. The wearer cannot change appearance while the hood is up, and must pull the hood down then back up to take on a different fiendish appearance. The fiendish appearance does not grant any special abilities or change attributes or abilities possessed by the wearer (e.g., the fiendish appearance may have wings, but no ability to fly is granted). True seeing (or similar) will reveal the true nature of the wearer.



Fiery Chakram

This item may not be used by those prohibited from using bladed weapons.

This ranged weapon (25'/50'/75') is a flat O-shaped ring of metal with a sharpened outer edge. It measures approximately 10" in diameter with a 7" diameter hole through the middle, and a flame motif inscribed along its surface. On a successful "to hit" roll, it does 1d6 damage, plus the target must save vs. spell or take an additional 1d6 fire damage. The weapon returns to the thrower at the end of the phase.



Periapt of Ethereal Sight

Any character of any class or alignment may use this item.

This platinum amulet features a downward-pointing triangle set in a circle and strung from a thin platinum cord. It provides the wearer sight into the Ethereal Plane from any coexisting plane (e.g., the Material or Astral Planes) to a distance of 60'. If worn by a psionic creature, the range extends to 120'. If the psionic creature has attained access to the clairsentient ckakra, the range extends to 180'. This item does not provide any sort of access to the Ethereal Plane, or any ability to attack into it, or affect it or anything in it.



Stole of Radiance

This item is usable only by lawful clerics.

This band of pure white silk cloth measures 9' long and 4" wide, and its straight ends are capped with a tasseled fringes of gold silk. The long edges of the stole are embroidered with gold silk thread, and each end face prominently features an embroidered 8-spoked wheel symbol (for righteousness). The stole provides the following abilities:

The wearer benefits from a +1 bonus on all attacks and saving throws, and a -1 bonus to Armor Class.

The wearer gains a 1 level bonus on all attempts to turn undead. (Does not provide the ability to. turn undead, only an improvement for those who already possess it. Also, does not provide bonus on attempts to rebuke or command undead.)

The stole prevents 1 HD of level drain per day and provides and an additional +1 bonus (beyond that noted above) on saving throws to prevent level drain (where such a saving throw is permitted).

At will, the stole shines equal to the light of a torch. Turning the light off and on is a spellcasting action by the wearer, but does not limit or prohibit any movement, attacks, or similar physical actions normally allowed for the round.



Kadabra Cloak

This item may only be used by characters able to use those magic-items normally reserved for magic-users.

This simple piece of purple velvet cloth may be worn as a standard cloak. However, when placed over an inanimate object which it completely covers, the cloak's trigger word spoken, and the cloak pulled away, the object underneath the cloak will seemingly have disappeared. In truth, it is transported to a pocket universe. The object can be recalled by placing the cloak over an empty area, speaking the trigger word again, and pulling the cloak away to reveal the object returned from the pocket universe. Only one object may be "pocketed away" at a time. Otherwise, the cloak may be used as often as desired.



Resurrection Ankh

Any character of any class or alignment may use this item.

This item appears as a simple silver ankh about 3" tall, strung from a thin silver chain. This item normally provides the same benefits as a ring of protection +1. However, if a character dies while wearing this item, it has a chance of resurrecting that character. The base chance is 100% minus 5% per level/HD to a minimum of 1%. If successful, the character is resurrected (as a resurrection spell) a number of rounds later equal to their level/HD. Unclassed characters and those with fewer than 1 HD are considered 1st level/1 HD for the sake of the amulet's chances of success and number of rounds until resurrection. Once the ankh has successfully resurrected a character (regardless of HD/level), that benefit is considered expended and it becomes a simple ankh of protection +1.








Friday, June 30, 2017

d30 Feature of the Week: d30 Ghoul/Ghast Generator

I've been on a roll for new d30 charts since the recent NTRPGCon. Specifically, I've been doing a lot of undead related things, many of which are already in the can and ready to be posted over the coming weeks. Per a vote from G+ last night, today's post is the Ghoul/Ghast Generator (to be followed over the next two weeks by Mummy and Spectre variations).

Click here (or on the image below) to download
a free PDF of d30 Ghoul/Ghast Generator PDF from MediaFire.



Friday, June 23, 2017

d30 Feature of the Week: d30 Burial Urns

This is revised and updated version of a d30 table I created for my Sunday morning d30 game ("The Tomb of Trianta") at the recently-concluded NTRPGCon.

If we'd had more time (e.g., multiple sessions of dungeon crawling vs. a 5-hour convention game time block), and the party didn't have an aberrational eye beast closing in on them from the hallway outside the mausoleum, they would have had more time to go through the 1d30 urns in the room. Instead, they smashed them in waves, releasing and summoning multiple creatures at the same time.

Click here (or on the image below) to download
a free PDF of d30 Burial Urns PDF from MediaFire.


Monday, June 19, 2017

New B/X Extra-planar Creature: Jikibria

This is another of the creatures from my Fifty Fiends project.

JIKIBRIA (pron. ji-kib-BREE-uh)



ATTACKS/SPECIAL ABILITIES

Diseased Touch. Although a successful touch attack of a jikibria does no hp damage, there is a possibility it will cause as many as 6 diseases in a victim. The victim gets a saving throw vs. each effect, and contracts all those with failing rolls.
1. leprosy: lose 1d3 hp per day (from bleeding) and unable to heal naturally until cured

2. lycanthropy: as wererat

3. mummy rot: as a mummy

4. plague: loss of 1d3 points of Constitution and unable to get restful sleep (cannot recover lost hp or memorize spells) until cured

5. rabies: loss of 1 point of Intelligence per day until cured

6. tuberculosis: –2 on all attack rolls, +2 AC penalty, and exhaustion (cannot recover lost hp or memorize spells) until cured

Once a creature has been touched by a jikibria (whether it failed any of its saving throws or not), the creature is immune to the touch of all jikibriae for the remainder of the encounter. A single disease cannot be contracted multiple times (e.g., in future encounters with jikibriae before previously contracted diseases are healed). A single cure disease spell will remove all of the diseases. Once cured, lost ability points are regained at a rate of 1 point per day of full rest.

Cause Disease. In lieu of making its touch attacks, a jikibria may use the spell cause disease as a 6th level cleric. This ability is usable as many times per day as the jikibria wishes. Any creature that is currently afflicted by a jikibria’s tuberculosis is immune to this ability.

Disease Immunity. Jikibriae are immune to all disease, both of a standard and magical nature.

Disease Deflection.
In addition to being immune to disease, a jikibria deflects all instances when a disease might otherwise come in contact with it, shirking off the disease magically on a chosen target within a 120' range. This is done as a free action at the moment the jikibria and the disease (or disease effect) come into contact with one another. Targets of the deflection are permitted a save vs. breath to avoid the jikibria’s deflection. If the target fails, it is still permitted any saving throws normally allowed to avoid the original disease or disease effect.

Summon. Two times per day, a jikibria may summon 1-2 other jikibriae with a 30% chance of success.

DESCRIPTION/ECOLOGY

Appearance. A jikibria would measure nearly 7' tall, if it were able to stand upright. Instead, the gangly jikibria hobbles at a nearly unbelievable speed. The skin of the hairless jikibria is sickly gray mottled with putrid yellow, and the entire creature is surrounded by a sort of membrane sack that is a nearly-transluscent green. This sack is vestigial and self-healing, and while it provides some protection for the jikibria, it affects neither the jikibria’s Armor Class, nor attacks made against it.

Ecology. Jikibriae hail from the 149th layer of the Abyss—a feverish, diseased place where the air is thick and humid. This layer is known by two names—“Innapih” by those who know its ruling demon prince by the name “Asag,” and as “Ganzer” by those who know the ruling demon prince by the name “Nergal.”

Languages. Jikibriae speak abyssal, celestial, and common.

HOME: Innapih/Ganzer
(the 149th layer of the Abyss)
SERVES: Asag/Nergal (Demon Prince of Sickness)


ARMOR CLASS: 2
ARMOR CLASS: 4
HIT DICE: 6**
MOVE: 240'(80')
ATTACKS: 1 touch
DAMAGE: Disease
NO. APPEARING: 1-3 (1-6)
SAVE AS: Fighter:6
MORALE: 7
TREASURE TYPE: B
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic (CE)


RESISTANCE/IMMUNITIES
ACID: Normal
COLD: Half
ELECTRICITY: Half
FIRE: Half
GAS: Half
IRON: Normal
MAG. ENERGY: Normal
POISON: None
SILVER: None
REQ. “T.H.”: +1 or better


PSIONIC ABILITIES
PSIONIC LEVEL: 6 (30 PSPs)
Attack modes: all
Defense modes: all
Psychometabolic: all




Friday, June 16, 2017

d30 Feature of the Week: d30 Skeleton Variations

This is a d30 table I created for my Sunday morning d30 game ("The Tomb of Trianta") at the recently-concluded NTRPGCon.

When each wave of skeletons showed up with different runes on their chests, the party was having to constantly rethink their tactics. Also, because characters were created completely randomly at the beginning of the game, there ended up being no cleric in the party... which ventured into a tomb full of undead. That surely didn't help in what ended up as a TPK when the party faced the boss monster (a vampire and once-matriarch of the Trianta family).

Click here (or on the image below) to download
a free PDF of d30 Skeleton Variations PDF from MediaFire.