Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Microlite20: Henchmen and Hirelings

As I like to run my M20 games as old-school dungeon crawls, here's some old-school style rules for Hirelings.

A character may retain the services of a number of hirelings equal to his Charisma bonus. He may (at the GM's discretion) have more, but chances are they would need to pay over the odds for them (or treat them exceptionally well).

The stat-block are read as follows:
Stats - instead of full stats, I've listed the appropriate Stat Bonus - if there isn't one listed, the stat is considered to have a +0 bonus (i.e. completely average).
Skills - many people will not be as skilled as the PCs, and as such will normally only have one or two skill bonuses (the rest are considered +0, as with stats.)
HP and AC - as per usual.
Gear - anything they might bring with them into your employ. This can vary at the GM's discretion.
Cost - this represents who much money the Hireling will need to be paid per day to stay with you. If you do not pay them three days in a row, they will leave (and may try to take their money by force). They can also be paid on a monthly or weekly basis, normally with a small decrease to the total (so, a Torchbearer might accept 1sp per week, instead of the expected 14cp).

In the rare case that you are hiring non-human Hirelings (to keep the old-school feel, demihumans should normally be built as slightly weaker-than-average PCs), then use these profiles and add any racial bonuses to the stats and skills.

Your standard, run-of-the-mill peasant. Most are unskilled labourers or young teens, who will take the chance to earn a few extra coins (so long as the risks aren't too great). They might hold their own in a fist-fight, but most won't be too happy when the blades start being drawn. 
Skills - one at +1 (normally Physical, but others may vary)
HP - 4 AC - 10
Cost - 2cp/day

These are your "standard" labourers, guards, or thugs. Many are willing to wield a weapon, though few (if any) will fight to the death for you.
STR +1
Skills - Physical +1, 1 other at +1 (normally Subterfuge).
HP - 6 AC - 12
Gear - Either a short sword and shield or a polearm, leather armour.
Cost - 2sp/day

Should you find yourself unable to locate the services of a Ranger,perhaps the humble Woodsman may be of some use.While they will be fine wit loosing arrows from afar, some might balk at the idea of entering close combat.
DEX +1
Skills - Physical +1, Survival +2, Subterfuge +1
HP - 6 AC - 12
Gear - Longbow and arrows, twin hatchets, leather armour.
Cost - 4sp/day

This could represent the village medicine-man, or a trainee wizard (before gaining full 1st-level privileges). Or maybe even a clergyman of some God, or a cultist. Few are particularly capable in combat, though their knowledge of the arcane might come in useful (and, as magic items cost HP, PC Wizards may hire them to assist in their creation).
Skills - Knowledge +1, Communication +1
HP - 5 AC - 10
Spells Known - 0-level - Detect Magic, Mending, Prestidigitation, Dancing Lights, 1st-level - one spell from either the Wizard or Cleric spell list
Gear - Robes, various material components, spellbook
Cost - 5sp/spell required, or 1gp+5sp/days work.

The Sage is a learned character, a student of one of many different areas of expertise (or perhaps a more "jack-of-all-trades"). These character will not leave their studies to go and adventure, but can be hired to research particularly complicated problems for the players.
Skills - Knowledge +3
HP - 5 AC - 10

Cost - depends on the service required. Mostly 1gp/day, make the MIND+Knowledge roll against a DC, and the difference between the result and the DC is the number of days it takes to find the fact. If the roll is a success, then the fact is either instantly known,or found in a book in next to no time.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Microlite20: Fighter Specialist Advances

Each of these represents a Fighter with a narrower focus than usual - and I have more in the works!

The Myrmidon is a professional soldier. She is trained in small-unit tactics, the use of several weapons designed for the battlefield, and maintains an air of authority and professional stoicism at all times.

Fighter Specialist Advance

Phalanx Fighter - you gain +1 AC for each ally with a shield who stands beside you (max +2 AC).
Spear-Carrier - you gain +1 to-hit with javelin, polearms, and bows.
Skirmisher - you gain a bonus of 10ft to your Speed while wearing light or medium armour.
Professional - you gain a +2 bonus to your Communication skill when talking to those who respect martial prowess.
Hold The Line - you gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against Fear effects.

The Brawler, on the other hand, is a dirty Fighter - he uses his bare hands and any objects he can lay his hands on as weapons, and can roll with the punches better than most.

Fighter Specialist Advance

Meaty Fists - your Unarmed attack does 1d6 damage at 1st level, and increases by a dice size every 3 levels (so 1-2 1d6, 3-5 1d8, 6-8 1d10, 9-11 1d12, 12-14 2d6 etc).
Smash - a number of times per day equal to your Strength Bonus, you can add extra damage equal to your Physical skill to any successful melee attack.
Combat Pragmatist - you suffer no penalties for using Improvised Weapons.
Take a Punch - you gain DR1/4 levels vs Bludgeoning damage (so 1-3 DR1, 4-7 DR2, 8-11 DR3, etc).
Terrifying - you gain a +2 bonus to any rolls to Intimidate others.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Microlite20: Upcoming Advances

So, I'll list out what I'm currently working on (as I might have a few days of radio silence)...
  • Elite Advances for the Fighter: The Myrmidion (Shield + Spear specialist), The Bladesinger (Elf only), The Brawler (unarmed specialist).
  • Elite Advances for the Paladin: The Cavalier
  • Races: Kobolds, maybe Goliaths and Hobgoblins
I'm currently scouring some older books for inspiration - specifically, 2e's Complete series for Kits which might help expand certian classes.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

An Awesome Free Resource (That I Forgot About Until Now)

Wizards of The Coast has kept its D&D 3.5 Archive online, HERE. My personal favourite set of resources are the Art Galleries from the various books, showing a good sample of the artists who worked on the line.

There are also a huge selection of PC Portraits for your perusal, most of which make great NPCs, Hirelings, and inspiration as well.

Here's my favourites!


Clearly, this one comes from the "Let's Trace A Fashion Magazine" School.

This chick exudes a sense of confidence and kick-ass-ness that you just can't beat in a lady adventurer.

Eberron's Changelings were an interesting addition to a cool setting. The artwork simply made them all the more interesting to me.

This guy could be a villain, a hero, or just another town guard - the helm could go either way. Even better - he's a masked vigilante! The Helm could go either way...
This guy would make a great Warrior Chief, or maybe a pit-fighter or Gladiator.
 This Half-Dragon could be a great NPC for a more "varied" campaigns, like a Planescape game - he has a look of the merchant about him, to me.
Another Changeling - a Wizard this time. There's something about his expression of disdain and boredom that makes me love this picture so much.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Microlite20: Specialist Advances: The Undead Hunter

Sometimes, you want your character to be more specialised than the lite constraints of Microlite20 can afford. If that's the case, and your DM allows you to use the Advances I've posted up when making your character, you can also take a third set of Advances to choose from - your Specialist Advances (to lift a term from FFG).

The first one I'll throw out would be for Clerics who specialise in hunting the Undead, whether they follow a God who despises them (like 4e's Raven Queen, a Death God to whom Undead are heresy), or follow a God who opposes another Deity who creates Undead, or some other justification. These Clerics gain a few unusual abilities to help serve their cause.

The Undead Hunter
Cleric Specialist Advance
Unholy Presence - you gain Detect Undead as an at-will ability, with no HP cost.
Know Thy Enemy - you gain a +3 bonus to your Knowledge skill when remembering facts about the Undead (including weaknesses, origins, etc).
Radiant Soul - you gain extra Turning attempts equal to your Charisma Bonus (so you may now Turn Undead 2+Level+MIND bonus+CHA bonus times per day).
Aim For The Head - you gain the ability to make Critical Hits on Undead (on a roll of natural 20, as per usual). If you have also acquired the ability to make Sneak Attacks or Death Attacks, you may also use those on Undead, despite their immunity.
Specialist Weapon Training - you gain a +1 bonus to-hit with any two of crossbows, bludgeoning weapons, whips, and stakes.

And, only suitable for some campaigns...

Vampire Killer - you may channel any touch spells through a weapon, so long as it has been blessed, and is of Masterwork quality or better. Striking with the weapon will cause the usual damage and effects as well as those caused by the spell. (Some Hunters use whips for these attacks...)

New Weapon

Damage: 1d4
Type: Piercing
Cost: 5gp/Free
Notes: while prepared stakes cost 5gp, players may make a MIND+Knowledge roll to create a suitable piece of wood immediately, or may spend half an hour carving one from wood.

Stakes made from special wood, or blessed by holy men, cost up to 100gp each, and vary from +1 (for a very well-made stake) to +3 (obviously magical).

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Microlite20: Advances Overview

One of the cool things about the Advances I've been working on is how easy they are to make.

Each Race and Class gets 5 Advances, and I've been following a formula:
  • +1 to-hit with a weapon iconic to the Race or Class (Fighters get a few of these, to represent their broader martial training).
  • +1 to a Skill that typifies the Class
  • +2 to a skill in certain situations (like the Assassin's bonus to Subterfuge for Disguise, or the Dwarf's bonus to resisting poisons).
  • A Spell-like Ability (like the Elf's Detect Magic, or the Tiefling's Darkness) - these are either 0-th Level or situational, for at-will abilities, or tied to an ability bonus, for 1st level spells (other might be too powerful).
  • Another ability (the Tiefling's Prehensile Tail, or the Druid's Elemental Wildshape).
Unless noted, these bonuses stack - so a Dwarf Fighter, who takes the Weapon Focus (Hammer) and Smith at Heart Advances could gain a +2 to-hit with hammers. The DM is the final arbitrator of what stacks and what doesn't.

This is just a guideline - add whichever abilities you wish when making an Advance scheme, although be careful not to make them too powerful. They can be used to represent Feats, Class Features, whatever you want - just try and make sure they are in-keeping with the Class.

Next, I'll be looking at tailoring an Advance Scheme to a certain specialisation of a Class - in this case, making a Cleric who specialises in hunting down Undead.

Monday, 10 September 2012

MORE Race and Class Advances

Well, I'm getting a group together to playtest some of this content, but they want to try my Advances and Races. Problem is, he picked a Race I hadn't done advances for yet...

So here's a batch - the Tiefling and Aasimar Races, and the Assassin Class.

Fiendish Resistance - you gain Resistance (3) to one of Fire, Cold, or Electricity damage.
Prehensile Tail - you gain the ability to use your tail as an extra limb, capable of holding (and attacking) with a light weapon, or holding your weight for a number of rounds equal to your Strength bonus.
Demonic Negotiator - you gain a +2 bonus to your Communication skill when communicating with Evil creatures and characters.
Darkness - you gain Darkness as Spell-like Ability, a number of times per day equal to your Mind or Charisma bonus (whichever is higher). If you have already gained Darkness as a Spell-Like Ability, the GM may allow you to choose another from the Tiefling Ability Table, or a suitable spell from another source.
Devil-skin - you gain a +1 Natural Armour Bonus.

Celestial Resistance - you gain Resistance (3) to one of Cold, Electricity, or Acid damage.
Winged - you possess a small pair of wings, that can be used to glide for a number of rounds equal to your Strength bonus. 
Angeltongue - you gain a +2 bonus to Communication when talking to Good creatures and characters.
Light - you gain Daylight as a Spell-like Ability, a number of times per day equal to your Mind or Charisma Bonus (whichever is higher).
Blessed - you gain a single re-roll per session, to any one roll.

Shadow Master - you gain a +2 bonus to your Subterfuge skill when hiding in shadows or darkness.
Dark-Adapted - you gain darkvision (or, if you already had it, the range of your darkvision doubles).
Well-Trained Nose - you gain Detect Poison as an at-will ability, with no HP cost.
Master of Disguise - you gain a +2 bonus to rolls to disguise yourself.
The Subtle Knife - you gain a +1 to-hit with all daggers and short swords.

Planar Undead: The Flame-Wreathed

Another little Planescape goody: a series of Planar Undead creatures, starting with the Flame-Wreathed.

Originating from the pockets of Negative Energy that hover near the border of Fire and Ash, the Flame-Wreathed are horrid, flame-covered corpses, shedding ash as they walk, animated by some horrendous primal force of destruction.

Roughly as intelligent as a zombie, these Undead creatures find themselves drawn onto the Prime Material Plane by Necromancers looking for truly terrifying Undead to cause destruction. On the Planes, the constant supply of Negative Enegry and Elemental Fire preserve their bodies, leaving them somewhat immortal, and highly resistant to the effects of time. On the Prime Material, however, their forms start to burn out (slowly), with those specimens summoned for extended periods of time slowly becoming skeletons, blackened bones visible through the pure flames.

Some believe this is the fate that befalls Ash and Fire Genasi when they are subjected to large amounts of Negative Energy, though no proof has so far been found.

Frequency: Rare 
No. Appearing: 1d2
Size: Medium (or as base creature)
Armour Class: 4
Hit Dice: 2+2
Movement: 50’
Attacks: 2 (1d8)

Morale: -
Intelligence: Low
Alignment: Neutral Evil

Flame-Wreathed share the same immunities as most Undead creatures, as well as being immune to the effects of fire and fire-based spells, taking no damage. They do, however, take double damage from cold-based spells, and quadruple damage from Holy Water.

When attacked by a Flame-Wreathed, make a Save vs. Spells or be set on fire.

Burn The Soul: as beings of Death and Elemental Fire, their flames will still cause half-damage to those who are immune or resistant to fire. Their touch also burns victims through to the soul, causing them to lose an Experience level when struck unless they make a Save vs. Death Magic.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

MiniSix 40k Bestiary: Humanity

The Koronus Expanse is packed full of the sorts of right nasty fuckers you'd do better to avoid than fight. That being said, it's not always that possible. Although, sometimes the allure of more Thrones than they can shake a stick at might bring them over to your side - always try diplomacy first, failing that CASH MONEY, and failing both of those, the biggest gun you can find.

These guys are all modified from pre-existing sample characters in the MiniSix book, bar the Astartes.

Average Human
The common or garden Imperial subject.
Strength: 2D Intelligence: 2D
Agility: 2D Fellowship: 2D
Skills: Any three at +1D each
Gear: As needed by profession.
Static: Dodge 6, Soak 6

Adept - Int 2D+2, Common Lore 1D, Trade (Pick one) 1D, one other Skill (by Home World)
Entertainer - Fel 2D+2, Perform 1D, Charm 1D, one other Skill
Hired Gun - Agl 2D+2, Pistols 1D, Dodge 1D, Intimidate 1D, Laspistol or Hand Cannon, ballistic armour (+3)
Native Guide - Str 2D+1, Fellowship 2D+1, Tracking 1D, Navigation 1D, Blades 1D, Knife (+1D), Crossbow (3D), leather armour (+1)
Scum - Fel 2D+2, Charm 1D, Deceive 1D, Knives 1D (for a Cultist, add Forbidden Lore (pick one))
Voidfarer - Int 2D+1, Fel 1D+2, Navigation 1D, Ship Lore 1D, one other skill

Imperial Guardsman ***
The footsoldiers of the Imperium's war machine.
Strength: 3D+1 Intelligence: 2D
Agility: 2D+1 Fellowship: 2D
Skills: Dodge 3D+1, Rifles 4D+1
Gear: Flak Armour (+4), Lasgun, copy of The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer.Static: Dodge 10, Block 10, Soak 10(14)

Traitor Guard - Fel 1D, Forbidden Lore 2D

Adeptus Arbites ***
They ARE the law.
Strength: 4D Intelligence: 2D+1
Agility: 3D+1 Fellowship: 2D+1
Skills: Brawling 5D, Dodge 4D+1, Pistol 5D+1, Melee 4D+1
Gear: Carapace Armour (+6), Hand Cannon (4D) or Bolt Pistol (5D) or Combat Shotgun (4D+2), shock maul (+3D, stuns for 1d3 rounds)
Static: Dodge 13, Block 15, Parry 12, Soak 12(18) 

Adeptus Astartes ***** Scale: +2D/+6
The Emperor's Angels, His Will Incarnate
Strength: 6D Intelligence: 3D+2
Agility: 4D Fellowship: 3D
Skills: Melee 6D+1, Rifles 6D+1, Pistols 6D+1, Dodge 4D, Intimidate 3D
Perks: Space Marine, Black Carapace (removes Scale penalties, keeps bonuses)
Gear: Astartes Power Armour (+10, +1D Might), Chainsword (+6D) and Bolt Pistol (5D) or Boltgun (6D)
Static: Dodge 12, Block 19, Soak 18 (28)

M20 Advances: Expert Rules

More Microlite20 Advances, this time covering the Races and Classes presented in the Expert Rules section of the Purest Essence PDF.

I will note that these haven't been playtested yet - I'm just throwing them out there. I'll try and get a group together to run through them soon, and then post up errata/feedback.


Furious Heritage - you gain +1 to attack when you are below half your total HP.
Big and Scary - you gain a +2 to your Communication skill when intimidating people.
Tough as Old Leather - Once per encounter, when reduced to 0HP or less, you gain a number of temporary hit-points equal to twice your class level.
Ironguts - you gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against poisons and disease.
Ironhide - you gain a +1 natural armour bonus.

Natural Trickster - gain a +2 bonus to your Subterfuge skill when used to play tricks on people.
Natural Talent - you gain Prestidigitation as an at-will ability, with no HP cost.
Gnomish Magic - you gain the use of Mage Hand and Dancing Lights as a Mage' Signature Spell.
Tinker - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill with regards machines and technology.
Tricky Rhyme - gain a +2 bonus to your Subterfuge skill when used to Bluff others.

Half-Breed - you may choose a talent from either the Human or Elf Advance lists.
Charming - you gain a +1 bonus to your Communication skill.
Elven Eye - you gain a +2 bonus to saving throws to resist illusions.
Shared Insight - you and all allies within 30ft gain a +2 to perception-related rolls a number of times a fay equal to your MIND bonus.
Drifter - gain a +1 bonus to your Knowledge skill.

Natural Weapons - you gain the ability to make a bite attack (1d4) and a tail slap (1d6).
Acid Spit - you gain the ability to make a ranged attack (Ranged Touch Attack, 1d4 Acid damage) a number of times a day equal to your Strength Bonus.
Adept Swimmer - you gain a +2 to your Physical skill when making tests of swimming ability, as well as the ability to hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to four times your Strength score.
Tribal Weapons - you gain a +1 bonus with all clubs, spears and javelins.
Swamp Hunter - you gain a +2 bonus to your Subterfuge skill when is overgrown or marshland areas.


Sniper - double the range increment of all ranged weapons you wield.
Superior Two-Weapon Fighting - the penalty for wielding two weapons at once is removed.
Wild Empathy - you gain a +2 bonus to attempts to train, intimidate, or otherwise interact with natural animals.
Manyshot - you gain the ability to fire two arrows at once at your full Ranged Attack Bonus, with no penalty.
Favoured Terrain - you gain a +2 bonus to Survival checks whilst in your favoured terrain.

Smite Evil - you gain the ability to add your CHA bonus to attack and damage rolls against Evil opponents, once per day for every 4 levels you possess.
Zealous Weapon Training - you gain a +1 to-hit with your God's favoured weapon.
Godly Resolve - you and any allies within 30ft gain a +2 bonus to any saving throws against charm effects.
Zealot's Rage - you may trade up to 5 points from your MAB into damage (as Power Attack).
Protector of Faith - you may interpose yourself between an adjacent ally and an attacking enemy, once per round. The enemy will target you instead of the ally.

Courtesan/Companion - gain a +2 bonus to your Communication skill when seducing others.
Distraction - you can use a physical performance (dancing, comedy, etc) to counter illusions for all those who can see your performance - they gain a bonus to their saving throws equal to your Mind or Charisma bonus.
Suggestion - you can use one of your uses of Bardic Music to plant a Suggestion (as the spell) into one creature/level.
Well-Versed - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when recalling myths, stories and legends.
Dashing Swordsman - you gain a +1 to-hit with all short swords, daggers, and rapiers.

NOTE: Countering Illusions and Sound-based effects requires a roll with your Magical Attack Bonus.

Friend of All Animals - you gain Speak With Animals as an at-will ability, with no HP cost.
Initiate of Nature - you may turn (animals are not destroyed, simply forced to flee) or rebuke (you may control 2HD of animals per class level) animals as a cleric of your level
Trackless Woodland Step - you may pass through any natural growth (like brambles or heavy brush) with no penalty - and may elect not to leave a trace of their passage through woodlands.
Elemental Nature - you may spend two of your uses of Wildshape to transform into a Small Elemental (three uses for Medium, four for Large).
Venom Immunity - you gain immunity to all natural poisons.

Specialist Mage - you gain a +1 bonus to either damage, spell DC, or duration (choose with each casting) to every Illusion spell you cast.
Fascinating - you gain a +1 to your Communication skill.
Misdirection - you gain a +2 to your Subterfuge score when attampting to hide or disguise your spells.
Minor Trick - you gain one of Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound or Prestidigitation as an at-will ability, with no HP cost.
Life-like Disguise - you gain a +2 bonus to any rolls used to disguise yourself (or your opponent gains a -2 malus, depending).

Also, note that these Advance schemes stay pretty close to the "traditional" view of these Races, and might not be appropriate for some campaign settings. For instance, an Athasian Elf (from the Dark Sun setting) might look more like this:

Athasian Elf 
Dune Runner - you gain a +2 bonus to your Physical score when on the Dunes. 
Natural Thief - you gain a +1 bonus to your Subterfuge skill. 
Sharp-Eyed - your natural low-light vision doubles in distance (to 120'). 
Hunter - you gain a +1 bonus to-hit with all slings and pulled weapons. 
Traders - gain a +2 to your Communication skill when used to barter.

I'll post up a few more soon, with some more setting-specific lists, and a note about creating your own Advance lists!

Shadowrun 4 Quick-Start: A Review

So, as the classic GM with my finger in way too many pies, I'm thinking of starting my group on Shadowrun. So, I've advised them to download the Shadowrun 4 Quick Start Rules, which also includes sample characters and an introductory "adventure".

To start, the layout is nice - the artwork is vibrant and well-suited to the tone the Quick-Start is aiming for, and feels better integrated than some of the Core Rulebook art. Even the rules layout is strictly superior - everything is contained in a few pages, and flows well from one topic to another (the Core Rules, even the 20th Anniversary Edition, has a tendency to wander and scatter its rules about the book).

The Sample Characters are a bit "meh" - a Troll Bounty Hunter, Human Street Samurai, Elf Combat Mage, and an Ork Hacker. The first three are all (obviously) combat-oriented, which leaves the Hacker in the sticky situation of being able to do stuff outside of fights, but needing a bit more protection than the others during combat. An extra character or two (maybe a Dwarf Face, to round out the Races, or a Smuggler) would even up the skill-based to combat-based ratio. Then again, Shadowrun does have a heavy focus on combat, but it would be nice to have a few more options. Fantasy Flight Games does a great line of 40k RPG Quick-Starts, and will frequently put up extra characters for these adventures - something Catalyst could take note of.

Further reading might also show that the Street Sam is a lot more combat capable than the others - to the extent that, for the first few session, he'll shoot first, more, and better than anyone else. This would be fine, if he wasn't so much more effective than the other sample characters.

The adventure included is where the whole thing falls down. Well, that's unfair - I actually like what they've got down, it's just what's missing that's the problem - and what's missing is an actual adventure.

You see, the basics of it are as follows: it's 4AM, and you're all hungry - so you go to the local Stuffer Shack for horrible (yet delicious) fast food. As you peruse the aisles, a woman and her screaming child wander in - just minutes before an explosion rocks the store, scattering the assorted NPCs around and allowing egress to a gang - more specifically, a low-level ganger hit-squad. They're looking for the woman with the baby, with plans to kill the pair of them. Will you stop them, or help them out for a few bucks?

An interesting little scenario, to be sure - both the description and the read-aloud text are very descriptive, without being too wordy. The background characters are well-thought out, with a few behaviours they might fall into, depending on what happens (and enough information to let you make a judgement call on what they might do in other circumstances). It even has a really in-depth map (with key) and description of all the products in the aisle, along with uses for some (my favourites being hints for Hackers to unlock first-aid supplies and hack cars in the parking area, for use as weapons, and a table to determine what bursts when you miss a shot, along with a description and effects like making the floor too slippery to stand, or coating you in enough gunk to throw your aim off).

But what you are given is just some set-up and a combat encounter. The resolution should be finding out why these dudes wanted to kill a defenceless woman and a child, for God's sake! This information is presented during Brandeen's profile, and at the end of the section describing the combat-stats of the hitmen, we get a sidebar that reads:

If Brandeen survives, she will thank the runners profusely for saving her and Cody’s life, and may even try to explain her theory concerning the attack (which would be the truth) and possibly look to enlist the runners for some payback against [the guy who ordered the hit].

So, instead of maybe an actual run to find out why she almost got shot, she just tells them what she thinks happened, and it turns out it's right. Oh well, back to our regular lives, I guess. There's no onus to go and find out what happened, no effort to draw you in. Just a flat denouement and the chance to loot some corpses. If I ran this (which I kinda doubt I will), then there would have to be some major changes. So, what's the point in having Quick-Start rules if I need to spend time changing them up to be usable?
Also, as a product designed to draw in new players to the setting, it has one big issue - lack of information. For example, what does Brandeen want you to do? Kill the guy? Industrial espionage? Plant evidence of a crime the guy didn't commit? Bankrupt him? Who knows. And, even as an experienced DM, I would have trouble planning out a mission like any of those if this as my only experience of the game - thus making it kinda pointless. The point of a intro-adventure is to provide a wide experience of the setting you are conveying - and there's just not enough information to allow you to go any further with your game.

All in, a mixed bag - worth it for the simplification of one of the more clunky rulesets out at the moment, but anything that isn't directly rules related isn't worth the free you downloaded it for.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Creeping Death: Blackened Ooze

The shambling thing before you resembles a moving pit of tar. As it roils and churns, pulling its indeterminate bulk towards you on foul pseudopods, sharpened points of bone and debris emerge, only to be sucked back into its horrid mass the next second.

You hope the noise it made was just the wind howling through its oddly brittle, porous frame - otherwise, it was a howl of anguish and hatred.

Oozes are a common enough feature of many dungeons. Some live in commensal relationships with other creatures (like humanoids feeding them scraps in exchange for their protection). Some, however, form far more sinister relationships - like the Blackened Ooze.

When an ooze devours Undead, most are simply digested and excreted as with most meals. But, when an ooze eats many such creatures, and lives in an area that is cursed to produce Undead (whether by Divine edict, or perhaps a natural conduit to the Plane of Negative Energy), these horrific creatures can be formed.

Hulking, oily-black beasts, the are tainted with the energies animating the Undead, and end up stuck in some bitter mockery of life - a half-dead state. Their digestive processes begin to shut down, leaving them only just capable of digesting flesh and other organic matter, but little else. The bones and weapons of their kills may break, leaving the surface and innards of the creature filled with razor-sharp spikes and slivers of bone.

Some Necromancers claim knowledge of how to create these foul beasts, and will use them to devastating effect in contained areas.

Blackened Ooze

No. Appearing: 1d2
Size: ~9ft Diameter (Large)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 6
Movement: 70’
Attacks: 2 (Slam 2d6, Bashing and Piercing Damage)

Morale: -
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral

Blackened Oozes have an immunity to paralysis, charm and sleep effects. Healing Spells and effects (such as Cure Light Wounds, or a Paladin's Lay on Hands) act as their reversed equivalent (so, Inflict Light Wounds, or Harm for Heal), causing damage instead of healing. Those reversed spells (Harm and Inflict X Wounds) may act as Healing Spells, at the DM's discretion. They can also grapple and overwhelm opponents, who take 1d8 damage per round they are grappled.

One particular Necromancer (whose name has been lost to time) was interested in using these beasts as guardians for her lair, and began to create a large number of them. She also experimented with way to increase their intelligence, to better understand her commands and make for a more effective "watchdog" system. After many years of "breeding" these twisted mockeries of nature, she finally produced a single specimen capable of independent reasoning.

She noticed something strange - unlike other oozes, which split and create a "new" organism, this ooze maintained control over its separated pieces. A quick thought led her to implant a section into a test subject, and lo and behold - the ooze could control the victim, after a fashion. They began to exhibit great sickness, then "died" - only to be raised as a peculiar ooze-filled Undead, totally in thrall to the original. These "Blackened" would form the core of her Undead army, and she terrorised the local populace for many years.

As she researched ways to extend her life, she came to a compromise - she would mentally dominate the ooze, allow it to enter her body, and use magic to stave off it effects - hopefully allowing the symbiont to enhance her body, and extend her lifespan until she could achieve true immortality through Lichdom, or some other Necromantic process.

Sadly (for her), the plan was not to be. She did not realise quite how strong-willed the ooze had become, and instead of infecting her, it simply absorbed her, both bodily and spiritually, into itself - becoming more intelligent, and also quite mad. It had become so accustomed to the Negative Energy that once fed it, it was unable to leave its lair without causing itself great damage, starving itself f those foul energies - but it's working on it. And it may still send its "servants", Undead imbued with its horrid essence, out into the world to do its bidding, and collect the ritual components it thinks it might need to allow it to leave the cold embrace of its home.

Now, this foul creature lurks in the depths of her old lair, under a local dungeon, biding its time until it decides to leave its lair and cause havoc across the land. Locals who have somehow survived encounters with it refer to the creature as "The Creeping Death", a name whispered in the darkest of legends.

The Creeping Death
No. Appearing: 1
Size: ~25ft Diameter (Colossal)
Armor Class: -4
Hit Dice: 12
Movement: 120’
Attacks: 4 (Slam 2d10, Bashing and Piercing Damage)
orale: 15
Intelligence: High (15)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil

The Creeping Death is a Spellcaster, and may use any Necromancy spells you think it should have. It also shares all immunities with both Undead and Oozes.

When a character is implanted with a lump of the Creeping Death, they must make a Save against Death Magic every hour, or lose one point of Constitution. Once this drops below a quarter of its original score (rounded up), the character begins to show signs of the possession - coughing up black, tarry blood, an unstoppable rage, an inability to feel pain, and a much-toughened physique. Once the character is reduced to 0 Con (or killed normally), they will reanimate within (original Constitution score) minutes, as one of the Blackened. These creatures are totally in thrall to the Creeping Death, and follow its commands without hesitation or error.


No. Appearing: 2d4
Size: Medium (as base creature)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2 +5

Movement: 40’
Attacks: 1 (Slam 1d6) or by weapon
orale: -
Intelligence: Mindless
Alignment: Neutral

Blackened share all immunities with other Undead creatures (and are, to all intents and purposes, zombies).

Monday, 3 September 2012

I KNEW IT - Cursed Dice Exist!

Well, according to the guys over at Awesome Dice Blog, at least.

They claim, in their independent test, that Chessex D20s don't roll as "true" as Gamescience D20s, although those can't roll 14s.

Read it, and have your paranoid fears confirmed!

Supporting a Good Friend

Yes, it has nothing to do with gaming, but here's a shout-out for my friend's blog, Edd's Surf Shack - a repository of ideas and musings.

If you ever need advertising, friendly advice, or what have you, go see Ed.

Tell him I sent you - he'll either give you mate's rates, or a punch in the dick.

It'll be a surprise!

M20: Advances

In Microlite20, characters follow a very tight schedule of advances by class. Even high-level characters can start to look very similar, with the same abilities and methods as others of the same class (or even other classes). As I use M20 for low-level games, I don't see much of this problem - but, for those wishing to use it as an alternative to 3.5 for an entire campaign, it can be somewhat grating.

So, to remedy this, players can choose one of these advances at 1st, 3rd, and every odd-numbered level after that - in other words, these are heavily simplified feats. They simply have to be the right class or race to take them (unless specified - some may have pre-requisites).

These are for the "standard" M20 races and classes, at the moment - I might add a few more for the more unusual ones as I go.


Sharp-Eyed - your natural low-light vision becomes darkvision.
Elven Accuracy - you gain +1 to-hit with pulled weapons (long and short bows).
Ancient Knowledge - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when remembering ancient history (with GM approval).
Magical Knowledge - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when investigating or identifying magical effects.
Naturally Magical - you gain Detect Magic or Read Magic as an at-will ability, for no HP cost.

Stout and Hardy - you gain a +2 bonus to your Physical skill when resisting poisons and illness.
Smith at Heart - you gain +1 to-hit with all hammers.
Stability - you gain a +2 bonus to resisting being moved, tripped, or rushed.
Stubborn - you gain a +2 bonus to any saving throws to resist mind-affecting spells, illusions, fear effects, or enchantments.
Masters of the Forge - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when recalling information about weapons (general, magical, and specific, legendary ones).

Adaptable - you gain +1 to a skill of your choosing.
Lucky - you gain a free re-roll to any roll, once per session.
Cosmopolitan - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when recalling the traditions and cultures of other races.
Versatility - you may take an Advance from another Class or Race list (at the GM's discretion).

Beneath Suspicion - you gain a +2 bonus to your Subterfuge skill when picking pockets.
Fearless - you gain a +2 bonus to any attempts to resist fear effects.
Slippery - you gain a +2 bonus to your Physical skill to escape bonds and grapples.
Sure-Footed - you gain a +2 bonus to any checks to keep your balance.
Low Blow - you gain a +1 bonus to attack opponents larger than yourself.


Shield Bash - you may attack with a shield without it counting as an improvised weapon.
Cleave - when you kill an opponent with a melee attack, you may make another melee attack against an adjacent creature, without penalty.
Weapon Focus - you gain a +1 to-hit with a particular class of weapon of your choosing (bows, hammers, swords, daggers, etc.) GMs are the final arbitrator of what exotic or unusual weapons count under which class, when some of those might be best under their own class, and indeed how broad the classes are.
Two-Weapon Fighting - the penalty for wielding two weapons (and attacking with both) is reduced to -1.
Power Attack - you can trade up to 5 points of your MAB in exchange for bonus damage.

Liar - you gain a +2 bonus to the Subterfuge skill when used to lie.
Ninja - you gain a +2 bonus to the Subterfuge skill when remaining undetected (moving silently or hiding).
Trapsmith - you gain a +2 bonus to the Subterfuge skill when setting, disarming, or locating traps.
Stabby Stabby - you gain a +1 bonus to-hit with daggers and short-swords.
Thief-Acrobat - you gain a +2 bonus to the Physical skill when used for acrobatic manoeuvre.

Battle Mage - you gain the ability to wear light armour, and may cast spells with no chance of failure while wearing it.
Specialised Training - you gain a +1 bonus to spell DCs, and duration of one school of magic.
Arcane Defence - you gain a +1 bonus to resist spells from one school of magic.
Elemental Alignment - you gain a +1 bonus to spell DCs, damage, and duration of spells linked to a certain element (Fire, Earth, Air or Water).
Co-operative Spell - you and another spellcaster may share the hit-point cost of any spells you cast (only one of you need this Advance). These spells are cast as as normal otherwise.

Favoured Soul - you gain one free re-roll to any action that furthers the course of your God, once per session.
Zealous Weapon Training - you gain +1 to-hit with your Deity's favoured weapon.
Meditative Healing - any healing spells you cast receive a bonus to the number of hit points healed equal to their MIND (or CHA) bonus.
Monastic Study - you gain a +2 bonus to your Knowledge skill when recounting facts that fall under your Deity's domain.
Improved Turning - you gain a +2 bonus to Turn Undead DCs.