Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lara Croft, Dungeon Raider

Lara Croft was born into aristocracy, and was to be married into wealth. But a plane crash stranded her in the Himalayas, and there were no other survivors. Young Lara had to rely on her wits to stay alive. She discovered an ancient monastery, where she recovered an enchanted sword. Naturally, she touched the sword, unleashing powerful magics, and she barely escaped with her life.

After two weeks, Lara finally made her way to civilization, but realized that she wanted to go back. She rejected what was intended for her, and instead chose a different path: exploring dangerous tombs and recovering valuable treasures.

She faces puzzles. Some require calculated action (jumping to a specific location, climbing a certain wall to see what's atop it). To solve other puzzles, she must navigate mazes, time her movements carefully, find and pull levers, and locate keys or other items.

Running through the game level is ill-advised, due to numerous traps: spiked pits; giant boulders that drop from above, crushing Lara's body, walls that slide together, pulverizing anyone caught between them; and projectiles (arrows, blades) flung from holes in walls. Some traps inflict damage, and some are immediately fatal.

Along the way, Lara kills her enemies: men with weapons, wild animals, mummies, dinosaurs, skeletons, giant spiders, demons, gargoyles, wraiths, and dragons. Occasionally, she must use dangerous magics to defeat her foes and seize the gold.

Lara Croft is a murderhobo.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Zine Scene, #1

I recently picked up the first issue of Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, which is compatible with Dungeon Crawl Classics.

It is most definitely Metal.

We start off with three pieces of setting info: The Metal Gods; Ur-Hadad, The First City; and Assassins of Ur-Hadad. All three are written by Adam Muszkiewicz. These writings tell us of the time before Metal, in the land of Ore: humans warred alongside Dwarven allies against the Elder Races. We learn of "bone ziggurats and calcified gardens." We are told of the nonexistent assassins of Ur-Hadad; the random table for assassin guild creation is pretty wild. Muszkiewicz follows that up with an article about mercenary life, written in-character by Captain Chogrun Versk.

Edgar Johnson contributes Street Kids of Ur-Hadad, an adventure that kicks of with a roll-all-the-dice generator for creating neighborhoods, and another one for the gangs. These tables are governed by rules that turn the entire experience into a mini-game. Since DCC is full of gonzo dice (d16, d24), you may need a die-roller app -- unless you've already got d14s on hand.

[Noteworthy: the majority of proceeds from PDF sales of the zine go to StandUp For Kids, a secular and nonpartisan organization. Pretty damned decent, if you ask me.]

The adventure itself is a funnel (described as a "meat grinder") designed to cut the number of PCs down to a more manageable figure. Judging from the Just Another Day in Ur-Hadad table, I'd say it'll work.

The zine is illustrated by Wayne Snyder, who worked on Jack Shear's Devilmount; the images are all quite kickass and metal. Snyder wraps up this issue with Cave of the Maggot Witch, a one-page dungeon with instructions on how and when to plug it into an existing campaign.

When all is said and done, this is true Metal. You can pick it up here:


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Roll For Initiative, 2/15/14

ADX - Ultimatum

Aborted Fetus - Private Judgment Day

Crematory - Antiserum

Scythia - ...Of Conquest

Soreption - Engineering the Void

Friday, February 14, 2014

Blasphemous Rituals

Neoplastic Press
"The Sorceress" by Jan van de Velde II

Click to create a random summoning ritual.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mad Scientist Encounters

Neoplastic Press

Roll 4d6, or scroll down and click on the Create button to generate a mad scientist encounter!

A half-demon necromancer wants to create the perfect spouse for a ravenous ghoul. However, this can't be done until one final material component has been found.
A demented magic-user is trying to craft a living weapon from an infected hobgoblin. Unfortunately, an angry mob is en route, armed with torches and pitchforks.
The blood-soaked druid wants to combine a carrion crawler with a blind beholder. Though this attempt will succeed, it will accidentally open a hell-gate to Ghorom.
A gnomish steam-wizard seeks to transfer her consciousness into an assassin's corpse. Sadly, the process is flawed, and will instead produce a cascade of liquid fire.
This idealistic cleric hopes to cure the contagious illness of a dying orc priestess. It works, but it also summons Basatan, the sadistic God of Crabs. The deity demands tribute.
An ambitious acolyte wishes to access the repressed memories of a maimed queen. This experiment has attracted the attention of an aboleth, which has sent spies.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Roll For Initiative, 2/9/14

Coprocephalic - Gluttonous Chunks

Extermination Dismemberment - Serial Urbicide

Kreator - Phantom Antichrist

Spawn of Possession - Incurso
Thy Art is Murder - Hate

Lacerations of the Slain Priestess

When our world was struck by the cosmic phenomenon known as the Blastbeat, everything changed. Distorted mutants walk the streets, and dragons soar through blood-red skies.

The fanatical evangelists who now run our country have created an army of robotic drones who police us with cyber-technology, like shining gears in the proverbial machine. Corporate surveillance satellites monitor our every move.

There's only one thing that can save us: Metalheads. Born in the aftermath of the blastbeat, Metalheads are wandering murderhobos armed with strange weapons and magic, defending people against censorship, pollution, racism, nuclear war, and a theocracy built by religious zealots who want to impose their conformist views on the world.

From Devil's Island to the Quarters For the Criminally Insane, from the Belly of the Beast to the Sanitarium, Metalheads crawl through 21st-century dungeons (office buildings and strip malls) in search of glory, treasure, and violence.

Lacerations of the Slain Priestess is a reskin of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It uses dice. It goes well with beer.

Written by Rafael Chandler. Illustrated by Claudia Cangini, Cliff Roth, Gennifer Bone, Metalhead, and Will Towles. Scheduled for release around Easter 2014.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

World of the Lost

I'm working on a new adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It's called World of the Lost, and it's going to be fun!

Central Africa, 1551. The metalworkers of Awka rise in prominence, even as the Kingdom of Nri declines. Every year, the Awka who dwell in the shadow of the Great Plateau deliver their tribute to the gods that dwell there.

To acquire this treasure for themselves, the adventurers must face great beasts like the gbahali, mokele-mbembe, and the kholomodumo. Then they must brave a dungeon where memory is an illusion and time is a weapon. No sane person would ever attempt this. But a thousand years of tribute paid in silver... Obviously worth it!

World of the Lost is an adventure for characters levels 1-4, featuring wilderness adventure, dungeoneering, new spells, new magic items, and very old monsters. The module is accompanied by an MP3 soundtrack that provides the Referee with necessary information during play.

The only way to get a print copy of my upcoming 48-page adventure is to back the new indiegogo campaign from Lamentations of the Flame Princess!

Starship Generator

Neoplastic Press
This is based on the text of my book,
The Starship From Hell.
Click to generate a random starship.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Collective nouns

We all know about a pride of lions and a murder of crows. What about fantasy monsters?

A royalty of griffins
An astonishment of unicorns
A mystery of displacer beasts
A crown of dragons
A thunder of umber hulks
A shiver of drow
A scuttle of kobolds
A rattle of skeletons
A dirge of wights
A squirt of green slimes
A growl of owlbears
A snarl of gnolls
A mask of mimics
A squirm of carrion crawlers
A stench of otyughs
A glory of wemics
A sight of beholders
A cackle of harpies
A cyst of demons
A hiss of displacer beasts

NPC Encounter Generator

Neoplastic Press

Click to generate a random NPC encounter for a hex crawl.

Orc Generator

Orc Generator

Click to generate a random orc breed.

The Tullianum

The Tullianum was a prison in ancient Rome, located beneath the Comitium (large meeting space).

A circular chamber built of stone blocks, each layer projecting over the one beneath, the Tullianum was a conical structure described by Sallust (earliest known Roman historian with surviving works) as follows: "repulsive and terrible on account of neglect, dampness, and smell."

The only way in was via a hole in the ceiling. Jugurtha, King of Numidia, was tossed down the hole and later died of starvation.

The Tullianum wasn't a jail as we know it, but instead a place to store your captured enemy leaders until the time came to parade them around and let your citizens jeer at them. They lobbed a few other people down the hole too -- Christian martyrs, people who were going to testifying against defendants later on, that kind of thing.

‪Vercingetorix‬, who led the Gauls in revolt -- then surrendered to Caesar by taking off his armor and sitting at Caesar's feet -- spent a few years in the Tullianum before being brought up for the Walk of Shame ("Boo! Look at him! Boo! Hail Caesar!"). Then ‪Vercingetorix‬ went back down into the Tullianum and got strangled, which was a pretty standard method of execution.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Grognard Magazine Collection

New Approach to LotFP Saves

My LotFP saving throw houserules:

There are three kinds of saving throws: Reflex, Resistance, and Refusal.

Reflex saves require you to take physical action against a physical threat or attack of some kind (breath weapon, falling from a great height).

Resistance saves require you to withstand toxins and disesase (such as poisons or plagues)

Refusal saves allow you to withstand illusions and magic and trickery.

Each saving throw is against a difficulty. Difficulty ranges from 12 to 20, and you roll over it just like a "to-hit" roll against ascending armor class. A breath weapon attack would have a difficulty of 12 is some minor-league 2 hit dice creature, and a difficulty of 20 is for an ancient black dragon.

You roll your d20 and try to equal or beat the difficulty. In each case, you add any bonuses for high attributes.

  • For a Reflex save, you add any Dexterity and/or Intelligence bonuses to your roll.
  • For a Resistances save, add Strength and/or Constitution.
  • For Refusal, add Wisdom and/or Charisma.

For example, a character with a Strength of 13 and a Dexterity of 16 must dodge falling boulders. The Referee says that the difficulty is 15. The player rolls a d20 and hopes for a 15 or higher. The roll is a 13. However, because of the high Strength and Dexterity scores, we add 3 to the roll, making it a 16. Saved! The character dodges out of the way.

Black Metal Adventures


This would be a fun approach:

The player characters are like a black metal band. One of those crazy outfits from Scandinavia who burn churches and worship Satan.

The villagers hate these guys. They want them dead. So every chance they get, they tell the adventurers, "I heard there's gold in that cavern. Ogres? Easy killing for a bunch of warriors like you."

And they hope that this is it, that this is the end of those violent bastards. Always talking about treasure and magic weapons, delving into ancient crypts, stirring up long-forgotten ghosts and demons, making trouble for all the hard-working people who do what they're supposed to do, who sweat and toil and pray like decent folk.

Because the adventurers have skills. They have swords and armor and they can curse you or blind you or throw magic fire at you or put you to sleep. They can make you like them and obey them -- against your will. They are witches and fiends, and they are to be shunned and feared. In a world with very little magic, people who can practice sorcery aren't admired, they're freaking horrible and scary.

They also need to die, because if they become powerful, they could kill the village elders and take over -- or even raise an army against the royals and take over the country!

Thus, the villagers are very helpful. "Here's some torches, and some rope. What? No, no, your money's no good here, you take it. Go on, have fun exploring those catacombs. I hope you find some gold!"

The Granite Princess


On the island of Ros Chepada, only a few miles from the pastures where shepherds munch olives while watching their flocks, the Granite Princess gazes over the water.

Hundreds of years ago, the statue was chipped into shape with stone tools, but no one knows why. Some say that the statue was created by a grief-stricken widower who missed his wife fiercely. Others claim that this statue is cursed, and that to gaze upon it brings misfortune.

A few minutes ago...

1. The statue blinked. All the seagulls fell, dead, upon the rocky shore.

2. Several stones from the statue's base rattled, shook, and then floated up; they arranged themselves overhead in the position of nighttime stars.

3. A deep rumble emanated from below, and the statue began to rotate slowly.

4. Anybody who looked at it started to hear whispering in their head.

5. Viscous, black liquid began to drip from the statue's eye sockets. Anyone who meets the statue's gaze is compelled to taste the black tears of despair.

6. A deep crack appeared in the statue, and a woman's hand reached out, pale and wasted.

7. The grass around the base began to brown and wither at a rapid pace while animals, and even insects, begin to flee the area.

8. The statue began to emit a low moan, growing in intensity. All those who hear it will lose someone or something dear to them within the next day.

9. The statue dissapeared (to be found in a church by local nuns 8 hours later).

10. Cold mists spread out from the statue and across the waters it watches. The first of the dark and silent ships can now been seen moving through the fog.

11. The stone of the statue began to turn into pulsating white flesh.

12. Tears of blood began to roll from the eyes as every male on the island was suddenly overcome with an unknown illness.

13. A tremblor knocked the statue over, revealing the hole in the base, carefully sealed with a mixture of resin-coated agave pulp and fired clay.

14. Huge stone arms erupted for the ground as the statue pulled herself from the ground to stand at her full colossal height. Echoes of a long-forgotten lament whisper in the breeze as the monolith slowly lumbers towards the nearest village, the earth trembling beneath her every step...

15. A sirens call emitted from the mouth; local men jostled to fornicate with the empty eye sockets grating their members and leaving behind salty tears of streaked coppery blood. These "tears" are collected by barren crones to birth familiars or worse. 

16. The villagers, animals, buildings, birds, all fell to the Earth as the statue pulled at a passing stellar body... and it pulls back.  Soon begins the feverish attempt to dig up the statue and loosen the planet from its grip.

17. The stone around the face began to crumble and fall, revealing the body of the creature beneath, awakening from its millennia-long slumber.

18. The earth rumbled as a second statue erupted from the ground a few feet from the original one. The heads of a third and fourth statue are already emerging while the first and second are beginning to form limbs. The shepherds are trying to escape the area before the stone golem army is legion.

19. A flock of undead pigeons shat upon it, turning the once proud monolith into a speleothem of fecal matter.

20. The mouth opened, wreleasing swarms of giant centipedes that devoured everything in their path.

Peter Amthor
Scott Dorward
Luis Velasco
Jason Morningstar
Darien Mason
Gary Bowerbank
Arnold Cassell
Jürgen Mayer
Rober Nolan