Friday, August 23, 2013

Glossary of Krülty



People:

Arbiters: Thin-blooded children of the Elite that live as lawless idle rich hipsters with magic powers.
Autos: Intelligent cars which roam the countryside in feral packs.
Buzzsaw: One-armed gladiatorial champion of Kushtur Arena, formerly associated with the Metal Fingers.
Centaurs: Motorcycle cyborgs which serve the Governor.
Clock King: Aspiring Star Lord of Time now presumed dead after the Tower of Time collapsed.
Coneheads: Violent drug addicts physically deformed by Cone, the newest street drug in the Low Quarter.
Diamond Debs: 7th Ward all-girl gang and professional wrestling troupe comprised of Virgin's War vets.
Demons of the Earth: See Gods in the Earth.
Dragon Masters: Reptilian enemies of the First Men, bent on conquest.
Elite: Rulers of Val-Soth, descendants of the Gods of the Earth.
Fallarin: Winged race of humanoids which live in remote enclaves.
The Family: God-beings which rule over Omega, the Last City.
Father Wisdom: Patriarch of the Family, protector of Omega, the Last City.
First Men: Celestial beings which humanity descended from.
Galactic Oligarchs: Rulers of the celestial spheres.
General Metroom: Colonial administrator of Almurth.
Gods of the Earth: Powerful beings that populate the Underworld.
Govenor: Robotic mind dedicated to exterminating humanity.
Joes: Bug-people divided into different castes and working as second class citizens to humans.
Kadja: Buxom, mischievous daughter of Valmar.
Kong: Ape-race that serves as soldiers of the Dragon Masters.
Krütians: Once the most populous prehuman species on Krül, now a dwindling race.
Law & Order Party: Low Quarter political party comprised of petite bourgeoisie.
Lawsons: Bourgeois class of bureaucrats who worship the First Men.
Lum the Lascivious: Flesh warlock known for his jaded and lecherous tastes.
Mathilda the Massive: Leader of the Diamond Debs, former colonel in the Virgin's War.
Metal Fingers: Cyborg street gang in the 7th Ward.
One-Eye: Mutant adventurer and would-be Elite godling, executed for heresy.
People's Party: Low Quarter political party comprised of the working poor.
Prana: Arbiter trendsetter and rival to Yaga.
Quom: A tribe of horsemen who range the Veridian Sea.
Seventh Ward Workmen: Volunteer militia comprised of police officers ousted by the Law & Order Party.
Silver Skulls: Masked gang on the rise in the 7th Ward, sole distributors of Cone.
Skardi: Cephalopod race now nearly extinct after the Annihilation Event.
Star Lords: Mighty wizard-kings which once ruled over Krül.
Thaggadoom: Legendary giant with a taste for horseflesh.
Thar-Phreen: See Joes.
The Twins: Underworld gods of fraternity, secrecy, and oaths.
Vaal: Underworld god of hidden knowledge.
Valmar: Law & Order Party booster and 7th Ward garment manufacturer.
Ward Boss Framoso: Boss of the 7th Ward and staunch member of the Law & Order Party.
Warlocks: Modern wizards.
Warlord Zorg: Conquering giant-king to the West.
Xubatu, the Slithering God: God of the Earth which provides magical power in exchange for service.
Yaga: Arbiter fashionista and rival to Prana.
Zillas: Half-intelligent dinosaur beasts of war.

Places:

Abbol Canal: Major canal that connects Val-Soth and Tsath.
Almurth: Val-Soth's contested colony in the Surviving Sea region.
Basin of Gold: Huge tent bazaar, marketplace, and dockyard of Val-Soth where multiple canals converge.
Danceteria: Dime-a-dance joint and reported hideout of the Metal Fingers Gang.
Diunma Nami: The cancerous living moon of Krül.
Fifth Ward: One of the nine wards in the Low Quarter of Val-Soth and Krütian ghetto.
House of Man: See Temple of Man.
Izuma: Lost city of the Skardi at the bottom of the Veridian Sea.
Kushtur Arena: Massive gladiatorial arena in Val-Soth.
Lokuz: Enslaved human city, run by the Kong in the name of the Dragon Masters.
Maze of the Seven Thousand Crystal Frames: Underworld home of Xubatu, the Slithering God.
Mur Plains: Rich grasslands outside of Yazlan.
Omega, the Last City: Sealed utopia ruled by the Family.
Outer Wastes: Dilapidated ruins surrounding Val-Soth.
Overworld: Infinite dimension of possibility, both above the world and overlapping it.
Oxala: Meeting ground of a confederation of barbaric tribes in the foothills of Vossan Makkal Range.
Scarlet Sea: Fabled sea of blood in the Underworld.
Seventh Ward: One of nine wards in the Low Quarter of Val-Soth, home of the campaign.
Surviving Sea: The last known major body of water on the surface of Krül.
Temple of Man: Lawson temple to the First Men in Val-Soth, banking hub and seat of city government.
Tower of Time: Massive sand castle and home to the Clock King, now collapsed.
Tsath: Occupied city-state, formerly a feminist utopia, now divided into districts ruled by regional powers.
Veridian Sea: Dead ocean, wiped out by the Annihilation Event.
Underworld: Vast system of caves full of gods, monsters and treasures, said to terminate in the Overworld.
Val-Soth: City-state where the campaign begins.
Vossan Makkal Range: Massive mountain range to the south of Val-Soth.
Yazlan: City-state to the east of Val-Soth.

Things:

Annihilation Event: War between First Men and Star Lords which drank the oceans and shattered the sky.
Celestial Orders: Warlock societies dedicated to the study of the Seven Sciences.
Cone: Hallucinogenic drug currently all the rage, known for horrible side effects.
Ex Nihilio: Failed project by the First Men to create a perfect sphere of Law as a reward to the faithful.
Great Thaw: Annual rush of floodwaters from melting polar ice caps.
Ideal Forms: Perfect aspects of creation which emanate infinite variations of potential reality.
Kirbonite: Element found in the Underworld which attunes local area with the Overworld.
Tourists: Otherworldly troublemaking spirits which have taken physical form.
Trials of the Gods: Test undergone by divine paternity claimants to join the Elite.
Worldcube: Legendary treasure said to lead to other dimensions.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth!

One of the two Dragon Master subspecies:
The Mastermind

The descent of the First Men from the heavens ushered in an era of bounteous joy and illumination, where all strove to live in perfect harmony with the Law and each meditated upon the Ideal Form which they emanated from. Yet, paradise could not last. An ancient enemy of the First Men, the terrible Dragon Masters, saw this land of pure peace and happiness and were filled with a gnawing jealousy. Seeking to wreck what the First Men had wrought, the Dragon Masters passed through the firmament and onto the Savage World of Krül.

Aping the First Men before them, the Dragon Masters wreathed themselves in flesh. Taking on an aspect of the serpent, the Dragon Masters built remote kingdoms far from the eye of the Law and began to spread heresies amongst the half-men. The Dragon Masters claimed to predate humanity, and that Men were but cattle which had escaped from their pens. They even shaped mockeries of the flesh, hirsute, roughly man-shaped beings which they claimed were the true origins of the Law. These they named Kong, and all who saw their hideousness hid their face in shame.

Depredations of the Kong

Great armies of these Kong were raised in a bewildering array of forms, but all marked with a cruel, lawless savagery which rivaled that of any half-man. The Kong scoured the land, conquering the wild places and where the Law was weak; and wherever the Kong touched, the Dragon Masters carved the world in their image. Great serpents, known as dinosaurs, were called forth from the sky so that when the Dragon Masters passed through their territories they would see themselves reflected as in a pool. A darkness fell over the land and some whispered that the Law could not hold and only the jungle would remain.

It was thus that the First Men sallied forth from their shining citadels, astride their flaming steeds and wreathed in stars. Fearlessly they drove into the twisted, stinking mass of the Kong, searing the false men with the truth of the Law. For many days did the battle rage on, a great deluge of blood pouring from the mountains of corpses and into the Underworld, where a Scarlet Sea is said yet to remain. 

When all was still only the First Men remained.

One of the First Men mounts for battle

In the aftermath the defeated Dragon Masters were gathered so that they could be administered the Law. The First Men pronounced that if the Dragons so loved the jungle, they would become naught but beasts. Hence, the Zillas were born, those half-intelligent monsters which serve as mounts and soldiers in the wars of the city-states.

Yet some few Dragon Masters escaped the judgement of the First Men, hiding in the cracks of the earth and nursing their wounds. These Dragon Masters would rise up time and again to threaten Man, and so Kong and Zilla still clash today, from the jungles to the city-states to the grand canals; wherever life may dwell, you will find them there, fighting for their very survival.

In Part 2, we'll be introduced to the mighty Kong and their unending war against the descendants of the First Men!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Father Wisdom, Patriarch of the Family, Keeper of the Flame and Steward of OMEGA, The Last City

All hail the Defender of Civilization, Upholder of the Law, and Judge of the Wicked:

Chris Kutalik as a young Father Wisdom
by Jason Sholtis

The sealed citadel of the OMEGA, the Last City, is said to be heavenly beyond measure, the perfect realization of Law. Many have spoken of the miracles of Father Wisdom, the First Man who refused to abandon Krül, and the paradise that he carved from the wreck of a world.

***

More details about Father Wisdom and the Family are forthcoming here from Rogues and Reavers, but today I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the second birthday of the G+ Hill Cantons game (which passed last Tuesday), run by the inestimable Chris Kutalik. I can honestly say that, in my near 20 years of experience playing and running D&D, nothing has even begun to compare. If you ever have the opportunity to play, do not pass up on a game that I have no doubt is every bit as good as the legendary campaigns of Arneson, Gygax, and Barker. If given the opportunity, I will continue to play for the rest of my years.

A large part of what makes the Hill Cantons so amazing is my fellow players, the Nefarious Nine. Thanks to Cole, Evan, Anthony, Humza, Michael, Mike D, Jeremy, Trey, Mikah, Jason, and Rey. Knowing all of you has been a boon.

Okay, time to put away the handkerchief and get back to blogging. Thanks again!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gods Walk Among Us!

Seas Boil

When the Annihilation Event occurred, the Underworld drank the oceans and the Overworld rained death. The Star Lords had stolen the fires of heaven and so the First Men, in response, razed the earth over which they laid claim.

With the death of the physical world the Star-Lords became increasingly remote, retiring to their celestial abodes and leaving their physical kingdoms in chaos. The people of Krül, abandoned both by their First Men forefathers and their Star-Lord kings, cried for salvation as their world burned.

The Demons in the Earth listened.


The sky breaks open

Long feared and held in contempt, the blood-cults emerged from the depths of the Underworld, led by their half-god high priests. These descendants of the gods, known as the Elite, gathered the frightened masses to their breast, providing succor from the ravages of a dying world. In exchange for saving man, the Demons in the Earth demanded worship and fealty.

The people of Krül emerged from the underworld when the Annihilation Event subsided, dedicated to reclaiming their lands from the ruins of civilization. Yet there was very little to return to, as the surface had been shattered by the ire of the First Men and only vast tracts of swampland remained where oceans once stood.

As the hungry maw of the desert feasted on the corpse of the world, the Elite undertook the greatest feat of engineering ever dared: a series of grand canals which crisscrossed the face of the world. These canals allowed the meager water resources of melting polar caps to be distributed as widely as possible, providing irrigation for the fields and vapor for the cloud machines. Where the canals intersected the Elite built cities and a vast trade network emerged.

An Elite High Priest

Although the canals would provide a second life for Krül, it was only a temporary reprieve. The deserts endlessly strive to claim the final remnants of humanity and even the Gods of the Earth seem incapable of holding them at bay for much longer. City-states like Val-Soth today owe their existence to these canals, and as they continue to break down each becomes more and more isolated, the desert slowly obliterating what little life yet remains.

Continued in Part 2, which will detail the modern Elite and their role as both high priests and heads of state.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Savage Indexing



For those who are just joining us, you can find an index to my house setting, the Savage World of Krül, HERE.

You can also click on the SWoK icon on your right.


Happy hunting!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Songs for the Working Joe

Working Joe rough draft
by Jason Sholtis

The ever-astute Cole suggested that the Working Joes needed some "bug man country music". While I certainly agree (and am in talks with some country-singing dudes), I thought I'd whip up a little solid country gold mix for our put-upon insectile friends, Songs for the Working Joes. You can download it here.

Tracks:
Merle Haggard - "Working Man Blues"
Dwight Yoakam - "I Got You"
Johnny Paycheck - "Slide Off Of Your Satin Sheets"
David Allan Coe feat. Bill Anderson - "Get A Little Dirt On Your Hands"
Willie Nelson - "Blackjack County Chain"
Tennessee Ernie Ford - "Sixteen Tons"
Merle Haggard - "If We Make It Through December"
David Allan Coe - "If That Ain't County" (No Racism Mix)
Johnny Paycheck - "Take This Job And Shove It"
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - "Workin' Man (No Place To Go)"
Johnny Cash - "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer"

Also, as a bonus, here are two more rough drafts of the Working Joe by the astonishing Jason Sholtis:



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Working Joes

Working Joe
by Jason Sholtis


The most populous of the Threen, the Working Joes can be seen toiling along the banks of the grand canals, in the crooked streets and the hardscrabble countryside. They are a tough, rowdy people and after a hard day's labor they can often be found crowding smoky, ill-lit juke joints and honky tonks, fighting, drinking, dancing, laughing, and loving. While their Lawson employers often consider the Working Joes filthy, ill-mannered and brutish, without them the canal system which is the lifeblood of their dying world would collapse entirely.

Working Joes find work wherever they can get it, but are most often employed as porters and stevedores, poleboat walkers and canal crews. Like all living beings on Krül, the Working Joe relies upon the canals for survival, but unlike most it is his muscle power that keeps them moving. Few human workers can be coerced into the herculean labor involved in dragging massive cargo barges upstream, a task essential to keeping trade alive. Fewer still willingly join the work crews needed to dredge the canals that the desert sands constantly threaten to consume. Yet the Working Joes are there, accepting for meager pay jobs that would break lesser men.

Outside of the canal system, many Joes work in construction, a field that they are uniquely suited for because of their ability to secrete a quick-hardening amber resin. This resin is a bonding agent similar to cement which is often used to reinforce crumbling canals and is an essential component of their tenement-mounds. 

Explorers, tomb robbers, and other unsavory sorts best know the Working Joes as porters used to haul treasures out of the undercity. Joes can be easily recruited from the throngs of the unemployed that wait outside of the Temple of Man. There, drifters, hard-luck cases, and Working Joes lounge, waiting to get hired onto a crew. Although Lawson administrators and capitalists are the primary employers, few are too proud to turn down work of any sort.

Working Joes
AC: 6; HD 1; MV 12" (4"), Wall-Crawl 6" (2"); AT #1; D 1d6; SV F1; ML 9
No. Enc.: 30-300; Hoard: II; XP: 16

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Warlock Fashion

Harkening back to the days of their founders, the Star-Lords, Warlocks have always possessed a flair for daring and theatrical costuming. Their dramatic sensibilities demand powerful color schemes of jet, gold, cerulean, rubicand, and royal purple.



Unlike the wizards of ancient legend, however, most Warlocks prefer outfits which allow for a greater range of movement. Voluminous robes have given way to short skirts or leggings with tasteful scarlet loincloths.























Owing perhaps to the fact that their progenitors are known as "Star-Lords", many Warlocks adopt cosmic elements into their design schema. Others believe this to be in deference to Starlin, one of the Ideal Forms whose emanations comprise the vast potentiality of the Overworld. Whatever the case may be, few can argue that it psychedelic flamboyance can spice up any dull outfit.























A natural consequence of mastering forces beyond the ken of Man is a tendency for Warlocks to take on an increasingly inhuman, otherworldly mien. Common mutations of this sort include golden skin, pupil-less eyes, and especially prominent chins. While some would bemoan such an unusual appearance, many a Warlock embrace this with an enviable amount of panache, opting for a 'more is less' approach to dress and allowing their supernatural attributes to be a fashion statement in and of themselves.





Trendsetting Warlocks may also want to remember these important fashion 'Dos' of the 800s: big collars are in, sleeves were made to flair, and every outfit can be accessorized with golden bracers or ornate girdles. Good luck out there, fashion fans!





Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet The Joes

Before the First Men descended from the heavens, Krül was peopled by a variety of half-men races which vied for territory in those mist-shrouded primeval forests of the earliest days. Amongst these savages, the insectoid Thar-Phreen stood tall, bound together by their telepathic hive-clusters whose communal memories reached back hundreds of generations. The earthen arcology-mounds towered high above the tree line, housing millions and standing as a testament to the achievements of the Thar-Phreen.

On the First Day, man swaddled himself in flesh and detached from the stars to spread the word of the Law. Many of the half-men recognized the truth of the Law and submitted themselves before the wisdom of the star-brothers. But not the proud Thar-Phreen, who asked, "What use have we for these strange and inconvenient truths? Man claims that his wisdom falls from the sky, like the rays emanating from the stars. Yet our wisdom was built up from the earth, and represents the combined thought of our fathers, and their fathers, and so on, extending backwards before Time was born."

And so it was that the Thar-Phreen brought their doom upon themselves.

Man, in his infinite wisdom, saw the hubris of those insectile half-men whose arcology-mounds shadowed the earth in their vanity and choked the heavens with their striving. In retribution, the First Men tossed their thunderbolts, shattering the great mounds and scattering the Thar-Phreen to the four winds. Then the First Men turned their deadly rays on the Vas-Phreen, keepers of history and speakers of wisdom. Thus spoke the First Men: "False wisdom has covered the eyes of the Phreen, and the accumulated detritus of many too-clever minds have occluded the truth. History has become a lie; therefore, this shall become the year zero. No more shall the Vas-Phreen think for you; each individual must come to the Law on his own."

(back row, left to right): Baby Joes, G.I. Joes, Mama Joes
(front row): Working Joes, Papa Joes
Image by Jason Sholtis

Today, the Thar-Phreen are but a wan reflection of their lost glory, toiling as humanity's underclass. Now known colloquially as "Joes", the Thar-Phreen are referred to by their role specialization:

Papa Joes: Genius telepaths that once ruled the Phreen and now are hunted nearly to extinction.

Mama Joes: Nursemaids and potential queens, Mama Joes today work primarily as domestic servants and governesses for wealthy Lawsons.

Baby Joes: The diminutive Baby Joes are often employed as messengers, scouts, spies, and information brokers.

Working Joes: Capable of tireless labor, Working Joes are hired out as construction workers, porters, stevedores, and in any profession that requires a strong back and few prospects.

G.I. Joes: The warrior class of the Thar-Phreen, the G.I. Joes are organized into rough tribes which are oft deployed to the front lines in the frequent clashes between city-states.

Further details on the Joes will be revealed in a series of upcoming posts (each superbly illustrated by the peerless Jason Sholtis). Stay tuned!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Seven Celestial Sciences

The magic-users of Krül today (commonly known as Warlocks) trace their lineage back to the Star Lords, a powerful sect of wizard kings that existed before the Annihilation Event. Although the exact details of their decline and withdrawal from the planet has been lost in the cataclysmic upheaval of the Event, it is said that they descended through the Underworld and into the void, where their heavens can be seen twinkling remotely in the sky above.

The seven greatest of the Star Lords would each form a fraternity based on one of the cosmological forces of the Overworld, known as 'Sciences'. From their occult experiments these Star Lords would form the canon of spells for each order, which would be refined by later masters.

The Seven Celestial Sciences:
Time, Space, Energy, Matter, Spirit, Body, Dream


Today these fraternities continue to pass their secrets down through initiatory ritual training and one-on-one student/master apprenticeships. Hierarchical in nature, the Orders are organized into tiers known as 'orbits' which are ranked in distance from their founder. As a student masters the mysteries of his order he is said to be aligning himself into a closer orbit and, thus, becoming more like their mythical founder. 

In deference to the revered Star Lords which have ascended into godhood, each of these esoteric disciplines are known as Celestial Sciences and at the head of each fraternity a position is held for their immortal founders.Whether or not the Star Lords still play a role guiding the organizations they founded or if these positions are purely symbolic is a matter hotly debated by apprentices and cryptically hinted at by the masters.

On a practical level, the Celestial Orders serve two primary purposes: the training of Warlocks and spell creation and dissemination. Training is a gradual process of internalizing symbolic frameworks within the mind which allows for the mind to process the reality of the Overworld and shape it to his will. Once a student has undergone the necessary internal workings to prepare himself, he is guided through a ritual initiation process which opens his mind more fully to the Overworld. These initiations are harrowing psychedelic revelations that must be carefully guided and are only possible through the preparations they have undergone. The result of these rituals, however, is that the Warlock gains access to a new 'level' of spells, a treasure that many power-hungry Warlocks would risk their souls and lives for.

An initiation ritual gone wrong

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Panic Rooms (An Optional Rule for Old School Games)

Home Sweet Home

One of my favorite rules to appear in the OSR blogosphere was Dungeons & Dawn Patrol by Jeff Rients. However, I do fear that it makes tricks which cut the party off from an obvious means of retreat to be too harsh. This sort of trick is extremely common in classic dungeons, with examples including: one-way doors, waterfalls, chutes, turnstiles, rotating hallways, teleportation traps, along with a variety of similar nefarious devices. Unless there is a relatively easy way for players to escape from that point, referees who employ such tricks will likely be dooming their players to an awful demise. Since I absolutely love these sorts of shenanigans, I've devised a workaround which I hope will still evoke the same terror I've seen the original produce (as a player in Nightwick Abbey on G+).

Panic Rooms

A temporary reprieve
On very rare occasions delvers may discover a refuge from the terrors of the Underworld in a remote corner of the dungeon. Often tucked behind hidden doors, easily fortified and with only a single entrance, these rooms act as a place for PCs to rest long enough to regather their strength. When one of these panic rooms is discovered a kindly referee will inform their players of their fortuitous discovery. Alternatively, the referee may require a party to determine on their own what constitutes a panic room, with harsh consequences for failure, namely the Dungeons & Dawn Patrol table.

At the end of a session the party may rest in a panic room for a single eight hour period. However, these places are only 'safe' in comparison to the rest of the dungeon hell that surrounds them and should be used only in the most desperate of circumstances. Avoiding wandering monsters requires that the party hide in total darkness while maintaining an absolute silence. Despite these precautions, players are still likely to periodically hear a variety of sounds outside the door, from growling and heavy breathing to loud crashes as the more stubborn predators attempt to force their way in. 

Sleep Tight

Following this harrowing experience players roll for hit points twice (as per my Living It Up rule), take the lower value, and then divide that in half. It is highly suggested that players beat a hasty retreat to the surface, if they are able to. If, for whatever reason, the party does not return to the surface they must utilize a different panic room or roll on the Dungeons & Dawn Patrol table as their original hiding spot is effectively 'blown' and will remain so for 2d4 weeks. Furthermore, spending more than one night in a dungeon is really pushing your luck. On the second night there is a 2 in 6 chance of disaster despite being in a panic room. Roll on the following Couchsurfing in the Dungeon table:

1: ASSAULT ON DUNGEON 13 The monsters know you're in there, and by god, they're getting in. Roll wandering monsters 1d4+2 times; the lot of them are on the other side of the door and are actively trying to kick it in.
2: TROLL TOLL Randomly choose one intelligent monster from a nearby level, preferably an organized group of some kind. They've entrenched themselves outside of your panic room and demand that all nonmagical treasures are turned over immediately.
3: DOOR TO THE NETHERWORLD A secret door has materialized in your panic room. Roll 1d4, this determines how many floors down it connects to. The wandering monster from that level about to break in on the players has a 4 in 6 chance of surprise.
4: ONE OF US! ONE OF US! The dungeon has claimed you as its own. Doors open for you automatically and you can see in the dark. Unfortunately, it may not be so easy to leave. As the party nears the entrance each PC must save vs paralyzation. Failure indicates that the character cannot go any further, as if blocked by a Wall of Force. Those who pass their save will find that they are free to go. Party members left behind must save versus death each night or transform into a monster. Remove Curse will allow the afflicted to escape, but will only work before they undergo their metamorphosis.

Each night spent in the dungeon after the second increases the chance of disaster, increasing the chance of mishap by one per day (3 in 6, 4 in 6, etc).



In conjunction with the rules above, here are a pair of magic items for helping the party escape a terrible fate when trapped in the dungeon.

Rocket from the Tombs: Appearing to be a metal wheel similar to those used to open submarine doors, this one-use item can be attached to any wall in the dungeon. Doing so will indicate a faint outline of a rounded secret door and, if the wheel is turned, reveals the interior of a NASA-style rocket. Immediately a loud Majel Barrett voice announces, "LAUNCH IMMINENT. TAKE-OFF IN 30...29...28..." The players will have three rounds to get inside and buckle up. At the end of the third round the rocket takes off, blasting them out of the dungeon and into the air. As they sail through the cloud the seats will automatically eject from the ship, parachutes opening to ensure a safe landing. The rocket continues to hurdle into space, eventually reaching the nearest moon (or, alternatively, being shot down by orbital lasers). No evidence of the rocket's path can be found in the dungeon, nor can the original secret door be reopened. The only evidence of the ship's flight will be scorch marks on the surface.

Shit! Get in, get in, get in...


Panic Button: This common minor magic item is a large red button labeled 'PANIC' set on a flat black base. Panic Buttons can be found throughout the dungeon, generally in piles of 2d4 set beneath a poster of two gugs leaning back-to-back, arms crossed. The poster reads:

Drax Brothers
Dungeon Extraction Specialists
Since 504 AE

Turns out that no joke is too dumb for this blog


Attached to the base is a sticker which states the following:

RATES
To Panic Room: Half
To Surface: All
Minimum 500 gp value
Arrival Estimated in 1-3 Turns
Satisfaction Guaranteed

If the button is depressed the two gugs will appear in 1d3 turns, as stated. If they find the PCs engaged in combat they will quickly move in to extract the party from the situation and whisk them away a short distance, otherwise they will demand payment up front. The party must pay one half of all nonmagical treasure to be escorted to the nearest panic room or all treasure gained to be taken to the surface. The Drax Brothers do not negotiate terms.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The First Men


The First Men


The First Men, bringers of the law, from whom all men may trace their lineage, are a popular object of worship amongst craftspeople, moneylenders, shopkeepers, and tax collectors. According to legend, these First Men settled on Krül to share the Law to the savage inhabitants who lived without shame or ambition. The children of the First Men were corrupted by the Demons of the Earth, those that men now call Gods. The Demons of the Earth shared with their followers the stolen secret of the fires of heaven and these rebellious children rose up to destroy their parents and rule the heavens. Angered, the First Men retaliated, causing the Annihilation Event which drained the oceans and scarred the land. Their vengeance wreaked, the First Men withdrew into the heavens and let their descendants suffer the consequence of their folly.

Lawsons

Followers of this religion were originally known as “Sons of the Law”, which would later become “Lawsons”, the common term today and the temples are known as Houses of Man. Followers adhere to strict codes of behavior which encourage temperance, self-discipline, thriftiness, and the pursuit of profit above all things. Lawsons are expected to follow strict time tables, managing their day to the moment, and meet weekly to report what steps they have taken to achieve their long term goals. They despise magic above all things and have little time for frivolity and disorder.


Beloved by the First Men

A key aspect of the worship of the Lawsons is their veneration of that sealed utopia known as Omega, the Last City, and the Family which acts as Omega's representatives outside of their impenetrable fortress. Believed by the Lawsons to be a paradise of absolute law which few are found worthy of. Many among the Lawsons spend years petitioning to be accepted into Omega, and the majority will take a pilgrimage to their holy city in hopes of earning favor with the First Men upon their return.


Father Wisdom,
head of the Family


According to the Law, the Family is comprised of First Men whose duty is to record the course of history in preparation for the final judgment. When the First Men return in a time of grim prophecy every act shall be placed on the scales, be it Lawful or Chaotic, and how they shall tip will determine the fate of man. Those who are found worthy will be lifted into the heavens to join the First Men while the remainder will be left behind to perish on their dying world like rats on a sinking ship.

How nonbelievers view the First Men


Lawsons are found almost exclusively in the city-states of Krül, as they find little support outside of their middle class parishioners. The decadent elites find the Lawsons' moralizing to be deadly dull while the more pragmatically-minded poor prefer the tangible benefits derived from worship of the Gods. Despite this, the Lawsons are a force to be reckoned with, as priests often whip their parishioners into moral frenzies over the wanton lifestyles of the wretched slum-inhabitants, the brazen cults which hold sway over men's minds, and whatever else offends them. As such, they manage to keep their neighborhoods relatively homogeneous and free of wizards, cultists, and other undesirables, and the most egregious offenders face not only angry crowds but also Lawgivers, dour enforcers and witch hunters of the House of Man.

Keepers of the Bourgeois Flame
Lawgivers



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Greyskull Chapel

So, I've been listening to a lot of older country music recently and it has inspired a couple D&D ideas. Here is the silliest of the lot:




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Greyskull Chapel

Many dangers reside deep within the dungeons of Krül, but on rare occasions delvers may find succor in small hidden shrines dedicated to a forgotten cult. While the tenants of this warrior faith have been forgotten (as have their origins), rumors persist amongst adventurers of the power that still resides in this underworld chapels.

A Greystone Chapel may be identified by the imposing portal which bars entrance, a skull of monstrous proportions whose distended mouth holds a trap door. Should a Fighting Man approach such a portal with reverence, there is a 50% chance that the trap door will swing open. Beyond the trap door is a small grey stone cave with a bare altar. Fighting Men which pray at this altar will be imbued with divine favor.

If favored by the unknown gods of the Greyskull Chapel, the Fighting Man may call upon their blessing in the future. By raising their weapon above their head and shouting, "By the power of Greyskull!" they will find themselves imbued with incredible strength (equal to a potion of Heroism) as a bolt of electricity strikes their weapon. When this incredible transformation occurs the Fighting Man will become more tan and muscular and all clothes worn will be replaced with a pair of fur underwear (excluding partial armor). Clothes worn will return at the end of the effect.

Additionally, while under the effect of the blessing, Fighting Men may shout "I have the power!" to inflict maximum damage upon landing a successful blow. This effect may only be used once.

Fighting Man can only call upon such a blessing once after receiving divine favor, and will find the doors of the chapel will remain barred after their initial visit. However, if a similar chapel is found elsewhere in the underworld the Fighting Man may approach it independently and receive an identical blessing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Xubatu, the Slithering God



I could see down forever and ever, and I recollected all I'd ever heard norrated about the Bottomless Pool. How it was blue as the sky, but with a special light of its own; how no water ran into it, excusing some rain, but it stayed full; how you couldn't measure it, you could let down a sinker till the line broke of its own weight.

Though I couldn't spy the bottom, it wasn't rightly dark down there. Like looking up into the blue sky, I looked down into blue water, and in the blue was a many-colored shine, like deep lights.

-- Manly Wade Wellman, "One Other"

A regional deity with a relatively small number of followers, Xubatu is known as a patient, meditative god of magic, thought, and mystical experiences. He is said to dwell in the Bottomless Pool, a large well which is housed at the center of the Slithering God's temple in Val-Soth. Those who have stared into its depths speak of an iridescent glow which emanates from the dim recesses of that blue lagoon.

Although few outside of the Cult of Xubatu have laid eyes on the Slithering God, depictions of the deity show a massive, sickly yellow snail with a nacreous steel shell covered in thin spines as long as a man's arm. These translucent spines are filled with a silver, opalescent liquid which secretes from the tip, similar to the metallic trail left by Xubatu.



Stretching out around them as far as they could see was a shore of bones, moss-covered and old, with a few whiter and newer additions. They had come upon a graveyard of a strange and horrible kind.

How many generations, how many lives of the world outside, must have been spent to create that vast and moldering wrack of skeletons, not even the inhabitant of the lake could have said.

-- Sterling E. Lanier, The Unforsaken Hiero

The Cult of the Slithering God attracts those who seek power, especially magical might. Members speak of the Maze with the Seven Thousand Crystal Frames through which they must pass to unlock their true psychic potential and, indeed, many a failed magic user has gained great power by joining the cult. Cultists can be identified by their witch's mark, a large, raised lump on their torso from which a network of pulsing red marks crisscross the body. Priests tend to favor spears fashioned to resemble the spines of Xubatu.

Finally, those who would brave the secrets of Xubatu's lair should be warned of foul rumors that circulate about the night-black complex beneath the temple, the majority of which is submerged underwater. It is said that Cultists of the Slithering God never truly die, instead achieving immortality through meditative practice, sitting in eternal contemplation in those still, blue waters. What strange powers these eternal beings possess is unknown, but none as yet have entered that brine-choked underworld and yet lived.



You've got to look into the lake at a certain angle, otherwise you can't see anything. Down on the bottom, among the weeds - stagnant water, everything dead, except . . . There's a city down there, all black spiraling steeples and walls at obtuse angles with the streets. Dead things lying on the streets - they died with the journey through space - they're horrible, hard, shiny, all red and covered with bunches of trumpet-shaped things . . . And right at the center of the city's a transparent trapdoor. Glaaki's under there, pulsing and staring up - I saw the eye-stalks move toward me...

-- Ramsey Campbell, "The Inhabitant of the Lake"



Monday, February 18, 2013

History of Krul, Part 2

After receiving the initial survey report, the Galactic Oligarchs set up a blockade around Krül to ensure that no prospectors or freebooters entered the system. Following this, the Confederacy quietly conducted a decade long observation campaign of the planet to catalog the various species and cultures thereupon.

The dominant species were known as Krütians, tall, thin, warmblooded humanoids possessing a Renaissance level of technology. The two other major intelligent races were the Thar Phreen, insectile creatures organized in telepathic hive structures, and the Skardi, octopoids which held sway beneath the seas. Each of these species claimed their own territories and were divided into various nations, tribes, and hives.


To the Oligarchs, the situation was ripe for exploitation. Prior to any diplomatic contact, however, special forces teams were employed to eliminate certain shamans and other mystical figures that were designated as high priority targets. Over a thousand seers, witch doctors, mediums, and the like met their end at the hands of these commando teams.

Once this initial threat was eliminated, a carefully orchestrated introduction was made with Krütian leadership, arranging a limited trade partnership which would provide mineral rights to the Confederacy in exchange to certain high-tech goods. Over the course of the next several decades, however, the Confederacy's influence grew across the globe as they introduced trading posts, relief organizations, schools and media.




While this spreading influence by the Confederates was seen as a threat to sovereignty by many Krütian leaders, their resistance would ultimately prove fruitless. Over the course of the next two hundred years native autonomy was slowly eroded to the point where the planet was governed by Confederate bureaucrats. This was accomplished through a variety of tactics, ranging from cultural, economic, and military imperialism.

To the Confederates, their unchecked reign seemed assured. They had gained control of a strategic resource of fantastic value and a subjugated population with which to harvest it. Little did they suspect that just a few short decades later they would lose it all to a threat unlike any they had ever faced.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Monster Breeding, Part Two: Crossbreeding


 From the owlbear to the manticore, wizards have loved mashing up critters from the very beginning. Here are some rules.

Note: Crossbreeding is a total waste of money, as few will be interesting in purchasing your vulturedogs. However, MUs which successfully breed a new species (producing at least one mating pair) will earn one XP for every GP spent on the project.

Basics of Birthing a Cowfrog

Crossbreeding is a remarkably difficult process to pull off. While there are a handful of natural crossbreeds (mules, ligers, centaurs, etc.), more unusual pairings will require both Animal Magnetism and the Ritual of Twaining (see below). Once both of these spells are cast, there is a base chance of the pair mating equal to the average of their individual fertility rates + 5% per level of the MU. This is modified by the following:

Size: -10% by size category
Limbs: -15% per pair different
Type: -30% if different clades (fish, fowl, mammal, reptile, etc.), -50% if wildly divergent (e.g. a dog and a jelly)

Example: Philip the Bloody, a 7th level MU, intends to breed a crow and a rat. The LL determines that crows breed 40% of the time, while rats breed 80% of the time. The average of these two rates is 60%, +35% for Philip's level, giving the crowrat a 95% base chance of breeding true. However, because the crow and the rat are of different clades, the chance is reduced by 30%, and the difference in limbs reduces the chance by an additional 15%, giving the crow and the rat a 50% chance of producing a horrible little monster.

Is it More Cow or More Frog?

If successfully bred, the LL will then determine which characteristics are gained from the parents. The LL may pick and choose according to his whim, or give a base 50% chance that each trait is inherited. Traits of each species are to be determined by the LL, but will cover things such as the number of limbs, tails, fur, feathers, prehensile fingers, etc.

Ritual of Twaining
Level: 4
Duration: permanent
Range: touch

Casting Ritual of Twaining allows for the successful mating of normally incompatible species, overcoming both mismatched genitals and genetic infeasibility. This ritual requires three hours of preparation to cast. Further details would be in bad taste.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Monster Breeding Part One (An Optional Rule for Labyrinth Lord)

The following is adapted from the article “Monsters, Magic & Menageries” by John McKeown, originally published in Imagine #21. The rules below have been tweaked and simplified based on personal taste. I highly recommend looking at the original article as well.

Want to watch hippogriffs do the nasty and sell their eggs for a tidy profit? The following systems provide guidelines not just for producing baby monsters, but for creating new forms of life altogether.

Care and Feeding Your Unholy Horror

Breeding stock must be housed, handled, and fed. Associated costs below:

Feed: 1 GP / week per HD (possibly more if special diet restrictions)
Handler: 10 GP / month for regular animals, 50 GP / month for monster specialists
Housing: 5 GP / week for dog-sized, 10 GP / week for man-sized, 20 GP / week for horse-sized, and so on. Monsters that have special housing requirements (liquid environments, heated, chilled, etc.) may cost much more.

Making Monster Babies

Reproduction cycles vary wildly. Each critter will have the following traits:

1. Breeding season (time of year and frequency)
2. Fertility rate (percentage chance of successful breeding)
3. Period of pregnancy
4. Litter size
5. Mothering Period (no new pregnancy)
6. Age of Maturity

These traits will be determined by the LL, probably by hastily making some shit up when you ask. If the LL feels like hosing you for some more cash, you may have to pay a sage to tell you.

Could This Move Any Slower?

Impatient breeders may be interested in the following spells:

Animal Magnetism
Level: 2
Duration: 1 breeding season
Range: touch

Animal Magnetism increases the chances of two creatures mating successfully by 5% per level of the MU. It may be cast once per pair per mating season.

Age Animal
Level: 3
Duration: permanent
Range: touch

Age Animal instantly ages an animal by one year per level of the MU (although they may choose to shorten this amount). While it can be used on any creature, the ritual involved requires a full hour of preparation. Once the spell is cast, the MU must make a savings throw vs spells or age one month for every year the animal has aged.

In part two we will look at crossbreeding incompatible species, and in part three we will examine the use of magical mutations to create entirely unknown species. Finally, in part four we will list potential mutations and defects that can arise.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

History of Krül Pt. 1

HD 187123
 

Seven hundred years ago a survey ship representing the Galactic Confederacy arrived on a lush jungle planet in the system HD 187123. The planet possessed a rich biosphere with multiple intelligent species and initial testing indicated that it was suitable for human habitation. While these factors were of some interest, the primary focus of the survey ship was the planet's economic potential. What they discovered would forever alter the future of the unsuspecting inhabitants of the planet which would be dubbed Krül.

Deep beneath the surface of Krül were vast deposits of an extremely rare mineral known as Kirbonite. Kirbonite, being a blood red crystal which faintly radiates light, was the most sought-after commodity in the galaxy. The amount discovered by that survey team represented nearly one tenth of the total Kirbonite resources in Confederation space.

Kirbonite


Kirbonite's value is not derived merely by the rarity of the substance, but its absolute necessity for galactic communication and travel. Prior to the discovery of Kirbonite, interplanetary travel had become common as efficent space flight developed, yet the gulf between solar systems was nearly impossible to overcome. Although some limited attempts had been made through generation ships and suspended animation, regular transit was a complete unknown.

Kirbonite changed all of that. The radioactive properties of the previously unknown mineral creates a localized effect wherein the barrier between dimensions are weakened, allowing for objects and individuals to pass between worlds. By directing these energies, Confederation scientists were able to enter into another dimension and reemerge light years away. Unfortunately for the burgeoning Confederation, using Kirbonite in this fashion consumed the base material, leaving only a fine dust. The consequence of this was that travel between solar systems would be both rare and incredibly expensive.

As such, the discovery of these deposits on Krül represented wealth on a titannic scale. Unknown to the excited survey team, however, it also represented a terrible danger.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Worldcube (A Magic Item for Labyrinth Lord)


The worldcube activated


The worldcube is a cube comprised of six square mirrors, 8' on a side, held together by a steel frame. Studying the reflections of these mirrors will show rippling images which will appear for short intervals before disappearing. These images depict alien worlds unlike anything known. Strangely, each mirror depicts a different world in these brief flashes.

Touching the worldcube reveals that the mirrors are only semi-solid and constant pressure from a fingertip can penetrate their surface. Should a person or object pass through the surface of the cube it begins to flash rapidly with a bright white light, revealing an empty chamber within. If someone enters the cube, they can see clearly through the mirrors they just passed through, and can exit just as easily. The worldcube will continue to flash for one turn before disappearing entirely.

Inactive worldcube


Anyone or anything within the worldcube when it disappears will experience a nauseous sensation as the cube tumbles downward through empty space. As it turns, any people or objects within will find that the walls have become very solid (although still transparent), and they will take 1d6 damage as they are tossed wildly about. Outside, what appears to be a raging storm of iridescent energy pushes them to and fro. Experienced dimensional travelers will note that this is one of the more chaotic areas of the Overworld, known to be extremely hazardous to all life.

After 15-30 seconds of falling the worldcube will land on a foreign world completely unlike their own. However, as far as anyone is aware, the worldcube never visits the same place twice. Although there are no constants to these places, they are commonly extremely alien, full of hostile life and rich with incredible magical and technological treasures. This combination ensures that adventurers are frequently attracted to the cube, as it offers high risks but high rewards to the bold.

The worldcube in transit


Once the worldcube has landed it will be completely inert for four hours, responding in no way to outside stimuli (although it will allow objects within to step out). At the end of this period, the worldcube will once again flash rapidly for one full turn. At the end of this turn it will disappear once more, returning to the spot where it was originally activated.

Inspection of the cube after its return will indicate that one of the alien worlds depicted (the one which was recently visited) has disappeared. In 1-4 weeks time a new world will appear on the surface.

Note: LLs which use the worldcube are encouraged to design six small locations / dungeons on alien worlds which are extremely deadly but have truly wild treasures within. When the party enters the cube, roll 1d6 to determine which they end up in.

Veteran worldcube delvers.

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