Sunday, December 15, 2013

Warriors of the Black Sun: intro

Above is the title to what has, up until now, been called the dwarf thing. All tolled, there are like 200 keyed areas. Most of them are done, but my disire to provide unique monsters and magic items is definitely slowing things down. Imma blow my xmas deadline, I think. Apologies. Right now without graphics the document is 40 pages single spaced and around 13k words.

I am very much committed to infusing a fairy tale vibe into this thing, hopefully that will evident in the short piece below, so opinions in regards to the same (or anything else, really) are very welcome. I also welcome name calling and profanity.




Warriors of the Black Sun is a B/X fantasy adventure/campaign supplement. Adventure material is presented first, as it is assumed that the referee will place the regions detailed herein into the context of their own campaign. Referees who choose to do so should encounter no difficulty utilizing whichever version of the classic game they prefer.


Part two of the document, however, includes some detail on the Wide World and related material. The Wide World can easily be used as a campaign setting on its own; but it is likely small enough that it could be placed into an existing campaign world in its entirety. A short section on house rules has been provided, which lists character generation options specific to the Wide World. More specific detail regarding the races of the Wide World, especially in regards to dwarfs, can be found in this section as well.




Character Details

No specific range is suggested, but characters should probably be of at least 4th level before entering the ruins beneath Urux. Although much of the setting material is slanted towards dwarfs, any and all classes and races are suitable for play.







The Bird of Omens is a magical peacock that can answer one question about anything, once a year, at midnight on Midsummer's Eve.


Three days ago, a band of gnolls acting as agents of Riktus, the Hex-King, stole the magic bird from the Elfs of Glistendome Castle. The bird has lived at the castle for centuries. Over that time, the elfs there have bonded with the enchanted creature on an elemental level; as a result, in the days since the theft, excepting the royal family, all the elfs of Glistendome have fallen into a cursed magical slumber. As time goes on, the sleepers seem to become transparent. The king's scholars believe that if the bird is not recovered by Midsummer's Eve' five months hence, the elfs of the castle will sleep until they fade to nothing.


The band of gnolls, who call themselves the Warriors of the Black Sun, have been tracked as far the front door of Zimon's Gate, a subterranean complex thought to date from imperial times. It is thought the place may contain a magical passage to another part of the world.


Fully equipped by the elf king, Theopolis, the player characters stand now in front of that door themselves, about to set off on a quest to retrieve the Bird of Omens. It is up to the individual players to determine why they have joined the expedition.

Concept sketches:

Concept sketches:



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dwarf project status report


Aside from a map I'm fucking up for Trey over at the Sorcerer's Skull, this is all I am working on until it's done. I am committed to completion before X-mass. Currently, I am typing, augmenting and refining the key to big dungeon (pic below). There are two more adventures that are each about 75% done. The Under-Vale and the Vale are both mostly keyed, less stats and encounter tables. All the maps are done, but I have only done like one piece of non-cartographic art. How much more art gets done will depend entirely on when the text gets finshed. I'm thinking all tolled we're looking at like fifty pages, maybe 100.

This will be a free product, but if it isn't completely comprised of suck and the demand is there, I will put a version up on lulu or something, the proceeds of which will go to some charity involving kids and food and junk.


See you on the other side.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Beyond the Leaning City Chapter XVI

Well, I'm behind on rooms for the dwarf thing and I'm behind on fixing tags, and I have accepted an outside cartography gig, because otherwise I might catch up.

So anyway, chapter XVI, possibly.



Voyage in the Underboat.

He was overwhelmed immediately, made helpless by the pressing weight of the onslaught. A scuffling, struggling moment ended with a blunt impact and he went down.

Thront hovered on the edge of senselessness for several moments; the greenskins hauled him around; he was trussed up and carried across the decks. The jellyhead he had killed was being carried in much the same fashion; black ichor dripped from the remaining portion of its ruined head.

Imagine, heads made of jelly, Thront thought. How very stupid- especially to go out without a helmet.

The greenskins' heads also had a gelatinous portion, but it was much smaller and looked like a large, juicy blister on their brow ridge.

They talked in a buzzing dialect; Thront caught a word here and there: Sacrifice- something about a priest, submersion, but their enunciation was rough and inarticulate; he found himself unable to make any real sense of their speech.

He suspected he'd killed the one that could talk.

After walking for about a quarter hour, they came to the edge of a ship, just another in a long series, this one a half sunken power-galley. The party came to an unexpected halt.

Thront grew more nervous.

The greenskins dropped him onto the deck; a throng of them closed around him. For a terrifying instant, he feared they would toss him over the side, into the icy sea- but their only task was to affix a makeshift harness of rope around his chest and arms. Gently, the greenskins lowered him over the side, and into the hands of some of their fellows, who stood in a waiting boat. The corpse of the jelly head followed.

Six of the greenskins manned the long boat; those who remained above disappeared from sight.

Someone took up the sculling oar, and the boat slid noiselessly through a crevice of wood and ice. Thront scrutinized every turn and twist of the waterway, committing each element of their course to memory.

Mist drifted through the weird canal, and vibrals took to their quivering flight within it.

The longboat coasted around a sharp corner, entering onto a long and misty corridor. The Greenskin in the prow of the craft mad a noise of excited surprise; his fellow at the oar commenced immediately to back water. The four greenskins in between them drew needle slender swords.

The dark green water in front of the boat exploded into white froth; something huge and gleaming, four or five times the size of The Siren, broke the surface. Thront thought it at first to be a gargantuan fish, but the top of it popped open and a jellyhead climbed out.

It was an underwater ship! How extraordinary.

The jellyhead stepped down onto the stylized hull of the underwater vessel. Several greenskins clambered out the hatch behind him.

The greenskin in the bow of the longboat stood; he raised his arms and began to speak.

More greenskins were coming out the underboat's hatch; there were more than twice as many standing on the hull of the underwater boat as there were in the longboat.

Thront shifted in his place.

The jellyhead turned his back on the speaking greenskin.

No one moved.

One of the greenskins standing on the hull of the underwater boat bared his teeth and howled; he drew a knife and leapt into the long boat. His companions followed immediately.

A short and bloody altercation ensued. The greenskins fought with knives, savaging each other with a frightening, blood-spattering zeal.

The battle was excelled in savagery only by its brevity.

When it was over, ten bodies lay in the water. The crew of the Underboat was victorious.

The jellyhead crossed over to the longboat he studied Thront intently for several minutes before moving on to the body of his dead counterpart.

He made a low and gurgling sound in his throat-stem. Thront took it to be laughter.

Another team of greenskins hauled Thront aboard the underwater boat. After being lowered through the hatch, he was placed in the center of a high-ceilinged cabin. The circular space was both baroque and precise. Several bookshelves clustered along the rear walls, volumes locked in place with gleaming brass bars; a finely crafted sculpture of a strangely proportioned fish sat atop a marble pedestal. Complex looking wheels and levers were spaced about the room; a great many of them clustered with tube-like nodes and bubbles a-flash with green and yellow light.

The bridge?

He continued his examination: a circular window allowed for one hundred and eighty degrees of vision to the front. The water beyond the glass churned and frothed. The corpse of the jellyhead plunged past dragging bubbles in its wake; the longboat followed immediately after.

Something clanged behind and above- a hatch perhaps? the leader entered. He walked directly to the dense and ridiculously complicated wheel, light, lever array and began making adjustments.

Thront watched him closely. A moment later he felt the sensation of descent.

Dark water washed over the window.



But for a gentle hum originating somewhere towards the rear of the vessel, the underboat ran without noise. Thront gazed out the window, rapt by the undreamt of spectacle before him; damaged, breached hulls (the underside of the Ship's Boneyard, he realized) rolled past overhead, like a sky of inverted, jagged and gray dunes. Occasional shifts in angle and direction afforded him brief glimpses of the sea floor and the greenskin farmers at work there. Light punctured the gray/green darkness at random intervals, filtering through hull-breaks and spaces between the hulks; glittering and hypnotic, fish of all shapes and sizes and colors darted in and out of the luminous shafts.

A large shadow drifted past. Some of the greenskin sailors made uncomfortable noises, but the tension dissolved before Thront could discern its source.

The jellyhead pushed a lever; a bell rang.

Several more greenskins carried in, and set up an array of lamps against one wall.

When the multi-colored lamps had been lit the other lights on the bridge were dimmed.

Thront was fascinated.

The jellyhead stepped between Thront and the lamps; he began to move, thrashing his arms above his head.

"Welcome most honored one." He said.

"Me?" Thront pointed at his own chest.

"You. Welcome among us, oh blessed sacrifice; know that I am Vissel Hroof." The arm motion caused the light to refract through Hroof's gelatinous head in a shimmering coalescing way.


Thront had erroneously supposed that he could not become any more apprehensive about his situation.

"Yes, you will be our offering to the Icyarch on the first night of dark concordance; I will make the offer and your lifeblood will be the river whose current my people will follow into the next epoch."

"What makes me the sacrifice?" Thront said. "Why not somebody else?"

"Because you bear the Lurr, our precious and holy seed, born out into the world by good Vissel Droon and now brought back to us by your consecrated hand and by the divine will of the Icyarch."

"Seed. Hmm. Silver thing shaped like an egg?" Thront squirmed in his bonds.

"Yes that is our seed; please allow us to take possession of it once again."

"Interestingly enough, I don't have your seed; I'm not even sure who does anymore." Thront said. "Could be at the bottom of the sea for all I know."

No sound but a gentle hum from somewhere in the vessel's rear.

Shortly afterward, and for the remainder of the undersea journey Thront was confined to a tiny oblong room without a port. He wasn't exactly certain he had been demoted from holy sacrifice to regular prisoner, but he knew his status was in question. He suspected, though, that in the long run it would make precious little difference into which category he was placed.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Place of Skulls: Area 8



8. The Drawing Room

Door: North: Stone x 2. both are immensely heavy (6d6 STR check, up to three characters may add in their strength to the effort/check) to shift each one.

South: Locked.

Smell: Nothing remarkable

Light: Warm lamplight emanating from overhead chandelier.

Inhabitants: hostile furniture.1 Settee; 2 chairs; 1 coffee table; 2 bookshelves.

Furniture all has the same combat stats.

AC: 4(15) HD 2 HP 10 Attack 1d6* Morale: 12


*bookshelves attacks by hurling books. Each shelf hurls 2/round and has a total "magazine" of 20.


Aside from the strange looking and remarkably well preserved furniture (seeming value 1000gp total) the room has two paintings, one on the west wall and another on the east. The former depicts a sinister looking black galleon upon a rough sea beneath a slate grey sky; the latter shows the interior of a torture chamber, as seen, perhaps, through the blood smeared vision of one of its unhappy occupants: foreboding shapes loom over humanoids of indistinct aspect. Both paintings seem almost to move and breath with life. Looking at either engenders an unease.


The furniture will attack when the south door is attempted or if someone molests either of the paintings. Unless someone is watching it specifically, the furniture will have surprise. Once the room is vacated it automatically reassembles itself.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Beyond the Leaning City part?

I still haven't fixed the tags, and I'm sick so it's not happening today.



Mouths to feed


Meafle food was disgusting.

Kal ate as he walked, spitting out half of what he put in his mouth. Some kind of seafood, or a vegetable; whatever it was it tasted nasty. Is it rotten, or do meafles like to eat crap?

The deck he was crossing was crusted with ice and very slippery. The ice formed odd formations: spikes and pillars, glistening fins and thin walls. Kal paused and examined the unnatural seeming arrangements. What could cause such shapes? It's almost as if there's some kind of aesthetic...

He continued to walk, eyeing the effulgent walls and nodes of ice. He ran his fingers along the surface of one; some of it melted onto his fingertip; greasy and sticky, it was definitely not frozen water.

Kal stopped in his tracks. He heard a clicking noise. It cut out abruptly.

He turned around and began walking briskly the way he had come. He took ten steps and walked into a thin wall of ice made invisible by the failing light.

Something slid across the air above him.

Kal whirled around, and looked up; he caught a slight glimpse of something white and furry. He dug around in his pocket and was happy to find his rubber glove. He put it on and cranked up the static caster.

He made another attempt to return in the direction he had come, but it soon became apparent that the way had changed; there were walls of ice now that had not existed before, and he quickly became turned around.

He heard the clicking noise again, and something moved at the edge of his vision. A writhing, white shape dropped from above; Kal rolled out from underneath the falling thing, and flipped the static caster's toggle. Light arched in the corridor of ice; its brightness refracted in planes and angles all around him, defining the labyrinth of frost he'd wandered into.

A white and round-bodied creature, about the size of a large melon, stood before him for an instant, pinned by the caster's bolt. A clenching, spiny cone of flesh protruded from its back, and a wattle of greasy looking skin hung from its underside.

It exploded. The caster bolt winked out of existence.

Before the light vanished Kal saw ten or twelve more of the creatures headed directly for him. Icenids, he had read about them in Kleema's Codified Natural Index.

Clikclickclikclikclcikck. They came over and through the ice.

Losing no time, Kal, turned about and ran, banging and bouncing off invisible walls. Another of the loathsome things barred his way; slashing wildly his knife; he pinned it to the deck, and won free of the swarm for a moment.

He breathed and tried to think; one thing was for certain: If he attempted to find his way out of this maze the Icenids would run him down.


They were coming again, from every direction. Kal cranked up the caster and fired at the deck; a small and smoldering gap formed in the planking. Kal knifed another icenid, and cranked the caster again; and once more; his third shot left the hole large enough. He jumped.

He fell into cold darkness. Several heartbeats in the air and-

He splashed into water, plunging deep. Cold.

He pulled himself up to the surface. Cold and soaked.

He had escaped; he laughed and looked up; round, falling silhouettes came between himself and the light.

"Bowels," he said and started to swim. A patch of dim light shone to his left; he splashed and floundered towards it. He came the source of the illumination: a breach in the hull, and pulled himself onto its ragged lip.

A wide spar poked through the break- had perhaps been the original cause of it- Kal shimmied up it and through the jagged opening and came out into the misted night. He heard splashing in the darkness behind him.

The moons were up, and the fog was less copious than usual, snow fell in large, slow flakes. The spar led Kal out over a wide patch of open water; he could see the shadowed outline of the Boneyard's continued presence bordering the lagoon like expanse he was climbing over.

The spar came to an end; he hung inches above the frosty water.


Kal pushed himself up on his hands and swiveled around. Icenids clambered down the pole: ten or more. Facing them, he dropped into a crouch and balanced on the beam, drew his knife. Clickclikcclikcclik they swarmed towards him.

The air shifted, and there was a great noise off to the left, in the center of the 'lagoon'. Everything else stopped: Kal turned his head.

A huge black shape exploded up out of the sea; runnels and streams of night dark water coursed down its flanks; over its scales. It opened a mouth large enough to have swallowed The Siren in one neat bite; teeth lined back in rows, disappearing into a black gullet.

It roared and pushed across the water. The Icenids clacked and scurried back through the breach.

Laughing, Kal raised his knife and held it up between himself and the onrushing leviathan.


Place of Skulls, area 7

7. Dragon Skull

Door: All locked.

Smell: Dust.

Light: Dull red glow, emanating from the dragon skull


The center of this room is dominated by a 20' long dragon skull. The snout of the skull points east. It gives off a bit of heat and is warm to the touch.

A large chair made out of humanoid seeming bones resides within the skull, a seated figure looks out through the eye sockets. If a character sits in the chair they will heal all damage, and gain a permanent +1 to all their attributes- even if it mans pushing them above 18. If this occurs the skull will instantly cease to glow and no one else sitting in the chair will gain any benefit at all.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Wide World Gazetteer

A slightly revised version of very old post, presented by request.
This is for the world of the dwarf thing. I did not key everything, and likely I fucked some stuff up, but I'll be putting in a bit more time on this at the close of the project. For the sake of convenience I have reposted the map.

The Wide World:

The region known (to the dwarfs at least) as The Wide World lies just north of the Imperial Sea. Once, long ago, the area existed as province of the Grall (or Unified) Empire, but in the present, the region is contested territory with many groups fighting for control and survival. Locals look back on the ill-remembered Grall past as a sort of golden age in the same way they look back on the more recently departed Dwarf Empire as a the absolute worst of times. Neither is accurate, but that has little bearing on the day-to-day lives of most. This is not the case, however, for every one; adventurers spend their lives delving into the ruins of the Grall, the Dwarfs and the civilization that existed between the two, seeking glory, riches, or perhaps the power granted by forgotten relics of these lost ages. Dwarfs bear the further burden of the pervasive persecution, which,,aside from the gnolls, is the most enduring legacy of Hex-King Wound's Necro Empire.

The Black Spire is a massive and fortified tower, built of black basalt. One of only a few intact Grall era fortifications in the region, the original purpose of the Black spire is unknown; although it is thought that it may have been a temple. Currently it is controlled by the evil human sorcerer, Rictus, who styles himself as Witch King. lthoigh he is clearly less powerful than King Wound, he has managed to gather about him a huge army of gnolls.

Blyx is situated at the eastern edge of Olde Dragon Swamp. Populated by men and dwarves for the most part Blyx conducts trade with everyone from the lizard men of the swamp to the white apes of the Crags. A council of human wizards known as the Silent Society runs Blyx. The city’s trade is prosperous and the Silent Society uses the wealth generated thus to influence affairs far and wide. Blyxian spies are said to infest every city, church and court throughout the land.

Centarus: A wide open grassland, inhabited by megafauna and controlled by the 12 savage centaur nations.

The Crags, a broken, rocky badlands, represent the sad remains of an ancient mountain chain, worn away by time, and shattered by earthly upheaval. Although oases hide among the rocks in a few places, most of the Area is barren and merciless. Outlaws and savage bands of white apes fight over what little there is.

Glistendome. Built long ago by the Grall, Castle Glistendome resides on the Green Isle in The Witch’s Water and is a mighty fortress city. The city has been held by the elves for thousands of years. When they took ownership of the city, the elves assumed stewardship of the Bird of Omens, the Wood Wall and the Wyrd tree. Like many imperial constructions the castle and the city below are riddled with secret passages and hidden chambers. The Old Road, an ancient imperial thoroughfare, runs west from Castle Glistendome to the shattered gates of ruined Moon Keep.

The Gloomy Mountains: Ancient basaltic mountain range. The average peak is about 12,000 feet high at the summit, although Mt. Thorn and several others a much loftier. The extent of the range is unknown and no records exist of anyone visiting the western slope. In the southern expanse of the range some of the deeper valleys contain microclimatic pockets of jungle. Major settlements in the mountains include Urux, located in the Vale of Sorrow, and the Gnollic stronghold at the Black Spire.

The Witch Wood: Ancient home of the elves, the wood continues to the north and east of what is shown on the map. All manner of beasts inhabit the forest. Although there are many elves living at Castle Glistendome, many more live throughout the forest. The elves trade the products of their magical orchards, and handmade treasures of many sorts, with the men of Blyx and the Dwarves of Kurg.

Jungle of Nar: situated at sea level the Jungle of Nar has a much warmer wetter climate than most of the province. Gargantuan, ancient creatures found nowhere else in the province reside in this storybook rain forest. Mysterious ruins of unknown but obviously ancient origin, perhaps predating even the Forgotten Empire, are strewn through out the depths of the forest. The city of Kurg, a dwarfish whaling town resides at the edge of the primeval forest, along the southern coast of the province. It is perhaps one of the only places in the Wide World where the dwarfs live as something other than second class citizens.

Kurg: At the the close of the Second Summer, the dwarves who fled the horror unleashed at Urux (then called Bal-Rindurr) settled far to the south of the catastrophe and took up the hunting of whales and other giant beasts of the sea. Since this initial settlement, the folk of Kurg have prospered, and the settlement has changed but a little. Following long tradition the city minds its own affairs, taking its living from the jungle and the sea.

The Lurch: As a name, “The Lurch” refers both to the large dormant volcano just south of the Screeching Stones and the stunted malformed woodland that surrounds its swollen eminence. The Serpent People made a city here once, deep in pre-imperial times. Over the epochs, successive volcanic events buried and sealed away several iterations of the great city. Each time the volcano erupted the serpent people would return and create another layer. These cities exist now, one piled atop the other, all entombed beneath the flank of the great mountain.

The strange and twisted woodland, which surrounds the volcano, is famous for its carrion stench and populations of giant insects.

The Moon Hills: Fog shrouded, lycanthrope infested and wizard haunted highland region. There are many minor imperial ruins in this region. Warring clans of Halflings reside in cold, ramshackle castles separated from one another by leagues, brought together by hatred and an endless cycle of blood feud.

Moon Keep: Ruined Grall site. An intact funerary complex is situated beneath the remains of main structure.

Stargleam’s Wall: Perhaps the signature relic of the Second Summer. The elvish king Stargleam had this wall built in order to hold back the forces of the first Witch-King, Wound, but something went very wrong. Stargleam’s chief advisor and Wizard, Althon betrayed him by secretly defiling the Wall with forbidden rituals. As a result a presence entered the spaces between the walls within the great wall. Things fell apart. At first, the wall crumbled and resisted repair. Later, over the course of a single night remembered now as the Grief the soldiers manning the great wall went insane and slew one another- down to the last. Mores elves died in that one night then during the entirety of the Summer War up until that point. The elves were effectively undone, the few who remained fled to Camirill. With the elves defeated, the Summer War entered its final phase. Althon raised the thousands of dead soldiers along the wall as mindless revenants of savage aspect. He set them upon the forces of Wound- only to have the Hex-King wrest control away and add the revenants to his already vast armies.

Old Dragon Swamp: roughly 100 years after the Grief, a dragon came down upon the elvish countries. His wrath devastated the land and transformed it. where once there had been a lake now there was a stinking smoking fen. Although, he is rarely seen these days, it is commonly believed that Igor still resides in the swamp. Igor is the most powerful single entity in the province. Many worship him as a god. His agents move in every walk of life, throughout the province.

Urux: At the end of the second summer, the dwarfs who worked and lived at Bal- Rindurr had advanced the arts of mining and metallurgy to new heights. The dwarfs, however, unknowingly crowned a murderous necromancer. The ruinous legacy of this act still lies heavy across the land. (But is covered in more detail elsewhere)

The Witch Wood: ancient haunted forest, long believed to be cursed. The elvish court and people were driven to the witch wood after Igor destroyed Camarill. In exchange for a place within the wood, the forest god Mogu, made the elves bind themselves to the forest through a magical ritual. The ritual made the elves the stewards of the forest. Mogu has remained silent since the time of the great ritual, but it is rumored that he will return if he grows dissatisfied with his chosen stewards.

The Witch Water is a haunted lake which contains Glistendome and the island upon which it was built. At night, shimmering spectral shapes slide to and fro beneath the waves and when the moon is full the ghostly ruins of cities long forgotten can be seen aglow upon the lake floor.

Place of Skulls, Area 6

6. Pit of Hands (trap)

Trigger: Weight on the floor.

Disarm: Cannot be disarmed, but can be avoided

Save: None for the lead character(s) in the marching order. All others: 5d6 DEX check.


The floor either side of the pit collapses downward, transforming into a slide. Characters that fail to save tumble into the pit and suffer 1d3 damage from the fall.

Each round after the trap is activated, 1d6 smoldering. ruin graven black arms sprout from the wall. Claw like hands strike and grasp at the pit's unfortunate new occupants. If one hand hits a character he is held back, and must destroy the hand, or break free from its grasp (4d6 STR check). Only one hand will grasp a character at a time. The remaining hands will attack, punching and clawing. A character must reman free for an entire round n order to climb out of the pit. Free PC's that choose to sacrifice their attack may actively dodge and thereby receive a +2 bonus to AC.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Place of Skulls: Area 5

Presented without stats, because lazy.

5. Treasure Cave

Doors: North Door: secret; south door, partially blocked by rubble, but accessible.

Smell: Fresh air, water.

Light: Adequate and aesthetically pleasing, natural illumination enters the chamber from the surface through small breaks in the ceiling, during daylight hours. Evenings are lightless.

Inhabitants/Encounter: 2 Sea Monkeys live in the pond, along with any number of fish. Various rodents and other small woodland animals have nests within the cave, and/or use the fish as a resource. Dozens, if not hundreds of common bats sleep on the ceiling during the day, exiting through the fore mentioned breaks in the cavern ceiling. One giant, intelligent, talking bat lives among them. This fellow styles himself King Giles. King Giles seems nice enough, but in actuality, he is an asshole. Given the opportunity, he will descend from the ceiling and speak with the players. He will offer to sell them information for morsel of food. And tell them about the treasure chest on the lake bottom. As he approaches, Giles will shout at the players and assure them he means no harm. In fact, however, he is in collusion with the sea monkeys, who wait, buried in the mud of the lake bottom, on either side of the chest.


If the players attempt to remove the trunk from the bottom of the lake, they will find that a trick of the light has distorted the perceived depth of the water, which is much deeper than it initially appears. The trunk is firmly lodged in the lake bed, and it will come free 1d3 rounds after one or two characters beat a 5d6 STR check. The arrival of the PC's on the lake bottom will kick up a cloud of silt, unless they specify caution to avoid doing so. 2d6 Dex save.


However, the sea monkeys will attack once the players are engaged in the act of raising the trunk. They will gain surprise by swimming through the cloud of silt. If there are PC's on the shore or on the water (in the boat from room 4, perhaps, they will be able to see that something is going on but unable to tell exactly what. At any rate King Giles, and 1d12 of his bat minions will attack any characters on the surface.


The trunk is locked, but there is no trap. When the trunk is opened the screaming wight trapped inside it will leap out and attack the nearest character. Otheriwise, the trunkis empty. Lol.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Place of Skulls: Area 4



4. The Salon

Door: Stone x 2. both are immensely heavy (6d6 STR check, up to three characters may add in their strength to the effort/check) to shift each one.

Smell: Reptile, brimstone, a hint of water.

Light: None- zero visibility.

Inhabitant: Ruinsnake

AC: 4(15) HD:3 HP 15 Morale 12 Attack bite/squeeze 1d6/1d4. Bite: save vs. spell, fail results in contraction of the Ruin Curse. I don't know what that is yet.


This high ceilinged (5m) room contains: a small canoe made from a mysterious black wood (dire wood- if there is an elf in the party INT check with 3d6 to ID) resting on a stand, suitable for three occupants or two and and some baggage; three amphora of wine (100 GP value each) decorated in Grall script and pictograms; one dust and tarnish covered drinking couch (if the couch is cleaned, four 200 GP gems will be revealed, two mounted in either arm); the crumbled remains of a chariot. Water seeps into the room and lies in a puddle in the NE corner.


The ruinsnake resides on the floor, behinds the amphora. It will wait to strike until someone draws near. Unless the characters are very cautious it should have surprise.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Beyond the Leaning City: Part...hurrr... something

Note: having just gone through the earlier posts, in attempt to link them all here I realize that at least three separate entries have been labeled as part 4, and the tags are either non existent or screwed. Don't do drugs or pursue a higher degree kids; it will fuck you up. Anyway, I'll fix it sll sometime today. I just wanted to get this chapter up first, because I have my daily writing on the current novel in progress to get to before I can screw with the 'technical' side of the blog. Priorities: mine are all fucked up- and my brain is only partially functional. This text will be replaced with the proper links later today and I will fix the tags.

My hypothetically sincere apologies go out to all hypothetical new readers for the hypothetical inconvenience.


Sursha alone


The green humanoids surged forward. Thront grabbed Sursha with one huge hand. "Do what you can for me." He jerked his massive arm back and hurled her up into the air. She flew rump first for a moment, and managed one last glance at Thront as the attackers swarmed over him, and then mist gusted between them and she was turning, trying to guide her flight.

Sursha sailed upward in a tremendous arc; She spread her arms out, and her ascent began to slow; then she was angling downward. She had no idea how high up she was; the fog blocked her vision. It was like falling through an endless cloud, only it wasn't endless; it would be coming to an end any second: a frigid, wet end- or a smashing, solid one. It occurred to Sursha that she wasn't entirely happy with Thront. She hadn't asked to be hurled into space.

She saw a shadow, thin, and narrow; she lunged out for it; she missed. She hit an icy, flat and sharply canted surface with tooth jarring impact and bounced back into space. She tumbled through the air, past a mast; she caught it for an instant with her tail, damping her velocity a bit; a flock of vibrals that had been roosting on it cooed and twitched into the air.

She flew through a tangle of blue vines; she grappled at them with her entire body. She caught a vine with her tail and another with her hands. She came to a stop. The blue creepers were burning cold against her skin.

She hung motionless, but only for an instant. The vines discorperated, melting. The one holding most of her weight came apart, and she began her second descent, slower and jerkier than the first. She was able to control her fall through the vines. Shaky legged and out of breath Sursha came to a rest on the tilted deck of a wooden barge.

She sat and wheezed until her chest loosened; when she felt better, she tried to backtrack, but could not find the place where she and Thront had met the greenskins.

Frustrated she broke off her search to find shelter for the night. She slept in a half collapsed deckhouse; her small camp stove burned beside her, emitting heat but no light. She sat up well into the darkness and listened to the rhythmic and liquid, creaking noise of the Boneyard.



In the morning Sursha walked aimlessly for several hours; she moved in an expanding circle, looking all the while for tracks or other signs of her friends.

She climbed from deck to deck; it grew colder as she walked, and the mist seemed to be made up of tiny ice particles. The air was salt sharp and fresh though, and there was a peaceful silence that seemed to exist in spite of the presence of noise.

She saw several of the scuttling, white furred sphere creatures; they seemed to nest in the ice. She stopped to watch a small troop; they did indeed have circular mouths on their backs, not really on their backs though- their legs seemed to be double jointed and they flipped over at will; some moved with the sack-like organ up, others scurried about with it dragging underneath them; they all flipped back and forth; it was rather disturbing to watch; but hardly their most unsettling aspect. She watched a group of them swarm down a spar to the waters edge. Their mouths: tooth lined clenching funnels- ugly enough to begin with- popped out; that is, went from being an interior funnel to an exterior cone; a cone of contracting flesh; bristling with needles. The creatures leaned into the water whipping their inside-out mouths back and forth. One came up with a tooth-impaled fish, releasing a belching sucking noise as it drew its mouth and meal both into its body.

Sursha writhed with displeasure and walked quickly away from the rail.

Snow commenced to fall in the late afternoon; she came upon the tracks not long after. The marks in the snow trailed perpendicular her own course. They were Kal's; she was sure of it.

They seemed fresh; she ran along their length, leaping from ship to ship. She used any means possible to speed her progress, improvising as she went, her only concern was following the tracks.

She was almost on top of the two norts before she saw them.

They whirled to face her. For an instant the three of them stood like a triangle.

"Nact female," said Barin.

"Disgusting." Thane moved in closer. "Do not move, she-nact, we wish to speak to you." His snout flexed and his star shape mouth opened and closed, he spread his arms wide; and clacked his sharp, armored fingers together.

Sursha screamed.


Place of Skulls, Area 3

3. The Screaming Dead

Door: Locked

Smell: Death

Light: A sickly, pulsating green light, emanating from sarcophagus' imperfect seal.

Inhabitant: 1 Screaming Wight

AC 4 (15) HD 3 HP 15 Attack 1d8 strangle/ 1d6 claw MV 120 Morale 12

As the door opens the wight will explode (screaming) out from sarcophagus and attack the closest PC. Its preferred tactic is strangulation. If it achieves a hit, the wight will latch on to the target's neck, doing an immediate 1d8 damage, and leaving deep black scars that will never fade. A 4d6 STR check is required to break free. Up to two other characters can assist.


Scream kills momentum -1 to all attacks. If escalation die house rule is being used: the escalation die is negated as long as the wight is up and screaming. Further effects: weapons dropped on a roll of 1-3; save vs spell or fall to the floor with hands over ears. Character can attempt to save again every round. Once made no further save is necessary. Wight dressed in suit of human sized black chain mail. Mundane tulwar sheathed at hip, slightly rusted, dull -1 damage until sharpened. Gems in hilt worth 1200 GP.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Place of Skulls: Area 2

2. Ransacked Tomb

Door: Jammed.

Light: None

Smell: Moldy with a hint of Reptile

A broken stone sarcophagus lies in shattered fragments on the floor along with a rusted spear and short sword. The latter items, obviously of gnollic manufacture, have little value as treasure, but could be repaired and made useful. Careful inspection of the room will result in the discovery of a small coffer, at the rear of the chamber, behind the remains of the sarcophagus base. Seemingly carved to look like a humanoid heart, the coffer contains five otherworldly black gems, with obvious magical properties. Each will grant the bearer +1 bonus to all saving throws, however, bearers of the gem will test positive if scrutinized with a detect evil spell; carrying more than one gem will not grant any further bonus.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Place of Skulls map, intro, area 1

First, stuff nobody needs to know: I'm going to try to post a room/area a day until all the open maps for the dwarf project are done. The valley and the under-vale and the Wide World are all mostly keyed- however i have eschewed numbered hexes on the former and just keyed the important and interesting places. I will build some detailed encounter tables rather than placing static encounters over the entire map. The two smaller dungeons (Zimon's Gate and the Place of Skulls) are about half done. The megaleval at Urux remains untouched and is my nightmare right now. Also I will recommence posting Beyond the Leaning City this Friday. I'm not sure why I stopped.

The Place of Skulls (#4 on the VoS key) lies deep within the shadows of the Burning Forest in the south eastern section of the Vale of Sorrow. Interred within are the remains of several Grall (the common use name for the pre-sundering folk). There are several Skulls of power, a magic boat and a not inconsiderable amount of coin. Further, there is a series of hieroglyphs that explain the workings of the Moon Stair.


1. Entranceway
Door: On the surface; blocked by rubble. 2 full turns will be required to clear away the debris.
Stair: Down. Ancient, crumbled. The first character to descend the stair must make a DEX/INT check (whichever is higher); failure results in a misstep and and a short fall down the stairs for 1d3 points of damage.
Smell: Dust and Mildew.
Sound: Drip, drip, drip...
The stair lets out onto a chamber supported by featureless basalt pillars and lined with graven sandstone slabs. Water drips from the cracked limestone ceiling and lies in small scum covered puddles on the floor. Three lightless archways lead off the room.

Note: The Moon Stair is a flight of steps that manifests only on nights of the full moon. It is the only way to reach The castle level of Urux situated near the top of Mt. Thorn.

Note 2: Building a better bandwagon: won't you join me? Draw, borrow or steal a map (that Logos fellow from whom I appropriated my mapping style wholesale has a shit ton of awesome ones on his blog, or you could use a geomorph mapper thingy, or even take one of the maps on the left here, or use the piece of shit at the top of the post. Who gives a fuck?) and key it one room at a time. It beats answering 30 boring ass questions, but, of course, that is just my opinion, and I am a well known jackass. Hee Haw.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

[map] Beneath Urux

Beneath Urux, level one.

This is the first level of the dungeon below the fortress. I think it is all I am going to do with the site, leaving the rest for the individual referee. I think I am going to make it for 4-6 level characters, because who needs another 1st level dungeon?

Larger version

I need to redraw the fill. It sucks.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Beneath the Vale of Sorrow, The Monster Garden and Arena Cave

The Monster Garden:

A festering growth of vile magical plants, the roots of which stretch all the way down to hell. Every so often, the womb pods of the plants will vomit out a number of vile creatures. The creatures evolve and change in small ways over time, making every harvest different than the last. War is the only constant.

When they reach maturity ( a matter of hours) the garden monsters will set out in force to cross the lake in Arena cave, making war on the dwarfs and gear of the fortress there. Many battles are fought on the surface of the lake.



A force comprised of a lost dwarf clan and their magical robot soldiers (called gear), keeps vigil in this cave. They are sworn to keeping the spawn (their name for the creatures that come down the stairs at the far eastern side of the lake) in check and forever contained. They are unaware of the true nature of the garden and fight with a grim fatalism, accepting that some day they will be overcome by the spawn.


There is a courtyard deep within the keep where the dwarfs grow the souls of the gear on glorious magical ghost trees.


Adventure hook: explore/destroy the garden.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

If you have nothing nice to say...

Giving credit where credit is due.

Sometimes, I like to challenge my own bias. I feel that my opinions can be like an invisible cage I lock myself into; with this in mind, I like to feel around for a way past the bars every now and again.

Here is a thread primarily written by someone I do not get along with and don't expect too (He is not the OP). I was around for the early part, but stopped looking after a while. Anyway, it is a great thread on how to put together a megadungeon and if you haven't read it, you should. It is long, but completely bereft of forum drama and shit posts


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Under-Vale map revisited, dwarf history- executive summary.

Sometimes I start a-keyin' and things a- gotta change. In this case I added some train tunnels, blocked, open and partially blocked to the Under-vale map from this post. There is a nearly working engine somewhere in the deep and i love the idea of pcs spending a couple of sessions fucking with a train. The tracks, of course, lead off the map.

Here is the new version of the map, train stuff is at the bottom.




Dwarf Lore:

This is the sort of paragraph that should maybe be on the character sheet, because players in my experience, as a rule, do not read setting material. My hope is that a short paragraph explaining a bit about the world and the character's place in it, will lead to further interest and effort. At the very least they will know why everybody doesn't like dwarfs and why dwarfs don't like gnolls. The full article is a couple thousand words long and will see the light of day with the final pdf. This paragraph is more or less the abstract/summary of that.


After a long period of peace and prosperity, the dwarfs unknowingly raised a tyrannical necromancer to the throne. After a period of manipulating the prejudices of the population, King Wound the Last declared war on literally everyone; most of the dwarfs went along with it out of loyalty, but a sizable minority resisted.

The rebels were persecuted forced to flee the dwarf lands. Their descendents are all that remain of the dwarf people in the present era.

The dwarfs that stayed loyal to the evil necro-king morphed, over the centuries, into gnolls, which resemble the dwarf god of death, Kur. When the king was assasinated, at last, 500 years later, the gnolls fought amongst themselves or scattered; faced with the sudden resurgence of motivated and savage local resistance, the empire collapsed overnight.

So dwarfs are still around but everyone blames them for the Gnolls and the necro empire and the common cold.

Gnolls are still around, they occupy the former homelands of the dwarfs, but nobody knows how, or if they reproduce.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Map] Beneath the Valley of the Dwarfs

A couple of years ago I read the AD&D 1e Dungeon Survival guide. The book contained some neat content regarding underground worlds, but I could not see how to draw any of it out of it and make it useable at the table, really. More recently, WoTC put out a very readable underearth book for 4e. It really got me thinking about this stuff again, but, like the 1e book, it didn't have any real game ready content.

i want to make something along those lines that could actually be used.

This is a conceptual map and is not meant to be completely representational. Think of it as like the maps medieval explorers made.

This is not a dungeon, but a small portion of an underworld. Many dungeons could be (and are) linked to it and contained within it, as well. Many regions might contain more than one dungeon.

Time and space work differently beneath the world's surface- and do not necessarily maintain internal consistency. On one trip, It might take an hour to cross dinosaur cave, and one never sees where the light is coming from; another time, it might take a year, and a dull red sun hangs unmoving and undeniable in the heavens.

Magical protection is required to move through the underworld and maintain a consistent temporal connection with the world above.

The rift in the northern tundra on this MAP is the source of the waterfall at the top of the underworld. There are other points of entry accessible from the surface, like the cave in the south east. Try not to think to hard about how it all lines up, but if you get hung up-

Miles of tunnels- miles. I don't have to explain shit.


Also, you could plug this map into just about any fantasy/ science fantasy style game/world, all you need is a flight of stairs leading down.

I will almost certainly fool with this map again.

Come for the Monster Garden, stay for the Circus.

Larger version HERE





Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dwarf map in color with and without hexes

I'm unreasonable pleased with this.

Larger Version

With hex, Larger Version


[Map] the Vale of Sorrow, B&W


This is the first time I have laid the hex in after doing the drawing.

I may add hex numbers, I may not.

In regards to travel time, I think for the forest, a good rule of thumb will be 1=1 day's walk x4 for the mountains; x1/2 for roads and clear, flat areas.

I am really on the fence about whether of not I should color this one.





Friday, August 9, 2013

Dwarf cover art, maps in progress random thoughts

I have never drawn dwarfs before. The proportions fucked me up to the extent that I had to scrap like my first five tries, which were all just standing poses. I gave up on that shit and decided to try something with some action. I also decided that gnolls are cooler than orcs, and so they will be the chief adversary of the dwarfs in this setting. I'll post a larger, cleaned up and colored version later, anyway, I think that will be the cover of the pdf.

Here is the Vale of Sorrows, as it is called during the game era. A vestigial remnant of dwarfs holds the tower in the west, and fights a desperate never ending war with the gnolls and their Hex-king, who occupy Urux (the former center of Dwarf civilization) in the east. Most of this battle is played out in the forest on the valley floor. I love mini settings so this where the detail will go. I'll be creating a regional underworld too, which connects to the dungeons beneath Urux. This map, however, is currently deep in the WTF are you doing? Phase.

Here is color map, for the second part of the lead in adventure (two short dungeons, that lead into the mini campaign- which is the meat of the supplement. I'm going to cannabalize some old maps too, Murder Holes (look on the left) never got enough play for my tastes, so I'm going to reskin it as a level under Urux.

Anyway, that's all I got. Posted just in time for everyone's friday commute, just to be certain no one will look.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Kickstarter 3d virtual Table Top for tablets...

This is for tablets, including the Fire, which they give away with checking accounts now, no shit. If you have a tablet andriod or apple go HERE and get linked to a FREE DL of the current version (which is 100% bad ass) otherwise, go there anyway and watch the demo video. Then figure out how to get a tablet.
The Kickstarter starts tomorrow.
Right now the app has no network capabilites, but the kickstarter's intent is to make it usuable online. Which will take it beyond awesome, all the way to fuckawesome.
I will be throwing some money at this. If it comes to fruition, I think it will revolutionize online gaming... Again.
I cannot express hiw much I love this fucking thing. We used it yesterday to play B/X. I made my own maps, we googled images to make our own minis. It is unbelievably easy to use. Sometimes, I just goof with it for an hour or three. You can pass the the fucking battlemap around the table. You could play a tactical mini game in a fucking moving fucking car.
Anyway, with this app, a tablet, and some pdf's you can literally have everything you need for a game with you all the time. It kind of makes me want to play some (don't be offended, grogster) 4e, really, as all the barriers fade away.
Here are some pics, including my own maps and minis.

Dwarf Lore I


The Unified:
The Universal Myth, shared by all the folk of the Kalid-Idar as well as the dwarfs, holds that at one time dwarfs, humans, elves, and halflings were one people. The ruins that lay scattered throughout the world are thought to be the remnants of the unified culture, commonly referred to as the Forgotten Empire.

The Sundering
There are many theories, but no one is certain why the Sundering, as the segregation of the Unified into all the separate peoples of the world is called, came about or even exactly what form it took. What is known, however, is that it happened very abruptly, about ten thousand years prior to the current era. It is after this mysterious event that recorded history commenced, or rather recommenced. The Unified, did in fact, have a written language, many examples survive on monuments and there are even a few odd scrolls in the possession of wizards and kings. The script, however, remains undeciphered.

The World Above
In their own language, dwarfs name the the land above the earth and under the stars the Kalid-idar. Translated it, means, quite literally, "the scab."

The World Below
Kabaurud, the dwarf name for the world beneath the world's surface, down to the mantle, translates as either "heart" or "hollow" dependent upon dialect and context.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

[Maps/Crowdsource] name this setting

Following Jack Shear's lead I want to do something for the guys that Nystul hosed. To this end I am going to make a setting and some adventures. This is the setting map (Divine Right style. It is a cleaned up and colored version of a map I made last year. It is a classic fantasy setting, but draws more from the Hobbit, The Elfin Ship and Dark Crystal than LoTR. My name for it sucks, suggest another in the comments.

Larger Version

And as a bonus here is the adventure map. I have a rough key, but it is not ready to post.

Larger Version


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

10 questions meme

So I thought I'd get on board with that 10 questions meme that is going around. I'm typing the questions from memory, so I might get a couple mixed up. Be cool.

Do you have a racist class in your game?

You mean like Klansmen? No, I don't even have dwarfs. That's a weird question. Kind of disturbing, really.

Do elfs have their own heaven?

Yes and it is right next to dog heaven. You have to decide each day whether you want to be a dog or an elf. Whichever, it is way the fuck better than human heaven, 'cause you can lay around all day eating lembas flavored milkbone, licking the taste of the ones you ate the day before out of your own ass.

Descending or ascending AC?

Whew, that's a little personal, but I think as long as everyone is hygienic and gets their blood tested on a regular basis, it really isn't any of my business. Make sure to shower after, though. Nothing ruins a TPK like stank ass.

Do you take drugs, Danny?

Every day.

Are magic users less likable than fighters?

Yeah, sorry to say, it's the hats, the bad hygiene and the inability to get laid that makes them awful. Everyone knows Gandalf is moochy bastard who can't get anyone to touch his cock. Also I hate it when I climb onto the back of a dragon dildo and the guy next to me is taking up half of my seat with his "material components," if you know what I mean.

How many of these meme things have you taken part in?

This is my first one; pretty excited, hope I don't fuck it up!

What is that smell?

See the magic user question.

Do you use alignment languages?

I speak 1970's Marvel Comics pseudo Jive, does that count, sucka?!?!!?!!?

XP for gold?

I only take American Dollars, Euros and plasma.

Which OSR game do you think is played by the most sex offenders?

Now this is a good question. At first glance, you might think that LotoFaps is the shoe in, but, man, I am convinced that 1e still holds the title. I mean, come on, you can't beat the king just by failing to shock your mom like 25 times in a row- no matter how hard you try. My game store fits you with an ankle bracelet if they even catch you looking at the 1e DMG. If you try to buy a LotoFaPs product, they just give you an Iron Maiden album, a copy of Tiger Beat (the Lief Garret issue) some acne medication, and call your dad to come drive you home. Sometimes, though, they separate the boys and girls, send them to the auditorium in small groups, and make them watch a movie about how their bodies are changing.

That was great! How'd I do? Now it's your turn!

[Map/color] The Black Smoke Sea, revisited.

I changed some names, and colored this. I'll be coloring some more old maps in the near future (My plan is to give The Province of Forgotten Empire the treatment, in order to further this effort of Jack's to replace the Dwarf kickstarter thingy. Dwarfs need a place to hang their... Whatever.

Anyway, this is what it is, but I imaging it could be used for a variety of PA settings, or even an alien world. I changed some names amd fixed some fuck ups. Anyone want to learn how to do these, from balnk paper to colored hexmap?


Bigger version.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Outworld Sector Guide: Crone: Entry 1- Introduction



A large terrestrial (rocky) world, Crone is sheathed in an atmosphere of toxic gas comprised chiefly of ammonia and methane. Sky City, the chief population center is situated at 20k meters elevation, above the natural atmosphere, and built upon the peak of the planet's highest mountain. The city, which will be detailed in a future entry, is supplied a breathable (for humanoids) atmosphere by three floating weather control/gas processing plants. It is the only place on the planet where it is possible to go about without a survival suit and breathing apparatus.


Although the city acts as a trading center and houses the administrative offices of the three major companies that de facto own Crone, and houses the managerial elite, and even has sizable middle and under class populations, the vast majority of the planet's residents live upon the surface, in small company dome towns, isolated independent settlements, scout skimmers fitted for long term residence, or nomadic squats.


Of course, as with most worlds, the comfort of the few is secured by the labor and hardship of the many. The chief industries of the planet are two-fold. The mining and processing of rare earth elements and heavy metals first drew Bothco to the world; the discovery of the planet's strange indigenous life and its exploitable psychoactive properties brought in Simblex and The Tarn Corporation some fifty years later. The three megacorps exist in a state of continual cold war. In addition to the antagonism they face from one another, the corporations must also contend with several hostile factions amongst the general population as well, both in Sky City and upon the surface.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Beyond the Leaning City Part 5


Friday? Sunday? It is all the same to me, motherfuckers.



The Second Meeting


Reluctant to enter the gloomy interior of any dead ship, Kal spent the night in a cubbyhole above a deckhouse. He was out of the wind, his clothes had dried, and he was able to keep a little blaze going all night, but he didn't get much sleep.

In the morning, his second away from Sursha and Thront, he set out again, continuing to travel northward.

He found himself thinking about the stone table in the front room of their bungalow: the way it smelled in the evening when the sunlight slanted across the room to lay against it. An image of Sursha seated at the table, her skin streaked and glowing with the day's last light, entered his mind. He became distracted and wandered slightly off course.

When Kal noticed the shift in his direction of travel, rather than make a correction, he allowed himself to drift further. He climbed some stairs, crossed a bridge of ice and came down onto a long, flat metal deck.

There was a large black stain at the center of the deck, Kal stepped around it, and almost tripped. He stooped to examine what he had tripped over; it was a backpack: his backpack.

He opened it up, and pulled out a bundle of clothes; there was also a wide, flat bladed battle knife with a spiked guard, but there was no food, or water, and he was sorely in need of both.

He pulled on the heavy overshirt and the quilted leggings; the gloves were the best part. His fingers warmed slowly, prickling with delicious pain.

How had these things come to be here?

There were footprints everywhere. Kal walked around the deck, examining the marks and tracks. By the looks of things, some sort of scuffle had taken place. He identified one definite example of Thront's footprint.

He suspected that the black stain was some sort of bodily fluid; he touched its surface. Frozen slick. If he was correct whatever had taken place here had happened some hours ago.

The abandoned backpack worried him. His sense of things was that Sursha was alive, but the eerie light and the fog made him doubt his instinct.

"Don't move."

Kal swiveled around. He was looking at the contact point of his own static caster. Wister and three companions: the two nort that had impersonated Beurophants and one meafle.

The meafle's coat was severely singed and he had a vivid scar on his yellow furred face. He was holding the static caster.

"Greetings, nact." Wister's tentacles writhed. Seated on a float, he hovered several hand spans over the deck.

"Careful," the meafle said. "More dangerous than he looks."

Kal scrutinized the meafle again, unable to place the incidence of their prior acquaintance.

Wister made a grating, sliding noise. The nort jerked their brow tufts.

"Don't laugh," The meafle said. "Its true."

"If you cannot be silent, Phenton, then I will have Thane or Barin remove your speaking appendage." Wister's tentacles fluxed on the fleshy vocal node at the apex of his form. "Now, nact, give us your weapons."

"What do you want?"

"We want your ship, blue hair-" Phenton stepped forward brandishing the 'caster. One of the norts lashed out with his arm knocking the meafle to the snow where he lay without motion. The static caster lay on the ground beside him.

Kal hesitated; he wondered if he waited a moment longer if they would do him any more favors, like give him food, or offer him a foot massage. Or kill each other.

"Now drop your weapons-" Wister floated over the intervening distance. Kal did a handspring, soared over Wister, and came down beside the fallen meafle. He grabbed the static caster; pointed it at Wister and flipped the toggle.

Electricity lanced through the air; it stuck to Wister's chair; for a hot, and flickering instant it snapped up and down in the air between the float and the contact, cooking the fog.

The float exploded; burning, glowing shards of metal whistled through the air; a plate-shaped, black cloud of smoke swept outward from the nexus of the explosion. The two nort tumbled across the deck screaming; Wister flew high into the air and splashed down into a trough of water intervening between two hulks.

Kal got a nasty burn on his hand, but by the time the smoke cleared he was eight ships away; with the static caster under one arm and the meafle's food bag under another.

Wister survived. He had no bones to break, his mind was a semi- soft construct of mold complexes spread throughout his body and connected by durable ganglia: almost impossible to damage with a single trauma, and the severity of his burns was stunted by the almost immediate immersion into ice cold salt water.

Thane and Barin pulled him out of the sea and sat him down on deck.

"Go after that little blister, both of you." Wister jerked and twitched; two of his tentacles had been scorched into tight rings of cooked flesh, and burn blisters rose up on his speech fold. "I want him alive. Remember we need their boat; he can tell us where it is."

"Thane, give me your gun. I'll wait here." Wister scrunched his way across the deck.

"Will you be safe?" Barin leaned down over Wister.

"Yes. Yes. Now go."

The pair of norts departed.

Wister sat and looked out into the fog with his two remaining eyes. He was in a great deal of pain; his speech fold was the most sensitive region of his body and it had been fairly well scorched in the explosion.

He was busy consoling himself with revenge fantasies when he saw the first of the approaching shapes.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Color comic preview

I've been neglecting the blog again. Sometimes I'm just not into it to the point that it doesn't even cross my mind. Also, I'm not gaming right now, because misanthropy

what with all yer fancy e-phones, tinkles, tooblers and F+ and the lord knows whatnot else, does anyone even read these things anymore?

I'll post the next section of Beyond The Leaning City on Friday. Anyway, I scrapped my comic and started over. I already have a site set up and I'm planning on launching in January. I still have a long way to go, but my art is improving and my speed has increased dramatically just recently after having hit a plateau a few years ago. Thank you, Andrew Loomis.




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

[Art/ Icons] Mr. Hands, alien Super Hero

Mr. Hands

Prowess 7
Strength 6
Coordination 5
Intellect 8
Willpower 7
Stamina 13

Force Field 4 (Extra- extended)
Binding 3
Blast 4
Stretching 4
Super Senses 4 (Telepathy; Tracking; UV Visio; Spatial Sense)
Speciaties: Master Detective

Protector of (the mostly human/humanoid) Sky City on the planet Crone, Mr. Hands is a master detective always up for a fight against evil. However, Hands will always pursue a non violent option- if at all possible. The welfare of all parties involved in any conflict is on his mind at all times. If he has one fault, it is over compassion and, perhaps, he believes a bit too much in the potential for criminals to reform.
Mr. Hands' origins and home world are shrouded in secrecy.

Qualities: Total bro.
Challenges: We can Work it out. Lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

1) I based Hands' personality on Tom Strong.
2) Mr. Hands would be a good hero for the classic super hero fight based on misunderstanding. Just have the players stumble upon him fighting an unknown human villian before they know who he is. They will almost certainly pick the wrong side.

NEXT: Captain Steel: programmed for piratical perfection.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Comics: American Barbarian

Why haven't you read this yet, slug?

I have been meaning to blog about this for a while. I wont go into a lot of detail, because spolers, but this comic, which is available in its entirety, for free here is fearlessly creative and gives not a single fuck. If you are not a Yank, do not worry- it is not a flag waving comic, its just a fucking goofy science fantasy post apocalyptic romp about a guy with red, white and blue hair. Trust me it will be okay; people from four continents have told me I am a terrible American, some of them meant it as an insult, some as a compliment, either way, I take their word for it, and I enjoyed the hell out of this comic. So much so that I bought the harcover.

Tom Scioli, the creator, is the artist on the excellent Godland, and has another series that he worked on in the early aughts, called Myth of 8-Opus. That is also awesome, and is heavily influenced by Kirby's New Gods, but still very much his own thing. Scioli's favorite superhero is Orion (me too, bro) and it really shows in this comic.

All of this stuff is avalable to purchase at the site linked above, and he has a couple of other free comics up there as well. I'm especially fond of his riff on the FF, Final Frontier. The Am Barb book is fat, in color, and like 13 usd. Read the comic and if you like it, buy it.


Monday, July 8, 2013

[Art/Icons] Grimblade


Origin: Artificial

Prowess: 7

Coordination: 5

Strength: 8

Intellect: 4

Awareness: 4

Willpower: 6




Damage Resistance 5

Life Support 4 (space)

Weapon REEVE (device) chalcedony sword

Strike (slashing or bashing)* 5

Dimension Travel* 8 Using Reeve, Grimblade is able to slash open a portal to any of the inhabited worlds in the Outland Sector, and several uninhabited ones as well. He requires one page of preparation.

*Requires device.

Grimblade was originally a magico-bio-construct created by the oligarchs of the Sorcerer's Moon. Intended to be the first of a large military force, Grimblade proved to be too unmanageable, and eventually rebelled against his masters (he is discernibly male) liberated the legendary sword Reeve from their custody and escaped.

Currently he works a mercenary and hired muscle, although it is said he is ruthless and cruel, the truth is more nuanced.



Challenges: Nobody speaks to me like that! Too good to be all that bad.

Qualities: I'm Grimblade bitch (unstoppable)!


Friday, July 5, 2013

Beyond the Leaning City: Part 4

Moving in to the second half of the story now...




An Encounter at Sea

Sursha woke Thront by tugging on one of his eyelid cilia.

"Kal thinks he's seen another boat," she said. Thront's sleepy eye widened. He followed her out onto the deck.

The waves were high and rolling; the air was cutting sharp and frigid; barrel sized chunks of ice bobbed up and down in the choppy sea; moonslight scattered against and through the barrier of gusting mist, setting the frozen flotsam aglow.

Kal crouched in the bow.

"What did you see?" Thront asked him.

"A long boat, a galley of some kind, I saw oars and I think it had sails too."

"Sure it wasn't just a trick of the light?"

"Trick of the light? With three mounted guns?" Kal snorted and turned his back on Thront. "Look for yourself: there- to the north; it'll turn up again in a moment."

Thront took the telescope.

Minutes passed. Thront's eye watered excessively in the cold wind. He blinked a tear; it plopped to the deck and froze. He looked.

"I don't see anything," he said.

"It's there." Kal pulled the canvas hood off the deck gun.

"I didn't see it either," Sursha said.

Kal sighed. Ignoring his companions, he examined the gun, a thrower of eldritch design. The barrel was blue gray, fat and deadly looking; ruins and glyphs, charms of accuracy and protection were etched up and down its length; Kal suppressed his desire to thoroughly inspect the script, instead, he looked around the undercarriage for some kind of propulsion canister.

"Wait. Wait," Thront said. "I see it. It's a galley all right." He paused, squinting into the telescope. "Its Wister! I can see his cranial tentacles. Disgusting."

"Let's get the bastards,” Sursha said.

Thront nodded and lowered the telescope; he stepped towards the stern.

"I'll feed the engine,"

"I'll get the wheel," Sursha said.

Kal was still examining the gun. "Where's the primer on this thing, anyway?"

"Its self-contained; each projectile has its own booster," Thront said.

"Primitive." Sursha pursed her lips, and leaned closer to the gun.

"Loud as hell, too." Thront turned away.

Sursha took the helm and Thront shoveled a pile of fuel nodes into the furnace. The paddles threw up mighty churn of water. The Siren splashed northward at speed, pushing aside large hunks of ice.

The choppy and violent sea provided plenty of cover; they remained unseen until a mere wave trough away from the other vessel.

The Siren came up onto the crest of a wave, and into line of sight.

Kal activated the firing mechanism of the deck gun. Three shells arched over the dark ocean; the first two splashed into the sea, exploding on impact; huge quantities of water spurted upwards. The third struck the galley amidships; for an instant, the vessel vanished in a terrific, flower-bright explosion.

Kal hooted with glee and fired again.

The first three shots had discharged with rhythmic surety, like the successive beats of a heart. The fourth shot went awry; the gun barrel split open and exploded.

Kal sensed the danger at the last second and leapt into the sea. A second terrific explosion followed; the Siren wallowed, out of control, flames consumed the gun station; black smoke billowed up into the dark sky.

Thront hunched down; hot metal debris pelted his carapace. Horrified, Sursha watched from the deckhouse.

Thront dropped his shovel and ran forward; he caught one last sight of the activity on the galley: Wister's crewbeings rushed around; fire raged all along the galley's deck. Thront saw a burning shape plummet into the sea and then the mist and the waves came between the two vessels and the galley was gone.

Thront managed to get the fire on The Siren out in short order. As it turned out, the damage was mostly cosmetic. The gun would never function again, but, aside from that, the steamboat was unscathed.

Kal was nowhere to be seen. The dark night or the dark sea had swallowed him. Thront and Sursha called out his name over the icy waves, but received no reply.


The Boneyard

Ironically, Kal arrived first.

He spent the night on a largish chunk of ice, shivering. For several hours, he drifted in the wake of the burning galley, but eventually lost sight of it. Alone, he drifted onward. The night deepened and the waves pushed him further and further north.

Dawn traveled through the mist and emerged alien. The gray sea was rough and sharp and round with sloshing, agitated water. A vibral twitched out of mist, calling out as its quivering flight took it over Kal's head; shivering and miserable, he turned and watched.

When the vibral had vanished behind the misted veil, he hunched back into himself. His clothes were frozen and wet; his skin had taken on a greenish tint. He shook, and shook, his teeth knocking together with painful intensity.

He held his trembling head up and looked over the sea.

A layer of visibility existed between the water and the fog, its dimensions uncertain, its true depth unknowable and ambiguous; somehow, its existence, and the existence of the mist itself, contrived to make the sea seem even more vast than it might have on a clear, bright day out of sight from land.

Gray. Shifting. Hanging. Splashing. Foaming, deadly cold and endless, dawn stretched out before him; Kal clenched his teeth, stilling them, and waited for the day to unfold.

As the morning brightened, and he bobbed up and down, up and down on his vessel of ice, Kal became resigned to his own death. He was upset that he had no pen or paper with which to write a poem commemorating his passage, but, he realized, one must take death as it comes.

Not long after- he was still, in fact, trying to cheer himself up about the lack of a death poem when it happened- he saw a ship.

All at once, the sea calmed and went flat, and just as Kal was becoming aware in the change of conditions, the vessel loomed up out of the fog.

A huge and wide bellied craft, a galleon of some sort, it didn't rock or jib on the waves, and for a moment Kal thought it was a phantasm of misted light and swirling rime, but a handful of heartbeats later he was clambering up its side.

He stood on the deck, unbelieving; below, his icy funeral slab banged against the hull.

Badly damaged, the ship displayed many signs of decay and exposure.

Ice crusted the planks, massive pillars of it straddled the decks, and great cicles hung in the half collapsed rigging. Strange, blue vines dangled from the masts; some wound round and grew into the surrounding frost.

Frantic and trembling, Kal hunted for fuel; he chipped away ice with his knife and pried long splinters from the planking underneath. Once he'd made a small pile, he drew forth his sparkmaker; the device was waterproof and wholly intact, but Kal shivered with such intensity that several moments passed before he could make it work.

Near the rail, out of the wind, he crouched low by the tiny fire. The blaze grew; its warmth spread outward, melting the ice that lay over the adjacent deck; Kal chiseled free additional fuel and tossed it on.

The vines nearby writhed away.

The movement surprised Kal. He watched the vines suspiciously for any further signs of activity as his cloths dried. He was still engaged in said observation, reviewing his options at the back of his mind, when the fog swirled away for an instant and he saw the neighboring ship, and several of the vessels beyond that.

The ships hulked close against each other, bonded by grasping formations of ice and tangles of vinery, most looked severely damaged.

The Ship's Boneyard.

Kal stood and took a step away from the fire. Hypnotized by the wonder of it, he gazed into the indistinct distance.


The First Sign

The greenskin soldier affected a swayback position of respect.

Ommman fluttered his hands. "Speak." He said.

The soldier was a half-clear, but even so its speech was inelegant and crude, and its lightwork was almost without meaning. "Intruders." was the entirety of what Ommman could glean from its statement.

Nevertheless, he was pleased. His time drew near. He paused for a moment to seethe and then turned to the soldier.

"Bring them to the temple chamber," he said. "Take as much assistance as you require."

The drone stood motionless, staring.

"What is it?" Ommman's question was all snapping cloth and flashing light, he barely needed to speak at all.

"You're giving him too much responsibility." Ghusst, Ommman's son stood at the other end of the cabin; he held an open copy of the holy book. "His kind is not made to think." He made a holy sign. "Such is not the will of the Icyarch; leadership is for the clearheads alone."

"You will go then," Ommman said. "Do not fail."

Ghusst made a motion of surprised and confused acquiescence and departed the chamber.

Ommman went to the observation window. His view was to the north; he saw farmers at work on the ocean floor, but he caught no hint of the Icyarch, or its children.

He contemplated what possession of the second sacrifice would mean. He would turn the key to the third notch, and beckon his brothers into the new age. It would be one of destiny's great moments: he would be the new arch-Vissel, and his name would be recorded on the wall of the tower forevermore.

It would be only the first of his great deeds.

Ommman's thoughts were interrupted by an unpleasant and dry sensation at the back of his head. Cursing softly, he looked about for a moistening brush.


Fight in the snow

A white-furred and round creature scuttled across the deck and went over the side. Its body was a perfect sphere, horizontally bisected by twelve legs. Several slender fibrils (eyestalks?) sprouted, seemingly at random locations on its body, from its fur. A fleshy, sack-like appendage hung from the creatures belly; the open end of the sack dragged across the deck as the creature fled. A glittering, dark hole opened and closed on its dorsal side.

"What was that?" Sursha hauled herself the rest of the way over the rail. "Did you see, it had a mouth on its back." she bent to examine the trail of frosted slime the thing had left behind. Thront stood beside her, but he did not reply.

Sursha wrinkled her nose at the slime and looked up at her companion.

"He's all right you know."

"I'm certain of it."

"Don't humor me," she said. "I'm sure he made it here; if we just keep looking we'll find him."

"We should light a lamp soon; it'll be dangerous climbing from ship to ship like this in the dark; you don't want to fall in; that water is cold-" Thront mumbled down into silence. Sursha felt sorry for him. Earlier, while they were making ready to depart the sloop, he had watched, his great eye drooping with sadness, as she had stuffed a pack full of warm clothes for Kal. She had told him then that Kal was alive, but cold. He hadn't believed her. He didn't believe her now. Thought she was making it up. What an idiot.

They walked across the deck towards an ice bridge that connected the next vessel. Sursha bent and scooped up a handful of snow as they ascended a flight of stairs and stepped onto the vessel's poop deck.

She packed the white powder down into a ball. She dropped it into her pocket and bent for another handful. She made five snowballs in all.

"You'd better listen to me one-eye. Kal is fine. Believe me."

"Sursha, I think you should try to stay calm. We have to learn to accept-"

The first snowball whistled through the air and impacted the center of Thront's pupil.

"Shut up!"

Thront gasped and swayed backwards. She pelted him twice more: hitting his chest and the upper portion of his ocular case.

"Do you believe me?"

He looked up at her. "Sursha be reasonable-"

She nailed him in the eye again.

"Say it! Say you believe me!" Sursha stomped her foot.

Thront roared; he rolled across the deck away from her, and grabbed a handful of snow. He ducked another snowball, Sursha's last, as he came to his feet- and packed his own.

He dodged around the deckhouse, grabbing up more snow and smashing it down.

"Thront!" Sursha screamed.

Great, he thought, she's gone feeble minded. Females.

He came around the corner, his massive arm cocked to throw. Sursha ran towards him; a score of creatures swarmed across the ship behind her; they were roughly humanoid covered with rubbery looking green hide, dead black eyes rested above noseless faces and gash mouths. One of the creatures wore a striking transparent headdress.

Thront's arm released before he even realized what had happened. The throw went high; the snowball sailed past Sursha, his intended target, and arced over the deck. It shot through the air, followed by the sharp noise of its passage.

The snowball hit Vissel Ghusst, son of Vissel Ommman in the part of his head that Thront had mistaken for a headdress.

Ghusst's brain came apart with a quivering splat. He tumbled to the deck; black fluid flowed from the greasy remains of his cranium.

Brain jelly was everywhere. It stained the masts, and streaked across nearby faces and hull planking.

There was a moment of silence.

"Greetings." Thront held up his hand.

The throng closed in.