Thursday, August 15, 2019

Blade of the Black Pyramid & Left Hand of Abaddon

Read this article on BernieTheFlumph.com!


Within the libraries, vaults, and trophy rooms of Goatheart Castle, Prospero the sorcerer hoards many artifacts of singular magic and alien provenance. One of his most prized possessions is a large chunk of ancient amber the size of large man’s torso. Suspended within the milky orange stone the scaly red hand of a demon clutches a black sword of unknown metal. These are the Blade of the Black Pyramid and the Left Hand of Abaddon.

Blade of the Black Pyramid

The Blade of the Black Pyramid (also known as Khaturial-Xuuth, Sword of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords, or the Gateway to Suffering) is a short-bladed sword with a downward curve, similar to a Greek kopis. It is made from a single piece of matte black metal, etched with adamic script that reads “By your soul are legions made.”

The Blade is a small weapon that normally inflicts 1d6 damage. In the hands of a chaotic character, the sword does 1d8 damage. Against lawful targets, the sword does 1d10 damage. Chaotic characters add their Charisma modifier to their attack rolls with the Black Blade, in addition to their Strength modifier. A chaotic spellcaster can also place one spell (of any level) into the sword to store for later use. You can cast spell from the Blade, even if you aren’t a spellcaster. 

If you try to use the Blade, and you aren’t chaotic, you must make a saving throw vs death or take 3d6 damage (half damage on a successful save). If this damage kills you, you are burned to ash and your soul is destroyed. 

If you are chaotic, you can handle the sword safely, but the hilt brands your hand with adamic script that praises the dark glories of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords.

If you are so branded by the Blade (whether you still possess the sword or not) you will dream of the Black Pyramid every 1d4 weeks. Under a red sky, black stars weep tar across a desert of teeth while the Black Pyramid rises from a forest of alien bones. Reality bleeds where the pyramid’s point tears lose the scab of reality. The voices of the Bleak and Inevitable Overlords ooze like an infected wound, dripping poison in your ear. “You. Are. The. Gate.”

Then you wake up. Make a save vs polymorph. If you fail, an astral parasite attaches itself to your aura. Over the next 4d6 weeks, this invisible and etheric plasmoid will feed on your soul and grow. Your Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma modifiers instantly drop by 2 each. Your Strength modifier increases by 2. You must eat three times as much food during this period, but you do not dream of the Black Pyramid. A Dispel Evil spell has a 50% chance of removing the astral parasite. 

At the end of the 4d6 weeks, at a time the GM determines to be the least convenient for you, you vomit a fully formed demon out of your mouth. This process takes 1d6 rounds, during which time you are wracked with pain and cannot take any actions. This violent oral expulsion inflicts 1d4 damage upon you for each level you possess. Your Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and strength modifier instantly return to normal. 

Roll up the demon’s stats as if created by the Summon spell, with Hit Die equal to your level (minimum 1). It is unbound, but is not immediately hostile to you. Your companions and bystanders are a different matter. The demon will wreak havoc for 1 round per HD and then disappear in a cloud of opium and brimstone. If the demon is not slain before it returns to Hell (and you are not dead), you gain 100xp for each point of damage you suffered while vomiting it up. 

1d4 weeks later you dream of the Black Pyramid again.


Left Hand of Abaddon

This is the red and scaly left hand of a demon, along with half the forearm. It smells of vinegar and has glossy black nails and golden rings which cannot be removed. You can chop off your own hand and replace it with this. It will instantly stick to the stump, like Manglor but better.

Once so bonded, you can use the Left Hand of Abaddon to safely pick up items with curses triggered by alignment (like the Blade of the Black Pyramid) regardless of what your alignment might actually be. 

The Hand also lets you access several powers. Activating a power causes you 1d6 Charisma damage each time. The GM should roll and this damage in secret, so you never know how close you are to 0. How NPCs react to you should give you some clue, though. 
This Charisma damage can only be healed by killing humans. You regain 1d3 CHA point per human you kill (you must strike the deathblow) regardless of level or Hit Dice. The GM also keeps this total secret, but they will tell you when you’re back to your normal score. 

If using the Hand’s powers brings you to 0 Charisma, your soul is sent to Hell and your body is immediately transformed into the new body of Abaddon (a Pit Fiend). Abbadon will be happy to be returned to the mortal world. In his infernal mercy, he has a 4-in-6 chance of letting any of your present companions leave without a fight. Then he’ll get down to some important demon work. 

Powers of the Hand (each use costs 1d6 Charisma)
  • Blast a fan of flames 20’ long in a 90’ arc, doing 1d6 damage per Charisma point lost. Targets can save vs Breath for half. 
  • Cast Charm Person. Target has a penalty to their save equal to the Charisma lost. 
  • Your next attack has +1 to hit and damage for each point of Charisma lost. 


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

30 to 50 Feral Hogs (for DCC)

A Swarm of 30-50 Feral Hogs

Init: +1; AC: 10; HD: 10d8 (40hp)
Act: 4d20; MV: 30’; AL: C
Attack: Hog-Gobble +6 melee (1d8)
Saves: Fort: +6; Ref: +2; Wil: +5

Specials
Swarm: A mass of 30-50 feral hogs covers a 30’x30’ area and acts as one large creature. The swarm can move through and occupy the same space as other creatures without penalty. Creatures caught up within the swarm move at half speed. Each action die allows the swarm to attack every creature caught within the swarm’s area (make one roll and compare it to each individual’s AC).

Wee wee wee...: As the swarm takes damage, individual hogs die and its effectiveness is reduced. For every 10 points of damage the swarm suffers, it loses 1 Action Die.
  • 31-40hp = 4d10
  • 21-30hp = 3d10
  • 11-20hp = 2d20
  • 0-10hp = 1d20

Child Eater: A child reduced to 0hp by a feral hog attack is immediately devoured. The swarm is invigorated, regaining 1d6hp. Additionally, on the next round, all the swarm’s Action Dice are increased to d24s.


2nd Amendment Solutions: As everyone knows, a swarm of 30-50 feral hogs is especially susceptible to gunfire. The swarm takes double damage from firearms. For the sake of your children, I can only pray your campaign has guns.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Gencon 2019 Recap


Read this article at BernieTheFlumph.com!

We got home from Gencon last night. Today is my recovery day, where I rest and recoop from the travel and convention hangover. For the past three years, I’ve gone to Gencon with my wife and kid as our family vacation. This year we shared an AirBnB with my Leopard Women co-author Leighton Connor and his family. It was a pleasant experience, and much more enjoyable than the cheap hotels we normally use. In brief, this was my best Gencon ever, with a lot of personal, professional, and emotional high-points. I feel somewhat guilty saying this, because for some of the other Hex Games folks, this was the worst Gencon ever.

For the past 5 years I've had emergency car problems the day before (or the day of) Gencon. This year we finally seemed to break the curse, as we had no car issues. I fear our bad luck may have bounced onto some friends, though. At 3am Saturday, the Extended Stay caught on fire, displacing over 200 people. Two of our Hex Games people both had rooms there. No one was hurt, but they ended up convention-homeless and wound up leaving early. Now the hotel and Expedia are dicking them over on refunds. It’s a pretty crappy turn of events.

But as I said, for me Gencon went pretty good. I’m going to go over the highs and lows with a series of bullet-points, because I’m still tired and don’t feel like writing actual prose. It's gonna sound name-droppy as hell, but seriously, these people all made my Gencon great.

The Recap...
The Connors and the Burnetts shared an AirBnB in town and used Lyft to go back and forth to the con. This turned out to be pretty cost effective and gave us all a lot of freedom of movement. A successful experiment I will use again!

I ran Hobomancers vs Dracula on Thursday with a group of repeat Hobomancer players. It went well. I’ve run Hobomancer games every Gencon for the last six years or so, and I think this might be my last one for a bit. I’ve just run out of ideas for it.

On Saturday I ran two sessions of Apocalypse Truckers using QAGS. I ran this once before at Archon, and these sessions both went nice and smooth with a lot of weird grindhouse action with truckers, Hot Wheels, and skin-eating alien demon mutants.

Aside from running, I got to play in three scheduled games this year—a Phantasmagoria DCC game run by Chance Phillips, Sword of the Jungle Deep (DCC) by Ian Smalls, a DCC Lankhmar game run by Michael Curtis. All great fun.

My cousin Kerwin and my wife Ivy
as Capn's Hammer and Marvel
My wife and our kid are both cosplayers. They both spend most of the con running with their cosplay friends. We didn’t see our (adult-aged) kid for most of the con. My wife got a lot of compliments on her Captain Marvel outfit. I also thought her Yennifer was pretty cool.

I spent Thursday and Friday evenings at the Embassy Suites lobby hanging out with the DCC/DIY crowd. The DCC crowd are just simply the best. Friendly, supportive, and fun. Bob and Jen Brinkman, Dieter Zimmerman, Brendan LaSalle, and other people I’m sure I’m forgetting (apologies!).

On Thursday at the Embasy, I got to play in a pick-up game of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, run by Mike Evans, with a table full of Ennie winners and noms. It was a great game. Mike is a very active and engaging GM, as well as being one of the friendliest guys you could hope to meet. Back his Kickstarter!

On Friday night I ran a Leopard Women of Venus funnel at the embassy for Justin Ryan Issac (the man with three first names!), Eric Bloat, and Leighton. This was the first-ever session of LWoV for DCC, and I’m happy to say it looks like a winner!

Throughout the week, I was very happy to have a several chances to hang out with Lloyd Gyan and Jim Ryan, internet friends that I only ever get to see at Gencon. I wish we had more time. I hope they come back next year.

By Sunday I was thoroughly exhausted and tired. So much so that I sadly had to forgo my Sunday evening game. There was simply no way I was going to survive until 7pm and still drive safely home. It’s too bad, too, because it was a Mothership game and I badly wanted to play.

I actually didn’t spend a lot of time in the Dealer’s Room. As expected, Goodman Games got the most of my money, and I bought some original art from Brad McDevitt, including the original Bathory piece from Draugr & Draculas. In addition to a couple of modules, I also now have a new DCC shirt, hat, and numchucks. I also had some nice conversations with Peter Mullen and Joseph Goodman. Have I mentioned how much I like the DCC crowd? (Is this what it’s like to be in a cult?)

The picture to the right of our Gencon stash is going to make that previous statement look like a lie, but I swear to you most of that pile comes from my wife because women are always shopping, am I right fellas? *tugs at imaginary tie*

I don’t have a clever way to fit hum into a bullet point, but it was nice to sit and talk with Andy Davis for a while, too. Hi Andy!

Jarret Crader and I kept running into each other when I was in the middle of a game session or running to meet my Lyft. Sorry we didn’t get to chat more, Jarret!

Saturday night, The Hex Games crew and families left the downtown area to go have our “Staff Dinner” away from the press and scramble of the convention. It was nice to sit and relax for an hour or two at the steakhouse.

Leigthon and I passed out several dozen copies of our preview zine for Leopard Women, which got some very excited responses. That’s awesome! We have a limited number left, and I’ll figure out how to get rid of them relatively soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

I am very pleased that people are excited about LWoV, and I am very happy that people are still enjoying Sanctum of the Snail. I was walking on air for a lot of the week, and it was a great way to burn away the imposter syndrome. I’m fully charged, creatively, and I’m eager to continue my current projects and start up some new ones later.

I’m sorry if I forgot to mention anyone I met! My brain is still full of mush!

I’m sure I have a ton of email to go through, that I can’t possibly imagine getting to until tomorrow.

My next convention should be Acadecon in Dayton in November. Those three months are going to go by quick if I’m not careful. I’m also re-dedicated to finally make it to Garycon next year, but we’ll still have to see how that goes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ashes of Angels: Sessions 11, 12, 13 (We Change Systems!)


Between getting Draugr& Draculas finished and fulfilled, getting Leopard Women of Venus ready for public announcement, preparing for Gencon, getting Patreon underway and getting the new website set up, I haven’t had a chance to keep up on my session reports like I should have. We’ve had three sessions of Ashes of Angels since my last report, and there’s big some significant changes in both system and atmosphere. I’m going to touch on that and the hit the highlights of the last three sessions. After that we should be all caught up!

The big change is that we switched systems from Lamentations of the Flame Princess to Dungeon Crawl Classics. I ran LoftFP with a lot of house rules—some I made myself, others I stole from Cavegirl, 10-Foot Polemic, and Jeff’sGameblog. After 9 sessions I stepped back and looked at all the house rules I had added:
  • Rules to let characters survive at 0HP.
  • Rules to let fighters do cool fighter things.
  • Rules to remove spells-per-day restrictions on wizard and clerics, with magical backlash for failures.
  • Luck mechanics.
It occurred to me, all the rules I was adding were a subconscious effort to make LwoV more like
DCC, all while DCC was sitting right there on my shelf looking right at me. I also realized that what I really like about LotFP isn’t so much the system itself (although I do like it) but the adventures that go along with it. I think Scenic Dunnsmouth and Blood in the Chocolate will work just fine with DCC.

So we made the switch. We converted the PCs to DCC characters and continued the 17th Century campaign with no major changes in the narrative. My players have mostly enjoyed the switch. Non-fighters now actually hit in combat occasionally. Spellcasters feel like powerful (or at least useful) wizards. I even found a homebrew DCC adaptation of the Alice.

The tone of the campaign has also changed, but that was a more gradual change, and I’ve mentioned it before. I originally intended this game to be a bleak exploration of apocalyptic Europe with death and despair everywhere. I’m just not wired that way, and the campaign has slowly morphed into a Roger Corman-esque costume dramedy with goopy monsters and comical peasants. I wanted A Field in England and I got The Raven. Honestly I’m happy there.

So here’s what’s been going on:

Our “Heroes”
Belinda: Serpentblood 2 (re-skinned Elf), Midwife
Mortimer: Alice 2, librarian
Garritt: Warrior 2, soldier
Jacob: Cleric 2, cultist of Balor
Medline: Thief 2, grave robber

NPCs
Ana Fischer: Witchy henchwoman, devotee of Lucifer, Wizard 1
Ekans and Arbok: Belinda’s doggos

The PCs decide that they need to take care of the Demon of Hegendorf before the witch hunters arrive. Of course, the witch hunters show up at the Abbey the very next morning, just in time for breakfast.

Meyer is a member of Der Hexenhammer, a powerful inter-faith coalition of witch hunters that the PCs have run afoul of in the past. Meyer is fire-scarred with a mad look in his eye. He’s armed with a blunderbuss and several fire-bombs. He has six men with him and two dogs. (Warrior 4, 6x 0-level men-at-arms, 2x 2HD dogs)

The PCs convince Meyer that they too have run afoul of witches and demons, and are eager to help the witch hunters. Jacob’s “Crazy old man to crazy old man” talk with Meyer helps seal the deal.
After breakfast the party heads out with Meyer’s crew for the 5-hour trip to Hegendorf. Before they leave, Mortimer sneaks into Meyer’s wagon and sabotages all his guns.

Half-way to Hegendorf, the PCs launch their surprise attack. Several of Meyer’s goons go down in the first round. When the goons fight back, several of their guns blow up in their faces. Jacob uses Word of Command on Meyer, telling him to “run!” The witch hunter spends the next several rounds running away from the conflict. Blades and bullets cut down the rest of Meyer’s crew.

Meyer finally breaks free of the Command, just in time for Belinda to hit him with Charm Person. The party easily convinces the charmed Meyer that his crew were really in league with Satan, and he’s lucky they were there to save his life. They take the charmed with hunter with them to go find the demon.

The party makes camp about an hour outside of Hegendorf, deep in the woods. Their plan is to lure the demon out then ambush it. Garritt makes some scouting rolls and finds a good kill-spot with several trees and boulders for cover. Belinda uses herself for bait. Madeline helps disguise her as a young girl, while Belinda makes some witchcraft rolls to mix up some demon-attracting poultices.

They wait, and around midnight they hear the weird theramin-sound of the demon’s wailing, and spot the eerie green witch-light of its glowing crystalline body.

Suddenly the demon is among them, appearing right beside the tree where Garritt was hiding! The fight is on! The PCs pelt the demon with arrows and bullets, but have trouble getting through its crystalline hide. One of Meyer’s fire bombs goes wide and light a tree on fire. Garritt uses his Mighty Deed of Arms (yay DCC!) to crack the demon’s armor, making it easier for his companions to land blows.

At last the demon is slain! Belinda takes one of its claws as trophies and proof of its destruction. The rest of the body melts into a puddle go radioactive sludge that sprouts deformed fungus in the tarry mud. “Let us all kneel and give thanks to the Lord!” shouts Meyer in triumph. The witch hunter kneels and prays his thanks, and the party uses this opportunity to hit him with two backstab attacks, one critical hit, and two normal attacks—just mercilessly beating him to death. It’s just goddam brutal.

The party makes their way into Hegendorf, where they tell the remaining villages of how they slew the demon, and how poor Meyer the witch hunter died a heroic death. “But the demon devoured his body, so don’t bother going to look for it.” The PCs are lauded as heroes, and there is much celebrating.

Eventually the party returns to the Abbey of St. Agnes and their loot cache in the hidden cellar. They are stunned to discover that a trio of Molemen have dug up into their hiding spot from the Veins of the Earth. The subterranean diggers are going through their loot! The party doesn’t stand for this, and the Molemen are brutally slain. (“Poor little guys were having a dungeon adventure and wandered into a treasure cache. Then they failed their wandering monster check and you guys showed up. TPK for those poor Molemanic adventurers.”)

With their stash-space compromised, the party decides to pack up and head south towards Berlin, where they can take care of some “city business.” They take a few days to recover, then pack up their wagon with their money, the Lucifer Mirror, the Baleful Spear, and other treasures.

It’s three days to Berlin. On the second day they are accosted by bandits and a fight ensues. Ana calls out to Lucifer to protect her (casting Invoke Patron, currently using Sezrekan as a stand in for Satan), and she is instantly teleported away.

The fight is brutal, but short, and the bandits are soon defeated. Mortimer is pretty badly battered, but the rest of the party comes out of it okay. Belinda sacrifices the surviving bandit to the Lucifer Mirror and finds out that Ana is somewhere in Berlin. Jacob heals Mortimer's wounds, and the party resumes their journey.

After another day of travel, the party bribes their way through the gates of Berlin. The city is currently occupied by Swedish forces, and has suffered greatly from the War. One-third of the city has been destroyed and half the populace is dead or gone.

Belinda uses some of Ana’s spare clothing to give her scent to Arbok, and sets the dog loose to go find the missing witch. After a short while, the party is reunited with their henchwoman, and they all go off in search of lodgings.

While Ana’s been slumming about Berlin the past couple of days, an attractive young man gave her a handbill for a puppet show called “The Court of Chaos.” Ana is excited about going, and the rest of the party is interested in attending as well.

Midnight finds the party in a deserted part of town, entering an old abandoned opera house. A garish puppet theater has been erected on the stage, and the party are the only people in attendance. As the strange shadow puppets begin their act, the building shakes, hellish light shines through the cracks in the walls, and the party experiences a sinking feeling of vertigo. The walls of the theater fly apart and the party finds themselves on an obsidian island in a sea of blood surrounded by misshapen demon giants. They have entered The Court of Chaos!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Leopard Women of Venus coming to DCC!


In 2011, Leighton Connor and I wrote Leopard Women of Venus for QAGS, the Quick Ass Game System. LWoV was a weird, psychotronic sci-fi setting based on the works of obscure Golden Age cartoonist Fletcher Hanks. Leighton and I were very proud of LWoV, and the book sold as well as any QAGS book.

Fast forward to last year, Leighton and I are driving home from Archon in St. Louis, discussing Dungeon Crawl Classics and Leopard Women. We suddenly come to the realization that the crazy-weird world of Leopard Women of Venus would be a perfect setting for DCC!


We’ve been quietly working on the DCC version of LWoV for several months, figuring out what we want to change (there’s a lot), what we want to add (there’s a whole lot), and how to set up the Kickstarter. And while the Kickstarter won’t go up until sometime after Gencon, we’re at least ready to announce the project!


Leopard Woman of Venus is a feverish sci-fi setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics set on the savage and surreal planet Venus. The titular Leopard Women are genetically-modified super-soldiers in service to the sinister Science Robots, fighting to maintain order on the nightmarish jungle world.

Things the book will include:
  • A history of Venus, its colonization, and conflicts between the four human factions.
  • 100 Venusian 0-level occupations
  • The Leopard Woman class, along with their powers and Flying Saurian mounts.
  • New patrons like Stardust the Super Wizard and Fantomah the Jungle Goddess
  • New equipment and weapons.
  • Monsters and other spawn of the freakish Bio-Ray Zone.
  • The secrets of Webra the Spider Queen and the Hideous Spider Priests.
  • Zero-level funnel and 1st level adventures.
  • And more!


We hope to launch the Kickstarter shortly after Gencon. Right now we’re reaching out to artists and editors. We want to put a lot of new art in this thing, and we want to pay them all fairly. I also want to make sure our editors get paid for their work.

For Gencon, we put together a little preview zine that we’ll be passing out. The 24 page booklet will have a sneak-peek at the Leopard Woman class, the occupation tables, some monsters, and a quick primer on the setting. We’ll have 100 copies to give away at Gencon, so track me or Leighton down! After Gencon, I’ll have a PDF of the zine up on Drivethru.

This is exciting, gang! Keep watching the blog here or follow me and Leighton on Twitter (@bernitheflumph and @johnnyampersand) for more news!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Draugr & Draculas now on Drivethru RPG!


It’s been a busy couple of months here down in the Flumphworks. A lot of projects coming through and/or being launched. I’m at least two sessions behind on my campaign updates. At the very least. But like I said, projects are wrapping up and coming out. For instance…

Draugr & Draculas is now available on DriveThru RPG!

Dr&Dr is my 64-page OSR zine that includes…
  • Information on Draugr
  • The Draugr Karl class
  • The Pagan’s Well dungeon
  • Satanic Pacts
  • Information on vampires
  • Count Dracula, his castle, and his minions
  • The Vampire Hunter class
  • Elizabeth Bathory and her Blood Magic
  • New spells and magic items

I have very, very few print copies left for sale, but I have more on order. I have a Gumroad store I’m setting up where you’ll be able to get them soon (or, y’know, contact me directly).


Next up… Leopard Women!


Sunday, May 12, 2019

My New Patreon (and thoughts thereon)




I recently took the plunge and started my own Patreon! You can find that page HERE!

The Patreon will focus on creating and posting gameable content, mostly in the form of monsters, spells, magic items, and maps, with some world-building stuff as well. System-wise it will probably be about 50% BX/OSR, 30% Dungeon Crawl Classics, and 20% system-agnostic. At least that’s what I have planned for now. The future will tell how the numbers actually shake out.

I was reluctant to join Patreon for a while, because I’m philosophically against putting the blogosphere behind a paywall, especially with the death of G-Plus. But friends I trust and who have better business and creative senses than me convinced me that it would be good for “my brand” as well as motivating me to write more and different things. I can’t argue with that.

So how to balance these conflicts? Here’s my plan for now. The Patreon is mostly going to be for developing stuff for zines and other publications. The game stuff I publish there will mostly be content that I wouldn’t post on the blog in the first place. It’s the “business” stuff.

The blog here will remain mostly unchanged. It’s where my actual-plays will be. It’s where the world-building stuff my current home game will be. Its where the not-for-publication stuff I’d be posting “for free” anyway will remain. Stuff form the Patreon may wind up tricking onto the blog, too, once an acceptable amount of time has passed.

That’s the plan, anyway!

So if you’re inclined, please float over Patreon and check me out. While you're at it, go ahead and scope out some of my friends, too!