Monday, October 31, 2016

David Pumpkins [D&D 5th Edition]

David Pumpkins is a capricious fey troublemaker, a servant of the Harvest King dedicated to bringing a bit of spooky levity to the mortal world. Typically, he and his skeletal minions choose group of mortal adventurers to follow around, appearing and disappearing at their whim to sow mischief and discord.

David S. Pumpkins
Medium Fey, Chaotic Neutral
“Any questions?”

AC: 17 (natural armor)
HP: 65 (10d8+20)
Speed: 30’

STR: 12 (+1), DEX: 14 (+2), CON: 14 (+2), INT: 10 (-), WIS: 14 (+2), CHA: 16 (+3)

Saves: Charisma +5
Skills: Insight +4, Performance +5
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing from non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities: Charm, Frightened
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 12
Languages: Common, Sylvan
Challenge: 2 (450xp)

Innate Spellcasting: David Pumpkins’ innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC: 13). He can cast the following spells, requiring no material components.

At Will: Invisibility, Prestidigitation
3/day: Hold Monster, Teleport

Magic Resistance. David Pumpkins has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Multiattack. David Pumpkins makes two Buttslap attacks.

Butt Slap. Melee weapon attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage. On a successful hit, the target must make a Charisma saving throw (DC: 13). On a failure the target begins to comically dance in place for 1 minute: shuffling, capering, and busting mad moves. A dancing creature must use all its movement to dance without leaving its space and has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls. While the target is dancing, other creatures have advantage on attack rolls against it. As an action, a dancing creature makes a Wisdom saving throw to regain control of itself. On a successful save, the effect ends.

B-Boy Skeletons
Medium Undead, Neutral

AC: 13
HP: 26 (4d8+8)
Speed: 30’

STR: 10 (-), DEX: 16 (+3), CON: 14 (+2), INT: 10 (-), WIS: 10 (-), CHA: 14 (+2)

Skills: Performance +4
Damage Vulnerabilities: Bludgeoning
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: Frightened, Poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 10
Languages: Common, Sylvan
Challenge: ⅛ (25 xp)

Innate Spellcasting: The B-Boy Skeleton’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC: 12). He can cast the following spells, requiring no material components.

At Will: Invisibility
3/day: Teleport

Turn Immunity. While within 30’ of David Pumpkins, the B-Boy Skeleton cannot be turned.

Here we dance? The B-Boy Skeleton begins an eldritch dance accompanied by alien music. Any creature within 60’ that sees this dance must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC: 12). If the saving throw fails, affected creature falls into a state of deep confusion for 1 minute.
An affected target can’t take reactions and must roll a d10 at the start of each of its turns to determine its behavior for that turn.
  • 1: The creature uses all its movement to move in a random direction. To determine the direction, roll a d8 and assign a direction to each die face. The creature doesn’t take an action this turn.
  • 2-6: The creature doesn’t move or take actions this turn.
  • 7-8: The creature uses its action to make a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach. If there is no creature within its reach, the creature does nothing this turn.
  • 9-10: The creature can act and move normally.

At the end of each of its turns, an affected target can make a Wisdom saving throw (DC: 12). If it succeeds, this effect ends for that target.
Hip Check. Melee weapon attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Arms of the Iron Bastard (DCC Magic Item)

Arms of the Iron Bastard
The legendary golemsmith, Vonkurk Eisenbluth, created the mighty automaton known as the Iron Bastard to aide in the Dwarf King's war against the Goat Men. The Iron Bastard was destroyed during the Siege of Eldervault 1000 years ago, and only its arms were recovered. The golemic limbs still retain a fraction of the Iron Bastard's power.

The Arms of the Iron Bastard are a pair of muscular dwarven arms crafted of dull black iron decorated with glowing runes. To access the power of the Arms, a user must remove his own arms and replace them with the magical iron limbs. The potential user must remove their own arms without help, or the magic fails. Removing the first arm is relatively easy; removing the second arm may require some inventiveness. Attaching the Arms of the Iron Bastard is a simple task, as barbed hooks and screws on the shoulders instantly bore into the user's bloody stumps. Once so attached, the Arms are permanently bonded to the user and grant them several boons and banes:
  • A character bonded to the Arms of the Iron Bastard gains a Strength Modifier of +4.
  • The massive iron hands allow the user to punch for 1d6 damage (plus Strength Modifier).
  • The user may also wield two-handed weapons like greatswords with one hand.
  • The massive iron arms are cumbersome, however. Any Skill checks that rely on Agility are penalized -1d on the dice chain.
  • Tearing out one's own arms and replacing them with magical iron damages the soul and psyche. The user permanently loses one point of Personality and two points of Luck.
  • An elf that tries to bond with the Arms of the Iron Bastard dies painfully in 1d6 rounds and explodes in a 20' radius fireball (10d6 damage to those caught in the blast, Reflex Save DC 13 for half damage).
Much more metal than mere gauntlets!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blorgamorg, The Chthonic Snail [DCC Patron]

The Chthonic Snail patiently crawls through the hidden places below the earth, always chewing, always listening, always feeding on the secret wisdom of the world. Blorgamorg is a patient and wise entity, who eschews the petty conflicts of law and chaos. He prizes knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Lore sustains him. All secrets are known to him. Blorgamorg values servants who show tenacity, fortitude, and foresight. Rash and hasty minions displease him. Blorgamorg bitterly hates Bobububilz, and followers of the Chthonic Snail must always guard against the machinations of the Demon Lord of Amphibians. 

Gencon rekindled my love for Dungeon Crawl Classics and the creative community built up around it. I'm currently cobbling together a funnel adventure that I'm hoping will lead into a full campaign once my D&D 5th Ed game comes to a stopping point. Part of that funnel/campaign revolves around Blorgamorg the Chthonic Snail. 

Creating a complete patron for DCC is a big undertaking. Invoke results, three spells, patron taint, etc... It's a lot of work. I've been having fun with it. The self-appointed task of creating things again has been good for my general spiritual health. 

The linked file contains all the general patron info: Invoke Patron results, Patron Taint, and Spellburn. I am still working on two of his spells (Snail Mail is done), and I shall post them all when they are finished.

Blorgamorg's complete write-up now appears in Crepuscular #1. On sale now!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Grumchomp, The Hungry Blade [DCC Magical Weapon]

Grumchomp, The Hungry Blade

Grumchomp is an enchanted greataxe crafted 3000 years ago for the for the warlord Vorgo the Immense. The massive, double-beaked axe is made from tyrannosaurus bones and wrapped with troglodyte skin. The heavy bone blade is carved in the likeness of a demon or dragon.

This fearsome weapon is constantly hungry. It prefers the blood and flesh of its owner’s enemies, but is quite content to sit in a bowl of stew or plate of cutlets while it waits for a worthy foe.

Grumchomp possesses several magical properties:
  • Intelligence: 6
  • Alignment: Neutral
  • Communicates through simple urges
  • Desires to fight and/or eat greater and greater foes. Urges its own into gluttony.
  • While in the hands of a warrior or dwarf who is at least 50 pounds overweight, the axe increases its wielder’s Deed Die by +1d (to a maximum of 1d10+6 at level 10).
  • On a Critical Hit, in addition to the normal crit effects, Grumchomp feeds on the flesh, blood, and spirit of the target and shares this vitality with its wielder. The wielder of Grumchomp does not need to eat or drink for a number of days equal to the damage inflicted by the Critical Hit.
  • Once per day, Grumchomp can tell it’s wielder where the best restaurant in town is.

grumchomp the hungry blade.jpg

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Murder Orb [D&D 5th Edition]

I loved the Phantasm movies back when I was a young punk. When Mind Flayers recently invaded my D&D campaign, I stole more than a few ideas.

Murder orbs are small constructs created by illithids and their alien science. These silvery metal orbs are made of a layered shell of mithril and adamantite around a core of humanoid brain matter and psionic circuitry.  Murder Orbs typically patrol the shadowy corridors of illithid lairs or act as bodyguards for individual mind flayers. A high-status illithid is often accompanied by two or more Murder Orbs, which are easily hidden within the monster’s voluminous robes.

When a Murder Orb detects a target, it extends two extremely sharp, jagged spikes from its center and flies directly into its victim, impaling them and attaching to flesh and bone. Once secured, the Murder Orb extends a high-powered auger from between the spikes and drills into its victim’s flesh, causing further damage.

Murder Orb
Tiny Construct, Lawful Evil

AC: 18 (natural armor + dexterity)
HP: 24 (8d4+8)
Speed: 60’ fly

STR: 4 (-3), DEX: 20 (+5), CON: 12 (+1), INT: 6 (-2), WIS: 16 (+3), CHA: 6 (-2)
Saves: Dexterity +7
Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing from non-magical non-adamantine weapons
Damage Immunities: Cold, Lightning, Fire, Poison
Condition Immunities: Charm, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception: 15
Languages: Understands Deep Speech, cannot speak
Challenge: 2 (450xp)

Spike. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage. On a successful hit, the Murder Orb attaches itself to its target. The Murder Orb’s movement drops to 0. The target or a nearby ally can use their action to try and remove the Murder Orb with a DC: 15 Strength check. The victim suffers 1d6 bludgeoning damage per removal attempt (successful or not). The Murder Orb can voluntarily detach from its victim as a Bonus Action (this causes no damage).

Drill. While attached to a target, the Murder Orb can use its action to drill into its victim’s flesh. This causes an automatic 2d6 piercing damage to the target.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Tale of Two GMs [Gen Con 2016]

Saturday night, and one of our GMs for Hex Games suddenly couldn’t make it to Gencon. This left his sold-out game with no GM and very, very short notice. We didn’t want to disappoint the nice people, nor did we want Hex’s reputation with Gencon to suffer. So, with only a couple hours lead time and nothing but the original GM’s scant blurb to go on, Leighton Connor and I stepped in to co-GM the game.

It was a Hobomancer game, and the program blurb mentioned a time-traveling pocket watch that needed to be destroyed in the first nuclear reactor (Chicago Pile-1, Chicago University, 1942 btw) and a bunch of Lord of the Rings references. Mere minutes before the game was scheduled to start LC and I put our heads together while I scribbled key-words and brief ideas on index cards:

Gordon the Gray
Bikers as Nazgul?
Sneaky Snakes/Serpent Men in Valusia
King Kull
VLHRG the Timewyrm
The Old West
Retro-Future Sci Fi Era
Post-Apoc Ape City

And thus we started madly improvising.We managed to lift large sections of plot from the “Swords & Serpents” chapter we did for LC’s Electric Team comic. It helped to have a common framework we could hang things on. LC and I can banter well with each other. In fact, we had to pull back a couple times, lest we forget about the PCs while we continued to bounce shtick off each other.

The adventure session went great, and the players had a fun time. (Pretty sure, I think, I hope. Everyone was laughing and smiling.) I can can at least guarantee the adventure was unlike anything else they’ve played. One of the players smilingly called us “you glorious BS artists” which I choose to take as a compliment.

At any rate, next year I am running three “Hobomancers in Time” adventures. This idea has legs!
Universes BURN at the voice of VLHRG!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gencon A-Go-Go!

In a scant few hours I'm piling everyone into the Taurus and driving four hours to Gencon. Hooray! This is something like my fifth Gencon. Ivy and Erik have been to smaller conventions (1000 people or so), but this is their first Gencon. My wife and son are not adequately  prepared for the scale of Gencon. It should be an exciting time. 

Ivy's peen invited to a Pokemon Go lure party and is attending a Werewolf LARP for Mind's Eye Theater. Both her and Erik Also have a lot of cosplay stuff put together. I expect Erik to find a group of teens and disappear pretty quickly. I hope to play in a couple of DCC tournaments, and I really hope to run into some of my G+ peeps. I'm very much looking forward to getting to sit around and talk with my friends for Hex Games who I only get to see a couple times a year.

As normal, I am running games for Hex Games. I'm running one Hobomancer adventure, and two Cinemechanix adventure. Cinemechanix is Hex's next big game that's currently in playtest and development. This, too, should be an exciting experiment. 

Here's discriptions the games I'm running, along with the pre-gen character shhets. I try to give myself a theme each year with my characters. This year, each PC group includes an intelligent animal. I'm proud to say that all these games have completely sold out. 

Hobomancer: Hobohemian Rhapsody
It’s the height of the Great Depression, and those all-American shamans known as Hobomancers ride the rails defending the soul of this great nation from all manner of supernatural evil. Winter means it’s time for all good hobos to settle into the cities and wait out the cold. But something uncanny is stalking the slums, and the snow runs red with hobo blood. It’s up to your brave band of Hobomancers to save the day once more.

Into the Nuclear Wasteland (Cinemechanix)
Pregen Characters

The world died by nuclear fire in 1985. Two-hundred years later, humanity struggles to rebuild civilization beset by mutants, raiders, and the tortured Earth itself. When the settlement of Glass City is threatened by an atomic overlord, it’s up to an unlikely band of scavengers, psykers, and highwaymen to band together and save the day.

Cavemen & Dinosaurs (Cinemechanix)
It’s a million years in the past. Mighty reptiles prowl the volcanic jungles of a primitive Earth while fur-clad humans lurk in caves and commune with tribal spirits. The Rains of Ash have come to your tribe’s small, once-fertile valley, and now the people starve. It’s up to you and your hunting companions to travel to the Valley of Giants and appease the fiery spirits that dwell there.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hobomancer Dogs

Yes, I know that's a wolf...

What kind of hobo doesn’t have a loyal and scrappy dog by their side? Only the saddest kind of hobo, that’s what I say. And of course magical hobos need equally magical dogs. Now, you too can play a Dog in Hobomancer!

You were once a normal pooch, but the Good Dog blessed you with the supernatural intelligence and tenacity necessary to aid and protect your Hobomancer charges.  To play a dog, create your character like any other Hobomancer. For you Hobomancer Power, write “Dog.” For your Past Life, determine what kind of dog you were before you were blessed by The Good Dog (cattle dog, family pet, police hound, etc.)

As a dog, you have paws and are limited in your ability to manipulate things, but savvy players can easily overcome this limitation. You cannot talk, but you understand English and can read hobo signs. As a mystic familiar, you can assist with hobomantic ritual magic. Hobos and hobomancers instinctively know your name (“I dunno, he just looks like a Charley.”) Also, most people like dogs, often times more than they like other humans.

Samples Uses of “Dog” Power
  • Use “Hobomancer” to attack with a +2 Damage Bonus due to your teeth and jaws.
  • Use “Hobomancer” to detect the presence of supernatural creatures and phenomenon or determine the moral disposition of a human. ("Ol' Jake here can tell a bad man when he sees one.")
  • Soothe mental and physical trauma by placing your head in the afflicted’s lap and being a good dog. Spend a Yum Yum and roll your Hobomancer Job. If successful, your target heals 1 Health Point per minute up to the result of your roll.

Vows: Any, but most focus on protection and loyalty.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Swords & Serpents! (A Mr. Amazing Comic Adventure!)

My good friend Leighton Connor draws a lot of comics. His current comic is The Electric Team. He co-writes this post-apocalypse sci-fi/fantasy all-ages adventure comic with his school-age daughter Abby, and it is drawn by Samantha Albert. If you like Adventure Time or Steven Universe, you'll no doubt enjoy The Electric Team, and you should check it out.

The Electric Team recently wrapped up its third chapter, and Leighton wanted to give Samantha a break while also branching off and exploring some solo stories about the individual characters. Leighton asked if I was interested in illustrating a solo story he wrote about the lightning-powered science hero Mr. Amazing. Well, of course I said yes!

As of this writing, we're in the middle of Swords & Serpents, wherein Mr. Amazing meets the barbarian warrior Druuj the Slayer and confronts evil Snake Men. You should go read it now. Tell your friends! Tell everybody!

This isn't the first time I've worked with Leighton. I produced the Thoroughly Thurl spin-off story for his Laser Brigade space opera comic. I also wrote and drew part of the Hate Frog vs. Drip-Drop Man fight from his wonderfully funny and surreal Fuzzball & Scuzzball comic (my favorite of his comic projects). And, of course, together we co-wrote the beloved RPG sourcebook Leopard Women of Venus.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Random Thoughts on "Batman V Superman"

This blog usually focuses on roleplaying games, but comics are my first love, and I just got back from watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Plenty of people have already done full reviews of the movie, so I'm just going to make some comments on things that stuck out.

Here's some full reviews by other people:
King Yak's Review of Batman v Superman
Movie Bob's Major Spoilers Review
I've Never Hated Anything The Way I Hate 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

Long story short... After a bunch of scathing reviews I expected this movie to be an absolute trainwreck. Instead it was just meeeeeeeh... I left the theater with no sense of joy or excitement, just a dissatisfied numbness.

Spoilers ahead...

I knew it was a bad sign when the music for a Supes/Bats movie was credited to some guy named "Junkie XL"

Hey! The film gave Bill Finger a co-credit for creating Batman! So that's good.

Despite the script he was given, Ben Affleck was really good as Batman/Bruce Wayne... despite all the murder. One could actually make a really compelling movie following Batman's slow decent into cruelty and fanaticism after a global disaster, and Bat-Ben would be perfect for it. This movie didn't go that way, of course. That would be too much character building.

Actually, I'd be happy to see Affleck in a straight-up adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns or All Star Batman and Robin (aka The Goddam Batman). I'm not a big fan of Frank Miller's version of Batman, but Affleck pulls it off. 

Jeremy Irons' Alfred looked cool rocking his British commando sweater in the Batcave. 

Hey, did you know Jimmy Olsen was in this movie? Yeah, check the credits. He was the photographer executed by terrorists in the first 10 minutes of the film. Yeah, Zak Snyder murdered Superman's Pal because fuck you.

Jessie Eisenberg made a terrible Lex Luthor, but he looked cool in that weird lab coat. He could have made a decent Leo Quintum.

Perry White angrily tells Clark "It's not 1938! any more!" The year Superman was created. Fuck you, Zak Snyder. 

Clark comments that Batman has mostly been terrorizing poor and underprivileged neighborhoods in Gotham. Someone later calls Luthor's party the "Lat Them Eat Cake Crowd." The movie comes ever so close on topics of classism and privilege, but of course it goes nowhere. 

I am going to assume that the weird cube that was used to create Cyborg is a Motherbox, in a clumsy attempt to tie the character to Darkseid and Apokalips. 

I am also going to assume that Batman's weirdly prophetic dreams are the result of The Flash mucking around with time travel, somehow granting Bats glimpses of alternate timelines. 

That highly-advanced alien warship has absolutely terrible security protocols. 

I'm still not entirely sure how Luthor learned Superman's secret identity. It also seems that, after his arrest, he'd share that info with the first reporter, cop, or lawyer he talked to. 

So, Superman can tell when Lois is in danger on the other side of the world, or knows when she's falling off a building somewhere, or has fallen into a well, but for some reason he can't keep tabs on his own mother? I guess she's bad at multitasking. 

It seems like Superman should have started his conversation with Batman by mentioning his mother. "Hey Batman, while I'm still way up in the sky here, I wanna tell you that Lex Luthor kidnapped my mom and wants me to kill you. Maybe we're both being played."

I actually didn't hate the "My mother's name is Martha, too!" thing where Supes and Bats bond and become pals. It was perhaps the only Silver Age thing in the movie. 

He Superman, instead of using that kryptonite spear yourself, why not toss it to the bad-ass super-powered warrior woman in the Greek armor with the sword and shield. I bet she knows how to use a javelin. 

I was unabashedly excited to see Wonder Woman use her magic lasso on Doomsday, even so briefly.

Someone please tell Warner Brothers and DC that "The Death of Superman" is not this beloved classic storyline, and Doomsday is a terrible and boring character. You know what would have made for a better final fight with some more narrative weight? Have the good guys fight Luthor in his purple and green battle armor.  Since they clearly want to connect Luthor to Darkseid somehow, they could have even made the suit based on Apokalips technology, channeled into Luthor's brain like some mad fever dream. 

So yeah... Go read All Star Superman instead.