Friday, July 31, 2009

Death from above!

Giant Acid Ant

The Giant Acid Ant is a horrific, swollen monstrosity that hangs from the shadowed ceilings of natural caverns or dungeons, waiting for victims to pass beneath them. Appearing, at first, as a normal giant ant, as they hang from their perch, their abdomen slowly fills with digestive juices, until it is many times the mass of the rest of their body. The ant is dark red or purple in color, and when hanging can surprise its victims 4 out of 6 times. When a victim passes by, it disgorges this terrible reservoir, causing 2d6 points of damage (the victim can save for half). The Giant Acid Ant then detaches from the ceiling, falls to the floor and enjoys the feast. Acid Ants which are spotted and attacked are able to aim their acid burst up to 20'.

Once its acid is disgorged, it takes the Ant 24 hours to refill its abdomen. While the Giant Acid Ant is normally foudn alone or in small groups, one band of wary adventurers returning from the Forsaken Halls has reported a cavern teeming with a vast swarm of these abberations!

Interestingly, the jewel-like eyes of these creatures are coveted by dwarves and gnomes, who will pay 2-5gp each for them.

Giant Acid Ant: HD 3; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 bite (1d6) or acid (2d6); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Acid, Surprise

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Retro-Clone you might not have.

Though my focus is usually on D&D-based games, there's still one little RC out there with plenty of old-school cred that I think well-deserving of mention. During my misspent youth it wasn't always possible to get together an "appropriately" sized group for a good game of D&D, and fortunately for those times, Microgames came to rescue. Cheap, tiny, ridiculously portable, easy to learn, and *usually* fun (yes, there were a couple of duds), these little games ate up a lot of my freetime.

One of these that I particularly enjoyed was Melee, part of what, with its later companion game Wizard, was known as "The Fantasy Trip" (we're trippin' dude!). Like its more board-or-war-game oriented brethren, my (used) copy of Melee came in a worn little plastic baggie, with some tiny dice, a hex map, a tiny rulebook, and some battered counters of little gladiator-looking dudes. "In the Labyrinth" would develop the Trip even further, into what many regard as a quite passable rules-lite RPG with some cool combat options.

TFT would become quite popular in its own right, even amidst the crowded RPG landscape of the late seventies and early eighties. The owner of the game held a couple of notorious contests in which he provided clues to the location of a real Silver Dragon (and attendant 10k prize) and later a Gold Unicorn, which was never found (I believe I've narrowed the location down to three possibilities;).

At any rate, the game has vanished into the mists of time, some 25 years gone now, after a dispute between the owner and the game's lead designer, one Steve Jackson (yes, that one). Fortunately, the fellows over at Dark City Games have put together a short and sweet simulacrum of the complete TFT game (Melee/Wizard/Labyrinth) called Legends of the Ancient World and are happily chugging along making cool new adventures for the system. Check it out, its good stuff.

They also have a sci-fi variant of the ruleset, called Time and Space, which I find particularly cool, as rules-lite sci-fi games are extremely few and far-between.

Who's attacking the OSR publishers?

Drama! Usually I avoid it like the plague, but the last couple of months have seen reports of retroclone fans and publishers getting critical and threatening emails and messages from someone who thinks they should just go away.

In each case so far, the victims have been too gentlemanly to name their attacker(s) in public, and have opted to stew/suffer/agonize in private. While I can respect taking the higher ground about that, it also appears that the culprit(s) behind these attacks are taking things a bit too far, and should really be dealt with. The OSR is more than a hobby, its a community, so name your attacker and we'll help you out with it. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Torgo Tuesday - Torgo Loves Andre Norton!

Torgo was absolutely enthralled this morning as I read aloud to him from J's excellent review of Quag Keep. I enjoy reading to Torgo, as it keeps him from tormenting the cats for a few minutes, giving them a much needed rest.

Adding to the review from my own well of largely useless trivia, I mentioned to Torgo the interesting factoid that Quag Keep, while an uninspiring work in many folks' opinion, is a rare glimpse at the pre-publication version of Gary's Greyhawk campaign setting. Ms. Norton was invited to attend a lengthy session at Mr. Gygax's table, and took extensive notes as she adventured through Greyhawk in its original form, what we call today a "sandbox", centered around Castle Greyhawk and its nearby city of Greyhawk. Of course, as Gygax fleshed things out more and more for what would eventually become the "canon" setting published as "World of Greyhawk" in 1980, this magical place would move further away from Gygax's freewheeling initial, pulpier, inspirations, and further towards a more "realistic" setting, an alternate Earth of sorts, with well defined nations and races. Wouldn't it be something if Ms. Norton's notes on that prototypical Greyhawk could be released? However, when one reads notes on the initial dungeon expeditions beneath Castle Greyhawk and Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" in quick succession, as I have done recently, one gets a pretty good idea of what it must have been like. Try it yourself, you'll see what I mean! :)

Incidentally, Andre Norton was a member of a pretty awesome club herself, one that would've made any DM poop bricks for the opportunity to game with: The Swordsmen & Sorcerers Guild of America, also known as SAGA. In addition to Andre Norton, the association included the likes of Jack Vance(!), Fritz Leiber(!!), and Michael Moorcock(!!!), along with Lin Carter(the founder), L. Sprague DeCamp, Roger Zelazny, and Katherine Kurtz, among others. While ostensibly a literary group, it was also a damned good excuse to get together a drink a lot while talking shop. What would you give to have been a fly on the wall at one of their meetings?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Support Old-School Gaming - vote today!

Ennie voting opens today for the Ennies.

Swords & Wizardry for "Best Free Product", and
Mythmere Games for "Best Publisher", and
Goblinoid Games (Labyrinth Lord) for "Best Publisher"

Even if S&W or LL aren't your systems of choice, having either of these win will no doubt make publishers and distributers take notice(if they havn't already;) of the increasing presence and influence old-school gaming has, which is good all for us!

Vote here.

When you're done, be sure to grab a copy of the badge above!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Who's Niche?

Poking around on EnWorld today, I was amused to find even more old-school gaming than the last time. I don't think it was normal even a year ago to see more than one old-school thread on the main general discussion page, but the amount of discussion has been growing steadily over the last several months. Today's page features threads on:

"What flavor of old-school do you like?"
"Experiences with Basic Fantasy RPG"
"What was your Megadungeon like?"
"The thing I miss most from AD&D is..."
"2E Legends & Lore"
"Gaming generation gap"
"Gary Con (old-school gaming convention) 2 dates set"
"Why doesn't WotC license older editions?"
"AD&D1 Training Rules"
"4E Blackmoor"
"Treasure and leveling comparisons: AD&D1, etc"
"J Tweet's comments on Swords & Wizardry"
"How did you play back in the day?"
"Familiar with the Megadungeon?"

That's 14 out of the 25 top current threads...

At any rate, there are a lot of misconceptions posted here and there, so if you feel like it, drop by over there and help steer them gently in the right direction.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Very sad news - Eleanor Frazetta

Eleanor Frazetta (6/15/35-7/17/09) passed away last Friday. From everything I've read about Frank Frazetta, he was completely devoted to her, so everyone keep him your thoughts through what must be an unbearable time. More here.

WotRP Preview 4 - The Martian Underworld

One important chapter of the upcoming Warriors of the Red Planet RPG deals exclusively with other-worldly environments. Unlike most “standard” fantasy role playing games, sword & planet adventures do not often take place in the assumed environments of an earth-like counterpart. Nothing about the environment the players will adventure in can be taken for granted. Obviously, flora and fauna are usually going to be completely different and alien; that’s part of the fun of the genre. Beyond flora and fauna, even elements like the soil, the rocks, the shape of mountains, the fluid of rivers and streams, the color of the sky, the thickness of the air, even the gravitational pull can be completely different from what we are used to as earthly humans.

However, a lot of Sword & Planet stories feature forays into a very common fantasy role-playing environment: the Underworld.

Most cities on the Red Planet feature extensive underground dungeons, also referred to as “pits”. These may be used as prisons, where captives are thrown into damp, inky black cells, chained to a moldy wall and left to fret about their fate as time passes them by at unknown speeds. Time in the pits ceases to have meaning, the only intervals being marked by the infrequent visits of their jailors to deliver food and water, assuming they are to be kept alive to face their impending torture or execution.

Creatures lurk in the darkness here, waiting to drag expired prisoners into the further depths of the pits to feast upon them. Shapeless scavengers and predators haunt disused passageways and forgotten chambers, unwittingly guarding lost treasures or means of escape. Other prisoners may be encountered here as well, perhaps captive nobility able to offer fantastic rewards for the assistance of their escape. Perhaps future comrades in arms, or planted spies and assassins, or mad scientists thrown into the darkness for going too far, tampering with the natural order.

Dungeons also exist beneath the many lost and ruined cities of the Red Planet. These tunnels and chambers may have become lairs for all manner of predatory creature, or may serve as a refuge for the xenophobic remains of the lost civilizations, corrupted and mad from the weight of the countless years crushing down upon them.

Other areas of the Underworld to be covered in Warriors of the Red Planet include underground rivers and seas, great caverns filled with bizarre forests and “lost world” ecosystems, vaults filled with the arcane and incomprehensible machines of lost technologies, hidden cities, the laboratory complexes of mad scientists, secret factories mass producing some dire new weapon to assist a warlord’s attempted conquest of the world above, and wondrous natural caverns filled with scintillating waterfalls and pools lined with gems of every description.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Brave Halfling says "oh allright, more OSR!"

Well its been a whopping 10 days or so since Brave Halfling said No More OSR, yet it appears there will be some more Brave Halfling support of Labyrinth Lord nonetheless. Sounds good to me. :)

Torgo Tuesday!

Well, things have been a bit different here at Beyond the Black Gate since I brought Torgo on board. Fortunately, he kept the place nice and clean while I was away, but I was surprised to find some unexpected guests when I got home.

For some odd reason, Torgo has the strangest theme music which seems to follow him around everywhere he goes. I may have to speak to him about that, Its kind of creeping out the neighbors.

Click on the Button of Pain to see what I mean.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Back! / S&W Quickstart Rules!

Well, I'm back from a week in sunny Florida (grumble, grumble) feeling much refreshed and blessedly rid of my northern fish-like pallor. Naturally, posting was lite last week due to carousing and frolicking, but I did get to post a fun little quickie adventure, inspired by crabs crawling around a little stonehenge-like cluster of barnacle-encrusted pilings. Which put in me in mind of this discussion over on the Swords & Wizardry boards. What gaming inspiration have you drawn from your surroundings over the years?

Speaking of Swords&Wizardry, check out this handy little Quickstart Guide. Thanks, guys!

Joe Goodman follows up on his controversial "4E Business" posting.

In this interview here.

His original post seemed to generate a lot of response both positive and negative, but I expect you already know about that...;) Personally, I'm still appreciative of his support of old-school gaming. Can Dungeon Crawl Classics be a "gateway drug" for the OSR?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Short adventure: The Trident of Malik-Norrn

Bterek the Unholy, exiled priest of Ghan, is a frequent sight amidst the worst of the wharf-side alehouses of the PC's current base-town. Driven to alcholism by the stripping away of his clerical powers by a jealous rival with higher favor from Ghan, Bterek has taken to selling various anitiquities, charms, legends, and treasure maps to support his daily drunk. Where he comes up with these items and lore is anyone's guess. Most of the time they are useless junk, false leads, or outright traps, but every so often (say, 1 in 10), he comes up with something useful, such as his current item for sale: a map leading the Sunken Coral Shrine of Malik-Norrn, fabled resting place of the legendary Trident of Malik-Norrn.

The map leads to a deserted stretch of beach some miles south of town. On moonlit nights, the tide lowers enough to reveal the Sunken Coral Shrine, a large Stonehenge--like monument of pink and white coral, five concentric rings of pillars deep. While the sea-floor around the outermost ring is completely free of water, each succesive ring gets progressively deeper, until it becomes chest-deep within the inner-most ring. Here, the Trident is set into a slot in a massive block of coral in the very center.

Within the outer rings lurk from 3-12 giant crabs at any time, who like to bask in the dark aquatic energies radiating from the trident. They are immediately hostile to interlopers.
Giant Crabs(3-12): HD 3; AC 3[16]; Atk 2 pincers (1d6+2); Move 9; Save 14; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None.

Guarding the innermost ring and the Trident itself is Bflefguul, a Chaotic water naga. Bflefguul will remain hidden while the crabs fight interlopers, revealing himself only if the innermost ring is reached. He is saturnine, cruel, and clever. If he feels outmatched, he will attempt to delay the party with gibes, riddles, and double-talk, as 1d3 crabs per turn will arrive at the area due to the Trident's influence. When the crabs arrive, Bflefguul will assist the crabs with spells.
Water Naga: HD 7; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 bite (1d4 + poison); Move 12 (Swim 20); Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Poison, spells: Charm Person, Magic Missile x2, Sleep; level 2: Mirror Image, Stinking Cloud; level 3: Suggestion

If Bflefguul is defeated, the PCs are free to lay claim to the Trident of Malik-Norrn!

Trident of Malik-Nornn: This +2 Trident is +3 versus aquatic creatures. Once per day, it enables its wielder to use the spells Stinking Cloud, Water Breathing, and Darkvision.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cool Herculoids Game stuff

If you, like me, have a soft spot for animated sci-fantasy stuff like Herculoids, check out these cool .pdf's detailing some of the shows weird cast of creatures and characters in AD&D terms.

Thanks Tim, for sharing these!

Brave Halfling says "No More OSR"

Sadly, it looks like BHP will be leaving OSR territory to support Castles & Crusades and Eldritch RPG (an odd, obscure choice), exclusively, according to the blog post here. Ostensibly this is due to a hectic schedule and wanting to focus on his favorite games, thoughJohn has a couple of odd posts before that, here, and here, where he seems to be linking slow sales of BHP stuff to the OSR's excitement over supporting the LuLu contests for FightOn and Mythmere Games. I suppose its possible, but I would think attention for one publisher would be good news for the rest?

He then goes on to say that he receives "many profanity-filled emails and PM's from members of the Old-School community informing me that BHP, well, ought to just close up shop". Well, that sounds very strange to me, in the 2 years or so I've been following the OSR everyone has seemed very kind and gracious. Apart from the odd barrage leveled at 3E/4E, or the occasionally heated differences of opinion over one rule or the other, comments on folks' publishing efforts, projects, and blogs have been overwhelmingly supportive. At least that's been my impression. If you've been hurling curses at BHP and telling them to quit, well, what's up with that?

Despite this puzzling series of events, Brave Halfling put out some very cool-looking stuff for old-school games, including "People of the Pit", which J over at Grognardia gave a very favorable review, and the "Obregon's Dishonor" Carcosa adventure. In fact, these two came out very recently. I'm surprised John hasn't given these at least 6 months or a year to see how well these sell, rather than a few weeks, but I'm not in the publishing biz. At any rate, check this stuff out here on LuLu, and drop by to wish John the best of luck!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Problem with Weapon Proficiencies

I was talking to a buddy the other day about how much I missed the classes of AD&D (brought on by showing off my fresh printed copy of OSRIC), and he asked why not just use that instead of S&W? One of the first reasons to pop into my head was my intense dislike of weapon proficiencies. Even back in the "glory days" of AD&D, I never liked this rule system. While it makes sense in some ways, I suppose by reflecting a characters "pre-hero" training with weapons, in so many other ways it just makes no sense at all.

As I ruminated on in The Folly of Realistic Rules, this is one of those little foibles of RPGs that, in my opinion, attempts to create a more "realistic" game environment, but fails. For one thing, there's no baseline to be advanced upon by weapon proficiencies. AD&D sets up a non-weapon proficiency penalty (-2 for fighters, -6 for magic-users, etc) that completely destroys the baseline of ability demonstrated by a level 0 nobody. Under this system, a fighter who picks up a polearm he is not proficient in is actually assumed to be worse with that polearm than a conscripted peasant.

If weapon proficiencies are thrown out the window, the relative power level between a first level fighter and a peasant make more sense. The fighter's better, whether he's had specific training or not. As he gains in levels, he gets progressively better than that peasant. By sixth level or so, you have a very sensible range of fighting ability: the 6th level fighter is better with a halberd than a 6th level magic-user, who's better with a halberd than a peasant. It makes more sense to me that characters get better at combat as they level, as opposed to having them slowly work off an arbitrary penalty. As Gygax stated, character background is what happens from levels one to six.

And what's that about magic-users using halberds? Well, another problem I have with weapon proficiencies is the assumption they make about "my" campaign. The standard class weapon restrictions as presented in AD&D (or in most versions of D&D) are presumptuous and arbitrary, in my opinion. As someone who's primary literary influence for D&D is pulp swords & sorcery, its far more natural for me to envision warrior-priests with tulwars and curvy knives, Vance-style magic-users with rapiers, and loincloth clad fighters scaling walls with daggers clenched in their teeth. Regardless of the weapon options given to the classes, a 10th level fighter is going to be more effective with a broadsword than a 10th level cleric, who's accordingly better with a broadsword than a 10th level magic-user.

Removing class weapon restrictions also broadens the range of available fantasy archetypes available when using a 3-class system like Swords & Wizardry. How many characters have actually multi-classed just to use a different weapon that those prescribed by their primary class description. There's nothing inherently *wrong* with class weapon restrictions, as I feel there is with weapon proficiencies, and magic-users with daggers and clerics with flails are sacred cows important to many gamers. I just don't feel it takes anything *away* from the game to remove them, while it can add alot of options that really don't unbalance anything.

Armor restrictions make a little more sense to me, as why would most adventurers even want to wear it? Its noisy, hinders climbing, jumping, and squeezing through small spaces, all frequently necessary activities in a dungeon. Especially an old-school "exploration" style dungeon. They travel alot, and armor is uncomfortable. Rather than make armor an option for all classes, it makes sense to me that there should be a system in place to decrease reliance on armor as a character levels. Maybe a bonus to AC equivalent to the character's effective bonus to hit? Should a 5th level fighter in leather be easier to hit than a man-at-arms in plate mail? Having more hp's resolves alot of that issue, but is it enough? Its something to ponder at least.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wilderlands S&W session: Boars and Gores

Last session saw the intrepid explorers continuing north along the shores of the Sea of Five Winds, traveling mostly by night to avoid the patrols of Baron Ixpli. Ixpli, being nearly as smart as he is tenacious, soon expanded his patrols to include night expeditions, and his trackers were soon back on the party's trail, despite Tesmir's best elven woodcraft.

Further complicating things was Galya(the Baron's errant wife, having "escaped" her "imprisonment" via her seduction of Zurka)'s slow realization that skulking around in the wilderness night after night was not exactly the fullest realization of her romanticized vision of the future. The complaining started only two days and some thirty miles north of her home, and soon turned towards exhorting Zurka to simply stand and fight, implying he was more than man enough to face and kill Baron Ixpli.

Of course Odis immediately began advocating the hasty abandonment of Galya, encouraging Zurka to seek a "harlot" with "stronger nerves and weaker tongue";)

Deciding that finding a ship of some sort was only way to truly elude Ixpli's mounted patrols, the party doubled their speed and stuck close to the shoreline in hopes of spotting a fishing boat or anything to aid their escape. As they emerged out onto the beach, a half dozen of Ixpli's black-and-gold attired lancers burst from the dunes behind them and attempted to run the party down.

Tesmir stopped and threw up his arms, conjuring up a blast of hurricane-force wind that spewed up sand and water at the riders, causing their horses to rear up, screaming, and dismounting all but one the lancers, which was felled by a well-placed crossbow bolt from Odis's fancy new crossbow. Overmatched for the time being, the remaining riders calmed their mounts, remounted, and rode back the way they came, presumably to alert Ixpli to the party's location. Knowing their time was short, the party hastily raced forward again.

At last, they located a small vessel, seemingly abandoned on the shore, barnacle-encrusted, and upside down. Unfortunately for them, the beached boat was currently being used as the residence of gigantic wild boar, which immediately took offense to the party's invasion of its territory, and set about teaching them a violent lesson. The fight was brutal, and saw both Tesmir and Zurka viciously gored before they finally put the raging beast down.

Despite his wounds, the Avalonian swordsman was able to quickly assess what repairs were needed for the small vessel, and the party went to it, putting things back together "A-Team-Style" (cue military disco music), replacing some weak spots in the hull with fresh timber from the surrounding woods, and patching the holes in the tattered old sail with their own cloaks. Odis provided new rope for the rigging.

Before long, they had set sail for the north, passing just beyond the surf-line as they spotted a large group of black-and-gold lancers, their shrouded sorcerous leader in the front, but too far out of range for his black arts to have any effect.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Torgo Tuesday!

In light of his recent unemployment, Torgo has agreed to become the official mascot of Beyond the Black Gate. His duties will include promotional interviews, press conferences, and locating additional wives for the master.

Lets all give him a hearty "welcome aboard!".

Monday, July 6, 2009

BtBG Reader goes shopping, and scores!

Last weekend saw the annual Ravyn Family trip to the peaceful shores of Lake Chautauqua to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, eat good food, and watch fireworks. Oh, and to hunt for rare and hard-to-get books. The Chautauqau region features both an immense used book store, kept generously and diversely stocked with trade-ins from artists visiting the nearby Chautauqua Institution, as well as a fairly large flea market out in the middle of an unused airstrip.

I always come away from the weekend with two or three insteresting finds, but this year saw me driving home with no less than 13! Here's what I got:

E.R. Burroughs, "Pirates of Venus"(1979ed). This is the only one of his Venus books I never got a chance to read, so this was a treat to find, and good "research" for my Warriors of the Red Planet game.

E.R. Burroughs, "The Moon Maid"(?ed). Another Burroughs work I've never read. With 90-odd books, that shouldn't surprise me, but it does. I can't tell what edition this is, but tucked in the book, likely as a bookmark, was a campaing receipt from July 2nd, 1969. I can only imagine, 40 years ago, someone trading this in? Who knows.

Robert A Heinlein, "Red Planet"(1977ed). One of my favorite Heinlein works, and also good research material for my WotRP game. If you've never read this, its quite a treat, and I believe there are current editions available.

Arthur C. Clarke, "Against the Fall of Night"(1970ed). My favorite Clarke work, and probably in my top 5 sci-fi works of all time. Wonderfully melancholy work set at the end of human history. I had this in a collection of novellas that went AWOL years ago, so I was glad to find this.

John Eric Holmes, "Mahars of Pellucidar"(1976ed). Yes, this is the Holmes of "Holmes Basic" fame, one of the few writers able to secure license to write works set in the worlds of ER Burroughs. It should be an interesting read!

Isaac Asimov, "Second Foundation"(1971ed). I've been re-reading the original trilogy a chapter or two at a time this summer, but was lacking the third volume. Of course the collector in me was a bit sad that I'd have to get the contemperary edition, so I was pleased to find this edition that matches my set!

Talbot Mundy, "Tros of Samothrace"(1976ed). I've been keeping an eye out for this since J's review on Grognardia some months back. I'm looking forward to reading this with an eye towards the origins of D&D, as I did with Dying Earth recently.

Roger Zelazny, "Jack of Shadows"(1971ed). The first of my flea market purchases, I was tickled to find this Hardcover! version of my favorite Zelazny work in a box stuffed with romances and self-help guides. I have a tattered paperback version I loan out, it'll be nice to have an "archival" version I can save for posterity!

A.E. Van Vogt, "Quest for the Future"(1970ed). I've never been a huge fan of Van Vogt, more for lack of experience with his work than anything else. I mainly bought this book because: a)it was in a box with "Jack of Shadows" marked "2 for $1", and b) it has a bright orange cover with a giant iguana-monster lunging out of the sea to eat a hovering spaceman with a movie camera. Awesome!

Marvel Graphic Novel #2, "Michael Moorcock's Elric the Dreaming City"(1982). I'm fairly sure this is either a reprint of the graphic novel printed in EPIC magazine (or EPIC reprinted this). If it is the same version I'm remembering from the early 80's, its a pretty cool version.

Grimtooth's Traps(1981ed). My other flea market find, this was stacked with "Grimtooth's Traps Fore" and "Grimtooth's Traps Ate" (all in mint shape!), sitting inexplicably atop an old sea-chest at a vendor who seemed to deal mainly in antique wood-working tools. Maybe he was building traps out of these books in his spare time? He told me they were $2 each, so I offered him $5 for all three, which he accepted. A quick perusal of ebay tells me picking these three books up would run me $40-60, so a pretty good deal, I guess.

So I have plenty to keep me busy!

Another cool find at the flea market was a set of Batman Colorforms, which I grabbed for my 8-yr-old. Remember Colorforms!? I had the Kiss set when I was a kid...:)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Nesztor's Levitating Libram

Nesztor of Brechny was an odd man, even among wizards. His goal in pursuing sorcery was never to gain power or revenge, no godlike ambitions marred his psyche. Instead, it was flight that obsessed Nesztor's every waking moment, and most of his dreams as well. He was a bit of perfectionist, and loved to take the flight related spells of others and make them just a bit better, more useful, more powerful. Though Nesztor disappeared shortly after claiming he would fly to the moons themselves, up to four copies of his marvelous Levitating Librams are known to exist, as Nesztor was nothing if not generous with his work, the polar opposite of most wizards' near paranoid seclusion of themselves and their jealously guarded spells.

The tomes themselves are large, about 2' x 3'. The pages are hammered copper sheets held together in a teak-wood cover and bound in green, scaly leather of unknown origin. A removable brass ring, like a rune-covered door-kocker, adorns the cover (this is a Nesztor's Faithful Friend, detailed after the spells). True to its name, if placed flat on its back, the Levitating Libram always floats a couple of inches above whatever surface it is placed upon.

The tome contains the spells Levitate, Fly, and Summon Elemetal(Air), as well as the following:

Floating Disk
Level: 1
Range: 20'
Duration: 1 hour/level
This spell creates a three-foot-wide disk, invisible except for a faint greenish glow. The disk levitates one or two feet off the ground at all times, and will go wherever the caster commands, within twenty feet. The disk can support up to 100lbs of weight per caster level.

Nesztor's Remarkably Improved Floating Disk
Level: 2
Range: 20'
Duration: 1 hour/level
This spell functions as the normal Floating Disk, save that it creates an eight-foot-wide disk, that floats two or three feet off the ground, and can support up to 200lbs per caster level. Unlike the lesser Floating Disk, the caster can sit or stand upon it, and direct it about like a horseless chariot.

The Pummeling Fists of Arak-Zhorr
Level: 2
Range: 30'
Duration: 3 rounds
This spell, named for the infamous Air Elemental Arak-Zhorr, fills a twenty foot square with flailing fists of air. Anyone in the area of the spell sustains 1d6 points of damage per round and must save or have anything they are holding be torn from their grasp and thrown away from them.

Nesztor's Vastly Improved Spell of Levitation
Level: 3
Range: 20'/lvl
Duration: 1 turn/lvl
This spell functions the same as the normal spell of Levitation, except that the caster can levitate up to one other human-sized being per caster level along with himself.

Nesztor's Wondrous Flying Carpet
Level: 4
Range: Touch
Duration: 6 turns plus 1 turn/level
This spell enchants a carpet to fly at the whim of the caster. The spell can enchant a carpet of up to 10' x 10', which will hold up to eight passengers in addition to the caster, and fly at a speed of up to 60 miles per hour.

Also with each tome is a brass ring, about the size of a bracelet, the Nezstor's Faithful Friend, which summons forth a tiny air elemental with the intelligence of a dog. The elemental communicates through chirps, yelps, and other sounds, and will serve faithfully for up to seven hours a week. It can fetch objects of 5lbs or less, attack enemies for 1d4 points of damage, blow out fires, and fill the sails of a small boat with wind, among other things. It can only be hit by magical weapons, has an AC of 2[17], 1HD(7hp), and moves at a rate of 15.


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