Friday, September 30, 2011

Sword and Sorcery Greyhawk - The Isle of Green Stones

Don't bother looking for this mysterious isle on your map - it is rumored to be somewhere near Midbay in the Nyr Dyv - no one who has gone looking for it has been able to accurately pinpoint its location. This is, in part, due to the thick, moving fogs which usually enshroud the isle. There is also the issue of the questionable sanity of those who claim to have visited the isle.

The isle itself is only ten miles end-to-end from its northernmost point to its southernmost, and roughly three miles across at its widest point east-to-west. It is choked with gnarled, ancient trees, vines, and heavy undergrowth. The isle's moniker comes from the tumbled green stones found all across it. The stones are worked, and seem to have once been part of some ancient city or temple complex. Some stones still bear weather-faded runes and reliefs depicting savage humans, often engaged in salacious acts, lorded over by a race of vulture-headed humanoids. Whether these inhuman beings are an actual race or meant to depict some sort of gods is ambiguous.

What is tempting about the isle to treasure hunters is the rumor of great wealth to be found on the isle. Old legends around the Nyr Dyv, particularly found among the old tribes of Flan descent, place the isle at the center of a lost empire, millennia old. According to these legends, this decadent empire fell into ruin not through the actions of some outer agency or slow decline, but due to a horrible curse that brought them to a sudden, apocalyptic end. A further rumor insists that the broken city sometimes appears as if it had never fallen, on nights when the moon is full.

Visitors to the isle, obviously, risk falling prey to that very same curse.

Random Encounters (d12)
1. Bat, Mobat (2d3)
2. Bird, Dire (1d4)
3. Coatl
4. Vulchling (2d4)
5. Jackal (2d6)
6. Ape, Carnivorous (2d3)
7. Lizard, Giant Monitor (1d4)
8. Amber Creeping Vine (1d3)
9. Basilisk
10. Zombies, JuJu (1d4)
11. Toad, Giant (2d6)
12. Spider, Giant (1d3)

Vulture Helms
These ancient helms may sometimes still be found on the Isle of Green Stones. They are powerful, but convey a great curse. They appear as a gem-encrusted full helm of light, steel mesh in the shape of a vultures head. When worn, they impart a +1 bonus to armor class, infravision, and allow the use of charm person up to three times daily. Due to their curse, however, each use of the Vulture helm's charm ability carries a (cumulative) 5% chance of the wearer transforming into a Vulchling of CE alignment. Only a wish or remove curse may reverse this transformation, and the Helm is lost in the process. Each helm is worth 4500 gp for its value in gems alone.

Spider Knives
These odd weapons may also be found on the Isle of Green Stones. They feature a 9" curved blade with a hilt shaped like a spider. It is held by entwining one's finger among the spider's legs. It functions as a Knife +1, and on a natural roll to-hit of "20" injects a powerful poison into the victim's wound (Save at -1 or die). Unfortunately, these weapons have been influenced by the Isle's curse as well, and on a natural roll of "1" inject the same poison into the wielder.


Hrek Maluk (Thief 6, CN) - Maluk has been stranded on the Isle for 2 weeks now since he and his group of treasure hunters landed. He is the only surviving member, and has been without sleep for three days now as he is being stalked by a group of 3 carnivorous apes. He carries a bag of ancient jewelry worth 3000gp he will gladly offer in exchange for help driving off the apes, though he will, of course, try to steal it all back eventually.

Captain Shurc (F4, N) - Shurc has been living on the Isle for six years. He is quite mad, and claims he can speak to the "great spirits of the Isle". His motives are unclear, as is the veracity of his claims, but he will refuse to leave the Isle to the point of physical aggression. He knows the location of a deep sinkhole filled with bones and jewelry.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lazy Blog Post - Shogun Warriors

Some of the best toys ever. For maximum fun, battle them with your Micronauts!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Facelift! and a brief tour.

I tweaked the blog's appearance a bit today. The new scheme should hopefully reflect two of my biggest inspirations: Weird, pulp fantasy, and hex maps!

Let me know what you think.

If you haven't noticed them before, there's a Bag of Holding's worth of resources down the right side of the blog there, including:

"The Shoulders of Giants" - links to postings and ruminations made by folks like Gygax, Arneson, and Bledsaw. There's some valuable stuff to read there if you're a fan of the roots and history of RPGs.

"Get Yer Old School Here" - links to some of my favorite blogs (which is in need of an update / additions, but still lots of great stuff there).

"Download Yer Old-School Games" - links to some of the best free old-school RPGs and retro-clones available on the web.

"Beyond the Black Gate Resources" - includes free mapping tools and lots of Megadungeon stuff.

By the way, the new header art is a classic piece by the inestimable Hannes Bok, master of the weird and wonderful!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Warriors of the Red Planet in layout

In case you haven't been following the WotRP blog, this long-rumored, OD&D-inspired, Sword & Planet RPG is in layout, courtesy of my artistic partner Thomas. I've seen some early page drafts and new art, and I have to say, they look fantastic!

Stay tuned for more soon....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knockspell #6

Knockspell #6 is out - get yours today.

It includes a first for this magazine; a piece of short fiction by yours truly.

Do you think short fiction has a place in OSR mags? I'd appreciate any critiques or comments on the piece, whether you like it or hate it, and if you think I should continue to submit stuff like this.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Evil Characters

There seems to be a stigma out there against running "evil" characters or parties.

Why is this, exactly?

Looking at the roots of the hobby, it seems like running an "evil" character was not uncommon. Flipping through the AD&D Rogues Gallery, which details many of the "house" characters of the folks involved with TSR, a good portion of them are evil, and as many neutral. Storied characters like Robilar (Rob Kuntz), Erac's Cousin (Ernie Gygax), and Lanolin (Lawrence Schick), were all evil.

Changing the "goal" of the game might be one reason. As the game metamorphosed from "treaure hunt" to "fulfill epic quest", it quite possibly became easier for a good-aligned party to cooperate toward a more charitable end. Evil and neutral aligned parties (or, more likely, a healthy mix of alignments) was probably actually more effective with the treasure hunt scenario, such as plumbing the depths of Castle Greyhawk. There would be plenty of situations where someone of low scruples could be an advantage to such pursuits, as well as a variety of "aligned" situations to take advantage of, such as shrines or magic swords.

Another reason might be a trend I saw in the 90's, which was bringing in an evil character to essentially "screw" the party. The player's character would steal, backstab, and otherwise work against the other players, all under the aegis of "playing my alignment", when really it was just kind of dickish. Or maybe just odd concept of player competition?

If you consider the overall main goals of fantasy RPGs to be character development, imaginative immersion, problem solving, and even cooperative storytelling, there doesn't seem to be any need for an evil character to be so disruptive. After all, even a character with intentions of taking over the world someday, founding a dark empire, or whatever, is going to recognize that the quickest path to accumulating wealth and power is through cooperation, not just being a sociopath and getting immediately killed by the rest of the party (as I've seen happen time and again to evil characters).

What are your experiences with evil characters and/or parties?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011


Apparently there is a new cover to add to the ones below.


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