The Death Mask of the Evil Emperor

It seems like its been an eternity, but its Fiendish Friday! Here’s a magic item from the end of the Tomb of the Evil Emperor which is one of two adventures that feature in the adventure book Tournaments of Madness and Death, which is currently in production (eta March/April).  Of course this being a Crypts and Things Magic Item, user caution is advised.

The Death Mask of the Evil Emperor

On the surface, this golden funeral mask has a street value of 500 GP.

The Mask has a more sinister purpose. It is the Death Mask of the Evil Emperor, which allows the Emperor to return to the world of the living. Should a person put on the mask the Evil Emperor will take possession of their body, over a period of five nights. At first, the Emperor will invade the character’s dreams and confront the character in psychic combat there. Each time the player character needs to test their luck (which does not regenerate during the period of the possession attempt). If they succeed they win against the Emperor and it is driven off. If they fail, the Emperor wins and turns their dream into a nightmare. At the end of five nights, whoever has won the most psychic battles takes control of the character’s body. The loser is banished to wander the Shroud as a disembodied spirit, who will only be summoned back to Zarth if someone foolishly puts on the Death Mask.

This item features in the upcoming adventure book…

Tournaments of Madness and Death cover by David M.Wright

Green is the new Black!

Rejoice fellow OSRians, Glynn Seal’s (aka Monkey Blood Design) The Midderlands, as previously Kickstarted and supported by this here blog, has been released;

As a stretch goal for the Kickstarter I promised a Crypts & Things Conversion Guide, so you could use the Midderlands (which uses Swords and Wizardry as its base) without much fuss with C&T.

I’ve just finished the conversion guide, which is on its way for proofing/checking before a quick layout and release as a freebie via DriveThruRpg.com and the D101 Webstore, which I anticipate will be sometime next week.

In the meantime, he’s a quick excerpt from the C&T Conversion Guide.

Gloomium

Gloomium is everywhere in the Midderlands. It seeps up from the Middergloom, an ambiguous underworld below the Midderlands. It is toxic and corrupting. It is green in colour and is the source of much strangeness, corruption and twisted magic. This section explains how gloomium works in the context of Crypts & Things magic system.

As a Source of Khaos

Crypt Keepers should assume that the seepage of gloomium is the source of Khaos monsters and mutations, for games set in The Midderlands.

Corruption

Whilst in the Midderlands, use the Gloom-touched rules (Midderlands page 10 and 11), instead of the standard Crypts and Things Corruption table on page 64 of Crypts & Things.

Green is the Brightest Colour of Magic!

While in the Midderlands there is only two colours of magic; Green and Colourless.

Green is the magic of gloomium; it’s harmful, toxic and glows a malignant shade of luminous green when cast. It causes corruption when cast, using the rules on page 84 of Crypts & Things. All the spells on the Black Magic spell lists (see page 50 of Crypts & Things) are Green.

In addition, the following new spells from the Midderlands are Green Magic spells:

Curse of Old Hobb, Gloomium Shield, Middergloom Missiles, Morgontula’s Vomit.

Colourless magic is everything else (i.e. Spells from the Grey and White Lists). It does not have a colour when cast and its effects are usually boringly beneficial or utilitarian in nature.

What Did That Do? (see Midderlands page 74) is a colourless spell.

While in the Midderlands ignore The Summons of Evil rules for casting beneficial (white) magic.

Also, ignore the rules for Blood Magic (unless you are using The Others from Crypts and Things or a similar body of Demonic beings who provide magic for blood sacrifice).

Sorcerer’s Magic Sensitivity to Gloomium

Gloomium is green-hot, radioactive stuff as far as a Sorcerer’s magic sensitivity ability (see page 23 of Crypts & Things) is concerned. It drives many Sorcerers ‘up to the wall’, with the constant throbbing of the temples when their magic sense is triggered by a pool of the green stuff in some swamp, or from a creeping feeling of unease because the house they are lodging in is built over a large gloomium deposit. This does have the benefit of sorcerors being great at finding gloomium.

Using Gloomium to Regain Magic

Since gloomium is nasty raw magical stuff, sorcerer’s may regain magic by ingesting it. This is a particularly dangerous and insane practice which is not recommended by the Royal College.

The procedure is thus:

For each ‘gulp’ of gloomium, a sorcerer regains one level of cast spell and loses 1d6 hit points, from the toxic and corrosive nature of the substance, and upon a failed Sanity Roll loses 1d6 sanity points.  It takes one combat round to take a gulp. They also glow bright glowing green for the number of gulps you took in days. All these effects add to each other, so for example, if you take four gulps you take 4d6 hit points of damage and potentially lose 4d6 Sanity if you fail your Sanity Test and you can remember up to a fourth Level spell or any combination of spells whose levels.

For example, Ned the Anxious, a rather foolish apprentice of the Royal College, finds himself in a spot of bother in Cairn Chase Forest. About to be skinned alive by some rather Unmerry Men, and out of spells, he decides to take two gulps of gloomium, from a readily-prepared flask of the substance. This takes him two rounds, during which time the Unmerry Men close on him and fire off bows. In round three, the gloomium kicks off. He takes 2d6 Hit Points damage, rolling a four and a five for nine points of damage, and successfully makes his sanity roll – so keeps hold of his mind. With his innards burning from the liquid, he rememorizes the 2nd Level Spell Web and wastes no time in firing off a sticky web of green stuff at the Unmerry Men. If he had not been so worried, he could have taken his time firing off one Magic Missile this round, and another the round after (two first level spells equalling 2 levels of spells remembered as allowed by two glups). If he survives, he will glow bright luminous green for the next 1d10 days, making sneaking about and hiding very difficult and becoming a magnet for any nearby witch hunter.

Crypts and Things Deal of the Day at DriveThruRPG.com

40% off the price of the pdf bringing it down to $8.40 from $14.00 for the next 24 Hours.

Be a wild Barbarian, a deadly Fighter, a soul-torn Sorcerer or a sword sharp canny Thief, fighting evil tyrants and foul demons in a world rapidly dying and heading towards its final nemesis.

Crypts and Things (C&T) is a Swords and Sorcery Roleplaying game based on the Old School Rules of the 70s/80s. It also draws upon the British fantasy games and game-books of that period to bring a distinctly dark and dangerous feel to the game.

Fiendish Friday: In the Street of the Dead

Here follows a short location from the adventure The Furnace, from the upcoming Tournaments of Madness and Death for Crypts and Things and other OSR rulesets.

The Street of the Dead

In an old merchant’s district, an odd mechanical man awaits the characters in his shop of curiosities.

A well-worn dusty road, 20′ wide, goes seemingly on and on through the city and into the countryside beyond. Alongside are a bewildering assortment of buildings, most of which are boarded up. For this is the custom here in the middle-class area of town. That upon their death, they are boarded up with all their worldly goods inside their old shops. Now the various hammerings and bangs from behind the boards that they are desperate to get out.  Amongst the ruin of this once magnificent street, there is one shop that appears to intact, with golden columns out front and a lovely colourful sign that gives its name “Oeldi’s Shop of Wonders”.

Oeldi’s Shop of Wonders

Run by the overweight Oeldi, who wears a brightly coloured jacket and a blue fez. This curio shop has a 23% chance go having any item a character needs.  Oeldi stays here rather than fleeing the city doomed by the Undead because he is a magical construct created by The Nine (or his Nine Dads as he called them). As he takes damage the fleshy covering falls off revealing a brass body underneath.  If questioned about the entrance to the Iron Moon, he can reveal that it is in the mausoleum.

Oeldi AC 2[18 ] HD 8 HP 34 Attacks 1 Dam 1D6 +1 (Short sword +1 hidden beneath counter) MV 12 Special: Mechanical Construct – unaffected by poison, disease, Breathes fire three times a day (3d6 damage, Successful Test vs. Luck halves damage). Sleep, Charm or any magical mind control methods. CR/XP 10/1400.

Fiendish Friday: Stink River Healers

Here’s another preview from the upcoming Under Dark Spires for Crypts and Things and other OSR rulesets. In this adventure book, there’s an area called the Stink River. It more than lives up to its name, being a broken, weird land full of puss ridden diseases and poisonous insects and plants. Its also inhabited by swamp dwelling tribesmen. Since there are none of the usual Temple of Healing franchise out in this remote part of the world, I thought it best that I detail what levels of healing the player characters can expect.

Getting help from the Local Healers

The Stink River People have an established class of Healers, with one or two in each village. They brew up cures, antidotes and preventative medicines in their healing hut, which also acts as a place to keep ill people, usually up to five patients, in quarantine. In the hut, you can also find the tools of the Stink River Healer’s craft.  Metal needles for lancing noxious boils, a small oven for heating needles, clay pots for storing medicines and creams.

The Healers primary role is to look after their people; all else is a distant second. Adventurers cannot come swanning up to healing Hut, suffering from some disease or poison, and expect immediate treatment from the Healer no matter how much gold they offer. The Healer will merely laugh at them and go back inside, as the village’s hunters notch arrows coated with poison (typically Imperial Folly) and aim in the character’s direction.  First, they must establish a relationship with the healer’s village, and only when they are accepted as an honorary member, after helping out by killing off dangerous monsters rescuing kidnapped members etc., will the Healer even consider healing them. The advantage is at this point there is no charge to the character, they have already paid in kind by helping the village

Stink River Healer AC 7[12] Leather equivalent HD 4 HP 20 Attacks 1 Knife (1d4) Mv 12 Special: Spellcasting CL/XP 5/240

Healers typically know the following spells:

Cure Disease, Cure Light Wounds, Neutralise Poison, Purify Food and Drink, Remove Curse, Sleep.

Note these spells are very heavily based on physical ingredients, such as specific herbs and prepared creams and powers. The Healer one in six times be out of the ingredients and require the characters to fetch them from the nearby wilderness before they can cast the spell to help their wounded colleague.

Fiendish Friday: The Sixth

A little preview of a longer piece entitled “A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to the Ruins”, which is coming in the upcoming From the Shroud #2, which I’m hoping to get out in time for Furnace in Sheffield next month. (From the Shroud is an occasional Crypts and Things Fanzine, issue 1 is available from DriveThruRPG.com in pdf)

The Sixth

I am the Sixth of my kind.

Out of the mist, a young woman appears. She is bald, has golden skin, wears silver chainmail, which is light and does not impede her movement and gracefully carries a two-handed sword.  If the characters converse with her, she is pleasant enough but is confused about where she is and who she is. All she knows is that she is the Sixth of her kind.  If the characters allow her, she will gladly join their group, sensing that she will be able to remember her past while she adventures with them.

The Sixth is a magical clone of a former lover of the Sorcerer Ternon the Blind (see Crypts and Things page 137), and as her name suggests is the sixth in a series of failed experiments. Her ‘sisters’ are abroad in the world and may be encountered as she adventures with the party. Unlike her, they are all physically or mentally deformed in some way. They have the same stats. They hate her and want her dead. When they encounter her, they will challenge her on one to one combat. Once the other five are defeated, Ternon appears to bring the Sixth home, telling her that he released her into the world that to kill her five sisters. Only she could remove these abominations since of all of them she was the only perfect one. She then returns willingly with him.

Ternon magically created her to be stronger and faster than normal humans. Therefore she has a +3 to hit and damage with her two-handed Sword, has a move of 15 (rather than 12) and -4 [+4] modified Armour Class.

The Sixth AC 1 [18] Chainmail HD 6 HP 36 Attacks 1 Two-Handed Sword (1d10+3, +3 to hit) Move 15 Special Rules: Especially fast moving, Superhuman Strength, Immune to Sleep and other mind control magics CL/XP 7/600.

Life and Death Zarth Edition Overview

Its Fiendish Friday, so here’s my final preview of the upcoming Life and Death Zarth Edition scenario book, which is currently on pre-order and out on general release next week.

In a nutshell Life and Death is my attempt at doing a post-apocalyptic fantasy world in the style of George Romero’s Day of the Dead films with a large dollop of Clark Ashton’s bleak take on Swords and Sorcery. Except with me being all Fighting Fantasy “You are the Hero”, the players have the opportunity if they dig deep enough into the adventure to find out why the world is full of shambling undead.

L&D was originally a D100 adventure for OpenQuest and specifically, my attempt at making an open-ended adventure where the players could still make choices and drive the plot depending on them.  I wrote about this in a post I made to support the OpenQuest Bundle of Holding and the Crypts & Things conversion still holds that structure. It’s not a dungeon crawl, but more a location based adventure where each location is described in broad terms, enough to get the GM going and answer basic questions, a list of who is to be found there and then a series of events that could happen there if the appropriate triggers are satisfied. It’s a sort of story based sandbox. I give you the blocks and the players actions put them together. I’ve run the scenarios multiple times and no run is the same.

Pit Demon by David. M. Wright

Let’s delve deeper into the adventures:

Joining the Guild of Treasure Hunters. This is a one-page mini-adventure. It’s a tribute to the sort of introductory adventures you got in old RQ2 campaign boxes, such as Entering Pavis, where the title reflects exactly what happens in this straightforward adventure. Sit down and play through the adventure and let your players basics of the rules and ease them and yourself into the setting.  This adventure gets the player characters signed up the Guild, which gives them a rationale for working together and a ready-made patron for the adventures ahead, who isn’t some bloke they’ve met down a tavern or a high-level character who has a vice like hold over them.

The Dust of Eternity. This my take on the traditional sorcerer’s tower adventure, with Zombies as the main protagonist. I made sure that every NPC and monster in the adventure is a person with a personality and rationale behind their action. A lot of this came from the “Monsters are People too” articles from back in the 80s. Those short essays that held the central realisation that NPCs weren’t just stat-blocks waiting to be hacked apart, but had personalities and motives just like the characters! Another inspiration came from playing far too much of the first-person shooter Bioshock, where the zombie like antagonists wander around moaning and streaking about things to do with their previous life, which brings about a weird morbid fascination that even these monsters have feelings and thoughts which deepens the sense of horror.  I also wanted to write an adventure where the players don’t win if they fight their way through and just collect treasure.

Dead Pot Country. This is a small location based setting. The characters are lured there for a number of reasons, a breakdown of which is given in the setup of the adventure.  On the edge of the dried-up valley that dominates Dead Pot country itself is the village. Things are not happy in the village. Bandit chief and his men have taken over the village and have forced them to look for relics of the ancient dead civilisation that used to flourish in the area. Will the characters help the villagers break free or will they side with the Bandits for quick and easy access to the valley? Once in the valley, the characters must navigate the cyclopean ruins of the dead river civilisation which is haunted by gangs of undead monsters and guardians. Finally, they find their way down into a dark underground labyrinth were rulers of Dead Pot Country wait for them in the darkness.

Life and Death. This is the truly epic adventure of the book, which is served up in four parts. It’s like a film in three acts. The first act sees the characters arrive in the village outside the gates of Miraz, a militaristic city state. During this act, we learn the character’s motives for coming here. Perhaps they are here to make their fortune as a mercenary, rescue a loved one or seek to help destabilise this tyrannical city which is currently suffering from a plague. They spend a night in a “hostel for visitors” since the gates are closed until morning. This allows them to experience Miraz’s culture first time, and prepare them for the state of fear and suspicion they will encounter inside the city. Then the second act focuses on what is happening in the city. It gives a rundown of the city’s culture, the current situation where one-third of the city is overrun by a Zombie plague, a guide to the city’s main locations, with events that can happen there, and a cast list of everyday citizens and various movers and shakers. The last act takes them high into nearby mountains where the source of the city’s power, an iron mine, is the centre of a struggle between three factions seeking to control the destiny. There deep in the mine system the characters finally come in to contact with the enigmatic force that will decide the fate of their world itself.  The final part of the adventure is a section about how to bring the adventure to a satisfying conclusion for the players, no matter what rambling route they have taken around it.

Previous preview posts about this adventure book:

Life and Death Zarth Edition is currently on Pre-Order on the D101 Games webstore and will be available by the end of next week.

Life and Death Zarth Editon - cover by Jon Hodgson

Life and Death Zarth Editon – cover by Jon Hodgson

 

Crypts and Things Conversion pdf for The Midderlands

I’m currently a big fan of Glyn Seal’s The Midderlands, which I previewed in an earlier post., which is currently on Kickstarter.

Ok if it reaches its funding goal of £12 k (and it’s already over halfway there at the time of writing), I will produce a 5-10 page conversion document.  This pdf will allow you to pick up and play the Midderlands (which already uses Swords and Wizardry) with Crypts and Things, that all Midderlands backers will receive. The Midderlands is a vile and dangerous Weird Land that fits in with the whole vibe of Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne Stories, whose tales of weird fantasy set in a fictional province of medieval France, which was a significant influence on Crypts and Things nastier side.

The document will contain sections on:

1. Characters. How to take C&T’s core character classes and drop them in the Midderlands. New Lifepath tables to reflect both characters from the Midderlands and the Savage North and Tame South from outside its borders. New Life path tables for classes to take into account the career opportunities in the Midderlands.

2. The Midderlands is a feast of creatures, but I will also give notes on Fiends from Crypts and Things that you can drop straight in with ease.

3.  Rules modifications for C&T, for example, the corrupting effects of Gloomium and the threats to characters’ sanity the land presents.

Just to be clear, I’m not getting paid for this. I’m doing this because it’s an excellent setting/creature/adventure book that’s got me all excited to do a conversion doc that lets me run it when the book comes out.

So if you are a Crypts & Things fan I hope I’ve given you a little bit of an incentive to go check it out and if you like what you see back it.