Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Song for Yamtwit

Yamtwit, a character in my 2nd-edition, play-by-mail game, was built (at least partly) around the spell "Sanctify Ghi" from the article Arcane Lore: Monsoons and the Power of Om by Michael A. Selinker from Dragon Magazine #225. The short version is that the spell makes several doses of magical clarified butter which works as a kind of poor-man's healing potion (heals 1d3 damage). Yamtwit has recently expanded out to other "Vedic spells", especially one called "Steep Soma Juice" which has a similar potion-like effect.

Curious, I, of course, went and asked wikipedia about Soma juice, and found a reference to this poem. The last 6 stanzas of this poem are a familiar protestant Hymn...the first half is much more awesome...the whole thing is singable if you know the tune...

by J.G. Whittier
Soma, also called Soma-Pavamana,
is one of the most important
deities in the Rgveda.
The entire ninth Mandala
is devoted to his praise.
He is the presiding deity of the
Soma creeper whose juice is often
used in sacrifices as 
offering and drink. 
He is praised as the Supreme God.
He cures the mortals of their diseases, 

gives them joy and leads them
to immortal blissful worlds.
He rules over the mind and 

is described as 'lord of speech'.
He makes ordinary mortals wise sages.
He creates the worlds,
Rules over mountains and rivers.

and also the moon.

The fagots blazed, the caldron's smoke
  Up through the green wood curled;
"Bring honey from the hollow oak,
Brink milky sap," the brewers spoke,
  In the childhood of the world.

And brewed they well or brewed they ill,
  The priests thrust in their rods,
First tasted, and then drank their fill,
And shouted, with one voice and will,
  "Behold, the drink of the gods!"

They drank, and lo! in heart and brain
  A new, glad life began;
They grew of hair grew young again,
The sick man laughed away his pain,
  The cripple leaped and ran.

"Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,
  Forget you long annoy."
So sang the priests, From tent to tent
The Soma's sacred madness went,
  A storm of drunken joy.

Then knew each rapt inebriate
  A winged and glorious birth,
Soared upward, with strange joy elate,
Beat, with dazed head, Varuna's gate,
  And sobered, sank to earth.

The land with Soma's praises rang;
  On Gihon's banks of shade
Its hymns the dusky maidens sang;
In joy of life or mortal pang
  All men to Soma prayed.

The morning twilight of the race
  Sends down these matin psalms;
And still with wondering eyes we trace
The simple prayers to Soma's grace,
  That verdic verse embalms.

As in the child-world's early year,
  Each after age has striven
By music, incense, vigils drear,
And trance, to bring the skies more near,
  Or life men up to heaven!

Some fever of the blood and brain,
  Some self-exalting spell,
The scourger's keen delight of pain,
the Dervish dance, the Orphic strain,
  The wild-haired Bacchant's yell, -

The desert's hair-grown hermit sunk
  The saner brute below;
The naked Santon, haschish-drunk,
The cloister madness of the monk,
  The fakir's torture show!

And yet the past comes round again,
  And new doth old fulfill;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane
  The heathen Soma still!

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
  Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
  In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
  Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
  Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
  O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
  Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
  Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
And noiseless let Thy blessing fall
  As fell Thy manna down.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
  Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
  Thy beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the hearts of our desire
  Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be numb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
  O still, small voice of calm!

For the curious, and those looking for something gameable in this, the spells in question are re-printed here for your use:

Sanctify ghi
(Alteration) Reversible
Sphere: All
Level: 1
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M
Duration: Permanent
Casting Time: 8 hours
Area of Effect: 2 ounces/level
Saving Throw: None

This augments the holy clarification of butter into a liquid
substance called ghi. Cow or buffalo milk must be churned,
boiled, and blessed to make holy ghi, which can be used on
undead as holy water. When drunk, the holy ghi acts as a mild
curative, healing 1d3 points of damage per ounce. The reverse
of this spell, desecrate ghi, is used by evil priests to create a
liquid butter version of unholy water, which harms paladins and
Kshatriya. Either of these spells can be used to counter the

Steep soma-juice
Sphere: Protection
Level: 2
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M
Duration: One week
Casting Time: 8 hours
Area of Effect: 2 ounces/level
Saving Throw: None

This spell is per Legends & Lore, page 132. It is primarily for
those of Indian societies, though others could be allowed to use
it or their deities could grant it if the Dungeon Master desires.
When the priest brews and blesses the soma plant's leaves, he
creates a powerful magical juice. Those drinking at least one
ounce a week receive two benefits: an increase of one point of
Constitution and immunity to non-magical disease. These
effects dissipate at the end of a week without soma-juice. The
priests generally restrict the usage of the juice to nobles and

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Noriss's Boys: Session 1

Another guest post submitted by: Alan Knightly (aka. Tamn Footstooler)

My name is Tamn. Until recently I was a slave. Very briefly I was a wealthy adventurer. Now I am a bandit.

It all started when I fell down a well, the bandit part at least. I landed in the middle of a small army of kobolds, orcs, lizard-men, and…other things, all with weapons pointed at me. I thought I was going to die, albeit, a better death than my friends got. I was just waiting for one of the kobolds to skewer me while I was down, then the biggest half-orc I’d ever seen pushed his way through the throng and offered me a hand.

I let the big bastard, genetically speaking of course, help me to my feet, and he introduced himself as “Noriss the Grey, Bandit Lord of Old Phlan.” He gave me a rather square deal—join his group or die. Obviously the former seemed preferable, so I found myself facing off, unarmed, against an oddly cute-looking lady-kobold. Don’t ask me why I thought she was cute, or how I knew she was a she.

I usually prefer to have at least a stick for a fight. She was a lot stronger than she looked and, damn was she quick, but after a few tosses I got her measure, got her in a choke-hold, and had her under in a couple of minutes.

Noriss was pretty sweet on the whole thing, let me keep my weapons and armor and gear, took all my cash—nearly a thousand crowns worth—naturally. He named me a ‘lieutenant’—apparently most of the gang were scraped up from the rank-and-file of local humanoid tribes or skum from the slums, so “adventurers” that join get special treatment.

After the little ‘test’, Noriss dispatched a couple of lizards to cling up in the top of the well and report on what was going on with the shadows. A couple of the kobos helped their sister back up and she introduced herself as Isti. Lord Noriss told her to show me to a place to bunk out while they waited for things topside to calm down. She then introduced me to the other two lieutenants: Gorilla-Arm Yuri, who did, in fact, have a HUGE arm, and Coffex, a lizard fellow.

I dumped my cash in the treasure room—and boy was it a treasure room—then was lead to a surprisingly dry hole, given that we were at the bottom of a well, where I could sleep.

I was woken up I don’t know how long later, by a grumpy-looking orc. I have NO IDEA what it was saying, probably something about fucking my mother, but I got the idea that I was wanted back at the well. When I arrived, Noriss informed me that the shadows things had yet to bother the well, but that the big black ball they came from was still covering the exit. He also, of course, asked about what kind of loot my companions had been carrying…

After getting the run-down on the sick loot my friends had, Noriss decided we should retrieve the bodies. He was even nice enough to suggest that his gang would give them a proper burial—though Isti pointed out that this was more a matter of self-preservation, given that ghouls were fairly common in this section of the ruins and corpses tended to attract them.

The lieutenants, myself included, were to go up first to secure the area—apparently being a ‘lieutenant’ was less about leadership than it was about getting special assignments that were too dangerous or difficult for the normal gang members. A squad of orcs and lizards would be coming behind us to grab the bodies and haul them down the well.

Coffex gave us each a weird, foul-smelling potion to quaff. I shrugged and drank it, and felt much stronger for it. He then pointed to a brown-and-white striped, woolly caterpillar climbing down the side of the well, saying it was an omen of ‘Great Luck’, foretelling a harsh winter to come. I couldn’t really follow how a harsh winter was ‘Great Luck’ but figured if it made my cold-blooded new companion happy it had to be good for now…

We came up topside cautiously, Yuri and Isti sporting bright bullseye lanterns and me and Coffex armed and ready. It was quiet, and dark, even with the lanterns, and—I could see—even with the sun bright overhead. Again I could see strange shapes moving in the darkness. I scanned the area, looking for where my friends had fallen and spotted the metal cube that that punk Damien had given us, sitting on the ground right by the well-head.

Cursing, I reached down, picked it up, and poked at the silver side. There was a click, and the darkness vanished. We blinked, dazedly, in the light, but were not nearly as surprised as the many shadows that suddenly found themselves standing fully visible in the bright sun, naked as the day they were birthed onto this plane. I rushed at them furiously, but they scattered into the surrounding ruins.

I pocketed the cube and Yuri yelled the all-clear down the well. Within two minutes my friends’ bodies were taken down the well and stripped of their weapons, magic items, and valuables. Noriss had them ‘buried’ (more like dumped) in a deep pit. They were covered with lye and i was allowed to say a few words, then a heavy stone slab was placed over the pit (apparently the bandits’ standard method of disposing of bodies).

We then adjourned to Noriss’s private chambers to divvy up the magical treasures (apparently such rare finds were reserved for the Lieutenants and Noriss himself) and discuss our next mission—the kidnapping of a wealthy heiress in New Phlan.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

This Fortnight in Gaming

The window between posts is narrowing, that's good right?

The Big News:
James' Maliszewsky's Dwimmermount finally shipped!
The kickstarter campaign started back in March 2012. Thirty months later, I have the hard-copy of the Labyrinth Lord version (a truly massive tome, possibly the largest RPG book in my collection) sitting on my desk. The people at Autarch have done an amazing job with this (especially given the hurdles they encountered), it looks like a solid year or two worth of weekly campaigning all packed in one book and ready to go.

If I get bored I may start posting some adaptations to make it to work with 5th edition D&D to have it ready to run the next time I need a game in a hurry.
Regarding Video Games:
Finished: Ni-No-Kuni, Wrath of the White Witch
Not going to waste your time with a review, you can read one elsewhere. Short version would be that this is really fun, clever, cute, what have you, but didn't have much in the way of original ideas worth stealing...except:
The Breach Time spell in the game is exactly the kind of thing I like as a GM. It allows a number of characters (the PCs of course) to travel either forward or backward in time. It seems pretty accurate, dropping the PCs in exactly the place and time they need to be, but--here is the clever part--it can only be cast ONCE in any given caster's lifetime (specifically subjective lifetime). So once the party jumps timelines and goes off to retcon the past of your campaign, they are stuck...
Obviously in the game they found a workaround by having someone else cast it on their behalf to send them back in time, then casting it themselves to get back after leveling up a bit. Also, obviously, your PCs could do the same, but placing such limits on high-powered, campaign altering spells (Wish anyone?) is definitely barking up the right tree.
Started: Kingdom Hearts
Yeah, I've never played it before. Also, yes, this is another cutesy generic-fantasy JRPG, with a side of Disney. Don't judge. I get all my seriousness from tabletop.

Recommended Blog Reading:

Last Gasp Grimoire
Last Gasp has not been in my feed before, I just stumbled on it from who knows where (probably something Zak shared), but I love it. The first Last Gasp post I found was this one, which takes good old fashioned D&D magic and adds a heavy dose of the random, chaotic, and grotesque. I immediately kifed the rules and tacked them on to my latest 5e games (it actually melds quite elegantly with the 5e separation of prepared spells and spell slots). This is now in my daily queue. If you like random tables, old-school gaming, and a heavy dose of the smutty and macabre, it should be in yours too. There is a lot of good stuff to steal.
Warning, in case you missed it somehow, some of the content could be considered NSFW. 

In Other/Real News:

9 Ways to Increase Your Charisma
Psychology Today is not my kind of site. Things that are lists generally do not appeal to me. So, why am I recommending this article? Because while it is lame reading for real-life, it is awesome reading from the perspective of role-playing. I almost always roll up high-Charisma characters (especially in 3.5 and Pathfinder games where it is so easy to spam Charisma to make awesome multi-class characters that are still single-stat dependent), viewed as "advice for how to role-play a high CHA character" this article is awesome.
What I've Been Playing:

More Collective Mayhem
The Ruins of Adventure campaign has really hit its stride with four parties running at once. I started writing more here about how awesomely 5e and 2e work together, then realized I wrote pretty much the same thing to weeks ago, so I won't bore you with repeating myself. The adventures of the various parties will appear here as regularly as I can write them. For now, here is a quick run-down of where things are:

Awesome picture courtesy of Tony DiTerlizzi
  • The Herald and the Expatriates (ongoing play-by-email, AD&D 2nd edition): A little slow lately. Still preparing for a giant show-down with some kobolds. 
  • The Bitter Blades (bi-weekly, G+ hangout, AD&D 2nd edition): Got themselves TPK'd by undead shadows. Rebooting this weekend as a party of bandits out to reclaim the loot that the former PCs dropped before someone else does.
  • Inquisitor Faustus (bi-weekly, G+ hangout, solo adventure, 5th edition): Still hanging out in Hillsfar, investigating a possible Zhentarim plot and the theft of a holy relic.
  • "The Third Party" (weekly, face-to-face, 5th edition):  Made it back to Phlan in one piece, won themselves a small keep north of town, and are now meddling in the politics of the city, trying to legalize same-sex relationships and give women the right to hold public office.

What I'm Waiting For:
I'm not spending a lot of money on gaming these days--there is just so much material that I already have that I have yet to use, and I find collecting for collecting's sake pretty boring. That said, there are a few things that I have laid down some theoretical/digital cash for that I am awaiting not-so-patiently (especially not so patiently as I waited for Dwimmermount):
(1) Andreas Walters's The Baby Bestiary. I'm a sucker for cuteness and monsters. If it arrives on time, the hard copy will probably be wrapped up as a present for my kids (who are also suckers for cuteness and monsters).
(2) Rafael Chandler's No Salvation for Witches. Not at all cute, but I already have the pdf and am using pieces of it for most of my games right now. It is exactly the kind of twisted, broken, and evil that appeals to me.
(3) Zak's Smith's A Red and Pleasant Land. Not kickstarted, but it will get my money as soon as it comes off the presses. Because, again, this is exactly my kind of twisted, and Zak's previous contributions to the hobby have been infinitely poachable.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Justification for Your Paranoia

It is that time of the month where I sit down and tell my employer everything that is wrong in the world of information security. My boss is off at DerbyCon and I am writing reports. So here is your latest report on things that suck in cyber-land...only a few of which are actually security related this week...

1. Shellshock
If you use any *nix (Linux, Unix, Mac) flavored system, you have probably heard of the bug in Bash which has been dubbed "shellshock". Patch it. Now. Seriously. Right, freaking, NOW. 
Shellshock is a very serious vulnerability because it allows remote code execution and gives the attacker full access to the system. Being able to get shell and execute any kind of program on the target system is a major coup for attackers. Many versions of Bash, from 1.13 to 4.3 are vulnerable. There have already been reports of targeted attacks hitting this vulnerability.
The Free Software Foundation put out this statement about it, but you should check with the creators of your individual distro to see if a fix has been released yet for you.
 2. Why if you are not in CS you are in the wrong line of work...
Here is fifteen minutes of doom and gloom regarding the job market for you...
My last job was almost entirely automation driven, with the clearly stated goal of replacing my own job. It worked. My team built a mixture of physical robots, code-based automation, and web-deployment automation tools that made our previous functions completely redundant. Of the eight of us, only two are still employed at that company, doing other kinds of automation, the rest of us were let go...we literally coded ourselves out of a job. Of course, when it came time to look for new work, that was actually a good thing to have on a resume.
The problem will come for those of you who don't code for a living. There really isn't anything that a human can do that a robot can't...
 3. SHOCK! Netflix doesn't have the movies you want to watch.
If you, like me, have a Netflix account none of this will come as a surprise, but it still might make you angry at the motion picture distributors. Netflix is responsible for a third of all internet traffic during peak hours in the US, dwarfing both online piracy and all other legal video platforms. Why, then, does the most popular and convenient subscription platform not carry most major titles? 
This new study, funded by the NBC Universal and the MPAA no less, shows that only 16% of the 808 major films titles researched were available through streaming subscription services (SVOD). The executive summary of the report tries to paint that that major films are available online, claiming that 94% are available through one rental service or another...but fails to mention that 84% of the films are missing from THE MOST USED MOVIE SERVICE in the US.

Dear MPAA, we use the internet because we like convenience. If you want a share of our money, maybe you should put the movies where we can get them.
Now I need to go torrent something just on principle...then watch some crummy movies on Netflix.
4. For those of you who have purchased or are thinking of purchasing the new iPhone...
Or for any of you who updated your iDevice to iOS 8, there are some new privacy settings you should care about. ZDnet looks at this in depth (with screen shots), but here is the quick rundown:
  1. Some apps will be able to track your location even while the app isn’t currently running. If this sounds highly unpleasant and overly invasive to you, the good news is that these apps should have a pop-up window that requires you to pick between allowing or not allowing this background location tracking.
  2. iOS 8 now allows you to decide whether personal info from your device can be accessed by specific apps. If you go to Settings > Privacy you can toggle on-and-off which info certain apps have access to. But turning these permissions off now does not remove any data that has already been accessed by the app previously.
  3. Apple’s iMessage now gives you the ability to determine how long you want to have these stored on your device, effectively setting an expiration date. Go to Settings > Messages and tweak the settings for Keep Messages, Audio Messages, and Video Messages to your liking. 
  4. In addition to those apps that can track your location in the background, there are some native iOS 8 services that keep track of where you are for everything from advertising to finding lost devices. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services to select which services can track your location and which can’t. (You probably want to keep Find My iPhone on). That service also needs to be turned on under Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone.
  5. Safari now lets you minimize the amount of info advertisers can track your Web-browsing habits and location, but oddly it’s not in the setting for Safari. Instead, go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising and enable “Limit Ad Tracking.” Then be sure to choose the Reset Advertising Identifier option, and follow the prompts to clear existing tracking cookies.
 For all that I bash Apple for pretty much everything they make a do, Apple released the following notice last week, indicating that your data is now encrypted by default so that even they can't get to it. Which is a huge improvement over the back doors that were revealed in previous versions of iOS.
And hey, FBI director James Comey whining about it is definitely a good sign.
5. Regarding that last bit about iOS encryption...
Google is following suit with the next Android release.
Good for them for doing it. Bad for Apple having to do it first... 

The Adventures of Inquisitor Faustus: Session 2 (GMs notes)

Faust, still feeling fevered and flea-bitten, found a public fountain, scrubbed himself clean under cover of darkness, and burned all of his clothes save his new cloak. About two hours after leaving the Drowned Rat, he was hammering on the door of the shrine-keepers house until Rayko awakened and let him in. Rayko offered him the bed and passed out on a sofa without another word.

14 Eleint

The two of them were awakened late in the morning by the sound of more banging. Rayko went to check and found a Red Plume nailing a notice to the door, informing the citizenry that, due to ‘rioting at the docks’ and the burning of the University, the Maalthir were declaring a state of martial law. The games were canceled and citizens were warned to stay indoors unless absolute necessary.

Faust helped himself to one of Rayko’s spare robes and stoles, and mused about how he was going to get healed now that the university was gone. Rayko showed Faust his small library, and, in the log kept by the shrine-keepers, showed him a passage describing the old temple which was the center of Tormite worship before the rise of the Maalthir, which lay just a mile outside of town. According to the records, the body of St. Durham Waningstar lay interred in the church. Rayko postulated that the bones of the saint might bear the power to cure Faust of his disease.

Faust gave Rayko a platinum coin and asked the shrine-keeper to buy Faust some new clothes, citing Hillsfar’s “Great Law of Trade”, and then to meet him at the temple. Rayko set off and Faust took some time to relax in quiet. He then donned his armor, hidden under the shrine-keepers robes, and stashed his weapons and shield in a sack which he stuffed with the blankets and sheets from Rayko’s bed to disguise their shape and keep them from clinking together.

His “bundle of laundry” thrown over his shoulder, Faust managed to slink to the city gates unaccosted. He caught up to Rayko on the road, hid in some bushes, and quickly dressed himself in the new boots, breeches, and tunic that Rayko had purchased. They walked on and it began to rain hard.

Cresting a hill, they saw the doors of the old temple standing open and the flicker of torchlight from inside. As they neared, they heard sounds of digging, metal on stone. Faust looked inside to see ten men in the long heavy robes, wide-brimmed leather hats, and distinctive beaked masks of plague doctors digging up the foundations of the church right in front of the altar.

Faust rapped loudly on the doors and demanded to know why they were desecrating Torm’s temple. One of the men broke off from the digging and approached, slowly at first, inquiring what the problem was. Once he was close, he lunged at Faust with a sharp-tipped doctor’s cane. Faust reacted quickly and pounded the poor doctor into the ground with his hammer.

Two more, shovels in hand, rushed Faust and Rayko, One plunged into melee, while the other blasted Faust with a magic missile. Faust and Rayko ignored the shovel-wielder and ganged up on the caster, only to have Rayko laid low by a shocking grasp. Faust leapt into the air, his magical cloak unfurling the the darkness, and caved in the man’s skull with his hammer.

Faust squared off against the shoveler, then there was some cheering from the diggers. They jumped into the hole they’d been digging, threw aside something Faust could not see, then one stood up, holding a beautifully gilt and illuminated Tormish prayer book. There was a bright flash of light as Faust looked on the book, and suddenly he and Rayko were fully healed (including the lifting of the plague).

The two Tormtar leapt back into action, and the remaining diggers—armed with picks, torches, and shovels—charged them. The melee was fierce. Faust fought for every advantage he could find—kicking over pews, throwing blankets over the enemies’ heads, and even setting a blanket and pew on fire. Rayko was knocked out in the melee by a shovel-blow to the head. The fire (or the fact that it did not seem to harm Faust) proved too much for the remaining combatants though, and they broke and run. In the end five of the doctors lay dead, one captured, and four escaped (counting the one that vanished).

Faust contained the fire, patched up Rayko, again, and tied up the one still-living doctor. He searched the bodies of the others, finding a scrap of paper bearing the name ‘Hadonis’ and a partial floor-plan of a building, as well as a substantial amount of silver. The spellcaster of the group also had a yellow stylized ‘Z’ (the symbol of the Zhentarim) tattooed on his inner forarms.

Searching the area where they had been digging, he found an open sarcophagus, buried directly in front of the alter in the center of the aisle, containing an old and moldering skeleton—St. Durham presumably. Near where the one had vanished, he found another scrap of paper, matching the first, which completed the floor plan—showing a house built into a cliff face with a network of tunnels running back into the hill.

Once Rayko was awake, Faust resuscitated the still living doctor, and proceeded to interrogate him, first disguised in a doctor’s mask, then exposing his own horrific visage. The man, terrified, explained that they were hired by the Zhents in Yulash to destabilize Hillsfar by introducing plague-infected rats into the city. They were then told to find and steal the cannon of St. Durham, which was said to have the power to heal, and deliver it to the leader of the local Zhentarim cell, a man calling himself Hadonis. The one of them teleported with the book to Hadonis’s retreat, and the others were to reconvene in Hillsfar and await further orders.

Feeling he had got sufficient information from the man, Faust caved in his head. Rayko, meanwhile was praying over the body of the saint. When Faust knelt beside him, they experienced a sudden feeling of well-being as their wounds were healed yet again. The two of them closed up the sarcophagus and reburied it properly.

Outside, the rain had stopped. They built a pyre from the wood of the old pews and burned the bodies to the best of their abilities. They then investigated the various outbuildings that once belong to the temple. Two were inhabited—one by a passing squatter, and another by a family of six that had settled in the abandoned house. Faust asked the family to care for the temple grounds, giving them 4 gold as a “down-payment” and requesting that they make sure the remains of the doctors were buried once the fire ended.

The two then trekked back to Hillsfar, only to find the city shut tight. Rayko said he could stay with his cousin, who lived in a fishing village a mile down the coast. Faust bid him farewell, waited until nightfall, and flew back to the shrine in bat form.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Third Party: Session 4 (GM's notes)

Notes for this session are pretty sparse relative to what happened, there were some screaming toddlers involved...

The Party:

  • Traith:  Human Fighter (Eldritch Knight)
  • Professor Aiderns: Human Microbiologist
  • Tvoja Rabota:  Half-Orc Rogue
  • Grimnir: Human Warlock
  • Melastasya: Gypsy Boat-girl, Human Rogue

20 Eleint
The party awoke after their first night in their new keep to find that Grinkle had erected a small shrine to Grimnir and was kneeling before it, scouring his flesh raw with a pumice stone and reciting prayers of thanksgiving. Yeah, Grimnir got his first worshiper.

Melastasya and Tvoja took a stroll around their new lands and decided that they should immediately start working on making it profitable. The party loaded up the small wagon, hitched up the old worn-out pony, loaded it with a hastily cut-down tree (in which they hid their vast wealth), and headed back to Phlan.

After navigating through the slums, unopposed thanks to Grimnir’s inherent creepiness, they stopped at the gates and pontificated at length about their plans to turn Kryptgarten into a proper freehold, specifically recruiting all of the people that sailed over from Hillsfar to come settle and work there. Professor Aiderns sought out Professor Drummons and the two of them began rounding up the settlers, as well as anyone else in the slums who showed bubo scars or other signs of having survived the plague—so as to encourage considerable herd immunity in the Kryptgarten population.

The others went to the town square where Markos was being officially inducted into the Council. As his first official act, Markos named Grimnir “Squire of Kryptgarten”, the first minor noble of New Phlan, making much ado about the party reclaiming the keep and “securing Phlan’s northern border”. They made plans to meet Markos at the Bitter Blade for dinner to discuss any other work that he might have for them, then went and enrolled at the Public Training Hall.

Tvoja and Melastasya cashed in their letter of introduction from Markos with Professor Lype. Grminir payed Professor Shanal for some private tutoring, giving him 500 gold under the table, as it were.

They then went and found Markos who, over a nice dinner, informed them that he wanted to ‘consolidate his position’ quickly by means of arranging an advantageous marriage—specifically to Elissa Bivant, the ward of Head-Councilman Ulrich Eberhard and heir to a considerable fortune (and heir to a seat on the Council which she cannot occupy by virtue of her gender). He explained that his brother had courted her years ago, when she was just 10, and that Porphyrys Cadorna represented the current competition.

21 Eleint
The party set to work laying plans for some match-making, as well as the future of their keep. Grimnir rented out the entire Bitter Blade for the evening to throw a party, inviting all of the Councilmen and other “people of quality” in the city, under the auspices of celebrating his ennoblement and the Autumn Equinox, which was today.

During the day, Melastasya worked the city, dropping 1000 gold crowns to buy up all of the honey in town, and shipping that, along with a number of livestock (pigs, hens, goats, and sheep) and brewing gear (a still, descensory furnace, tubing, barrels) back to the keep.

Tvoja worked her contacts to learn the financial status of the various councilmembers, learning that Councilmen Eberhard and Folbre were both extremely wealthy, as was the Bishop, but that Councilman Cadorna was basically destitute—his family fortune largely tied up in lands in the older and not yet reclaimed sections of town.

When evening came, the party settled in for a party—Traithe, very convincingly dressed as a girl, dealing cards, Melastasya waiting tables, Grimnir playing the host, and Tvoja watching the proceedings from the shadows and providing insight. In attendance were Councilman Eberhard and Elissa, Councilman Werner von Urslingen and his wife Edeltraud, Bishop Braccio of Tyr, accompanied by the card-shark priestess, Sister Erol, Markos, accompanied by his sister Karistina, Councilman Aldron Folbre, accompanied by his sister Trea, and Councilman Porphyrys Cadorna, who arrived alone.

Melastasya engaged Elissa in conversation, being of an age with her, and was invited to become one of her maids, meanwhile working to understand what the girl wanted and how she might be won.

The evening began with a friendly (though high stakes) game of cards—Markos, Porphyrys Cadorna, Werner von Urslingen, Aldron Folbre, Ulrich Eberhard, and Sister Erol (playing on behalf of the Bishop) playing, and Traithe dealing.

Porphyrys was caught cheating early on, but was sufficiently embarrassed by Melastasya spilling a tray of drinks on him that he was not ejected from the game. Traithe managed the table masterfully, arranging for Folbre and Eberhard to win the first several hands and considerably raising the stakes, such that Porphyrys was forced to wager the deed for part of his family’s lands to stay in the game, causing everyone else to offer up deeds as part of the wager as well. Traithe attempted to rig the last hand in Markos’s favor, but that plan failed when Markos, strangely, asked for a completely new draw. By shear luck, the stone-faced boy won anyways, gaining possession of the following lands:

  • The priory of St. Conrath of the Woods, a Tyrran parochial holding near Melvaunt (from the Bishop). The priory lands include some fairly profitable sheep farms, but the priory itself has had issues attracting new novices and had fallen into disrepair and is mostly unused.
  • An old textile factory on the north-western side of Old Phlan, which was the largest of the remaining Cadorna lands.
  • An large manor-house on the north side of Old Phlan, near the old temple of Tyr, which belonged to the Eberhard family.
  • Three, very profitable, blocks of residential tenements in the city of Mulmaster from Aldron Folbre.

Grimnir and Markos used Porphyrys’s deed as leverage, signing the lands back to him with the condition that he would never pursue Elissa Bivant, and having the Bishop, the city’s chief judge and legal expert, witness the contract—his cooperation gained by Markos bequeathing the priory back to the diocese as a “gift”. Markos kept his winnings from Eberhard and Folbre, of course.

The party continued to shmooze for some time after the game wound down. They learned that Folbre was rather openly gay (and that apparently he and Markos had a thing going on occasion, and that he had had a thing going with Urslingen’s son back in Hillsfar a couple years ago). Grimnir put the moves on him, resulting in the councilman hanging on his arm most of the evening.

From Elissa they learned that her terms for marriage basically boiled down to getting out from under Eberhard’s thumb and gaining full possession of her family’s rightful seat on the Council—a thing that would require a change of the current laws which forbid women from sitting on the council. Markos tentatively agreed, assuming they could find a way to rewrite the inheritance laws so that he would not lose his seat to his older sister.

The party began angling for how to create a voting coalition to get such a thing passed. The Council seemed pretty split, with three young ones and three old, with the Bishop holding a non-voting seat to avoid creating a tie condition (also since Tyr’s priests are supposed to enforce the laws that exist, not change them). Folbre seemed an obvious ally, since they could agree to help legalize same-sex relationships in exchange for his vote to allow women on the council. They had already used their leverage over Porphyrys, and Eberhard had a clear reason to oppose granting any agency to Elissa. Which left Werner von Ursligen as the deciding vote on the matter.

They saw their possible leverage as:

  1. Get him into a fairly obvious extra-martial affair (a thing illegal and punishment by being thrown over the wall, naked and unarmed, in the middle of the night), and blackmail him into a yea vote.
  2. Get his son caught publicly engaging in a same-sex relationship (similarly illegal).
  3. Play to his racism and agree to vote for Phlan to become human only in exchange for his vote on the gender issues.

Traithe, in female form, attempted to seduce Urslingen over cards later with a mixture of flirtatiousness and a display of not-quite-perfect knife work. She got a very innuendo-laden invite to come to his house in the morning for “private training”. She arrived the next morning to find that the innuendo wasn’t, Urslingen really did teach him/her how to properly handle a pole-arm and sheath a sword, providing Traith with a week’s worth of free, intensive training for his next level of Fighter. Urslingen also agreed to come out to Kryptgarten to provide basic training to the settlers so that they could defend themselves from future hobgoblin attacks.

Grimnir spent a week attending Francis Urslingen’s very hands-on fencing lessons at the Training Hall, which involved a fair amount of going out into the slums and butchering mostly harmless goblins, orcs, and mongrelmen (and at least one dwarf). With some carefully planned flirting and spurning of an attractive female student, he let his interest in men be known to Francis and the two grew quite close…at which point he learned that, for all that Francis was interested in him, the monk was very strictly lawful and would not act on that interest. Which prompted Grimnir to talk Francis into petitioning his father to vote in favor of gender-rights when if it came up in the Council (which of course it will).

The party spent the next week completing their training requirements, hauling more settlers out to Kryptgarten, getting them set up farming (bees, sheep, pigs, poultry, grapes) and brewing (mead…lots of mead), and working with Councilman Urslingen to train the most promising so that they could help defend the keep against the hobgoblin reinforcements they expected to be arriving in a couple of weeks.

A total of 120 settlers made it out to Kryptgarten and, aside from some distrust of ‘The Squire’ settled in quite well. The former cultists of the Chaos Messiah joined Grinkle (with some prodding from Tvoja) in setting up a strange pantheist shrine worshiping Chauntea (goddess of agriculture), Mask (god of thievery and political intrigue), and Grimnir (whom Grinkle and the cultists insist is the demon-prince of personal hygiene).

3 Marpenoth

We’ll be picking up from here…

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Third Party: Session 3 (GM's notes)

The Party:

  • Traith:  Human Fighter (Eldritch Knight)
  • Professor Aiderns: Human Microbiologist
  • Tvoja Rabota:  Half-Orc Rogue
  • Grimnir: Human Warlock
  • Melastasya: Gypsy Boat-girl, Human Rogue

14 Eleint

Late in the afternoon, Valkur’s Wake neared the port of Phlan. Professors Aidern and Drummons pulled the party aside with the captain and Nat to inform them that the plague had spread to most of the passengers on the ship, which was packed to triple capacity. After some hemming and hawing, the captain agreed to weigh anchor on the shore of Thorn Island, rather than risk spreading the disease to the city.

They unloaded all the passengers on the island and set up a quarantine zone. Captain Stormhammer cast cure disease on the party, so they would be well enough to care for the others (at the expense of them passing up their cut of the passenger fees). The Maid in the Iron Mask (who finally introduced herself as Tvoja Rabota, which means “none of your business” in orcish) passed on the healing, instead taking a small rowboat they found on the island and disappearing for a few hours (returning hale on whole). Traithe, Grimnir, and Melastasya explored the island, finding a source of water and “orc-meat” (they corpses were only 4-5 days old), and making sure there were no active threats. The professors set to work treating everyone.

They stayed on the island for almost four days, tending the sick and cleaning everyone thoroughly of fleas, until they were sure the passengers were not contagious. Grimnir, meanwhile, worked on decoding a book he had found in Hillsfar, which turned out to be a Tract of Teratology. He was not able to interpret the entire thing before leaving the island, but figured that the proper ritual could be done with up to five other celebrants, involved scalping the victim, then slowly boiling them alive in a cauldron filled with pure water, six grams of gentian, and six grams of tormentil dye, and that the end result should be large and crocodilian…

18 Eleint

After a short trip across the bay, the party disembarked in New Phlan. The halfling harbormaster was stunned by the number of “settlers” that the Wake had brought in, and more stunned by the 7500 gold that he had to pay Captain Stormhammer. Tvoja, as the only one who had not passed up a cut in exchange for healing, was handed three bags of 50 gold each.

The party quickly made their way to the Bitter Blade, where they learned that Councilman Mondaviak had passed away the night before. They went up to his rooms to “pay their respects” and managed to pull Markos briefly away from the many yellow-cloud mourners and deliver Rudolfio’s affidavit. An hour later, Markos met them downstairs, and quietly handed over the deed to “Kryptgarten Keep”, including all lands to a distance of 1 mile from the keep, and the attached vinyards. He also passed them a sack with 5 gems and a map leading to the keep (including a handwritten note indicating the location of a “secret entrance”).

They took their leave and made a few stops before preparing to leave town immediately: by Cockburn’s Grocery to check on Martha (who had not been seen for four days), by the Tyr’s Waiting to inquire about Lyrathwen (who also had not been seen for days), and by the Clerk’s office to make sure their deed was on the record and properly notarized. They headed out through Traitor’s Gate, made a quick stop by Jerome’s for supplies, and then booked it out of town.

It was late evening, almost dark, when they reached the keep, eight miles north of Phlan. They spotted two sentries on the walls, outlined by the fading sunlight, and decided to strike out into the woods to the east, towards the indicated “Secret Entrance”.

Some five hundred feet into the woods, they found a small clearing, the trees kept at bay by a wrought iron fence, surrounding an old stone mausoleum, a small shrine to Mystra, and two graves. Melastasya, on seeing the silver bands and hinges binding the door of the mausoleum, immediately broke out her crowbar and began disassembling the door, making quite a lot of racket.

Once the door was opened, they found an open stone sarcophagus, also silver-bound, with a pile of bones and torn armor in one corner. Professor Aiderns immediately made his way over to the bones to investigate, only to get jumped by a clawed, fanged, undead monstrosity that was crouching behind the sarcophagus. A few swift bites put him down, then the thing was hacked apart by Traithe. Grimnir and Melastasya provided some quick medical attention to get the professor back on his feat.

Meanwhile Tvoja discovered a secret passage beneath the shrine without. The party climbed down the shaft she had discovered and traversed the long tunnel until it ended at a brick wall, which was clearly also a door. They heard grunting from the other side, and Aiderns sent his familiar in to investigate—informing everyone that there was a hobgoblin and a gorilla on the other side of the door.

They kicked open the door and neutralized the hobo and the ape in moments with a sudden hail of missile fire. They used some boards to cross the pit that inexplicably divided the room, then moved quietly and with tactical precision from room to room—Melastasya checked the doors, Aiderns’ familiar scouting what was on the other side, and then whatever was inside being subjected to a hail of arrows as the door opened.

They cleared a corridor, feast hall, and kitchens. Killing one more hobgoblin and complaining about the hobos breaking their crockery. A hobgoblin with a broom came up behind them, to the door where the professor was waiting, and quickly indicated that he was “surrendering”. Grimnir had a bit of a chat with the hobo, who introduced himself as “Grinkle” and informed the party that he had no desire to continue working for the hobgoblin lieutenant who was running the keep (since he has a poor fighter and got all the shit cleaning jobs). The party agreed to take Grinkle on as their cook in exchange for information about the other hobos in the keep.

Their first stop, after talking to Grinkle, was to murder the Lieutenant, who they found flexing and admiring himself in a mirror in the master bedroom. A few arrows in the back did for him, then Melastasya decided that she was really beautiful…until Grimnir blew up the mirror. They looted the Lieutenant, recovering a note that Grinkle read for them which indicated that a unit of Hobgoblin reinforcements would be arriving in about a month.

They then moved on to a door that the Lieutenant had said was “off limits” to the rank and file hobos. Beyond they found a room with a strange pit, spanned by illusory bridges. They made their way across safely (aside from Tvoja who discovered the illusion the hard way), and heard two more hobos arguing on the other side of the door. Grimnir busted in with his eyes flashing dramatically and commanded the hobos to bow before him, but they apparently did not speak the Common tongue and charged.

The battle was long, but not particularly bloody, as neither the party nor these hobgoblins could hit the broad side of a castle wall. Eventually Melastasya downed the two hobos with a couple of well placed punches and the party tossed the room, finding a secret door in one wall, behind which was a small empty room with a pair of gauntlets laying on the floor.

Melastasya poked about the tiny room with a spear, discovering something about three feet tall and roughly box shaped, that rang like metal when struck, in the back of the room, somehow not visible to the naked eye. She probed about some more and opened the invisible, but unlocked, chest, revealing a king’s ransom in gold and gems, as well as a ring of shocking grasp, a handful of magical arrows and darts, and the Sword of Halfrek.

After some looting, Grinkle lead them upstairs. Traithe used an illusion to make himself look like the hobo Lieutenant, calling the sentries down from the walls (where they were promptly ganked by the two lady-rogues). Traithe and Grinkle then went into the barracks and called the remaining three waking hobos to come out and downstairs, only to have the rogues botch the quiet execution and wake the rest of the barracks.

Traithe sprung into action, calling upon the spirit of a dwarven ranger which was trapped in the sword they’d found, and slicing through the barracks with a whirlwind attack. Three of the hobos died while trying to pull on their pants, one disappearing into the sword, causing a dead, naked old dwarf to spill out onto the ground. A barrage of spells and missile-fire wiped out the rest before they could mount a counter-offensive.

The party searched around a bit more, making sure that Grinkle was the only hobgoblin alive in the place, and then settled in to discuss what it would take for them to hold their new home.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Bitter Blades: Session 7

Guest post submitted by: Alan Knightly (aka. Tamn Footstooler)

The end, for real. In which Tamn finds a new gang to hang with, and the Bitter Blades disband (er...die)

To anyone listening to this, let me cut to the chase. My name is Tamn. My friends are dead. I am at the bottom of a well, and I am surrounded by bandits. Hell, scratch that.

My name is Tamn. My friends are dead. I am now a bandit…Yeah, that sounds better. All hail Lord Noriss the Grey and all that…

Now, that that is out of the way, let me back up.

After a few days spent enjoying the fruits of their previous victory, Tamn, Hazel, Martha, and Ada the Simple decided to take a foray into the Slums as a first step to see if Martha could actually hold her own, pull her weight, and all that…

Hazel had posted a notice at the Training Hall, trying to pawn some of the magic items we collected from Sokol Keep. Given how pricey the Training Hall is, we were actually pretty surprised when someone showed up at the Bitter Blade asking about the notice. Turns out the berk wasn’t looking to buy. No, he told us he was impressed by the tally of arcane relics we were willing to part with. Said any cutter who could find so much and then give it up was exactly the kind he was looking for.

The berk’s name was Damien Nuren. Neat fellow—human, maybe 40 years, long black hair, claimed he was a gentleman, alchemist, and doctor of philosophy—the kindof berk who would have owned a good many of my fellows back in Hillsfar. Said he was looking for a very particular book called the Path of Peace and that the last known copy was supposed to have been owned by a sage who lived in Phlan in the old days. So, he wasn’t buying, he was hiring.

The berk gave us a magic cube which he said was good for helping find things and told us we should start looking roundabout the plaza near Kuto’s Well, which is the far side of the slums before the real ruins start these days. Seemed strait-forward enough, and he offered us a thousand gill each. Seemed like I was right about him being the kindof berk who could buy a whole clan worth of my kin.

Martha, bright lass, asked why, if he knew where to look and had his magic box, he didn’t just go fetch the book himself. Bright, but maybe insufficiently mercenary, since there was a THOUSAND GOLD in the deal for her. Anyways, Nuren said flat-out that he was a coward and that monsters and beggars and thieves and old ruins wasn’t his thing, so he was willing to pay well to get what he wanted without sticking his own neck out. Very sensible like.

Martha, again the bright lass, pointed out that all the slums-folk avoided Kuto’s Well out of course. Said that the bandit Noriss the Grey and his gang of toughs tended to lurk about the area, and that people who went to the well looking for a drink more often as not never came back.

We took the job anyways, because, seriously, a thousand gold a head is nothing to sneeze at.

Let me say, again, that Martha was a bright lass, and that she was right, Lord Noriss and his gang were definitely down the well way. Now, I don’t know if that berk Damien was a lying sack of shit or just misinformed, but we didn’t find any book, and that box of his did not work as advertised.

Now, I’ve lived in squalor, been beaten, been kicked, been thrown in the Arena, spent a few nights on the Isle of Lepers, and generally lived under the most wretched and unjust regime in the world, but Hillsfar’s worst was nothing compared to Phlan’s slums. I’d been there a few times over the past couple days, even dropped a pile of coins at the soup kitchen near the market, but the northeast side was basically three solid blocks of wading through shit—literal shit and figurative shit. Most of the beggars were the kind with missing limbs, the streets were wall-to-wall trash heaps cobbled with a carpet of barely concealed bones, the the buildings, if they could even be called that any more, were crumbling wrecks overgrown with plants just as dead as those on Thorn Island.

We tangled with a couple of orcs and a gnoll early on—the cutters said they wanted ‘tribute’ for walking through their turf—but Hazel and Ada’s blades made short work of them. Man, that Ada chick was kindof creepy, with the not talking and the beating things to a bloody pulp with her spikey elbows. I think I’ll miss her.

And rats, my god the rats. Big as ponies. We killed them too, without much trouble, mostly thanks to Martha’s sharp eyes. She saw them coming a mile away.

After that filth, the plaza around the well was actually pretty nice. I guess the threat of real danger was enough to keep most berks, and their trash, away from the place. Now, don’t get me wrong, the square, like the rest of the city, is littered with scattered stonework, blown leaves, and detritus, but none of the rotting food scraps, dead bodies, and excrement you see in the deep slums.

We got to the well plaza and Hazel tapped the shiny side of the cube, like the berk told us. She immediately dropped the thing and let out an uncharacteristic yelp, like she’d been shocked or something. The cube flew from her hand and rolled to a stop right beside the well. All of a sudden a big, black globe grew up around us—cold and dark as a winter night. We could still see, but not much.

Can I get a what the fuck? Like I said, either that Damien berk set us up, or he was an idiot, or whoever sold him the cube set him up.

Dim shapes moved within the cloud, which swirled and roiled with murk. We tried to move away from the well and the shadowy shapes followed us, circled us, flanked us. They weren’t quite substantial, just all darkness and fluff. Like shadows. I wailed at one with my swords and hit nothing but air, but when it swung at me I felt only a brush, but it was like all the strength was just sucked out of me. My arms felt weak and shaky, and cold, so cold.

Hazel rushed over and tore it a new one with her sword Blackflame, which, come to think of it, looks an awful lot like those creatures when it wakes up.

But then there were more of them. Hazel’s swords worked, and Ada’s elbow spikes, but my weapons were no good at all. And the things were fast. Freaky fast.

Hazel whirled and hacked and whirled some more, hitting the things a buch, but they kept landing hits too, and every one made her look weaker and weaker. Even when she flipped the fuck out, like she does, they kept swinging too.

I kept dodging and moving away, looking for an opening to run, but found my back to the well wall.

The shadowy things kept wacking at Hazel and Ada, and they kept fighting back. It was hard to tell how many there were, or who was winning, or whether we had really killed any at all. It was all too dark and they were too flimsy to really see.

Martha, also in the thick of it, had a few spells up her sleeve, and the magic mace, but was the first to fall. There just really wasn’t anything I could do, or so I keep telling myself.

Worse though, than seeing her slump to the ground with those wispy black claws digging at her, was seeing her get back up. Or something like her. It was like one of those black things tore itself out of her chest, but without any actual tearing. Or maybe the one that killed her split in two. Whatever the case, there was one more of the cutters.

That was it for me. We were surrounded, I couldn’t hurt the buggers, and my back was to a wall. I took the wall.

I dove into the well, which, it turns out, didn’t have much water in it. It was a long way down and it hurt.

I heard another scream from above and Hazel’s mad howls and angry curses stopped. Dead. Just like that. I can only assume that they got Ada not long after that, for things got mighty quiet and I didn’t hear any footsteps getting away.

I, on the other hand, had my own problems to deal with.

You see, I was lying at the bottom of a well with some twenty swords pointed my way, one of which was in the hand of Lord Noriss. But at least the shadow things seemed disinclined to come down the well.

Like I said. My friends are dead. I am now a bandit…All hail Lord Noriss the Grey and all that…

d30 Adventuring Party Names

Given that my current games have: (1) multiple PC parties, (2) the implication that adventurers must be licensed by the state, and (3) the implication that there are many more NPC parties, I often find it necessary to come up with names for NPC parties on the fly. Here is a quick (or not so quick) table I threw together for doing so.

d12 roll Format Example
1 The “Group Noun” of the “Adjective” “Fantasy-Noun” The Company of the Golden Hart
2 The “Group Noun” of the “Gerund” “Fantasy Noun” The Company of the Flaming Sword
3 The “Group Noun” of “Adjective” “Fantasy Noun” The Alliance of Western Dragons
4 “Gerund” and “Gerund” Dashing and Daring
5 The “Gerund” “Occupation”(s) The Menacing Miners
6 The “Adjective” “Occupation”(s) The Merry Murderers
7 The “Occupation” of “Location in your campaign world” The Heroes of Lankhmar
8 The “Adjective” “Fantasy-Noun”(s) The Bitter Blades
9 The “Gerund” “Fantasy-Noun”(s) The Marauding Tailors
10 The “Adjective” “Gerund” “Occupation” The Incredible Cringing Cowards
11 The “Adjective” “Fantasy-Noun” “Occupation” “Group Noun” The Mighty Monkey Mercenary Alliance
12 Roll again and prepend the number of party members The Four Friendly Fiends

d30 roll Adjective Gerund Fantasy Noun Occupation Group Noun
1 Bloody Menacing Blade Protector Company
2 Merry Dashing Hart Soldier Alliance
3 Courageous Caring Monkey Hero Group
4 Hidden Daring Dragon Miner Band
5 Golden Flaming Sword Mercenary Party
6 Silver Terrifying Boulder Murderer Association
7 Secret Flying Kobold Raider Guild
8 Bitter Striking Unicorn Adventurer Companions
9 Angry Rushing Coatl Guardian Brotherhood
10 Heroic Towering Eagle Ally Front
11 Friendly Cringing Wyvern Monster Hunter Cell
12 Mighty Cowering Staff Treasure Hunter Society
13 Bothersome Standing Tower Seeker Academy
14 Pure Rising Citadel Exile Rally
15 Enlightened Defending Titan Explorer Squadron
16 Unbreakable Hunting Fiend Fortune Hunter Swarm
17 Dark Marauding Gorgon Opportunist Club
18 Arcane Shining Hammer Wanderer Legion
19 Divine Raging Serpent Warrior Army
20 Elite Living Giant Peers Federation
21 Honorable Sweeping Shield Worthy Council
22 Bold Charging Scorpion Champion Fraternity
23 Brilliant Searing Mystery Victor League
24 Incredible Destroying Wind Tailor Circle
25 Northern Roaring Wave Smith Cooperative
26 Southern Conquering Star Magi Gang
27 Eastern Advancing Mountain Rogue Troupe
28 Western Crushing River Larcener Union
29 Black Freezing Hand Spoiler Syndicate
30 Invincible Flower-picking Fist Slayer Partnership

Inquisitor Faustus and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

13 Eleint

Faust, having arrived in Hillsfar in a “the enemy of my enemy must know more about my enemy than me” kind of mindset, questioned the Professor Aiderns and the Maid in the Iron Mask about Hillsfar, looking for leads on who in the town might know how to get him into Zhentil Keep. After getting everything he thought he could from the three locals, he decided that the shrine of Torm should be his first stop.

While walking to the shrine, Faust came abreast of another man, similarly concealed under a cloak and moving under cover of darkness. The man moved to intercept Faust, but appeared unarmed. When addressed, the man explained that he was in love with a woman from a family that was warring with his own and asked Faust to deliver a letter to the lady for him. Faust agreed and was given the wax-sealed letter and a crystal which that man said would “transport him to within striking distance of the lady’s home and then lead him to her,” when struck against a hard surface. The man then slinked off and Faust went his way.

Just before dawn, Faust arrived at the Shrine of Torm, a simple marble statue of the god with a stone offering bowl inside a small garden attached to a modest dwelling. No one was about, so he decided to rest and pray before the shrine. He waited until dawn had passed and the streets had become lively, but still no one came to the shrine.

Faust went and knocked on the door of the house, then waited a quite a long time, listening to the sounds of someone being roused from bed, then stumbling down the stairs. Finally the door opened and he was greeted by Rayko Moonwind, a sleep-addled, middle-aged man wearing the stole of an ordained layman. The shrinekeeper invited Faust in, offered him some tea, and proceeded to attempt to answer Faust’s questions concerning local politics, Hillsfar’s relationship with the Zhents, and who in the city might know how he might get into Zhentil Keep. The man tried to be helpful, but knew little, eventually direction Faust to seek out a scholar named Grond at his home near the university. Faust turned to leave, but felt suddenly dizzy, nauseous, and feverish. Rayko suggested that he should seek out a healer at the medical school.

Faust made his way out into the street and began walking in the direction of the university, only to be accosted by a pair of Red Plume soldiers. “What’s that under your cloak?” one asked.

“A shield,” Faust replied.

“Aren’t you even going to try to lie to us? Alright then…”

Faust, with some puking on his part and some snide comments from the guards about public drunkenness, was taken in hand by the two soldiers and bounced off towards the Hillsfar Arena where he was thrown in a cell for the crime of bearing arms in public. He protested a bit and asked about “due process” (and other such nonsense)—only to have it pointed out that they had asked and he had admitted to the crime.

Faust was thrown in a cell with a two human children and a dwarf, all three of which were in for violating the city curfew, an elf slave, in for “theft” (running away), and a sailor with a sword on his hip, who was also in for violating the no-weapons ordinance. He was allowed to keep all of his equipment and was informed that his “trial by combat”, or “execution” as some of the guards referred to it, was scheduled for the afternoon. He puked again and, noticing flees on himself, tried to explain to the guards that he had “the plague”, but was ignored. Faust curled up in a corner of the cell and went to sleep.

Faust was awakened, still exhausted and feverish, several hours later to the sounds of a crowd massing above. They listened to the sounds of prisoners being dragged from adjacent cells for some time, then, finally a half-dozen soldiers came to Faust’s cell. The guards grabbed the elf slave to haul away, but Faust insisted that they should take him instead. So the guards deprived Faust of his shield, handing it to the elf and making some snide remark that if he was trading execution times with the elf, he should trade crimes as well.

Faust was marched down the hallway and thrown through a door into the Arena. He stood dazed for some time by the bright sun and the noise of a crowd of thousands cheering. When he could see again, he noticed the torn-up corpses of a fair number of slaves littering the sand of the Arena floor, and a trio of lions (looking extra angry because they were being held away from their kills by long chains).

Faust raised his hammer, shouted something about Hillsfar “being judged” and unleashed a guiding bolt at the nearest lion. The bolt hurt the lion, but in a way that only served to enrage the beast more. Seeing that he was overmatched, Faust pulled the crystal from his pouch and banged it against his hammer.

A lattice of light suddenly surrounded Faust, enmeshing him in its glow. Suddenly, he found himself sealed within a room of crystal. Nightmare landscapes rushed by outside, each flashing past so quickly he wasn’t really sure of what he’d seen. Eventually the buffeting motion of the crystalline room slowed and came to a halt. The faceted walls unfolded around him and dissolved back into the small stone he was holding.

The sky above Faust was a dull red, colored by a huge sun. The land mostly flat except for clusters of craters dotting the dusty expanse. Hills lay a few miles off to to his right, and a lake of black, evil-looking water was visible straight ahead. No sound from any living creature broke the eerie silence.

Faust followed a trail up into the hills, lead by a slight pull from the crystal he held. The trail was littered with the rotting corpses of winged, vaguely humanoid beasts with spiny-skin and bifurcated tails. All had apparently been traveling in the direction he was now headed. He stopped to search a few of the corpses and acquired a new shield and a spiked mace made of a strange green metal.

At the first ridgeline, Faust came to a cross-roads, with one path leading down to the black lake and another heading further into the hills. A skull impaled on a pike at the crossroads began spouting green flames and spoke to him, warning that both paths were perilous and would leave him “ruing the decision for the rest of his mortal existence and then some”.

Deciding that he had clearly been duped, Faust broke the seal on the letter and read it. It said, in the tongue of the Baatezu:

Joy in desire more than desire of joy
Hath ever been my passion: mute from far
To love an unknown woman like a star;
To build in dreams no waking could destroy
Some island-palace far from life’s annoy;
By strength of spirit to force the silver bar
Of twilight till the dawn-gates stood ajar,
And gaze on Paradise, a dazzled boy;
To look forth o’er the ocean’s grey-lit foam
In the dim morning; and in starry night
Upon the myriad-mustered worlds above;
To emulate the unequalled, Greece and Rome,
Heroes and deeds, the heads of faith and fight;
To adore thee whom I may scarcely love.

It was signed “Kas’rarlin” and really was a love it seemed. He chose the hills and kept walking…

There were more devilish corpses along the trail, many being fed upon by large one-eyed bat-like creatures with scorpion-like tails. He gave the scavengers wide berth, and, after a few more miles of walking, he came to an octagonal tower, bristling with spikes and blades, with a gate shaped like a gaping fanged maw. Seeing no other living creatures around, he strode in.

Inside he found a mostly normal-looking receiving chamber: a large table covered with papers and quills, a few chairs, cloaks hanging from pegs on the walls. Sure, there was the spike-filled oubliette in the back corner, and a mosaic on the floor depicting a man being dragged down into the Abyss by feminine hands—but other than those things it seemed perfectly normal.

Faust swapped his old cloak for an attractive black one hanging on the wall. He stopped to rest for a while in the receiving room and, his mind wandering, suddenly found himself transformed into a bat. Realizing that it must be the cloak, and having heard footsteps above, he flew out of the tower and circled it from the exterior, alighting on a balcony on the third floor.

He knocked politely and was greeted by a beautiful woman, dressed for bed, with a pair of bat-like wings folded against her back. She demanded to know what he was doing on her balcony and he proceeded to recite the poem, then handed over the letter. Quite surprised, the woman, thanked him, invited him inside, and led him back down to the receiving room where she quickly wrote out a reply, sealing it with a kiss and spraying it with perfume.

Faust took the letter, excused himself, and walked out of the tower…

14 Eleint:

…As he walked away, a cream-colored butterfly alighted on his shoulder. He brushed the thing away, and, with a flash, suddenly found himself back in Hillsfar, in the alley where he had first met the stranger. It was night, and the city was lit up by a huge fire in the south, near where the university should be.

Faust began running for the docks, only to find a screaming mob fleeing in the same direction. The ship he had arrived on was pulling away, people clinging to the gunwales and climbing over each other to get aboard before it left, crying out about the plague. When the ship was no longer within reach, the crowd began commandeering other vessels in an attempt to escape the city.

Faust sighed and wandered down to the Drowned Rat, where he had told the man to meet him. The strange man was the only patron seated in the otherwise vacant bar. Faust took a seat across from him and delivered the letter. Kas’rarlin thanked Faust and passed him a small pouch. When Faust asked the man what he was, the man shed his cloak, grew to twice his normal size, and revealed himself to be a leering, winged devil, bristling with terrible spines and a crown of deadly horns. The barkeep fainted dead away at the sight. The devil thanked Faust again and vanished.

Left to his own devices, Faust opened the pouch, revealing 50 platinum coins and a rainbow colored gem. He stashed his earnings and walked back to the shrine of Torm to get some rest.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Third Party: Session 2 (GM's notes)

In which some yahoos turn Hillsfar upside down...

System:  Converted to D&D 5th edition

The Party:

  • Traith:  Human Fighter (Eldritch Knight)
  • Professor Aiderns: Human Sage
  • The Maid in the Iron Mask:  Half-Orc Rogue
  • Grond:  Dwarf Cleric

13 Eleint

Around dawn, Grond, a dwarven scholar stopped by the boat to have a chat with Nat and Captain Stormhammer. While chatting with the two dwarves and trying to convert Dimitri to his religion (which somehow involves the idea that every sentient being has a dwarf living in them somewhere), the mugger from the night before slipped her bonds.

She seemed surprisingly affable, for having been beaten up and tied up by the party, despite the featureless iron mask worn over her face. After a chat about the current mission, Traith, Professor Aidern, Grond, and the Main in the Iron Mask headed for the river to visit the gypsies (with Grond playing the role of a collar-wearing slave).

A couple of blocks from the river, they see the “Brophetess” standing on a soap-box spouting some anarchistic, Nietzschean bullshit to a crowd of drooling boys from the university, blocking the way. The Maid in the Iron Mask took the opportunity to lift some purses while Grond got in a preach-off/shouting match with the beautiful but self-mutilating prophetess.

Once the crowd cleared, the party rolled their barrel (filled with weapons and armor) down to the barges and met Melastasya, the younger sister of Rudolfio’s gypsy girlfriend. She informed them that Rudolfio and Sezarina had fallen in with a new cult worshipping the “Chaos Messiah” (Dork Messiah as she called him), lead by the Brophetess. She agreed to take the party to their hideout on Leper Island, but insisted they wait until nightfall so that she would not have to violate the curfew.

The party hungout in Melastasya’s gypsy barge for most of the day. Grond taught the girl to read a few Mulani Heiroglyphics. Aidern examined Grond and discovered that he had contracted the Plague.

At nightfall they rowed out to the island. They passed out some food and a few coppers to the waiting beggars, then made their way up the small hill in the center of the island to an old mission house, where they found a huge party going on. Unable to pick out Rudolfio from the moshing crowd of loincloth wearing, pierced and tattooed cultists, Grond rolled up his sleeves, drew some fake tattoos on himself, shoved his way through the front door, and yelled “Rudolfio!” gleefully. The punk’s head (now sporting a huge mohawk) spun around and the raving, cultist frat-boys grabbed the dwarf and hoisted him upside down into a pair of shackles hanging from the ceiling.

Also in the room were the Brophetess, a poxy-faced hag wielding a strange flail, a pile of harem girls chained to a wall, and the Chaos Messiah himself—a pinhead cenobite with a giant Moorcockian chaos symbol tattooed on his chest.

Hiding outside, Aidern cast a sleep spell into the room, dropping a handful of cultists, and Traith and the Maid in the Iron Mask began peppering the hag with arrows. Grond twisted, turned, swung with his hammer, and then dropped himself, chains, armor, shackles and all, on the heads of the partying cultists.

The Brophetess dropped Traith with a well-placed, thrown ball of poisonous goo, only to take an arrow in the lung from the Maid in the Iron Mask. Another arrow dropped the Hag, while Grond continued to tangle with the cultists and Aidern continued to drop them with sleep spells.

The Chaos Messiah rose from his bed of wenches and waded into the fight, only to be set on fire by Grond, causing his flesh to burn away and slough off, revealing a giant, amoebic bubo of blood, puss, and lymph. The remaining cultists (Rudolfio included) bolted out the door, down the hill, and onto the boat.

Grond traded blows with the giant bubo for several rounds, while the archers outside bombarded it with arrows. Finally the thing engulfed and consumed him, only to be slain by an arrow from the healed Traith a moment later.

Traith and the Maid in the Iron Mask ran down the hill to the boat, while Aidern stayed to examine the remains of the Chaos Messiah. Traith fired at the cultists running away, while the masked lady swam out to the boat and climbed aboard. She knifed a couple of cultists, then noticed Melestasya and Rudolfio fighting side by side against the others in the back of the boat. Aidern finally wandered down and knocked all but one of the rest out.

After a brief hostage negotiation to convince the cultists that it would be a good idea for the remaining cultist and his sleeping friends to accept a free ride to Phlan, Rudolfio ran back up the hill. The party gave chase to see the remaining cultists left behind waking up and freeing the harem girls. Ruldolfio grabbed one harem girl, Sezarina, and hauled her down the hill—the others followed.

Back on Valkurs Wake a few hours later, the party learned the Ruldofio hated his father, was completely surprised that Markos would want to have him killed, and had zero interest in the council seat. He signed an affidavit witnessed by Captain Stormhammer and Traith that he abdicated all of his inheritance to his brother Markos (so long as Markos would keep sending him his stipend to pay for his partying lifestyle). Rudolfio then hightailed it out of there with Sezarina and Melastasya on their gypsy barge.

With fourteen cultists, more or less willingly, aboard Valkur’s Wake and bound for Phlan, Nat and the Captain were ecstatic. Aidern suggested that a slight nudge regarding the plague-rumors might get a great deal more people on board quickly, so he, the Maid in the Iron Mask, and Traith headed for his laboratory at Gothmagog University to snag a couple of plague-ridden corpses to stir up some trouble.

On the way they found a blood-drained corpse and a pack of ravenous children, but they paid them no heed.

They found the research wing of the Medical School already burning and a crowd forming when they arrived. A few whispers, threats, and rumors spread through the crowd quickly had a small stampede of people running for the docks, hoping to get away from the city as quickly as possible.

14 Eleint

As the sun rose, Valkur’s Wake peeled away from the docks, packed to the gills with people hoping to get away from the plague as quickly as possible and not really caring where the boat was headed. Nat and Captain Stormhammer could not have been more pleased.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Third Party: Session 1 (GMs notes)

System: Pathfinder


  • Grimnir: Human Summoner
  • Dmitri: Human Monk
  • Traith: Human Magus
  • Moses/Fark: Half-orc Druid
  • Faust: Tiefling Inquisitor

11 Eleint

The port is re-opened and The Lady Gray, a large three-masted schooner makes port in Phlan, unloading another large crew of adventurers.

Dimitri, Grimnir, Traith, Moses, and Faust stand around in the town square, looking lost, and examine the posted notices. They latch on to:

notice about missing council agents in Valhigen Graveyard
notice about a “special mission of particular sensitivity”
They ask around about the people missing in the Graveyard, latch on to news that Lyra had brought back a report about the graveyard 3 days prior, and start looking for Lyra.

Their search for Lyra leads them to the temple of Tyr, where they meet Brother Groans and learn that they need to speak to Sister Theymr.

Unable to enter the ladies dormitories, they find and ask Sisters Erol and Abyr, then recruit Martha to go into the temple and ask after her.

Finally they meet Sister Theymr who informs them that Lyra can teleport, and that she left for Melvaunt with a large party.

They decide to go ask the Council Clerk about Lyra, find out that she is the under-clerk’s daughter, fill out lots of paperwork, and decide to pursue the “special mission” for Councilman Mondaviak.

They meet Karistos Mondaviak at the Bitter Blade, again recruiting Martha as a messenger so as to appear “discreet”. They agree to travel to Hillsfar to find his estranged elder son, Ruldolfo, in exchange for a grant of lands, vineyards, and a keep from his family’s former holdings near Phlan. They also meet his daughter, Karistina, and his twelfth wife, Hannabella (who is the same age as his daughter).

Mondaviak’s younger son, Markos, offers the party the same boons as his father, plus an extra 500 gold crowns to NOT bring back his elder brother, so that he might inherit his father’s council seat. Markos also gives them a note of introduction for Herr Professor Swipe to take them on as students at the Training Hall, and palms 5 platinum into Dimitri’s pocket as a down-payment.

The party runs after the recently-resurrected Nat Wyler, and hitch a ride to Phlan on Valkur’s Wake.

12 Eleint

The party sails to Hillsfar, learning a good bit about the magic-hating, xenophobic town from Nat. Nat also offers them a cut if they agree to “recruit” people to become adventurers in Phlan.

They arrive in Hillsfar about nightfall. Two professors of “medicine” from Gothmagog University leap aboard the ship as soon as they dock, screaming for Nat to cast off and leave immediately. They explain that “The Plague” (which they go on to describe in sufficient detail to be the Bubonic Plague) has appeared in Hillsfar.

The party also learn from Professors Drummon and Aiderns that Rudolfo was a student of theirs and kept lodgings at the Drowned Rat, a public house near the docks. They ignore the professors warnings and head for the pub.

They see a fight between two roving gangs of torch-wielding “children” (actually mixed dwarves, halflings, goblins, and a few actual children, since everyone under 4’ is a legal minor in Hillsfar).

The innkeep informs them that Rudolfo is not only behind in his rent, but has not been seen in close to two months. He lets them ransack Rudolfo’s room (all they find is an old textbook about some democratic governance bullshit…and lots of fleas), then tells them that Rudolfo used to hang out with a river-gypsy girl named Sezarina over near the barges.

They head for the river and get jumped by 5 men in an alley (who jumped who is a matter of debate). They get quite beaten up (especially by some poisonous snakes that one of the muggers summoned), but win. They kill three, take one prisoner for the inquisitor to interrogate, and let one get away. The loot is rather disappointing. They retreat to Valkur’s Wake to heal up.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Devil-blooded Stone

This strange triangular-cut, rainbow-colored gemstone is of a kind that no mortal gem-cutter can identify. It is hard as a diamond, about an inch across, and emanates a faint aura of evil, if such is detected for. Even without magic, the large gem is an item of great value. Sold as is, the gem could easily command a price of a thousand gold pieces or more.

If a creature takes a long rest with the gem in his possession, he will find that he awakes with new and strange powers. Each time a character in possession of the gem takes a long rest, he awakens with one random ability from among those granted to Tieflings (roll 1d100 on the chart below). These powers last until the next time the character rests.

In addition to such powers, if the gem is swallowed, the user finds that it is easily digestible, causing only minor discomfort. A character that eats the stone finds himself dramatically changed the next time they awaken from a long rest. Any humanoid creature that eats the stone will be permanently transformed into a Tiefling the next time he sleeps. The Tiefling traits replace all of his former racial abilities.

If the stone is eaten by someone who already has fiendish blood, then the next time he sleeps he will awaken with two new abilities (determined randomly) and two new physical mutations (also determined randomly). These additional abilities and physical changes are permanent.

d100 Roll Random Abilities Random Appearance
1 Cast Darkness once per day. Arms: elbow spurs
2 Cast Blur once per day. Arms: over-sized limb
3 Cast Detect Evil/Good thrice per day. Arms: stony forearms
4 Cast Shatter once per day. Arms: tentacle-like
5 Cast Alter Self once per day. Arms: undersized limb
6 Cast Mirror Image once per day. Build: emaciated
7 Cast Animate Dead once per day. Build: hunchback
8 Your Darkvision/Infravision increases by 60 feet. Build: obese
9 The spell _animate dead_ will return you to life as per the spell _raise dead_ Build: unnaturally heavy
10 You can eat and gain nourishment from ash, cinders, dust, and sand. Build: unnaturally light
11 You can speak two additional languages spoken by extraplanar beings. Digits: abnormally long
12 You can communicate telepathically with any sentient creature with which you are in physical contact. Digits: extra digits (six or more fingers)
13 You bleed molten silver. Any time you take slashing or piercing damage, you can recover the equivalent of 1sp per point of damage taken. Digits: extra joints
14 Cast Web once per day. Digits: no nails
15 You are aware of and can choose the result of any attempt to detect your alignment. Digits: odd number (four or less fingers)
16 Your body exudes painfully freezing cold. Any creature that grapples you takes 1d4 points of cold damage per round. Ears: bat-like
17 Your body produces intense, searing heat. Any creature that grapples you takes 1d4 points of fire damage per round. Ears: missing
18 Your skin is spiky. Any creature that attempts to grapple you takes 1d4 points of damage. Ears: pig-like
19 Cast Suggestion once per day. Ears: pointed
20 Cast Invisibility once per day. Ears: other (fan-like, elephantine, cat ears, etc.)
21 You never need to drink to survive. Eyes: cyclopic (single eye)
22 You can see creatures on the Ethereal Plane. Eyes: goatlike (square pupils)
23 Once per week you may mentally contact a fiendish ancestor to gain information, as per the Commune spell. Eyes: glowing (usually red)
24 Cast Speak with Dead once per day. Eyes: smoking
25 You are invisible to all unintelligent undead. Eyes: other (extremely long lashes, cat-like, deep-set, etc.)
26 You can speak to all birds. Face: canine muzzle
27 You can speak to insects. Face: insectile mandibles
28 Cast Heat Metal once per day. Face: missing nose
29 You are resistant to magic. You gain Advantage (roll twice and take the better result) on saving throws against spells. Face: underdeveloped features
30 You possess claws dealing 1d4 points of damage. You may make multiple attacks per round with your claws as if fighting with two weapons. Face: other (elongated nose, tusks, jowls, angular features, etc.)
31 Your skin is unnaturally tough, granting you a +1 bonus to your AC. This stacks with armor and other benefits. Hands: backward-bending fingers
32 You can manipulate any armor, gauntlets, or shield you wield, causing them to grow spikes. These spikes last only as long as you wear your armor. Hands: extra thumbs
33 Cast Levitate once per day. Hands: pincers
34 You can alter your shadow to make it appear as that of any creature or object of your size or smaller. Hands: suckered
35 You can burrow through dirt, sand, and loose gravel at a rate of 5 feet per round. Hands: other
36 Cast Fog Cloud once per day. Head: animalistic (animal of your choice)
37 You can communicate telepathically with any evil creature within 50 feet with whom you share a language. Head: animate hair (may or may not be prehensile or controlable)
38 You can survive on one-quarter the amount of food and water a humanrequires. Head: bald
39 Cast Comprehend Languages thrice per day. Head: malformed (lumps, enlarged cranium, pointed, etc.)
40 Cast Tasha’s Hideous Laughter once per day. Head: other (strangely colored or multi-colored hair, etc.)
41 Cast Phantasmal Force once per day. Horns: draconic (crest, multiple spikes, rear-swept, etc.)
42 Cast Detect Magic thrice per day. Horns: metallic (any formation)
43 You possess a fiendishly cunning tongue, granting you proficiency with Persuasion. Horns: ram-like
44 You do not lose consciousness and may continue to act until you are reduced to –5 hit points. Horns: vestigial (small buds on forehead or temples)
45 Your features are subtly malleable, granting you proficiency with Disguise. Horns: other (antlers, alicorn, bull-like, etc.)
46 You are immune to magic sleep and paralysis effects. Legs: backward-bending
47 Cast Feign Death once per day. Legs: birdlike
48 Cast Gaseous Form once per day. Legs: cloven feet (horse or goat)
49 You can speak to horses and other equine creatures (including magical equines such as unicorns or nightmares). Legs: froglike
50 Your very presence causes unease in other creatures, granting you proficiency with Intimidation. Legs: other
51 You can speak to cats and other feline creatures (including magical felines such as rakshasas and hellcats). Skin: feathered
52 You can speak to dogs, wolves, and other canine creatures (including magical canines such as blink dogs and winter wolves). Skin: loose
53 You can sense when a creature is pregnant by standing within 10 feet of the creature. Skin: patterned (spots, stripes, etc.)
54 You can breathe both thin and stale air without ill effects, and you never suffer from altitude sickness. Skin: rotting
55 You are unnaturally tough and gain 1 additional hit point per level. Skin: scaled
56 Your soul lives outside of your body and physically manifests. You can cast Find Familiar at will, with no need for material components. You may still only have one familiar at a time. Skin: slimy or greasy
57 You are resistant to infection. You gain Advantage (roll twice and take the better result) on saving throws against disease. Skin: strangely colored (green, red, blue, etc.)
58 Your base land speed increases by +5 feet (MR 1 in 2nd edition). Skin: translucent (organs show through)
59 Your body exudes corrosive slime. Any creature that grapples you takes 1d4 points of acid damage per round. Skin: variable color
60 You exude pheremones which makes animals more amenable to you, granting you proficiency with Animal Handling. Skin: other (furred, hairless, rocky, etc.)
61 Cast Ray of Enfeeblement once per day. Tail: aquatic
62 You have a prehensile tail that can be used to carry items. While you cannot wield weapons with your tail, you can use it to retrieve objects carried on your person (or anothers). Tail: fiendish (bifurcated)
63 You have a peculiar sight that allows you to see the state of a creature’s soul. You can immediately tell by sight whether a creature is alive, dead, undead, or neither alive nor dead (such as an animated construct). Tail: mammalian (cat-like, horse-like, monkey-like, etc.)
64 You have vestigial wings that, while not strong enough to grant flight, can be used to slow a fall. You function as if constantly under the effects of a feather fall spell. Tail: reptilian
65 Psychic Aggression. You have a fragment of the strange mental powers of your fiendish forebears, allowing you to mentally assault your foes. (5th Edition) You can cast Vicious Mockery as a cantrip. (2nd Edition) You gain 2 psionic power points per level and know 1 telepathic attack mode of your choice (these stack with any other psionic powers or wild talents). Tail: other (prehensile, stinger, insectoid abdomen, etc.)
66 Psychic Aegis. You have a fragment of the strange mental powers of your fiendish forebears, allowing you to defend yourself against mental attacks. (5th Edition) You have resistance against Psychic damage. (2nd Edition) You gain 2 psionic power points per level and know 1 telepathic defense mode of your choice (these stack with any other psionic powers or wild talents). Teeth: blunt
67 Undead within 30 feet of you are treated as 1 hit die higher for determining if they can be turned or destroyed by a good cleric, but are treated as 1 hit die lower for determining if they can be commanded by an evil cleric. Teeth: fanged
68 You gain a +1 bonus on all attack and damage rolls against good-aligned extraplanar creatures. Teeth: metallic
69 Inherited memories grants you proficiency with a single Intelligence-based skill of your choice (1 slot skills only for 2nd Edition). Teeth: needle-like
70 Cast Charm Person once per day. Teeth: other
71 You have the strength and stamina of a demon, granting you proficiency in Athletics. Other: androgynous
72 The militant nature of your ancestors has carried over to you. You gain proficiency with four weapons of your choice. (2nd Edition — this may not be used to buy group proficiencies or specialization). Other: antennae
73 You possess a bite attack dealing 1d6 damage. Other: avian snood, wattle, or caruncles
74 You can speak to snakes and other serpentine creatures (including magical snake-like creatures such as medusae). Other: bleeding pores
75 By concentrating, you may suppress your unusual tiefling physical features, thus appearing as a normal human. This works just like concentrating on a spell—you cannot concentrate on another spell while maintaining this change, and your concentration can be broken in any way that a spell could. Other: bony ridges (on spine or joints)
76 You have preturnatural awareness and cunning, granting you proficiency in Investigation. Other: exoskeleton
77 You carry the seed of plagues and pestilence. You can cast Contagion once per week. Other: external organ
78 Your fiendish blood leaves you unbound by mortal concepts of distance. You can cast Teleport once per week. This ability affects only yourself. Other: extraneous nipple
79 You can smell weakness. When you score a critical hit, you deal an additional die of damage. Other: eyestalks
80 Resistance to Poison (half-damage from Poison-based attacks). Other: forked tongue
81 Resistance (half-damage) against attacks from weapons unless they are magical or made of silver. Other: fungal/leafy growths
82 Resistance (half-damage) against attacks from weapons unless they are magical or made of cold-iron. Other: hermaphroditic
83 Resistance to Fire (half-damage from Fire-based attacks). Other: incongruous footprints
84 Resistance to Cold (half-damage from Cold-based attacks). Other: infernal glow
85 Resistance to Acid (half-damage from Acid-based attacks). Other: infested (lice, fleas, hook-worms, or something more exotic)
86 Resistance to Sonic/Thunder (half-damage from Sonic-based attacks). Other: inhuman voice
87 Resistance to Electricity/Lightning (half-damage from Electricity-based attacks). Other: missing joint
88 Resistance to Blunt Trauma (half-damage from non-magical Bludgeoning attacks). Other: no reflection
89 Resistance to Cuts (half-damage from non-magical Slashing attacks). Other: no shadow
90 Resistance to Punctures (half-damage from non-magical Piercing attacks). Other: profane birthmark
91 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Strength score (to a maximum of 20). Other: smoking breath
92 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Dexterity score (to a maximum of 20). Other: spinneret (can extrude small amounts of a silk-like substance)
93 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Constitution score (to a maximum of 20). Other: strange smell (ashy, rotting, sulferous, etc.)
94 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Intelligence score (to a maximum of 20). Other: uncontrollable twitch
95 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Wisdom score (to a maximum of 20). Other: unnatural temperature
96 You gain an additional +1 racial bonus to your Charisma score (to a maximum of 20). Other: vestigial limb
97 to 99 Reroll twice, ignoring any results of 97 or higher. Reroll twice, ignoring any results of 97 or higher.
100 Player may select one ability of his choice. Roll three times, ignoring any result of 97 or higher.